30 Sep

Herbst Fest

How long has it been since I’ve posted about a fest? Has it been over a month already? I am remiss! Although, I do think I actually skipped posting about the Wine Fest in our town a week or two ago (what was I thinking?). Today was the Heidelberger Hersbt Fest/Market. The entire old town pedestrian zone was food tents, live music, street vendors, a Floh Markt, and performances. I wanted to see how “my” gallery, Bourgeois Pig was doing (better at the gallery itself, which was on the Flea Market route, than at their booth), so I grabbed the kids and off we went.

They griped and moaned on the Strassenbahn there but some free balloons cheered them up pretty quickly:

Happier kids

We had pretzels, bratwurst, apfelschörle* and gummi bears, listened to some big band music and then found the Mideaval section where there were jugglers and a fantastic face painter.

Zavi's Dragon

Check out those flames. And the tail goes down his neck. I really didn’t want to wash it off tonight. Katja chose flowers, of course:

Sparkly!

Gotta bring out one of the local marching bands. I love that these guys just did their thing amongst the teeming crowds. No police trying to keep everyone back, no scheduled announcement, just the thundering of drums and some really big flags (no, not the ones on the trumpets).

When we got home from this, we went to an aquaintance’s house for birthday coffee and cake, and then when we got home again, other neighbors stopped by to say hi and invited us over for Mexican food (Honey, you have taught M well). Just as we were ready to finally go home for the night, waaaaay past the kids’ bed time, the skies opened up and dropped buckets of rain and hail. Can you believe from the pictures above that this is what we came home to tonight?

Drifts of hail

I really don’t want to know what these marble-sized atmospheric bullets have done to my car.

*BTW, Apfelschörle is apple juice mixed with bubbly mineral water 50/50. You MUST try it. It is very refreshing and besides, our local radio station would like Apfelschörle to seep it’s way into other languages just as so many foreign words have found their way into the german language (my fave: “downloaden”).

28 Sep

More Stupid Rules

Katja got a magazine in the mail today with stories and puzzles and pictures and lots of sparkly pink things that little girls love. The magazine has a regular feature where they show readers’ pictures, and Katja was inspired to make a special drawing of her own. It wasn’t until after she had completed her masterpiece that I read the fine print stating that the picture should be of one one of the characters in the magazine. How creatively limiting is that? Katja didn’t “know how” to draw something from the magazine, and more importantly, wasn’t inspired to. So, I told her that if she wanted to share her drawing with other people, I would be happy to post it on my blog for her. We say “Pthbbbbbbbbbb!” to silly rules that only intensify brand imprinting.

Mama Kitty and Baby Kitty

28 Sep

You Are All Invited!

Here it is — the official announcement of my show!

I am actually giddy right now. Since quitting work as a graphic designer to follow TS&WGH around the world, I’ve never been sure if I’d actually want to go back to the stress of creating “on demand” and meeting crazy deadlines. But I have had such a great time designing this card (and helping Dijanne get her book printed) that I’m wondering if design truly was/is my calling. (Not that I’m going to give up the quilting — no never!) I could be working on the border of Quiltstadt, but I couldn’t wait to make the final changes to the card and get the files to Kate. I have a great feeling of accomplishment burning the files to a disc and wrapping up a “package” for the printer. Now is the nerve wracking wait to see if I sent it all correctly and to see if it rolls off the press the way it looked in my head and on screen.

So, if you are in central Germany any time between December 2nd and February 2nd please stop by Bourgeois Pig and see my quilts in person!

26 Sep

A Crafty Day

After I finished quilting the houses, I set “Quiltstadt” aside to let my fingers heal, and to finish “Raps.” Then I got side-tracked by some hexagons I had hanging around as take-along hand-work. They were originally intended to be part of “Fliegenpilz I,” but were just too much. I think I have a good piece of fabric for them now, and I’ve had a couple of take-along opportunities in which I made significant progress.

Hexagon Pilze

Now I can get back to quilting the borders of “Quiltstadt.”

I also made a pincushion for the Pincushion Challenge today. This time, the theme is Recycled. I decided that I’d sacrifice the 80s Dress for the occasion, and pair it’s femininity with a now equally out-dated testosterone-laden uniform.

To the scrap pile with you both

I had grand ideas of adding something with popsicle sticks, then it just became a fabric bowl actually cut out of the uniform with a peachy cushion inside. Then my time alloted I decided on pure simplicity and ended up with this:

Nice for a total cop-out!

As long as I was sitting at my sewing machine with pretty fabric, I decided I could make a desperately needed bag for my camera so it doesn’t get scratched in my purse(s). I checked one of my Japanese craft magazines for inspiration and was inspired to add a strap to hang it on my jeans as well. It’s a little big for the camera as I wasn’t sure how much ease I should allow for he thickness of the now-quilted fabric, but oh well. Better too big than too small.
This could be pretty handy

24 Sep

Wald Ameisen (forest ants)

Following Sidney’s advice on where to find big ants, and knowing that our week of sunny weather would probably be coming to an end soon, I planned to take the kids to the “woods” today. The rest of the neighborhood kids went to the movies, and my deeming the movie unsuitable for my delicate flowers is probably a major cause of this:

Grouchy Zavi

He’s also upset because we’re going to the woods and he’s left his “feste Schuhe” (tennies or other non-sandals) at the neighbor’s house and they have already left for the movie which he can’t go to. Lucky for us, I forgot my camera and when I went back for it, I saw that Oma was still home and she retrieved the shoes :-)

Things are improving slightly, but he doesn’t want to walk with us:

Stomping through the woods...

A certain other child IS, however, enjoying communing with nature:

Cute wiggly baby worm in need of a leaf blanket

We happened to stop to picnic at a bench which was coincidentally surrounded by ants about twice the size of our previous ant farm inhabitants. Zavi was, by now, into the whole adventure and we rounded up ants by the dozen. Unfortunately, these forest ants are quick and after collecting a dozen or so, it was hard to add any more without a few escaping at the same time. I think our final count was 18, including two that got injured when I put the lid back on.

Ant Farm with forest ants

It wasn’t long before we realized that these, too, could escape through the air holes as well. Having read that ants use little oxygen, we resolved to tape over the holes and just open the lid each day for air exchange. Not being much of a Supermom I didn’t have tape on me, so I had to sit on a rock with my fingers over the holes while the kids played in the playground near the woods. Hopefully, these ants will work out for a while and I will be able to post pictures of cool tunnels soon.

23 Sep

“Raps” Done!

This is how I spent my day today:

Sidney and Silke crafting

OK, you’re right, neither of these ladies is me, but imagine two more at the table and you have our day today. The weather was gorgeous, so we spent a very gemütlich Craft Day sitting on Silke’s balcony stitching. Sorry that I forgot to get the camera out before Tanya had to go, though. Tanya worked on a Christmas cross stitch, Silke organized some fabrics and knitted, Sidney cut out squares for a swap and showed off her first attempt at free-motion quilting (excellent results), and I sewed binding on “Raps.”

Raps quilt done

Sammy thinks it looks pretty good! I didn’t want to have to bury the ends of all that wavy line quilting (and I didn’t have my top fused or otherwise attached to my batting), so instead of Melody’s Escape Hatch finish I decied to try Marla Hattabaugh’s invisible binding which I found through a link on Brenda’s blog, Serendipity and the Art of the Quilt. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and happy to have another tool in my bag of tricks.

Here’s the back kinda close up. My busy backing fabric really makes everything disappear. Basicly, it’s your usual French binding, but instead of wrapping it around the edge of the quilt, you pull it all to the back of the quilt so nothing shows on the front. To facilitate this you don’t go around the corners with the binding, you just sew on two opposite sides, pull the binding to the back, and then sew on the other two sides.
Another detail

“Raps” is the german name for the rape seed plant that canola oil is made of (it sounds nicer in German than the word rape which has connotations not applicable to my quilt). The crops bloom in spring and late summer/fall and the bright yellow color is really dramatic. I especially like the contrast of it against the often-grey skies in Germany, and the ocassional red regional train going by really makes the colors pop. On this quilt I have sunprinted actual raps flowers, log cabins in raps colors, and seed stitch which could literally be the rape seeds or just look like the scattered blossoms.

22 Sep

A Little Progress

Based in no small part on my frustration the other day, I was desperate to finish a project. So, when I made my weekly trip to check our mail box on post and found that the white fabric-covered wire I finally broke down and ordered had arrived, I dropped everything to make button flowers:

Felt Vase with Button Flowers

My little felt vase has been sadly empty since I made it last winter in a frenzy of felting. I always envisioned a simple, graphic arrangement like this in it, but didn’t want green wire. I haven’t been able to find any around here, so I finally ordered it. I hate leaving my little town since it has almost everything I need within walking distance (my needs are pretty simple, especially since I don’t need a fabric store soooo much anymore), so internet shopping fills in the blanks well for me.

On the quilt front, I finished the hand stitching on “Raps” and started machine quilting the log cabins that weren’t seed-stitched. I wasn’t satisfied with how it was going and spent the afternoon yesterday picking out the stitching. Yes, there seems to be a theme here. But, after the kids went to bed, I sat back down at the machine, slowed it’s speed down and mine, and finished off the quilting! I plan on binding it at Craft Day tomorow and checking that quilt off my To Do list!

Speaking of stuff arriving in the mail, this neat birthday gift arrived from a way-cool auntie:

Guess what this is!

What, you don’t recognize this? It’s a high tech ant farm and it was the huge hit of the week. We filled it with ants from our front walkway as soon as it arrived and they quickly went to work enlarging a starter tunnel. But, they are small ants and they seem to have escaped out the small air holes. By today we were down to about 6 ants from 20. (I don’t want to know where the others are in our house!) Our task now is to find a colony of larger ants somewhere to re-populate the farm.

20 Sep

Who Makes Up These Stupid Rules Anyway?

I’ve had a frustrating few days. My son is back in school (finally), but daughter had Monday off AND a friend over. Today my son brought his friend home with him. Between birthday and friends and no school, there hasn’t been much time for me to work on projects lately. Yesterday, my son had his first homework of the season and it took him THREE HOURS! We go through this at the begining of every something (I’m not exactly sure what the trigger is, but it has something to do with newness). He whined and cried and stomped and said NO to every suggestion I had. He actually sounded a LOT like me when I was in High School and College (and probably befre that too, but I just don’t remember). Sorry Mom and Dad. On top of that frustration, I decided that one of the projects I’ve actually been making progress on is not turning out as I want it to. I slept on it and decided that the only fix is to start over. This morning was eaten up by running errands and then the afternoon was all kids all the time. I desperately want to finish something because I feel like I’m barely treading water here; or at least taking a step backwards for each one forward. I hate project angst. On the up side, one of my errands this morning was to deliver patterns to the Arts and Crafts shop on post which eventually means some money for me. But they had just marked down a bunch of fabrics 60% AND gotten a bunch of new stuff in. Pretty stuff. Oh well, it is all lost on me who swore off buying new fabrics. Yea, me who is also envisioning projects with wide expanses of a single fabric. The kind of pieces which are not in my stash of half yard cuts, or the size of a back of a thrifted shirt. What was I thinking?! Who makes up these stupid rules anyway? I decided that if it is my rule, then I can break it. I bought a few yards of something I swear I need, although it is neither 60% off nor one of the new arrivals. It is however essential to the project which I am starting over. And I need a flea market — QUICK!