Sep 27, 2011

sparkling zombies in heaven

Ok, so when I said that I would write up a post about the wonderful wollmeise shop experience "soon" I meant that as compared to "never." So you see? This post still qualifies as "soon."

Having read several other people's accounts of shopping at the Wollmeise brick and mortar store, I feel like I am just reiterating what they have already said. I also have this problem of not being able to come up with a better description, when asked, other than "so. awesome." Not particularly descriptive, but the simplicity and nondescriptness of it kind of harkens back to what was happening in my brain when I first entered the sock yarn mecca that is Rohrspatz & Wollmeise.

So we arrive in Pfaffenhofen after a rather long day of travel. It started the night before, when we met my uncle and his friend in Kaiserswerth for dinner and beers. Lots and lots of beers. And also Killepitsch. We were out until about 1AM and then had to get up at about 5AM to go to the train station. Needless to say, I wasn't in very good shape that morning. Then we board our ICE train to München. If you are not familiar with this type of train, all you really need to know is that it goes fast. Very very fast. Close to 200mph fast. That alone is enough to *ahem* exasperate post-drinking pain. Add to that that our seats were facing the wrong way (i.e., we were riding backwards) and it was all I could do to stay conscious and/or not covered in vomit.

After we almost miss our connecting train only to be squished in the aisle by the toilet w/several other people (they really like to pack those trains in!), we do make it to Pfaffenhofen and walk over to the store.

*queue angelic voices*

We walk in and husband immediately scopes out a seat at a table and plants himself there. He is immediately offered coffee. Now this may seem like just friendly customer service, and it is, just not directed at the husband. Oh no, by making him very comfortable and giving him a hot drink that will take a while to drink, they are enabling me to take my sweet time shopping. Brilliant! Myself, I am completely overwhelmed. I don't even think I could have come up with "so. awesome." I was so deer-in-the-headlights dazed by where I was. I just wandered around a bit, picking up skeins here and there, but really not comprehending where I was or what I was doing, let alone how to jump into the gathering of skeins of gorgeousness.

See what I mean? I mean, shelves and shelves and shelves of beautiful skeins of wollmeise... and they could all be MINE!!!! Well, I calmed down (sort of) and got to work. Luckily, Dani was there to help hunt down the colors for the other people I was shopping for, giving me the time to pick out my haul. Which I did. I ended up with a few more skeins than I had planned on, but I regret nothing. NOTHING. What made me absolutely ecstatic was finding the three colors that had topped my wish list for over a year now: Emil (oh how I love him), Traubenhyazinth and Vergissmeinnicht (in twin). I cleared her out of Emil, just because I am a total hoar when it comes to that man. And now, without delay, my haul:

You can see the lovely Emil at the bottom there - isn't he lush? Some of the other highlights (not that they aren't all totally gorgeous, but some are just a little more spectacular, in my eye):
Beautiful versuchskaninchen


my personal favorite - a wacky Mond im 7. Haus
My favorite thing about being able to peruse the shelves was being surprised by colors I had previously written off as not that interesting to me. The Veilchen above is a perfect example - I was blown away by the beauty and kicked myself for never giving it a second glance on the website! Same went for Tiefer See. I really hope some day I can go back and do it all again - it was such a wonderful experience and Dani and Claudia were so very nice. Hopefully next time I will have won the lottery and can just buy the place out. Can you image? Talk about a knitter's wet dream... 

Well, now that my stash is that much more out of control, I guess I have to knit all this yarn up, eh? I'll get right on that! 

P.S. So that the title makes sense - I haven't gotten much further in Twilight, as I have been re-reading World War Z. Sparkling = Twilight, Zombies = World War Z, Heaven = Wollmeise

Sep 20, 2011

Yes, it's a giant duffel of yarn. Stop smirking.

My absolutely fabulous trip to Europe concluded with U.S. Customs agents giggling at my giant duffel bag filled with sock yarn. I find it hard to believe that they haven't seen far more interesting or funny things come through customs (I remember a funny story from my former roommate involving customs agents inspecting an obscenely large, black dildo in a velvet bag...), but I'm glad I could provide them with a smile, especially considering what a shitty job they must have at times.

The only way this trip could've been better was if it had been longer (and if I hadn't left my capris in Düsseldorf). We were able to visit all of my family in Germany, including my grandmother, both uncles and several cousins. My grandmother is getting on in age, so it was particularly nice to be able to spend some quality time playing Canasta with her, which also allowed husband to learn the source of my poor sportsmanship when it comes to losing games (apparently in runs in the family). He quickly learned that the key to my grandmother's heart was to a) let her win and b) not question the rule changes that seemed to happen frequently. I was also able to meet the three cousins that had been born (and grown up!) since I last visited, including my absolutely awesome 13 year old cousin Camilla. She even convinced me to *gasp* read Twilight, which I had sworn I would never do. I'm reading it in German, though, so it doesn't really count. Plus, I haven't gotten to the "sparkling" part yet, so there is still time for me to bail out.

Aside from turning to the dark side, we also did some sightseeing in all three of the German cities we visited and spent a few days sans family in Bozen/Bolzano, Italy. Short little tour of our vacation through photos:

The Uerige pub in Düsseldorf, perhaps the most well-known of the breweries in the Düsseldorf Altstadt (old town), as it has the longest bar of the world.

Cute flower shop in Kaiserswerth, a historic old town near my grandmother. This building is wicked old (forget exactly how old... but very)

Now down to München (Munich to you Americans), with a dragon climbing the Rathaus. I won't bore you with photos of the damn Glockenspiel - most of my pics are of the throngs of tourists watching it (I don't get it). Dragon is way cooler.
The interior of the Theatinerkirche, which is fucking amazing. Perhaps my favorite church interior ever. I could've stood there for hours.
Münchener surfers. Didn't expect that, now did you? There is a HUGE park in München - the English Garden - with this river that runs through it - Eisbach - which is very fast moving, so they created this artificial wave in it, and people surf on it. It's really pretty cool. Also, it being a German park filled with sunbathers and people floating in the river, I hit my quota (and then some) of old man butts.
Now Italy. This was taken from the cable car between Bozen and Oberbozen, the latter of which offered glorious views of the Dolomites (which you can kind of see in the background).
And look! There they are!
Town square of Bozen, which I found to be absolutely charming. I could easily have spent several more days there, sitting in cafes, drinking outstanding coffee, my new favorite drink - Hugo (prosecco, elderflower and mint) or beer, watching the ridiculously chic Italians walk by.
And this. This is the reason I would rather live in Europe than in this overly-processed country. Drool.
We took a day to travel to Verona. I have mixed feelings about that city. It is quite beautiful, with plenty to see, a lot of history and simply gorgeous Piazzas, river views and buildings. However, all of these things mean that it is PACKED with tourists, and on a hot day, you really don't want to spend your day pushing through tour groups with their fucking flag-wielding guides giving you a nasty looks. I'm glad we went, but I'll only go back if it is the off season. The above pic is of love notes, love graffiti and eternal love locks in the courtyard of Casa de Julieta (Juliette's house). Cheesy, but kinda cute.
Ah, back in Germany. Cooler weather, better beer. We were up near Regensburg (old city, founded by Romans) for the last part of our trip. Of course we had to visit the Walhalla, set up in the hills overlooking the Donau (Danube). It houses busts of prominent Germans, and is just an incredible building, with a spectacular view. Another one:
So gorgeous.
In Regensburg, the Regensburger Dom (cathedral), which is stunning. Apparently it is essentially the same as the Kölner Dom, just smaller. Whatever, it was awesome.
Along the Donau, which runs through Regensburg, there were of course more opportunities for beer. This little building has been around for over 100 years, and has high water signs all over it from the multiple times the river flooded. You'd think they'd move...
Lastly, a pic of the maypole in Cham, where we were staying (where previously discussed awesome cousin lives with rest of family). You can't really tell, but the pig has this very pitiful, pleading look on its face. And that was our trip in a nutshell!

What, you thought I would end it there, with no photos or detailed discussion of the yarn? You should know better. Although you're partly right. The visit to the Wollmeise Mecca and the subsequent purchases warrant its own post, which will come soon. Promise.

Sep 2, 2011

my name is nelago, and I don't swatch.

Any knitter with even a basic understanding of the craft will gladly expound upon the virtues of swatching if you ask her - and often will do so even if you don't ask. Any time a project ends up too big or too small, the first question inevitable is "did you swatch?" In many cases, this question is accompanied by a tone of patronizing superiority. Generally, my response is "fuck you." Well, that's my response in my brain - I'm not bold enough to actually say or type this to someone. I don't swatch. I did once, and it was incredibly boring. When I was done, I had yet to start. That is a feeling I can do without. I am impatient enough when it comes to knitting (reason #1 why I have not knit a sweater), so a swatch just makes it even more likely I will get bored and abandon the project. So no, know-it-all knitter, I don't swatch, and I don't plan to.

Now, this type of attitude requires a certain comfort level with frogging. I'll admit, sometimes I knit shit that doesn't fit. Had I swatched, it may have fit, but see above rant about swatching. So I am actually totally ok with frogging a project that doesn't fit and starting over. Yeah, it doesn't make sense re: my patience issues, but sometimes I just don't make sense. Deal with it.

So... my awesome stripey DK "my eyes are hazel, hellen keller" socks. Too big. I still need to figure out my ideal stitch count for DK weight socks, it seems. In addition, I attempted a short-row heel which turned out like total shit. So it was to the frog pond for the socks. I love the yarn, so I'll try again. This is how far I got:

You can't see all the holes along the heel, but they're there. Must figure out a better way to deal with that. I think going down a needle size will help all around. I'm not sold on the short-row heel, though. I did come up with a good method of remembering how to wrap & turn: if you're a girl, think back to when you were a kid and being taught to, ahem, wipe - front to back. When wrapping and turning, your yarn always starts at the front, and moves to the back. Just pretend you're avoiding a UTI.

Happier news - the weaving is going relatively well! I finished my malabrigo scarf, and it doesn't look half bad. The edges are an issue - I can't seem to get them clean and even, but I'm sort of getting better. I then warped some Sunshine Yarns luxury sport (merino + cashmere) in the colorway Boulder Flatirons, making a scarf for my mom (who LOVES the Boulder Flatirons). Pic of the scarf, pre-washing:

It is so ridiculously soft and lush. I really like the slightly looser fabric too (8-dent reed, same as I used for the malabrigo). I then started a similarly sized scarf for my grandmother, this time in Madelinetosh Pashmina, also sport and a merino-cashmere-silk blend. I'm using the colors Clematis and Thyme, and it's soooooooooo pretty. No pic right now, but will get one when done.

Why no pic? I'm having a travel-heavy month here. Last week I was in Chicago for a conference (I may or may not have visited the LOVELY shop Nina and bought some yarn... if you know me, you know whether or not I did). Right now I am up in the thumb of Michigan with the husband, supporting his hobby in the same way he supports mine (i.e., if I tell him he can buy a new gun, then I get to buy more yarn, right?). In a few days, we leave for Germany! Visiting family mostly, but also the mecca of yarn stores - the Wollmeise Brick & Mortar Store!!!!!!! <--- excessive exclamation marks are totally justified here. So anyway, my brain is a little all over the place.

Speaking of travel, I got some chiagoo bamboo needles for the plane, to mitigate the possibility that the TSA agents take my fucking needles away. I like them so far - the cable is close to their RED needles (flexible), and the join is fabulous. I cast on some vanilla socks to knit on the plane, in String Theory Continuum (I seem to be on a luxury kick here, these are merino-cashmere-nylon). The colorway is Pluto, that poor demoted non-planet, but really, these are my Detroit Lions socks. I hope they bring my team some much needed good luck.

Well, I will be back with many pics from my travels soon. Well, sort of soon. promise.