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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Monday, November 27, 2006
A moment to breathe and learning something new
Most of the time, I would say being sick sucks, as would most people, I think. It's not a lot of fun to be oozing icky stuffs or making strange hacking noises, or best of all, feel so weak someone could knock you over with a feather. But right now, for this hour or two in between lying in bed trying to restore my strength and putting that strength to work on a report I should have been at the office working on today, being sick is not so bad. I had a million things to do today, but there was no way I was making it to work. With Bunny being sick all last week, and me running around like a headless chicken the last two? four? weeks, I guess I can't blame my body for making me take a break. At least I can finally try n catch up on blogs a bit :)
mini christmas
Just so you don't think it's been just work and feel too sorry for me, here are some pictures of darling little doll things I gushed over at a craft/antique toy fair not too long ago. Feel free to just enjoy the pics, I need to blab a bit about my work life today, but will post more about several FOs and WIPs in the next couple days.

The main reason I've been so busy is that in addition to my normal translating and research report/proposal writing duties, I've been asked to help out with the lectures. More specifically, I was put in charge of organizing and running two workshops for about 45 students in our class for socioeconomics of organic farmingThe wokshops focus on agricultural policy that affect organic farming. .mini toys This was both scary and exciting. My background is really more biology and agriculture, and most of what I know about economics and policy was read on my own since I started working in this department of ag economists or picked up from talks during coffee breaks. Also, this was my first experience teaching a large group. I've done tutoring before, but it's not the same as a room full of eyes looking at you expectantly, waiting for you to offer up your fountain of knowledge. Luckily, I had help from some other people in our department and we were able to split the group into three, to make group discussion easier. So that left me with 16 students. The first day was rough, I was pretty nervous and stressed due to the fact that a screw up in room reservations almost had my group kicked out at the last minute, and the students were anything but enthusiastic. But the second day went a lot better, the students voiced their opinions more, and I didn't feel like a had to tug the discussion along the whole time.mini knitting
The second workshop was held a week later, and was a bit more structured than the first. Of the two, it was this second one that didn't go so well with students the year before, so I did my best to come up with ideas on how to keep things lively and to deal with any problems that might arise. Luckily, this year my supervisor included a bit about the workshop in his lecture, so the students seemed clearer on the concepts we would be discussing. The discussion in my group went really well, the students had a lot of interesting ideas and opinions, and I was able to teach them a lot more than I thought I knew about how agricultural policy influences our food, organic or otherwise. It made me really happy to have the feeling that we all got a lot out of the experience. I was even more impressed when I realized that I'd accidentally kept the kids longer than scheduled, and they were all still totally into the discussion even though most of them had been in class the whole day (which is atypical of universities here). mini cakes
It's funny how changes can occur subtly, over time. There was a time when I had no understanding of economics or politics, or any desire to have one. I was totally obsessed with nature and its workings - money and politics seemed to be the opposite of everything I thought beautiful and perfect. The tools people with power use to devalue what's really important and turn life into nothing but a series of dollars and cents. Although I still believe this to an extent, I've also learned that it's important to understand some of these forces which are always working in the background, to shape our world. And I'm really happy to have had the opporunity to share it with such a great group of young people, who have come here from all over the world to educate themselves and take their knowledge back to help their home countries. I got to hear about agriculture in Peru, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Thailand, China and Cameroon. These are countries which are very different in terms of culture and political climate, but share the problems of poverty and exploitation of natural resources. Being someone who often worries a it too much about the state of the world, it means a lot to see these students who are so dedicated and brimming with ideas on how to improve things. When I had to give up pursuing a career in international development I often thought I must be the only person left who still gave a damn. I'm happy to say these students prove me wrong.
mini bakery shop


posted by tatjana @ 5:13 p.m.   4 comments
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I'm not just a crabby whiner... ;)
new handspun
I actually still craft too. As I mentioned, things have been busy, leaving little time or energy for craftiness, but as I'm sure all of you know, it's still damn hard to just go cold turkey. We always find just a little time somewhere, don't we? So here is my latest hanspun, a single ply that can be knit up on 4.5mm needles, I think, which should be a heavy worsted. It's a little overspun, because I don't often spin single ply (ha! as though I'm an expert at everything else, LOL), and wasn't sure as I was spinning if I would ply it after all with string or something for a curlier boucle sort of effect. In the end I decided against it though. I've always been fond of the colour variations in Noro, and was aiming for something similar here, with larger sections of colour, as opposed to the stripes I tried before. They look a little mixed up in the picture, but the colours all come one after the other, without any repetition. It's about 155m (~170 yards maybe?) and I'm not sure what to do with it. A scarf would probably the easiest solution, and would show off the colours well, but I really have enough scarves. And selfishly enough, I would kinda like to keep this for myself because I really like the way the colours came together. I suppose it doesn't have to be something to wear. I could maybe make some free form knit art to hang on the wall. I've seen pieces like that on Flickr and elsewhere online, and I find them really interesting. Another idea I had was to combine it with some grey single ply I have which is more or less the same weight and almost the same colour as the medium grey portion in the yarn itself. This just may give me enough for a small shrugish sorta thing. We'll see. If anyone has another suggestion of something that would work with this yarn, please do let me know, I'm terrible at deciding this sort of thing :)


posted by tatjana @ 11:43 a.m.   2 comments
Monday, November 13, 2006
Old stereotypes die hard huh?
Grrr. Just a quick post to vent, this time in defense of Germany. I was more than a little surprised and rather dismayed to see that while answering a comment containing the word 'Germany' the ads that popped up on my Google sidebar were for Nazi films! Nazi propaganda! (who I wonder, will google me now??) I find that really sad. I may have my issues with living here sometimes, but one of the things that bothers me is a complete lack of pride that has developed here among the young people in their own country. Can you imagine they more or less learn to be ashamed of it in school? In spite of fairly little interest in football (you know, soccer lol) I was so happy to see thousands of young Germans going out and celebrating in the name of their team and country. It's almost as though the footbal arena is the only place they can justify displaying a sense of pride.
There is so much more to German history and culture than the second World War. And as the daughter of a German, I have always been proud of my background for a variety of reasons too complex to list right now. I just think it unfair that such casual associations between Germany and the Nazi movement should be something that will even now still be thrown in the face of impressionable young people who have already more or less been taught their country is the root of all evil. I mean, it's bad enough that muslims are discriminated against now because of current terrorism, does that mean they will still be thought to be terrorists in 60 years? I really hope not.

Sorry for the ranting! I swear, happy crafting coming soon :)

craftily yours,



posted by tatjana @ 8:30 p.m.   2 comments
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Same Ol', Same Ol'
There's been so much to do at work the past couple of weeks, my days have pretty much been a blur and I've been almost always exhausted. I don't think it's because of the work though, or lack of sleep even, but rather the monotony of it all. Having had to work on things on the weekend as well, we haven't really gone anywhere apart from the usual necessary errands and a couple walks in the woods. I find myself craving some good craft time to recharge, but I'm always too tired, and worse, totally uninspired. I find it difficult to find ideas in the albeit long path between my home and office. I have to go through the main train station every day, sometimes I skip a train or two to take a stroll down the Königstrasse (King street) to window shop and people watch. But Stuttgart is a very different city than what I'm used to. In Toronto, walking around any of the many eclectic neighbourhoods mean seeing all different kinds of people, in terms of culture, profession, financial status and above all, personal style. Although there is a little variation according to age group (ie teenagers will let their things hang out of their über-low rise jeans, but happily their Omas will not) but everyone is more or less white, upper middle class urban posh. All the girls/women from about 15 to 45 are wearing almost identical shoes, or currently, boots. If I see another pair of skinny jeans with pointy toed knee high boots, I think I'll scream. I miss being able to walk down the street and see someone who just makes my eye light up with their style and originality. This doesn't apply only to people or clothes. I can get claustrophobia contemplating the rows of identical houses, all their white stucco and red roofs, knowing that 90% of them have walls covered in nothing but this disgusting white recycled paper wall crap. Not to be overly critical, but I kinda think it looks like whitewashed catsick. And why most people here use it to cover not only all walls, but even ceilings in their homes is really beyond me. I would jump for joy at the fact that our hellish little felines have waged their own little war on the walls of our apartment, making it necessary to have them completely redone, if it weren't for the fact that until we have time to do this I can't take a presentable picture in almost any corner of our home LOL. At least I have the comfort of knowing that my pets have better taste than my neighbours :)

What I think I'm trying to get at with all this griping, is that life here in Germany has been getting pretty dull. When you move to a new country there is always a period of excitement and learning as you find out everything about your new home. Then somewhere along the way the process of settling in begins, until this strange new place becomes comfortable and familiar. Thanks to visits to family when I was younger, and spending a summer working here, Germany never really felt strange to me, but always instilled me with a kind of wonder. I had this idea of it being this beautiful place where everything was superbly organized and people were all down to earth and kind. I could never understand my aunt, who was born and grew up here, but moved abroad as soon as she was old enough. She is an artist, and very emotional. She always said she could never survive in a place like this, full of dull, cold, closed people. Instead she spent most of her life in Spain, and sometimes Italy, Portugal, or South America. Anywhere but here. Having lived here a while now, and entering a stage in my life where I am also investing myself in creative pursuits, I have begun to understand what she meant. This is not a place where ideas and feelings feel free. Although I can always be my natural self with Matthias, no matter how off the wall that may be, with almost everyone else here I feel a need to be 'behaved'. It's an atmosphere that has become stifling not only creatively, but also personally.
When I started writing this, I didn't mean to sound so discouraging. There are still many things I am grateful for in living here, not least of all this wonderful man I've found, with extraordinarily loving parents who have adopted me as their own. And I will never tire of beautiful landscapes and architecture to be found almost everywhere. Particularly the former reminds me that, if nowhere else, there is always endless creativity and inspiration to be found in nature :) I have learned a lot here, about others, as well as myself, and although this is not where I'd like to live the rest of my life, I can still appreciate this place. At any rate, we have already decided to move to Canada next year and are beginning to look for job prospects. We will go wherever work is, so quite likely somewhere other than where I grew up. So although things may seem a bit monotonous now, it will not be long before life will bring a lot of changes for both of us.


posted by tatjana @ 6:17 p.m.   2 comments
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
999 Things - Small Joys
Since my last addition to the list was very doom and gloom, I thought it would do me good to think of things that have made me happy lately.
Sweater dress

61. My new sweater dress! I'm not as much of a clothes horse as I used to be, but occasionally I really get a kick out of buying myself something pretty and girly. This dress is definitely that. Also, I think it's the shortest thing I've worn since I went to a friend's 'white trash' costume party about 5 years ago :D

62. Having breakfast with Bunny. During the week I rush to get ready and run out the door because of the long commute and always eat on the train, leaving him on his own. But on weekends or holidays (like today!) he will often get up before me and make us eggs benedict. So yummy, and really nice to sit and enjoy it with him.
Tübingen - Rathaus fountain

63. Spending the day in beautiful surroundings. This can be in nature, or in historic areas, which there are a lot of here. Today we spent the afternoon wandering through the woods, which was great, but have no pictures, so instead I'll show you one of another beautiful day a week or 2 ago when we went to Tübingen.

64. A bucket of candy. My mom is totally the sugar/fat/anything good police so the little girl in me still gets a little excited at a pile of junk food. I don't even have a sweet tooth, I think it's just a sense of something forbidden ;) And since we didn't end up having any trick or treaters this year, guess what I'm stuck with?
silver pendant w/ beads

65. Trying/making new things. In the last month or 2 I've gone to classes to try stained glasswork, metalwork and lampwork. Being a total textile girl, it was so exciting to work with totally different materials. Here's a pic of the pendant I made, with 2 beads I found to fit. I was hoping to have 3, but have not found one to fit in the smallest spot, so I may just use one. What do you think? If you click on my flickr pics there another of the pendant naked, plus another of my wonky glass beads! It was great fun making them, but will not be something I'll be pursuing.

66. This video. I found the link on a blog, but don't remember which one. And it led me to a similar one of a girl who did her own Free Hugs campaign in Toronto, my full-of-wikkid-awesome-people-hometown :D It made me cry, especially when she describes the children just running up and attacking her. So sweet!

67. A happy cat. Except for our first cat, which we lost, Abby and Lily are my first none-caged pets. I hope I will never get so used to them that I am not absolutely delighted whenever they roll around in front of me purring like lawnmowers because they're just so happy I'm home.
68. Traditional German knitting patterns, like these I found on ebay. So cute! The cablework on some of these cardigans is just to die for. My biggest problem now is deciding which one I want to make since I'm in love with several and they're really not a jiffy knit. What do you think? This one? Or maybe this one? I really love the back. And then of course there are some drool worthy socks and my favourite, the über sexy legwarmers for men! LOL

69. A good idea. Don't you just love it when you think of something great to make? You just get all worked up and pleased with yourself, and feel more motivated to get stuff done. I just thought of what I could do with a shrunken sweater that seemed to tiny to be used for anything, even a purse! So I'll make mittens! I can picture them perfectly and if I can manage to get a whole pile of stuff done at work, I can take make them this weekend instead of working like last weekend!
Rainbow hat n mitts
70. And last, but not least, doing things for others. I think there are few things in the world than can so easily bring such a sense of satisfaction and well-being. It's practically selfish! I'm really enjoying knitting things for Dulaan, and although work has been crazy the last week or so, I am making time to spin and knit more things. I'm really happy with the latest to be done, as they're my first mittens, and I love how the rainbow handspun knit up. I hope they will make a child happy :)

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posted by tatjana @ 7:28 p.m.   3 comments

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