Thursday, August 17, 2017

Knittting Fever

I am hooked again, the needles have me back. Although, as I already wrote before, 2017 hasn't seen the drop in my knitting summer usually brings. Maybe the weather has just been too bad for not thinking about fall and warm sweaters.

Right now, after having finished the baby blanket Chalice for my friend Franzi (turned out that after blocking, the pattern looks pretty nice, even with the warm wool) I am finally knitting my second sock with the Norwegian pattern. I think I finished the first one already about a year ago. Shame on me! But reading blogs of other knitters the Second-Sock-Fatigue seems to be a thing. And I seem to be less infected thatn some, at least it is only that one pattern that I only did one sock of. Anyhow, it is coming along nicely and I am pretty fast, at least sitting at home, with the book on my knees. I intended to finish the sock on the way to work, on the train, but it is too complex to knit it by heart. Let alone with a book balancing on my knees while I am on the train.... I am looking forward to finishing this project, not only to have it done, once and for all, but also to wear the socks with skirts and stockings.

I have been pretty naughty as well and just ordered a bunch of new yarn. We do not have any space, but I want to knit a nice cable-filled sweater for winter and I found this free pattern on Ravelry. The Beatnik. Being a big fan of Beat-culture, not only the pattern, but also it's name spoke to me.

So I ordered some marineblue Drops Nepal for this adventure. Let's see how it goes. It will definitely be one of the more difficult items I have ever knit.
The first one...

...finished


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bergen Jacket - My first Norwegian Kofte



It is summer in Germany, but you cannot really feel it. The weather is highly unreliable and I already feel a bit of autumn-motivation in me. Do you know this feeling? The hunger for warm soup, the good feeling of selfknit socks on your feet and some needles in your hands.

In the beginning there was only yarn...

Summer often is a time of little knitting as you don't feel like wearing woolen clothes, or not even like holding them in your hands for making them. But I have been a busy bee and finally finished my Bergen Jacket.


You can find the free pattern on Ravelry. It is pretty easy to follow, but I mainly used it for the measurements. For the flowers in the colourful part I decided on an old pattern from Norgestrikk, a book I really love, mainly for all the history behind it and all the pictures. My wardrobe is not crazy with colour, so most of the patterns I would recreate with different colours than the vibrant Nordic ones.

I will not lie, it took me a while to finish the Kofte and it still has one or two flaws that I will hopefully improve in the next one I might be knitting in winter. I used Drops Nepal yarn, which is pretty warm, so unlike my fellow Norwegian knitters, I won't be able to wear my Kofte until winter. The Nepal yarn is easy to knit, feels nice and is not too itchy on the skin (almost every yarn feels itchy on my skin, I am a real sissy here.)

What took me longest, was, as always, adding the buttons and sewing the threads. Are you also as lazy when it comes to that last step? The button border turned out to be quite a challenge. After steeking (cutting the knit as a tube cardigan into a cardigan) one might assume that both halves would be the same length, sounds logical, doesn't it? However, when I wanted to add the button border they weren't. It was pretty weird. Now the added border wrinkles a bit, but I am ok with that. If it doesn't happen with a second one!

The shoulder part is a little bit tight and I was too impatient to add long sleeves. Having extra long arms I should have added some centimeters to the arms of the pattern, but no, by the time I was adding the arms I really wanted to be done, so now I always have to wear something underneath that has real long arms.

For all the flaws, I still love my Bergen Jacket and the way it turned out. It was a little adventure, especially with the steeking, but I am looking forward to more Kofte knitting and I am grateful for all the inspiration I get on facebook and instagram by all the Kofte-communities.

Now I am happy to finish the baby blanket Chalice and the socks I still have on my needles.



Securing the Steek 





Steeking, cutting into the cardigan

Monday, August 7, 2017

Newborn and Baby Knitting - Klompelompe

A few months ago a friend of mine who also enjoys knitting asked me whether I had recommendations for knitting books about baby clothes. I didn’t, as I have never bought a book for baby clothes only. Loving to buy knitting books I took the request as an invitation to search for the cutest pattern books for kids. It’s shocking how gendered most children outfits are. Buying gender-neutral clothes is almost impossible and I am not a great fan of all the pink-kitchy stuff. As most of the time, Scandinavian knitting patterns did the trick. The duo from the blog Klompelompe (if anyone knows what that means, please tell me) offer their most popular patterns in a book. As young moms they were motivated to create their own patterns, as they found there were not many nice patterns out there, especially not for boys.
The colours, shapes and texture of their patterns are mostly unisex and so beautiful, I would wear most of the stuff myself if it was my size.

So I started knitting. Kid’s stuff is always finished so fast, it’s great fun. First, for my friend’s baby, who will be half a year old when the cold and sometimes brutal Berlin winter hits. I decided to go for the pattern “Fritz” and made a whole outfit with cardigan, pants, socks and hat. (When those friends had their first baby three years ago I also knit something for them, looking back at those things I am so ashamed at the quality of them. The socks didn’t even look like socks at all, it was horrible! And yet, I was so proud J ) Anyhow, the new outfit for the little one turned out cute and the pattern gives the fabric a nice, thick texture while being amazingly easy to knit at the same time.

The whole Fratz- outfit
The Fratz Jacket
The Fratz Hat and Socks (colour is actually a dark burgundy)

The hat "Oline"

Reusing the "Water for the Elephants"-pattern for a cardigan

The first Bonnet I ever knit



Pompoms are so adorable!



Another Oline-Hat.
After the outfit for the toddler I was hooked and when the friend who had asked me for baby patterns sent me an ultrasound of her baby girl who will be born in the last weeks of November, I was totally motivated to knit as much newborn-stuff from Klompelompe as I could till we went on holiday. The newborn-hat patterns in the book are so adorable, you will love them. I ordered a pompom-maker on amazon and am quite happy with the results. The hats look so cute with them!

If you need a gift for new parents or want to get a great book as a gift to a new mom or dad who knit, Klompelompe is my recommendation!



Finished cardigan for the little newborn
Happy knitting folks!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Fehmarn




The Baltic Sea. So blue and beautiful!



If there is one thing I learned on our tours with the bus is, you don’t need to travel outside of Germany to discover beautiful and versatile landscapes. This might be one of the reasons why traveling via camper van has become immensely popular over those last few years. More and more of our friends get their own “home on wheels”. Two of them live in Lübeck and we have always wanted to spend a weekend traveling together. At first we wanted to meet in the “middle”, which basically would have been the middle of nowhere, but then, going to the Baltic Sea seemed to be the better idea. We quickly agreed on the island of Fehmarn, which can be reached by a bridge, so no ferry and offers a lot of nice camping grounds. We normally don’t use camp sites, but rather just park in the middle of nowhere, but as our friends have no shower or real kitchen in their bus, we agreed on a “luxury” trip.

We arrived just as the last little bit of the sun went down, offering a glorious view over the ocean just as we were passing the bridge. The radio played a funky Didgeridoo-theme, it felt like a very magical moment. Fehmarn itself is flat, covered in corn fields, meadows and nice little streets bordered with trees.

On our way to the Beach. Kites in the Background
As our friends had just discovered kitesurfing as a new hobby, they were eager to camp near fitting beaches to go onto the water. It was pretty amazing to watch the hundreds of kites out there, barely ever getting in each other’s way and our friends doing their best to at least surf for a few meters. I have to say, I was impressed. As I usually suck at those kinds of sports I was amazed how long they managed to stay on the board. While it was still chilly on the first day, we took a long walk along the beach. The sun came out later, so we drove around the island a bit (it is pretty small, so you keep on ending up in the same spots) to go to a nice little café (Hofcafé Albertsdorf), which we went to again later, as the cake was really superb!

We spent three nights on Fehmarn and decided to spend each one on a different camping ground. The first one was already so pleasant, witch nice neighbours, that we were tempted to throw our plans overboat and to stay there. It was called Flügger Strand, including a beautiful lighthouse, which we visited on our morning jog. The weather was fantastic for our whole trip! At home people were suffering in the first heat wave of the summer, while at the sea we had very agreeable temperatures of 20° and a blue sky.

Camping Fehmarnbelt is huge, covering a vast area including bays and nature reserves, truly beautiful, with lots of nesting birds and an awesome view on the setting sun. While the evenings were still pretty cold, the sun was warming the days.

Camping Niobe on the other hand offers pine trees and little Scandinavian looking holiday houses you can rent. Linda and me, we took our little boat and dared going onto the water. The sea was a bit cold to swim in, but to lay in the sun, adjusting our little boat to a buoy in order to anchor it, we had a great, chilling time. The men had a great time sharing technical details about campervans while we were catching up about everything that happened after Linda had left Düsseldorf and moved North.

During our stay, Fehmarn celebrated their biggest Surffestival on the Southern side of the island. Here you can find some not so pretty hotel-towers, witnesses from the time when Fehmarn was pretty popular with tourists in the 90s. I had the feeling that today it was much more sportive tourists and nature lovers, leaving a lot of the island truly beautiful.


The sun was greeting us when we left the beautiful island. Probably not for the last time. 

Hundreds of Kites in the Water


Lisek waiting for his share of the barbecue

Beautiful Sundowns

Metallic Sea

Enjoying a glass of wine in the setting sun

Fehmarn, we will be back one day!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cardigan Raja

The pattern is really pretty (excuse the wrong colour, that was probably evening knitting)


Summer is finally here and although this usually means a decline in knitting, this year has been different. I bought some nice yarn on one of our many trips with Scottie and felt motivated to start a new cardigan from the book my brother-in-law gave me for christmas once.

It is a Danish knitting book and has many very beautiful patterns with a lot of structures in it. I already made one cardigan out of it, Palma. Check it out here. This one is called Raja and consists of a semi-open front and a hood. The pattern is worked with increases and decreases and cables. It takes some time to get used to it, but after a while it's relatively easy. Iit fits pretty well, which is great.

Sleeves are still missing. Knitting with dogs is the best. 


The cardigan is intended to have long sleeves, but I had to improvise, as I was running out of yarn. I kind of like the result though, as I can also wear it now, when it gets colder in the evenings.


Done! 


Fits really well


I am a rather slow knitter, but with Raja, I was relatively fast. I might want to do it again one time as the result is pretty nice, even with the cheap yarn that I bought in France.

The next project is also almost finished, a cardigan for a little one.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Edinburgh



Ever since I invited my Mom to come to London (read about it here) with me in 2014, to celebrate her success in learning English and also to motivate her to keep the good work up, we have made it a tradition to go on an annual trip together.

London holds a very special place in my heart and always will. It is this metropolitan vibe that comes with a friendliness you rarely experience in Germany. (Many people will disagree with me, that it is rather inhuman, hectic, noisy, etc., I think it's lovely.) And my Mom agreed with me, we had a wonderful time, sipping wine out of paper cups, sitting on a bench overlooking the Thames. In 2015 we went to Paris, (read about it here) in August, which proved to be a bad time to travel there. The tourist attractions like the catacombs were very busy, while the true "Parisian flair" I had experienced earlier with Mr Schön was missing somehow. Probably because most natives had fled the city for the summer. Still, Paris is like a muse to me. I always feel very inspired whenever I am there. Anyhow, we experienced Paris between the attacks on the people at Charlie Hebdo and the shootings in November. You could already feel that the police and military were extra alert, but I can imagine that the city has again changed severely after the attacks on their way of life in November 2015.

I don't really know who had the idea, I think it was my mother, that our 2016 tour should bring us to Edinburgh. We had both heard a lot about the city already and always wanted to go.When I admit that I LOVE the Scottish accent, my English friends tend to make fun of me, but it's true. It sounds so melodic to me. The rolling "r", the singsong, it just fits all the clichés of Scotland I have in my mind.

We booked  Airbnb apartment again, a beautiful place with great equipment and style, in walking distance from the city center and great bars and restaurants. The host, Chris, was on holiday himself, but a friend of his showed us everything and was very kind. We had a lot of questions in advance and I used Chris as a "native" to give us tips on where to go, what to eat, etc.


As I said before, we both prefer discovering a city walking to public transport, so my mom and me walked until our feet hurt. Edinburgh consists of an Old and a New Town, divided by the Princes Street Gardens. We were pretty lucky with the weather, although it was much colder than in Germany, which made us both buy the same jumper for warmth. If you are in a city you don't know anybody you can also wear partner look with your Mum, because where else will you do that? With our new jumpers we were fully equipped to leave the shopping malls of New Town behind us and climb the steep hill to Old Town. You cannot spend time in Edinburgh and not hear a bagpipe. The pipers are everywhere. And weirdo tourists like me who take pictures of them as well. It was not as crowded as I feared it would be, so we wanderead along the Royal Mile and had already learned how to spot a cheap touristy kilt and how to spot a classy one.

Bag-Pipers are everywhere

New Town has it's charme as well



The old times and dark ages are very much alive in Edinburgh and you are reminded of them when you go through one of the little alleys or passageways. The Royal Mile today might be mostly tourist crap and expensive pubs, but there is still so much history present that it is definitely a good idea to go on a guided tour. One speciality of the city, next to being the writer's capital of the world, is ghost stories. So we took a tour around the graveyards and catacombs of Edinburgh with some of the most gruesome stories. The young student who gave us the tour was brilliant. I translated to my Mom, what she didn't understand, but we decided that for her sakes, we would do another tour in German the next day. It was a different route, different stories and a different tour guide, but still interesting and exciting. This time the tour took us Undergrounds, in the old cellars and catacombes where workingclass people used to have their businesses in the Middle Ages. Apparently those huge areas had been forgotten for a long while until a pub owner wanted to redo his basement and by accident found the entry to this huge maze down there.

One of the many alleys

Edinburgh is also a writer's city and from Sir Walter Scott to J.K. Rowling, they are everywhere!

One of the many pubs we had a drink in

One evening we went to Regent Bar, a pub that our host had recommended us, as it was close to our apartment we decided to have some drinks there. The best cider we had in Edinburgh was right on our first evening at Maxie's, a place that looked so much like a rip-off and still we not only had the best cider there, but also the best fish and chips of our trip. It was yummy! and we were sitting on the terrace overlooking beautiful Victoria Street. One of the best spots in the city.
But that one evening we were at this gay bar Chris had recommended us, which was cozy, later buzzing with locals and really nice to stay in. Sadly my mum hurt her ankle by slipping on the floor a little bit. (It actually looked hilarious, I still remember thinking "She can't be that drunk yet!"). Her ankle swell and the whole foot turned blue after a while. We went to a pharmacy where they were of great assistance and gave us a bandage for my Mom to walk with less pain. I wanted to take a break the next day. but she didn't want to hear it. Arthur's Seat was scheduled for that day and when I tell you it's the highest hill in Edinburgh you will know it was not a great idea to conquer it with a sprained ankle. I checked, it's 251 metres high. We were lucky, it was a sunny day and the area around Arthur's Seat is just amazing. I have never been to the Highlands and of course, 250 metres is not very high, but the countryside, the colours of the grass, everything in that park gives you a glimpse of how beautiful Scotland can actually be.



My mom is a real hero, she walked up that hill and down the other side as we had read than one of the most beautiful villages, Duddingston,  was there, with the oldest pub of Edinburgh, The Sheep Heid Inn. After arriving there, we were both pretty tired and the comfortable leather armchairs made us almost fall asleep. While we were enjoing the hospitality and taking in all the great old-fashioned interior, a wedding party arrived. I can tell you, in Scottish weddings it's not hte bride, it's the men you look at. They were all wearing kilts and special stockings with knifes attached to their calfs. I loved it!
The countryside around the village is adorable, you should pay it a visit when you are there.

Athur's Seat

My mum climbed all the way up with her hurt ankle

Duddingston

The Sheep Heid Inn


One extra you get when you travel to Scotland's capital is the sea. We love the sea, we love harbours, the rough winds, everything about being on the shore. One day we took a bus to the harbour to have a look around. Although there is some interesting architecture, in general we were rather disappointed by it. But we had a nice break, sitting on a bench looking out onto the water and watch a man daringly feeding some seagulls. When dramatic black clouds started to appear we knew we had to get into one of the restaurants, Loch Fyne. It was still pretty early, so we basically had the huge place to ourselves. It must have been one of the old fisherhalls and now is a rather fancy restaurant. We felt very adventurous, so we ordered the Haggis-Springrolls. I was convinced that, when in Edinburgh you have to try Haggis sometime. My mom was less convinced, but the springrolls she was willing to try. And man, they were good! Really tasty!

Harbour Area

Bad weather on it's way...

Haggis Spring Roles. Delicious!

On our last day, Saturday there was a farmer's market on the foot of Edinburgh Castle and I had read that you could buy the best chocolate of Scotland there, The Chocolate Tree, so of course we went! The market was very small, but charming and we got a free sample of lamb stew one the slow food-movement booth. I normally don't like lamb at all, but it was really good, I can tell you. So tender and just perfect with the potatoe and some carrot.

The slow food sample on the market. Yummie!



The chocolate booth didn't disappoint either. They even have some Haggis-flavoured chocolate, which we tried and it is not as bad as it sounds. But we decided to get some salted caramel chocolate for the loved ones at home instead.





A breakfast I had in a cafe around the corner from our flat 

The castle is definitely worth a visit. You know how I don't like crowds and some areas were just so crammed with people, I didn't go in. Instead I waited outside and watched all the people, again some wedding parties, assembling to wait for the famous cannon fire. It is all pretty silly somehow. With big tamtam they shoot a cannon every day at exactly one o'clock. It's all very Mary Poppinsy. But while standing there, my eyes found the dog cemetery underneath us. The officers had buried their beloved dogs there and even given them tombstones. I found that oddly touching. The military leaders of a strong country and they still mourn for their dogs and honour them in such a public way. Very human and kind of cute.

Edinburgh Castle





The dog cemetery

People waiting for the famous cannon shoot

If you are a Christmas fan like me you have to visit the Edinburgh Christmas shop. All year long you can buy jungle stuff in a glittering environment filled with Christmas music. It's awesome. The young woman in the shop was incredibly nice. She loves Christmas just as much as I do and recommended that we visit Edinburgh during that time of year, as Prince's Garden is turning into one big Christmas market and the whole admosphere is magical. I bought a Scotch-terrier-ornament for our Christmas tree. I chose the Scottish tartan pattern-one, of course. It's adorable!

The christmas shop


If you are looking for a place to have a treat, try Mimi's bakehouse. We had our cream tea there and enjoyed it a lot. All the cakes and muffins look so awesome. I could have eaten there everyday!

Food at Mimi's Bakehouse. Yummie!



Our Cream Tea

My mom loved Edinburgh even more than London and Paris and I have to admit, it is a beautiful city with a very charming atmosphere. It's incredibly easy to get in touch with each other in the city's open and welcoming atmosphere and the pub culture reminded me of the famous hospitality of the Rhineland.




Someone has taken the cork from my lunch. W.C. Fields - From a bar in New Town
A typical Edinburgh street
On our way to Arthur's Seat
Me and my Mom

My wonderful breakfast at Bella Italia





Edinburgh Castle from afar