Summer Reading

macro photography of black sunglasses on sand
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

My kids absolutely hate the thought of doing anything remotely school-related during the summer. And that includes reading anything that could possibly be edifying or remotely educating in any way. I, on the other hand, like to stock up on books throughout the year so that I have something nearby to read, when the days get too sticky and muggy for me to even contemplate taking up a knitting needle.

Here are a few books (fiction and non-fiction), that I’ve read in summers past, that I can recommend, and what’s on my ‘reading now’ part of the bookshelf… What are you reading this summer?

Books to Change how we see People
Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The reading of this taught me that gender does not have anything to do with love, friendship and heroism.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Fascinating what behavioral scientists learn about us humans.
Going, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. Recently translated German bestseller about Germany’s attempt to come to grips with what immigration really means.

Books to Change how we see the world around us
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Another translated bestseller written by a forester about how trees grow, form friendships, raise their kids and have a different sense of time than we do.
The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schätzing. Packed with research and action, bringing science fiction and environmentalism together. I would love this to be filmed.

On My Bookshelf
Limit by Frank Schatzing. My son gave this to me as a gift, and it’s a bit of a doorstop.
Book of Knitting Patterns by Mary Thomas – I jump backwards and forwards trying to envision these timeless patterns in modern yarns living in my stash at the moment.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin  Nosrat. Because it’s lovely to laze somewhere in the shade and read about food and look at the gorgeous illustrations.

 

 

Other reading lists:

Guardian reading list

TED’s summer reading list

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Wedding knits

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So knits for weddings? Apparently it’s a Thing.

So, in honour of Ms. Meghan Markle’s wedding to HRH Henry Prince of Wales, I thought we’d take a look at wedding knits.

Handcrafted wedding Dresses have been around for as long as there has been handcrafting.

 

Shirley Paden’s Lace Dress and the crocheted Chrysanthemum Gown by Chi Krneta (on a slight side note: Shirley Paden is an amazing designer – a designer’s designer. And her book Knitwear Design Workshop is a true knitter’ resource).

These days there are also wedding veils, wedding shawls, capes, capelets, boleros and shrugs, wristlets and the list goes on. (To illustrate, I’ve chosen clockwise from top left: Nicole Markley’s I Thee Wed fingerless gloves, Carol Feller’s Summer Affair, Louise Fitzpatrick’s Summer Rose capelet and Alison Reilly’s Wedding Canopy Chuppah) Often done in fingering or laceweight yarns, these pieces can and do become hierlooms for the families lucky enough to have such a  dedicated crafter in their midst.

Technically, anyone can knit a wedding item: ‘all’ that is required is time, patience, ability to follow a pattern and willingness to frog to correct any errors.  Would you knit for your or a loved one’s wedding? Or have you?

I hope you enjoy the royal wedding. I know I will. I’m inviting friends over for a viewing with champagne and finger sandwiches! And maybe some knitting…

 

 

Scifi and Avantgarde fashion

Comme des Garcons ss2018
Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons SS2018

Looking at the work of Avantgarde Designers like Rei Kawakubo is a little bit like reading a science fiction book in one gulp. It’s not the same Thing as looking up what trend forecasters are saying or projecting for the next Season (or several Seasons in advance) – although that can be fun too.

My Book Club is looking at science fiction novels, and I had the distinct pleasure of reading prolific author Ray Bradbury’s ‘There will come Soft Rains‘ from “The Martian Chronicles” at our Christmas Party. It’s amazing how stories published in 1950s are still relevant and gripping today.

This month, we’re moving on from “Blade Runner” to Cixin Liu’s “The Three Body Problem.” It’s a challenge, to choose books for people who know nothing about science fiction and claim not to be interested in anything ‘Star Warsy’ (even though Star Wars is turning out to be more space opera/space fantasy than scifi, and that’s ok too).

Just as in science fiction, avantgarde fashion asks us ‘What if?’ In her Spring Summer Pret à Porter collection, I think Kawakubo is posing the question of what it would look like if we were to seriously recycle what we have, now that we are at peak stuff? Through the lense of clothes? One answer may very well be a profuse collage of textiles, colours and prints.

Which leads me to ask myself: what would it look like through the lense of knitting?

Fashion as Design: heroes

What does my hero wear?

nnedi okorafor binti oomza uni
What does my hero wear? Image source: Polyvore.com

In the second week of the course, we have been looking at society’s heroes: Military, pop and cultural heroes. And of course, how these have influenced Fashion, from Bruce Lee’s tracksuit, to the trenchcoat, hoodies and MoonBoots. We were also asked to reflect on our own heroes. And what they would wear.

My hero of the Moment is Binti, from nigerian-american sci-fi and fantasy author Nnedi Okorafor. Binti is a young math prodigy from a future Earth, who leaves her home and Family to be the first to go to University off-world. She’s a member of the southern African Himba People, who cover their Skin and hair with a red clay mix called Ojitze.

In the novel, even though they are skilled craftsmen of futuristic Technologies, they maintain a crucial link through their clothes to their roots.  Okorafor describes Binti as being the only one from her ethnic group going to University, so she pretty much stands out (as she does in the general science-fiction/ fantasy landscape) with dark skin, different clothes and hair braided with her family codes and coated with ojitze.

Her clothes and the accessories she takes from home with her basically help her become heroic, and broker a peace between warring civilizations. The collage above, is my visualization of Binti’s ‘running away’ outfit, which is at once a mix of traditional and futuristic: A silky red skirt, a functional orange softshell jacket, anklets to protect against snakes in the grass, her high-tech astrolabe on a chain and mysterious edan (reimagined as a box clutch). 

What would your hero wear?

 

 

 

 

 

Newsstand Review: Brigitte

brigitte

It’s on my to-do list every year, to have a look in at the Brigitte magazine’s Knit Feature in autumn. This year it’s quite lovely. Twenty-one very wearable and very knittable designs styled with designer (and non-designer clothing).

fotosource: Brigitte magazine

These are my absolute favourites (including the rainbow pullover on the cover). Oversized pieces, relaxed silhouettes, drop shoulders, snuggly hygge-inspired. And yet each piece has a little something to make it extra special – yarn embroidery, colour-blocking, ends left hanging as tassels, contrast colour edgings.
It’s shaping up to be a very snuggly (the German word is kuschelig)  knit-season this year.

Newsstands: Knitting Magazines in Germany

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This survey in no way claims to be a comprehensive list of all knitting magazines published in Germany. It is however a list based on what you would find in any well-stocked local supermarket or yarn shop.

Publications by Yarn Companies – like the one above, the yarn companies are now putting out their catalogues, which look more like Fashion magazines. Filati from Lana Grossa, and Made by Me – Handknitting from Rico. Depending on which yarns the LYS carries, you’ll find a variety of these magazines in yarn shops, but also on the magazine racks in supermarkets, bookstores and even railway stations.

 

brigitte

Publications in women’s magazines – like Brigitte. Although Brigitte has recently branched off into the yarn market. They have launched a wool line, in cooperation with Lana Grossa, they publish a yearly knit-issue, and have launched a Special Edition Brigitte Creative magazine, with patterns and kits for sale. Another notable magazine venturing into patterns and yarn and kits is Landlust, which started out as a magazine celebrating living the good life in the countryside. Their patterns turned out to be so successful, that it seems only natural that they now offer the yarns (lovely tweedy yarns).

 

verena

Publications by craft companies – for some strange reason (probably post-war Mad Men era publishers and ad-men deciding what housewives wanted) most of the craft-focused magazines have girly names like Ana, Diana, Verena, and Sabrina. There’s also Häkeln for you (for crocheters) and a Stricktrends (Knittrends).

A solid exception is Burda, well-known for years in sewist circles, they started out with Burda Stricken, and has recently responded to the growing market for more creative crafty magazines by putting out a Burda Creative with a wider mix of interesting craft projects.

Following this upsurge, we also saw the introduction of Mollie Makes in German, and of course, The Knitter, more or less recycling years-old material for German knitters.

One final note: International knitting publications from the US  (like Interweave) and the UK (like the english version of The Knitter), are available mostly in railway stations or in the larger chain bookstores. Vogue Knitting is called Designer Knitting outside the US.

Where do you prefer to get your knitting magazines?

Food for thought: Yarn

 

“Yarn is not a lost puppy, looking for a home. Above all, … it is a commitment not only of money, but also time.

Knowing where it comes from matters, because you will be spending countless hours together – make sure you have found yourself in good company.”

 

– Hannah Thiessen, Slow Knitting: from sheep to skein to stitch. Abrams Publishing

Slow knitting and Slow Fashion October

slowknitting_hannahthiessenfotosource: Amazon.de

I know so many people are talking about this book. There is reason. It’s actually about time that someone wrote down and gave a name to so many of these concepts that have been swirling around the knitting community for a while now. In much the same way that the Slow Food community has changed the way many of us think about and even talk about food, it is my wish that Slow Knitting and the concepts outlined here, will change the way we think about our craft and the connection it has to the wider natural world around us. Well done Hannah Thiessen!

The concepts at a glance:

  • Source Carefully
  • Produce Thoughtfully
  • Think Environmentally
  • Experiment Fearlessly
  • Explore Openly

You can find the patterns included by various designers here. Katie Meek’s photography is stunning, allowing the yarn to be the main attraction, while not detracting from the atttractive designs. My favourites from the collection are

fotosource: Ravelry.com

Grow by Norah Gaughan and the Sheep Sorrel mini collection of hat and fingerless mitts by Pam Allen.

Karen Templar’s short guest essay, Reflections on a Slow Wardrobe is both moving and inspiring. And yes, it fits perfectly that this book has launched in Slow Fashion October. The book is thankfully more than the sum of the patterns it contains. Each concept is covered briefly in a chapter, with yarn profiles and patterns to round them out. There is also particularly tempting Yarns for Thought, which I feel barely skim the surface of important topics like Handmade, Organic, Free Range, Innovation and Wanderlust.

I’m looking forward to taking part in the global discussion around the concepts of Slow Fashion and Slow knitting. Of course there’s a Ravelry Group with discussions and knitalongs (KALs) in the works.

 

Celebrating this month…

5th Anniversary PomPom Quarterly – I know it’s been going on since summer, but I’ thought I’d wrap it all up here. How time flies: PomPom Quarterly is 5 years old. A high quality, gorgeous magazine.

 

fotosource: Ravelry

My favourites from the Anniversary issue: Anniversaire by Veera Välimäki; Fête by Bristol Ivy. And of course, we can keep on celebrating, because the new Autumn issue is out.

Soumack_OlgaBuraya-Kefelianfotosource: Ravelry

My favourite this month are the Soumak fingerless mitts by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. Why only one this week? I’m kind of over PomPom’s seeming fascination with the cropped sweater silhouette. I’m not sure it’s flattering on every body shape. And not every knitter wants that twee look.

 

35th Anniversary of Vogue Knitting – Vogue Knitting is celebrating 35 years in its current iteration (the brand is actually 85 years old, but age is just a number, and if you can dance like a 35 year old at the ripe old age of 85, well then!)

Editorial Director, Trisha Malcolm does an interesting interview with Kara Gott Warner on the powerpurlspodcast. There’s also a link to the free collection of 35th anniversary patterns. My favourites:

fotosource: Ravelry

from left: Sleeve Scarf/Wrap by Barb Brown, Fringe Pullover by Norah Gaughan; Long Coat by Pierrot

 

First Episode of Vicki Howell’s The Knit Show – if there is anything more conducive to binge watching and/or binge knitting, it is Vicki Howell’s new project. We donated to the Kickstarter fund to get the show off the ground, and now it’s here. And it is a delight!

vickihowell_theknitshow

fotosource: theknitshow.com

I know I should be objective, and I will objectively tell you that I wanted to be charmed, and I was. It is a sleek production, fluid, interesting with high production values. I felt she rushed along Oejung Kim from Loopy Mango in episode 2 a little bit. Some of the demo knitters’ hands were shaking (from nerves). And Howell often had to remind knitters to turn the work to the camera more. So, a few hiccups there.

Talk about ready-made community. She called us ‘hivesters’. My geek girl preened! Of course I’m a hivester. Yarncrafts rock! (Just had to get that out! #feelsomuchbetternow) The set decoration threw me for a bit of a loop, as the retro feel just screams 70s. However, she seems to have chosen the bee hive motif,  calling it a ‘knit hive.’

“A nod to the knitting bees of old and the modern, “hive mind” mentality that refers to the gathering of stitchers, either physically or virtually, for the purpose of supporting and sharing a common passion for knitting, crochet, crafts and creativity.”

-The Knit Show website

I’m only one and a half episodes in, but so far I want to knit all the patterns I’ve seen:

counterclockwise: PomPom Picot socks by Lydia Gluck; Northfield Gradient Shawl by Kathy Elkins for Webs in the episode one shownotes; Aster Flower Scarf by Loopy Mango in the episode two shownotes.

I also VERY much enjoyed the talk with Skacel’s Ingrid and Karin Skacel. Especially Ingrid. Ingrid is a very astute business woman, who emigrated to the US and opened her import business because she saw a niche in the US knitting market. And so Skacel is the US distributor of Zitron, Schoppel and Addi. So although Karin was more fluent and everything, I’d  love to hear more from Ingrid (she’s sitting there sweetly, looking like someone’s favourite grandma who gives the best hugs and handknit socks, when really she’s also the woman who made circular needles BIG in the US) about her knitting journey over the years.

Just because someone is searching for words, doesn’t mean they don’t have awesome stories to tell or cool things to teach us. So kudos to The Knit Show for being inclusive.

Looking forward to more binge watching.

Throwback Friday

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Next week, Kara Gott Warner’s the PowerPurls Patron StashTherapy Challenge. To mark the occasion, I got this down from the bookshelf. Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has been around for a while now. (Not quite a classic, yet) It’s sparked quite a lot of discussion in maker circles (among knitters and other stash-keepers) and given rise to a new verb: to kondoize (thanks badassquilterssociety!)

Is stash clutter? I think it depends on where you put it, rather than the yarn itself. If it gets in the way, then it might be clutter. If it is stored thoughtfully, mindfully, aesthetically, then it could never be a bother.