H+H Cologne 2019

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After spending only one day at H+H Cologne last year, I decided to opt for a full three days this year. This is definitely necessary if you want to explore new companies and have some time to talk, be it at the stands, with fellow knitting bloggers or designers.

H+H welcomed its visitors with a cosy coffee bar right after the entrance paired with a small exhibition focusing on sustainable and eco-friendly products right next to it.

There were quite a few novelties shown:

One of my first discoveries this year was Elbwolle, a small company from northern Germany.

Traditionally, sheep are held there to graze many of the greens, but their wool had not been put to use in the recent years. Elbwolle wants to change this and produces yarns, loden cloth, bedding and fertiliser using local wool. They offer two very different types of yarn, fingering weights and super bulky ones.

The fingering ones have a slightly rustic feel, just like I love them. They remind me of Traditional British and Scandinavic 2-plys. The super bulky ones range from 80g/ 10m, spun around a cotton core, to 220g/ 20m, spun around a woollen core. As an idea how to use them, Elbwolle has shown some knitted squares to be used as cushions as the yarn has some sort of built-in padding due to its construction and thickness.

They also offer huge, handcarved knitting needles and crochet hooks to match their super bulky weights.

I also like that their yarns have a code showing all process details. This starts with the crop year and the sheep breed and continues with all manufacturers involved in all steps of the making of the yarn! I am really impressed about this level of transparency!

Another very interesting, young company is Nomad Noos, a yarn manufacturer that sells handspun yarns from Mongolian animals.

The yak, camel, sheep and goat fibres are bought from nomads directly, then handspun in Nepal. All processes in the production are sustainable, the people involved receive an income above the countries’ average. You can read more about their mission here.

The yarn range consists of four fingering weight qualities. Dry desert camel, a 100% camel yarn, high mountain yak, a 100% yak yarn, smooth satul sheep, a 100% Mongolian sheep yarn, and so soft yak and satuul, a blend of yak and Mongolian sheep. All yarns are incredibly soft and wonderful to touch. Although the sustainable and fair approach makes these yarns luxury goods, I am deeply impressed about the consistency of this small company. I really hope this concept will work out in the long run.

I spent quite a while at Gepard, a small yarn company from Denmark.

They work with small, family owned Italian yarn mills and have a very interesting range. Their Kid Seta, e.g., has a remarkable fibre length, comparable to the Uschitita Kidsilk Lace I have used for the Birds of a Feather shawl. It comes in a large colour palette so well composed all shades go well together.

Another yarn that caught my eyes initially is Wild Soft, a fingering weight, worsted spun blend of 60% Merino and 40% wild Tussah silk. It also has a DK weight, woollen spun sister yarn, Wild Wool Silk. I really like this idea of spinning the same blend differently depending on the resulting yarn weight! There definitely will be interesting differences in texture, reflection and drape in the results.

A more classic yarn quality is Pura Lana, a DK weight blend of 50% alpaca and 50% Merino. In my opinion, this eco-tex certified yarn could be an alternative to the squishy, pure Merino DK’s of other manufacturers. Gepard also has a GOTS certified base, Cotton Wool, a blend of 50% organic cotton and 50% organic Wool. It is availabe in fingering and aran weight.

I was really surprised by the beautiful knitting patterns. There were some of the designs at the booth which all were very clever with lovely little details.

If you like unusual hand-dyers, you might want to take a look at Urth.

It is a family owned American company which has their yarns dyed in Turkey. Apart from the sock yarns which contain 25% Nylon for durability, their yarns are 100% natural. They have semisolid range, Monokrom, in fingering, worsted and chunky weight single-ply Merino. The Uneek range comprises variegated, but tonal yarns on the single-ply Merino bases as well as a pure cotton DK weight and a self-striping sock yarn.

The sock yarn also comes in non-striping variegated colorways as Merino Sock.

Now to their true gems. Coexist is a fingering weight 80% silk and 20% Merino yarn, that I wish was available in semisolid colourways, but that I have seen in lightly variegated colourways only. I would like to try it anyway as I imagine the result to be super drapey but with a lot more elasticity than pure silk. The next rarity is a fingering weight 2-ply pure cashmere yarn, Kashmir Mono. It is available in a variety of semi-solid colourways, among them a beautiful dark grey.

Their most extraordinary approach, in my opinion, is Harvest, a fingering weight, plied, pure Merino. This collection is dyed with natural colours only with stunning results! They even have a black as black as can be. This is pretty difficult even with artificial dyes and this is dyed naturally. Wow.

Urth also supports the Trees for the Future project with one planted tree per skein of yarn sold. I am really happy to see more and more companies trying to be more eco-friendly by whatever approach. Maybe there is hope for future generations after all.

It is always a pleasure to see The Fibre Co. at H+H Cologne. They develop their own natural yarns and have strong values behind their products. I attended their Saturday brunch where Daphne introduced us to the company, the yarns and a new project: The one sweater. The idea is to provide a classic sweater pattern that comes in 13 (!) sizes and that can be styled to suit everybody’s wardrobe. This means all sizes, ethnicities and different styles. I am really looking forward for the campaign as I expect a large variety of interpretations.

Last year, Lore was introduced. It is a wonderful DK weight yarn made from British Romney sheep with a fantastic stitch definition. As it took way longer than one year to develop it, there will be no new yarn this year. Instead, the colour palettes of the existing yarns will be extended.

I am currently working on two projects with The Fibre Co. yarns and I like them so much that there might be more in the near future. I will tell you more, soon.

Pascuali served their yummy yarns in dessert bowls, ready to be tested by you.

They just have launched Cumbria, a vegan, fingering weight yarn made from 60% cotton and 40% rayon from bamboo. It is very soft, drapey and good to work with.

Apart from their vegan range, Pascuali is well-known for their luxury fibres. Their selection includes camel, cashmere, musk ox, yak and even vicuña. They offer everything to make a yarn lover’s heart beat faster.

GGH always has a beautiful way to highlight their products.

They showed some fresh designs and yarns for a/w 19/20. I particularly loved the three designs by their new designer Kseniya Bogdanovich.

If you are still looking for a yarn for your summer knits, I can definitely recommend their Bambu, a 100% rayon yarn made from bamboo. It is super soft, light and has a beautiful drape. It also is the yarn I chose to realise my Sleeves shrug.

Austermann surprised me with their brand new booth. Designed to provide a lot of open space, it was held in neutral colours to highlight their yarns.

Their novelties include a beautiful, DK dip-dye effect yarn (60% rayon, 40% wool), a fluffy alpaca yarn and a 100% cashmere, fingering weight chainette yarn. They also have some interesting designs for the next a/w season, e.g., a simple, yet wonderful hooded coat in Alpaca Fluffy.

Every year, I’m looking forward to see Novita‘s new colourwork designs. They never disappoint:

They recently have published a collaboration with Moomin featuring some really cute designs.

I really like Novita for their yarn policy. They often add new colourways and discontinue older ones, but the yarn bases change rarely. I, personally, am always happy to have long-term sources for durable, classic yarn qualities. Novita definitely is one of them.

This year, Rosarios4 are celebrating their 40th anniversary. At H+H, they took this opportunity to decorate a full wall of their booth with portraits of some of their workers at their workplaces.

The Portuguese company is not only a trader, but also a yarn manufacturer focusing more and more on natural yarns. Their eco-friendly (plastic-free) collection currently comprises 28 winter and 24 summer qualities they even have naturally dyed yarns and 5 GOTS certified, organic yarns. To draw more attention to this approach, there was a large shelf showcasing their sustainable products only.

Gedifra easily combines playfulness and opulence. Did you know that all of their yarns are mulesing-free? I fully appreciate this philosophy!

Their new yarns include a cashmere lace yarn made from 95% recycled cashmere fibres and 5% wool as well as a self-striping glitter sock yarn, skeined to be knit into two identical socks.

For the first time, I was invited to the Initiative Handarbeit blogger meet-up. They introduced their 2019 DIY project, a bum bag sewing pattern intended to be customised.

They also presented their sustainability project make me, take me in cooperation with Green Bag Lady. The idea is to sew, knit or crochet sustainable grocery bags to replace plastic bags. Initiative Handarbeit aims at 10.000 German bags to be made until the end of this year. To keep count, you can order numbered labels to put on your handmade bags.

I really like the concept, but Green Bag Lady has started this idea back in 2008 and me and all my friends and family already use sustainable shopping bags only, so I wonder if this initiative did not come up a bit late. However, I am happy for every plastic bag that can be avoided.

Like every year, Initiative Handarbeit also organised a fashion show with all the key looks by Lana Grossa, Swafing, Rico Design, Austermann, Online, Veno, CONCEPT by Katia, Gütermann creativ, GGH, Schachenmayr, Gedifra, Rowan and Lang Yarns.

Prym showed the next generation of their knitting mill which now can be fixed onto a tabletop and has the weight integrated into the overall design. Well done, this truly is an improvement!

They also have new pom-pom makers that feature handles to facilitate holding them.

Maybe they inspire you to make yourself such a gorgeous pom-pom chair:

I will close now with some pictures of the Katia booth which always is decorated beautifully. Thank you so much for having me, H+H Cologne! See you next year!

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New Knitting Pattern: Sleeves

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I like the idea of shrugs to add sleeves to a sleeveless top on chilly summer evenings. The problem I have with them is that the connection between the sleeves covers the back of the top underneath. As it always looks ridiculous when you pair a shrug with a dramatic top, I decided to find a solution to my problem.

What I wanted was a pair of dramatic sleeves held together in a minimalist way. When I was still figuring out the details, I was given three balls of GGH Bambu for free at Yarncamp 2018 which turned out to be the perfect yarn with its wonderful drape. It was clear that I needed more yarn, so I bought seven more balls.

gathered sleeve

The result is a pair of extremely oversized balloon sleeves, held together by a steel chain at the neck and two i-cords to adjust the fit at your lower back:

© ggh-garn.de
© ggh-garn.de

You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. I am looking forward to see your interpretations!

The sample used almost ten balls of GGH Bambu in colourway 012 anthracite. Thanks a lot for providing the photos, ggh-garn.de!

skull cord ends

Birds of a Feather

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When the wonderful Uschitita was looking for sample knitters, I did not hesitate a second to apply. My project was a Birds of a Feather shawl in Uschitita Merino Singles and Uschitita Kidsilk Lace, both in her new colourway Cloudbusting.

The yarns are a dream to work with. Both are super soft and of very good fibre quality. The colours are subtle, yet have endless depth. I would describe the colourway as a toned-down variegated to be used as a semisolid colourway. Try to see her handdyed yarns with your own eyes and you will know what I mean.

The pattern seems to be written for beginners which confused me more than once. You can break it down to a set-up, two pattern blocks and a border in two different shaping variations. So I do not understand why it is spread out onto five pages. Maybe it is due to my engineering background that this bothers me. However, it is well written and suitable even for beginners.

I have used 144g of Merino Singles and 49g of Kidsilk Lace. The finished and lightly blocked shawl has a wingspan of almost 4m. You can see it live at 2019 Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I really enjoyed knitting this!

My Fibreshare Package 01/2019

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This was a very happy mail day! I am still overwhelmed by the contents of this huge package! Let’s take a closer look:

In the centre, there is a picture by my Fibreshare partner’s little-one who also wanted to contribute something. It is an assortment of hearts used as card on the other side. What a beautiful idea!

On top of the painting, there are two packs of super yummy fine green tea from Nordic Tea so good that I am considering ordering some more.

Now to the wrapped packages:

Starting top left and moving counterclockwise, there is a hank of purple Filcolana Genuine Greenland Wool. It is aran weight, so very far from the fine yarns I usually work with, but I love everything about it and will find a suitable project for it. I think it would look fantastic as a hat.

Next, there is a hank of perfect, dark grey Hjelholts Uldspinderi Dansk Pelsuld. Exactly what I love and a perfect match to the dark grey ball of Læsø Uldstue Klitgarn next to it.

I was a bit surprised about the neon pink Grignasco Kid Silk Five, but it actually is a really good cold pop colour for a special project.

Right from it, there is a ball of almost black Wool Addicts Earth, a bulky weight yarn that asks me to be turned into some experimental project using very different yarn weights at once.

Below, you can see two balls of black BC Garn Semilla Fino, one of my favourite yarn brands. It is fingering weight wool, so I will easily find a project for it.

The green yarn cake is handdyed and matches the black Filcolana Indiecita both in composition and yardage, so I probably will knit something using both of them.

Between the two alpaca yarns, there are two balls of black Navia Uno, a yarn I have not heard of before, but urge to swatch. With 700m/100g it is a laceweight yarn consisting of Faroese, Shetland and Australian wool. Already a pleasure to touch and look at it!

The yellow yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in wiggle, a colour I never would have bought myself but which contrasts black surprisingly well.

The green one is Sysleriget sock in a very difficult colourway for me, but as I really like colourful socks, I probably will turn it into a pair of short socks.

The little extras on top are two eucalan samples (I always wanted to try it but was too lazy to order some), some stitch markers and a beautiful cat-themed enamel pin.

My cat Jimmy, of course, occupied the box as soon as there was enough space for him.

Thank you so much for this extremely generous Fibreshare package! I really appreciate it a lot! And in case anyone still has not participated, you really should give Fibreshare a try. I love it!

My Purrfect Project Bag

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When I started knitting, my go-to project bags were plastic shopping bags. But as the needles in them often destroyed them completely before the project was finished, I needed something else. My knitting buddies introduced me to some fancy project bag makers, but the ones I liked were way above my budget. So I decided to sew one myself.

During my research on suitable patterns, I found this tutorial, which makes a zipper bag (yay, less lost items!) large enough for a large shawl project. In my opinion, its size fits most portable projects, be it to knit night or your next travel. The last and biggest problem was finding some nice fabric. It obviously needed to be black and preferably related to cats. To my surprise, I found exactly what I was looking for at my local fabric store. Both prints are 100% cotton, originally intended for patchworking, reinforced with Vlieseline H640 fusible fleece. I couldn’t be happier with the result!

New Knitting Pattern: Spikes

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For quite a while, I had the idea of a three-dimensional statement hat in mind. It should not be too complicated to knit and when I had received my Schoeller + Stahl chic & warm sample, I knew it was the right time to work on that idea. The result is a bottom-up knit hat. The spikes are constructed by simple increases and decreases paired with a tight gauge. There are no short rows involved, so you should be able to knit this hat as an advanced beginner already.

Spikes is available as individual Ravelry Download for €6.00 plus VAT. I hope you enjoy the pattern and am looking forward for your interpretations!

#diversknitty (deutsch)

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Es hätte mir aufgrund meines persönlichen Hintergrundes klar sein müssen, dass es nirgends einen Schutzraum für Minderheiten gibt, erst recht nicht in Handarbeitskreisen. Ich bin weiß und damit privilegiert, genderqueer und lebe einen alternativen Lebensstil. Ich bin in meinem Leben oft herumgeschubst und ausgegrenzt worden, aber das ist lächerlich zu dem was BIPOC (black and indigenous people of colour) Menschen erlebt haben und auf Instagram teilen.

Die Diskussion begann Anfang Januar mit einem problematischen Blogbeitrag von Karen Templer über ihre bevorstehende Indienreise. @thecolormustard war eine der ersten, die ihr dazu einige Instagram stories widmete, die die rassistischen, von Privilegien der Weißen durchsetzten Teile des Blogbeitrags aufzeigen. Andere wichtige Beiträge dazu kamen unter anderem von @su.krita, @astitchtowear, @tina.say.knits, @ocean_bythesea, @booksandcables, @burkehousecrafts, @masteryarnsmith und @knitquiltsewstitch. Sie alle haben großartige story highlights darüber, worum es eigentlich geht und wie eins sich selbst mehr Wissen zu den Themen weiße Privilegien und (Alltags-)Rassismus aneignen kann. Karen Templer übrigens hat reagiert indem sie verstehen wollte, was weiße Vorherrschaft bedeutet und wie eins entsprechendes Verhalten ablegen kann. Sehr cool!

Eine oft genannte Quelle ist das Me and White Supremacy Workbook von Layla F. Saad. Es besteht aus 28 kurzen, einfachen Lektionen, die alle an jeweils einem Tag durchgearbeitet werden können. Die Einführung erklärt noch einmal tiefergehend, warum es so wichtig ist, sich mit dem Thema der weißen Vorherrschaft kritisch auseinanderzusetzen und erläutert auch einige Hintergründe zur Entstehung des Buches. Das Workbook ist kostenlos herunterladbar, man kann der Autorin aber auch einen beliebigen Betrag als Dank spenden. Auch ich beschäftige mich mit diesem Workbook, obwohl ich mich schon eingehend mit dem Thema Rassismus beschäftigt habe. Es gibt immer Raum, sich zu verbessern.

Nach etwa zwei Wochen fortlaufender Diskussion auf Instagram dachte ich, jeder hätte verstanden, dass es auch in der ach so kuscheligen Strickgemeinde ein großes Problem mit Rassismus gibt, auch wenn sich der dominante, weißhäutige Teil davon dessen nicht bewusst ist. Dann veröffentlichte Maria Tusken, eine Handfärberin, dieses Video. Wenn eins noch nicht allzu tief im Thema der weißen Vorherrschaft drin ist, ist es durchaus sinnvoll, sich erst mit dem oben genannten Workbook zu beschäftigen, bevor eins sich das Video anschaut. Mit “issue” ist übrigens “Rassismus” gemeint. Menschen werden einer einseitigen Sicht der Dinge (Rassismus) beschuldigt, die sie nur teilen, um andere zu schikanieren, auch wenn damit in Folge deren Unternehmen ruiniert wird. Sie glaubt, es gäbe eine große Mehrheit, die nur Angst hätte, sich gegen diese falschen Anschuldiungen (Rassismus, weiße Vorherrschaft) zu stellen. Als ob das noch nicht genug wäre, ist auch noch ein fragwürdiges Video verlinkt, das ihre Meinung stützt. Das war der Tropfen, der das Fass zum überlaufen brachte.

Falls unklar ist, was so falsch an tuskenknits’ Video ist, hat @antigonanyc eine gute Zusammenfassung in ihre Story Highlights gestellt. Was mir wirklich übel aufstößt, ist die Bemerkung zur schweigenden Mehrheit. Dieser Begriff wird hauptsächlich von Populisten und (Neu-)Rechten genutzt, um ihre Aktionen zu rechtfertigen. @astitchtowear hat auf ihrem Profil auch ein Story Highlight zum Thema “schweigende Mehrheit”, sowohl zur Herkunft des Begriffs als auch zu seiner heutigen Verwendung. Zusammengefasst handelt es sich bei der schweigenden Mehrheit um “gemütliche, gekleidete, satte Menschen mit Dach über dem Kopf, die die Mitte der Gesellschaft stellen. Aber sie streben nach mehr und fühlen sich von denen bedroht, die weniger haben”. Na, ertappt? Handle. Lerne. Werde laut.

Es gibt so viele BIPOC, LGBT und anders diskriminierte Menschen in der Handarbeitswelt. Es ist Zeit, die Perspektive zu ändern, weg vom Fokus auf weißhäutige Menschen. Wir müssen uns der weißen Vorherrschaft bewusst werden, sie aktiv verlernen, aufhören, Handarbeitende mit anderem sozio-kulturellem Hintergrund als dem eigenen auszugrenzen, Unternehmen von BIPOC Menschen unterstützen und aufstehen gegen Rassismus. Rassismus ist real.