Knitting Calendar: Sharing

 

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)?

 

 

 

 

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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.

Knit Autumn’s Trends 5: 3Rs

So, I was minding my own business, watching listening to youtube while knitting. When I ran into a little extra from The Knit Show: Knitting and Crochet Trends from Vogue Knitting.

So, those three Rs are Ribs, Ruffles and Ruanas.

Ribs

Fotosource: Ravelry

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).

 

Ruffles
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.

Fotosource: Ravelry

I see ruffles on garments (like Ankestrick’s Organic) and Shawls (like Kathy Elkin’s Northfield Gradient Shawl), but new this year on sleeves. Statement sleeves (like Amy Herzog’s Flutter Pullover and Zoe Scheffy’s  Ruffle Sleeve Pullover).

 

Ruanas

 

Fotosource Ravelry

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.

Above: Santa Fe Ruana by Judith Shangold, Striped Ruana by Kaffe Fasset, a more modern design Wrap it Up Ruana by Lidia Karabinech.

 

 

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?

Made in Germany 3

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:

 

Yarn Dyers

Wollmeise

wollmeise_sock_flaschenpost (2)

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

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.

 

HeyMamaWolf

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.

heymamawolf.jpg

fotosource: http://www.heymamawolf.de

If you know of any more intrepid independent yarn dyers in Germany, or wider Europe or wherever you are, please drop me a line and let me know.

 

 

Knit Autumn’s Trends 3

Oktoberfest Season

Fotosource: Schachenmayr.com

I know, I know! Anyone who knits or crochets, knows that the pieces above are crocheted. The point I want to make is, Oktoberfest is a THING in Germany. Yes, we love a good party. With lots of good beer and good food to soak up said beer.  Bear with me here (excuse the pun!)

Oktoberfest is originally from Bavaria. It was exported to other parts of Germany (yes, Bavaria was once it’s own kingdom with a King, a mad prince, fairytale castles and the whole kit), and is still a great excuse to throw a party – the basic menu is so simple, it’s any host’s dream (beer, soft pretzels, done).

Be aware though, that Oktoberfest is only ever a Thing from late September to early November. It’s one of many Festivals taking place in western and southern Germany. Along the Rhine, for example, you’ll find more wine festivals (each village with their very own wine princess or the occasional prince).

However, we’re more interested in what to wear to Oktoberfest. And that brings us to the traditional costmes: Dirndls, Lederhosen and knits/crochets.

Traditional costumes (Trachten) differ from region to region. In the Black Forest, it’s mostly black, with red accents. Married women wear wide-brimmed hats with black pompoms, while single girls wear red pompoms on their hats.

The Dirndl is worn with a blouse, the overdress, a skirt and an apron in it’s simplest variation. How you tie the bow of the Apron, signifies your marital status (left, if you’re single and looking). Nowadays, you’ll also see young women wearing Lederhosen (from Hotpants to regular length).

October evenings do tend to get cold, so having something to layer on, is quite important. One option is a felted wool jacket called a Janker; others opt for a reverse stockinette stitch/ garter-stitch  jacket. Not unheard of, is a nice big warm shawl (with a flounce, or an accent trim to match the colour of the apron).

 

Northfield-gradient_webs
Northfield Gradient shawl from Kathy Elkins/Webs on The Knit Show

 

This is a lovely alternative, if you don’t crochet, especially as it really calls back to the traditional knit jackets. And who doesn’t love a ruffle?

 

 

 

Made in Germany 2.5

 

schoppel
fotosource: Schoppel Yarns

 

More Yarns 

It occurred to me, that I hadn’t listed every yarn I knew of from Germany, so here are some more:

 

Atelier Zitron 

atelierzitron_wolkenspiel
fotosource: Atelierzitron.de

 

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.

 

 

 

Schoppel

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.

 

Finkhof

finkhoffotosource: finkhof.de

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

rosygreenwool_aran_bigmerinohugfotosource: Rosygreenwool.com

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.

 

 

Made in Germany 2

lalaberlin-x-lanagrossa_yarnFotosource: lalaBerlin Website

Right, so we were talking about Berlin, Lala Berlin to be exact. Leyla Piedayesh is a designer who has been collaborating with a major yarn manufacturer here in Germany: Lana Grossa. And that was the point where this label fell back onto my radar.

In 2014, during the refugee crises, women’s Magazine Brigitte, launched a charity drive. Piedayesh designed a scarf to help raise money. This may have been Piedayesh’s first contact with Lana Grossa, a major sponsor. (I might have to do a separate post on knitting magazines in Germany*)

 

Fotosource: Loveyourwool.com

So for Fall/Winter 2014/15, Lala Berlin launched a 12-piece DIY capsule collection called Love your Wool in collaboration with Lana Grossa. There are kits, she now has her special Lana Grossa line of wools (see photo above) and has become a well-known name among German knitters.

 

01
Fotosource: Lana Grossa

At the time, I thought this was a big deal, because the large wool manufacturers put out a lot of marketing materials each season (women’swear, menswear, kids’, homeknits, accessories). The members of their design teams do not get any name recognition at all. Well that hasn’t changed.

 

Another sad thing, is that German yarn manufacturers have seemingly little or no interest in using social media. So, the American distributors may be on Ravelry, but the German yarn companies really have no clue.

End of rant (call me yarn companies! seriously!)

The photo above is from Lana Grossa’s yarn catalog. Looks like a Fashion magazine, but it’s really a catalog that you can buy on any supermarket magazine rack.

Other big yarn manufacturers in Germany:

 

langyarn_moodboard1
Fotosource: Langyarns.com

 

Lang Yarns – This is a lovely yarn, middle of the road yarn, with a satisfying variety of fibres, fibreblends and colours (I couldn’t resist showing you one of their current moodboards here) one you’ll find in many yarn shops across Germany.  Plus they have an awesome Trace Your Yarn Feature for those of us who like asking ‘Who made my yarn’.

Wolle Roedel – they have 70 plus stores all over Germany. Very budget-friendly yarns, a good assortment of knitting and crochet needles, hooks and other kit. Fairly easy to find, if you’re ever on the go in a German city and need stitchmarkers or a stitchholder or something.

Regia – So Regia, known predominantly as a sock yarn company, is owned by Schachenmayr. Doing my Research, I just found out that they are having the first ever Hygge-knit-event at the Augsburg textile and industry Museum. Next Weekend. Totally not pouting. So, if you’re in the Augsburg area. Check it out. (Not going to lie: This textile Museum is high on my list of must-visits. They have a modern take on textiles and handcrafts in Museum spaces. I just need to find a girlfriend who would be up for a roadtrip!)

In Part 3, we’ll have a look at a few indie yarnmakers/ -dyers and some cool yarn shops.

 

* There are specialist knitting magazines mostly given girls’ names (with the exception of The Knitter, which is a re-do of the British magazine of the same name, and recycles years-old Patterns from the latter) and then there’s Brigitte. One of the largest women’s fashion and lifestyle publications here. They put out a special knitwear edition in autumn for their knitting readership. I’ll let you know when I get my hands on it.

Made in Germany

marccain_labelFoto source: Marc-cain.com

The third of October, is German Reunification Day. And in honour of that, I thought we could talk about Germany. More specifically, the now famous term ‘Made in Germany.’

Made in Germany

According to stories told here, Made in Germany started out as a punishment for 19th century German manufacturers.

The British officials who coined the phrase “Made in Germany,” intended it as an insult. In 1887, alarmed at an influx of low-priced German products, the British government required goods imported from Germany to be labeled as such. Back then, Germany was to Britain something like China is to Europe or the United States today. It was an aggressive emerging economy with a large store of cheap labor and ambitions to become an economic superpower. But Britain’s attempt to shield domestic companies from competition backfired. Made in Germany became a synonym for quality.

– Ewing J. (2014) A Brief History of Made in Germany. In: Germany’s Economic Renaissance. Palgrave Macmillan, New York 

Here’s a selection of designers and others in the yarn/fashion industry in Germany:

 

Designers

Marc Cain – doing amazing things with 3-D machine knits. Video here. I don’t think we need to discuss why handknit, when we can have a full garment plop out of a machine. The fact is, we knit because knitting gives us much more than just a finished object.

 

Schumacher – may just be an insider secret. She’s not as well-known as another German, Karl Lagerfeld, who designs for French and Italian fashion houses, but, if you consider that she was one of the designers whose clothes were used in the film The Devil Wears Prada, her name is well worth knowing.

She manages to unite comfy, elegant, feminine and practical.

Foto source: Dorothee Schumacher online shop, Lookbook Fall-Winter 2017/18

The Schumacher website is also has a lovely series of videos called Journey of Fashion. Well worth a look.

 

Lala Berlin

Leyla Piedayesh describes her line as ‘Persian Punk’. She’s part of a group of up and coming young designers based in Berlin who are doing interesting things in Fashion at the Moment. Berlin loves to describe itself as ‘poor but sexy.’ Not one of the classic Big Four Fashion cities (New York, Paris, Milan, and London), Berlin has affordable rent and a vibrant youthful artscene which is fascinating to watch.

I’m going to cut off here. In part two, I’ll talk  about Lala Berlin’s collaboration with one of the big yarn Labels here: Lana Grossa.

 

Autumn: start of knitting season

Last weekend, we went hiking through the wine villages of the Rhineland-Palatinate. It’s called the Tuscany of Germany because the weather is so warm there and the area is so pittoresque. Hiking through the hills, we could look down on the vinyards and over to the Trifels Castle, where Richard Lionheart was kept captive in the 1190s.

So although the leaves haven’t fallen from the trees yet, the greens of summer have once again given way to the yellows, reds, browns and knitters on the planet’s northern hemisphere start their knitting year:

Autumn means lovely sweaters, cardigans, lightweight shawls and scarves, in addition to updating the knitworthy list for Christmas gift- and selfish-knitting. It means handknit socks, pullovers, lap throws to snuggle into during the coming winter. It means a trip to the local yarn store to see what’s new in… translating the silhouettes, textures and colours from various runway shows, colour- and trend reports.

What are you looking forward to this knitting season?