Stash, Lovely Stash

I finally have some daylight to take photos of my stash enhancement from last Saturday.  Just looking at it all again makes me excited!  I’m so happy that this event (Handwerkbeurs) has grown and includes more interesting knitting stuff each year.  Now, some photos…..

First up, my first purchase on that day – Estonian wool for felting.  We were walking by a stand and all of us were drawn to the cute felted hat on display.  Several of us just HAD to make this hat.  Too bad I don’t have a photo of the hat, but here’s a photo of the yarn:

I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s not really spun.  It’s almost like thin roving.  The idea is to double the strand, knit it on 5mm needles and felt it.  You need about 60g of this stuff to make a woman’s sized hat so I have enough for 3 hats of each color, then maybe a 4th with the left overs.  Can you say “Christmas presents”?

Next up is the interesting Noro “yarn” called Gimp in bright blood red.  I put “yarn” in quotes because it’s more like twine or string because there’s absolutely no stretch to it at all.  It’s 60% cotton and 40% viscose.  I bought 50 meters on a little cone.  I immediately had a project in mind, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise.  You’ll see!

Right across the aisle from the Belgian boys who were selling the Noro and other odd items, was Wolhemel (wool heaven) selling Jaegerspun Zephyr lace weight yarn – 50% silk / 50% merino wool.  Well, while I’m here, I thought, I might as well buy some!  I love this yarn.  It’s beautiful to look at and feels great when you knit it.  I made my black lace shawl with this yarn.  I bought 3 balls of white (which is not a shocking white, but a nice subdued white) in case Mandy wants her wedding shawl made with this.  If she wants something else, no harm done, I can trade it for another color or use it myself.  

Here at home in my stash I have 15 balls of sport weight 100% cotton that I bought for a song about 4 years ago.  I haven’t made anything with it because it’s beige.  Beige does not look good on me.  Beige doesn’t look good on anyone really unless you have very black skin.  It makes me look sick or invisible.  Some of my crafty friends have been talking about experimenting with dyeing, which I’d really like to try.  Well, why not dye this very nice cotton and create something useful out of it?  At Zwolle there was a woman selling natural dyes so I decided that 9 euros was not a lot to spend on an experiment.  I bought this bag of dye which should be enough to dye a sweater’s worth of yarn.  The color of the powder is brick orange, but the resulting dye color is dark blue!  Go figure.  I can’t wait to try it out.

At the end of last year I discovered Yarnissima‘s beautiful sock patterns and then I discovered she’s Dutch and knows a lot of the people I know around here.  I bought several of her patterns and joined the La Digitessa KAL on Ravelry.  Unfortunately my socks ended up too big for me.  So, I needed some La Digitessa yarn to make my OWN pair.  I contacted Marjan and she arranged to bring 2 kits for me to the Handwerkbeurs and I picked them up from her there.  I already wrote about her part of the event, so I won’t repeat.  Here’s what I bought, now in stash.  I also bought the spina di pesce kit, also fantastically pretty.

Earlier in the day I had spotted a sparse table with barely anything to show for sale.  But what this young couple was selling was unique and interesting, and at the end of the afternoon I went back and bought stuff from them.  First, I bought, are you ready?, silk and stainless steel yarn.  It’s from Habu from Japan.  It was just so unique that I was intrigued.  Then during our lunch break Cassandra showed me (on her iPhone) a pattern on Knitty made from this stuff.  I was SOLD at that point.  I had to have this yarn.  It’s not cheap, but not a king’s ransom either.  It cost me 42 euros for enough of it to make a long sleeved shirt (see pattern).  It is soft, yet it stays in the shape you bend it to.  So cool.  

Last, but not least, is the scariest yarn in the world.  I’m afraid of it for sure.  It draws you in with it’s beauty and inexpensive price and shear volume….

And then, once you’ve decided to buy it, you realize….. how the heck am I going to tame this huge wild blob of lace weight yarn???  If I take off the band and let it loose it will just explode into a mass of tangles and knots!  I’m afraid to touch it.  

Again, it’s sold by Blossom Fibers, made by Habu. This one is 8.66 oz. and it’s 100% merino wool.  It’s super soft and a lovely creamy white.  There’s enough here, for 20 euros, to make about 6 triangular shawls!!!  It would be perfect for dyeing too.  If only I have the courage to let it loose…….

And that’s my stash haul from last weekend.  Pretty great I have to say.  I’d love to write more today but I have to get back to my knitting or this stash will outlive me!


DB regularly watches Diggnation and I often watch with him.  In the last edition Kevin Rose talked about being invited to attend TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) and meeting the greatest minds and leaders of science and technology.  We’ve been watching 2-3 of the TEDTalks every night.  TEDTalks are 20 minute talks by amazing people on unexpected topics.

We’ve watched Jill Bolte Taylor talk about her Stroke of Insight.
Jeff Hawkins (who I used to work for, kind of) talk about studying the brain to make computers.
The guy who worked on Benjamin Button and showed us how it was done.
And many more even more interesting stuff.  We’ve been mainly watching the Brain section.

Check it out.  It’s even better science than watching House.

Deadline-less and an FO

Friday afternoon I finished knitting the mystery scarf for Nancy, right on schedule.  I still had to weave in the ends so I arranged to meet her Monday to be sure she was happy with my weaving and bind off (partially done).  I was so happy to be finished with the knitting!  It was really a deadline hanging over my head.  There was no way I was going to let her down so I had made a project plan and scheduled the work over the available time and knew how many rows on average I had to make per day.  Anal?  Me?  Nooooo… But hey, I made the deadline and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

But I have no FO photo to show you for the scarf.  You’ll have to wait til the book comes out.  Don’t worry, I’ll provide the Amazon link here so you can easily find it!

Monday night I showed Nancy the scarf and she seemed very happy with it.  She liked my woven in end.  And then she said “just leave it with me and I’ll finish the rest of the ends.”  “Huh?” Yup, she said that people who knit for her deliver the pieces and she always sews them together and does the finishing.  Well.  I was happy not to have to weave in 80 ends (!) but at the same time felt guilty.  She still has a lot of work to do to be ready to send everything off for the photo shoot in NY.  She assured me it was ok.  So now I am, for this moment anyway, deadline-less!  I’m FREE!

Well, until Mandy decides what lace shawl she wants me to make for her wedding, I’m free.  Once she decides, I’ll have another deadline – October 17!  It’s so far away that I’m not at all stressed about it.  But I AM excited about starting a lace project.  I’m itching to do lace again.

Now, in the in-between-deadlines time, I can work on some fun stuff for ME.  I can finish my La Digitessa socks, which will be for my mom cuz they are too big for me.  I only have about 3 inches of the upper leg to finish.

And THEN… I have choices.  I can finish my Sunrise Circle Jacket, which is about 75% done.  Or I can quickly knock out some mittens with the lovely green Cascade 220 heather I have on hand.  Since it’s still February, and it’s still damn cold outside, I’ll probably quickly make the mittens.  I’d like to make Malia’s pattern, called Melina Mittens:

But I need something iPhone friendly.  I found these on Ravelry.  They are called Urban Essential Mittens and are designed by subway knitter:

So, I think I will combine the two by using the Melina cabled back of hand pattern and the shape and construction of the Urban Essentials and create Urban Essential Melina Mittens.  

I’ve also started swatching a little bitty project, but I’ll talk about that on the weekend when I have photos to go along with the story.  A picture tells so much….

A Day at the Movies

We just got home from a DAY and EVENING at the movies.  We left home at 9am this morning headed for Amsterdam.  The first movie started at 10:30am!  It’s now 10:30PM!  With a little bit of time between each movie, we saw…

Slumdog Millionaire
The Changeling

What a fun day!  The event was held at the Pathe theater in Amsterdam and was sponsored by the newspaper Het Parool.  Between yesterday and today they showed all the movies up for Academy Awards tonight.  Tickets were 25 euros for the day.  You got a key cord to hang your ticket around your neck and we had the whole top floor of the theater complex.  They had food for sale up there too.  There were no commercials before the movies and no trailers.  Just the main feature every time.  

What a great day it was.  I love going to see a movie and this was a movie marathon.   I won’t give an entire rundown of what I liked and didn’t like, just a summary.  I’m TIRED.

Slumdog Millionaire – LOVED it – you must see it.  Points:  9
The Changeling – Clint’s new movie – too full of cliches – not great acting.  Points:  5
Doubt – Not enough Doubt at the end – Hoffman is an amazing actor.  Points: 7
Happy-go-lucky – did this movie have a point?  Could the main character be more annoying?  Answers, no.  Points: 4

There you have it.  There are 2 more movies that I really want to see that were only shown on Saturday, Milk and The Reader.  I guess we’ll have to head back to the movies!

Big Day Out – Handwerkbeurs Zwolle

Today was our big day out at the Handwerkbeurs in Zwolle.  Actually I started preparing yesterday when I made banana bread and then date nut whiskey cake.  I made them as train treats since we decided to all go together on the train from Amsterdam.

We met at the central station at 8:50 this morning.  I barely made it since I had to come from Haarlem and miscalculated a bit when the train ran on Saturdays.  Whew!  Just in time!  We ate cake, and Malia’s cookies.

And we talked and knit.  The train conductors thought we were very interesting.


There were 12 of us in all on this little adventure!  Gezellig hoor!

Once we got there it was impossible to all stay together, but that was ok.  It wasn’t big enough to get lost in and we had the Dutch Knitter’s table to meet up at periodically.  Last year I went to this thing by myself and was pretty disappointed.  I had no high expectations this time and was actually pleasantly surprised.  There was more knitting stuff and there were a few really unique booths with stuff you don’t find just anywhere.

There’s still a lot of kitsch and way too much quilting, but overall, it’s much better than previous years.  If this is an indication of how it will continue, then I’ll probably go again next year.  To be honest the BEST thing about today was the wonderful group of friends who went along.

Marjan, aka Yarnissima, was there giving workshops all day.  She was so busy!  I picked up my two orders from her and chatted for just a minute.  I bet she was exhausted at the end of the day.  Lovely red shawl Marjan!

Carla and Hilly had set up the Dutch Knitter’s table where we scored chairs now and then and took time out to hang out and knit.  


Malia and Dagmar were on the lookout for cool ideas and products to add to their store.  

I think a lot of us scored some really nice stuff today.  I’m REALLY REALLY excited about what I bought but I’m not going to tell until next weekend when I will have photos to go along with my excited words.  OK, just one little hint – a lot of it came from Japan and only 1 tiny thing is Noro.  That’s ALL I will say now.

I know of one really happy girl who can’t wait to try some new things….

I can’t wait to see what she does with it!

BlocParty at Paradiso

Last night DB and I went to see BlocParty at Paradiso in Amsterdam.  They are a Brit band, pretty popular at the moment, and I was looking forward to see what they would do live.  They played two consecutive nights at Paradiso, both of which were sold out.  

It was a pretty mixed crowd with even a few oldies like us.  Most people were pretty young though.  We sat up in the first balcony and could look down on the standing floor crowd below.  The youngest were in the front and in general age went up as you went back into the room.  Funny, huh?  Not so strange when you see the video…

I always like going to Paradiso.  The sound is often not very good there, but the atmosphere is nice and it’s not very big.  I took a photo of the old church windows, just after the first band, delphic, left the stage:

I have to say, I like BlocParty’s cd’s.  They have catchy tunes, played with some hard guitars and a pretty electronic background.  Live, they are less.  I think a really good band is MORE when you see them live.  These guys were LESS.  The vocals were weak (too much partying?).  The guitars? Well, they can play guitar but I’d never call any of them excellent guitar players.  The only one who showed a whole lot of skill was the drummer.  He was damned good.  Here are a couple of photos of BlocParty:

The crowd enjoyed the music.  And nothing could stop them from taking photos and video (me included).  At all the doors into the hall there were signs saying “Do Not Video” etc.  I took this photo of people taking photos and videos.  You can’t stop this happening when every mobile phone acts as camera and video recorder.

I also took a video because I wanted to show the pit action.  It got pretty wild!  I’m glad I wasn’t in it!

My over all rating for the night – 7 out of 10.  They are a tight band, making no mistakes and playing exactly what you are going to hear (more or less) from the CD.  But, as DB says, “they don’t color outside the lines”.  They might as well have been playing from sheet music, every note correct.  We wanted to see something MORE.  We wanted to see musicians playing from their souls.  DB asked “when was the last time we saw THAT?”  I said “Neil“.  ‘Nuf said.

Have You Read….

Redshirt Knitting is on my regular blog reading list.  Her last entry was a MEME that she got from kmkat’s blog, who got it from CursingMama’s blog who got it from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts).  OK, the NEA article is very old, but the internet doesn’t always move at light speed!

The point they are making is that Americans don’t read literature anymore.  The NEA asserts that most Americans have only read SIX of the following 100 books.  That would be very sad if really true.  Of course, people who are going to send this list around the internet are probably those who have read a lot more than SIX of these books, so it’s not any kind of survey.  It’s still fun to do.  I pass it along now to you.

Below are listed 100 works of literature.  The rules for the MEME are:

* Bold the books you have already read
* Italicize the books you intend to read
* Notes in parentheses next to note-worthy titles.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible (most of it anyway)

7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8 ) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell 
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
12) Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (it’s sitting on my bookshelf just waiting for me)
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (some – but certainly not ALL)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18 ) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (one of the best books EVER)

20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (condensed version)
25) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams  (the answer is 42)
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 ) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (hits close to home)
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (also in my bookshelf, waiting for me)
38 ) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (They’ve got to be kidding!  This is one of the WORST books of all time!!)
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving (fantastic book)

45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48 ) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding (big impact for a 16 year old)
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert

53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58 ) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (great book)
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac (I keep meaning to get to it)
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68 ) Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (Again, joking, right?)
69) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker (started – didn’t finish)
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson (HJ keeps recommending it, but what is even better is “Mother Tongue” 
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78 ) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker

84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte’s Web by EB White
88 ) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 ) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I have no idea who exactly came up with the list but it must have been a committee of some kind.  As others have pointed out, what about Mark Twain?  What about anything by Neal Stephenson (my current author idol)?  Anyway, it’s still an interesting list and makes you think about what you’ve read, what you read in school and what you’d pick up again today to read.  I read The Lord of the Flies at 16 in school and read it again just a few years ago.  It is just as haunting as ever.

I would like to recommend from this list, in particular:
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
The Time Traveler’s Wife
His Dark Materials
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

These are new-er books, excellently written.
Please don’t waste your time with The Da Vinci Code. What lousy writing!  Now, YOUR turn!

Fun Felting Mitts to Match

A while back I made brioche mittens to match my capelet.  They came out fine, but when I wore them they were just too floppy and stretchy and lose.  Well, that’s what brioche is, isn’t it!  I decided to do something about that – or at least try to.  It was a little experiment.

On Saturday I put them in a small lingerie bag and then threw them into the washing machine with a load of dark colored t-shirts.  I washed it all on a normal cycle at 30 degrees C (about 80F).  I didn’t put them into the dryer because I thought they had probably gone far enough into felting.  I wanted to let them dry and try them on and see how they felt (no pun intended) (ok, maybe the pun is intended).  These were made with Cascade 220, which is famous for felting, and I have to say that it lived up to its reputation.  Here are before and after photos.



They look really different don’t they!  Now I love them even more.  They are denser and warmer and fit even better.  You can see they are only a tiny bit smaller, but they are much less stretchy.  

So, this was my first experiment ever with felting and I call it a big success.  Hmmmm, NOW what should I felt……

Over the Edge

It’s Monday and I’m home with the flu.  I have just enough energy to blog the running story because, as I said in the last post, if I don’t use it, I’ll lose it.  I don’t want to lose any more momentum.  I gotta get it down!

Yesterday morning I went running.  My goal was 9km and I did achieve that goal.  I was slow though.  Really slow and it was really cold.  I didn’t realize the wind was at my back for the first half until I turned around to come home.  SMACK, wind in the face.  

At the half way point I saw this old guy sitting around:

The pile of orange things in the background are empty orange half peels.  I don’t know if they have an orange juice factory or if they buy the peels from an orange juice factory and feed them to farm animals.  Just behind the farm house is this old church:

I don’t know if it is still used or not.  I kind of don’t think so.

On my way out, I saw these guys practicing water rescues with boats and a dummy.  On my way back in they were still there so I snapped their photo:

When I got home from my 9km I was really beat.  I felt like I did after the 16km Dam to Dam last September.  I drank sport drink.  I relaxed a little, took a shower, sat down to eat some lunch …. and then…

… the flu started.  My guts began to churn and then everything had to GO.  And then I had to go to bed.  I laid there and shivered under heavy clothes and blankets.  And today I’m home sick.

Did the running put me over the edge?  Or would I have ended up here anyway?  Maybe the running, and pushing myself TO the edge, makes the junk come out of me immediately.  That’s ok I guess.  I’d rather get it over with.  The good news is that the run went well and I’m still on track for the 12km race at the end of March.

Use It or Lose It

That title could apply to a lot of things.  Yearly budgets at work.  Muscle tone.  Memory.  In this case I’m talking about the moment that a blog thought comes to mind.  I have blog moments all the time, many times a day.  What I have found is that if I don’t write them down within 12 hours, I lose energy to write them down ever.  The ideas remain.  But the momentum is gone.

This is what has happened to me in the last week.  I’ve been bummed out about work.  Really bummed out.  That saps my energy in every other part of my life.  I’m trying my best to do 2 things: first, try to keep my energy up by simply knowing that this situation is temporary and I can’t let it get me down; two, try to fix what is wrong, either where I’m working or by finding something else better.  Number 2 is much harder than number 1.

Anyway, I lost my blogging momentum.  I thought that since I still had the ideas from the week that I’d just get caught up and write everything down on the weekend.  Then I discovered that that just doesn’t work for me.  I have to use it or lose it.  Live, and BLOG, in the moment.  So, instead of writing about the week, I will show you the few photos I took that will have to be enough to represent the week.  It’s a writing write-off this week.

I see the swans every day walking to work and they are so pretty.  They are also difficult to show off how lovely and how big they are.

Right after taking these photos it started to snow.  When I got to my desk, everything was white outside.

Another photo I took in the week was of our illegal coffee machine at work.  It sits on the window sill next to my desk.  We are not allowed to have any electrical devices at work.  Out little coffee cartel has TWO, the coffee machine and the milk heater/frothing machine.  Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Next up, a small post about running Sunday morning.