fall knitting – magnolia hat

I’ve been knitting away like crazy in the past few weeks, finishing a new cardigan (to be blogged soon) and a hat. When it comes to knitting I’m strictly a “1-project-at-a-time” maker. Having multiple knitting projects underway makes me nervous.

Except for socks. There will be socks in various finishing stages hanging around at any given time.

magnolia hat. little home by hand blog.Anyway, while travelling in Scotland a few weeks ago I picked up a few skeins of Shilasdair yarn on Skye, among these a single skein of white Aran yarn. I knew right away this needed to be a hat. I don’t usually wear hats, having very fine hair that gets flattened by a hat so awfully that I’d rather brave the cold. However, since taking up hiking as a hobby I knew I would need one for winter. I settled on the Magnolia hat pattern which seemed both a nice challenge and exactly the look I was going for.

magnolia hat. little home by hand blog.Notice my new favourite knitting accessory, a beautiful project bag by Windwardmade!

I used size 4 needles which is two sizes smaller than recommended in the pattern. I have a very small head though and knew I had to go smaller to get a good fit (true story: when my mom was in labour with me and you could see the head, the doctor says “oh, the head is really small, the child will likely be disabled”. After I graduated from university with top grades I always wished I could find that guy and shove my diploma in his face).

Surprisingly I found the pattern quite easy, despite it being my first time knitting off a chart. I did wonder if I should do an extra repeat of the pattern to counter the small needle size but in the end I just did the pattern exactly as it was written and the fit is great.

magnolia hat. little home by hand blog.I wore it already on a hiking trip last weekend. Definitely a hit.

Now, what next? Do I finish one of the unfinished pairs of socks? A shawl? A sweater? Too many decisions!

 

 

walking in the woods

Fall smells so good. The rich, earthy smell of wet leaves and colder nights, mingled with the comforting scent of woodsmoke from a chimney being used for the first time in months.

I feel the urge to be outside and in motion in the crisp air, to walk and climb until I am pleasantly warm and breathless.

hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.The woods around here are exploding with color and I treasure every minute of this season. I could spend all day outside, hiking, leaving civilization behind (and it never really is far behind in this densely populated part of Germany).

hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.Given the choice I would hop on a plane to Scotland right now or drive down all the way to the Alps. As it is, I try to make time to explore areas within an hour’s drive. These photos were taken two weeks ago on a day trip. We hiked from the Müngstener bridge up to Schloss Burg.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my phone photos from the day already. These days I seem to shoot as much with my phone as with my ‘real’ camera.

M6hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.With the daylight hours spent like this and the dark time in the evening used knitting by candle light, that is one perfect day.

What’s your perfect day? Similar to mine or completely different?

pea green – colette moneta #2

I have a new obsession – knit dresses! Making my first Colette Moneta dress made me realize how comfortable and versatile a knit dress really is. And soo quickly done with a serger. Were it not for the elastic waist – don’t get me started on that.

I made this pea green version soon after my stripey grey one and finally got it photographed this weekend.

colette moneta dress. little home by hand blogThe fabric is a lovely jersey knit with a little less stretch than the striped fabric – thus the dress fits more snugly. It’s so hard to find a really nice green color and I just love this dress. A nice change from all the navy blue I usually wear.

Though I admit the grey tights weren’t the best choice – blue tights? Brown, black? Help me out here!

colette moneta dress. little home by hand blogNecklines are usually a spot of bother for me – they nearly always gape at front and back in any pattern. I use Rae’s method of taking off the excess fabric while tracing the pattern onto the fabric and it works like a dream. Just letting you know in case you ever run into the same problem.

I love that these dresses can be worn in virtually any season. I look forward to wearing them in winter with thick knit cardigans. A handmade dress with a handknit cardigan – pretty cool, huh!

If you’re itching to make your own – find the pattern here.

giveaway – win one of my landscape prints

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. We are having such a warm and sunny spell that it’s hard to believe Christmas is only 6 weeks away!

If you’ve been thinking of giving a print as a present this year or if you want to make your home more cozy for the holidays by adding one to the walls you’re in luck. I teamed up with the wonderful Liesl from Buckaloo View and she is giving away a print of your choice from my shop this week! Head on over to Buckaloo View and enter to win.

Rocky Mountains. Fotografie Kristina KoehlerJust in time I have started putting some Canada landscape photos in my shop. These are from my three-week road trip in June to BC and Alberta and make me all homesick for the mountains. ‘Fernweh’ must be the most beautiful word of the german language.

Flower macro. Fotografie Kristina Koehler

creative blog hop

I have been invited by Liesl to join the the creative blog hop and talk about my creative process. I love answering questions like these, it’s always an opportunity to reflect and I usually find out something about myself that I didn’t know before I got writing and thinking!

Check out previous posts by Liesl, Inge and Melody (who invited me too a few weeks ago but whose message I read too late to participate then).

talking about creativity. little home by hand blogWhat am I working on?

I am primarily a photographer but I strive to incorporate handmade in all areas of my life – I sew, knit, garden and cook, with varying success.

Photography wise in between doing some fall portrait photoshoots I am working on putting a new travel photo series in my shop with images of a trip to Canada I took this year. It’s a long process of culling, editing, having samples printed, re-editing, stocking, writing descriptions and finally listing and promoting.

Fall is also knitting season for me – I am working on a new cardigan and there might be a shawl and a new pair of socks in sight too.

I have some sewing projects waiting to happen but since sewing takes much more of an effort to set up and requires me getting off the couch these take a backseat over knitting right now.

talking about creativity. little home by hand blogtalking about creativity. little home by hand blogHow does my work differ from others of its genre?

Does it? I see a lot of incredible artists creating wonderful things and I am not at all sure how my work differs, except that I always wish it was better! It has a certain, very colorful look for sure. I find every artist has their own style and it’s impossible to break that. Two people can photograph the exact same scene and their photos will be completely different. Nobody can see the world as you yourself see it and that’s wonderful. At the same time I see many people inspired by the same things and I am glad for kindred spirits who capture the beauty of the world in their own way.

I am not someone who gets lost in only one thing forever. Yes, photography is ‘it’ for me, but my other creative pursuits are also a big and necessary part of my life. I am interested in so many different things. Maybe that sets me apart from some other artists, who dive very deeply into one subject matter.

talking about creativity. little home by hand blogWhy do I create what I do?

I have always felt a need to create. Working with my hands and building something useful with them is as much a physical need as a mental one for me.

As a child I knew only that it made me happy. As an adult I also see another level to it – handmade has a value of its own. I want to live in a world where we still do things with our hands and value the process and materials. The animals and plants our wool and leather, fabric and color come from – they’re real, they existed, they have value. By making things by hand and using them I feel like I honor that worth.

As much as technology and media has expanded our world (and I revel in that) it sometimes feels like we are now very exposed and very anonymous at the same time – everything laid bare, interconnected and yet much more automatized and impersonal. Creating and building a life based on making things with my hands and knowing where they came from grounds and comforts me. Knitting a cardigan out of natural fibers warms the cold polyester world around me.

With my photography I try to capture feelings and emotions – the invisible connection between two people, the wonder at nature’s beauty in a world so far removed from it, the joy of shaping rough yarn into something wearable, the pride of watching a tiny seedling turn into a thriving edible plant under my hands.

talking about creativity. little home by hand blogtalking about creativity. little home by hand blogHow does my creative process work?

It’s a strange mixture of intuition and careful thought. My inspiration comes from nature, from connecting with other artists and from sites like Pinterest and Instagram. From there I try to break it down and shape the images and thoughts and feelings they conjure to my own needs. It’s a tough balance – being inspired but still doing things my own way.

With a craft project I usually need to give an idea time to grow, to take root and shape itself in my head. It’s quite unnerving, mulling something over in my head for days until the image has sharpened enough to be put into action.

With photography it’s often much more intuitive (which can be even more unnerving). I sometimes meet my portrait clients for the first time on location and I need to grasp immediately how these people tick, what makes them beautiful and tickle it out of them while also trying to use the location to its best advantage. My travel photography is much more relaxed, I simply capture moments as they happen, completely immersed in my own emotions and experience of the scenery.

 

Liesl, thanks so much for inviting me! Lindsay and Ruth, two wonderful creatives and bloggers, will be continuing the blog hop and will have their posts up within the next two weeks so hop on over to their blogs too.

transitioning into fall

It happens every year. As soon as the leaves start to turn and the days get shorter I feel the need to hibernate. Getting up early is harder when it’s cold and dark and staying awake in the evenings becomes a thing of impossibility.

knitting through fall. little home by hand blogStill, I manage to get a few rows of knitting and reading in most nights before heading to bed bleary eyed.

I’m making slow but steady progress on another cardigan for fall, the Ramona. The classical shape is beautiful and I hope it will be another staple in my wardrobe. With a bit of cardigan experience under my belt I am also itching to try some more advanced knitting, like cables or colorwork next. Oh, and a shawl with some yarn I bought in Scotland. So many projects, so little time.

knitting through fall. little home by hand blogOther news and inspiration:

knitting through fall. little home by hand blogAre you feeling the changing of the seasons too? Any knitting projects to inspire me and add to my neverending queue? (I just had to look up how to spell ‘queue’). What are your five words you describe yourself with?

the most beautiful place in the world – how scotland captured my heart

If you have been reading here for a time you know that two years ago I travelled to Scotland (see the old blog post here).

I fell in love with the country back then and have been longing to go back. With a few days off at the start of the month J and I decided to take a short trip to the Isle of Skye, a place we hadn’t managed to fit into our schedule two years ago. The flight to Glasgow was over in a wink but the drive up into the highlands took several hours, plenty of time for J to practice driving on the left side of the road, for me to gasp at the countryside and for us both to make some scenic detours…scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogWe visited Kilchurn Castle and drove along beautiful Glen Etive, stopped for a bite to eat at the fantastic Ben Nevis Inn (what a lovely place!) and arrived on Skye rather late and tired.

After indulging in a hearty breakfast the next morning including porridge, homemade banana bread and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (so good!) we set out for some serious walking. First stop was the “Old Man of Storr”, an absolutely stunning landscape.

scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogI think the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Screaming, really :)

Ever since we got out of Glasgow we had found ourselves in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings and every corner we turned provided us with more unbelievable views. Walking in this landscape is simply a dream.

A pretty demanding one I’ll admit. I haven’t been able to do any sports in the past year (save some hikes in Canada) and am sadly out of shape.

The Quiraing was next.scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogWhat I love about walking in Scotland is that there are sheep and cattle everywhere looking curiously at you panting past.

scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogOn our second day on Skye we visited Skyeskyns, a wonderful local sheepskin workshop that offers informative tours on their handmade processing of sheepskins.

I just had to do some yarn shopping too of course and picked up a few skeins at the Shilasdair shop. They have a little exhibition on dyeing with local plants which was very interesting.

We saw the ruins of two Iron Age brochs, Dun Fiadhairt and Dun Beag, impressive structures slowly crumbling among the grass and blooming heather.

scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogWe had left what would turn out to be my personal highlight for last – a walk to the Fairy Pools near Glenbrittle. Situated at the foot of the Cuillin mountain range this landscape just takes your breath away. Oh, and the wind did too. It was so windy that day that I was actually, physically blown over once. Good thing we had decided earlier to skip a walk near high cliffs that day *mustnotkillmyselfwhileonholiday*.

scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogWe said goodbye to Skye all to soon and with a heavy heart. One last warm breakfast at lovely Blairdhu House and then it was off again on the road.

Bye teddybear cattle!

scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogWe had decided to do a completely touristy thing on the way and visit a distillery. We took a tour at the Edradour distillery which turned out to be so much fun! The smallest distillery in Scotland, they produce only small quantities of whisky, a lot of the process still by hand involving century old machinery.  We also got to taste the whisky and a whisky cream mix (like Baileys but so much better). I had never thought about how whisky is really made and found it fascinating.

scotland. little home by hand blogscotland. little home by hand blogMy only regret in this holiday: we could easily have stayed three times as long and it would still have been too short. In Scotland I have found the country I want to return to again and again, savoring the landscape, the people, the language.

Highlands, I’ll be back. For sure.

scotland. little home by hand blog

the best breakfast dish – scottish porridge

In my constant quest to healthier eating I recently discovered the most awesome breakfast dish ever – porridge.

I first had porridge on my Scotland holiday two years ago and loved it. As with so many holiday treats we enjoy and promptly forget again I never thought to try and make my own until a few weeks ago. It takes no more than a few minutes to prepare and once you get into the habit porridge is seriously addictive.

I wonder how I lived without a warm breakfast before. There’s something incredibly comforting and satisfying about starting the day with a warm bowl of oats with a burst of flavor and vitamins from fresh berries.

scottish porridge for breakfast. little home by hand blog.scottish porridge for breakfast. little home by hand blog.My recipe (serves 1):

Berry porridge

  • 1/2 cup fine oat flakes (I believe they are called oatmeal in the US)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (cow’s milk is the usual, but I use oat milk)
  • a pinch of salt
  • a bit of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (or more to taste)
  • fresh or frozen berries (I like blueberries best but you can use any kind)

Combine oat flakes, water, milk, salt and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring, until a thick consistency is reached (this happens very quickly, be careful to keep stirring to prevent burning the porridge). I like to add the cinnamon at the very end actually because it just makes it all smell divine.

Put the berries in a small bowl, pour porridge on top, add the honey and mix well. If you use frozen berries the porridge will thaw them and the whole mix will be cool enough to eat nearly right away.

Actually I would recommend thawing the berries first but I never seem to find the time for that in the morning.

scottish porridge for breakfast. little home by hand blog.There are nearly endless variations of this dish – you can vary the berries or try chopped apples instead, add nuts and seeds or a bit of linseed oil if you want to go super healthy. In Scotland it was often served with cream (yum).

Speaking of Scotland – wow, what a week! I freely admit to being only moderately interested in politics. I hardly even read the news. It feels like there are so many terrible things happening in the world, it would take more caring and thinking and feeling horrified about than I can muster in my life. Does that make one a bad person? To consciously decide not to become emotionally invested in all the suffering going on in the world?

Anyway, back to Scotland. Maybe it’s because my next Scotland holiday is already booked (yay!) or that I’ve fallen head over heels for the Outlander book series (there’s a TV adaptation, too!) but this week leading up to the referendum had me all excited. I’m a sucker for history and it felt magical watching history in the making. I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t go through with it in the end, but it is reassuring in this violent world that decisions of such importance can still be reached peacefully, democratically.

Did you follow the scottish referendum? Is porridge the greatest breakfast dish ever invented?

scottish porridge for breakfast. little home by hand blog.

sewing a knit dress – colette moneta

Hm, so that definitely wasn’t the plan to be away from this space for weeks on end! I’ve started a post on why I stayed away from all my internet spaces but it’s quite personal and I’m not sure I’m ready to share it yet. So let’s just say for now I’m back and I’ve been spending some quality time with my sewing machine and serger!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at a nice knit dress for a while and the Colette Moneta Dress seemed a perfect candidate.

colette moneta dress. little home by hand blogI’ve had little success with earlier Colette patterns but whoa – the Moneta blew me away! I made size XS and the fit is nearly perfect. The striped jersey fabric was from my stash and I was happy to finally find the right pattern for it.

Sewing with knits is in many ways so simple – just serge together and done. IF the serger thread doesn’t break. Then there will be sweat and tears. I will also not talk about how I redid the elastic waist part four times because I was sure I could outsmart the description on how to do it (I couldn’t). Turns out ripping out overlock stitching is much less fun than ripping out straight stitch…

colette moneta dress. little home by hand blog Much as I have come to love sewing with knits there is always the minor issue of hemming. My treadle sewing machine does only straight stitch and I can’t use a twin needle with it either. Yes I tried and yes, it broke – there goes an expensive twin needle. Oh well. I suspect I could use it with a different stitch plate but chances on finding one for an 85 year old machine are pretty slim.

Contrary to what the books say you can actually sew a straight stitch on a knit fabric as long as it’s not a part that stretches continually when wearing the garment (then the thread will likely break). So, I hem knits by serging and then using straight stitch. I’m counting on the fact that very few people I meet know how to sew and nobody will notice that I’m doing it wrong.

colette moneta dress. little home by hand blogI think I’ve found the perfect dress for me in the Moneta pattern. I have since made another in a solid color (to be blogged soon) and have received so many compliments when I wear either of these dresses. They are just incredibly flattering for my body shape, showing off waist and curves and managing to make me feel both comfortable and elegant in them. I forsee many similar dresses in my wardrobe soon!

Sewing with knits, straight stitches and all – what are your thoughts?

 

 

canada part 3

Part One | Part Two

We left the Clearwater area behind after an eventful day and finally made our way to the Rockies. I had dreamed of seeing the Rocky Mountains ever since I was first in Canada in 2009 and now it was finally happening!

We stayed in Jasper the first night and after checking in at the motel we pondered on what to do with the rest of the afternoon. We had a few hours of daylight left but struggled to commit to more driving and walking as we were pretty tired by the journey. In the end we did decide for a larger route down to Maligne Lake. Little did we know it would become one of the most memorable evenings of the whole tour!

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogFirst stop was Maligne Canyon, a hugely impressive sight!

As we went on driving and passed Medicine Lake we noticed a few cars parked on the side. By now we had gathered that was a clear sign for wildlife sightings and amazingly, a few hundred metres away in a cluster of trees on the banks of the lake there was a bear with her cub snuggled close!

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogWe would have squealed if we hadn’t had to keep quiet not to disturb them. Right about this time I started really kicking myself mentally for not bringing my big zoom lens. I had left it at home because it’s just too heavy to lug around all day. If I’d known we could see wildlife from the car I’d have packed it. Always, always pack your big lenses going to Canada! There were even more black bears just beyond the trees, feeding on a big patch of grass land.

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogPlease note that both these photos are cropped out of a larger photo, so we were quite a distance away really. With our tiredness blown away successfully by the thrills of seeing the bears we made our way to beautiful Maligne Lake and more wildlife sightings.

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blog Isn’t he (or she?) pretty! As it was growing late (and we were scared of bear encounters) we couldn’t take the walk around the lake but turned back down the road. We had seen quite enough for one day, we told ourselves. Passing Medicine Lake on our way back we looked to see if any of the bears were still around and amazingly, one single black bear was prowling the shores of the lake, completely ignoring any watching tourists and just going its way with a lazy elegance.

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogI think I realized then what felt so odd about these bear encounters – usually animals you “meet” in the wild are quick on their feet, darting here and there, always on the look out for predators and danger. The bears however seemed not to have a care in the world, completely ignoring their surroundings in their search for food. The behavior of an animal with no natural enemies.

So much had happened within a few short hours! We found out the next morning at the Visitor Center that an unsually large number of bears had been frequenting the area. Driven lower down by a harsh winter and lack of food for themselves and their cubs they had decided the Jasper area was the place to be in mating season, causing quite a few incidents with grizzlies. A lot of trails were closed because of this and as we were not particularly keen on meeting an angry grizzly bear we chose populated trails and sights for the next day. Oh, and we splurged on a can of bear spray. Just in case.

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogThe Valley of Five Lakes trail turned out to be a wonderful alternative to the trails directly around Jasper. We also drove up to Mount Edith Cavell that day, a complete change of scenery!

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogWe had really arrived in the mountains then, an impressive sight.

On the next day we set out to visit Athabasca Falls and walked along Beauty Creek and its eight waterfalls. A wonderful trail and highly recommended. If you don’t mind signs telling you not to stop for a stretch of the hike because of bears. Yikes.

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogAfter that it was on to the famous Columbia Icefield where you can walk right up to the Glacier. This was one of only two places in the Rockies that we found to be completely overrun by tourists. Still, you can’t tour the Rockies and not go see it!

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogLast stop of the day was a small hike up to Peyto lake, though snow forest. Yes, it really was that color!!

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogA must-have stop on this leg of the journey was Lake Louise (I did mention two places overrun by tourists, no?) and a hike up to the somewhat quieter Lake Agnes. A lovely walk, leaving the stunningly turquoise Lake Louise below to pass beautiful Mirror Lake and finally arrive through snowy forest trails at Lake Agnes with chucks of ice still floating on it.

I have to admit of all the wildlife we saw on our tour the chipmunks were probably my favorite!

Canada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogCanada road trip. little home by hand blogPhew, this is getting to be a very long post so I’ll close with two images of Moraine Lake, the last stop of our journey in the Rockies. The next day our route would take us deep into the prairies of Saskatchewan to visit friends and experience the real Canada far from the well trodden tourist routes.

Canada road trip. little home by hand blog