Winter reading: just finished

I just finished reading a book that‘s been on my list for a while now, The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski.

A fascinating work by Professor Przybyszewski, a historian of law, fashion and culture describes the past and the development of fashion, fads (which used to mean For A Day!) and dress codes.

What fascinated me was the decline of Home Economics as women‘s options in academia opened up, and how Pop Art, the feminist movement and the Youth Quake of the 60s and 70s shifted the focus of fashion designers and of society to youth as the ideal of Beauty.

I wonder what she’d think of the Kardashians’ influence on the modern body beauty ideal and athleisure…

Kudos as well to Prof Pski, for integrating African American Dress Doctors into her book. This led me to research African American Dress Doctors Charleszine Spears and Ella Mae Washington, who also penned a teaching text in 1949 called Color in Dress: for Dark-Skinned People. Luckily, I have come across a digital copy archived by the American National Museum of African American History and Culture.

My Pinterest board to accompany the book.

Art in Everyday Life by Harriet and Vetta Goldstein

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Interview:Guilt-free knitting

Knitting as Self-care

The best way to get through winter, especially after the party season is to take time for a little self care.

Dion Evette is a young author, who considers self-care as different from self-centredness. Here’s what she had to say:

Why did you decide to write this book?
It was actually suggested that I write a book on self-care by a couple of friends who were looking to take better care of themselves and stay on top of their pampering skills. Better to help them act ‘as if’.

What was your inspiration?
I wrote this book as the pampered housewife, what I believe to be the pampered housewife. At least the one that lives in my head. She lives a very opulent lifestyle.

So the pampered housewife is being pampered by herself?
Yes. I feel the pampering starts with yourself. When your husband and those around you see how well you take careo of yourself, they know that they need to step up their game and I believe it gets you even more spoiled in the end. They want to be a part of what makes you happy and relaxed, so they go above and beyond to make that happen.

Why do you think women are often afraid of self-care?
I think the we are shamed into being afraid of self-care as if indulgence is a sin. As a black woman in [The United States of] America you often get the “who do you think you are?” look as if it is crazy for you to seek any kind of comfort. I believe women of all backgrounds feel some semblance of this pressure at some point in their lives. As humans we believe the more we work and the less we relax means that we are working hard and doing better when we are actually doing harm to ourselves.

What role do hobbies play in self-care?
I think that hobbies are the most fun and exciting part of self-care! You get to try out all the different crazy things you put on your bucketlist as a teenager and find what suits you the most. Hobbies make you happy and just sitting around and vegging out in the bath tub might not be your thing. Maybe you like to watch movies alone or go hiking with a friend or to a cooking class. So many things to do so always make time in your schedule to try a new thing; you might just find a new hobby.

A lot of people, but knitters in particular use acquisition of things (we call it stash) to feel good. And then hide it from their partner. What’s the difference in your opinion between stash and self-care?
I think the huge difference between stash and self-care is the absence of shame in self-care. No need to hide how well you treat yourself because you have no fear that anyone will look down on you for it or think you selfish. That’s the whole point of self-care – getting comfortable being the receiver that you naturally are.

Other Self-care links:Becky Stewart at KnitOm talks about Knitting to help with stress, depression and chronic pain.

Winter knitting

Happy New Year! I hope you (as we say in Germany) slid into the New Year smoothly. I did, but I’m still catching up on sleep after a lot of entertaining. I’ve been trying my hand at Tunisian Crochet, which is a variant of crochet, but produces a textile somewhere between crochet and knit. I find the texture fascinating. I’ll soon get back to regular knitting though, as midwinter starts to creep up on us.

So much to consider: Last year, I had a little series called “Knit Autumn’s Trends”

Part 1 Reds were all over the runway. Tom and Lorenzo are calling it ‘Wild Red.’ Everything from wine to magenta and fuschia seem to slot in here.

Part 2 was all about strong shoulders. Now we’re seeing statement sleeves. A flutter, a dramatic cuff.

Part 3 was about Oktoberfest, which is huge in German-speaking Europe, and a great excuse to party around the world.

Part 4 featured boots and socks.

Part 5 brought us the three Rs: Ribs, Ruffles and Ruanas. Well, draped capes and cloaks are still with us.

What are you knotting these days?

There’s this sweater…

OPUS Pullover Pebby
Pull Peggy from German label OPUS

Now that summer is done, and the kids are back in school, I wanted to jump back on and talk about this pullover and why something like this: classic forms and eye-searing, on-trend red could very well be my next big project….

But then a note popped into my inbox about Berrocco‘s cable KAL, and I had to take a look. So although Berrocco yarns aren’t available in Germany, it’s got my imagination off and running! What better way to kick off the knitting season, than with what I shoulda-woulda-coulda knit from Berroco’s extensive collection of cable garments.

Cardamom by the Berroco team has a lovely edge treatment that is rather eye-catching. I love the Art Deco feel of Norah Gaughan’s Auberon sweater, and the subtlety of Amy Christoffers’ cables in Champlain.

However, Cirilia Rose’s Aidez and Norah Gaughan’s Zazanna and Blish have been on my favorites list for just about forever.

And then there are some newer Berroco designs that are also quite lovely like Allison Jane’s Isthmus.

Isthmus by Allison Jane
Isthmus by Allison Jane

 

I’m a teeny tiny bit glad that I don’t have to make a choice about which to knit. I’m still not so sure about what I’ll be knitting this winter. As the weather cools down, I think I‘ll just ease back into knitting and see where it goes from there…

Museum weather

 

Jil Sander. MAA Frankfurt
Jil Sander. Present Tense. Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt.

You may be out and about in Germany, and find it too warm to be outdoors too long,

If so, check out a few museums while you’re at it. If you’re in Frankfurt, check out the Museum of Applied Art’s exhibition (above) on Jil Sander.

 

Anni Albers bauhaus weaver
Anni Albers 1930-1933 / source: Josef Albers, k20 museum

If you’re in Dusseldorf, pop in to have a look see at the Anni Albers (master weaver who started out in the Bauhaus) retrospective at the K20 museum. Runs til September 9, 2018.

If you’re in Hamburg, a leisurely stroll through the Museum of Art and Design’s (MK&G) current exhibition: Mobile Worlds,

exhibition concept … questions the Eurocentric order of Western museums: Rather than classify objects according to epochs, geographies, art and non-art, the exhibition focuses on the global movement of objects, people and ideas past and present and the associated intertwining of cultural forms and worlds of life. This perspective reflects the social, cultural and political complexity of post-migrant society.

 

And if you’re in the South West, consider visiting the Jewelry Museum in The Goldcity, Pforzheim. Not only does their collection take one through five thousand years of jewelry, but they currently are showing “Jeweled Splendors of the Art Deco Era. The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection.” Who can say no to looking at Art deco? Runs til January 2019.

 

Keep cool and stay hydrated!

594E3AB9-C24A-45F6-B49F-0CFE4AF59E8A If you see this symbol on shop or café windows, it means you can fill up your water bottle for free.

From the archives I

Pilgrim and the Heart of the Rose
Edward Burne-Jones Pilgrim and the Heart of the Rose / 1901, wool and silk tapestry

When it’s as warm as it has been last week in Germany, it’s great museum weather. Well, so I thought. A few days ago, I took part in a Museum night (buy a ticket and have entry to museums, events, tours between 6pm and midnight). To celebrate 20 years of Museum nights, many museums dug deep into their archives to come up with something related to 20. The Natural History Museum for instance had an exhibit about hippos in the Rhine back when the Rhine was 20 degrees Celsius (68F). Very fitting considering the temperatures today.

We went to the City Gallery, the Baden State Museum and the museum of Applied Art in Karlsruhe. While textile museums can be few and far between, Applied Art museums (Angewandte Kunst) will often have a few textile pieces, and are generally great at putting art and design into context.

We caught a tour called ‘The 20 years that influenced Art History- 1890-1910’ and saw this lovely tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones.

Hot weather crafting posts from my archives:

Summer wardrobes

Knitting as Deep Play

Autumn Wardrobe planning

As we haven’t gone on holiday yet, it’s hard to wrap my head around autumn knits just yet.

Stay hydrated dear readers!

 

 

Football hangover

 

 

 

In honour of France’s triumph, winning their second star at the FIFA World Cup Football championship, I thought I’d take a look at knitting in my neighbour country! But then the Trevor Noah thing happened. And then the Mesut Özil thing happened here in Germany. So I went from “Yay!” to “Yeah!” to “Whaaaat?!”

Apparently, Trevor made a joke on his New York based comedy show, The Daily Show, about the win being a win for Africa. The French Ambassador took offence, and wrote him a strict letter, which Noah read on-air and replied to.

At that point, I wasn’t sure I would post here, even though I believe Trevor hit the nail on the head about immigration and the fundamental question each immigrant faces: assimilation vs integration, and what that really means in practical terms. It is not only France, that feels more comfortable if an immigrant sloughs off his/her previous identity to adopt that of the new homeland. Germany does too. And now, that balloon has popped: Mesut Özil.

Of course, I could be cynical and point out the famous Summer news hole (Sommerloch – slow news cycle), where there’s not much going on, so strange topics fill the news in late July-early August, but it’s an important point.

While most folks think Özil shouldn’t have been hanging out with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, his scapegoating for Germany’s poor World Cup showing was uncalled for. And he’s thrown in the towel. He feels discriminated against, as is clear from his Twitter statement.

CCBF6D2A-B921-472E-9E77-9225128044BB

Which brings me back to a film about the same topic: life for immigrants in Europe, “The African Doctor”/ Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont. The film is about a medical student from Zaïre, who tries to open up a practice in northern France in the 1970s and the difficulties of integration he and his family faces. The happy ending is ONLY secured because the villagers don’t want to lose their most talented footballer.

The film is based on a true experiences of French-Congolese musician Kamini. It’s billed as a comedy and was fairly popular in both France and Germany. Although the film probably won’t be released in UK or US cinemas (please correct me if I’m wrong) due to racial sensibilities, it has been reviewed positively.

What struck me, was what the family, especially the wife (played by Aïssa Maïga) had to give up to follow her husband to France. This of course was glossed over and left uncommented on in the movie: she left her family behind, her comfortable upper middle class existence in Zaïre only to be confronted with people’s backward stereotypes.

On the upside, the 1970s was full of brightly coloured knits and crochets. Emmanuelle Youchnovski did a lovely job capturing the vibrancy of the cosmopolitan world citizens of the 1970s and telling the story of the clash of two worlds through the textiles.

Actors on set with director Rambaldi
Actors on set with The African Doctor Director Julien Rambaldi Source:imdb.com

Now, thanks to the Sommerloch, we now have a #Metwo tag and moment, where people with diverse backgrounds can talk about racism and discrimination in Germany. Things won’t change overnight, but it’s a start in the right direction.