Friday, November 11, 2011

Kathy Bee - A Collector's Tale

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear a term "Knitting"? I guess your thought flies not far from boring stuff that only our grandmothers tend to do in a big love to their grandchildren, caring how to keep them warm in cold winters by making a cute pair of gloves or socks. But it's not so easy. There's definitely much more to see in this as old-fashioned perceived hobby. There’s actually a huge industry hidden behind it. The world of knitting and textile - we see it everyday on the urban catwalks [especially in Serbia], but we never really dig in deep how actually the production process of creation of new materials and fulfilment of crazy ideas is happening.

I give myself a chance to dive in deep into the curiosities of textile world and speak with a brand new textile engineer Katharina Bredlich. She's just 24, freshly graduated from North-Rhine University of Applied Sciences [Germany], holding a Bachelor’s degree in textile engineering.

We meet in Belgrade, and it's a place, where she did her internship in a knitting company “IVKO” [ - by the way, the promo video is quite impressive] and where she got a job offer to continue her life-long learning experience adding to it a few extra years in the management of textile world.

It’s important to have an Inspirer

It all always starts with something. Something probably extremely small, a small urge or a splash of passion, but later on it turns out to be very meaningful detail in someone’s career. Katharina entered the enormous world of textile industry unconsciously by seeing her older sister making clothes. Was it a grasp of competition or an inner wish to make something beautiful with your own hands, she doesn’t know, but she felt she could overcome this challenge and she did start sewing, while still studying at school. And one of the best qualities of Katharina as I notice from our conversation, is this unbearable enthusiasm she has to learn new things, making the quote of Adidas “Impossible is Nothing” fit her perfectly. Not many people make their own graduation dresses, but she’s one of those who did.

After finishing last exams at school Katharina had to choose her future profession and she actually got approved for studying Architecture after passing all entrance tests. But something changed her mind about Architecture and she skipped that study year. But the things never stopped in her own fashion and design world - and she applied for an internship in Köln at “Ludvik” to work with well-known couturier and fashion designer Fenja Ludwig [ ]. And even though from a professional point of view Katharina’s graduation dress didn’t seem to be perfectly made, again her unbearable enthusiasm and excitement about the designing, sewing, and willingness to learn and improve her skills to perfection, accompanied with enormous amount of creative ideas, made Fenja choose exactly her to be her trainee. And she did succeed. As Katharina tells now, she’s most thankful to Fenja Ludwig for being an Inspirer for her, as she was the one, who taught her a lot of new things and had the main influence on her choice of future directions in life.

The Textile Engineering: a close-up on Industry’s Latest Demands

“You don’t need to study fashion design, you just need to learn to make shapes,” was the advice Katharina got from her former teacher Fenja Ludwig before she applied for studies at North-Rhine University of Applied Sciences. And even though the entry test was rather similar to the one that fashion designers try to pass - at least the creative part, she chose to apply for textile engineering, as it included not only her favourite subjects from school times - like Chemistry or Maths, but the previously mentioned fashion design either, that meant gaining new skills and tricks how to do the things she enjoys the most. ”That’s a perfect combination of Chemistry and Textile,” Katharina says “and from technical part, you get to know the things that matter the most in textile world: fiber, the quality, expenses, technique, the origin of it”. Fashion is just a small part of the enormous fabric industry, though studying textile engineering gives an opportunity to experience how the whole creating process looks from inside - to see how a small piece of yarn transforms into a creasy, light and flowery fabric and what makes it so - all the machinery work and creativity of a human is captured there. Weaving, textile and knitting techniques, game of colors, compositions, screen printing, laboratory experiments and much more. Her choice seems to be quite practical and she notes: “An artist is doing it for a matter of art, a designer has to stick to certain rules. So you have to know the rules to play the game.” And the game can be played anywhere, where the textile is present.

There’s something about bees...

Asked if she has her own label already... she smiles and points at little insects on her dress she’s wearing today. I thought those are flies, but she nods that everyone thinks so, but those ain’t flies, those are BEES! During her studies one of the projects consisted of the task of making a design on fiber using screen printing technique and design clothes... and her main motive were bees. Asked about her choice she points that: “Everyone is crazy about butterflies or all kinds of flowers, but I haven’t seen much bees in cloth design. Bees are underestimated. There’s definitely something more about them.” And bees themselves carry with them a stereotype of very diligent creatures, so could be Katharina herself. Always unsatisfied, always fully inside the working process and always interested to explore what’s beyond the horizon of the neighbouring flower field.

While other study mates are obtaining their Master’s degrees already, she does not worry about it. She takes the opportunity to work in her field, and learn as much as she can, so that after years she can enter the Master’s program and the labour market already as an experienced young specialist, having a real background of how the industry is functioning. And probably “IVKO” is the best venue for her right now as it’s “the Place where knitting begins to tell its’ story” and I have no doubt she can truly brighten it up, this self-driven, always on the move Kathy [like a] Bee...

Monday, August 29, 2011

CS No.5, The Hostelworld of Belgrade and Serbia.

Well, hello world!

I am back! Hopefully for a longer period. But you know I was kind of busy these days, this summer in general.
The internet connection or better say lack of engine providing such service in private conditions was missing. But I live among people and there were shared facilities available to use in limited time. But it's not the same thing as your personal, so no real moment actually came to feel like writing more that 140 signs on Twitter posts. But thanks to luck and good people I have a new/old/used engine with me to enjoy my so desired moments of intimacy with public outcomes to all kinds of social media.

So how have I been doing here so far? Well, not bad at all. But as much as I wanted to avoid it with reference to the fact of how much I love this country... it came and took me completely - my dear Culture Shock No.5 [yeah, nothing connected with Couchsurfing]. Actually it's easy to speak about it right now, as it's kind of over... and I had a few discussions about it with some other people, who are dealing with expatriate lifestyle here in Serbia. So actually the conclusion is about accepting the rules how this society is functioning or not, but it won't change anything if you still fight against something what is considered as normal. So I am calm now, I accept most of the things, which bothered me, except some issues about women rights [of course, huh? :D].

Summer 2011. After volunteering at the Exit festival and meeting masses of drunk and happy people, waking up every morning in a field full of tents, swearing on the sun for radiating sunrays exactly on your face and continuing to hide from it whole day long [as 45 degrees is not something what can be enjoyed for unlimited period of time] - mostly lying on the beach and doing nothing [which kind of annoyed me] and enjoying great music at night, I said - 7 days in nature is enough for me, so escaped from that already the next day after the festival finished. But being staff at Silent Disco was really cool experience, I even kinda felt like being part of this Festival.

I escaped to the city for which I felt longing for all the time... I arrived late and my potential host didn't give me any sign that he's alive, so I stayed in a hostel for 15 Euros. I managed to have a little fight with the receptionist about volunteering and money issues, so I didn't like him much or better say his views on life [but later on I proved myself that is something that majority of people think]. Next day I went to look for a job in a hostel as it's actual opportunity for a foreigner to find a job in Serbia. Of course illegally. I checked a few websites like or and wrote down the adresses of around 25 hostels in Belgrade. Thought it could be quite enough for one day. Then I took a map and placed all hostels like little dots according to location on one or another street, so that I could make a randomly organized City tour for today. It was already a mid-day of 14th July and I went on my hostel tour. I visited around 5 places, some I skipped as they seemed suscpicious or the entrance was just a bit scary to enter. Then I actually got into one of those 5, where I went to ask, if they need some staff members, and luckily I came at the time, when the boss of the hostel was present. So he offered me a job of "tourist attractor" or it could be translated in urban dictionary as a person, who promotes the hostel and brings people. The deal was easy: 1 tourist = 2 Euros, plus I get a bed to sleep for free. Of course it didn't mean that I go in the streets and desperately attack tourists with my leaflets. Of course I do that, but in more smart way, sometimes flirting, sometimes emphasizing on the facilities the hostel is offering, but my workplace or I would say 2nd home was the train station - eternal longing for the international trains to come. Waiting hours: from 6 AM to 10 AM and then from 6 PM to 11 PM. Worth to mention that trains are always late - just you never know if it's 30 minutes or 4 hours late. 2 hours was the average "lateness". Welcome to Balkans! Miracles happen exactly here...

But the tourist season pays off really well. Thanks to God and Interrail. If emphasizing especially on the last one - that's how Western Europeans basically get to know the Balkan region. Speaking from the side of majority - by my unofficial statistics, covering research on countries of origin, where the most backpackers came from - the leading country this year is Denmark [2nd Holland, 3rd UK/France] they don't have any big promotions of Balkan region, just Croatian coast is promoted, but Interrail does all the job. There is something like Balkanflex here, but not many local people usually can afford it. The idea is - you purchase the Interrail ticket [a fixed price] and you are given a period of time, which you can spend on trains, traveling around the countries, which support Interrail idea. If you don't feel like reserving yourself a chair on the train [which could cost you from 2.2 - 3.5 Euros, with sleeping facility - around 10 Euros], then enjoy your ride with a luxury to avoid standing in a cue to get tickets.

Coming back to work - of course I'm not the only one, who is promoting cheap place to stay in Belgrade. There are around 8 other people offering hostels. Eventhough we all are competing between each other, but day by day working [read: waiting] side by side to each other, we became more or less friends, sharing information, enjoying the happy or sharing the moments of not so happy days. We even established an unofficial band "Cekaci" [Waiters], as coincidentally in the period of our corporate working, everyone proved their singing abilities. But friendship ends at the moment when the train finally arrives... then everyone tries to draw attention to [sometimes scared] backpackers. Though I have a little bonus for being a girl - the thing of human psychology - ladies are not treated as being dangerous. The most competitive hours are in the evening, when all the "late" international trains arrive... otherwise if I am able to wake up at 6AM and take my half-asleep body to the station - the chance that I'll meet somebody from other hostels is minimal [but might happen], so then it's my "Jack Pot" hour. [In the first 3 weeks I did so, but by the time I got really tired, so it wasn't anymore so regular, but I tried hard to make it so]. And then there's another type of hour, which is inconstant, but I call it " an easy catch" hour and it comes usually during the day, while you're out doing your stuff - and by the way - inviting somebody to check out your hostel. It's all about business, huh? :P

Back to friends and the hostelworld I was enrolled in. About life under cover. Actually thanks to my new competitive friends after working 6 days in one hostel I took offer to work for another hostel - the conditions and the location were a bit better [this time I call it 3 in 1 = a job, a bed and finally as well the registration]. So if you don't want to continue to lose to your strongest competitors, you join them [if there's an opportunity]. The price on the leaflet played a role as well - offering beds for a few Euros less plays a huge difference. So that's how summer went on - meeting new people, sharing tourist information, living in a hostel, meeting soulmates, having lack of privacy, having no time for yourself [yeah, sometimes you have to sacrifice something], being tired all the time, having an emotional crisis, and getting good again. More straight forward. And being thankful for the given opportunity. A separate chapter should be made about people, actually everyone of them deserves a separate article, as all kinds of ideas and topics were on the imaginary discussion board this summer. Happy moments with happy people. If you ask me - what I have seen in Belgrade or Serbia this year - nothing yet, but luckily I know it from my previous journeys. And actually I still have time, as I'm not going anywhere from here. And no CS No.5 or 6, or 7 will stop me. Because this is my White City.

The life goes on. The tourist season is over, that requires extra nerves and energy to look for something else, as unfortunately no Alchemist ever invented a formula for free food and accommodation. The tourist-oriented business shuts down for a while [by the way - many hostels close by the end of the season]. But the Visa question is now on the agenda... and dealing with Bureaucracy is always a pain in the ass [why there's no difference in whichever country you're dealing with it? Well, ok, some countries are better, and some are really the worst :D], but I'm persistent when I want something. And I have good people around me. Hopefully everything works out. If not - next country, next Culture Shock...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Glory of Unborn Stories.

It's been ages since I last time wrote something in here. It's almost 5 o'clock in the morning and my English fluency has never been better. [Finally I'm not worried about it. Huh, dating an Irish guy really gives some results - despite it was a year ago. I hope it's like with ice-skating - once you learn it, you never lose the ability to that.]
And for the first time I feel like I don't need any plot to tell in this blog post, as it won't matter anyway.
I've met a lot of people and I always wanted to write about them, but then something always stopped me - like by telling the story I would miss something important and then the story would be incomplete, despite it would be already signed, sealed and delivered.
There's a guy, who constantly thinks of me, while exploring the world - no, no he's not in love with me or something, he just occasionally thinks of me, when something he sees really does remind him about me - I already received 2 pictures with objects including my name - one of them is a road sign in Italy welcoming to a little town called ""Marta", the other is some small shop in Porto in Portugal. Sweet! And the most I enjoy about it - is that enourmous and inspiring traveling background. That made me think - maybe I should start collecting all the small evidences, which include my name. That would be kind of fetish or something, but who cares - by the way - in Riga I have my own street in the city center [though is small, but cozy] and the most expensive shop of lingeries [well, it used to be]... quite enough to raise self-esteem in case if it goes down someday :D
But yeah, I started the topic without a constant structure, but with the idea of making my little interpretations about meaningful and interesting personalities I met in my life. I could quote movie "Paris":
"Elise: [in French] You're all alone here? What do you do all day? Pierre: [in French] Watch other people live. Wonder who they are, where they go? They become hereoes in my little stories. " but this time the characters would be real, I'm just not quite sure, if the people would like to be called in their real names... maybe better - my own made nick-names?
Twitter has made me a bit gabby. I guess that's because 140 signs very often are not enough. So the grammar has to suffer unfortunately.
But it's time... time to write about Mister New Zealand, Lithuanian brother, the guys you meet on the road while hitchhiking and who can make your 4 hour ride disappear like in 30 minutes, Austrian strawberry touch, French arheologist in his 50ties, Dutch guy having probably the best taste in music and big and pure illusions about eternal love, Slovenian ladies in search for the same thing, my favourite Latvian gay boy and all the other characters, which crossed my mind and life at least once... and definitely left some footprints in my perception of the world. But it won't be about me. It will be about them...
Grasps of Inspiration. More to love.
And actually it all sounds like an apology before commiting a "Crime".

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Urban Stories. The Cleaning Lady.

She starts her day as usual - sweeping yellow leaves into bigger and smaller piles, swearing on guys who throw the butts of cigarettes on the ground instead of bin and she's always there - welcoming random people on their way to work, being a psychotherapist while listening to petulant stories of grannies, telling how much old bones are hurting and complaining that the prices for medicine are raising up, greeting the postman, who's trying to enter the house, but apparently forgot the entry code as he stays too long at the front door thinking [Yeah, the time goes and modern technologies come with the time]. This everyday ritual hasn't changed at all. At least for last 20 years. Might happen that prisoners of the cells of the Blockhouse Paradise have changed, the kids already grew up, but she's still there - sweeping the streets and washing the stairways with chlorine [so the smell is worse than in a public swimming pool afterwards]. So invisible and regular she is. Like a thing. Like a clock of existence. Like a painting on a Museum's wall [which is admired through centuries, but actually nobody gives a damn about it - only in a matter to be well-educated/informed]. She could easily be an icon of this live Museum of Cells, where behind the closed doors people tend to quarrel, love, cook dinners and oversleep working hours. This is a way of being a part of a randomly formed social group, even unintentionally.
Her bluish purple smock doesn't change colors either [meaning of royalty and wealth, and wisdom] - paradoxically it's a part of this Urban Museum icon. A face of an angel in the Forgotten World - filled with degenerates, drug addicts, young families and old couples, homeless cats and sometimes dogs, living in or nearby this Blockhouse Paradise. No signs of high culture, no signs of buildings of high appreciation and amazement, no positive vibes around... maybe that's why it's called the "sleeping" residential complex... and there are many of them, having many of these fairies in bluish purple smocks sweeping around the magic dust.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Snow White and Russian Red.

Dorota Maslowska leaves me ignorant, despite she’s called a new rising star of Polish literature. And I can see she’s definitely a new one... just I couldn’t stand the very descriptive context in which she tried to make an insight of modern Polish youth. Beside the true hate of Russians [and everything what’s connected to that], the regular fun and loosing sense of reality under the impact of drugs and creation of virtual reality thanks to an addiction of the New Age – video games. I guess I will never get through the real meaning of the book, as I stopped reading it after a few pages. Maybe I’m getting older or maybe the translation was too direct, but I could get the opposite of aesthetic pleasure of reading. This game of words seemed so dirty and unpleasant to my senses of beauty. Maybe not even unpleasant but just SIMPLE, like hearing the chat between two drunken guys of my backyard – who are not kids anymore, but they remained the same, getting all great influences of street life – especially all swear words and all the synonims of normal things in more „poetic” way. Well, I leave this peace of modern literature for another undefinite time with hope that someday somebody will tell me the whole story of „The Polish – Russian war under the Red-White flag”.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

There's a City in Italy Called...

Picture by Patrick Chevallier

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Smells and Love Stories [Prague Airport].

Travelling in memories. In memories of the best student times of 2008. Would love to see more than Airport, but the time is limited.
The language sounds as usually soft [even if it’s told to be opposite], but this time I can hardly understand what people are talking about.
I love airports. Indeed. Those loads of people, searching their gates and carrying big bags – in different colors [makes overall view important and very posh. Hehe.] – make you feel you’re going somewhere. And indeed I am. There’s something inspiring in all this multi-cultural mess of business men, mums taking their kids to WC, beautiful strangers which make you fall-in and out of love [as fast as the gate-ways are going here and there and what a pitty - you’re heading in different direction. Sometimes you’re on the same Boeing dragon, feeling the power of its’ wings made of steel]. Clean toilets, smoking prohibitions, innovations, bored ladies in small coffee worlds located next to each other and repleted with smells coming from duty-free shops of Parfume. People communicating in all possible languages of the world or being silent and thinking great thoughts. There’s something magnificent and united in all this reality of sky-dive providers. And I’m in it. Keeping the feeling as long as it stays. Let’s fly. High in the sky.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Intellectual Tea Drinking.

Recently I was reading stories of a group of young people writing their interpretations about global icons. Beside a global phenomena of beauty and problems of homosexuals in Baltic region, there were a few inspiring stories about Erasmus experience – of a huge responsibility of presenting your country – as at some point suddenly it has your face and your views on life – which you share with other curious minds, wanting to explore more and more... but one thing which thrilled me and made me think of secretly following the exposed habbit someday – was one lady’s experience with souvenir cups. I don’t know if it was true and she does this regularly, but the plan was to come together with friends [or family, depends on your relations] and have an informative and fun thematic tea drinking – everyone would get one random cup – representing one country and have a lively discussion telling people, what’s happening in that country. Imagine – it’s December, it’s snowing outside, it’s freakin’ cold, but we go out for a smoke on the balcony and speak about international politics and survival kit for the chosen country... the cousine, the card games, the famous bastards, numerous loves at first sight, art galleries and fashion weeks... until not only tea becomes cold, but the feet as well start to become numb... but we continue...
Well, maybe I thought of this just because I have a small collection of such souvenir cups... otherwise – it’s quite nice way to follow the news on the world stage, if you didn’t manage to check yourself...