Monday, April 20, 2020


Except for a what in hindsight looks like a relatively short time of a few years (due to tendonitis) I have been knitting all my life. I can’t quite remember whether I was six or seven years old when my grandmother taught me during summer vacation that we used to spend in their town on the lake, but it is definitely going on fifty years. I have knitted Icelandic sweaters, Norwegian patterns, Fair Isle style before I knew that there is a special Fair Isle style, one-piece sweaters, sweaters with separate sleeves, you name it. And I have always made up own designs from an idea started by a yarn I bought, a sweater or jacket I saw. See, think, swatch, measure person to wear, calculate, knit. That’s the normal process. And it works. For me.

But I have a very hard time knitting from a pattern. Especially with the patterns that are the thing right now, where a lot of abbreviations are set in a row and you get eye sore from reading the several lines long instruction for a single row of knitting. Come on, I want to knit, not to destroy my eye-sight! (That’s one reason why I could not have become a lawyer, all those paragraphs and numbers when writing a text…)

Then, when I finished my handspun brioche jacket during our visit to the isle of Helgoland my friend Regine decided she wanted to use that kind of yarn for a pattern for which she had been searching the perfect yarn. I still had almost enough yarn left and she started on her pattern, a top-down jacket with an integrated shawl. Now that is the one thing I hadn’t knit and still wanted to learn – a top-down something. (Although I do not feel a need to knit a sock from the toes to the top, because grandma’s way of knitting socks works fine for me and any kind of foot I would knit a sock for, so I concentrate on the one way of doing it, and the one kind of heel for that. It’s a tested and tried concept and all I need is an outline of the foot or a size.) 
So after Regine had finished her jacket and just recently sent me the picture of conclusion I decided now, in lockdown, one of the projects that get started – and I begin a new textile project almost every day because of my shortened attention span – would be that jacket. From a handspun three-ply yarn I had finished last year and which was waiting for a perfect wearable to be turned into. So I turned to Regine’s pattern. And Thank God that she has been patiently coaching me, it has been a rough ride from the very beginning. Because I just don’t get it from the way a pattern is written. By now I have survived the beginning part of the shawl, two sides, taking up the stitches from one side, and, that was the worst part, dividing those stitches up into back, shawl sides, and places to start increasing for the front parts. 

Perhaps I am too stupid to knit from a pattern. Or my brain is not set up for this. In any case I was close to throwing it all against the wall a couple of times, and I have – as always – begun to take a few liberties of my own. But I want this jacket enough to keep going. Probably there will be other instances where the pattern will drive me crazy, but by now I think I will be confident enough to just resort to my own capacities and divert from illegible knitting lingo. Or ask Regine, her brain is wired differently from mine, she can deal with this stuff.

Mind, this is only one of five major knitting projects lying around, plus a pair of socks I carry back and forth to work to take out during break. Plus several layers of quilting projects on my design wall, a very untidy studio, and spinning. Certainly enough stuff for my short-attentioned mind to flutter around amongst and still remain busy enough during these times.

One wonderful thing is that Kathy and I have given a little twist to our frequent mail correspondence,  we are writing ‘with No C’. No mentioning of the virus or the pandemic or ranting about politicians’ decisions, which both of us can be very adamant about. Of course, all our daily structure is shaped by the big C, but it is so good to talk about tulips, baking soul food, 

This batch of yeast dough for cinnamon rolls uses real yeast
again. The self-made yeast didn't seem to work that well in
another cake I tried day before Easter. So I have decided
to turn that into a sour dough starter and stick to store bought yeast
with the added special effect that if there is no yeast to be
bought there is not yeast dough to be made.

and the things we have done during the day, without actually naming that backdrop scenario. That makes for a very good part of the day, reading about each other’s lives. I get worried when she misses a day, and I make sure if I missed mine before going to sleep (usually it is one of the last things I do in bed, write my message to Kathy!) that I get it in right after I wake up. To me it is a sign that the real life goes on somehow. That friendship persists. The weird thing for me is that my social life hasn’t really changed all that much. I don’t really have many friends here in town – except for my refugee friends – so I don’t have many locals whom I miss seeing. All my friends are scattered throughout the world. But I would have had a canoeing party on my upcoming birthday and three friends would have come from far away to join the crew of my family and two refugee friends. That won’t be possible. I know, other people had to cancel their wedding, or can’t attend a funeral service because of restrictions. Still – I don’t party or celebrate frequently, and when I planned this, it was a special thing for me to be so outgoing. Now we will be in lockdown still, no friends from far away places, and even  highly unlikely that the family by itself can go and do something. Although I am going to check that one out.

And one more good thing: my new computer arrived. And has been set up, at least to begin working with. Life goes on.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Purple Rain.

Or Acid Rain. A good downpour of it, that is what I am wishing for these days. And then a good four weeks of quiet, steady spring rain. The first two to keep people inside. And the drizzle for the soil, the garden. Everything is so dry, it is unbelievable. And people are out and about, it is unbelievable. The past couple of weeks were still pretty cool and uninviting, but now the temperatures are rising and the weather forecast is predicting temperatures up to the 20s (centigrade), so it will be much more likely that people won’t stay put. And I keep hearing stories 'my sister went to see her boyfriend, and he had been to his grandpa's and two days later he had symptoms and is in hospital now, what should I do?' And I wonder...But I am also getting so sick and tired of this topic that I don’t want to go into it.
I know I am privileged – I can go to work, and I have a garden where I can look forward to rhubarb

promise of rhubarb pie - if I can get flour...

and a terrace where we can sit outside in this spring weather. And we live out in the country. I can go walking without meeting anybody. And I do, because I need to do something to stay sane.

I played with my new toy some more, carding a piece of ‘Hikers’ Wool’ which I had brought back from New Zealand in 2015, and which I had been meaning to spin since. However, it was not enough to knit a pair of socks, and I kept thinking I would order some more, but now I have simply mixed it with a bit of silk and other merino fiber and will eventually make me some bed socks. Yes, I am getting to be an old woman, but I have been going to sleep with handmade socks for many many years now and this pair will be a special pair indeed.

Some yellow fibers as well. 

If it were for the amount of spinning material, I could stay in lockdown until Christmas. That is not the problem.

I am taking a small lull in the yellow scraps project, but it has progressed a little bit. 

Although this picture doesn't really show the progress...

I had other ideas as well, have tested various aspects of them and can’t make up my mind. 

I try to do some cleaning up of my studio and have retrieved a linen blouse from one box which I used to wear a lot and can’t remember why it ended up in that box, because except for a little spot or two it is in a wonderful state. So I have given it a second introduction into my wardrobe. 

I have a small attention span only these days. I am busy. I am not really getting anything done on a creative level.
But I made yeast – another toilet-paper kind of commodity all of a sudden

(I mean, is everybody suddenly starting to
bake with yeast dough?)

– and my usual Quark ( a kind of curd cheese), 

I baked a loaf of bread (which did not find my son’s approval and I made bird feed. Which at least finds the birds' approval.
After this stage the stuff was rolled into little balls, and they do like them!
So yes, I do get things done. But not those that need to done…

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

fake news

Yesterday I wrote that the virologist had stopped his podcast. Probably I was just too much annoyed about sewing masks to check this information which came from my husband (who is usually a pretty good source for news). But in the evening I saw and listened to another episode, and no metioning of the end. He did talk about how it felt for him to be the target of violent digital attacks, though, as, e.g. accusations regarding the suicide. So my exasperation at the state of our society and mode of - especiall digital - interaction remains the same. So I apologize for the fake news. The podcast is in German and can be found on ARD audiothek, corona information, in case you are interested.
My mood has slightly improved, too, as I will be able to to work in 50 minutes. What a luxury! To be allowed to leave the house because one is 'important'. I wonder, though, what our district government is thinking when they are calling for volunteers to start helping with nursing. A one-day-training is their preparation. At my stage of training I am not yet allowed to go near a respiratory protective devices and then this? It just seems that there is only little brain involved in the preparation for the crisis that's still suppoedly to come.
So I knit 
and I had an idea with circles and fine lines that I started

and my son and I have put together a few more Lego pieces to offer on eBay

and I try to declutter my sewing room which seems an endless task because every time I sort through something or put it on the 'to go' pile the chaos just increases. Well, it will be dark when I return tonight, perhaps that will be helpful...