Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pursuit of Happiness

The other day I read in the Smithsonian Magazine (May 2015) about what made people happy: “Physical closeness, which encourages human interaction; proximity to amenities, which creates the sense that what you need is readily at hand; green spaces, cultivated and wild, that provide places to play and explore; and varied architecture, which fosters a feeling of security, because it creates the sense that a place has existed for a long time. “All of these things create a genuine sense of safety,” says Rebecca Williams, “which is the most basic element of community and without which happiness is impossible.”
Blackbird singing in spring
We all have our individual, special but often very similar happiness niches. But these days it is hard to settle down and relax in the safety of our home and safe surroundings with so many upheavals around the globe, wars breaking out, devastating earthquakes, people leaving their home and risking their life for an uncertain future, freezing their feelings to the bare minimum of survival - I find it hard to concentrate on knitting and literature, hence the longer intervals between posts on my blog. 
Evening Sky Over Berlin
Sometimes one has to break camp without even knowing the new dwelling - twelve months ago I moved from the least populated Departement in France to the biggest city in Germany, Berlin. A megalopolis with over 440 000 trees spread over a surface of 892 m², improving the air for approx. 3.3 million inhabitants. Fields and forests, farms and parks, rivers and lakes make up the web of the city that is growing every day. 
Weeping Birch Tree - Betula Pendula
I am still taking my daily walks, but instead of feasting my eyes on“my” own garden flowers and centuries old oak trees I look into other people’s gardens, admiring their carefully tended formal flower beds as much as their neighbors’ nature hang-loose green space, which translates into “let it grow.” 
Red Chestnut Tree
The trees in Berlin are magnificent. One can become a “Baumpate”, adopting a tree to water it in summer and keep the place around the tree trunk clear of litter year round.  
Linden Tree - with crocusses adorning the foot of the tree
Wisteria - Glyzinie - Glycine
During those walks I find myself thinking of yarn colors to match the flowers’ abundance, one garden resembles Jane Thornley’s beautiful designs with multicolor yarns such as Madelinetosh or Blue Heron. I started giving those gardens yarn brand names: Habu metallic or Rowan Kidsilk Lace or the emperor of multicolor yarns Noro Silk Garden! Watch Noro’s Brand Concept video and you know what I mean with garden colors… Or satisfy your color temptation with Jane Thornley's Spring Ascension Shrug. I am knitting a long thin scarf with the colors of a Wisteria plant:

"Wisteria" scarf, long, thin, moving in the wind
Easy Moss Stitch

Wisteria Blossoms
Being new to Berlin, there is plenty to explore. An especially meaningful and moving event was the Kirschblütenfest, the Japanese Hanami festival, celebrating cherry blossoms in spring of each year. This Berlin Hanami Festival has a special background. To commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall thousands of private Japanese citizens, adults and children donated toward the planting of Japanese Cherry Trees along the path of the former wall as a gesture of congratulation and celebration. 
Japanese Cherry Trees - Commemorating the Fall of the Berlin Wall
And as the wall came down, thousands of cherry trees now line the path of the former wall separating the two German states. TV-Asahi supported the donation. The last Hanami took place on 26 April 2015 in Berlin. More than 30 stands at either end of the Boulevard offered food and drink and commemorative items. What a beautiful idea to turn a death-bringing wall into an ocean of flowers!
Flowering Cherry Trees - Their Petals Softening Your Steps
Cherry Blossoms
From the Japanese People: the Cherry Tree Gift
Cherry Tree Blossom Boulevard - the Wall Turned Into Flowers

Friday, May 1, 2015

Design Ideas Unlimited

No new post since the beginning of the new year? It isn't that I wouldn't know what to write, admire and share. In the the contrary, there is so much to write about, so much to share - but so little time. But then the freedom of time lies just beyond that wall of commitments we choose to erect ourselves. So let me plunge right into the ongoing second quarter of the year 2015.

Three Designs by Victor
My grandson Victor has this uncanny feeling for his Oma's favorite activities, apart from spoiling him as much as his parents will allow. He surprised me with the request: "Can you teach me how to knit, Oma? We can knit a jumper together!" Now if that isn't music in every grandmother's ears, a fanfare and wake-up call to dash to the nearest LYS with my grandson. He made three designs in a matter of ten minutes, bold colors, and not a moment of hesitation - and off we went.
Victor and his Little Prince Scarf
To stick to the time frame of 8 days from start to finish, the bulky jumper turned into a colorful scarf, spring is coming and no pampering of British school children, please! The second project would be a tropical fish and finally he wanted to chrochet a palm tree at the sea. All designs were color-coded and annotated, both in writing and verbally. The blue line escaping from the top of the palm tree ought to be disregarded though, it was "just a thought, but you can ignore it." (What a relief!)

Design by Victor: Tropical Fish

He knew exactly what he wanted and in the yarn shop, he wavered not for a second when chosing the yarn and colors for each project. We also picked up knitting needles and a fat crochet hook. He danced and skipped along the sidewalk on our way home, carrying the bag with his yarn loot. I found it endearing that he checked on all facts, such as "fat needles" are not a sign for beginner knitters, and we began to guess what size of needles were used for the jumpers/cardigans of people we met on our way home. Victor would jubilantly pass someone with a bulky jumper and sing out loudly: "UK Triple 000" (his favorite!).
Victor's Palm Tree on a Sandy Beach at the Sea
He loved going through the motions with the "fat needles" and when he took some time off, just to get that latest Lego completed, he had me under his supervision: "Keep on knitting, Oma", he admonished me when I let the knitting drop in my lap to have a sip of tea. For the land-sea scape he did crochet the palm tree trunk while I was responsible for the blue backdrop added later. I love his confidence that Oma can just knit anything he wanted (sadly: except Lego) and why not? After all we have picture knitting, intarsia, fair isle etc. all at our disposal.

Scarf: Knitting needles US 15/10-12 mm. Chunky yarn such as "Seriously Chunky" Cygnet. Cast on an odd number of stitches, ca. 17. Knit the first and last 2 rows in seed stitch 3 and last 3 stitches in seed stitch to prevent curling. Change color 4 times, not exactly at 1/4th of the length of the scarf, it looks more casual if the halfway point is a bit off. Add tassels if you wish. Neatly weave in ends from color change before your grandson cuts them off without much ado. The fish receives an eye made of one small button placed on top of a larger button and sewed to where the fish eye is supposed to be. Ask Victor.

Joan Ingilby
During our vacation in the UK, I happened to chance on this link about little known knitting facts you might enjoy reading. And below is a clip from a newspaper, telling about Joan Ingilby (born near Ripon) who was "a chronicler of centuries-old rural life in Yorkshire and the co-author of "The Old Hand Knitters of the Dales".  Unfortunately the bookshop in Ripley Castle did not carry a copy but if you come across the book it promises to be an interesting read.

Ripley Castle Gardens
And one more item on the extile front: A nice and versatile stitch I saw recently is this one: "twice-turned-stitch" with an excellent video tutorial.
Sample knit with Lighthouse Waves on US Size 9 needles
and there is a pretty free cowl pattern using this stitch as well. I would imagine that a lacy yarn and larger needles would produce a wonderful lightweight shawl or wrap for those cooler summer evenings. In winter time the option of knitting a baby blanket appears to be the obvious choice.

A few dark colors: Slate roof glistening after a heavy rainfall

Many bright colors: Victor painted a pepple and hid it for the Easter Bunny

If you are interested in more helpful knitting/crochet links check out this post (scroll to bottom)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Flowers and Silk for the Festive Season

A wonderful festive season and all the best for the year 2015!
Some more scribble?
This is the best description I read about the joys of knitting scribble: "The technique achieves the fragility, transparency and soft drape of lace without any fancy stitches and is a good way to showcase those yarns you may have bought because they looked wonderful in the skein but were disapointing when knit up. The character of the yarn is maintained since none of it is hidden behind other stitches."  This is a quote I found in the amazing book "Unexpected Knitting" by designer Debbie New.

Some beads add to the precious look of silk
Fiber Fusion Silk married to the finest French Cotton
I did not find someone to model my Taos Winter scribble scarf but once my friend in France unpacks her Christmas present I hope I will get a picture of her wearing it. At the end of the year my eyes are on scribble and I am eager to try a few more projects using this great technique.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sketchy Scribble

Scribble - a fascinating art - with yet another almost unknown meaning! 
This is not about your regular scribble, be it for children to train their hand-eye coordination or adults, absent-mindedly doodling an abstract drawing during a boring telephone call. But there is yet another, lesser known meaning of the noun and verb in the field of textile crafts:

Writing a secret scribble lace code
Cordonnet from Cartier & Bressons, Paris (France), Sari Silk Fiber FusionTaos (USA)
Finest Yarn in Pristine Condition

Scribble is also a technique in knitting, expertly described in the beautiful book "Unexpected Knitting" by Debbie New. She has been a trailblazer in NEW knitting techniques, and the book really lives up to its name, every project is an eye-opener and every pattern and description of the items will amaze even an experienced knitter. A sea-worthy coracle made of lace? Knitted teacups? A pixel-knitted picture of Debbie's grandmother? There seems to be no end to her imagination. Just reading about her many professions will make you dizzy with admiration, as she excelled in every one of them.
Fiber Fusion for Wild Fantasies - The Color Range of Dreams
So when I received the generous gift from textile artists, multi-talented Faith Welsh and Monte McBride (FB ) - a package containing recycled Silk in luminous colors, I could not think of any better way to fully enjoy the beauty of these yarns than displaying their essence in a visually unlimited 360° round-about-view. This is true and wild scribble, as the bulky yarn will determine its very own position and loops in the lacework.

Scribble Lace is a perfect technique for the purpose of keeping yarn visible for admiration, while adding a truly lacy and light-weight background to offset the color and texture of the main yarn. Unless you want to wear the yarn "as is" as suggested by my friend Sarah Peery. See more pictures of the handspun Sari Silk in this post or here on Ravelry.

Form follows Function - Liberated Yarns
It is worth visiting their site Fiber Fusion Taos (Spin Artiste) - yarns to make you dream, gorgeous wraps and shawls, interesting interviews with fascinating textile artists and, yes, Giveaways!

By the way: the term Scribble, or scrawly in the sense of almost undecipherable handwriting is translated into German with a lovely onomatopoetic word: Krikel-Krakel! Also: Gekritzel.

Scribble Lace Designed by Nature - Berlin (Germany) November 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Symbolic Frontier of Lights - Berlin

On November 9th, Berlin celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. 7000 ballons were lit along a 15 km long segment of the former course of the wall that once separated the city. Truly a symbolic frontier of lights - LICHTERGRENZE - . At the Brandenburg Gate, Conductor Daniel Barenboim directed the Berliner Staatskapelle playing Beethoven's Ode to Joy, renaming it for the event: FREIHEIT SCHÖNER GÖTTERFUNKEN - ODE TO FREEDOM. 
Daily Press: Fireworks illuminating Brandenburg Gate, 9 November 2014
And then the illuminated balloons were released, one after the other, their shell shimmering for some moments and then disappearing into the night, like the wall disappeared out of view. A truly magic moment. Listen to The Winds of Change to catch the spirit.
At the center: Can you see my daughter looking back?
 An estimated one million people wandered slowly through the streets, smiling, happy and elated with the spirit of freedom and unity.
Just before sundown - near Kremmen (Brandenburg, Germany)
Grey Cranes (Grus Grus) flying South
A week before this event, friends invited us for a trip to Kremmen (near Berlin) where thousands of Grey Cranes stop to feed and rest for a few days on their long flight South. A truly amazing event it was, seeing these flocks of cranes flying above, honking as if to have a conversation or keep in close contact during their long trip, constantly changing individual positions in the long stretched-out lines but essentially maintaining their famous energy-saving V-formation, oldest birds leading.
Grey Cranes Flying South
Grey Cranes Flying South
The sky was cloudy, a blessing in disguise because it allowed us to witness an amazingly beautiful sunset, trees silhouetted against the sky of many colors, cranes crossing our path on the ground and flying above in smaller and larger groups - PURE MAGIC!

Knitting took a back seat for the past couple of weeks but a few projects saw the light of the day. I want to make an unsual textile piece to showcase the gift from a very generous and always inspiring Ravelry friend, Faith Welsh of FIBER FUSION Taos. She (Faith Welsh) and her friend Monte McBride are blessed with a true feeling for fibers as you can easily see when visiting their sites. I was the lucky winner of two skeins of gorgeous silk yarn, so beautiful I have it sit in front of me during work to feast my eyes whenever I want to. Hard to find a project displaying the yarn in its full beauty - maybe a scribble shawlette, lacy and light, combined with kid silk haze? A heart-warming idea ...

Recycled Silk from Fiber Fusion
Shining and glossy, candy of eyes and soul
Magnificent Colors!
Imagine! Faith and Monte are selling these !

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ART TEXTILE BERLIN IV - Picking up Threads

Our move from the vast and sparsely populated French Midi to mega-city Berlin requires a period of adaptation. Life in a beautiful place came to an end and is missed tremendously. Luckily, it is not material possessions we miss. It is friends one cannot easily visit any longer, it is my country cat Howard who did find a new home but is missed every day, and there is le Lauragais landscape, the infinite fields, wide horizons, Pyrenees mountains, the Montagne Noir, and the sky with sunrises and sunsets beautiful beyond description - all of this having been the main reasons for living in that part of France for almost two decades.
 Timbuctoo - adding new circles
In many ways we are lucky to have found a true home and friends in so many places, be it in Germany, the UK, the United States or in France - so I would like to belief that we will feel at home again someday in this big city of Berlin. I am slowly picking up my threads again in the truest sense of the word, getting my yarn stash organized and continuing dormant projects. The cowl Timbuctoo has made a few steps forward - moving along the road to Timbuctoo inch by inch so to speak. As one says, the path is the goal. And who says one has to hurry knitting ...

This is the last part of  ART TEXTILE BERLIN - highlighting a few more artists participating in the exposition in Berlin. The vast array of arts kept the visitor almost spellbound - each room held new surprises, affording lovely insights into old and new crafts and creations. Click here to see all four blog posts on ART TEXTILE BERLIN.

Two more works by Eva Lippert - showcasing her art in a glass cabinet. Such lovely gatherings of materials, be it beads or buttons, yarns or fleece, an almost transparent precious look at one time, darkly glossy and beautiful the other, combining knitting, crocheting, beading, quilting, weaving, just following the voice of the materials.

Mormon, Anne-Marie

- See more at:

Beautiful gathering of sensuous materials

Mormon, Anne-Marie

- See more at:

Mormon, Anne-Marie

- See more at:
Showcasing textile and beadwork delights
This tool Wikinger Strickliesel (Viking Spool) is used for making jewelry: wires are wound around a stick and calibrated. Naal binding is also a technique taught by Gabriele Kister-Schuler.

See this interesting blog by Tara for excellent pictures of bracelets made with the Wikinger Strickliesel. You can see how the wire is  wound and stitched around a stick, its size determinant for the length and diameter, crocheting in the round so to speak.

Jewelry made with Wikinger Strckliesel (spool knitting)
Bracelet made with Wikinger Strickliesel (Bracelet and picture by Tara)
Anne-Marie Françoise Mormon - glass jewelry, handmade of the finest Murano or Lauscha glass, using ancient glass winding techniques.

Rings - Jewelry and Photos by Anne-Marie Mormon
Closing this post with a picture of folded Origami ornaments, bringing bright rainbow colors into the church St. Maria, in Angermünde (Uckermark, Germany). I was thinking of how lucky we are that we are able to live in a safe place and how urgently we need to help those less fortunate.

If you wish you can leave a message via the comment link below or use the e-mail link in left column. Looking for a list of genuinely useful information and tutorials? See this post.

In all colors of the rainbow - Origami in St. Maria (St. Angermünde, Germany)

Yoomchi = Korean Art of Papermaking - Artist Sang Hoon Yang ”Love Song”, 600x1800m, Joomchi, Wire and handmade Paper. Hanji is strong and long-lasting traditional Korean paper, made from the inner bark of the dak (mulberry) tree, famous for its ability to resist fading, even after 1,000 years. This material is popularly used in the fashion industry, normal life and artwork creation, such as Yoomchi.