Knit Autumn’s Trends 4

Not just footwear, but sock season. Because where there are boots, there are very often also socks.

My best knitting friend asked me if we could knit something together. #bestfriendbonding. At first she mentioned us knitting a Pullover together, but because I had been talking about my boots that I really want to wear more often this autumn and winter, she said we have to knit socks. My breath caught and that is when I realized that I have sock anxiety. Now technically, I do know how to knit socks. I’ve done it before. babysize and adult-size. As gifts. I just haven’t knit socks for me.

So I took a few deep breaths, and decided to puzzle out what I would like to knit to wear with my ankle wedge booties. I can’t find an exact picture of my booties. These are similar, and from the same company that sells organic and fair clothing, Waschbär.

 fotosource: Waschbaer.de

top left: Boot in ‘bordeaux’ from Waschbär; Bottom left: Ankle boot in ‘chianti’ from Enna; middle: Wedge bootie in ‘vino’ from Punto Pigro; right: Alhambra bootie in red from El Naturalista

Now, according to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, the trends are basically sky-high boots, combat boots, slouchy boots, red, metallics, glitter, embellishments, white and so on.

Here’s my what if: What if I matched the red of my boot, and knit matching boot socks. Kinda like

bootidea_fashionthirstycom
fotosource: ebay (fashionthirsty.com)

… in effect elongating the line of the leg. They could be pulled straight like a sky-high boot or slouched like a slouchboot (in theory).

fotosource: Ravelry

top left : Daring Red Boot Socks by Cecily Glowik MacDonald; bottom left: Blueberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner; middle: Red Star Boot socks by Lobug Designs; right: Twist Stirrup Boot socks by Tilli Tomas.

My friend is not a big fan of nylon in sock yarn, but that may be a story for another day…

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

Celebrating this month…

5th Anniversary PomPom Quarterly – I know it’s been going on since summer, but I’ thought I’d wrap it all up here. How time flies: PomPom Quarterly is 5 years old. A high quality, gorgeous magazine.

 

fotosource: Ravelry

My favourites from the Anniversary issue: Anniversaire by Veera Välimäki; Fête by Bristol Ivy. And of course, we can keep on celebrating, because the new Autumn issue is out.

Soumack_OlgaBuraya-Kefelianfotosource: Ravelry

My favourite this month are the Soumak fingerless mitts by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. Why only one this week? I’m kind of over PomPom’s seeming fascination with the cropped sweater silhouette. I’m not sure it’s flattering on every body shape. And not every knitter wants that twee look.

 

35th Anniversary of Vogue Knitting – Vogue Knitting is celebrating 35 years in its current iteration (the brand is actually 85 years old, but age is just a number, and if you can dance like a 35 year old at the ripe old age of 85, well then!)

Editorial Director, Trisha Malcolm does an interesting interview with Kara Gott Warner on the powerpurlspodcast. There’s also a link to the free collection of 35th anniversary patterns. My favourites:

fotosource: Ravelry

from left: Sleeve Scarf/Wrap by Barb Brown, Fringe Pullover by Norah Gaughan; Long Coat by Pierrot

 

First Episode of Vicki Howell’s The Knit Show – if there is anything more conducive to binge watching and/or binge knitting, it is Vicki Howell’s new project. We donated to the Kickstarter fund to get the show off the ground, and now it’s here. And it is a delight!

vickihowell_theknitshow

fotosource: theknitshow.com

I know I should be objective, and I will objectively tell you that I wanted to be charmed, and I was. It is a sleek production, fluid, interesting with high production values. I felt she rushed along Oejung Kim from Loopy Mango in episode 2 a little bit. Some of the demo knitters’ hands were shaking (from nerves). And Howell often had to remind knitters to turn the work to the camera more. So, a few hiccups there.

Talk about ready-made community. She called us ‘hivesters’. My geek girl preened! Of course I’m a hivester. Yarncrafts rock! (Just had to get that out! #feelsomuchbetternow) The set decoration threw me for a bit of a loop, as the retro feel just screams 70s. However, she seems to have chosen the bee hive motif,  calling it a ‘knit hive.’

“A nod to the knitting bees of old and the modern, “hive mind” mentality that refers to the gathering of stitchers, either physically or virtually, for the purpose of supporting and sharing a common passion for knitting, crochet, crafts and creativity.”

-The Knit Show website

I’m only one and a half episodes in, but so far I want to knit all the patterns I’ve seen:

counterclockwise: PomPom Picot socks by Lydia Gluck; Northfield Gradient Shawl by Kathy Elkins for Webs in the episode one shownotes; Aster Flower Scarf by Loopy Mango in the episode two shownotes.

I also VERY much enjoyed the talk with Skacel’s Ingrid and Karin Skacel. Especially Ingrid. Ingrid is a very astute business woman, who emigrated to the US and opened her import business because she saw a niche in the US knitting market. And so Skacel is the US distributor of Zitron, Schoppel and Addi. So although Karin was more fluent and everything, I’d  love to hear more from Ingrid (she’s sitting there sweetly, looking like someone’s favourite grandma who gives the best hugs and handknit socks, when really she’s also the woman who made circular needles BIG in the US) about her knitting journey over the years.

Just because someone is searching for words, doesn’t mean they don’t have awesome stories to tell or cool things to teach us. So kudos to The Knit Show for being inclusive.

Looking forward to more binge watching.

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.

 

 

Knit Autumn’s Trends 2

Power dressing

Although I tend to associate knits with softness, snuggly warmth and hygge, knits can also make a powerful Statements.

What do we mean? Strong shoulders mainly…

Fotosources: Ravelry, New York Times

 

Like Karen Templar’s Sloper recipe. Or like Lene Holme Samsoe’s Viola vest.

Fotosource: “Edle Maschen” by Lene Holme Samsoe; Ravelry

 

It doesn’t have to be a vest, it could also be something dramatic and memorable:

Fotosource: Ravelry

from left: Metropolis, Oporto and Times Square by Nora Gaughan.

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.

 

Knit Autumn’s Trends 1

Red

 

Catwalk Fotosource: RyanRoche.com

It’s lovely to knit something, inspired by the current popular trends. On the one hand, we have something that is like a remembrance of this season and on the other hand, we have something chic and knitted (or crocheted, if that is your cup of tea) to add to our wardrobes.

I’ll be the first to admit, that I don’t want to wait til I’ve knit a full jumper, to be able to wear something red. So let’s start smaller:

A cowl 

redochreleaves_cowl

Fotosource: Ravelry

Red Ochre Leaves by Loch Ness Knitting. It’s free for the month of October (2017), by the way. Made up in a bulky yarn, it looks like a quick knit.

Jewelry

Volare Collar

Fotosource: Ravelry

Volare Necklace by Laura Nelkin. Not as warming to the neck as a cowl, but still enough to give that Pop of colour.

Honorable mention: Serial Necklace by Alyssa Graybeal; Cable Braided necklace by Olga Buraya-Kefelian.

Belts

 

Fotosource: Ravelry

from left: Ume Blossom by Elizabeth Sullivan and Norobi by Veronica O’Neil

Well yes, one could wear an i-cord in red as a belt, but why bother when we have Elizabeth’s Haramaki- or Veronica’s Obi-inspired belts to choose from?

Other Accessories: Headbands, bags and such…

fotosource: Ravelry

from left: Hot Mess Headband by Heather Walpole; The Loop Bag by Cindy Pilon; Talila mini-collection by Linda Marveng.

I didn’t think I would find a practical knit bag for autumn, but Cindy’s Loop bag is felted and so entirely workable for this season. Linda’s mini-collection just feels like the answer to the question we didn’t know we were asking.

What would you knit in red?

 

Please note, that although I restricted myself to photos with pieces knit with red yarn, we could knit just about anything by substituting a bright cheery red.

 

 

 

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?

Summer wardrobe debrief

Back from holidays, I thought I would wash everything in a jiffy and pack it away. We’re onto transition weather at the moment: Too cool for sandals, but still warm enough to get away with a linen T-shirt under a jacket.

I haven’t packed away much of anything yet, but our family is of the opinion that while it wasn’t the best summer ever (weatherwise), it wasn’t the worst either. I think the same can be said of my summer wardrobe as well. It’s not quite there yet. And I’ve been pondering on what could make it better. I think I was missing a cardigan or two. Here are a few that I’ve had my eye on for a minute or two…

Tealeaf Sweater by Bristol Ivy; Eyelet Harvest Cardigan by Juan R. Alcantar & Lois Horychata ; Abuku by Olga Buraya-Kefelian; Mrs. Garter byAnkestrick

 

Cardigans are just perfect for layering. And it’s definitely on my to-do list, once I finish up my summer knitting.