And when I touch you I feel happy, inside

October 6, 2010 § 6 Comments

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There’s kind of been a lot going on, yet at the same time, things have somehow stayed the same. But then, that shouldn’t come as such a surprise to me, since the French have been saying that for ages. (Does that mean I’ll listen to the French more? Possibly not. Except when it comes to cooking. I made Boeuf Bourguignon the other day and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted.)

Anyway. So, I’ve spending some money on yarn. Ahem. In which case ‘some money’ amounts to leaving €170 at various yarny institutions in the past two weeks or so, which is a ridiculous amount even for me. But wait! Eighty of those bucks weren’t even spent for me. €36 went into a Girl Friday cardi for my sister (who randomly professed to wanting one for Christmas), then Saskia ordered Zitron yarn via me for about €30, and then there were those three balls of sock yarn for a Christmas Stocking my mom wants. And with some odds and ends, you know how it is when I’m at Zitron and fall into a yarn coma, I spent 120 bucks there, of which I got 45 back, which isn’t all that bad, considering I had to move yarn from my stash to my wardrobe because it wouldn’t fit.

And I vowed not to buy any more yarn until all that I had bought was knit up. And I did start a scarf with the stitch pattern from Knitty’s Brambles Beret to go with that hat, even though I haven’t cast on the hat yet, but hey.

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And I totally forgot that I was scheduled to go to the modell-hobby-spiel trade fair for all things hobby-ish and creative on the 3rd, and oh dear.

I bought several sets of buttons for the placket of my Thermal, most of them green, in various opacities and sizes just to be sure – at 40 cents a pop, I just couldn’t resist.

And I was going to be good, I’d fortified myself against the presence of the Strickcafé which I knew would be there, carrying the most fabulous yarns… and indeed I resisted.

And then I rounded a corner and found myself in a maze of shelves full of Lopi. And I don’t know if you knew this, but it’s funny, they don’t have a single colorway that’s not entirely gorgeous.

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I must have stumbled and hit my head, because somehow I bought a sweater’s worth of Létt-Lopi in  a gorgeous oatmeal color – Saskia bought it in a shade lighter, and I’m already refiguring the Watson charts to fit the 14sts/4in – and two balls of colored Létt-Lopi, and because all was lost anyway, I bought this gorgeous, truly gorgeous baby alpaca/silk/merino blend lace yarn that has 400m/50g and is the softest thing I’ve ever touched, over at the WollLust stall, and then I fainted.

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They had really good prices though!

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And then we went home, heated and spiced some wine in a copper kettle, drenched a sugar cone in rum and set that shit on fire.

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‘When shall we three meet again’-quoting entirely optional.

The World Will Follow After

February 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

After spending a week and a half at my parents’ and being busy with slowly but steadily going stir-crazy, I’m back in Leipzig, and thank god for that. My system’s acting up, my skin’s acting up, I had random nosebleeds, headaches and a back like a board. So, yes, I’m definitely glad to be back home, where I can stay up all night without a bad conscience and where I’m not trying to squeeze myself into a bed that’s just a tad too short for me to fit comfortably.

The visit wasn’t without perks, though. First, my parents are clearing out my grandparents’ house, and there’s just so much stuff. I snagged a bundt cake pan, a ton of buttons, wooden spoons and tongs my grandpa made himself, a couple of meters of lace edging… also a full set of gold-rimmed china, and a couple of pillows, but I’m not taking those back to Leipzig now. Or in the near future. We have so many plates already, I think our kitchen would burst. But there’s also a couple of quirky things, like an automatic drink dispenser thingy shaped like a knight’s helmet. I’m all for weird drinking accessories!

Then, I got to drive to the Atelier Zitron again, which is always exciting. I only took €45 this time, and didn’t even spend all of it. Which raised eyebrows, honest to god. I guess it’s nice that they know my face there, but it’s also a bad testament to my spending habits when people ask me what’s gotten into me when I leave with less than €60 worth of yarn.

The stuff I bought wasn’t outrageous, but very lovely all the same: four 50g balls of Gobi, which is my favorite worsted weight yarn ever: 40/30/30 merino/alpaca/camel, buttery soft and just an all around joy to work with. It isn’t available in a crazy range of color like the KnitPicks yarns, but all of their colors are lovely and very cozy, somehow. I bought one grey and one burgundy to make another Opus Spicatum hat (for my mother this time, and I finished the thing the same evening), and two rust-colored balls for a hat for myself. Though that one’s gonna have to wait a bit, cause I swear, I can feel spring approaching, and I ain’t knitting no warm hat when I can practically feel the air warming around me.

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I may be exaggerating slightly, but at this point I am so starved for a little sunshine and a little spring.

Anyway. The rest of my purchase was a little less extravagant: a test skein of yellow/orange HandArt, 4 balls of a DK-ish grey new wool yarn that was 2 bucks a pop and I couldn’t resist, and Zitron’s newest baby, the No. 1 Lace Filigran. Lovely indigo blue, nice texture – I like merino lace yarns, they’re not too delicate. Not that I don’t absolutely adore Misti Alpaca Lace, but merino is kind of more down-to-earth. And also more widely available.

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I got struck by a bit of startitis, with the weather changing, so currently I have two new shawls on the needles: one Haruni with the Filigran, and a fudging-it version of the Shetland Lace Triangle. Figuring out how that pattern works made me feel like the knitting equivalent of Sherlock Holmes and entertained me for a whole evening. Entertained is too weak a word, I had a blast. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun on my own in forever.

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Then again, I haven’t really been doing things all by my lonesomes recently. I usually have company, either in the form of roomies hanging out two feet from me, or people via IM programs. I guess I forgot how fun it was to do things by myself. I’ve seriously gotten a little codependent with how much Saskia and I hang out on a regular basis, i.e. at least seven, eight hours a day, every day.

I guess that’s one of the good things that came out of this trip: rediscovering solitude.

But I’m glad to be going back, and rediscovering company, too.

PS: there’s new socks, too. They were awesome and perfect, and then they fulled like crazy in the washing machine. I have a feeling it might be the flamé yarn. So, in conclusion: no more flamé socks.

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Tingle in your fingers, tingle in your feet

November 5, 2009 § 3 Comments

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I’ve been having a bit of a restless phase lately. An acute case of Startitis also plays into that, which leaves me unable to work on one project for more than twenty minutes before switching to something different, something new. It’s not enough that I’m doing another Baktus, and have the ‘Holy shit John Barrowman touched my socks’ dalek socks back, and started a potholder to go along with the TARDIS one, I also cast on an entrelac scarf and am seriously considering doing another hat. Like, today.

I have a feeling part of that is being back in the city, some lingering impression of being cooped up. I spent last weekend at my parents’, eating steak and helping a friend move and running a couple of errands and being dragged to a party that kinda blew and deciding I needed to wear rings more often.

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Anyway, point being, I also spent hours driving through the fields and villages, enjoying the peace of mind that’s brought on by a brilliant autumn day, cold air streaming in through the windows, the sheer exhilaration of speed, and classic rock blasting so loud you can barely hear yourself singing along at the top of your voice. Seriously. 130 km/h on the highway, with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blowing your eardrums out? Is terribly cliché, but also beyond awesome.

Part of that driving was just cruising for the hell of it, part of it was, however, going to Wickede and thus Atelier Zitron for pre-Christmas yarn fix.

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Crazy colored Trekking XXL that tickled my fancy; scarlet and charcoal Gobi (40/30/30 Merino/Camel/Alpaca) I’m planning on using for Opus Spicatum as a chance to practice fair isle before embarking on the Sweater Project.

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Saskia hinted at maybe wanting another pair of socks, so I picked up some pink-orange-yellow for her; passing by the bargain table, I couldn’t resist grabbing the 150g of blue-grey extrafine merino for €4.50.

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Four balls of Nimbus – two green-blue for the Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap, pink and rose for an entrelac scarf for my grandma. Christmas is approaching fast.

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Six balls of Lifestyle – one each of charcoal and purple for another, shorter, Doctor Who Scarf for Sassi (I still have tons of leftovers of all other colors; also, this one’s way back on my to-do-before-Christmas list, since I can always give it to her when she comes back the end of January), and six balls of scarlet for an Waves of Grain scarf my mother requested for Christmas.

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Aaaaand long (1 m) 3.5mm circs for my sweater. Oh the sweater. I have the yarn, I have an idea of what I want it to look like, I have a currently AWOL swatch that I did before attempting (and subsequently frogging) Thermal, and I have a rough sketch –

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– but I haven’t gotten much farther. Farther being, in that case, figuring out the exact gauge, how many stitches I’d have to cast on, how deep I need to make the neckline to be able to fit the design next to it, because hell if I’m doing intarsia on something like that, so it needs to be while I’m doing it flat… plus I need to chart the design, and test it, because fudging and frogging it would be too much of a pain.

Yes, yes, it’s the Starbucks logo. I know. Normally I’m slightly opposed to the big bad corporate evil, but thing is… dude, Starbucks. For one, and this is the deciding reason, I really do like the logo a lot.

Aand secondly, I’m so much of a regular at my local Starbucks that I know the names of the usual baristas, and they know mine and what exactly I drink. Which is a grande Chai Tea Latte with a shot of espresso and three pumps of vanilla syrup. And half the time they don’t even charge me for the syrup, and when I had my reward card full and asked if I could upgrade the tall size beverage to a grande, they said ‘sorry, we can’t do that’ while reaching for the grande cups.

So, yeah, Corporate Evil or not, it’s just people with a pretty cool logo on their uniforms, and, yay.

Good thing I vowed to slap my fingers to stifle the urge of just casting on.

Down where the hills are sleeping

October 25, 2009 § 1 Comment

A Sunday is a good Sunday when you spend it curled up in bed, snuggled into your favorite oversized hoodie, doing nothing much at all.

Today’s a good Sunday.

Yesterday was fun – Saskia and I went to the hardware store, I spent €35 on aluminum rods (for blocking wires), orchid fertilizer, a poinsettia and a pot for the flower. The walking and the shopping (I love hardware stores), combined with the awesome weather, really made my day. Plus I did the whole housewifey shebang and did laundry and cleaned the kitchen with Saskia and made crackin’ lunch AND baked some smashing pumpkin spice bread.

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I’m semi-satisfied with it. On the one hand, I love me some homemade bread, and my passion for pumpkin almost exceeds my passion for yeast dough, so I was really excited to try it.

It only calls for half an Hokkaido, which came in very handy as I’d only used half of one for lunch. It’s an easy recipe, the actual amount of work you have to put into it is relatively small, and I don’t mind the waiting at all. Cause it all pays off when you end up with the smooth, warm, dry weight of well-kneaded dough in your hand and it just makes the most delightful sound when you slap it.

Ahem. Anyway.

The smooth warm dryness, as I’m talking of it, was precisely what I have to criticize most about this recipe: It didn’t occur as fast as it should have. In fact, it only got any less sticky after I’d added in an additional 150g or so of flour and let it rise the first two times. I don’t know why this was – maybe the pumpkin puree was too hot, or there was simply too much of it, even though I used the exact amount called for. I don’t know.

Also, using the amount of spices called for, it’s a bit… bland. Yeah, bland is the exact word. Maybe it was due to all the extra flour I had to add in. Who knows.

But still, if you’re not waiting for a whole kick of combined spice awesomeness, it’s delicious. Fresh out of the oven, drenched in butter (and when I say fresh, I mean about a minute out in the air) or the next day with some cheese – it’s good bread, it’s got a nice flake, but I’ll have to experiment with the amount of pumpkin and spice the next time I make it.

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And I definitely will make it again. Enjoy the pumpkin while it lasts!

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Pushing an elephant up the stairs

May 31, 2009 § 5 Comments

So! Leipziger Wollefest 2009!

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I’m still a bit stunned, but I’ve photographed my haul, made some adjustments to my stashing system to accomodate everything, put it all away, and feel like I should go back today and buy some more. Which I won’t. I hope.
I’d slept over at Christian’s, plagued by nightmares about me arriving there to find that all the yarn had gone… which he, when I told him, found quite funny, because he’s a muggle. The obvious advantage to staying over was that instead of about 10 tram stops, it was only 2, and so around 2pm, an hour later than I’d planned, I embarked on my voyage to the Wollefest.

Two tram stops, not much of a voyage, to be honest. But when I arrived there, I felt like I’d found Atlantis. Or the Golden Fleece. Or Ithaca. All at once.

The weather was slightly overcast, but the storefront of the Strickcafé was cheerfully bright as always, and this was by far better yarn weather than the damp heat of last year.

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(Somehow, in that second photo, I made it look like there weren’t that many people there. Believe me, there were.)

I walked around first, looking at everything, petting some lace yarns at the Wolllust stand, buying a piece of cake for breakfast, looking at the alpaca babies (who were excited and made THE cutest noises!) and angora bunnies (omg fuzzy ears!)…

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… and mostly wondering where the hell the Drachenwolle was. And then I heard my name, in the voice of Klemens (who remembered me. Who’da thunk?), who was sitting where I was going. And oh man, did I go there.

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When I got there, they had probably half or so left of what they’d brought. And I was still completely stunned and unable to make a decision. I just stood there for a bit, wringing my hands, calculating how much yarn I could get for the money I’d brought, failing at that, gaping, trying not to drool… and then Klemens pushed a couple of skeins in my hand, I lost all control, got a severe case of the Gollum syndrome (“my precioussssssss”) and ended up buying 8 skeins. Which sounds pretty controled, but man, was I shaking afterwards.

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Some are with linen, some are with bamboo, some are flamé, and none of them is the regular merino/poly sock yarn, which is awesome in itself, but somehow I didn’t catch one. o_O

I wanted to cast on right away – watching TV the night before without anything to knit because I wanted to keep my needles free was hell, let me tell you – so I went with Klemens and a lady who I got along great with but somehow didn’t catch the name of, and wound it. This was my first time with a swift and a ballwinder instead of a drumstick and my own hands, and man, was it exciting. And fast! I have a video of it, but… that’s a bit too much.

I talked to a girl, Daniele from Erfurt, while at Drachenwolle, and when I went over to WollLust, she was there again, and people mistook us for old friends, which was funny except it proved once again how yarn brings us all together. Very nice. And so relieving to geek out with somebody who not only understands my obsession with lace, but shares it, and before you know you’re chest high in a conversation about Faroese lace and Kauni yarns. (They had Kauni there. They had Noro there. Ooooh baby!)

So I bought 400g of merino lace yarn, 200g in green and yellow, respectively.

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And then my money was gone.

But, okay. I sat down next to the Drachenwolle with Klemens and a couple of others, knit my sock, discussed sock yarn brands, asked questions about spinning, heard of the fabulous idea of taking a wool bath, in short: had a good, yarny time. Texted Saskia saying there were angora bunnies, and when she announced she was coming over STAT, I told her to bring more money. She still owed me tons. So when she came, I had an additional 50 bucks to blow. Which, within 10 minutes or so, turned into 200g of plant-dyed New Zealand Lamb sock yarn, 200g of undyed 70/30 alpaca/merino from the alpaca people, and… a ball of Kauni. Gorgeous, gold-blue Kauni. My holy grail of the day.

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Saskia and I sat down with the knitters and spinners around Drachenwolle again. I think she was bit shocked by the fact that there were other people like me, or even worse than me. Like when one of the ladies announced that with her current knitting rate, she had enough for 4.5 years without buying anything – and we all agreed that this was by any means not nearly enough, and what if by some weird mutation or epidemic all sheep lost their hair tomorrow?

Anyways. It stared raining around 6 or 7, I guess, so Saskia and I went, first to some restaurant over the street for dinner, then to Christian’s to show off my yarn. He didn’t understand either. I need new friends. Except I’m having tons of fun with my current ones, so that’s okay. Last night was a good evening, Christian was getting ready for a party and getting out THE trashiest outfits he possessed. Including a shirt that had gotten really wide and really short in the wash. I have a great picture of it. I’m not allowed to show it. Which is a shame, really. But I understand XD

We parted ways around 10.30 in the city, having gotten some money at the ATM and having entertained other bank patrons by our fabulous rendition of ‘Walk through the Fire’ and ‘I’ll never tell’ from the Buffy musical episode.

Then this morning, I photographed everything, and then was faced with a dilemma: Although my sock yarn stash had been diminished to a meager 500g or so during my yarn diet – my ‘other’ stash hadn’t. So I had to outsource the leftover half-balls to my wardrobe to clear a drawer for lace yarns. The stash is spreading. As it should be.

So this

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became this

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and the other drawer are pretty full, too.

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And this wandered into the wardrobe

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I swear, sometime very soon, I’m gonna have to get another stash cupboard. Or some plastic bins.

Oops I did it again

May 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

…. and then I fell down, hit my head, and when I came to, my money was gone but my backpack was crammed full of yarn.

Drachenwolle! New Zealand Lamb plant-dyed yarn! Merino lace yarn! Undyed Alpaca! KAUNI!!!

I’m still rather shocked by the speed I threw my money out of the window, but man… a good day.

Unpacking books from boxes

April 25, 2009 § 1 Comment

I was going to wait with the showing off until my other package had arrived, but it hasn’t, and I’m itching for some yarnwhoring.

Birst off: I finished the Wave socks! Just now, while waiting for my pasta to cook to a nice al dente. My roomie was overjoyed and put them on straight away – she’s off to the park with them now. How cool is that?

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Also, I started winding one skein of my Malabrigo laceweight from Ithaca into a ball. Which sucks. Why? Because as nice and soft as the stuff is, it’s also kind of fuzzy. In the slightly-felted-and-sticking-together way. Never in my life have I wanted a swift and a ballwinder more than today, and I’m usually a person who tremendously enjoys sitting there with a skein of yarn around my knee, winding away. So it’s pretty much a huge pain in the ass, and it had better be worth it.

I’m planning a couple of new projects: First, it’s the 18th birthday of Christian’s sister on May 1st, and since I’m spending Beltaine with Christian at the Externsteine (a mystical rock formation in the middle of the forest, 10 minutes from his home), I’ll be there, and she’s said she’s excited for me to be there, and… I need a present. I’m thinking fingerless mitts, since she’s a gamer… either with some kind of WoW symbol on it, or in red with a white cross, because her boyfriend is Swiss. Red and white would be great, since I’m on a yarn diet until the end of May and I have both in my stash.

Then, speaking of Beltaine, I want something to knit while sitting in the shadows of stones that are supposed to have been a Germanic place of worship. (regardless, there was power there when I went this winter) I’d like for it to be something special, because it’s Beltaine after all, maybe even vaguely thematic. I would LOVE a shawl, but I’m also aware that I’ll be seriously drunk there. I’m contemplating just taking the SYS, since I’m at the garter stitch edge now, but Beltaine is a time of starting, not finishing. The call of nature to make something is deeply ingrained in me.

And then, with the last thing on my List of Things I Want To Cast On Right Now, I also come to my super-duper purchase. See, Saskia and me are going to this concert in November. It’s not a rock concert, far from it. In fact, it’s in the Gewandhaus, a prestigeous concert house here in Leipzig, and it’s Max Raabe und das Palastorchester, which is… well, a big band, I guess, in the style of the 20s and 30s. They’re amazing. They also cover pop songs in that peculiar, awesome style, like ‘Oops… I did it again’ or ‘Sex Bomb’. (click the links for muuusic!)

So, I already know which dress I’m wearing, mainly because I only own one. It’s a shortish, black affair, nice but nothing spectacular. So I figured, there’s enough time till November, I can knit a hugeish dressy shawl for that occasion.

So I went and bought Nancy Bush’s ‘Knitted Lace of Estonia’.
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It’s a magnificient book. As always, it has some history, this time obviously about the lace knitting tradition in the town of Haapsalu, Estonia:
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and vintage photos
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and truly amazing, incredible patterns. There are fourteen of them, ranging from relatively simple scarves to the most intricate and huge square shawls (like the one on the cover), and me and my roomies just sat in the kitchen for half the evening going ‘oh, look at THAT one!’ ‘holy crap!’ ‘I want one like that, can you make me one?’ ‘oh my GOD just LOOK at that!’.

Two of the patterns caught my attention in particular. One, the Leaf and Nupp Shawl, is rectangular, while the Miralda Shawl is a triangle where you cast on from the lower lace border and decrease down the middle and at the sides. What they have in common, though, are the lovely little nupps and the sheer stunning beauty and ingenuity of the pattern.

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I have a feeling the Leaf and Nupp Scarf is a bit dressier, with the laceweight yarn and the open pattern. The Miralda is lovely, no doubt, but it also loos like something you’d wrap yourself in against the cold drafts that whisper through your enormous stone castle while you recline on your ottomane and have one of the maids fetch you the bard to dispel the dark shadows of wintertime, if you get my drift.

So, I don’t know. I’m sure I’d like to knit both of them, I just don’t know if they’re the right thing for the occasion. Rectangular shawl… I don’t know. They always feel more like scarves than like stoles to me. I’ll have to see. On the other hand, maybe there’s a textile museum affiliated with the Gewandhaus? Now that would be some inspiration.

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