When temperatures are falling and my hands, neck and ears start to freeze, I just put on one of my handknit hats, scarves and gloves to stay warm. Of course, I also could buy some ready-made items if I did not have the time to knit. But what if things are not so easy? What if you rely on donations and the goodwill of others because you just cannot afford new clothes?
Sarah, who I have been following for quite a while now, mainly knits for homeless people in Berlin from donated yarns. She also ran a knit along for charity items where she also asked the participants to research local charities and ask what they need. My online research for charities in Leipzig led me to Sachspendenzentrale, a central place where donations are collected and distributed.
It took me a while to gather information on what was needed, but in general, they are looking for scarves (1.2m or longer), large hats, large gloves and mittens and socks (mainly EU size 42-45). Ideally, the items use classic designs in decent colours and are knit in machine-washable yarns.
All items are knit using leftover yarns from finished projects apart from the socks which are machine knit from PR samples. So call your local charities, ask what they need, knit from stash and do some good! Your help is greatly appreciated!
Last weekend, I attended the 12th edition of the annual Leipzig Wollefest. I love this event as the location, the exhibition centre’s glass hall, and the vendor’s list are both pretty extraordinary. As usually, I will introduce you to my latest discoveries as you probably already know the well-established exhibitors.
The very first booth that caught my eye was Kathienchen, a German hand dyer from Dresden.
She offers complex colourways on a variety of mostly Merino based yarn bases. She also sells high-quality kid silk lace yarns with a very high fibre length.
I have found the perfect match for two other yarns there that needed a third colour to become a shawl for a friend. I could not be happier with my High Twist in Peony!
Mominoki, a Berlin based hand dyer, showed semi-solid colourways on rustic yarns.
This is exactly what I had been looking for for quite a while now, and they even have two different bases, a fingering weight Finnish wool and a DK weight German Merino. Both are available undyed and plant dyed, the Finnwool also has acid dyed colourways.
Apart from those perfect-for-me bases, Mominoki offers some more yarns, an optionally plant dyed, drapey ramie silk, plied Merinos, singly-ply Merino and sock yarns. You definitely might want to give them a try.
They sell rustic, DK weight Baltic yarns in hanks of about 200g in a large variety of colours, but also ready-made stranded hats. The yarns are collected from the area around the Baltic spinnery, so they are entirely locally produced.
All of their natural products are manufactured using traditional methods and processes as well as natural dyes where possible. I am very happy for every company that dares to follow such a consistent approach in today’s volatile times and hope there are enough customers to support them even in the long run.
This Berlin based online shop offers natural cloths only along with their own sewing patterns. I am particularly delighted to hear they plan to open a brick and mortar shop in the near future in Berlin.
This means that the silk worms are allowed to complete their metamorphosis and live, which results economically in a much longer process with shorter silk threads. This does not lead to a lower silk quality, it is just more difficult to produce. It is even possible to weave superfine cloths with a classik silken touch.
Seidentraum offer quite a large range of silk cloths, silk yarns and many more silk products. This is definitely a company worth supporting!
They mainly use local and organic raw materials which are plant-dyed only. The idea is to preserve craft and culture in Ladakh, Assam and Himachal Pradesh by valueing their handmade textiles. I greatly appreciate this approach!
There were quite some local alpaca breeders showing their products. One of them was Starker Alpakas from the Dresden region, who sold handmade soaps, yarns, socks and other products.
Another breeder was Sachsen Alpakas, who sold yarns, spinning fibre, garments and cloths.
What I particularly liked was their faux fur, woven with alpaca fibre. It is super soft and warm and has a fantastic look and feel.
I am looking forward to the next Wollefest in 2020! It is always a pleasure to be there!
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:
Now that I live in Leipzig, I finally have made it to the annual Leipzig Wollefest! I was pretty surprised how big and beautiful this festival is.
Of course, you can find some of the famous indie brands there, e.g. Wollmeise, DyeForYarn, dibadu, Zauberwiese, or das Mondschaf, but I am sure you already know about their beautiful yarns. So let me show you some smaller booths that have caught my attention.
I was super happy to meet Claudia Eisenkolb aka Himawari knits! at her designer booth. She had brought a lot of samples, even an unpublished design. It was so good to see all those gorgeous little details live. You miss a lot of them when you just quickly browse them on Ravelry. The samples also show how nicely the yarns and her patterns play together. She focuses on shape and texture, which I, myself, have been experimenting a lot with, recently. Apart from that, I always enjoy our talks a lot.
Another designer I was happy to meet in person is Nicola Susen. I like her idea of a sweater pattern as a detailed guide to how and where to adapt your knitting to your body measurements. In addition, she has a cool way to play with lines and colour. I already have knitted her Longitudinal socks, a fantastic sideways socks pattern. You definitely may want to take a look at her designs!
As you already know, I have a weakness for unusual, ethically sourced yarns. So I was pretty happy to see Seidenhase at the festival.
They keep angora rabbits for the love of the animals, collect their hair without hurting them and sell it as knitting yarns, batts or ready-made items. They have a small manufacture in Germany and are my number one choice for future angora acquisitions. Definitely worth supporting!
My most surprising find was a woodworker. Rainer Mewes has a range of classic wood products, but he also produces writing instruments, spindles and spinning wheels. I do not spin, but how cool would it be to have a handmade spinning wheel according to your requirements? I love the idea!
There also were a lot of places to sit and knit at the exhibition hall. My favourite one was the catering area on the balcony-like first floor.
It was a wonderful weekend. I have met so many nice people and had a lot of good conversations, on knitting as well as on life as such. So, see you next year, Leipzig Wollefest!
I went to this year’s WGT and had a wonderful time there although I did not finish many DIY projects I actually wanted to wear there. However, this is a bracelet I finished on time (and wore everyday in Leipzig):