News & Updates

2014 – The Adventure Begins

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2014 is shaping up to be a big year for me – we get to meet Bump2 this year and “complete” our little family. We already know that she’s very active, so no doubt I’ll be exhausted soon enough and the posts will grind to a halt again! With that in mind, the following items are not resolutions, they are merely goals that it would be nice to achieve in the next 12 months. If I don’t get there, well that’s OK – I’ll be busy enough!

  • Make it to 6 months of toddler plus baby with a smile on my face, my hair brushed, me dressed most mornings and still going to knitting at least semi-regularly
  • Convince the toddler to eat vegetables (well, there has to be one impossible challenge)
  • Finish my other big web project so that it’s properly launched
  • Start an Advent calendar for next Christmas really early (May?)
  • Get this year’s Christmas card ordered on time (early November)
  • Make at least two more tatted snowflakes for the tree
  • Correspond the old fashioned way, as in write some letters
  • Stashdown… or at least remain stash neutral for the year
  • WIPdown… finish some of the hibernating WIPs
  • Get the annulment sorted at last
  • Knit some lace, as I haven’t done much of that and I know I can do it
  • Get better at German – with MissK coming up with new words all the time I need to keep up!
  • Finish at least 2 pair of socks, get faster at finishing them too!

So really of all of those the first one is the most important one. I struggled a bit with K so I know to watch out for the signs so hopefully I’ll catch anything sooner.

We’ve started the year with ghastly cold weather – but then it is winter so what do I expect?? We’ve also started with some new words. We’re adding gorilla, Brille and bath to the list. The rest of the list is bear, door, ohr (ear), spider, ball, bye-bye, mama, papa, mehr (more but also used for gimme) plus various animal sounds.

News & Updates, Travel

2013 Review


As the year comes to a close, it’s time for the obligatory review post. This is made a little easier given that I didn’t post anything to tell you of any grand plans at the beginning of the year, so theoretically I could just say wow, look at me – I did everything. But that would be a lie.

The truth is that I did have some plans and ideas for what I wanted to achieve throughout the year.

Post more – While I’ve achieved this broadly, I was planning on doing a weekly post which I’ve sucked at. I started well but then got myself backed up and I think I’m currently only up to May or something with the weekly photo posts I was doing. I’d love to say that I’ll get them all finished but I seriously doubt it – perhaps a monthly would be better to finish off the year.

Clean more – I am better at cleaning the house. I’m quite pleased with that. Still not up to OCD standards, but then do I really want to go that far?

Be better organised – given that I totally failed to get Christmas cards out, I’d say I’ve failed this one! Still, the only way is up…

Stashdown – For those who are unaware, this means finish the year with less yarn than you start with. I’ve failed that one too. To do this properly you need to know how much you’re starting with. I decided not to count the crochet threads… far too hard! So in yarn alone I started the year with 68km. My end of year total is 77,847m so that’s just under 10km of yarn acquired.

Lose weight/get fit etc – Well, I got pregnant again and in what appears to be my typical fashion I’m currently 2kg under the weight I was to start with (have been gaining for a few weeks) and there’s less than 3 months to go!

Aside from that it was a year of up and downs. We went to Australia which was fabulous – Katja got to meet her Aussie family and my godparents. Unfortunately we lost my godfather a little while ago. I’m so glad that he got to meet Katja. Katja grew as all toddlers do, in leaps and bounds and is such a delight. I made it through my postnatal depression and the homesickness that always happens when I’ve visited home. My youngest sister had a beautiful little girl, my other sister got married and is expecting again. Mum retired. Christian’s family came for visits and there were fabulous trips back to Dublin and visits from Irish friends. Good friends have announced wonderful news with a marriage and a new life on the way amongst the updates. It’s been a great year in all and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the adventure in 2014.


Craft, News & Updates

The First Edinburgh Yarn Festival

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Sitting around the tables with the tea, the knitting and the conversation all flowing we often turn to the same topic – Wouldn’t it be great if… This is generally followed by something like “they made all kids learn how to knit again”, or “there was the perfect cafe with the perfect lighting and free cake/tea/champagne on tap” or “it could be gloriously warm and sunny in Edinburgh for more than 2 days” or “we could all afford to quit our day jobs and just tat/crochet/knit”. In the weeks leading up to and following on from any kind of craft show the “wouldn’t it be great” was invariably followed by “we had something like that here”.

And then it happened.

3 of our group took the Wouldn’t it be great and asked the next question – Why not? and then they started working.

The result, after many months of hard work and what must have been incredibly stressful enthusiasm from the rest of us (what if it fizzled?) was the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Mica, Jo and Linda managed to pull together an impressive list of vendors from all over Scotland and as the event drew closer and the vendor interviews went online you could feel the excitement in the air. What you couldn’t do was actually see Mica, Jo and Linda – they were far too busy.

We heard about all manner of exciting things, like cake and lots of hand dyed yarn, celebrities, buttons, banners, badges, mugs and bags. Those of us not involved in volunteering (I opted out as I’d have the girl to look after, but I did agree to teach) were squirrelling away our spare £2 coins and planning our purchases. We even had the press arrive at our knitting night! Some were also making travel arrangements – Ilze and Paul took the opportunity to have a weekend away in Edinburgh and so flew up from London on Friday night.

What I Expected…

To be perfectly frank, I expected to see a hall with quite a few vendors and a respectable number of people mingling amongst the stalls, squishing and purchasing at a leisurely pace. Something a bit like this picture from a holiday craft market in Flint, MI, USA.

In my mind’s eye there were some couches and a cafe serving the 400 slices of cake at a calm pace. Still, this event was set up by my friends and my friends were volunteering at it and also having their own stalls so I was still excited. At the very east I’d be able to sit down with my friends and have some cake and chat and knit. But the implications if this could actually be successful are huge – I miss the amazing atmosphere of Dublin’s craft scene and while I’ve found the most amazing group of people here, the lack of shopping makes you feel a bit on the niche side. With that in mind I set myself a generous budget and determined to spend it all on lovely squishy yarn. I even went so far as to warn my fellow Stashdown group that March would involve adding to my stash, not depleting it as planned.

Cow Sheep

And then came Saturday. Despite the horrid weather and non-stop rain we woke up feeling like kids at Christmas. A quick breakfast and sort out the baby and we were off, in the pouring rain (did I mention it was raining – it was, lots!) and onto the bus.

On our way in to town I started to get the text messages from friends to tell me there was a queue. A queue! In this rain! As we walked up the street to the venue we saw a steady stream of people walking towards us, most with yarn poking out of the tops of bags.

Luckily the queue had gone by the time we arrived and so we ran in under cover, past the Cow that was now a Sheep:

And on into the main hall. So remember that picture I showed you before, nicely ordered people calmly walking past the vendor tables? They organisers were hoping for about 400-500 people on the day, which over 7 hours works out at about 70 per hour. That’s not what we found! Once we’d squeezed past the crowds actually getting to the tables to see the stock was hard work – I haven’t seen a scrum like this for a long time! The final tally was 1600 people – 228 per hour or 3.5 people every minute!

The vendors were working their behinds off, with some of them even selling out completely and most completely forgetting to eat during the day. The cafe called in extra staff, there was even queueing for the couches. After a while we popped back out to get lunch in Leith and came back. Th ecrowd had died down a little, but was still crazy. With a slight break we could at least stop a bit and look at all the wonderful hand-knits that were on display, with lots of “ooh what pattern is that hat”, I swear it’s better than the red carpet at the Grammy’s!

I tried to get some photos but it was too crazy for good ones – these are the best I could do!

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And my class? It went fabulously with all of my students picking up the technique – 4 new needle tatters in under an hour!

My haul was rather pathetic. In all the excitement I was overwhelmed by the choices and ended up not purchasing anything except some stitch markers. I did however get home and start placing orders for things I’d seen. Oh and I got myself my new favourite mug!

All of the team, the organisers, the volunteers and the vendors were amazing and managed to pull off a truly phenomenal professional event that will be the talk of the town for some time.

I can’t wait until next year. On the back of the success of this one we all expect it to be even bigger! Now if you need me I’ve got to plan what I’m going to knit to wear for the second Edinburgh Yarn Festival…

Craft, Finished Projects, Katja, Knitting, My Week in Pictures, News & Updates

Week 12.46 – A creative week with a dash of anger

My Week In Pictures 12.46 (Nov 12 – Nov 18)

This was a very creative week. With deadlines looming I finally finished my Knitmas gift. I designed a headband to cover the awkward sight of post-pregnancy hair loss which was starting to get me feeling a bit down. As I was on a roll I also designed another scarf which I made in yummy Llama yarn. However, I was also outraged at the case of Savita in Ireland so this week I didn’t post many pictures despite my activity.

20121112 – I finished and wrote up the pattern for my Mulberry Headband. I was feeling really self-conscious about the loss of hair after pregnancy and Ilze found this gorgeous yarn in Loop so I knew exactly how to solve the problem.

C'mon Mummy, wake up - I want to play! #misskatja
20121113 – C’mon Mummy, wake up – I want to play!

Ireland's politicians - cold hearted murder through inaction #thepeoplevoted #savita #shame
20121114 – I was utterly outraged at the case of poor Savita in Ireland. This image was captioned with “Ireland’s politicians – cold hearted murder through inaction #thepeoplevoted #savita #shame”

True that... #savita
20121115 – and I really wished I could have been there in person to protest

20121117 – Christian and Katja

20121118 – Finished my Knitmas cowl for Sinead. Took me a further couple of weeks to locate the perfect button.

Knitting, News & Updates

Angus’ First Birthday

Today is my nephew Angus’ first birthday. Katja and I spent a good two hours on Skype with the family in Australia. It was the first time that the two cousins had actually met, they tend to be asleep when Tegan and I chat. Gus seemed quite interested in Katja. Katja for her part was more interested in food and cuddles, but then she is only 7 weeks’ old. It was great to see him and to hear him – he’s certainly very vocal. Tegan and Dan have done a great job with him, I’m proud as punch of the two of them and can’t wait to see them in person again.

While chatting we had the electrician come over to test the appliances in the flat that belong to the landlord. Of course we were told about this yesterday so I hadn’t had a chance to tidy a great deal, but sod it – I have a new baby and things will not be tidy. I ended up having an argument with the guy over the smoke detector. The one provided by the landlord is plugged into the mains and has a battery back-up. We’ve removed it from the plug and pulled out the battery. The reason we’ve done this is that it goes off every single time we cook – even just boiling water will sometimes set the damn thing off. We’ve complained about it before. And it’s just high enough that I can’t reach it to turn it off easily.

While I was pregnant I certainly didn’t want to be climbing on chairs every time I cooked lunch and with a newborn I don’t want the stupid thing to wake her and nor do I want her to get so used to it that she doesn’t wake. So, we pulled it out and purchased another one which sits at a spot where I can turn it off about a foot down from the ceiling. The electrician didn’t like this, and it took a few minutes of heated debate before he decided that a working smoke detector slightly not perfectly placed was better than a disabled smoke detector.

On the craft front I’ve finally finished the knitting part of my iPad cosy, just got to seam it all up which will be done today. I’ve then to choose my next project. Am I the only person who can spend years trying to work out what to do next?
Here’s my current options

Cushion Covers
I want to make a set of 4 cushion covers. I waver between richly cabled or simple stitch patterns like a crocheted trinity stitch. I know that I don’t want a stocking stitch cover. Christian wants a bright green and I prefer deep purples. Too many variables, too hard to work out how much yarn I would need. This project has stopped before it’s started and I’ve spent hours on it!

Super Warm Jumper
I really like this jumper, have a deep purple yarn to make it with, but it’s so warm that I think I’ll find it very difficult at the moment. Still I’d love to have it done before December.

Spoke jumper
I have the yarn for this one as well in red. I think it looks awesome but again another that will be crazy warm for knitting in August.

Gorgeous scarf/shawl and I have some stunning rainbow yarn which I’ve seen it made up in. This is a distinct possibility.

Venus or Freya
Alternatively I could do some crochet and try one of Aoibhe’s new gorgeous shawls…

Decisions decisions… I can see I’m going to be here a while so in the meantime here’s a little video from this morning.

Craft, Knitting, News & Updates

The Standesamtliche Hochzeit aka Wedding Nr 1

In Germany many couples will have two weddings – the first is a civil ceremony generally for family. Later on they will have a separate church ceremony. While the events are often held on the same day, they do not need to be.

Our civil ceremony was organised in a most unorthodox fashion, with the final details being sorted out in less than 3 days. You can read all about that fun here.

Once we walked into the Chapel and sat down in the big comfy chairs, all went perfectly. Sure I cried, but them I was always going to. After the ceremony, which was in both German and English, we had some champagne and pretzels in the room off the chapel. The Mayor popped in to congratulate us and we were ribbed by our friends for making it too easy by offering a whole 2 days notice 🙂

A few photos in the palace gardens and coffee in the magnificent Orangerie before we headed to the Hotel zum Ritter for a delicious dinner. I’m so glad we were able to have my parents, Christian’s brother and also some friends there at such stupidly short notice. Katja was amazingly well behaved considering the excitement around her. Even the terrible weather that Europe had been having held out to give us, if not clear blue skies, at least warmth and no rain. It turned out to be a truely perfect day.

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News & Updates

How to Organise a Wedding in Just 2.5 Days

Well, it wasn’t really 2.5 days – truth be told we first popped into the city offices to start the process way back in December. We were given a list of all the items that I would need to provide in order to get married in Germany. The plan at that stage was to be married before Katja arrived.

So, we got to work. All of the documents we had to supply had to be less than 6 months old – which of course means getting hold of new copies of things. They also had to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace.

– my long form birth certificate
– my divorce notice
– proof of my address
– proof of my income
– notice of no impediment to marriage

We gathered the details – this took us a little while to gather details and also to wait for things like my actual income statements to come through. The no impediment certificate presented a problem as Australia does not generally issue these. I had to send copies of the divorce decree and my passport to the embassy in Berlin so that they could provide the Eheunbedentslichkeitsbecheinigung (certificate of no impediment to marriage) but then finally we were able to package it all up and send it off. I purchased a dress that would be appropriate for a bride 6-7 months pregnant.

By this stage it was becoming quite clear that we weren’t going to make it before Katja, so we started to hope for approval that would allow us to marry while my parents were over. While down in London I picked up some ribbon from Liberties to make my dress a little more bridey.

A month later we received notice that we now needed to complete a form with all sorts of questions (including a section that asked for my ex’s signature!!) mainly about my divorce. And we had to send in a certified copy of my entire Australian passport – luckily after pointing out that to get a copy of this would cost a few hundred pounds we were allowed to send the actual passport for them to copy themselves. It was getting tight, but still possible. Meanwhile I was attempting to knit a shawl for the wedding but having terrible trouble with pregnancy brain – luckily I happen to know some amazingly talented people and Maria in Ireland took up the challenge to knit a wedding shawl in no time at all. We also managed to order some rings.

And then we heard that the whole lot needed to go to court in Frankfurt to be approved. By this stage we started to talk about planning the civil ceremony in Australia and just forgetting Germany for this event. It was getting far too tight and stressful! Our rings were ready so we picked those up, worst case they could sit and wait until Australia. We were looking after a newborn and trying to organise things like passport for her – no wonder I was on medication for high blood pressure!

As we packed for our trip to Germany we included my dress, some of my favourite shoes that would work well enough and the ribbon. Mum popped into the gift shop at Holyrood Palace and picked up some earrings I’d seen there to match my late Grandmother’s pearls. Christian packed his suit and the tie that I’d bought for him on our trip to Australia last year and we included a cute white outfit for Katja. The stunning shawl arrived just in time (and with a Christening shawl for Katja that is also stunning)

We arrived in Germany on Thursday the 12th. On the 14th a letter arrived asking for payment for some of the official stuff. We paid by bank transfer and then Monday morning found out that we had approval – finally! Monday afternoon we were in the office again going over the details, signing forms of intent and starting to organise the date – the following Thursday, the day before my parents would be leaving.

So there we were, approval at last but only 2.5 days to organise the details of our wedding. So, what do we really need? We set up a facebook event to invite friends who might be nearby (I know!) and phoned a couple of others. We asked a friend to be the official interpreter, luckily she was free and agreed. We then had to try on our outfits, find shoes for Christian, a jacket for Katja in case it was cold and champagne for after the ceremony and I had to get my hair done. My hairdresser in Fulda is a genius, he chose a colour that was perfect for my dress and set my hair such that all I would need to do is run a brush through it the next morning. We the booked a local restaurant for dinner for family.

On the morning of the wedding we popped into town to get some special champagne flutes, thank-you gifts, pretzels for after the ceremony and flowers. The boys got themselves ready and headed off to the palace. By the time that us girls were ready we were running only 5 minutes late.

So.. how did all that crazy organisation go? Read on…