Saturday, 29 May 2010

Embroidery Class 4

I don't usually show faces on this blog but I thought this photo is general enough not to compromise any body's privacy.

Here's our embroidery class in full swing. We use the indoor play area of the foundation classes for our lesson, hence all the toy boxes in the background. The kids are very comfortable and sit and chat while they're working. They have settled into their needlework routine and are much more relaxed now than a few weeks ago.

I have adapted the lesson plan to suit their working speed and skill level. In the beginning I planned to introduce a new stitch every week but I soon realised that it would not be possible. The lesson time is just to short to get familiar with a stitch every week.

Now I have a sample of all the different stitches and every child decides when they are ready for a new stitch. They then choose the one they would like to learn and I teach it to them individually. This works a lot better than trying to get them all to do the same thing at the same time.

As you can see some children like to stick to one stitch and others are more confident and try a wider variety of stitches. I am happy with that. Karen, one of the mothers, volunteered to assist me, for which I am very grateful! She spends most of her time threading needles and sorting out knots and tangles.

We have three lessons left before end of term. Hopefully most of the butterflies and dragons will be finished by then. We plan to have a small exhibition in the school foyer in the last week to show of every body's handy work.

When I planned this course my main aim was to introduce embroidery to the young ones and to teach them to love it. I am not too concerned about perfect stitches and neat designs at this stage. If at the end of this course they decide they like doing embroidery and want to do it again (and again), I would have reached my goal. It is much easier to teach skill to someone who has the love than the other way around...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Soccer Ball Progress 2

It is going a bit slower than I want it to, but at least there is some progress...

Only 17 days to go before the World Cup starts! I hope to be finished by then...

17 blocks down, 15 to go.

Dubai in Pictures 13

We've been in Dubai now for almost 6 years and this is one of the places I've never visited before. It is called Majlis Ghorfat Um Al Sheef. It was built in 1955 by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum, the original ruler of Dubai and the late father of the current ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. It was used as a summer retreat and is surrounded by a tree-filled garden.

It is constructed with gypsum and coral rock.

The open veranda on the ground floor is called a leewan or rewaaq and the enclosed room on the first floor is the majlis or meeting room. This is where the Sheikh would receive his visitors.

There is a smaller room to the side of the majlis which was probably used as a kitchen from where the guests would be served refreshments. It now houses a beautiful collection of historical kitchen utensils.

The upstairs veranda has a beautiful view of the garden. When I visited the air was filled with birdsong and the sound of water running down the falaj. Very peaceful.

A falaj is a traditional irrigation system of channels built with rock and gypsum which carries the water from the well to different parts of the garden.

This last photo is to give some perspective on the area surrounding the Majlis. In the days gone by, when Sheikh Rashid built this place, he had an uninterrupted view of the ocean. Now all you see is suburbia.

The house in the picture is a typical house (or villa as it is called here) of the area. The sandy patch in the foreground is and empty plot. This is what Dubai looks like wherever there are no gardens or irrigation. And of course the ever present Burj Khalifa in the background...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Oh Man!

If you are one of those people who still think quilting is a girl-thing, I have news for you!

This is the work of Luke Haynes an American artist who uses quilting as his medium of choice.

No flowers or butterflies or anything girly..

Have a look at his website and browse through the gallery - it's worth the time
the copyright for all photos belongs to the artist.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Dubai in Pictures 12

On the way to school we have to pass this roadworks site where they are busy building a new fly-over. On the side of the round-about at the entrance to the site is this little guard-house. The man who works there has to direct the traffic when the big construction vehicles enter or exit the building site or when the construction workers have to cross the road. Most of the time he just stands there in the heat and dust.

Over the past month or two I have noticed that he decorates his little hut with all sorts of things, so last week I stopped and had a closer look.

On the barrier between the hut and the traffic is a wind-mill that he made out of discarded construction material

He added a window-box and filled it with a few plants. The poor things are covered with dust but it survives on love and TLC.

A mobile of the solar system, which he probably found where someone else discarded it, adds some colour to the windowscape.

Two origami tulips blooming in the flowerbox. No water needed...

A faded pink, and very dusty, rose hangs from the awning outside the entrance to the hut.

On the inside of the hut is this red heart and soft-toy hanging from the wall. The name inside the heart is the name of the company he works for. That's loyalty for you!

The view from the road.

On the backside of the hut is a 'window' cut-out in the wooden wall. Probably for some cross ventilation as there is no fan of AC in there.

A man has to put his feet up at least once a day!

And here he is: His name is Mansil and he comes from Bangladesh. He can not speak a lot of English so it was difficult to get the full story about all his decorations, but he was very pleased about the fact that I appreciated his attempt to beautify his surroundings. He posed proudly at his little hut and he shook my hand when I left.

I told him it gives me joy to drive past his hut everyday. He was pleased with that. Now, whenever I feel down or unsatisfied with my life I think about Mansil and how easy it is to add joy to your life, and in the process add joy to other people's lives too.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dubai in Pictures 11

Although it is still spring, the temperature is rising and soon it will be to hot to spend much time outdoors. But for now we try to make the most of the cool early mornings and evenings, before they disappear and we are only left with heat, heat, heat.

April to June is the time when the Flamboyant Trees or Peacock Flower Trees (Delonix regia) bloom in Dubai. The streets in the neighbourhood near the boys' school is lined with these trees and driving to school is a spectacle of colour.

The trees are endemic to Madagascar but are popular around the world. They are common in Dubai as the don't need a lot of pampering and the provide welcome shade in the summer.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Embroidery Class 2

We had the second class last Wednesday and I was relieved and excited to see all 12 students back with great enthusiasm! The enthusiasm was such that they didn't want to stop to learn a new stitch! The running stitch had them on a roll and they wanted to continue...

I spent the most part of the lesson trouble-shooting and sorting out problems as they arose. We learned how to end-off the floss and start a new one. We also learned to stop in time, before the last bit is to short to end-off properly and also not to let the last bit of double floss close to the needle get 'worked in'!

As you can see from these 3 examples, every child work at a different pace and with a different touch. Which is great, as the last thing I want is for everbody's work to look the same.

Tomorrow I am going to teach them to do the chain-stitch. I've shown them examples last week and some of the kids want to use it for filling-in and some for lines. And one or two of them want to make daisies on the wings... Exciting!
I took these photos after class last week, as the lesson itself is just to busy to take photos. Hopefully I will get a few action shots tomorrow.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Dubai in Pictures 10

I took a stroll around the neighbourhood while the boys were at their swimming lessons. It is a few kilometers away from where we live and I have never explored this area by foot before. It is one of the older areas of Dubai and it was a pleasure to see some mature gardens with big trees.

Big bunches of dates maturing on the tree,

a Wild Fig tree on the side walk,

and decorations on a delivery truck parked outside a house.
It is getting hot now, so spending lots of time outside will be a thing of the past soon, until at least October...