About living a creative life in a small commuity approximately 300 kilometres above the Arctic Circle

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tuesday is Teaching

Tuesday is one of my two teaching days. I teach the clarinet in the community school of Music and Arts. No classroom-teaching, only one student at a time. It's a nice job. Since we don't have our own children, I can relate to the young ones of today through my students. And I think that we do an important job for the kids also. Except for the parents, how many other grown-ups do kids have for themselves half an hour every week? I taught one girl for nearly ten years. I think it was harder for her to quit than for me, even though I miss that student. She was the most talented kid I've ever tutored.

Even though many people do think that learning to play an instrument is not one of the necessities of life, a lot of the stuff we musicians teach, can also relate to real life. The kids learn to study hard, practice every day if they really want to master their talent, deal with nerves and keep focused in straining situations like concerts and performances. A lot of real life situations is similar to this

The UFO of today is also made for teaching purposes. I made it for my first quilt teaching class. I wonder when I'm going to find time to quilt all my tops?


Monday, January 30, 2006

Ms Sporty and one of her UFO's

It's a fact! This photo proves that I'm officially a skier again. There are excellent tracks in the hills not far from our house, and today we went out for more than one hour. It was very relaxing and I feel fit to get on with my quilts.

I'm posting a picture of a small quilt that's in progress. It's a handpieced quilt which I'm also going to handquilt. The four-patches are 2 " and are leftovers from the project I posted earlier (the one with swatches from Keepsake). The borders on the side are sewn on, I just have to drav the quilting pattern onto the cornerstones before I sew the last borders. I love to handpiece and hand quilt, but it's definitely a slow process.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Quilt in progress

I never intended to start on a new quilt now. It just started itself:-D. Here are my twelve nine patches placed with black fabric. The border will be green with purple cornerstones. I checked in Rachel Pellman's book Amish Wall Quilts, and this is mid western style. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Have decided on the quilting motifs also. So now I just have to draw templates for the border on freezer paper and then draw the quilting design onto them before I cut the fabric.

Finally we're getting some winter around here. If this is how it looks tomorrow, we will have our first skiing trip in nine years tomorrow afternoon right after work.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Seeking inspiration

I'm working on a quilt that will be named "Liberty Flowers" I'll post a picture when it's ready. Here I try to combine traditional American quilting technique with Norwegian elements. I'm going to handquilt it, but how do I make a Norwegian Quilting pattern?

I found the answer in one of these books at the library. Rosemaling is an old decorative painting technique which is used to decorate almost everything. This form of decor had it's Golden Age just after Norway liberated themselves from Denmark in 1814. We weren't fully liberated; we were forced into a union with Sweden that lasted until 1905, but now we were a nation with our own constitution. The idea of freedom, equality and fraternity from the French revolution and the US constitution from 1776, where the ideals of 117 men that gathered at Eidsvoll during spring 1814.

Inside one of the books you can see examples of how different object of wood can be decorated. If you want to see more, check out this website. I'm not related to this firm in any way, I just tried the .com trick. (Writing the word you seek adding dot-com :-D). I have found a border that will suit my quilt nicely. No I just have to draw it on freezer paper.

The Mozart celebration last night went well. I haven't made many quilts with a musical theme, But the last picture has at least a musical name. ¨My Colour Symphony" got it's name because of all the fabrics that are in it. I didn't use much of every fabric, approx 3/4 ", but there are dozens. It still looks like more fabric than it actually is. Some of the fabrics are used with the back as front. That made me think about Gustav Mahler and his way of orchestrating. He often used untraditional instruments together in his symponies, and his eighth sympony is actually written for an orchestra of 200 and a choir of 800 singers! So with that in mind, my quilt got it's name.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Mr. Mozart!

Today it's 250 years since the greatest musical genious the world has ever seen was born. His music has been a part of my life since I started to play. He has given me great experiences, but also moments of anxiety and restlessness.

His music seems simple and is easily understood, but behind the surface, it's intricacy and complexeness is a challenge for all musicians. I've battled with his music from time to time, the first time I remember was in my early teens. My clarinet teacher gave me the sheet music for his Clarinet Concerto. I wasn't a good student. I liked to play, but didn't wan't to practice. This piece intrigued me anyway, especially the second movement. I tried figure out how a special passage with lots of semiquavers and triplets should sound, but I couldn't get the math of it correct. I listened to a cassette (back in those days :-)) several times, and suddenly one day I got it! The sentiment of mastering was a great experience. You've probably heard that piece. It has been described as the most lovely music piece ever written, and it's used in the movies Out of Africa and Ironweed.

Another delightful moment was when I first saw the movie Amadeus. There is a scene where Constanze, his wife, is showing the scores of Mozart's works to his alegded enemy Salieri. He studies the scores, and we see glimpses of Mozart fooling around, laughing out and behaving like a big child, and in the background we hear my favourite piece for winds, the slow movement from the Serenade for 13 winds, Gran Partita. I nearly stopped breathing. I'd never heard anything that beautiful before. Since then, I've played the piece three times. and I'm still looking forward to playing that movement.

I mentioned nervousness earlier. That has to do with the Clarinet Concerto. When clarinettists autidion for positions, the two first moments are compulsory almost everywhere in the world. You will never be alloved to play it all, only the first part of the first movement, and 2/3 of the second. If you fail in the first, they won't let play the second at all. So you practice for weeks and months, and when audition comes, you've got max 15 minutes to prove that you are the best person for that job. I was lucky the first time, probably because it didn't understand how serious it was. I've auditioned for other positions later, without any luck at all. So I'm sticking to my job in the wind band and feeling sorry for all the musicians that have to go through this ordeal to be able to work with what they love most of all in the world.

We're going to celebrate him tonight with a large concert in the concert hall in Harstad, the nearest town. There will be a choir, song soloists, strings and winds. If you check the cultural calender for your town or communtiy, there will probably also be a celebration of this great composer. Check it out and enjoy.

Happy birthday Mr. Mozart!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

A blogger's best friend

This book is the most used the last week. After reading American quilting magazines for years, the sewing terminology is not a problem, but when you're going to describe thoughts and everyday life, there are some words and sentenses that needs extra thinking and checking. And then there's the problem of idiomatic language.

Luckily the Norwegian Tv-companies have always used subtitles. Only the children programmes are with Norwegian speech. So I've heard English spoken since my early childhood. Now I mainly don't look at the subtitles and just listen to the original soundtrack. There are nuances of the English language that will be missed when reading the subtitles, especially when you see English comedies.

So why am I not blogging in my own language? First, I like to keep my English language alive. It's more than 20 years since I went to college, and my French (which I was taught at the same time) is almost gone, because I never practice it. Then there's the amount of quilters. In Norway there are 4 million people, in the world there are maybe four million quilters or more! I can not antecipate that all of them will learn Norwegian :-D, so the language choice is easy. And then there's is the aspect of learning about other people's life and thinking. Knowledge and understanding is the best way to avoid disagreement and lack of peace.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I've got m@il!

Buying fabric in Norway can be an expensive experience. Normally a quilting quality cotton starts at 130 NKR pr. meter (=40 inches). Divide that with 6.5 (the prize for one dollar) and you get the US price. I checked the price for a backing fabric, and that costs 30 dollars per meter. So I shop some of my fabrics from internetstores in USA. This time I needed a backing for an exhibition quilt, and decided to order it from Keepsake. They had a special offer which I couldn't resist. 20 fat quarters for twenty dollars. Five yards of fabric for the price of one meter in Norway! Even though there is postage, handling and customs added to that price, it's incredibly cheap for me. I also ordered a book. I placed the order two weeks ago and today it arrived! The pictures show a selection of the fabics I got. Some nice ones, some quite ordinary, a few fabulous ones and then there is the ones you'd never buy if you could choose the fabric for yourself. But that's okay. I tend to use the "ugly" ones to make variety.

The day has been quite productive. I had the day off (this time it was planned) since I only participate in one third of this weeks concert. I've made 6 more nine patches. I have twelve now, so I think I will start to sew them together tomorrow. I had to wash the black solid which I'm going to use together with the blocks. And I can nearly see the bottom of my scrap box now. I'm tempted from time to time to throw it all away, but I regard the empyting-the-scrapbox-project as a training course in perseverance................ :-D


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Unfinished business

I have dozens of unfinished projects. I thought I should share some of them with you. Here are what I plan to use some of the hexagons for. I have a couple-and-thirty-two flowers already, but I will make a lot more. I hope to make a quilt where I can use them in an untraditional way. And another plan is to make a quilt which I will name "Grandma's Herbarium". That will include other techniques also. Grandma's Herbarium should be finished before next summer. The other one hasn't got any deadline. I do not like to push the quilts when I'm not 100 percent certain of how they should appear.

Here is also a picture of a small quilt I made last spring. This was before I started to organize my scraps. My table was covered with bits and pieces, but instead of shoving them all down in the scrap box, I started sewing them together without planning too much. I've done that several times, but this was one of two that I was satisfied with.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Unexpected day off

I got the day off unexpectedly. I work as a clarinet player in a wind band. We get all our conductors from southern Norway. When we were about to leave home this morning, we got as SMS that said that the rehearsal was cancelled. Our conductur was stuck in Oslo. More than 50 pilotes turned in sick this morning due to a disagreement between the Danish pilotes in the same company and the management. So I used the day to more scrap cutting.

I found some very nice solids in the scrapbox and decided to make a few nine patches. I'm very fascinated by the Amish tradition, and after reading a lot about nine patches in several blogs lately, I decided that I would have to make some blocks myself. This picture is by the way taken by my husband. He got a new lens for his camera from USA today, and he was quite keen on testing it.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Making mittens

Yesterday I talked about the mittens I'm making. I guess some of you are interested in seeing them. This is a pattern I learned from my grandmother. Normally they're knitted in black and white yarn, but after a class with Kaffe Fasset I've given my mittens an extreme makeover. The yarn is a soft baby wool quality which can be washed in the machine and the needles I'm using are 3mm. You can check out the website to the company Dale

The weather hasn't improved much. When we woke up this morning, the ground was covered with a thin layer of snow, but that's all gone now. It's raining and the wind is blowing harder now than earlier this week.

Since this is a quilting blog, I should include pictures of a quilt or two. This is the most scrappy quilt I've done so far. All the fabrics are new, but I've only used swatches from Keepsake quilting. I think I've basted several hundred of this little pieces, and I plan to use them all and many many more for a quilt based on the mittens pattern. But before I can start on that, I have to handquilt two quite large quilts for an exhibition of my pictures and quilts I'm invited to give in the end of March. It's my first exhibition and I'm extremely excited and quite a bit nervous about it. The quilt on the picture is going to be showcased. If you're interested in seeing more of my work, please visit my website.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Find one error

I shot this picture through my studio window earlier today. It's my and my neighbour's garden. What's missing? I'll give you some hints. This is 300 kilometeres above the Arctic Circle and we're in the middle of January. Still doesn't get it?

The snow that usually covers everything, is totally absent. We did get snow for Christmas, but right after New Years Eve it vanished. We're a bit disappointed my DH and I, since our common Christmas present to each other where cross country skis and outfits. We haven't been skiing for many years , so when we finally decided to start skiing again, the weather wan't let us.

This picture is not one of mine, but my DH's. He has done some lovely shots of the surroundings up here. If you are interested, go to his website to see more of them. This is actually the view from our livingroom. Gorgeous, isn't it?

I plan to do some hand quilting on a quilt for an exhibition later today. And then there are mittens to complete. I deliver mittens for sale to a shop and a gallery, and my goal is to make at least one pair each week. I will post pictures of them later.


Friday, January 20, 2006

"Narve" came by today

We had an encounter with Narve today. He's a new acquaintance, but for most of the Norwegians from Troendelag and northward, his actions are quite destructive when you get to meet him first hand. Who Narve is?

Norway is recognized as one of the leading nations when it comes to equal rights regardless of sex. So even the storms have masculin names, at least every other storm, and the male Christian name Narve was given the honour this time. For us here in Kvaefjord he hasn't been a problem, we've hardly felt his anger. The electricity was gone for about five minutes, and the lights keep blinking from time to time. That's all. On the radio we've heard stories about people who've had to evacuate their homes due to lack of heat and food, ferries and planes that are cancelled and bridges that are closed because of too strong wind.

With this weather outside, it's nice to sink down in the sofa in front of the TV and watch some of the most popular TV shows. Usually we only watch the news and only one series each night, but Friday is the night when the TV is on most of the evening. I manage to do some sewing anyhow. Tonight I've been basting some of my hexagons from yesterday. I ironed, cut and sorted a great deal of my stash box earlier today, so now you can see a difference. Later I'm going to enjoy the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting, which was my holiday treat together with a bunch of tulips. It's not a big treat, but it's enough to get the feeling of two days without work.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Managing my stash

After reading about Bonnie's Scrap User System (her blog is listed on the right), I decided that it was time to conquer my stash also. I started with the scrappy bits of it. On the left you can see the pieces that aren't strippy (or the strips that I was too lazy to put in the right plastic bag).

I do have a kind of system, but this box has been bothering me for a while. This is where I've been putting every tiny bit of leftovers, since one of my grandmothers taught me not to throw anything way. So the last week has been devoted to deal with this box. I've made a lot of different shapes for English Paper Piecing on my computer. They've been carefully cut out and taped to the fabric with double sided tape. I know that someone thinks that it's hazardous, because of the glue, but it works fine for me. This is nice work to do, because you don't have to think a lot, just place the templates on a suitable piece and cut.

Here you can see some of my hexagons. The ones to the right are already basted, fitting nicely into a chocolate box. In the back, you can see some of the precut 3 " triangles I did for a Kaffe Fassett project I didn't complete. I've used some of them for a spicy Christmas-table cloth (still unfinished).

I have made diamonds, squares, triangles, gemstones and hexagons and some very tiny ones just for fun. I'm going to baste all of them, and then I can play around with them to make my own blocks and designs.

I've not reached the bottom of the box, in fact it looks like nothing is done, but I clench my teeth, using some minutes every day, and hope to see the end of this project by the end of January. Later I will post pictures of the result.


First blog entry

I gave in and decided to start my own quiltblog. It's so fun reading about other quilters and their work, especially when you don't belong to a quilting group or guild. So I hope my thoughts about quilting and life above the Arctic Cirle (in Norway) can be as interesting and inspiring that other quilter's blogs are for me.