How to Save a Fortune on Bavaria’s 2 Best Wools.

I don’t think I realized how popular knitting was in Germany until I landed here and saw people knitting EVERYWHERE. To the dismay of a German friend of mine, her daughter even has knitting and crochet (stricken und häckeln) class in grade school. Unfortunately the handcraft didn’t come easy for her 9-year-old. But the school insists that grades be given for this class regardless of natural ability. Do the US schools even have Home Economics classes anymore? With Germany being the knitting mecca that it is and everybody learning how to do it as part of their grade-school curriculum, it is no surprise that Germany was where I finally broke into the world of high-quality yarn.

I am a big fan of German designer, Martina Behm and her designs feature Wollmeise yarns predominately. It now takes me just 85 minutes to drive to the Wollmeise Brick and Mortar location in Pfaffenhofen Germany.

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I spoiled myself bringing home my first hank of Wollmeise. No other light-weight yarn will ever compare to their high quality and vibrant colors. And it should be said that the only Wollmeise I’ve had the privilege of knitting has been their discards. Those hanks they feel are not high enough quality to be sold at their store or online but were instead picked-up at their bi-annual sale. They put them out each spring and fall at a local church down the street at a considerable discount. Their typical prices go from 100g of twin at 21,50 Euros to 300g of lace at 44 Euros. That’s $50 USD as of today.

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I got most of my Wollmeise yarn for half or two-thirds that price at their Spring/Fall sales. So I’m not even raving about the “good stuff!” I’m raving about their clearance yarn that they can’t sell for full price! Want to join in the action? Click Here for more information about their next sale days and make sure you are there early as some of their best colors sell-out fast.

Wollmeise Spring Sale - Knit Wits on location.

I discovered Schoppel Wolle after picking up a Crazy Zauberball at a craft market in my town. After a bit of Friday afternoon research, I discovered that their factory and outlet was located only 90 minutes away in Wallhausen Germany just south of Nürnberg. That Saturday I was creatively figuring out how to make the trip with my 9-year-old. I may or may-not have promised a trip to the Lego Store in return.

I found their clearance area which is full of balls which aren’t quite 100g and perfect for my thrifty nature.

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Take this Zauberball for example. 100g for 10 Euros on their shelf. I found the same color way in their clearance area for 189g for 5,67 Euros. The only difference? The clearance balls didn’t quite make 100g. Maybe there is one ball of 90 grams instead of 100g. In this case I think there are two 90g balls. Perfect for me since my Christine and Carrie shawls typically take just short of 100g.

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I don’t expect anyone stateside to make a special trip to Bavaria just to go yarn shopping but if you were ever coming for Octoberfest or the Nürnberg Christmas Markets anyway – it would be a great way to stock up on fabulous yarns at a fraction of the cost.

For knitters who are already anywhere close-by you MUST VISIT these sales. Just don’t bring your husband!

Unlike Wollmeise, who specializes in amazing colors in mostly light weights, Schoppel has a large variety of weights and colors and most are available at a discount in their sale area.

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I love their Crazy Zauberball the most. Not only does the color veriagate through the ball but it is a two ply yarn and BOTH plys veriagate independently which makes the most beautiful effect.

I chose this Crazy Zauberball for my first Entrelac pattern: Christine. I picked up dozens of Zauberballs on my first trip to the outlet but discovered that the Crazy Zauberball truly is the best!

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The regular Zauberball below has a great color change but both plys of the yarn change color together.

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What makes the Crazy Zauberball so special is that both plys change color independently. It creates a multitude of shades that was the perfect yarn for these entrelac patterns.

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Unfortunately there are limited ways for me to get my hands on these two brands that have become my staples. I can’t get them at Michaels or Hobby Lobby and Local Yarn Stores stateside won’t have them either. I’m glad they aren’t heavy as I plan to stock up before going home. I don’t think I could live in a world without Wollmeise or Schoppel-Wolle and frankly I don’t think you should have to either!!

Boost your Productivity with an Audiobook (by Stephen King)

IMG_1034I’m not sure when I discovered audiobooks. I remember a radio serial that KCJB radio used to play in Minot North Dakota back in the 1990’s. Yep, I’m feeling old now.  This was just before podcasts and just after cassette players. Each week a mini drama broadcast far and wide on the mighty am waves. I didn’t have to go far to hear it though – I was working as a radio announcer through college and these radio dramas and Paul Harvey were tied for my favorite part of my work day.

Reading has always been hit or miss in my life. I’m either indulging in book after book insatiably or without one for months on end. I guess the busy life of a Mom can do that to you. But when I started walking and working out (the first time around) I realized I didn’t care to listen to music. I wanted an audiobook. I would leave in the morning with “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games” playing on my iPod and after finishing my walk I’d spend an hour (or two) weeding the yard just so I could keep listening.

Soon I had devoured anything written by Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult and John Grisham – all while walking, shopping, cleaning or just puttering around the house. That’s when I rediscovered Stephen King. I had forgotten that he wasn’t just a ghoul writer. Some of my favorite movies like: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Stand by Me, Hearts in Atlantis, and Delores Claiborne were all based on SK books. They are great stories and so are many of his other works.

Now I was able to discover his new works: Duma Key, 11/22/63, Under the Dome, and Mr. Mercedes are now my new favorites. I have recently been trying to listen to ALL his books.

I had never read Carrie or Christine and was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. While tales of kinetic girls and psycho cars were playing in my ears, I happened to be working on solving a puzzle that had plagued me for about a year. I wanted to make an entrelac shawlette. Not just a shawl but a long and narrow obtuse triangle. Wanting and doing were two different things however and I could not get the shape of the shawl quite right.

Over the course of about 2 months and right about the time that Christine and Carrie were queued in my iPod, I had a breakthrough. First developing a scarf that starts narrow and grows into a long 90 degree triangle and then my obtuse triangle shawlette that I had been striving for. I named them: Christine and Carrie

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It took me another 2-3 months to write all the instructions, photograph the steps and create illustrations to explain my vision. All the while – I was listening to even more Stephen King. I haven’t decided if it is the knitting that keeps my hands busy and frees up my mind to enjoy a great audiobook or if these fantastic novels helped spark my creative juices while my hands were busy. Either way it works and I’m going to keep on listening to everything I can get my earplugs into. I now have both patterns published and have been astonished at the interest in them. I love sharing the things I love with others and I’m hoping that any other Stephen King fans who knit (yes, I know I’m narrowing the field a bit) will appreciate the theme I decided to use to name my shawls.
If you are interested in picking up a copy of Christine you can visit my Ravelry store by clicking the buy now link below.
 
Carrie is also available at my Ravelry store and no account is required to purchase.

If you are feeling particularly generous – give this a look too:

It is a flowchart detailing how Stephen’s Kings characters pop up in his other works. Only a genius could keep this all straight.

Inspiration Hits Anywhere – just be glad it does.

When I first moved to Germany a year and a half ago I pictured a small fiber industry with agri-tourism opportunities. What I have found instead is a thriving fiber industry with high-quality and amazingly innovative yarn brands on a much larger scale.

My most recent discovery is the Zauberball by Schoppel Yarns. I LOVE this yarn. It was sitting (with a few of its friends) on a table at a local craft fair and I had to have it. Like most yarn in my stash, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it but I HAD to have it.
It sat in my corner hutch where I stared at it for months. Then inspiration hit and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.
 
I had been inspired by the long, narrow shawlettes that are becoming popular on sites like Revelry and I wanted to create a version in Entrelac that had the same shape. My first attempt years ago resulted in a shawl. Still beautiful and stunning but NOT what I was trying to accomplish.
I looked back on that “failed” shawl and dug out my old notes. I picked up a grid notepad and tried again, mapping out how I would move from one square to the next and I developed Christine.
Christine was my happy accident, she isn’t what I originally intended but after she was “born” I fell in love. You could say I was obsessed. She starts out pointed at one end and grows thicker (and more intense) as you get to the end of your yarn. An 100g Zauberball is the perfect length and I used 2204 – Grüne Woche (Green Week) Zauberball from Schoppel yarns. I excitedly posted her to Revelry and was overwhelmed with the response. 
 
But I still wasn’t satisfied. I hit the notepad once more and tried to figure out a way that I could gain two squares on one end and lose one square on the other. I wanted there to be a point in the middle like a shawl but have a thin piece that you can wear like a scarf instead. These little arrows made sense to my brain so I gave it a shot. Take a wild guess which yarn I decided to use for my test-knit? You bet! Another Zauberball.

Finally – I had my Carrie. By now you may have figured out my naming scheme. Most of the time I was working on these projects I was also listening to audiobooks and Stephen King has always been my favorite. I’ve heard a story (probably from one of his prologues or author’s notes before an audio book) that when he wrote Carrie – he threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, came along and fished it out to take a peek. After reading what he had thrown away – she urged him to keep going. She felt he really had something special.
Carrie is my something special. She is light enough to wear year round – but with her thick pointed middle she can keep you snuggly in the chilly Bavarian winters. For her, I used a Zauberball in Monochrome Color#2263
I am so thankful that I picked up my Zauberball at that little craft market last year. It was my Tabitha and it sparked intrigue and inspiration enough to pick up my discarded notes and try again. Carrie was finished a month ago and I quickly added her to my Ravelry Shop as well.
If you are interested in either of these patterns you can find them here:
If you would like more information about the Schoppel Products, You can see all their colors and yarn brands on their website: https://www.schoppel-wolle.de/en