30 Aug

Weekend in Nürnberg

The kids and I took another road trip last weekend. We went to visit friends whom we’ve known for about 10 years now. They moved to Nürnberg last year and bought their first little house. This was our first time seeing it. As a good German guest, I needed to bring wine or flowers. I don’t know wine, but I can find a good bouquet. Zavi chose orange, and Katja wanted the roses. The florist took care of the rest. The amazing thing is that this is pretty typical of German florists. You always get a wonderfully presented bouquet, more than suitable as a gift.

Typical bouquet

Once there, we settled right in. I think D really enjoyed having a boy in the house to play with. They were having the best time sending a little Beefeater figure through the castle wall with a catapult!
Bonzai!

Friday we went to the zoo. No, the Tiergarten — Nürnberg refuses to call it a zoo. We spent hours there and didn’t see it all. I loved this lionfish and all its spikey lushness.

They had the usual lions and tigers and bears and all manner of antelope and deer, but they had odd animals too, like manatees and these tapirs.

The kids loved the pinguins.

And when it started to rain, we sought shelter in the dolphin show. They had five dolphins, three sea lions, and a trainer who looked like he was having the time of his life. It was so much fun to watch the show, and a great way to wait out the showers.
Dolphin Show

On Saturday, M and I left the three kids with D and went downtown. Without the famous Christmas Market crowds, the old town is lovely. I always enjoy the weekly market in any town…

Weekly Market

Especially when these markets tend to be in the shadow of beautiful, historic city halls and churches. We timed our visit to watch the Glockenspiel (clock with animated figures) at noon.
Glockenspiel

The Pegnitz river runs picturesquely through the town. I was struck by all the buildings on the right, which bear a striking resemblence to my “Quiltstadt.” I knew I was on to something.

I was also struck by this wacky reindeer sculpture. It seemed to be the mascot of a little art gallery filled with fun, wonky, art.

In the afternoon, we rewarded D by taking the kids out for a walk and leaving him to nap. Nearby was this ruined palace which once had a moat.

Just a neighborhood walk

The kids tried their hand at skipping stones. Never mind that neither the river or the stones were the right kind for skipping. They enjoyed it anyways.

There was a great nature walk with local information. There was also a “barefoot path” with stones, sand and driftwood. We took off our shoes and closed our eyes and let our sense of feel take over for a while.

Sunday, we gave our hosts a break and went to Playmobil Fun Park.

We loved this place! It is like a ginormous playground.

No rollercoasters, just kid-powered fun.

Granted, it’s all themed around Playmobil products, but there is only one shop, so you are not tempted at every turn. These two are not having so much fun at the castle. He’s a chicken thief and she’s the princess on the pea (not sure why you’d get locked up for that though).

In the jungle adventure area, the kids found a platform behind a waterfall which chimed when they jumped on it.

During some rain, we took refuge in a barn and Katja groomed giant Playmobil horses.

They have two enclosed halls for wintertime or foul weather fun. One is another giant playground including an underground maze where the floor has color coded LED lights to follow. The other hall houses the restaurant and plenty of places to play with all the latest Playmobil toys.

We like the treehouse themed area.

Tinkerbell?

And the kids slept well that night :-)

Geschäft

30 Aug

What quilts are for

I’m plugging away at “Quiltstadt,” hand quilting at on average, a house a day. Since I’m basicly doing straight lines, I keep the quilt in my collapsable PVC frame. Yes, this is supposed to be art, to hang in a gallery. But, being a quilt, it has other, more humble, purposes.

Katja in the quilt

29 Aug

Some thoughts on Productivity

Every day that I get comments on my blog it amazes me that anyone outside my family is interested in what I have to say. Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, and thanks too, to all the people who write the blogs I read. I really enjoy the connection that we have made; the sharing of ideas, the mutual support, the window into the lives of people whom I otherwise would not have the opportunity to meet. I am enjoying blogging more than I ever imagined I would.

Speaking of the comments, I get a fair number of comments prefaced with “I don’t know how you do it all.” I’m here to tell you that I DON’T do it all. And I only show you what I want to. You don’t really want to see the crumbs under my dining room table do you? You’d much rather see cute kids and quilts, right? Maybe that’s why I like blogging; I can share my projects with you without feeling like I have to clean up the toys, or wipe the sink and toilets beforehand 😉

That said, I do it the same way I think you all do it. Every day is a conscious decision as to whether I am going to work on my art/crafts, or parent my children, or (lowest priority) balance the checkbook and clean toilets. I am in the lucky position of being a stay at home mom. I don’t have to work a 9-5 job into the equation. And I don’t want to. When I worked (as a graphic designer), that seemed to satisfy my creative urges. I often wonder if I would have made the move to art quilter if I was still working. When I was working, I couldn’t see where children would fit into my life/schedule. Now that I am a mom, I don’t see why I would want to shoehorn “work” into our lives. I’m lucky, many people HAVE to work and don’t have the choices I have.

My MIL told me last night that my “talent is so great that I owe it to the world to get a babysitter and devote more time to my art.” How cool is that to have your MIL support your art?!!! However, just as I don’t feel the need to have a job AND young children at the same time, I’m not sure that I need to burst into the art scene all at once either. My kids are almost five and eight and therefore no longer need to be watched with eagle eyes. I work on my art while they are at school, and sometimes when they are entertaining themselves, or playing with friends. They are still young though, and I feel I owe it to them to be here and be attentive. They won’t stay this young and impressionable much longer. It is important for them to have activities and time with friends no matter how much it drains me to mediate squabbles and tend to guests with sleepover angst. Perhaps this is not the time in our lives for me to devote the kind of time to quilting a studio artist would. When the kids are a little older, then I can take more time for myself and my art.

Of course, I need some time to myself:

• TS&WGH takes the kids out on weekends when he’s here, and I have lovely neighbors who I swap time with watching all the kids. We know a couple of responsible teenagers who babysit when they are not busy with their own activities.

• I am not a recreational shopper, so that probably buys me a few hours a week of personal time.

• I choose to spend my free time quilting and crafting instead of cleaning house. (You won’t be seeing any pretty still lives of my work in my home with furniture polished and accessories set just so.)

• I only post when I have something to share. Otherwise, I try not to spend too much time on the computer, and get into my sewing room. (It looks like I’m doing a lot because all you see is the finished product. What you don’t see is the days between posts when I’m just being a mom.)

• I have set a goal and a deadline to work towards. Although this is probably not the optimal time in my life to have a one woman show, I fell into the opportunity and felt I couldn’t pass it up. I need at least eight quilts presentable by the end of November. Without this deadline I probably wouldn’t have made half the quilts I’ve shared over the last 14 months.

• I work on multiple projects at the same time. I almost always have something in the sewing machine. I have a hand work project to work on in front of the TV at night, or take with me somewhere. I allow myself little projects like a two hour tiered skirt, Süße Sac, or potholders to give me a sense of accomplishment and some motivation between the bigger, longer projects. Every little bit adds up — more than you might think!

I think that’s it. I think it’s pretty much the way anyone else would balance it. Maybe it looks more glamorous with the trips to France and cool fests though 😉

22 Aug

Hand-dyed Fabric

Recently, one of my readers asked where she could find hand dyed fabric by Heide Stoll-Weber. I appologize that I am a bad blogger and couldn’t find her comment to reply directly to, but I HAVE finally found some Heide Stoll-Weber fabric online. I was looking kinda locally for Perle Cotton to dye and found all kinds of goodies at Quilt und Textilekunst, to include a nice variety of hand dyes from Ms. Weber. (I’ve actually ordered from Quilt und Textilekunst before and was pleased with their quick and accurate service–at least within Germany.) I have also bought hand dyes from Gabi Tisch (in the borders of “Fliegenpilz 1” and “Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld”), and have recently “discovered” Susan Seagram as well. Happy shopping!

So, tell me, if I’m not allowing myself to buy new fabrics, do hand-dyes and other one-of-a-kind fabrics count? I’m thinking ahead to the Carrefour du Patchwork in Val D’Argent and wonder if I can allow myself to come home with one of Dijanne Cevaal’s new creations…

21 Aug

Crafty, and Quilty projects

Summer seems to be on vacation and so we’ve been busying ourselves with indoor projects. My MIL sent adorable fairy fabric a while ago as a backing possiblity for the Hansel und Gretel quilt. I found something even better for the quilt, but thought that the fairies would be a perfect opportunity to try the tiered skirt tutotial at Whip-Up for Katja (whew, I wrote down the instructions before they disappeared). I added a simple shirt as well, and ta-da:

Fairy print skirt and top

We went out to buy yellow thread for me, and came back with a potholder loom for Zavi, and an embroidery kit for Katja. The embroidery is still way beyond her, but the kit was too cute, and she will grow into it. She managed to sew a patch pocket onto the included felt bag, and to make a lazy daisy. Zavi offered to embroider her name on the bag as well. What a thoughtful brother :-) BTW, I did have to finish this up — the last a is mine.
Zavi's hand at embroidery

And, since I am now resupplied with yellow thread, I worked on my next quilt: Raps. Today, Zavi went to A’s house, and Katja went to the zoo with neighbors, so I finished the Raps top! I think I’ll go redo the seam between the yellow Raps and the top third so that the “train” is thinner. Then I can start quilting.

Raps quilt in progress

I need some interesting yellow floss or something to seed stitch all over the yellow section. Any suggestions/sources? Speaking of sources, I am having to make a paradigm change in my shopping habits. A week or two ago, I made the decision not to buy any more new fabric, so now I’m learning how to put that into action. When we bought the yellow thread, we saw that the Arts and Crafts shop on post has lots of fabric on sale, but no, it’s off limits to me. My newest issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine is filled with new fabrics to drool over, but no, I can’t be tempted. I needed more red train fabric, but didn’t think I’d be ready for it so soon. I went out this morning to three Second Hand shops. Here, it seems that Second Hand is mostly for children’s items. I was hoping for a red man’s shirt with lots of text on it, but had to settle for a kid’s jacket. No Salvation Army or rural thrift store with loads of old curtains for $1 each. These second hand clothes are in pretty good shape and cost 2€ to 15€ each, so, considering the amount of usable fabric in a kid’s top, for instance, I may actually be paying more per yard than when buying new (even though that’s not the main point). What I need to do is go to the flea markets where one CAN buy old textiles for 2€ a piece, but for that I have to go on a Sunday, and pay attention to what market is where and when. That’s the part I’m just not good at, as I am not a recreational shopper. Luckily, there is a little “Floh Markt” within Sunday morning family bike ride distance from us — I just have to remember when it’s held.

17 Aug

Wow!

I thought I was done posting for the night, but look at what I got in my email in-box:

Liebe Teilnehmerinen,
die Ausstellung in New England ist seit heute früh eröffnet … die Preise gehen an:

Monika Denis
Vibration
1. Platz für Deutschland 2006

Kristin la Flamme
Am Rand von Oma´s Weizenfeld // At the edge of Grandma´s wheat field
2. Platz für Deutschland 2006

!!!!

HERZLICHE GLÜCKWÜNSCHE

Which translates as,

Dear Participants,

The show in New England opened early today… the prizes go to:

Monika Denis
Vibration
1st Place for Germany 2006

Kristin la Flamme
Am Rand von Oma´s Weizenfeld // At the edge of Grandma´s wheat field
2nd Place for Germany 2006

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Ooooh, I am doing such a happy dance right now! No one here to tell the news, so I need to shout it out to the world. I don’t even know what I’ve won, but it’s toooo cool. Cool, cool, cool cool! OK, I’m going to go lay down now, before my head gets too big for me to hold it up.

Am Rand von Oma's Weizenfeld

Detail

17 Aug

A quickie, or two

I see lots of cool stuff as I browse around the crafty blog sites and I wholly admit to being influenced by it. Many pretty things I think to myself, “I could totally make that!” And I am definitely a coveter of nice stuff. Lately, I have been admiring Mrs. Mel’s Stacked Series, Marcia Derse’s “Floats,” so many of the quilts at Fun Quilts, and just about everything at Whip-Up. Somewhere I ran across someone who had made simple fabric coasters and thought, “now I could do that!”

This morning, I was feeling PMSy and wanted to be alone. I have run out of yellow thread, and can’t work on that project. So I hid in my sewing room for an hour or two and made coasters. The coasters are almost the right scale to have a little fun with the compostions I’ve been loving, but not ready to commit to a full sized project, or distill enough to make them my own. OK, actually, the coasters are a little too small to work out compositions, but they ARE just right to whip out something pretty for the table without a lot of thought, time, or any money. I left everything raw, which I wouldn’t necessarily do in a finished quilt, but am totally willing to do on something I’d set my drink on; and I didn’t even bother with binding — not even satin stitch — I just did a standard zig-zag around the edge. Voilá, pretty coasters, and a little sanity check for me.

Copy Cat Coasters

I was so inspired that I made two pot holders as well, since my old ones are ugly AND greasy.

Pot Holders

UPDATE: It was over at Moonstitches that I saw the coasters, and she was inspired by a Japanese craft magazine. Blue and white, AND inspiration from a Japanese craft magazine — no wonder I was compelled to make mine 😉

17 Aug

Yes, we ARE having too much fun here!

Today we went to the circus!

Pure joy

One of the neighbors got free tickets to see Circus Roncalli, and so the other neighbor and I took all the kids to see the show. It was very professional and beautiful to watch. Cirque du Soliel has definitely influenced the way circuses perform. This one has a classic circus look, beautiful costumes, live music and charming clowns (the main one being an Italian who has worked with Ringling Brothers for 13 years). I believe the circus itself is German, based in Köln (Cologne).

The girls, of course, loved the horses. This act was followed up by a tiny matching white pony which jumped rope, which they all loved.

I suspect the middle aged men rather liked this pair of scantily clad ladies who were able to spin multiple sparkly tapestries at once. I know I was impressed!

For the ladies, there were two hunky guys doing death defying tricks on the trapeze. Not quite the “flying man” from the first Cirque du Soleil I saw a decade ago, but impressive nonetheless.

This group did amazing flips and jumps off of a skinny board held only by the two guys in capes.

My favorite was probably this lady who spun multiple hula hoops and juggled at the same time. Here she was even simultaneously balancing a hoop on top of her head. She was very “bendy” too, and at one point was standing on her head, and spinning hoops on one arm, one leg extended up, and one leg brought over head so that the hoop was in front of her. The lady in the seat next to me said the she must be a very good multi-tasker!

Thank you Circus Roncalli, we really enjoyed the show!