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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Paths are Made by Walking

This quote is attributed to Franz Kafka and in my view it translates so well into the technique of Freeform. With every freeform creation new trails are made, no piece must resemble the one previous, shapes and colors in countless varieties and combinations. It is also like writing a book, quoting Kafka again: “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”
Freeform Creation by Mitsuko Tonouchi (Copyright - All Rights Reserved)
Freeform pieces or scrumbles, single or joined, shaped into recognizable clothing styles or running wild, unpredictable and adventurous like the creations by Mizzie Morawez or the beautiful shapes and interpretations by Mitsuko Tonouchi  Freeform is a trail-blazing art, full of creativity and inspiration. 

Mitsuko Tonouchi is a renowned Japanese Textile Artist, especially her freeform work is met with a lot of admiration and high praise. Many of her fabulous imaginative pieces can be viewed on Pinterest. I posed two questions to Mitsuko Tonouchi with regard to her work

Wall Hanging - by Mitsuko Tonouchi (Copyright - All Rights Reserved)
Q: "Do you start out your project with a specific shape or color in mind, or an approximate design that you first put down on paper and then create with fabric or yarns?" 
A: "I start without a plan. I sometimes get something very quickly like in a flash. If anything, I conceived something from... a word, a photo and a connection... I look for inspiration (for example: popping up a picture book, looking at art magazines and go for walks to take photos...
Q: "Do the voids between the scrumbles / freeform pieces carry a meaning, or are they sometimes even the carriers of a message?"
A: " Sometimes, and I think I need to put a meaning or a message... I worry it would not have individuality."
Deep Sea Fantasy - Mitsuko Tonouchi (Copyright - all Rights reserved)

Please note that the 3 pictures above are copyrighted (All Rights Reserved) and belong to Mitsuko Tonouchi. Please respect the property rights.

My own freeform work is progressing all too slowly - my day job is in the way! The Wisteria scarf is finished and I found some lovely beads for it in a Button and Beads store in Vienna... here is a picture to give you an idea of how hard it was to leave that store: 
Buttons and Beads Store in Vienna (Austria)

If you can't wait for more pictures and happen to live in or visit Vienna, here's the address: Knoepfe und Perlen. Heinrich Thomas, Burggasse 11/1,1076 Wien, tel. +34 (0) 6643580701 - and the Opening Hours - note those whimsical Viennese distinctions!

For more information and pictures see the post: Beads and Buttons and Books

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 Kirschbl├╝tenfest, 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