Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - The Works

2012 was a busy years in regards of handicrafts. I've knitted:
10 pairs of socks
3 shawls
2 scarfs
2 cardigans
3 wirstwarmers / fingerless mittens
1 blanket / afghan
1 pillow
2 pairs of potholders

The last (and only) bag I've knitted is this one:

Then I did sew six project bags (of which I gave away three)
I also patchworked / quilted two wallhangings, and work on my first full sized blanket.

I learned to fold Bascetta stars (very cool that).

All in all, I had a lot of fun!

Happy New Year 2013 to all of you. Stay healthy and stay happy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There and Back Again

This post is about the movie 'The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey', So no knitting, no travelling, none of the usual stuff. Sorry.

Eleven years ago, shortly after Christmas, my friends convinced me that it I should go with them to see the movie 'Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'. I've had seen the trailers, so I was mildly interested (it looked like there would be a lot of action), but not overly enthusiastic. I had tried to read the book some years before, but after 100 pages of it I had given up - it was soooooo boring (or so I thought at that time)
Now, within three hours of watching the movie I was turned into a fan.
I saw each of the movies in the trilogy several times in the theaters. I have the DVDs (Extended Edition of course). I have secondry literature (Art of Lord of the Rings). I have an Elven cloak. I have knitted Pippin's scarf. I went to the exhibition of the movie props in London. I saw sketches by Alan Lee and John Howe in the National Library in Paris.
Yepp, big fan here.

When I heard that Peter Jackson would be making 'The Hobbit' I couldn't have been more happy. I was a bit sceptical about the idea to make THREE movies out of that one small book (not any longer, though ... )

Last weekend I finally saw the movie. Twice! Once in the new higher frequency resolution 3D and the second time in the 'normal' 3D mode. Some people claim they have problem with the HFR version, but for me, I liked it better. Everything is more clear, more crisp. Fast movements are less blurry. And to me it was more relaxed to watch (usually 3D is more tiring for my eyes than 2D)

The movie itself is almost three hours long. This is quiet long, but it didn't feel that long. Yes, the movie takes it's time to tell the story, but as a fan I'm more than happy with that (I mentioned I owe the extended edition of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies, right?)

Middle Earth / New Zealand is beautiful!

Acting: Ian McKellen IS Gandalf - it's very obvious he loves the character and enjoys playing him.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins is perfectly cast. Watching his journey from gentle Hobbit to finding the courage within himself alone is worth the price of admittance.
The scene between Bilbo and Gollum ('Riddles in the Dark') - fantastic.
And the dwarfs. I love every single one of them. Thorin is a wounded and driven soul (and not exactly bad looking). And I have a particular fondness for Fili and Kili.

According to my copy of 'The Hobbit' (the 50th Anniversary Edition from Unwin Paperbacks) the movie ends at page 111 of 285. I'm looking forward to the next 174 pages... Only 359 days to go.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Christmas Cookies 2012

 The last two days were spent with making this year's crop of Christmas Cookies.
 One kind that needs to be done every year are Cinnamon Stars. Mostly sugar, eggwhite and grounded almonds, they are pretty simple to make and look rather fancy.
 Another 'have-to-make' are Heidesand, only that I add candied ginger to the mix, which gives them a spicyness that contrasts fantastically with the intense butter flavour.

Another traditional cookies are 'Gebabbte', buttery cookies with homemade jam sandwiched inbetween. The term 'Gebabbte' is the hessian word for glueing something together, and as those cookies are glues together by the jam hence the name (at least in my family) ...
A newcomer (though really a variation on something I made last year, or was it the year before) are those Linzer stars. Based on the famous Linzer cake, there contain hazelnuts and rasberry jam.
Another newcomer are those mandarin marzipan cookies. Considering how much cursing was involved in making them, I'm not sure they're be back next year, but actually they taste very nice so maybe there's a chance for them after all.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Socks, Socks, Socks

Three pairs of socks are finished.
Pair 1: made from some scraps of Wollmeise (in the colors 'Wasabi' and 'Türkis Markis') plus some yarn I dyed back in March. The patterns is made up by me, but basically a simple 3 knit / 1 purl pattern. 

Pair 2: Again Wollmeise yarn in a mystery colors, probably 'Gewitterhimmel' or 'Mitternacht'. The patterns is Thelonious by the fantasically talented CookieA.
I do LOVE her patterns.
 Pair 3: same pattern I made last year and the year before. Both time for my mom, who l loves those socks (as she sends them back to me to fix the holes - repeatably!). So, those went to my mom as well. The pattern is called Mermaid and the yarn is Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hot off the Presses (ehr, Pressing Board)

I just about finished the top for my patchwork rainbow blanket:

Now I "only" have to sew the back part together, make the quilt sandwich, quilt it and finish the binding. Should be a snatch.
Yeah, right!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Slowly Approaching

It's less about seven weeks to Christmas, but this year I'm prepared!

Well, that is I'm already working on x-mas decorations.
The first one is a Bascetta Star, a bloody brilliant origami star with 20 points, made from 30 pieces of square paper. You fold each of the 30 pieces of paper into a specific diamond shape and then you built the star without a drop of glue or any other additional fixing aid.
Briliant and a little bit magical.

The other is a bit more mundane and involves a lot of hand sewing. It's using the Englisch Paper Piecing technique, which I really wanted to try out. I particularly like how the one on the right has turned out.

Other than that I'm making progress on my rainbow patchwork blanket. After a visit to my local patchwork dealer, ehr, sorry, store, I decided to neither go with white or gray, but went with a very dark blue instead. Good choice I would say.
Those patches (224 in number) have now been sewn into four-patches and trimmed to the be the same size (I aimed for 8 inches, but had to settle for 7 3/4 inches).
I've got enough squares left over to add a rainbow stripe in the border, but am not so sure if I've got enough of the dark blue for this. And as it was the last my dealer had left, I need to do some math before I decide to go this way. So, Im off to pull out my trusted measuring tape.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Colors of Fall (or Autumn)

This year, Mother Nature really pulled out all the stops.
 Sadly, all will be gone soon ....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


(translates to 'very colorful')

When I saw this wall hanging in 'Patchwork Spezial 1/2012' my first reaction was "Wannamakewannamakewannamake!!!" ;-)
Well, never it by said that I don't be willing to follow through.
The pattern in the magazine uses 22 different batik fabrics, I used 80 different of whatever I had laying around. There's some batik fabrics, but also quite a few solids. The patchwork part took up most of last weekend, quilting and binding maybe a day more. The only thing I did for the quilting was to carefully follow the edges of all single houses (as defined by having a roof)
I handstitched the label in the back
Now I only have to decide if this is going to hang here at home, or comes with my to Dresden ....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

White or Gray

 Last week I bought a Jelly Roll with 31 stripes of fabric (6.5cm wide, 110cm long) in all colors of the rainbow. Since then I've been pondering what to do with this. The most recent design is below. Of course, this is only a sketch, and there will be a few more colors in the end (excel only gave me about 25 colors I could use for this).
 If I did my math right, this will give me a quilt 160 x 180cm. I also calculated how much of the background color I might need.
 Only, I can't quite decide if I should go with a white background like here:
Or with a gray background like here:
I'm leaning toward the gray, mostly because I would like to USE the quilt in the end, and I'm afraid with a white background it won't stay so white and crisp for very long.
What do you think: White or Gray?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Sashiko Placeset

About two years ago I discovered the Japanese quilting/stitching technique called Sashiko.
Enthusiastice about something new, I prepared three placesets, but finished only one back then and got halfway through the second.
A few weeks ago I rediscovered those old pieces of fabric with the faded chalk markings and decided to give them another whirl, updating a few things with what I learned the last weeks while quilting.

I have finished two of those, but think I'm going to go back to the one I made originally and redo it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I totally blame my current obsession with quilting on my sister (which is totally fair, I think, as she blames me with her current knitting obsession)
While I was visiting her this summer, I saw a wall hanging with two geckos I really liked. Luckily, she still had the pattern, so when I got my hands on some really nice batic fabrics, I gave it a swirl.

 I actually still nead to finish the edging and wash the thing and maybe add a tunnel on the back for hanging, but other than that, I'm very pleased.
A detail of one of the geckos shows the free motion quilting I did (just scribbling swirls, nothing fancy). Not too bad for a first time, but definitely some room for improvement still.
 And as I had nothing else to do (*gough* housekeeping *gough*) I made some apple chutney / apple-banana chutney from apples gifted to me by a friend. There is not much yield, but what there is is highly concentrated flavour. Especially the one without the banana holds quite a spicy kick.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Into the Labyrinth

 Last week I used the nice weather and went for a little hike in the Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz). First stop was the so called Labyrinth, a pile of boulders with a meandering path laid out through it. Some of the paths leads between large boulders and as it narrows down you have to squeeze through. Unless it gets too narrow, then you have to turn around and find another way.

After this I hiked out to the Zeizigstein, a sandstone column with a really nice view from the top. There was a ladder leading to the top, which made reaching the top somewhat easier. And the view was well worth it. With 550m above see level the Zeizigstein is actually the third highest peak in Saxon Switzerland.

On the way back I stopped in Prina and admired the ceiling in the Marienchurch.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Is Trump?

In my gaming group we love to play a card game we either call 'Prediction' or 'Up and Down'. I'm not really sure what the right name of the game is. My sister learned it a long time ago on a trip through Africa from some of her fellow travellers. Basically, each round you play with less and less cards, while the trump suit also changes each round. Goal is to predict how many tricks you will make each round. Correct prediction will give you five points, while each trick you make will give you another point.
(I did some digging and found that the games 'Oh, Hell' or 'Up And Down The River' seem fairly similar to our game - though there are some variations still)
Prediction is our fall back game anytime we are not able to play our usual roleplaying game because one of our group is not available.
As the suit which is trump changes every round, a very common question is: "What is trump?"
For which I now have the perfect solution:

Suit coasters!!

I used felt and applicated the suit color using my sewing machine. On the backside I sewed some soft leather.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mission Accomplished

After one day and four evenings (though, of course, not all the time ...)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Very Puzzling

I'm working on this Lord of the Rings jigsaw puzzle. It's a fairly difficult one (at least I think so ...), but I'm plowing on.

It's driving me crazy, but it's also a lot of fun. :)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Balla Balla

I made those two balls on the weekend. The sewing is done by hand, but using the right technique (in this case the English paper method) it's super simple and is a lot of fun. I stuffed them with polyfill and granules used for stuffing dolls or teddy bears. In the middle of each is also a little bell, though it's not really loud.  
 Mathematically the balls are regular dodecahdrons, formed of twelve regular pentagons (I love that!)

I'm thinking about making them a little smaller still and fill them with catnip for friends who have cats.

More tricky (as the instructions were not 100% correct and some guesswork was involved) to make was this little backpack. At the moment I'm happy with the outcome, though it has to be seen how usuable it is in the end.
It was the first time I did crazy patchwork, and that was a lot of fun to make.
Finally, the last of the tree Mini Mandala Gardens. I changed a bit how I attached the beads on this, then decided that I liked it more and went back to the other two mandalas and redid most of the beads there.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Too warm for this

We picked the hottest day of the year (as in today with 38°C) to make mixed pickles. I wanted to make photos, but forgot to bring the camera.

So all I can offer are two project bags I sewed last weekend.
Both are made following the same pattern. The first one is made from jeans fabric and some fabric I picked up ages ago in Japan.
 The second one was a present for a friend's birthday and is already living at his new home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


One pattern I picked up at my sister's but didn't get around making in Sweden is for a pair of slippers. Back home I picked some matching fabric and gave it a whirl.
 They do fit very well (better than those my sister made and she and I have the same shoe size ... go figure). For the sole I used some fake leather which worked (at least so far) very well. It gives just enough traction to make them feel right.

During the last days of the Olymic Games I also finished the second Mini Garden Mandala (or is it Mini Mandala Garden?). Number 3 has been started but is not very far yet.
Sigh, vacation is over and I have to go back to work on Tuesday. So updates and finished projects will be further in between again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sweden 2012 - Creativity

As I already mentioned yesterday, I've been busy in Sweden.
Project 1 is a pair of potholders using some fabric I also picked up in Goetheborg. There was no real pattern, but we saw something similar in a store downtown, so we reverse engineered the whole thing. For a first try pretty good, though there's some room for improvement.
The potholders are fairly small, but thanks to the opening in the back, you can almost wear them like hot gloves, so very usable. They are also totally reversable.

Project 2 was a small beaded bracelet we found the kit for in a sale. The bracelet is super easy to make, so not really very crafty, but pretty.
In the photo I present it over a lovely cup my sister got me for my birthday. There's this super cute little dragon peeking over the rim of the cup. Happily I managed to transport the cup back home without breaking it.
 Project 3 and 4 (and some trials inbetween) are made using a technique called tatting. Using a special long needle, you make a couple of slip knots on the one end of the needle and then pull through the tread to either form a ring or a chain before moving on to the next set of knots. Adding little loops (picots) during the process of the knot making will give you added decoration and also a point to connect the chains and rings to each other, enableling the making of a large variation of shapes.
I still need some practice though ....

Number 5, a project I've started before I came to Sweden, some cross stitch. This is the first in three so called Mini Garden Mandalas by Martina Weber of Châtelaine Designs. The kit I have contained the pattern for all three manadalas and the specialty threads and beads, but no fabric and none of the DMCs needed. Lucky me, I've got plenty of fabric and DMC. I picked some unbleached linen in 32ct to stitch on and enjoyed (and still am enjoying) stitching it. Currently I'm plowing my way through the back stitches on the second mandala.
Finally, I also did some knitting. I started a cardigan in Wollmeise lace, but am not happy at the moment with it. I'm thinking about ripping everything up and starting again with a smaller needle size, but first I want to give what I have (back and front down to about 5 cm underneath the armholes) a bath and see how it fits.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Sweden 2012

It has turned into something of a tradition that during the Olympic Games I pack my bags and set up camp at my sister's and her family in Sweden for a week.
First of all it gives me time to spend time with my nephew, whom I, due to the fact that he's living in another country, don't see nearly often enough.
Second, it's a perfect excuse for my sister and me to spend hours in front of the TV to watch the games. We are not exactly idle while we watch, but do knit, stitch, tat (what is the verb going with 'tatting'? I don't know), sew and do other creative stuff. More on that tomorrow.
Third, hey, who wouldn't want to spend vacation time in Sweden? It's a beautiful country. My sister's place is close to the sea and even if the weather is not always perfect, there's still enough nice days to go out on a walk and take some photos.

One day we went to Goetheborg to the botanical garden. We wanted Adventure Golf, but it was seriously too full. If we hadn't gone I would never have seen this dude, and what a shame that would have been.

More on the creative part tomorrow, after I take some project pictures.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Almost Finished and Finished

I finished the stitching on the Delightful Dragon Scissor Fob. Seems like I'm getting too old for this shit, or that it's about time I'm getting reading glasses. I still managed though sometimes, especially in the evening, I had trouble focusing on all those super tiny stitches.

I need to do the sewing part still.

I also finished knitting the New Wave cardigan in Wollmeise Twin 'Blaue Tinte'. Of course it's now far too hot to wear it...

 Some detail of the collar.
I did recycle the yarn from another project where I was not happy with the outcome. This one, I'm much more happy with.