Fiber Arts

October 4, 2017-Florence Arrival

The flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam was more roomy and comfortable… Andrea is enjoying a movie.

We arrived in the late afternoon, settled in, and took a walk in the area of our hotel. Failing to find our way to the train station, Statione Santa Maria Novella, we decided to grab our dinner and take a taxi to the station in the morning .. a wise decision.

We passed this street artist on our walk near the hotel.
Piazza Repubblica with its lighted carousel was on our path.
Dining in the fresh air (al fresco) at Donnini’s, we shared a primo of ravioli and a secundo of margherita pizza. We enjoyed a nice glass of chianti classico.
Italy 2017


October 28, 2017 We are now home from our Italy food trip. Here is our group at the Florence Food Tour… we were usually just 6 total, but added 3 people on this day. Six compatriots was just the right size for the excursions by van that took us into the Tuscany hill town countryside. Click here to see our 20 day travelogue.


The Art Quilting emphasis of ‘M Unique Blog  will change back to art quilting very soon. I left a partially completed work on the design wall, and hope to soon be back working on it.

Fiber Arts

Unstructured 1

Over a year ago, I blogged about the ARTQUILTSvoices exhibition and conference with Katie Pasquini Masopust taking us from random paintings to quilt top designs. Well, finally, I have completed the quilt top that was begun back in the spring of 2016. If you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you will see the beginnings of Unstructured 1, pictured here. It was fun to work on, if not prolonged!

UNSTRUCTURED 1 – designed and created by Mary A Ritter 2017.                                                           All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017


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Le Chêne Chapelle

Step 1:

It starts with a sketch from a photo of an interesting site, and a new project is underway…. Le Chêne Chapelle – the Oak Chapel. We visited this area in Allouville-Bellefosse, France on our trip from Paris to Normandy in 2013. We’ll see what develops.


Step 2: After enlarging the sketch by 400% and printing it (20 pages), the outline and background fabric are pinned to the design wall and the fun begins. While at the site in France, I was fascinated with the door that leads to the two chapels inside the large old tree. You must read the story about this tree: click here Le Chêne Chapelle. I worked the photo of the tree door through the Moku Hanga app on my iPad, then sent the modified photo to Spoonflower to have it printed on fabric. If you click on the “Design” tab on their web page you can learn how to create your own photo designs and have them printed. Somehow the enlarged door will emerge as a part of the overall design. Too early to tell. There will also be leaves so it doesn’t look so barren.


Chêne Chapelle1

Once traced onto the denim background, I used Dye n Flow to paint it all, using a sponge and opaque Jacquard fabric paint to complete the sky. The painting serves as a guide as I add treatments – appliqué, embroidery, quilting, text etc.

Then I created the bark using wool. The door and tree surface around it is a photograph I took at the site which was altered in the app Moku Hanga on my iPad.

Chêne Chapelle4

Far from finished, I am outlining the shingles with machine stitching. They cover areas of the tree where the bark has worn or weathered away. Not shown are all the structural poles, cables and supports applied by man to keep the tree very much alive and upright. I have completed covering the bark areas with either wool scraps or cheesecloth dyed black. Next, I will add the stairway around the right side, clusters of leaves, and decking at the bottom. Then on to the quilting.


After quilting, which includes quilting some smaller leaves to surround the clumps of leaves which were created using Texture Magic, the text was stitched, clusters of silk ribbon embroidery were added, and the whole thing was ringed with two layers of wool yarn.

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

a la Van Gogh

August 2, 2017

Debbie Herbst and Ana Sumner had their submissions selected to participate in the Cherrywood Fabric Van Gogh display and show. Congratulations! Selected August 10, 2017.

Yesterday (August 1) marked the deadline for submission of our quilts to the Cherrywood Fabric Van Gogh Challenge so now I can blog about it.  Cherrywood Fabrics is located in Baxter, MN, my home state, but I order online and have never been to their MN facility. Their fabrics are solid color, 100% cotton that looks and feels like suede. The Thread Whisperers, three friends and I who formed our own art quilter’s group, all agreed to enter this challenge. We love the works of Van Gogh and were energized to see if we could recreate his work or his vision in cloth and surface design. If you remember Van Gogh’s artwork, you will realize the challenge of turning this solid fabric into the energized work he did. Here’s a sample of his work: Van Gogh Museum. We could choose a theme from orchards, paths, flowers, trees and portraits, among others. We have a nice variety among the four of us, all of which were required to be 20″ square. If we do not receive entry into the Cherrywood display, we have a show of our own coming up in August 2018 at the Page-Walker Art Gallery and History Center in Cary, NC in which you will be able to get up close and personal.


Debbie Herbst chose to illustrate the flowers on an almond tree with quilted lines adding the energy and movement so present in Van Gogh’s works.

All rights reserved. ©Debbie Herbst  2017

Van Gogh Challenge: Almond Joy
Debbie Herbst created her vision of the blossoms on an almond tree. She appropriately named it “Almond Joy”.  (All rights reserved @ Debbie Herbst)


Ana Sumner (click the link to see her webpage) created her vision of Van Gogh’s orchard. It is called “Oliveriae”.

All rights reserved. ©Ana Sumner  2017                                                                                                          Ask permission at Ana’s web page.

Oliveriae by Ana Sumner
Ana Sumner created “Oliveriae” with her own vision of an orchard done a la Van Gogh. The movement in the sky is created with strips of fabric and quilting lines. Again, the ground adds a solid element with strips of fabric and quilting lines. I love the color variation in the leaves on the trees. Check out Ana’s web page to see her excellent ribbon embroidery! All rights reserved @ Ana Sumner

Shirley Perryman used her considerable piecing and quilting skills to create her vision of a starry night. The movement created by the half-square triangles and the curved quilting lines speaks to Van Gogh’s style.

All rights reserved. ©Shirley Perryman  2017

Shirley Perryman created her vision in the abstract traditional style of quilting arts, using half-square triangles and curved quilting lines to create the same spinning we view in “A Starry Night” by Van Gogh. All rights reserved @ Shirley Perryman

I chose to create portraits in the Van Gogh style. In order to add movement to this solid fabric, I created two layers. The shadow layer is directly beneath the top layer, which is appliquéd. After sandwiching those two layers with batting and a backing, I quilted the movement lines and then cut away snippets to allow the shadow layer to show through. That was followed by a layer of tulle and an outline with couched yard or pearl cotton.

Les Fleurs Pour Grandmére
This portrait shows my mother who, at the time of this photo in May of 2017, is 98 years old. She is holding the roses I sent to her for Mother’s Day. My sister, Janice Holien, snapped the photo with her iPhone and sent it to me. Immediately, I knew it would be perfect for my Van Gogh portrait project. All Rights Reserved – Mary A Ritter

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017                                                                                  Ask permission at

My second entry in the Van Gogh challenge depicts my husband enjoying a relaxing respite on the Paseo in Alicante, Spain in 2015.

En Vacance by Mary A Ritter
I knew when I took this picture that it would become a quilt someday. “En Vacance” means “on vacation” literally, but is also means tourist in Spanish. All Rights Reserved – Mary A Ritter

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017                                                                                      Do not use these images for any purpose without permission of the artists listed.     Your punishment will be worse than having your tongue stuck to a frozen pipe!       Ask politely and “most likely” permission will be granted.



Fiber Arts

Sketching NYC’s Broadway…

At every art lesson I’ve attended, I’m usually told to take a journal with me everywhere and sketch whenever I get a chance. Being me, I still prefer the camera. However, this artist, Lisa Engler, is inspiring me to TRY to give sketching a chance. Elise Engler’s apartment window overlooks NYC’s Broadway. For 43 years she rode her bike around Manhattan until she was hit by a truck and injured her left arm. During her recovery, she “sketched” Broadway. Every day for a year, she chose a different block along the avenue and drew a sketch of something significant in that block.  At this link, you can view the results (as seen on CBS Sunday Morning.) Trust me, you will love it! And, you may even begin to sketch as the first step. A blessing came from an accident, giving her TIME to sit still everyday and sketch.


To read more about art quilts, click on the PAQA-South link, where as the President for 2017-2018 I am keeping their website and Facebook pages updated as best I can. Sometimes there is overlap that I can post here too.

PAQA-South (Professional Art Quilts Alliance)

PAQA-South Facebook (please friend us)

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New Show Opens….

The Spring 2017 show has opened at Page-Walker Art Gallery and History Center in Cary, NC. If you are in the area, please stop by and take a closer look. Here are some photos of the way it looks from across the room, but the true joy is seeing the up close and personal details. The theme is RESPITE …. removing yourself from life’s busy pace to rest and relax. The show lives up to its theme! (Click on individual photos for a bit closer view.) Click oaths link for a  gallery along with artists’ statement.



Fiber Arts

Carolina Spring

RitterCarolinaSpringFull3All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Dogwoods! Wisteria! North Carolina’s springtime showcases beautiful blossoming trees. Driving through the woods that align the roadways, one can see deeply into dark thickets where bright blossoms seem to provide their own sunshine. Listen! You can hear the birds enjoying their shelters therein. The shimmering blossoms serenaded by birdsong inspired this art quilt.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017


All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

A Place in Time series · Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

Quality Time

Walking in Central Park, NYC, in the fall of 2016, made me realize what a great respite this place can be for the families and folks that live in this busy place, as well as for the tourists flocking here to experience “the big city”. Only looking up at the sky makes one realize that there is a metropolitan city just over a few blocks on the other side of the trees. This piece reflects my more common folksy style, but I did incorporate mono printing in creating the windows and fabric painting on the buildings and trees. All of the fabrics are my own hand dyed pieces.  I also used texture magic to give dimension to the trees. If you enjoy the view or if it brings a memory forward, please share below in the comments.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

QUALITY TIME ~ 2017                                                                                                                                   Mary A Ritter                                                                                                                                                        35″ wide by 38″ high                                                                                                                                           A boy can never get enough time with his dad. After a busy time in the big city, the two companions sit beside the lake in NYC Central Park, watch the model sailboats, and just enjoy some time together. The noise of the traffic, beeping horns, calling voices, and the shadows from the tall buildings are kept at a distance. This is quality time – father and son.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Quality Time ~ 2017                                                                                                                                        Detail of buildings and trees

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts · Spain


All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

The winter of 2017 is proving to be a productive time. I recently completed two art pieces for the “Places in Time” series which follows my life and travels. This piece reflects time that we spent in a condo in Valencia, Spain in 2015. The description below the picture tells a bit about how it was accomplished. I placed the original photograph at the bottom for reference. I hope you enjoy seeing the finished product as well as the process, and if you do or if it illicits a memory, please share in the comments  below.

TEA TIME on Callé de Cadiz Valencia, Spain 2017                                                                               Mary A Ritter                                                                                                                                                     25”w x 33”h                                                                                                                                                          A Valencian scrambles back to her third floor condo ready to relax after a long day. In an hour or so, she will return to work until late evening. The tea is poured and she relaxes on the balcony overlooking Callé de Cadiz, watching the families beginning to gather for their siesta meal or caña (small beer) at the sidewalk cafés below. The traffic is quieted during this time of day, and the warmth of the sun and the tea are a respite from her busy world.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017

Detail of TEA TIME: The photograph of Callé de Cadiz (Cadiz Street) was taken while I vacationed in Valencia, Spain for two months in Spring 2015. It was altered in several digital apps and then printed on cotton lawn by Spoonflower. Pieced hand-dyed fabrics enhance the design along the edges, with fabric paint, machine embroidery, silk hand embroidered flowers and machine quilting. All work done by the artist.

All rights reserved. ©Mary A Ritter 2017


Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


The Thread Whisperers initiated their new art group with a field trip to Hillsborough, NC, to tour several art galleries, enjoy lunch, and anticipate what might lie ahead for this newly formed group of artists in 2017. We are eager to move forward with our own projects and with some shared endeavours. More to come!

THREAD WHISPERERS: Deb, Shirley, Ana with Mary clicking the camera.



Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


“Celebration in the City”

I completed “Celebration in the City” prior to our Great Rivers of Europe Cruise in mid-September 2016.

“OOOOOH! AWWWWW!” Celebration in the City Design *** Inspired by Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife Design *** Artist Hand-dyed & Monoprinted Fabrics *** Machine Appliqué * Machine Quilting * Machine Embroidery *** by Mary A Ritter, Cary, North Carolina -September 2016 *** all work completed by the artist ***All Rights Reserved 2016                                   

The work on it began earlier in the year when members of my local quilting group, The Piecemakers, decided to work together on the same pattern. Eager to learn some quilting blocks, I signed up, but of course, didn’t stay with the action plan for very long. I enjoyed learning how to create some blocks, but then decided to add a city-scape along the bottom of the quilt. Eventually, I turned the blocks on-point to depict fireworks and then used more blocks than the original design. I designed the sky behind the fireworks so that the light from the buildings was reflected in light sky tones near the buildings, smoke and clouds crowded across the center and a darker, clearer sky developed higher in the work. It hangs above the archway in our entry hall. All in all, it was a challenging and fun project.

My series emphasis for 2017 will be cityscapes and structures that I collected in photographs on our Great Rivers of Europe cruise. Keep an eye on this spot.

Fiber Arts

Travel Odds ‘n Ends

As we are getting settled at home, without anyone to prepare our meals or bring us our coffee or tea, or take us on long walks and explain everything to us (oh so sad!), I am finding some bits of information that I had intended to include in the travel blog.

On the impressive pedestrian/train bridge in Cologne, someone had hung a skeleton sculpture. It was done anonymously overnight and the city grew fond of it, so it wasn’t removed. It was added to a pre-existing beam.


We were taught that if a structure or city’s name ended in “berg”, it meant it was a fortress such as Heidelberg Castle. If the name ended in “burg”, it meant is was a smaller town, such as Wurzburg or Rothenburg ob der tauber.

One of the items we purchased from the glassblower was a rooster. My collection of roosters is small: a Navajo rooster, a Maui rooster, a Minnesota rooster, and a NC rooster. Now I have a Wertheim, Germany rooster to crow with the others.


The temperatures seemed so cold to us while we were in Amsterdam, Delft and Bruge. Of course, there was a wind to go along with them. When we checked our maps we found that we were at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska. No wonder!

I always intended to show a steeple with a cock on top indicating that it was Lutheran. I took many pictures, but had a hard time getting a clear shot because the steeples were too high. Here’s the best shot. It was a pretty church in Rhein, Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany as we sailed by the castles.


Our trip, with the pre-trip and post-trip bus excursions, included 21 cities. Our memories are unclear about what happened where, so I added some brief commentary to each city on the list mostly as a memory aid for us. It is our memory cheat list. They are listed in the order we visited them.

1. Prague, The Czech Republic: Praha, Charles Bridge, Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral/Anton Mucha style; dinner out on our own overlooking Charles Bridge, Palace and Cathedral. Astrological Clock; Jewish Quarter; Wenceslas Square; Anton Mucha Gallery; Norm climbed the clock tower and took pictures while I had coffee at a street-side cafe.

2. Bratislavia, Slovakia (I never thought I would be in Slovakia!) Great little walkable old town with many humorous sculptures; noon meal included at the politically-elite restaurant

3. Vienna, Austria: guided tour of city; learned about Cici and Franz Joseph

4. Melk Abbey: not really in the town, but located between Vienna and Passau. We toured the abbey, but did not dock in Melk. We purchased Wachau Merillan (apricot) chutney and a sample of Merillan aperitif. Wachau Valley is also known for its wines: Gruner Veltline or Riesling; Zweigelt (red)

5. Passau, Lower Bavaria, Germany-Dreiflüssestadt-City of Three Rivers; first city actually in Germany; the Danube River is the border with Austria on one side and Germany on the other;  and we rode on the sundeck enjoying the scenery of classic paintings of Wachau Gorge; free Organ concert at noon in the baroque style St. Stephen’s Cathedral

6. Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany-home visit to Beilsning; oldest bratwurst stand; dinner at ump pa pa evening dinner out at cruise expense at Alta Linda; it was Sunday so the cathedral’s bells were ringing; 

7. Kelheim-Memorial on hill above city overlooking Rhine River; visited a monastery/brewery???why??? 

8. Nuremburg-Justizpalace trials and Hitler’s Zeppelin field; Frauenkirk Cathedral with clock figures; *best* bratwurst in Bratwurst Cafe

9. Bamburg- houses along the river; great downtown shopping square; bought scarf and sketches; had Flammkuchen (pizza like); selfie on the bridge by the mural painted buildings; finally found an apotek (drugstore) for cough drops, aspirin and bandaids.

10. Rothenburg ob der Tauber-buildings on the square and houses; oldest medieval town; walked the wall; Christmas shops; St. Jakob’s Lutheran Cathedral with tall wooden sculpture; Mihai’s 94 year old friend-owner of shop, so alert and talkative; small building with a street on each side. Included lunch in authentic restaurant.

11. Wertheim- coin operated bicycle inner tube dispenser; narrowest building in Franconia on the square; Castle above-rode the tram to get there and scrambled all over it totally unsupervised – it was a great castle to explore; great overview of Wertheim; went to small festival (Octoberfest) and tried the bratwurst and beer.

12. Rüdesheim-We didn’t do the late afternoon tour because we were too tired after touring Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

13. Offenbach-didn’t tour at all. It was just a docking point.

14. Heidelberg-crowded castle; too many tourists, but an impressive castle and overlook; Palmbraeu Gasse restaurant included mid-day (alley restaurant); hot chocolate later at a small cafe that had gorgeous big cakes. It was raining and cold.

15. Wurzberg-walkable right off the gangplank; Residenz and Fortress; same day as Heidelberg? We didn’t tour Wurzberg as it was evening by the time we returned from Heidelberg? Some took the option to stay in town and tour in the evening.

16. Koblenz- end of the castle run on the Rhine; clever sculptures; 

17. Cologne- pedestrian/train bridge; large Dom Cathedral; fish market houses;  Kölsh Beer Tasting

18. Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands-Rijkmuseum; canal tour; houseboats; bicycles; city seems so large compared to the ones we’ve been visiting.

19. Delft, South Holland, The Netherlands-De Candelaer Factory Handprinted Delftware and shop; Henry Willig Gouda shop

20. Ghent, East Flanders, Belgium-impressive number of cathedrals; not enough time but good exposure; stepped gable roofs

21. Brugge, West Flanders, Belgium- lovely walkable city; canal tour; 1000+ Belgium beer wall; French fries with mayo; movie The Monument Men filmed here. Only Michelangelo sculpture outside of Italy – angel


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Day 21-22~Oct 13-14~Th&Fri~Brugge, Belgium~the saga ends!

 Day 21-22~Oct 13-14~Th&Fri~Brugge, Belgium~the saga ends!

This is the last post for this trip as we fly out of Brussels, Belgium tomorrow morning. We leave the NC Hotel by van at 3:45AM, heading for Brussels. What a trip this has been! It’s truly not a vacation as we have been on the go, on our walking feet, everyday for several hours. We’ve also been fed delicious food, listened to tantalizing facts and figures about each location, told entertaining tales, and met wonderful people. We just hope our traveling paths will cross again in the near future.

Our first full day in Brugge was better after a night of rest in a lovely old “monastery” hotel right near the large sculpture, but it is still very cold and windy. We are all wearing multiple layers that we would never put together at home! They layers serve their purpose and help to hide us from the wind and chill. Brugge is loaded with sculptures, and we have not done the wonderful artwork here justice just because we are at the end of a long saga and are quite tired. Folks seem to be on the mend from a harsh cold and cough that has made its way through the tour group.

We love the small village feeling of Brugge, and even with the cold weather, the sun was bright during our canal ride so Norm got some great pictures. You can tell by how clear it is that it might be cold, but the sunlight made for great shadows and light in the photos.

A local guide took us on a walking tour, pointing out the multitude of sculptures on the buildings and bridges. She also informed us what buildings hold more artwork and the only Michaelangelo outside of Italy. We plan to follow her recommendation to rewatch The Monuments Men, a movie from 2014. Following the walking tour, we boarded a canal boat for a tour from the water.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view.)

The construction material of choice was brick, with the oldest buildings using little ornamentation. Newer construction involves decorative use of brick and color. The Main Square features a charming combination of many styles and is a busy place. Swans are a common site here, but this was a particularly large flock.

The first shot is one of Norm’s that shows the cascading bridges and the vivid colors so well. The canal captain is pointing to the remnants of his hair lost by going under so many low arches.

Two must-do traditions in Brugge:

1-Eat the special double fried fries with mayo offered at the street stand in the Main Square. Norm is not fond of mayo, but I loved them with mayo, and he liked his too.

2-Visit the wall of 1000+ Belgium beers. We visited it and intended to return this last day to taste the sampler. Guess this means we have to return! We couldn’t get there today as we are room-bound trying to get Norm’s cold in check to fly tomorrow.





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Day 20-Oct 12-Delft,The Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium

Day 20-Oct 12-Delft,The Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium

On this day, we disembark the River Adagio and start our bus ride to Bruges, Belgium. Our Program Director, Marloes, points out some features of Amsterdam as we pull away from the city on the Ring highway which encircles the city. The Netherlands has 12 provinces with Amsterdam being the capitol of North Holland, and Rotterdam the capitol of South Holland. An entirely new province created from reclaimed land, Fleevoland, was established in 1985.

Yesterday, on our cruise of the canals, we saw many drawbridges. Drawbridges, of course, were invented by the Dutch with their many areas of reclaimed land separated by small ditches of water. There are 92000 dikes plus Delta Works throughout the country. Delta Works  will hold back the ocean with the touch of a button in the case of an emergency, or to stave off the effects of climate change. It sounds quite complex, and I intend to read more about it.

The Habsbergs once ruled here, thus we see the blue crowns as symbols. During WWII, 100,000 Jews and others who were selected, were imprisoned here. We see the XXX symbol on many things; it stands for Water * Fire * Plague. The area has experienced many hard times.

(Be sure to click on the picture to see a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

Marloes, a citizen of The Netherlands, pointed out the multitude of windows, mostly free of shades or curtains. Aside from the people not feeling the need for privacy, the government used to tax, not by the size of the footprint of a building, but by how many windows it had. Since that ended, the citizenry has enjoyed having the sunlight pour in from all directions!

If you earn less than 24,000€ annually, you qualify for government housing. Because the government provides newer housing and maintains its quality, this is some of the best housing available, although it is a small space. It is also rent controlled, so families try to keep it from one generation to another, although this is illegal.

As we hit the outskirts of Amsterdam, I snapped a couple of photos of more recently constructed buildings. We were near the university Marloes attended, and when asked, she explained that sports activities are never associated with educational institutions here. Thus these is no such thing as a cheerleader. Sports is its own entity and is operated by neighborhood organizations.

After about an hour’s drive we arrive in Delft, well known for its blue and white dishes with the windmills on them. We visited De Candelaer, a small authentic Delft shop. In order to authentic they must make every stitch of the pottery from the clay to the artistic paints and the artist’s renditions of the patterns.

We also saw houses which backed up to a canal, gorgeous flowers in a shop, and the beautiful, quaint shops sharing the downtown square with two huge cathedrals, an old one and a new one from the 1700s. I bought a chunk of smoked gouda in a shop that sold only Dutch gouda in a multitude of flavors.

We had a local guide and walked some more. It’s another lovely town with structures from the Middle Ages and older… Houses and Cathedrals, of course. We did enjoy Delft for its Henri Willig Gouda Cheese Shop,  and De Candelaer Delft Pottery Shop, spending some Euro in both places.

Then we rode for an hour and stopped at Ghent for another guided walking tour. Ghent was a huge contrast to Delft with multiple huge cathedrals and much larger squares and structure in general.

We had a local guide who did a marvelous job of exposing us to the high points. It looks to me like Ghent is worth two to three days for a quality visit. I noted only that Ghent is known for its stepped gable roof lines, cheaper to build than a curved roof line, but still adding stature, even though there frequently is no actual living space behind the gable. We feel like we are viewing a movie set at times.

Afew random facts: ***Ganda hams – ganda was the name for Gent in old times and one of their well-known products is ham. ***Ghent folks are called strong heads. Charles V tried to hang many people who didn’t pay bills. There were too many to hang them all, so instead, he humiliated them by making them walk with nooses stringing them together, in white costumes, barefoot in single file. ***Trappist beer is still made by the monks – Spenser Beer in USA. ***Wool and cotton industry during Napolean’s time.

Finally, after another hour of riding, we arrived in Brugge, a very tired group of 13. A good night’s sleep in an old monastery, now the Brugge NC Hotel will make a difference.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 19-Oct 11-Tues-Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Day 19-Oct 11-Tues-Amsterdam, The Netherlands

After sailing all night, we arrived in Amsterdam while we were eating breakfast. We were aboard canal cruisers by 9am, followed by a long guided walk through the city. This is our last day and night aboard the River Adagio. Early tomorrow morning, we will board a bus to Delft and then on to Bruges, Belgium for the last three days of our journey.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

Amsterdam is a city of WATER! They sail in boats and live on boats!

Amsterdam is a city of BICYCLES! They haul children or groceries, or briefcases; then they park their bikes in parking garages! Or in a mad pile wherever there is a smidgen of space! Watch where you step as you don’t have a chance if you wander into their path.

Amsterdam is a city of beautiful skylines and big cheeses, namely Gouda and Edam.

And Amsterdam is the city of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum. 

Anne Frank hid from the Nazi occupation in the city for years and her hiding place is a museum.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 18-Oct 10-Mon-Cologne, Germany

Day 18-Oct 10-Mon-Cologne, Germany

We have traveled through the night and arrive at Cologne by breakfast time. As we sailed from Klobenz to Cologne, we were reminded that not all of Germany is old and picturesque. We passed this highly industrial area before nightfall. 

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)


Norm captured this shot of the beautiful Dom Cathedral and the impressive rail and pedestrian bridge in a panorama. He had to walk across the bridge as our ship is docked under the far side of it.


 On our morning guided walk, our guide tells how Cologne got its name. Agrippa was the military leader of the fortress in this area. He had a beautiful daughter named Agrippina. When Claudius, the Emperor, saw Agrippina, he divorced his fourth wife and made Agrippina his fifth wife. He made the fortress a colony and named it Cologna (colony) in her honor. This label raised its status, and so it grew and prospered.

The Dom Cathedral is pictured again as we approach it a bit closer.  The Dom Cathedral was only bombed once in WWII due to orders to avoid it as it served as landmark for the planes to know where to bomb. The steeples stuck up over the morning fog. Cologne was heavily bombed, but not the cathedral – once a steeple was struck by accident, but no major damage occurred.

Cologne served as a triage camp during WWII which means that prisoners were sent here first to then be reassigned according to whatever status was given them. It is called the Deutz Concentration Camp. Prisoners were sent here because of many persecutions – being Jewish, being gay, being disabled etc. This pink triangle memorializes those imprisoned because of sexual differences. Conrad Adenauer said, “Deutz is where Siberia begins.” Now the site is used for trade fairs and the like.

These houses on Fisherman Row were painted different colors in the Middle Ages because houses were not numbered at that time. You could direct someone to your home based on the color.


The iron figures on the front actually are large staples fastened into the end of the beam that runs from front to back of the house. The beam holds them straight. Again, they build taller because they are taxed on the footprint of the building. They seldom used blue because lapis lazuli is the only source, and it oxidizes too quickly. Sometime blue bottles were crushed up to add color, but it was also very expensive. They also used ox blood to mix in the paint to make pink.


These sculptures imitate Lorrell and Hardy style characters. On the left is the farmer Tunis. On the right is the city slicker, Schnell. Schnell criticizes Tunis for letting life just pass by and for drinking too much. Schnell rethinks his life and sells all of his empty drink bottles and becomes as rich as city guy. And another story: Schnell sees Tunis in his best suit carrying a Bible. It is Saturday night, and Tunis tells Schnell that he is going to a brothel. Schnell wonders why he is dressed in his best suit and carrying a Bible. Tunis says he might stay until morning. Our guide told us these as an example of German humor.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

We were invited to a Kölsch beer tasting. This is a special German beer that adheres to many traditions. The beer hall must have dark wood floors with dark wood paneling between covering 40-60% of the wall surface. The table tops must be wooden with no lacquer coating. The beer is served in 6oz column-like glasses.

The waiters are called Kübes and they always wear white and blue. They like to banter and challenge the guests on a variety of topics like sports etc, but the waiter must be the initiator of the teasing. They hate Dusseldorf – Cologne sewage flows down to Dusseldorf.

I am not much of a beer fan, but I thought this beer had a smooth and pleasant flavor.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 17-Oct 9-Sun-Castle Row on the Rhine to Koblenz,Germany

Day 16-Oct 9-Sun-Castle Row on the Rhine to Koblenz, Germany

Our ship stayed in the port of Rüdesheim overnight so that we could cruise by the castles that line the Rhine River during the morning light. Right after breakfast, we pulled out of port. We cruised by 16 Castles, but I have selected just four to share. Some are in ruins, and some have been restored. If there is a flag flying, it usually means that some one is in residence.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

En route, we passed Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river. Since the time of Ancient Greece, there have been legends of sirens, women-creatures who lure sailors to their death with sweet songs. Ancient Germanic legend places one such siren (Lorelei) here, and it is said she enticed sailors to destruction below the rock. In our case, Lorelei looks strangely like Carol, one of our Program Directors.

We were treated to sausages and beer after the last castle to help us warm up as it was very chilly up on the sundeck. Then a full three course lunch at 1pm, featuring a delicious mushroom soup, goulash, and a pistachio ice cream sundae. Luckily, the servings are small.

At 2:45 we disembarked the ship for a guided walking tour of Koblenz, set at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Originally established as an outpost of the Roman Empire in 8 BC and named Castellum apud Confluentes, the town became a city in the 13th century and served as the home of French refugees during the French Revolution. Here are some highlights in pictures.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

Where four streets converge in old town Koblenz, there is a neighborhood square. These 4 cornices on each of the four corner structures overlook that Square. I enjoy looking at the details of structures most of all.

Koblenz has several sculptures located around the city that are humorous. The market wife is complaining to the policeman that a neighbour’s dog has just urinated on her basket and she wants him to fix the problem!

The “chaengle”  is spitting water. Chaengles were children of French soldiers and German women. Their single moms had to work to support their families, and so the children were frequently called “naughty” (chaengle) as they freely roamed about town.

This evening we will meet with the guide who will lead our tour to Bruges, Belgium so we can get ready for that. Dinner will follow that meeting, AND THEN, we will be entertained by an accordian orchestra.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 16-Oct 8-Sat-Offenbach/Heidelberg/ Rudesheim, Germany

Day 16-Oct 8-Sat-Offenbach/Heidelberg/ Rudesheim, Germany

Offenbach is the center for the world bank, and is located near Frankfort. We are headed to Heidelberg on the autobahn in a bus as the river there cannot handle a boat the size of the Adagio. While we are in Heidelberg, the ship will reposition to Rüdesheim on the Rhine. There is a governor on the bus limiting us to 100 km/ hour. Porsches and Ferraris are passing us like we are standing still because there is no speed limit on the autobahn.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

The Wittelsbach Family joined with the Palatine family to take over each others fortunes if one or the other families died out. Both were strictly Catholic. Fredrick , a WIttelsbach, switched to Lutheran, which was heresy. He is the one who built Heidelberg Castle, a red sandstone structure. Once he died, they switched back to being Catholic.

He even became Holy Roman Emperor, but was killed by the Swedes before he could be crowned. He was married to a beautiful Lutheran princess, Elizabeth Stuart, a family which would take over the throne of England. Frederick V was the last one to inhabit the castle in Heidelberg. France destroyed the German castles along the Rhine, but left the Heidelberg castle, as it was already somewhat in ruin.

After some free time to explore the castle, we met up with the whole group for a wonderful lunch at Palmbraeu Gasse. In German, gasse means alley (strasse means street). The restaurant was located in historic ruins which had been restored for use, and an alley redesigned to add space to the restaurant.

Taxes- Our guide explains- If you earn 17,000€ and below, you pay no taxes, but can still get full government help as needed-food stamps, help with housing, education, college. Above 17,000€ , you pay up to 46% in taxes, and have a 19% sales tax too. You must prove you have been looking for work in order to get welfare; must go to interviews, get stamps of proof. It is harder than working a job. There are some jobs like harvesting which are called 1€ per hour job, no application or interview. You must take this type of job if it is offered, or you will not get welfare money. The Germans feel if their people are fed and educated, they can prosper more easily, and they have found this to be true. Likewise, they expect the government to handle the refugee expense since they already pay so much to the government.

We always notice all of the bicycles piled/parked in lots around the cities, and it isn’t hard to get in their way or to get knocked down by a bicycle if you do not stay alert.  While walking around Wertheim yesterday, we noticed this coin operated machine for buying inner tubes for your bicycle…. A first for all in our group…


CIAO for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 15-Oct 7-Fri~Wertheim, Germany~Fire and Stone

Day 15-Oct 7-Fri~Wertheim, Germany~Fire and Stone

We have been on the Main River for two days now. The Main River flows through the German states of BavariaBaden-Württemberg (forming the border with Bavaria for some distance) and Hesse. Its basin competes with the Danube for water; as a result, many of its boundaries are identical with those of the European Watershed.

We are in Wertheim which is a small town so we are able to walk off the gangplank directly into the town. We walked all over the old market center which was very picturesque. It seems taxes were determined by the size of the footprint of the building, so owners would build small, but tall. This building is the narrowest in the state of Franconia, a state in Germany. We have spent 3 days in Bavaria, another state in Germany.


We did not dock until 10:30am, so we were treated to a glassblowing demonstration prior to going out for our walking tour. The artist also had wares to sell. We helped keep him in business.

(Click on the individual photos for a larger version and sometimes commentary.)

The other highlight of the day found us roaming around the castle ruins high above the city on our own. We rode up and back in a special coach train – Burgbahnle. We had a wonderful sunny cool day, and saw some good views of Wertheim from on high.

Norm is waving to me from up high on the right. 

On our way back to the ship, we stopped at a local festival, listened to some German music and had a brat and beer.


Then we had to get back to the boat as it is sailing to Offenbach by tomorrow morning. (I skipped dinner on the ship after eating that brat, and we both skipped the dance party in the lounge.)

Ciao for now!