Thursday, 31 December 2015

My books in 2015

I love statistics and so I had to copy these from goodreads. 26'372 sounds like a lot of pages and I love to see all those books filling the bookshelf. I had set myself a challenge again -  for 2015 I wanted to read 52 books, which wasn't difficult to fulfill. It seems I always read a lot right at the beginning of the year and during the last few weeks of it and much less inbetween. 

I actually prefer long books, because you can really dive into the story and get lost for a long time.

 More statistics:
  • 56 books are written in English
  • 16 books are written in German
  • 1 book (that I never finished) is written in French
  • 20 books are proper books
  • 53 books are on my iPad
My favourites of 2015:
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
  • Still Alice, Left Neglected, Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Shifting Colours by Fiona Sussman 
  • The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
  • The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
  • The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter) by Marissa Meyer
What were your favourite books of 2015?

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 resumé

Last year I did this resumé for the first time on my SchnickSchnack blog, so of course I'll do it again for 2015.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
I am not sure I was very adventurous or that I learnt something totally from scratch last year. Maybe I could count going on a ferry by car in Canada (I was so scared but it was the best way to travel) or having my own class (I used to do that before but never while I had my own kids). Maybe I can remember more before I get to the end of this post ;-)

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I only wrote in my moleskines while we were on holiday (which is a compromise I can live with well). On the good side I am glad that I wrote many entries here on my blog. I gave my best to enjoy the moments, though I didn't always succeed. For next year I'd like to find a good balance between my job and the rest of my live, I want to pay attention to old and new friends and I want to spend important moments with Yannick and Antonia.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yep, lots of babies were born, which gave me the opportunity to knit small baby stuff ;-) Welcome Dan, Isabelle, Marlene, Yasha and Elif.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
In July and August we flew to Vancouver. We spent 9 days on Vancouver Island and then drove back to Vancouver along the Sunshine Coast. Vancouver Island was just as beautiful as I imagined and I am so glad that we did that road trip together.

In October Yannick and I went to the UK. We stayed in London for two nights and then we changed to Brighton. I enjoyed the Harry Potter Fim Studios and everything about being next to the sea.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
I could write the same as last year -  more adults to talk to. I am good at work and I can always find somebody to go out to dance or for a coffee at home, but in my everyday life I'd love to have a person to talk to regularly.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
3rd of January: Taking the photos of my dad's wooden statues.
14th to 21st of February: Skiing holidays in Tschiertschen. I just love that place!
2nd of May: An afternoon with my cousins at the gym.
2nd of July: Swimming in the Türlersee.
14th of July: Swimming in the Rhine with my parents.
5th of July: Sleeping on the balcony to escape the heat.
13th of September: A hiking weekend in Tschiertschen.
And there were many more good moments, when we had fun, when it felt just right.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
That I started my new job the way I had been dreaming about for the last few years. It has been very intense and right before christmas I was very tired, but I gave it all I had.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I didn't find a healthy balance, I used up too much of my energy and this made the people I love suffer. I am also rather ashamed that I lost it too often with Yannick and Antonia. I wished I could find a way back with my mom, recently it's been akward whenever we meet.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a really good year. My back rarely ever hurt and I am pretty sure it's stronger than ever thanks to Kieser Training and yoga (I haven't always been good doing it, but at least I always made an effort during the holidays) I am kind of scared that something might happen, but it's  just a weird feeling I've been having.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I got a new computer and an iPhone 6S which I both love. Otherwise I didn't buy anything big, but I tried to be generous with myself.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Yannick and Antonia because they took over so many responsibilities when I had to work late. Sometimes I forget this and get angry when I think they are being lazy or difficult.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Mostly my own, especially during the last couple of weeks. I have to concentrate on not being so negative again!

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travelling was expensive but the memories are soo worth it. I bought a lot of yarn, but on the other hand I almost didn't buy any other clothes at all.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?
Arriving at Tofino and seeing the beach which was responsible for my travel plans live up to my dreams.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
All that music we listened to while on the road. Next time we need a proper song list ;-)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Probably about the same. As always these days around christmas are hard for me. But it will get better again.
b) thinner or fatter? Slightly fatter. Not heavier but wobblier.
c) richer or poorer? A bit richer, which will mean more taxes later I guess.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I did what I could. I wished I could have been happier, but that's not easy to achieve.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Shouted at others.

20. How did you be spend Christmas?
Pretty much the same as the year before. With my cousin on the 16th, with my other cousins and family on the 19th, with my family on the 24th and with Andreas' family on the 25th. Too much food and alcohol for me.

21. What was your favourite month of 2014?
July and August.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
For about 5 minutes.

23. How many one-night stands?
It wasn't just one night but not a lot more.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
A lot of old friends that I still liked...
Downton Abbey (just watched the finale today ;-(
Empire (good music and I love their clothes)
Grandfathered (John Stamos ;-)
Jane the Virgin (perfect Telenovela)
The Grinder (Rob Lowe ;-)
and many others...

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
"What Alice forgot" by Lisa Genova.
The Lunar Cronicles with "Cinder", "Scarlet", "Cress" and "Winter" which were just the perfect read over christmas, I just couldn't put them down and had to finish them before I could do anything else, even though I only bought the first one for my English student ;-)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I started listening to apple music ;-)

28. What did you want and get?
I got my own class, just when I had given up. (Which was my answer for #29 last year, wow!)

29. What did you want and not get?
A person.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
The one that touched me most might have been Amateur Teens, but I haven't been to the cinema a lot.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 44 years old and I am so proud of myself that I invited everybody to my place for raclette and drinks.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don't know.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Wooly stuff. There were days when I wore 5 different handknit items.

34. What kept you sane?
The same as last year: My kids, talking with friends, going away on holidays, knitting.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Nobody really but Alicia Florrick always gets the bestest man candy ;-)

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The refugees that have been arriving in Europa and the terrorist attacks in Paris. They make me afraid of the future. The world seems to be a rather shaky place at the moment.

37. Who did you miss?
Old ghosts are hard to kill.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I was happy with my old friends.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
I wished I had one.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Sadly I have to leave this one empty.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Finished Object: Heart Mitts

Pattern: Heart Mitts
Yarn: Malabrigo Arroyo and Purl Soho Line Weight
Colours: Natural, Jupiter and Cardamom Green
Needles: 3.25mm Round Needles
Start of project: December 20th, 2015
End of project: December 29th, 2015

On Ravelry

I've been wearing my Snowfling Mitts a lot on my way to school these past few weeks and every time I put them on I loved the soft feeling of the lining. But whenever I wore them, I wished they were wider and longer. So I had been thinking about an improved pair of lined mitts for a while. After I finished the Anders there was still a fair bit of Malabrigo Arroyo yarn left over, especially from the red one. I really loved knitting with that yarn and decided I wanted to use it again.

I started looking for a slightly wider pattern (the Snowfling Mitts have 28 stitches on each side). Thanks to ravelry I found the Fiddlehead Mittens which use a sport weight yarn and which have 30 stitches on each side. I also found a cute heart pattern by quiltingkitty (aren't ravelers the best, so many beautiful ideas). I wanted the hearts to be more dominant, so I decided to make them red all through.

Finally I was ready to cast on. I knew I wanted to use the picot edging and the stripey cuff from the Snowfling Mitts again, I think they are the perfect way to start. Then I knit the heart pattern on both sided, but after a few rows I didn't like the look of it and went back to the cuff. I really wanted mitts that had a front and a back. I can't remember where I saw the pattern for the back, but I think it's totally perfect and I am sure I will use it again and again. So simple but so effective! For the thumbs I used the Adelia Mitts pattern but changed the end of the thumb to the same pattern as the back of the mitts. I started at home, knit on the train to Hasliberg and both evenings in the hotel. On the way back I cast on the second mitt which I finished on December 25th, while sitting around the christmas tree.

Even before blocking it was obvious that the size was going to be much better, they were wider and a lot longer. Once the first one was dry, I started with the lining. I used more of my left over Purl Soho Line Weight (definitely my favourite lining yarn ;-). I think the Cardamom Green adds to the festive mood of the mitts.

So now I have a new pair of mitts for my morning bike rides and I am pretty sure that I found the perfect pattern for future ones (I am sure these weren't my last ones ;-)

By the way, could someone please explain the difference between gloves, mitts and mittens to me? I am quite confused and might have been using all three terms without any logic at all ;-)

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Two days on the Hasliberg

School ended early this year which gave us a couple of days before Christmas. The boys decided to go skiing but Antonia didn't feel like it. So instead we went to the Bernese Alps and stayed at the Hotel Wetterhorn in Hofluh, Hasliberg. On the first day we were too late for the sun, when we got out of the Postauto the last rays were just disappearing behind the mountains on the other side of the valley. The view out of our window was still beautiful.

For me it was a trip back to childhood, because that's the place where I learnt to ski a very long time ago. I remembered a lot, these villages don't change very fast (we actually saw a wooden house that had been built in 1578, imagine that) The ski resort has a few new possibilites but the slopes are still the same so it was easy to remember.

On the second day we woke up to an impressive sunrise, which told us that the blue sky of the day before was not to be repeated. The sunrise was actually the best weather of the whole day, we would encounter clouds, fog, snow and even some rain during our hike.

We took the cable car up to Käserstatt where we felt like the only people alive. Because of the weather and because there was not enough snow on that side we were almost the only ones up there. We decided to hike to Mägisalp and not to be bothered by the weather.

The weather got worse instead of better, the fog started to seriously roll in. Nevertheless we wanted to go further up, so we took the next cable car up to Planplatten. By the time we'd reached the top the visibility was almost zero, but we had a cup of coffee and a hot chocolate and then we braved the fog for a few minutes before we took the cable car back down again.

The rest of the way we had to walk in the rain, but we listened to really loud music and had lots of fun even though we got seriously wet. We were back at the home quite early which gave me time to finish my first glove while we watched a movie on Netflix.

We weren't sure if we should stay on for our third day or go shopping to Lucerne instead. But once we woke up, it was clear that the sun was back and that we couldn't leave without some serious sunshine. What a difference a day can make, this is the same spot we went to the day before but it felt like a different world.

We hiked all the way down to the hotel, which took us a bit more than two hours. It was so funny to start in winter and end up almost in spring. Switzerland really needs lots of snow, these last winters have been bad for tourism and the smaller ski resorts are suffering from the lack of snow and the guests who don't come anymore.

We arrived back in Zürich just in time for another spectacular sunset. It was only a short time to be away but it felt like a proper holiday.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Finished Object: Vanilla Latte Socks 2

Pattern: Vanilla Latte by Virginia Rose-Jeanes
Yarn: Regia Design Line Ombre Stripe
Colours: green to blue (4484)
Needles: 2.75mm Round Needles
Start of project: December 4th, 2015
End of project: December 19th, 2015

On Ravelry

My new socks are done. I like the colour but the yarn isn't as nice as the one I used in my first Vanilla Latte Socks but I am sure they'll be ok to wear.

I have not really found a lot of time for comfortable knitting during the last few weeks. School has been very busy and with christmas approaching and my birthday party I barely found the time to sit down and knit a few rounds. I think I am in a bit of a knitting slump but I might just have used up too much of my energy. All I've really wanted to do recently is to sleep.

At least now we have reached the holidays. We will have our first christmas celebration tonight with my cousins, which should be relaxed and fun and then I'll go to the mountains for two nights with Antonia. There won't be a lot of snow, it's been far too warm so far, but I can't wait to get away from everything here.

I'm planning to start a new pair of lined gloves. I want to knit a mix of all the different pattern elements that I like, so I'll take ruled paper and pencils to see if I can come up with something nice.

We will be back on the 22nd and then we will celebrate christmas with my family on  the 24th and the 25th. I wish you a calm relaxed time wherever you are!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Finished Object: Anders

Pattern: Anders by Sorren Kerr
Yarns:  Malabrigo Yarn Arroyo
Colours: Neutral and Jupiter
Needle: 3.75 and 4mm Round Needle
Start of project: November 25th , 2015
End of project: December 2nd, 2015

On Ravelry

I had this pattern in my queue for a while and was just waiting for a new baby to be born. I was really happy when I heard that my friend Marietta had given birth to a baby girl with the beautiful name Elif in the middle of November. I ordered some yarn and soon I was ready to start knitting a little sweater for her.

I had never used Malabrigo Arroyo before but I am sure I'll order it again, I just loved the feeling of it and I think the colour is so beautiful. The pattern was quite easy and it grew so quickly. I did the colour work twice because there were some rather long strands on the inside which looked like traps for little arms and hands. The second time I managed to get shorter strands by trapping them after 3 or 4 stitches. I used this tutorial and it really helped me without slowing me down. I also learnt to knit Vikkel Braids which look really neat, though they take quite some time to do.

I hope I'll get the chance to see the baby and its mom soon, but there is no real hurry, because the sweater turned out quite big and should fit only in a few months.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Finished Object: Winter Forest

Pattern: Winter Forest
Yarns:  Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted
Colours: Antler and Mandala
Needle: 3.75 and 4.5mm Round Needle
Start of project: November 19th , 2015
End of project: November 23th, 2015

On Ravelry

And another quickie: A hat for my mother-in-law. When I last saw her, she asked for a knitted hat out of the blue. The only thing she told me was that she wouldn't mind fairisle and blue. Which leaves about a trillion possiblities ;-) I looked around on ravelry to find a nice pattern until I stumbled across this hat pattern (Fair Isle Hat #6209). I liked the different parts of pattern and the effect of the gradient yarn.

I knew I didn't want to use a gradient yarn but a very variegated one instead. With Mandala I found a colourway that combines a lot of the colours my mother-in-law likes. I also knew that I didn't want to knit this flat (who does that and why???) but of course in the round. As the pashmina worsted is slightly thinner than the aran yarn of the pattern I decided to start with 100 stitches and go up to 108 after the rim. Like that I was able to do 6 repeats of the pattern. I had to improvise a bit in the middle part because my hat still seemed very short and then again when I got to the trees, it was too early to decrease. For the crown I tried to knit a star, which worked out ok, but next time I need to start sooner in order to get a bigger star.

All in all I think it looks cute and I hope it will fit Hanni. Otherwise Antonia will have to keep it for herself ;-)

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Finished Object: Bon Bon Mittens

Pattern: Bon Bon Mittens by tincanknits
Yarns:  Maddison Furbetto / Purl Soho Line Weight
Colours: Orange, Beige, Heirloom White
Needle: 3.25/4/4.5mm Round Needle
Start of project: November 14th , 2015
End of project: November 20th, 2015

On Ravelry

I can't seem to start another big project (for example the cardigan that I wanted to knit for the summer knit along, starting in August and have had the yarn for since probably June ;-) but I've been good using up leftovers. I knit the Foxy Hat last December and had a lot of orange and about half a ball of beige still in my stash afterwards. Orange is a colour I rarely wear and the yarn wasn't anything special. Nevertheless it seemed enough for a pair of mittens.

 I decided to give the BonBon Mittens from TinCanKnits a try, since I already had the pattern. For the cuff I used someof the beige yarn and then I changed to orange. They were very quickly done, including the thumb which I knit with beige again. I felt like knitting really warm mittens, so I added a lining mitten (I copied that from the Snowfling Mitts). I didn't line the thumbs, they seemed too small and frankly I was just too lazy to do it. They are a bit stiffer with the extra layer but really warm and toasty.

I had a lot of fun knitting these mittens and I might knit another pair sometimes soon.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Finished Object: Mac Book Cover

Pattern: MacBook Cover
Yarn: Lang Yarns Merino + Superwash
Colours: Fuchsia, Olive, Marine, Off White
Needle: 4.5mm Round Needle
Start of project: November 4th , 2015
End of project: November 13th, 2015

On Ravelry

Usually my MacBook stays at home, but every once in a while I need to take it to school with me. As I didn't really have any kind of cover nor a good bag to transport it in, I decided to knit a cover for it. On Ravelry I found a pattern I liked for its shape, the Knit MacBook Air Cover Pattern. I decided I didn't want to do any sewing at the end of the project so I thought about a way to cast it on flat but still get to knit it in the round. I think I remembered this cast on from some other project but I wasn't sure if I could pull it off (I have no idea where I met this method, but I must have somewhere...)

Anyway, I cast on 120 stitches and then I alternated the first row with k1 and slip stitch with yarn in the front. I did that for 4 rows, then I divided the stitches on to two needles and afterwards I was ready to continue knitting in the round and start the colour work a few rows later. After a while I realised that my cover was too wide, so I started again, and then I had to start again because it was too small all of a sudden (I guess I should have done a proper swatch ;-)

In the end, 72 stitches worked great because the pattern repeat was 8 stitches and it was the right size too. For the pattern I used an old favourite of mine, the Sundottir pattern. I knit it twice, used up all my yarn (you can see all that was left over on the photo) and now my MacBook will be much cosier on my bike next time ;-)

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Finished Object: Hitchcock

Pattern: Hitchcock by tincanknits
Yarn: Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted
Colour: Teal
Needle: 4mm and 5mm Round Needles
Start of project: September 25th , 2015
End of project: October 30th, 2015

On Ravelry

Andreas (my ex-husband) has asked me to knit him a pullover for a while. With his rather slim build and with very long arms it's often difficult for him to find tops that fit in both width and length.

In Pom Pom Quarterly - Issue 14 - Fall 2015 we saw this lovely sweater - Hitchcock - that both of us liked. We decided not to go with the original yarn but went for the other worsted yarn from the same vendor -  Natural Colors Merino Worsted.

Once it arrived I kind of knew that there might be trouble ahead. All the skeins had really noticable differences in shade and as soon as I started knitting I noticed how much colour this yarn would lose - my hands very totally stained blue everytime I took up my needles and the colour ended up on everything I wore and even on my sofa. The colour came off ok, but it wasn't cool to knit with because even my face got blue from where I'd touch it with my fingers.

At first I tried to knit it the way it was written in the pattern. But all that reverse stockinette really hurt my hands and the fabric also turned out quite uneven, something that never happens with stockinette. That's when I remembered reading somewhere about a similar pattern that had been knit inside out and I decided to give it a try. I asked around on the pompom forum on ravelry and was told the same, that it shouldn't be a problem knitting it on the wrong side and then change to the right side once the body and the sleeves were all attached together and the sweater was divided for the collar. And I am soo glad I took the risk, because it was very easy and logical and I am sure it looks so much neater now.

The colour kept frustrating me, especially the parts where I tried knitting with alternate skeins. It's actually stripey there. But Andreas kept insisting that he liked it anyway and so I kept going. In the end I like the result, I love the way it looks, the fit is great and I think those are just the perfect buttons for it, but I am still not happy with that yarn and wouldn't buy it again. I only hope that it won't lose much more colour when worn over a t-Shirt.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Finished Object: Honeycomb Toque

Pattern: Honeycomb Toque by Kent Turman
Yarn: Madelinetosh Vintage
Colour: Turquoise
Needle: 3.25mm and 4.5mm Round Needles
Start of project: October 26th , 2015
End of project: November 4th, 2015

On Ravelry

I've loved this pattern for a while now, but somehow the time was never right. Then after I'd finished my Hitchcock (which I'll write about as soon as I have some photos taken) I needed an easy project. I also really needed to dive into my stash again, because the suitcase where my yarn lives was so full I couldn't even close it anymore.

At first I wanted to try a different yarn - the Quincy & Co. Tern of which I still had lots of yarn left over from my Waterlily. Because Tern is fingering weight and this pattern calls for Aran, I decided to use two strands of Mist and one of Seaweed. In the little piece I knit it looked ok but once I started the hat it felt rather stiff and it was very intense knitting for my hands. Nevertheless I finished it. The hat looks ok but it doesn't feel very cosy. It's currently being blocked intensly which might make it more pliable - we will see ;-)

Once that first try was finished I totally wanted a nicer version and I remembered the yarn I'd bought at Strickcafé at their Lagerverkauf. I love the colour but I never knew what I was going to make with it. Well now it is my new Honeycomb Toque. I totally love the texture of it and I know I'll wear this a lot on my bike to school. I had to add quite a bit of lenght to the original pattern, it seems my hair needs a lot of space to be covered. Instead of 28 rows before starting with the decreases I needed 44 and it's still not too long.

Anyway, now that I used that yarn I might be allowed to start at new one again, maybe...