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?