Friday, March 30, 2007

The Bad Girl of the Family!

I don't know if it's my new visa status, or just lack of time, but i've decided to stay in Europe this year for the summer hols--maybe go to France. I'll post pictures of wherever I go.

I do get a little homesick sometimes, for movies and English bookstores, friends and family and just the atmosphere back home, but I'm also feeling more and more inclined to enjoy being in Europe, for Chrissakes!

Anyone who wants to visit me in Hamburg, just let me know. I even have a guest room which could sleep three in a pinch. Maybe I should post some pics of Hamburg to tempt you... :-)

I found these British greeting cards from the 20s the other day in a museum shop and couldn't resist. Since i've decided not to fly home this year, i've resolved to be better about writing real letters, so of course, i needed some cards!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What I did while I was recuperating...

Since i was away from my sewing machine, the only thing i managed to get done was a bit of appliqué. These blocks are for a quilt I'm making for my Aunt Imelda. The pattern is called Amish Dahlia and I found it on Imelda picked out the rose backround fabric and the dark green. I haven't decided yet how to set these. I'm thinking i might take off on a sort of lilypad thing that seems to be happening here and intersperse these blocks with different dark green blocks and strips, in varying sizes, so that the flowers are kind of randomly distributed. Or just use simple dark green or white on white sashing. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Very Good News!

So guess who finally got an unlimited residence permit for Germany. Today, after six years living here and countless hassles and trips to the foreigners' office, they finally granted me an "unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis". The guy even smiled when he handed over my passport with the stamp in it and wished me further success in Germany.
I think this may have been the first time i've seen one of these guys smile.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Though i'd just check in to say my knee surgery went fine. I'm recovering at a friend's place where there is an elevator but no internet access, so i'm writing this on the fly at an Apple shop. Will probably get back to quilting next week, when i should be back at my place most of the time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Your Mood Shows in Your Ikebana

I'm not happy with this one at all, but it gives you some idea of the difference between Western and Japanese arrangement, since these are the same flowers and branches in the Western arrangement below. I'd already cut the branches too short because i didn't think i'd find the kenzan to do an ikebana. Usually i do more with the branches, trimming them to emphasize lines and bending them more but i didn't have as much to work with and sort of wasn't in the mood. Your mood really affects your ikebana, i've noticed. Also your personality. I took lessons with a friend in Tokyo and even though we were given exactly the same materials and perameters to work with, we always ended up with completely different arrangements. Hers were wilder--Mary hated to trim things--and mine were more obedient looking.
With Their Ears On

A few Sister's Choice blocks with their points or "ears" on.
I love this pattern of Bonnie's, especially the tip about "flippy corners", which makes the little triangles so much easier to do.

One of my favorites of the finished SC blocks so far.
The Planning of Quilts

Believe it or not
, I do have a specific plan and general colour scheme for this Sister's Choice quilt. It began as a quilt for me (only the second quilt i've started for me--Lord knows if i will ever finish it), but I made 2-4 copies of each block as I went along, since I wanted to send my sister a set (she will also send me some...someday :-). I thought I could use the other extras for other projects that might come up. I wanted these to be extremely "scrappy" quilts, i.e. with as many different fabrics as possible.

Then... I found out that my former husband's niece just got into Harvard, so I thought with some of the nine-patches, I would make her a congratulatory, going-away-to-college-quilt. I asked her mom if she thought Mia would like a pattern like this (sent her a pic of a similar quilt) and what her favorite colours are.

So this first one, for my ex-niece, will be 54 10" star blocks, 6 across by 9 down, plus borders. The blocks are tending toward red and pink, so I'll try to use lots of reds and burgundies for the star points and then maybe a red or burgundy border. Will have to see what the quilt seems to call for when it gets to that stage.

To make a long story short: it isn't that I have no plan at all, but I like to let the quilt develop a bit as it goes along. My sister always says, "The quilt will tell you," and she's right.

I've also made quilts with just a few different fabrics and with just a couple of main colors and I find those easier and faster to make, but these days, i'm feeling especially drawn to scrappiness.

I think I love scrappy quilts partly because my grandmother made lots of "true" scrap quilts, from sewing leftovers (she and our other grandmother made most of our dresses--and we were six girls!). So scrappy quilts feel cozy and loving to me. I also enjoy the challenge of making disparate colours/patterns work together. It feels a bit like solving a puzzle and a labour of love combined. When making quilts for kids, I like to try to include little surprises, e.g. the tiny cat in the middle of a nine-patch or a dragonfly or bunnies flying airplanes. In this college quilt there will be coffee beans, musical notes, tiny valentines...various stuff I think Mia might need to get her through her first year at college.

I learned Japanese flower arranging for five years while I was living in Japan. This is obviously not ikebana here (I can't find the kenzan /Steckigel/ tiny bed of nails I need to do that sort of flower arranging at the moment) but even in western arrangements, I like to incorporate some Japanese elements, like allowing space around the flowers, emphasizing lines and not only mass.
I especially like to have a bit of asymmetry in my arrangements. Asymmetry was something that took me a long time to get used to when I was first learning ikebana. I kept longing to do a traditional western arrangement, bountiful and symmetrical. But now, I find an arrangement almost boring if it's too symmetrical. And if it's too full, i feel you can't fully appreciate the individual flowers.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lovebirds! I found these 2 folk art prints in the sale bin. Notice the peacocks? Elsewhere, you find pairs of other birds, e.g. two roosters facing off.
Can you believe all of these 9-patches might end up in the same quilt?

A few random 9-patches from my Sister's Choice project.
Don't Worry!

I'm not going to put all these blocks together like this. I just laid them out this way for fun.
They're the beginnings of stars. I've made about a zillion of these nine-patches in the last few weeks for a joint project with my sister Lisa (see Bonnie's Sister's Choice). Some of them, after they have their points or "ears" as i like to think of them, may end up in different quilts, in fact. This is just a random sampling.