Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Making of a Unicorn


Unicorns are everywhere these days and as I work with a unicorn-mad colleague, I often hear about the latest unicorn-themed recipes, smoothies and other weird products. In turn, I send her the latest info on unicorn products from Germany and translate recipes she might like. "It's all happening in Germany," she keeps saying because there seems to be no end to unicorn chocolates, drinks and even, as I recently discovered, sweet-scented toilet paper with unicorn print. Why we need any of that, I don't know, but it's fun!

So when I heard that Simply Knitting published its latest issue with a unicorn knitting kit, of course I had to buy it for her. Over Easter I kept my needles busy with a creature that actually came out looking the way it should. (Apart from a problem with different lengths of hair, but that sorted itself out in the end.) It worked so well that I plan to knit another one for myself sometime.

I was really excited to give the toy to my colleague, but I had to wait for three very long days because problems with the trains meant she couldn't get to work till the end of the week. I placed the unicorn on her desk while she was away and fashioned a little diary for it, complete with entries about how it was looking forward to meet her.

And of course she loved it! She'd been feeling down lately, which I didn't even know, so the unicorn came just at the right time. As I said, it's a magical creature. It comes to you just when you need it. Feed it Skittles and it will keep you company for a long time.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter! Have a Unicorn


Wishing you all a wonderful Easter break! 

Do you get crafty over Easter and paint eggs, too? This is a tradition I have kept up so every year I colour some eggs, usually with dyes from Germany. There is quite a variety of dyes and I like to have a little stash ready for the next few years. 

This year I used pastel dyes you dissolve in a mug with water and vinegar. Just drop the boiled egg in carefully, wait till it has the desired colour, and remove it. I wanted to try something different this time and decided to turn my eggs into unicorns. I was inspired by these beauties. Once I located the glue gun I only ever use once in a blue moon, I was ready to give it a go.

I used tin foil to make the horns, a leafy gold ribbon to make ears, scrap yarn in various colours to make the hair, and some colouring pens for the faces (felt tip for the eyes and pencils for the cheeks). 

I have to admit I absolutely love them! This could have gone disastrously wrong! My favourite is the blue one with pink hair. There are six of these unicorns in total and I am very proud of them.

Happy Easter!


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Giveaway: British Wool Show 2017


Are you itching to visit the British Wool Show this year? This is your chance! I'm giving away ten tickets - yes, 10! - to Absoknittinglutely followers.

A few years ago I had a great time at the show. Back then it took place in York, but the show has moved a little further north in Yorkshire. It's still the same show with a variety of vendors selling everything for your woolly needs and the Sheep Show Man is back, too. I highly recommend seeing him and his dancing sheep.

There will be a shuttle bus to pick up visitors from Thirsk railway station and Market Square, so don't worry if you don't have a car. I used the shuttle bus service last time and it was very convenient. It was a lovely day out.


The details


When:
Saturday, 8 July 2017 from 10:00-17:00
Sunday, 9 July from 10:00-16:00


Where:
Thirsk Rural Business Centre
Blakely Lane, Thirsk
North Yorkshire
YO7 3AB


Further information:
(This is also where you can buy tickets if you prefer not to join in this giveaway.)

Follow:
You can find the British Wool Show on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date.


Win the tickets


Tickets are valid for a day of your choice. In order to win tickets for the British Wool Show 2017, you need to do one of the following:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post and let me know how many tickets you would like and why. Please also let me know how I can contact you if you win (such as social media handle or your own blog). Do not leave your phone number or email address as they will be visible to everyone.

OR

2. Follow me on Twitter and reply to one of my tweets to let me know how many tickets you would like.

OR

3. Reply to my giveaway post on Facebook and let me know how many tickets you would like.

OR

4. Comment on my Instagram post about this giveaway and let me know how many tickets you would like.


Please note


You will get only one entry, no matter how often or where you take part in this giveaway.

The giveaway will run till 30 April 2017 or until all tickets have gone. I will update this post when it ends. I will notify the winners via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or your blog, depending on how they entered.


Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Samite Silk Blend (AKA: Of Course There's Room In My Stash)

Blacker Yarns Samite Silk Blend

And here I thought I was safe from impulsive yarn purchases. (Cue hysterical laughter from knitters around the world.)

Blacker Yarns have tempted me with their brand new Samite Silk Blend which impressed me not only with the fact that it contains silk, one of my favourite materials to knit with, but with its pre-Raphaelite colours. The yarn consists of 30% Blue-faced Leicester, 40% Shetland, cruelty-free 20% Ahimsa silk, and 10% fibre from Blacker’s own Gotland flock.

I had a difficult time choosing colours and had to think hard about what I would use the yarn for. I have lots of single or double skeins for shawls in my stash, so I didn't want to add to them. In the end I decided I could use Samite to knit a short-sleeved top for spring and autumn (and possibly cooler summer days). Wisely, I did not think about when I would actually get around to knitting it. (Ignore the half-finished first jumper of mine, please.) This 3-ply yarn should be ideal for a light top: it has drape, feels cool to the touch, and the silk keeps it from being too woolly. To me it feels like a summer yarn, actually.

Blacker Samite 3-ply yarn
In the end, I chose colours that deviate from my usual choice. I picked Peacock's Neck (blue), Swallow's Soar (light blue) and Tide of Dreams (sage green). Admittedly, the colours looked a bit more vibrant to me on the site, so I was a little disapointed with them. Maybe I should have stuck with my favourite colours after all, but these will knit up nicely into a multicoloured top. 

Even though I know I want to knit a top, I don't actually have a suitable pattern. I scoured Ravelry and couldn't find anything I liked in my size, so I may improvise a bit. I would like to add some chevrons to the design, using the light blue and sage green on a blue background. This could get interesting! 

Stick around for a few years and I am sure you will see the results. Well, okay, I shall try to hurry, but there's still that jumper to finish first.

Blacker Yarns Samite in three shades

Did you get your hands on Samite, too? What do you think of it and, most of all, what will you knit? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Nothing Better Than Yarn and a Cup of Tea


The sun is shining and spring is in the air. Sunday is my lazy day so what could be better than squishing some yarn and having a cup of tea? 

You may have read the review of my silver hank of Puyu recently. Amano, the company that created this yarn, saw my review and loved it so much that they got in touch with me and sent me two hanks in a lush caramel as a thank you. All the way from Peru! I am very grateful for this lovely surprise. They even included a mug because not only do they understand our love of knitting, but they also realise that a good mug of tea makes the world a little better - at least for a while.


I plan to use the silver and caramel to knit a fluffy hat for next autumn and winter. I feel like doing a bit of colourwork so watch this space! The caramel should look lovely as a colour accent amid the silver. A Scandinavian star pattern or some chevrons will probably look best - and there must be a pompom, of course. I will have a look around Ravelry before I cast on, but if there is nothing suitable, I still have some stitch libraries to go through on my book shelf.

If you are wondering what I am drinking, it's a black tea with mango that I ordered from my favourite German tea shop, Tee Gschwendner. It's called Mango Indica and I totally forgot I still had some of it here. Today felt just like the kind of day for my favourite cuppa.


This mug is simple and pretty at the same time. I really love the illustration showing a woman looking towards the Andes. This art work is typical of the Amano brand and you can see it on their website as well as on the yarn labels. I didn't mention it in my review, but the pretty cloud illustrations on the Puyu labels complement the squishy wool and add to the overall impression of rich, covetable yarn.

In a way, the illustrations carry with them an air of the unfamiliar, in a good way. They feel Peruvian and create a yearning for this country most of us are unlikely to ever see for ourselves. By knitting with this yarn, it's almost as though you are knitting a piece of Peru into your life. And that, to me, is a wonderful thought.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Knitting & Crochet Inspiration: Citrus Edition

Fruity knitting and crochet patterns

Spring is coming! While the mild weather of last week has been replaced by a biting cold wind today, there's no denying that spring is on its way. The first flowers are beginning to blossom and I finally got a chance, albeit briefly, to ditch my heavy winter coat. This got me thinking about spring knits and I came across a wonderful citrus sock pattern that just screamed sunshine. So here's a selection of citrus patterns to get you in the mood.

1. These Citrus socks by Anna Bergman are amazing! I saw them pop up on Instagram, originally, and I love them. Sadly, the pattern is only available in Swedish as far as I can see, but I just had to share them with you because they are beautiful. If you come across an English translation, please let me know and I will be happy to add it.

2. Something for the crocheters among us: Purl Soho's Fruity Trivets and Pot Holders are quick to make and useful kitchen helpers. They not only come in the colour of lemons and oranges, so you have a lot of choice here. There's even a link to knitted versions if that's your jam.

3. I know that I often neglect crochet, so here's a second crochet pattern for you! This lemon stress ball is also quick to make and looks like a lot of fun. If you don't want to use it as a stress ball, why not knit up a few and arrange them in a bowl instead? Blogger and crafter Claireabelle has included a video in which popular crocheter Twinkie Chan shows you how to make your own lemon - and how not to fill it.

4. Kelli Slack's Tropical Citrus Shawl is a wonderful shade of orange and will brighten up any grey day (and let's face it, such days are far more common here in the UK than we would like). The shawl features lace that looks like it is full of oranges, but there are also small cables to add interest. 

What patterns have caught your eye recently? Let's get ready for some spring knitting!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Amano Puyu: Yarn As Soft As a Cloud

Amano Puyu alpaca silk yarn for knitting and crochet

Sit back, relax and imagine what it would be like to knit a cloud - because that's what it feels like when you cast on to knit with Amano Puyu, a beautiful Peruvian chunky yarn made from 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk. In the native language of the Incas, puyu means cloud, and the name is absolutely perfect.

This new yarn is incredibly light and soft and comes in a small number of natural shades. I have the silver colourway (3007) that reminds me of rain clouds. It is very pleasant to knit with and I am intrigued by the way it has been constructed. I say constructed, because this yarn has not been spun the conventional way: First, the silk is spun into a tube into which the alpaca is introduced by puffs of air. No wonder it feels so light! This process also explains why I enjoy knitting with this yarn despite it consisting mainly of alpaca.

Peruvian alpaca yarn with silk

You see, I don't actually like alpaca because it feels very unpleasant while I knit with it. I can't explain what it is, but the yarn doesn't seem to glide along as well. If there was a tactile equivalent to that awful squeaky chalk on a blackboard sound, then it would be alpaca. 

However, Puyu is beautiful and I can't wait to knit up a little something with it. Each skein contains only 50 g (75 m), so I think a hat may be all I can make with a single skein. The chunky yarn is the ideal weight for such a project so I shall give it a go. 

Washing wool with Soak wool wash

To test this yarn, I knitted a large gauge swatch with the recommended 9 mm needles, gave it a wash with Soak and then gently blocked it. I prefer slightly denser fabric, so going down a needle size would have been perfect for me, I think. Still, with 9 mm the result is lovely and soft and very drapey. 

In fact, I think the best thing to make this yarn is a large, sweeping, chunky shawl to keep you warm in autumn and winter. The drape would be wonderful in such an accessory and yet it would feel wonderfully light. I am very tempted, I have to say! Whatever you decide to knit with this wool, the yarn itself will be the star of the show. No need for fancy patterns; all you need is a layer of this fabric to surround yourself in a lovely cloud of warmth.

Alpaca and silk yarn that feels like a cloud

For yarn snobs like me, Puyu is a must-have. This is a high-quality yarn, there's no doubt about it. At £16.95 for 50 g it isn't within everyone's budget, I know, but if you want to spend some saved-up cash on a treat, I do recommend Puyu. It is something very special and quite different.

Disclosure: This yarn was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The PussyHat Effect: EU Edition



I know, I know. I said I probably wouldn't need to talk politics on this blog again after my PussyHat post, but of course life always has other plans. 

Being an EU migrant in the UK, impending Brexit is causing a lot of insecurity about my future here - and, as a consequence, the future of my fiancé as well. Should I have to leave, either because the Home Office tells me to or because the government makes life extremely difficult by removing eligibility for NHS treatment, benefits or pensions, I and many others like me will take our British spouses, British children and British money with us. It angers me that there are more protests against Trump than against our treatment in this country.

The visibility of existing protests is missing in the media as well. In the meantime, savvy knitters have started to counter the invisibility in their own way by adapting the PussyHat pattern to suit their needs. In a previous post I added a link to an EU version designed by Anke Klempner (now updated to include a beanie and a PussyHat shape). It's become increasingly popular and you may have seen photos and news footage of people in their EU hats as they lobby their MPs and protest against the British government's treatment of EU citizens as bargaining chips in upcoming negotiations.


If you would like to support EU citizens in the UK, there are ways you can help. Join a lobbying group such as The 3 Million and help ensure that those of us who have made their lives here and British citizens abroad don't lose their acquired rights.

(All images are contributions from members of The 3 Million.)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sock Wash and Sort Out


Perhaps the best thing to do to ease back into everyday life after being ill for over a week is to give your knitted socks a wash. Even though I am not fond of washing my socks by hand, it is something that needs to be done - and I will forever be grateful for the existence of no-rinse wool wash. Please tell me I am not the only one who doesn't look forward to this! Anyway, I've finally washed all the socks that have been waiting for over two weeks so now my collection is complete again and ready to be worn. 

Having had a look at my big bag of socks, there are quite a few that are no longer in the best shape and some don't fit anymore. It's probably time to unravel them and knit new ones. I am finding it hard to do that, though, because a lot of work went into each pair. But then why hold on to a pair that doesn't fit and will only lie about in the bag, never to be worn again?

Some of the yarns are too nice to just be thrown away. I am also very fond of some patterns and might reknit those despite never knitting the same thing twice. It's a shame that some of my favourites  especially have shrunk a bit in the wash!

What do you do with old knitted socks? Do they end up in the bin or do you try to salvage the yarn? How frequently do you have a sort out?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Wool Tribe 2017 Is Here


If you are one of the lucky ones going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival  (EYF) on the 10th and 11th March this year, I envy you! It was a great event last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This year I won't be able to make it - due to my upcoming wedding, I need to save up as much holiday as I can. So a few days in Edinburgh are not on the cards this time, but I am sure I will go again one day.

Like last year, there is a new Wool Tribe companion magazine for EYF, full of specially selected patterns and other information about Edinburgh, woolly crafts, and the festival itself. At the back of the issue you'll find a floor plan and list of vendors, which is extremely helpful if, like me, you like to plan which stalls to hit first. My motto: Efficiency is key! AKA: Just be German.

I have to say that I prefer the first issue of Wool Tribe: Both the aesthetic as well as the patterns were far more appealling to me and the articles in it were more up my alley than this year. I am a little disappointed, but I wanted this magazine nonetheless because it is a part of EYF and I enjoyed it so much before. This year, by the way, there is even a crochet pattern in Wool Tribe, but as I don't like crochet, it isn't for me either.

The magazine contains patterns from Donna Smith, Renee Callahan, Francesca Hughes, Clare Devine, Jane Crowfoot, and Amanda B Collins. As knitters you will have come across at least some of them so you can be sure the patterns are well written and you may be familiar with their styles.


My favourite pattern is the Belsyde Shawl pictured above. I am not convinced by the zigzag along the body, but still. The colour choice is great and I very much like the YO pattern along the short edge as well. Besides, you can never really go wrong with a shawl, can you?

In Wool Tribe you will also find another trail guiding you through a part of Edinburgh. Last year's craft, coffee and cake trail was a great success, but this year's trail will lead you to new areas, encompassing  Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat. This trail was chosen to offer you a wonderful view of the area and its landmarks. At the end you will be rewarded with a visit to Scotland's oldest pub, the 14th century Sheep Heid Inn


This year there are articles again that I look forward to reading in a quiet moment. However, there is one about machine knitting that I am not (yet) in the mood to read because I really don't like the idea of machine knitting. I apologise for not being able to give you any details about the articles, but I haven't yet managed to bring myself to read the articles yet. This shows you just how different my overall impression of this year's issue is, actually. Last year I couldn't wait to get stuck in and read it from cover to cover. This time it's taking a while for me to be drawn in.

That's not to say that it isn't up to scratch. This issue simply doesn't contain things I like and this was bound to happen at some point. We all like different things and not everything can be featured in a single magazine. So don't let me put you off! If you like the patterns, go for it. If you are a fan of EYF as I am, definitely get your hands on a copy if you can. I for my part am really looking forward to the third issue in 2018 and I will absolutely buy it again.

The magazine comes with a Ravelry download code so you can add it to your library and have the patterns handy and ready to print whenever you need them. You can buy the latest issue of Wool Tribe right here on the EYF website where you can also see all the featured patterns.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

PussyHats Galore


Please excuse my silence over the past week. With so many crazy things happening in the world right now, I was not in the mood for blogging even though I do have things to tell you about. I am a little late now in showing you my tiny bit of craftivism, but I am sure it will still be needed in the future.

I am sure you heard about the Women's March on Washington that took place the day after the US president's inauguration. I hear it was the largest march of its kind in history and it did not confine itself to Washington or even the US. There were marches all over the world, even here in the UK. The closest one to me was in London. While I didn't march personally, I knew this was big and important. So I decided to show my solidarity with these women (and men) who marched that day, picked pink yarn from my stash and started knitting my own PussyHat as they marched and I followed them on Twitter and the news.


PussyHats are a symbol of resistance, of rights for women. They are a reaction to Trump's policies and his disgusting claim that if you're famous, you can "grab them by the pussy" and they'll let you, "you can do anything." You will have seen images of the march and the sea of pink PussyHats. It was truly a sight to behold.

So on that day I knitted from late morning till evening, but had to stop shortly before I could finish the final bit of ribbing. When I finally sewed the seams and wove in the ends, it was too late for the march, of course, but that didn't stop me from wearing the hat at work the following week. 

It was a great success with colleagues who are  involved in politics and follow current developments both at home and abroad. My Spanish colleague took this photo of me to share with her friends.

Interestingly, this hat pattern has now been adapted for a different cause altogether, though one closer to home. Some crafty EU-nationals living in the UK are preparing to protest against the treatment of us as bargaining chips in this Brexit... fiasco, for lack of a better word. They plan to wear a blue hat with yellow stars that reflects the EU flag. I think that is a great idea! (You can also find a classic beanie knitting pattern to go with the cause here.)

If you are an EU-national in the UK, by the way, and want to stay up-to-date with developments as they pertain to our status here post-Brexit, feel free to join the3million on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. We cannot rely on politicians doing the right thing. We must make sure we are heard.

And this is probably as political a post as I am ever going to write on this blog. At least I hope there won't be a need for any more.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Patons Everyday Moments: The Creative Collection


Once I started to knit, my likes and dislikes changed. I used to hate the look of cabling - until I started a pair of socks with little cables in it. I still enjoy them now and think cabling is wonderfully versatile. My experience with tweed has been similar. Before I became a knitter, I disliked the tweed look and didn't understand why so many people loved it. It looked too rugged to me and, as far as I could tell from my limited experience, it didn't even feel nice. Yet once I encountered all sorts of yarn over the years, I began to yearn for some tweed, too. Now I finally have a hand-dyed hank of tweed sock yarn in my stash that a friend made especially for me and I am trying to think of something nice to knit it into. I think it is fair to assume it will be socks, but I haven't settled on a pattern yet.

Patons Everyday Moments: The Creative Collection (sent to me for review by Laughing Hens) is a small collection of 8 patterns using Patons Tweed Style yarn. This yarn consists of 50% pure wool and 50% acrylic and comes in 14 different colours. If tweed is your thing, have a look at this pattern collection and something just might catch your eye.


Among the 8 options, you will find 2 hat and cowl sets (one for him and one for her), a poncho for her, a coat for her and a jacket for him, and 3 pullovers.  They all look very cosy and just right for the kind of weather we are having right now. Due to the thickness of the yarn there isn't any lace in this collection, but you have interesting cabling and straightforward stocking stitch. 

I can well imagine knitting one of the jumpers or the jacket for Mark, actually, though there are no patterns I would knit for myself - I'm just picky like that. Though I have to say the lady's pullover with cabling does interest me because it reminds me of the Icon Dress and Traveller Tunic. I have been tempted by the latter especially.


The instructions are laid out clearly and are mainly written. There are some charts for cables as well as diagrams to help with shaping and blocking. The measurements for individual parts of the garments are listed in a table for all sizes so you always know how your finished piece should measure up. (Also great for any modifications you may need to make.) At the beginning of the pattern, you find all necessary tools and materials, basic stitches, sizing and tension information, and abbreviations so you can prepare for what you're getting yourself into.

Have you used a Patons pattern before? How did you get on with it? And is there anything you're tempted by in this particular collection? Let me know!

Disclosure: This pattern collection was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Yarn to Dye For

Rooster merino yarn introduced by Absoknittinglutely

A quick scan of my blog will show you that it has been lacking posts about dyeing recently. It's been a while since I played with my dyes and I have been itching to give it a go again. I have been especially tempted ever since Laughing Hens sent me this gorgeous hank of undyed superwash merino. Just look at the photos: it's sooo squishy! I don't think I have ever dyed such luscious yarn before, so I look forward to seeing how it will take to dyeing.


I can't stop touching it. Before I choose a colour, I will have to make up my mind about what to knit this wool into. It is too nice for socks and as it is pure merino, it wouldn't hold up very well to being worn on my feet. This 4-ply would make a great hat or even gloves. It's a good thing I have been thinking of knitting new gloves lately, especially now that we have had a few very chilly days over here. If you have any other ideas, let me know! For your information, I have 400 meters of this yarn, so that is very decent.


I am tempted to dye this differently from the way I usually work. Maybe I'll first knit something and then dye it. I would love to just partially dye the fingertips of gloves, for instance, or the top of a hat. So many possibilities! Also so much potential for disaster, but that makes it particularly exciting. I remember an attempt at speckle dyeing going very wrong... If I feel brave enough to give it another go, I would like to pre-dye the yarn in a lighter shade first and then try speckle dyeing over it in a second round. One day I might actually get a hang of this!


What kind of dyeing technique to you like in the yarns you buy or dye yourself? Do you have particular colours you return to again and again or do you like to be as diverse as possible? I've noticed I tend to stick to the same colours and really need to branch out a little. Perhaps this lovely yarn will be something completely different! I shall report once it's done, of course.

Disclosure: This yarn was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Friday, 6 January 2017

#Craftblogclub Secret Santa 2016: Part 2


You have already seen what I made for my #craftblogclub Secret Santa swap partner, so now it is time to reveal what I have received.

When the package arrived before Christmas, it was a bit of a mystery. The address was German, but I knew it was from my Secret Santa. I thought I was the only German person taking part in #craftblogclub on Twitter, so I couldn't think of who this would be. It threw me because of my own connection to Germany, too. 

When I opened the handmade card that came with the package, it was even more mysterious. It began in German and then continued in English with an apology for the bad German grammar. It wasn't bad at all so I thought it was a native speaker at first. And then it finally dawned on me that I had spoken to a lady who lived in Germany, but was originally from the UK. Mystery solved! I quite enjoyed that conundrum, I have to say. Thank you, Rosie B from Craftbotic!


Rosie filled the package with all manner of handcrafted Christmas decorations that went on our tree straight away, I especially liked the yarn ball baubles, holly and clay reindeer. The gifts reminded me of how I always say I will make my own decorations one day and yet I never do... Rosie has used such a variety of techniques to make her gifts to me and I love it. 

And this is why I love Secret Santa. It can go a bit wrong sometimes, but usually the surprises are great fun and the excitement that comes with it is the best part of it. You do your best to find something your partner will like, but you can never be sure until they receive it and say something about it. You receive a gift as well and learn something about your Secret Santa, their preferences and skills, too. It's a lovely thing and I have enjoyed being part of 2016's #craftblogclub Secret Santa once again.

What are your experiences with Secret Santa? Do you love it or loathe it? What was the best gift you ever received from your swap partner - or has it ever gone wrong? Let me know in the comments.