Reusable Cotton Wool Pads

I actually had planned to abandon store-bought, single-use cotton pads for a while, but I just could not find the motivation to finally start making my own washable ones from cotton leftovers. However, sorting my stash recently made me aware of the huge amount of cotton leftovers waiting to be made into something. You can find quite a few (free) patterns for this crocheted version on Ravelry which are actually pretty similar. I chose one from 2013, DIY: Reusable Cotton Wool Pads by Lyndsey Haskell. The pattern is easy to follow and the pads are fast and fun to make. My first bunch comprises 15 ones which used up 58g of DK weight cotton yarn in sum. I have not tested them yet as I need about 50 of them to start the using/washing cycle in a relaxed way. So, there will be more of them, soon.

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2018 Recap and a First Glimpse at 2019

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What a year. There were so many ideas but way too little time to follow all of them. Nonetheless, I have learned from any project I carried out this year.

The first project I want to mention here is the bullet journal I started in February. I have tried to involve monthly and weekly calendars, but changed to monthly and weekly to do’s as I tend to feel stressed by rigid deadlines. I also included mood and habit trackers which I gradually adapted to my needs. In late summer, I quit the concept of an analogue bullet journal and changed to an android app for mood and habit tracking as well as online notes I can share with others for my to do lists. This was the best decision as I did not like to always carry an A5 notebook with me and do not like to illustrate the pages, either. However, the notebook as such now serves as my DIY knitting planner and poetry notebook perfectly.

In March, I joined a WIP bingo which I followed loosely over the year. My lesson learned is, that any pressure does not help me to finish anything. When I am in a bad mood I will rather cry over the project I am forcing myself to finish than actually finish it. Nonetheless, I have finished 7/9 projects, another one requires only finishing and the last one is currently in progress. Not too bad, in my opinion.

I have participated in Fibreshare twice among other, smaller swaps. I was not aware I liked the idea that much, but it makes me happy to surprise other people. I will probably stick with this new approach.

The Inside Schoeller event was an overall highlight. I totally enjoyed the deep insight into the Schoeller company as well as the opportunity to test some of their yarns. I also was completely stunned, when Novita sent me a pattern booklet and some yarn samples for free after I had asked how to get a specific pattern. I meanwhile have ordered and stashed the rest of the yarns needed for the pattern. I actually wanted to knit the sweater as a KAL together with my friend Alice aka Brezelbutter, but this did not happen for several reasons. I hope we will start again in January.

Another development I am totally happy about is that I finally have freed myself from knitting patterns. Of course, I will always buy and knit patterns I like, but with projects like my Black Metal Hoodie and the cropped linen sweater which I have both designed myself, I see myself able to follow more my own ideas of fashion now. Maybe, I finally will publish some of the patterns. Be scared. 😉

Designing my own knits goes hand in hand with sewing my own garments. I have sewn myself an all black Linden Sweatshirt which I will show you in January as well as some party garments and have prepared some pure Merino cloth I am going to turn into a pair of pants, soon. I am dreaming of a 100% handmade wardrobe, but I am not sure how long this will take.

A project I have been working on for years now is my ever-growing stash. I currently hoard about 34 kg of yarn. About 7 kg of it are yarns I have acquired only last year and not used up. At least, I have knit almost 2.4 kg of yarn equivalenting 7670 m. That makes my average yarn weight in 2018 a sport weight. I hope to reduce my yarn stash in 2019, but we will see.

In contrast to my yarn hoarding problem, you will definitely see me at several meet-ups this year, which does not mean I might not show up at others:

29.-31.03.19 H+H Cologne

13./14.04.19 Leipziger Wollefest und Stoffmesse

17./18.08.19 Wollfestival Düsseldorf

September 2019 Berlin Knits

19./20.10.19 German Raveler Meeting Leipzig

02./03.11.19 Yarncamp Frankfurt

Enough for now as the first fireworks start to illuminate Leipzig’s evening sky. Have a fantastic New Year’s Eve and an even better start in 2019! Thank you for following me!

Wintergreen Cardigan

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When I was looking for a knitting pattern for a child’s cardigan on Ravelry, I stumbled upon the Wintergreen pattern by petitchoufleur. As I liked the idea of my two and a half year old godchild wearing a cabled cardigan, this was my pattern of choice. First of all, I am impressed this pattern comes in a large number of sizes, from newborn to 58” bust circumference. The cable patterns are provided as charts and in written form and are easily memorisable. As usually with heavily cabled knits, the progress is pretty slow even when you cable without a cable needle, which is my technique of choice. The cardigan is a bottom-up construction and knit in one piece, so only little finishing is required. I was very happy the saddle-shoulder sleeves are in stockinette stitch. This means, when you finally have reached the armholes, there will be way less cabling from there on.

I loved knitting the cardigan and I love the finished garment. Although I used a fuzzy aran weight yarn, it did not eat up the pattern at all. I’d rather say the fuzz gives it an extra twist. So you might like to use some mohair blend for extra cosiness.

The only point I have to criticise about the pattern is the way all sizes are put into one pattern. You definitely need to mark each paragraph that is relevant for the size you are knitting before you start. Otherwise, you might get confused easily. I would have preferred if at least the child and adult sizes had been separated. Nonetheless, this is a gorgeous pattern for a cabled cardigan and has only eight projects on Ravelry. What a pity!

Yarncamp 2018

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This was my third Yarncamp in a row and I am sure I will attend the next one in 2019 as well. With its barcamp background, Yarncamp is so very different from the usual knitter’s meet-ups where you mainly buy yarn, take workshops you had to book in advance and hurry through the day to meet your knitting friends who live too far away to see them regularly. At a barcamp, it is you who decides which workshops (sessions) will be held.

Each morning starts with a plenary session where everyone can offer or request sessions covering subjects she knows well or wants to take a closer look at. All suggestions are collected to a publically accessible session plan so you can check it whenever needed. Each time slot has 45 minutes which leaves 15 minutes between two sessions to have a cup of coffee, a quick chat or to grab something to eat from the buffet. To give you an impression on how versatile the sessions are, these are the 2018 session plans:

I attended the GGH session and the tatting and bobbin lace session on Saturday and also held an introductory session to toe-up socks myself.

GGH introduced their new “Bambu” yarn, a 100% rayon yarn made from bamboo. The session participants were asked to try it out, so I took my chance. The yarn knits up easily, has a good stitch definition, is soft to the touch and has a wonderful drape.

I am super happy I was allowed to take three dark grey balls with me to play with, I already have something in mind for next summer. As it is intended to be a summer yarn, Bambu’s colour palette actually is a pastel one, so I am very happy GGH has included a “light black”.

GGH Bambu

 

Uschi Wolf‘s introduction to tatting and bobbin lace was very interesting as she explained the potentials and limitations of each technique, apart from an overview of the techniques as such. She also had brought some of her current projects with her:

 

On Sunday, I attended the labyrinth knitting and yarn festival tourism sessions and held an introductory session to advanced vegan cooking and baking.

Doerthe knocked me off my feet with her labyrinth knitted sweaters. They are constructed by knitting a looong (30m or more) meandered garter “string” which is then assembled to a sweater. Sounds weird? Here is how it is made:

Using this technique, planning ahead is everything. A gauge swatch is mandatory as it affects the shape of your result as such. Moreover, you need to layout your labyrinth on squared paper first, to place the increase and decrease points. And in case you are still interested by now, like me, there is a book on that which sadly is out of print. It is called “Unexpected Knitting” by Debbie New and maybe I have ordered a thrifted version for myself before the end of the session.

 

During the “yarn festival tourism” session, Claudia Eisenkolb and the participants have compiled a list of yarn festivals worth a visit. I have added the links in case you are interested. 😉

17./18.11.18 Barcelona Knits

24./25.11.18 Friedberger Wollfest

25.-27.01.19 Vogue Knitting Live! New York City

09./10.03.19 WollLandia Kieselbronn

21.-23.03.19 Edinburgh Yarn Festival

30./31.03.19 Swiss Yarn Festival

13./14.04.19 Leipziger Wollefest und Stoffmesse

27./28.04.19 Hohenloher Wollfest

27./28.04.19 Le Fil de la Manche

11.05.19 Aschaffenburger Wollträume

11./12.05.19 Saltum Uldfestival

25./26.05.19 Kielgeholt Duisburg

01./02.06.19 Oppenheimer Wollfest

02.06.19 Rheinischer Wollmarkt Euskirchen

14./15.06.19 Woollinn Dublin

23.06.19 Auersmacher Wollfest

04.-07.07.19 Jyväskylä Knit Fest

August 2019 Wollfestival Düsseldorf

20.-22.09.19 Fanø Strikkefestival

28./29.09.19 Yarndale Skipton

28.09.-06.10.19 Shetland Wool Week

September 2019 Berlin Knits

September 2019 Das bunte Schaf Langenfeld

04.-07.10.19 Knit City Vancouver

11./12.10.19 Nederlandse Breidagen Zwolle

12./13.10.19 Wollmarkt Vaterstetten

16.-20.10.19 Loch Ness Knit Fest Inverness

19./20.10.19 German Raveler Meeting Leipzig

October 2019 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

October 2019 Westerwälder Wollfest Westerburg

November 2019 Yarnporium London

November 2019 Wiener Woll- und Stofffest

You may wonder why I went to three sessions per day only, but there is so much more happening around that you keep losing track of time. I had a lot of really good talks in the lobby, tried out Schachenmayr’s new premium Regia sock yarn Alpaca Soft on Pony “perfect” dpns at the Schachenmayr knitting lounge and took a look at the book samples Haupt and Stiebner publishing had provided for reviewing.

The yearly yarn exchange table is also something worth mentioning. You are asked to bring some yarn, needles, books or whatever knitting related things you would like to get rid of and place it on the marked table. You also may take whatever you like no matter whether you have contributed to it or not. The leftovers then are donated to a local charity that knits them up for people in need. But look at how full the table was this year! There even were bags and books placed around it!

Apart from yearly charity for people in need, there was another one this time, held by Claudia Eisenkolb, to support Förderverein für tumor- und leukämiekranke Kinder e.V., Mainz. Claudia sold a lot of her personal knits and donated the proceeds.

She revealed the sum of the proceeds in the closing session and I am speechless she was able to donate 1376,56 €. Well done, Claudia!

In contrast to the previous events, this year’s Yarncamp warm-up event on Friday night took place in a bistro only with no yarn shop visit beforehand. As much as I liked the former warm-ups in yarn shops, I have to admit, I prefer the pub only version. It is so nice to have all evening to get to know each other and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with everybody looking forward to the actual event that starts the next morning. In case you did not attend, you definitely should. You will start your Saturday with a lot more familiar faces who are happy to see you again.

Big thanks to all the sponsors who once again have supported this event. This year’s goodie bag was so filled with yarn, accessories, etc. it almost would not close. I did not take a picture of it as I had to disassemble it completely to fit it into my luggage, but you can find a pictures of it here, e.g.

See you next year, Yarncamp! I already have blocked the first weekend in November 2019 in my calendar. Thank you for a fantastic weekend in Frankfurt!

 

Testing Schoeller Yarns

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In July, I received a pretty large package of Schoeller yarn samples to try them out and show my results at the Inside Schoeller blogger event. So here is what I made, including three designs of my own:

Alpaca Star

I already have tested this yarn earlier this year knitting my Wrapped in Leaves shawl. I really like this yarn and have bought some more to knit myself a cardigan for next spring.

Mohair Dream

This is a very fluffy yarn with a high meterage (250m/50g), consisting of 30% mohair, 30% cotton, 25% Nylon and 15% wool. I have knit a classic beanie with a folded brim to showcase the mohair fluff better. Sadly, the Nylon content is high enough for me to feel it when I touch the hat. But if you are less sensitive, you may want to knit yourself a super light sweater from it, e.g. Four balls of yarn should be enough.

Chic & Warm

If you like gradient yarns and need to knit on a budget, this yarn might be interesting for you. It knits up very evenly and is pretty soft although it has a 75% acrylic content. I do not really like gradient yarns, so I chose to knit another hat, but this time a spiked one (without short rows!). I am very pleased with the result and am sure I’ll wear it a lot this winter.

Big Flame

Looking at this beautiful black and gold striped i-cord filled with burgundy fibre, I was really looking forward to knit with it. But, as the name already suggests, it has a thick and thin construction and is pretty stiff on the thicker parts. This resulted in two days of pain in my hands after I had finished my project. However, the yarn could be really nice without the thick and thin effect. My project, by the way, is a bum bag with belt loops to put it onto your favourite belt. It is embellished with a rose gold zipper which I accidentally found at my local yarn shop and which adds a perfect detail to the red and gold bag.

Kid Silk Dégradé

I had been thinking about knitting a Striped Esjan by Stephen West for ages, when Schoeller sent me the perfect addition to black sock yarn and white alpaca fluff (in this case a ball of Lana Grossa Alpaca 400 from my stash). The colour gradient is very soft, so it adds some spice to the Beetlejuice body of the shawl. It perfectly meets my expectations of a kid silk yarn although there are more luxurious, softer (and way more expensive) blends on the market. I am super happy with the result, a typical Westknits shlanket. Due to its size, I had problems to find a cat-safe space to block it and ended up using my bed. I still had to fold the shawl and forgot to increase the number of towels underneath, so I had to spend one night on a wet mattress. Please learn from my mistake, it was not comfortable at all. But look at this beauty, it was totally worth it!

Let me add a remark on Lana Grossa’s Alpaca 400, a chain plied Nylon tube filled with alpaca and merino fibres. As I knit with a very high tension which results in a prestressing of the yarn, this yarn cuts into my fingers and loses all its softness. It regains a bit of its fluffiness after blocking, but this kind of yarn construction and my way of knitting do not go together very well.

All in all, I was very happy to have had the chance to test these Schoeller yarns. Thanks a lot for this opportunity!

Inside Schoeller

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I was super happy when I received my invitation to the Schoeller blogger event, particularly as it included a factory tour at their dye works in Hard, Austria. A perfect combination of my degree in engineering and my love for knitting! Of course, I confirmed the invitation and was delighted to meet Rebekka, Alice, Kiki, Miki, Fritzi, Stefanie, Janine, Jasmin, Katha, Simone, Steffi, Marco and Julia-Maria. We were welcomed with a cup of coffee in a beautifully decorated conference room.

First, we were introduced to the company, whose main branch are industrial yarns. With their dye works located within sight of Lake Constance, they had to fulfill a lot of environmental requirements very early. The result is, that their yarns are bluesign approved, the treatment for their machine-washable yarns is chlorine-free and as a bonus, they are mulesing-free as they use south-american Merino only.

The tricky part is, not all their handknitting yarns are manufactured by themselves. So the Austermann Merino yarns, Schoeller Zimba and all sock yarns are produced to the Schoeller standards, other yarns may or may not be chlorine-free or bluesign approved, depending on the individual case. However, I am deeply impressed, Schoeller is working on a sustainable production.

If you are interested in my pretty technical summary of the factory tour, you can find it in my Instagram story highlights. Nonetheless, I want to write about some details here.

This is a poster showing the fineness of sheep wool depending on the animal part it is shorn from. The lower the number, the finer is the fibre. As you can see, the shoulder part (1) is where you find the finest hair with only 14,5 micrometers in diameter. This is how it looks like as a wool top:

Sadly, this quality is so hard to spin that fine hand knitting yarns usually start from 16,5 micrometer fine fleeces.

As industrial yarns are knit on knitting machines, they must not have considerably thicker or thinner sections. During quality assurance, these sections are cut out and the yarn is joined with a technique known as “Russian join” in hand knitting:

After lunch, we were introduced to the design philosophy behind the Austermann and Schoeller+Stahl hand knitting yarns as well as their knitting patterns. They also had brought a lot of their knits to take a detailed look at them. As all of us had received a large package of yarns to play with beforehand, we were asked to show our projects and to share our opinions about the yarns we had used. My favourite projects were a cardigan and a hand bag knit by Fritzi and a cowl by Alice. I will show you my own projects in a separate post, soon.

Thank you so much for inviting me, it was a blast! It was totally worth the 20 hours I spent in Flixbuses to get to Lake Constance and back. The day passed by way too fast with an amazing insight into the company and some really good talks. Well done, Schoeller!

A package from Finland

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Maybe, you remember me freaking out about the Rowanberry Sweater I saw at this year’s H+H Cologne at Novita‘s booth?

Well, Novita just has sent me the pattern booklet! I couldn’t be happier! They even have included yarn samples of Nalle and Nordic Wool in colours suitable for the sweater! I mean, it’s not a secret I have a weakness for Shetland and Scandinavian style yarns, is it?

I’m so looking forward to knitting my Rowanberry Sweater, thank you so much, Novita! But I wonder why they still do not have a German distributor. Are you so focused on ultra soft Merino wool, Germany?