The oceans and pangea – see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya

June 3, 2011 § 11 Comments

I haven’t written about the 4th Leipziger Wollefest at all, and it’s almost been a week since that particular event of the year. Truth to be told I’m still slightly overwhelmed – I haven’t even gotten around to unpacking and stashing my purchases yet, although that might also be attributed to a distinct lack of space.

I spent an awesome Saturday in the truly packed garden behind the Strickcafé. It was kind of insane – when we got there at 11am, the line to get in went all the way to the street. So many people. Even more yarn.

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Oh, and what yarn! I think apart from Wollmeise, all the major players on the German handdyer scene were there, and honestly, even the Wollmeise couldn’t have improved the yarn selection available. (Also, let’s face it: as breathtaking as her colors are, she isn’t exactly adventurous with her fiber selection. So, yeah.) (I don’t mean to snub her, really, but having Wollmeise available to me on a regular basis has sort of taken the edge off the hysteric fangirling.)

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I swear, the Dibadu stand was crowded all day. I have no idea how I managed to get this photo, but it had probably something to do with it being fairly late.

I was especially delighted to see the gals from DyeForYarn/DyeForWool, whom I’d discovered a couple of days before on Etsy, and one of which, as it turns out, wrote the pattern for the stole I’ve been planning for one of the yarns I bought in Berlin. Go check them out; they’re two separate stores, but they work together and they’re absolutely equally amazing. Both the yarns and the women. One of them was wearing a gorgeous blue shawl, and Saskia and I spent a good half hour debating which pattern it was. It was a good thing the Wollefest is one of those rare places where you can just go up to someone and ask about their clothes, and people are delighted instead of confused or freaked out. It also turns out that Saskia was entirely correct in her ‘Aeolian shawl with narrow edging’ analysis. I’d say that the student has surpassed the master, but I’m too petty for that. Also I’m still the better knitter. Neener-neener.

Anyway, my haul this year, overall a slight departure from my usual color scheme (i.e. no green this time):

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from top to bottom: dibadu BFL roving; DyeForYarn fingering-weight BFL; some dreamy orange alpaca/merino/silk lace yarn (from Kreativmitwolle) that was my first and most impulsive purchase of the day; blue/maroon/rust-colored merino lace yarn from DyeForYarn (again, I left a lot of money there); a gorgeous merino lace yarn from dibadu; four and a half cakes of Jamieson and Smith; and the breathtaking purchase of the day: a 70% cashmere/ 30% silk lace yarn from DyeForWool that I’ve been fondling to a point where I find myself creepy. It’s gorgeous, and smooshy, and most of all DISCONTINUED, which is the most magical quality a yarn can have. (They still have a single skein in a chocolatey brown in their shop. Act fast if you want it!)

What I like about the DfY/DfW crowd is that they give their yarns awesome names: they had an ‘Ex-Peacock’ that was named for the Dead Parrot Sketch (I asked); the merino lace is called Trauriger Harlekin (sad harlequin) and there’s a Death of a Harlequin colorway too; the cashmere’s called ‘fading lichen on a graveyard’ (I had to pull it out to verify. Excuse me while I go fondle my yarn. Again. Did I mention it’s discontinued?) and the BFL’s name is ‘Shadowstorm at dusk.’

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(in the background: Saskia’s Malabrigo shawl. It’s really soft. How I know? Well, let’s just say she does this thing where she comes up to you and very subtly announces ‘oh wow, this shawl I’m knitting is really, really soft TOUCH IT.’)

That one, by the way, was one of the two skeins Saskia and I wound to balls right there and then, chilling out next to the spinning wheels while Annelie was producing some wacky art yarn or other. People seemed to be confused by the fact that we were winding manually instead of using one of the winder/swift combos that were set up all over the place, but I like winding by hand. Although in retrospect it might have been advisable to wind at least some of my yarn with some mechanical support instead of insisting on winding three skeins of very, very thin lace yarn by hand. I kind of went on a lace rage there. Saskia also went crazy, albeit not quite as crazy as I did.

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But still fairly crazy. Wollum is never far away, no, he isn’t, my precioussssss…

Speaking of crazy. They had this awesome friendship spinning wheel there which I kind of want? Except let’s not kid ourselves, what would I ever do with it. Except brag about it to everyone I know, and some people I don’t, and land myself in a mental institution two months later. So, uh… maybe next year.

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It’s this ingenious contraption where one person treadles, but three people can spin at the same time. I don’t know how that would work out in reality – my passing acquaintance with a wheel has shown that regular stopping and seeing what the hell you’re doing is of utmost importance at least for a beginner – but apparently there are also wedding wheels, where the spinners sit next to each other, and that’s just too adorable for words.

But yes. I got to show off my Armada…

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… Annelie got to show off her mad spinning skillz and baby belly due to an evidently miscalculated due date…

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… and it turns out that as opposed to the Wollefest two years ago, where I had to cajole and threaten Saskia into going there to bring me more money, and she was bored out of her mind, this year she got to show off some lace knitting of her own and also do wacky yarn stuff with me.

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It turns out that if you don’t have any knitting friends, a little yarny bribery goes a long way in creating some brand new ones. In your own home! With items commonly found around the house! Go try it today.

You’re just a cannibal

March 5, 2011 § 5 Comments

It’s funny how I constantly blog when there’s absolutely nothing going on, but as soon as I’m actually doing stuff, all my motivation for keeping a log just kind of circles the drain.

The long-overdue Berlin recap: Berlin was four days of walking in the wrong direction, getting lost, discovering wonderful things because of a total lack of a general sense of direction, and buying lots of yarn and even more books. I have no sense of self-discipline, I swear. Also, we totally discovered a pub called The Oscar Wilde, and had a drink in his honor there.

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(Also, I tweeted Stephen Fry about it, and he tweeted me back saying he already knew it. On the other hand, HOLY SHIT STEPHEN FRY TWEETED ME BACK.)

We visited a total of three yarn shops: Loops at Prenzlauer Berg, Fadeninsel in Kreuzberg, and handmade Berlin in Mitte. All of them were amazing; Loops and Fadeninsel carried many of the same yarns including two different brands of laceweight (always a surprise to find), handmade Berlin was just stuffed with luxury yarns. Oh my. It was amazing, tons and tons of cashmere and silk and alpaca and stainless steel and paper and Fiber Artist and Handmaiden and more cashmere.

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(and this is just one wall, in one of two rooms. Heaven, I tell you!)

My total haul (minus a little skein of purple silk that I bought for Saskia; it was so slippery we didn’t manage to wind it into a ball):

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(clockwise from the top: Handmaiden Casbah, Blue Sky Alpaca alpaca/silk, rosewood 4mm circs, handmade Berlin Yarn Edition Scottish wool/linen blend on the cones, Sheepland lace yarn, ggh Baby Alpaca, Kia Ora NZ merino/possum blend). I’ve already knit up half of the Yarn Edition (more on that later.)

However, on the whole I went rrrrrelatively light on the yarn, because we discovered not one, but two full-size English bookstores: one inside Dussmann, and another one right across the street from Loops which happened to be a used-book store that was crammed full to the stucco. It was amazing.

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We went there twice, and I bought a total of eight (I could’ve sworn nine) books there, the most expensive costing €7 (that’s the Wilde bio), the others all under €5. The clerks were stupendously nice, and the beat-up chesterfield was the comfiest sofa I’ve ever sat on.

The downside: dragging it all back to Leipzig.

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Berlin also has a button shop that isn’t hard to find if you don’t first walk a kilometer in the wrong direction (guess how I found out). It’s also crammed full, which seemed to be an ongoing theme that I heartily approve of. It’s also very convenient to know there’s a button shop in a city closer to me than London.

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My special favorite are the two Aslan buttons. I almost keeled over with joy. The big horn one’s already on my Girl Friday cardi, and the three little sunburst buttons are also already on knitwear. (again, more on that later.)

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**

So that was Berlin. Since I came back, I’ve made some considerable progress on the Spanish Armada, I’ve finished the sock I started for Berlin and got regrettably little knitting time on while actually there, although I couldn’t yet be arsed to cast on its twin, and I’ve knit a pattern that is well-loved by many, and as I find out, for a reason. And that reason is that it’s so. damn. clever.

I’m talking, of course, about Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket. Annelie recently found out she had a knitting neighbor, who loaned her a couple of EZ books. And one of these books, I discovered to my endless delight, has the BSJ pattern in it. Hallelujah! After the disappointment of the Knitter’s Almanac not featuring it, that was a real miracle right there.

And the BSJ is kind of ridiculous, if you think about it. Actually, it’s ridiculous the whole entire time you’re knitting it, because you’re making this… this misshapen piece of fabric. Which looks so unlike a baby garment that the pattern specifically states, “Work will start to look very odd, indeed, but trust me, and PRESS ON.”

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The whole time I was knitting it, I was trying to figure out how to fold it, and only on the last third or so did it approach something approaching sensibility. But when you’re done, and you’ve cast off, the magic happens. You fold it…

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… and fold it again, and sew up the shoulder seams, and attach a couple of buttons, and holy shit it’s about the cutest baby jacket ever.

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It’s so cute that when I was done making it up and photographing it, I pulled out another ball of fingering-weight yarn and started casting on another one… and then gently reminded myself I had more pressing projects. I still see a couple more of these in my future though. SO CUTE. Both of my flatmates, upon entering the apartment and seeing the BSJ drying on the rack, dissolved into helpless squeeing. While sewing I occasionally caught myself cooing embarrassingly at the thing. It’s terrible.

So there’s that. BSJ, and I’m currently reconstructing the pattern of a shawl Annelie’s great-grandma knit way back in the day. It’s garter stitch, and my first try was knitting the center triangle and then knitting on the edging in two pieces. Turns out, when I was staring at it during breakfast at her house just after I’d proudly shown off my swatch, that it’s all in one piece, and still every bit as clever as I thought. Good times.

Money, fame and fortune never could compete

November 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

Playing with my Macbook, I discovered that uploading my photos from my camera and uploading them to Flickrs was easier than ever, so here’s a long-overdue picture post!

I shall start with today, proceed reverse-chronologically, and illustrate (quite literally) some random items along the way. Yay!

Anyway, this weekend is Thanksgiving weekend as well as the first Advent Sunday, so I decided to throw a Thanksgiving dinner. I might have overdone it slightly…

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… keep in mind that this is for four people! Although somehow, miraculously, we have a surprisingly low amount of leftovers. What was on the menu? Rosemary goose (mostly following these instructions), Burgundy Mushrooms, Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Buttermilk Biscuits, Cornbread Stuffing, Creamed Corn, Pumpkin Pie, Hard Sauce, and I think that was it. It was beyond awesome, and totally worth the spending two days in the kitchen.

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After dinner, we took a walk along the canal to aid digestion. It’s been cold here the last couple of days, and it’s even snowed – it feels kind of early for snow, but then again, I keep forgetting it’s almost December. Oh, wait, I don’t forget that: I purposefully push it out of my mind. Oh god.

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Incidentally, this was the first time I wore my Vespergyle mitts outside! The right mitten hasn’t been steamed yet and it shows a little if you know what you’re looking for, but I’m absolutely enamored with these mittens: big enough to fit my hands, comfy, Argyle… lovely, just lovely.

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Anyway, the pumpkin pie with hard sauce was kind of the highlight of my evening. Lovely stuff. I really like this photo for some reason.

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In other, less gluttony-induced news, I’ve been spinning! That’s 50g of New Zealand Lamb, dyed by Sandy at Alles Handgemacht, bought at the Bunter November event at the Strickcafé. I bought a bunch of stuff, including two skeins of BFL yarn and some red laceweight, but the thing I love most is this gorgeous 150g skein of merino from Handgefaerbt.com:

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I kid you not, it’s the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how it’ll look knit up, but it’s rich, and subtle, and earthy, and vivid, and soft, and brilliant, and just so, so gorgeous! In every stage of winding, too, which is something I see rarely:

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It’s one of these yarns I’m not sure I’ll ever knit up, because it’s so hard to live up to something that gorgeous.

So, yeah. In other words: nothing new in my corner of the Land of Knitting. I’m trudging along on my Christmas project and getting my instant gratification through cooking and baking. (Two days of cooking are instant gratification?! Somebody help me!)

Be your teenage dream tonight

November 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

So, the other day I wrote this whole rant about sexuality and gender, and then I deleted it all. Because this is a knitting (and cooking, and baking) blog, and I try to avoid politically charged themes for the sake of peace.

So here’s my two cents on gender, society and Glee, under a cut for your convenience.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Take a look ahead

November 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

It’s not like I’m not stressed, with Christmas only 53 days away – especially since I kind of randomly decided to knit a Henry for Adam. On the plus side, I’m almost done with the backside of the Girl Friday for my sister, despite my incredible slackerdom when it comes to that thing.

I’d much rather work on Watson (also only about 15cm to go on that back), or the Thermal (started a sleeve, back done, half the front also), or my Vespergyle mittens (halfway up the thumb on the second mitt), or Saskia’s Super Secret Christmas Present (finished, booyeah! but I’m considering making matching mittens). I’m also done with the Brambles beret and scarf, even if I haven’t gotten around to wearing them. I have a feeling I’ll have to run some kind of elastic through the brim of the beret, since it’s pretty loose, but I’ll wait till after I’ve actually worn it.

In conclusion: I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Making progress. Which is important for my sanity, since uni doesn’t exactly evoke the same feeling at the moment.

Also, it’s kind of hard to get really stressed out if the foot of my bed looks like this most evenings.

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Yes, I also got my other roomie to join us on the dark side. She’s making a hat. Which she was half done with, then discovered a mistake two rows down from where she was, and subsequently… frogged the whole thing. And started over. I’m still kind of flabbergasted.

Speaking of flabbergasted. I’m making good on my resolution to go to the knitting café more, and lo and behold. I was just hanging out there on Saturday, very content indeed about just having bought truly luscious yarn for Henry,

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(Bremont Camino Alpaca, fingering weight, 60% merino, 20% alpaca, 20% nylon)

… and then Christine plunked an armful of yarn on the table in front of me. Not just any yarn. Wollmeise.

I tried, for about three hours, to discourage myself from buying one. I failed. Mostly because I didn’t really have any good arguments except for how it was kind of expensive (€17.50 for 150g, which… isn’t that bad, but not that cheap either), but then I had that exact amount in my wallet and that must’ve been a sign.

It was kind of hard to decide, because all the colors were gorgeous. No kidding. Even the ones I usually can’t stand. ALL. GORGEOUS. But I settled on this beautiful green, Grashüpfer, and my photo doesn’t do it justice.

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Also, it’s so tightly twisted that the 150g look like 100g, and you could probably bludgeon someone to death with the skein. Death by Wollmeise. There’s worse ways to go.

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.

On the front lobe of my left-side brain

July 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

I went to Zitron when I was at my parents’ these last few days – big surprise there, I know! The plan was to just nip in and get some sock yarn, and like always, the nipping extended to about an hour and a half, in which I fondled new yarns due to come out in the near to not-so-near future (and oh, I can hardly wait for the new lace yarn!), talked yarn and translation with Mr Zitron, and bought some fresh-from-the-dyeworks sock yarn. And some lace yarn. And ordered a custom extra-long 4mm circ for Girl Friday.

I love those people, but my visit once again creates an old problem: it’s called ‘oh god, I’m running out of space to store my yarn’.

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The second drawer is actually just for reference, I didn’t add anything to the heavier-than-fingering-weight yarns. However, the four sock yarns (two balls, two skeins) on the left are the sock yarns I bought, plus white lace yarn (which I’ve vaguely planned for knitting a half a Balmoral), and this beauty:

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It’s Filigran Lace No 1 in Indian Summer, and it’s very colorful. The colors are muted jewel-tones, yes, and it’s entirely gorgeous in the skein as well as in the ball. I’ll have to wait for a really strong shawl pattern for this, though, or else it’ll drown in the sheer mass of colors.

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This is some Trekking HandArt Tweed that didn’t have a color on the label, so I’m assuming it’s a test skein or something not quite ready for widespread distribution. Either way, I love it, and I’m knitting socks with it right now. Waffle-stitch, nothing fancy, but slightly more fancy than the plain socks I usually churn out. It’s just so pretty! And the colors are kind of rustic, which goes very well with the whole tweed thing. I’m not sure what it reminds me of, but it is very homey.

The bad news about having cast on yet another sock will become instantly apparent when I show you this photo:

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I’m assuming there’s about five to six pairs buried somewhere in my laundry to add to that, plus the recent pair that isn’t in there because I haven’t yet cut the ends. I really need to  sort out the socks that are starting to wear thin, or find another solution, or start giving socks away (except how could I, they’re my babies!), because my sock drawer is already literally bursting at the seams. No kidding, one of the corner has burst apart.

It’s entirely true I might have a slight obsession.

And people wonder why I like to knit lace. For those who are wondering: it’s because it takes more time and less space.

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