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.
German edition /source: Diogenes.ch
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?
If China’s going to be taking less of our waste on, then we have to start to seriously look at how to produce less waste. In all aspects of our lives. This is some serious world-changing, so I am on tenterhooks. What will happen next? Will we make the Change we want to see happen? Will it take?
All the same, these things tend to do well when we start one step at a time.
As makers, we’re in a unique position to do something practical. This week, December 2-10 is Make Something Week, to turn our thoughts away from necessarily buying something in gift-giving season, but towards how we can take time to consider our own wardrobe needs, or the people we want to give a gift.
Even a small step is a start, and as German poet Herman Hesse wrote:
In every new beginning lives a special magic,
protecting us and helping us to live…
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).
Knit edition/ Brigitte.de
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.
It occurred to me, that I hadn’t listed every yarn I knew of from Germany, so here are some more:
Is a bit more on the luxurious end of the market. They have yarns with fibre blends including Yak and Silk. They often are advertised as being produced to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Productclass 1, however, this just means that there aren’t any harmful chemicals in the product. There are actually much higher categories/ labels (such as Standard 100plus, Standard 1000, Made in Green and STeP, the last two being an organic label and a sustainable textile production label). So Oeko-Tex100 is kind of a basic, if you ask me.
Here we’ve got the famous Zauberballs (Ann from MasonDixonKnitting has actually pulled one apart). I’m told they’re addictive. And I do not doubt it. Although they are originally made for socks with about 25% nylon, they make just about any project into a lovely explosion of colour. I’m particularly keen on trying out El Linio (next year, maybe).
If you’re in the area of the Swabian Alb (that’s southwest Germany), this yarn company also produces the Albmerino line made from local merino sheep in collaboration with a local shepherding company. The way I understand this, is that the majority of sheep are kept in Germany for the meat. So Schäferei Stotz produces lamb meat for sale directly to consumers and also to high-end restaurants like Traube Tonbach (three Michelin stars for a hotel restaurant tucked away in a tiny Black Forest village: the food is melt-in-your-mouth-good-then-look-for-postcard-to-write-home-about-it!). They also sell warm lamb and sheep fleeces, woolen duvets and pillows and the like. But rarely do they produce yarn.
It’s a fairly big deal then, that Schoppel is going back to locally-raised sheep.
Of course, once I wrote ‘rarely’, an exception popped into mind. That’s Finkhof. They started out in the 1970s as an alternative commune project which evolved into the Shepherding collective it is today. Their catalog is thick. Not like telephone book thick (unless you live in a very small under 3,000 soul village), but a substantial hommage to all the things one can do with sheep – from mattresses to blankets, wool, footwarmers, backwarmers, wools for weaving, spinning, fabric … The wool is organic, has a rustic feel. Definitely worth a look in. They have a Ravelry group.
from left: wool-silk mix onesie, felted wool sleepsack and merino fleece in background; right: Finkhof does two sizes of yarn: Thick (Aran) and Thin (sport) / Source: finkhof.de
*word of the day: This baby is goldig. That’s the German word for ‘too cute for words’.
Rosy Green Wool
This is just the last (for now), but by no means the least. Rosy and Patrick have managed to start a new yarn company in what may have seemed a fairly saturated market. They prove that there is always room at the top. Especially for an organic (GOTS certified) high quality wool for a fair price. Admittedly, the wool is sourced and spun in England. I’m hoping this will expand some day to German wools. Still, I cannot fault them on their work with working to protect rare sheep breeds via developing, promoting and selling limited runs of their yarns.
They’re on Ravelry, but I won’t lie: it was a sad day when they discontinued their blog. It’s worth getting onto their newsletter list, as the more popular colours and the limited edition yarns (great if you have a yarn bucketlist) sell out fast! Like Finkhof, they mostly do Aran and Sport Weights, while their rare breeds yarns are in fingering weight. (I’m holding back here, because a review is coming) They also do yarns for dying. Which is the perfect place to pause.
Do you know of any other German yarns that I still haven’t mentioned? Let me know. I’m trying to build up a Directory of German, and hopefully eventually European yarns.
Top left: “Helmkraut/ Scutelleria” and bottom right: “Images of Seeds” by Rob Kesseler and Wolfgang Scuppy
I thought I was the only one obsessing about purple recently. It seems Elle UK (bottom left) also thinks various purple tones will be a thing this coming season. And now, I’ve learned, that Pantone has just renamed a certain purple tone in honour of Prince.
And it’s called Love Symbol #2. I don’t know if it’s crazy or not, but I think I might actually have two balls of yarn in this colour, somewhere in my stash. I have to go check. Honestly, I was thinking that Prince’s purple would’ve been a touch lighter, with some glitter.
I’ve been reading this book since mid-May. And it’s been great. Now I’ve been known to tear through novels. And I do, but sometimes books come along that deserve a slow reading. Some need to be savoured, pondered, even digested. Chapter by chapter. This one one of them: Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang (It’s just come out this spring in Germany with the title Pause. A little bit unfortunate, because that has the primary usage of taking a break. But one word titles are punchy, sooo…).
I’m not quite finished, but I’m thoroughly enjoying Soojung-Kim Pang’s writing style and the content of his book. (He even mentioned knitting, y’all! Page 35!) First off, the book illcits lots of cheeky smiles and raised eyebrows that beg the question, “You’re not doing any physical hard labour, so why do you need to rest?” Well, no I’m not. And yet…
Soojung-Kim Pang talks about rest, and the other side of the coin work, and creativity. He describes how our society views work, overwork and rest; and how we can look at uniquely creative and prolific people of the past (thanks for including men AND women where possible!), and modern brain research and optimize the creativity in our maker/ crafting lives.
His blog is called Deliberate Rest (at the time of writing, the link was broken), and his company is called The Restful Company. He also has an e-book about his morning routine, which will probably thrill Kara, my Internet-friend who convinced me to cultivate the habit of getting up early.
I’m on the chapter about naps. About how to time your nap to either energize your mind or your body. Cool stuff. Of course I tried it out! I’ll get back to you once I’ve finished the book, but for now, when last did you take a nap?
Summer is upon us. When my classes start to wind down, I like to start thinking about summer school. To learn something and keep the grey cells turning over despite the rising temperatures.
This spring, I signed up for the Fashion Revolution newsletter, to keep abreast of what is going on in the sustainable fashion sector. A week ago, a they mentioned a new free e-course in the newsletter. It’s called Who Made Your Clothes, run by Fashion Revolution and the University of Exeter on the Futurelearn platform. This is my first time on the Futurelearn site, but it looks easy to use and so far some very interesting people are signing up in the discusssion forums. The course teachers plans to share with us more about the behind the scenes of the fashion industry – how exactly our clothes get made and to us. I hope to network with industry people, designers, bloggers and activists in sustainable fashion, and hope to be able to showcase some new and interesting things in the near future.
That’s what I’ll be knitting to this summer. And you?
I’m looking forward to a summer full of action movies: because I am a mum of boys. Still, every once in a while, I like to see a grown-up film with my girlfriends. And this looks like it might be a good one.
Going to confess, I would have overlooked this film if I’d just gone with the title, ThisBeautifulFantastic. It just sounds like a bunch of adjectives strung together, marketing the film to folks who have time to watch the film to find out what the title means. So for the first time ever, I actually GET why the marketers changed the title to Derwunderbare Garten der Bella Brown, which means “the wonderful garden of Bella Brown.” The title for french audiences means “the marvellous secret garden of Bella Brown.” Sometimes things can get clearer in translation.
Right away, I GET what the movie is about. With a name like Bella Brown and something about gardens, I know she’s probably English. A summer movie about gardens? Sounds like a winner! Plus, the language of the title and the way the poster is styled automatically calls another quirky heroine to mind:
Amélie Poulain from the film, which in German is titled “Die fabelhafte Welt der Amélie” or “the fabulous/ fairytale world of Amélie.” We viewers connect so much more easily with someone when we see their face, their eyes and can connect it with a name. Worked for Amélie (in fact, it worked so well, that there’s a whole cohort of 13-15 year-old girls in Germany, who are called Amélie or some variation thereof!).
And of course knitwear: at some point she moves from a terribly buttoned-up assistant librarian to wearing this lovely piece:
Which reminds me of Lene Holme Samsøe’s Nikita sweater. I’m not sure if it is a counterpane. But cables and lacy mesh with raglan shaping. Sounds like a winner. Now if I could just figure out why she’s wearing such a gorgeous sweater to do garden work…
Sources: posters from imdb.com, last one a screenshot from the trailer.