Easter 2019

Easter – a time to enjoy nature’s yearly revival – new leaves adorn trees, flowers dazzle us with their colors, birds are singing their melodies…
Time to read poems, too. In four languages (Spanish, French, English, Italian) the Anthology of Love by Jorge Centofanti is a special gift for that special friend – but, of course, you may also keep it, if you cannot part with it after you started it… Downloading it to your reader will not set you back for more than a cup of coffee or tea.

IMG_2894 2019_01_08 Centofanti Jorge Anthology

A Book for Quiet Time

Jorge Centofanti’s Anthology offers poems and ballads for mind and soul. Unlike novels, his “Songs about Love” leave one free to travel individual and personal paths and thoughts. His poems touch the soul and embrace the reader with a finely woven mesh of words.
A book that is more than a gift: A lasting present for those who value quiet time.

Ein Buch für eine Zeit der Stille
„Anthology“ von Jorge Centofanti enthält Gedichte, Balladen und Chansons für die Seele und Psyche. Im Gegensatz zu Romanen lassen seine Lieder über die Liebe es zu, ohne Einschränkungen ganz individuelle, persönliche Pfade zu gehen und Gedankenwegen zu folgen. Seine Gedichte berühren die Seele und umarmen den Leser mit einem fein gewobenem Netz von Worten. Ein Buch, das mehr ist als ein Geschenk. Ein Präsent für Menschen, die eine Zeit der Stille schätzen.


Springtime Cowl and Beanie

The winter of 2019 seems to be just as endless in Chicago Land as last year’s – so I thought that my friend Barb might welcome the warmth of a cowl – doubling as a beanie for the really Chicago-windy days – and in the spring color of green, with a few red, blue and yellow beads thrown in for good measure as a stand-in for spring flowers!

 Springtime Cowl and Beanie
The pattern is called: Barb’s Springtime Cowl and Beanie!
First: It is a cowl. Secondly: It is a beanie. Thirdly: You can wear it with the greener part at the top or at the bottom, upside down, inside out. And finally: The I-cord is removable and can be woven through the holes between the stitches either at the top or at the bottom. I crocheted the last two rows and the elastic bind-off to make an even hole-spacing for the I-cord.
 Springtime Cowl and Beanie
 Springtime Cowl and Beanie

After weaving the I-cord through the spaces between the stitches, pull it tight, make a bow and there you go, take a bow! Wear your beanie upside down whichever way you please. Oh yes, lest I forget, if you don’t want the I-cord to show you can gather the cowl together at the top with the I-cord, make a bow, turn the cowl – now a beanie – inside out and there you go. How versatile is that!

Springtime Cowl and Beanie – I-Cord


Springtime Cowl and Beanie

Of course there is the option to wear it inside out and upside down, but that is totally up to the wearer-ess. The spiral-like green beads on the one end I bought in Shanghai in 2008. The colourful Rocailles (beads) I bought in Vienna in an incredibly well-stocked bead shop sometime at the beginning of this century. And the various yarns were bought during the past 6 decades of picking up so-called orphan yarns, i.e. where only one or two skeins are left in an orphan basket in yarn stores of every country we visited. Now they are orphans no longer but united in a hopefully useful accessory. They are in the colors of spring flowers. 
So there you go! An international Barb Beanie and Cowl!

Succulent – not a cowl or beanie, but green!

Textile Designers, Yarnies, Ravellers: Textile Art 2017 in Berlin

An absolute MUST for Yarnies, Ravellers, Textilers – The Textile Art exhibition in Berlin. The two days – 24 and 25 June – are chock-full with events and workshops (register now!). It is a showcase for everybody appreciating or involved in textile art – and for all people loving to knit, crochet, weave, spin, do sprang or tatting or felting, beading, embroidery or….

This year’s motto is   

“In quest of Beauty” Inspiration – Creation – Sensation!  

The TEXTILE ART BERLIN is under the patronage of Professor Dr. Elisabeth Tietmeyer, Direktorin des MEK, Museum Europäischer Kulturen – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
For information in English click here and for the German link click here.

The picture is Copyright Textile Art Berlin.

Do you prefer cake ?

Kindling your imagination: A small road in the countryside – leading your vision beyond the horizon.


Buying yarn has something to do with having a vision. It is an exciting and rewarding experience, mind-stretching and nerve-racking at the same time. One visualizes the existing stash, colors, textures, quantity, suitability… The very probability of actual use takes second place to desire for more. We split our personality into two, one on the outside, giving us as much positive feed as we want, and one on the inside, the reality person, reasoning, weighing the pros and cons of the potential purchase, but also soberly searching for excuses to add to a vast existing stash and so forth.

 Doesn’t this wrap’s shape and strong neon-line colors set your fantasy in motion?

Then there is the lure of the yarn’s presentation! We perceive not just skeins, cones or hard core balls, we visually caress Hankenskeins, and yes! CAKES and donut balls! See these and more in <a href="http://Lara Kuhlman ” target=”_blank”>this illustration (Interweave). Various known and unknown gadgets cast their spell on us and our credit card. A Nostepinne (Wickeldorn, Ball Winder)
in various new versions, incredibly easy-to-handle Bamboo Curved Needle Sets for socks, hats and loops, a true must-have for a dedicated sock or cowl knitter… Dream on, knitters and yarn fanatics!

This wrap created itself in my hands last winter (2016-2017). The meanderings are the opposite to straight lines, back and forth they rise and fall and add peaks and valleys to the structure. Smaller glossy beads and heart-shaped buttons in green, black and purple will catch the eye when the wrap is worn and thus becoming alive. It is a gift for Hélène, our Parisian family member, and – true to proverbial expectations – a très chique and beautiful Parisienne, wearing the wrap with great aplomb (Glitzy freeform wrap / scarf for Hélène)

Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis

Photographs copyright Valerie Mader + Ute Mader

Illumination Series – sparking new ideas

Spring returns with longer hours of light – the golden wings in the beautiful leather panel by Jorge Centofanti seem to take flight again, sparking new ideas and awakening tangible ones after a long hibernation ….

Illumination Series – Tapis Lumière – Light Rug (Guadameci)

This panel within the Centofanti Illumination series encourages and inspires to resume work on my project Timbuctoo (also see: Tahir Shah) which I started the day I bought the panel in August 2010. Some things just take time.

If Guadameci is an art you are not familiar with please read about it in this article on The Art of Leather. You might be as thrilled as I was – to discover an ancient art and some of the very few artists who are still engaged in creating leather art – how lucky can one get.

Tapis Lumière

Signs of Spring

For a Friend Across the Ocean

No other words needed – this is for a Friend living in Taos, Faith Welsh.
She is a caring human being, a most creative artist of many talents, a cat person, a designer, spinner, knitter, painter, appreciates nature and glorious landscapes, mountains, rocks and trees and plants, the skies and seas, far-away places, foreign cultures – with her posts and her work she has helped me to overcome my homesickness for our former home in the country. This friendship circle is for her. I made it in October 2014.

Hopefully, I will one day be able to meet my friend in person:
Hope is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all.
~ Emily Dickinson


Le Lauragais, in the Midi, in France. Walking across vast meadows, cut once in late May and now covered with a short gruffy aftermath, again offering visual protection for field mice darting through the new growth of grass and weeds, I think of the seasons passing year after year, eternally changing, coming and going, surviving us all.

A deer feasting on fresh green grass

I see the deer stepping out of nowhere, feeding on the new grass in the coolness of the evening. A summer meadow flower smell fills the air. I feel acutely homesick for the landscape although I have not even departed yet. I miss the feeling of belonging to this place we will have called home for so long – while I am still there and departure is but a remote day away. Ambivalence might come close to our state of mind.
There are not enough words to describe the feeling of loss and how I dread the time when for inevitable reasons that loss of our paradise becomes real and inevitable. I wish….     Cut.

Salix integra “”Hakuro Nishiki”; Harlekinweide / Zierweide, Saule

Relocating, again. Physically and mentally. This time it is different, circumstances dictated the move. We are heading for a life – a different life – in a city, in Berlin, one of the largest capitals in the world, a sprawling city of more than 3.5 million people, one third of its territory covered by forests, parks, gardens, and rivers. I am discovering private and public  gardens and consider them mine for the viewing.

Bridges: scarf with drop stitch ladders connecting cables

Garden flowers, so different from the wealth and unbridled abundance of wild flowers, so colorwheel-composed and arranged and yet not conveying the same impression of nature’s harmony. Tamed for a purpose. Different. Bits of nature parcelled out to alleviate concrete monotony. Showcases in most places, gardeners tending designed gardens, meadows turned weedless lawns, wild flowers replaced by suitable soil and climate-adapted flower arrangements. But still – flowers and 440.000 trees, lovely boulevards and a surprising number of smaller parks contributing to the “green lung” of Berlin.

Bridges: scarf with drop stitch ladders connecting cables

Reapproaching textile work  – it is difficult these days. The now omnipresent conflicts in the world, the wars, and flight and plight of the refugees streaming into Europe, the rising of nationalistic parties in many countries, the presently apparent political chaos caused by the nation-splitting referendum in England – all of this makes it difficult to settle down to something seemingly inanely normal such as textile crafts, I almost feel guilty sitting down with my needles and yarn and concentrate on lacy pattern with a more or less intricate repeat…

Above: An off-white scarf made of ivory-colored mohair and the finest Chinese natural silk and Moroccan embroidery silk, three cables connected by drop-stitch bridges. Just right for days in spring with a northern breeze.

Moroccan Embroidery Silk – adding hues of color to other yarns

Below: Dipping into my huge stash, the approaching summer called for an intensely colorful scarf. It is knit lengthwise. CO on a multiple of 18. Roughly following a Feather and Fan pattern. Meanderings in bright colors and crazy lacy stitch patterns, alternating needle sizes and yarn gauge. If you are uncertain about gauges, this is a good site to get acquainted with yarn calculations. Color mix: of course nature is way ahead of me, could have added a million more colors! Just follow your mood…

Glitzy freeform wrap / scarf for Hélène
Britzer Garten (Berlin)

I thought it might be interesting to introduce a number of famous Berliner personalities:
1) Journalist, writer, author, satirist: Kurt TucholskyThe New York Times hailed him as “one of the most brilliant writers of republican Germany. He was a poet as well as a critic and was so versatile that he used five or six pen names. As Peter Panter he was an outstanding essayist who at one time wrote topical sketches in the Vossische Zeitung, which ceased to appear under the Nazi regime; as Theobald Tiger he wrote satirical poems that were frequently interpreted by popular actors in vaudeville and cabarets, and as Ignatz Wrobel he contributed regularly to the Weltbühne, an independent weekly that was one of the first publications prohibited by the Hitler government.”


This is from a poem (1924) on travelling through places and times: 

Die Kinder lärmen auf den bunten Steinen. 
Die Sonne scheint und glitzert auf ein Haus. 
Ich sitze still und lasse mich bescheinen 
und ruh von meinem Vaterlande aus.
Children play noisily on the colorful rocks.
The sun is shining, rays glistening on a roof.
I am sitting quietly, basking in the sun
and take a rest from my fatherland

Laden with Texture and Color

All colors are my favorite. Is the singular of favorite correct grammatically, visually, perceptively, sensitively? Hard to decide, but the essence of all colors certainly is. I’ve been gathering yarn for decades, like this lovely Austermann Fancy Mix bought many years ago. 

Count the colors !

The first Breeze wrap I made I gave to a dear friend in France, using some of my many socalled orphan yarns (only one skein available for purchase) but Jane Thornley’s Breeze pattern is so versatile that I could not resist drawing on the Breeze system again, this time using my long-treasured Austermann Fancy Mix. I combined it with some dramatic black and a golden cord I bought at the Berlin Textile Art exhibition last week  – adding volume, glamor and ritzy chic. After all, this is a gift for a special lady who is a goldsmith. What a wonderful and truly precious profession!

Golden Wrap

This time I wove a golden cord – twinned with a smooth black leather thread – through the smaller CO-edge as a draw-string. Gathered into undulating waves, it turns into a lovely shoulder-hugging cowl, framing the neck in precious colors like in a Klimt painting, or Egon Schiele’s Crescent of Houses (1915, Der Häuserbogen II, Leopold Museum, Vienna).
Please see the wrap “Winter Breeze” posted earlier in this blog to get an idea of the shape (triangular) and size (always depending on the person who will receive the wrap).

Please visit ARTSY if you wish to know more about  Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt. ARTSY is an association with the mission to make works of art available for viewing and buying on the Internet.

 Egon Schiele: Crescent of Houses

Happiness is the sum of many small things

Texture plus color are difficult to describe – that is why it is a haptic and visual sensation at once. It is easy to equal such sensations to those being in a garden with a bounty of bright flowers in summer and muted ones in winter. Since I moved to Berlin, I came to appreciate even more Peter Joseph Lenné‘s astounding capabilities as a garden designer and architect, a master landscaper.

Sanssouci – castle and vineyards

Amonst many prestigeous positions he was a founding member of the Prussian Society for the Promotion of Horticulture in 1822, and accepted the position of Manager of the Parks Division and the Orchard Cultivation. What is so utterly amazing is the fact that he, with no help of airplanes or hot-air balloons, was able to visualize an overall parc concept, incorporating many lakes, the river Havel, a number of existing castles such as Sanssouci (the above picture is by museumsportal-berlin.de) in Potsdam, and castles to be yet designed and built. The overall concept included the Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) – the ensemble part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Truly a man with a lot of foresight, patience, know-how, experience, vision and imagination, such as all great gardeners must possess.

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.