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. 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

Beholding Beauty

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. What an ingenious and clever saying! Beauty is perceived individually, it  has many mothers and fathers. It gives us all a free ticket to love the perfect and imperfect, the wellknown and the almost forgotten, the sought after as well as the unappreciated and unrecognized.
Rose Garden (Hofburg, Vienna) Picture by Valerie Mader
It also means that if you do not see beauty in paintings such the mysterious Mona Lisa or golden bliss of The Kiss, it is perfectly acceptable. Instead you might prefer to see Goya's Black Paintings, or the work of Neo Rauch, you might want to listen to David Garrett instead of medieval music, prefer Mizzi Morawez' bold creations to the sleek Armani outfits. If it weren't for the liberty of taste, how poor would the art world be?
Egon Schiele (Tulln): I, the eternal child
Our recent trip to Austria brought this proverb to mind as we were visiting art-studded museums and galleries in and around Vienna. Egon Schiele was on top of my wish list:
We visited the museum in Tulln, his birthplace.
Egon Schiele Museum (Tulln, Austria)
The museum houses not too many of his paintings and they have not often been shown elsewhere, so do not miss seeing some of his lesser known paintings if you like Schiele!

Egon Schiele
Vienna is always worth a visit. The Mumok is a major attraction for those you who wish to visit a museum of modern art, and for those who want to relax in those ingenious blue plastic recliners, eat a delicious icecream or enjoy Viennese coffee in one of its many variations, listen to street musicians or just look at the blue sky above.
Museum of Modern Art: MUMOK (Vienna)
Relaxing on the Museumsplatz (Vienna)
Here some quirky Viennese special events::
Do You Yodel? (jodel?) As of 28 May...

Clairvoyance? Boycott FIFA
Footwalker = Austrian for Pedestrian
Always helpful!
Hofburg  Palace- of Sissi fame (Vienna)
See and read more on Vienna in these posts Beads and Buttons and Books and Emilie Flöge and the Lady in Gold

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beads and Buttons and Books

Three of my four favorite things to have or work with start with a "B" - but this store even has another "B", a collection of badges. Recently, I visited Vienna (Austria) and chanced upon this incredible shop for buttons and beads and books and beautiful old things one would probably call vintage today. I hesitate to use that expression -

A wall full of shining buttons and beads
it is not just vintage in the present-day interpretation of the term, these items are truly classic in their style, their usefulness and practicality is still present as is their beauty of design - they are the very essence of form follows function. Exciting examples of how to use buttons and beads and ribbons and lace are found in just one click - the creations of Mizzie Morawez!
A few steps into the store and your eyes start shining...
The owner, Mr. Thomas (Heinrich Thomas, Burggasse 11/1, 1076 Wien, Austria, Tel. +43-664-3580701; speaking German and English) is still driving to markets all over Europe where buttons and beads and antiques are offered and sold - a true collector and a treasure trove for anybody who appreciates his collection -

Entrance to the store for buttons and beads and badges and...
and yes, you may acquire most things you see in the store, be it old textile craft items or other interesting books, china, glass bottles, dolls... click here another description of the store.

Vases and mirrors
if you love such stores, plan on spending a lot of time there, sifting through the treasures... (also see my last blog post about this store which includes some information like opening hours, tel. number etc.)
Spend a day in a shiny store!
And what do you think is in the envelopes at the top?
...gilded buttons, studs and badges, all in absolute mint condition!
Treasures - hidden away for a long time
One should turn this beautiful shop into a museum 
Below some pictures of beautiful china and glass vases just waiting for you to take to your home ...
A thermo-clad coffee pot - in the style of Art Nouveau Bauscher Weiden

Lovely cups that want to be held in both hands...
These decanters look like a still life painting
I am sorry but the lace found its way into my bag...

This stirs every lace lover's heart!
Heinrich Thomas (Vienna) - one more link - click here
Read more on our trip to Vienna in these posts: Emilie Flöge and the Lady in Gold and Beholding Beauty