Shortly before Christmas

Hello there!

Before I disappear again for too long again, I thought I’d give you a quick update – I uploaded a lot of pictures today, and prepared some posts so hopefully, blogging will be a bit easier. For now, I just wanted to give you an update on what’s new, and I hope everybody is okay with that. 🙂 Let’s go …

Do you remember this picture from the last blog post? These socks

are done!

I love them so much. They are very simple, just a k2,p2 pair of socks with one half-round of purl stitches before I started the toe decreases. For a bit of contrast, I did an eye of patridge heel:

And I am incredibly happy about them.

Philipp got socks:

And I am very proud of them, because I somewhat designed them on my own. They have ribbing at the back and small patches of ribbing at the front.

(I might put the ribbing all the way down to the top half of the afterthought heel next time though)

He loves them. And so do I.

Right now, there are two WIPs on my needles: For one, I  picked up the Perfidy à l’orange shawl again (the pattern is only called Perfidy, but my sense of humor is a bit strange sometimes). After ripping out what I had (because I got confused and didn’t know where I was in the pattern), I started anew, but got worried that the fabric was too loose or too tight. I bound off at six pattern repeats and treated the tiny shawl like a swatch:

Then I decided I liked the fabric and accidentally undid the cast on instead of the bind off.

Then I stuffed the shawl into timeout.

A week or so later, I picked it up again, and so far, things have been going great:


Knitting is easy, the Russian joints haven’t made any problems so far, and adding wedges to the main section is happening intinuitively.


Not to brag, but I think, we’re friends now.

The other WIP is something I am really excited about. It’s a pair of socks for Philipp (again), but this time – in Matrix-coloured yarn.

It may sound weird, but I had my eye on this yarn for two years, but never really dared to buy it, because Philipp wasn’t into too-bright or too colourful socks two years ago. Since this has changed significantly, I just grabbed the yarn when I was at the LYS in September and had 300g of sock yarn in the basket already anyway, and was determined to make a pair of Sci-Fi socks for him. When I brought it home, he got very excited, commenting on how cool the yarn looked and that um, YES, he’d TOTALLY like a pair of socks out of that, but if I wanted to make something for ME that was fine as well … 😉

I cast on last Sunday, when we sat down to watch Aliens, and it was the best combination ever.

Instead of knitting vanilla socks, I decided to purl all the green stitches, and I absolutely love the effect. The socks were set aside until today, when I knit on them in between two trips to the post office and baking two batches of cookies with Philipp:

I just love the combo of Science Fiction and knitting on these socks, with some Cyberpunk ambient sound playing in the background.

Christmas knitting is done, by the way, and I’ll be showing my knits after the holidays. 😉

Take care and please don’t let yourself get too stressed out, my friends!

All the love,
Julia 😀

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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 🙂

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 😀

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. 🙂

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.

raucherhandschuhe-07 raucherhandschuhe-04
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.

raucherhandschuhe-05 raucherhandschuhe-06


3. I bought yarn.

250grams of aran weight, to be precise.

shawl-fur-monika

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.

wearing-my-greens-05

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.

10-for-31-02 10-for-31-01

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 😀

Colour Explosion Sneakers

I have said it once, I have said it twice: I don’t think that knitting heavily-patterned socks while using colourful yarn is a good idea.

You just won’t get anything out of it. Every once in a while, I see folks using commercial-dyed sock yarn (say, Regia or Opal) and knitting intricate, complicated patterns, mostly with really fancy cables.

And all I can think of: “It’s naught.” You can’t see the cables properly, because the colours get in the way and the stripes (which are a big part of Opal yarns, usually) don’t work into each other harmoniously, so you cannot appreciate the pretty colourway either. It’s simply not worth the effort.

Now look at this:

Colour Explosion Sneakers 05

These socks were knit of a Regia yarn that is simply called “Regia 4-ply color”, and obviously, I didn’t stick to my own rule. I bought this yarn in June, after having bought two balls of it for last year’s Julklapp in our knitting group, and eyeing it ever since then. The yarn is really pretty:

Regia 4-fädig 01

It’s also really busy, changing the colour of the barberpoled-yarn every centimetre or so.

I took it to my sister’s birthday (which is at the beginning of August) and cast on 20 sts for a pair of sneaker socks after coffee (and cake).

Colour Explosion Sneakers 01

After finishing the toe, I started with the  Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern, and, after a few rounds, showed my grandmother what I had done. She eyed the sock suspiciously.

“I don’t think it’s worth the effort”, she finally said. “Frankly, I wouldn’t bother, and knit it in stockinette stitch.”

Of course, I didn’t listen, and when I came to the point where I had to start the gusset increases (which for me is after 12,6cm), I added a bit of texture:

Colour Explosion Sneakers 07

I know that this is nowhere original, I have seen socks with garter stitch gussets a couple of times, but I have always found them to be very pretty. The fun fact about garter stitch gussets is that they look very fancy, but are easy to knit: Simply increase your stitches as you normally would, and purl all your gusset stitches when it comes to the second row (“knit all stitches”). I increased until I had 14 gusset stitches, but kept the first and the last stitch before and after the instep as a knit stitch, to have a smarter edge.

Colour Explosion Sneakers 02

The heel flap was knit with slipped stitches (I find that they make the sock really comfortable and sturdy – none of my socks had ever any problem with the heel flap) and then I continued the leg for about 7 rounds (6 on the second, because what the heck, the sock was long enough), and topped it off with 10 rounds of 1/1 ribbing for the cuff. I bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off, and wow.

Colour Explosion Sneakers 06

I’m in love. The socks are colourful, the texture is lovely, and I really love the look of them, although you can’t spot a damn thing unless you’re near enough to see all the small details. They made a great travel project when I went to and from work, and the pattern, while keeping me interested, was not complicated at all, which allowed me to knit a few rows in between writing a huge crack-fic (a “crack fic” is a crazy, funny story, a crazy fanfiction story in particular) with a friend of mine in the evenings (yes, we are over 700 pages. After about 2-3 months of writing. We’re bonkers). Today, I bound off, sewed in the ends, and weighed the remaining yarn.

Regia 4-fädig 02

1 gram is left. I am a happy camper.
Have a great start into next week, my friends! Take care!

All the best,
Julia 😀
P.S.: OH, by the way? Last night, we went to Duesseldorf to celebrate L.’s birthday, and she got the pair of socks I knit for her:

Summerchild Socks 07

She wasn’t as enthusiastic as I would have hoped (she didn’t squee or say anything about the pretty colourway), but the socks fit and she was opening presents in front of all the guests. I’m biding my time, and hope that she will love them. 😉