Anna’s Scarf


We got our first snow here this weekend and Anna was super excited, even though it was only a dusting. I was secretly excited too as I love snow and we don’t see much of it here in North-western Germany. I miss the snowy, white winters we used to have when I was still living in upstate New York. I quickly knit up this scarf/cowl for Anna with some bits of yarn I had left over from making this hat for myself last winter and it came out very soft, comfy and warm. I connected it at the ends to make a tube so I wouldn’t have to worry about it falling off. It’s quite stretchy since it’s knitted in garter stitch and this is probably one of  the easiest and quickest things I’ve ever knit and a good way to use up any of your yarn left overs.




Anna’s Scarf

You will need:

Size 13 (9 mm) straight knitting needles

Less than 1 skein of Lana Grossa’s Linea Pura Fauna (Super Bulky Yarn: 70% Wool and 30% Alpaca) or other chunky yarn

Crochet hook for weaving in the ends and connecting the scarf

Gauge: On size 13 (9mm) needles in garter stitch, 6 stitches and 11 rows = 5cm x 5cm


Cast on 15 stitches.

Knit each row until the scarf measures about 42-44cm.

Bind off leaving a long tail so that you can weave the ends together.

Use the long tail of yarn and a crochet hook to sew the two ends together.

Weave in any loose ends.










Second Hand Store Steals

While my brother Richard was still here, last month, we went to a second hand store near where I live, just outside of Cologne, Germany, to look for some small nicknacks for him to take back to the U.S. with him. He was looking in the glass and houseware section while my daughter Anna and I were busy browsing through the children’s toy section.  I was hastily sorting through a tall pile of used board games for kids that were all precariously perched and ready to come crashing down on me at any second, when I found a used puzzle set of four Maus und Elefant puzzles for Anna.

She has been all about puzzles lately and with her third birthday coming up at the end of this month I thought it would be nice to find her a 12 or 24 piece puzzle, one that would be a bit more challenging for her than the wooden cut out puzzles that she has at home right now and would be something that we could sit and work on together. I was tediously counting through what seemed like hundreds of puzzle pieces when I noticed that Anna was quite happily sitting on a little chair and playing with a toy next to a heaping pile of… well, junk that was covering something with white legs. This receptacle that was covered with a pile of dirty and broken, plastic toy rubbish was barely recognizable for what it was. Not until I noticed the three white wooden chairs surrounding it did I realize that there was something even under there at all. When I realized what it was and saw that there were no major flaws with it other than being extremely dirty and covered in junk I held my breath as I asked the sales lady “How much for the little kid’s table with ‘only’ three chairs?” (three chairs were no matter to me but I was hoping for a good deal). She looked me up and down with a stern gaze and said “With that puzzle you have in your hand how about ten euros?”. Trying to hide my excitement I quickly doled out the ten euros and immediately left with our purchase. Anna loves her “new” table and chair set and her puzzle box with four puzzles (all complete) and all I had to do when we got home was to wipe everything clean!











Baby Knits

I knit these garter-stitch boots for a friend of mine who was having a baby last month and I was looking around for a hat to match them. I saw this really cute garter-stitch knit hat with a button on top at and thought it would go perfectly with the boots I had just made. I did not, however, want to pay $16.95 for the hat plus shipping and handling on top of that and since I currently live in Germany the cost for shipping would have come to almost the same price as the hat! So I used the handy zoom feature on the product page and scrutinized the hat a little closer and thought, I can make this myself!  From the picture I was able to do a bit of row counting and stitch calculating and it wasn’t too hard to come up with this pattern for the mock “Gap garter-stitch knit hat”. I used the same yarn as for the boots and I think the pair would make a very nice gift for a new baby or mom to be. This hat is a cinch to make. I was a little nervous about making the boots when I first started, as I’ve never made any before, but they knit up extremely quickly and were no trouble to make at all. Yarn choice is key when making baby garments and I wanted something that was soft, organic and neutral in color since I didn’t know the sex of the baby yet. I had quite a bit of this extremely soft, organic, hand-spun lamb’s wool  in my stash, left over from some Christmas projects that I made last year, so I decided to use that. I used a button that came as an extra button from some clothing that I had bought for my daughter Anna, that was sitting in my stash of buttons, and it made a great accent to the hat. Altogether the hat and boots cost me nothing to make, just a little bit of my time.

Garter-Stitch Knit Hat

Inspired by the Baby Gap garter-stitch knit hat


4 and 5 mm (40 cm long) circular needles (or set of double pointed needles)

5 mm double pointed needles

1 skein of 100% Organic Lambs Wool or Organic Cotton Yarn (worsted weight)

1 button a similar color as the yarn


Tapestry needle and/or crochet hook (for weaving in the ends)

Gauge: On 5mm needles in garter stitch, 10 stitches and 18 rows = 5cm x 5cm


Cast on 80 stitches using  4 mm circular or double pointed needles (if using double pointed needles divide so that there are 20 stitches on each of 4 needles)

Row 1:  Knit 1, Purl 1 around and place a marking thread at the end of the round

Rows 2-5:  Repeat row 1

Row 6:  With size 5 mm circular or double pointed needles knit 6, knit 2 together, repeat around. (Total of 70 stitches)

Row 7:  Purl around

Row 8:  Knit around

Row 9:  Purl around

Rows 10- 35:  Repeat rows 8 and 9 (ending on a purl row)*

Row 36:  Knit 5, knit 2 together, repeat around (Total of 60 stitches)

Row 37: Purl around

Row 38: Knit 4, knit 2 together, repeat around (Total of 50 stitches)

Row 39:  Purl around

Row 40: Knit 3, knit 2 together, repeat around (total of 40 stitches)

Row 41: Purl around

Row 42: Knit 2, knit 2 together, repeat around (total of 30 stitches)

Row 43:  Purl around

Row 44: Knit 1, knit 2 together, repeat around (total of 20 stitches)

Row 45: Purl around

Row 46: Knit 2 together around (total of 10 stitches)

Row 47: Purl around

Row 48: Knit 2 together around (total of 5 stitches)

Cut the thread leaving a tail and thread the tail through the remaining stitches. Pull tight so there is no gap and weave the ends in. Sew a button of similar color on the top of the hat with the same yarn and a tapestry needle.

*Repeat rows 8 and 9 until the hat measures 9 cm or about 3 1/2 inches, that was row 35 for me, but make sure to end on a purl row before starting to decrease.

Upcycle: Making a Planter From Bed Frame Slats

When we purchased the twin sized bed frame from Ikea for our second bedroom, in anticipation of having my family come to visit us here in Germany, it came with a set of sturdy, inflexible, wooden slats.

These slats, which are commonly used to support beds here in Europe, are placed within the bed frame and the mattress goes on top. It’s rather uncomfortable to sleep on top of hard wooden slats, as you can imagine, so most people here opt to buy the “flexible” bed frame slats which are much pricier but a lot more comfortable to sleep on. A set of new “flexible” slats can run from at least a hundred euros and upwards depending on the style you buy. This is the system that’s commonplace throughout Europe and it’s what they use instead of the box-spring concept that we have in the United States. Since my brother was coming to stay with us for the entire summer this year, he’s staying with us from May through early October, we decided to buy a set of more comfortable and flexible slats for our guest bed. We looked around online for an affordable set of second hand slats and found a barely used set, on ebay, for a fraction of the cost that we would have paid for them new.

We then sent the Ikea planks straight down to retirement in our basement store room. It seemed like they might end up living there indefinitely if it hadn’t been for an idea I had earlier this summer to build another planter for our balcony. I needed some untreated, lightweight wood to do that and was also looking for a way to upcycle these wooden bed slats, so it worked out perfectly. I don’t have any plans because I just made up this planter as I went along but if you’re using wood that you already have on hand, fit the dimensions of your planter to the materials you have. I also in the end decided to make the planter a little bit larger than I had initially planned so that I could utilize all the wood from the slats. This meant, however, that I would be just shy of the amount of wood I would need to finish the planter and would need to purchase an additional small length of  similar wood. I figured it was better to have a larger planter and spend an extra euro or two on wood than to have a smaller one with left over wooden slats that I would have no use for.

So here’s what you’ll need:

Light wood like pine, about 16-18 meters (I had 16 slats that were 96 cm x 7 cm x  2cm)

Hand saw




Straight edge or Speed Square

Work Bench or Sawhorse (or some level surface where you can cut the wood)


*I had everything I needed except for the saw.

The saw plus the the small amount of wood that I needed to buy cost me altogether around 10 euros.


I utilized the full length of the slats for the bottom and two long sides of the planter, using 4 slats evenly spaced for each of these three sides.


I cut the remaining 4 long slats that I had into thirds for a total of 12 shorter pieces (each 32 cm long).


I used these pieces to make the vertical sides on each end of the planter.


Using 4 pieces for each of the vertical sides, I now had only four short pieces left.

(this is where I needed to buy a little extra wood to finish, approx. 1.92 meters)

I needed a total of 10 of  these short pieces to brace the inside of the structure and hold all the pieces together.


To brace each side of the planter I used two short pieces each, one on each end, to hold the sides in place.

I nailed the inside bracing pieces flush with the top on each end. I did the same on the bottom to give the planter a little extra height.


For the two long sides I adjusted the spacing between the boards to make everything evenly match up and then nailed them in place.

And voila, a new planter for my balcony!

All you need to do now is staple some garden fabric to the inside of the planter and add some soil!

Saw                           Cost: € 6

Wood                        Cost: € 4

Garden Fabric         Cost: € 3

Soil                            Cost: € 6

Total                       Cost: € 19

DIY: Scrubby Dish Towels and Wash cloths

Knit your own dish cloths and/or wash cloths for the kitchen and bathroom. They are a breeze to make even for the inexperienced knitter and are durable and reusable. You can make them in an array of colors using 100% cotton yarn and they knit up very quickly: in about 1/2 an hour to an hour depending on how fast you are! They also make great personalized gifts  if you wrap up a few of them with a bar of locally handmade or organic soap and they use very little yarn so one ball will make more than one! If you have any cotton yarn left over from another project you can save it to make one of these “Little Tuffys” or if you are short on one specific color you can even combine colors and make a multicolored cloth! They are very versatile and handy! These “Little Tuffys” are non abrasive but have great scrubbing power for non stick pans, stove tops, counters  and tea/coffee cups.

“Little Tuffy Dish Cloth”

Pattern by Adrienne Medrano

Materials :

  • 1 ball Sugar’n Cream Cotton yarn or any cotton worsted weight yarn of your choice.
  • US Size 10 or 6mm knitting needles
  • Size J or 6mm crochet hook ( if you want a little loop for hanging)
  • A tapestry needle or crochet hook (to tuck in the ends)

Directions for a 6″ Square Dishcloth:

*I’ve included links to YouTube tutorials on how to knit for those of you who would like to attempt this project but have never knitted before.
Remove yarn label and find the inside and outside end of your yarn. (you can also use 2 different strands from two balls of yarn held together)

With 2 strands of yarn held together Cast on 18 stitches.

Row 1: Knit 1, Purl 1 across row

Row 2: Purl 1, Knit 1 across row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until your cloth measures 6″ or it is as long as it is wide.

Cast off all stitches in the same manner as the pattern, but then transfer the last loop to your crochet hook. Chain 7 or 8 stiches depending on how large you want your loop to be and finish off by hooking the end of the chain to the beginning of the chain where it meets the dishcloth and cut the end leaving a tail of yarn. Tuck the tail ends in with a crochet hook or tapestry needle.

Directions for a 5″x 5″ Dish Scrubby:

Cast on 16 stitches using 2 strands of yarn held together

Use the directions for the 6″x 6″ dishcloth but omit the loop for hanging.


“Bath or Face Cloth”

My own pattern adapted from Adrienne Medrano’s  “Little Tuffy”


  • 1 Ball of 100% organic cotton worsted weight yarn (organic cotton is usually much softer than regularly processed cotton)
  • US Size 5 or 3.75 mm Knitting Needles
  • US Size G or 4 mm Crochet Hook or tapestry needle

With one strand of yarn cast on 30 stitches.

Row 1: Knit 1, Purl 1 across

Row 2: Purl 1, Knit 1 across

(this is know as Moss Stitch)

Continue in Moss Stitch until the face cloth is as long as it is wide.

Cast off in Moss Stitch pattern and tuck in loose ends with a crochet hook or tapestry needle.


1 Ball of Cotton – Organic Cotton Yarn       $2.49 – $5

Set of size 5 or size 10 Knitting Needles     $2

Size 4 or size 6 Crochet Hook                       $1

Total Cost:                                                       $5.49 – $8


I already had knitting needles and crochet hooks in these sizes and I used left over yarn from another project so making these was cost free for me.

DIY: Homemade Bread

Homemade bread doesn’t have to be daunting or even time consuming. The most time spent making a loaf of bread is the rising time, and it does that all by itself, provided that you give it a nice warm resting place that is.

Fresh, homemade bread right out of the oven is amazing  and well worth the effort you put into it. It’s generally better for you than store bought bread since it doesn’t have any preservatives or additives in it and it has a much much cheaper price tag than buying an artisan loaf from your local grocery store or bakery.

You can easily make bread with just these four  ingredients:

flour, yeast, salt, and water

There are plenty of recipes that add more to the mix than this but for an extremely simple, bare bones recipe that requires no kneading you can follow this recipe.

Or you can make bread from a store bought mix that already has leavening in it. You can find bread mixes made from a wide variety of different  flours, seeds, nuts and even have dried fruits in them and ones that use leavening agents such as sourdough starter or an active dry yeast.


The bread that I made here was from a store bought mix that cost me 99 cents and makes two loaves.

All I had to do was add warm water, stir it, knead it, let it rise and then bake it.

It was that simple and was done in about 2 hours.

I usually make bread from scratch but I was feeling a bit lazy this week since I’m just getting over being sick, I had a pretty bad cold that wiped me out last week, and I wanted to make a sourdough loaf without having to start my own sourdough starter. You can find tips on how to start your own sourdough starter here.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for bread, one that my mom developed and made all the time when I was a kid growing up. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up, with 6 kids in the house, but we always had plenty of fresh warm bread that my mom would make for us almost every day!

1 Bag of Bread Mix (makes two loaves)

Cost per loaf: €0.49

Time:  2 Hours

A Spot of Tea

These cute little tea/coffee cups with matching saucers were trifted at a local second hand/antique store near where I live. I couldn’t resist them with their grade school charm and only wish there were more to this set. Sometimes if second hand china that you find when thrifting is from a well known or common enough source you can find supplements to what you already have online. I searched the internet and ebay for more of these, however, and alas it was to no avail. The brand name ASA Selection is fairly common here in Europe and is even made in Germany but this particular print must be from a much older collection because ASA’s website didn’t have anything like these listed in their china collections from within the past two years. It’s a shame, I would have really loved to have had a set of four. So I decided to gift them to a friend of mine and my husbands for his birthday last weekend along with a bag of gourmet herbal tea to go with them.



Cost of the tea set: € 1

Cost of the tea:  €4.50