Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear cyber friends,

I'm sorry for being quiet for so long now: I'm just having a bit of a hard time at the moment due to personal matters - but I'll be back with new strength as soon as I can.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Introducing 'Constantia', my slow fashion model

Hey - who is this?

Let me introduce 'Constantia' to you! A bit shy yet, she is, but I guess you will see more of her before long!

When Sara came to visit me, we talked about the possibility of using a doll for our knitting and other textile experiments, thus being able to try out patterns and ideas in a smaller scale.

We agreed on keeping the dolls quite simple, not too small, and on using the same outlines for both, hers and mine. As Sara is far more experienced than I am in doll-making, I asked her to outline it and to teach me how to sew and stuff it.

I wanted a doll looking more like a grown-up woman, with ample bosom and belly and a few grey hairs - well, more like in real life, if you see what I mean :-)!

Constantia measures about 80 cm/30 inches and is entirely made out of stash material and what I had at hand: an old cotton sheet, dyed with black tea, a red and grey tangled wool, a bag of padding and a little black acrylic paint for the boots. (For these first photos I just dressed her in one of my daughter's T-shirts - it's getting a bit chilly outside.)

Although we had almost a week together, Sara and I started making the dolls only a few hours before she had to go - so she left with only a paper pattern and I had a kind of empty fabric skeleton without a face in my hand ... So well, Constantia is not perfect - neither am I - but she's my first try-out and I would like her to serve as a model for a bit of slow fashion, for handmade and recycling wearables.

(German summary: Dies ist Constantia, eine 80 cm Stoffpuppe, die ich gerne als Model für selbstgemachte Anziehsachen verwenden möchte. Als Sara bei mir war, haben wir diese Möglichkeit des verkleinerten Ausprobierens diskutiert und zusammen ausgearbeitet - es wird also auch eine zweite Version davon geben!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Emily's green and orange bag/Emily's grünorange Tasche

My daughter Emily celebrated her 11th birthday today and she had asked me to make her a small bag in her favourite colours green-orange-and black.

I spun the wool, plied it with an orange thread, knitted it - except for the black edge and the strap, which are crocheted - and finally punched it with the embellisher (but only from the front side). I found a lovely flower button to suit it as well!

She had also asked for a scarf some time ago, so I crocheted it (with sock wool!) in the green and orange colour scheme as well ...

When she got it this afternoon, she was so happy and content and wore it the rest of the day - it's a wonderful thing to do something for her, as she appreciates it so very much ... I'm a very lucky mum!

I'm also knitting on my 'Stone Age Project' - I guess it's going to be a sweater when it's ready - although I've been thinking about doing a pullunder with loose sleeves to button on, too ... don't know yet. Nevertheless, it's a funny way spinning small amounts out of the raw wool, then winding it onto the niddy-noddy, washing it several times in hot soap water, drying, winding into balls, knitting - and spinning again ...

The wool turns out very soft, very natural, clean but with a tiny, tiny smell of sheep, which I must admit I love, if it's discrete enough ...

I've also found a gorgeous book, a bible for all knitters who want to work freely, not wanting to be bound by rigid knitting patterns and special yarns recommended but shaping their own personal sweaters:

And tomorrow Sara is coming ...!

(German summary: Meine Tochter Emily hat sich zu ihrem 11. Geburtstag eine von mir gemachte Tasche und einen Schal in ihren Lieblingsfarben gewünscht. Die Tasche ist hauptsächlich gestrickt - aus selbstgesponnener Wolle -, ein kleiner Teil gehäkelt, dann mit dem Embellisher gepuncht/verfilzt. Ich stricke auch an meinem Steinzeitpullover - d.h. ich spinne die Rohwolle direkt, so wie sie ist, dann erst wasche ich sie und stricke weiter ...)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back to Basics/Zurück zum Ursprung

Sorry to have kept you waiting again - of course I've been doing some textile things inbetween, but somehow, I was in the mood where nothing seemed worthwhile writing about or interesting enough to show ...

I'm not even sure about it now, but I'll share it with you anyway:

At the moment, I'm back to basics, re-reading books like "The Good Life" and "Simple Food for the Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing, "Gardening When it Counts" by Steve Solomon, "Spinning in the Old Way" by P.A. Gibson-Roberts and "Wer wandert, braucht nur was er tragen kann" by Anne Donath.

I've finally got my high-whorl handspindle, which I use for spinning a thick, yet soft single yarn out of quite harsh and rustic, 'original' fibers: the dark one is Mongolian sheep, the light one a Russian Karakul sheep blended with camel undercoat fibers.

This is truly slow work, spinning small amounts on the handspindle, then knitting the yarn in 10 stitches small squares, using my chopsticks, in a pattern similar to the one of Scandinavian birchtree bark basket weaving.

Although these are sturdy and archaic fibers (except the camel undercoat), the yarn still turns out quite delicate and comfortable through the handspindle and the loose knitting.

I just felt that I needed a break from all those soft and softest modern silky yarns in pastel colours - and as a friend told me of a journey to the Indian mountains, where she had seen a very basic way of spinning and knitting right out of a basket of raw wool, I knew that I wanted to try that out, too.

As this is a very basic wool, it will certainly be possible to felt it too, if I'd like to.

I haven't decided yet if to use it for a wrapping or for a garment - it has a touch of stone-age to it and might not be everyone's cup of tea - but it is basic, for sure ...

(German summary: Ich experimentiere gerade mit sehr ursprünglicher Wolle - grobe russische und mongolische Schafwolle und teilweise noch sehr fette Lockenwolle, die ich unkardiert direkt verspinne und erst danach wasche ... Es ist eine angenehme Abwechslung zu dem supersoften, pastellfarbenen Designergarnen - und irgendwie brauche ich das jetzt!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Knitting blue-green diamonds/Gestrickter blauer Diamant

So, I've done a bit more on the blue-green diamonds - it's quite fun to do, and it's a colour combination I don't use very often!

As I have just seen Sara's 'Dragon Shawl' ready, I guess I should post the 'African Impressions' shawl as well! I consider working a fringe - maybe braided - at the short ends ...

(Unfortunately, I'm not so good at taking photos and working with the photoshop program - that's why this shawls looks a bit like a table runner ;-) ... but I guess you'll get the idea!)

(German summary: So, noch ein Stück von dem 'Blauen Diamanten' ist gestrickt, es wächst einfach von selber - und der Schal ist auch fertig, bis auf eventuelle Fransen!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A chopstick experiment/Ein Experiment mit Eßstäbchen

I've always been convinced that it should be possible to knit with chopsticks - and today I tried it out. I got hold on a pair of those take-away chopsticks, sharpened them with a pencil sharpener and smoothed them with a fine grained sand paper.

When I measured them, I found out that they are about No. 5 needles and that they are light and comfortable to knit with.

And what's more: for this project, they are perfect for using with the normal, thin sock wool!

I'm knitting diagonal squares in garter stitch, which gives the piece a classic patchwork look and makes a very light and elastic knitting, well suitable for a scarf or an indoor poncho - or maybe even a pullover, if I'm patient enough ...

The variegated colours in green and blue form the pattern of light and shadow all by themselves.

This knitting bears many possibilities, and I'm still trying to work out how to use it the best way.

(German summary: Heute habe ich ein paar Eßstäbchen zu Stricknadeln umfunktioniert - mit dem Bleistiftspitzer gespitzt und dann geschmirgelt - sie entsprechen Nr. 5-Nadeln und liegen leicht und gut in der Hand! Ich stricke diagonale Quadrate in Blau- und Grüntönen mit der Sockenwolle und überlege noch, was man alles damit anstellen könnte ...)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

African Impression shawl - knitting short rows/Schal mit verkürzten Reihen

There is a German saying something like 'that what your heart is filled with is what you keep talking about' - and I guess not only my heart but also my basket is now filled with so much colourful sock wool, that I just cannot help going on with it just a little bit longer ...

(I even found a few new ones while visiting a nearby village the day before yesterday ... sigh!)

While trying out one of the new balls and searching my mind for a solution on how to get straight coloured areas without having to cut up the wool into small units, I suddenly got the idea of using short rows (this means that you're knitting only over a part of the stitches for a couple of rows, before joining up knitting over all stitches again) - eureka!

The colours on this yarn remind me of Africa ... just the right colour scheme to brighten up a dull European fall and winter!

(German summary: Ich kann diese Sockenwolle doch noch nicht ganz lassen - bei diesem Schal habe ich verkürzte Reihen gestrickt, damit der Farbwechsel größere, einheitliche Farbflächen ergibt.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Puzzled knitting/Rätselhaftes Stricken

I guess I'm a bit crazy to be inspired by a book which hasn't been published yet - but when I saw the front page presented in a Swedish magazine ("Hemslöjden"), it looked so startling and interesting that I just had to try out an own version of that 'puzzled knitting' ...

Do I need to say that I used some of that variegated sock wool ... ?

Below is the front page of the new Swedish knitting book "Stickning. Ett hantverk att utveckla" by Britt-Marie Christoffersson, which will be available on September 24.

(Both pictures above are from, photographer: Thomas Harrysson)

(German summary: Ich hab' mich von einem noch nicht erschienenen Buch inspirieren lassen ... aber die Vorderseite war schon so vielversprechend, daß ich etwas Eigenes in dem Stil einfach ausprobieren mußte!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sock wool disguised buttons/Sockenwollknöpfe

I'm afraid you are starting to ask yourself if I've been bought by the sock wool industry for product placement (no, unfortunately not!) - so I guess I should stop this series soon.

I just wanted to show you a few more ways to use that colourful, variegated yarn besides knitting socks out of it - plying it with handspun wool, for example:

Or crocheting squares without changing the yarn:

Or disguising - i.e. recycling - ugly buttons (the ones in the middle and upper right):

The first two to the left are actually crocheted and then woven over O-rings - this was tought to me by Sara - and the last three ones I covered with a piece of wool, which I first punched on the embellisher. The flower in the right corner is not a button, of course - just another experiment!

And so - I started with the last two scarves for a while (although you can get addicted to it!) - one in my daughter's favourite colours, one for a friend.

(German summary: Noch ein paar Sockenwolle-Ideen, bevor ich dann mit dem Thema aufhöre: handgesponnene bunte Wolle, verzwirnt mit Sockenwolle; gehäkelte Quadrate ohne Garnwechsel und schließlich umhäkelte und umfilzte Knöpfe, teils auch Dichtungsringe. Und die derweil letzten zwei Schals sind auch angefangen - da könnte man richtig süchtig werden!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two crocheted scarves/Zwei gehäkelte Schals

So, I'm done with my crocheted scarves, which I made with that 'famous' variegated sock wool!

They are 20-25 cm x 120 cm (you cast on 30-35 chain stitches and work one double crochet stitch in each chain, turning with 4 chainstitches, continuing with double crochet stitches between the previous ones) - and while crocheting, I got the idea to add a button in the corner - a 'Bockfilz button', as you can see! - which can be buttoned up through any of the holes to secure the scarf as tight or as loose as you like it!

The lighter one (with more pink and yellow in it) found a new owner as a birthday present today already - the one with orange and turquoise is mine to keep! And I guess I have to let my wrists calm off a bit now - they're not used to knit and crochet around the clock anymore!

(German summary: Meine beiden gehäkelten Schals sind fertig und meine Handgelenke glühen förmlich! Sie sind beide aus Sockenwolle gehäkelt, 30-35 lm anschlagen und dann mit Doppelstäbchen zu gewünschter Länge - bei mir waren es 120 cm - weiterarbeiten, 4 lm zum Wenden. Mit einem Knopf im Eck - der irgendwo durchgeknöpft werden kann - wird der Schal so festgehalten, wie man ihn braucht.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Multicoloured shawl, knitted with variegated sock wool/ Bunter Schal, gestrickt mit Sockenwolle

My shawl is finished!

(Now I can face the chilly autumn evenings soon to come ...)

The squares in detail:

And a little glimpse :-) of my next project with the variegated sock wool - a crocheted version:

(German summary: So, mein bunter Schal aus Sockenwolle ist fertig! Und da mich diese Wolle fasziniert, habe ich gleich ein neues Projekt in Angriff genommen, diesmal gehäkelt ...)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A small craft session for confused knitters/Ein Bastelprojekt für Strickerinnen

With the risk of being called a copycat, I want to show you one of the very useful gadgets I discovered at Sara's last week: it looks like a fancy bracelet (and you can of course wear it as such), but it's actually a stitch and row counter, based on the Abacus-system - a must-have for confused knitters like me.

Sara had bought hers on Etsy quite some time ago, and as she couldn't remember exactly where, I took a dive into my stash today and made one myself:

There are several sellers on Etsy, if you want one too - or you can just treat yourself to a little craft session :-).

(German summary: Das ist ein geniales kleines Ding, um Maschen und Reihen beim Stricken zu zählen - meines ist selbstgemacht, bei Etsy gibt's mehrere Anbieter.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colourful sock wool/Bunte Sockenwolle

What do girls do when they want to have fun? Right! They go shopping!

(And they visit an Irish pub and watch movies, they spin and knit and talk a lot, exchange ideas, they try out new patterns and techniques ... all that sort of stuff, which we also did when I visited Sara last week!)

Anyway, we finally fell into the local yarn shop and I guess we almost emptied it - this time we were aiming for variegated sock wool -

this was my harvest:

The big advantage of using variegated sock wool is that you can knit or crochet in a patterned and colourful way without having to change the yarn all the time. But I find it very useful for plying with handspun yarns as well - or even to embroider with it, on wool!

Upon my arrival at Sara's, I laid my eyes on a beautiful multi-coloured shawl Sara had knitted for her daughter - and as I just had to have one like that too, I began knitting and still am ...

I made some variations in colour and pattern - hers was entirely done in garter stitch - but the credit of this model goes to Sara, of course!

Returning home, I also found a crocheted bracelet on Etsy, which I thought would look great with my variegated wool - you can buy the original from "Stjärnkraft" - and here is the version I made to wear myself:

Besides knitting on the coloured shawl, I'm also working on a little bag à la Hundertwasser, as the wool corresponds very well with his typical colour scheme ... Hope being able to show you the result before long!

(German summary: Ich war letzte Woche bei Sara und habe mich von ihrer Begeisterung für bunte Sockenwolle anstecken lassen: Der große Vorteil ist, daß sich die Farben und die Musterung von alleine ergeben, auch bei anderen Strickteilen als nur Socken! Und für ein locker gestricktes Stück kann man ruhig auch etwas dickere Nadeln als angegeben verwenden.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some experiments with the flower loom/Experimente mit dem Blumenwebgerät

Do you remember the cotton threads I showed you in an earlier posting? And that I tried them out as a sample on a flower loom?

As I'm very captivated by the idea of recycling and re-using, I decided to try to do some kind of garment out of it; I like the kind of sloppy and casual retro-look of these flowers and think they would be great as a loosely hanging slipover over a T-shirt for example.

(If you google on it, there are several links for buying or crafting a flower loom yourself.)

Another possibility to use the flower loom is to make some woolen flowers and then to combine them with the embellisher and felt them into the background - here I did some free machine embroidery with variegated thread on the leaves afterwards:

For this bag, I crocheted the carrying straps with handspun wool (the same as for the bag itself) and then again punched them with the embellisher to get them more sturdy and less flexible.

(German summary: Ein paar Experimente mit dem Blumenwebgerät - einmal mit den grauen Recyclingfäden für einen lockeren Pullunder, einmal mit handgesponnener Wolle für eine gepunchte Tasche.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wheel of Life - Mahatma Gandhi

"The music of the wheel will be as balm to your soul. I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life. The Charkha (=spinning wheel) is the symbol of non-violence on which all life, if it is to be real life, must be based."

Mahatma Gandhi

As I've been spinning a lot on my spinning wheel lately - and found this to be very comforting and meditative - I was quite touched by this poetic quotation by Mahatma Gandhi and wanted to share it with you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blending camel and bamboo ...

Did I tell you I ordered and received a drum carder - it's a Louet Junior - recently?

Hand carders are fine for carding and blending small amounts of fiber, but I've realized you really need a drum carder when working with a bit more of material.

Although wool is still my favourite fiber, I wanted to try out other ones as well - especially as wool is quite "hot" working with in the heat of the summer days ...

Today I blended camel with bamboo, which is a great soft and lightweight combination of the matt and short-stapled camel and the shiny, long-stapled bamboo fibers, easy to spin in all thicknesses.

As I've spun my yarn quite thin at a higher ratio, it is rather energized - and so I guess I will make a 2-ply out of the single - or maybe ply it with an old, slightly golden thread I found in a thrift store ... we'll see.

(German summary: Ich habe mir endlich eine Trommelkarde gekauft - und bin gerade dabei, eine Mischung aus Kamel- und Bambusfasern zu verspinnen. Die Kombination dieser einmal kurz-, einmal langfaserigen Materialen ist sehr angenehm zu verspinnen und auch optisch recht gelungen.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Still crazy ... doing malfatto

I found this wonderful unplugged version of "Still crazy" with an aged but still irresistable Paul Simon on YouTube and I think I have to share it with you:

Doing this and that, just playing, having fun ... Maybe I have to realize that those imperfect things are mine.

I've made two booklets to send to my cyber friends, Paula and Elizabeth - go check their blogs, they're both very good at what they're doing and have grown to be very dear and special to me!

(The booklets are punched with wool, yarn, fabrics on wool fabric, using the embellisher.)

I've found out there is a word for those imperfect, self-crafted things: "malfatto" - actually, it's Italian for "badly made", but it doesn't necessarily mean it has to be bad or ugly - just a bit rough, often made out of recycling materials and with a bit of vintage charm.

(By the way, I've discovered a very nice Finnish book with lots of pictures and ideas regarding stylish recycling of old things, written by Liisa Hellemaa-Hautamäki and Marjo Koivumäki. The German title is: "Aus alten Sachen Schönes machen" - unfortunately, I don't think it's been translated to English yet.)

It's not so easy to find or figure out minor projects which can be realized with a small amount of (handspun) yarn, but these are two bags - the left one is actually a cover protecting my GPS, the right a normal one - which I've crocheted lately:

(German summary: Die beiden Notizbücher sind mit dem Embellisher gepuncht, Wolle/Fasern/Stoff auf Wollstoff, die kleinen Taschen aus handgesponnener Wolle gehäkelt. Das Buch von den beiden Finninen kann ich wirklich sehr empfehlen - und natürlich auch die Blogs meiner Freundinnen!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back again - with the Sari Sisters!

Dear friends,

I'm finally back again. I haven't got the absolute full power yet, but I've been damn lucky and I'm OK. And thank you once more for your encouraging comments and mails - I've been missing you a lot!

Meanwhile, I've learned that 50% die of this kind of bleeding and 80% of the rest suffer of disablements ... that makes me shiver - and still, it's as if I just can't realize why my power is so low and everyday stuff suddenly requires 'slow-motion' ... the effort of raising a lot of input for a tiny little output.

Well, nevertheless, this was yesterday's output, when I was trying to play around with the making of 'crazy dolls' - let me present the 'Sari Sisters' (and brothers):

I named them so, because I used some of the Sari silk waste from the earlier posting, and combined it with some vintage buttons, beads and metal wire - actually recycling material.

(I only laid the dolls down on this pre-felt for taking the picture - they all have a hook on their backside and are ment to be hung on a wall, a branch, a parcel ...)

(German summary: Ich bin zurück - und ich bedanke mich ganz herzlich für eure lieben Kommentare und Mails! Ich habe verflixtes Glück gehabt - und trotzdem hadere ich ein bißchen damit, daß ich noch immer so wenig Puste habe ... Die Püppchen sind ein Recycling-Projekt aus Sari-Fasern, Draht, Knöpfe und Perlen!)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dear friends,

First of all: Thank you so much for your caring 'get well'-wishes and dear greetings in the comments and by mail! I do appreciate it very much indeed and I'm sorry for having neglected my blog and mails for so long now - but I haven't really had a choice.

My 'disc problem' finally turned out to be a bleeding aneurysm in my brain and last week I had a brain surgery in Vienna. Fortunately, everything's fine now - I returned home from hospital this weekend - but I will still have to keep calm for a while in order to recover properly.

This means I'm back reading at least, even if I haven't that much to contribute myself yet ...!

So please be patient just a little bit longer and I'll be joining you again as soon as I can!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sorry, but I can't be with you for a while. I'm in bed with a disc problem in my neck which causes real bad headache. Take care! I'll be back as soon as I can.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What a joy to recycle this! /Wunderbare Wiederverwertung

Look what I received from Sara today! A whole bunch of sari silk fibers which she had ordered from India! I'm so overwhelmed and so happy! What a joy to recycle this material! (The two small balls at the left are my very first try-outs with the material ...)

And as this seems to be my lucky day, I had one more present - this time from my 13-year old son. Coming home from school, he jumped into the workshop and just made that much-longed-for lazy kate which I've been talking about that I would really need ...

As you can see, it's the luxury version, holding seven (!) bobbins!

(And in German: Diese wunderbaren indischen Seidenfasern aus recycelten Saris hat Sara aus Indien bestellt - und mir einen Batzen davon geschenkt! Ich freu' mich so! - Ganz links oben die allerersten Versuche damit ... Und dann noch dazu ein Geschenk meines 13-jährigen Sohnes: ein heiß ersehnter Spulenhalter - für gleich sieben Spulen - den hat er heute einfach so zusammengezimmert! Wenn das nicht ein Glückstag ist ...)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All shades of grey/Graubunte Fäden

A friend asked me if I wanted some threads, which had been left behind by a lodger who had moved on. "Threads? Yeah, sure," I said.

Well, here they are, and I'm now trying to figure out what to do with them.

Straight threads, entangled threads, wound threads, all different shades of grey. A metaphor for life.

Among the threads there were three rope-like items - neat threads wound around thick strands of other threads - and I started with them, sewing them together like for a bowl, trivet, mat ...

I also tried out the threads on my daughter's flower loom (when googling about flower looms, I learned that this is a revival tool from the '70:s - didn't know that!).

I like the flowers best when they're a bit sloppy and not too neat - and this seems to be the perfect stuff for that look! I could imagine how great a waist-coat or a belt would be with these flowers - maybe with a felted center to it as well ...

What I enjoy about these threads is that there are several matching shades and that there is such a lot of material! This gives me the opportunity to play and experiment with them, considering punching the whole entangled batt with the embellisher as a 'filling embroidery' to the fabric background ...

Thinking of seaweed, drift wood, a harbour fence, a coral reef ...

Sea shore and maritime motifs are definitely connected to my summer feelings. The blue and greyish shades of the threads - in combination with different white fibers - maybe with some natural found objects like sea shells and drift wood - would most certainly make a good arrangement.

I think I would like to work on that.

(German summary: Ich habe einen ganzen Haufen Baumwollfäden in verschiedenen Grautönen bekommen - und überlege, was ich damit machen könnte. Ein paar dicke, umwickelte Stränge waren schon dabei - die hab' ich gleich zusammengenäht. Mit dem "Blumengerät" (Prym) meiner Tochter probierte ich einige 'schlampigen' Blumen aus - da eignen sich die verworrenen Fäden sehr gut - und ich könnte mir diese als ärmellose Weste oder auch als Gürtel gut vorstellen ... Zuletzt noch ein paar Experimente mit dem Embellisher - in maritimer Richtung. Eine Kombination mit weißen Fasern und einigen Naturfundstücken würde sicher ein recht nettes Bild ergeben!)
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