Monday, July 21, 2014


The TEXTILE ART BERLIN presented the work of amazing textile artists. I would like to show you the creations of two more artists who participated in the exposition ( click here for the first post with the topic Textile Art Berlin).
Hildegard Braatz: 9-Patch 1. Old Lace Fragments and hand-dyed fabric
Hildegard Braatz - quilt artist extraordinary. An interview with her can be found here, also more pictures of her beautiful, unusual quilt creations.Click here for her personal website. Some of her quilts combine handmade paper with pieces of antique lace and embroidery - and she sells small treasure packages with different lace snippets and pieces so you can fulfil your personal lace dream collage!  ( The pictures are by Hildegard Braatz.

Hildegard Braatz - Spitzencollage - Lace Collage
Hildegard Braatz - Spitzencollage - Lace Collage
Another artist presenting her work at the TEXTILE ART BERLIN was Eva Lippert. She is catching and weaving textile dreams on a small table loom, combining treasures such as beads, lace, yarns, feathers etc. into glistening, precious pieces of jewellery-like cuffs or long wrist / arm warmers. If you wish to own some of her creations, write to her at:

Cuffs by Eva Lippert
Aren't these cuffs just magic: each one is different and it takes time to discover and sufficiently admire all those lovingly added details. I stood at the glass vitrine that held some of her creations for a long time and found it so hard to leave, especially since a small and very pretty girl was dancing around in the booth, bringing a smile to everybody's face!

The next two pictures are by Eva Lippert:
Eva Lippert: Fireworks. Woven arm warmers
Eva Lippert: Rosengarten. Woven cuffs.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Moving - The secret of getting positive feelings for that next home town to be: Find something beautiful about it every day, and accept but don't judge the differences. In addition to the overwhelming and loving welcome by our daughter who welcomed us with a glass of champagne and in the otherwise empty apartment had set up a mini-kitchen, complete with stove, small icebox, pots and pans, plus table and chairs, I found it easy so far to find more delights and exciting events every day since we moved to Berlin.

Picture by Textile Art Berlin
Right after we arrived, it was all those magnificent trees lining many streets and adorning parks large and small. Last Sunday, it was a visit to TEXTILE ART BERLIN 

Picture by Textile Art Berlin
Unquestionably, it was a true treasure trove of textile craft masterpieces: quilting, weaving, knitting, crochet, sewing, felting, beading, embroidery, tatting, macramé, the little known craft of Margarete lace (also called Margarete knotting (English site: see here, German site: see here), and many more of the astounding number of manual crafts. And of course there were all those yarns and books and tools of the trade! Cross-stitch samplers, bags, belts, hand-knit or silk scarves, felted hats and jackets, paper maché sculptures... I drifted through the halls and rooms with a permanent happy smile on my face and beyond a time concept, talked to some of the artists and bought virtually everything in sight for my insatiable visual memory storage space - it was wonderful experiencing this staggering wealth of colors, textures and fabrics. Next year I will try and participate in some of those workshops given by participating artists.

First visual impressions - enticing posters all over the town!

Did someone mention the colors of the Lauragais? :-)

The posters promised no more than they could keep - a multi-page catalogue might have done just honor to the wide artistic range of the exposition.

Quilts were presented in traditional and modern patters, from the trusted log cabin to innovative creations with 'windows' in the quilt as part of the design. To my delight a highly innovative project done by Karola Rose jointly with Horst Schulz was also shown at TEXTILE ART BERLIN:

Detail: Quilt by Karola Rose and Horst Schulz
The quilt is called "Ein Festtag auf dem Lande" (A Festive Day in the Country), the fabric work is done by Karola Rose and the knitted work by Horst Schulz. English information: click here for free patchwork instructions and here for one of the Horst Schulz Ravelry Groups. He is the true inventor of short-thread modular knitting: see some of his work here or check out book clubs, his books are much sought after.

Detail: Quilt by Karola Rose and Horst Schulz
Quilt by Karola Rose and Horst Schulz
A swinging, jazzy golden and black quilt from Ingrid Wieland caught everybody's eyes!

"Quadriga" by Ingrid Wieland
Within the framework of a French competition, this striking quilt is a perfect example of how to freeze movement into fabric and yet give the impression of constant motion. The jazzy music and swinging dance movements are superbly picked up by the design itself. The prize-winning  quilt is handcrafted with great expertise, precision and exactitude. The use of colors is accentuates the quilting effect in a well-balanced scale. A quilt full of joie de vivre!

"Die heilige Familie" by Ingrid Wieland
Another masterpiece by Ingrid Wieland is the above patchwork, made of neckties of various materials.
Called "The Holy Family", this quilt was awarded first prize by the Bischoff Heinrich Tenhumberg Stiftung, which is involved in providing help to needy families and single parents. The silky appearance of the patches makes it shine into the darkest corners, a beautiful reference to the title and religious background, and goal of the foundation.

More pictures of the treasures shown at TEXTILE ART BERLIN in the next post, click here for the sequel. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life is not a Labyrinth

There is an essential difference between a labyrinth and a maze. Even good dictionaries ignore the difference but historians and fans of such intricately woven webs of pathways will be quite passionate about the definitions. Here you have it in a nutshell.
A Famous Maze
Maze:  "With a history stretching back to the late Middle Ages, puzzle mazes, like labyrinths, were simple at first, then underwent periods of rapid development. Developed initially from medieval labyrinth designs, the earliest mazes in the gardens and palaces of Europe were designed by rearranging the walls of a labyrinth to create a pathway with choices; often including a number of dead-ends."
Labyrinth: "Popular consensus also indicates that labyrinths have one pathway that leads inexorably from the entrance to the goal, albeit often by the most complex and winding of routes. These unicursal designs have been known as labyrinths for thousands of years, and to qualify as a labyrinth, a design should have but one path.
Gillian Hill: Felted and Embroidered Collar
One could say that LIFE is most probably not so much a labyrinth but a very extended maze through which we wander and attempt to find the best route to take. Although most certainly not the shortest or the sweetest, the most rewarding one will be the one opening up new horizons and adventures, acquiring friends and wisdom. Dead-ends of mazes are no dead-ends for me - they were choices of paths and directions, turning into chances to pick up new experiences on the way there and back, looking at the other side of what we think we already know!

Gillian Hill: Felted and Embroidered Collar
I always loved wandering through unfamiliar towns and cities, listening to the new sounds, the language, the bird songs, looking at the gardens, the houses, the people - with interest and curiosity. On one of those walks through the town of Clitheroe (UK) I chanced upon a house with a sign in the window, that this bookstore was closing down. While I was standing there a lady (Gillian Hill) arrived and smilingly invited me in. I gladly followed and this truly must have been a short stretch of a maze turning into a labyrinth: I just knew I had been looking for a place like that and had finally found it.
Gillian Hill: Felted and Embroidered Collar
Please read the article in the Burnley Express, relating the story of Gordon and Gillian Hill:
Gordon and Gillian Hill had run a bookstore, an "Aladdin's cave of rare and elusive volumes". But not only that! The upstaires textile art gallery held further treasures - truly a dreamlike combination of literature and textile crafts. Their life history is a-maze-ing, the door to one career closing, another opening, making decisions along the way, based on their success as booksellers and textile craft work.
Gillian  Hill: Felted and Embroidered Collar
I was lucky to have met that lovely couple before they closed their shop, and I wished I could have invested heavily in all of their treasures just to be able to look at them every day. I bought a few books and the above really beautiful felted and embroidered collar made by Gillian Hill. If you are interested in purchasing it, please contact me. The proceeds will go to charity: Spinal Research Center. And please don't forget to enroll in Wings for Life World Run on 4 May, 2014 - wherever you are!
Gillian Hill - Felted and Embroidered Collar

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Many Meanings of Moving

The avant-garde painter, poet and typographist Francis Picabia is said to have thought of this bonmot: "Our heads are round so that thinking can change direction", while John Maynard Keynes - when being accused during a heated argument with a high government official of being a bit inconstant with his opinions - replied: "Once the facts change, I must change my opinion. And what are you doing, Sir?"
A peaceful morning in the Lauragais country-side
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable and even advisable to change one's opinion if the facts change. A few years ago I realized that "eventually I will have to move closer to a larger city", and the "eventually" has become now. Moving - with all its meanings. In the languages I know "moving" always has several meanings. Changer l'adresse, déménager, changing, moving, umziehen, verziehen - the verbs denote change and, depending on your interpretation and mood, also hold a corcucopia, a corne d'abondance of options, beckons with new chances and experiences.
Japanese Ornamental Apple  (Malus Floribunda)
A move is moving in many ways. We consciously say good-bye to local friends we made and are not simply torn apart with no farewell. We say good-bye to things we learned to love or were the very reason we picked as our home so many years ago in the first place. Moving is the farewell to the environment we appreciated and became accustomed to. Moving is the realization that our friends will no longer be in the vicinity for a quick face-to-face visit. Consoling and moving in a different sense is the realization that the nightingale will keep on singing her song, that the barn owls will spread their wings and glide silently through the night, that the occasional deer will stilt elegantly through the high grass around the house, the red squirrels will chatter up in the 400 year old oak trees and the hoopoe family will raise their young ones in the same hollow tree as every year.
Sunrise in the Lauragais
We have to accept change or even trigger it ourselves because the facts changed.
So almost two years ago, I started packing and sorting, donating and giving things away, reducing decades of accumulations to a few cartons and just basic furniture. Accumulations, which were bestowed on me by grandparents, parents and friends - lovely books, linen, china, each holding special memories of family and friends. Despite all efforts, I found no home for 45 years of National Geographic Magazines, a complete collection from 1968 to 2010. I found no home for yellowed pocket books from the Sixties, which were so essential to me at that time, nor for almost all the other books of my library comprising more than 60 years of reading. 
Hoopoe guarding golden silk
I almost felt I betrayed the authors... Ralph Ellison, Rachel Carson, Nadine Gordimer, Gail Sheehy, Oliver La Farge, Mari Sandoz, Vine Deloria Jr., and James Welch, whose Winter in the Blood moved me to tears - but burning their books was less painful than throwing them into the container at the tip. I watched the smoke rising into the clear sky and thought of how their thoughts have changed and enriched my life and, in effect, that of my children, so their work lives on in the mind of many.
I parted with Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pete Seeger and the very early Beatles. Parted with The Platters, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Miriam Makeba, Floyd Red Crow Westerman. Van Cliburn and Glen Gould, playing Tchaikovsky and Bach. A record with Yevgeny Yevtushenko reading his powerful poem of Babiyy Yar. I am certain that my US friends of old would have appreciated these treasures, but of course, they hung on to their own copies as well, we were the sixties generation.
The doors to a different setting are opening and I will see the positive and joyful options and remember gratefully the past - and I am glad I didn't miss a single day of appreciating what I have and had.
Occasionally though, I need to take my mind off from saying farewell - time to relax a bit and instead concentrate on something less emotional, knitting a lace pattern for example - just difficult enough to stay concentrated but allowing thoughts to ramble in between repeats - knitters know that phenomenon, how one's hands seem to memorize the rapport faster than one's brain! As most of my stash is already keeping precious antique books in their moving boxes safely cushioned against jolts, I quickly saved ArtYarns Beaded Silk Mohair from becoming stuffing material, treating myself to one of the most treasured yarns in my stash for making a lace cowl.
Flared Lace Smoke Ring Cowl with Art Yarn Beaded Silk Mohair
Flared Lace Smoke Ring Cowl with Art Yarn Beaded Silk Mohair
Art Yarns Beaded Silk Mohair
The cowl pattern is by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, it is called Flared Lace Smoke Ring. The picture below is copyright Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring Time in California

My god-daughter's smile needs special blog posts - please first read this post "The Most Precious Gifts". By now, the woolen reversible hat made its way across the ocean and the United States and finally into the hands of Braden, whom I have known even before she was born...
The double layers are indeed providing a lot of warmth during those winter season trips to New York or the Windy City.
For Igloo-cold weather conditions
Black on one side, blue with a black brim on the other side
I am now thinking of a spring / fall version in cotton and linen lace...
For information on how to knit this 2-color reversible hat please read this post in my blog

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Most Precious Gifts

Once again we realized during Christmas that the most precious gift we can give or receive is indeed very personal: it is the person itself, spending time with us. What joy the visit our our daughter and god-daughter brought us! Add to that the first hand-written Christmas Card envelope by our grandson Victor! Another special gift were those thoughtfully phrased Christmas mails I received from Ravelry friends across the world. A wonderful way to start the year 2014. 
Friendship across continents
OMA + OPA - written by grandson Victor in December 2013
On the first day of the new year, we had the traditional German New Year's Brezel (Neujahrsbrezel), made quite unconventionally by our daughter - and I was wondering why I was always taking the long route for making a yeast dough while her accelerated method definitely produced the same results, or even better! It is said that haveing a slice of the New Year's Brezel for breakfast will bring luck throughout  the coming year. Write to me for the recipe if you are planning ahead...
New Year's Brezel - Neujahrsbrezel - (©) Picture by Valerie Mader
It is still winter, a very harsh one in many places of the northern hemisphere, especially in the United States and Canada - and although my god-daughter lives in the US sunbelt she still loves warm hats. It adds to her personal look and comfort. A personal look evolves over time, deviations are allowed and even called for, depending on the season, mood and occasion. And today, the liberty of wearing what one likes and can afford is an immense advantage from the situation just half a century ago. Luckily, the sixties were the time when designers like Mary Quant and model Twiggy came along and triggered an avalanche of fashion changes.
So for my amazing Californian god-daughter often traveling into colder areas of the world, here is the prototype hat in the making: Some bulky wool, a lacy layer of thin mohair, and the reversible hat, knit in the round, is ready for those colder days in two looks. See the finished hat in the next post.
I have seen this free pattern idea somewhere (probably on Ravelry), while the origin of the hat design is unknown. Please contact me if you happen to know the source as I wish to give credit to the designer. It might not be exactly the same because I just memorized the basics some time ago and then winged it. 
The lacy side provides extra warmth and makes the hat unmistakable if worn lace outside. I cast on 72 stitches with a stretchy cast-on method, trying out The Chinese Waitress method, a new one for me and I have no idea from whence it got its name - a bit cumbersome but veery stretchy. Join to knit in the round. Knit the brim of the hat k4, p4 until you have the desired brim height. See the finished hat in this post.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year - have a Sparkling 2014 !

2014: sparkling with new ideas, new impressions, new insights, new experiences, 
new yarns and fabrics, new designs and new patterns, and many new textile craft friends!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Joie et Fortune en 2014 !

Wishing you happiness, contentedness, cheeriness, joy,
good spirits and everything else you might need for
having a delightful and fulfilling year 2014!
New Year's Day Brezel - made by Valerie!
Pyrenees New Year's Eve 2013
My grandfather's clock from 1890

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Dulci Jubilo - Kindness is a Gift for Life

Many decades ago I was singing in an elementary school choir. All four classes were in the choir at the same time, willy-nilly, the school comprising only four grades and altogether 45 children who were all taught more or less simultaneously by the only teacher, Mr. Alles - meaning Mr. All in German, and indeed, I thought of him as being the kindest person and the one who knew it ALL!,,15857862_303,00.jpg&w=700&h=394&ei=yra5UpHZJsqO0AWOwoCYDg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=768&page=3&tbnh=137&tbnw=210&start=63&ndsp=33&ved=1t:429,r:81,s:0,i:329&tx=95&ty=93
 Picture by
Indeed, times were chaotic. The church was very cold, the roof leaked, rubble was on the floor, the aisle full of pot holes, most benches had been used for kindle and the early morning December wind blew through shrapnel holes in the wall. We huddled closely around the altar, and Mr. Alles encouraged us to sing with fervour, the birth of Jesus Christ was an event needing to be celebrated with all we could give and besides, we would forget a little bit about the cold.

Not any more now, but then as a child, I had a nice voice and could easily learn and carry a tune and, above all, I could very well disguise the fact that I could not read music. So when the time came to choose a soloist, Mr. Alles, my wonderful teacher, picked me. I was dancing on the rubble with joy, in my elder brother's spacious shoes, my handknit grey stockings slipping down and bunching around my ankles. In front of the class choir my courage sank quickly when Mr. Alles handed me a sheet of music, asking me to sing the first part of the song we were about to learn for Christmas.

Not even looking at that sheet of music, I felt like sinking into a black hole, painfully aware that I could not read music, thinking that everybody else could,  and hoping fervently he would sing the part first I was sure I could repeat it ... What would he think of me, I was probably the only person in the church not being able to sing at sight. Mr. Alles looked a bit surprised at my worried face... But the next surprise was mine: "Oh dear, I am so sorry, I forgot that this is a new song for you, with strange words, and I think I might just have to sing it to you a couple of times and explain the words before we have a go at it." I felt so relieved and later sang that solo part with confidence and joy. And on my way out my beloved teacher looked at me smilingly and said with a twinkle in eye: "What a lovely voice you have". It was my best Christmas gift.

The choral was: In Dulci Jubilo. And it became one of my favorite Christmas chorals. Click here for a rendition of the choral sung by the Vienna Boys' Choir and here a version by the Choir of the King's college, Cambridge.
Merry Christmas, happy Holidays and a peaceful New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent Candles

Advent time - so special for children. Decorating the Christmas tree, cards and gifts arriving, school or church Christmas plays, shops and markets with adorned colorful lights and lots of golden, red and green garlands strung across the streets, the first snow falling and the delight of using the sleigh on a snowy hill - who from the northern parts of the globe doesn't remember this fondly. And every Advent Sunday in December another candle will be lit until it is time for the Christmas tree.
Copyright Valerie Mader
The frosty weather reminded me of the time I knitted beanies for just about every child I knew.

Various beanies for children
In the evenings, I have been busy with my new project "Scarf n' Half" - ready to be photographed, all I need now is a model! Pattern to follow soon.
Entangled Scarf n' Half

Bunched up Scarf n' Half

For the light mauve colored string I used my precious handspun and dyed silk, and will use some of my tailspun yarn to add more "Halves" to my scarf project. If you are wondering about tailspun yarn, here is a good blog post explaining it all.