Jaws was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars

April 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

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Summer’s kind of starting out in full force this year, which means that my summer lag of knittingĀ  less and lazing around in the sun more has hit early this year.

Or, you know, instead of lazing around I’ll be studying vocab and cursing the gods and my own stupidity for taking Spanish. Ah, well. Honestly, if I’d put a fraction of the work I put into uni into high school, I probably would’ve gone out of there with a 1.0 and a reputation of being no fun at all.

Either way, I do actually manage to knit, occasionally, so in the past two weeks and a half, I’ve managed to make… a hat. (Marnie McLean’s Chapeau Marnier, 3mm bamboo needles, Drachenwolle Leinen/Merino)

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And three quarters of a sock. (Tadpoles by Jenna Swanson, 2.5 and 2.25 mm DPNs, Drachenwolle)

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Aaaaand a bit of the swallowtail stole, which is coming around gorgeous and doesn’t look as 70s as the photo would make you believe.

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Making progress on the Stole, which looks more and more like this giant yellow ruffle, is sort of a tedious business: with 500+ stitches to a row, the patience and perseverance I learned on the Green Monster are coming in quite handy. So what if I need a good 20 minutes for one row? It’s practically meditation. And I am making good progress; I’m already on the second half of the Lily of the Valley charts.

Even so, striking out rows on a chart has never felt so good. Ever.

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Oh yes! I am very good!

April 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

So, double knitting.

I’ve expressed my incredible delight before, and I will again today, because I figured out a pretty way to bind off all by myself. You know, without any icky dots whatsoever, to match my cast-on, to look good as a contrast-colored border… to quote the Doctor, I am VERY good!

Boy, I just love feeling smart. I love knitting. And I love when knitting makes me feel smart.

Granted, it took me about 20 minutes to knit the first row of BITCH, because I had to backtrack about six times, but hey.

Anyway. The project I’ve been double-knitting this weekend is a pair of potholders that I’d been planning for a long time.

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And because double knitting is awesome like that, the backsides look like this:

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(Rico Design Creative Cotton Aran, nougat and pistacio, 3.5mm bamboo circs)

I’d thought about working them in a way where both sides said the word the right way around, but then I wouldn’t have been able to contrast the two of them, plus I would’ve had the hassle of making up a chart and actually having to concentrate more than TV knitting should require. So color-wise, the two potholders are mirrors of each other – you can read the JERK in green because Dean’s eyes are green, you can read BITCH in brown because that’s Sam’s eyecolor. At least this time around, there’s no purple in there anywhere.

Either way, I cast them on with a technique I found via practical application of google-fu, namely here, where you cast on however many stitches you want on one side (plus two edge stitches) with the CC, and then on the first row, knit through the front of the loop with the MC and, without slipping the st from the needle, purl through the back of the stitch with the CC. Prettiest first row in the universe.

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Now, at that Stitchdiva site, they had a matching cast-off, but I didn’t like it for one big reason: there were icky spots. The cast-on was so nice and clean, a contrast border on one side and just a tidy cast-on on the other, the works. I wanted a clean look on both sides for the cast-off too, and after some (okay, a lot) of trying, tinking back, knitting another row, tinking that back too, breaking my fingers trying to slip-slip-purl… I realized I was making it more complicated than it was.

So I took a deep breath, broke the MC, worked an entire row just with the CC on both sides, slipped the edge stitch, and then bound off via ssk-ing two stitches together, and pulling the right st on the right needle over the left.

The result? – on the left is the cast-on, on the right the bind-off. It’s as close to a perfect match as I could’ve imagined.

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Now all I have to do is find my darning needle to weave the ends in.

Home is where the heart is…

April 2, 2010 § 4 Comments

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It’s funny how fast Leipzig has become home. I’ve lived here for a year and a half, I’ve called it home for almost as long. When I visit my parents, it’s home too – but within one or two days, I start missing Leipzig, my flat, my roomies… my home. So, over the past couple of days, I’ve been traipsing around the apartment, photographing all the little personal touches here and there, and when I looked through the photos, I realized… hey, I should share this. In fact, everybody should share this. There should be this giant showballing chain of people all over the world, sharing the quirky things in they cherish, to show that you don’t need bearskin rugs or open fireplaces or handcrafted designer furniture to be happy.

So, here goes.

Quirky Things Around My Home, Part One: My Room
(All photos are clickable for bigger versions)

1. The header photo is the top shelf of a shelving unit right across from my bed. It’s the thing I see most, over the day, so I try to keep it decorated. While the orchids are rather conventional design features, most of the other stuff one there isn’t.

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2. With the new movie, is Star Trek still geeky? Or is it mainstream now? Either way, Spock and Bones live in a shelter of orchid leaves. Saskia has Kirk and Scotty, and we bought the four of them at Burger King during the last Wave Gothic. It was a good day. Knitting colorful socks in the middle of a black-clothed crowd drew stares. Bones used to say ‘I’m a doctor, not a physician’ before the batteries ran out, which was a hilarious translation mistake, since the original English physicist and physician are apparently too similar to have any difference in meaning.

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3. Right next to the Enterprise staff is a bowl with two skeins of pretty wool in it. Don’t judge me. The green one especially is just too pretty to be cooped up in my stash.

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4. Now this, this may not look like anything special. But in fact, it’s a mason glass full of good memories. Every one of these pieces of paper has a good or a happy memory on it, so that if I’m down, I can just draw a few out, read them, and be reminded how much my life doesn’t suck, as a whole. It’s almost full. I haven’t needed it in a long time.

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5. A spindle with spun dog hair. There’s a bag of unspun hair in the hall, which we add to every time we brush the dog. It’s the second time I’m spinning dog hair, and this time around, I have a lot more material to work with.

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6. All my smartypants books, organized in a time line from Ancient Egypt (on the right) to modern Western society (on the left). Actually, it’s not all my smartypants books, there’s a couple missing where my old Latin textbook is leaning. Still, it’s pretty chock-full. I’m pretty proud of that timeline. I don’t even remember what I used to have on that shelf before that.

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7. This is the first deco I installed when I moved here. It’s a big piece of fabric nailed to the wall, with all kinds of stuff hanging on it. Postcards, ticket stubs, bookmarks, the odd photo, Castiel with crap doodled all over him, handcuffs I got at a party… I started out with about 20 postcards and a lot of empty fabric, now I barely remember the pattern at all.

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8. The reason there’s not a lot of photos in the collage is because I like my photos to be organized and displayed. Like here. On the right is my Winter frame, on the left my new Summer frame. Most photos were taken in and around Leipzig, except for the sunflower (which is from my parents’ garden) and the Union Jack (which is from London). The rest of the Summer pictures is from our big day at the lake, which to date is one of the most perfect days I’ve ever had. I’m still planning corresponding Spring and Autumn frames, but I’m still patiently collecting photos for those.

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9. It’s no secret I like knitting shawls and scarves. I also don’t have a lot of storage space. So I hung them on my wardrobe door and pretended they’re a Design Feature.

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10. A jewelry tree. Immensely useful. (There’s knit hairbands on there, too. This is somewhat of a theme.) My maternal grandma bought me the green necklace, I inherited the amber necklace from my paternal grandma.

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11. I bought this wooden hand in a market when I was in Portugal with my parents years ago. I don’t know where I got the physalis from, maybe my mother gave them to me, but it’s been permanent deco for at least five or six years.

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12. There’s random bits of knitting everywhere in this apartment. The green rectangle is the first thing Christian knit, the white flowers were left over from the white Amelia Earhardt I gave to Sassi, the pompom used to hang from our kitchen lamp until we got a new one.

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13. The little crochet flowers, by the way, hang from my Caution: Moose magnetic board. Yes, that’s a cardboard steak hanging from it. It was a prop in the 2006 production of ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’ when I was in the US, and I stole it from the music room afterwards. Speaking of Fiddler, I’m wearing the t-shirt today. Man, those were good times. Really good times. Even more awesome, the steak was made by Adam, who remains my best friend over the pond. The little red thingie I bought at the Camden Locks in London last September.

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14. Have you been wondering what people do with spun dog hair ever since I showed the photo of the spindle? Well, that’s what people do with it. Well, what one of my roomies does with it: She makes dream catchers. It’s my belated birthday present, I just got it today.

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15. The other thing right next to my bed is my stash cabinet. It doubles as a laptop stand. I won’t go into detail. I don’t have to. It’s my Stash.

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16. Right next to my door, there’s another shelf, and one of the four boxes is occupied by hats. I just toss ’em in there. I try to organize them now and again, but it’s kind of a futile effort. I have a lot of hats.

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17. Yes, I have an American flag. Yup. My sister got it in NYC, I nicked it. She hasn’t missed it as of yet, and it’s been… well, it’s been almost four years, so, yeah.

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18. The mess on my desk. Now, I’m very partial to the mess on my desk. I like it, it’s the kind of chaos where everything is exactly where it should be, except for darning needles, which always go missing. Right there you have a wild mix between two boxes of vocab (around 800 cards each), two DVDs (Narnia and Supernatural Season 4), the Yarn Harlot’s calender, my Latin dictionary, the cool piercing jewelry my sister gave me for my birthday, my Pirates of the Caribbean card deck I got in the Disney store in NYC, a stray stitch marker, Alfred the external harddrive… you name it, it’s probably somewhere on my desk.

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19. The view from my window. This is actually an old picture, but honestly, with at least 200+ views like that per year, it doesn’t really matter. The view is a big part of why I moved to an otherwise not-that-awesome neighborhood. The sun shines in here all day, and at least two hours a day there’s sunlight right on my bed. And occasionally, the light falls just right to hit the mini disco ball under my lamp and bathes the room with sparkles.

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20. The mini disco ball under my lamp. When the light falls in just right, it bathes the room with sparkles. I got it on a whim when I was still living with my parents, and I wanted to hang it on the rearview mirror in the car, but my father refused. Unfortunately, I think. When I have a car on my own, I’ll make sure to have a disco ball in there. Possibly a full-sized one.

(Part Two)

… so your real home’s in your chest

April 2, 2010 § 10 Comments

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(Part One)

Quirky Things Around My Home, Part Two: The Rest
(Again, all photos clickable for bigger versions)

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1. This is the sign on the outside of my door. It says ‘The Internet’ because it amuses me to be able to say ‘I’m gonna go look something up in the internet’ (in is the preposition you use with internet in German, as opposed to the equivalent to on. Honestly, it’s funny in German.). I think it got wet when somebody hung a bathrobe over it to dry, and I keep meaning to replace it, but it’s one of those things that just slip my mind, and, eh.

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2. I got these metal cocktail signs for my 19th birthday, along with a book full of cocktail recipe. To date I have yet to try one of them out, but I’m sure that one day, I will. Until then, they look awesome above the kitchen table. I think they’re the first deco I installed outside my room.

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3. the little post-its are the last remnant of the time when we learned the words for stuff related to food in Spanish: I got this crazy idea that if I labeled every damn thing in our kitchen, it’d be easier to learn the words. When the whole kitchen was pink with post-its, Saskia followed suit and labeled stuff with Chinese vocab. This particular one means ‘alcohol’, if I remember correctly. It might say something completely different.

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4. The Doctor Who calender I bought at a big HMV in London. Ten is My Doctor, so I squeed and didn’t think twice about buying the calender. Next to it are the basement keys and Saskia’s schedule – mine used to hang there too until it fell off, but I put my new one up just today.

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5. More potholders than anyone could ever use. There’s the four you see, plus two that Saskia made. Those are blue and yellow, or at least they were until the blue ran terribly in the laundry and turned the yellow greenish. The other ones are the double-knit potholder from last week, the TARDIS potholder, and the two faces. I can’t decide if I should find the faces incredibly amusing or incredibly freaky. Either way, they’ve been here longer than me, and they’re probably the most frequently used. They’re damn good potholders. Knitting, crochet AND embroidery. Something was going crazy.

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6. Mason jars. They’re mine, technically, even though everybody uses the pasta in the pasta jar. And everybody would be using the sugar and flour and baking powder/yeast/vanilla sugar, if anyone except me baked. Ever.

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7. Our awesome new egg timer. It’s a time machine with a dinosaur from the Nichtlustig cartoons, which I got at the Leipzig book fair the other week. The fair was amazing, the clock was free with the purchase of a Nichtlustig book. The instructions say that the time machine works like this: you set the amount of time you want to travel to the future, and when it rings, you’re there!

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8. The big photographs of food, plus a gazillion spiced wine bottles from last winter. *facepalm* I do have to say, I kind of dig them, plus honestly, I don’t want to drag them the mile or so to the next glass container. So – design feature.

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9. The gazillion mugs we have. In every size, and every color. There’s one my sister gave me, a set of four I got from my mother that we used at home for years, two I brought back from the North Sea, huge ones I got on a whim, and, yes, a couple that aren’t actually mine but those of my roommates.

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10. Random Crap stuck to the fridge. Farther down, there’s a button saying ‘Did you check if your really turned the light off?’. The middle one was the first, a culinary play on iPods, then came the left one, reminiscent of the general tone in the apartment, and then came the big sticker, which was in a pan Saskia bought. The name of the pan was ‘Salsa’. Saskia is a dance nerd. The salad photo didn’t make it into the Summer frame in my room.

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11. The coat rack. Photos of all of us, more post-its with Spanish and Chinese words on them, lots of, well, coats and jackets. And handknit scarves, surprisingly enough. Man, it was a bitch to drag that thing through the city, but we met with Christian on Augustusplatz and spend an amazing couple of hours cooling our feet in the fountain, taking pictures, and generally enjoying summer. And then Saskia and I stole a trolley from Netto to take that coat rack and our bags and our groceries home.

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12. The fairy lights in our bathroom. We hung them for Christmas, but they’re not coming off anytime soon. It’s just so much nicer to bathe with them and a couple of candles instead of the bright overhead lamp.

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13. This is the photo that started it all: the books that are stored next to the toilet. All three of us have this tendency to take a lot of bubble baths, where books are absolutely required, but I for one am easily bored, so I like to keep reading material anywhere I might need distraction. And then Saskia started to add her books to the pile, and it just went downhill from there.

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Now. I’ve shown you all these little things that make me feel like I’m at home. I’ve omitted a few, like my rugs, cause those aren’t very interesting to photograph, or my baking, because I don’t like to be photographed while I bake, but my point is: there are three things I’ve purposely kept till the end. The three things that could make a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, or a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat seem like a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

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14. Wave. He’s not even my dog, and yet something’s missing when you don’t trip over him every other time you lift a foot. And last but not least…

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15. The Saskias. Them crazy bitches I spend almost every waking minute with, that I laugh with, that I live with, and that I quite frankly love living with, even tough sometimes I want nothing more than to strangle them with their own underpants.

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