The Queen’s Gambit: searching for Mother

Recreating a womb-feeling/ Screenshot, The Queen‘s Gambit, Netflix.

It’s a fairly new series on Netflix. Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. I think I may just take the time to go read it.
The series though is getting a lot of push by Netflix and is steadily climbing the Top Ten in Germany list. Am I being snarky if I say that I don’t overly care by what other people are watching? Well, it’s nice to know, but I’m trying to curate my Netflix algorithm, so…

Still, the series fits my loose set of wants. Historical, unusual topic, character-driven, gorgeous costumes. So, why not, I thought.
The first thing that hit me, is that Anna Taylor-Joy is even more Amélie than Amélie (remember Audrey Tatou in the 2001 hit?), even down to the

Beth Harmon, The Queen‘s Gambit/Netflix
By the end of the second episode, I get the feeling that the fashion transformation will be fascinating to watch (Tom and Lorenzo already have an in-depth look at the chess-themed costuming). In this regard, it reminds me a lot of Lewis Carrol‘s Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is also based on a chess game, where Alice moves from pawn to Queen (check out the book, not the movie).

The reason this series resonates with so many people who know nothing about chess, and haven’t played Lewis Carroll‘s chess problem to get a pawn to checkmate in eleven moves, is that the series thoroughly mines the archetype of the Mother complex in a way we can all relate.
Beth is the gifted prodigy searching for family, friendship, love and belonging. Chess is actually incidental.
Almost every female character is a fascinating study that makes me want to dive deeper. Beth‘s mom, the math genius who lives in Beth‘s memory as giver of hard but valuable advice (imagine calling your ex „a rounding error“!), the replacement mom Alma who tries to finds new purpose in becoming a manager-mom.
It’s painful to see Beth getting picked on by the mean girls in school, but the pay-off comes firstly when Beth sitting with the Apple Pi girls, in a chic little black dress, realizes she‘s a swan and will never be a duck. A real Ugly Duckling moment.
And when she finds her tribe, it‘s all the more heartwarming how she puts herself back together with their help and moves on to her happy end.

A great series. Well done Netflix, well done German costume designer Gabriele Binder (and her team) and well done to the entire cast.

Agnes Claude’s embroidery for Beth’s linen dress/ Netflix, Brooklyn Museum

If you’re not in the mood to take up embroidery, but want close ups and a bit of background to some of the costumes, visit the Brooklyn Museum’s online Exhibition.

Stay safe.

Q notes: Time, Duration & Bernie‘s mitts

photo: Feel the Bern sweater by Caitlin Hunter.

What do Bernie‘s mitts that he wore on the campaign trail have to do with the Met Gala‘s theme of Time and Duration? Quite a lot actually.
Senator Sanders‘ gloves were made from recycled wool by primary school teacher Jen Ellis. The image of Sanders dressed sensibly and warmly at the President‘s Inauguration ceremony went viral, and so did the gloves. To date there are over 100 Bernie-themed pillows, coffee mitts, crocheted dolls, mitts, cowls and hats on ravelry waiting for makers to get started. Caitlin Hunter’s free Feel the Bern sweater pattern is available on Ravelry.
Sanders‘ gloves aren’t actually knit, but are made from repurposed knitted sweaters. In other words, the fabric of older knitted sweaters are cut up and used to create mitts. Classic upcycling. It‘s a great way to reuse already existing materials (especially that polyester fleece for lining) that may have been discarded and was on its way to the landfill. It’s lovely to support new and sustainable materials- whether plant- or animal-based, but simply switching to new materials and supporting yarn manufacturers new blends doesn’t answer the question: what do we do with all the stuff we have NOW?
Which brings us right along to the Metropolitan Museum‘s cancelled gala, whose theme was About Time: Fashion and Duration. We generally so dazzled by the celebrities on the red carpet, that we forget that there’s a well-researched and presented exhibition behind the spectacle.

Here‘s a link to the Met‘s online extended preview and virtual tour with curator Andrew Bolton. It’s fascinating to see how concepts in fashion last through the years, even if they are later revisited with different materials. I‘ve read theories, which claim that a generation has to pass before any specific idea is revisited. Still, which ideas are worth revisiting? Heck, the whole system needs to be reconsidered, and Covid shutdowns provided an involuntary pause needed to reconsider. Maybe our idea around the future of fashion also needs to consider what to do with the clothing that already exists. So although I loved the fashion on show at the Inauguration, Bernie‘s mittens were the brightest light for the way forward.

Other related posts:

Is the future of fashion green?


Less but Better

Knitseason 2020-21

So, I‘ve finally finished my Emma Cardigan, and have cast on directly for another one. At time of writing, I‘m halfway through.
No one will believe that this really is a quick knit because the first one took me more than six months to complete. I spent ages waffling on how to put the pockets in (so chuffed about that bee-print fabric), then I just did it, only to spend more months waffling on how to close up the armpits.
A couple weeks ago, I discovered Søstrene Grene, a small Danish chain in Trier and brought home a sweater quantity of this soft pink bamboo-wool blend. Lana Grossa just put out their winter collection and this fuschia pink turtleneck vest (above, left) grabbed my attention.
Now that the weather is turning chilly, I‘ve started thinking about cowls, dickeys and vests to keep my throat and chest warm.

Kids are back in kindergarten and school, bringing home the sniffles. But for adults, one wrong sniffle or cough can be awkward out in public these days.

Stay healthy.

Summer‘s over

My impressions of summer: The Porta Nigra and other sights to see in Trier, Boutique hotel Jungenwald and the Alte Zunftscheue restaurant in Traben-Trarbach on the Mosel river, my Emma cardigan is finally finished. And harvesting pears.

In and around the Stubaital glacier in Austria. I don’t know how anyone can deny global warming or climate change. The glacier is almost gone. It’s shocking and truly sad to see the efforts the folks in Stubaital are making to protect what’s left…
And now Autumn is upon us. What are you looking forward to this knitting/ crafting season?

Summer Catch-up

Well, school‘s out once again. The temperatures have shot up and most people had to reconsider their holiday plans. Some decided to anyway. We all watched with bated breath. And a few came come with Covid-19, but the health authorities are doing what they can to get people tested at airports and train stations.
A lot of people, unable or unwilling to travel overseas are looking into traveling within Germany or to stable neighboring countries.
This summer we‘ve been chilling at home watching shows like – „Eurovision, The Story of Fire Saga“, which is a must see, not only for the fabulous knits (I was laughing so hard, I only managed to snap this pic), but also for the fairly humorous explanation of what the heck Eurovision is, and why Europeans go gaga every spring.

This year, the show was cancelled, so the film was a lovely replacement. There were a lot of real Eurovision stars from former years to spot, and the music was actually as good as what we would have seen in the show! (Link to the singalong)

All Europeans vote in by telephone or App, but the catch is you can’t vote for your own country. Sort of like regular people wearing cloth masks: you’re not protecting yourself, but other people as a public service.

Stay safe and healthy, and keep on crafting.

Knitting BLM

Michelle Bernard/ GetKnitfacedinCo  source:


I think it’s all been said by now. But I like Michelle Bernard‘s BLM Dishcloth because it invites us even in mundane moments to remember what the movement stands for.

Books better than „White Fragility“:

If you want the facts, take a moment to read „White Rage“ by Dr Carol Anderson, a history professor who looks at the development of a system intent on keeping certain people in their place. She explains what she means in this video.

Richard Rothstein‘s „The Color of Law“ is also eye opening. Here‘s a short talk he gave about the myth of segregation in the US. 

And Jane Elliot‘s „A Collar in my pocket- the blue eyes brown eyes exercise“ or the documentary about her work called „A Class Divided.“ There are several things interesting about her exercise:
a) how quickly adults (even though the exercise was developed to be used for young children) seem to believe preposterous statements once they are based on science.

b) how quickly people will accept a status quo, especially if they are on the comfortable side.

c) how distressed participation made people and how they refuse to make the analogy to current events. Here is the exercise taking place on the Oprah Show

d) how the language Ms. Elliott used is eerily similar to the language politicians have used to and about the Black Community or the Civil Rights movement.

I think instead of trying to convince people that they are racist, often against their will, we should be telling them what they can do to change the system: helping people get registered to vote, and contacting local and state government representatives to stop redlining in housing policy and voter suppression. 



Q Notes 9: WFH wear

We have seen a strong demand for the giant collar blouse this spring.

Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director of Net-a-Porter/ The Guardian
Clover Stitch Collar and Cuffs by The Spool Cotton company /

The Guardian recommends, in the days of working from home and online meetings, a collar in order to stand out on screen. It’s more significant that that, I feel – such a collar is drawing attention back to the face.
And it drew my attention to handmade fashion of the 1920s and 30s, when fabulous handknit and -crocheted collars and cuffs were used to pep up their outfits.
So, I‘ve been looking at designs for collars (not jabots, those ruffled collars now inextricably linked to US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg)


My favourites so far:
Collar and Cuffs Militaire by Spool Cotton company (crochet)

Sunday Collar by PetiteKnit

Ruby by Luisa Harding proves that a collar doesn’t have to be large, the color contrast can work wonders as well.

A Crisp Collar in Crochet by Patons & Baldwins (crochet)

Those gals sure knew how to change up an outfit with the minimum of fuss. A few evenings knitting or crocheting can give quite a return on the time invested. Looks lovely.


World Hope Manifesto

Here‘s the full text of Lij Edelkoort‘s World Hope Manifesto. What do we think?


Under siege from the Covid-19 virus, many people have come to understand that they should change their behaviour patterns, no longer travelling too much, producing too much, consuming too much or using up too many resources. The comfort of being at and working from home, wasting time instead of money, has led people away from their addiction to material things and into a realm of sharing, caring and making. Making food, making music, making love and making clothes and crafts have become the centre of life; learning the improvisation skills that ignite a more creative culture. Most people don’t want to go back to the same old society, and long to change their lives forever.


Many companies, designers and directors hear this call for change and know they shouldn’t miss this chance for the sweeping restructuring of business, slowing down its pulse.

By the end of this pandemic, as if after a war, only our buildings will remain standing and everything else will have changed. It is certain that many enterprises will be forced into a leaner way of producing goods and services, with some companies skipping production lines that are no longer considered vital, keeping today’s products for next year’s offering, and professing a more frugal business sense. Established designers are reconsidering the amount of items they want to conceive and realise, recalibrating their assortment in line with precisely calculated demand.


Fashion has the unique opportunity to roll back the insane practice of delivering cashmere in May and swimwear in November. In an after-virus future people should be able to buy a winter coat in winter and a summer short in summer. Clothes will probably become essential and more uniform. Product design will also gain crucial momentum, giving shape to autonomous design on a smaller scale, handcrafted in ateliers, keeping a privileged connection with collectors and clients alike.

Disasters are known as powerful ignition tools for radical ways of transforming business practices. Many countries will fund the return of production to their own shores and outsourcing will become more diverse and less excessive, taking better care of workers and the environment.

To harvest these emerging ideas – as well as learn from the good practice established before this global disaster – we wish to organize an international platform to counterbalance the World Economic Forum.


The World Hope Forum is a new gathering that will include climate change on its agenda as well as caring for all neglected people involved in production chains and services. Under the leadership of ambassadors chosen in participating countries, the World Hope Forum will bring together speakers and selected case studies, good practices, retail reinventions and innovative ideas that will sprout in the spring of revival. Different solutions and scenarios brought together in a global (virtual) forum once a year. Dynamic concepts and economic data will be analysed and exchanged, for all of us to learn from and to inspire our creative energies. The results will be subsequently published and open-source access will allow others to follow. Rebuilding the renaissance of society together.


We can start up from scratch and build new systems where social and common aspects outweigh the ego, where morals and values overrule shareholder profits, and where collaboration and cooperation prevail to give more people equal opportunities. We have no choice but to join forces and stand together. New pacts need to be forged between fibre farmers, yarn makers, textile industries and fashion houses, between raw material producers, independent designers and their craftspeople. Whole chains need to be integrated, stimulated by federal funds, finding a shared interest and income from this rebirth in business. The economy of hope has the potential to transform society from within.

Qnotes 8: Still around

Hey there,

Just a quick note to let you know that I‘m still around. Been busy taking care of family, which is more intense when we were in lockdown together.

Oddly enough, I thought I‘d have loads of time for making, which was flat out wrong. It’s been a whirlwind of cleaning, cooking, gardening and supervising homeschooling.
It’s as if Germany has taken a huge technological leap forward, to a more everyday use of communications tools (like Zoom, MS Teams and Jitsi) that were previously the domain of people who worked in IT or very large international companies.
We‘re slowly opening up again, and face masks are now part of the pre-departure checklist:

Shoes ✅

Keys ✅

Facemask ✅

Here in Germany, we called them a variety of names at first, but once the government started to recommend people make and wear cloth masks, the name Alltagsmaske (=everyday mask) has stuck. Some folks now match their mask to their clothes.
My sons requested dark grey or black for when school starts back. In the middle of stitching, my sewing machine needle broke, so I had to complete it by hand. Sewing by hand is actually rather soothing.

It‘s all gotten me thinking about Li Edelkoort‘s Age of the Amateur and our societal reset after lockdown. Will people be in the mood to shop? Will everything go back to normal? Or are we truly going to remake our society via our purchasing power?
Mary Portas called it The Kindness Economy in a Tedx talk last December. She has a retail consulting agency, and has a spanking new newsletter called „The Reset“ which just now, is a delight to read. If you haven’t seen her on ‚Mary Portas- Secret Shopper‘ yet, then you’re in for a treat when/if you do.

Are we going to be able to „use our hands to save our brains“, as Li said in 2018, while forecasting trends two years in advance?

Q notes 7: Black in Fashion

If you can spare the time, Michel Pastoureau’s Black: The History of a Color will take us from the beginning of recorded history through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and on into modern times. He argues quite credibly, that up until Sir Isaac Newton’s experiments in optics in the 17th Century, proved that colours were made by “breaking up” white light, and that black wasn’t even on the spectrum, people DID think of black as a colour.

It’s a fascinating and accessible read, with lots of lovely images from various types of Art through the ages – I never thought it would be so interesting to find out about how artists and artisans mixed black, or worked to dye cloth a deep black, and how the meanings that Europeans attached to black would swing back and forth.

Funnily enough Pastoureau’s book took me back to a Coursera course I just completed: Magic in the Middle Ages. Not just the connection between Black, the devil and witches, but also how Islamic magic contributed to European/Western rediscovery of Greek science writing, which inspired Newton and as a result modern science.

Other links:

Blogger Manrepeller talks about black as a fashion uniform,

Dazed has a brief history of the shade in fashion,

Bourncreativ discusses several modern meanings  of black as a colour; and

This Jungian Life Podcast goes deeper and explains the psychological meanings associated with one particular type of black, Nigredo

Interweave’s Ten Tips for working with dark yarn.

Stay safe and healthy.