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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Friday, August 24, 2007
I have a wee little confession to make. Remember a while ago when I was hankering for a dress form and I said that I kinda maybe intended to make one of my own. Yeah, well, as you all probably figured, I didn't. Granted, there's been a whole lot going on lately, and making a dress form is not exactly a small project. Also, in my former doldrums I did a bit of eBay snooping and happened to stumble across just what I was looking for. A brand spanking new adjustable dress form, still in its box! And I even managed to get it for half of what I would have had to pay for one in any of the stores I checked around here. So here she is, modelling my latest knitting, the lovely Dottie Tank, that I was the teensiest bit afraid wasn't going to fit right when it was done. But thankfully, it fits really nicely (me too, not just the dummy). It still needs some blocking though, because the lace frill on the bottom likes to stick up a bit, and there is some curling along the straps. I was also thinking though...maybe I should add a wee little cap sleeve? In the pink yarn? Whatcha think? I would use the same lace pattern that I used on the frill and for the lace inset. I like it the way it is too, but I've been crazy lately with cap and/or gathered sleeves. They just look so dainty and pretty! Like a princess. And really, who can resist feeling princess-y? Well, obviously I can't :)
The sad thing though, about my wonderful new sewing and knitting friend, is that I'm not sure I will be able to bring her with me on my upcoming move. At least not yet. She will have to wait until spring when I come back to get another load of things, if not longer. It seems so mean of me to abandon her! But I am hoping I can give her a cozy little nook with my mum until I can whisk her off to grand old Europe. Hopefully she won't mind ;) I've been thinking though, that I should at least name her before I leave. It would probably make her feel a bit less neglected dontcha think? Do any of you have names for your dress forms? Or computers, or spinning wheels, for that matter? I was considering Lucy, or maybe Darla. As you can tell, I like the vintage names. I can't hear Lucy without thinking of Lucille Ball (link is to video), that amazing woman who managed to be technicolour, even in black and white, while Darla makes me think of the Little Rascals. I remember she always wore the cutest little dresses. I just love that whole era. Everyone looked so elegant somehow, in black and white.
But I'm forgetting myself. The point is, I need a name for this girl or I will just never forgive myself for leaving her behind like this. So if you happen to know some good dress form names, let me know ;) In the meantime, I'm going to go wash Dottie and block her out properly so I can model her, and maybe ask the knitters on Craftster what they think of adding sleeves. I can't be deciding things like this all by my lonesome, now can I?
posted by tatjana @ 2:37 p.m.   8 comments
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I really was knitting, I swear!
As Helen mentioned in her comment, I was lucky enough to get my mug in one of the pics taken by the Yarn Harlot at the Stitch n' Pitch last week. My first thought was Woohoo! I'm famous ;D lol But then I realised I'm not even knitting in the picture....she caught me when I was getting my camera out, so I look more like a sneaky, knitting-infiltrating peeping tom. So, just to show you I really was knitting at the game, voila! I think I may also have been inadvertantly responsible for confusing one of the muggle vendors who came to our section, who was asking "Why is everyone sewing??" because I happen to be sitting right in front of him and actually was sewing, because I was seaming the pieces of my top together. Or maybe he just never heard of knitting, which everyone else assumed. Either way, I feel it's only fair to defend the muggles a bit when ya can :)

My weekend was full of nice surprises, including this lovely basket of flowers my hunny sent from Germany to say how happy he was that I'm accepting the position in Germany, which will give us a much better chance to work things out between us and see if we're really meant for eachother. No easy feat at the best of times, but even harder if you're trying to do it over two different continents!
I also had the pleasure go to this great artsy music event, where I saw several friends from high school, that I haven't seen since I was still at Guelph working on my bachelor. Amidst some great jams between electronic DJs, clarinet- and flute players, a beautiful belly dancer, and artists painting, I got to catch up with some friends I had been sorry to lose touch with. It was wonderful to see how people can seem to change a lot but seem just the same, all at the same time. It's almost as if you can see the present and past selves all at once. It was great to talk to my friend Josh, who used to be an absolute maniac (and maybe not just used to), and is in the midst of the prerequisite 20-something phase of corporate whoring. But he's is craftily gathering mad marketing skills to put to use in his plans to run for city council. Hearing this was a great big epiphany of the it's-just-so-crazy-it-HAS-to-work kind. So we had great little chat about all kinds of problems our lovely hometown has been having, especially that cause closest to my heart - people going hungry. Now I'm really psyched at the thought of him going for this and am hoping that once I'm done my second round of Deutschland I can come back and convince him to give me a hand with getting more funds for urban gardens and partnerships between food banks and farmers to get kids in the city more fresh and healthy food. Here's hoping!

Sunday I went to a birthday party for my best friend's little boy, Rylan. Him and his little sister Hayley are just the cutest ever. I adore kids, I really do. Many of my happiest memories growing up are those of doing things with my niece and nephew. But with them being teenagers now, I get really excited when I can spend time with my friends' kids. I helped with setting up while the wee ones had playtime in the pool. I think the moms were hoping this would dampen the energy levels a bit, but nothing doing. It's kinda lucky that with it being August and all, many of Rylan's classmates were off on vacation, so we only had about 10 3-5 year olds to deal with, instead of 20 or more. I have to admit, they can be a bit difficult to keep occupied at that age, because their attention spans are not very long, and by the time we got them playing Duck-Duck-Goose, my dear friend Candine was looking a might frazzled. But as I said to her, when it comes to dealing with groups of kids, if noone's started crying or bleeding, you're doing ok! lol ;) Seriously though, all the kids had a great time and best of all, I have some fabulous pictures of Hayley covered in blue icing that I get to show her boyfriends some day!

posted by tatjana @ 5:15 p.m.   4 comments
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Let's play Ball!! Um, I mean Skein!
Well, last night was Stitch n' Pitch night here Toronto. It was a blast!! They gave us knitters and other stitchy crafters a great deal - for 20 bucks we got to see a ball game with our fellow crafters and even got a great gift bag filled with lovely goodies, like yarn, coupons and patterns. Woohoo! I had a lot of fun meeting some more knitters and I can't even remember the last time I went to a baseball game - there really is nothing like rooting for the home team :) Our own Toronto Blue Jays were playing the LA Angels. Our mascot Ace was presented with a handknit scarf in honor of the occasion and even came by our section to learn how to knit himself, so I just had to take a pic! It was also funny to talk to our usher, who couldn't have been 16. Before the game, as knitters were still arriving, he was totally psyched - I'm not sure exactly what he was expecting from a bunch of knitters, but he obviously hadn't expected so many of us ;) At any rate, he said our section had been his first pick, even before the speed daters who had a section across the stadium from us LOL.

As for the knitting, I was working hard to get this tank done and I'm almost there! It got a few looks and comments, so I was pretty pleased with myself. I can't wait to get this baby blocked and try it on, hopefully by tomorrow or the day after. I noticed a lot of people working on socks, inlcuding this lovely lady across the aisle, who also happens to be a crocheter extraordinaire. (Hi Pirkko!!) I noticed the gorgeous crochet bag she had to put her blog cards in and when I checked out her site and blog I saw that she also does some stunning free-form crochet which you can see here. I love the colours and textures in these!!

In front of me, Nicole was working on the cutest little baby sweater, while mum Sylvia was knitting one of my former vices....the ribbon scarf. You can see a shawl in a similar yarn here. It knits up really quickly and makes for great spring scarf. These were all over Germany when this type of yarn came out. Of course, it doesn't help that Europeans are all about the scarf. After my first year there, I just couldn't stop wearing them. Everywhere. All the time. I'm sure more than a couple of friends would laugh if they had seen me on certain winter days, when I switched from the traditional Canadian winter scarf (picture something with similar dimensions to the one worn by Doctor Who) to my lighter indoor scarf. In my defense, Germany still uses radiators rather than central heating and my office can get kinda nipply, if you know what I mean. At any rate, Sylvia's scarf was turning out great, and although Nicole has only recently discovered the knit blog world, I'm hoping I can follow in the footsteps of the many great knitbloggers before me and recruit her to out fibre-happy numbers :) I mean really, you can never have too many knit/craft blogs, can you?
Unfortunately, the night ended on a bittersweet note....although the Blue Jays won 2-1 (Go team!!!), I got a bit of a shock when I got home and saw the news. For those of you who haven't heard already, a huge (7.9) earthquake struck offshore of Peru, and for a few hours following there was a tsunami warning for most the western coast of South America, including Ecuador, where a large part of my family lives, some of whom are quite close to the coast. I also feared for many dear friends I made while working in Colombia, who were also theoretically at risk. Although I breathed a huge sigh of relief to hear that the destruction of the earthquake would not be increased by the damage of a tsunami, my heart goes out to the people there. The Peruvian Red Cross has been working like mad to find and treat the injured - this morning I made a donation to their parent organisation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who has already committed 250,000 Swiss francs from their disaster relief fund. Anyone interested in making a donation can go to their website here, or those of you in Toronto can donate to the account the Peruvian Consulate has set up locally. Direct Relief International is also involved in relief efforts. And if you have the chance, please send your prayers and thoughts to these people in their time of need.
posted by tatjana @ 4:41 p.m.   6 comments
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Where on Earth did my brain go??
It's just occured to me that last time I told y'all why I was doing better, but I totally forgot to explain why I was confused (ie from the post title). Suffice it to say, this confusion of mine has made me a bit absent minded *sheepish grin*. So here's the deal: before I left Germany, we were working on this really big proposal. It was for a project for the EU Commission, to make recommendations on how to develop their agricultural policy with regard to organic agriculture and food production. This research would basically investigate all the ins and outs of how organic foods are regulated right now in EU countries - what's working, what's not, what do farmers need, what do consumers want, etc - and then put together a report that tells the powers that be, what they should legislate for Europe. Needless to say, it's a big deal, and a lot of really awesome people are going to be involved, from a variety of countries. Well, not only was our proposal successful, but within just a couple days of getting the news, my boss wrote to say that he would love it if I would consider coming back to work on this. I would have guaranteed funding and salary for doing my doctorate and land a whole lot of kick ass experience and contacts to boot. He even said I could totally take my time to consider, and could return any time between now and January, the offical start of the project.

All I could think was....WOW. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I really love my boss. He is brilliant, charismatic, and best of all, completely supportive of all his staff and students. As I'm sure a lot of you know, not the easiest thing to find in a boss. So being this valued by this person that I have nothing but admiration for....well, let me tell you I've had some serious hot damn in my step the last couple weeks :)

But. The problem was, and I know I've bitched about this, is that I was less than happy in Stuttgart. So although I big part of me wanted to pack my bags, there was also apart yelling "Don't do it!!!" Hence the big fat confusion. But I've done a lot of thinking about this, and conducted several long distance phone calls of obscene length with the boy I left behind, and Alissa, my best German friend, who I've been missing like crazy. She was the one who made me remember that life is so much more than what I had let mine become, that I could and had to make it wonderful and beautiful. And best of all, she convinced me that a wonderful life is just what I deserve.

I've thought about all sorts of things that I can change, to help me put my life together the way I want it, and not just let things run themselves, particularly in the relationship department, which really played havoc with basically everthing else in my life. For starters, I could look at places in the city, instead of going back to live in the crabby suburbs (I have nothing against suburbs in general, btw, but Stuttgart suburbs really suck! ) Since I would have the security of at least a 3 year contract, I could get myself a car if I want, meaning I could drive to lovely little ancient places whenever I want, even on a Wednesday afternoon, because my boss is always very wonderfully flexible, even though my boy's boss, and therefore him and his car, are not. And the final verdict???

I'm going to do it.

But unlike before, when I arrived in Germany a starving student, unsure how I was going to support myself, and for who it was very easy to become dependent on a stable, comfortable relationship, this time I can stand on my own and call my own shots. I can build my life the way I want it to be, and gather around me those special few that I found who made my life bearable and then, after a time, pretty darn good.

Oh, and in crafty news, of course my projects are all in a tizzy as well....I was going crazy finishing some freelance stuffs so my tank is still waiting in the wings to get done. In the midst of my stress I decided it would make me feel better to buy more yarn at Toronto's own Knitomatic, which of course I immediately had to play with. If you hit the link, it's the Candy Apple colour, which is really more crimson than the name would suggest. I'm totally in love with this knit top I found somewhere, but I would have to figure out a pattern myself. I'm not sure I could get the same cable pattern, since it's pretty complex, but I think it would look just as nice with a simpler pattern over the waist section. And I've been working on my first Entrelace, thanks to a lovely girl I met at my first knit meet up. Katherine is opening up her own yarn shop (how awesome is that!?!?) and needed someone to test knit the Trekking XXL, that she may be stocking. She was so happy when she saw what I was doing with it, she says she will have to show it off. So that sock in progress up there is one of a pair that will be on display in the store when it opens next month. Yay! My first knit-on-display :) Any of you Interweave Knits readers will notice the pattern is Eunny Jang's Entrelac Socks pattern, from this year's spring issue. Except I'm only using one colourway, and they will be regular length, instead of knee socks. I am all kinds of happy at how perfect the stitch pattern shows off the colours of the Trekking. I swear I never dreamed I'd be this into socks. Wool socks even. But then, I never thought I'd be moving back to Germany either. I guess I should just get used to surprises :D
**ETA - I figured out where I saw the knit top...it was posted by Amy over at Angry Chicken and is on sale here. Theoretically, I could buy one, but I just checked and like many online shops they do not ship to Canada :P But I think it would be more fun to knit one anyway, and how cute will that top look in a deep red?? ;D
posted by tatjana @ 12:40 a.m.   5 comments
Friday, August 03, 2007
Confused....but better :)
So, slowly but surely, things are looking up. Just to give you all an idea of what I've been dealing with over the past few weeks, here it is in a nutshell, after which I get to gush about my knitting and my new shoes :) (You're also free to skip to the knitting, just look below!)
I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it, but both my parents are essentially disabled, as in neither are well enough to work. My dad has suffered from dystonia since I was 12 or 13. I'd rather not go into what it was like growing up and seeing my big, strong, soft-hearted dad deteriote into a shell of the man he once was, so suffice it to say his illness entails a whole lot of pain, pretty much 24/7. My mom suffers from migraines that can keep her bed-ridden for days at a time and prevent her from reading, viewing a monitor or watching tv for more than an hour or two at most. Since neither of my parents have worked since I was a child, money has always been a bit of a bitch. When I arrived from Germany, I was not in such great shape mentally or physically, but unfortunately instead of having time to relax and recover, I landed smack in the middle of my parents' health and money troubles.

I am now happy to say that together we have managed to work things out so that a) my parents will soon be moving to a new condo, with monthly payments that are within their small budget b) there will still be room for me, so I don't have to frantically look for a new place to live c) best of all, my parents have finally stopped freaking out, which is *so* not good for their health, or my sanity, for that matter. So, that said, I hope you will all be a bit forgiving about my not blogging much lately, as most of my news and happening was only of the kind that would probably have made me to cry to type.

***Knitting joy starts here***

I have probably said it before, but really, knitting is a great stress reliever. For me, this is particularly true when I am working on my own pattern. Unlike other kinds of craftiness, knitting was something that I immediately felt comfortable with and proficient at, so I find creating knit things very satisfying. This tank top I'm working out began with this great cotton that's been sitting in my stash for a while. These skeins were part of a relinquished stash I found on eBay, with a mix of different fibres and colours. When I saw the 2 balls of pink and 4 of aqua, I knew that neither would be enough for a project on their own, but damn don't they look cute together! I started playing with them a bit and eventually ended up with a polka dotted swatch that I really liked.
Now, I haven't done much in the way of colourwork, so I was not exactly keen to be doing a whole garment of it. I finally settled for the portion you see here on the front of the tank. When I thought about what to do for the back, a straight stockinette seemed a bit boring, and I've been loving these tops and dresses I've been seeing which include different fabrics put together in a sort of DIY style. I've also seen some that were part fabric, and part knit or crochet. So I though it might be fun to mix it up a little bit by using different stitches.
If you're wondering why the front has such a deep scoop-neck, it's because I'm going to add a lace insert there, using the pink yarn and the same stitch pattern that is on the ruffle on the bottom. I'm almost done knitting the back and am pretty curious to see how it's going to look on. I guess I'll just have to wait and see :)
And just to show you all that in spite of everything I am doing my best to treat myself and keep chipper, take a look at these adorable little shoes I found on sale! I am so in love with them, it's just silly. Not only are they pretty, they are lined in unspeakably soft, faux suede type fabric and feel like the comfiest of slippers :)
posted by tatjana @ 6:47 p.m.   6 comments

Trekking XXL Enrelac Socks
Dottie Tank
Lizzieas pdf
Bosomy Tankas pdf
Mods for Bosomy TankA Fanciful Twist
Anastasia Drawing and Dreaming
Apron Thrift Girl
Arleta's Motley Wool
The Barefoot Cobbler
Beauty School Dropout
cArried AwAy
Kandeedo Bandeedo
Fiber Arts Afloat
Hadas y Flores
Jungle Dream Pagoda
Lobstah Life
muerto de risa
My Marrakesh
Pink Lady Knits
Sock prOn
So Sylvie
Stitched in Holland