Monday, 29 February 2016

Monday - laundry day

Amsterdam is at an arm’s length away. If I would climb in the tower of my castle (my home is my castle!) then I could see the urban life of Amsterdam. It is a privilege to live in the country with so much space and greenery all around us. Or is it a privilege to live in a luxury apartment in one of those fabulous buildings I showed you yesterday? It is a choice, both have advantages and disadvantages. It was just a moment of reflection, making me very thankful for living in a wonderful place at this moment. As old age will creep up with me in time, no doubt it will be more than welcome to live in an apartment with easy access to all sorts of things.

With Saturday's futuristic architectural impressions still in my head, the technology of it all, it was sort of weird to get my laundry line and pegs out for the first time this year, making use of the strong Northwestern wind and sunshine for my laundry, saving energy. The grass is high and cannot be mown because of the snowdrops and crocuses in it. Mr Frog carefully watches and hides the red hole for my dryer. Usually I cannot bear plastic ornaments in the garden, but this one does it job well and I can bear his modest and functional presence on the lawn.

It is not all that long ago that women of my mother’s age would ‘bleach’ their laundry, stretched out on the lawn. Or would put ‘Reckitt blue’ in it, stuff to brighten the sheets. My baby sister once used a jar of Quinck royal blue ink in a bucket that my mother had put aside with laundry to soak. This was not a good idea: nothing royal about it, just a lot of undesirable blue. My mother did not use Reckitt, my sister had seen it at the neighbour’s, where white overalls were being bleached and washed every day.
With our 24/7 economy and all household machinery at hand to make life easy, we could still do with the planning of the old days: it was not such a stupid idea to be strictly organized and have a particular day planning. At least it gave them a day to sit (or could they not?!) on Sunday. We seem to be running around forever, the washing machine going almost every day.

'Lunedi - Lucato' design by Milvia
This tea towel was a gift to my mother from Naples, Italy. At first she put it away and never used it, being economical on her linens. First use up the old stuff, then start on your new things, was the iea. In the end she did use it and it now shows its wear and tear. As long as I do not have a proper cover for my sewing and lock machines the two tea towels are being used to keep the dust out of the machines. The other one is on gardening on Friday (on show in another post). The design is so meaningful, with just a few drawing lines.

My husband's farmer's handkerchieves blowing in the wind.
On putting up the laundry on the line you take up the environment at the same time. The awakening garden. Colour is slowly returning in vivid and bright colours, birds bathing in the pond and singing their hearts out already at an early hour. Geese flying over, airplanes flying over urban life in Amsterdam.

For the moment I prefer my country life with dry line! I am not much of a city girl anyway, prefer the quiet of country life to the nervous hustle and bustle of town. One thing is for sure, I fully enjoy modern technology and absolutely hate washing by hand: if something cannot be put in the machine it is not for me! 

Such a cute drawing

Sunday, 28 February 2016

A bit more of yesterday

The frosty morning is slowly changing into once more a beautiful sunny day. A wonderful chance to go outside and get the spring feeling, do a bit of gardening, turn my face to the sun, make a long walk with the dog in the crisp air. However, yesterday's architecture is still lingering on my mind and the pictures taken asking for another post. With Picasa it is so much fun to edit your pictures and search for interesting details. The pictures are taken with my mobile, in a way limited in options. My aim of the day was getting a new computer, not an architectural visit for which my Canon camera would have been the approriate thing to take with me. One thing at a time!

The picture above is a detail of the picture in the previous post with the Cool Blue 'Tasje' ('little' bag). Our visit was too short to tell you what the building with the 'formulas' or 'letters' holds. To me the letters reminded me of mathematical formulas, typed with an IBM golf ball type writer, breaking a tooth of the golf ball and not being able to finish the formula. The letters of this building were reflected on the building opposite, the 'New Amsterdam' building (luxury living).


This morning I have been doing a bit of background research on the architecture. Sometimes 9 architects worked together on one particular design.
The choices of materials are endless.

It was late in the afternoon when we were there, the bright light already changing, the setting sun still catching various parts of the buildings.
Very much inviting to go back for an architectural visit.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Blue skies up above

After a lot of deliberation the moment was there: getting myself a new computer. In my previous one all the pictures got lost and with the present one I kept being thrown out because the system did not agree with Windows10. Really awful, when you are all in the mood to be creative. Nevertheless it has been a good companion for a few years.  The same feeling as getting myself a new car hit me: I don't really want to part with something that worked well for me for so long, and therefore the decision making took time.

These days you can work out on line what suits you best, but with all this on line shopping I must say I still want to see and touch the real thing. Off we went to the computer shop on this splendid sunny Saturday to the South axe of Amsterdam, called in Dutch 'Zuidas'. Known elsewhere in the world as the 'Financial Mile' - the trade and business center of Amsterdam.

Having done the first gardening of this year in the sunshine in the morning, on barefeet in flip flops and wearing a cardigan, it invited me to leave my coat at home on my trip to Amsterdam, and just to take a woollen handknitted long scarf just in case the late afternoon would cool down.This was a big mistake as the icy Northern wind around the corners of the big towers blew us to bits. A wall to wall blue sky formed a terrific background for the creative and colourful architecture.

Not visiting the place every day, we were fascinated to see the changes in the area. There is so much being built still, it will change in time rapidly. Huge cranes and half finished buildings all around, designed by competing architects.

It did not take long to get my stuff. The blue sky no doubt inspired me to get a Delft blue sleeve, which  was added to the huge shopping bag, carrying the name 'Tasje' (= Little Bag). Hilarious!, nothing small about this bag, beautifully orange inside. The plastic carrier bag issue at the moment is a source of creativity for designers on paper bags!

We discussed what the vibes of this environment did with us. Both we said: it feels like Paris, New York. Being a senior citizen I felt envious of the young people who work in this dynamic world and wished I could turn back the clock and take part in it.
There were other parts of Amsterdam to visit today so this was all for now: New Amsterdam! And back home a new computer to install!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Monograms and hem stitches

Picture from Google
Together  - a foursome of  creative friends -  we take it in turn to cook for each other. Once we used to be very creative. These days we freak out over Easter and Christmas floral decorations only. Being busy and being occupied with all kinds of things we generally meet up over dinner, catch up on our lives, gossip a little bit, and have a good glass of wine to go with the lovely food we cook for each other.

Is it not great that an invitation for a Chinese hotpot dinner can be the inspiration for a post on my blog?!

So, it was party time yesterday. My friend nicely laid the table with inherited table linen with hand embroidered monograms. Her aunt would have been so proud to see it being used on the table. It is machine hem stitched, but the monograms ‘RV’ are done by hand. It gives such a personal touch to the linen.

Draw work or hem stitching is one of my favourite techniques to use on hand embroidered table cloths. My Easter, Christmas and summer linens all have various handstitched hems. 

This small sampler, using an embroidery book as a guide when I first made it, is an inspiration on next projects. Maybe it should be framed, instead of being kept as a bookmark in the embroidery book?

  The picture below is of a placemat made by ladies who work for ‘Arbeid Adelt’, a group of women who make beautiful items in aid of charity. Just a drawn hem and just a few rows of embroidery make this item delightful to use, either on the breakfast table or on a tray.

Monday, 15 February 2016

At the exhibition

Although the exhibition was nearly a year ago, it is still nice to show you today a few things that really caught my eye. Don't you think it is an adorable little baby bed? Such a gorgeous quilt cover and lace trimmed sheet! It is part of the museum farm's permanent exhibition. The little quilt certainly holds Hanneke's signature by the looks of the choice of colour and the way it has been quilted.

The changing exhibitions are on the first floor, which they call the 'hay stack'. I just love the place and the environment.

As a dachshund lover I truly admired the quilt below, giving away the character of a dachshund so well. Our dachsie tends to lie in his basket and observe us just like the one pictured in the block. Cheeky little devils, but so affectionate and so adorable and therefore  so worthwhile to design and make a quilt on.

'De teckeltjes Quilt' by Betty Lexmond, pattern by Wendy Vosters

Frogs are plentiful in our pond, so the pattern of the quilt below came home with me during my visit to Hanneke's atelier, after having seen it in her summer house and at this exhibition. My mind started spinning on my scraps, nevertheless it was an excuse to say 'I am a bit low on my greens' - and an invitation to stock up and get some batiks. We have plans on a summer house on a spot where we can sit in the sunset. This quilt would do so nicely on one of the walls.

A nicely worked out QNM pattern, by Hanneke
My oh my, women around the world are so creative - I come across such beauties everyday, both in real life and on internet. At the moment I keep my plans on small projects only.

A hole in the barn door

Half a year later after my visit to the Quiltatelier there was a reason for yet another trip to the polder north of Utrecht. The destination was really the quilt exhibition at the Museum Vredegoed, but the barns outside of the farmhouse asked for a closer look just the same. It was spring, there was a separate barn with lambs and another barn with a noisy lot of sheep. The hay wreaths on each side of the barn door looked gorgeous, such a great and effective idea.

The images started to tumble through my head and there it was: inspiration for a block to give away for the car cover project! ‘A hole in the barn door’ seemed just perfect for my contribution.

The drawing of the pattern was easy, but to find the matching scraps was more difficult. You can have stacks and stacks of scraps and still not find what you really want to use. Besides I wanted to express the farm scene. My husband’s blue shirt and his old jeans were victim of my plans. There was a slight curve in the double stitched side seem, there was not much material to use in that particular piece of the block in order to keep the piece straight on the grain, and the shirt material was fraying rapidly. With the lesson in mind that at least one colour should return in another piece the block turned out like this, the colours of the centerpiece led to the use of the other colours.

It was impossible to make a choice: either the 'apples' or 'the hole in the barn door' were going to be handed to Hanneke. In the end I decided to give her both.
The colours are less vibrant than the apple block.When I look at it I hear the sheep! A nice memory of a visit to a lovely farmhouse museum with its changing exhibitions. The permanent exhibition is on rural life in that area. The history of the house is told by enthousiastic volunteer guides. Stories of a tough life in the polder.

With so many blocks in the project it was quite a search to find mine. Again a relief that no scissors had been put in the block, which had been hand pieced and taken me quite some time. The pictures hardly reveal the incredible work that has been done by all contributors. Beads, embroidery, appliqué, humorous preprinted scenes, just anything is in the cover. It will be on show again during the Patchwork and Quiltdays at Rijswijk from 8-10 April next. It is so worthwhile to study every individual block from nearby and to have a good look at all the techniques used. It has been put together in such an ingenious way and with such pretty borders.

The front of the car, with Hanneke's 'signature'

Hanneke awarded 10 prizes on the project. I was so lucky to win one!! A copy of Quiltmania and a gift voucher, beautifully wrapped up and so much fun to open up. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Apples and fruit on the dike

A time and reason to everything! Working too hard, not enough play time, and a computer that disagreed with the installation of Windows10 - all being reasons not to continue with this blog, but I hope to blow new life in it as spring is coming, energy streaming into the house, and retirement around the corner!
Time to catch up on one or two things creative wise and enough to post about the polders and its happenings around us.


The rain on that particular day in summer two years ago was no reason not to give in to the temptation to visit the open house at ‘Quiltatelier Vlijtig Liesje’ at Tienhoven. The car had to be parked further away as – just like me – other quilters just loved to see all the new things at the Atelier and the parking was full. Such a wonderful environment and not one inch of the interior and the summer house not filled with inspirational quilt and needle work.

‘Hey guys, you could do with a nice warm quilted horse blanket!’ I said cheerily. Who knows, a project for some other time? They persisted in their rainy meditation. Maybe one pony looked at me, but the hair in front of his eyes hided no emotion or awareness of my passing by and my bright idea on the blanket. Horses can look so sad with their heads motionless experiencing the moment. The little ponies no doubt comforted each other.

On my way back to the car, with a head full of impressions, the rest of the scenery highly inspired me just the same. A lovely apple tree showed its blushing apples which kept lingering in my head for a long time. 

It was not until the spring time I decided to join the invitation to contribute to Hanneke’s project to make a block as part of a car cover. The apples were going to be part of the block, my scraps were turned upside down. Remnants of a blouse once made (and part of it already used for a carry all) were just the thing for my idea. The pin wheel is such a cheery pattern. I like it best to make colour drawings of my plan first and then work out the pattern parts. This block had to meet a special measure, so it was worked out to size. The block got a name ‘Appeltjes en fruit van de Looydijk’ (Apples and fruit from the Looydijk’. A dike in the polder at Tienhoven.

The block with apples reminds me of the return to Canada of my blog friend Wanda and her husband on that rainy day, and in fact the pinwheel looks like a maple leaf. A tribute also to her husband’s father who was here during WWII, risking his life and contributing to the freedom of the Dutch.

It is not easy to match colours when you want to work with your scraps, and it is also not easy when you are out of routine, which was the very case with me. My husband heard me sigh many times on putting the wrong sides together, or whatever mistakes you make as you go. As it grows from the design to the real block and finish it is amazing what happens and how creative you get. I decided to use rig rag for the leaf stem and fasten this with two different colours of DMC pearl cotton. The pattern originated from ‘Autumn leaves’ in an old copy of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. The pattern was bookmarked ages ago as I really fancied to make the published pattern as a full quilt.
Then there was the moment to say goodbye to the block last summer and hand it over to Hanneke, rolled up nicely around the inside of a kitchen paper roll to make sure it would not crinkle. A strange feeling, as someone else was going to give a destination to my block. If it would so happen there was the danger that scissors would be set in the block to make it match the curves of the car. But no, it got a wonderful place at the back. The cover has been travelling and on display on various occasions. It was not until this autumn that I saw it myself as part of the whole project. Fun!

It was more than amazing to see how women had been inspired by all sorts of things, using so many techniques and entrusting their beautiful work to this project! Awesome! There is this whole story behind my block, but I wonder what the other blocks hold as history?

 A second block was made, for the same project, also with a history. Next post!