Leiden by Natalie Selles in the summer stripes issue of PomPom Quarterly and the crochet Coco Boxy Sweater by Cecilia Losada bring the Bauhaus to mind, with their clear lines, use of bright colour, contrast and graphic shapes.
Irina Poludnenko’s Bauhaus Sweater brings to mind the work of Anni Albers and Gunda Stölzl, two talented artists who basically got shunted over to the weaving department. Although this move was motivated by the Bauhaus director‘s desire to reserve the ‚hard‘ disciplines for men, this restriction inspired a blossoming of creativity in both production and philosophy as evidenced in Albers‘ seminal works On Designing and On Weaving. Both works are highly recommended not just for weavers, but textile artists in general.
If you happen to be in Germany later this year (2019), I hope you won’t miss the Bauhaus centennial celebrations. The design school founded in Weimar in 1919, shortly after the first World War, has had an amazing and far-reaching influence on design worldwide from architecture to fashion, product design and graphic design.
I will be revisiting Bauhaus but here are a few links to whet your appetite::
The permanent collection of the new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is definitely worth a look-see. I hope they put up an English website soon. But not to worry, 100 Years of Bauhaus as an extensive English website of everything Bauhaus and -related for this year.
Susan Sonntag wrote an essay in 1964 called Notes on Camp. Trying to circle in and corner a definition of camp, and what it is, or is not. Some people say her essay is legendary, perhaps it is because she made a solid attempt to define something not quite defineable. Still, I’m not sure she succeeded.
La Lupe, Flash Gordon Comics… just over the top.
Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, Alessandro Michele the creative director of Gucci (the sponsor)… even the number of cohosts is slightly over the top.
Serena Williams 2014 Australian Open
Harry Styles 8n Rolling Stone Magazine
Harry Styles and Lady Gaga were easy to understand as cohosts for this theme. I was wondering about Serena Williams, until I dipped back into the glorious Internet archives and found this photo of the tennis superstar ‚going to work‘ in her tennis blazer at the Australian Open back in 2014. and she is certainly no stranger to playing with fashion both on and off the court.
So, I got to thinking about camp in knitting and crochet. Can yarncraft be camp or just campy? And then I found this sadly discontinued YouKnitWhat?! blog… that I had to laugh out loud and share it here.
Isn’t this knit camp perfection? Have a great weekend full of crafting goodness!
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?