Small is Beautiful

Now that Nitzer Ebb is finished, I’m working on the baby sweater.  The pattern is called “Daisy” but I’m not doing it exactly as described.  As you can see, I’ve changed the pattern stitch and colors and yarn and gauge.  So sue me.  This yarn is cotton/acrylic blend and feels sooo soft – perfect for a baby.  The shape will be the same as Daisy.  This is the first sleeve.  The fronts and back are done.  I’m working on the second sleeve.  Then the hood is last.  It will be amazingly cute, I’m sure.

I’ve been knitting it mostly at night while watching Master Chef on the BBC.  This is the final week and they are down to 3 contestants.  I find the judges, Gregg and John, incredibly annoying.  I also really hate the fact that the BBC thinks all viewers have the memory and attention span of fleas and are constantly repeating the same lines over and over and over and….  but I’m always curious enough about what the contestants will cook next to keep coming back.  Last year we rooted for Dean, who was ROBBED when he lost.  This year I have a soft spot for 18 year old Emily.   She has such an imagination when it comes to cooking.  I wish I had that!  I have to say, if I wasn’t so busy knitting, I’m be cooking more.

Nitzer Ebb is Finished!

This afternoon I finished the long awaited Nitzer Ebb sweater for DB.  His mom made him the first version about 15 years ago.  It was completely worn out and DB really wanted another one.  Together we charted the album front and back designs.  I knit it, steamed it, sewed it up, frogged part, steamed it again, sewed it again, steamed it again, and voila!  It’s finished and fits perfectly.  I can check that one off my list!

More photos here.

D is for Dikes

Here is DB walking along the dike in Den Helder. We were visiting DB’s parents a few weekends ago and we went jogging on the top of this dike. It separates the North Sea from the town and farm land below. In the very far distance you can see the radar towers of the navy base. Den Helder sits on the farthest northwest tip of the Netherlands. It is a very strategic piece of land, taken over by Napoleon, who left cannons behind, and was bombed to smithereens by the Germans at the beginning of WWII. There’s no old city center in Den Helder, just like Rotterdam. Bombed to dust.

But anyway, back to D for Dikes. Dikes define the Netherlands. Dikes are everywhere. Old dikes, new dikes. Dikes to keep out water. Dikes to keep in water. Dikes of dirt mainly. The Mother of All Dikes would be the Afsluitdijk, which was built between 1927 and 1933. It closed off the Zuiderzee, turning it from a salt water bay to a fresh water lake. What a feat of engineering! Wikipedia has a nice write up about it. Here’s an image that I found on the site of Huub Mous.

I have not yet driven across the Afsluitdijk, but when Mom comes to visit, this is another place I want to take her. (It’s becoming a long list!) The road over the dike is highway A7, linking the province of Noord Holland to province Friesland. We want to visit Friesland anyway, so this is the route we will take.

If you come to the Netherlands, and venture outside the cities, you will see dikes a plenty, water everywhere, and if lucky a few old windmills.

For more D is for Dutch things, check out Andy’s D is for Drop!

Neil Young rocks my world

Monday night we went to see Neil Young at the RAI theater in Amsterdam.  Two nights later I can still hear the music and see the stage in my head.  Neil Young has been my musical hero since I first heard After the Gold Rush, some 33 years ago.  33 years!  How is that possible?  Unlike other old rockers who are still around, Neil has never stopped experimenting and making new music, his own way.  And man this 62 year old man can still burn the house down with his sizzling guitar.  I loved every minute of it.  The first half of the concert was acoustic with Neil moving between his circle of guitars, to the piano, and back again.  The second half was loud and rockin’ with the band backing him up.  I’m not a music reviewer, so I won’t attempt to do that here.  There are plenty of sites with reviews you can google.  I only wanted to post about my own personal excitement and enjoyment of the event.

I’ve been a Neil Young fan nearly all my life.  Who else can you say that about?  No other singer/author/actor/band/act has followed me through my life and has affected me at an impressionable age.  I listened to Neil sing “Oh Lonesome Me” last night and I had to smile when, in my head, I head the skip/click of the worn out vinyl record I played over and over and over as a teenager.

I have to say, I’m very glad the concerts (3 nights in a row) were at the RAI instead of at Heineken Music Hall or somewhere larger.  I wished we all would have stood up and danced through the whole of the second half.  I found it hard to sit still!  It was only during the last 2 songs that everyone stayed standing and rocked out to the end.

I loved the evening.  I loved seeing Neil.  I loved that he was in a good mood and played with the audience as well as played to us.  I loved hearing my old friends played again and hearing new songs I didn’t know so well.

Come back again Neil.  I’ll pay the big bucks. :-0

Let’s catch up…

I really notice that when I’m really busy at work my blogging suffers. I haven’t posted in over a week, which isn’t like me. Last week I worked late a few days, which makes me worthless in the evenings. I missed last Monday’s SnB night, which is really unfortunate since Dutch tv, NOS, was there with a film crew and made a little piece about knitting becoming hip and happening. The clip can be seen here. I recognize some of those faces!

As well as working a lot, we’re also busy with buying the house in Haarlem. It takes a lot of time and effort to buy a house! Not to mention the stress of signing your name to a lifetime of debt. Part of it is fun too. Like yesterday, after going to the Hypotheker and signing the mortgage agreement, we went to a tile and bathroom showroom on the Amstel. I really like this sort of thing. I get very excited about tiling. And plumbing. Our new house is almost perfect, except that the bathroom need remodeling. I’m actually kind of glad about that because it’s the one room we can really design and make our own. We got some good ideas yesterday and saw some new things. One thing I saw reminded me of my sis and niece and their families:

Maybe they need to tile the cheese room like this, with cow scenes. Nice.

Let’s see, what else has been happening around Amsterdam….. Last night we went to The Movies. We were planning to eat there, but they were full, so we ended up walking down the street to an eetcafe which was also nice. I had a pot full of mussels. Yum! There’s a Coen Brothers festival of sorts going on at The Movies. We’ve already seen all their movies and are big fans. Last night we saw the latest, “No Country for Old Men“. Wow. I just felt kind of dazed at the end. It was incredibly well made. The acting was great. The story was dark and bleak and bloody. I highly recommend this movie, if you aren’t afraid of seeing a lot of blood. I’m sure it will win awards. And as for The Movies, it’s on my list of places to take Mom when she comes to visit! Where else can you have dinner, and a movie, and drinks, all in the same small cozy lovely place? If you want a view of the street where all this is happening, check out this site that shows photos of whole streets in the city. I just found the site and it looks really good! Check it out. The link above takes you to Haarlemmerdijk, home of shops and restaurants and The Movies. We hardly ever get to this neighborhood as it’s out of our way, but like a lot of places, I wish we went there more often.

I have to say though, that all the biking we did yesterday, was COLD! Last night biking home after the late movie was so cold. It was easily no higher than the freezing point, and with a little wind, sitting on a bike, it’s bone chilling.

This morning we decided to run in the Vondelpark. It was still bone chilling outside. The sun was bright, which gave us hope of not freezing to death before we got warm from running. I put on my new warm running tights, t-shirt and TWO fleece running sweatshirts, gloves and knit hat. Brrrrr. We biked over icy bridges on our way there. We biked as fast as we could to try to get warm (or at least not colder). I have to say though that it was nice to run in the park and I generated enough heat to be comfortable. We also saw the stork family in the park. They have their own fenced off area. I had my trusty phone with me and tried to get a photo. They are pretty far away but maybe you can see them in the left of the photo. The long pole is their nest.

On the knitting front, I’m almost finished with DB’s Nitzer Ebb sweater. I’ve cut off the bottom ribbing on the front and back and have knit an additional 2 inches on the back and am now busy adding to the front. After that it should fit him perfectly. Yeah! I haven’t had much time to work on the baby sweater, but here’s my progress so far:

As you can see, the fronts and back are knit as one piece to the armholes. The part on the right is the left front of the sweater. After I finish DB’s sweater, and this little gem, I’m going to make something for ME. Probably the Pecan Pie. It’s still cold enough to want a hat! After that maybe the Pomatomus socks, which have been on my list forever. I have yarn for both projects already, so nothing except time should get in my way.

Speaking of time…. I will again miss SnB tomorrow night because we are going to the RAI theater to see Neil Young. Whoohoo! I’m very curious how that will be. It’s all seating so no dancing or jumping really possible. Does that mean it will be an acoustic set? I’ll let you know Tuesday….

C is for Citroen C2 Car

It’s not secret that I like cars.  I like to drive.  I would much rather be the driver than the passenger.  I like windy mountain roads and cars with big engines.  My favorite car I’ve ever owned was a BMW 323 Ti Sport – a small car with a 2.5 liter engine that made a lovely rumble when you hit the gas and flew like the wind down French motorways.  Second favorite was my Audi A4 Quattro that was smooth and quiet and also moved quite fast and silent for comfortable long distances.  I drove my parents all over Europe in the Red Rocket Audi and drove up snowy mountains to ski resorts like it was nothing.  Great car.

When I moved to NL I brought my Audi with me.  I imported it, which was a bit of paperwork, but not too bad.  Then I tried to park it in Amsterdam.  And pay road tax in NL.  And gas prices.  No doubt about it, owning a car in NL is a lot more expensive than owning the same car in CH (Switzerland, not China).  So I decided to sell the Red Rocket.  Sad, but while living in Amsterdam I hardly ever drove a car, so it seemed a big waste to own it.  I started shopping for a replacement.

You need to understand that since moving to Europe I’ve had a serious prejudice against French cars.  Bah!  No French car for me!  Ugly.  Unreliable.  French!  Give me German speed and efficiency and reliability every time.

Then the cost of car buying in NL hit me in the face.  I moved from a country with high wages and low car and gas prices (CH) to a country with lower wages and higher costs of cars (buying and running).  Not to mention the small spaces for cars here and difficult parking situation.  I started looking at smaller and less expensive.

I actually looked at Citroen.  Now, this wasn’t easy for me.  It was purely economic, not for love, that I first looked.  And then I drove a C2 and honestly fell in like.  It was zippy in the city.  It was cute.  It came with auto climate control and fold up seats in the back.  It really was cute.  And, in the end, the dealer gave me a good deal for my Audi.  So I traded.  Just goes to show you that anyone can get past serious prejudices given the right incentive.

And now?  I love my little C2!  I’ve had it for just over 2 years now and I still love it.  I’ve had no trouble at all with it.  I zoom down the motorway at 125 kph (about 75 mph).  With the seats folded down it’s amazing how many sacks of potting soil and new plants you can fit into the back.  It’s been a real change in how I think about cars.  I’ve had to go from big engined fun to drive “grown up” cars, to a little city car that’s perfect for small compact NL.

Now, let’s see if Mom and her friends will fit in it when they come to visit in September!

Stuff to do in Amsterdam

My mom is busy making plans to come visit me in September.  And I’m busy making lists of things to do when she is here.  Last night we went to a Japanese restaurant called An.  The food was very good and I thought it would be really nice to bring my mom and her friends here.  Mom can have her usual tempura and I can have my usual sushi and everyone will be happy.

DB and I were sitting there at dinner making lists of places to take Mom.  I would start a list page on this blog, but then she wouldn’t be surprised!  OK, just one thing – going to FOAM.  Then to An for dinner.  Sounds like a nice day out to me.