Summer‘s over

My impressions of summer: The Porta Nigra and other sights to see in Trier, Boutique hotel Jungenwald and the Alte Zunftscheue restaurant in Traben-Trarbach on the Mosel river, my Emma cardigan is finally finished. And harvesting pears.

In and around the Stubaital glacier in Austria. I don’t know how anyone can deny global warming or climate change. The glacier is almost gone. It’s shocking and truly sad to see the efforts the folks in Stubaital are making to protect what’s left…
And now Autumn is upon us. What are you looking forward to this knitting/ crafting season?

Knitfree TV – Love is Blind (no spoilers)

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could knit a balaclava fine enough to replace the face masks dominating the news about the Corona Virus days? Which mask would help against the airborne virus? Info here.
Besides preparing for the global pandemic (buying supplies, increasing handwashing and general immune system-friendly habits), I fell into the Love is Blind hole on Netflix. And yes, it is absolutely trash TV, but it is addictive. Netflix released the first batch of episodes on Valentine‘s Day.

TV viewers have loved dating shows for years. And loved to hate them too. But they are a reflection of our society, from our ideas of what is attractive to what is okay to do and say in public and on TV.
Back in 2009, a show Dating in the Dark was created in Holland, and the franchise sold all over the world. Three men and three women were in a house and went on a date in a light-free room. The idea was to find someone to date without prejudices that would come from the person‘s appearance. Of course, the participants were chosen by a group of unseen experts to be thrown together.

Naturally, humans being humans, the participants decided to compensate for the loss of sight by using other senses: hearing, smell and in particular touch. The shows rapidly turned the viewers into voyeurs. And curiously, even though producers didn’t prohibit touching, there was an amazingly high rate of rejection in the cold light of day.

Then we had the gamification of the dating show, with Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Love Island franchises (and the like), which have as an end result an engagement (for the first two shows). So viewers have been willing to see all the contortions contestants are willing to go through to „win“. The Bachelor has a German version running here, but it’s nowhere near as popular as the US version in its home market.

Then we had Married at First Sight, which does have its fanbase, where marriage is the goal and the start of the process. Couples are paired up by unseen experts and the viewer watches them struggle until they settle in or throw in the towel. To be honest, it’s not unlike arranged marriages of yore (and some non-Western cultures today) where the bride never met her bridegroom  before the ceremony. These days, it’s more likely that arranged fiancés talk on the phone or meet in chaperoned circumstances.
This brings up the questions as to why these relationships „work“ and can such a situation work in the western societies. From a rough calculation, we can see that only 33% of the couples in this type of show stays married.

Parallel to TV presenting us unusual iterations of the couples trying to get together, the science of love burst onto the public awareness. Mandy Len Catron wrote an article about 36 Questions (people often ignore the 4 minutes of intense unbroken eye contact at the end) which could foster enough closeness that the couple would decide they had fallen in love.

Which brings us around to Love is Blind (where one of the ladies asks a fella one of the 36 questions and end up crying together). It‘s a mashup of bits we‘ve seen before. The pod phase which is more often likened to speed-dating, is actually Dating in the Dark idea but taken to its proper conclusion. If you really want to cut out outside/appearance related factors, then the dark isn’t enough. So a wall (where not even a shadow – which would betray body shape and possibly  fitness level) makes perfect sense.
Interestingly another update was that engagement was NOT the end-goal, and so participants were not able to see and then judge their choice until they had made the commitment to become engaged. There’s a bit of an IKEA effect going on here, where making a conscious choice in the middle motivated many to stick with their partner through thick and thin.
So the formula playing out on our screens was emotional connection + conscious choice + physical attraction + external factors. Each taking place in a different location, from the pods, to a Mexican beach resort and finally in an Atlanta condominium complex. The finale episode released yesterday was the culmination, where the couples would walk up the aisle and then state whether the formula solved the love equation for them or not.

I feel terrible for viewers who had to get up at 3am to watch, but not too much because it released at a very humane time for European viewers. Especially those on midterm holidays. The memes on social media were worth it though. The global community which built up this show has been quite impressive – not only people recapping and reviewing each episode, but especially the analyses from psychological, and socio-cultural perspectives.

Shoutout to Youtubers The Compassionate Behaviorist who dissects Carlton’s and Diamond‘s argument, Kiss My Cheeks TV whose bubbly personality, local knowledge and prompt postings are a joy to watch, and Supernaturally Sagittarius who looked at the couple dynamics. Special mention to Grace Report for alternate views on Jessica and breaking news on Amber.

As mentioned, all the episodes are now available on Netflix. The Reunion episode has been taped and will air on March 5, 2020 on the Netflix Youtube channel. The season was apparently filmed 15 months ago, so at the time of airing, the couples who married have now been together that long.

It boggles the mind, not only that they had to keep their social media accounts circumspect for so long, but that so many viewers became internet sleuths to sift through Instagram and Twitter to find minute clues about who married and who is still together. Do we as a society have shorter attention spans? Are we unable to sit out any type of suspense?

 

The Woman from the Sea

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Angela Rossi /arte.tv

I just finished watching Julien Trousselier’s six-part series, Une Île, (The Woman from the Sea). A fascinating, fantasy-horror-crime story that just gives one a lot of food for thought.

There’s pretty much every issue in Europe right now, simmering under the surface here: immigration, how we treat immigrants, how good intentions can backfire, friendship, families intact and torn apart, the decline of rural communities (often helpless and relying on the mainland/capital/city), youth unemployment and subsequent departures from these communities, and lastly the currently seemingly troubled relationships between men and women (a drug-aided rape attempt, obsessive stalking, kidnapping, and even an uncommunicative, grief-stalled, alcohol-numbed marriage).

The series works, because it keeps the viewer guessing what exactly is happening, and although they play with these myths of Nature as woman, the Woman (like Tiamat, the angry mother) out of the deep, coming to take revenge on humanity, the filmmaker has a light touch.
It’s as much a coming of age story, as it is a romance and a detective story. And yes, former model Laetitia Casta ( shown here with Noée Abita above) is the titular “Woman”, and I think she does a brilliant job being gorgeous yet creepy.
The Mediterranean land and seascapes are gorgeous and

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Michelangelo di Battista /arte.tv

There are a few sweaters. I liked this one best, and reminded me of these:


Ajeng Sitoresmi’s No Seam Cable Pullover, Adrienne Vittadini’s #9 Cabled Pullover and Kristen TenDyke’s Cable Rib Pullover. The last is a free sweater, child-sized but not too difficult to adapt to adult size.

The Woman from the Sea is pretty much the perfect mix of winter thriller, worrying about the environment, and a bit of wishing for the warmth of summer by the seaside.
So I couldn’t resist throwing in this gorgeous The crocheted swimsuit Poliana by Nomad Stitches is quite lovely…

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Other Links:

Barbarakafka‘s lovely post on swimsuits, knitting and Sonia Delaunay’s art.

Dressed Podcast has a two part podcast on the history of Swimwear (here and here) which is a delightful listen while knitting your one-piece, bikini, coverup or beachbag.

New Year wishes

 

Well, Happy New Year to you! And I hope you’ve had a productive January.
The month is almost over, and we’re now well into the decade last known as the twenties!

Knitting-wise: I’m still working on my cardigan: I’ll be putting in the pockets, knitting on the button band and sewing ends in. The end is in sight!

My knitting buddy is already onto her second piece from the Cocoknits Workshop, but I don’t seem able to let go. Maybe I need to knit another one.

I visited an amazing retrospective exhibition of works by Karin Kneffel in Baden-Baden at the Frieder Burda Museum. Her large scale photorealistic pieces are beautiful, haunting and force the viewer to comtemplate on herself as a viewer/voyeur as part of the artwork. Runs til March 8, 2020.

 

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Screenshot from Digitorial, Gods in Color, Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection

Another museum tip: Gods in Color in Frankfurt. The Liebieghaus sculpture collection presents the work of the archeologists and art historians who over many years have been using modern technology to figure out how ancient Greeks may have painted their statues. The images are quite breathtaking: not just the use of color, but also the use of pattern. Worth a look, the exhibit runs til August 2020.

Just looking at these patterns has put me in mind of diamonds and such… This evening, we’ll be raising a glass to wish the Brits all the very best, as they leave the EU, and our prayers for everyone fighting that nasty Corona virus.

Take care, and happy crafting.

 

Iceland and Lopapeysa

 


Two weekends ago, I stopped by the Bücherschau (annual publisher’s Book exhibition) in Karlsruhe. Instead of the Book Fair in Frankfurt, I decided to stay regional this year. There was a mix of local and international books, but the event is much smaller, so it was possible to walk around, look at books, write down the names of books to order later on (an ever-evolving to-read list is a thing of beauty) and even sign up for one of the workshops. The Guest country this year was Iceland. 

891534F9-9C91-41B1-8582-DF7222EBE97ANow, ever since I dipped into Kate Davies’ 2014 book Yokes, which has a chapter on Icelandic knitting called ‘Perspectives on Lopapeysa’*, I’ve wanted to do some knitting with Lopi. So, of course, I took my knitting friend with me to a workshop on Icelandic knitting!

The workshop was run by Anna Dhom, who also works in a Icelandic Tour company. She had a lot of examples of her icelandic knits with her. Which were so inspiring. I’ll be putting a dress/tunic on my to-knit list very soon!
Let me confess, I learned a lot:

1) Continental knitters can knit insanely fast, especially when a workshop is ‘only’ 3 hours long.

2) Don’t spend too much time agonizing over colour choices, just get to the knitting, to use the time efficiently.

3) Do ask questions and pay attention to the demos. I completely missed the tip on weaving in ends. But I found a great Marly Bird video to catch me up.

4) Do carry an extra pair of needles one size up. Just in case.

5) Do carry an extra pair of needles in another material. Lopi wool knits up better on bamboo rather than metal needles. This, I finally figured out after the workshop had ended.

6) Do carry a tape measure with you, as lending it out is a great way to make new knitting friends.

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I am well-pleased with my headband. All that is left to do, is weave in those ends and sew in a piece of fleece or satin (otherwise I’ll be picking bits of Lopi out of my hair).

I definitely see more colourwork in my future.

 


Grèis by Kate Davies, Merla by Bergrós Kjartansdóttir, and Vormorgun Létt-Lopavesti by Védis Jónsdóttir both for Istex. Of note, several knitters have taken the Vormorgun pattern as the basis for making tunics/dress-length garments.

And maybe a trip to Iceland itself soon.

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Source: wegoplaces.me

 

*Interview with (French-)Icelandic Knitter, Hélène Magnússon.

 

Knitting Quiz: Good Fun

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Celestarium shawl by Audry Nicklin

1. Share an image of a knitting pattern you love but would probably never knit.

See above. It’s just so mesmerizingly beautiful.
2. What is your favorite knitting technique?

Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off.
3. Yarn: wool, alpaca, cotton, linen, hemp, silk, or acrylic?

At the moment, I’m loving wool because I’ve just did a workshop on Icelandic knitting. But I love linen for summer. And I’m keeping my eye out for new blends and new fibres: some folks in Italy are doing fibers out of orange. Very exciting.

4. Needles: wood, bamboo, metal, plastic, or casein?

It depends on the yarn you’re using. Lopi on metal needles, for example, is like walking through a bog in stilettos. 

5. Would you go on a knitting vacation? If yes, which country’s yarn shops would you like to visit?

Yes, I would. Either Iceland or Norway. 

6. Lace, fingering, sport, DK, worsted, or bulky? (If you had to choose just one)

DK. Doubled up would give some nice bulk, but held singly is still good for a summer garment.

7. Do you eat while knitting? If so, what?

No. I like to enjoy my food, then my knitting. I do like to have either a cup of tea or a glass of wine nearby though.

8. Speckled yarn: yes or no?

Ooh, yes, especially if there’s some glitter going on as well! Lovely! I made a shawl for a cousin of mine who was not well, and I think it helped! 

9. Favorite knitting slang word?

Knitflixing

10. Can you do anything else while knitting? Watching or listening to something doesn’t count.

Nope. I’m all about that mindful knitting! 

11. Favorite knitting pattern designer?

Right now, I’m feeling in a colorwork mood, and I really like Bergrós Kjartansdóttir and Kate Davies.

12. Favorite yarn brand?

Lettlópi by Istex

13. Intentional felting: yes or no?

Yes. I just made my first pair of slippers for felting this year. It’s very common here in Germany. Either knit for family, or pick up a pair at a local village market. They last about two years. It’s lovely to keep those toes toasty warm in winter.

14. Who taught you to knit?

My mum did. 

15. What’s your next knit?

 

I’m trying to finish up my Ankers Summer Shirt before casting on Julie Weisenberger’s Emma cardigan. I think casting on new projects while having WIPs still on the needles almost dooms a project to PHD (project half done) purgatory.

Thanks for this lovely quiz Alissa! Happy knitting!

What I’ve been up to

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My knit slippers ready to be popped into the washing machine to be felted. It’s from an Aldi kit, which came with roving (100% wool for felting) and 5 x 8mm bamboo needles. Here I’ve seamed the heel with the seam on the outside intentionally, because I don’t want to feel the seam when I slip my foot into it. The plan is to add buttons when those flaps have shrunk a bit.
My knitting friend is using a similar house slipper pattern to teach her daughter to knit. I’ve written here, why a scarf isn’t the best thing for a beginner to knit. This (or similar) shoe will teach her how to knit and purl flat, then join and knit in the round,  how to add another colour if you want stripes (I prefer two-toned), how to decrease towards the toe and to weave in ends. That’s even more basics than a hat! Who knew!

What I’ve been up to: I went to the Holland Cloth Market (Holländische Stoffmarkt), This is a travelling market that takes place in several big cities all over Germany twice a year, in Spring and in August. Every weekend, they’re in a different city, but if you plan for it, as many many hobby sewists do, there’s a wide variety of cloth and sewing equipment for household or personal sewing.
This year I got

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Fabric, pinking shears (zig-zag scissors), sashiko thread and needles and a bit of cotton

I’m quite pleased to say that I churned out my new cushion slipcovers fairly quickly one afternoon in out midterm break.  I used both sides of the fabric. I just love that honeycomb motif. Has a very understated midcentury feel to it.

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I haven’t started the sashiko yet, although I’ve been doing a lot of research on it. I discovered that it’s been part of an intense Internet discussion on cultural appropriation.
Which makes me think back to a lovely young German woman, with whom I chatted at the Stoffmarkt. She was out shopping with her mom and she was wearing a kimono. She told me that her kimono was very warm (she didn’t need a jacket, as we all did)  and she was thrilled to wear it. She also told me that although she had sewn a kimono before, the one she was wearing was purchased (I assume from a Japanese kimono producer). I was so glad she was in “little” Karlsruhe and not some place where someone would rip it off her or try to shame her for “culturally appropriating” a Japanese kimono.
There’s a difference between a company using a culturally significant pattern, design or technique to make money without sharing credit/recognition and an individual being lambasted for being interested in another culture.

The rampant discussions of cultural appropriation are just starting to trickle down through mainstream media coverage but have not yet really hit mainstream consciousness here in Germany yet. It could get unpleasant, because Germans love to travel, and they love to support local craftspeople and artisans. They love trying new cuisine and trying their hand at cooking it.  I’ve been in people’s homes and heard about lovely holidays while being shown wallhangings, cravings and pictures from Canada, Thailand and other far-flung places.

Now Sashiko has been on my radar for a while, because I’m interested in mending and beauty. Upcyclestitches has a lovely website on all things Sashiko with a tutorial and YarnStories’ podcast interview with Jessica Marquez, author of the little book Make and Mend.

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Coryn Fashion Leipzig: Boot “Flora’s Present”, Italy/Germany 2017. Photo: Karola Bauer/source: grassimuseum.de

And since we’re on the subject of embroidery, The Grassi Museum of Applied Arts in Leipzig is showing a special exhibition called “History in Fashion: 1500 years of embroidery in fashion” until March 2020.

 

Have a great weekend, and happy crafting.

Bookfair plus

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If you find yourself in Frankfurt for the Bookfair this year (Norway is the Guest country!), you may want to check out the Hannah Ryggen exhibition at the Frankfurt Schirn Kunsthalle. The exhibition runs til January 2020.

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Ryggen in her studio, around 1964. source: Adresseavisen, Trondheim.

The Swedish-Norwegian artist Ryggen (1894-1970) lived on a self-sustaining farm in Norway, spun and dyed her own wool and taught herself to make huge collage-like tapestries. How cool is that?

 

Did I mention the Book Fair (October 16-20)? Yes, there’s books, calendars, cookbooks, posters, and just about everything book-related. Yes, there’s cosplay and cooking demos and giveaways and book prizes, but in addition to all that, folks, NORWAY.

27B95109-6542-4C33-80B9-9D2E5BEC3419 As we all know, Norway isn’t just about fantastic nature and fjords, but also great writers – we love those crime thriller authors, Jo Nesbø, Karin Fossum, Åsne Seierstad and the polarizing Karl Ove Knausgård.

There’s plenty for knitters too: According to the programme, designer Wenche Roald, and Annemor Sundbø, the godmother of norwegian knitting will be in attendance, and there may even be a workshop on knitting selbu mittens.

 

What, you ask, is selbu? It’s an eight-petalled flower design (often called the Selbu rose), used in traditional Norwegian stranded knitting. It’s actually older than Norway itself, according to The Atlantic, but has come to be associated with Selbu, a municipality in Northern Norway.

Fotos: Todd Gocken’s Norwegian Snowflake Scarf and Monica Værholm’s Eggwarmers. Source: Ravelry.com

October 3 is our 4th of July

Mut verbindet turm 2When this posts, on October 3, most of Germany will have shut down more or less for our version of 4th of July, which is called Tag der Deutschen Einheit. German Reunification Day which always falls on the third of October.

There is a large Citizen Festival with music, art, and each of the 16 federal states making presentations in a pavilion. This festival moves around each year, and is hosted in the state which has the chairmanship of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) – which is the Upper House of the German Parliament.

This year, Schleswig-Holstein have pulled out all the stops. However, people who don’t live in or near Kiel will probably stay home, throw something on the grill if the weather is good and watch the celebrations on TV. Or they’ll take Friday (and maybe Monday too) off work, and take a mini vacation on the long weekend.

Or maybe they’re off to Munich for Oktoberfest, or Stuttgart for Cannstatter Wasen. For those who don’t feel like being out partying in appropriate Dirndl-wear, they’re free to stay in and watch films about the DDR.

 

In Times of Fading Light / In Zeiten des Abnehmenden Lichtes – drama about a family in the last days of the DDR. Mentioned here.

The Lives of Others/ Das Leben der Anderen – although completely fictional, the drama by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, won an Oscar for Best International Film in 2007.

Goodbye-Lenin – comedy about a good son trying to convince his mom, who’s just woken from a coma, that the Wall is still intact.

Deutschland 83 – comedy action series on Netflix about a young East German soldier coerced into spying in West Germany.

 

Of course, it’s been 30 years since the Wall fell. And the Unification hasn’t gone as smoothly as planned. But most folks in the West don’t really want to contemplate how to fix that problem because they’ve been paying a Solidarity Tax for years to rebuild and finance the absorption of Eastern Germany into the West German economy. Still thirty years is a long time for people in a country to feel like second class citizens. It’s a complicated problem.