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. 🙂

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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.

geschenk-von-stacey-januar-2017

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! 🙂

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.

wearing-my-greens-06

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. 😉 ‘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.

wolle-f-restesocken

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 😀

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.

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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:

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 😀

Aaaand …. done!

Yay!

Weihnachtssocken 12

I’m done! At about a quarter past 11pm, the socks were done and thus, I have finished all of my Christmas knitting for 2015! Yay! More info (and better photos) will follow after Christmas, when he will be allowed to wear and model the socks. 😉 Continue reading

What happened to my gauge?!?

Some things are weird. You think you can always rely on them, and then, one day, WHAM!  They don’t apply any more.

Take this for example. This is exhibit A.

Maschenprobe 4,0 und 3,5

This was the first swatch for the Continue reading