Knitting on a plane

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A year ago Younger Soknitsome Daughter spent 6 months commuting from Cologne to Frankfurt Airport for an internship. There’s a high-speed train so the journey takes 50 minutes station-to-station. When I told my best knitting buddy about the commute her comment mirrored my first thought – Think of all that knitting time! (said with pronounced longing!).

This week I am spending the best part of a day in aeroplanes. I’m really happy about this as I get to see Mr Soknitsome after 7 weeks and 3 days. And I have 2 flights of ten hours in which I can eat, catch up on films, read and knit to my heart’s content.

So my Kindle is full and I’ve already figured out what projects I’ll be working on en route: socks! Why? Because

  1. They are easy to get through airport security if you use bamboo DPNs.
  2. They are easy to carry around anyway, and I will be out and about by myself during the week.
  3. I have to get 2 pairs finished for presents before the end of October so I may as well get started on them now.

Mr Soknitsome will be busy at work and a little part of me wonders whether I might actually have more time to knit than wool so I’m considering whether I should not just squeeze in the beginnings of a cardigan too…I wouldn’t like to be sitting there with nothing to do ;-)

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

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I recently visited my parents in Edinburgh. Apart from seeing family, lovely outings and a visit to Be Inspired Fibres, a super local yarn shop, Mum and I also headed out to the Scottish Parliament to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Strictly speaking this is not a tapestry as the whole work is a series of embroidered and not woven pictures – just like the Bayeux Tapestry. It is annotated variously in English, Gaelic, Latin and Scots.

Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith came up with the idea of stitching the entire story of Scotland from pre-history to modern times. He teamed up with historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy to set about creating the world’s longest tapestry. The aim was to create a series of over one hundred and fifty panels that told the key stories in 12,000 years of Scottish history. Each panel focuses on a specific historical chapter, and interwoven through each are stories of that time. These stories add new layers and reflect not only shared history, but tell individual stories of place and family. It is one of the biggest community arts projects ever to have taken place in Scotland.

Some facts:
There are 160 panels
created by 65,000 hours of stitching.
It uses over 300 miles of wool (enough to stretch the entire length of Scotland).
At 143 metres (469 ft) long, it is the world’s longest tapestry.
More than 1000 stitchers took part.

A college friend of my mother’s stitched one of the panels:

Herring Girls

Herring Girls

I particularly liked the depictions of knitters:

Shetland Knitters

Shetland Knitters

Fair Isle Knitters

Fair Isle Knitters

If you look at this close-up, the embroidery looks almost like knitting!

Fair Isle Knitters

Fair Isle Knitters

I was very impressed with the high standard of needlework. Occasionally, there were less intricately-embroidered panels but these reflected the artist Andrew Crummy’s designs rather than the needlewomen’s and needlemen’s (yes there were a few) work.  Images of the original artwork panels can be viewed on the tapestry’s website along with the names of every single stitcher.

Knitting on trains

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This idea is blatantly copied from Mollie and Claire but then imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I’m very grateful for the inspiration!

FRIDAY 8:55 am. Cologne to Mannheim. Working on the ribbing for sock 1.Trains-1

11:40 am. Mannheim to Munich. Toe for sock 2 is done. Pattern starts.Trains-2

14:25 am. Arriving in Munich. The foot of sock 2 is progressing nicely.Trains-3

Saturday and Sunday were spent with older daughter and boyfriend. There was a bit of knitting and a visit to a local yarn shop squeezed in to the rest of the fun!

MONDAY 9:50 am. Munich to Frankfurt. Just starting on the heel of  sock 2.Trains-4

For the first time ever there’s another knitter on the train and she’s sitting next to me AND she’s knitting socks! Serendipity.

Trains-6

12:55. Frankfurt. Sweet Tomato Heel finished. Leave friendly knitter on train and transfer for Cologne.

Trains-5

Cologne. Home with a good part of the ankle completed.

Trains-7

Twice in one week!

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I have been knitting. Honestly, I have!

But unusually for me I’m posting a no-knitting post for the second time in a week. I could wait. But the clock is ticking and this is something I feel strongly about: literacy.

I’m involved with a local project under the auspices of the FAWCO* Education Task Force. One of FAWCO’s main aims is to improve the lives of women and children. While browsing the internet, looking for fund-raising ideas with books, I came across World Education’s #Pages4Progress.  #Pages4Progress is World Education’s campaign to raise funds to increase literacy and help meet one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals: #2 – Achieve Universal Primary Education. The goal is to log 2,000,015 pages by September 8th. The original goal of 20,015 pages logged were sponsored at a dollar a page!

P4P2

This project appealed to me immediately. It’s so easy to ‘do your bit’. I knew I’d be able to encourage other members of the AIWCC (American International Women’s Club of Cologne), one of the organisations under FAWCO, to log their reading progress.

So now I’m being cheeky and asking all you crafters who like to read, to log the pages you read with #Pages4Progress.  It’s a simple action that can make such a difference! Thank you!

*Founded in 1931, FAWCO (the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas) is an international network of independent volunteer clubs and associations. There are 64 member clubs in 33 countries worldwide, with a total membership of almost 12,000. FAWCO serves as a resource and channel of information among its members, promotes the rights of U.S. citizens overseas; is active as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with special consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council; and contributes to the global community through its Task Forces and The FAWCO Foundation, which provides development grants and education awards. FAWCO and The FAWCO Foundation also collaborate on emergency funding for disaster relief. (Information taken from the FAWCO website)

 

An Unlikely Pairing – Food Not Yarn

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I need to eat or I’d never have the energy to knit (I get ‘wobbly legs’ if I go too long without food) so here’s a non-knitting post about food thanks to today’s The Daily Post suggestion: Bacon and chocolate, caramel and cheddar… Is there an unorthodox food pairing you really enjoy? Share with us the weirdest combo you’re willing to admit that you like — and how you discovered it.

I’ve always enjoyed my food. My parents would tell you that I eat everything but really it’s about 99% of things. Having spent several years in South-East Asia, there are a few things I-wil-not-eat (again) like eggs that resemble unborn chickens, chicken feet and funny fish that look like worms. I grew up in the UK and from term to term we’d alternate between having school dinners and taking packed lunches. My mother would enhance the “I eat everything”, with “even school dinners”. That’s saying something! But back in the seventies school meals were proper “dinners”: meat and two veg and no funny plasticky reconstituted-something pretending to be meat. And there were puddings! Traditional, warm and hearty, stomach-filling desserts. I was always ravenous by lunchtime (I still need feeding at frequent intervals, particularly when I’m doing a lot of “brain-work”) so this was perfect.

Of course, not all my friends ate school dinners and a roast every Wednesday followed by shepherd’s pie every Thursday palls after a while, so there were phases when packed lunches were favoured. During the final year or two of school, my sister and I would often spend the early part of our Saturday afternoons filling a week’s worth of small rolls – to be frozen and taken out day-by-day. We were old enough to be allowed to just get on with this ourselves and our sandwich selections sometimes reflected a lack of supervision. Although I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, sandwiches should be savoury and my favourites had a bit of a bite to them: peanut butter and sweet silverskin onions or Danish blue cheese with said onions (small pickled onions). Funnily enough, I never had to share! Now and again, I feel a bout of nostalgia and jars of small pickled onions and peanut butter and packages of blue cheese fall into my shopping basket. Funnily enough,  I still never have to share!

Blog hopping – sharing the creative process

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Jenna recently wrote about the creative process over at Hardknitlife. This was part of a blog hop and I’m very flattered to be one of her recommendations.

1. What am I working on?

Socks (handy travel project)

Wolken

A cardigan (more complicated)

same

And a couple of Things That Can’t Be Disclosed Right Now.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It doesn’t. Whenever I’m drawn to a new project I check out the projects on Ravelry to learn and be inspired by their experience. Sometimes imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. My Ravello has non-identical sleeves because I was so taken with a jumper I saw.

Ravello-back

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I create because I like not looking like everybody else. I create because sitting idly is a waste of precious time when there are so many beautiful things out there waiting to be made! How often do you hear people say “I don’t know how you have the time for that!” yet they blithely sit in the doctor’s/dentist’s waiting room twiddling their thumbs and getting impatient because appointments are running late. I write because I felt that whilst bombarding my Facebook friends with the pretties is alright now and again, most of them are not the slightest bit interested in my struggles to match tension or find the perfect button!

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Now that I’ve been blogging for a while I do try to take some photos mid-way through a project. I am more aware of articulating any challenges I’ve faced and solutions I’ve found. I do have in mind that my finished projects should be “blog-worthy” and try to come up with interesting aspects to share with readers. On the other hand, I also feel that it is okay to occasionally stray away from my main focus and share a post that is more personal or about something that has very little or even absolutely nothing to do with knitting.

I appreciate that this hop has already brought new readers to my blog and would like to nominate the following less well-known blogs I read to answer the same questions:

Hipster Spice

On The Needles

themanyknitsofnadine

Be Inspired

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I was in Edinburgh visiting my parents last week. They live a short walk away from Be Inspired Fibres. Last year I bought a skein of Fyberspates Vivacious 4-ply there and made an Ishbel. I shared it here where I explained exactly why I had avoided Ishbel up to then and how Mei explained just why this pattern would work well (and she was right!) I really hoped there would be some more of the yarn in blue or green to make another Ishbel.

I turned up at Be Inspired Fibres and Mei remembered that I live in Cologne. (She may have been helped by the fact that she’s sweet enough to read this blog!) We chatted while she showed me yarn I might like. While Mei served other customers I browsed through all her lovely yarn. She has an online shop but it is lovely to see and touch the yarn for real.

Then the parcel delivery man arrived with a box full of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light. Mei actually opened it up while I was there and started pulling out skein after skein of beautiful yarn. The colours are fantastic. I can see now why people are so keen on this yarn. I faced a bit of a dilemma. I would have liked to have taken most of the box home with me. However, I whittled it down to two colours.

Norway Spruce

Norway Spruce

Well Water

Well Water

They lay on the table side-by-side and we were both immediately struck by how good they looked together! Mei disappeared downstairs to her classroom to bring up a two-colour shawl she’s working on: Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur because I couldn’t picture it just from the name.

It’s obvious what comes next isn’t it? Yes, I bought both!

If you’re in Edinburgh, and it’s a city well-worth a visit, call in to Be Inspired Fibres. You can find shop details on Ravelry, on Facebook and Mei’s online shop is here. You can also follow Mei’s Be Inspired Fibres blog here on WordPress.

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT BUT A PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION.

FO Friday – another fling

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Sometimes you can’t get enough of a good thing. This little bag was made for Elder Daughter’s birthday. She lives in Munich (575 km away from Cologne) so I was pleased to have something light to add to a parcel.

Summer fling ED

It’s a Summer Fling. The pattern is by espace tricot and you can find it on espace tricot’s wonderful website here and on Ravelry here.

Marvellous Monday

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Mr Soknitsome left a fortnight ago yesterday and it no longer feels like just-another-business-trip but more like this-is-the-new-reality-for-the-next-few-weeks.

Fortunately, yesterday was one of those Mondays that are especially nice. Stitch ‘n’ Bitch met in the morning. Schools have broken up for the summer and many people are away so it was a fairly small group but we did welcome a new member to our group. The highlight of the morning was a longstanding member who only ever knits at Stitch ‘n’ Bitch finally finishing her Baktus-style scarf, earning her a round of applause!

I started a sample square/tension swatch for a little cardigan I want to make. Nice and easy knitting which leaves my brain free for all the lovely chat! I also made the most of having other knitters around to get measured. I needed the measurement across my back from shoulder-blade to shoulder-blade. Impossible to do by yourself but necessary to determine which size to knit because of the top-down contiguous construction of Ankestrick’s Same Same but different cardigan. This cardigan is knitted in 4-ply/fingering wool but at a looser gauge than when knitting socks.

swatch

After spending the morning with some of my favourite people, which in itself makes the day marvellous, I then spent the evening out with more lovely friends. There’s a part of Cologne just to the south of me where a disproportionally high number of AIWCC members live. Many get together once a month for dinner. Last night we sat outdoors overlooking the Rhine. Marvellous.

cologne

WIP Wednesday – getting back on track

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Wolken

At the beginning of the year I decided to join in with a very relaxed knitalong: KnittingSarah‘s KAL, “Socks with Sarah, a KAL for 2014“. Knit a bit of a sock every day for a year. Sounds easy? Yes. I could work on other projects at the same time so I always had something simple for chatty social knitting as well as a more challenging project on my needles.

Socks make wonderful projects when you’re traveling. Whether you’re crossing oceans by plane, the country by train or just the city by bus, knitting socks works well in a small space.

Because they are such portable projects I keep the sock and the wool in a little pouch ready to pack into other bags for travel. So of course at home this sock is not waving at me, nor jumping around begging to be knitted. It’s sitting there quietly waiting to go on a journey. Out of sight, out of mind? Kind of. We’re halfway through the year already and I’m determined to finish it as I began: knitting a bit of a sock every day.

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