Friday, July 24, 2015

Of Beach Baskets and Beach Tents...

In response to my last blog post I had a number of questions about the colourful little squares that appear to litter the beach on one of the pictures of the seafront on Borkum - those are beach baskets and beach tents, or, as they are actually called, Strandkoerbe und Strandzelte. As far as I know there is no equivalent for them in the UK or other English-speaking countries, so there is no actual translation either. The term beach basket is a literal translation of the German word, but it does sound more than a little bit odd. 

Although I think they are also occasionally used in Denmark for example, Strandkoerbe are predominantly used in Germany as their country of origin, and are a very common sight on German beaches, both at the North Sea and at the Baltic Sea. There are a few minor stylistic differences depending on  the coast (curves rather than edges on the handles, that type of thing...), but nothing major, and they are very recognisable. 

They were invented in Germany towards the end of the 19th century and quickly became very popular as a way of enjoying the seaside on the often very windy North Sea and Baltic Sea beaches. (if you want more info you can find it HERE) The baskets can be moved to position them to protect people sitting in them from the wind, and to either catch the sun or to provide shade. They are also cushioned, and can also be tipped backwards so people can lie in them, and footrests can be pulled out from underneath. Often, little tables are attached for drinks or a book. All in all they are a pretty nifty thing, and provide a lot of comfort from the elements and a generally cozy place to sit on the beach. You generally rent them for either the day or for the duration of your stay at the seaside from one of the many rental places dotted around the beaches. As they can be locked overnight they are also a useful place to stash sand toys, wind breaks and the like so you don't have to carry them back and forth every day.

Beach tents are something quite similar in look and function, but while the beach baskets are common on all the beaches around Germany the beach tents are specific to the island of Borkum, where they were invented around the same time as the baskets. Unlike the beach baskets they never took off outside Borkum, but until very recently they were the only type of beach shelter available on the island - it's only the recent years that the beach baskets have also been introduced. They look fairly similar in that they are little boxes with a bench in them but they are a lot more simple, with a fairly light but sturdy wooden frame and fixed bench and canvas roof and sides. Rental also includes a deckchair or two, provided with the beach tent. 

After contemplating for a few days we've decided to rent a beach tent for the remainder of our stay and so far it's been great - the boys love having a place to return to and have already started building a series of holes in the sand all around the tent, and it's so much more comortable to sit in the tent or in one of the deckchairs than to crouch in the sand, especially on more windy days. The position is great too - we are only 10 metres or so from a beach playground with its own saltwater water pump so the boys have been back and forth to play and get buckets of water for their intricate sand constructions.

So there you go, a little history of the German beach basket and the Borkum beach tent! :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Really loving our holiday so far. 

Borkum is a simple place, and just right for us I think. The kids love the beach, there are bicycles everywhere and no cars are allowed in the centre of the town, so it's safe for them to cycle everywhere. 

Grandma was looking after them a bit in the evening, so D and I got to go out on our own for a little while. :) 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Introducing Roly, and A Year of Projects - the list to end all lists...

Two things on the agenda today. 

First I would like to introduce the newest addition to the family...

Meet Roly, the pill bug, or, as we would say in the UK, the woodlouse. 

He is already quite at home here, and he likes to crawl up the back of the sofa when it is least expected, scaring and tickling unsuspecting family members and visitors alike.

He took a good long time to finish, but that wasn't his fault - I got side-tracked by various other projects, and because he consists mainly of short rows (oh, all the short rows, I will never forget how to do those now) he wasn't a very good project to pick up for a few distracted minutes with busy family life going on around me.

That said, this was a fun pattern to knit, and the constant shaping, together with the gradual colour changes of the Noro, kept it interesting throughout. I really like how Roly has turned out, and I'm so glad that I held on to that Noro afterall or I wouldn't have had such an fantastic yarn to use for this. Everything about this Noro Silk Garden was ideal - the weird mushroom-y, 'buggy' colours, the texture of the silk, the way the colours seemed to change at just the right moments...

~ * ~

The other 'little' thing  I have been working on is that pesky Year of Projects list, and oh, there are so many projects I'd like to get round to this year! I've decided to post two lists - an ideal list of projects, and a list of essentials. 

Needless to say, my 'ideal' list is pretty monumental (well, at least for me, I'm not *that* prolific!):


  • Hitofude - carried over from last year I have a ton of ivory sock yarn that is earmarked for this. 
  • Dietrich hat  - this has been brought over from last year's list. Really hoping to get it done this year!
  • Marian - I really fancy a big bad cowl to keep me warm. I may knit another one as a Christmas present...
  • Audrey in Unst - I really like my cardigans slightly retro and fitted, because I wear them with dresses and skirts. I love the red version of this. I am planning on frogging an unloved sweater, so perhaps the wool could be repurposed for this.
  • Sideways Grande Cloche - I love the construction of this.
  • Campus Jacket - I was planning on knitting this anyway, and a friendly Ravelry member sent me a copy of the pattern for my birthday. Isn't that lovely?
  • Color Affection - I am hoping to knit a few more wraps and shawls this year and this elegant pattern has been on my list for some time.
  • Prolix Mitts - so cool!
  • Bellflower - Klokkeblomst
  • Lady February - so cute, and I love that style in a cardigan
  • Balls Up! - Christmas baubles
  • Little Red Riding Hood Hooded Scarf - so cute!
  • Quay - cardigan
  • Honey Cardigan - so pretty!
  • Idlewood - I really like this one. It was on my list towards the end of last year so perhaps it will actually get done this time round. 
  • Chandail - cable cardi
  • Boneyard Shawl - lovely simple pattern. 
  • Raw Honey - fingerless mitts. I want to knit these with some leftover aran yarn. If I get on OK with the pattern I may knit a few as Christmas presents.
  • Stripey Tube Hat - probably for boy #2. He wants a stripey hat in green and red (he was very specific about the colours...).
  • Moriarty: Two Colour Crochet Beanie - this one might be fore me. :) 
  • Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief 
  • Kids' Stripey Beanie - perhaps as a newborn gift for my new niece or nephew (due in December)
  • Lori Shawl - I like the simplicity of this one...
  • Kuni Shawl - again, a simple but effective pattern. 
  • Mohair Cowl Pullover - I still have a huge hank of blue handdyed Mountain Fleece mohair lying around. This pattern seems perfect for it!
  • Classic Cowl - potential Christmas Present?
  • Hitchhiker - a popular pattern and I can see why. Possible Christmas knitting?
  • Little Cable Knee Highs - these look so cool! I'd love some knee-high socks. 

In addition I'm planning a few mystery sock KALs to reduce my sock yarn stash, and of course there are all those projects that tend to sneak onto the list later on...

There are also a few ongoing projects:

  • Ripple - there is no rush for this one, it's an ongoing project that I occasionally pick up.
  • The Weekender Blanket - same for this one. It's a good one to add to whenever I fancy crocheting a few hexies. 
  • The Sock Experiment - I'm sort of making this one up as I go along...
  • Experimental Hat - knitting this one with a ball of what I assume is Noro. I lost the label years ago so can't be sure, though. Again I'm sort of making this one up.
  • Black Acer - still ongoing. It's coming on holiday with me, so hopefully there will be some more progress soon.

A friend and work colleague has also asked me if I could be persuaded to knit her a fox stole. She has no pattern for it but showed me a picture. I quite fancy trying this!


Is this achievable, do you think? I'd really REALLY like to get all these done, but then again, with the sneaky queue-jumpers that I tend to get throughout the year it's really not a certainty!

So there you go! My bags are packed, my knitting projects are chosen, and I'm now ready to go on holiday!

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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Summer crafting...

... can be pretty slow. 

It's been hot out there these past few days. I'm not complaining, mind (I really shouldn't, after whinging for weeks about the unseasonably cold weather), especially since it already seems to be over again (far too soon!), but it did make me slow and unwilling to engage too much with warm wool. I have been doing some gentle crochet, and I've also worked on a test knit which, for a while, took most of my knitting time , but other than that there isn't much to report. I do have plans, though! This year, I am telling myself, is the year when I will knit some Christmas presents. Nothing large - no cardigans or blankets - but some hats and scarves and mitts are in order I think.

I also need to make another baby quilt, because my oldest and dearest friend just had a baby girl (her third little girl, to match our three boys!!). I sewed quilts for her older two, so will obviously have to do the same for the new arrival. :)  Add to that a sudden desire to finally learn embroidery (I purchased the materials for this years ago, but never got round to it) after seeing the beautiful bags that Stefanie over at Woolythyme made, and I am pretty much set for the summer and autumn.

I'm also contemplating what to take on holiday with me. It dawned on me the other day that we will be getting ready to board the ferry to Rotterdam in two weeks time. I have dragged the suitcase down from the attic and have been putting kids clothes aside so there won't be a mad dash to get all sorts of clothes washed and dried on the last day! 

But what really occupies my thoughts is of course not the packing of clothes - it's the packing of crafts projects. I always overestimate the amount of making time that I have on holiday, but hey, I can dream, right?  Right now I am thinking some portable small projects such as hats and scarves, and perhaps that embroidery stuff - after all it's also fairly small and portable... What do you think? What are you taking on holiday with you?

Other than that it's a mad dash to get organised. There is work stuff to be done of course, but in between I have to find time for all the holiday planning too. I have things to get for the journey, and the beach, and food to plan and buy (we are going in the car and we  will have a flat, so we may as well plan ahead - since we are going to a small island food is bound to be pricey there). 

On top of that I am trying to think up an easy irigation system for my greenhouse. The tomatoes are coming on so well in there, and  I really don't want to come back to some kind of desert... The allotment will hopefully look after itself for the fortnight that we are away, although as fate may have it we could be heading for a freak heatwave (a rarity in Yorkshire, but not unheard of...). Not much to be done about that, though, so I can only hope for a) rain, and b) wel-established plants that can weather a dry spell. 

Anyway, look what arrived yesterday!

My mum-in-law was kind enough to give me a subscription to Taproot for my birthday. I'm so looking forward to reading it, but perhaps I should wait until the holiday?

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Thursday, July 02, 2015


Just feast your eyes on this...

This time of year the allotment doesn't look like much (it starts to look more impressive in August, when the cut flowers are in full swing), but it's already productive.

When I went a few days ago I harvested a bucket-full of sweet and juicy strawberries, some rhubarb, a bowl of mangetout and the first batch of broad beans. Delicious! 

Looks drab, doesn't it?

Yet, when you look closer:

And lastly, the strawberry plants - doesn't look like they are hiding all those ripe strawbs, does it? 

If you have any productive garden news to share I'd love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below. :)