Stash update – photos!

As I posted earlier, when I was in Mass. 2 weeks ago I did some active stash improvement shopping. I’ve finally gotten the time and the weather to take some photos to show you what I bought:

Here’s the whole lot. I walked around Cambridge with a clear plastic bag full of this colorful yarn and I have to say, I got a lot of looks! It’s not a common thing to do. Before I go on to the individual photos and descriptions, can you guess just by looking what’s inside?

First:

I’ve never bought any Debbie Bliss yarn before, mainly because I’m an anti-snob. Yarn with a knitting designer’s name on it somehow just turns me off. But I was shopping specifically for green sport weight superwash yarn, and this was the only option. So here it is. It will be used to make a green alligator scarf for nephew B. His sister, J, will get the pink version:

This is Babyboo from Knit One Crochet Too. It’s 45% bamboo and 55% nylon. It’s soft and a little bit shimmery and will be perfect for a 7 year old girl who wears pink and likes Barbie.

This one was a total spontaneous and unplanned purchase:

It’s Malabrigo lace weight. When I got back to my hotel room after buying all this stuff I just couldn’t stop myself from opening up the skein of yarn and laying it out on my hotel bed and winding it up into a ball. I liked the feeling of it in my hands. Unfortunately having rolled it up, you can’t really see how lovely the hue goes from light to medium blue. W. made this green scarf from it, and here you can see how the colors flow. It will make a really beautiful narrow lace scarf.

Based on this pattern on Knitty, I bought this:

This is Noro sock yarn and I have to tell you – this stuff is NOT soft.  It feels hard and scratchy.  I’m wondering how it would feel as socks and I’m having second thoughts.  I’ve read a lot on Ravelry about this yarn and it seems everyone loves it because of the colors (which are amazing) but not for the feel.  But what would it feel like after washing?  Is it softer?  I have to do more research.  Do any of you out there have experience with this yarn?

And, last but not least:

This is Classic Elite Silky Alpaca lace weight.  I first bought 3 skeins.  But then I started looking at my lace pattern books and decided to go back and get 2 more.  I saw some really huge square shawls that I might make.  And besides, if I only need 3 in the end I can use the other 2 to make gifts.  And besides that, the exchange rate makes everything in the U.S. just irresistible.   This stuff was $10 per skein.  That’s about 6.50 euros.  For enough yarn to make a beautiful scarf.  Yum yum.

So, that’s the end of my yarn shopping extravaganza.  Next episode I’ll show you the library of knitting books I brought back with me!

Elbow at Paradiso

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Elbow, originally uploaded by schilderman.

Wednesday night we went to Paradiso to see ElbowElbow is a band from Manchester that I have fallen in love with.  The lead singer’s voice is just raspy enough to give it character and he uses his voice like an instrument that he knows well.  What I really appreciate in a band is good musicianship.  In some ways Elbow reminds me of Starsailor, but the members of Elbow are better musicians I think.  The music is really varied, from lovely melodic love songs to hard, loud, jumping up and down get the body moving songs.  Their music is never ever boring.

I was in love with Lamb for a long-ish time.  I first heard them in 2002 (yes, I came late to the party) but they broke up in 2004 and I’ve missed them ever since.  Now maybe Elbow can kind of take their place.

Elbow have 4 albums out.  The first one is much quieter than the other 3.  I was really glad that DB already had the last 3 and played them at home often before we went to see them.  I could sing along.  :-)  I always like it when I can sing along.

There were a couple of very unique things that happened Wednesday night at Paradiso.  First, the crowd was actually quiet when the band was playing.  This may sound like a given, but let me tell you, Dutch concert goers just don’t know how to shut the f*** up.  Seriously.  The last concert we went to was also at Paradiso, to see Jamie Lidel.  Guys behind us talked about football the whole time.  Girls to the left talked about the boys on the right.  They have no respect.  They don’t care if they are disturbing anyone else.  Sometimes I think Dutch people are the most egotistical race on earth.

But Wednesday night everyone was listening.  They were quiet.  I thought “Wow, this band has serious fans who have packed Paradiso!”  DB said afterwards “Did you notice the place was half full with English people and that’s why it was so quiet?”  Yeah, well, we could both be right I guess.  It was wonderful.

Also, what was fun, was that Guy Garvey, the lead singer, asked the crowd to sing a song.  He asked for song suggestions from the crowd.  The best one was, believe it or not, “The Final Countdown”.  A really crappy song, but at least one that everyone would know and could sing along to.  They psyched us by instead playing their own songs instead of this crowd chosen one.  BUT, as the band walked off the stage, and we were ready to do the usual and expected clapping and stomping for the band to come back out again, the crowd started here and there to sing, and then the small groups coallesed into one unified voice singing, indeed, “The Final Countdown”.  It was surreal.  And the band came back out to play some more and I think they also found it surreal.

Bottom line:  check out this band.  They are excellent.  And if you are Dutch, remember, we are there to hear the band, not the story of your life in our ears!

I’ve been tagged

Little Lou AND Andy have tagged me so now it’s my turn to answer a few questions.

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

Here we go!

  1. What was I doing 10 years ago? I was living in Switzerland and working for Autodesk. I no longer do either one.
  2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
    1. Run 5km. I should be running 7 or 8 but since I was traveling last week and didn’t run much (only 2 x 3km) I don’t know if I could manage more than 5. I was in the US last week and bought the Nike+ wrist band which I’m excited to try. I plan to run around Sloterplas, which has the route around the lake marked for distance every 200 meters. That’s really handy when you want to calibrate a new device.
    2. Call my mom. My mom lives in California and I talk to her every Sunday. When my dad got sick 2 years ago we kind of got in the habit of talking every week and now that Dad is gone I feel even more like calling. I don’t feel like I should or that I have to, but I really want to.
    3. Laundry. I feel like I’m forever doing laundry.
    4. Work. I have to finish up some work before Monday morning. It’s only updating a presentation I have to email off to colleagues in Australia, but it hangs over my head until I get it done. I work too much these days but at the end of this project (end of July) I will work less. I promise that to myself.
    5. Knit. I’m knitting socks I’m designing. I can’t show you or I’d have to kill you.
  3. Snacks I enjoy: chocolate and anything made with chocolate. If you are in Amsterdam buy chocolate from Puccini. I especially like to snack on the dark chocolate covered almonds – snack food from the gods.
  4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
    1. Give a lot away. I would especially give a lot to my sister and niece and their families, who are working their butts off to keep their family farm and cheese making operation going. I’d pay off their debts and build them a new barn and cheese room(s). I’d buy DB’s sister and family a big house in de Pijp.
    2. Sponsor several college scholarships. I wouldn’t have made it through college without them.
    3. Quit my job. This is a no-brainer for me, although DB thinks he would still do his same job. Not me. I’d open a yarn shop that serves snacks and coffee and tea and gives free knitting classes. It would be very gezellig.
    4. Live large(r). I’d buy a chalet in Switzerland and a chalet somewhere in the Sierras in California. I’d spend 3 months a year in New Zealand. I’d buy a big diamond ring.
  5. Places I have lived: Let’s stick with States and Countries, otherwise the list is too long! California, Colorado, Switzerland and now the Netherlands
  6. Jobs I have had: Let’s stick to out of the ordinary jobs otherwise the list is too long! When I was a teen, working on an assembly line in an open shed placing a rubber stamp on boxes of green tomatoes; building a water tank at 10,000ft elevation in the Sierras; knitting for a designer, who was a real witch!; IT consultant for small business, setting up their computers and bookkeeping software; webmaster for Handspring, which is the best job I ever had.
  7. People I want to know more about: (if you’ve done the meme, please disregard. And if this sort of thing is not your bag, don’t bother, no problem)
    1. Aija at sock pr0n
    2. Casey over at Ravelry.  He blogs on the Ravelry blog and is THE code monkey for Ravelry.  I am in awe of his technical talents.  His tech blog is here.
    3. Hilly at The Dutch Knitters
    4. Dee from Posh Yarn

There’s my list!  And here I am walking around Edinburgh last year.  Every blog post should have a photo after all, even if it’s an old photo.

Stash Growth

I’m here in the lovely state of Massachusetts for a week. I’m here for work, but I’ve managed to squeeze in a little fun too. On Ravelry I contacted a Raveler and asked for references to a local yarn shop (LYS) in the Cambridge to Concord area. She recommended Woolcott and Co. So that’s where I went! I did some serious stash growth buying.

I bought a little Malabrigo. I bought a lot more Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, some Noro sock yarn, and some super wash merino for 2 scarves planned for kids Christmas presents. Once I’m back home I’ll take photos of my haul.

It was so nice to walk into this small but packed colorful shop and speak with very friendly people who really love what they are doing. You can tell.

If you are anywhere in the Boston area I really recommend that you stop in to Woolcott & Co. They are right off of Harvard Square, which is certainly worth a visit as well. Here’s a photo of one corner of the shop:

Before I left home I placed a book order on Amazon and had the order shipped to the office over here.  I’ve gone lace mad!!  I bought 4 lace books.  Good grief!  Who has time to work with all this fiber and pattern ideas laying around?

K is for KIP

14 June 2008 was international Knit In Public day. There were events in my local area planned that I really wanted to take part in but unfortunately I had to fly to Boston that day. So I wore my Ravelry t-shirt to Schiphol and proceeded to KIP. I asked a total stranger to take my photo with my phone. She and her partner were sitting with Macs on their laps so I knew they were nice people willing to take a photo. I was actually kind of disappointed that no one recognized the t-shirt. Or should I say – no one came up to me and commented on either the t-shirt or the knitting. I was totally left alone in my KIPping. Ah well. Maybe next time.

It’s not my most flattering photo. I look really tired!

In Amsterdam there was a canal cruise planned for KIPpers. That would have been fun. In Haarlem there was a gathering planned in the city center. Next year I hope to be home to KIP with friends!

By the way, I’m writing this now from my hotel room in Burlington, MA. It’s 5am and I’ve already been up for 2 hours. Ain’t jet lag wonnerful? I flew on Saturday so that I could start to get used to the time difference before going to the office Monday morning and start giving training classes at 8:30am! That gives me Sunday to SHOP! Of course shops are open in the US on Sundays and I will take advantage. My first stop is Barnes and Noble since they open earliest. Then I’m off to Woolcott & Co. in Cambridge for some yarn shopping. I’m only supposed to buy for planned projects. I will really try to keep it down to “planned projects”. I’ll let you know if I succeed!

The Big Five-Oh!

Anyone who is around the age of the big 5-oh will remember Hawaii Five-O and Dan-O. Every time I think that I’m the Big Five-Oh, I can’t help think of that tv show. Funny how some things just stick. I can even hear the theme song.

Anyway, surprise, surprise, I really AM 5-Oh. Oh no! Wednesday was my birthday, along with at least 2 other people at work that I know of. I did have to work on the big 5-oh, which was disappointing, but couldn’t be helped.

The morning of my birthday DB gave me some gorgeous earrings. They are gold with dangling aquamarines. Lovely. Then he told me to get home RIGHT ON TIME and be ready with sporty clothes and dress clothes. You know, I stressed all day about what was in store for me. “Sporty clothes”??? Good grief! What will I have to do? Laser tag? Bowling? Sky diving?

When I got home he was dressed up and ready to go. It turns out that the “sporty clothes” thing was just a psych so that I wouldn’t have any idea what to expect. He got that right! I got ready in my “going out to dinner” clothes, including the new shawl of course. Here’s a photo:

I just love my new shawl!

The taxi showed up right on time and off we went to…. I didn’t know where. He told the taxi driver OUTSIDE the taxi where to go so that I wouldn’t hear. I had no idea. We drove west. Then south. Then headed outside the city to Amstelveen. Amstelveen? Why on earth are we going there? Eventually we ended up HERE. Ron Blaauw at Ouderkerk a/d Amstel. It’s a two ** restaurant. Not one *…. TWO **.

They started bringing us amuses one after the other. I don’t remember how many. Shrimps. Tiny frozen green tea blobs. Gazpacho soup in little bottles with straws. I should have started taking photos from the beginning, but didn’t think of it until the REAL menu started. The real menu had 12 courses. Here are a few of the best photos. Of course I didn’t use a flash (which would have been just TOO hillbilly) so the photos are very grainy.

My favorite flavors:

Blackend shrimp.

Chocolate bubbles with ice cream at the bottom. How do they do that?

And my least favorite: beets. I really don’t like beets.

The white blob is cheese, which was really nice. DB didn’t like the cheese but liked the beets. Go figure.

You can see all the food photos here. It was really a lovely evening. When the second of the desserts arrived we wondered what time it was. I looked at my watch – 11:00pm! We had been sitting there eating and drinking for 4 hours! It was an experience.

So, how does it feel to be the big Five-Oh? With a partner like DB it feels pretty darn wonderful.

Finally! An iPhone in NL!

I can’t believe the day has finally come. I thought we would be the last country in Europe to get an iPhone and I was nearly right. But yesterday, at the same time the 3G iPhone was announced, it was also announced that T-Mobile will be selling the new iPhone in NL from 11 July. I can’t wait.

Seriously, I’m already planning to take that morning off work and be at the front door of T-Mobile on Kalverstraat at 10:00 on 11/7. I’m so excited.

Sick, isn’t it?

Positives and Negatives

First the bad news.

I didn’t make it to the Kikarun today. I was supposed to run my first 10km race today, but Friday night I came down with a migraine and this morning it was still with me. It’s kind of with me now (5:30pm) but strong drugs are doing their job and making the headache just a foggy ache in the right temple. There was just no way that I could have run 10km today though. And to make it even more impossible – it’s really really warm today! We have strong sunshine and 80-85 degree (F) temps, which I’m not used to running in at all. I don’t do well in heat. Heat + migraine = sit in a dark room and try to sleep. This is what I did most of the day.

Now the good part! The migraine drugs did enough of a job last night that I managed to finish knitting Garden Party! YIPPEE!! Just in time to block it today and have it ready to wear on my birthday on Wednesday. Talk about a tight schedule!

I blocked it on the sofa bed in the living room. It’s actually a pretty fine place to block large knitted items. I just have to make sure the cat doesn’t decide to check it out.

Here’s a photo of the lumpy blob that is lace before blocking:

And here are some photos after it was pinned out:

You can see that my pinning is NOT 100% perfect, but hey, it was hot as hell in the living room and I really didn’t want to spend more time making it 100% perfect.

I wasn’t sure if just pinning it out while it was damp would be good enough to make it “take”, so I also steamed it with my steam iron. Of course the iron never touched the yarn, but I think it helped. It was drying so fast that I though this shot of steam was a good idea.

This was my first lace project and I really thought when I first saw the charts that I’d never figure it out. What I learned is that if you just take it one chart at a time, it all makes sense in the end. You can’t read the chart on page 7 when you are only on page 2 and expect it to make sense. At least not if you are just starting to work with lace. I think my next lace project will go much easier and faster. Oh yes, there will be a next lace project. I’m hooked now!

Later in the week I’ll post photos of me actually wearing this shawl. I can’t wait!

Agree(1)

Look what came in the mail today!  Oh boy!  They were really fast with the shipping, and not at all expensive to ship to NL from the US.  I bet most of you readers know where this came from. :-)

I really wanted the Disagree(1) version, but I guess most people are ornery cuz all those versions were sold out.  Actually, most of the t-shirts were sold out.  I was happy to get this one.

Now, this is what I will on KIP Day!  14 June of course!

New Knitters Are Fun

Tonight was SnB in Amsterdam.  Since it’s warm and heading into summer, fewer people seem to be showing up.  Tonight we were 4.  It’s always a fun time, but tonight was funnier than usual.  Andy, you left too early and missed the best part.

C. is new to the group and new to knitting.  She’s been working on a scarf like forever.  But tonight she brought a hat that looked to be about 1/3 done.  It’s green and looks like cotton with a streak of something shiny running through it.

I was just thinking about packing up and heading home, kind of spacing out and watching C. move her stitches along her circular needles.  And suddenly, I saw it!  I asked her, in the most gentle voice I could find, if she didn’t mind my rude question about her hat, but, ummm, is that twisted???

She looked at it, and tried to untwist the twist, but no, it was really twisted.  She looked horrified for just a second, then laughed and said, “Well I was wondering when it would start looking like a hat!”  Answer:  Never Honey.

W. complimented me on how nicely I asked her the question about the twisted hat.  I didn’t think she would freak out or anything, but no one wants to hear that they’ve spent hours of their life on a project that is doomed from the very first stitch.

Here’s the hat that will never be a hat:

It could be a neck warmer.  Or some kind of mobius thing.  But C. was having nothing of it.  She wasn’t too happy with the beginning of it anyway and didn’t seem too upset to have an excuse to rip the whole thing out.  So she start ripping.

But you have to understand that C. is new to knitting and stuff.  She started ripping in the middle, and the edges, all over the place.  Between laughing hysterically at it all, W. and I were also cringing.  “That’s going to be one huge mess” I’m thinking.  Finally W. said “Stop doing that!  It’s hurting me!”  Then we all laughed louder.

I had to agree with W.  It was painful to watch the yarn become a tangle of green frogs.  Here’s C. in action:

Ah, I felt bad for her.  We explained that it went wrong with the very first stitch; that you have to make sure your stitches are not twisted when you join to make the circle.  We explained that you have to run your fingers around all the stitches and make sure they are all pointing straight down and no one has done a flip on you.  Then join the ends and start knitting.

SnB is good for something anyway – keeping the frogs to a minimum.  Don’t worry C. – we’ve all been there.  See you next time!