The elections here are over, and the outcome is worse than I had expected or hoped for – the AfD is third strongest party in the Bundestag. That is a definite step to the right, and the right is not something I want to have in German politics. Hell, I don’t want a right in any politics.

We’re all human. We live in one world. There are problems enough already that we should occupy ourselves with, and that we should try to tackle – our overboarding use of energy and natural resources, the resultant changes in climate, flora and fauna, our not very sensible allocation of goods and resources and, yes, riches. I’m not saying that we should go to full-fledged communism (oh, no thank you, I don’t believe in Utopia any more than in Santa Claus), or giving everybody a heap of money no matter what, but I also believe that if you are working full-time, you should be earning enough money to have a decent home and decent food, and that there’s a limit in the amount of money that one person can really need. Also – we’re destroying our planet with our lifestyle, and we’re not even doing it slowly anymore. Yes, it’s not easy to change things up and maybe have to compromise, or have a little less convenience here or there, or not take the car for a change, or re-use things. But we only have one planet, as far as I know interstellar travel has not been invented nor has a second Earth been found for us to waste.

So yes, I firmly believe that there are more important things than who is white, or black, or red, or yellow, and whether it’s better to be from this country or the other. All countries have their own character, and their own pros and cons and differences, and that is what makes things so interesting – but you can find very, very different types of people and social interaction when you go from one part of Germany to another, and more similar types of social interaction when you go from a certain part of Germany to a place in a totally different country.

And you know what? That is fine. That makes travel interesting. It makes our world a nicer, more interesting place. And like having a large enough genetic variability in a population, it means that humans, globally and overall, might have a chance to face and conquer all kinds of problems at some point. Which, as I mentioned, we have more than enough of – poverty, stupid and unneccesary wars and squabbles, hurricanes and other natural catastrophes, and our wasteful ways of life, to name just a few of the biggies.

We are diverse. As individuals, as regions, as countries, as cultures. Finding and building an union with and inside our diversity is what makes us strong. The right-wing people falsely think that an union means you need to narrow down what may be inside, and then you need to protect the union by letting nobody else in and fencing yourself off from the outside. Yes, it takes more work to find and build a union from diversity, but it will also make it a bigger, better, smarter thing with more resources and a wider spectrum of thoughts and ideas.

One big thing in German food culture is the Döner, which was invented or at least popularised in Germany by Turkish immigrants for Turkish workers who needed something that could be eaten in a short lunch break. German Döner is a distinctive thing, and it’s immensely popular. It also wouldn’t be there if we had no Turkish immigrants. There’s so many things that people coming from other places can bring, and it makes life interesting, and gets you to think, and talk, and find different perspectives. It makes you realise that there might be different ways to do things, different tastes, different combinations of things that will also work, and possibly even better than what you are used to. Yes, it can also cause problems – but so can home-grown, home-brewed stupidity.

We don’t need that step to the right. Not in Germany, not in any other place. The Brexit shenanigans should have been a clear signal that union is better than separatism, but oh, well, the capacity for stupidity in human beings just remains immense.

I’m just hoping that the AfD will be faced by enough people with a spine from the middle and left-wing fractions. 340 seats, according to the current preliminary numbers, will be filled with politicians from the middle right to far right. May the other 369 have mercy on us and do a good job in keeping that step to the right as small as possible.

Posted in things going on in the world | 1 Comment

If you are trying to read things that are not in your language on the Internet, there’s a few more or less helpful tools to use that offer machine translation. I’m sure you have all been victim of those already – as sometimes, things get quietly murdered translated and appear, for instance, in a facebook feed or on a shop webpage and you wonder about the curiously bad grammar and the utterly weird choice of words, or find it completely incomprehensible.

There’s a new kid on the block, though, and it’s called DeepL. I’ve tested it a tiny little bit, and so far, it has been really, really good – and perfectly comprehensible up until now, even if the English I’ve translated the German to is not always perfect.

So in case you need something translated from or into the languages German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Polish, give it a try. It’s definitely a large step up from what you’d get on Babelfish and other machine translators.

Posted in and now for something completely different, Internet resources | 1 Comment

Bielefeld spinnt is over, and I’ve sort of regenerated a bit – thanks to a nice, relaxing day off work yesterday. It’s sort of funny to turn a Tuesday into a personal Sunday, but nice in its own way. Plus you can go shopping (which in Germany is not possible on a real Sunday, as all the shops are closed.)

The fair was lovely, but altogether also quite a trip, and quite exhausting. Going to a fair with a booth is always a wild ride, with a lot of delight but also a lot of stress. (In case you are interested, I can give you a rundown on my days – let me know!)

In Bielefeld, Margit and I were in the larger hall of the main building, on the ground floor. That meant we were smack dab in the middle of a light, airy room, and right beside a coffee booth too. It’s always good to be near a coffee source!


View of my bit of the fair – the table all set up and ready for the fair!

With the courses that both Margit and I gave, together with alternately manning both booths when the other was teaching, we did keep busy all weekend long.


Margit’s stall and mine, side-by-side or whatever you call it when two stalls form an L-shape…

So busy, in fact, that I didn’t get to knit a single stitch the whole weekend, including the evenings. Which means that neither the Baton Rouge jacket nor the Moyen Age sweater are finished yet.

But after all, I can knit at home and all the time, but at the fair, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with lots and lots of nice people, and I sold so many distaffs and spinning kits that I have to make more straightaway to have a bit of a selection to bring to Weikersheim. That’s part of the obligatory After-Fair-Homework. (There is no fair without homework. Never. There’s always something you discover that needs mending, or changing, or some other kind of attention – and that’s on top of the usual after-fair work such as taking stock and doing the book-keeping.)

So thanks to the organisers for all their hard work, and thanks to all the helpers at the fair – I had a lovely time, and I’m looking forward to the next German Ravelry meetup!


Posted in markets and fairs, the market stall | Leave a comment

You might have read about that Viking warrior found in a grave in Birka, Sweden, who was a woman according to DNA tests. The original article, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, is open-access, so you can go read the real deal for yourself. It’s titled “A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics” – a rather spectacular title.

There are always issues with gender stuff and archaeology. One of them is the fact that yes, for a long time, if someone was buried with a spindle and beads, it was obviously a woman, and if someone had weapons, it was obviously a man. While this is probably the truth in most graves, in some cases, later anthropological study has shown that there is the occasional exception to this archaeologist’s “rule”, and has led both archaeologists and anthropologists to the firm conviction that it would be a good thing to take in-depth anthropological data for every skeleton found, and if possible, maybe even DNA checks, instead of just assuming things. That’s a pipe dream, though, with the scarcity of both funding and personnel in these disciplines, so we’ll have to keep on going as best as possible and be delighted about the occasional opportunity to go deeper.

So, what about the Viking warrior woman? I’m not completely convinced that the person buried in this grave was “a powerful military leader”. For that, I’d personally expect definite traces of hard military labour, and possibly also evidence for some healed wounds from battle. We may have an unusual woman there, and possibly also one who fought – but it might also be a woman buried with weapons out of some honorary reason. We actually don’t know. History on a whole, after all, was not cut-and-dried at all, but just as colourful and as varied and capricious as human beings are.

And as usual when there’s an interesting find, there is discussion, by people who offer very interesting thoughts. One of them is Martin Rundkvist who writes in Aardvarcheology. There’s also a critical response to the original article written by Judith Jesch, which you can read on her blog.

It remains… interesting.



Posted in archaeology | 1 Comment

And here you go again, with an assortment of links in various flavours!

Maybe you have seen the claims that the Voynich manuscript has been deciphered – this has been debunked right away. Bonus article about how it’s not been solved.

BBC Travel has a post about the last woman who works with byssus (the silk-like fibre harvested from the mollusc pinna nobilis).

In case you ever wondered where you’d end up if you could tunnel straight through the planet (who hasn’t?), here is Antipodes Man and his map to finally solve this for you. (Spoiler alert: Chances are high you’d be swimming. Better pack those swimming clothes, and probably even better: a boat.)

If you’re in the UK, UK Handknitting has a workshop list for all kinds of courses and workshops around knitting and crocheting… just in case you are looking for one (or maybe want to offer one).

And that’s it for today. I hope you found something of interest!

Posted in and now for something completely different, archaeology, knitting | 1 Comment


The current knitting project, Baton Rouge, is coming near its end – the lace border around the front is almost done, and what remains now is to sew the (already blocked) sleeves together and sew them in – and then I’ll have a nice new silk jacket.

There were a few tangles at the end (metaphorical ones) – I picked up more stitches than the pattern called for to have sensible spacing between the stitches in the first knit row, then worked k3tog instead of k2tog in the first lace row, after trying with the original setup for a bit and quickly finding that it made the lace too squished together.

The second, bigger, tangle happened about where the picture was taken – there’s supposed to be four rows with yarnover holes as per the picture in the pattern. Which will happen if you make row 11 a p2tog, yo row and not, as the pattern also tells you, a p row (there are two listings for r. 11, and guess which one is first in sequence? Right. The purl one, which is the wrong one). So I purled a bit, then found the mistake, tinkered back and did the correct r 11.

Soon now. Sooooon. And once this is finished, I’ll get back to the sleeves on Moyen Age!

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Today, I’m off to Bielefeld, to set up the shop there, give a workshop on spinning and have a fair amount of fun.

Today, by the way, is also my one year anniversary of reaching my goal weight, and I’m happy to say that I am still in the goal weight range (with fluctuations, depending on water retention levels, which are closely connected to stress levels), and still very, very happy about it.

While most of the time I manage quite well, there are times when it’s not as easy for me to keep the right balance between eating enough and eating not too much. Especially in these times, I can really feel that both the years of being overweight and the wild ride I took as the weightloss phase certainly left their traces, and I get really odd trains of thought. These things usually happen when I have a good bit of water retention that is hard to explain and stays for more than a few days, making me rather… anxious. Yes, even if I can be pretty sure it’s water, and will go away, and even though I know that in some cases it will take at least two weeks before it starts flowing out. In these times, I sometimes also have problems estimating how much food I’ll need (with not-so-nice side effects if I underestimate too much)

Overall, though? Everything is fine and dandy. And I am happy.

Posted in and now for something completely different, health | 2 Comments