Against the stress.

I will take a deep breath now and focus on writing a nice, calm post about knitting. And yarn. And planning presents for wonderful people. Because I just read another news article (this time about the upcoming French election), and the nationalism shown in the comments make my guts turn. I cannot escape politics right now. I check the news several times a day and in 90% of the time, something new comes up. Some of it is good, but most of it leaves me sitting in front of the screen with disbelief and worry.

I could write more about this, but I won’t. Enough. I need some space to breathe and to relax. There are other things, good things, important things. I think it is wonderful that in times like these, act of kindness still happen, and we should show them more, and use them to remind us and others that not everything has gone down the drain.

Here we go.

1. Look at this.

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Last year, I found Stacey from weekendknitter on tumblr (or rather: We found that tumblr was another way to connect for us, as I have been reading her blog for ages, and she, as I am happy to say, reads mine, occasionally), and it’s wonderful to see her short postings about spinning and spindling and doing all things yarny there, and to be in touch. Stacey is a mother of two, a wonderful, strong person, an incredibly talented (fiber-) artist, and she is all kinds of awesome. We updated our addresses, and she spotted this at Joann’s and send it to me. It’s absolutely terrific. Not only are the articles interesting (what awaits you at a fiber festival, how do you spin batts, how can you play with colourful fiber and spin it up the way you want to knit it later), but the patterns in this magazine are great. Simply wonderful. Stacey, I love you, and you’re one of the best people! πŸ™‚

2. The mittens are done.

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Knitting them was really interesting – I have only knit fingerless mittens before, and while I didn’t find knitting the fingers hard (it wasn’t even as fiddly, because I was knitting with aran weight yarn and 3.0mm needles), I changed the pattern a bit and measured my father’s hands thoroughly. I am really happy about the stripes (the original pattern has two, which looks nice as well), and, what is most important – my father loves them, and they fit him fine.

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3. I bought yarn.

250grams of aran weight, to be precise.

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As you may know (or not know – well, you know now), Little Church Knits (link to designer page on ravelry) has a Free Pattern Friday every week – this week, it’s The Big Skinny. (link to her blogpost, where you will get the code for this pattern).

Little M.’s grandmother will celebrate her birthday next month, and she wears mostly cold colours, so I thought that a nice garter stitch shawl would be a wonderful present for her. I am not 100% secure about the colour combination, but I like it, it reminds me of art deco somehow, and something else I cannot quite lay my finger on. But I hope she will love it as well.

4. I knit myself a new pair of socks.

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Last year, we were doing a Secret Santa at work. Quite a few colleagues joined us (we were ten people in the end), and the coworker who drew me got me – yarn. While I probably wasn’t the hardest candidate to get a present for (everybody at the office knows I love to knit), she really put a lot of thought into it, went to a LYS, asked whether the ball of yarn she selected would get me a pair of identical socks, because she was sure I’d prefer that (!), and made sure that one ball of yarn would be enough for a pair of socks at all. I was over the moon with joy, and at once decided that this would be the first sock project of the year for me.

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This was my travel project for January, so I put an afterthought heel in and did them in simple stockinette stitch. I love them! Yarn is Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Color, knit on 2,0mm needles (64 sts). (Yes, I have worn them at work and showed her the socks. πŸ˜‰ ‘Course I did.)

5. Philipp is getting scrap socks.

When I weighed my “leftover” stash last year, I discovered that I had about 750grams of “leftover” sock yarn. This is quite a lot, particularly, because some of the balls are about 30grams. I put three colours together (the little ball at the top of the picture might not be used, I haven’t decided yet) and, after asking Philipp whether he approved of them (he did), cast on.

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The toe was knit in Opal Sweet & Spicey 2 “Weintraube” (the bright blue yarn), and now I am alternating the green yarn and the Regia yarn. Actually, I am on the second version … the first sock had really big ladders at the sides, but it’s better now.

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There is more to share, I knit so many things for Christmas I didn’t get around to blog about, and I took pictures of my stash as well – guess I am going to write one big post about all the projects and show them off in one go. Meanwhile, keep your heads up, my friends, and your hearts open! We will get through this, I know it.

All the love!
Julia πŸ˜€

One mitten down, one more to go.

The more I knit with this yarn, the more I love it.

Usually, I’d say that my “default yarn” is sock yarn – it’s versatile, easy to care for, comes at a great yardage for a small price (depending on the brand, of course), and it’s very resistant.

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This yarn, of course, is different. It’s 100% Merino, it’s Aran weight, and I have to use larger needles. But I love the feeling of the yarn. I love that the mitten smells like wool. I love how the stitches slide from one needle to the other. The stitch definition is beautiful as well.

But I find that I love the process. When you look at the original pattern of Cigar, you will see that there are two stripes, not three, and that the stripes are of the same width.

I changed this up insofar as that I knit two more rows with grey after having put the stitches for the thumb on a stitch holder (aka a big safety pin – I was too lazy to fiddle around with scrap yarn), mostly to stabilise the two stitches I cast on over the thumb, before I started to knit three rounds with the charcoal grey wool. From there, I counted up – one row of grey, two rounds of charcoal, two rounds of grey, one round of charcoalΒ  – and then it was time to put even more stitches onto a yarn holder for the pinky, and to cut the charcoal-coloured yarn and to continue with grey.

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Although it’s the first time for me to knit a mitten with fingers (although the first three are only covered to the knuckles), it isn’t quite as fiddly as I feared (I’m really thankful that my father has

large hands). The mitten looks huge when I look at it, but my father tried it on the day before yesterday and it fit him fine. They are not snug, but he said he’d prefer a bit of a looser fit anyway, so everything is absolutely how it should be. Sewing in the ends and closing up all the gaps that appear when you pick up stitches and cut yarn and join new yarn, etc. took some time, but, well, these are mittens with fingers, after all, so what to expect?

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After I came home from what was a really strenuous shift, I started to knit on the second mitten – and lo and behold, I am almost ready to put some stitches onto a stitchholder again. πŸ˜‰

I’m really enjoying the process.

 

Take care my friends! All the love!
Julia πŸ˜€

Right now. (and a long ramble)

There is so much stuff to blog about, so many projects I am so proud of but haven’t shown yet, and so many plans and half a “flash your stash” that could be posted, and even more new fiber, and not only one, but two new spindles …

But this is so overwhelming that I think I am showing you what I am working on right now. πŸ˜‰ (Would you like to see the other projects, too?)

But before, please allow me to tell you something important. (You can totally skip this part if you’re only here for the knitting. Scroll down until you see the small line I have made. The part about knitting follows.)

In 2016, I turned 30.

“30” is a huge deal to a lot of people – and, oddly, a number that seems to fill quite a lot of people with dread. They think that “30” means that your youth is almost over – after 30 comes 40, after all, and you’re not “young” when you 40.Β  “30” also means getting married and having children, and making career choices and being considered “grown up” and if you still haven’t finished that university degree, then you’d better get your arse in gear, because, man, you’re 30, and you really should get it together now. A colleague of mine turned 30 last May, and he was making a great fuss about it – because he took the birthday wishes with a face as if his dentist had given him a coupon “for 1 root canal treatment”. “30 is so grown up“, he said when I asked him what was actually wrong with it, and he made it sound as if it was something completely horrible. When I told him that Philipp had already celebrated his 30th birthday, he asked: “And how does he take it?” (Fun fact: Said colleague got married last year. You can’t possibly do a more adult thing in my book.)

Now – I think, that this is bullshit. I love being 30. When I was 18, “30” seemed aeons away, which is natural, of course, but I wasn’t in a good place at all health-wise, so “30” seemed completely out of reach. Now, I have reached it, and my birthday brought me a strong notion that yes, I am in charge of my life, I am grown up, I can do whatever I want, and that no, I do not have you to like my choices to be happy and satisfied.

I know that this may seem odd to a few of you (because you should reach this point as early as you can), but I have been mistaken for being 30 since I was 20, because I was “too serious”, “too by-the-book”, not “lively” enough for 20, I didn’t like going to parties during my student years, I don’t drink, so I never had to show up somewhere with a hangover, I was in a steady relationship (it’s been 12 years now. TWELVE!), and sometimes, I was sitting in my apartment and thought that I had it all wrong, because wasn’t I supposed to be out every weekend and coming home in the small hours and loving it, because if I didn’t do it now, I would bitterly regret it at 80, even if I didn’t want to do it now? (I was also told that I looked as if I was in my 30s from very early on, but that’s a story for another time.)

Since my birthday, these thoughts have been put to rest. I don’t give a damn if anybody finds it odd that an ideal Friday night for me means sitting down with a cuppa tea, my knitting and my laptop, either watching Let’s Plays, or reading, or chatting with a friend and writing on my stories (or our story, for that matter), and I love it that way. For the first time in years, I do not feel the urge to apologise about me being an introvert (or an ambivert, because I really like people, and I love my jobs), and while I haven’t finished my PhD, and I haven’t made up my mind whether I’d like to have children or not (I like children, but right now, I’m not overly enthusiastic about the idea, so I’m opting for “no”), I still have time, and I like who I am and how I am and this is enough.

~~~~~

Now, on the evening of my birthday (or rather, the Saturday after), I took my family out to a Vietnamese Restaurant Philipp and I have been to quite a couple of times now (we love it. The food is amazing). My grandparents have never eaten Vietnamese food before, so it was an adventure for them (it was also a bit odd that they don’t serve knives at the restaurant, but you’ve got forks and spoons if you prefer them to the chopsticks, so they were fine), and my sister came, too, along with her new partner. πŸ™‚

As we were getting out of the car, I put on my latest pair of mittens I had made for me (made from a ball of alpaka yarn Philipp gave me as an anniversary present a few years ago) to show them to my gran.

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The pattern is called Nalu Mitts, a freebie on ravely by Leila Raabe – and my father looked at them and spontaneously said: “I’d like a pair like these, for when I’m smoking my cigar on the balcony.”

Now, talking about being surprised! My father rarely requests something handknit – it has only happened once, so far, and I had never pictured knitting mittens for him. But, fine … I went, and bought four lovely balls of “Merino Soft”, an aran weight yarn by Wolle Roedel.

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A quick search on ravelry unearthed Cigar, a knitty pattern that is – I kid you not – especially designed for cigar (or cigarette) smokers, because it is partly a fingerless mitten (for thumb, index- and middle finger) and a glove for the pinky and the ring finger. Woo-hoo!

While I didn’t manage to knit them before Christmas, I cast on on the 15th, and this is how far I have come:

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I have to say, I love them. The mittens seem huge, but my father has large, broad hands (his hand circumfence is 22cm, that’s 8,8″), and I measured out his hand and he tried the mitten on before I did the stripe section. To finish the first mitten, I only have to finish the ring finger, the pinky, and the thumb (and sew in some ends), and then I can cast on the second one … I’m really happy how they are turning out. πŸ™‚

 

Take care, everybody, and have a lovely weekend!

All the love,
Julia πŸ˜€

For the New Year

I wish you peace.

I hope that you are happy, and that you are content with what you have. I hope that the people you love are well, that there won’t be many worries next year, that you sleep well, always have enough to eat and that you are in a safe place where you feel good. I hope that you stay healthy and that, if not, you recover speedily.

May you always have enough time for the things you love.
Whether you write, draw, paint, craft, knit, spin, crochet, or create otherwise, I hope that you find inspiration and joy in your work, and that you get recognised and praised for it. I wish you lots of good ideas, lots of Flow, and sleepless nights which are spent doing what you love and which leave you exhausted, but happy.

I wish you confidence – in yourself, in your work, in your life. I hope that the people around you treat you with kindness, and I wish you nerves of steel when you need them, a kind heart and inner strength if you have to forgive someone. I hope that, if you screw up, people forgive you, too.

I hope that you will find, that, if you are unhappy with something in your life, you have the strength and the courage to change it, and I wish you the power to look upon yourself with love and goodwill and with a sprinkle of humour, because sometimes we all need that.

2016 was a wild ride. I hope that we can show that hatred won’t win, that love and respect are not signs of weakness, but of strength, and that we will all look back on 2017 next year and say: β€œWow, that was pretty good, overall.”

Happy New Year, everybody.