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 🙂

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Done, done, and done.

FINALLY, PROGRESS!

The next week will be superbusy, but I am glad that I did get a lot done this weekend, and a good part of it is knitting.

After the blanket desaster, Philipp and me had a look at our friends’ wishlist, searching for a gift that would allow me to knit them at least something, however small. We debated several items and settled on some fancy kitchen equipment in the end, and I decided that I’d make them potholders.

Fancy, eh? I’m not really sure how well they’d serve as potholders, to be honest, because of the lacey parts, but at least the motif is suitable for a wedding. The pattern is Heart Dishcloth: Knit version by Lily / Sugar’n Cream, a freebie on ravelry, and it knit up in no time. 54 grams, 91.4 metres (or 100.4 yards). Done.

To make it easier to store the potholders, I bound off all stitches knitwise, until there was only one loop on the needle – instead of snipping the threat, I crocheted 10 chain stitches and secured it on the left with a … single crochet or double crochet, depending on where you live. I still have to wash them and pat them into shape, and of course they do not hold a candle to a blanket, but at least it’s something handmade, and Laura will get socks for her birthday, after all.

Made from this yarn, to be precise (it’s a little too dark in the photograph; the original yarn is brighter and happier).

Before I made the wedding potholders, I decided to swatch for once (usually, I don’t bother for stuff like potholders), and make a simple dishcloth to use up my orange cotton. Of course I didn’t get the gauge I needed for the Heart Dishcloth pattern (that would’ve been 21sts and 28 rows to 10cm/4″, and of course I got 18.6sts and 25.3 rows on 4,0mm needles, so I switched to 3,5mm ones for the heart potholders), but the yarn is used up now, and that is all that counts.

The project was easy and fast – I basically cast on 34 stitches, knit 2 ridges of garter and then proceeded in stockinette stitch, with a garter border of three stitches per side. After 39 rows, I did another 2 ridges of garter, bound of and wham! Done. 19 grams out of the stash. Funnily enough, Lenka (who had asked to see the dishcloth when it was done) was so enthusiastic about the colour that I will wrap this little buddy up and send it to her. Sometimes it’s so easy to make somebody happy! 🙂

Last but not last … I finally made myself a pair of socks again.

I love them. A few weeks ago, when the stress was really getting to me, I found a website that had older Opal collections for sale (they also have other brands), and after debating whether or not to get some (my stash has grown to over 13(!) kg of yarn. Plus fiber), I gave in and treated myself to these three beauties:

All of them are from an older “Schafpate” collection – the blue one is “Huetehund” (shepherd’s dog), the rainbow yarn is called “Blickfang” (eye-catcher), and the green was is “Ruhezeit” (downtime). I love them all and was wondering if I should snag what’s left of the collection as well …

I knit the socks top-down, 64 stitches on 2,0mm DPNs (gauge is 32sts and 50rows to 10cm/4″ – I never get anything above 8sts/inch, and I am not willing to go below 2,0mm needles for it). The pattern I used is Heather Sebastian’s Chain Drive Socks, another freebie. I already knit it once, to make my mum socks for Christmas, but it worked fine this time.

As you can see, I repeated the pattern on the back of the leg, and I have to say that I absolutely love it. The cables put enough interest in knitting to prevent it from being boring, but, in my humble opinion, are not too busy for the absolutely beautiful colours.

This is the second pair of socks I have made for me this year (not counting the lavender ones, which are still hibernating), and I am totally smitten with them. They are everything I hoped for, and I am really glad I bought this yarn. I used exactly 75grams, and the leftovers will probably be used in the neverending blanket – we’ll see. So these are done as well.

Done, done, and done.

And now? What now? What shall I knit next?

Well, for one, I started another Curl:

This is Perfidy, another pattern taken from Hunter Hammersen’s Curls 2, knit from some of the Merino yarn that was intended for the blanket (I dubbed the ravelry project “Perfidy à l’orange”, and I find this très chic), knit on 4,0mm needles …

I wanted to make AJ (E’s daughter) a Little Sister’s Dress (I have to frog this, though, I made a mistake and can’t seem to find it) …

And then, I really wanted to get a headstart on granddad’s socks. He’s turning 88, after all.
Have a really great week, my friends! Take care!
All the love,

Julia 😀

Three shawls, a pair of mittens …

The titel says it all: You will get shawls and mittens for this Sunday.

So far, this year hasn’t been really productive on the knitting front – 10 projects are currents marked with “2017” on my ravelry page (technically, there are twelve mittens, but since Philipp’s scrap socks and the lavender sock are currently in time out, I won’t count them).

Of these 10 projects, 3 have been for me – a fourth is currently on the needles (and, as I said – the lavender socks are in timeout. I might gift them, though. We’ll see.), but the rest has all been knit for wonderful people in my life.

After I had finished my father’s mittens, I got a lovely email at the beginning of February – Susanne from Nadelspielereien was throwing a birthday party, I got invited! YEAH! The email included the best invite ever: Bring your crafting! Now for those of you who read Susanne’s blog (if you speak German you should totally do it!), you know that Susanne is an avid cross stitcher, sews like a boss, and is incredibly talented at crafting and organising kids’ birthday parties, and upcycling, and decorating, and, simply, the best recipient for a handmade gift, because she knows how much time and love goes into it. Naturally, after accepting the invite, my first thought was: “What to knit her?”

I had gotten a couple of gift cards for bookshops for Christmas (which is the best, after books), and I had treated myself to Hunter Hammersen’s Curls 2, a wonderful book with a great collection of shawls that can be knit with any yarn in any size at any gauge you like. After going over the patterns twice or thrice, I settled on Subterfuge and bought yarn.

Susanne loves the sea, I knew that much, and I wanted to have colours that reflected the sky and the sand – which was exactly what the yarn did when I started knitting it up.

Subterfuge has two sides, on being a bit more subtle than the other one. I realised that I preferred the “wrong” side over the left one, but it is wearable either way, and really beautiful.

The yarn was a bit fuzzier than I would have liked it, but you could see the stitches okay, and so I powered on.

In the end, I ran out of time (the rows get long really quickly), and I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, personally, but in the end, there are 460 metres of yarn in this shawl (that’s 503 yards), and I hope it is big enough.

I bundled it up, took the cake I had baked for dessert (food was going to be buffet-style, and I loved the concept, because everything was delicious and it went incredibly well together. I haven’t forgotten about the peanut soup, the apple crumble, and the puff pastries filled with salmon and/or bacon!!) and off I went. The evening was great – we were all women, mothers, colleagues, bloggers, Scottish Dancers, librarians, teachers, and I was incredibly thankful that I got invited!! Susanne said she loved the shawl, and although she is allergic to wool (AAAAAAAAAARGH!), I hope she can wear it despite.

 

During the party, I cast on for another birthday present. Anyone who has read this blog for quite some time surely knows that Monika, Little M.’s gran, is REALLY knitworthy – over the years, she has gotten an assortment of socks and shawls, and she loves everything dearly.

For her birthday, I had decided on making her The Big Skinny, a simple but fun pattern by Little Church Knits. The garter stitch shawl is knit in aran weight, and after spending a lot of time in the LYS, comparing yarn colours, I finally settled for camel and mint, which reminded me a bit of the 50’s, but seemed to be exactly Monika’s colours:

The shawl is big and uses up a lot of yarn for sure – the border instructions were a bit confusing, but with the help of a fellow raveler, I managed to figure it out.

Since this is 100% merino yarn, it’s wonderfully soft, but not too heavy – perfect for wearing it during Spring and Autumn in the evenings, or during winter time.

Since the ends of this shawl are really long, it even looks fancy when tied.

When Monika got the shawl, she looked at me, looked at the colours, simply said: “Mine!”, put it on and wore it for the rest of the day. YEAH! I have already considered making one for myself – with grey as the main colour and berry for the border.

The last project (before the great blanket desaster) was for a friend of mine. Lenka and I met … thanks to serendipity, I presume, because we “met” through a random post on tumblr. It was pure happenstance, but we have been getting on like a house on fire, and I could not be happier to have met her. Lenka is kind, caring, smart, has a great sense of humour, a sharp wit, and is as enthusiastic about all things Witcher as me (it’s her I have been writing the fanfiction story with. Just sayin’.).

Lenka wants to be a psychiatrist when she has finished her studies, and right before her first big medical exam last October, she got a package with something handknit from me:

This shawl was so much fun to knit, it was my summer project, and the pattern is Wendy’s Fern by Princesse Grenouille. I bought the yarn during my splurge at Tinkus last year:

And it is simply wonderful, 100% merino, a bit splitty, but so, so soft, and the colours this yarn comes in are amazing.

The shawl has a design that has been very popular for quite a while: A mixture of garter stitch and simple lace, and it was a pleasure to knit from start to finish. According to the picture Lenka sent me, it was also a big hit.

SCORE!

Since the shawl was met with so much enthusiasm, I thought MITTENS when her birthday came up, and set to work right away. The pattern is Fallberry Mitts, a knitting pattern, in size M, knit with some leftover merino yarn from Zitron (yes, I might have a theme going on).


These mittens were so much fun to knit, and, apparently, come in quite handy, too!

That’s all so far. Caught up with the most important stuff … Except … one shawl. But I will safe that for later.

For now, I am going to work on a pair of socks.

And yes, these are for me. 😉

All the love!
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 😀