fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Drop everything! There's a craft idea on the Internet!

Hey! A DIY Tree Thing! For Thanksgiving!

Hey! Ein DIY Baumdingens im Internet! Für Thanksgiving...moment mal...das ist ja das Ami-Holiday-Freßfest...aber zu Weihnachten? Neujahr? Was spricht dagegen?

Be Thankful For What You've Got by Massive Attack on Grooveshark

Super simple.

Super cheap.

This Thanksgiving Tree is kinetic and interactive and chic in that Mid Century-Meets-Martha kinda way. You can do this.

This tree thing can be used as a Thanksgiving table centerpiece, on a mantle, coffee table... Leave it up all week with a few "thankful-for" leaves scattered and a pen and see what people are thankful for.

Ganz einfach.

Ganz billig.

Dieses Baumdingens ist kinetisch, interaktiv und Mid Century+Martha Stewart-schick. Das kannst du auch. 

You will need: Brauchen wirst du:

  • 1 3x3" Dobie: These are sold in home improvement stores in the aisle where cement and cement accoutrement are found, usually near the rebar. A dobie is a chunk of concrete with a couple of wires sticking out. They are often found 3-4 on a piece and are easily broken apart by dropping them, or giving them a good whack with a hammer. They cost less than a buck apiece.
  • 12 gauge aluminum floral wire: I like gold for this holiday. But this wire also comes in silver and black. 
  • Bakers twine: optional.
  • Dried fall leaves
  • Spray paint: Gold, if you like.
  • Craft paper: optional
  • Empty paper towel/toilet paper tube(s): For trivet
  • Protective gloves: Spray paint, know what I mean?
  • Leaf-shaped paper punch: If you got one. 

  • 1 sog. "Dobie": Schau das Bild bitte an. Wie das Ding auf deutsch heißt? Who knows? Das Dingens findest du allerdings im Baumarkt wo du alles zum Zement hast, meistens beim Armiereisen. Ein "Dobie" besteht aus einem Stück Beton mit zwei Drähten, die 'rausgucken. Dobies sind spottbillig und sollen kein Euro kosten.
  • Dicker Aludraht: Ich mag den goldfarbenen. Gibt's auch in silber und schwarz.
  • Buntes Bindegarn: nach Wunsch
  • Trockenes Laub
  • Sprayfarbe: Gold gefällig?
  • Dickes Papier/Pappe
  • Papierhülsen von der Papierhandtücherrolle bzw. vom Toilettenpapier: für den Untersetzer
  • Gummihandschuhe: Denn Sprühfarbe, nicht wahr?
  • Blattförmiger Papierstanzer: Falls vorhanden.

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Hot glue gun + glue 
  • Scissors
  • Spitzzangen
  • Heißkleber
  • Schere

This is how we do it: So geht's:

Cut paper towel tube into even rings approx. 1 cm/5/8" thick.

Papierhülsen in ca. 1 cm-dicke Stücke abschneiden.

Spread out your craft paper and spray paint the dobie, dried leaves and paper towel tube rings with spray paint.

Pappe ausbreiten und "Dobie," Hülsenringe und das Blattlaub mit Sprayfarbe besprühen.

While those things are drying, write out the words "give" and "thanks" (or "joy" or "family" or "wish" or whatever not-too-long word strikes  your fancy) largely in cursive onto a piece of paper. 

With the aid of your needle-nose pliers "trace" the word with your wire.

Während das o.g. trocknet, deine gewünschte Worten -- z.B. "frieden," "freude," "freunde," wie auch immer -- großzügig auf Papier ausschreiben. Mit Hilfer der Spitzzange, das Wort im Draht "nachzeichnen."

Optional: Dab a bid of hot glue onto the finished word and wrap, wrap, wrap, wrap...wrap bakers twine around your word. Secure the end of the twine with another dab of hot glue and trim the excess twine.

Nach Wunsch dein Wort mit buntem Bindegarn umwickeln. Die Enden mit Heißkleber befestigen.

Cut 8-10 pieces of 12-gauge aluminum wire in varying lengths between 35-75 cm/15-30" and gather them into a bundle. Add the word branches to this bundle.

Secure this bundle of wires to the dobie, by twisting the two dobie wires around the bundle of aluminum wires.

Ca. 8-10 Stück vom Aludraht in verschiedenen Längen (ca. 35-75 cm) zuschneiden und diese zusammen bündeln. Dein Wort-Draht zu dem Draht-Bündel tun.

Dieses Drahtbündel (inkl. Wort-Draht) am sog. Dobie mit den zwie Dobie-Drähten festbinden.

Wrap a long stretch of aluminum wire around the base of the tree to form a "trunk."

Ein langes Stück Aludraht um den Bündel für den "Baumstamm" herumwickeln.

Using your needle-nose pliers, twist loops at the end of each tree branch to secure whatever should hang from there.

Mit Hilfe der Spitzzange, die Enden vom Draht kringeln, um die Anhängsel einen festen Sitz zu schenken.

Cut or punch out leaves from the craft paper which was spray painted.

Add bakers twine to the spray painted paper leaves and real dried leaves.

Bend the tree thing the way you like it and decorate with the leaves. Allow your family to write what they are thankful for on the leaves.

Vom Pappe, die als Unterlage zum Spraypainting diente, Papierlaub (oder Schneeflocken oder Sterne oder wie auch immer) ausstanzen bzw. ausschneiden. Buntes Bindegarn am Laub (Schneeflöckchen, Sternchen...) kleben.

Trivet: Untersetzer:

Hot glue rings of paper towel tube like this. Dobies aren't really great for putting on your nice wood table, so a trivet is helpful. (Didn't spray paint my dried leaves in the first go-around...so here we go...)

Die Ringe vom Papierhülse wie abgebildet zusammenkleben. Der Untersetzer schütz vor Kratzer vom Dobie. Hier oben abgebildet das echte Laub wird gold gesprüht.

Trim any extra paper towel rings in half and make these.

Schneide überbliebene Hülsenringen halb zu breit und solche "Blumen" zusammenkleben.

That's it! Das war's!

  • Dobie: $.79 ea.
  • 12-gauge aluminum wire: $2.99
  • Spray paint: $3.59
  • Baker's twine: $1.99

Here's an idea: Make matching bent wire and baker's twine name cards and add a "thankful-for" leaf at each table setting. So fancy!

Eine weitere Idee: Das Draht in passenden Namenschilder für den Tisch biegen. Doch hübsch, oder?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Farbenmix!

Ten years? Has it been ten years already? Ten years of fun and color, creativity and friendships. What a great time to be sewing! To celebrate Farbenmix’s first ten years as the leader in putting the “fun” into funtional and the “wings” into your sewings, Farbenmix has many presents for you! Please click on over there to see all that is going on!

Remember when it was just the patterns “Anjana.” “Cara” and “Dortje” over at klickundblick.de and you had to write Sabine a personal email to order yours? I’m getting a bit nostalgic. Being that I am, my present to you is this little retro hat pattern named “Morro.” I named it for Morro Rock on the California Coast, because it has a similar form. "Like a rock...like a rock of ages..." Okay...let's just listen to that classic together right now.

Loves Me Like A Rock by The O Jays on Grooveshark

Morro is a one-size-fits-all hat: The size of the hat can be adjusted with the ribbon. The cap can be worn “Sherlock Holmes” style, with the brim to the front, or more Roaring 20s, like a cloche.

Blue boiled wool "Naomi" from Swafing.
Wool suiting "Vechte" from Swafing.

Morro can be stitched up from many different sturdier fabrics, even a good jersey, if you have the right interfacing for the brim. I like it stitched up in wool suiting or boiled wool with a gross grain or velvet ribbon for a nostalgic take, because I am in that nostalgic mood. But how and where you take Morro and Morro takes you is your take! YOU are the designer! I think that’s one of the greatest things Farbenmix has taught us.

All proceeds of the sale of this downloadable ePattern will benefit Nahow, a comprehensive program to bring education, hygiene, solar power and a better way of life to a village in Cameroon, Africa.


Many thanks to my lovely model, Jacqui! Please check out her YouTube channel to hear the beautiful voice inside this beautiful person.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Of Summers Past

Well, fall has fallen. And I feel like I am falling off. Lately, I don't feel like I've been doing anything right. I'm working on a simple, simple, simple blouse design that is proving so hard. Three pieces...c'mon...go together the way I want...Nope. I went to a free yoga class. Do you know what I found out? I don't even breathe right. Breathing? Really? You're telling me I don't know how to breathe? Like I said, I can't do anything right.

So, let me go back to summer, when the kids and I stumbled onto Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is already the most beautiful of California cities. Now, cover that town in confetti, cascarones, flamenco dancers and street taco vendors? Santa Barbara gets it right!

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Do you like Swafing?"

"I don't know, I've never swaffed before"

(My apologies to the fans of the famous Kippling postcard.)

Hello All!

How was your summer? Mine was comprised of rather boring stretches of tedium punctuated with stressful bouts of activity. For reasons of compromised space and compromised finances…and really compromises in general, I didn’t seem to get done the many things I had intended for the summer.

But I did/do have some work! Some months ago, the one sewist in the world whose work I admire the very most (but doesn’t much like attention, so I won’t mention her by name) called me and told me about a firm she has been working with for a couple of years. This firm works closely with Farbenmix and, well, this firm is looking to expand outside of the German-speaking market and further into Europe. Would I like to help?

Um, help? How? You realize, I am in Californa. So, ideally situated to expand into France and Italy and Spain and so forth I am/je suis/io sono/soy not so much, ne c’est pas/non/no? Whatever: If this is a partner firm of Farbenmix, and if you, awesome sewist/dear-friend-who-shall-not-be-named, work for these guys, that’s good enough for me. Count me in. What do you want me to do?

For a few months, I’ve just done some translations of German blog posts into English. Really no sweat off my keyboard. I haven’t even sent this company an invoice and I hadn’t really told anyone—until now—that I’ll be getting a paycheck from these guys once in awhile.

That is because I really want to stand behind what I am called to represent, especially when it comes to something near and dear to my heart like sewing.

Swafing is a mid-sized firm in the greatest tradition of European mid-sized firms, which are still the backbone of European industry. These are the kinds of companies with, maybe, 150 employees, max, that are handed down through the generations and, therefore, are not hyperactively and shortsightedly focused on “shareholder value” and “quarterly returns”. These firms like to consider things in terms of longevity and sustainability. Something that can be passed on to to the next generation. Swafing is located in Nordhorn, Germany, a small town near the Dutch border. In its heyday, Nordhorn was an important industrial center for the textile industry. Mills, manufacturers, distributors, and other suppliers and service providers in the textile and apparel industry value chain all called Norhorn home.  Swafing Sr. would go to these different firms and purchase up what they had laying around to sell to the home sewing market. And then the 1990s came. Outsourcing. China. “Nuff said. Nordhorn as an industrial center for the textile industry? Very much less so. (North Carolina, you can sing this song, too, am I right?). Swafing Jr. was facing very tough times, tough times indeed.

At just about the right time, this rather manly company got quite the estrogen injection, in form of very enthusiastic sewists, who love them some fabulous fabric. And fabulous fabric of the sort they were unable to find. High-quality cotton knits and high thread-count percales printed with whimsy and wonder and fun. Sumptuous fashion fabrics that were on trend. Pretty, but nonetheless utilitarian fabrics for things like handbags and ski jackets. Worsted wools in a broad pallet of colors. Yarn-dyed striped interlocks in most every color and most every width. Digital prints. French terry. Confidence in Textiles/Oeko-Tex and respected organic standards. You know what we want. You know how hard it is to find it.

Swafing was the kind of company that knew how to find or make whatever kind of material was wanted, if they only knew which fabrics were wanted. These are dudes, remember: No matter how hard they may try, sometimes they don’t get it. Am I right? And so Sabine Pollehn of Farbenmix came with a wish list. And that wish list fulfilled many, many wishes of many, many home sewists. Many, many, many. And so, many more fabrics were made and innovative new designers discovered and many, many, many pretty things were sewn up all around the land. And then Swafing hired some highly enthused gals having both excellent sewing and business-y skills to handle things like creative direction and online marketing. And Swafing made a name for itself.

And they lived happily every after…not yet. Mr. Swafing is not content to sit on his laurels. He also understands how fickle we sewists can be and wants to continue to grow and meet new demands.

And this is about where I was called and started translating blog posts. Whatever.

This company, Swafing, recently invited me to attend their semiannual “Hausmesse”. What looks like might be translated into “house mess” is really something different. (“House mess,” come to think of it, has no German translation. Probably because it doesn’t exist. Very tidy country.) Translated by a pro like myself, I used the term “in-house exhibition” in the blog posts for “Hausemesse.” But translating words doesn’t necessarily convey the meaning. For example, zum Beispiel, if you’re invited for coffee in the U.S., you’ll likely just meet a friend at (please-anyplace-but-)Starbucks and drink lattes from paper cups. In Germany, on the other hand, if you are invited for coffee, please consider bringing flowers (from a florist), please calculate at least two hours around a beautiful table resplendent with different homemade cakes and pastries, fine china, napkins folded prettily, special forks, linen table cloths and so on, and please wear your Sunday best, but sensible shoes, because “having coffee” invariably concludes with a lengthy walk (Spaziergang) no matter what the weather. Coffee vs. Kaffee. Same thing, completely different.

And the “Hausmesse” might translate to “in-house exhibition” or “open house” or “warehouse sale” or some such. But a lot gets lost in translation. Below, I’ve tried to let a few of the hundreds of people who attended explain why they drove hundreds of miles (excuse me, “kilometers”) to some ho-dunk (excuse me, “quaint”) town in the countryside. And also to explain in a small way, why I am now proud to call myself a member of the Swafing team.

But please remember: no one can pay me enough to promote something I don’t believe in. Or at least nothing under the buy-my-own-island-and-my-own-flying-horse-that-speaks-fluent-French price point. So, if I show you something made with Swafing fabric, it is because I really stand behind it. I really do like this fabric and the company behind it. If I start Instagramming pix of Jean-Pierre flying among tall palm trees, you are welcome to call my judgement into question. Until then, when I say the fabric is off the hook? Seriously, it is. This is that marvelous European fabric woven by elves on magic golden looms in an enchanted forest or some such. Seriously.

A Fabric Paradise on the Dutch-German Border

“So, what brought you to Nordhorn today?”

That was my question to attendees at the recent Swafing In-House Exhibition. Nordhorn has its charms—don’t get me wrong. There are, for example canals surrounding the central shopping district. But, let’s face it, Venice Nordhorn is not. 

“Oh, everybody goes to the Hausmesse!”

Everybody? To an in-house exhibition of a mid-sized, family-run fabric distributor? People drive hundreds of kilometers to mill about a collection of rather non-descript industrial buildings near the German-Dutch border? As I press against the racks to allow yet another smiling customer and her full cart is push past, I will have agree with Sabine Pollehn of Farbenmix. But why?

“It’s Swa-fing,” explained to me in slow, deliberate syllables. Like the three-year old, who as discovered that “why” is the one of the Five W’s that just can have no end, I bite again. “Why Swafing?”

Anke Müller, the creative force behind Cherry Picking, gives us our first German lesson for fab fabric fans. Everybody: "ISH LEE-beh SHTAW-feh!" "I love fabrics!"

“Und warum sind Sie heute in Nordhorn?”

So meine Frage an so mancher Besucher des diesjährigen Swafing Hausmesse.  Nordhorn hat gewiss seine Reize—mich also bitte nicht falsch verstehen. Die hübsche Innenstadt ist umringt von Kannelen, die mit Booten befahrbar sind. Aber wir machen uns doch nichts hier vor: Venedig ist Nordhorn wohl nicht.

“Ach! Jeder fährt zur Hausmesse!”

Jeder? Zu der Hausmesse eines Mittelstandsunternehmens, das Stoffe vertreibt? Es fahren Leute Hunderte von Kilometern zu einer Kleinstadt an der deutschen-holländischen Grenze, um um einigen unscheinbaren gewerblichen Bauten aus der Nachkriegszeit herumzulaufen und Stoffe kaufen, die sie ja sonst bequem und gemütlich online bestellen könnten? Während ich schon wieder gegen die Regale mich drucken müssen, um eine lächelnde Kundin mit vollem Wagen vorbeifahren zu dürfen, muß ich es wohl glauben. Aber warum?

“Weil es Swa-fing ist,” für mich extra in langsamen Sylben ausgesprochen. Und wie die freche dreijährige, die soeben herausgefunden hat, das die frage “Warum” immer wieder und immer wieder zur Frage gestellt werden kann, frage ich auch wieder, “Warum?”

Anne Petry, artist and creative tour-de-force behind Hebbedinge makes new friends. Literally, makes new friends. Get it?

And this is where the conversation gets interesting.

“I am a passionate wool felter,” explained Silke Freitag of Müritz. “I run a successful yarn shop for knitting and crochet, but my customers keep coming in asking for fabric. Swafing fabric. I think it is important, in business, to go new ways and try new things. So I’m learning to sew!”

“I think it is important to always try new things. That is the wonderful thing about making things with your hands. You are always going in new directions,” Ms. Freitag explains.

Put that way, I have to agree with this mother of five grown children, who might just been seen about Müritz going new directions on a groovy old GDR-issued bicycle, which Ms. Freitag has colorfully yarn-bombed.

Shop owner Silke Freitag of Müritz's Wollfaden.

Und nun wird das Gespräch interessant.

“Ich bin Filzerin,” erkläre Silke Freitag aus Müritz, “Und habe einen Wollladen für Stricken und Häkeln. Aber meine Kunden fragten nach Stoffen, auch Swafing-Stoffen.  Wenn man ein Geschäft hat, finde ich es wichtige, auch neue Wege zu gehen. Deswegen lerne ich nähen!”

“Ich finde es wichtig, immer neue Sachen auszuprobieren. Das ist das schöne an Handarbeit. Du mußt immer neue Richtungen gehen,” drucke Frau Freit aus.

Und so ausgedruckt muß ich ja der Mutter fünf erwachsener Kinder recht geben, welche man wohl um Müritz herum eventuell ihre neue Wege fahren sehen könnte--und zwar auf einem absolut fetzigen DDR-Fahrad, das Frau Freitag bunt “yarn-bombed” hatte.

Anne Svea, shopowner and DIY guru. Even better in real life!

“Sewing is like breathing,” explains Jette, communications director and all-around girl-Friday for Farbenmix. “It is just like that. Sewing is like breathing to me. Whatever else is going on around me, I need my creative time. Just to breath.” And good fabric is like fresh, clean air, then, Jetta? “Exactly! Swafing gives me the fabric to breath creatively!”

“Das Nähen ist wie Atem,” sagt Jette, Kommunikationdirektorin und Mädchen Frau-für-Alles bei Farbenmix. “Genauso ist es. Nähen ist wie Atem. Egal was um mich herum abgeht, brauche ich mein Nähen. Einfach Atem zu können.” Und gute Stoffe sind dann wie frische Luft, liebe Jette? Stoff als metaphorischer Sauerstoff? “Genau! Swafing gibt mir den Stoff, um kreativ Atem zu können.”

“Swafing is just good,” explain a group of three ladies near the workshop tent. Hm, I think, judging from your accent, you three have come quite a distance. “Yes, we drove from Switzerland.” That’s a good 600 kilometes, at least! “Yes, but Swafing has the kinds of fabrics we want for children’s apparel.”

And then a round of smart phones are lit up to show off some sewing creations, but also to show off some adorable Swiss grandchildren.

Super fangirl showing off her "Spooky" shirt sewn from Cherry Picking's recent collection.

“Swafing ist einfach gut,” erläutet eine Gruppe von drei Damen, die in der Nähe vom Workshopzelt standen. Hm, denke ich, anhand ihre Dialekten, sind diese drei sehr weit gereist. “Ja, wir sind aus der Schweiz gekommen.” Das sind sicherlich mindestens 600 Kilomerter! “Ja, aber Swafing hat die Stoffe, die wir für Kinderklamotten brauchen.”

Und dann werden ja die Smartphones herausgeholt und stolz sowohl Selbstgenähtes als auch bildhübsche, schweizerische Enkelkinder gezeigt.

“So, why Swafing?” I ask a couple dressed proudly in beautiful Alpine garb. They had driven up from Austria.

“Swafing has good service, good quality. No complaints whatsoever! Not from me nor my customers,” explained this Alpine shop owner. “I have a rather large shop. I need to stock a little bit of everything. And my customers are very price and quality conscious. They want a good deal. I can count on Swafing fabrics selling well, to help ease the inventory risk with the slower moving items. It’s a very good working relationship.”

“Jö. Und warum Swafing?” frage ich ein Paar wunderschön in voller Alpentracht angezogen. Sie sind extra aus Österreich gefahren.

“Swafing hat guten Service, gute Qualität. Keine Beschwerden. Weder von mir noch meinen Kundinnen,” sage die Ladenbesitzerin mit Shop in den Alpen, “Ich habe ein ziemlich grosses Geschäft. Ich muß ein bißl von allem anbieten können. Auch Spitze und so weiter. Meine Kunden achten sehr auf den Preis und die Qualität. Ich kann mich daruaf verlassen, daß die Swafing-Stoffe gut verkauft werden und somit das Risiko mit den Langsamläufern zu decken. Es ist eine gute Beziehung.”

“We’re just starting out,” explained a young couple in the coffee tent, “We’re in the process of setting up a Web site and online shop.”

It began for this couple, as it has for so many shop owners, with the young mother’s passion for sewing. I probably needn’t explain in too much detail to this audience how quickly and completely sewing can take hold of your imagination…and soon after your living quarters and perhaps your career.

“So,” explained the couple, “We’re going to open our own online shop. And Swafing is the fabric people want by name.”

“Wir fangen jetzt erst an,” erzähle ein junges Paar im Kaffeezelt. “Wir sind dabei ein Onlineshop zu bauen.”

Es fing für dieses Päarchen an, wie wir  es ja kennen, mit der Leidenschaft der jungen Mutter für das Nähen für ihre Kinder. Ich muß wahrscheinlich Leser dieses Blogs nicht in besonders vielen Worten erzählen, wie schnell das Nähen deine Fantasie…und wenig später den ganzen Wohnraum und gar die Kariere übernehmen kann.

“Also,” sage das Paar, “Wir machen das eigene Onlineshop auf. Und Swafing-Stoffe werden per Namen von Leuten gefagt.”

“The Hausmesse is like a class reunion,” explains Anke Müller the creative force behind the Cherry Picking line of exclusive designer fabrics, “You see your customers, who have become like friends, year after year at the Hausmesse. Swafing is just like that.” As I pet Mr. Swafing’s two dogs sniffing curiously around my feet in the office, watch customer’s children create a makeshift slide out of the ramp at the warehouse dock and have a sweet little girl crawl up on my lap in the workshop tent as if I were some familiar auntie, I have to admit that there is a certain something “just like that” about Swafing. It is a business, but it is the business of creative expression. So maybe that is why Swafing is something different.

“Hausmesse ist wie Klassentreff,” sage Anke Müller, die Designerin hinter Cherry Picking, “Du siehst deine Kunden, die wie Freunde geworden sind, Jahr für Jahr, auf der Hausmesse. Swafing ist einfach so.” Währen ich die zwei Hunden von Geschäftführer Hans-Gerd Swafing am Kopf streichele während sie neugierig um meine Füsse herumschnüffeln, beobachte wie die Kinder der Besucher aus der einst Lagerrampe den eigentlichen Rütschenzweck entdeckt haben, oder während so ein süsses Töchterchen eines Kundens auf meinem Schoss will, als wäre ich ja eine bekannte alte Tante, muß ich auch zugeben, das es ein gewisses “einfach so” bei Swafing gibt. Gewiss: Swafing ist ein Business. Aber dies ist das Geschäft des kreativen Könnens. Vielleicht ist deswegen Swafing etwas anderes und “einfach so.”

“Swafing is just ‘Stoffhimmel’ ,” explains another smiling customer, pushing past with her cart and who doesn’t have time for my silly questions when beautiful exclusive designer fabrics are just waiting to be snatched up.

Fabric paradise, indeed!

“Swafing ist Stoffhimmel,” sage eine weitere, mit Wagen vorbeifahrende Kundin, die für meine doofe Fragestellungen keine Zeit hat, denn da drüben die schönen Designerstoffen greifbar liegen.

Fabric paradise, aber ja!

SWAFING Web site


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