Rhubarb & Linguistics

Hey everybody! Today’s article is not about crafts, but about my second passion: language. To be precise, this is about rhubarb. In case you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, let me explain.

Yesterday, I had this unbelievably delicious dessert made from this year’s first freshly harvested rhubarb from my Mum’s garden. And while enjoying the yummy treat, I remembered this little video I had seen a while ago. (It’s in German only, but I hope you like it anyways!)

Kudos to the voiceover lady. Can you imagine how many takes she must have needed to get this right?

This is my attempt to translate the story told in the video. Now, I know I’m bending English grammar rules a bit here with the compounds, but that’s exactly the point. I guess you still get the meaning, though.

In a little village, there once lived a girl called Barbara. Barbara was widely known for baking a delicious rhubarb pie. That’s why people also called her “Rhubarb Barbara”. Rhubarb Barbara soon realized that she could make money with her pies, so she opened a bar and named it the “Rhubarb Barbara Bar”.
The Rhubarb Barbara Bar flourished and quickly gained some regular customers. The bar’s most famous customers were three Barbarians. They came to the Rhubarb Barbara Bar very often to eat Rhubarb Barbara’s delicious rhubarb pie, so that everybody started to call them the “Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians”.
The Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians all had very pretty beards, and when the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians wanted to have their beards groomed, they went to the barber. There was only one barber capable of grooming these Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beards, and he was called the “Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber”.
The Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber also liked to visit the Rhubarb Barbara Bar to eat a piece of Rhubarb Barbara’s delicious rhubarb pie. With the pie, he always had a beer, and he solemnly called it his “Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer”.
Only one particular bar offered the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer and the woman who sold the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer at the counter of the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer Bar was named Bärbel.
And so, the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians went together with the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber and the bartender called Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer Bar Bärbel to the Rhubarb Barbara Bar to eat a piece of Rhubarb Barbara’s delicious rhubarb pie and have a bottle of ice-cold Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer.

For me, this is perfect proof that language is such a funny, entertaining and fascinating subject – even for people who do not sleep with a dictionary stuffed under their pillows. (And I’m not saying that I do. I’m also not saying that I don’t.)

Because what this light-hearted little video shows is actually a particularity of the German language that does not exist in any other language, as far as I know. In German, you have the possibility to just chain together two nouns to create a new word with its very own meaning that is grammatically correct and makes perfect sense (even though it does become quite a mouthful at some point). I think this is pretty cool, isn’t it?

Now, you can find me in the garden where I’m practicing to say “Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbarbärbel” (“Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians’ Beard Barber’s Beer Bar Bärbel”). How often can you manage without messing up? Let me know in the comments!

See you soon!


Happy Easter!

Today I am just passing by to wish you all Happy Easter and to show you a piece of my Easter decoration for this year – sewing-themed, of course!

Easter + Eggs + Sewing = Darning Eggs!

I scored these pretty wooden darning eggs on eBay last year, and simply put them on a round tray that I padded with moss I gathered in the nearby woods. Add a few coloured glass buttons as flowers – and voilá! There’s your sewing-themed Easter meadow!

Have some great Easter holidays with a lot of sunshine!


Book Corner: The List of my Desires – Grégoire Delacourt

One of the good sides of wet and cold winter weather is that it’s just perfect for cosying up inside! You can cuddle up in your favourite armchair with a blanket, a nice cup of tea and a good book. I have been a bookworm since I was a child, and up until today, reading has remained a big part of my life (also thanks to my job). So, writing about books on the blog from time to time is just a logical thing to do, don’t you think? The “book corner” articles will be about titles that are currently on my reading list, or that have remained on my mind for some reason. And there will be sewing books, too, of course!

But today I want to start out with a novel: “The List of my Desires” by Grégoire Delacourt. (The photo shows my German copy of the book.) I purchased the book last year, and I have to admit that the only reason I bought it in the first place was the cover photo. I mean, come on, there’s a button on it, and thread and sequins – there’s no way I could resist that! (And the cover of the English version is even more tempting! Yes, temptation waits around every corner for a button addict…) Fortunately, judging the book by its cover was not a bad idea in this case, because there is a really beautiful story inside: A melancholic and profound tale about small blessings and the kind of happiness that money cannot buy.

The novel is set in northern France and tells the story of Jocelyne, who runs a small haberdashery and writes a sewing blog. She loves her husband, even though there have been ups and downs in their marriage, and she loves her ordinary life. One day, she lets her friends talk her into buying a lottery ticket for the first time in her life, and promptly wins the jackpot. Chaos and confusion ensue and her life is turned completely upside down. That’s all I am going to tell you about the story, though, you really need to read the rest for yourselves!

I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes, when I read a phrase or a section in a book, it simply “clicks” with something inside of me. And even if I forget about the rest of the book after some time, this phrase or section stays with me, even if it has nothing to do with the main plot itself. This also happened with a short paragraph in “The List of my Desires”.
Jocelyne just collected her lottery price in Paris and with the cheque in her purse, she goes straightaway to the Chanel boutique. However, she is so overwhelmed by all of the luxury suddenly affordable to her, that she flees the store. After a break, she goes to the Marché Saint-Pierre instead – a huge fabric shop that she calls her “treasure cove”. (And after looking at their website this shop is definitely at the top of my must-see list if I ever come to Paris. Who needs that Eiffel Tower, anyways?) In the novel, Jocelyne’s visit to the store is described like this:

(Note: I do not have an English version of the book, so the quote below is my own translation of the German text. The official English translation might be a little different.)

My hands glide over fabrics, my fingers tremble at the touch of organdy, fine wool felt, jute and patchwork. Here, I can feel the same rush that the woman must have felt in the wonderful commercial where she is locked into the Sephora store all night. All the gold in the world could not buy this kind of rapture. Every woman is beautiful here. Their eyes are shining. When they see a piece of fabric, they already imagine a dress, a pillow, a doll. They create dreams; they hold the beauty of the world in their hands. Before I leave, I buy a piece of Bemberg, polypropylene straps, cotton rickrack and pearl tassels. Happiness costs not even forty euro.

Isn’t this beautiful? I think everybody who is into crafts or sewing knows this feeling when buying supplies. But I never read such a wonderful description of it. For me, just this paragraph was worth buying the book.

Some words of warning at the end, though: The book is no “feel good chick lit” and I guess the end is not really a “happy ending”. So, I you’re currently suffering from winter blues, you might want to wait for the summer before reading this book. Also, men are not displayed in the most favourable light by the author, so if you are newly in love or just broke up with someone, this might not be the best read for you right now. Otherwise, I definitely recommend this book, because there are so many big and little truths in it that will make you think about your own life, and because the writing is simply beautiful. (Again, I only read the German version, but I am sure that the English translator has done an equally superb job!)

Enjoy reading and see you soon!


Finished Project: Ebook Reader Case

Hey there! I’m back online and I hope the new year is going very well for you so far!

And what better way to start a new year on the blog than finally showing you a finished project?

This ebook reader case can carry the reader itself, as well as all necessary accessories like charging cables or headphones. I made this as a gift.

Searching for an ebook reader case, I was looking for two things: One, it should be sturdy enough to protect the reader, so you could just toss it in your purse or bag pack and not be worried about scratching or damaging it. And two, the case should have a pocket to store all of the accessories as well. For some reason, I could not find anything that fulfilled both criteria, so I decided to sew one myself and made up my own pattern.

This is the front:

And the backside with the pocket for the accessories:

Being a sewing newbie, there are a lot of things to learn, of course. I always try to sew things that will teach me something new in the process. With this case, I tried my hand at two types of closures: my first machine-sewn buttonhole and the zipper.

Since things like “automatic buttonholes” are not included in Alice’s vocabulary, I had been rather weary of buttonholes up to then. But surprisingly, with the help of the manual, everything worked out very well from the start – so projects with buttonholes are definitely on the “can do” list now.

The zipper, I sewed in by hand. There are several layers of quilted fabric and really sturdy, heavyweight interfacing between the outer fabric and the lining, so the case will provide ample protection for the reader. I wasn’t going to feed this fabric sandwich to Alice, though.

One of the things I absolutely love about handmade items is the small details that you simply don’t find with off-the-shelf stuff – or that will cost you an arm and a leg with ready-made things. So, as a design detail I also included the apple pattern fabric on the underside of the pocket flap:

The little zipper pendant consists of some odds and ends that I found in the depths of my closet filled with DIY stuff.

All in all, I think the recipient was quite pleased with the gift, and at some point, I will surely sew a case like this for my own ebook reader. But before that, there are still a lot of other things on the “to sew” list. How come that once you get sewing, the list of projects grows longer and longer, while the actual sewing time grows shorter and shorter? Is this some kind of Zen riddle?

See you soon!


Seamwork Is Here!

One of my heroes, Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns, launched her new online magazine Seamwork today. For me, this lady is a true rock star.

I am not quite sure, if I need to introduce Colette Patterns in the English article the same way I did in the German version, since they are pretty well known in English-speaking countries. So, just in case you never heard of them: Colette Patterns is an indie pattern designer based in the US. They make beautiful clothing patterns with a slightly retro style.

Their blog called Coletterie is one of the first sewing blogs I started to read on a regular basis, and is one of my absolute favourites. Besides providing super informative content, I really love their design and the fantastic photos. I am not quite sure how they do it, but something about their aesthetics really hits home with me.

One of Colette Patterns’ “missions” is to teach sewing-related knowledge to a wide audience. Every pattern lets you learn (or brush up on) certain sewing techniques, and often you will find additional suggestions, which methods or variants can be used for a certain project. You can also find this educational approach in their book The Colette Sewing Handbook – a guide for beginners who want to try their hand at dressmaking. This book was on my Christmas wish list two years ago, and I simply adore it. When I finally find the courage to try my hand at dressmaking, my first hand-made item of clothing will most probably be one by Colette Patterns.

By now, there is a second book The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, which I have not read yet. I think I will save the knits for a time when Alice and I finally convinced the woven fabrics to do what we want.

Now, the Colette team has decided that patterns, books, and a blog are not enough: They now publish their own monthly magazine Seamwork, which you can either read online or download as pdf. On top of that, there will be two patterns every month for projects, which are presented in the magazine.

As an avid Coletterie reader and recipient of their newsletter, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this issue – and I have to say, they really blew me away. There are really interesting articles and tutorials in their trademark style, which is easily understandable, but doesn’t dumb things down. Even if you don’t plan to actually make any of the projects, I highly recommend you take a look at the magazine – and be it just for the inspirational eye-candy!

Because the amazing thing is: The magazine itself is absolutely free! You only have to pay for the project patters. If you would like to receive them, you need to subscribe, and then you will get the patterns as pdf download. The subscription is 6 US dollars per month, and you have probably already guessed it: I got myself the subscription as an early Christmas present. Now I am off to my couch, with a nice cup of tea and my tablet to enjoy my evening with Seamwork.

See you soon!

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not a sponsored article and I have not received any kind of compensation to write this. The opinions expressed are my own, personal views. Because if I happen to really like something, I am glad to tell others about it. (The same goes for things I don’t like, but I will probably not bother writing a whole blog article about them.)

Meet Alice

Please let me I introduce you to my new old treasure, my sewing machine Alice. The model is called “Haushalt-Zick-Zack-Nähmaschine Klasse 53” – a “zig-zag sewing machine for the home, class 53”, and it was produced by VEB Nähmaschinenwerke Altenburg, district of Leipzig.

Alice came to our home at some point in the early Sixties – my Grandpa gave her as a gift to my Grandma a few years after their wedding in 1954. So, Alice has quite a few years under her belt, but she is still in excellent condition and came with her complete set of accessories. And one of the main things that makes her special for today:

Alice is a treadle machine, which means she runs on “foot power”, and does not have an electrical motor. Thus, I could even sew with her during a power outage by candle light (though this particular situation has yet to arise).

I got Alice as an heirloom some time ago, and we have become great friends since then. I even gave her a name (which is not something that many inanimate objects can say of themselves). Her name “Alice” is a slightly far-fetched construction from the words “Altenburg“ (the place where she was manufactured) and “Zick-Zack” (for zigzag sewing machine). It’s also a little allusion to Alice in Wonderland: Learning to sew and getting into this whole sewing universe feels indeed like falling into the rabbit hole and discovering a new world full of wonders. So many opportunities, so much to take in and to try out… I am actually just waiting to meet the Mad Hatter any moment now.

Despite her rather old age, this lady is a true workhorse: several layers of denim, corduroy, or even leather – Alice makes short work of them all. Plus, she looks rather stylish, in my opinion. I don’t think you could find any more elegant curves on a Cadillac:

Since these are the first photos on the blog, let me explain something about the images you are going to see here. I love beautiful pictures (Well, who doesn’t?), and part of the fun of reading blogs is the fantastic eye-candy you get to see. However, the catch is that I am a lot better juggling with words than with fancy photo technology and things like image composition… But luckily for all of us, I know just the right person for the job:

My very own favourite photographer Andy Kocher kindly agreed to support my blog with his photos, which means that, hopefully, you will get to see fantastic images like the ones in this article on a regular basis. For the more spontaneous posts, you will probably have to put up with my less-than-optimal photo skills and my little point-and-click camera now and then as well (and I am sure the difference will be more than obvious). But for now, here’s some more of the pro-level stuff. More of Andy’s works can be found in the very near future at his website andykocherphoto.com.

  • Alice Front
  • Alice CB-Greifer

Of course, all of the pictures on the blog are protected by copyright, so please contact Andy or me, if you would like to use them!

Now that you got to know Alice, how about you? Do you use any vintage sewing equipment, or are you a fan of more modern sewing technology?

See you soon!

Getting Started

Hi, my name is Kati. Welcome to my blog! At the moment, it still feels like moving into a new apartment: everything is not ready yet, some pieces of furniture are not completely assembled, one or two walls still need of a fresh coat of paint, and there are unpacked moving crates everywhere. So, while I will be setting up my virtual living and sewing room here, there will surely be some more changes – but everything in due time.

I am starting this blog as a challenge for me: Will I be able to keep up a regular activity like writing a blog over a longer period of time (knowing that self-discipline is usually not something I excel at…)? In this little virtual space, I want to keep track of my progress while learning to sew, and I am going to write about DIY projects, theme-related books, but also about all other kinds of interesting things that cross my path. The articles will be published in English in German, because I absolutely love both languages, and also to make my articles accessible to both a German and an English speaking audience. Beyond that, being a professional translator and a language enthusiast, I might also sneak in some blog articles on language-related topics now and then, who knows?

Now, there is the obvious question: Does the world really need another blog filled with babbling about sewing and DIY, fabrics and notions, and maybe the occasional discussion on life, the universe, and everything? My answer is a loud and clear: YES! During the last years, I have been reading quite a lot of sewing and DIY blogs and I noticed very quickly, how different all of them are, despite focussing on the same topic. Every blogger has their own style and their very own themes they like to write about in this vast field – ranging from technical instructions and tutorials to profound discussions on fast fashion and sustainability to debates on feminism and the role of women. Some of these blogs will be right up your alley with their writing style and contents, while others simply won’t. You get to choose! So if you happen to like my own personal idea of a sewing blog, please grab a cookie and have a good time reading. I hope we’ll meet again here soon.

See you soon