Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A conversation with Liesl

V: I am excited about getting to have this conversation together with you Liesl. Your blog is such a beautiful and inspiring place to visit and i can't wait to get to get to know more about you through this conversation. It would be lovely if you could start with telling us a bit about yourself.
L: Hello, and thank you for inviting me to have a conversation with you here on your lovely blog. Well, my name is Liesl and I’m in my twenties. I live in New Jersey, in the USA. Most Americans don’t think too highly of New Jersey but we live a small pocket where it’s very rural, beautiful and isolated. I like a lot of homey, crafty things, like sewing and knitting and cooking and gardening and strive to live a creative life.

V: Your home is land that has been in your family for over a century, that must feel quite special?
Is there a special story, family history or memory about this place that is often being told in your family?
L: It is so important to me. Almost too important. I know, in the end, home is not a place, it’s a feeling but I can’t deny the feelings I get from this place. Most of the houses right around us were built or lived in by someone in my family. It amazing to see how things have changed even in my twenty some years knowing this land. Even as our family has grown and moved, this here has always been home-base and everyone has so many memories of this place I wouldn't even know where to begin!

V: Five words that you would chose to describe yourself?
L: I would say: Quiet, loyal, creative, sensitive and stubborn.

V: What inspires you?
L: In a broader sense: the need to grow. In a more specific sense: the natural world around me.

V: What makes you happy?
L: I’m finding this handmade, homegrown lifestyle is making me happy, happier than I’ve been in a long time. I sincerely feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

V: There are so many things that i love about your blog and one of them are your Gratitude Sunday post's where you acknowledge all the things, the big and small, that you were most grateful for in the past week. Would you like to share with us what it was that first inspired you to start doing these posts and also what you are most grateful for in your life right now?
L: I saw a fellow blogger joining in Gratitude Sunday and thought I would try too. I firmly believe grateful people are the happiest. It’s hard to be angry or bitter or jealous or sad when you stop and think of what all you do have. 
And right now I’m most grateful for the support system I have: great family and great friends who encourage and nurture me.

V: When one visits your blog one easely notice that you have quite a lot of creative skills and interests, if you were to learn a new craft what would that be?
L: I’d love to learn more about fiber arts in general, spinning yarn and dyeing and weaving and printing on fabric … I’d like to dig a little deeper and start making some of my *supplies* from scratch. Especially natural dyeing with plants I find or grown.

V: What is your first knitting memory and who did learn you to knit? 
L: I wish I had some lovely memory to tie to my first knitting experience. But knitting is another thing I pretty much taught myself. I think I learned the basic knit and purl when I was in my teens but it just never stuck. I didn’t understand it and found the mash of numbers and letters in patterns so confusing. But in September 2011, I decided I would try again. I aimed for small things like dishcloths out of cotton yarns my Grandmother gave me and when I got the hang of those, I went on to bigger projects. Ravelry.com has been an immense help!

V: Like me you enjoy knitting and reading, if you were to chose two books and knitting projects as your favourites so far which ones would that be and also why?
L: Each new knitting project seems to be my favorite. But right now, the Puerperium cardigan and the Rocky Coast cardigan might be my current favorites. I guess it has to do with the notion of wrapping yourself (or another) in warm wool and the comfort that can bring. Two of my favorite books are probably Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole---both tug at your heart in a sweet, thoughtful and humorous way.

V: I know that you have your own studio and i always find it very exciting and inspiring to get a peek inside peoples studios... can we get to see some images from yours?
Can you also tell us a bit about how you have decorated/organiced this room and how you like to have it around you while working?
L: I used to sew in my bedroom but the opportunity arose where I could use the spare room in the basement for my sewing studio and I took it. The first year I did great in there and sewed so much stuff but in early 2012 I started missing the natural light (there is a tiny window but it doesn’t let in much sun.)
My studio is small but I have managed to get two book shelves, two cabinets and two tables in there. I’m currently trying to thin down my fabric stash because it’s getting pretty crowded. Doing so has rekindled my sewing interest lately.
I’m a big fan of light, airy decor in general but even more so since it’s a basement. I love a neat, clean studio in theory but in reality, I need a little mess around me to actually feel comfortable enough to get into my work. I daydream about a small shed to convert into a studio or about building a studio in our barn. With big, big windows.

V: Your dad creates fine, handmade wood items for home and family, i LOVE his bobbin holders. Are there many people in your family who is doing handmade crafts and did your dad, or any other familymembers learn you different crafts when you grew up? 
L: My family has a lot of artists in it (my twin brother is a painter) and we were raised to encourage and appreciate handmade and do-it-yourself mentalities. Another thing I’m grateful for is that my parents never pushed my brother or I into being something we weren’t, like athletes or scientists. They knew were artistic types that needed to make things, in one way or another. Looking back, my parents mostly gifted us supplies and tools (like sewing machines, drafting tables, sketch books, paint brushes, tablets, dress forms) to help us create.
Pretty much all the crafty things I do, I learned on my own, through a lot of trial and error. This has a lot to do with the fact that I’m more of a closet learner---meaning I like to research something, maybe watch someone do it, then try it out quietly, on my own. I’m sure my Mother would have shown me more about sewing or my grandmother would have taught me to knit or crochet if I had let them.
Though, my Grandma used to do German Scherenschnitte and I’d love for her to someday show me some techniques and ideas so I can learn a bit about it too.

V: I have discovered so many beautiful poems, sayings and quotes through reading your posts that were new to me....oh and not to mention lovely music/musicians that i have never heard of before and LOVE! Have you discovered something new in any of these "categories" lately that you have liked and that you want to share with us? I am also curious if you have a specific quote, saying or poem that has a special place in your heart?
L: Lately, I haven’t been finding too much new-to-me music but rather rediscovering some of my favorite music or enjoying new releases from some of my all time favorite artists, like Laura Marling and Alela Diane.
My favorite quote seems to change with time and what is going on in my life. But I tend to go back to this one by Tennyson: "I must lost myself in action, lest I wither in despair." Despair is a bit dramatic at times but I do believe in keeping busy and active.

V: Can you tell us about the 52-weeks self portrait posts that you are doing on your blog and also why you wanted to start on this project?
L: 52 Weeks is basically a year long project to take a portrait a week that represents where I am at that week---was I hopeful, ill, busy beyond measure, quiet? It’s very hard to me to remember all that happens, especially in the course of a year. A lot of other bloggers are doing this with their children which I think is so great but I don’t have children plus I feel that as we get older, there aren’t so many *obvious* milestones. Our victories and actions often appear smaller but they are still important and important to document and celebrate. At the very least, this project encourages me to pick up my camera and push myself as a photographer.

V: I want to thank you for this lovely conversation sweet Liesl before i ask you my last question!
My grandparents had a huge vegetable- and fruit garden when i were a child and i loved being there. Some of my most treasured childhood memories are from the times i spent there together with them. I would love if you could tell us about the vegetable garden you have and also about what is happening there these days.
L: I think part of my draw to the garden is that it is so tied to my past. Sometimes when we are in the garden doing something, I’ll ask my Dad: Is this something your Dad taught you? They had a big garden when he was young and that is where he learned a lot of what he knows.
When I was a teen, I used to hate having to work in the garden, but in recent years it’s been very therapeutic and rewarding for me. The food we harvest is often put away and supplies us with homegrown vegetables all winter. So far we have been enjoying lettuce, spinach, radishes, snow peas, kohlrabi and summer squash. As well as lots of berries. We just harvested all our broccoli and cauliflower and are just starting to pick and eat green beans. There is a lot more growing in the garden, waiting to reach maturity, like potatoes, tomatoes, red cabbage, winter squash and carrots, beets, cucumbers and more. This year I am trying to grow garlic for the first time as well as trying to save some seeds.
We are very simple people when it comes to cooking our garden food. In the summer, when the veggies are so fresh and delicious, we don’t do anything too fancy with them, just steam them and add some salt and butter or sauté them and add some herbs and garlic and maybe a little cheese. We have all winter to perk up frozen vegetables into something more interesting. The red cabbage we make (the traditional German way) might be my all-time favorite. This year we have 24 heads so there will be plenty in the freezer for the winter.

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