Thursday, June 30, 2016

Laden with Texture and Color

All colors are my favorite. Is the singular of favorite correct grammatically, visually, perceptively, sensitively? Hard to decide, but the essence of all colors certainly is. I've been gathering yarn for decades, like this lovely Austermann Fancy Mix bought many years ago. 
Count the colors !
The first Breeze wrap I made I gave to a dear friend in France, using some of my many socalled orphan yarns (only one skein available for purchase) but Jane Thornley's Breeze pattern is so versatile that I could not resist drawing on the Breeze system again, this time using my long-treasured Austermann Fancy Mix. I combined it with some dramatic black and a golden cord I bought at the Berlin Textile Art exhibition last week  - adding volume, glamor and ritzy chic. After all, this is a gift for a special lady who is a goldsmith. What a wonderful and truly precious profession!

Golden Wrap
This time I wove a golden cord - twinned with a smooth black leather thread - through the smaller CO-edge as a draw-string. Gathered into undulating waves, it turns into a lovely shoulder-hugging cowl, framing the neck in precious colors like in a Klimt painting, or Egon Schiele's Crescent of Houses (1915, Der Häuserbogen II, Leopold Museum, Vienna).
Please see the wrap "Winter Breeze" posted earlier in this blog to get an idea of the shape (triangular) and size (always depending on the person who will receive the wrap).

Please visit ARTSY if you wish to know more about  Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt. ARTSY is an association with the mission to make works of art available for viewing and buying on the Internet.
 Egon Schiele: Crescent of Houses

Happiness is the sum of many small things

Texture plus color are difficult to describe - that is why it is a haptic and visual sensation at once. It is easy to equal such sensations to those being in a garden with a bounty of bright flowers in summer and muted ones in winter. Since I moved to Berlin, I came to appreciate even more Peter Joseph Lenné's astounding capabilities as a garden designer and architect, a master landscaper.
Sanssouci - castle and vineyards
Amonst many prestigeous positions he was a founding member of the Prussian Society for the Promotion of Horticulture in 1822, and accepted the position of Manager of the Parks Division and the Orchard Cultivation. What is so utterly amazing is the fact that he, with no help of airplanes or hot-air balloons, was able to visualize an overall parc concept, incorporating many lakes, the river Havel, a number of existing castles such as Sanssouci (the above picture is by in Potsdam, and castles to be yet designed and built. The overall concept included the Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) - the ensemble part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Truly a man with a lot of foresight, patience, know-how, experience, vision and imagination, such as all great gardeners must have.


Le Lauragais, in the Midi, in France. Walking across vast meadows, cut once in late May and now covered with a short gruffy aftermath, again offering visual protection for field mice darting through the new growth of grass and weeds, I think of the seasons passing year after year, eternally changing, coming and going, surviving us all.

A deer feasting on fresh green grass
I see the deer stepping out of nowhere, feeding on the new grass in the coolness of the evening. A summer meadow flower smell fills the air. I feel acutely homesick for the landscape although I have not even departed yet. I miss the feeling of belonging to this place we will have called home for so long - while I am still there and departure is but a remote day away. Ambivalence might come close to our state of mind.
There are not enough words to describe the feeling of loss and how I dread the time when for inevitable reasons that loss of our paradise becomes real and inevitable. I wish....     Cut.

Salix integra ""Hakuro Nishiki"; Harlekinweide / Zierweide, Saule
Relocating, again. Physically and mentally. This time it is different, circumstances dictated the move. We are heading for a life - a different life - in a city, in Berlin, one of the largest capitals in the world, a sprawling city of more than 3.5 million people, one third of its territory covered by forests, parks, gardens, and rivers. I am discovering private and public  gardens and consider them mine for the viewing.
Bridges: scarf with drop stitch ladders connecting cables
Garden flowers, so different from the wealth and unbridled abundance of wild flowers, so colorwheel-composed and arranged and yet not conveying the same impression of nature's harmony. Tamed for a purpose. Different. Bits of nature parcelled out to alleviate concrete monotony. Showcases in most places, gardeners tending designed gardens, meadows turned weedless lawns, wild flowers replaced by suitable soil and climate-adapted flower arrangements. But still - flowers and 440.000 trees, lovely boulevards and a surprising number of smaller parks contributing to the "green lung" of Berlin.

Bridges: scarf with drop stitch ladders connecting cables
Reapproaching textile work  - it is difficult these days. The now omnipresent conflicts in the world, the wars, and flight and plight of the refugees streaming into Europe, the rising of nationalistic parties in many countries, the presently apparent political chaos caused by the nation-splitting referendum in England - all of this makes it difficult to settle down to something seemingly inanely normal such as textile crafts, I almost feel guilty sitting down with my needles and yarn and concentrate on lacy pattern with a more or less intricate repeat...

Above: An off-white scarf made of ivory-colored mohair and the finest Chinese natural silk and Moroccan embroidery silk, three cables connected by drop-stitch bridges. Just right for days in spring with a northern breeze.

Moroccan Embroidery Silk - adding hues of color to other yarns
Below: Dipping into my huge stash, the approaching summer called for an intensely colorful scarf. It is knit lengthwise. CO on a multiple of 18. Roughly following a Feather and Fan pattern. Meanderings in bright colors and crazy lacy stitch patterns, alternating needle sizes and yarn gauge. If you are uncertain about gauges, this is a good site to get acquainted with yarn calculations. Color mix: of course nature is way ahead of me, could have added a million more colors! Just follow your mood...

Glitzy racy lacy freeform scarf
Britzer Garten (Berlin)
I thought it might be interesting to introduce a number of famous Berliner personalities:
1) Journalist, writer, author, satirist: Kurt Tucholsky "The New York Times hailed him as "one of the most brilliant writers of republican Germany. He was a poet as well as a critic and was so versatile that he used five or six pen names. As Peter Panter he was an outstanding essayist who at one time wrote topical sketches in the Vossische Zeitung, which ceased to appear under the Nazi regime; as Theobald Tiger he wrote satirical poems that were frequently interpreted by popular actors in vaudeville and cabarets, and as Ignatz Wrobel he contributed regularly to the Weltbühne, an independent weekly that was one of the first publications prohibited by the Hitler government."
This is from a poem (1924) on travelling through places and times: 

Die Kinder lärmen auf den bunten Steinen. 
Die Sonne scheint und glitzert auf ein Haus. 
Ich sitze still und lasse mich bescheinen 
und ruh von meinem Vaterlande aus.

Children play noisily on the colorful rocks.
The sun is shining, rays glistening on a roof.
I am sitting quietly, basking in the sun
and take a rest from my fatherland

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Shortest Paths to Happiness - Literally!

Most business trips are clocked right through to the last minute. Exhausted at check-in, tired and hasty at check-out. Waiting for a cab.Heay rain. Cold wind. The e-mailbox is flodded. But listen: the flight has been delayed... an unexpected gift of an hour, sixty minutes, a huge gift or isn't it? If you are in any of the cities mentioned on this website of IDEAS.TED .COM - count yourself blessed, especially if you are a book lover. Getting from A to B might never have been that much fun! 
Silk Tassel and Silk Soutache Christening Bonnet on Wedding Pocket
Silk Lining of Christening Bonnet on Soutache Wedding Pocket
As a long-time traveler I always look for something interesting in places through which I pass on route from A to B. Travelling von Paris to Lyon, from Toulouse to Barcelone, from London to Manchester, from Chicago to St. Louis, and for the insiders of my blog followers: from Kleinheppach to Nogaret. These routes just packed with places in-between that I never visited or even knew of before I worked out detours in the un/likely event of an unexpected delay or change of means of transportation. Unlikely events? Strikes of tollbooth staff, flooding, cancelled flights due to vulcano eruptions, cancelled train connections because the tracks froze, gasoline shortage (remember those?), demonstrations, forest fires...
Silk Soutache ending in to a Bonnet Adornment at the Nape of the Neck
Soutache Lace Silk Christening Bonnet, with Embroidery and Silk Lining
Soutache adorned Wedding Pocket, lined with Orange Lace
Silk Tassel from Declercq, Paris (France)
Of course in my case I finecomb the routes for bookstores and any place connected to textile crafts, shops, museums or craft shows even. My next trip to Paris will include visits to tassel places. A gift from my god-daughter rekindled my desire to see these fluttering, silky, bejewelled works of art in some of those splendid tassel stores listed below. Above you can see beautiful examples of German Soutache (engl. also Soutache or Galloon), a soutachee being a woven flat rope, sometimes combined with a gold bullion thread or silk, and embroidered on costumes and uniforms in Napoleonic times. A Soutache is made of wool, silk, or cotton. There are tutorials on how to work with a Soutache braid on YouTube.

Les Passementeries de l'Ile-de-France/ - the very picture makes your heart beat faster.

Declercq Passementiers (© Declercq Passementiers, 15 rue Etienne Marcel, 75001 Paris). They even give a demonstration and lecture (in French) in the art of making tassels. If you leave this store with no purchase you will probably regret it for years to come!

Houlès Click on "Trimmings" and submerge yourself in colors, sheeny satin and silky glitter.

Verrier Père et fils They make simply out-of-this world tassels!

And if you wish to have your very own personalized custom-made tassel, turn to this company:
Jende Posamenten Manufaktur or just go for a walk through their site and enjoy looking at their amazing treasures.

Closing this post with an observation:

A child is toddling along the the sandy beach, stopping now and then, seemingly for no particular reason, and then just as spontaneously picking up speed for a short dash to the next invisible attraction. Apparently accompanying the child, an elderly woman is following smilingly, no hurry at all in her steps, her arms a bit stretched out, hands open as if ready to catch the child if need be, maybe the Grandmother. The child turns around to share his joy of having seen something new and the grandmother responds in kind with an understanding and reassuring smile. Treasured moments for both of them. And the onlooker. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Colors to Lift Your Spirits - Starting with Green

Although winter temperatures and trees bare of leaves will still be with us in the northern hemisphere for another month or so, I am now starting to knit colors for spring. These two hats are made with fuzzy yarns from my stash, one of them adorned with a pink heart for that little girl somewhere in a migrant welcome center in Berlin.
Spring Green Hat for a Baby
I used the Emily Ocker cast-on and German Short Rows for the earflaps. Adding a new color when knitting in the round: "jogless" is what you want so see this tutorial on how to joing a new color to your hat. I-cords and a little heart-shaped button - and the hats were ready to start their travels. For more helpful hints click here
and go to bottom of posts.


Spring Green Hat for a Toddler

O how I long again to see
The vernal face of Spring,
And hear, from every budding tree,
Some little warbler sing.

I long to see the forest trees
Clothed in their robes of green,
And swaying in the gentle breeze
Display their glossy sheen.

I long to wander by the stream
Where sport the speckled trout,
Or in the noontide's genial gleam
See lambkins frisk about.

I long to see the sons of toil
Perform the noble deed
Of breaking up the stubborn soil
To plant the fertile seed.

I long to see the meadows green
Bespread with flowerets gay--
I long to have a change of scene
From winter cold and gray.

It won't be long--a little while
And snows will disappear
And Flora with her winning smile
Shall find a welcome here.

A poem by S. Moore (Canada)

Monday, January 25, 2016

At the Beginning of Year 2016

we are all hoping that this year things will take a turn for the better. There were so many tragic events and a lot of grief and sadness during the past year. The hope for freedom and safety drew refugees across dangerous seas, and they were welcomed with open arms or rejected on the grounds of many reasons, an uncertain future awaiting them either way. Nobody knows overall solutions to those troubling problems... But at least we can try and help.
Snow Hat
Last year, I began knitting items for children as my contribution to help people coming into Germany. They are ill prepared for cold winters and snowy conditions and so I thought of hats:

Snow Hat - fluffy white with gold sprinkles
This is a nice pattern, a hat with inbuilt ear flaps, using a light color to make the wearer visible and thus safer during the dark winter hours. Story behind it:

Snow Hat
After I had already started and been about halfway, I was not happy with my winged earflaps. So I did an earflap hat/cap pattern search on Ravelry, a search which was followed by a determined and quick frogging activity.

Snow Hat - moss stitch brim
Using fancitiger's pattern "Ice Skating Cap" I quickly knit up this pretty cap plus two more and dropped them off at one of those collection centers for items useful for refugees. It warms my heart to think they will warm somebody's ears...

Snow Hat - creamy white and gold
I love to knit. Sometime people ask me why I knit. The very question can only come from somebody not involved in textile crafts. Knitting, crochet and other textile techniques involve the brain and the heart and soul simultaneously. While I knit, I can think of wonderful events in my life - especially of my family and friends and cats, as well as of the many wonderful homes I've lived in in a number of countries. In short: it makes me happy.

Winter Morning - Le Lauragais
Observations -  "A small child is toddling along the sidewalk, stopping now and then, seemingly for no particular reason, and then just as spontaneously picking up speed for a short dash to the next attraction, seemingly invisible to everybody but the child. The adult following the child smilingly seems to have no hurry at all in her steps, her arms are a bit stretched out, hands open and ready to catch the child if need be. The child laughs and turns around to share his joy of having seen something new and the grandmother responds in kind with an understanding and reassuring smile."
Frosted Berries (Copyright Valerie Mader)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Transparency - Compassion - Hope

"Sometimes the fog in the early morning, just before sunrise, seems to let us gently become aware of the light, opening opaque windows to the bluer sky beyond and wiping them shut a number of times before the gossamer fog cloak becomes transparent". This is a parable for each day, month or year: As time passes, we experience new impressions, events and changes in our lifes, some easily apparent, some hidden until the last moment.

Fog  Blanketing the Fields
According to the Gregorian calendar, the year 2016 is just a few hours away. I pray and hope for peace in the many troubled places around the globe. While the past twelve months were predominantly marked by horrible events, there were also sparks of hope glimmering as if one was asked not to give up and instead get engaged in helping no matter whom. Even if one drops but a penny into the cup a person in need holds out, at that moment you are momentarily engaged into caring about your fellow human being. A small token of your empathy- yet you do make a difference. Everybody does.

Winter Time
Sometimes life changes within a few moments. One sees an image, a picture one cannot wipe from the retina, it logs into our memory, indelibly. The picture of the small child, washed up on shore of a Turkish beach. It is this image of drowned Syrian boy Aylan that went around the world, it brought near the horrors of war, and it stirred a public outcry for help, commiseration and sympathy for the surviving father. I am hoping that we continue to see that image lodged in our brain and that we will remember the fate of this three-year-old child every time we must make a decision whether to accept a refugee or sent her/him back to a place he or she desperately wanted to leave.

New Year Resolutions? I was not ever making any. This time will be the first. I don't have much to offer. But maybe teaching a small child how to knit would be a worthwhile gift, lasting a life-time?
Teaching a child the language it will from now on need to make friends, to feel at home in kindergarten, school, and indeed in life. Let us welcome those homeless people into our web of life.

Resilient and Strong
Winter time - I was knitting a few hats for children for our local Refugee Help Center. Always welcome are scarves, mitts, cowls and chokers. Here is a choker, knit in the round with bobbly wool, with a crocheted edge of silky ribbon and fine fuzzy mohair.

Loopy Yarn

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Emilie Flöge and the Lady in Gold

In my last two posts, Beholding Beauty and Beads and Buttons and Books I wrote about our trip to Vienna (Austria). This post is also about our visit to Vienna, when we went to the Belvedere to see the work of Gustav Klimt - simply a must if you like the painters of the Vienna Secession. His most well-known painting The Kiss (The Lovers) and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (The Woman in Gold) are admired by people from around the world.
Design by Emilie Louise Flöge
But not everybody is acquainted with Emilie Louise Flöge, who designed and made the dress for The Woman in Gold and for many other society ladies who were painted by Klimt! It is an extraordinary tale. Read about the multitalented Flöge sisters, how they became successful business women in the haute couture fashion world, how Emilie Flöge met Gustav Klimt and became his life companion, his muse and inspiration, yet stayed more or less behind the scenes and didn't live to see recognition for her work as she rightly should have.

A portrait of Emilie Flöge by Gustav Klimt was as ahead of the times as Emilie Flöge was herself:
"It is perhaps no wonder that Klimt's Portrait of Emilie Floge, painted in 1902, was the first to present its subject as a bejeweled icon, a gilded beauty whose decorative trappings constitute a metaphorical chastity belt. Directly anticipating the "gold" portraits of 1906-1907, the picture was exceedingly radical for its day, and perhaps for this reason neither Emilie nor her family liked it."

Emilie Flöge - painted by Gustav Klimt
Depending on where they live, designers these days are much less limited in their range of expressions. This is especially true in the field of fashion, including all types of textile crafts. I strongly believe that if you teach a child how to knit, you give that child a life-long gift of joy. The success of the textile crafts site supports this view, so many adult members fondly remember the person who taught them to knit or engage in other textile crafts.

 A few more impressions of our trip to Vienna:

This store is called: "Viennese Culture"
At the Naschmarkt: Herbs and Spices anyone?
All fresh and tasty - fruit and vegetables offered at the Naschmarkt

A wide choice of vinegar!
See and read more on Vienna in these posts Beads and Buttons and Books and Beholding Beauty