Ode to a Friend (and a Knit Shawl)

Let me tell you a bit about my friend, who has been a constant in my life for nearly 30 years now. We both started working for a small Frankfurt ad agency, importantly dubbed Junior Copywriters, in the summer of 1994. Me after having gotten my degree in marketing-communications, her after getting her M.A. in German Literature and both of us having stumbled into the place clueless, curious and excited.

Our bosses were both old war horses who had found fame and fortune in the 1980s, a somewhat legendary time for German advertising: generous budgets, successful German designers, photographers and artists. In those days, everybody who could rode that wave, hard. Anyway, those two took both of us in and put us to work. But since both of them were set in their ways, a never wavering daily routine of meeting time and Do Not Disturb time, also lunch breaks that involved quite a bit of wine sampling, we were left to our own devices a lot while the bosses quietly detoxed in their respective offices.

It was a good time, and we became fast friends over the 2 years we worked at that place, and that friendship stuck. Over the years, there were terrible boyfriends, new partners, a wedding, a divorce, two children for each of us, deaths in the family, financial calamities, moves, pets who lived and died, and career changes. Through all that, we had each other’s backs, and there are few people in the world I trust more. There is a deep understanding of one another, and even if we don’t see eye to eye about everything, we get and respect and love each other.

A. has an awesome sense of humor, impeccably quirky taste and really, God positively showered her with creative potential. She’s smart and opinionated and the kindest soul I know. We had not seen each other in a long time because of Covid; and now that we’ve both gotten our vaccinations, and her children graciously offered to go camping for a week without her and let her do her thing, she came out to the cottage for a week where we enjoyed something we hadn’t had in a long ass time: time for just the two of us. She knew the place from just after we bought it, but obviously it has undergone a great deal of change over the years as we slowly renovated and furnished it. Needless to say, her visit was a Big Deal for me, and I gave myself a few days off for the occasion.

My birthday present for her this year was hand-made. I’d begun pootling with the colors in the above pic mid July while on vacation in Croatia. The project was not all that quick to finish as I’d thought, which stands to reason when you make a triangular knit shawl that increases every row, but the fact of the matter is that I wasn’t finished yet when she arrived. I wanted a color block pattern, and after some swatching decided to work in garter stitch. The color sequence was subject to a few discussions with Yarn Friends, and I ended up using four of the five above. As you can see, I was working with leftover yarn (yes, of course I traveled with a bit of a yarn stash, why do you ask?). If that hadn’t been the case, I might have stopped at three. But as I was not in a place where I could have bought more yarn, I needed to make do, which as it often does worked out just fine!

That was the journey, and as you can see, I was still knitting the day she left (last pic on the right). What started with 3 stitches ended with about 350, ’nuff said! Since I still wasn’t finished when she boarded the train, I gave her the WIP and asked she finish it herself ;-). It was a good gift, she loved the color sequence, and since she is one of the few people I know who can pull off the golden shade of yellow at the top, it’s perfect for her.

We had 5 gorgeous late summer-y days. Having meals outside, lazing in the sun, walking Charlie, picking chanterelle mushrooms, swimming in the lake, driving through gorgeous lake land, having coffee … and also, we ate vegan while she was with us. A lovely couple of days I will carry with me for a long time.

Also, I tried my hand at a vegan lemon drizzle cake. You can tell from the picture that it broke when I unmolded it (chemically, it makes sense. There was no egg and butter in there. I was so annoyed!) But thankfully, it was good nonetheless. Using the formula for pound cake minus the egg, the cake was made from: 150 g margarine and a few TBSP oil, 200 g flour, 200 ml coconut milk, 200 g sugar, zest and juice of 1,5 lemons, 2 p vanilla sugar, 100 g coconut flakes, pinch of salt and 1 p baking soda. Mixed together, baked at 175 °C for about 50 minutes, unmolded, then glazed with this glazing: juice of 1/2 lemon, a shocking amount of powdered sugar and a knob of margarine instead of butter, stirred to a thick, spreadable consistency.

The reason why I’ve been making myself scarce over here is sadly not play. I have a very challenging workload scheduled for the next few months, so will probably have little time to chat. Apologies in advance, I know this is not proper blog netiquette, but sometimes them’s the brakes. Wish me luck for the 4 projects I need to finish by end of November. Bowing out today with an encouraging high five for everyone who needs it.