Archive for the 'winter' Category

In sheeps’ clothing

If you’re a MavisandFrank regular, you’ll know how much I love wool. I love to knit with it, I love anything made from it. What you may not know is that wool clothing is enjoying something of a renaissance, particularly when it comes to babywear. Though it really can’t compare to the magic of a lovingly hand-knitted original, modern wool clothing defies many of the old complaints. Remember that itchy sweater your mother forced you to wear? The modern baby has none of these issues when it comes to wearing wool. The new generation of wool is machine washable, soft and wearable in both summer and winter. For anyone considering their Baby Bonus/Kindergeld spending options, the following are my recommendations:

Mokopuna

For the beautiful colours and lovely designs, it’s hard to beat this brand of 100% merino wool clothing designed and made in New Zealand. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of their footed leggings. Rose lived in them for months and months during the first year. Beware, the sizing is VERY generous.

Vis stort bilde

Disana

This is the go-to brand for wool clothing for children in Germany. Lovely designs and beautiful construction mean they’re a worthy investment for European parents. As I again face the battle of keeping my children warm in sub-zero conditions I’m eager to test out their ribbed leggings and a felted all-in-one suit I recently bought for Theodore.

Wollwindelhose

Nurtured by Nature

A very pricey New Zealand Brand. I bought a matching hat and romper for Rose on eBay. The romper became the victim of a sad incident involving a velcro tab in the washing machine. It was duly repaired and the good news is that both hat and romper are now getting regular wear by number two.

Nature Baby

This one gets my number one vote. I know this brand is Maggie Guillenhaal’s favourite, but don’t let that put you off. This is a family-run company who design and manufacture in New Zealand. I invested in a selection of merino wool bodysuits and long sleeved tops for Rose’s first winter. They survived countless machine washings and over a year of wear before being passed on to a friend. The second lot got us through the wilds of the German winter last year. There’s no sign of pilling, stretching or holes and they’re silky soft. My third lot are now on their way.

Summer Weight Sleep Cocoon - Bundle Special

There are many others of course, including some beautiful brands made in Germany. People’s main issue with wool clothing for children is usually the cost. There’s no denying it, a bodysuit made in China will always be cheaper than a merino wool bodysuit from any of the above. But as always, there are other things we should consider before taking the path of least expense; the environment, our health and the workers who are routinely exploited in the production of clothing. And of course the true monetary cost of an item is actually the price tag divided by the number of times it is used. I’m thrilled that other babies are now getting wear out of Rose’s woolies. And while most children in the spielplatz are decked out with layer upon layer of polarfleece and polyester, I resolutely tell myself that my babies are just fine wearing at least three layers of the original golden fleece.

From the trenches

With Christmas over and done with, it was tempting to think that winter must surely be losing its momentum, soon to be replaced by the graces of spring. But no. The European winter stumbles on, and I have to admit, it has me completely floored. It leaves me wondering how humanity ever flourished here, or anywhere else in northern Europe, and why the earliest Europeans didn’t all curl up and die, as I feel the urge to do, even with the blessing of central heating. Another thing I’ve wondered is whether hibernation is a viable option, and why it hasn’t been adopted by humans. But, however sluggish and miserable I feel, it’s extraordinary how the even the briefest sunshine leaves me almost euphoric. Remembering the cold excesses of March and April last year, and the many weeks we spent bundled to the eyelids after our arrival, I decided it was not too late to do some winter sewing. A coat, for the girl who’s growing quickly.

This was inspired by something that Margaret Hale wears in the BBC’s North and South. I’ve never been a purple chooser, but this deep plum look won me over. The outer was made from a remnant piece of hand-loomed Scottish tweed that I rescued from a box in Peppergreen. I had to plan my cutting so carefully, there was barely an inch left. The inner is a vintage piece of Liberty bought by my mum from a neighbouring shop. These two were obviously meant to be together. After many hours of research on the subject of underlining (or interlining, it depends who you ask), I added an inner layer of very thick cotton flannel and some ordinary cotton flannel to the arms. Make no mistake, this coat is meant for the German winter. I used an easy-as-pie pattern by HeidiandFinn on etsy. This is the fourth time I’ve made it up, with variations, so I’m confident I’ve gotten my $5.95’s worth.

And look, sunshine!

Is it a sled, sledge or toboggan?

 

#7 Glühwein

The temperature is hovering between -4 and -10 c. There are piles of snow everywhere, and more is falling all the time. The streets are a deathly mix of ice, snow and mud. Is it any wonder Germans have taken to the streets in their masses to drink hot alcoholic beverages? Anytime of the day or night, glühwein is consumed in huddled crowds. It’s pretty potent stuff and everyone loves to joke about the headaches the next day. But if you’re feeling a little chilly, a steaming mug of this medieval mixture is a remarkable cure. The inevitable headaches are usually blamed on the poor quality wine used by Weihnachtsmarkt vendors. However, in my research I uncovered the real reason: the interaction of alcohol with sugar (and of course the cheaper the wine, the more sugar required). Less is apparently more when it comes to sweetening the mix. In my opinion, the essential combination of cold weather and Christmas spices means this drink is unlikely to take off in Australia. If the rumours are true, however, it’s snowing at Thredbo. Happy white Christmas Australia.

#6 Oh Tannenbaum!

Our little Golf battled mountains of snow, but we managed to return with our very first Christmas tree! And we weren’t alone. Over the course of the day we saw dozens of prickly, netted pyramids being hoisted onto shoulders, pulled along on sleds, dragged along streets or otherwise transported to waiting homes. You may think we’ve left this job a bit late, but not by German standards. Most trees will go up around the 23rd, and be left standing in their glory until well into January or later, depending on your views about such things. It’s a political issue, from what I hear.

Our tannenbaum is a Nordmann pine, stout and bushy. Its needles are shorter than those of the many trees I’ve sat under in Australia, but with much the same delicious smell. Being rather short on ornaments, the question now is how to decorate. I feel a bit of crafting is in order.

#3 Weihnachtstmarkt (Christmas Markets)

 

#2 Stollen with Frau Braun

When it comes to things I’m sad to miss this Christmas, baking with my family is high on the list; the yearly repetition of long held rituals. For us, it’s the same splattered fruit cake recipe from Entertaining by Margaret Fulton, the same Christmas album (“Christmas with Kiri”, c 1985), and the tradition that we all stir the mixture and make a wish. When my lovely friend Anne volunteered her mother to teach me a traditional Dresden Stollen a few weeks back, I jumped at the chance to fill this hole in my line up of Christmas rituals. Added to this, Frau Braun is a professional baker. As I stood in her kitchen with notebook and pen, I was comforted by the resemblance to our own Christmas cake rituals. There was the well worn recipe book, the decorations and the favourite Christmas music (in this case, Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium sung with gusto by all family members). Only this time the kitchen didn’t swell with unbearable heat from the oven. Instead, snow lay outside and the oven provided a welcome warmth. I returned home with a swathe of detailed notes, a tired toddler and one fantastically aromatic Stollen. And you know something? Turns out “Christmas with Kiri” is available on iTunes. Isn’t life grand.

 


About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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