Keep cool and carry on

This week has been a struggle of trying to keep reasonably cool – hard work if you live in a top-floor flat and your new office building at work is made of metal and has no air-conditioning – and carry on with writing. It was not a pretty sight, I’m afraid…

Still, I managed to make a reasonable amount of progress and by now we are back under the twenty degree mark (Celsius, of course) after nearly 37 °C on Wednesday.

Despite the heat I spun a bit more of the Texel and started plying the first half:



Wednesday evening I went to see the Watermill Propeller Company play Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at this year’s Shakespeare Festival. Thankfully, we had seats on the ground floor, as this replica of the Globe Theatre is mostly made of metal:


If you ever have the chance to see Propeller, do it! They are really good and very intense!

And today I had a lovely afternoon with my best friend visiting an exhibition.


I had a tasty piece of cake…


… at the beautiful museum café…


Next week I hope to finish chapter one of my dissertation and hopefully have some fun at the weekend.  Also, I need to decide which fibre to spin for the upcoming Tour de Fleece! See U next Sunday!


Still here

Well, this has been a record of blog-abandonment so far – it’s been over four months since my last post. On top of not writing anything here I returned to lurking on my favourite blogs instead of commenting. As my very uninspired title states, I’m still here, still knitting, still trying to finish my dissertation and finally be done with my PhD and starting to be a bit unsatisfied with my life at the moment. Unfortunately, there’s nothing for it but to get a move with writing – until then I’m stuck in my current position. Due to the fact that I’m prone to migraine-attacks when stressed too much I have to try to balance everything, getting enough work done to feel good about it but not too much to feel stressed, getting enough sleep and experiencing nice things on the side.

Objectively, I made good progress on the dissertation and I’m much more clear now about its structure and the aspects I want to discuss. If everything goes well I should be able to hand it in around September which means I would be finished with my PhD by the end of the year and therefore before I turn 35.

So, to make this a successful day I need to get back to reading about lexical structures and leave you with a visual account of the last months and a promise to be back soon and post more regularly here!







A cure for the common PhD crisis

Warning: This post contains serious moaning and wining in large quantities. Proceed at your own risk!

Yesterday was a horrible day. I woke up at 5 a.m. because my neck and shoulders had seized up – must have been an awful dream – and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Well, I got up, did some exercises to persuade my muscles to relax and brewed myself a heavy-duty cup of tea (i.e. three bags of Yorkshire Tea on 300 ml of water!). By 7 a.m. I had managed to shower, eat breakfast and do the dishes – fuelled by my second cuppa.

Although I got some actual work done until 11 a.m. by then everything had gone downhill and I felt like crap. You know when you already feel tired and bad and then there’s a voice at the back of your mind making everything worse? Well, mine said things like “If you carry on like this you won’t make your dissertation deadline. Look, it’s already mid-April!. And, maybe it’s better that way, because who wants to read about lexical loss in Old High German and Old English anyway!?” and so on.

Let’s face the facts: I have no choice but to finish this stupid bugger of a dissertation. My PhD supervisor (who is also my boss) is … let’s say unhelpful and says things like:

” Your PhD comes first and btw you’ll have to teach three courses this semester on     25 % less pay. I’m off to my sabbatical term! Bye!”!!!!

But, well, there’s nothing to do than bucking up and ploughing through and finding things to cheer me up in between. Which I did (and we’re now leaving the self-pity-zone!)! Look!


These lovely bags came to my flat via the MysticMooseCrafts etsy shop. I’m always toting a huge mass of things around and a nice and funny bag is always a good thing.

Today I finished a huge chunk of my dictionary work and decided to treat myself to a quick visit at my LYS. I had a lovely chat with the owner and went home with this:


This is Araucania Botany Lace, a nice Merino Lace yarn which is more of a fingering weight. Lovely colours and it’s soft and bouncy. This will become a small shawl, not sure which pattern yet.
I’m off to the spinning wheel now (another reward for being studious today) to ply some yarn. See U!

Honey, I’m back!

I’ve been absent from the blog again and reverted to lurking around the blogs I read instead of commenting 😦 Part of the problem is a certain laziness that comes with the time away from regular work (the new semester starts next week) and the other part is the always looming deadline for my dissertation.

At the end of last year we were notified that the building I work in (and studied in most of the time) is contaminated with PCB which is known to be toxic. Apart from being angry that this fact has been known to the university for about ten !!! years and they now seem very reluctant to do anything about it this has seriously disrupted my routine. I have a hard time motivating myself and avoiding my office has put a wrench into my plans. So, I got myself an upgrade on my home office and started moving most of my books from the office back home. Have a look!


So, I have worked on my dissertation research both at home and at the library and now I’m neck-deep in lots of necessary preparations for the classes I’ll start teaching on monday.
There has been knitting and spinning since my last post and I have in fact some FOs to show – as soon as I get the batteries for my camera charged. Until then, I’ll leave you with some short notes:

  • I have become obsessed with podcasts, especially The Electric Sheep by Hoxton Handmade. I might have downloaded the last ten episodes already…. If you like podcasts and don’t know her yet, go have a listen!
  • As if I didn’t have enough spinning fibre already I found a new shop on etsy – Hilltop Cloud. I’ve ordered a beautiful BFL/Shetland/Silk roving and four fluffy balls of North Ronaldsay roving. I can’t stop petting this fibre it’s incredibly soft!
  • My blog has been nominated for an award and I was at first a bit shocked and then excited and now determined to get back into blogging.
  • I fixed the problem with my Celery cardigan by cheating with needle and thread. And voila – the offending bits just vanished!
  • We enjoyed a brief period of lovely spring weather and I’ve been outside as much as possible. I’m glad I did because apparently spring is now taking a break and the temperatures dropped by almost ten degrees and this afternoon shall bring rain.
  • I’m dentist-bound today and while I’m no longer as anxious as two months ago I still hate it 😦

That’s it for now, I’ll be back as soon as my camera works again!

The talking ape*


You know, sometimes I think it would be nice to be an ape (Maybe in that wood above…). Nothing to do but eat, play, sleep and interact with my social circle of fellow apes (Zoologists, please don’t hit me). Nothing to do with seminars, students and dissertations at all. Wouldn’t it be nice?

Last week was, well, stressful. I finally have a deadline for my PhD which gives me under two years to finish my research, write AND defend the damn thing. That doesn’t sound too bad and it’s kind of nice to know everything will be over by September 2013 but I will be teaching an average of three classes every semester as well. So, last week was the first taste of what life will be like for the next two years and I’ve never been more grateful for my weekend!

It’s not all bad and feeling like I accomplished something every day is really great.

Also, there were some things waiting for me at home after a long day in the office that cheered me up:

A surprisingly fast parcel from Virtual Yarns – I basically ordered two colour palettes for Fair Isles hats (couldn’t resist). Beautiful yarn!


Wovember tweed batches made by Felicity – I have two more in a nice green tweed which I am wearing now.


In knitting news I’ve finished my 28thirty cardigan for some time now and last week I sewed on the buttons. Pardon the gloomy picture! I gave it a good soak yesterday and now it’s drying on my living room carpet. It’s still way too warm to wear it anyway…


After that I decided I could use a new pullover and there was a fortunate meeting of a beautiful yarn and a gorgeous pattern. I.e., I cast on for Idlewood using New Lanark Donegal Silk Tween Aran in ‘Rust’.  I’m separating body and sleeves soon and so far I really like knitting this. Straightforward stockinette stitch and raglan technique makes for nice mindless knitting. I’ll probably make this shorter than the pattern suggests because I just don’t have the hips for a tunic… Keeping my fingers crossed we will get an actual winter so I can wear it!


*Now, what about the talking ape? Simply put, I needed a title. I’m crap with blog titles and ‘The talking ape’  is the title of a book that’s sitting on my desk right next to my display. 

Un-digitize me

If you’ve followed my irregular posts here for a while you’ll know by now that I constantly struggle with my dissertation. If you’re only here for the occasional knitting related post you might want to skip this post ;-).
I’m researching lexical loss in Old High German, Old English and Old Icelandic and gathering data is nothing but accumulating long lists of words I dragged out of huge dictionaries. The already finished (thank heavens!) list for Old High German started out with over a thousand items and has been dwindled down to 700 words.
Now I’m repeating my search on Old English data and the good news is that I don’t have to rely on old-school dictionaries in the university library because nothing can beat the DOE (Dictionary of Old English Online) and the Online version of the Oxford English Dictionary in this. I can dig through both sources online as long as I’m on campus because of licence issues.
The bad news is that digital dictionaries and Excel sheets combined have started to give me a headache. All I do is stare at the screen and switch between Firefox and Excel. You can guess that this did not turn out well…

What to do? My solution is to try my hand at doing this the 80s, retro kind of way – I’m un-digitizing my data organisation (and yes, I know un-digitize is not an actual English word 🙂 )!


I still have a file but it’s made of cardboard 😉 and the accumulating data can actually be seen accumulating even though it has a slightly chaotic whiff to it.


Eventually, I will have to put all data in digital form but since I can’t just attach an Excel-file to my dissertation I can convert my paper files later, after I’ve decided on a format.

For now I’ll  enjoy my old-fashioned files… and I better get back to them now!
I’ll be back with the big FO parade – as soon as I’ve finished weaving in the ends, attaching all buttons and giving everything a good soak!

The return of the flock



Yep, it’s that time again – today uni starts and with it comes the return of the flock called students. This semester it seems as if their number has tripled. While listening to the radio  this morning I learned that this term sees the largest number of  fresher ever counted in North Rhine Westphalia and it certainly shows. One of the classes I teach will have 110 participants…

Another slightly unpleasant side-effect is the overcrowded campus. It’s back to scheduling our lunch hour exactly right so as not to have to wait 40 minutes in line to get to the food and then waiting the same time span to pay for it (resulting in perpetually cold meals).

Back to taking the tram to work either extremely early or in the middle of morning classes and  – more important – to avoid leaving campus when everybody else does. The similarity to London rush hour on the Tube fails as soon as you enter the Tram and wish you had packed the earplugs – my limited amount of this London experience was sweaty, claustrophobic and stressful but also blissfully silent. No such luck here.

Ok, I’ll quit whining here. Everything will be fine and I’ll try to keep calm and carry on 🙂

Still no pics of my Eternity Scarf – the photo shoot fell through due to rain. Back to work now! Have a nice week!


Achievement and autumn


It’s here, finally! After a ridiculously warm September it started raining today and the temperature has just dropped to a moderate 16 ° C! As much as I love this season (even the rain!) this also means bad times for picture-taking. The lighting in my flat is already low when I get home from work so I will have to resort to take my photos at the office or on the weekend from now on.
Since the new semester is about to start my week’s been very busy, but in a good way. It seems I work better under pressure whether it’s a deadline or the need to juggle lots of obligations at the same time so instead of freeing up my evenings to recompense for days filled with work on a dissertation I can’t keep myself motivated to work on I now aim to fill my week up with lots of things – taking a class in ‘Writing English for academic purposes’ on Thursdays, Cello lessons on Wednesdays, going to our local knitting meet-up on Tuesdays and I need to fit in some sports for my back.
First evidence this worked can be seen in the progress I made on my dissertation research – I’m working on the outline of the first chapter, found some more words for my list and I’m spending tomorrow at the library with my two pals,the Comprehensive Dictionary of Old English and the OED online.

Also achieved this week:

  • Spinning and plying of 4 oz Spunky Eclectic Falkland (drying at the moment, pics later)
  • Finished knitting the body of my Celery Cardigan (pics see above)
  • nearly finished writing up the London centric post

This week’s losers:

  • Dirty dishes
  • laundry
  • The lamp above my table and the lamp at the sofa (The lightbulb of the first burned through and since I haven’t had time to go shopping they have to share one lightbulb 🙂 )

My master-plan may need a wee bit of tweaking…
Coming up next: London!

Happy autumn!


Tour de Fleece


Right now, it’s mostly me & the wheel at home – the Tour de Fleece 2011 is almost over. Last year I was still struggling with my old single treadle Louet and I heard about the Tour only after its end.
This year I’m totally in it! My goal was to spin enough for a cardigan out of Hello Yarn Superwash Merino in ‘Curiosities’. So far I’ve finished spinning and plying 16 out of 20 oz!



The last 4 oz I’ll get from a good and generous friend probably on Tuesday and my spinning wheel looked sadly empty on Saturday. So, I took a dive into my stash and pulled out some FatCatKnits Polwarth to play with!


The first two ounces are plied, washed and measured and I’m spinning the second half this evening.


I tried to spin this a bit thicker and n-plied the singles. I got about 70 m /2 oz and the yarn has 10 wpi. Should be enough for a pair of warm fingerless gloves!
Now, back to work – I have to make a mountain of copies for tomorrows exams and then the will only be grading, grading, grading…

Catching up 1

So, after my total absence from my own blog and commenting on the blogs I read let’s try a recap of the last, well 2 months?!

Overall, there was lots of work and reading and teaching and I’m really glad this is the last week of the semester! Two more seminars tomorrow and of course 204 tests to grade but after that there will be time to relax and time to work on my dissertation research!

I’ve spent a weekend in Berlin at the beginning of June and met up with fellow blogger and knitter Katie. We had lots of fun! Berlin itself was nice as well and I had to let go of some of my reservations about that particular city.Unfortunately, I took a total of THREE pictures and none worth showing here 😦

After this weekend outing things sped up in my garden and I’ still swamped with beans, zucchini, cucumbers (yay, finally!) and as of yesterday with potatoes and beets. And the pumpkin plant shows the first tiny pumpkins! My back still hurts after bending over for quite some time and lugging everything back home afterwards. While it is really cool to grow my own veggies it is also hard and above all time-consuming. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again next year.

Right now I’m looking for new ways to cook the abundance of zucchini and tried my first zucchini galette, courtesy of smitten kitchen and recommended by barefootrooster’s blog.



Right now I’m really busy with the Tour de Fleece but before the start I finished my stripey shawl!



The details

Pattern: Stripe Study by veera from Rain Knitwear design

Yarn: Araucania Ranco solid (purple) and Old Maiden Aunt Merino Superwash (Marmelade skies)

I really like how this turned out! It looks crazy and stylish and is very soft.

I’m off now to my baking hot flat and my spinning wheel. Also, I’ll have to bake a vegan cake for tomorrow’s last lecture. Top-floor flat + baking + 29 °Celsius = not a good combo! More on my plans to remedy that by next summer later. I’ll be back soon with Tour de Fleece progress pics and more tales. See U!