15 Aug

Kristin on Tour

I’ve had the first report of Kristin Quilts on tour, here seen at the Quilts for Change show:

DebR as me, with quilts

On the left is “Shades of CR Mackintosh,” a hand appliqued and hand quilted gift for my mom and step-dad. On the right is “Seaweed?” which is mainly embroidery on marbled fabric. In the middle is DebR as stunt double. See, she has red hair, just like me. It’s just like I’m there; we’re practically twins 🙂

Thank you, thank you Deb for the picture. It’s really nice to see the quilts in situ. I’m suprised that they were hung next to each other as they are sooooooo different, and they were submitted into different categories. It makes for a nice picture though, to have them right there next to each other.

Next up on tour, I  think, is “Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld” on tour with Mancuso’s World Quilt competition. It will start this weekend in New England, and then goes around the US. “Katja’s Owlz” has arrived at AQS Nashville; and “Hansel und Gretel” was accepted into the Fairy Tale World competition at the Main Quiltfestival (I’m very excited that I will actually be able to go to this show as it’s in Germany and only an hour’s drive or train ride from me). “Staufen Vineyard” and “Foggy Morning in Cesky Krumlov” are both on their way to a Patch & Work in Halle/Saale to celebrate that city’s 1200 year Jubilee. (Wow, 1200 years — now that’s perseverance!) The quilts will be shown at the Georgenkirche in Halle/Saale from 15 October until 11 November (for any interested German readers).

That’s it for shows. I entered a bunch not knowing if any would be accepted. My work has been validated a hundred times over, and now I’m going to keep the rest of my work close to home as I prepare for a gallery show this winter. I have no idea if I’ll enter more competitions in the next few years. I may hide under a rock for a while.

14 Aug

Some Quilt Progress

Quilting progress

I am taking a break to blog because my fingers feel like hamburger. Actually, I have no idea what hamburger feels, or even if it can feel, but since my fingers look like hamburger, they must feel like it as well. What I have to show for my disfigurement is 25 finished houses. I have quilted a swath two houses deep across the width of the quilt. I had assumed there were about 60 houses in this quilt, but based on my progess, I think it may be more than 100. I’m curious to see what the final tally is.

And since the last weeks have been light on quilt content, here’s a sneek peak at what’s on my design wall:

More progress

13 Aug

Angelbachtal Ritterfest

Today we joined our friends for a visit to a Mittelalter Ritterfest (mideaval festival) in the town of Angelbachtal. There are many here in Germany, but in the last ten years, I have never actually been to one. Even though the weather was sketchy, I jumped at the opportunity to get the kids back out of the house.

Like all good fests, they had rides, like this people powered ferris wheel:
2PS (two person power)

And games like this one where kids could shoot the targets on the top of the castle. Zavi actually shot two and won a handful of marbles. Much better than the plastic toys you get from a normal fest.

Boy games

There was yummy food everywhere (yea, I know, it’s Germany where there’s always yummy food). They had the de rigeur bratwursts, and a “mideaval” version of a doner kebap, plus these bread ovens everywhere. My friend was salivating over all the different breads, but her hubby was determined to have suckling pig roast on a spit — just to be truly authentic. He went off to stand in a line and returned with wine in handmade cups, and sliced meat on a bed of green beans. I’m not sure if it was cooked on a spit, but it was delicious.
Wood burning bread oven

We bought a few souveniers. Zavi got a nice wooden shield, but I said no to a sword. It was a nice one, I admit, but I’d rather not encourage weapons in our house. He can use a stick. Katja contemplated a shield too, as she found one with a unicorn on it, but ultimately settled on a little ceramic bird that warbles when you fill it with water and blow in it. She wanted a princess head dress too, but we decided on the bird since mama can make a princess headdress at home, but not a cool bird.

Ceramic Bird Call

In addition to things to buy, there were also demonstrations. We watched a blacksmith of course; and the kids were enthralled by this lady’s work on her potter’s wheel. There were audible gasps when the pot grew out of her lump of clay.
Potter's demo

We couldn’t pass up the make-your-own soap at 1 euro a handfull. The kids got to play in the soap shavings, and now we have two balls of sweet smelling soap for our bathrooms.
Soap Making

And then there was the pony ride. Instead of just going around in a circle, the kids were given a bag of “treasure” to toss in a basket, and long stick with which to spear a “knight” and to nab a wreath from a tree.
Knightly Practice

At the end of the ride, each child recieved a certificate proclaiming them a “Knight from Angelbachtal.”

Ritter Zavi von Angelbachtal

They even got to wear a cute costume.

Ritterin Katja

Later, the professionals showed us how it was really done.

and now the professionals

Unfortunately, the grey skies had opened up and it was really pouring, so between the umbrellas and the crowds, we couldn’t find a place to see what the show was about. From what we could hear, they had quite a demonstration. We did, at least, get to see the knights and horses all decked out, and that was enough for the kids.

There are quite a few castle ruins not far from us which hold annual events. We’ll have to try to make it to another fest in the Fall and hope for better weather.

13 Aug

It’s just not going to work

I finally found some time to hack the sleeves off the 8os dress. Yippee! It looked much better. But now I don’t like the length anymore. I guess my eyes were diverted upards before and I was so focused on the sleeves that I didn’t notice the length. I also realized that the back is very ill fitting.

Dress that just isn't working

I contemplated re-doing the back zipper, neck line, and darts but then decided that I am so over this project. I have completely lost interest, and the heat wave has passed, so I am no longer desperate for lightwieght clothing. The fabric will make a nice patchwork something or little girl clothes, but it’s life as a dress for me is over.

12 Aug

To Tread a Bit More Lightly

I don’t know if it’s the pendulum swinging in the other direction, or just that I have had environmentalism on my mind lately and so I’m noticing the movement more. Probably the latter. TS&WGH is in the process of buying a new car. (I think this will be his second new car ever, and this one he doesn’t have to share with me if he doesn’t want to.) Purchases like this always get me thinking about what we need and don’t need. I am soooooooooo glad he ultimately chose a Mini over a Magnum. I’m at the point where I’d like my next car to be used and practical, just so that I don’t bring more new things into our overcrowded world. Then I realize that my current car IS used and practical, so really, I probably won’t be in the market for a car until Zavi is 16.

We now have a subscription to READY MADE magazine, and the current issue has instructions for making your own backyard bio diesel pump. I find the idea of running your car off of the oil from the neighborhood fish and chips place really intrigueing. Electric cars are nice, but the electricity still has to come from somewhere, and that’s probably not going to be solar or wind power for a loooooong time. So, the idea of power coming from something that is already there, and that the use of this something is actually reducing the amount of discarded waste is very interesting to me. They say diesel Mercedes sedans make easy conversions. These are ginormous cars though, and I find my current sedan more than big enough. However, being 40 or something, I am inexplicably attracted to wagons. Somewhere in my subconscious, I think a bio diesel Mercedes wagon and a home pump filled by my local falafel house is settling in. I could totally eat enough falafel to fuel a car!

I envy my tree-hugging sister who has done a wonderful job of incorporating earth and human friendly activities into her life. I am more of a creature of habit and convenience. I tried cloth diapers for my first, but was overwhelmed by the second month. We eat pretty well and enjoy fresh foods from the seasonal markets, but I admit to stocking the freezer with fish sticks and pizza as well. I know that I should use my dryer less, but I often wonder if it offers any savings as I then have to iron the clothes dried on the rack. I do walk a lot and I have gotten my bike back out. TS&WGH showed me arial pictures of the community near where he is temporarily living in the US, and it all looks so spread apart. When I told him what I wanted in a community, he admitted that I was already where I needed to be. Apart from vibrant urban areas, I would probably feel isolated and gluttonous living in the US. Recycling here is well integrated into daily life. I now wince when I buy non returnable bottles from the commissary. Luckily, they just get recycled in the city’s twice a month pick up.

Which then brings me to part of my life I think I CAN change for the better. About a month ago, I noticed that my trash can was very full of fabric scraps. This was after I had tossed the moderate sized pieces into my scrap bag for use in other projects. I’m not going to make snippet quilts, so I’ve been contemplating what I can do with all those teensy pieces, and with the soiled and worn out clothes my kids keep growing out of. We donate the pieces that are gently worn, and we accept hand me downs from friends, but what about those items that are at the end of their life? I had an epiphany yesterday. I admit, it was after a trip to IKEA. Yes, the kids and I like a new set of sheets every five to ten years. I bought a cute inflatable hedgehog pillow for the kids (because, at IKEA you can’t just leave with what you came for), but when I got home, I realized that the inflatable insert is sold separately. It was then that I realized that the ratty sheets and towels I had just replaced and some old, stained clothes could be cut into teensy snippets and used to stuff Herr Hedgehog. Better than the inflatable too, because there’s nothing to pop or puncture when the kids inevitably jump on the pillow and generally abuse it. I have vowed to keep my smallest scraps of fabric and batting in a bag and use them as stuffing when appropriate.

I think I am also ready for another quilt related paradigm change. Making art keeps me sane, but it is not necessary for our daily living. It is a selfish act which could stand to have less impact on our lives and maybe even the earth. So, I think I am going to vow not to buy any new fabric for my quilts. I am not quite ready to apply the same rules to clothing and household linens, but I think I could live off of my stash, recycled clothes of our own, and purchases from the local second hand store. of course, I will, sooner or later, need to find a local second hand store! I’m going to need to ponder the ramifications of this, but I think it could work. It would certainly be appropriate given quilting’s make-do history.

I don’t really think that buying local produce, recycling my textiles, returning bottles, or saving energy by drying my laundry in the sun will save the earth, especially when I have already bought my ozone-destroying plane tickets to California in November, but maybe I can attempt to tread a little lighter until the inevitable end.

11 Aug

Our Camping Adventure

On Sunday, we packed up our car and headed northwest to the Eifel region of Germany. The area is an ancient volcanic mountain range with moors and lakes (Maar) formed in the craters. I am always impressed with just how much stuff the trunk of a Volvo sedan can hold!
Car all packed

We met friends coming from England there, and a few days later, their friends from another part of Germany. We settled in at the well equiped campsite. The bikes proved popular not only with our kids, but with the many Dutch families in our area as well. Katja spent most of the time taking turns with a cute little blond boy about three years old.

On Monday we walked into the nearby town of Manderscheid and to it’s two castle ruins. I was really impressed with the kids enthusiasm for a long walk. Half was in town, and half was up and down the forested park in which the two castles sat. Zavi followed the signs and kept us on the right path.

Up in the tower of the Oberburg, Katja looks a bit like Rapunzel. The kids really loved running around the ruins, climbing the towers, and finding all the nooks and crannies.


In the valley between the castles was a meadow and little river. We picniked there and the kids entertained themselves for at least an hour trying to scoop up tiny fish. Friend M actually caught a little crab creature on one of his tries.

Up the next little hill, the second castle, Niederburg, remained a little more intact.

I thought the grate in the floor of this tower was just for drainage, but the kids looked closer and found a more macabre function. We’re guessing that this had been the dungeon.
He must have been a very bad boy

Back at the campsite, I did my best to repair the American image abroad by sharing the S’more love. Our friend M thought these were pretty darn amazing.

S'more Love!

We fed some of the other kids as well. The first evening, they were cautious, but the second night they immediately swarmed around me clammoring for me to make them a S’more, or bringing me roasted marshmallows to squish with the chocolate between the crackers. One Dutch mom wondered where she could get graham crackers in the Netherlands. We decided that a suitable, and very European, alternative would be roasted marshmallows and LU Petit Ecolier cookies, which already have a pat of chocolate on them. Later, the “Marshmallow Kids” brought me thank you pictures!
Dutch Thank Yous

Tuesday we spent the morning at the Maarmuseum learning about volcanic rock and how lakes and moors are created in ancient volcanic craters, and checking out prehistoric fossils. In the afternoon, we awaited the arival of L and his parents and shared some more S’mores.

On Wednesday the three families piled in two cars and went to a Sommerrodelbahn. On their first go, the boys went with an adult (here’s Zavi zooming away with L’s dad). Then they were able to go twice more alone. Zavi thought that this was the coolest thing ever and looks forward to a day when we can own our own house and build a Sommerrodelbahn in our back yard (yea, right!).

I went twice with Katja and once by myself. It IS really fun!


The real attraction, however was the safari park Wildpark Daun. M absolutely loves animals and this place did not disapoint. We saw Berber monkeys, as well as falcons, deer, llamas, donkeys, Prezwalski horses, yaks, mountain goats, and wild boar all out in the open and most close enough to touch (not the monkeys or yaks).

The moms impressed me. This monkey mom was so patient with her baby and teenager, and wild boar babies are sooooo cute.

Zavi and L tried feeding the llamas.

But Katja had better luck with a donkey.

On the ride back we stopped in Wallenborn to see a naturally carbonated geyser. This one shoots up every 30 minutes or so due to the build up of carbon dioxide under the ground. It bubbles up, then erupts about 10 feet tall and then continues bubbling closer to the ground for anothr five to ten minutes. Our tired kids thought this was going to be dumb, but when the geyser shot up, they were all suitably impressed.
Boiling Cold Water

On Thursday, we piled back in our respective vehicles and headed home, tired, dirty, and happy.

06 Aug

Happy Birthday

I have been busy trying to wrap up “little” projects before diving into the next quilt. Problem is, these little projects have proven not to be so little. And they won’t go away. I repaired a stuffed toy for Zavi, only to find that it burst another seam within an hour. And then there’s the 80s dress. Actually, I’ve decided to lop off the sleeves and take in the sides a bit, but first, I needed to make two birthday presents for this weekend.

The first is a table runner for my neighbor who did not get one last Xmas. She has a lovely creamy colored living room/dining room and putters in her garden at every opportunity. Hence, simple fun with floral fabrics:

Floral Table Runner

The second is for a friend who enjoys cross stitch and just bought a new house. I was inspired by Tonya’s free-pieced word quilts and decided that a sampler-inspired wall hanging would be perfect. That was about as much planning as I put into this. I wanted to put a dent in my bag of scraps, so I challenged myself to use only this pile of scraps for the whole quilt. OK, I did allow myself to use a piece of fabric from my stash for the backing, and I used binding and batting left-overs, which technically were not from the bag of scraps, but they are definitely in the same vein.

Pile o' Scraps

With no master plan or even much of a vision, I pieced the words Home Sweet Home. I had considered a free-pieced house and a row of flowers, but I felt I was running out of time (it needed to be done by Sunday morning, the house needed to be cleaned before we left, kids were interupting as only kids can do, etc., etc.) so I just made a heart and a wonky tulip to fill in the obvious spaces. In retrospect, I could have made the tulip’s stem darker and added more space between Home and the heart, but remember, this was all on the fly. I intended to quilt hearts, but again with no real plan, they ended up as swirly shapes. Then I ran out of thread. I chose a similar shade, and then ran out of that as well. I thought I’d never finish as I was spending all my time changing spools and knotting off ends!

Home Sweet Home wall hanging

In the end, the pile of scraps looks just the same (maybe it’s not as compacted as before), but I think it’s a charming gift and I hope she likes it.

I’ve glued an eye back on another toy and a cutout onto a hanger, so next up is re-working the 80s dress, or repairs to Zavi’s favorite Bayern München tricot. On the up side though, is that I got some new DVDs from the library, and in the last few evenings have quilted more houses. I’m up to 12 now! I’m off for four days to go camping. I’ll bring hexagons to piece, but I harbor no illusions that any will get sewn.