Weird Wool Wednesday: a knitter’s tea mug

You know my sheep mug:

I use it every day, either at the cabin or in the city. I have one at both locations.
They were given to me by a friend who lives in Lüneburg, Germany:
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That’s Germany in yellow. In grey are the Netherlands, to the left of Germany. To the north is just a bit Denmark. Upper right, under the Baltic Sea, is Poland. Czech Republic underneath it. (we’re now at the grey country in the middle, right of Germany.)
Right lower border shows Austria. In the middle, under Germany, is Switzerland. Left lower border is France. The little country shown in grey at the left is Luxembourg and to the left of that is Belgium. Then we’re back at left upper corner with the Netherlands again. The blue in left upper corner is the North Sea.

Lüneburg is a beautiful city, chuck full of history and fairytales and culture. I’ve been there once, in winter, it was magical.
There’s an impressive heath nearby where a flock of sheep live with their shepherd. They’re moorland sheep of the German breed Heidschnucke:


This looks just like the picture on my mug! The heath in bloom and with those weird long trees.
Heidschnuck sheep is a very handsome breed. And also intelligent. Beautiful ewe:

Heidschnucke.jpg

Heid = heide = heath and Schnucke = candy. Sweet heath-candy sheep 🙂

My mug supports the flock at Lüneburger Heath.
I’ve had it for years. For as long as I knit, I think…
it was one of the first “knittery” gifts I ever received. Oh, I love this mug! It’s big, it has green on it, it was a gift given at a time I was low on energy and happiness, it reminds me of Lüneburg and my friend and it’s a knitter’s mug.

Right before Advent the mug in the city fell to the floor and shattered 😦

I had to do a lot of internet wizardry to find a suitable replacement and this is it:
advent knitting jultalamod
from a husband and wife team in Bulgaria: Miglena & Miroslav from MMceramicdesign at Etsy.com

A knitter’s mug has to meet a few requirements:
– it needs to hold half a liter of tea (14 to 17 ounces of fluid)
– it must have a handle (we say “ear”)
– it must be higher than wide (I often forget I have tea, it mustn’t cool in a hurry)
– I prefer it to be handmade and directly support the creator
– I love porcelain, more than stoneware
– I love thick glaze
– I like particular colours
– I don’t like comically drawn sheep
– I can’t go out and visit ceramic artists and look for a mug, I’m still house bound. So internet shopping it is.
– if purchased outside of Europe it must cost less than 24 euros (26 USD) otherwise I’ll have to pay a ridiculous amount of import costs
– I don’t trust a handmade mug that costs 24 euro or less, handmades ought to get a fair price

This was the only one to fit the bill. The only one in the whole wide world! Or so it seemed to me, after days of growing a set of screen shaped eyes.

It’s not particularly knitterly but Cat Lady is a close second to Knitter and it met all the other requirements so I’m well pleased.

It’s part of a line of handmade ceramics by a husband and wife company in Bulgaria. It’s well made as judged by Lieneke from Wolop who has a degree in ceramics. The shape keeps the tea hot. It holds 500 ml easily. It’s green, handmade and has a cat.
I like it!

They even do yarn bowls!

And sheep mugs:

Comical sheep….

I’ll keep searching for another mug. A knitter should have more than one mug I feel. For when another knitter comes to visit. And for when you are in a different mood. Or for when I feel more of a spinner than a knitter.

I have one other good mug. It’s not knitterly at all but I love it. It’s my Winter mug:
adventmok

It’s a cheapo mug from a cheapo store but it’s big, brown and festive! (oh look at my scrawny claw hand in that photo! That’s my inner witch peeking out, I suppose. I DO have fairytales on the mind these days…)

At Sinterklaas Wolop got a beautiful knitter’s mug from Starbucks. A proper knitter’s mug!

Ooooohooooo!

A cat with a golden collar, playing with green yarn. Lots of volume. High mug. Porcelain, I believe. What a beauty!

I wanted to steal it. Very much.

I didn’t steal it.

Now my New Years Resolution is to steal less (I love resolutions that don’t require any change of behaviour but still give cause to self congratulations) and to go out of the house and meet ceramic artists in real life instead of online. See their products. Find myself another knitter’s mug.
There are some ceramic fairs throughout the year and in 2016 I plan to visit at least one of them. There’s one in Gouda, the city where Lieneke lives. Gouda is traditionally known for it’s ceramics. And cheese. I wonder if it shows functional ceramics or more arty statement things.
There’s another fair in a piece of grassland in the north of the most southern province, Limburg. Someone in the know will enlighten me.

Here’s another knitters’ or spinners’ mug I once had:
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(I gave it away. I saw straight away that it’s too wide to keep my tea hot for the time it takes me to remember I made a cup.)

So there we are. One new knitter’s mug and some beautiful New Year Resolutions. Congratulations all around!

Advent socks: stranded at the knitters’ party

I finished my socks last night:

I ran out of green yarn with the second sock. Hence the stripey toe.

The cuff was knitted on 2,5 mm because I feared I would knit stranded too tight.
The heel was done on 2 mm because tighter knit makes for a sturdier fabric.
For the gusset I then forgot to change back to bigger needles and it was very visible and also too tight over the instep:

So I had to rip back one sock back to where I pick up the stitches for the gusset. The other sock I had messed up by making the heel flap too short and it sat akward on my foot, so that one had to be ripped back too.
This was how Christmas looked over at my place:


Plus nice food and a film.

The feet were knitted with 2,25 mm. Mainly because I convinced myself I’d never knit a sock with 72 stitches on 2,5 mm, surely that would be way too loose. It was only when I got up to get the needle Trude lend me to knit at two socks simultaneously -one needs more rounds of plain stockinette when the Dr. Who Special is on- that I realized my mistake.
But the feet look good so I finished them on 2,25 mm needles, even with the stranding. I did keep an increased stitch count for the duration of the instep: 76 instead of 72.

Now I don’t understand socks at all anymore. I usually have 60 stitches on 2 mm needles. Here are socks with 72 or even 76 stitches on 2,25 mm needles and they fit great. It cannot just be the faux cables, those are negated by loose purl stitches at their sides.
Never mind. I’ll just stop and try to UNDERSTAND it. Don’t try and outsmart knitting. Stop knitting with your head, you silly.

Hey, I can do stranded knitting. In socks!

I did the stranded part of the second sock during the knitters’ party yesterday. It was a nice party!
Lots of spinners and treats and knitting slippers:

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Meilindis brought a gift of genius:

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It’s folded papers interlocking and it is a hollow sphere. In silvery, light, green papers.
3D shaping and maths and colours and magic? Origami! More of her paper and fibre creations on her site.

Spin a yarn, have a treat.


204 meters out of 100 grams.

It’s the BFL hand dyed by Passe-Partout that I received in the Elementary, My Dear swap:

It’s Fractal Spun:

The person who gave me this great roving is coming here today, for a lazy afternoon of knitting and sweets. No worries, just hanging out:

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I have the sweets, you bring your knitting.

I, being the perfect host, am having breakfast at the moment by sampling the pears with custard:

Approved.

(The pears were cooked with ginger and kardemom, in addition to the cinneamon (and two clovers if I had been able to find them). It adds a delicious flavour to it. The pears themselves are organic, they have more flavour than regular ones.
The custard I made myself: unwhipped cream, egg yokes, vanilla, salt and pepper. YUM!)

Bought at the Fair: a Real Shetland Throw

This old picture shows I had been working on my handspun Shetland/Blue Texel throw/shawl/blanket. But for a while now I’m not sure how to proceed. Connecting the parts which are bias knitted and attaching a border to bias knit planes makes me a bit unsure because bias knit has a different stretchiness then regular knit and I don’t know which stitch to use or which ratio for picking up stitches when attaching perpendicular knitting such as an icord.

It’s not a difficult puzzle to solve. Mostly it just involves some trial and error. I also had some advise this week (attach parts with a zig zag stitch instead of a mattress stitch.) But the fact that the puzzle is there in the first place made me deflect to easier knits, casting on new knits and spending time writing long blog posts and watching David Armand mime songs in funny ways.

Still I’d like some warm Shetland/Blue Texel to wrap around my knees at night. I’ve been wearing parts of the handknit but it’s not working very well.

Then, at the fair of Midwinterwol, there was a vendor selling 100% Shetland blankets at a great offer:

 Pounds for euro’s! In a nice light colourway. All undyed wool. Natural product. Sturdy yet warm. Nice bloke. Good story. Lovely occasion with great atmosphere.

That’s why I came home with a Shetland throw even though I have a handmade one that’s nearly finished.

The vendor is Real Shetland Company

With Shetland there’s a bit of a thing where we can argue if something is real Shetland because it’s made from the sheep breed Shetland or if it’s more real because it comes from the Shetland Islands with its distinguished traditions in knitwear and Shetland sheep. Or if it’s the most reallest if it comes from Shetland, is made from local Shetland wool and is also sold by local people.

Real Shetland Company takes a stand in this topic and writes on their site:
“We directly support over 800 Shetland Crofters (sheep farmers) on the Islands as well as supplying Jamieson and Smith (Shetland Wool Brokers) with a wide selection of our woven goods for them to sell in their shop in Lerwick, the capital and main port of the Shetland Islands.”

The Real Shetland Company buys their raw wool from Shetland sheep flocks on the Shetland Islands and processes it in a factory in Yorkshire (which is on the main UK island) in a plant that’s very environmentally friendly (but whose site is still embryonic in information).

Either way I came home with a good product. And it was recognized as such by the experts:
lazy cats in knitting
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Yep. I’d better finish my own Shetland blanket if I want something to wrap around me.

And if you can’t hog a Shetland throw, use that soft natural wool from Sweden as a pillow:lazy cats in knitting
Suggesting strongly that I knit on something else for a while. For instance my Shetland/Blue Texel blanket.

Really.

Winterknit: using vintage Norwegian yarn

A friend from Ravelry was giving away some yarns her grandmother had collected. Some of it was Norwegian and she kindly gave them to me:

Firda yarn isn’t even in the Ravelry database. But it’s a Norwegian daily newspaper that reports on knitting in the Art section:


Knitting graffiti hits town centre with colour bomb
(psst, gentlemen, that’s crocheting.)

Yahoowonders lets me know that the producer of Firda Strikke Garn, Evebofoss, was a well known producer of wool for Norwegian garments in the last century. Pinterest impression:

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Sandnes Garn Tvinngarn is in the Ravelry database, but it’s discontinued. The two projects that are shown are from people using up yarns that are left from projects knitted by their mother and grandmother. 🙂

Thanks to the Swedish Advent socks I’m confident about stranded knitting again. And with a current obsession for Winter light and a structural love for Scandinavia I’ve casted on for a Winter vest, using Norwegian vintage yarns:

The pattern is Hilja by Niina Hakkarainen, the same I used for my green handspun vest. This time I’m just following the pattern as written, bottom up.

The colourwork is the brim of  Snowflakes Tam  by Ari Whitlow

The vintage Norwegian yarns are of DK thickness, roughly double the size of sock weight, which is where the name DK (“Double Knit”) comes from. It’s a perfect thickness!
Knits fast yet solid. Warm fabric yet souple.
I think this thickness is traditionally most used for handknits in the UK. I’m using needles 3,5 mm although most people use 4 mm.

I think this vest will use 2 skeins of the white Firda and half of the blue. I also have one white of the Sandness left:

The label reads “garnet for brukskunst” = “a yarn for functional art”. Love it!

There’s also one skein of the Sandness Tvinn yarn in a military green colour that still has the old old label:

Use your art to have outdoor fun!

Weird Wool Wednesday: sophisticated city knitter with secret identity

Today I am travelling to Gouda again:


It’s not an ideal plan, travelling in the midst of my resting weeks after the fair, but I’m going to visit a therapist who doesn’t take on new clients in the new year so I had little choice. It’s also the reason we spend x-mas at home, alone, in the city instead of with family or in the cabin… I don’t have the energy to travel or interact. And although I miss the cabin very much, not having been there for several weeks now after having constantly lived there for years, we cannot go this week. I don’t tolerate a change of living quarters at this moment, to be plopped about, to attach emotionally to a different place again, is not something I can bear.

But being here, in the city, has its own charmes, make no mistake! I’m not all nature, no culture. I love the hustle and bustle and the cultural history and all the connections I see being played out. The machine of modern urban living (or ancient urban living for that matter) is deeply inspiring to me.

To enjoy city life today and to fortify me in my efforts I’ve put together an outfit that lifts me up.
It’s sophisticated, Midwintery and woolen. It has references to urban chique, to snowy sparkles, to frozen water, to warmth by wool, to soul protection by woolen wrappings, to smart knitwear designs, to self affirmation through self bought presents and to friends’ encouragements by given, handmade lovelies. I feel a million bucks!
(I sure hope it’s not over the top, I do have a bit of a knitterly blind spot when it comes to appearances in public.)

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Forgive my sleepy head…
Trees, wrist warmers, my green handspun vest and a long cardigan. And my sparkly ring from the Poundshop:
vlinderring
The cardi is knitted by machines. I bought it when I spend some time in Norway. Exactly ten years ago this month. Did you know there’s no city life in Norway during x-mas? Everybody is at home, with family. All restaurants are closed.
I didn’t knit back then but I did already appreciated woolens.
I’m all woolen and “city” today.

One thing reveals my secret Pippi-identity:
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Two different socks.
They are not that different to me though. One is the Midwintersock I knit last week. (It’s partner is in my purse as a WIP.) The other sock is January Crystalline socks made from quality yarn and is hand dyed by Dutch Wool Diva. Yarn bought to please myself, which is a theme in my new therapy. This sock was started in January 2013. Pattern Crystalline Socks by Cailyn Meyer (free). To me it’s all about the light colours of sun shining on snow.
It’s half of a pair but I haven seen its partner in months now…

I hope no one notices the different socks….
They probably won’t. Most people don’t pay attention to others anyway.

After the appointment I’ll pop in at Wolops for a spot of tea and knitting.
Then, if I have the stamina, I hope to visit the historical city centre of Woerden. The museum there shows an exposition by local artist Ido Vunderink. He’s an 80 year old who nowadays paints abstract Dutch landscapes and flower arrangements in bright colours:


vunderink

I was thrilled to discover his work, earlier this morning, while I was waiting for the cortisol to kick in and start the day. His art reminds me of my own work, when I was so very much inspired by Norwegian mountains and their running waters, and made art there, ten years ago:

Abstract shapes reminding you of something. One dark colour, one light and two in between. Bright, happy colours to lift the spirits in the dark days of Winter. Intersecting lines, defining planes. Planes connecting behind other planes. Lines running beyond their boundaries. Reappearing. Vunderink is exploring the same things. Playing with the same things. (Not saying we’re at the same level, I was just starting, he is a master.)

I never got to transport my muse to Holland nor got I to reconnect with my teachers at the Jeroen Bosch Academy and talk about it. I subsequently dropped out of art school and dropped out of health. I haven’t been able to make art since.

Viewing the works of a kindred artist, who finds inspiration here in Holland, today, fills me with tremendous joy.

Vunderink’s exposition runs untill the 10th of January.

UPDATE:

I went, I saw the art. It was amazing!!!

Full of light colours. The shapes… the compositions. It made me very, very happy. The building is an old, very old building and was so sympathetic. It was the best of city life: history and new art combined, enjoyed while wearing knits.

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Midwinter hug: Hares running around my head

It’s the Visjö hat in progress.

The pattern is Simply Harika, then a band with a Running Hare chart I designed myself, two Latvian braids and on top the beautiful pattern of hat Selbu Modern.


Selbu Modern  by Kate Gagnon Osborn

The Visjö yarn is such a delight! Sportsweight so more substantial than the Holst Garn Noble (which I haven’t knit with yet…. it was queued for a sophisticated city hat but it seems I’m more at ease with a sportsweight kinda silly sophisticated city hat).

The yarn is so soft. It hasn’t even been washed, I expect it to soften up even more.
The stranded part is soft and warm, excellent to cover my ears.

I have ordered a sweater’s worth of yarn from Lidaholm.nl…. She has a special offer going on at the moment. And I know I will love knitting with this yarn!

A good intention for the new year, knitting a jumper in light green and white, with accents in pink and grey.
It’s a promise of light colours that is very fitting for today, the 21st of December, when light and dark make a pivotal turn in their eternal dance together.

Hares go with light and dark. They are traditionally associated with the moon and they leave their foot prints all over the earth in winter.

Earth’s midwinterdream, by artist Wendy Andrew

ooh, less than 4 euros/ 5 dollars for a card of 15×15 cm (6″ x 6″)?

Shipping included. I’m ordering.

A warm Midwinter hug to you today:
 card by Wendy Andrew

UPDATE: I’ve ordered the book Luna Moon Hare. Wonderful drawings!

I’m very fond of hares. They live in the fields around the cabin and there’s one special individual that lives in the woods right besides us. (S)he knows us and hurries out of sight away slowly when we come near.

I often see him strolling past when I look out the window. I love watching him. When I’m about I see the little dents in the soil where he rests for hours. (S)he’s our cohabitant.

My yellow tea pot features the moon and the hare. It’s yellow like the moon and the little cups (not in picture) have a white inside with a swirl (cloud) and a hare.

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I bought it once, a long time ago, at the Little Japanese Shop in Amsterdam. A pity I have it at the cabin now… I’ve got hares on the mind and drinking tea from a moon hare tea pot would be just the thing.

Midwinter: socks in progress

The “Onion sock” and the second Midwinter sock in the sparkly yarn:

The Swedish Advent sock is slowly progressing:

On one sock I turned the heel, the upper one still has its heelflap in progress. I don’t like knitting with this yarn much, it’s not a round plied yarn such as Drops Fabel or the sparkly yarn from the Midwintersock in the first picture. That’s why progress is slow.

After this green bit there’ll be another stranded bit and then the toes. I’m not looking too far into the future though. First that second heel flap.

Bought at the fair: handfelted pouch

felt pouch Mo Berger
I bought this handfelted pouch at the Midwinterwol fair last weekend. It has a cure, blue cat on it with the most adorable “snoet”, with those two pinch-able cheeks at the front of its face.

It’s made by Mo Berger, the same artist who made the big bag I bought at the Countryfair earlier this year:

I love her work. It’s so happy and friendly.

(Yesterday I was insulted by an entitled motorist whom had missed the signs that our street is a dead end. She was sitting in her expensive Jeep, just outside our window, gesturing in exasperation. So I went outside to explain and show her where she ought to make a turn.

Apparently I didn’t offer enough commiserations for her situation because after the fourth explanation she started calling me a crank. Which might be true because at four times repeating I started thinking: “Lady, what else can I say? You made a mistake and have to drive back. I cannot chance the facts and you seem not want to listen”.
I’m one of those people whose face shows what I’m thinking:
 pic by batterypower

With the name calling the conversation was over but as I turned away from her to go inside again she sarcastically snarled:

“Well lady, good luck with your cheerful life!”

She must be clear voyant.
Because cheer and giggles is exactly what my inner life revolves around. I’ll always see a funny little thing or notice one of the little jokes life carries out all around us. I have a brain chemistry to match it, with unusual high amounts of dopamine and noradrenaline.

So yes Jeep-lady, I’ll enjoy my cheerful life, thankyou. Starting today with a fun pouch with a needle felted cat on it that looks delightfully full of mischief.)

My new pouch has a handy thing in the back, to secure it to your belt:
felt pouch Mo Berger

(picture is upside down)

ooooh, she has so many cute bags and pouches!