Thursday, August 11, 2016

German Knitting Adventures

Jeff and I were fortunate to be able to get away this summer to visit my brother's family in Germany and take a beautiful side trip to Slovenia. Not as much knitting activity took place as I'd planned. I brought yarn to work on squares for the Shady Marmalade blanket I've been working on, but I only completed three or four squares. We were so busy that I didn't have a lot of quiet, still time for handwork.

Still, I did have one great knitting-related day. I got to meet Andrea and Andrew of the Fruity Knitting podcast! You may remember from a previous post that I got to be on their Knitters of the World segment in episode 7. I got in touch with them and they graciously set aside part of a very warm afternoon to have lunch and to visit a few yarn shops in Frankfurt. Andrea and I even got to spend a bit of time knitting together in a park -- I wish I'd taken some photos of that. It was such a lovely afternoon and I can't thank them enough for their hospitality. I loved hearing Andrea's passion for design and colorwork and style and all the things that bring her to knitting. I can't thank them enough.

One of the shops we stopped by was Maschenwerke. Andrea introduced me to Heidi, the shop owner, who showed me around, pointing out the amazing variety of yarns she carries, mostly from the UK and Japan. She also had an amazing number of pattern books -- more than I think I've ever seen in a shop in the states. She flipped open some Japanese pattern books with some really cool men's designs and showed me how the patterns were written slightly differently. She seemed pretty fearless. Her knowledge of the economics of importing yarn and how she looks at quality was so impressive. I love hearing people discussing things they're passionate about, and Heidi was no exception. She clearly knows her stuff. And I also admired her drive to try new fibers in interesting combinations. It was infectious.

So much so, that I decided to knit a scarf pattern that she'd whipped up, using two fibers I'd never think to put together. Both are from the Japanese company, Ito. One is Sensai, a mohair/silk blend (60/40) in an electric blue color, the other is a flat navy ribbon-like cotton yarn, Gima 8.5. The pattern is called Schal Sommerbrise (Summer Breeze Scarf?). Every row is knit with the Sensai, and then the Gima 8.5 is brought in from time to time and knitted together with the Sensai to make beautiful stripes. The effect was quite beautiful in the shop sample she had. It will be fun to play with these new fibers and, though it might not be quite me, it will make a great gift.

Meanwhile, off to the side, Andrea was showing Jeff some nice men's sweater patterns from some Rowan design books. Jeff doesn't always care for handknits, mostly because of my preference for wool. But I think Andrea may have convinced both of us to branch out a bit, so be on the lookout for a future project that I think we'll both be happy with. Thanks, Andrea!

I did try to visit some yarn shops in Ljubljana when we were in Slovenia, but the two I had identified weren't around any more. The first had closed up it's city storefront and was now based in a small town many kilometers away. And the other seemed to have shut down for the summer. As near as we could tell from the sign in the shop window, the owner was saying she'd be back in January. So much for Slovenian knitting. I didn't see a single soul knitting in Slovenia. However, a few days earlier, on one of the hottest days  in a city on the coast, I did see a woman crocheting in the shade on her rooftop terrace. She looked so relaxed and peaceful...

Since I've been home over the past week, I've been able to work one last baby blanket for the summer. It's soaking right now and getting ready for blocking. More on that later.

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