Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! & giveaway winner

Merry Christmas, everybody! :)
I hope you had (or are having) a good holiday! Mine was busy but very nice, we had a big family dinner on Christmas Eve, having over my grandma, aunt, two cousins and my sister's boyfriend. We had a traditional Christmas dinner with duck, red cabbage, bread dumplings with duck liver pâte as starter and hot chocolate cakes with a fruit salad for afters (all homemade, meaning we spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen, as is also traditional in my family ;) ).

The picture, of course, is of last Christmas, which I spent in Sydney with my boyfriend. A strange experience, but not unpleasant, although I missed my family. But I could do with a spot of warm, sunny weather around now! We did have a beautiful day today, and went ice skating in the sun. Fun! :)

Now, for the scarflet giveaway winner. *drumroll*
Thanks for answering my nosy questions about holiday dinner and gifts you'd like. It's fun to learn those little things about you! I already told you about our dinner, and as I already mentioned, we don't give gifts in my immediate family, but I received a lovely teapot, tea and biscuits from my boyfriend's family, some more tea and special sugar from a friend and some pocket money from my grandmas. To be spent on fabric, notions and yarn, if I know myself. ;) I treated myself to the Colette Sewing handbook and one of the Stitch'n'Bitch knitting books. New projects for the new year, yay!

Ok, enough rambling! Random.org decided on the scarflet winner:
Comment no. 11 is Debbie from Minnado's House, who is having nut roast and chocolate cheesecake for Christmas dinner. Congratulations, Debbie! I'm going to send you an email shortly!

Hope everyone else is also staying warm and having a lovely holiday!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some things to share

I'm sitting at the table in my parents' sitting room, having apple strudel and cappuccino for breakfast, with a bit of knitting in my lap and the falling snow in front of the window. Lovely, right? I have to say, while winter definitely isn't my favorite season (that special place in my heart belongs to late spring/early summer and early fall), and I usually get fed up by muddy, snowy weather by late January - the first few days of snow in the year really have something magical. Especially in the week before Christmas.
The soft white light that's getting even through the thickest snowclouds and is reflected by the white snowy blanket that covers everything. Snowy days are so much brighter than sleety, rainy winter days. The sound that is muffled. The childlike feeling that I get, walking through the still-white, fluffy powder on the streets.
The town I grew up in looks lovely around Christmas time. Cobbled stones, lights strung up, snow everywhere...
I wanted to share some more things with you before Christmas. For one, I made some Cinnamon Stars (and Cinnamon Bikinis for my stepdad and boyfriend) with the recipe from my guest post over at Rhinestones & Telephones. I made the dough the night before we left for home, because I had egg whites left over from eggnog making, and in the hustle of packing forgot to add cinnamon. They taste a tad boring now, but still good. :)

Speaking of eggnog: this is a really fast and easy gift to make, and doesn't need much besides things you'll probably already have at home. It also convinced four eggnog haters in my circle of friends (including me ;)!

Easy Eggnog Recipe
Whisk 4 egg yolks and 250g (about 2 cups) powdered sugar with a mixer or blender for 5 minutes. Add 250g (about 1 cup) heavy/whipping cream and whisk for 10 minutes. Add 1tbsp of vanilla sugar (or a few drops of vanilla extract) and whisk 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of grain alcohol (eg. vodka) or brandy and whisk for a final 5 minutes. This makes about 1liter of eggnog. If you want, you can add a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg for a more seasonal taste.

I'm also working on some more knitting. My boyfriend's best friend asked for a scarflet (and gave me a lovely set of tea and biscuits for Christmas), so I knit one up in the car on the way to my parents. I still need to post that one today! I also found some more lovely Merino wool here, and started on a blue scarflet for my boyfriend's dad, whose birthday is just after Christmas. The reddish wool is almost the same shade as my lost mittens, so I thought I'd maybe knit up another pair (after I finished the one for my mom) and a hat to match. Also, lovely green Merino wool! I couldn't resist the shade, it's my favorite type of green. I'm sure I'll think of *something* to make with it.
Speaking of wool, I tried dyeing one skein of the thrifted Mohair, with mixed results. I probably shouldn't have tried dyeing it in the washing machine. It felted up. On the other hand, I started on a Juliet scarf with the second skein and gave up after the third row. The hairy yarn is a pain to work with, and feels pretty scratchy. Also, my dyed skein looks just like a rose! I think maybe it can be saved and used as an applique for a purse or something?
I've also started on a record of the yarns I have used. I glued the wrappers and pieces of the yarn into my sketchbook, so if I ever want to look up what I used, it'll be there.
Oh, and I made some other treats to give away to various friends. Hot-Chocolate-on-a-Stick! It's also rather easy and fast to make, and so easy to customize! Just melt the chocolate (in the microwave, the oven or in a bowl over a pot of hot water), add in some cocoa powder (about 1tbsp per 100g of chocolate) and if you want, some flavoring agent (I used dried and sugared orange peel and cinnamon for the dark chocolate and gingerbread spice for the milk chocolate), pour into ice cube trays (250g of chocolate filled one tray for me), wait a couple of minutes and stick in some wooden spoons or icicle sticks (I actually used tongue depressors from the apothecary as I couldn't find either - there gotta be uses for being a medstudent ;). Swirl them around in a cup of hot milk to make hot chocolate, or even in coffee!
One last thing before I leave you to your hopefully very happy holidays. I saw this lamp yesterday, and it looked so pretty. I wonder if it is possible to make it yourself, maybe out of heavy paper or plastic sheets? It looks like it's just a lot of single pieces stuck together at the corners...
So, may you and your families have some wonderful, happy, peaceful holidays! I leave you with this song that I've been listening to on repeat for the whole morning. It's sung by my friend Lili Sommerfeld and her trio Seven Seasons. Not a holiday song but so lovely...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

another week - and 100th post scarflet giveaway!

*yawn* I'm so tired! It was a very busy week. My rotation this week was at the GP's, and I had a great time. Mostly because I was allowed to work under supervision or on my own instead of just observing, at least with the easier things. And as it is sniffles season and there were lots of people without an appointment, I actually felt useful - always a plus. :) Being a GP is also in the top three of "things to be when I'm grown-up", so apart from the fact that it took me an hour to get there and another to get home again, it was pretty much perfect. The commute paired with the gloomy weather was less fun. And I left my mittens on the train the first day! My pretty, pink reading mitts! I even phoned the lost&found (never done that for a pair of gloves) but they didn't have them. Oh well.

Then there was knitting - my first pair of toe-up socks, knit on a circular needle (pattern here)! With stripes! Kinda ambitious for my second pair of socks ever, but it was fun. I can see many more in my future. I forgot to take a picture, though, before I gave them away. Maybe I can get one after Christmas.

Then there were the obligatory pre-holiday get-togethers. A work party, a friends party, and one of a literary nature (my friends and I have been doing a short-story club every 3 weeks for the last year). So, three late nights, before getting up to get to my parents early this morning. Now I'm here for the holidays. There's even snow! :) And the opportunity to sleep in tomorrow. I hope. :)

Anyway, this is my 100th post! And right in time for the holidays! So, I've been scheming for weeks to give away a scarflet. Made from beautiful, mustard, 100% Merino wool. With lotsa love. :)

You're very welcome to enter. Just answer one of the following questions for me: What are you having for your holiday dinner? What would you most like to find under the tree? Comment until Christmas Eve, 11:59pm (GMT). I'll randomly chose a winner and announce them Christmas Day. The giveaway is open to everybody. Don't forget to leave your email address!

Hope you're have an enjoyable and non-too-stressful Holiday time!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More FESA and Self-Stitched Saturday

I didn't think I'd get a lot of sewing done this week, since I had my surgery practical rotation. I was wrong, though, as I was posted in the clinic and the doctor in charge seemed less than enthusiastic with our presence. I did get to see and do a couple of things, but on the whole it was rather a waste of time (we were told to occupy ourselves with our books for three hours out of four, and didn't even have to come in on Friday). On the positive side, I was home by 1 p.m. each day, with lots of time for sewing and knitting. :)

Behold, this is not only yesterday's outfit, it's also three me-made garments - although the grey scarflet is actually my boyfriend's, but it fit so nicely into the color scheme and I wanted to show it off. :) I've already shown you the coral top, but I hemmed it yesterday and also lowered and widened the neckline a bit and made some fabric flowers from scrap fabric for decoration. It works better for layering with the new neckline, and the flowers are only pinned on with hair pins.

The skirt is refashioned from a men's sweater I got at the second hand shop last week. I've seen quite a few skirts similar to this one in the shops and thought the idea was cute and probably rather warm. The waistband is pieced from the sweater's neckband and sleeve ribbing, which looks nice but turned out to be a bit fiddly and rather bulky. It encases an elastic, so I hope the first wash will shrink it a bit and maye lose a bit of the bulk. The red hat, btw, is the one I got in Vienna. I've been wearing it every day for weeks and I'm totally in love with it. I feel like such a 20s girl every time I put it on... ;)

Today's outfit shows that the flowers are indeed detachable. Somehow, I haven't worn my mousy dress in several weeks (which just goes to show that I usually rotate the same three or four outits for weeks on end) but I wanted to try it with the coral and rather like the look. :)

So, apart from the finishing of the top and the flowers, what did I do this week? The scarflet for my b/f and one for me, two finished and one begun small secret projects (knitting), one half-finished secret project (sewing), a skirt alteration for a friend,... hum, this read kind of less impressing than it felt. ;) I will also have to think about which projects to try and finish before I leave for home next Sunday. I should still have a good amount of time for sewing in January, but I know that come mid-February, I'll want to start my spring sewing, no matter how cold it will still be...



Friday, December 2, 2011

Joys and Pitfalls of Knitting

I think that maybe taking up knitting wasn't such a good idea after all.

Or maybe it was buying my first ball of Merino wool that was the stupid thing. So soft and slippery and warm...

Why?

Well, I think I'm reasonably good at not buying fabric. (Don't ask my boyfriend about his opinion on that fact, though...;) Actually it's more like, there isn't all that much fabric out there that pleases me in every way (feels good, looks pretty, is in my price range and screams "I want to be a beautiful skirt/dress/blouse/etc. just for you" at me). So, I'm reasonably good at not buying fabric frivulously. Which is good, because both my purse and my apartment aren't that big.

Enter knitting.

Do you know how many stores actually sell yarn? An impressive amount, at least here in Berlin. All department stores, all three of my favorite craft stores plus the occasional yarn shop...

And really. Knitting is such a soothing activity. Plus, sooo many projects you can make with one ball of yarn!

So, the actual story: I had a bit of time on hand on Wednesday, and happened to be near one of my favorite craft stores. So I wandered in, more on the lookout for holiday decorating crafts or possibly jewellery making. And what do I see?
A whole corner of yarns, almost all of them cotton or Merino or Alpaca wool.
And so pretty! The colors!
Are you in any way surprised that there was no way I could walk by them without buying at least one ball? Or three?
one for the boyfriend, one for a gift, the luscious green one for me. hehehe.
I thought not. Even though they are between 4 and 6 € per 50g-skein, which is kinda expensive in my book... Ah well, it's almost Christmas. I have also been steadily knitting my way through my little stash, so that's ok, I guess.
sneak-peek of finished things. lovely, luscious merino wool...
I hope I'll find enough people to take my creations off my hands, though. If not, I'm tentatively toying with the idea of opening an etsy/dawanda shop. That would be kinda cool, and possibly buy me a few more skeins of merino wool. Or alpaca...

On quite another note, did you know that some 2nd hand shops sell yarn, as well? See what I found at Oxfam!
Mohair wool for 1,50€ per ball, and the other is a cotton/wool blend for 1€ per skein. They have an oh-so-slight eau-de-mothball, but nothing too bad and I think a little soak will make them fine for wearing. I'm thinking another pair of mittens and a Juliet scarf...?
Juliet scarf, a beautiful free Ravelry pattern
I wonder if mohair wool takes well to dyeing? The red scarf looks so pretty! Then again, I already have a red one and the creme color is quite nice, too...

That's it from my little corner of the world for now. I think I'll make myself a pot of tea now and snuggle up on the sofa with some knitting, seeing as I had to switch on the light already even if it's barely past 1p.m.

If you knit, what is your favorite yarn to work with? Do you have a favorite pattern that uses only one skein of yarn?

Monday, November 28, 2011

My New Favorite Dress

I finally managed it! After weeks and weeks of having it lying on a heap in the corner, I finished my Floral Macaron dress.

I actually meant to make it in time for the Rose of Spanish Harlem theme over at Sew Weekly weeks ago, but after attching the yoke and inserting the zipper, I really didn't think the look was flattering on me.

The photo doesn't actually tell it all, but the sweetheart curve sat too low on my bust and made me look flat-chested, while the folds of the skirt really emphasized my hips. Paired with the sleeves that made my shoulders look even broader than they actually are, I was not impressed.

Which made me sad, because I really, really love the floral fabric. I guess it's the first fabric I've used that could be called "vintage", although I have no idea how old it is. My boyfriend brought it from his last visit to his grandma, when he helped her clean up the attic and came across her old sewing stash. Isn't it great that he thought of me? :)

After consulting a friend, we decided that the skirt and bodice part were actually fine and would look good if they just sat about two inches higher. So this weekend I reached for my seam ripper, took off the yoke and made a sleeveless knit one instead. (My very clever method was to put on a tight jersey top, put the dress on over it, mark the lines of the sweetheart and back neckline on the top with chalk and then use that as a pattern. Worked like a charm. :) )

The bust dart now sits about two inches above my bust point and I had to put in an additional (v-shaped) dart so the bodice wouldn't gape (looks like a princess seam now, you can see the shadow of it on the photo if you look closely). But I love the dress. I love the fabric, I love how comfy it is, it doesn't even crease all that much! I can wear it layered with longsleeves, my new black slip and tights, and it's just right for the weather. The sweetheart neckline and the flowered fabric make me ridiculously happy. And as I opted for sleeveless, I'm pretty sure I can wear it year round!

It also matches my friendship scarf and mitts. :)

In my excitement, I started on another Macaron yesterday, this one a fall/winter version with a longsleeved knit yoke, made of the teal plaid fabric and navy interlock.
For fear of pattern-matching, I cut the bodice on the bias with the same modifications that I did on the floral version. Not sure that was the best idea, the darts make interesting shapes of the plaid and I'm not quite sure how the bias cut will affect the fit... If all else fails, I have enough fabric left over to cut a second, on-grain bodice, at least. :)

What's on your sewing table right now?
Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Finished Things

How come it is Thursday already?! Wasn't it Monday a minute ago? Time seems to be flying by - as it usually does, when you have stuff to do.

So, things.

As most of you will probably have seen, I did a guest post on Holiday Treats (cinnamon stars and hot cherry chocolate, yum!) over at Rhinestones and Telephones last Tuesday! Hop over if you haven't seen it yet and want to try a new recipe for holiday cookies!

Last week was pretty busy. My drama group finally performed "Ajax // Don Quichotte (beta)" (an interesting and slightly experimental mash-up of the two pieces of literature) on stage, with several dress rehersals before opening night on Thursday and performances through the weekend. It was pretty awesome, even though I think 95% of the people who came knew at least one of the people involved.


My mom, sister and her boyfriend even came up on Wednesday and stayed until Sunday morning, and I spent the days shopping and walking about the city with them. Of course, evenings were spent celebrating, drinking, eating and having fun - so not much time for sewing. On the upside, I did quite a bit of knitting before the performances to settle my nerves. So now my scarf is finished!



I think it's about 2m long, I can wrap it around my neck 4 times! *g* Even with my blocking, it's prone to rolling up though. It might be that the bamboo rayon yarn doesn't block that well. Any suggestions?

I've also been scrambling to get my report sheets together. I'm starting my last year of uni and what most of you might know as medical internship in February, and the deadline to show that you have indeed completed all necessary classes and doing the required practical work is Dec. 1. Of course, my Uni doesn't do this digitally, we have to go to every secretary's office of almost every class we've taken, get a little piece of paper and take everything to the internship office. I might have started earlier with this, alas, I totally forgot and now one of the secretaries is sick. Hope she'll be fine again by Monday...

I did manage to finish another garment and Fall Essential, though. A raglan longsleeve from one of the Fabric Market jerseys, the pattern is from Ottobre 5/2008. Apart from a bit of rolling, the jersey was very uncomplicated to sew. Not too stretchy. :) I still need to hem, and I'm thinking of making a few matching fabric flowers for embellishment. It looks rather plain like that. But good for layering...
I've another cut out, that one in green with a gathered neckline. We'll see how it turns out. Until then, my next project for communting is already on my knitting needles - but secret for now, as certain kind of people read my blog. ;)

Hope you're all having a good week!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Sewing or Knitting?

I think I have found out why my sewing mojo has been rather down the last couple of weeks, while my knitting mojo has been really good. Today was the loveliest of days, crispy cold and clear, just above freezing and glowing a brownish gold. So lovely that I spent quite a bit of time cycling to and fro, shopping for yarn, knit dresses and make-up for out theater performance next week, instead of using public transport. Very different from gloomy, clammy, foggy yesterday...

I say "was" even though it's hardly 4 o'clock, because the sun is already low enough that I had to switch on the light. I'm not winter depressive or anything (books, cozy blankets, knitting, hot chocolate, cinnamon spice tea, risotto and the occasional crispy, sunny winter day make me mostly like the season, at least until mid-January) but fact is that, even though my sewing nook is right by the window on the top floor of a 5 storey building, it is pretty gloomy and not very well lit, at least between mid-October and March. And I can knit while listening to teachers, watching TV, going on the bus... good lighting is not essential for knitting. :)

Which is possibly why I have accumulated a yarn stash in the last couple of days. :)

As I said before, we don't really do Christmas gifts in my immediate family. There are a few frinds and family members I've decided to knit gifts for, though - Christmas gifts or just "a little reminder that I love you" gifts, right? ;) You may be able to find them over at Tilly's Crafty Christmas Club in a while - my family and some friends do read my blog sometimes. :)

Sewing mojo notwithstanding, I went to visit the Holland Fabric Market in Potsdam last Sunday. It's only 4 times a year, and they usually have pretty good bargaigns. I was looking for some more nice doubleknit fabric for another knit dress, possibly some nice wool for a winter Rooibos or Macaron, a lace collar for embellishment, jersey for longsleeves, some fun (polka dot?) lining, red curderoy for a little girl's Christmas dress... but wasn't impressed by the selection. I did find some non-expensive jersey coupons (1.5x1.5m, 5€ each) for longsleeves and a bit of stretch poly garbandine (?) for a pair of trousers. Honestly, that was possibly a good thing. My stash is getting pretty big as it is and I did spend quite a bit of money on yarn in the last two weeks. *g*

So, no new sewing projects at the moment (though I want to sew up a couple of longsleeves sometime soon) but my friendship scarf is coming along well!
Also, something I totally forgot to post last week: I finally took a picture of the lovely hat that was gifted to me by Jessica! I totally love the little felt flowers she used for embellishment. And it looks really lovely with my polka-dot Rooibos layered for fall weather! :)
So how has your week been going. Are you happy with the weather in your part of the world? And does it influence your sewing/knitting mojo?

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Finally more Fall Essentials

Thanks for your lovely comments on my last post! I'm doing fine, the cold is gone, and this week, uni is taking up a lot less time. So I actually had time to do some stuff! I should really blog more often, because things are accumulating. I have a reason for this, and I'll try to be better about it - probably from next week on... ;)

Sooo. I managed to finally finish some more Fall Essentials and take pictures of them! First one up: a cheater Fall Essential, as the dress itself was finished in spring. It still lacked quite a bit of handsewing, though, because the instructions for attaching the lining (Rooibos style) confused me to no end.

The pattern is Burda 3477, a basic princess seamed sheath dress, and I made it up in some teal wool fabric that my lovely friend Ismeta gave me, when I visited her in Kentucky around this time last year. :)

I really love the color, and the fit is fine for a sheath dress, I think. Unfortunately, I kind of missed adding a slit to the back. It's fine for the wool, which has enough give to sit comfortably, but the lining is less stretchy. We'll see how it works, but I've even tried biking with it and didn't have any problems for now...

No. 2 may be my new favorite dress. It's so comfy! It's a sheath dress from Ottobre 5/2008, originally meant for a woven fabric, but I used a doubleknit (I think?) from the Turkish fabric market.

Since it's a knit, I made the pattern without the back zipper, which was easy enough. I traced size 42 from the magazine and added seam allowances, which I took off again at the side seams, since I wanted a slightly tighter fit for the knit.

(Incidentally, I lost my camera remote while making these pictures - it slipped out of my hand while throwing a big handful of leaves into the air and even 30 of searching under the leaves wouldn't produce it. I also almost kicked my shoes into the lake behind me during the jumping pictures, which is why I decided to jump barefoot the second time around... ;)

My boyfriend calls this my mouse dress, since it is grey. It does look slightly mousy, but I like it with contrast longsleeves. Black is fine, but I like green even better and I have a purple longsleeve on my to-refashion list...

Also, look at the black cloche that I got last month... :) And labels! :D

I really like the fabric for this dress. I feels so soft and the bias look is very cute. Unfortunately, even after a few wears it pills like crazy...


Other stuff: I've been thinking hard about Christmas presents. We don't do presents in my immediate family (the money not spent on gifts is put into a pool , to contribute to a Christmas feast or vacation) but I think some small handmade trinkets for my friends would be nice, especially since I've found that knitting is a really soothing activity. :)

My friendship scarf is progressing moderately well, even though I almost only knit during my 1.5 hour evening class. This is how it looked two weeks ago. Right now I'm at about 80cm, I think...

We got a bread maker! We eat quite a bit of bread, and I've found that the bread made by bakeries in Berlin is so much worse than in the bakeries at home. I think most of them get the almost-finished bread delivered and only finish baking it, so it's got lots of preservatives and stuff. With the bread maker, we can make smaller breads so they stay fresh and we know exactly what ingredients are in it. Plus, fresh warm bread whenever we want, without leaving the house! :D


(We're still working on the look, though...)

I'll leave you with an impression of my Hallowe'en costume. :) (In case you wonder, I called it Celtic Druid Priestess.)


Have a lovely rest of the week!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspirations

So. Uni has started up again last week, and while I only had evening classes then (in paediatric audiology and phoniatry - quite a mouthful, no?), this week I also have gyn/obs rotation from 7:30 to 2:00. Getting up early in addition to evening class makes my head woozy. Or it might be the cold I've been fighting for the last few days... Which wouldn't be so bad, if we were at least learning lots of interesting stuff. It seems, though, that the docs on my ward have loads of better things to do than teach. At least I'm making some progress on my friendship scarf during audiology lectures. And I cut out the pattern pieces for a knit dress yesterday!

So I thought I could post some of the cute things I found on Pinterest and in blogland during the last few weeks...

cute crocheted flowers by rosa p.

ear warmers by prudent baby
felt flower brooches
how to make big fabric-covered buttons from milk tops
(instructions in German but the pics are self-explanatory...)
cute pleated tote tutorial
buttons sewn onto elastic - very cute!
Hope you have a happy week!