Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rhinebeck Report

With my two co-bloggers gone from the East Coast, I was finally free to go to Rhinebeck by myself! Freedom! Who wants to shop for yarn with other people anyway, amirite?
Err, okay, so actually I was kind of bummed and wasn't sure if I would go or not, so I didn't make any advance plans for lodging. But my husband, who is a very nice man, agreed to go with me, so we drove the three hours from Princeton to enjoy Rhinebeck as a last-minute day-trip. We were greeted by the beautiful golden trees that line the main entrance. This is how you know you're really there!
One of my favorite things at Rhinebeck is always the skein and garment competition. Unfortunately, this year they had the whole display cordoned off behind ropes, so you couldn't get a close look at anything. Perhaps they've had trouble with too many people touching things? Nonetheless, there were some nice items on display.
I also saw the Sheep-to-Shawl teams hard at work, which was exciting. Somehow I usually miss this, so it was great to see.
Of course, there were also the usual adorable sheeps and handsome camelids.
And, of course, I bought some stuff: Mountain Colors Targhee, Fiber Optic wool/silk top in the most incredible ultramarine blue, 8 oz of Finn wool, and 1 oz of super-luxurious sharlea merino from Stash Enhancement. I also got two ounces of cashgora top and a magnetic pattern-holder thingie. Considering I was only at the fair for about five hours, I think I was pretty efficient.
Going as a day-trip worked surprisingly well, actually. Sort of a condensed experience. It wasn't as much fun as poring over every last skein with my fellow yarnies, but we saw the sights and did the deeds, nonetheless.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Different cultures are different

Although living in Europe is a lot of fun, because of all the adventure, travel, and just the experience of being in another culture, there are some challenges, the language barrier being the biggest. I can get along in all my day-to-day stuff just fine, especially because the vast majority of people speak at least some English (though not the lovable ferry boat captain!), and I've picked up some of the essentials, like how to say "no mayonnaise." Still, I've been too shy to try and make friends here. Mostly because I feel like if I showed up at a local knitting group, I imagine I'd be forcing people into their second (or third, or fourth) language, and I wouldn't want to make the regulars feel uncomfortable while my presence is just fleeting. Maybe I'm being overly anxious? In any case, that's where things stand.

The combination of missing the social aspect of knitting plus having fewer entertainment options (no TV, extremely limited internet, etc) has gotten me into watching/listening to a lot of podcasts. I've been listening to some knitting podcasts for at least five years, but I've discovered a whole bunch of new ones lately. Many thanks to Starbucks for having free unlimited wifi that allows me to download this stuff.

So one podcast, The KnitGirllls, has an expand your horizons spinalong going on their Ravelry board. October is for spinning cheviot, which is certainly a new-to-me fiber. Behold!


The fiber is from Dyeabolical, and it was spun on a Bosworth spindle and plied on my True Creations kick spindle. I got about 300 yds of a 3-ply. Originally I was hoping it'd be good sock yarn, but the yardage is a bit too little for the size of socks I like to make, and the colors blended and became a little duller than I had envisioned for socks-- that was my fault in how I spun the yarn, by the way.

Then comes the Knitabulls podcast, who have an October monster spinalong/knitalong focusing on Halloween colors. By golly, that fiber is Halloween colored. I'm not much of a toy knitter, but I do enjoy crocheting them, and behold!


A marsupial momster and baby. So cute. Easy and fun to make, no sewing involved, and done in a few hours. I decided to jump on board with this knitalong when I discovered the "big box craft store" here in Bonn. It's not that big or boxy, but it did have polyfill, stuffing, and eyes.

The thing about this project that I think will remind me of Germany in particular is that the eyes are not safety eyes; they are just shank buttons that look like eyes (Wouldn't that make the creepiest cardigan?!). It surprised me exactly 0% that I couldn't find safety eyes here. From being around German strangers, their parenting style doesn't seem to involve being concerned about toy eyes being a safety hazard. Half the time when I see a kid toddling along on the street I can't even tell which adult(s) they belong to. After all, this is the country that brings us the Kinder Egg, choking hazard extraordinaire.

In completely other news, Rhinebeck is upon us and I am not going. WOE. I'm hoping somebody is; can I get a report?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Handarbeiten and not so Handarbeiten

Travels! I've been to two places in the past couple of weeks that had some interesting textile displays. The first was at the Heimatmuseum here in my neighborhood of Beuel (pronounced like "boil"). It's the local history museum, largely dedicated to the history of doing laundry. You read that right.

Beuel was historically the place where laundry went sent upriver from Köln (Cologne). They had lots of old washing machines and linens, etc., and my big realization there was that the spin cycle is a HUGE improvement over the wringer.

There were also many displays on what life was like back in the day, which in Germany includes handarbeiten, which is the word for needlework. My favorite was the display of sock anatomy in the school:

So many toe options!

Right after this trip across the street to the Heimatmuseum, I took a longer trip with an old friend of mine. We visited Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich. Until Munich, there was basically nothing fiber-related at all, if you can believe it. The schedule was pretty jam packed with the usual sort of sight seeing. We drank lots of fresh, fizzy wine that's only halfway fermented. Its nickname in Austria is sturm, because it comes up on you like a storm. After that warm up, we got to Munich, where this was going on:

But there's only so much of this that one can do:

(Emily and Jenny Jo will both recognize this dear friend of mine, who is also a knitter!)

So we checked out the Deutsches Musem, which is perhaps the biggest museum I've ever been to, all dedicated to technology. This museum has 10 MILES of exhibits, so we had to narrow down what kinds of technology we wanted to look at. This resulted in seafaring and textiles. The textile section was enormous (so was the seafaring--a whole submarine!) and had huge looms and knitting machines:

They had antique tools, many of which were flax-related:

and my favorite, the circular knitting machine you could crank:

If you're ever in Munich, I'd definitely recommend checking this out. For that matter, if you're in Bonn, come to the Heimatmuseum as well!

The other amazing textile discoveries were the Oktoberfest costumes. Turns out dirdls and lederhosen are serious business. I didn't get any good pictures, but people are not wearing cheap Halloween costumes; these are beautiful garments with lots of amazing touches. There were lots of knit vests and sweaters, predominantly in garter stitch with maybe some cable details. Also amazing wool socks with Bavarian traveling cables on them. Good stuff. Here's a nice lederhosened leg for you, actually taken in Salzburg where they were also out in full force:

I've got some more travels coming up before year's end, so I will definitely report on what I find! Also, I have been spinning and knitting....

One last note: sheep and cows in Bavaria chilling on the hillsides really wear bells around their necks, and it's the cutest thing I've ever seen.