A child’s world

This blog post must start with a textile crafty item before we get to the world of children: here are a few flowers, made of leftover Rowan Kid Silk Haze (see Medallion Wrap). The winter 2012/2013 has been unusually long and I felt I needed to hold some blossoms in my hands! The flowers are really easy to crochet (or knit): chain 30, turn work, make 2 sc in every chain stitch, turn work, make 1 treble into every sc, cut thread and weave in, roll up, pull bottom edges together and secure with some stitches and while you are at it add pearly bead in the center and there you go. I made a slip stitch chain (See this excellent Bosnian crochet stitch Tutorial) at the very edge with a contrasting color and some beads for extra dew-drop glam and to accentuate the spiral shape. The flowers are For Sale – contact me.

In recent years there were several trends, dare I say fads, of taking pictures from unusual angles. The Lomography craze, shooting from the hip and from all angles was state-of-art… for a while. Then the trend to take pictures non-stop with a Memoto camera, as if documenting every second of one’s life, or rather every two minutes. This reminded me of the 15 minutes of fame, proclaimed by Andy Wharhol in 1968 – and this statement held so many interpretative options – especially the question of “What is fame?”Or even: “Andy Who?”

Our grandson Victor received a sturdy children’s camera for Christmas last year. One might assume that a small child, not even four years old, would not be able to make pictures like adults do, chosing the object, the frame, focus etc. And what a surprise! Victor chose carefully, delightfully tried out angles and places and we found amazing pictures on that sturdy camera chip. First things first:  He took a picture of his face (above), of his his eyes and nose (below) …

And then of his face, drinking juice through a straw, again taking a picture of himself just to see what he would look like drinking juice through a straw….

He fully understands the process, focusses the camera on what he wants to photograph, and expertly checks the result right after the click. And the pictures are literally taken at his level.

Maybe we should try more often to meet small children at their eye level, and it will be quite helpful to go down on your knees to share the child’s view, it is truly a big world out there! Come to think of it: Easter seems to be a perfect time for that – crawling around on a level playing field under bushes looking for all those Easter eggs!

A Welcome to Spring Colors

This winter certainly had more than its usual share of sunless days – the darkest winter for over half a century they say. Flowers fighting the cold and frequent heavy snowfalls are brightening up one’s mood and winter blues. The lovely Helleborus niger (also known as black hellebore) is faithfully returning this year as well. 

Picking up its color, pink and black (who says that black is not a color….), I made a small pull-string bag called Granny meets I-Phone with just enough space for a cell phone, some keys and a tissue. The tiny granny squares are sewn together on two sides only so it is less rigid. Each side is different from the other accentuating either the pink or the black DMC 5 yarn. Hook size was 1.5 mm. It is lined with a separate hand-stitched soft jersey bag. The cords were easy to make, using one of the hooks of the attachment to an electric blender. No more tiring twirling of a pencil…

The Malus Floribunda, also called Japanese crabapple, competes with the black hellebore in drawing the focus on its fuscia-colored blossoms. But can there ever be enough colorful flowers?

And finally, this post includes a useful list of collected links for knit and crochet people: tips and tutorials, information and patterns you might want to copy and use when needed: Some links might become obsolete, thank you for letting me know so I can delete them from the list.
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http://www.kasa-amend.com/2010/01/anleitung-sunburst-flow…(crochet, in German)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmgLyLA5yNA (crochet, in German language)
An excellent collection of very useful links is provided by Sarah in her HandStitch Blog. Short rows, a pdf converter for knitty patterns, two wonderful links for providing a breaking a picture into a color palette, a graph paper pdf generator…
http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/grannies.html (crochet)
http://www.crochetcabana.com/tutorials/granny_square.htm (crochet)
The Royal Sisters Crochet Tutorial
Color Change Tutorial (crochet)
Chainless Double Crochet Foundation
Alice Merino: Futuregirl: crochet instructions
DROPS DESIGN has great “How-To-Videos”: in English and in German
Clear and simple: Provisional Cast-Onexcellent picture tutorial by the experts, The Purl Bee
Knitting Help is as close as this link
Moonstitches typepad has a great tutorial about joining hexagons
Attic24 – shows how to crochet a hexagon
Bavarian Twisted Stitch / Wool Eater Stitch also called Crochet Wheel Stitch Square and Catherine’s Wheel Stitch – Blanket – a tutorial video on YouTube and Sarah London’s blog with an excellent description of the stitch, Sarah on Ravelry; also see this information by CrochetDad on how to make different shapes with the wooleater stitch.
If you wish to know how to add beads, here is a great tutorial from Vogue Knitting.
Hyke kindly made a wonderful picture tutorial of her crocheted starfish and leaf which she used in her amazing baby blanket.
Life-long learning process:
Stretchy cast-off/ bind-off:
http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/FEATjssbo.php
http://tichiro.net/?p=563 (Elisabeth Zimmerman sewn cast-off, description in German, but with many excellent photos!)
Several helpful video tutorials (knitting) can be found on
http://goldenapplevideos.blogspot.com/
Knitting abbreviations:
http://www.sewingitall.com/knitting-abbreviation.html
http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEw11/patterns.php#ksbbb
Crochet a button:
http://www.twistcollective.com/collection/index.php/blog/…
The Magic Loop: (Knitting)
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtBSmxGomPk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3si7KrA9I
and a
Cat Bordhi tutorial for casting on a moebius project
and an
invisible cast-on of magic loop.
How to crochet the bullion or roll stitch
Video Tutorial
On Ravelry
bullion stitch instructions
And a very good description for the bullion/roll stitch is found
here
Gypsy Dancer The Art of Notions Group
A Treasure Trove for Freeform crochet ideas and instructions, some Video-supported!
Double Crochet, Treble and Double Treble Crochet, Fan Stitch, Bobble Stitch, Puff Stitch,
Filet Crochet, and many patterns.

HeirloomKnits is a treasure trove of tips, free patterns and interesting background information:
Heirloomknits: Free Patterns, Techniques, Abbreviations, Knit Bits, Handspun Yarn, Useful Links, Library (History in 3 Parts).
Crochetology Net: A very helpful CROCHETsite, with interesting links, a stitch-a-day gallery, very helpful crochet-related instructions, and a fabulous and generous supply of free crochet patterns! Thank you Kokakora – now reached via this link.
Blocking Lace – a perfect and time-saving way to block lace is shown on the Yarn Harlot blog, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.
Lace Buttons – A How-To blog and list of interesting books regarding beadwork and lace, incl. lace buttons, information on a Lace Museum
Fitting Freeform to a Template – many photographs made by LisaCarney in the process of making a Freeform Purse.
Paddingcord Cheat A great way to introduce 3d arches and flowers etc. in Irish crochet pieces by Hyke – also see her blog! Thank you Hyke!
Learn to Knit – basic techniques demonstrated in animated Tutorial Clips – provided on Sasha Kagan’s blog. Thank you Sasha Kagan – visit her on Ravelry.
Crochet Geek – Free (Video) Instructions and Patterns – really useful!
MyPicot is a site chock-full with information on crochet, be it symbols and terms, techniques such as Irish or filet crochet, an amazing number of edgings for free downloading, there is a knitting section and more free patterns.
Super-easy and very neat turning method of a dc crochet chain – you wonder why you never thought of it yourself! Check it out here.
Looking for those REALLY SUPER BIG KNITTING NEEDLES? They are sold by this company, called Bagsmith.

Noblesse oblige

This project suggested itself: I found some beige 8-ply cotton in my stash about the same time this potholder pattern from the Ravelry Projects page crept up on my screen. A nice waiting room project I thought and a short time later this pretty cloth emerged from the cone. It looked so fancy and noble that I just had to add some embellishment – and now there are little golden bullions or a bird leaving golden footprints wandering along the seam, from the bottom end right into the hanger.
 

 For the embroidery, I used my mother’s 2-ply DMC cotton that was in her embroidery yarn box. This cloth turned out just too pretty to be a lowly potholder for wear and tear in the kitchen… it looks really too precious! So in honor of the International Women’s Day – here we go from rags to riches!

The idea is from Michelle Gibbs, she saw the hotpad frequently on the Internet and finally sat down and wrote out the pattern, sharing it with Ravelry friends. It is soon available also in German.

How small, practical and ordinary things can suddenly take on their own beauty!

Pinterest

Literally Touring Countries and Continents

Writing a blog and visiting the blogs of readers can hold many unexpected surprises. It literally leads to new literary ventures and adventures. I would compare it to opening doors to unknown worlds, holding secrets yet unknown. It is a bit like working freeform – patterns and yarns fall into place in structures one would consciously never have planned before the yarn went into this or that direction.

Maybe I was always aware of the popular saying that there are ‘so many books and so little time‘ because I cannot think of a day I did not read at all.  When I was much younger, in a pre-blog and pre-Internet time, my reading mainstay were books written in English by English, Australian and American authors, as well as books in German, this being followed by a distant second from ROW – the rest of the world.


Sometimes authors from other continents and countries caught my attention in the bookstores I frequented or in magazines I read regularly. And it was always a very enriching first experience of ‘discovering’ authors for myself, old and new, until finally the map of my reads showed a bit more of a global balance.

In January 2013 I chanced upon the lovely blog of Vibeke from Norway “A Butterfly in my Hair“. This sparked my interest in more contemporary Norwegian literature, quasi on top of those famous Norwegian authors of old we had read in school and the inevitable all-Scandinavian specialty of crime stories.

 
Novelist Per Petterson was the first author I chose, reading his book “Out Stealing Horses” – a novel having won an incredible array of awards. I was sad to put the book down after I had read it – as if it held a golden bowl of beautiful phrases and story lines that had suddenly come to an end – but they will linger on in my memory for quite a while.

Per Petterson is a famous writer, his books are translated into 60 languages and his work has won many distinguished awards and prices. As I said: so many books, and such little time… But please feel free to add your favorite book in the comments box at the end of this post!

This post is for Vibeke and her beautiful blog, generously introducing so many artists from countries around the world.

Speaking of Norway – don’t we associate cold and long winters with Scandinavian countries? And long summers with short nights, and the further North we travel the longer the days until the sun never sets…

The above shown muffs in my No Chill series are useful against winter chills. Two square modules are crocheted together – you might recognize the POP blanket pattern?

A warm fleece-type fabric is cut to size and sewn together, forming a tube and sewn invisibly into the muff as a liner, making it reversable. Just before closing the last corner, I stuffed Scottish sheep fleece into the space between liner and knitted sleeve. Finally I added the the ribbed ends on either side (k2, p2) as cuffs, finishing the edge with a crocheted picot stitch. [Some muffs are for sale – please contact me via e-mail].

Amazing Lace in Architecture

Lace is one of the most amazing and lovely ways of using yarns. We know that the structure of lace is not limited to textiles. Here is an example in kind – the ingenious lace screens, fences and balustrades by the Dutch company LaFence. It is well worth visiting their site to see more of their lace / lattice projects! By the way, all their lace patterns are reversible!

Isn’t it marvellous that lace actually becomes beautiful because of its empty spaces, the holes in the fabric?
By including virtually nothing we get this intricate gorgeous structure! Looking for and at invisible things seems to sharpen your mind and increase your perception!

Taking this to a philosophical level:  Often it is the very absence that improves one’s perception and provides more freedom. And with the lack of seemingly indispensable items of everyday life, we learn to do without and reduce our consumption of the superfluous, realizing how presumptious we have become over the many years, expecting to have recourse to all things and comforts of life to which we have become accumstoned. Reducing those expectations – a liberating concept, indeed.

My last post included a link to an entertaining waltz performed by colorful triangles. It reminded me of a Jane Thornley Mini-KAL that called for the use of triangles – so with a sharp eye and some imagination and vision beyond reality you can see a lot of invisible triangles in my project for the Mini-KAL, in fact there are 16 of them!

This modular Mini-Project can be a bracelet or a choker-type Neck-Lace. The individual squares are interconnected with a very small ring that you can find in bead stores. The material I used here is silk embroidery yarn bought at the Texere Company near Leeds (UK). They have many kits with color or material-coordinated yarns, mostly 1-2 yards in length. In fact, they are an absolute Dream Place for yarn people! Prepare to spend hours going through their huge store or browse the online shop.

How about some more triangle news? A friend just send me a link to this incredible artist Michael Moschen, doing his unbelievably fast fleeting triangles act, inside a huge triangle! 

Maybe someting invisible crosses your path today? Keep your inner eyes and your mind open!

Fragile February Flowers

Winter appears to be the longest season on the northern half of the globe. Those rare sunny days seem to lift our spirits instantly and make us realize just how beautiful the world is with flowers in all colors. Maybe those long winters were one of the reasons for those colorful garments on Scandinavia, such as the Finnish national costumes, to be so bright, the red offset by white and lots of embroidery. With those images in mind I thought of an especially bright and colorful heart to work against winter chills…

I made a couple of Valentine hearts as a cheerful reminder that spring is coming soon! The first one is a crochet heart with whipstitch embroidery. The eggshell colored cotton is 8-ply, while the other cotton yarns are all 2ply, in the predominant colors of Finnish costumes. Isn’t the lace edging of the white handcherkief lovely!

And the second one is crocheted as well, just the thing to send to someone special in a snail-mail letter with your good wishes!

And how about a little dance, waltzing in a triangle to get prepared for those early spring festivals, outdoor cafès, music and light-blue skies ? Here is an unusual pas-de-trois!

Flying high with Hannah and her Medallion Wrap

Last year Vogue decided to publish a special Vogue Crochet issue. It is sold out but can still be bought in electronic form (pad or tablet). On the cover of the US issue was the Medallion Wrap (42 Motif Wrap) designed by Kathy Merrick. What a gorgeous wrap! I decided to splurge, use the original material (Rowan Kidsilk Haze) and went ahead.

Or so I thought. Reading crochet diagrams is not my forte, spoiled by easy-going freeform à la Prudence Mapstone, I usually just winged it, bullioned it and went every-which-way with my crochet. It took a while and a little bit of help from Ravelry’s Maindruid in the Crochet en Vogue group until I had brushed up on my rusty crochet diagram reading knowledge but finally I forged ahead with making a couple of medallions with some stashed Rowan mohair to get familiar with the pattern chart, because mohair does not take kindly to being frogged (see my notes on Ravelry). Finally, I started with the REAL stuff, Rowan Kidsilk Haze. A truly exquisite yarn!

On finishing the wrap I realized that I needed a model to show its beauty properly. And true for both, the model and the wrap could not have found a better marriage. So on one very cold and windy day in early January, lovely Hannah Rose modelled the wrap on the very top of Clitheroe Castle (UK, Lancashire), chilly winds keeping people in their downy anoraks and coats while Hannah was smilingly floating along without even showing any goosebumps! Both the wrap and the model are taking wings, yes, miracles do happen! 

In fact, and there is no photoshop involved in any of the pictures: if you look closely, a-floating she is! She simply took off into the air with the Medallion Wrap, levitating like the famous witches of Pendle HillWhat professionalism! But then, she has been modelling for a while such as for this fashion place (Just Vintage) plus she is used to being in the public eye with her music.  “The Remedy” is the name of her musical presence, teaming up with guitarist and photographer Elliott Dryden. In the following interview Hannah shares her views on modelling and making music.

Q: Laura Lauragais / A: Hannah Rose
1: Hannah, did you always love music and when did you decide to play an instrument, and which one is your favourite?
Hello Laura! Yes, I have always had a great love for music and have been brought up with a very musical background – Dad has always played guitar and Mum has always had a fantastic and varied taste in music, therefore leaving me with this incredibly broad and, I would say, uncommon musical knowledge, I love anything from Stevie Wonder to James Taylor. You can really hear these influences in The Remedy’s original songs.

My first instrument was the violin and started to learn when I was just 6 – the reason why I chose it was because my mum had a gold charm bracelet and had a tiny violin charm on it, and well, I guess it just sparked my little imagination! A few years later I was bought a guitar for Christmas, but never really took interest in it for many years as I had such tiny fingers and because I am such a determined person, I used to get so frustrated by this! But, by about the age of 11, I really got into it and have never looked back. I do find the guitar infinitely easier to play, but I have a lot of emotional attachments to the Violin.

2) At what point did you think of making music a career and how did you set about this goal?

Ohh, only really recently – this past year it has really struck me that it is possible. It sounds so wrong finishing my A levels to become a full time musician! But, on a serious note, it is more than possible for me and Elliott to make it by playing at gigs and weddings, and we do not take it for granted at all that we have the best job ever. Music makes people feel happy and I love seeing this happen before my eyes. 
We’ve started taking every opportunity thrown at us – playing every gig we have been offered, writing our own stuff and playing covers that people WANT to hear, sometimes you feel like you’re selling your soul, but that’s just the music business. I don’t long for ‘celebrity’, that’s not what I want to achieve with my life, but I would love to be given the time to write and record our music properly and become recognised for our achievements, like Kate Rusby who is another great inspiration of mine.

3) What do you enjoy most: playing for a live audience, making a recording, just having a session and improvise?

I love, love, love playing live – there is nothing better when you capture an intimate audience and get to that point where you could hear a pin drop! Don’t get me wrong, we have played in so many places; including in pubs when no ones listening, weddings, restaurants, cafes and we have even played to just one person! Every live gig is different and there is always something special and memorable that happens.

4) Can you tell us a little bit more about “The Remedy” and your partner Elliott Dryden?
Elliott and I have been together for nearly 3 years now, we met at Ribblesdale High School and I sat behind him in English and really liked the back of his head! Little did I know then what we would turn out to be…

We have been playing together now for about 18 months, but playing together just seemed the logical thing to do; I could play guitar and had just started to write my own songs and Elliott played the bass guitar – so we just started to learn a few covers together and something just clicked! We just know each other inside out and work so well together and even tell what each other are thinking (hence our newest song I wrote). We know what we have is special and why not embrace it fully and make a living from what we both are so passionate about? [If you are in the area: The Remedy play on 2 February at Backridge]

5) What are your plans for the future in your music career?
We have so many plans – nothing can hold us back now! We’re going to attend wedding fairs and really focus and target ourselves at making someones special day that little bit more special! When a couple book us, we always ask for one a two songs that really mean something to them that we can play for them on their big day. The last wedding we did, we played in church and the Bride down the isle to Fields of Gold, originally by Sting and up the isle to Somewhere Over The Rainbow and I played it on my ukulele! It was a truly magical moment…

6) Your modelling job: did people just approach you (like I did) and asked whether you would model their product, be it clothes, hairstyle or other items?

I was first approached by Lisa Savage from Just Vintage (a vintage shop which is in the Ribble Valley) about 3 years ago – all I did was try on a dress in her shop and she just said “you look like my other model in that” and I’ve modelled for her website ever since! That’s the only modelling work I’ve ever had, but it is a great experience, and I love doing it. It’s like playing at dress up when you where little, it still gives me the same thrill. Plus, I really do appreciate everything I have to wear – yours Laura, being the most incredible thing I have ever worn! [Also see this great picture of Hannah modelling the wrap in the preceding blog post on Miracle Design – and visit Vogue Knitting‘s Facebook of Saturday 26 January 2013, posting a link to this post.]

 7) Do you actively pursue your modelling career as well and what are your plans?
No, I don’t to be honest, I just love being asked to model – it’s not the job people think it is, it takes confidence and it has done me a world of good. 
8) You are so perfectly natural, at ease and in harmony with what you do – what do you think is your secret?
You are too kind Laura! My motto is smile, enjoy every day and do all things in moderation.

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Entangled Structures of a Different Kind…

Scorpion SoupScorpion Soup by Tahir Shah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starting my blog this year is a bit different from the years before – the topic is not textiles but certainly no less interesting, enjoyable and rewarding: Literature. Books and Textiles – two fascinating ways to enrich our days! The book I just read – Scorpion Soup – is a fairy tale. Many English review are found on Goodreads and Amazon – so here for my German readers is a German review, to whet you appetite for the forthcoming German copy. A link to the English E-Book Version on Amazon is at the end of this blog post. But yes, there is a textile teaser, could not do without it – look at the elegant opera glove below in this post, such masterful and elegant beadwork, and those beautiful colors!

Märchenerzähler – gibt es das noch? Sie sind rar geworden, und vielleicht lassen sich die Menschen nicht mehr ganz so leicht verzaubern, oft übersättigt mit Events und Terminen, mit GeTwitter und dem Strom der SMS- und Facebook-Nachrichten…

Und doch! Es gibt noch Erzähler von Märchen, die es vermögen, uns tausend Nächte und noch eine mit wundersamen Gedanken und Vorstellungen füllen können und uns zum Zuhören oder Mitlesen verlocken. Wie ein blanker Kieselstein, der in einen spiegelglatten See fällt und dort weite Wellen verbreitet und immer größere Kreise zieht, märchenhaft in Flüsse wandert und weiter zum Meer, so sind diese Märchen über Jahrhunderte lebendig geblieben. Wertvoll waren Märchen und Geschichten immer schon, sie wurden erzählt und weitererzählt und so bewahrt vor dem Vergessen, lange ehe das Schreiben weit verbreitet war.

Haben wir dann also heute noch Freude am Fabulieren? Am Versinken in Märchen, am Verfolgen von traumhaften Geschichten? Früher bewahrten Geschichtenerzähler mündlich Überliefertes, das seinen Ursprung in wahren Begebenheiten findet, sie trugen Legenden und Moralgeschichten vor. Märchenerzähler hingehen bedienten die Elemente der Fantasie, des Zaubers und des Fabelhaften. Magisch wurde man in den Strudel der Erzählung gezogen, eine Begebenheit versteckte sich in der anderen, Wege und Seitenwege taten sich auf und führten auf verschlungenen Pfaden zu einem unvorhersehbaren Ende – oder einem neuen Anfang?

Exquisite and elegant beaded glove 

“Scorpion Soup“ von Tahir Shah ist ein Märchenbuch in bester Erzähltradition, das alle Erwartungen erfüllt. Bei Tahir Shah ist das opulente Fabulieren der Ausdruck seiner Persönlichkeit und seiner Familientradition, er lebt in seinen Erzählungen und Büchern und lässt uns durch seine meisterhafte Erzählkunst mühelos in seine Fantasiewelt folgen. Man möchte meinen, dass er zum Erzählen geboren sei…

Wie soll man dieses vielteilige Märchen in seiner Mannigfaltigkeit in wenigen Worten bewerten? Fast scheut man sich davor, die Kapitelinhalte schnöde in ein paar Sätze zusammenzufassen, wie bei einem Sachbuch oder einem Reiseführer, einem Buch aus der realen Welt.

“Scorpion Soup“, das sind achtzehn kunstvoll ineinandergeschachtelte märchenhafte Begebenheiten, spannungsreich geschrieben, brillant und fantasievoll erzählt, wird man doch fast unmerklich von Kapitel zu Kapitel geführt. Jedes der Kapitel schlägt den erwartungsvollen Leser erneut in den Bann und verleitet ihn zum Weiterlesen, man wird zum staunenden Kind, erlebt aufs Neue die Freude am Zu-Hören von geschriebenen Worten, und wie in vielen Märchen bleiben in Tahir Shahs Buch Freiräume für eigene Ideen und ausufernde Fantasien, für endlose Spekulationen über den Ausgang der Erzählung oder über das weitere Schicksal der beschriebenen Personen. Ein Buch ganz zweifelsohne für Kinder und für Erwachsene, ein Buch zum Abschalten und Träumen, zum Vergessen der Alltagsrealitäten, oder einfach zum Freuen.

Oak Trees in Winter – Time for Fairy Tales

The beaded glove picture is a pin from Pinterest from Daria Nassiboulina.
For a translation of this post click on the button “Translate” at the right side.
Another book I recommend in this context is “101 Nacht” – Arabian Tales translated for the first time by multi-talented Claudia Ott.The handwritten tales are kept in the Aga Khan Museum. To my knowledge it has not yet been translated into English to date.

View all my reviews