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!!

Travel Maps to the Rescue

36e15-img_0781Craft Fair Season is upon us. Well it is the right season for SOME crafters. For knitting – I have found that the spring is never my friend. It is warming up, the sun is shining and most ladies are excited about pulling out their skirts and flip-flops. They are NOT excited about picking up a shawl or scarf for next fall.
I already expect lower sales in the Spring and I still enjoy a chance to display my items and hear, “Oh you make such lovely things.” Even if those kudos don’t translate into dollars. It is my time to exhibit my designs and work.
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Last year the items most requested were: boot cuffs and cowls. At my last craft fair (in the fall) I quickly sold-out of my entrelac cowls and had requests for boot cuffs so I got to work and made more but (of course) the spring craft fairs are just not as conducive to wooly knits.
thumb_IMG_0784_1024Thankfully – my visitors seemed to like my cross stitch travel maps. I have long wanted some kind of record of my travels. Being a military family we have covered most of the US and now that we are stationed in Germany we are quickly covering most of Europe too. I thought it would be great to have a map that we could fill-in over time and show off our travels. I have seen large travel maps with pins to track your locations but 1) they are very expensive and 2) they aren’t as customizable.
I searched and searched online for a pattern to use but couldn’t find one. So I made one. And I figured if I want one then maybe others would want one too. I made my pattern, tested it for myself and invited a group of ladies over from my husband’s unit to test it for me too. They loved it but a few of them didn’t finish. They got hung-up with the initial black outline of all the countries.
I had to make it easier. If the initial outlines were giving them problems – could we just skip that step? I printed the pattern straight on the fabric and VOILA! problem solved. Now they can just fill it in using whatever color scheme they want.
But what if they don’t know how to get colored thread or don’t want to pay $2/color to fill-in their map? Why should they have to pay $3 for 10 needles when they will only use one? So I purchased a variety of colors and made a sample pack of colors with enough to cover 1-2 countries/states per color. I included a needle and figured I had better include some basic directions in each pattern.
I thought about offering a little class for anyone that wanted it and then I had one of those brilliant shower ideas: wait a minute – I have an iPhone – why not just make a little video tutorial? So now each pattern has a link to a video tutorial to get them started and talk them through some of the snags they might hit.
While showing-off my new design to family and friends, my cousin demanded a North America Version. Why should us overseas military spouses have all the fun? So I kindly obliged and developed a North America Version with my home province of Manitoba featured prominently. Rugby North Dakota might be the geographical center of North America but Elkhorn Manitoba is the center of my map!
thumb_IMG_0520_1024I’m so excited to see their finished products. I colored in my examples using a variety of colors but I’d really like to see someone do a monochromatic color scheme. Dark red is where we lived, medium red is where we have visited and light red is where we just drove through or stopped at an airport?? Blue is where he has been, Red is where she has been and purple is where they have been together? The possibilities are exciting. I included my contact information with each pattern because I want to see and share all the finished results.
I still have the original cross stitch patterns with Aida cloth and those are available as a kit as well and surprisingly they are doing just as well as the pre-printed fabric option.
Hopefully these maps will help alleviate my boredom at Spring craft sales as well as offer my military friends around the world (and my bossy cousin) a chance to track their travels.