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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Trade show overload

Nadelwelt

My knitting friend and I thought we would pop in to Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe, have a quick look and get home in time for lunch. I don’t know why we thought that would be possible. We’re still young. That’s the only excuse I’m prepared to give.

If you’re ever in the area (next year the show falls on May 3-5, 2019) and find you have a full day to spare, definitely check out Nadelwelt. The trade show is held in the same place that the ARTkarlsruhe is held, and it’s just massive. My eyes have been opened to how the needlecrafts have taken off in Germany (despite you not seeing a lot of people knitting, crocheting or otherwise crafting in public here).

There was a distinct focus on quilting, with a quilted art exhibition right out front. We had a lovely chat with two British textile artists Cas Holmes and Gillian Travis, who apparently travel around to exhibit and sell at textile shows and fairs all around Europe.

Cas Holmes treats paper, thread and fabric like paints, and her work has the ethereal quality of memories half forgotten, floating out of the subconscious.

Gillian Travis, on the other hand, makes vibrant, graphic quilts which reflect her travels and other sources of inspiration, and just whisks the viewer away as if on a magic carpet. She has an amazing eye for colour, and a wicked sense of humour. I had a great time talking to her.

Although we were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the show (from fabrics, buttons, yarns, sewing machines of all types, etc), we did make a lovely find: our nearest LYS shut down late last year, and now we’ve found a new one. The owner happened to be on hand and she and one of her staff gave us a mini-workshop on Tunisian Crochet.

So while I am not quite in the mood to knit at the moment, I’ve been practising my tunisian crochet and staring at my boot socks, hoping that they’ll have the decency to finish themselves up without me. Thankfully I did them two at a time (each on two DPNs) so each only has about an inch of ribbing left.

 

 

On the road

About a month ago, I went off with friends on a mystery weekend, and ended up in Bonn (friends willing to plan mystery weekends, and go along on mystery weekends are the best sort, in my opinion!). We went a gorgeous bike tour of the city, and eventually ended up at the University of Bonn’s Arithmeum. Museum of the history of calculating.

We had a great guide, who explained how complicated it had been to create a working adding machine, that would carry all the digits. It used to be complicated work.

These days we can whip out our phones and calculate what 15% off on those fabulous knitting needles will mean to our budgets.

As luck would have it, the Arithmeum (attached to the University Math Department) also had an art exhibit from their works inspired by discrete mathematics.

Absolutely gorgeous. Speaks to the knitter in me. Very much intarsia or mosaic-knitting…

Mode in Germany

This is an old interview (from 2013) of Women’s Wear Daily’s Berlin Correspondant Melissa Drier on Deutsche Welle. Although what she is wearing in the screen-shot is made in Germany, Drier is a New Yorker. She talks about moving to Berlin in the 1980s, experiencing the Fall of the Wall, The East-West rivalry, and the fashion scene in the German capital and the promising environment giving rise to up and coming designers.

She also talks about Berlin Fashion Week, and the Bread and Butter trade show. Not much has changed since then (the most notable thing is that Mercedes is no longer the major sponsor), and there is a growing niche in sustainable fashion, as an offshoot of the Green Week trade show.

Germany still hasn’t become a fashion capital in the five years since this interview, but it’s still an interesting place to be fashion-wise…

May – the merry month

MayDayHat_shannonokey
May Day Hat by Shannon Okey

 

I like this Shannon’s May Day hat because it captures what May is about for me. The green and the flowers. However, there’s a darker side to May Day, the first of May. In the night (technically still the 30th of April), Young protesters in the big cities will go out in the night and basically trash other people’s property.

Along the Rhine valley, young men will go off into the woods in the night to cut a birch tree, climb up to stick it into the chimney of the house where their Sweethearts live. Very dangerous, yes, but that seems to have been the point. (A nice knit cap would be handy to have in either case!)

Some towns and cities also put up Maypoles(Maibäume) to mark the start of May and the Mayfestival period (Did I not tell you Germans love a good party?)

Authentic Spring

I’ve been away for a minute, because spring. In Germany, spring doesn’t just mean Easter and half-term Holidays, it means nature is waking up, and of Course working in the garden. Now I know, the British are known for simply fabulous gardens, but so are many Germans. They love a beautiful garden (of whatever size – from balcony to tea-towel size and bigger), to provide a lovely island of tranquility.

Spring is also the start of the beekeeper year, and I’ve been away for a while, getting my hives sorted. I’m doing a beekeepers course, so I thought I’d drop some bee-themed knits:

(Beeswax Hat by Amy van der Laar,  Covered in Bees shawl by Doggerell Designs and the crocheted Bee Hotel shawl by Christina Hadderingh / Fotos: Ravelry.com)

While I’ve been away, I’ve been watching fashion historian Amanda Hallay’s The Ultimate Fashion History on Youtube when I’ve been too tired to knit. She goes all the way from Prehistoric fashion to the present day, looking at History, Art, and politics and how fashion responded to the life of the times (Her favourite Quote is “Fashion is not an Island, it’s a Response”).

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

Design Moodboard

 

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My Pinterest moodboard for the Knit Design Challenge

 

This is my moodboard for the InitiateKnitDesign Challenge run by Francoise of Aroha Knits every year.

I popped over to Barcelona for a girly Weekend with two girlfriends and it gave me quite an emotional boost in the midwinter. Running on the beachfront Promenade, enjoying the sunshine, having Tapas, Cocktails and laughing just hit the spot.

We booked an audioguide tour to visit the Sagrada Familia Basilica (unless you’re in a travel group that takes care of everything, definitely book online beforehand. Apparently no one just Shows up and expects to get in anywhere anymore). I highly recommend going in the morning/mid-morning, so that you catch the sunlight coming through the Windows.

I was particularly taken with the tree-like columns within the Basilica. It felt like walking through a forest (but of stone), with the light streaming through the various windows in a fairly similar way to how light is filtered down to the forest floor.

I’m not sure yet what the final form will me: cowl, scarf, shawl or shrug, but that’s the start of an idea.

 

Woolfest haul

 

There were about 26 vendors at Wollandia, but it seemed like more.

Even though sock yarn (ie fingering weight) is extremely popular here in Germany, I now get the feeling that the new trend (on top of Hand dyed and naturally dyed yarns) is socks with glitter?

I told Sandra from Farbenpracht, that you just can’t have enough glitter in your life. There is no way I would want to hide that in shoes! She even suggested the lovely Moonrise shawl pattern from Olga Buraya-Kefelian.

I found my Ultraviolet (every time I look at these skeins, I feel it in my Ajna!): The skeins from Filzlinge were by far and away the most Vibrant colours on Show. I realized that the yarns are single handspun, but the colours are so gorgeous, I figured that the Internet would teach me how to make it work: Charles at Knitmuch’s tips for knitting with fuzzy yarn.

 

Honourable Mention:

Lütt Wollhus on Facebook

How to visit a woolfest

 

So, I went to my first fibre Festival this Weekend: Wollandia. And it was awesome. It was an intimate (less than 100 exhibitors) gathering of independent dyers, Spinners and purveyors of other sheep-related goodness.  It was Wollandia’s first time too, so we had that in common! The organizer Erica Carnevale did an amazing job.

 

If this is going to be a yearly event, then I can definitely recommend stopping by if you’re in the Pforzheim area (any good sat-nav will get you there). There were independent dyers (whose names I only know from Ravelry and browsing Etsy or its German pendant Dawanda). And of course it’s great to be able to take the yarn into your hands before buying.

Tips for visiting yarn festivals:

  • Wear layers
  • Wear walking shoes
  • Take a friend – or make friends there -complimenting dyers’ work, collecting cards and having a chat always goes down a treat.
  • Beforehand – look at the exhibitor list and develop a strategy.
    • Do a full circle and have a good look at everything before starting to buy. Unless you plan to visit a specific vendor.
    • plan for emergencies: Enough cash on hand? the location of the next closest cash machine may be good to know.
    • have a plan for how to actually use those speckled or otherwise multicoloured skeins of yarn. (Skeinyarn’s tips on knitting with variegated yarns; Dana at Yards of Happiness is my inspiration to get more colour in my knitting life)
    • What’s the minimum amount of yarn that I should purchase? if I don’t have a project in mind?
  • Have a budget – look up what things cost in real life, so that you can recognize a deal on equipment if you see one.
  • Plan some breaks: At German events like this, there is ALWAYS food – cakes, waffles, sandwiches, even Flammkuchen.

Interweave’s Tips on how to shop at Yarn and Wool festivals.

Winter impressions

This weekend, we took a short drive into the Black Forest, to go walking in the snow. Below a certain point, we just haven’t had much snow to call it a proper winter this year. My neighbours’ buttercups are blooming! At around 1100m above sea-level, it was cold enough for me to try putting my fingerless gloves OVER my gloves. That worked a treat.

Sometimes it gets so cold, foggy, and windy that any cabin serving hot coffee, cocoa and cake (bottom letft) is a treat. No matter how run down!