A Canadian gal in Stuttgart, Germany, who loves nothing better than crafting by the seat of her pants. See her snip, sew, knit, knot, glue, sculpt, splatter, spin, and of course, talk about herself.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
A thrifting we will go....
Why is it that the most mundane things can become absolutely irresistable if they're old? I always used to think that table linens were just the dullest thing going. After all, the darn things have to be ironed, who wants to do that? Spruce up the table? That's what placemats are for. Of course, even being an avid thrifter, I almost never came across such things in their vintage form in Canada - with lovely folkloric patterns, lace edging or delicate embroidery - I came to Germany where it's the most often found item, having been horded in some cupboard by every woman over 60 for the last 30 years or more. Bed linens are also often likewise enshrined if no longer in use. Particularly among the older generations, things are only thrown out when absolutely necessary. I'm not sure if this is solely for the sake of hanging on to things if needed again, or also because Germans pay for their garbage (Yeah, ask yourself if you'd be dragging those 6 hefty bags to the curb if you were paying per cubic foot).
Tablecloth and Doilies
Anyway, back to my table bits. I decided to pop into the Diakonieladen ('Deaconry store' - basically a church run charity shop) a few days ago to see if they had anything. It's only been open a month or two. I'd gone in a few times before, but only ever bought one thing - a traditional German 'Tracht' dress, which I keep forgetting to take a picture of. It's hilarious. But this time I got really lucky and found some totally cute things for next to nothing.
Like this tablecloth, table runner and doilies. Are they still doilies if they're not lace? I don't like the crocheted kind, but I love these. And it seems like a great use for small bits of fabric. I just might make some more. Would you want doilies for christmas?
Even though crochet doilies do nothing for me, I do actually like crocheted things, even lace, like this pillow case. This is something else I may try making myself. I think in colour it would probably start meandering over to the tacky side, but in white, in the right setting, lovely. The other white pillowcase is for a rectangle pillow, which is odd, because almost all pillows are square here, even the ones you sleep on.
Flowered cans
These cans were sitting inside the biggest can when I found them. I was happy enough to find the one, because I've been a bit purple happy lately, but three! Tin, with plastic lids. There's a wee bit of rust here and there, but it's not too noticeable, and anyway they were only 60 cents for all 3.
Covered wooden clothes hangers
Here's another adorable tablecloth (and I usually don't even like yellow!) that I had to bring home, and my favourite find of the lot, these totally grandma, covered wooden hangers. Aren't they just the kitschiest ever? Just love 'em. Does anyone know what the point of covered them is? I understand those that are padded, so you don't get those wierd little nubbins in the shoulders, but these covers I think are too thin to help much with that.
Well, they're in my closet now, holding up a few tops and my brand new sweater dress! I know, I know, it's terrible of me to buy a dress when I still have 2 half made Sew Retro projects sitting around and I could probably knit the dress myself, but knitting over a metre of stockinette just ain't my idea of a good time, you know? And before I scare you all off because you think I bought one of those horrendous 80s flashbacks, I swear it's really cute. Just to prove it I will put it on and make Bunny take a picture. Which reminds me, I still have to take a picture of the pendant I made, because it turns out I don't have the right size of bead (Hell and damnation!!). If you're wondering what the heck I need the bead for, I had this vision of silver loops in which I would fit lovely red beads. But none of my beads fit and there's no way of changes it without beating the crap out of this poor little silver thing which frankly got enough abuse while I was making it ;) So, as before, owing more pics, I really will do my best to take them soon :)

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posted by tatjana @ 3:01 p.m.   5 comments
Saturday, October 21, 2006
A backlog of craftiness
Ok, I'm a bit behind on crafting and even more behind on picture taking, but rest assured I am working on things! I finally decided to put my sweaters on hold in favour of some quicker knits using my accumulating handspun. Look, here's another skein now....

Lipgloss Yarn

I love how this one turned out, I'm a total sucker for warm tones. I haven't decided whether or not I want to put up some of my yarn for sale on etsy. I if I do, this will be one of the first skeins, even though I love it so much. Maybe even because I do. Somehow, I like it just the way it is. I wouldn't want to make something out of it. But someone else probably does, and every good yarn deserves to be made into something, dontcha think?
Still on the wheel is a single of a space dyed roving in various blues which will soon be a 2-ply reminiscent of the Twilight yarn from this post. But much more exciting, is the super fun rainbow yarn I made especially for fun kiddy knitting:

rainbow yarn

This is already on the needles, on its way to becoming mittens. It's about 180m altogether, so it should be enough for a matching hat too! Can you tell I desperately need kids to knit for? ;) No, not really, but it's fun knitting these nevertheless.

I also finally decided what to do with my Canadian Fall yarn, it's going to be a scarf with leaf pattern. I'll post a pic as soon as I have a bit more of it done. Tomorrow I will try to find some decent lighting to take pictures of fab thrifty finds. I went to our local and fairly new charity shop and totally scored! I found a bunch of adorable doily type things (much more shappy chic than tacky grandma) and a couple other pieces I wasn't expecting. They really must be shown off, because back home I was a champion thrifter, matched only by my mother, the finder of the $5 Prada bag (I shit you not). Alas, here there is little thrifting joy to be found, so when there is some, I must shout it from the hilltops for all to share! Here be bargains! Of pretty things no less!

And if that wasn't enough backlog, tonight I will have to complete the pendant I made in a jewellery workshop today so I can show you all tomorrow. It's a crazy, abstract piece of silver that I cut and filed and soldered (sorta, there was help) and polished all by myself! It was very fun. But it's already getting dark here in Deutschland, so there can be no picture taking til tomorrow, and anyway, the pendant needs a bead for colour and they didn't have the right one at the workshop so I'll have to raid my bead stash. I hope I have something in the right size and colour....wish me luck!

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posted by tatjana @ 6:06 p.m.   5 comments
Thursday, October 19, 2006
999 Things - Depression
I've been wanting to post this for a few days now, but have been putting it off (along with a lot of things) because it's really difficult for me to talk/write about. But I think it's important that I do, for my sake and maybe also so that those of you who visit regularly know where I wander off to sometimes when my blog goes dead for a week. I hope it doesn't come across as wierd that I'm adding it to the list, but it is a list about me, and sadly, this is a pretty big part of my life. Besides, this makes it easier for me to write all this. Little steps :)

51. I have suffered from depression more or less my entire life. I went to a psychiatrist for the first time when I was 5 because I told my parents I wanted to die.

52. My parents were never able to deal with this. As far as I can tell, I got little or no therapy at that time and my parents did their best to ignore the whole thing. When I would shut myself up in my room and cry for hours (which was often) their response was 'What do you have to cry for?'

53. As a teenager, the addition of hormone fluctuations made things worse and I sought help on my own. I got put on anti-depressants and saw a psychologist who would nod off during or sessions. She was not a big help.

54. My high school years are a strange split between the two lives I lead. I did everything I could to be a well-balanced, well behaved student and daughter at home and school during the day, then would take off nights, which were a blur of drugs and drinking.

55. My only real support was my best friend, who I met when I was 15. Having alcoholic parents, she had run away from home and was also often depressed. We did our best to keep each other in check, while providing company on all those nights when we needed to drown ourselves in anything that would make us forget how awful we felt.

56. If we had not had each other, I shudder to think what would have become of us. She was the one who stopped me from cutting myself, I was the one who made her eat. We dragged eachother to school even when we horribly hungover, and told one another that we would get through this and make something of ourselves.

57. After about 3 years of scraping by in school, together we decided to clean ourselves up and strive for a goal: we wanted to go to university. In spite of all our problems, we both loved learning and believed in educating ourselves. In addition, going to university meant I could finally get away from the critical eyes of my parents. We both sought help again for depression, and with some medication, a whole lot of will power and each other, we both got into the schools we wanted. This was a big step for both of us in learning that our problems didn't have to ruin our lives.

58. Being at university really helped give me the confidence and strength to deal with my depression better. It was still a struggle, but I didn't feel like it owned me any more. I had goals to strive for, and, I hoped, would have a career helping people that was worth living for. I wanted to work in agriculture in developing countries. I wanted to help feed people. Having always had difficulty with my self worth, it was easier for me to strive for things for the sake of others. It still is.

59. I was over the moon when I learned I was accepted to do a MSc in Tropical Agriculture here in Germany. All I could think of was all the things I would learn that I could pass on to others who needed help. Unfortunately, after working with a international development research agency as part of my degree, I was no longer sure. I faced not only disorganization, but also exploitation of native workers, while the foreign researchers lived the good life, people who only focused on getting their next grant rather than helping people, and lots of money spent on projects that helped noone. I can't even begin to describe the effect this had on me. I don't know how I managed to complete my degree, this disillusionment left me shattered. I was a mess.

60. I have since managed to crawl out of that hole, but it has not been easy. Being here in Germany, away from my friends back home has added to the strain. Try as I might, I have not been able to connect to anyone here apart from my partner and his family. I am, and will likely always be, a teeming bundle of raw emotions, while most people here rarely show any (at least in this region). I find it not only hard to understand, but it makes me feel doubly vulnerable and all the more difficult to try to socialize and live normally when all I want to do is crawl into a little hole and hide.

Phew. So that's me. A part of me, anyway. I hope it wasn't too depressing. The bright side is, I try to remember that I've achieved a lot in spite of everything and this no longer has the power over my life it once did. I may still be fighting, but I am winning.

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posted by tatjana @ 12:20 p.m.   2 comments
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I feel another craft coming on...
I had so much fun at the stained glass workshop! I think this is totally something I could enjoy doing a lot. A lot of people who work with stained glass (from what I've seen here, at least) tend to cut specific shapes and put glass pictures together using patterns. Things like flowers, butterflies. Since this class is part of a publicly run night school type programme, they were on a bit of a budget, so instead had as use our imaginations and make up stuff with a collection of broken glass, in all colours and shapes. Personally, I found doing it this way a lot more fun. You don't even need a lot of supplies to do this sort of thing either. Just a couple of special pairs of pliers plus a soldering iron, foil and solder for soldering. Oh, and a glass cutter :) I still need to work on making my soldering look a bit neater, but I'm pretty happy with my first and second tries. Plus I was the only one who managed to make 2 things! Granted, a couple people made larger, more involved things, but other were still struggling with fairly simple things. One woman in particular took forever because she was determined to have all pieces fit together perfectly in exactly the order she wanted them. I felt bad that she seemed completely tied down by this expectation, and instead of enjoying being creative, just made herself really frustrated. Let that be a lesson to you all! No craft must be perfect! It's usually no fun, and often better with "faults". Anyway, since you're probably wondering, here's what I made! This is what I made today when I realized I was done and still had loads of time left:

Tealight  Holder

I happened to find a couple of curved pieces that reminded me of a sunset because of their colours, and decided to use them as a tealight holder. I didn't bother making the pieces exactly even, so it's a little wonky looking, but the colours are really pretty. Sorry about the dark picture, I will try to take some outside, which will probably show the colours better. The piece I'm really proud of is the one I made first, and spent more time designing and making, a mirror with sunrays along one side:

Tiffany Mirror

The glass is shades of red, orange and yellow. Again, I'll take another picture outside in daylight asap. The soldering isn't perfect, but I figure that just takes practice. All in all, I'm just totally stoked about the idea that you can make such cool things so easily. The possibilities are just endless! I was just thinking aloud when we got home and said it would be really cool to make a chandelier with colored glass. Not an electric one, but on with wire holders for tealights behind shields of rose coloured glass. It would give off such a cozy glow. Sigh. What on earth am I thinking?? I don't even have a soldering iron yet. I guess first stop tomorrow on the way home from work is the hardware store. LOL!


posted by tatjana @ 9:00 p.m.   4 comments
Dulaan Knitting
Sorry for being a non-blog the last few days...things have been hectic at work with a long article that needed translating ASAP. Spending so many hours with full concentration in front of the screen, I've not been up to blogging once I get home.

But I have started a new project craftwise. I heard about the Dulaan 10,000 or Bust (scroll down) at Mossy Cottage Knits and just had to join. She's trying to rustle up 2,000 knitters who will each knit 5 items to send to Mongolia to keep people warm. I've been meaning to knit some things for Dulaan for a while now, so I figured it was a good time to finally start :) This works out really well with all the spinning I've been doing, since I will end up with a bunch of yarn that's only good for small projects and I can't make use of them myself. I'm not the kinds of person to stock up on hats n mitts n things, I don't wear wool socks, and I don't really have anybody I can gifts such things to either. So I'll send them to Mongolia :) I'm thinking I may also start selling some of my handspuns and then I can donate a portion of what I sell to Dulaan too! There's something about crafting for a cause that's just so motivating, dontcha think? Here's my first Dulaan knit:

striped hat

This is how my self-striping handspun knit up. It worked! I really like how the stripes are irregular, it looks more interesting that way, I think. I will definitely work on this technique a bit more til I get the plying just right, and in the meantime can use my results to knit up more hats like these! It's just a basic k2p2 rib that I improvised, knit on 4.5mm (US7) needles. I could have used a size or 2 larger, but I thought it would be better to make it as tightly knit as possible for warmth.

In other crafty news, this afternoon I will be in a Tiffany glass workshop. It started yesterday afternoon, when I got most of my project done, and we get to continue today! I am a big glass art/craft/everything fan, so I've been really excited about doing this. I find things made out of coloured glass just have such a magical quality. It's especially amazing when people can melt it into different absstract forms...it looks so fluid, as though it could move. In this workshops were are just soldering pieces of glass together, like what is done in Tiffany lamps or stained glass windows, but there's still a lot of room for creativity. I'm making a mirror with sun rays. It's a bit hard to describe, but I will post of pic of the finished project tomorrow!

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posted by tatjana @ 10:48 a.m.   1 comments
Monday, October 02, 2006
I'm a spinning mah-cheen!!
Oh yes. Yes I am. I got lovely new wool to spin with on Friday and I just haven't been able to keep my hands off it. I had been neglecting my poor wheel for a while and as I tried to get back in the spin mode I realized I really didn't have much to work with and decided to treat myself to some new woolies. I bought some space dyed wool for the first time, something I didn't do before because I really wanted to dye my own, but I've since realized what a pain dyeing can be with limited space. I dye yarn from time to time, but I think roving, particularly handpainted, will have to wait til we have a fair bit more counter space and a good setup for drying things flat. Anyway, you're probably thinking I should shut up and show you the yarn already, so here are the fruits of my labor:


I'm so happy with them I named them :) Morning Glory, Twilight and Autumnsong. The first two are the results of the space dyed, which spun up really quickly and just all around too easy to make such pretty yarn! Why on earth I waited so long is beyond me. The third, Autumnsong, is more of my fall nostalgia in my first attempt at striped yarn. I picked out a blend of autumny colours and then spun large sections of each colour. I navajo plied it, to keep the colour sequence, but the single had a little too much twist and so didn't turn out so hot in a couple places when I tried to Navajo ply it. Overall though, it's ok for a first try. The stripe sequence repeats 3 times, and I'm hoping it's enough for a hat, around 70m/75yards. Maybe a kids' hat? If I keep spinning like this, I'm gonna end up with alot of yarn for little projects. Maybe I should just make sure it's thin enough for socks. I only wish I wore wool socks, lol :) Oh well, I'm sure I'll think of something! Well, of to work on another skein, this one's a mix of gorgeous, rosy, lipgloss colours, I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Lipgloss yarn


posted by tatjana @ 8:14 p.m.   2 comments
Sunday, October 01, 2006
And the winner is...
***Oops! I thought I had my email addy set to available...you can now find it on my profile. Sorry for the confustion :( ***

I really want to thank everyone who entered, I had a lot of fun seeing people's pictures :) I think next time I will think of something a bit more knitting related and less embrassing, because I get the impression a few were scared off. Sorry! I guess now I know for next time. But hopefully those that did join in had a good chuckle too. And now to the important part...the winners!

Prize for funniest picture goes to Tigerlilith for her hilarious pic of Corey Haim! It is such a horribly cheesy 80s pose, my sides hurt from laughing. Congrautulation, Tigerlilith, you win the Opal Hundertwasser yarn!

Prize for the most embarassing crush goes to Stariel for not only being brave enough to share her crush on Marilyin Manson but to even show us her drawing of him from high school! So, for going above and beyond, I think she's really earned the Jawoll Cotton Jacquard :)

And last, the hottest crush and the hot pink yarn goes to Liz for this pic of Lee Montgomery! For those that don't remember, he starred with Sarah Jessica Parker, who has since become the Sexpert in the City, in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. I had totally forgotten him and the movie, which I must have seen several dozen times when I was younger, so not only is it a good pic of a cutie, but also a nice trip down memory lane :)

So if the winners could email me with their addresses, I will get your yarn out ASAP. Tomorrow I will finally have some crafting to show, as I got a much anticipated order of fibre on Friday and have had a hard time prying myself away from the wheel this weekend. So expect some good yarn porn tomorrow ;)


posted by tatjana @ 8:57 p.m.   2 comments

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Arleta's Motley Wool
The Barefoot Cobbler
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cArried AwAy
Kandeedo Bandeedo
Fiber Arts Afloat
Hadas y Flores
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Lobstah Life
muerto de risa
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Sock prOn
So Sylvie
Stitched in Holland