The long silence

Dear friends,

I haven’t written since summer. There are a couple of reasons for that, but I don’t want to talk about why I didn’t write really (it was mostly stress-related), but rather share what I am working on right now.

My stash has grown excessively this year – I’ve surpassed the 13kg of yarn (which is … well, kind of counter productive if you wanted to stashbust), but to be honest, I have given up on trying to refrain from buying for this year, and I’ll shift stashbusting to the next year. (please remind me of that. 😉 )

Philipp and me have been on vacation in Scotland – and while we were there, I did not only buy another kilogram’s worth of yarn,

but I also asked for his hand in marriage, and he said yes! So now, after almost 13 years together, we are happily engaged, and while this is a BIG THING for me, I am really, really happy (he is, too. The first thing he said after we were done hugging, kissing and crying was “You beat me to it”, and I don’t think there is a better reaction to a marriage proposal. 😉 ).

So, just a quick update on what I am working on right now!

Of course, it’s socks. I’m always knitting socks. Earlier this year, I treated myself to three gorgeous Opal skeins of the “Schafpate”-collection, and although the blue ball was originally intended to become socks for Philipp (I frogged his hideous birthday pair in the end), they ended up too small.

The first one is done, and I am FINALLY at the gusset decreases for the second sock!

The other WIP (which got shoved aside a bit) is a Mousseux-shawl in natural white:

And I am just showing you this photo because it’s the first time that I did not fuck up the garter tab. It looks really nice when done right, actually! 😉

Since this modest beginning, the shawl grew significantly:

and I worked on it on train rides in Scotland and in the hotel rooms in the evenings. I’m making it a bit bigger than the original, and so far, the garter stitch is working its magic again, I love this knit!

Christmas knitting has also started already, and I actually have a pair of mittens that I can show you at the end of next week. 😉

So, to keep this sweet and short – would you like to see some pictures of Scotland? Is anybody still reading this blog? It feels awkward to write here again after being silent for so many months, but I’d like to get into the habit again, and I’d be thrilled if you wanna come with me!

All the love, my friends! Take care!
Julia 🙂

Advertisements

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. 🙂

A Spec(k)tacular Hat! (With a truly? spectacular premiere!)

Technically, I am busy enough right now – with granddad’s scarf on the go (I am finally binding off and have to be done by tomorrow) and Rabbit (who still sits in Frankenstein mode) on the needles. Oh, and the socks for E. They are not done yet either, but I want to give them to her next week. Because, apparently, I don’t have enough on my plate as it is.

But!

Nothing is better than Continue reading