FO Alert

I’ve finally finished my Sunrise Circle Jacket!  Yippee!  I started it last September and it sat sleeping while I made Christmas presents and then socks.  I decided I had to finish it this weekend, and by god, I did.  I only cheated a little – I am using a child’s sized red chopstick as a closure instead of making crocheted loops and sewing on buttons.  There was already enough sewing on this thing!  Here it is:

I made this with Rowan “Summer Tweed” and I just LOVE the result.  I steamed it to block it and suddenly became this flat, soft lovely fabric with the perfect drape for this project.  I would definitely use this yarn again.  It is 70% silk and 30% cotton.  Unfortunately, I’m not heading to Amsterdam tonight for Stitch ‘n Bitch, but you can bet that NEXT Monday I’ll be wearing it to show everyone.  I’m so happy it’s done!

I’ve also been working a bit on the Spina socks.  These twisted stitches are hard on my hands.  I also had to frog the first foot section because I realized too late that I was supposed to knit the twisted stitches also through the back loop.  I ripped and started again.  Sigh.  I am a victim of my own perfectionism.

Now, I have to tell you something interesting.  I will be the person who says “The Emperor has no clothes!”

I do not like Wollmeise sock yarn.  There, I’ve said it.

I love the colors.  The colors are stunning and I still can’t capture that well with a camera.  But the base yarn itself is not nice at all.  It is overspun and twists up all the time.  I’m constantly untwisting it.  Secondly, it splits so easily it’s just ridiculous.  And when you are knitting constant twisted stitches on size 2mm needles (lace needles even), it’s easy to drop a stitch or start to lose a stitch.  But with this yarn it’s TERRIBLE to pick up again.  It splits into 9 little threads that look and feel more like cotton than wool.  There’s no crimp to hold it together.  I don’t know what all the fuss is about with this yarn.  Why are people paying crazy prices for it on eBay?  OK, color is great, but if you have to fight with the yarn the whole time, it’s just not fun anymore.  I have 1 other skein to make a pair of La Digitessa socks, which I will do, but then I think my love affair with Wollmeise is over.

So, dear readers, what is YOUR favorite sock yarn?  And what won’t you knit with ever again?

To the Beach

Yesterday was the warmest day of the year so far.  It was 23 degrees C in Haarlem (73 F).  We ran around all morning doing chores but in the afternoon we headed to the beach.  We started kind of late, almost 3:00, but I couldn’t see sitting at home wasting the weather!

Since moving to Haarlem I’ve been looking forward to being able to bike to the beach.  What a luxury!  Biking to the beach!  We headed first to Bloemendaal, then directly West through the dunes to the beach.  The best thing about NL is that there are bike lanes everywhere.  You can safely ride a bike anywhere you want to go.  Here is our route.  It took us 45 minutes to bike it.

When we got to Bloemendaal aan Zee we turned right and biked into Zuid-Kennemerland National Park.  Bikes get in for free but cars have to pay.  We biked to Parnassia, a beach cafe at the end of the road where you can park your car, and your bike.  There were lots of bikes in the bike parking yesterday.

We walked down to the beach and hung out for a while.  In the distance of this photo, at the horizon, is IJmuiden, which is where the Noordzee Canal begins (or ends).  

In this photo, at the far horizon, you can see Zandvoort, where I was last Friday and where we ran 12 km the Sunday before that.  So, Parnassia sits kind of half way between IJmuiden and Zandvoort.

We didn’t stay there long.  DB can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes you know.  And soon the clouds came over.  This was the final photo of the day.

It was really terrific being able to bike to the beach and back.  The wind was a little stiff and the hills a little high on the way home (we had already gone to the gym in the morning and I had already run 5 km!) and my legs were BEAT.  You can be sure I’ll be biking to the beach again and again this summer – just because I CAN!

Spring Has Sprung

I love Spring.  It’s my favorite season.  When the days get longer I sigh a big sigh of relief.  When the plants come alive again, I come alive.  Spring in NL means really changeable weather.  Yesterday morning biking to work it was foggy and misty and cold again.  After work yesterday I walked through Amsterdam city center with my coat off.  Biking home last night the SMELL of Spring hits me and (when I stop sneezing) I just love that earthy damp flower blooming smell.  If I were a dog I’d lay down and roll in it.

As it’s Easter weekend, Amsterdam is PACKED with tourists.  This weekend always seems to be the opening of the tourist season, as if gates were opened somewhere.  I walked down Warmoesstraat and Kalverstraat and could hardly make my way through the crowds of Americans and French and Spanish.  On the Warmoesstraat they are slowly walking out of Coffee Shops, not really knowing where they are and not watching out for bikes.  On the Kalverstraat they are walking slowly, looking in the shop windows, the Americans gawking at the high prices.  Here are a couple of photos:

DB and I both have Friday and Monday off work.  We don’t have any big plans.  Mostly just recovering from the week and enjoying our new heater. 🙂  The tile guy, who was sick for 3 days, is working here both Friday AND Saturday to catch up.  I think he must have another job to go to next week.  We might have a finished bathroom by the middle of next week!

Since we have 4 glorious days off, I plan to do some running and also some knitting.  I WILL finish my Sunrise Circle Jacket this weekend so stayed tuned for photos of that.  Work continues on the Spina socks, although slowly.  We might even get to the beach this weekend.  The weather is supposed to be great.  Get out there and enjoy it!

Things Fall Apart

Things fall apart.  The teenager in me says “It’s just not FAIR” but the rest of me knows it’s inevitable.  We all fall apart.  Buildings fall apart.  Mountains fall apart.  Eventually the Earth will fall apart.  Also, as always, big events start small, in your own home and your own body.

The bathroom was falling apart, which is why the renovation was necessary.  It’s still going on.  The tile guy fell (apart) sick and hasn’t shown up for 3 days.  Tomorrow he’ll he back or he’ll be replaced with someone else.  We will now go a few days more without a shower.

On Monday the boiler (which, for your Americans, supplies not only our hot water but also hot water to the radiators for our heat) died.  It first started leaking, without warning, which resulted in a few warped ruined floorboards.  We called the repair service.  They came out and said they can fix it for €400 but there’s no guarantee it will keep working for another year.  It seemed much smarter just to replace the whole thing.  It’s 10 years old and we knew we’d have to do it some time.  Things fall apart as you know.  We just didn’t think it would fall apart so soon.  Thursday a new one will be installed for a whopping €2,500.

Speaking of things falling apart, a few weeks ago I was eating a croissant.  Just a normal croissant.  Suddenly something went “crunch crunch” in my mouth.  WTF!  I spit it out and saw pieces of tooth.  Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I see far too much of my dentist.  Every year I hope to only see him for a cleaning.  Every year I’m disappointed.  I just keep falling apart.

This time what fell apart was the back half of a bridge.  The bridge will have to be taken out and fixed in the lab, to the tune of €1,750.  Good grief.  Good thing we decided to stay home this summer for our vacation.

The cat is also falling apart.  He went to the vet today to have a tooth taken out and some tests run.  He’s back home now, under pain meds and with new medicine.  I don’t even want to know how much we’ve spent on vet bills for the cat.  This time alone was nearly €300!  He’s had a lot done to his nails and teeth and still he keeps falling apart.  We don’t know how old he is.  7 years ago when I met DB he said he cat was somewhere around 12 years old.  If you ask him today how old the cat is he says “around 12 years”.  Even if it’s years from now, this cat will die at the age of 12 years.  DB is in total denial about the cat getting old and not living forever.  I wish he counted my birthdays in the same way.

Tonight we are all sitting near the fireplace, staying warm by the fire (since we have no heat and it’s still damn cold outside). The cat is resting in the best chair in the house. DB and I are both sitting with laptops in our laps, enjoying the heat from them.

I’m crossing my fingers that everything else holds together, including Earth’s gravity, and my knees, for at least another day.  Good luck to us all!

KAL Kick Off

This is a photo of my new Spina di Pesce toe.  I made it anatomically correct because standard toes never fit me correctly.  Today is the start of the KAL over on Ravelry.  I’m very happy to have the time to make a whole toe today!  The second one will be made during the week.

I can see already that capturing the amazing colors of this yarn in a photo is going to be a continual challenge.  This photo doesn’t begin to show you the subtle greeny-turquoise in this yarn.  It’s really beautiful.  

I’m now really really in love with toe up socks and making anatomically correct toes.  I charted this left toe and here it is for you to use.  You can follow the link in the image to get a bigger version.  Just reverse for the right toe.  Of course this is only half the toe and you have to work around the foot, reversing the shaping.  It you knit socks, you know what I mean.  

Have fun!

What Happens When the Sun Shines

Yesterday the sun was warm and we had high temps of 20 degrees C (68 F)!!!  Wow!  People were out and about in just sweaters or even t-shirts.  It changes the whole mood of a country.  OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.  I took full advantage.  

I went first to the gym (as you know – no shower at home) and then into Haarlem.  I got my hair colored and cut.  I can easily admit to the coloring part because it looks not at all “natural”.  Remember Annie Lennox?  ‘Nuf said.  After that I did some needed shopping (new running socks, a birthday present for a 5 year old).  This photo was taken around 1:30pm at the Grote Markt in Haarlem.  When I was back there again at 6:00pm it looked just the same – everyone sitting outside in the sun.

After that I came home and thought about whether or not it made sense to go to the beach so late in the day, and if I wanted to go, how best to get there.  In the end I decided, yes, I should go to the beach because it’s sunny and warm and it’s stupid to sit inside on such a day.  I also decided to go by train to avoid the traffic.  There are only very small roads getting to the beach and back and when there are a lot of people making the trip you can sit in a traffic jam for ages.  Zandvoort is only 15 minutes away from Haarlem by train.  Here’s a big tip for those of you vacationing in the Netherlands:  if the weather is nice take a train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort.  In only 30 minutes you are at the beach and can see part of this country that most tourists don’t bother with.

Unfortunately I somehow forgot my camera when I left the house.  I know!  How can that happen?! I only had my iPhone with me so these photos are not very good.  I promise next time I’ll remember the camera.  I got off the train, walked the 2 minutes to the beach and sat at a beach cafe for a little while.  Then I walked down the beach a bit and eventually sat in the sand and knit on my squares for this event.  By then it was already getting late and I had to meet DB back in Haarlem center for dinner.  I took the 5:45pm train back to Haarlem.  The last photo is of the platform in Zandvoort which became quite crowded with the beach goers heading back to town.  It was a lovely day and I hope to repeat it again next weekend.

Where I sat:

These tractor pulling snack shacks drive up and down the beach selling food and drinks:

It’s a wide beach at low tide:

Zandvoort train platform at the end of the day:

Finally Friday!

It’s Friday and I have the day off!  YIPPEE!  I have a whole list of things to do, but they are all fun things.  The first thing I’ve done this morning is to unravel my “Brainless” socks so I can start over with another sock pattern.  Here are before and after photos:

I still love the colors and will definitely make some socks with it.  The socks I was making were a bit too small and the pattern just too boring to stick with.  I’m not so fond of the yarn itself.  This is a KnitPicks sock blank and the yarn is thin and not at all tightly spun so it splits easily.  Not very fun.  I’m starting the Spina di Pesce KAL on Ravelry tomorrow so THESE socks might just have to wait.

Also this weekend I’ve promised to make some pink and green squares for this initiative.  I have to get busy with that too!  

It’s been kind of a crazy week and I haven’t felt much like writing (as you can tell by the lack of posts).  When things get weird at work all my energy gets sucked away.  This time it’s GOOD news at work, but no less stressful.  I’ve been headhunted by another department in the same company and I’ve decided to go for the new job.  I’ve talked to my boss about it and the wheels are already in motion to find my replacement and the domino effect that follows (then HIS replacement, etc.).  It’s actually a win/win situation for all departments and most of the people involved.  Anyway, I don’t write about work here so that’s all I’ll say.  I’ll probably be a bit stressed out for a while now at work while I get completely up to speed in my new job before the first of July when the guy I’m replacing leaves the company.  Exciting stress though!

Like I said, today I have the day off and I’m heading out soon for a full day of FUN!  First to the gym (mainly to shower!  The bathroom construction continues….) then to get my hair cut, then for some shopping and finally I’ll probably head to the beach for a couple of hours.  SPRING IS FINALLY HERE!

Yesterday I, and 3 colleagues, sat in front of Vapiano drinking rose wine and toasting all our colleagues heading home at the end of the day. 🙂  We got pretty silly.  It was the first warm day of the year and today will be even warmer.  When the winter finally breaks here people sit outside and drink in the sun we’ve been missing for so many months.  I love Spring.

I’m sure I’ll have more photos from today to share with you later…….