A few weeks ago I started knitting a cotton top, and simultaneously started to have pain and numb feelings in my hands and fingers – something that probably a lot of knitters, crocheters and other crafters can relate to. Maybe my hands got tired after a long season of intense knitting, maybe the texture of the cotton yarn challenged my hands in new ways… Anyway, the pain is gone now, but it left me thinking and reflecting on how I, as a knitter, can take better care of my most important tools – my hands.
I think it all starts with acknowledging the importance of my hands as my main instruments, and at the same time, accepting that they have their limitations, as do body and mind in general. I learned through many mistakes when I need to stop making (when I am getting too angry at the fabric for example…). And now I need to learn how to see the limits of power of my hands (and arms, shoulders, back…) to make sure they will enable me to make things in the future.
The most important thing for me is to change projects every now and then. From bamboo needles to metal ones, big yarn to thin yarn, from knitting to crochet to embroidery or sewing. Or even taking a break from fiber stuff sometimes and make a drawing or take photos. This gives my hands the needed change of movements to prevent them from hurting. Other things include giving myself a hand massage and using a nice hand cream.
From my days doing actual sports I still remember my favorite stretching exercises for the hands, and I took pictures to share with fellow crafters. Take a moment before or after a knitting session and stretch:
I recently rediscovered embroidery after having forgotten about it for some time. A few years ago, when I first discovered Jenny Hart’s work at Sublime Stitching, I experimented a bit with embroidery, but I never really knew what to make out of it. The random embroidered fabric pieces went in a box and got forgotten over time.
In the last weeks I started noticing embroidery again, thanks to embroidery artists Tessa Perlow and Sofia Salazar, whose modern and artistic designs tempted me so much, that I bought my own Kantan embroidery needle to try out a new (and faster) embroidery method. I like the chain stitch it produces, but I still have to figure out how to best use the needle. A embroidery hoop that can be fixed to a table might be helpful, as you actually need both hands to work.
This weekend I got into a serious patchwork frenzy. I recently organized my fabric stash and leftovers, and this made me want to play with all these tiny pieces that are useless on their own, but that I couldn’t bare to throw away. I started out with some little patchwork pieces that later became little drawstring bags, and then went on to make a bigger piece for a pillow case. I made use of even the tiniest piece of fabric! I also used up some leftover sleeves from vintage shirts, and it is incredible how much fabric comes out of a shirt sleeve when you cut it open! Cutting and arranging the pieces, sewing everything together was a lot of fun and actually felt more like a creative practice than anything else I have made in the last months. Maybe that’s why I can’t stop!
While doing that I binge-listened to all the Have Company Podcasts, instead of watching/listening to random TV-shows as I usually do. In the podcast episodes Marlee of Have Company interviews resident artists and friends about their art, practices, how it is to be a small business owner and other things. It’s great! At the end she always asks people what they are excited about and I just wanted to write what I am excited about at the moment: A few days ago I received a little package from Little Red Tarot, including the Herbal Homestead Journal, a queer Tarot book called She Is Sitting in the Night and the beautiful Moon Angel Cards by Rebekah Erev. I am so excited about all these little things! The Herbal Homestead Journal includes simple and accessible ways of working with plants for every month and I am already looking forward of going back to this book over the course of this year.
The first card that I drew from the Moon Angel Cards is Nr. 5 Go!
I am also excited about this Coldcream from Weleda that I bought because I have these red dry spots in my face from the cold and it smells so good (and helps)!
I also made two patchwork t-shirts in my Patchwork Weekend, and reused some shirt sleeves, random leftovers from other projects and small pieces of fabric from my collection. I was inspired by this woven Geodesic Top and these Wabi Sabi tees, and again, just piecing the squares together was so satisfying. I cut 30×30 cm squares from the fabric, pieced it together and then cut out the neckline, easy! I will probably make more for summer (that will come at some point… we just have to stay optimistic).
I started making this improvised cropped sweater last April, and it was supposed to be done for last summer… I stopped at some point when I realized I wouldn’t finish it in time for summer, and there it sat in my unfinished projects box until I finished it last week! Also, I have to admit that even though I really like the linen/cotton mix, I didn’t really enjoy knitting with it as it is a bit hard on the needles and to the touch.
I initially wanted to a cabled pattern, but in the end I decided to stick to plain stockinette, as it brings out the lovely texture of the yarn beautifully. I am wearing it on the photo with a quickly refashioned linen shirt that I picked up at my parents on Christmas. It has these great side pockets but had huge sleeves that I just cut off. Bam, new shirt! Maybe this will be my next favorite summer outfit!
The Watson Bra is something that I have been wanting to make for maybe one year now, I started trying out sizes last year and I was pretty frustrated because I couldn’t figure out the right size. I did some mistakes measuring, then I figured out a size that I thought was right and made it up in „real bra fabric“. It didn’t fit at all and it was a super frustrating experience! I realized that I normally make more loose fitting garments, and bra making really pushed me out of my sewing comfort zone, especially because I have been collecting bra making supplies in Vienna and Paris, because I found it hard to find lingerie fabric in Berlin, so I was constantly worried about wasting my precious materials.
Also, every single Watson Bra that people post on their blogs and Instagram looks perfect and amazing (even though some people report issues with finding the right size also…), that I really got a bit anxious to make mine. So after my big failure – the cups were just way too big – I decided to jump back on the horse a day later and make another one. With just the most simple elastic that I have and in my standard bra size! And it fits! Sometimes going the easy way takes time apparently… I will go up one cup size for the next one, as I could have just a liiittle bit more coverage there, and I think I will pull the elastic a bit under the arms to avoid side-boob-gaping (don’t know my lingerie sewing terminology…).The pattern instructions are clear and the construction simple enough for a first try at lingerie making. All in all, I think this might become a big success for my bra drawer this summer!
As soon as I discovered the No Frills Sweater on Instagram, I knew I had to try this pattern designed by Mette Wendeboe Okkels of PetiteKnit. It’s the perfect pattern for a first top-down experience and some easy and straightforward knitting. After spending time on complicated and elaborate patterns at the end of last year I really wanted something simple to enjoy. The pattern gives much room to experiment in colors and I have already several other color combinations in my mind.
I held a light beige brushed alpaca silk and brown alpaca yarn together and I really like the result, even though I will chose more contrasting yarns for the next versions. I love the oversized shape with the fitted ribbing, perfect! It’s freezing right now here in Berlin, so this is the perfect sweater for now.
I have been wearing this sweater for one week straight and I can’t make myself take it off! I think this is the most cozy sweater I ever made…
Some weeks ago I stumbled upon this beautiful charcoal grey boiled wool fabric on sale in the fabric department of my local department store, I bought some and started a truly spontaneous little project. It rarely happens that I buy the fabric and spontaneously sew up a garment in an afternoon, but when time and opportunity come together it’s such a nice feeling! No planning, no overthinking.
I drafted the pattern for this kimono-sleeved cropped Jacket last year and haven’t come around to test it before. The boiled wool gives the perfect opportunity for a quick project as the edges don’t need finishing or lining. I used some vintage buttons that I had in my collection – and done!
Last weekend I was so lucky as to spend a few days in Paris with my girlfriend and besides enjoying the time together and stuffing us with viennois chocolat and brioche I got the chance to dive in the magical world of Paris fabric shops and find some new treasures and supplies.
The first stop was La Bien Aimée, a tiny wool shop that sells hand-dyed yarn and an exquisite choice of magazines. I couldn’t resist buying the Stitching Up Paris guidebook of sewing and knitting stores in Paris, it’s a really great and updated overview and very tempting.
I got a flashy blue Field Bag at La Bien Aimée! I currently hosts my almost finished No Frills Sweater. I found some beautiful leather pieces at Sacrés Coupons, some lingerie elastic at Tissus Reine and fabric at Dreyfuss. I can’t wait to sew some mini pouches and finally make a Watson Bra. The shops are all in Montmartre, it’s really nice! You can’t miss anything…
And last but not least… The feminist bookshop! I went to the queer feminist bookshop ChickLit in Vienna and since then I am constantly on the hunt for more of these amazing places. Berlin doesn’t have a feminist or queer bookshop (shocking! I know! I should open one…), so every time I am in another city I try to find one. Violette and Co is a great little shop with an exhaustive french-international selection of books (no English books sadly…) on all things feminism. I got a great book on lesbian separatist communes in the US (so hard to find books on that in Germany!), two issues of revue WellWellWell, an excellent and entirely volunteer-run lesbian magazine and two issues of the Barbi(e)turix fanzine. On Saturday evening we went to the Wet For Me (organized by the Barbi(e)turix team), and that was hands-down the best lesbian party I have ever been to. What a successful weekend!
I know I am a litte bit late for New Years resolutions… But still! I like resolutions, the idea of a fresh start and setting intentions for the time to come. It’s also a nice record of ideas to come back to, reflect on what I actually accomplished and what I have forgotten about.
This year I tried to make as little resolutions as possible, because I have one very big and urgent project that I have been carrying around for a long time now… My master thesis. As much as I want to do all the things, I have to channel my creative energy into this work in the first few months of this year (hopefully the first quarter!). I have been struggling a bit with motivation over the last time, so I hope to resolve this by working steadily on the thesis and getting things done.
This is not the only resolution for 2017 of course! There have to be nice things as well, and one of these is to learn more about Tarot. I have enjoyed doing readings for myself or with others and reading about it, but this year I want to go deeper. I signed up for The Alternative Tarot Course by Beth Maiden of The Little Red Tarot and I am excited to start it as soon as I have some more time. Beth posted a really nice little open thread where people post their resolutions in the comments and then draw a Tarot card for someone else. Such a nice idea! This inspired me to sign up for the class and use my cards more.
My last and very diffuse and open resolution is to dig deeper into my creativity, learn new crafts, challenge myself creatively, designing more things myself and sticking to my creative practice. I want to do more research in the new craft books I got and hopefully take a class or two! Easy! Now i just have to find the time for all this… But the thing about New Years resolutions is to be optimistic and positive, right?!
The year is over, it’s the time to look back but also forward, to pause and to think a bit. 2016 has been a crazy year, being in Budapest, arriving back in Berlin, starting my first „real“ job, searching for a flat, not finding one but another room in a shared flat instead, unraveling a home and arriving in a new one, losing friends over it but also meeting new ones. I have been to great places, Vienna, Ile d’Oleron, Estonia, hiking in the Harz mountains… I made many things that I also wrote about here! I started thinking about this blog about this time a year ago and I am quite proud that I kept doing it, more or less regularly. I am happy to have a little record of what I have been making. I would have never really thought anyone besides my girlfriend and maybe some close friends would read this and be interested! And then actually more than 1000 people read my post about the DIY period panties so far. 1000! That’s a lot!
There is a lot to write about 2016, and many people will do it better than me. I just want to close with some photos of one of my favorite moments of this past year. It included making t-shirts and banners with friends, dyke march, sunny weather, being creative together, community and amazing women.