#diversknitty

I should have known there is no such thing as a safe place from my personal, privileged background, particularly not a crafting community. I am a white, genderqueer person living an alternative lifestyle. I have been pushed around and excluded often in my life, but this is nothing compared to the stories BIPOC (black and indigenous people of colour) have shared on Instagram.

The discussion started in early January with a problematic blog post by Karen Templer about her upcoming trip to india. @thecolormustard was one of the first people to dedicate her a series of Instagram stories highlighting the racist, white-privileged parts of the blog post. Other important contributors to this discussion are, among others, @su.krita,
@astitchtowear, @tina.say.knits, @ocean_bythesea, @booksandcables, @burkehousecrafts, @masteryarnsmith and @knitquiltsewstitch. All of them have fantastic story highlights on what it is all about and how to educate yourself on the topics of white privilege and (everyday) racism. Karen Templer reacted by trying to understand and unlearn her white supremacy. Nice move!

The Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F. Saad is one of the most mentioned good sources. It consists of 28 short and easy lessons, each intended to be completed in one day. The introduction gives a round-up on the importance of working on one’s white supremacy and a short background to the book as such. It is completely free, but you may also donate a certain amount of money to the author. I am working with this workbook, too, although I have dealt with educating myself on racism before. There is always room for improvement.

After about two weeks of ongoing discussion on Instagram, I thought everyone had understood, that even in the oh-so-cosy knitting community there is a major issue with racism even if the dominant white part of it was not aware. Then Maria Tusken, a hand-dyer posted this video. If you are new to the topic of white supremacy, you may want to start the above mentioned workbook before you watch the video. The “issue” mentioned is called “racism”. People are accused of following a one-sided belief (racism) to bully others no matter if it ruined their business. She thinks there was a huge majority afraid to speak up against these false accusations. As if this was not enough, she has linked to a questionable video to support her views. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In case you do not understand what is wrong with tuskenknits’ video, @antigonanyc has put a pretty good summary in her story highlights. What strikes me most, is the remark on the silent majority. This is a term used mainly by populist and right-wing activists to justify their actions. @astitchtowear also has a story highlight on the term “silent majority”, its origin as well as its current meaning. In short, the silent majority are “comfortable, housed, clad and fed [people], who constitute the middle stratum of society. But they aspire to more and feel menaced by those who have less”. Please let this sink in. Are you feeling exposed now? Act. Educate yourself. Speak up.

There are so many wonderful BIPOC, LGBT and differently discriminated people in the fibre world. It is time to change perspective from the current white-centered point of view. Be aware of white supremacy, unlearn it, stop excluding crafters with a different socio-cultural background from yours, support small BIPOC businesses, speak up. Racism is real.

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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.

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!

Wollfestival Düsseldorf 2018

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After several years in Cologne, this was the first Wollfestival to take place at Rheinterrassen in Düsseldorf and I prefer this location a lot from the old one! The market place was located in one large hall instead of three smaller rooms before. The charity events were on a small stage, the designer booths perfectly visible in the corridor in front of the hall and there was an array of different spinning wheels to try out in the basement.

The Saturday opening queue was pretty long, as usually, but I got inside the building in less than 20 minutes, which I find very appropriate. The overall colour concept was bright pink, which I dislike a lot, but the concept was implemented very subtly, with small yarn samples hanging at the handrails, e.g.

As shortly after the opening the market place was so crowded that I could not make it to any booth, I decided to take the opportunity to knit a while and wait for the afternoon. There were a lot of lovely places to sit and knit, inside the building as well as outside in particular. Apart from using the restaurant terrace behind the building, you could sit on the quai wall and knit overlooking the ships sailing the Rhine.

Now to my personal selection of sellers, that I would like to introduce you to. First of all, I was more than happy to see Wolle Willich once again. They are one of my favourite German yarn shops and specialise in Shetland yarns and rarities. They even have started their own range of locally grown natural yarns recently.

Sadly, I did not have the time to visit the Atelyeah brick and mortar shop in Mönchengladbach before I moved to Leipzig last year, so it was a perfect incident they were showing a selection of their product range in Düsseldorf. Very lovely booth!

Another interesting seller was Alice im Wunderladen. They carry a lot of high quality and rare yarns from the US, UK and Scandinavia, The Fibre Co., Fyberspates and BC Garn, e.g., to name some of my favourites. They even have a seller from Leipzig! 😎

Lanaphilia also had a booth and it was a pleasure to see the beautiful colours of Zen Yarn Garden and Olann. They also had brought some String Theory Caper Sock, a yarn I particularly like for its softness and stitch definition at the same time.

It was a pleasure to meet Bodolina in person and to have a look at her handcrafted knitting needle organisers. They come in a large variety of colours and sizes, so have a look at them if you still have not found your perfect storage solution.

The biggest surprise was Mohairdesign, actually a breeder of angora goats, who sells yarn from her own goats. I particularly liked the bouclé yarn, but everything there was stunning.

Of course, I have bought some yarn. I needed two Madelintosh unicorn tails to contrast some leftovers in Victorian Gothic, so I bought one in Silver Fox and one in Duchess. My purchase of two skeins of black Lanamania Pearl fingering was completely unplanned, but I just could not resist. As currently I get more and more disappointed by my KnitPro needles, I bought a pair of interchangeable Chiaogoo Red Lace circulars to try out their system. I already like their fixed circulars, so hopefully, the interchangeable ones are just as good.

I spent most of my Sunday visit at Kölner Herzkissen knitting a charity hat. I do not exactly remember why I cast on an intarsia in the round hat, but at least, the result is pretty unusual.

My next public knitting event this year will be YarnCamp in Frankfurt. Do you have your tickets, yet? If not, the last ticket opportunity will be September 12th, 19:30 on their website. Good luck and see you there!

Summer Knitting/ WIPs

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I am a winter person. I love the cold and long nights. I truly suffer when the temperature rises above 30°C, which has been the case since weeks. As German summers usually are a lot cooler than this year, I tend to just knit finer wollen yarns in summer. This year, I do not feel like even touching any wollen yarn, so I had to change my project schedule heavily.

The good news is, I have almost finished a lacy, silken top I had been working on since 2016 as the pattern is full of mistakes. I also have started with embroidery, something I had been keen on trying out recently. Deep down in my yarn stash, I found some aqua (!) Lana Grossa Mare, a linen/cotton/rayon tape yarn. As it should be easy to overdye it with black, I have started a Sugarcoated cardigan with it.

I also have ordered some black Raffia yarn to DIY myself an oversized sun hat.

Now to the bad news, postponed projects due to the hot weather. I am eager to try out my Schoeller yarn samples, but all of them are wollen. I wanted to surprise two friends with handmade accessories later this August, but I am not sure if this will happen. My dad has asked me to knit him an argyle sweater for this fall and I haven’t even started. I also wanted to knit two baby cardigans to give them to two friends in September, apart from a mohair sweater for myself that is almost finished.

I am fully aware, these are first world problems. People in other countries have been facing extreme summer weather since years. Nonetheless, it is a different experience being exposed to it for the first time in Central Europe.

Intarsia

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I recently have been interested in intarsia knits, particularly the complex ones featuring a lot of colours or even landscape views. As this technique was quite popular in the 1980s, I am currently looking for some old pattern books to get a deeper understanding of what others already have done. My research so far has led me to Kaffe Fassett (of course), Patricia Roberts and Sweaterscapes. Do you have any other good suggestions?