Sometimes it takes a while to find the right match. Yes, I did carry the boot around in my handbag, just in case I found a snippet of time to stop in at my local yarn shop.
When I finally did, I didn’t have the boot, but I did have a colour sample taken using the ColorMate App. I brought home another skein of that lovely Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran, and two 50g balls of Cool Wool from Lana Grossa.
The Cool Wool was a closer match. So, the case has been solved.
Now all I need to settle with my knitting-bestie, is which boot sock we’re going to knit together.
Homemade lantern with storebought light and carrier/ imagemed.org
This weekend, we celebrated quite a few events in southern Germany, to mark the start of the dark half of the year.
Carnival – at 11:11 on November the 11th, the fifth season in the German year starts. And this is taken very seriously here: Karneval, also called Fasnacht and Fasching. I did say that Germans like to party, right? Well, once Oktoberfest is wound up, and the kids have stocked up on Halloween candy (yes, it’s now a thing here as well), then it’s on to Carnival, which stretches all the way around (with Advent and Christmas in the middle)to Rose Monday (where the biggest parades take place in Cologne and in cities along the Rhine!), before Lent starts.
St Martin’s Day – Kids carry around mostly homemade lanterns and sing songs about the generous saint, who cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar.
Each village (kindergartens and primary schools) often hold processions, where children go for a early evening walk with their lanterns and end up at a big bonfire, where St. Martin’s story is reenacted (with a real horse sometimes). Afterwards, punch and snacks are served.
The saint is also associated with geese, so we often have little baked geese (see above) or a Weckmann (where I live, he’s called a Dambedei) for breakfast. Many people also serve goose on St. Martin’s Day as well.
The focus of St. Martin’s Day though is sharing, which I think fits well with our knitting.
Every once in a while, we need a breather from work and partying, and that’s where knitting (in particular slow knitting comes in handy), where we can sit back, relax and start planning how to share our knitting with others:
In other words, who’s on the knit-worthy list in the runup to Christmas (or whichever gift-giving winter holiday you celebrate)?
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.
Are ribs ever not in? I think it’s very much about texture and structure. Solène Le Roux, a designer out of Hong Kong, has some very classic pieces (Rib and Garter Stitch Shawl right, and Ribbed Raglan Sweater top left), while Meghan Fernandes’ contribution to the Slow Knitting book, Spruce features ribbing in cozy cowl form.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I want to include my Sheep Sorrel in as a rib (because panels are also about texture and structure).
Now, I’ve been seeing ruffles for quite a while now, so I will not ask if we have reached ‘peak ruffle.’ If you like ruffles (I love ruffles, and am finally thrilled to have learned how to knit them), then I say knit ruffles.
And lastly, I was disappointed to find that there aren’t a lot of clear definitions on the interwebs about what exactly a Ruana is. So, I’ve done a bit of research for us, my dear readers.
A poncho is more or less a square or rectangular shaped outer garment, with a slit/hole in the middle where the head slips through. They can be knit on the bias (with a point in front), or straight (often referred to as a serape). In contrast, a ruana looks like a T or a Y when lain flat. Deidre at BiddyMurphy says that ruanas come from the Andes region of Venezuela, and the word originally meant ‘Lord of Blankets.’ They may or may not have a hood attached, but tend to generally be longer than a poncho.
I’m knitting Pam Allen’s Sheep Sorrel hat using Falkland Aran by Debbie Bliss in Claret. This is a soft, shiny organic wool, from a farming community in the Falklands. It’s a three-ply, with a good amount of twist, stitch definition, and has a good amount of loft (ie very springy and squishy) and elasticity.
The pattern is clearly and efficiently written, even including instructions on how to do the cables with and without a cable needle.
Why bother You can knit faster. You know when sections change, and know what comes next. You can find (and correct) errors faster. With a recurring pattern, you reading your knitting means you understand what the designer intended, and you can actually let go of the pattern (which means portability). Many people often praise patterns for being easy to memorize. Reading your knitting means you don’t need to memorize at all.
How-to Read the general description in the pattern introduction first. This will not click at first. But we’ll come back to that later.
Then look at the pattern section. Make a rough stitch chart if there isn’t one. (If there is, then skip to the next step). It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough for you to understand. The Sheep Sorrel hat has a 15 stitch repeat over 4 rounds.
Do a mini-swatch
If you are a learning-by-doing knitter like me, making a swatch to learn a pattern isn’t such a hardship. Cast on the required stitch number plus 6 extra for a 3 stitch border on each side. Place stitch markers, so you don’t forget where your border sits. Knit three rows (for a garter stitch/ non rolling edge) and then get going. Once you’ve done two or three repeat, finish off with with three knit rows and bind off.
I wouldn’t bother cutting my yarn. This swatch isn’t to be blocked, so it is perfectly fine to rip it out after, and knit it into the hat.
I definitely am not a big fan of swatching in the round, however I wanted to see how quickly it would take me to learn the pattern on the fly. I took me four repeats, dear Readers. In my defense, a glass of red wine was involved.
On the fly
Once you’ve gotten into knitting the pattern, exactly as written (a stitch marker after each repeat will help you keep your place), stop and have a good look at what’s on the needles.
Now is the time to revisit that general description and compare it to what you have before you. Sheep Sorrel seems to be about panels and mini-cables (actually twisted stitches, but hey, let’s not quibble). We can see that the garter and patterned panels alternate and are separated by columns of cable. We also see that each column of cable has a p1 before and after it.
Once I realized this, I realized that one type of twist was used per column. Some columns twisted to the right and others to the left. That meant I could undo and repair any twist that was incorrect (if something looks like an S, then it’s wrong). I left one S, because nothing in this world is perfect.
At this point, I knit another round, without peeking, to see if I understood the pattern. Once I had done that, checked, then made my corrections, I knew I could let go the pattern and continue the required length of knitting. I wouldn’t say that I’ve memorized the pattern, but I’ve understood the logic behind it: I want to keep my panels going, and the cables twisting the right way round.
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:
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
Grow by Norah Gaughan
Sheep Sorrel by Pam Allen
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.
There are now a few brave independent yarn dyers doing amazing things with wool and various fibre blends. Here are a few that I know about:
Sock weight in Flaschenpost/ Message in a bottle.
Wollmeise is the nickname of Claudia Höll-Wellman (her husband is the Rohrspatz, and it’s a bit of a play on bird names plus their hobbies – she likes wool and he likes metallworking and Rohr is German for a metal tube or pipe), who just seems to have not only a hand for making lovely colours, but also very inventive colour names as well. She got started in 2002, when she couldn’t seem to find the colours she wanted to knit with. She has grown a very large and devoted following, and quite frankly has put her small town of Pfaffenhofen in Bavaria on the knitter’s world map.
She’s recently opened a brick and mortar shop and occasionally holds open days and sales, that have people all over Germany stopping off in Pfaffenhofen. If you can’t get there in person just yet, you can have a browse around her very modern and efficient web shop (in German and English) and look at the shop on her Panorama Viewer. Gorgeous!
Dye for Yarn & Dye for Wool
Gesplittete Kalk (silk merino DK weight) by DyeforYarn
Naughty Piglet (merino/baby camel fingering weight) by DyeforWool
foto source: DyeforWool Etsy shop
I love the story of how two scientists, met at work and discovered their shared love for shawl knitting. Cordula Surmann-Schmitt and Nicole Eitzinger also couldn’t find the laceweight yarns they wanted on the German market, so they decided to try their hand at importing and dyeing them themselves. Their Etsy shop DyeforYarn started in early 2010, while their second shop DyeforWool was started in October of the same year. They also opened an In Real Life shop in Fürth near Nürnberg (Nueremberg).
They have a quirky sense of humour, which comes out in their yarn names which often have to do with death, decay and things that may not sound so appetizing (Splitted Lime and Naughty Piglet above are good examples), but when translated to yarn are just lovely, show that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. They do fairly small batches in lace-, fingering- and DK weights, so it’s crucial to get a sufficient quantity of yarn all at once.
It’s quite a treat to browse through their Etsy shop, especially their Cabinet of Wonders and their Cabinet of Horrors, special sections with skeins they think are particulary beautiful, and not quite successful respectively. They also do a lovely Advents calendar in the runup to Christmas, which is also worth checking out.
Jule Kebelman is a textile designer and teacher who lives just outside Berlin. She also produces small batches of organic plant-dyed regional wools. HeyMamaWolf is small but is definitely worth watching, as Kebelman is working with and sourcing her wool regionally (ie in Germany), although many yarn companies prefer to source outside Germany as the wool isn’t considered fine enough. Plus she gets some amazing colours using plant dyes.
Not just footwear, but sock season. Because where there are boots, there are very often also socks.
My best knitting friend asked me if we could knit something together. #bestfriendbonding. At first she mentioned us knitting a Pullover together, but because I had been talking about my boots that I really want to wear more often this autumn and winter, she said we have to knit socks. My breath caught and that is when I realized that I have sock anxiety. Now technically, I do know how to knit socks. I’ve done it before. babysize and adult-size. As gifts. I just haven’t knit socks for me.
So I took a few deep breaths, and decided to puzzle out what I would like to knit to wear with my ankle wedge booties. I can’t find an exact picture of my booties. These are similar, and from the same company that sells organic and fair clothing, Waschbär.
top left: Boot in ‘bordeaux’ from Waschbär; Bottom left: Ankle boot in ‘chianti’ from Enna; middle: Wedge bootie in ‘vino’ from Punto Pigro; right: Alhambra bootie in red from El Naturalista
Now, according to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, the trends are basically sky-high boots, combat boots, slouchy boots, red, metallics, glitter, embellishments, white and so on.
Here’s my what if: What if I matched the red of my boot, and knit matching boot socks. Kinda like
… in effect elongating the line of the leg. They could be pulled straight like a sky-high boot or slouched like a slouchboot (in theory).