Thursday, 31 July 2014

I was naughty....

..... my final parting gift to myself from Berlin....

I love the colours, I love the texture, I love the wool I'm thinking cushion covers, granny square projects, and many others!

I'm flying back to London later, where C will pick me up in Bonnie and we will make our way down to Cornwall for a wedding on Saturday. No peace for the wicked ;)

Farewell Berlin, it was wonderful (as always!)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Crochet Catch Up

So another hot, peaceful weekend over in Berlin. I thought I'd share some of the crocheting I've been slotting in, mostly in the evenings. I'm getting a bit frustrated as I don't think I'm progressing much, mostly making simple things. I'm enjoying it, don't get me wrong, but I kinda want to be able to do a bit more. I'll keep at it though, and maybe save the more complicated things for when I'm less tired (I started and tore apart a doily 5 times last week because I couldn't get the pattern right!)

Anyway! I've used some of that beautiful bamboo cotton to make some face cloths. They are so so soft and I love the colours.... one is for me another a gift, but which one?!

I also finished a cowl for my Mum, using one ball of Robin Chunky. We got it in the sale for a grand total of 92p (she was there when I bought it, chose the colour!)

I hope she likes it, I'm guessing it probably won't be worn for a wee while!

When C was here he pointed out I hadn't made any squares for our Bonnie blanket, so I got to work...

I've made more since I took the photo, so hope I will be in the good wife books... and that he might not notice any new yarn that may or may not appear back home with me!

Today I wandered around the neighborhood enjoying the leafy green streets

I love the big buildings, and the flats are gorgeous. The last picture is of the Wasserturm (water tower) on my street, built in 1877, it stored water up until 1952 and is now converted into apartments. During the Second World War a building alongside it (long since demolished) was a makeshift concentration camp, where Jews, political opponents of the Nazis, and others were held, there's a small memorial there now.

I had my laptop with me, as I decided to be studious this Sunday, and sat down with some war novels at a little cafe near the Wasserturm.

 I had my favourite, Apple Cake, to keep me motivated. It sort of worked, although I felt a bit observed with these guys watching my every move

I may have given them a crumb....

Friday, 25 July 2014

Summer in the City

Hello all and happy Friday :)

It's raining again here in Berlin but this time I am happy, we had a week of scorching hot weather and I thought I was going to melt! Being in a dingy archive in a small room on the fourth floor with no windows nearly got the better of me on Tuesday... Now it's cooler and I no longer resemble a sweaty tomato ;)

I had a wonderful time with C, thanks for all your wishes. It was very hot so we did, well, not a lot to be honest! And it was bliss, just what we needed. We've been married two months now, and a sizeable chunk of that has been apart - I'm looking forward to heading back to Blighty now :)

As we didn't become the wonder tourists my camera didn't see much action, I thought I'd share some snippets with you though...

When he got here we pretty much spent the whole afternoon in a beer garden...

 I love German beer. As does C - you can see he doesn't want to let go! It was the perfect afternoon, we drank, chilled and caught up properly :)

We wandered on Satrurday aimlessly, it's really nice being able to do that. We walked to the center from my flat and found our usual landmarks.

This is the famous Fernsehturm (television tower) along with the spire of the Marienkirche on Alexanderplatz. I always love the view of the two towers.

 Here we are in the Nikolaiviertel, (Nicholas Quarter) which is the oldest part of the city. What you see there today is however buildings which have been heavily restored, by the former GDR government in the late 1980s. THe inside of the cathedral is fascinating as it is more of a museum than a church but they have painstakingly research the paint colours etc etc. It's one of the things I love about Berlin, it's an onion with so many layers of history... (you can read about the quarter more here)

 This is the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) which is probably one of my favourite cathedrals in the world. I just love it for some reason. It was badly damaged during the war, with restoration starting in 1975.

 The last snaps are just wandering around. Berlin is quite famous for its graffiti, and I just liked the top one (rough translation: Money is the worst curse of mankind, quite apt I feel - as you can see it's Sophocoles).

The next day we had brunch at my favourite place, Szimpla, a Hungarian cafe, which is on Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, there's a flea market there as well so we indulged ourselves at that. After a massive brunch and in the heat I was too hot to take pictures sadly!

Then we just chilled until C left on Monday. It was really lovely.... and really sad to see him go. I've been emersing myself in PhD work ever since, apart from last night and the night before when I hit the town with some friends. I love this city! I was going to add some crafty activity as well, but I shall save that for another day. I found another wool shop up the road with the most gorgeous cotton blend that is on sale and I have been fighting myself not to buy any. Will I stay strong? Watch this space....

Thursday, 17 July 2014

This and That

Time is just flying by at the moment, I can't decide if it's a good thing as it means all the lovely things that are planned are coming soon, or if it's a bad thing as they will be over! I will go with the former, I need to be more optimistic :)

I've been in Berlin for a week and a half now, it has been very productive work-wise which is a relief. I'm scouring through lots of relevant material and I've also started writing my final chapter, a minor miracle really given the sunny weather that has erupted over the city this week.

C is coming tomorrow, I'm so excited! I'm going to pick him up from the airport, I love meeting people at airports/being met, it's such a happy time. Always makes me think of Love Actually...

I thought I'd just share a few snap shots of my week, which are a bit random. I'm going to adopt tourist stance once C is here and snap away like a crazy woman on my camera rather than my phone. Did I mention that I was excited?!

On Saturday I *accidentally* came across some crafty shops on the way to the library. It seems quite common here to sell wool and knitting/crochet goodies alongside sewing machines, material, and embroidery stuff. I like it! Cotton seems very cheap, these balls were all €1.95, and the bamboo is so so soft. I am thinking flannels. These will be hidden in my work bag while C is here ;) I picked up the hook as I don't have a 4mm with me and that's what the cotton needs. woops!

An old friend happened to be in Berlin this week for a conference and I've had a lovely time catching up with him. I took him to my favourite German restaurant (here) and we had a yummy dinner followed by Apfelstrudel. Yum. yum. yum.

Journals journals journals.... That is my week in the library. I found this advert for volunteering for the military in a journal from 1956. I'm studying representations of the military, and it was really rather nice to have a picture to look at for once (my brain is melting).

A friend for Bonnie to satisfy camper withdrawal! This must belong to a small brewery or something I think.

This is a statue of K├Ąthe Kollwitz, who was a famous anti-war artist, she died just days before German capitulation in 1945. She lost her son in WWI and grandson in WWII, and painted and sculpted some really moving work. The square near where I am staying is named after her, she lived here 1871-1943. 

 The building where I stay has a garden out the front, I think the residents join together to look after it, it always makes me smile when I get in after a long day.

Some crocheting has also been happening, for some reason lots of grey! Using some of the cotton I bought I made a dischcloth (part of my plan to infiltrate every room with crochet) and then I'm making a cowl for my Mum with some wool we picked up together a while ago. Did I mention I have a stash at home and at my parents?! Bad Helen.

Wishing you all a happy, hopefully sunny weekend whereever you are!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Back in Berlin

Back again :) Berlin really is my favourite city, it's become a second home to me over the years.

I arrived on Monday on a very early flight (still catching up on sleep!) and have gotten myself back into my Berlin routine. Unfortunately I'm not as active as usual as somehow I tore my ankle ligament before I came out - I have to try and keep it up as much as possible. I am being sensible this week, and it does feel like it is slowly healing, which is good as I need to be back to full strength next week for when C visits!

The weather has also been incredibly changeable and we have had the most incredible thunderstorms and rain showers - the library actually was more appealing than being outside a lot of the week! Apart from last night and the night before, when I met a friend and my supervisor, I headed home after the library and looked out at the rain from the cosy flat I am staying in.

Of course I brought some yarn with me! I have great plans crochet wise, time permitting! Speaking of which, I started a new cowl using the wool I bought on honeymoon:

I wanted something simple so that you can just enjoy the sheen (which isn't very clear on the picture) and the slightly variegated blue colour. It's so soft and light I can't wait to finish it!!

My morning routine is the same as the last time I was here exactly, and the storms have been kind enough to let me get to work in the sun (the rain tends to start just as I think about turning my computer off and leaving in the afternoon). I am staying in Prenzlauer Berg, which is one of my favourite areas in Berlin (I will write about it more another time, it deserves a photo heavy post). My street is full of old buildings and trees, typical of the area.

 I get the U-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz, which luckily is on the same line as my stop! Need for walking reduced :)

Potsdamer Platz is quite odd, I've always thought. It's very spacious and full of restaurants (mostly chains) and random offices. It was heavily bombed during the war, due to its central location and proximity to government buildings. In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built and used to pass right through the middle of it, so it was a sort of no man's land during the GDR years. It's seen extensive redevelopment since 1989, which includes a lot of tall buildings. The square itself is quite vast and empty, there are often things going on there. Obama stayed in the Ritz Carlton hotel which is just on the left of the picture above when he came to Berlin last year. I saw him leave the building once on my way home, it was quite a spectacle! I couldn't actually leave as they had shut down all possible methods of transport and blocked the roads...

The library is about a 3 minute walk from the square itself, past shopping arcades and a lot of restaurants. There's also this cool sculpture

It says it's supposed to be two boxers! I always start humming Simon and Garfunkel's 'The Boxer' as I walk past. The yellow building just behind in the background is part of the Kulturforum, which is a group of art galleries and other cultural buildings. There's always an interesting exhibition on!

And this is my 'home' here in Berlin, the State Library, most of the resources I need all in one massive building.It's not the prettiest, but I have become fond of it!!

And now I'm off back to my crochet, accompanied by Orange is the New Black and a glass of wine. Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I've really enjoyed reading all of the blog hop posts, and been looking forward to adding mine! The lovely Emma, who writes the blog crochet. reading. travels. stories. life. love. me. kindly sent the hop my way last week. Emma lives in Austria near a lovely looking lake, and blogs about her crafty and other adventures - I'd highly recommend hopping over to visit :)

I'm writing this on about 2.5 hours sleep after a very early flight to Berlin, so apologies if not much sense is made ;) And so with no further ado, the questions!

1. What am I working on?
Currently I have two blanket WIPs, a cross stitch WIP and a couple of crochet scarves waiting to be finished. One blanket is an ongoing project to furnish our campervan with some warm and comfy proejects (last update here) and the other blanket is a scrap granny blanket using up wool I bought for my wedding in May, set to be a lovely momento! My cross stitch project is a picture for a (relatively) new born niece. That one is quite slow to progress but I'm trying :) I like to have lots of WIPs so I can dip in here and there - I have a short attention span! I tend to chose projects that are easy to pick up and put down again, so it doesn't matter if a long time passes between working on things,

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I've been pondering this question a while. I guess I think that everyone creates things in line with their tastes and styles - I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from other blogs, magazines etc and choose projects that I will like making and enjoy once finished. I'm a relatively novice crocheter, and haven't ever designed anything so really my work doesn't differ drastically from others', but collectively my pieces of work reflect me and what I like :) In terms of cross stitch I tend to avoid overly floral pieces, instead sticking to more simple charts. My crochet is all about practicality - I like making things that I can use regularly and enjoy.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
The simple answer is because I enjoy all parts of the process, the planning, the making and the enjoyment of whatever it is, whether it's seeing someone's reaction if it is a gift, or using it myself. It's also insanely relaxing. I've been cross-stitching little Mouseloft kits for about 15 years now (see here) as a way of chilling out and taking my mind off everything. There are quite a few in a shoe box in my wardrobe, some a mounted in cards, others just loose. I should really do something with them!

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

One of two ways :) Either there is a need for something: a gift for a special occasion, a case for a camera, a new scarf in a particular colour to match my favourite coat etc etc, and my brain tries to come up with a solution. Or I see an idea in a magazine, or online and become obsessed until I start making it.

And for next week the blogs participating which I'm passing you to hop on over to....

1. Love Made My Home - Amy writes wonderful posts about her adventures both at home and away, sharing the places she visits as well as her lovely home and workplace. She's very talented and is working on some lovely crochet and tapestry projects :)

2. Rose Hill Collections - Ruth creates incredibly beautiful crochet projects, including some stunning shawls! She uses wonderful colours, and blogs about crafty and other adventures :)

3. @livjaa - Liv is multitalented - she sews, knits, crochets and dabbles in many other crafts! She writes about her projects, inspirations and adventures and makes lots of lovely things :)