30 Oct

The Dandelions are in!

I finished my 12″ x 12″ challenge quilt — actually, two of them — two days before our “due date.” I can’t believe how long the 28th and 29th dragged out waiting until I could post my work. I guess I really am excited about this project! I finally decided not to write a post and set it to publish on the 30th, but to just leave it and get to it when I could. Wouldn’t you know it, it was the end of the day before I could get to the computer!
Löwenzahn und Pusteblume

Grandmother's Flowergarden is Overrun by Dandelions

For the rest of the story, check out Twelve by 12.

29 Oct

What in the world is this?

The kids have the week off of school. We took advantage of a “free” day and went to Sea Life in Speyer. It’s a little aquarium, but I liked it. It had enough to keep the kids interested without being overwhelming. The helpful docents told us many fascinating facts about creatures like starfish. Did you know that they have their eyes on the ends of their legs? Or that they can regrow legs in the case one gets cut off or eaten? Or that they turn their stomach outside their bodies to eat, and if that gets say, trapped inside a muscle that they’re trying to eat, they can pop it off (like a lizard’s tail) and grow a new one? We didn’t know. We also watched the rays get fed. There was a quiz to take as you went through the exhibits, and a little TV theater playing an interesting show about octopii. Zavi wants an octopus as a pet now. He had to settle for a stuffed one, which is sharing his pillow tonight.

Onto the image above. I think that this would make a gorgeous 3-D form out of fabric. I can see something made out of quilted, layered, maybe even transparent, silk with metallic satin stitching or gorgeous couched sari yarn for the ridges and Lumiere paint or Angelina fibers adding a rich sheen. It could also have beading incorporated somewhere. It would be worthy of a Quilting Arts cover, and who-ever of you beats me to the fame and fortune gained by submitting it owes me at least a fancy dinner, and maybe a percentage of your royalties from the book deal! (OK, in reality, there’s probably no book deal, and although I love looking at QA, I don’t really work in their style.)

So what are these? They are Mermaid’s Purses. If I remember correctly, the one above is growing baby rays and the ones below are growing baby dogfish. Hmmm, purses. Maybe I have to adopt a bit of QA surface design and make a few of these after all. At least give me a head start, OK?

28 Oct

Crafting Forward

Postcard Stack

I’ve noticed a new meme going around the crafty blogs. A Pay it Forward thing. The payer offers a handmade craft to commenters who pledge to do the same on their blog. Of course, I want stuff. I admit — I’m a coveter. But I was wondering about the commitment part. Do I want to commit to make more stuff? When Jude so generously offered a gift to all commenters, not just the first three, I wondered if I wanted to add to someone else’s To-Do list as well. So I waited.

But now, via Heather Smith Jones, I see that Lylou is willing to pay it forward, but was short on takers. That just seems wrong to me, especially when her work is so pretty. Generosity needs to be appreciated. So I signed up.

Here’s my idea. I’ll send a textile postcard right away to anyone who comments but has no blog or no desire to add to their own To-Do list. For those who would like to participate in the original variation on the meme, here’s the “official” invitation:

“I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet (but regular readers would probably be right to be thinking in the direction of cone dolls and mushrooms) and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”

Let’s see how it goes — I have a stack of pretty postcards and a year (probably less since I don’t like the spectre of undone things hovering over me) to make no less than three handmade gifts. I think it could be fun.

27 Oct

Fall Has Arrived

It’s going around the internet. I’ve been watching my favorite blogs (in the northern hemisphere) one by one announce the arrival of golden leaves and crisp air.

Today I was fortunate enough to go once again to “Craft Day,” which I had missed the last time around. Once a month a small group of my mom friends meet for a day of crafting and NO kids. We used to all live relatively close in the Wiesbaden area, but now, about six years later, we’ve spread out a bit. I was going to try a new route to Sid‘s house today, but my subconscious wanted to go the old way — via ferry — and I missed a turnoff and ended up here:

Ferry crossing

I don’t know why, but I always enjoy taking ferries. Maybe it’s the traveler in me that likes the “planes, trains, and automobiles” aspect of it. Once across the river, I entered wine country. I was amazed by the deep burgundy of many of the plants (not in this picture). The colors were absolutely gorgeous. This picture does not begin to do them justice. It was a grey day, and I can only imagine how the leaves would have glowed if the sun were out. The rolling hills were a patchwork of various grape-viney stripes.
Hessen Vineyards

I came home to find that the kids had gone with the neighbors to the pumpkin farm:

Spider and Dragon Jack o Lanterns

Fall is here. I also saw the first giant piles of harvested sugar beets. Uh oh, that means winter’s not far away.

26 Oct

Precursors to the Cone Dolls

I promise — no more stuff that is hysterically funny between TS&WGH and I, yet somehow probably isn’t so funny to the rest of the world.

Luckily, my mom has swooped in to save my reputation.

She has unearthed what she calls the precursors to the cone dolls. Behold, the mice:

Mouse Party

She says the photo was labeled 1975, which makes me almost 10 years old at the time. My sister and I were obsessed with these little mice. We made them out of felt and dressed them in scraps that came out of a magical pair of deep drawers in my parents’ closet. We made shoe box houses for the mice, and one of my friends (who idolized Cher) made one with long silky black hair. I suspect the pattern for the mice came from someplace like Sunset Magazine. I know we got a lot of use out of it! Looking at this picture, I’m pretty impressed. The mice of my memories were adorable, and this photo is even better than what was in my mind’s eye. I didn’t remember the shawls and flowers, and the brown, pink and white calico on the mouse on the right side looks very contemporary.

26 Oct

We’ve Sunk to a New Low

So there we were — TS&WGH and I were doing our usual mid-morning, time-wasting, transcontinental email volley when out of nowhere, he brings up lolcats. You’ve heard of these, right?

So, I retort by asking if there’s some rule that one must use bad grammar with these pictures. “YES, there is,” he writes back.

Even The Wall Street Journal has heard of this phenomenon.
Oh, great, now I’m immersed, not only in lolcats, but now the lolrus as well. And speaking of viral internet fads, you know about the “Dramatic Prairie Dog,” right? So now I’m thinking that the lolrus and the prairie dog may have been seperated at birth (dating myself with another pop culture reference) and I send this to my hubby:

Walrus and Prairie Dog -- separated at birth.

Meanwhile, he’s moved on to another topic. Never one to stray too far from geek technology or military-related current events, he found this contest. Uh oh, doesn’t the “Blackwater Puss in Boots” logo look a bit like a lolcat? Are you seeing where this is going? Yup, I told him I thought it looked like a lolcat and he came up with the politically incorrect bad grammar to go with it. I’m sorry — I couldn’t help myself. I took an existing “kitteh” and made this:

Crazy thing is, he submitted it and it’s outpaced Puss in Boots.

24 Oct

Kampfzwerg-Glücksbringerin

Despite it’s grammatic challenges, there are some things I just love about the German language. Like the ability to just make up words by stringing together existing ones. We had an acquaintance who once announced he could make any English word into a German one by adding “ge” to the front, and “en” to the back. Not quite. But Kampfzwerg is a real word — meaning literally war dwarf. Add Glücksbringer (literally luck bringer), make it feminine with the “in” ending and voilá, you have the real reason for this post: a female fighting dwarf good luck charm!

Kampfzwerg-Glücksbringerin

Charlotte commented that she’d love a tutorial for my conehead crêche figures — particularly a pattern for a Kampfzwerg since that’s her online persona. I think it took me three extra hours to fall asleep that night, as I had images of red-hatted, cone women with Zena-like breastplates. Wool and metal buttons were dancing through my head.

I was caught up in postcards and embroideries for Villa Meixner at the time and didn’t do anything about the girl-dwarf. However, when I heard that Charlotte’s husband left her recently, I immediately thought that she might appreciate a strong alter ego to focus on. In a one-day flurry of red felt and purple wool (Charlotte’s signature color) I created the germano-nordic doll above. I was so happy that I had some silver netting left over from Zavi’s gladiator costume of a few years back, and I am in love with the miss-matched button boob shields (who among us is really symetric anyways?). She has black hair like Charlotte, but wears it in long braids because that’s the dwarf style. Zavi thinks that the hair looks ready to fight too!

Cheers, Charlotte. I’m glad the Kampfzwerg-Glücksbringerin has arrived and is already working her magic.

Oh, and since Charlotte is an elementary school teacher, I couldn’t resist pulling out a few little things in my collection for this photo of the Kampfzwergin leading her students through the magical woods:

Kampfzwerg-Glücksbringerin in the woods

(The happy mushroom is gift from my incredible hand-bag-making friend Valerija, the wooden ‘shrooms are from a Christmas Market last year, and the chestnut and pumpkin kids (Jahreszeitenkinder) are from Frau Kaiser whom I see every year at the Sticheleien in Michelstadt and buy goodies from (and who, unfortunately doesn’t have a website, and I, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to the Sticheleien this year to see if maybe she’s made some mushroom kids).

24 Oct

Slow like Molasses

Things are moving slowly here. Maybe it’s the grey weather. Maybe it’s because I’m done with the Villa Meixner show and I haven’t entered any quilts into any upcoming competitions. Maybe it’s because I just don’t feel like pushing myself right now. What I do is not brain surgery or rocket science, so certainly no one will get hurt if I slack off for a while. 😉

Crabby maybe, but seriously hurt? Not so much.

Dandelion WIP

My laziness actually paid off yesterday. I wanted to finish off my Twelve by Twelve piece with green rickrac, and stalled out because I didn’t have any other reason to go two towns over to the store with rickrac. I finally sucked it up day before yesterday and got two nice trims. But when I got home they just weren’t “right.” Both were too similar in scale to the yelow/orange I had already used. I begrudgingly got my things together to go downtown to another store that might have a different selection when i remembered that I had bought some big green and taupe rickrac in Stuttgart. I had originally blown it off a month or more ago because the taupe dots on it weren’t working with this particular vision, and I didn’t think I had enough. But yesterday, I was willing to take a second look just because I didn’t want to get in the car and go anyplace.

Waddaya know, the color was even better than the stuff I bought the day before, the scale was what I had in mind, and if I turned it over there were no taupe dots — duh!! Yippee for wanting to be a hermit!

P.S. Isn’t that grassy fabric fabulous!?! It came that way from a friend — I didn’t make a million little stitches or anything. I think it’s even silk.

P.P.S. The hexagons live. All will be revealed next week. Or later.