Going red, no, green

If there is one thing I am really passionate about, it’s … the environment and recycling. I kid you not.

Growing up, recycling and preventing unneccessary waste was a big thing in my family (it still is), and that includes not using tons of chemicals for cleaning, but simple stuff, like, for example, vinegar to get off chalk stains, and using baking powder and vinegar to clean pipes. Taking cloth bags instead of plastic ones. Choose the loose fruit, not the one in plastic packages.

Recently, I’d like to take this a little step further. Over the last few years, I have knit a couple of dishcloths, and Philipp and I have agreed that I will make more, and, in the long run, use self-made ones instead of storebought ones.

But there is more. Simple cleaning is something that seems to sit in the corner of my brain and climbs on top of my thoughts from time to time, and a few days ago, I googled for recipes to make your own cleaners and found a great website that tells you how to make your own (they also have tips for saving money, and recipes, and upcycling stuff – it’s a German website, but you might want to have a look).

I got the ingredients to mix our own washing powder, and I’m really excited to try it! We also debated mixing our own dishsoap, but Philipp is a bit hesitant (he is willing to give it a try though, despite being sceptical).

I know that this probably sounds really hippie for a lot of folks, but it’s important to me. We have lavender and sage on the balcony for the bees and bumble bees, we take care to buy eco friendly and local, we recycle, we donate stuff we don’t need anymore, and the next thing is to safe a bit of money and consume maybe a bit less in the cleaning department.

I am also planning on making a small string bag like this one when we buy fruit so we can put an end to these small plastic bags we do not have use for anymore (at least not that often) and which tend to pile up in the kitchen, but shh. Don’t tell Philipp. I think it might be a bit much right now. 😉

Pattern: Boxy Dishcloth (freebie on ravelry!)

Yarn: Wolle Roedel Universal cotton, 66,3m / 72.5y

 

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! I’ll be on the sofa, nursing my sore throat and drinking lots of tea. 😉
Julia 🙂

The Epic Fail-Relief

Wow.

These last months were somewhat hard. I was pretty stressed in February already (that was why the last posting was really cheery – not), and then, at the end of March, something (a cold?) hit me so hard that I spent two weeks (2 weeks!) on sickleave, in bed, running a fever(!) and not doing much (except munching my way through two kinds of antibiotics. The second brand worked wonders, but left me stoned for half the day).

Work was a lot, in both jobs, I didn’t really have time to work on my dissertation until … the middle of April, and now I am really starting to freak out, because I have been at it so long, and I’m nowhere near I’d like to be and I’m fearing all kinds of things and … I am working on one of the original texts now, the historical/political chapter is halfway done, and I have read a ton of books and articles. I should be good. But … yeah. It’s eating away at me. There was some mess with a new contract in the second job, and when somebody asked me: “What do YOU want?”, I was really close to saying: “I want to go somewhere and sit there in solitude and sleep a lot and not talk for … dunno. Two weeks. Or more.”

Sometimes, admitting that you’re screwed is somewhat relieving, isn’t it? Like, yes, you messed up, but at least the thing is out of the bag, and now you deal with the aftermath. Let me give you examples.

Exhibit A – Socks.

I had this testknit I wanted to accomplish,

but I really could not concentrate for more than five minutes straight, so I contacted the designer immediately, and was released from the testknit. The pattern is out now, it’s Leaves Changing by Penny Schumers (if you like to knit your socks toe-up, there is a toe-up version as well), and it’s absolutely wonderful. I will post decent photographs when I am done with the second sock.

Exhibit B – Socks again.

Philipp’s sock kicked my arse pretty hard as well, so these are not finished either.

Somehow, “three times the charm” was key here, because that was how often I had to start over before the fabric was okay. I am not really happy about the cuff and the heel flap and heel, but … yeah, well. That is the way it is now. The second sock is – guess what – still in yarn stadium, I’ll get to it.

Exhibit C – the best example. A blanket.

Then, friends of ours (L, who got socks for her birthday last August, and her partner) are getting married this year, and I asked them if I should knit them a blanket. They were absoluely delighted and sent me a couple of pictures of what they wanted (I told them to think about what they wanted. I thought, they’d mention colours or something. My mistake). The blankets were gorgeous, but all crochet (L. sews, but doesn’t knit or crochet), and so I sent them a  picture of EZ’s April blanket, and we settled on colours, after a few emails and I set to work.

We bought a lot of yarn.

These were the colours (the white was the border) and this was what we ended up with.

They had requested small squares, and I had a sinking gut feeling about the whole affair, to be honest. Like “I can’t do this in this time”. They told me not to worry – they could imagine it was a lot of work and if they got it in December, that would be fine – but still. Somehow, this blanket was a HUGE spot on the mental TO DO list, and it was eating away energy constantly, because whatever I was doing, I felt that I should knit on the blanket and then I fell ill (as I said) and then I entered a state in which I was constantly overwhelmed. I started to join the first squares, and then discovered that, somewhere between squares, my gauge had changed and I was making larger squares than intended.

I made more (larger) squares and joined them, and the pressure got higher and higher and I found myself getting up in the morning and being absolutely drained of energy. Small things overwhelmed me.

So I bit the bullet and when we spoke to L. on the phone earlier this week, I brought up the subject. We were chatting about what’s to come up (the next two months are going to be SO FULL at the weekends, by the way) and what has been happening, and suddenly, she said “Oh my God, and then you have the blanket to knit … DO NOT STRESS ABOUT THE BLANKET. If we get it in December or next year, that is totally fine.”

I then suggested making two cushions for the bed, and then she said: “Erm… to be honest, the bed is already full. We have a ton of cushions.”

I thought I was going to lose it, but Philipp took the phone and explained that it would be a lot of work to drag until the end of the year, and she said: “Of course, and it would be yet another constant thing on her to-do list.”

“Exactly.”

“Hey, you know what?”, she said, “forget the blanket. DON’T MAKE THE BLANKET. I’m happy to take a pair of socks like the ones you made me last year for my birthday. I love them. You know I ALWAYS have cold feet, and I love the colours, they are so, so pretty, and I am wearing them constantly.”

“For real?”, I asked, “I am really feeling I’m letting you down on this.”

“No! You are not. You’ve got so much on the plate. If I get a pair of socks, I’ll be incredibly happy.”

It was almost too good to be true. She will get a pair of socks, two pairs, to be precise (one for her birthday, and one for Christmas), and her husband will get a scarf, made out of the white merino yarn.
I know that his is a no-go. I was brought up to be true to comittment, and it was incredibly hard to step up to these two, whom I have been friends with since we were all 16, and tell them: “I am sorry. I know I promised you a blanket for your wedding, and you were really looking forward to it, but it is not going to happen. I cannot do it. I’m sorry. It’s not possible right now.” I know that some people will find this impossible, and I am still beating myself up about the whole damn thing.

But then, there is – relief. Relief that I am free from this, that I have one HUGE thing less to constantly worry about, one thing less I have to drag myself to do, and free to choose yarn for a really beautiful pair of socks for her, and a gorgeous scarf pattern for him, and knitting these gifts freely, and with a happy heart, knowing that knitting brings me relaxation again, and picking up the needles is a way to let go after a hard and draining day.

So, for everybody who is experiencing a lot of stress right now, for whatever reason: Be wise about what you promise. But, please, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and admit that you have bitten off more than you can chew, and that, if you’re not allowed to spit it out, you’re probably going to choke.
Take care, my friends, and all the love! The next posting will be happier.
Julia. 🙂

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. 😉 (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.  “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. 🙂

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.

red-and-cozy-mittens-05

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.

sdc14728

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:

raucherhandschuhe-01

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. 🙂

 

Take care, everybody, and have a lovely weekend!

All the love,
Julia 😀

A Private Party on the Couch

Two more hours. Then 2015 will be history.

The original plan for tonight was me getting up in the morning baking muffins with buttermilk and berries, and Philipp checking our raclette-set. At about half past four, we would have gotten into the car to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends of ours.

Weihnachtssocken 15
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Big Plans and Little Items (The Forgotten Projects III)

The bunnies are done! I can’t quite believe it … I got them done in time (which is, earlier than Midnight on Friday), and I am going to show them later this week (sorry, but I want to write a good blog post. They deserve it.) This is gonna be good! 🙂

Since the last two days have been days of resting, I think that now is the time to show you two little items I made and to talk about what’s next!

Stashbuster Beanie

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