Well, for me it starts today – I am on my way to Oberstdorf for the Allgäuer Nadelstiche. There will be yarns, and nalbinding workshops at our booth, and there will be mountains in the background and coffee and good times with Margit.

Last year’s view of the mountains… I guess they will still be there this year.

The car is loaded, my trusty thermos mug is filled with delicious coffee, and tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll be at the fair – drop by and say hello, and have a look at the delightful brand-new things I am bringing along with me!
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Like probably everybody else with an email account, I’m getting spam, and sometimes plenty of that. Which is annoying (especially since legally, I’m obliged to check my spam to make sure it really is only spam…) but sometimes, there’s a real gem in there.

Interestingly, for instance, I get a lot of offers to help me find sexy girls in my city – in a number of different languages, all of them not very grammatically correct. There was English, of course, but also (badly-translated) German, French, and Spanish. I am not sure how they know that I do read all of these languages, but do not realise I’m not into ladies (well, apart from all that happily married stuff, you know).

Recently, there was also a lot of those mails telling me that the sender had cracked my account, yadda yadda, long story short, I am supposed to send money in form of bitcoin. (Obviously, there was no account-cracking – it’s just a spoofy mail to get people to send money.)

Those were all very similar, and all rather boring, semi-bad English. Yesterday, though, I got a really good one. Not only is the mail more elaborate, and the English worse than in the previous ones, it also has a P.S. And that actually is the most delightful P.S. that I have ever found in a spam note. Here it is:

P.S. You are not my single victim. so, I guarantee you that I will not disturb you again after payment!
This is the word of honor hacker

I also ask you to regularly update your antiviruses in the future. This way you will no longer fall into a similar situation.

Do not hold evil! I just do my job.
Have a nice day!

Now isn’t that nice?

Posted in and now for something completely different | 2 Comments

If you are a knitter, you will know that there is more or less maths involved in knitting. While it’s quite possible to avoid maths-ing to a large degree, not doing so can make things much, much easier – like adjusting a pattern to your gauge instead of endlessly fiddling around with different needles, and maybe trying a different yarn, to “get gauge” exactly as stated in the pattern. Or figuring out how much yarn you’ll need from knitting a sample swatch and weighing plus measuring it. Or other things like that.

I was reminded of all that maths stuff when looking for an article about early compound knitting on JSTOR and found instead this one here:

Belcastro, Sarah marie, and Carolyn Yackel. “About Knitting…” Math Horizons, vol. 14, no. 2, 2006, pp. 24–39. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25678655. (JSTOR is a paywall thing, but they offer a free registration that allows you to read up to six articles per month for free. So if you are interested in that article, or in other stuff, you can sign up there and get some sciencey goodness.)

I found it amusing – and if you are tickled by the combination maths and knitting, Sarah Marie Belcastro also has a webpage about these things, with plenty of links to keep you amused and/or occupied. And a photo tutorial for a knitting increase that looks like a reverse ssk or k2tog!

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I’m a little late to the party talking about things that one might do during Lent, seeing that it’s already more than a week since Ash Wednesday – but better late than never, right?

Fasting times such as Lent is one of the things that fascinate me in a way as they are obviously a religious thing, but can also have a very practical aspect. This time of year is one of scarcity – before we had canning plants and freezers and large climate-controlled storage facilities and an overall abundance of food available all year round, the time of year just before Spring proper was when food supplies were running out, but there was little or no fresh food available yet. So having a period of fasting with severe food restrictions in this time of year was actually less of a harsh restriction than it would have been at other times.

It does still serve, however, as an opportunity to look again at what one has, and what one may eat and drink. In turn, the release of the restriction still means some extra enjoyment and festive feeling when Easter comes around (with fresh foods as well) – so the period of restriction enhances the impact of the feast, helping everyone appreciate what is available again.

In our modern days, there’s no scarcity due to the season anymore, so the restriction for Lent might feel harder today. On the other hand, having a restriction with more impact probably does a better job at reminding how comfortable life usually is – which is also why quite a few modern people do not follow the “traditional” Lent rules, where there is no meat allowed, but make up their own fasting rules. One of the quite popular choices is to drink no alcohol during this time, another to forego all sweets. The idea behind this is that something convenient, or dear, is given up for a while; something that feels hard to give up, as a form of penitence.

The BUND Naturschutz (which is one of the eco organisations in Germany) has taken this year’s Lent as an opportunity to ask people to “fast plastics” instead of alcohol, or sweets, or meat (or, of course, in addition to that). Plastics, especially single-use plastics, are everywhere in our consumer society, and they pose a huge environmental problem. So the BUND asks us to look at what we buy, and use, with an open and critical eye for this Lent period: Is the stuff packaged in plastics? If yes, is there a way to avoid it? Maybe something packaged in plastic can be made at home, with little effort and for less money than when buying it; maybe avoiding plastic is as simple as bringing a canvas bag; maybe it’s just choosing another brand. Some things, such as milk, are available both in a tetrapack and in glass bottles; yoghurt can be bought in glass jars instead of plastic tubs.
While there are some people who actually try to go “zero plastic”, I find it really hard or impossible to non-plastic in some cases. So I still buy some plastic-wrapped stuff – but I am trying hard to reduce it, and even if I am still creating quite a bit of waste this way, every single bit of the stuff that is not used helps.

So… are you fasting? If so, what? Or trying to reduce plastic? Or both, even?

Posted in and now for something completely different, green living | Leave a comment

I’m getting asked now and then about the oil light swimmers in my shop – are they available on their own? And now… they are.

With my last order of the complete sets, I was able to also get the swimmers solo, both the three-bladed and the round type. So now everyone who wants to have an extra wick-holder or five… can!

The new silk colours for the embroidery silk are in the shop now as well. I am quite in love with how the new lineup of colours looks:

I’m really happy about this. And I’m even happier that these are not the only new thing coming into the shop… there’s several things that have been in the pipeline for a while, but had not yet come to fruition. Now, though, things are moving, and if everything goes according to plan, I will have something shiny and nice in about two weeks’ time…

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By pure chance, I stumbled across a curious and fascinating thing to do with books a while ago: Fore-edge painting.

You never heard about that? Welcome to the club – I had no clue what that meant, so I looked it up… and it’s amazing. Let me try to explain.

When you open a book, the pages shift slightly, so that they are not completely stacked atop each other, but a bit staggered. Fore-edge painting means that you paint on these tiny staggered strips of paper that are just, juuuust on the edge of the page.

And here’s the clincher: You gilt the edges of the pages, and when you close the book, the painting completely disappears. It’s incredible, and there’s almost nobody left who does this, but I can give you one link to a crafter in the UK: Foredge Frost. (There’s pictures on the website. Enjoy.)

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I’m doing a little test run on the ink before making a larger batch – and since that involves interesting stuff, you might want to enjoy some pictures of it…

It all starts with the oak galls – in my case, imported ones (which was done in the medieval times as well).

These get crushed, and then they get to soak in water for a few days, with a gentle stir at least once every day.

The next step: Adding iron sulphate – that’s the lovely green stuff…

…which instantly turns the brownish liquid black.

And now the whole thing needs to mature again for a few days…

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