If you find yourself in Frankfurt for the Bookfair this year (Norway is the Guest country!), you may want to check out the Hannah Ryggen exhibition at the Frankfurt Schirn Kunsthalle. The exhibition runs til January 2020.
The Swedish-Norwegian artist Ryggen (1894-1970) lived on a self-sustaining farm in Norway, spun and dyed her own wool and taught herself to make huge collage-like tapestries. How cool is that?
Did I mention the Book Fair (October 16-20)? Yes, there’s books, calendars, cookbooks, posters, and just about everything book-related. Yes, there’s cosplay and cooking demos and giveaways and book prizes, but in addition to all that, folks, NORWAY.
As we all know, Norway isn’t just about fantastic nature and fjords, but also great writers – we love those crime thriller authors, Jo Nesbø, Karin Fossum, Åsne Seierstad and the polarizing Karl Ove Knausgård.
There’s plenty for knitters too: According to the programme, designer Wenche Roald, and Annemor Sundbø, the godmother of norwegian knitting will be in attendance, and there may even be a workshop on knitting selbu mittens.
Todd Gocken’s Norwegian Snowflake Scarf
Monica Værholm’s Eggwarmers
What, you ask, is selbu? It’s an eight-petalled flower design (often called the Selbu rose), used in traditional Norwegian stranded knitting. It’s actually older than Norway itself, according to The Atlantic, but has come to be associated with Selbu, a municipality in Northern Norway.
When this posts, on October 3, most of Germany will have shut down more or less for our version of 4th of July, which is called Tag der Deutschen Einheit. German Reunification Day which always falls on the third of October.
There is a large Citizen Festival with music, art, and each of the 16 federal states making presentations in a pavilion. This festival moves around each year, and is hosted in the state which has the chairmanship of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) – which is the Upper House of the German Parliament.
This year, Schleswig-Holstein have pulled out all the stops. However, people who don’t live in or near Kiel will probably stay home, throw something on the grill if the weather is good and watch the celebrations on TV. Or they’ll take Friday (and maybe Monday too) off work, and take a mini vacation on the long weekend.
Or maybe they’re off to Munich for Oktoberfest, or Stuttgart for Cannstatter Wasen. For those who don’t feel like being out partying in appropriate Dirndl-wear, they’re free to stay in and watch films about the DDR.
In Times of Fading Light / In Zeiten des Abnehmenden Lichtes– drama about a family in the last days of the DDR. Mentioned here.
The Lives of Others/ Das Leben der Anderen – although completely fictional, the drama by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, won an Oscar for Best International Film in 2007.
Goodbye-Lenin – comedy about a good son trying to convince his mom, who’s just woken from a coma, that the Wall is still intact.
Deutschland 83 – comedy action series on Netflix about a young East German soldier coerced into spying in West Germany.
Of course, it’s been 30 years since the Wall fell. And the Unification hasn’t gone as smoothly as planned. But most folks in the West don’t really want to contemplate how to fix that problem because they’ve been paying a Solidarity Tax for years to rebuild and finance the absorption of Eastern Germany into the West German economy. Still thirty years is a long time for people in a country to feel like second class citizens. It’s a complicated problem.
Last week, while a bunch of people went to the Fridays for Future Climate Strike in their nearest city, a friend and I took part in a Future Fashion tour in Stuttgart.
A complaint I often hear, especially living out in the countryside, is that people would support fair and sustainable designers or clothing lines, but they have absolutely no clue where to get it. It’s hard to find. It’s loads easier to grab that fast fashion, because it’s right there. It’s everywhere. Plus it takes a bit of work to find organic, sustainable, or fair clothing and accessory makers unless someone tells you where to look.
And that’s what this tour did. While thrift and vintage was also a part of the tour, we also learned which new recycle bins (see “Fair-Wertung” pic above) we should use. I was also pleasantly surprised by how many new young designers are sustainable, organic, vegan, and fair (or a combination of these – there still isn’t one perfect solution yet). Each consumer has to invest the time to think about which values are most important and worthy of support.
There’s a whole new world out there, of people making good things: so if you happen to be passing through Germany, check out the Fair Fashion Network for interesting small boutiques and makers near you.
It’s all part of each person’s developing a personal future fashion strategy:
I even learned a new tip on airing clothes between wears in order to cut down on water usage and microplastics in the water. I’m no expert, and it’ll take a while to add to the routine, but it’s worth a shot.
Fiber season is upon us again, as September has started and temperatures cool down. What a summer! I’m pretty sure it’s the hottest summer on record in Germany. Even hotter than last year. Not so good for the forests – the forester has been into the woods near us to remove some of the sun-damaged
At the moment, I have Petite Knit‘s Anker‘s Summer Shirt on the needles. I love the clear lines on this pullover, but I‘ve taken a break to ask the Internet what the pattern means with Marker stitches. I‘ll add an update when I figure it out.
I originally thought of pairing this fairly easy knit with easy-on-the-eye binge-watching, but as the German saying goes: things always go a little differently as planned. I cannot tear my eyes away from the screen to keep track of my needles. I‘ll have to work on that.
Bauhaus-A New Era /source:imdb.com
I‘m watching „Die Neue Zeit,“ (Bauhaus: A New Era) about the start of the Bauhaus movement. Yes, Bauhaus-Autumn has started, with a six part series. It’s got more content than the film „Lotte am Bauhaus“ (English: Bauhaus), which was ‚inspired‘ by the experiences of Bauhaus designer Alma Siedhof-Buscher.
Clip „Lotte am Bauhaus“
Arte promo for Bauhaus: A New Era
I am absolutely thrilled that these stories are being told from the perspective of female characters. That’s one way in which the #MeToo movement has affected Germany.
Already, I‘m one episode in (5 to go), and they get straight to the point: how could a movement so committed to overturning the old order, continued repressing women.
Speaking of old order, it‘s amazing to see the fashions on the different characters, 1890s, 1910s and pre-1920s, which position the female characters exactly.
The Weimar old guard, in the form of old school artist Hans Gros painting the Baroness von Freytag-Loringhofen’s portrait painted on her lawn. There are gardners in the background clipping shrubs. Her guest and political co-conspirator is drinking lemonade (I hope!) from a gold-rimmed glass, while she poses in a sunhat on a striking rattan chair). Interesting the power she yields because of her wealth and engagement in Weimar art circles.
In terms of art, they want to defend the old way of doing things. They believe they know everything they need to know, and resist any new ways of seeing or doing art. In terms of fashion, it absolutely fits that she’s ten years out of fashion, holding on to the past. Reminds me of the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey.
Then we have these two young students who at the start couldn’t be more different: Dörte Helm, who is still wearing corsets and 1900s skirt-suits, trying to please her father and all the professors. Gunta Stölzl, who is wearing a knit jacket over free flowing clothes sans corset and who isn’t afraid to answer back to a professor.
We get a fairly good idea of what Weimar student life looked like, but also the little details of what it meant to be a woman in this time of transition. On the one hand, Dörte is escorted to school by her father, and seems to dread getting married. On the other, Gunta comes into the train compartment and proceeds to cut off her (wartime Red Cross nurse uniform) dress sleeves because she‘s hot. In front of several strangers. She’s not afraid to shock folks.
Gunta and Dörte/ source: arte.tv
Gunta‘s weaving/ source: arte.tv
There‘s a scene where Gunta is doing some light evening weaving, and although they start talking about guys, the conversation shifts to crafts. Gunta asks Dörte if she knows how to do any handcrafts (knitting or weaving). Dörte shows her scarred hands and replies that she learned in her girls‘ school, where mistakes were punished. And I thought it was amazing how much was packed in there about class, wealth, women‘s education, handcrafts and even our ideas of creativity (pattern vs intuitive process).
So yes, passes the Bechdel test. I‘m looking forward to bingeing this at some point this month.
I was remiss in not including this exhibition at the MAK Frankfurt on my recent list for Summer ‘museuming’ here. Sagmeister and Walsh, a New York-based graphic design team have curated a very beautiful and yet convincing statement on why we have less Beauty in our everyday lives, and why it’s worth seeking it out.
The curators have basically shown that although Beauty as a value is crucial for or health and well-being, we as a global society seem to place the least attractive forms (brown buildings) in our landscapes. I had to laugh out loud at the installation piece comparing the Moscow and Munich subway systems. The former is beautiful while the latter is dreadfully functional.
It explains why we are drawn to Beauty, and why there’s such a disconnect between modern art, architecture and even fashion and regular people these days. It turns out our sense of Beauty evolved with us as a species. So when someone says “I don’t know about art, but I know what I like,” she’s got it right. We do know, on a profound level.”
Sagmeister & Walsh are showing that we can improve our lives by adding beauty on a community, design or even a personal level.
The interactive exhibition also encouraged visitors to take pictures of objects from the MAK Frankfurt’s permanent collection, that they personally found beautiful. Here are my top three:
Silver stag and turtle /MAK Frankfurt
Bentwood lounger / MAK Frankfurt
Silk embroidered kimono/ MAK Frankfurt
There were however so many beautiful objects there. So here’s some more.
Peacock /MAK Frankfurt
Chinese jade glazed vase /MAK Frankfurt
144/ MAK Frankfurt
Tea set/MAK Frankfurt
Snowflake Ceiling installation /MAK Frankfurt
Which of course got me to thinking about knitting and crochet and crafting, and wondering if this explains the resurgence of interest in crafting even though we can buy a machine-knit garment, the Beauty of the handcrafted cannot be denied. I’ll post on that once I’ve thought it through a little more.
The only thing I didn’t like were the loud speakers piping down audio explanations at several points in the room got to be quite a cacophony.
The exhibition will run until the end of September (2019).
BOCHOLT: The Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Heritage is presenting a fascinating exhibition („Fashion Material“) by tailor and designer Stephan Hann. The pieces are made of everyday materials like plastic bags, telephone book pages and so on. (More pics here, but the page is in German) The Museum‘s Bocholt site is the home of a former spinning and weaving mills. Runs til October 6, 2019.
Sarah Wiener MEP, author, restaurant-owner and beekeeper.
My pile of reading
Yes, I do have a summer reading list. This year, my friends have gifted me a couple of bee-related books, so they will be going along on holiday next week.
Sarah Wiener’s book Bienenleben (Beelife), which may have helped her ride the wave of concern about bees and insectlife into the European Parliament in the recent elections.
I first found out about her because she had a cooking show on ARTE, where she travelled around mainland Europe, the UK and Asia, cooking with local chefs, and looking at where the food we eat comes from.
She has written several interesting foodie books like „“Zukunftsmenü“ (Future menu: What is our food worth) from 2017, with table talk transcripts with well- and lesser known food activists, a vet, a chef, research Professors and nutrition experts. It‘s fascinating how food and eating well, healthily, and mindfully could be so politically charged.
In 2015, she wrote a book called „Wohlfühlmaschen“ (Feelgood stitches) with cute designs for inside (homewares), outside and just relaxing on the sofa. She has star appeal, name recognition and has amazing energy and authenticity that folks in German-speaking Europe just love.
She‘s one of those rare people, who without finishing trade school or going to University, has been quite naturally successful. It‘s her bubbly personality that is quite understandable that if she says she’s cooking with quality regional ingredients is the thing, everyone raves. When she loves wool and crafting one year, then it’s great. Next year she says she has become a beekeeper, and that’s fine too.
So I‘m looking forward to sitting in the shade by the pool and digging into how and why she got into bees.
I looked her up on Ravelry, sadly her book patterns aren’t listed, but I found this, that I know she‘d a kick out of Sarah H. Arnold‘s Wiener Dog hat!
Also on my list:
Minimal Fashion by Anna Bronowski and Juliana Holtzheimer of eco fashion label Jan ´n June out of Hamburg.
Winterbienen by Norbert Scheuer. It sounds like his last book about a juxtaposition of war and nature. Or an escape from war into nature. Not sure yet, but I‘ll let you know. Hopefully before it‘s translated into English.
I’ve finally finished my Alix’s Prayer Shawl for my delightful cousin Miss S. I used my glittery Farbenpracht yarn (because everyone can use a touch of positivity and good vibes when they’re feeling poorly) from that Woolfest a while back.
I generally try to stay away from politics, really I do. These days, in what we call the Summerloch (the summer news hole), there’s not much on. American news is full of Mr. Trump and British and European news are full of Brexit and lately Mr. Johnson.
We crafters don’t live in a a little yarn bubble, so I thought I’d take a stab at what Brexit will mean for us.
Surprisingly, there’s never been a better time to visit the United Kingdom, as a tourist, the fall in the value of the pound means one does get more bang for one’s dollar or euro (At the moment it’s roughly £1=$1.23/ €1.09). And I actually do know quite a few people heading off this summer holiday to enjoy Cornwall, Wales and the Lake District.
Of course, crafters visiting the UK may be tempted to stock up on yarn, textiles and the like due to the uncertainty which may be coming on October 31, when Mr. Johnson has said that the UK will unequivocally leave the EU. Your local yarn shop (LYS) may be stocking up too, so supplies may be safe for a while.
On the other hand, what happens to a small European companies sourcing yarn in the UK, but dyeing and marketing them in the EU? Will they have to source elsewhere?
If British wool producers stick with guidelines for Wool Sheep Welfare as set out by the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO), it may not be too much hassle on getting UK wool brands into the EU. EU tariffs are some of the lowest in the world: my basic search on the EU tariff database turns up 3.8-5% duty on Australian, Norwegian or US produced wool (containing 85% of wool or fine animal hair by weight).
I would anticipate a slight rise in yarn costs, but nothing too drastic. And the same for accessories. Granted the UK producers will have more paperwork to get their products onto the continent, so hopefully they won’t pass those costs onto us the consumers.