20 Jun

Mushroom Post

I’ve heard that a few dear readers would like to see pictures of me whizzing about town on my new bike. Sorry — it’s probably not going to happen. Here however, are two pictures shot en route to last night’s Quilted Chaos meeting. With baskets both on the front and the back of my über practical bike, I was able to easily haul a big bag of wool to return to Holly, my backpack AND a bag with show-and-tell stuff and my Chevron Scarf WIP.

Through the vineyards

Back roads of Rohrbach/Heidelberg

I got to test the bike-powered lights on the way home and they work! I’m a happy camper.

I’m also happy because I got goodies in the mail today. Since I’ve been delving dangerously deeper and deeper into knitting I’ve accumulated enough needles to rattle around at the bottom of my knitting stash box (well, they would rattle if I didn’t have it stuffed to overflowing with yarn). So, I’ve been considering making a needle case of some sort. Probably with Fliegenpilz on it. As kismet would have it, Katrin was thinking the same thing. So I bought hers:

Mushroom Post

Cute Fliegenpilz applique. And don’t you love the “Christmas in June” card?! Katrin mentioned in the card that there was also some “test items” included. Hmmmmm. Can you guess what they were?

New knitting needle case coordinates with older stitch markers!

All my needles are very cozy and organized now. Katrin, I may add a shorter, wider pocket for my circulars — I hope you don’t mind. It’s a lovely needle case and I am very happy with it. Now I guess I need a project for the new “Fliegenpilz Needles!” They’re kinda long though. I’m not going to poke an eye out or anything, am I?

Oh, and guess who else is happy with today’s package?

Anyone want a kitty? All packed up and ready to go.

17 Jun

A Few New Things

Sorry about the lack of needle doodles lately. I’ve been busy. Just to prove it, here’s a couple of teaser photos:

I’ll share more later, but for now I’ve decided to be a bit coy.

One of the reasons I’ve been busy has been that we’ve added another activity to the kids’ schedule: twice a week swimming. Katja is in a 10 week beginner class and Zavi is still deciding if he wants to join the local club, so we haven’t dropped the tumbling class. All our activities are in town though — which I love. With good summer weather, I’ve been wanting to ride our bikes to these activities (we sometimes walk but they’re just far enough away that the kids get REALLY worn out, or the time is too short). However, my racey-face mountain bike I’ve had for 15 years (pre-husband and kids) isn’t always practical. Today the local eco-club is having a fest with a bike flea market. Perfect timing. I came home with a total old lady bike. The only thing that would make this bike any more uncool would be if it were a three-wheeler.

It has everything my other bike doesn’t. It has a woman’s frame. It has only three gears. I sit straight up. The saddle is wiiiiide. It has a kickstand. It has one hand brake and you can also pedal backwards to brake. It has lights powered by a gadget that uses wheel friction. It has a book rack (which I plan to add a basket to). It has fenders. It has a chain guard.
In it’s defense, it has a snappy electric blue paint job which is what sold me on it, as opposed to the brand new version I looked at mid-week with matte white paint (obviously I’ve been in Germany too long if I’m valuing things on their clean-ability). I’m looking forward to riding to swim class tomorrow.

16 Jun

A Sweet use for Sweet Bags

Sorry there hasn’t been much needle doodling around here. I have been working on stuff, but I’m not ready to share yet. I did have a good crafty day with local friends — we get together once a month (no kids or husbands allowed) to eat, craft. and gab. It’s great! I AM getting twitchy to dive into a big art quilt project, but I’ve got some other obligations I want to meet first.

Something I do want to share is an email I received recently. Julie in Arizona wrote to thank me for offering my Süße Sac (Sweet Bag) pattern on my web site:

Kristin,

Thanks for your hobo bag (Süße Sac) pattern.  I went to town with it and made these (and many more) bags for our local domestic violence shelter.  We put necessities like shampoos, toothbrushes, and other hygiene items in them. 

Julie's bags

Thank YOU, Julie, for putting the bags to such good use! A little bit of beauty and such a generous gesture in these womens’ lives probably means a lot more than they will ever be able to tell you.

13 Jun

6/13/07

I was thinking today about how I might combine the interest of gestural needle doodles and more traditional machine quilting that shows I have the skills if I want to use them (eventual proof that I choose to quilt wonky — I don’t necessarily do it because it’s the only way I can quilt).  I’m not there yet, but my confidence is building that I will get there, and sooner rather than later. This line of thinking led to today’s Needle Doodle:

6/13/07

I did the poppy with 40 weight variegated thread for machine quilting. I did the background in a thinner cotton for sewing. I like the contrast. Nadine’s silk would have given even more contrast, but I don’t have any on hand (I’ve got a whole page of threads ready for my VISA card number though). I like the effect and will have to remember this for future projects. The pattern looks fussy, but it really isn’t. The secret? I quilted it from the back with a grid as a guide. See, I said I was going to have to try some actual marking. Each circle isn’t perfect (they aren’t even stitched in circles), but the overall effect is very regular. With small stitches and thin thread, any other irregularities are lessened as well. I can’t take any credit for coming up with all this — props go to Nadine and my day with her!

12 Jun

6/12/07

Aren’t blogs wonderful things? One of the reasons I started blogging was to get connected to other like-minded people as I started out on my art quilting journey. The response I’ve had has been more than I could have imagined. One thing I never imagined was how many people I would meet in real life from connections made in Blogland.

Melody Johnson’s blog was probably the first I ever read — I found it while looking at the ways quilters were creating their websites in preparation of creating my own. Shortly thereafter I met her in person at Art Quilt Tahoe.

While there I met my quilt mom-to-be, Gerrie, who’s blog I had just started reading.

In a reversal, Robin and I met first (at AQT) and then have kept up with each other’s journey through our respective blogs.

Wenche, of Norway, found me in France, of all places.

I had the pleasure of taking a class from Dijanne Cevaal in The Netherlands and then helping her get copies made of her wonderful free-motion quilting resource book before last year’s Carrefour European du Patchwork: all organized via blogs. I saw her again at the show and met Sandy too (who recognized me because Katja was at my side!).

Francoise actually came from Belgium to Germany to see my show after we met through our blogs.

Charlotte showed up at the gallery too, and now we regularly check in on each other’s blogs. I even convinced her to come to my Fabric Collage class!

Last week I had a wonderful suprise in my email inbox — Katrin was in Heidelberg and could we meet for a drink!? She is just as cute in real life as you would imagine from her blog; and even though she said she was nervous, we had a lovely time talking about fabric (of course), sewing, movies, pirates and our families. We both forget cameras — bad bloggers we are.

When I was trying to think of the few bloggers I had met in real life, I amazed myself at how many there actually were. The wonderful thing about quilt and craft blogs is that no one needs to hide ulterior motives or their true identity like in online dating, so you actually DO want to meet these people!

Not long ago, Nadine left a comment on my blog and in visiting hers I realized that not only was she also an American in Germany, but I had seen samples of her beautiful machine quilting at the Arts and Crafts Shop. I had even tried to take a class from her once, but the planets were not aligned and I didn’t get in, or it was canceled, or the date was bad for me (it was years ago and I don’t remember the details). Today, through the magic of blogging, we organized a quilt day together. What fun!

First we went to her LQS, StoffCom. After meeting Wenche, I wasn’t too surprised that the shop owner, Birgit, recognized me before Nadine could even introduce us. How wierd is that? It’s a very nice shop with a wide variety of fabrics and great samples to look at everywhere. I found a fat quarter of red fabric with white spots and Nadine insisted that I needed it. Of course, when you are a guest of a foreign dignitary and he offers you Slivovic it’s very rude to take a pass, even if you don’t like alcohol that tastes like jet fuel (even though I have no experience with either foreign dignitaries or jet fuel). Nor should you pass on goat’s milk when your host offers, even if you are lactose intolerant (just ask TS&WGH about that one). So, I figured it would be plain rude to have been brought specially to this lovely quilt shop and NOT buy the fat quarter. Then I saw two more cool fabrics (Gerrie, these remind me of you) and justified that if I was breaking my no new fabric rule by buying one fat quarter, it really wouldn’t hurt to buy three. Then I found the basket of hand dyed embroidery yarns. Had to get a couple of those. Wooden Fliegenpilz button? ‘Nuf said. Nadine wasn’t even twisting my arm — really.

Goodies from Stoff Com

Then Nadine whisked me off to The Gussy Goose on Patch Barracks. This is the equivalent of the Arts and Crafts Center on Patton Barracks here in Heidelberg. I consider this trip R&D. The Arts and Crafts Center has many more fabrics, but Gussy Goose is no slouch. I almost got to the door without buying anything, but then fluffy bits in the 45% off basket caught my eye, which then led to unearthing ric-rac. Green and taupe ric-rac. Had to get that.

Fluffies and ric-rac

We got lunch to go and headed back to Nadine’s for the really good stuff — quilt show and tell. As she said in her blog, we’re probably quilting opposites, but we had no shortage of things to talk about. And even if our styles and approaches are different, we can still appreciate the strengths in each other’s work. While I was there she found out that her quilt Material Marquetry, won an Honorable Mention at the NQA show. Congratulations! I also got to see her latest work in progress (it’s a few posts down in her blog), and although she’s referred to it as her “misery” quilt, it’s really going to be beautiful when it’s done. She was very complimentary of my quilts and fondled them as they love to be fondled.

Then we set up our matching sewing machines across her work table from each other and got down to quilting. Nadine has wonderful control of her quilting lines and pays great attention to detail — not every stitch kind of detail, but what needle goes with what thread, and what thread looks best on the fabric, and how much or how little stitching needs to be where kind of detail. I managed to take one picture of the view from my machine:

Nadine quilting

She let me use her new favorite 100 weight silk thread. It is so beautiful for small, detailed work. This is the way to go if you are filling monochromatic areas with stitching; it makes everything look good. I tried out the Microtex needles i don’t even remember buying too. I think I may just skip the Quilting needles and the universals, even when I’m quilting with heavier cotton thread. I’ll keep my top stitch needles for the rare occasion I use a metalic, but something about the microtex went just a little smoother through the fabric, even in the larger size. I doodled feathers Diane Gaudinski style. I still need lots of practice, but the silk thread likes my naturally small stitches. Check out that tiny stippling — I had no idea I could go that small.

Needle doodle Gaudinski style

That’s Nadine’s chopped up quilting foot too (matching machines meant we could swap lots of accessories!). I think I’m ready to take the hack saw or wire cutters to mine now too — I didn’t realize how much more visibility the open toe gives you. We chatted and we sewed and looked at magazines and chatted and sewed. I filled in empty areas on my Neeoodle sandwich with more feathers. I had admired the accurate and even stitching on one of Nadine’s earlier quilts and she whipped out a stencil for me and said all she did was follow the lines. Now I followed the marked lines on a few quilts once upon a time and mine were all wobbly. Guess what, I finished my assignment and the teacher said I did just fine. I guess practice does help because this time I had no problem following the lines. I did two in heavier cotton thread and they looked pretty good (I had some tension issues on the back, but nothing that fiddling with the machine couldn’t fix) and then decided to try it with the thin silk:
more feathers and silk thread

I rinsed the blue pen marking lines away when I got home, and it looks pretty good! I echo quilted the motif just for kicks: that will definitely take more practice, but I’m thinking that it might just be time for me to mark a few quilts again. I probably should have done the fans in the sky of “My Dream House Has Roots” like this. You live and you learn. I had a great day, and came home with a few more tools in my quilting toolbox.

Thanks again, Nadine. I’m definitely up for doing this again.

And thanks blog for allowing me to meet so many wonderful and talented people.

11 Jun

6/11/07

I have a really good excuse for not doing a Needle Doodle yesterday.

6/11/07

We hosted a double-baby-shower-family-BBQ-thing. In addition to cake and coffee and tons of kids taking over our living/dining room and yard, and BBQ burgers and hot dogs and delicious salads and alcohol-free Erdbeerbowle, it was the official gifting of the baby quilts. The Blue Strippy one, and the Ladybug quilt. I took no pictures at all. Bad, bad, blogger. The quilts were very well received and I was tickled that mom of the recipient of the blue quilt recognized (and started pointing out) fabrics that I had also used in her first son’s quilt. Alas, there were no fabrics in middle son’s quilt since it was green — but plenty were to be found in the Ladybug quilt. So, we had lots of good quilty love.

As for the Neeoodle, may I suggest not sewing down one side of a bottle and then going blindly up the other side? It can make for a very skinny bottle. Also, curly ribbon is a pain to sew.

09 Jun

6/9/07

I love German florists. I haven’t bought flowers in the States in about 11 years, so really I have no comparison, but I really like what I can get here. My favorite florist is in the town adjoining ours. At first you might not even think they are a florist since there are no buckets of flowers or potted plants with butterflies on sticks in them. It looks like perhaps it’s a home decor shop since there are lovely glass and ceramic vases, pillows, and graphic arrangements of stalks, large leaves and odd seed pod variations. But give one of the lovely ladies a color scheme and a price range and they walk around the store plucking a bit from here and a bloom from there and pretty soon they’ve bundled it up with greenery from the back into a gorgeous bouquet with flowers you never even saw when you first walked in. I went in today asking for a sphere-themed bouquet for a baby shower in lime green, chocolate brown, pink and white:

Sphere themed flowers

One of the “spheres” in the back of the bouquet actually IS a lime.

So here’s my Neeoodle of it:

6/9/07

I had intended to block it out first in paint and then stitch over it, but I got distracted and just jumped in to the stitching. It was a bit confusing to look at on the fabric with the black marks and all, so went ahead and painted it after all — why not? This whole thing is experimental anyways. There’s a lot of lines going on between the “stars” in the white allium, the wire on the twig balls, and the leaves, so it needed the color. I think it wouls look good as stitching over fused fabrics and then with some more hand embroidery over the top — but then it’s a finished piece and not just a Neeoodle.

08 Jun

Art Swap

As long as we’re talking about donations, let’s talk about swaps too. I think I would be perfectly happy to live on a remote island and use the barter system for all my business transactions. Well, remote might be a bit much (unless I had internet access), but I’d trade my goods for others’. Hmmm, like the American dental floss I traded for homemade quince jam, or the Mongolian themed wall hanging I had no intention of hanging in my house for a delicious Mongolian BBQ dinner and 10 meters of Vliesofix, or the table runner I traded for fabric birds . . .

This may not work for those who need to make a living off of their artwork, but since I create mainly for the joy of it, then why not get something I can also get joy from in return?

Several months ago I agreed to trade my “Seaweed?” quilt for this AeroVortex wind sculpture. It’s finally arrived and I had the chance to install it in the garden today:
AeroVortex sculpture

It spins effortlessly in the breeze and coordinates perfectly with the lavender in the garden. We will enjoy this for many years to come. Thanks Paul, for suggesting a trade. Sometimes currency isn’t necessarily from a government mint.