Wednesday, March 21, 2018


A few years now I have been a moderator of the LeanIn Circle Düsseldorf, I have had the honour of meeting Sheryl on her last visit to Europe and I also very much liked her new book she wrote with psychologist Adam Grant. It’s called “Plan B” and deals with crises and how to a) get through them and b) help others get through them. It opened my eyes for many mistakes I had made in the past, by avoiding friends who were living through a crisis, simply by not knowing what to say and gave me  good advice on how to help people who are going through tough times.

There have been quite a few existential crises in the lives of my friends and family. Burn Out, Break-Ups, severe illnesses, Unfaithfulness, you name it. I am quite surprised how much goes wrong in everyone’s life. I feel like I have been lucky so far, no major break-downs or strikes of destiny in my life has made me to think about what Option B would look like to me. The atmosphere in my first real job was really toxic and nearly made me sick. (If I were going through the same mobbing today, I would treat it with much more self-respect and determination, I am sure) But I somehow found the energy to power through until I had found something else.
Recently though, due to changes at my workplace and also a fight with a friend, where I felt I had let him down, I have been dealing with low self-esteem, feeling like I can’t do anything right. Like I have learned nothing useful from life and self-doubts and negative thoughts have been crippling the joy every day could have given me. Funnily enough the resources of what I learned about coaching and mediation and in my happiness-class in Berkeley helped me to not sliding into total crisis mode. There were times I cried, and more times when I just felt paralysed, but my resources have helped me go through that. And while I am not totally back on track I would like to share those insights with you, as I hope they can help you, too.

One evening after work, when I felt especially useless and small, I sat down, determined and made a list. Of all my achievements at school, at university, what I had learned apart from those, how I went through the troubles I faced in my first job, how my volunteer work helps others, how my customers always give me great feedback and assure me how my work has helped them evolve.

I also made a gratefulness-list. I was grateful for my boyfriend, who goes with me through thick and thin and I know would always be there for me, even in times of illness, unemployment or whatever comes our way. I have the unconditional love of our dog Lisek, who makes me smile and helps me forget about my troubles in the most charming way. I am grateful for my friends who simply are the best people in the world and who will always be there for me. My family also, will always be there if I fall and this is so good to know. Last, but not least I am grateful for who I am, for what I have learned and for what I have experienced so far, even the hard times.
Getting away from everything is also a good idea to clear your head for a while. Take a trip, leave your ordinary life for a few days. We are lucky, we can just take the campervan and go hiking in the surrounding areas every weekend. And this is what we did. It felt great to be exploring and being outside, even if I had very little energy all in all. That’s another point of this crisis I am going through, my energy levels are so low, I could basically fall asleep all day, every day.

Meeting with a good friend always helps boosting my mood and it was one of those great meetings that motivated me to write this blogpost. I described how down I was lately, due to tough changes at work, not really knowing what I was worth, what to do with my life and doubting my abilities. She responded “But look at you, you have a great university degree, you write a blog, you moderate a Lean In Circle, you read with a refugee kid, you are writing your PhD and you are such an active, outgoing person. If you cannot be proud of yourself who can be?” BAM! Yes, why wasn’t I more proud of myself? Where did those nagging doubts suddenly come from? Where was the self-confident young woman I was while giving a presentation in front of my whole class of 2004 in the first year at university? Always speaking up and feeling ambitious? Taking responsibility and standing up for myself and others?

Where was this woman and what had changed?
I have not found all the answers yet and I am certainly not my old self again, but something has already changed. My trust has come back, and I believe now that whatever may come my way, I will be able to master it. Also, I want to find out how I can be more of the woman I used to be when I was so strong-willed and it felt like the world was my oyster.
I hope that by reading this you might have gotten some ideas what to do in the face of crisis and how to empower yourself by using your own resources.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Beatnik- Sweater

My favourite kind of delivery!

Hey folks, how have you been?

Life has been pretty busy in our neck of the woods. My work life is crazy right now, so I am happy when I have some knitting in my hands by the end of the day and can see what I can accomplish there.
In the middle of February I finished a project I was looking forward to for some time and it was so much fun to knit, I will definitely do it again. It's the Beatnik-Sweater, a free pattern on Ravelry by Norah Gaugan.
There is so much about the pattern that appealed to me: the aran-style cables, the short sleeves, the neck, the 60s feel about it. And what can I say? The pattern is totally easy to follow, even the cable pattern gets easy after a little while and after all this fair-isle sock-knitting it was feeling like a break to knit in only one colour.

Don't you just love cables?

The sweater is knit in parts, back, front, sleeves are all knit apart from each other and then sown together. The only part you knit onto the whole thing is the neck.

My skin is super sensitive with wool, so I was a bit afraid that the Drops Nepal I used would be a bit too itchy. On instagram I read about washing wool with a bit of conditioner, which makes sense, after all, it's hair, too. And it worked. The yarn wasn't scratchy at all and the sweater fits better than any other piece of clothing I ever knit. I am really happy with the end result. Due to its material and the several layers the cables form, it is pretty warm, but as there still is very cold evenings I am sure I will be able to wear it a few times in spring as well.

Dita likes the Beatnik too

The Back is done!
Soaking in the Bath

Proud and wearing it for the first time!

I made a mistake in the front part which will haunt me till the end of my life I guess. But it's only one cable that is turning the wrong way. Admist all those other cables you don't really see if, if you are not looking for it. So I am ok with it, I am no perfectionist anyway.

Wearing it in the Scottie, looking fat, but happy. 

Fits perfectly!

While I took a friend who just started to knit yarn-shopping ( I am such a self-less friend, don't you think?) I happened to find some pretty well-priced bright red and dark grey yarn, which I already had an idea for. Mr. Schön had managed to get me two Norwegian knitting-books. "Kofteboken I and II" which sport a lot of beautiful Norwegian patterns of those traditional cardigans, called Kofte, that are knit in the round and later cut open. I have written about my first Kofte before.
This time I just want to knit a sweater however (a genser in Norwegian) and the pattern looks so different in grey and red, compared to the black and white in the book, but I love how it is turning out. Apart from the knitting chart, I don't understand that much from the book, as everything is in Norwegian. But I am thinking of knitting it just like the Beatnik-pattern as it fit me so well. I hope it will work out, as of course the beatnik wasn't knit in the round...

It's amazing, how different colours work

Love the pattern!

Do you remember Opus the Octopus and his brother? My cousin has seen my Opuses online and asked me, whether I would knit one for their kids as well. So of course I started immediately, very happy to have found the perfect project for blue and green yarn a friend had given to me as a present years ago. It looks perfect as an octopus. I will show you the finished project soon.

TGIF, work really is a hazard at the moment and this afternoon we will take the van out for another adventure. Have a great weekend, everybody!

A cabled hat I made in between

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jacinda Ardern inspires women and knitters

I bet you have heard, as it was all over the news: New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is pregnant. The media is making a big deal out of it, as I think she will be the first head of state giving birth while in office (well, apart from monarchs that is) and it kind of is. It should be normal for a woman in power to also have children, but to this day, it is not. Therefore Jacinda Ardern is sending out an important message to all the women of the world: You can have a great job and still take time to give birth to your child. 

The world won’t stop to turn when you take maternity leave and take care of yourself and your offspring. I kind of love her for that! It is going to work out and make becoming pregnant in your job a much more normal thing. In Germany, young mothers get a lot of protection from the state, I think you can stay absent and still have the guarantee to get back to your old job after three years. This is a big burden for employers of course and it means that a lot of young female professionals don’t get more responsibilities as there is always the risk of them dropping out. This is unfair both to the women who want to be moms as well as to the women who don’t plan / are not able to have a family. We are all still seen as potential breeders.

This is why the pregnancy of the Prime Minister is such a big deal, to show everybody that it can work out and I hope she will inspire a lot of young women to take the opportunity to step up the ladder, while planning a family or even if they are already pregnant. 

Ardern's pregnancy has sparked an adorable movement in her country. The hashtag #knitforjacinda sparked a knitting movement of donations to families who are less well-off and might make good use of handknit baby clothes. The press covered this charity-knit extensively and maybe it can inspire people from all over the world to use their crafts for the less-fortunate. Handmade baby shoes or hats are such adorable and at the same time useful gifts and it doesn't only make the new parents happy, but giving also shows great health and happiness benefits for the giver. So, swing your needles, peeps and do it for a good cause nearby. (There are e.g. a lot of hospitals accepting hats and socks for preemies.)
Let's celebrate Jacinda's great example for women worldwide and give something back. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Girl's weekend and lots of sockknitting

Everybody has to have those special girlfriends that you can talk through the night with, about everything. And when I mean everything, it means everything. No matter if it's bad dates, deepest fears or something like you favourite sex position. I am lucky enough to have some of the finest friends somebody could wish for. 
At least once a year we try to meet for a weekend of just us, as meeting up spontaneously has become increasingly difficult with two of them living far away, one having a family and all the other stuff everybody has been doing. 

Our first trip was to Dublin two years ago and last year we just met up for a wellness-weekend in a town nearby. This time we decided to take it low-key as well, having a cozy winter-weekend with a sauna and a fireplace. We were pretty lucky to find a beautiful holiday home in an area with not much going on and therefore also very cheap. It was all we wanted for the weekend, we went running, sat in the sauna, sat in front of the fireplace and just talked a lot. In fact, we were pretty lazy. 

I imagined our holiday with snow around us, which was not the case, but as I enjoyed sockknitting so much, I promised all of them to knit a warm pair of socks for them. (My ravelry page features a lot of sock patterns now) After finally deciding on the pattern and being finished with my "christmas-gift-knitting", I really had to throw in a lot of knitting time to finish in time. (Which I still didn't manage to do. Pauline's socks were only finished after the weekend. I wil give them to her the next time we see each other.)

The first pattern I knit was intended for toe-up knitting, which I have never done, so I figured, just knit top-down and it will work. It didn't though, the lizard in the pattern was much longer than the foot, so their heads are a bit anomalic, but the pattern in general is really cool. The next time I am going to make them I will give the other way a try. 

The second one I found on a request of my good friend Dani's who likes green and purple. The pattern features a lot more colours, but I loved it too much not to choose it. They took me some time, especially since the footsize was so big, but it was well worth it. 

Fairytale Socks

I had never knit anything in black and white and I love the effect those clearcut colours have in a pattern. The regularity of the pattern creates a very nice structure that keeps the feet nice and warm and I definitely recommend it.

For the last pair I chose the blue and green colour which I thought would make a nice addition to the pattern I chose. It is nice, but the two socks are very different from each other, plus the color gradient creates a sharp contrast in the one full round that is knit when knitting the heel. Also, the original pattern has a pretty cool application with buttons in it. For time reasons I left it out, but the next time I knit this pattern I will include it. 

For now, not having anything I "have" to knit, I decided to tackle one of the bigger projects I chose for myself. Only a few days ago I started with my long planned Beatnik-Sweater in Marine Drops yarn. At first I was a little intimidated by all the different acbles of the pattern, but what can I say? I love it! And it is not nearly as hard as I imagined it to be. I made good progress and am already looking forward to wearing it. (Also I am glad to knit with only one colour for a change.)
I got this little helper to better knit with two colours

A new book I bought myself and the beginning of my Beatnik-Sweater

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year everybody!

What has everybody been up to?
December has been a very crazy month, like always. And although I took some days off prior to Christmas, I still didn't manage to create and prepare all the presents smoothly. The long shawl I knit for my cousin took me hours before Christmas Eve, in fact I went to bed at 3:30 after I had finally managed to finish it.

It didn't help that we had two weddings to attend to in the last weeks of the year, to reduce the stress. Looking for presents and preparing our clothes, etc. My friend who got married asked me to take pictures and as I almost never take pics indoors, which is why I got myself an early Christmas present in the form of an external flash.
The wedding went smoothly and I realized that if you are a photographer at a wedding it's good advice to get to know everybody, do a lot of smalltalk and make them less afraid of the big camera and the big flashlight. I still had some problems with the tech sometimes, but in the end I am mostly satisfied with the pictures.

A week later one of my best friends, who moved to Canada years ago, came by with her husband to also celebrate their wedding. It was great seeing her again and getting to know her husband, who is a funny and interesting guy and seeing them together made me really happy. When we were little we swore none of us would ever get married, but they seem to be pretty happy together, so I guess I am alright with her breaking the vow. Jeannie's parents have a young dog, who was a big fan of Lisek, wanting to play with him all the time. She was very cheeky and sometimes Lisek even played a bit, but it seemed more forced, to get rid of her. I am still amazed by the patience he showed towards her all the time.

I had the chance to take Jeannie and her husband on a stroll through the forest we used to take the horses to and it was like a huge flashback. The two of them are into birdwatching, so we took the time to watch some of the very common birds here feeding. As they are living in Newfoundland, our birds are not so common to them. It was great seeing them and I hope we can manage to go and see them in St. John's in the summer. Jeannie does whale watching tours with tourists in the summer and this must to be one of the most amazing jobs ever.

Christmas Eve was amazing. In recent years I have been really enjoying the time with my family. Everybody just gets one present and so it gives us much more time to have dinner together and just talk. I have a couple of cousins I only ever see on Christmas and it is great to see how they develop and what they are up to in life. Most of them I can still remember as little babies.
All in all we had a few christmas days with a lot of us-time, chilling and relaxing. I loved it. On the 28th of December we had spontaneously booked a trip to the closest mountains, hoping for some snow. We were meetings two friends who have a camper van as well and it was a pretty sweet deal, sleeping in the vans, including breakfast at the hotel and being able to use their pool and sauna. The hotel wasn't top class, it was ok, but there were too many little things waiting for repair for it to be perfect. The first few days we had quite an amount of snow, which made our walks super-romantic and a lot of fun for Lisek. While the New Year's Eve party was not the greatest, it was a perfect way to end the old year, with a lot of relaxed conversations, hot coffee and knitting, walking outside, hearing the snow crack beneath our shoes. I loved it!

Now we are back home, working and finally deciding to do more sports. (What an original New Year's resolution). I started already after I had seen myself on the pictures of the wedding, so horrible! But I am going to write another post on our progress in the cooking, sports and fasting department.

Prepare for a lot of doggie pictures!

Dancing at my friend's wedding

Jeannine & Ian's wedding cake

Yessi, always trying to animate Lisek to play

So cute! Lisek got that collar from his auntie Sarah

Crazy dogs

Lisek stole Yessi's bone and he felt like the king

Romantic decoration at the wedding party

Playing with the dogs - one of my favourite things to do

Knitting on Christmas Eve - one of my other favourite things to do

Breakfast table at my parents' house

Lisek with his already destroyed present

Another cute pic of the pooch

Stroll in the forest

Yessi tends to get sick in a car, so Ian made her put her nose out of the window, which helped. 

I love that picture

in my hometown

Christmas Presents for my parents

Last evening in Düsseldorf in 2017

Alt-Astenberg in the mountains

The men in deep conversation

Snow fun

The cute snowball

Snow Cabin

Have a wonderful year 2018!

And then the snow was gone

Monday, December 11, 2017

Knitting through a Winter Wonderland!

Let it Snow, let it Snow, let it Snow

So folks, how have you been? We have been enjoying the Adventszeit, as we call the last four weeks before Christmas. Only yesterday we even got to enjoy a Winterwonderland in the city of Düsseldorf, which basically never happens. Lisek was very excited and tried to eat all the snow on the ground. I always let him, although I am a bit afraid, his belly might ache later.
Life has been pretty busy, with birthdays, writing for the thesis, weekend-trips, surprise visits, LeanIn Meetings, helping friends and knitting a lot, as always in this time of the year.

The last week of October / beginning of November we took Scottie on a tour eastbound, to Berlin. On the way we had a few stops, e.g. in Gothar and in Quedlingburg, both adorable!. Berlin for us means, visitng a lot of friends, which is always great. It also meant a lot of dates, a lot of driving around, but also seeing so much of Berlin. For the first time in my life I was in Potsdam, which is so pretty! You should definitely go, if you have time while you are in Berlin. The old mansions are pretty impressive, as well as the Dutch quarter and of course, Castle Sanssouci. 

Last week we went to Leipzig, to hang out for a few days and enjoy the beautiful architecture and the Christmassy feel about it. The Old Town is pretty small, but has some of the nicest Christmas markets. Needless to say, we had a Glühwein or two and went to great restaurants in the southern part of Leipzig where all the hip people go to. In contrast to Düsseldorf, the city has a very vocal and visible politically alternative scene whose creative outlets you can see in the Südstadt. Scottie was parked in an official parking spot in the middle of the city for just 10 € a day. Not too shabby. The way back on Sunday started earlier than usual, as they announced snow falling. Germans instantly lose their ability to drive when they see the hint of a snowflake, so we figured it would be better to get onto the autobahn as soon as possible. Sure enough, the streets were white and so many people apparently didn’t have the right wheels that their cars sled and sometimes collapsed. Luckily, we didn’t see any major damage or bad accidents, but it was pretty chaotic.

The last week saw a lot of visits to the Christmas market with our neighbours, with old friends visiting and also just the two of us. I love Christmas markets! As every year I will have quite some days off before the Christmas chaos with the family, which I will spend hunting for presents, knitting presents and going to see friends. One of the babies that was born recently lives in Hannover, so I am planning to visit my friend there and hang with her and the little one a bit. Oddly enough, it is not only a lot of birthdays, preparation for the holidays and markets happening this year, but also two weddings of good friends in the last days of the year. Which of course adds up to all the presents I have to create / buy, anyway. Still, I love this time of year. Christmas songs on the radio (and in my head), the whole city illuminated with the most beautiful lights, smelling cinnamon, new cookies and good food everywhere. Sitting in a cozy blanket while knitting and enjoying one of the roughly 1000 christmas movies…. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Last week I took one evening to bake Christmas cookies. The kitchen looked horrible afterwards, but I was pretty pleased with the result. It also helped that my family decided a while ago that everybody will only buy and get one present. That way I have way more time for other stuff than present-hunting. (We are about 15 people on Christmas day). Maybe I am mistaken, but it feels like a trend that people actually start taking more time for what Christmas was initially for. Stillness, enjoyment, Meditation. Many of my friends now have kids, so Christmas is a totally different game for them anyway. But everything seems to be a bit more mindful to me, more people are trying to give to people who are less fortunate than themselves and try to make their actions count. I love that!

Lisek waiting patiently on our last auumn-trip in front of the castle in Gothar

Summer Toboggan Run - So much fun!

Scottie on the way with the BangBus (Van-Friends)

For a few days we went to Berlin, to visit some of the dearest friends. And of course, we needed Berliner Weisse!

I was in Potsdam and also the Park of Sanssouci for the first time. It was so vast and beautiful!

Sanssouci as well

Little Cutie

We parked for one night right in front of the old airfield of Tempelhof. Amazing to have that much space in the middle of a city.

Little Bonnet with Southern American Wave-pattern

Yoga-Sock made from leftovers

To cuddle in bed - the best!

Birthday Cake from my best friends

Look at that tea-party. So nice!

A hat I made for myself

Lisek went out with his best friend Zaza

Beautiful Düsseldorf

Getting this veggie-box every week again makes me so happy

New mittens for me

I made my first Hefezopf. It was pretty delicious

Mr. Schön gave me this handy knitting board for my birthday

Part of a newborn-set I knit for a little one. 

Lisek got this collar with his name on it from a dear friend. Isn't it adorable?

In Leipzig, deciding on breakfast

Tired doggy

I suck at taking mirror pictures

Those churros were magical!

Baking cookies

Finally some snow - How exciting!