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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Thursday, August 31, 2006
Inspiration everywhere
Although I initially revived this blog mostly to talk about my knitting, and really, it's been quite a while since I worked on much else, over time I find it harder and harder to resist all the millions of craft possibilites out there. On the one hand, it's terrible, becuase knitting-wise I have so far to go. I really want to work on designing more and better patterns, and I won't be satisfied until that includes fair isle, something I haven't even touched yet. I don't expect this to come any time soon mind you, I realize these things take time and practice. But I really do believe that given time, effort, and often just as important, a little faith, you can learn anything. Without this conviction I wouldn't be knitting, sewing or spinning (all things that bring me so much joy!) and I wouldn't be so eager and excited about trying other things.

I don't always have time to make long treks into blogland, but when I do I love taking a peek at all the wonderful quilters, softie makers and bit of everything crafters, always check the fascinating tips on Sharon's blog so that I'll be prepared when I start embroidering, and I love this project she's doing, the results so far are gorgeous!

Touch Me
From the Flames

I've been wanting to play with textiles a bit more, in a more artsy way. I had an infatuation with nervousness for a few months until the site went on their seemingly endless hiatus (they are still in the process of getting things back to normal). Inspired by random themes and the encouraging atmosphere, I made a few things that I was really happy to both make and look at afterwards like the ATCs above. The one on the left was made with various yarn scraps, and the other has a satin background with paper and novelty yarn (Click on pics for a bigger image). I glued the feathers individually, alternating gold and bronze, and the texture was really neat. I had to send both away since they were for swaps, and I was sad to part with them :( So I should make more for me then :) My first aim though, is to make all fabric 'collages' (art quilts??) like my first textile art foray here, which I thankfully kept.

Tree of Life

It's a little rough, but alright for a first try. I have a lot to learn technique-wise, but I think this is something I could really enjoy. Not quite yet though, with my backlog it's not the best time to start on whole new crafts, but at least it's something I can have fun pondering while I'm waiting for the train :)

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posted by tatjana @ 10:49 AM   4 comments
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
More stuff to do
Knit operationSo, in addition to all my pending sewing projects I actually am getting some knitting done too. I can't say it's terribly impressive, and maybe because I've spent most of the last couple of weeks doped up on antibiotics I even managed to mess up a simple rib pattern. But at least I knew how to fix it :) I always feel like a bit of a rebel letting the stitches just drop like that. Almost like I've kicked my knitting's ass somehow. But then, I was fixing a flub in a rib pattern, so I really can't be that smug. I'm working on the back of a cardigan I found in an old Verena magazine. It's an alternating rib that gives the fabric a kind of waffle-like appearance that I'm really liking. I don't know if you can see it properly, it's knit on the right Grey Cardigan progress
side, and k1p1 on the wrong side. Sadly though, I don't think it will get done any time soon because the pattern is getting really monotonous, and I cast on for this just before the weather turned, so I may not have the chance to even wear this again this year because it's cotton and therefore not very warm. We'll see. I'm thinking I may put knitting on the back burner while I catch up on my sewing. Right now I've got about half a dozen bags cut out while I wait for magnetic clasps, both my July and August projects for Sew Retro to get done, and while I was trying to organize my fabric stash I found a knitting needle case I cut out last fall when I made one for my hunny's mum and realized I had enough fabric for another. I'm not sure if I'll keep it or not, I'll see how attached I am when it's done ;) For now I am actually quite fond of this French cookie tin I found at a flea market. I like the happy yellow of it, even though I don't usually like yellow. Either way the it will be a circ only case, because that's all I use. I tried straights once when I was in Colombia and it was all I could find. It was horrible. So awkward and uncomfortable. Thank god for whoever invented circs or I would be missing out on knitting altogether! Needlecase fabric Nadeldose

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posted by tatjana @ 4:00 PM   4 comments
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Before I forget....
The amazing, running Zarah asked in the comments yesterday if I'm still a biologist. It's kinda complicated but for now the answer is no :( (Sniff!) This is partly for personal experiences I've had the not so wonderful worlds of academia and rural development research (ie helping feed people type work) and partly because getting and most importantly keeping yourself employed in these fields is a bitch and a half. And just so noone gets the wrong idea and thinks I'm a horrible money grubber that wants a super well paying job, I really don't. I just want to be able to have a family and help people. If I can accomplish those two things, I am more than happy to work my butt off at almost anything. I will likely say more about my experience later, but right now I'm just not in the mood for tales of woe and disillusionment, so instead I will send you to look at pictures of Venice. If that doesn't leave you with a happy, wistful feeling too....well, then I'm just wierd. ;)

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posted by tatjana @ 4:11 PM   1 comments
Book Meme
Wow, I haven't been tagged in forever! Maybe I should leave more comments for people. Bad Fox!

Anyway, I was tagged for this jim-dandy meme by the lovelyArleta. She's much better at leaving comments than I am ;)

1. One book that changed your life: Oh I'm gonna be a big fat geek here and say the textbook (No! I can't even remeber the name!) for my Morphology of Plants course in university. Or any of the many journals I read. Once I started reading about plant research I was hooked.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I'm a big Austen fan.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Mmmm, a Plant guide? Then I can find food and learn about my new environment :)

4. One book that made you laugh: There was one, a few months ago...I laughed on the train, people looked at me like I was crazy. I really need to make a book list, I can never remember what the hell I read :(

5. One book that made you cry: Tandia by Bryce Courtenay, about a girl of mixed race in South Africa...beautiful and tragic.

6. One book that you wish had been written: Simple breeding techniques for money growing trees ;)

7. One book you wish had never been written: Arelta said "Any book that's full of hate. Like some bad nasty nazibooks or something. Our world doesn't need any more hate in it!"
I sorta agree with this, but I wonder about religious texts, or any other books for that matter. Using the Quran or the bible, some Muslims hate Americans, some Christians hate gays, and there are examples of horrifyingly sexist practices in both those religions, as well as in Hinduism and others. I think people who want to do horrible things to their fellow man will find a reason to anywhere.

8. One book you're currently reading: Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee-- The writing is utterly beautiful

9. One book you've been meaning to read: Just one? I really have to find and read this book

10. Tag 6 people: How bout I just leave it up to you? :)

Let me know if you do it though, I love reading about people's book loves, and finding new stuff to read!

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posted by tatjana @ 11:22 AM   2 comments
Monday, August 28, 2006
999 Things
11. I am a cat person.

12. I sing when I'm happy, sometimes even in tune. Mostly old jazz songs and showtunes.

13. I bake a mean double chocolate chip cookie.

14. I learned to knit from my boyfriend's mother a few months after I came to Germany. I'd wanted to learn for a long time.

15. I taught myself to sew things by hand when I was about 10 or so, but I didn't get a machine til I was 15.

16. My last year of high school I studied fashion design.

17. I couldn't deal with how competitive the fashion business is so I left my creative pursuits to study plant biology at the University of Guelph.

18. Although I spent all that time studying plants, I tended to focus on the microscopic aspects, things that plants do that we can't see. That's why I'm really lousy at identifying plants, but I can tell you all about the different chemical compounds they produce to fight bugs and diseases.

19. I actually miss spending lots of time in a lab.

20. I decided to do a masters degree in agriculture because my fascination with all the untapped potential in plants gave me the conviction that there were better ways to manage the plants we eat, for us and for the environment.

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posted by tatjana @ 9:54 AM   1 comments
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.....


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posted by tatjana @ 9:52 AM   0 comments
Friday, August 25, 2006
I just can't believe it.
This week I bought some yarn on ebay. I buy a lot of yarn on ebay. Or did. Ok, about 95% of the yarn currently in my possession was purchased on what for me is like a giant German garage sale. So what can't I believe? Well, I happen to look at my list of online payments (such things are a very important pillar of the German banking system) and lo and behold, aside from my little stash extravanganza in Canada (which so doesn't count!) I have not bought yarn all year. It's kinda spooky. I almost feel like I'm going straight to knitter's hell just for typing that. There are reasons for this though. One, my stash had grown beyond all manageable storage capacity considering the size of our apartment. Second, I don't find nearly as many awesome stashes for sale as I used to. (sniff) Third, since my yarn consists of all kinds of randomness, none of which was purchased with specific garments in mind, my stash became a little daunting and I had the damnedest time figuring out what to knit.

So I figure now I'm entitled to some stash enhancement. I don't have pictures of my new yarn yet, but for now you can look at some lovely new fabric, since I have also been neglecting my sewing stash :)
Upholstery fabric ends Patchwork fabric

I bought these lovely upholstery ends and the patchwork fabric for bags to try selling on etsy. I used to sew a lot when I was in high school, making my own bags or dresses and lots of modifying of thrift store finds. For a long while I didn't have time for it, and now I mostly knit. But I want to start sewing stuff again, and see if I can sell some things. In any case, I will only start out with a few pieces, and make stuff I'll use myself if noone wants it. I will have leftovers of the patchwork fabric, and I think that will become a dress for my best friends's little girl. Something with pockets :)

Silk with romantic print Floral fabric

Even though it's already getting a bit chilly around here, I couldn't resist buying this silk for a skirt. It's so flirty and pretty, it makes me think of Paris for some reason. I have no idea what to do with the floral prints, but there was no way I was leaving them in the store. I got just a metre (about a yard) of the red/orangey colour (I just may go back for more) and I took what was left of the brown, about 2.5m, so enough for a dress, or maybe a blouse and skirt, we'll see.

Circle skirt fabric

But this fabric was by far the best of all. You see that floral pattern? It's a panel. Like, for a quilt panel? Nope. Like for a circle skirt panel! If you've already seen this in your neck of the woods, I'm terribly sorry, but this just blew me away! What a marvelous idea! You don't need a pattern or anything, just cut out the two half-circle panels, cut out a smaller half circle for your waist, and there's your skirt. I can't wait to sew this up and wear it with some flirty, little boots.

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posted by tatjana @ 10:43 PM   4 comments
999 Things?
A lot of blogs have a link somewhere to an 'About Me' page or a list of personal facts. Somehow I never got around to doing that, so just to make it a little different, and make use of my brand new categories (woohoo! I've been trying to find out how to do this with blogger for forever, I'm such a geek, I'm going to come up with a whopping 999 things about me! (Hmmm, narcissistic much?) But not to worry, doing it all at once we be a bit much for all concerned methinks so I will make mini lists, once a week or whenever I get the urge really, and (here's where my fun new categories come in!) they will all go into their little category until I reach 999.

So without further ado, the start of my list:

1. I was born in Toronto, Canada to a German father and an Ecuadorian mother.

2. Strangely, although I could always tell my mother had an accent, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized my dad has one too.

3. I speak 3 1/2 languages, English, Spanish, German, and a rusty French.

4. Even though I grew up in a big city, crowds stress me out and I much prefer small towns.

5. It is not uncommon to hear me talking to inanimate objects (with great enthusiasm even). If I do this with an object that is not my own, there's a damn good chance I am moments awaying from purchasing said item so as to have it all to myself.

6. I am an insatiable bargain hunter. Me in the middle of a 'Going out of business' type sale (you know the kind, where they're practically just giving stuff away) is kinda like Fred Flintstone in a casino (Bet-bet-bet-bet-bet!!).

7. I have been living in Germany for 3 years.

8. When I first got here, the dialect in this area (Schwäbisch or Swabian) drove my absolutely bonkers.

9. I now find it highly entertaining.

10. Almost noone ever called me by my full name until I moved here (I was Tut or Tati), and I still find it wierd sometimes.


Psst! Anyone else with a blogger blog who wants categories too, the super duper fabulous code can be found here. It's a bit of a pain to categorize old posts, because you have to go back and put a tag into them, but I like this method better than the one that uses del.icio.us and just gives you a list of links to the entries.

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posted by tatjana @ 6:13 PM   2 comments
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Little Knit
I seem to have a nasty habit of mentioning a knit I'm working on and then, if I lose interest in it, just don't mention it again. I really have to stop doing that. So for those who saw that post, and wanted to know how my makeshift baby aran turned out, here it is:
Baby sweater with cables
Baby sweater back
The yarn is a bulky cotton-acrylic mix in navy which doesn't look washed out as it does in the pictures. The joining of the sleeves to the body and the yoke are not exactly perfect, because I didn't really plan the whole garment through before knitting. I just swatched for gauge and to try out some cables to see how they looked. Once I figured out how many stitches I was casting on, I figured out what sequence of cables would fit within that number, then just knit up the sweater the same way I did when I knit Daisy before. This time I used a really bulky yarn, and was winging the decreases for the arms scye and the yolk, so all in all it could have been a lot worse. Maybe this will teach to plan a bit more? Have sketches with notes and carefully planned stitch patterns like Eunny? I really do wish I could, at least sometimes, stop being such knit by the seat of my pants kinda girl. But hopefully it's something I can learn while I work on designing more.

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posted by tatjana @ 2:22 PM   3 comments
Thursday, August 17, 2006
My Faithful Hunter
One of my lovely kitties, (Tiger)Lily, loves to bring us treasures that she deftly catches when out adventuring. Earlier in the summer we got alot of unripe cherries and these funny green nutlike things that come off of trees in the neighbourhood. When she's feeling extra warlike we get a bug, and one day we had a small stuffed bunny mysteriously stranded in the garden. But today she finally got it right. She brought YARN!

Tigerlily the Yarn Hunter

Just to add to the kitty merriment, in my sick-bed surfing I stumbled upon this and this. Yay kitty goodness! :D

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posted by tatjana @ 11:22 PM   1 comments
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Hackity hack hack.
That pretty much sums up the last week or so. I haven't had the strength for much else. Having the wonderfully unpredictable weather we do here in Stuttgart, we went from our in-the-30s heat wave to in-the-teens with yucky rain and overall greyness. Blech! I actually don't mind rain, I find it kinda soothing, but unlike back home, rain here always brings a kind of creeping dampness that seeps into all the nooks and crannies of my already heat inefficient body. So, like many others I got sick. You can imagine my joy. Summer isn't even over and I'm already getting visits from my old friend bronchitis.

On the bright side, last week happened to be Super Knitting Mag Week. So while I was stuck in bed, I got to flip through my recently arrived copy of Interweave Knits and enjoy the company of my good chums Rebecca and Verena! Woohoo! This was especially exciting because I think it's the first time I've ever gotten IK before it was on newstands, and I found a few things in all three mags that I think I would like to knit. In IK, I really like the comfy look of Bianca's Jacket and the Gatsby Girl Pullover (scroll down) is so feminine and elegant. Admittedly, I was a little horrified by the Western Point Skirt, especially since I like a lot of Annie Modesitt's designs, but the construction is interesting, and I would probably like it a lot more if I didn't think those necktie skirts, which inspired the design, were just the ugliest thing going. My last favourite from this issue is the Glasgow Lace. The lace patterns and scalloped edge are very pretty, but I think it will need some shaping. As is, it makes the poor little red-haried girl look rather like the proverbial potato sack, in continuation of the evil IK anti-redhead plot.
Rebecca and Verena do not have pics of all their patterns online (isn't that irritating if you have to order them?) so I was forced to take horrible snapshots again. I really apologize, but our scanner sucks and it takes forever to format the pictures so that they're uploadable, because the accompanying software sucks too. But at least you can see some fun knits, even is some of them are branding with magazine-gloss-glare, or a little fuzzy when I tried to avoid it (Did I mention my camera sucks too?).
Rebecca White knit coat Rebecca - White lace sweater
I really like this long cardigan/coat. It's kinda dress like and the length should keep my butt warm. I have a pile of magenta yarn with some mohair that I think I might use to knit this. I have enough for a long sweater and I've been wondering what to do with it for a while. I'm not sure what colour would suit the lace sweater, but I just love it. It looks great in cream, but it's really not my colour. At any rate, it should probably be knit in a light colour, to make the lace more visible.
Verena - Deep V neck sweater Verena - blue mohair mix
These two sweaters are from Verena, a German knitting mag that comes out 4 times a year. I like the style of the one on the left, but would find it a bit inpractical to wear in winter. Although the blue sweater is presented in the ugliest manner possible (what's with the hat!?!) I like the idea of double stranding a mohair yarn with wool and using a woven look stitch. It might be the solution I've been looking for for some mohair I bought on impulse and am not afraid to knit for fear of looking like a muppet.
There were also some really nice patterns in plus sizes, one or two of which I will have to resize to make for myself:
Verena - Plus size Mohair lace Verena - Plus size Eyelet sweater

I especially like the stitch pattern and the soft look of this sweater:
Verena - Plus size Pink sweater Verena - Cabled vest
And I'm considering knitting up a version of the cabled vest with sleeves, becuase I think it would make a nice sweater.

And last, but not least, just to show those who don't or can't get Verena that's it's not all pretty knits, some good ol' Verena fug:
Verena - Wookiee cardi
Come on girls, don't you want to release your inner wookiee?
And this is what I imagine happening if Cruella DeVil ever decided to ransack the smurf village:
Verena - Super smurf fug
Ok, time for another nap. Sorry about the poor picture quality! Better pics next tme I promise :)

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posted by tatjana @ 1:00 PM   0 comments
Friday, August 04, 2006
Seaberry Shell - another one frogged?

Seaberry Shell
Originally uploaded by happy go lovely.
As I mentioned before, in my search for finished Seaberries on the web, all I could find was one frogged and another that ended up being completely different, only preserving the leaf lace pattern, not even the bobbles. For the most part I kept to the pattern, sorta. I was working with my own yarn, and didn't attempt to make it as bulky as that in the pattern. The pattern calls for Twinkle Cruise, a cotton/silk mix, and you're supposed to knit using 4 (!!!) strands. I used some nice mercerised cotton and only doubled it, which could then be worked on 5mm needles (the pattern uses 8mm/US11). Since the shell has no shaping, and I have long figured out how to decrease for sleeves, all that I needed from the pattern was the lace pattern, which in my version is not as wide, but still gives the same bulky lace impression which I found nice in the original. I added waist shaping (yes, really. Can't you see it??). A hell of a lot of good it did me. What worked out much better, though, was the change to the neckline. The original high neck was a little severe, and I thought I'd make a boat neck. Unfortunately, I had only 6 50g balls of the yarn, and it didn't look like it would be enough. So I knit up front and back as far as I could, and started on my now scooping neckband. If I had had a bit more yarn, I would have like to make the neckline a bit higher, and the band a bit wider, so that the neckline swoops across from shoulder to shoulder, instead of being the square shaped dip it is now. Oh well, next time experiment with more yarn, I guess :D I'm very town about whether to keep or to tear the thing up. I like the general look of it, but the bulky fabric is not exactly flattering. There just seems to be too much around the waist. I'm not sure if I would wear it the way it is, but since it's already knit, and it was only 300g of wallflower cotton, I may take the risk of running this baby through the sewing machine. If I took enough off the sides at the waist, so that it had negative ease and fit nice n snuggly, it would probably look a lot less boxy. *sigh* Why do I always fall for the patterns made for the scrawny little boobless girls??


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posted by tatjana @ 11:48 PM   6 comments
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Medieval Knitspiration
Knights - Bang! 2
I forgot to mention it then, but a couple weeks ago the boy and I drove to Bavaria to attend the Kaltenberger Ritterturnier, a medieval festival complete with jousting tournament. It was a lot of fun. They set up an entire village around the Kaltenberg castle and recruit a bunch of people to camp out in garb for the whole month. We decided on this only about a week beforehand, so we didn't have time to find or make something to wear, which was a shame, because I really love dressing up. The couple things I have left from my earlier, more grandiose wardrobe (the joys of being a teenager with nothing to do but play dress up!) are stored somewhere in Canada, at my brother's place, I think. And Matthias has nothing even close to medieval. Next time we go though, I definitely want to have something fun to wear.
Before the tournament, they held a parade of all the village 'citizens'. I took lots of pictures, because like I said, I love this sort of thing, and thought it would serve for later inspiration. (Pics on the Flickr page) I was especially impressed by the costumes of the various knights.
Knights
Who wouldn't love to have their man decked out like that? Growr! Ahem. Yeah, so I got the idea of knitting up some chain mail. Pretty decent looking chain mail can be knit using a semi-bulky yarn, or even better, some kind of twine or cord which is stiffer and then painting it silver. This is often done in theatre or for movie extras. Although the knights in the picture were all wearing real mail, I did see some others who had knit mail, and even from a pretty close distance looked pretty good, and is definitely a lot more comfortable to wear. I managed to find a site with patterns for various chainmail garments, and this PDF has instructions on how to use a really neat technique for actually applying metal foil to the fabric for a quite realistic look. In the second link they recommend using nylon cord, but I read somewhere else that cotton cord or some other natural fibre is better. I guess it's something I'll have to play with.

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posted by tatjana @ 2:00 PM   3 comments







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