27 Nov

My Obsession

The Fliegenpilz. I’ve developed a love for these ubiquitous red and white spotted mushrooms. Moonstitches was offering up fabric a while back on her blog, but it was the tiny mushroom clothespins I loved. She sent a few to me recently, and now they are very happily living on the top of my thread rack along with my Fliegenpilz darner.

Pegs and darner

In thinking about what I would do with these pegs, I decided that I needed to go with this theme in my “sewing room.” This weekend I made a patchwork cover for my ironing board (it desperately needed one) using my red and white dotted fabrics.

Then I moved on to mushroom pincushions from this book by Léa Stansal. (Better pictures from her Val d’Argent exhibit on Redwork in Germany’s blog than mine.)

Pages from Léa Stansal's book

I’m participating in a pincushion swap and decided that it would only be fitting that I sent my partner a mushroom-themed package. She said she likes felty, Japanese crafty, Martha-y stuff, so I made her a straightforward mushroom pincushion and a felt needle book. I added the mushroom buttons I got at the Sticheleien, little mushrooms to add to flower arrangements or your Christmas tree, and of course, German Christmas chocolates.

Pincushion Swap

Then, because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I had to make a pincushion for myself. Mine is a little more over-the-top French with it’s lace and crinkly gold stem; plus my various pin attempts add to it’s ecclectic-ness.

My pincushion

Martha even has a mushroom craft for the season. They called these “praktische pilzkunde” which I think means something like “the easier mushroom to hunt.” I’ve heard them more often called “Glückspilze,” (or lucky mushrooms). You’d call someone a “Glückspilz” like you’d call someone a “lucky duck” in English. My knowledge of them is that just about everyone has plaster ones in their gardens next to their gnomes, and that they are considered good luck symbols and show up in things like this. Speaking of gardens, I found these cute clogs while surfing. And these little muffins look pretty yummy. OK, that’s enough. Gotta get back to my real life now.

23 Nov

The Un-Thanksgiving Thanks Giving Post

I came home a few days ago and was completely overwhelmed by a full house, kids bouncing everywhere, all horizontal surfaces covered, and bathrooms needing to be cleaned. A whirlwind of tidy-ing ensued, followed by a bit of introspection. What was I thinking to expect that the cleaning fairies would arrive in my absence and do all the chores I hate doing? Why shouldn’t my MIL and SIL put off the same things I do? So, I’ll chalk my disappointment up to unrealistic “reintegration” expectations, and focus on what I AM thankful for and appreciative of:

A MIL and SIL who are willing to travel over 3,000 miles and nine time zones to care for my kids while I indulge in “professional development.”

Peace of mind that the kids were well cared for, fed, schlepped to (most of) their activities, clothed in clean duds, and generally loved.

Parents willing to meet me half way so we don’t have to wait years between visits.

My sister’s healthy pregnancy and wonderfully supportive partner.

A patient and supportive partner of my own.

His brand new toy 🙂

And how excited he was to finally drive it home!

And, so that I can add more photos, I am thankful for the knitting help my sister gave me. Look, two times through the wash turned this:

into this:

(It didn’t seem felted enough the first time through, but now it’s shrunk so well that it only just fits my big ole wallet. I’m definitely making another, bigger, one though — now that I have the skills.)

Blogging deserves thanks too. I am very lucky to have met many wonderful, inspirational, and supportive peers through blogging, and to even get occasional goodies! Like these from Moonstitches — I admired her little mushrooms (of course) and she threw in the text-y fabric knowing that I’d like it, based on blog comments I’d made:

Since we have each been home less than a week TS&WGH and I have decided not to bake the usual turkey dinner and invite all the neighbors this year. Instead, we’re taking it easy and will have dinner at our favorite local haunt where we are greeted like Norm from Cheers and the food is always plentiful and good.

Brauhaus, Leimen

So, I’m going to appreciate what I do have, and not worry about what I don’t have, and be very thankful that we are a whole family once again 🙂

21 Nov

What (else) I did on my US vacation

After Art Quilt Tahoe, my mom and I headed to Arizona to attend a baby shower for my sister. My dad met us there, as well as one of my sister’s friends who’s been part of our extended family for at least 25 years. It was great to see everyone, and to meet my sister’s “Mann.” I won’t post the group photo, but in the spirit of consistency, I’ll post a picture of the peach cobbler we shared on our night out!

We stayed at a rental house which belonged to the parents of another of my sister’s friends. It reminded me of the house I spent the first half of my childhood in, and my great grandmother’s house. I was ready to move right in until we noticed that another similar house, was for sale right down the street. And, it was a more appropriate size for our family. Too bad, it’s not terribly realistic for us to live in this particular town. I’ll share some of my favorite details from the rental though, if you’ll humor me.

I loved the cabinetry in the kitchen. 1920’s details really appeal to me.

Kitchen Tchotchki shelf

And I just about fainted when I saw the ironing board in it’s own little cabinet! My parents’ first house had one of these:

Ironing board cupboard

Our rooms had lovely windows, and antique quilts too! I think they came with the house.

Eight pointed Star quilt

I don’t know about you, but I love the funky tile in old houses — the more pink and black, the better, although turquoise and black is nice too. This house didn’t disappoint. I wouldn’t dare change the tile in this bathroom (although the wallpaper might have to go)!

Bathroom Tile

The house had a deck with a pretty nice view too:

Arizona View

Since my sister is an excellent knitter, I decided to have her translate the pattern for Mason Dixon Knitting‘s Buttonhole Bag for me. I was pretty sure I could make this with my limited knitting skills, but I don’t know how to read patterns. She must have done her job pretty well because I had this completed before we left:

Buttonhole Bag, pre-felting

I’m felting it now, as I type, so the completely finished pics will be in a later post.

However, The real reason I was in Arizona was not for knitting tutoring, but for my sister’s baby shower. The details of my gift are in the previous post, but here is the quilt, with a pair of supercute felt “elf” booties I made from Heather Baily‘s pattern (another baby at the party threatened to leave with the booties on his feet), and a bunny pull toy I bought at a flea market and later found out it had belonged to the kids of a quilt group acquaintance.

Quilt, Booties and Pull Toy for Violet

Here’s the expectant parents snuggling under the quilt:

Erin and Jason under Violet's quilt

Yesterday, I made the long journey home. Pheonix to Chicago, Chicago to Frankfurt, ICE train to Heidelberg, and two streetcars home. The best view of the trains in the cavernous station was about halfway down the escalator, but as I was unwilling to drag my luggage up and down the escalators to get the perfect shot, here’s a merely acceptable one to give you an idea of the brand new station at Frankfurt airport and the slick express trains inside it:

ICE train in Frankfurt

And now that I’m home (and so is TS&WGH), and all my projects with deadlines are done, and my photos downloaded, emails caught up and laundry done, I need a nap! (Housecleaning can wait.)

21 Nov

Super Secret Project Revealed

This is probably a good time to insert an update on my mystery quilt. It’s a baby quilt for my sister.

In the beginning of the pregnancy, they called the baby “Pea,” so naturally I used pea green as my starting point. It didn’t hurt that both mom and dad are dedicated environmentalists. Now that they know it’s a girl, her name will be Violet, after our great grandmother Viola, who died at the impressive age of 100 this year.

Remember when I asked for good night wishes in different languages? I used them as the quilting. I had this epiphany half way through the quilting, so the top section of the quilt is continuous-line leaves (from Dijanne’s book), and the bottom section is the sweet dreams quilting.

From Lars, who’s mom speaks Portugese: Boa noite, “good night.”

From Erika: Äs siässes Träimli or “a sweet little dream” in her Swiss German dialect (sounds like “ice saiyses traiymlee”).

From Ash: In Dutch it’s Welterusten (literally sleep well)

SIL Anne adds more Dutch: Slaap lekker – literally translates to “sleep delicious,” which she supposes is comparable to sweet dreams.

Bea says: Sliep seft, pop. “This is what my Mum said when I was a little child. It is Frisian, the language spoken in the northern part of the Netherlands.”

From Françoise in Belgium comes the French Bonne nuit ma puce (Good night my flea)!

Natalya “de-lurked” to add “Spokoinoi nochi solnishko/calm night my little sun, is what I say to my girls as I leave their rooms. It’s Russian.”

So many Romanian choices from Hedgehog: noapt buna (good night) somn usor (sleep well), vise placute (sweet
dreams), hai la nani (go to sleep!) and Nani, nani, puiul mamei! “Sleep, sleep, mama’s little baby (humancub).” Plus, A few more for you after a multilingual lunch table….

Finnish: Nuku hyvin, (“Sleep well”), or kauniita unia (“sweet dreams”)
Swedish: ’sov god’ (sleep well), ‘natti, natti’ (’night, ‘night)

Tina adds more to the Swedish pot: “I would say, sov gott – sleep well or god natt – good night, these are the most common ones usually you add a word or too with it to make it sweeter and more personal – I would say that I almost always say God Natt hjärtat or God natt Snäckan– which means Good night sweat-heart or Good Night seashell.”

Jessica of littleshika offers the Japanese “o yasumi nasai” (honorific form for “please rest”) more casually “o yasumi

And, of course, the German, Schlaf gut. “Sleep good.” To which Uschi adds … und träum was Schöne ist (and dream something beautiful).

From Giusy comes the Italian for “Good night.” which is buona notte.

And Spanish is Buenos noches, mija or “Good night my daughter.”

Of course, we have to have something in Turkish, so Beyza’s parents say “Good night” is Iyi geceler (which sounds a lot more like “ee gideleh” to me) and “Sweet dreams” is Tatli Rüyalar.

The interesting script is Aramaish, which was the original language of the bible. Of course, modern Aramaish is to that as American English is to “Olde” English, but for someone who had no idea that the language still existed, I think it’s pretty cool. The script says “Good night” and sounds to me like “lilia tobo.” Thanks Martina, Aram and their pastor — I hope I haven’t messed up the script and changed the meaning.

And Katrin adds: “Gut’s nächtle mei dächtle, schlaf gesund und kugelrund bis morgen früh zur kaffeestund.” (She says, “mei dächtle” is very heavy frankonian and would be translated as “my little daughter”. I don´t think I need to translate the rest, as I know you speak german very well). For my family and other non-german speaking readers, it translates to “Good night my little daughter, sleep healthy and round like a ball until the early morning coffee hour.” But of course, it sounds better in German because it rhymes!

Finally, because the Aramaisch and Cyrillic called out for another non-roman script, my new brother-in-law called on friends for Chinese. It says “wan an” which means “late peace” and is used for good night.

Here’s the quilt, finished:

Violet's Quilt

And a detail:


You may also remember a frustrating week I had when I decided to give up on a near-complete project and start over. This was it — the first attempt at Violet’s quilt. I just wasn’t satisfied. So, I decided to start over and cut this attempt up (since I didn’t want to waste such nice fabric). In fact, I even broke my “don’t buy new fabric” rule so that I could still use the fairy tale flannel on the back side of the new version. It REALLY needed to be there.

First attempt

This will probably become a stuffed bunny, or quilted toddler jacket some day.

21 Nov

Art Quilt Tahoe Wrap Up

I’m finally home from my whirlwind US trip. Here’s what I didn’t get a chance to post about my week at Art Quilt Tahoe.

More from our lunch excursion to Lake Tahoe. The water was so still you could see the pebbles at the bottom. It always amazes me how clear the lake is:

Clear Lake Tahoe

There was even a rainbow:

Good Omen

This isn’t the wonderful berry cobbler we had that day. I think it was a lunch dessert from the day before. I noticed that Gerrie hasn’t posted it, so in the name of cooperative blogging, here is a berry mouse cake, or something like that:

raspberry Mouse Cake

The next day, the sun shone again, making interesting patterns on the window shades. It’s a little quilty, no?

On the second to last day (I think) we had a mexican buffet — with the best flan EVER!

Like silk, it was!

Because I was there to improve my artistic skills, here’s proof that I was doing more than eating and sight-seeing. Although I didn’t like the original fabric on this one as much as the first, and it didn’t come together as easily, I worked hard and, in the end, I think it is the better composition.

Quilt Top 2

From the leftovers I pinned together a small composition, which TS&WGH calls a “big postcard.”

Big Postcard

And I made another very small quilt from more bits. The working title on this is “Windows.”

Windows Quilt

In case you missed it on Gerrie’s blog, here’s the very last dessert, a creamy mousse in a chocolate cup. Mmmmmmmm:

Mousse in a cup

The last thing I did was to hop in the car with my mom, and drive to Reno, NV for the second half of the adventure. I tried to get a picture of the wooden railroad sheds meant to protect the rails from heavy snow, but all I could manage from the highway was a scene slightly evocative of the gold rush and westward expansion:

Cal/Neva scenery

14 Nov

I Don’t Even Know Where to Start

Day four (I think, I’ve lost count) at AQT and I don’t even know where to start. OK, here’s my room. This has got to be the snuggliest bed EVER! Too many pillows, but a wonderful thick comforter.

It’s all good. Like yesterday’s Dessert — the best cheesecake (other than neighbor M’s):

Here’s my picture of Gerrie taking a picture of my roomie Anne taking a picture of Gerrie. Anne is a college-level art and art education teacher and we have had some wonderful conversations. Bonus that my roomie and my quilt mom get along too, so, with the addition of Kris who I met last year, it’s just one big party here!

The fruits of yesterday’s labors:

Today we lunched on the lake, but I forgot to take a picture of the fruit cobbler dessert. Bad, bad me.

I did take a picture of the moose with the Mona Lisa smile.

12 Nov

I’m in Heaven

I am in heaven! Before I actually started at Art Quilt Tahoe, I got to have dinner with two of my moms (the third is at home watching the kids, which is yet another thing to love). On the left is my quilt mom, Gerrie, and on the right is my real mom. My two moms

Here’s our dessert, since Gerrie didn’t bring her camera to blog it:

Dessert with the moms

Last night was our Welcome Dinner, and I didn’t bring my camera to blog it. But, look what we woke up to this morning! It’s so nice to be all snug in our conference rooms creating and just enjoying the lovely scenery.

Today, our instructor (also a Gerrie) let us loose with paints and mark-making tools, to include the tjanting which is normally used for batik. We just made marks on fabric and then tomorow we’ll tear it all into little pieces and start patchworking. Here’s my output for the day:

I saw a house theme emerging, so I went with it. I’m not sure where I’ll go with it. I’m curious to see what will emerge tomorow. My workshop is called The No-Plan, Spontaneous Quilt, and it is definitely that!

Tonight’s dessert may look familiar to Gerrie’s faithful readers, so i may switch to lunch desserts, or just stick to the classroom goodies!

Dessert, Day 2

10 Nov

Art Quilt Tahoe Warmup

I made it to Lake tahoe and will check into the hotel tomorow for my AQT workshop. In the meantime, my mom and I stopped by to check out the work from the first session, and to take blogger Gerrie out to dinner. I’m excited now to start the workshop after seeing what everyone has been doing, and saying hi to friends from last year. I hope I can sleep tonight ;-). Dinner was wonderful! We went to the River ranch Lodge on the Truckee river, which I know from my childhood as the place where you have to get out of the river and return your rafts and canoes. I’d never been inside though. It was a lovely old place with a typical lodgey feel and we enjoyed drinks by the big fireplace before dinner. Our table was right by a window overlooking the river rapids. By the way, dinner and dessert were delicious, but I didn’t bring the camera cable (thinking my very electronically up-to-date mother would have one) so desert du jour pictures will have to wait until I can poach equipment from Gerrie, or get home. Close your eyes and imagine a wonderfully chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries…….