This summer, we’ve been experiencing unusual heat for weeks and weeks, which we’re not necessarily used to in my neck of the woods, not without any rain at all in between anyway, and it has taken quite a toll on nature. Alarming water level drops in rivers and lakes, wildfires even here in the community forest, crops suffering, and on a personal note, not even one chanterelle mushroom.

Unused to the heat, people in Central Europe who find themselves having to work (again, personal note) feel paralyzed with it. Oddly, my own productivity didn’t suffer too badly, but I did find my eyelids drooping in the afternoons, and actually managed the odd cat nap, which I’m not usually able to do. We were fortunate to be able to spend the last week of summer break at our cottage, which meant free access to the lake at all times, a vast bonus for a quick dip in the morning, over lunch or after dinner. We were working, but the kids were roaming free for another few glorious days of late summer. At night, we caught the Perseids, which due to the little light pollution out in the country, is always a spectacular sight on a clear night. I was fortunate enough to see three falling stars, and sent three wishes to the universe. We also celebrated my lovely friend M’s birthday on a wonderful, enchanted summer evening, to the soundtrack of an old friend playing guitar and serenading her with a heartfelt rendition of one of Bob Dylan’s sweeter songs: May you stay forever young.

My last vacation weekend was spent washing and re-organizing closets, restocking cupboards and dusting off a few weeks‘ worth of untouched surfaces – as you do. Also, I’ve been experimenting with a crochet project that’s been on my mind for a few months: I wanted to make a pretty, as well as functional soap baggie, with a cord to hang on a shower curtain rod. Since we’re all trying to reduce our use of plastic, foregoing shower gels for the good old bar of soap seemed valid. This was a perfect little project to work on in between, and I tried out a few different stitches. Here’s the result.

I have yet to test run them in terms of how quickly they’ll dry – no one needs a smelly, squishy rag in the shower, however pretty the pattern. Fingers crossed. The yarn is a simple mercerized cotton like I use for the potholders, and I’ve worked with a 2 mm crochet hook.

Spending the summer together, we did our fair share of talking. One of the important topics was obviously climate change. Discussing how we might reduce our footprint a little, going vegetarian seemed like a logical as well as doable approach. So, we’ve been trying that out for a couple weeks now. It’s going well so far. Not that much has changed, truth be told, because our meat consumption wasn’t all that significant anyway. As an exemption, I’ve made the addendum to always cook chicken soup whenever someone’s sick, and when I feel my metabolically disordered body needs it, I will have meat or fish without anyone giving me a hard time for it.

Anywhoo, I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of vegetarian spreads. I’ve been making our own hummus and pesto for years, and now I’ve added baba ganoush and a really yummy bell pepper and cashew concoction to my repertoire. Here’s how I made it:

Bell Pepper and Cashew Spread

1 large red bell pepper

150 g cashew nuts, roasted and salted

olive oil

3 slices onion

squeeze of lemon

Salt, pepper

chili flakes

In the oven, roast the complete pepper, under the broiler if you have one, otherwise at very high heat, until the skin blisters and the pepper starts to wilt. Take out of the oven, put in a dish with a tight lid and let cool. When hand warm, the skin should come off easily. Put in a bowl, add a slosh of good olive oil, lemon, onion, salt, pepper, cashews and a bit of chili if you like. Puree with a stick blender. Optional additions could be: tomato paste, garlic, parsley or basil. With a slice of crusty bread, this is a very good lunch or snack.

I had fun playing with the ingredients, and I hope you will, too!

Work-wise, it looks like the next few months will be quite busy in a good and fun way, so I’d best get back to that.

If you have school children, I’m wishing you a great start into the new school year. May the kids have a productive, and an easier year that the last two have been, with no Covid outbreaks and cancelled field trips, quarantines and such. Today, it was back to school, and since my son is away too, the house seems strangely empty without any tousled sleepyheads wandering in for a late breakfast.

So, have a good Monday, a nice week, and thank you for dropping in and reading!

Post-dentist Crafts Chat

Not to bore you with health stuff – just let it be said that I get now why people pull a face and utter a hissing sound when the term ‚root canal‘ is mentioned… fingers crossed for my lower left second molar, please. I’ll know in a couple of months whether the treatment was successful.

The dentist, unfazed by anxiety patients, encouraged me to knit during treatment, can you believe it? I was working on a sock for my friend in the waiting room. The dentist commented on my knitting without looking. I explained how knitting in the round only needs knit stitches, nothing complicated, not even purl stitches, and that it calmed me – and there I was, knitting away while she was busy repairing my root canal! It really helped with my anxiety, being able to do something with my hands! These are the socks in question:

My friend A. and I had picked out the yarn together when she came to stay with us in July. It’s a luxurious mix of very soft merino with 10% cashmere called ‚About Berlin‘. There are a number of color combos to choose from, but A. gravitated towards this one right away. After today’s visit to the practice, I’m well into the second sock, so her belated birthday present will be ready soon.

And since I’m on the subject, let me share a ‚Tadahhh!‘ moment, and tell you the tale of the Ribbed Mohair Cardigan. It began, as many projects do, with an post I saw online, by lovely Copenhagen-based fiber artist Anne Ventzel. She does beautiful sweaters, with these deep raglan sleeves, boxy, comfortable designs, and she always uses high-end yarns, combining simpler wool with a thin strand of a luxurious mohair. Her work is sophisticated and cool, very inspiring to me. This is her IG profile, isn’t she amazing?

Unfortunately, neither of her designs was exactly what I wanted; I had a simple v-neck in mind, not too heavy but still cozy to wear. At the yarn shop, I ended up choosing this beautiful, fluffy cotton and mohair mix in a warm greige/caramel:

I swatched, I tried out stitches and finally went with this rib pattern:

The knitting itself was done pretty quickly, but then I got so nervous. I was terrified to ruin the whole thing. The yarn is exceptionally delicate and doesn’t take well to unraveling, which is to be expected when working with mohair. Also, I needed to figure out how I wanted the neckline to be, find buttons, and such. So I gave up for a while and stowed it away.

It must have been the wind at the North Sea in Denmark that finally cleared my head and blew away the anxiety. Last week, I bought buttons, and over the weekend I took the plunge and finished the darn thing in one long sitting. It took me a few hours with the tapestry needle for sewing the pieces together (mattress stitch), the thin needles for making the neckline, and a sewing needle because the damn holes in the stupid buttons were too small for the tapestry needle… but then finally, it was done!

Finishing projects is always such a relief to me, because I can never quite trust my luck for them to turn out nice. So today I’m just grateful and content this ended well. And that’s my knit talk for today!

I wish you a great rest week. Hope you have something beautiful on your needles. And thank you so much for dropping by and reading.


Although people have been traveling for as long as humanity exists, until the 19th century, this usually happened either out of necessity or for educational purposes, and not for relaxation. And these climate change days, the concept of tourism the past generations have grown up with (a couple weeks abroad in a hotel or resort with mountain or ocean view, reading a stack of books while enjoying an all-inclusive package of sports, wellness, food and drink) may well be hurdling towards extinction fast, as everybody needs to rethink priorities: politics, airlines, tourists and businesses alike. While I personally am not fond of resort vacations, I have of course taken commercial flights before, if less and less over the years. But even now, I sometimes fly to the United States to see family. And while I hate flying with a vengeance, it’s certainly hard to imagine life completely without it.

Buying and renovating our cottage has reduced our traveling, because a lot of our play money goes there. But it’s still nice to go somewhere else, sometimes. This year, we spent 2 extremely relaxing lazy weeks by the North Sea coast in Denmark, effectively dodging the heatwave that hit Germany. Where we were, it was a comfortable 19 – 26 degrees Celsius. There was walking on the beach, listening to music, playing cards, cooking, baking and barbecuing, visiting sleepy ancient towns with Viking history, lazing in a deck chair, crocheting and knitting … but most of all, enjoying each other’s company, and spending a lot of time outdoors. On a whim, we had brought not only the pup but also my son’s ancient cat lady, who proved to be an exceptionally chill traveler, and adapted to the Danish wraparound porch beach house with an ease that amazed us all. Maybe she was used to it, before she came to live with us?

It was only a 2 minute walk up the dune (beautiful, through a large field of fragrant hedgerow roses) to the ocean front, and I was there as often as Charlie was game. We upped our daily mileage to more exercise than a small dog with short legs is used to ;-), while my husband and kids went swimming and body-boarding in the surf almost every day. I only went in a few times, because the surf freaked me out a little. The beach was wide enough to never feel crowded, even on the weekends. I never get tired of watching the waves crash against the shore, delighting in the ever changing colors, from a deep green to gray to azure blue. Since we were all the way up in Jutland, on the West coast, sundowns were magical, and many of them were spent with a drink in hand, listening to the seagulls cackle, breathing the salty air and burying toes in the sand. I feel well rested, and ready to tackle the next manuscript!

As we had no agenda of crossing things off a bucket list, we lazed our way through the days, and I had time to finish my first ever top down knit sweater, after a pattern, to boot: the perfect summery stripie, modeled here by myself and my son, who might or might not steal it from time to time.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, also happy to have learned the world doesn’t end when I have to follow a pattern, using stitch markers and counting … so happy I happened on lalaine Berlin’s online shop when I did, and decided to give this a go.

I had also packed the Waffle Blanket in case I’d feel like working on it (advantage of a mini van), and managed to add a good 20 cm in light turquoise. (This is actually a lot, seeing that the blanket is wide!) Good thing it wasn’t hot, or I wouldn’t have been able to handle the heavy weight of the blanket. As it was, it was pleasant to sit on the porch working on it, even when it was a little chilly in the mornings or evenings.

The vacation included us all listening to two lengthy audio books together (finished The Swarm by Frank Schätzing, started on The Hail Mary Project by Andy Weir on our way home), re-watching the Star Wars movies, and most notably, slow drawing! Remember my translating this book?

I had bought drawing pens and watercolor-paper drawing pads for everyone, as well as a small pocket watercolor set, and I can’t thank Amy Maricle enough, for my family were all drawing, much more than I was myself, tapping into the huge creative potential they have. Mission accomplished :-)!

I can highly recommend trying this yourself, if you have a taste for paper, texture, doodling, drawing, or painting. This is NOT about making ‚good art‘, as Amy points out, but about enjoying the process, slowing down and being in the moment.

So, what are your summer plans this year? Travel, staycation, relaxing or working on a project? Whatever you do, I wish you a wonderful time. Thank you for checking in and reading!