Mittwoch, 10. Mai 2017

Bloom in Greyscale (+ mini giveaway!)

This is life right now. Don't be fooled, things are pretty good and I am extremely grateful for that. As long as I manage not to think about how things were supposed to be and how plans did not work out and how disappointed I am in myself. Which is, thank goodness, most of the time.

In the end, it is just another step in a mysterious journey called „growing up“. This too shall pass and one day we will laugh about it. Today may not be that day, but to quote my current favorite song of all times: „hold your head up high / to the end of our time for the rest of our lives“*

So if in doubt, take B&W-photographs of it and call it art.

And to cheer you up and make you have another good look at the pictures above, I have a (maybe way too easy?) riddle for you:

Where am I?

Whoever posts the correct answer (country and name of town is sufficent) in the comments until, let's say, Sunday night, will receive a free copy of one of my knitting patterns. Just pick one and give me your Ravelry name.

* Atoma by Dark Tranquillity. Go listen to it on Youtube. Now.

Montag, 10. April 2017

With 2 Feet: Finland 2

Part II: Finland

It rained during that night and in the morning the laundry I had so carefully draped over my tent was wetter than before. The weather forecast had more rain and maybe even a bit of a storm coming for that day, but my feet were itching to move on. Geared up in rainy pants and jacket I followed the road, stopping at every other bus stop that provided a bench and roof. My food was running low and the rain was getting stronger. I passed the border to Finnish Lapland and took a break at an old gas station which was supposed to have a shop, but the building was deserted and rather run down. I had already walked 15 km that day and thought about camping under the roof of the gas station (saving energy and thereby food), but when I walked around the building to find a good spot to pee, all of a sudden something felt utterly wrong about this place. I could not make myself stay, even though I could see the bad weather coming.
I marched on in pouring rain with a storm approaching, my face and hands were tingling and I was soaked to the bone. When the supermarket which was advertised for on a big poster next to the road did not come, I finally gave up, set my backpack down in a bus stop and sticked out my thumb.

I must admit that I had tried to trick fate into doing me a favour that day. Mark the single most important Rule of Being Outside:
Do not do that. Like, EVER. If there is no shelter in sight, keep low and know your place in the order of things. Otherwise, fate will kick you in the balls. In order to be seen from the road, I had to stand in a deep puddle of water with lightning directly above me. Not. Good.

Twentysix cars rushed by before a nice old man who did not speak any English or Swedish picked me up and drove me 25 km to Kemi, where he dropped me off at a shopping mall. To me, coming directly from the cold and rain, tired and soaked as I was, it looked like the high temple of consumerism. I laid out my sacrifice of paper and metal to the priestess and got in return the promise of a warm meal (and a Snickers).
In town I met Christophe from Luxembourg, who was hitchhiking to Inari in the north east of Finland. He joined me in the quest for a hot shower and fresh socks, both of which we found at the local campsite. We had dinner behind the lavatories (the only place where the gas stoves would burn, it was still super windy), drank cheap Finnish beer, dried our stuff and had a little party in the girls' shower, talking about life until after midnight. Sometimes I still wonder that all of this happened in just one day.

Kemi at sunset

The next day I said goodbye to Christophe and took the bike lane in the direction of Tornio. The tent was wet, it was raining again and my feet hurt like hell. After just 6 km I took a break at the deserted Kemi Tornio Airport and waited for the rain to stop, which it didn't. I pitched the tent under the canopy to let it dry, and when the airport was still closed a few hours later and nobody came to shoo me away, I ate a cup of ramen, lay down in my sleeping bag and went to sleep then and there. Nobody even noticed.

In the morning the rain had stopped, but the ground was still muddy and not at all tent-able. My right ankle produced a grinding feeling with every step. After a few kilometres my foot and shoulder hurt so badly that I decided to hitchhike, but it was Sunday and apparently I looked neither cute nor desperate enough to be picked up.

Keminmaa at early morning

Which was the point when resignation turned to determination. The only question was who would win: head or pain. Eating all the chocolate I had left and listening to far too loud music, I dragged my hurting self the longest 23 km I had ever walked. When the sign announcing Tornionjoki („my“ river to follow north from there on) came in sight, I started crying right there in the middle of town.

After these three days of pain I splurged on three days of self-care at Camping Tornio.

Cheese-and-ham sandwich, carrot cake, and tap water. Oh sweet victory, you taste so good.

The days were filled with sitting around looking out of windows, knitting, eating, and watching the kids play outside. I met Florian from Bremerhaven with his bike who in return had met Christophe in Rovaniemi a day earlier. Even the one kilometre to the supermarket and back was so exhausting that I refrained from exploring the surroundings further. I came to love the proper Scandinavian sauna and spent as much time there as possible. „Sauna ist toll“, I wrote in my notebook.

Dienstag, 7. März 2017

New pattern: Winkelgasse Wrap

The other thing I designed and knit during Christmas break is a generously sized wrap. Years ago, when the trend for oversized scarves was big, I would greet it with smiles and stick with my same old plain and light fleece scarf. Now that silhouettes are changing again (and the nights drop below -10 °C), I finally got one myself - and love it.

It all started with a parcel of Malabrigo yarn that my father brought when he visited in October. I had only worked with Malabrigo sock and lace yarns before and wanted to try something new. The one skein of Arroyo went into Perm, the three skeins of Worsted went into this wrap.

With 32 cm it's a bit wider than your average scarf, a feature I have come to love most about it. Sometimes when a scarf is too narrow, you spend most of your time outside readjusting your scarf and being afraid to moove too much because it could bare the back of your neck. This one your wrap around once and are good to go. 

The pattern is suuuuper easy and uses just the two basic stitches - knit and purl. After a repeat or two you won't even need the chart anymore because it's so easy to remember. The top and bottom end feature a small section of ribbing and the sides have a garter stitch edge to give it a clean border. Needless to say that the pattern is also reversible and looks great on both sides (always a plus with things that are worn around the neck).

The directions use a combination of written-out instructions and a chart. But since a lot of people don't like to use charts (hello, US of A), I also included a complete written-out version. I even put in a kind of recipe at the end if you like the pattern but need a different size. Using that recipe you can make anything from a children's scarf to a full-sized blanket.

I have to say that I really really like the wrap and even though it's a very simple design, I am kinda proud of it. When something looks very elaborate and complicated it's easy to hide minor flaws, but with plain stuff you have to do it right or it will show. And right now, I can't think of anything I would do differently if I knit it again.

The pattern is available through Ravelry for 3.90 Euros. By now, Ravelry is also selling to non-Ravelers via Facebook and Google, so you don't even need an account! If you have any questions concerning the pattern or purchase, drop me a note and I will get back to you :) Happy knitting!

Samstag, 25. Februar 2017

New patterns! Perm Cowl

Over the Christmas holidays I have been working on two new designs which are finally ready for the public. 

The first one is called Perm. It's a cowl design featuring a wide lace panel and a narrow xox-cable. This combo seems to be quite popular on Ravelry right now and I wanted to give it a try. I've never worked with Malabrigo Arroyo before so I ordered only one skein to play with. Let me tell you, it has a great stitch definition and is a dream to work with. It's super soft and the colours are great too. Knit as-is, the cowl takes just one skein, but since the design is modular, you can adjust both circumference and length to your yardage and preferences (think a wide wrap-around-two-times loop!).

I admit that the colour is not my usual pick (it's 131 Sandbank), but it shows off the texture nicely and apparently it looks great during photoshoots on frozen beaches in wintertime. Needless to say that while looking super comfortable and confident and not at all freezing to death in the pictures, a pair of snow pants was wrapped around my knees and my fingers felt like little icicles. #amodel'slife

If you like the cowl and want to knit your own, the pattern is available through Ravelry for 3.90 €. Frozen beaches and red noses are not included, but a chart and a complete written-out transcription of said chart is. Since I know that some people are not too comfortable knitting from charts (while others, including myself, love it), you can just choose the version you like most. Additional information like yardage, gauge, and sizes, are available on Ravelry. 

Happy knitting :)

Freitag, 3. Februar 2017

En Genser for Edel

Sometimes the man and one of his colleagues have work meetings in our living room, which happens to also be the room where I keep my crafty stuff. One day said colleague came over to my desk and began patting some wool I had hung from a shelf to dry. She liked what she saw and we began to chat about knitting and other fiber-related things. Is that... yes, that sweater is handknit. And the... yes, the shawl also. The socks, too, but they were a present from my mother. She told me she loves to wear wool during the winter, but her knitting is a bit slow and she does not have the confidence to try complicated patterns, so she mostly sticks to scarfs and cowls.

After that she went back to her meeting, but apparently it worked inside of her. A few days ago when the man was on the phone scheduling a new livingroom-meeting, I overheard that she asked him if there was possibly any chance that only if she has the time! his girlfriend (that's me) would just maybe be willing to ofcourseIwillpayher knit a sweater for her?

Well... yes, I'd love to!

So we got together, she explained to me what she wanted and what was important to her, I made some suggestions and then we rummaged through Ravelry to find the perfect Marius-genser (told you, he's everywhere!).

Today we went to town (literally) and got the pattern and yarn.

Both are by Sandnes, a brand that is very popular in Norway. You can buy the pattern in Norwegian from their website or in English from SKD yarns. The yarn is called Sisu and consists of 80% superwash wool plus 20% nylon. It's relatively thin, considered that I will knit a full sweater for an adult, but it has a great texture and is nice to work with.

Colourwise we went for three shades of blue instead of the classic Norwegian blue, red and white. Dark blue for the body, light blue for the Marius-mønster and a heathered medium blue for the neckline.

It does not happen very often that I decide to knit something just as the pattern suggests, in the yarn that the pattern suggests. Normally I don't care much about gauge and make adjustments as I go, by now I would not even bother to buy a pattern for this kind of sweater anymore. But this one is not for me and the recipient's size and body type is very different from mine, so I have to stick to the plan to make sure it actually fits her (and not me).

On to swatching!

Sonntag, 29. Januar 2017

With 2 Feet: Finland 1

Part II: Finland

So there I was, after 14 hours on the bus, sitting on my bed in a hostel room in the middle of nowhere Finland. And somehow, I was not scared anymore. There was only this feeling of curiosity, wondering how this whole thing would turn out, where I would go, who I would meet, and which stories I would get to tell afterwards.

The next morning I (unsuccessfully) tried to buy a map of the area, but western Finland does not seem to be big in hiking. Fortunately they bike a lot, so I was able to follow the bike lane north in the direction of Haukipudas. And already on this first day, I was able to establish the first of The Rules of Hiking:

1. You never "just" get lost. As soon as you get lost, it will also start to rain. 

But fate took pity in me and made up for it. After I got back to the road and the rain had stopped, I met the guy again who was responsible for my getting lost (I didn't tell him) and he offered me to camp in his backyard. Yay, no pooping in the woods and maybe even a shower in the morning! But fate was not yet finished. Long story short, I spent the night on a proper mattress in their daughters' playroom because the weather forecast had a storm coming and the guy's wife had asked me if I'd rather want to come inside.
Let me tell you, Finnish people are officially the nicest in the world. 

After arriving in Haukipudas. Please note the packed lunch Signe gave me.

This meeting nice Finns continued on the next day,  when I was walking on the side of the road towards Ii. A random woman pulled up her car next to me and gave me a ride that I had not asked for. She even gave me tips on which bus stop in town was best for hitchhiking, completely ignoring (in a very nice, polite and motherly way) everything I said about wanting to walk and this being a hiking trip after all. I (nice and polite as I am) waited until she was out of sight, and marched on.

The second night I spent on a river island just north of Iin Hamina, where I could finally pitch the tent and have some real camping experiences.

Which leads me to the first of The Facts about Camping:

1. As soon as everything (yourself included) is inside the tent, it will start to rain.

So if you want to have a wee before bedtime, do that before entering the tent.
But fate was either still making up for things or it was really impressed with how well I was doing. On the next day it sent me another ride, this time a German. Jens from Zwickau was on his way to Norway and could have taken me all the way, but we decided that Merihelmi Camping was far enough. It was only 12:30 when we arrived and my day's work was already done. I could get used to that.

Not included in the picture: The pain my feet caused me when I tried to walk. Which is why I avoided walking for the rest of the day.

The sun was shining, I did some knitting, washed my clothes, ate, and was generally lazy. And in these two hours of quiet contemplation between 1 o'clock and 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I discovered the next Rule of Hiking on the list:

2. When hiking, you will spend most of your time not hiking.

So the rest of the day consisted of napping, taking pictures of the campsite owner's dog, sorting my stuff, trying not to use my feet too much, admiring the beautiful sunset, and most importantly, being exactly where I wanted to be.

Sonntag, 15. Januar 2017

With 2 Feet

Over the past few months, I dropped some hints about some mysterious adventure. Well, here is the story behind:

One rainy Sunday in March 2016, I decided I wanted to go hiking. It could have been the über-flat landscape I was living in at that time, or the fact that I (not yet) married into a family of hikers and was never quite able to relate to their experiences and stories and the pictures of their adventures when we all got together around Christmas time and looked through old and not-so-old photographs and memories.
Of course I had gone hiking before. I had done day hikes. I had done overnight camping, going there one day and going back on the following. I did a multi-day-roadtrip in 2014, going from the south of Germany to the north of Norway by car. But I had never been on a proper, multiple-day, carry-it-yourself-or-leave-it-at-home hike. "Trekking" I think it's called nowadays. So on this rainy Sunday in March, a decision was made: I would go hiking in Summer.

And I did.

Part I: Before

I knew it would be easy to get carried away by the possibilities once I started researching, because when you don't know what you are looking for, everything could be the thing. So I came up with a list of things I wanted (and did not want) and then - don't laugh - opened Google Maps and randomly hacked in some placenames. Helsinki - Tromsø (way too far). Luleå - Bodø (omitting Finland). Tornio - Å i Lofoten (do those bridges have sidewalks?). Norge på langs? Nordkalotten? Kungsleden?

I guess this is not how you would normally approach such things, but remember that this was (and is!) all very new to me and you have to start somewhere, right?

Still without the slightest clue about what I was doing, my mind settled on Oulu - Narvik. I'll wait for you while you check the maps. This route went through Finland, Sweden and Norway, I would get to see the Bothnian Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and lots of different types of landscape. Both cities could be reached by bus or plane. Google said that the distance between the two is 666 km, which I considered to be a good omen. 

The following weeks and months I tried to learn some Finnish (I used the FunEasyLearn app), got myself a book on the topic, bought a shedload of new camping and hiking equipment and asked the hikers in my life a ton of practical and impractical questions. I spent more time than I would ever admit on a) the question which knitting project to bring and b) spiders.

I did all of this while still not being entirely sure about my decision and this uncertainty did not leave me until I had booked the bus ticket to Oulu and a room in the hostel. Which was about three days before the planned departure. I won't lie: All of this scared the shit out of me.

But I went.

And it was awesome.

Stay tuned for part II :D