Paris Isn’t Jinxed

Les Invalides, Paris
Les Invalides, Paris

Six weeks ago DB and I were in Paris for my long birthday weekend.  If you were reading the blog back then, you know that we both got sick and I spent one of those precious days laying in bed not able to move.  I had a bad taste in my mouth over Paris.  We both thought that a return trip would be just the thing to wash those bad memories away.

Turns out that I was back there again, albeit for work, sooner than I thought I would be.  I was in Paris Tuesday and Wednesday this week, just home late last night on the Thalys train.

The above photo was taken from my colleague C.’s car while she was taking me on a tour around the city.  She’s a real local.  She was born in Paris.  Her parents were born in Paris.  Her grandparents used to own a cafe in Paris.  She drove me around like anyone would drive around in their home town.  She knew all the right streets to take and where the high points were to be found.  It was fantastic to be shown around like that!  Even nicer, it’s vacation time so most of the locals are away on holiday and the streets were relatively quiet.

After the tour we went to a restaurant called Pasco.  We sat outside on their terrace to eat.  It was so warm!  I’m not used to being able to sit outside at 10pm and not even need a sweater.  The food was VERY good and not any more expensive than you would pay in Amsterdam.  I had sea urchin for the first time ever.  Yum.

It was a good trip, although fast and tiring, and was good to put some positive thoughts of Paris in my head.  After being there twice in six weeks I feel like I could really find my way around very easily.  I took public transport to and from Gare du Nord coming and leaving.  I’ve seen more of the city this trip.  Next time DB and I go to Paris I can pretend I know what I’m talking about. 🙂

The Little Engine That Could

Just when I think I have a running schedule that works for me, that I can stick to, it all goes to hell again.  This week I didn’t run on Friday because I just didn’t feel very good and had kind of a migraine in the making.  I finished a sock instead, always an acceptable substitute.

The Wednesday before I DID manage to run 6 km in the morning before most of the world was up and around.  I took this photo, which almost shows what I was trying to capture.  If you look in the water at the reflection of the trees, you can see bands of green.  In person these were beautiful bands of green algae.  The water was so calm.  Not a fish or bird was disturbing the algae and it just streamed out along the slow moving water.  Even my lousy iPhone camera managed to capture just a little of this green loveliness.  Oh, and the 6 km run was nice too.

This morning I went out for an 8 km run, which went very well.  I’m still ok on my Dam to Dam schedule, but I have to say that at the end of this 8 km run I was thinking “Oh MAN! This is only HALF of the Dam to Dam!”  Will I be able to keep to the training and make the whole 16 km?  I feel kind of like The Little Engine That Could.  I just keep trudging along, doing my best, not giving up even when my body doesn’t want to continue and my mind is too tired.  Is it optimism and stubbornness that keeps me going?  Probably those things, plus a good fear of getting old and not being able to move anymore.  Fight old age!  Keep moving!  Arthritis can’t catch me if I’m fast enough!

At the half way point this morning I was at the outskirts of Velserbroek.  It’s really the Dutch version of suburbs.

There’s water.  There are modern apartment buildings, brand new.  There are bike lanes and no car lanes.  It’s created in the polder where there used to be only water or marsh.  The highway is just a short distance away for that commute to the city or train station.

I’ll get around to updating my running schedule soon.  It’s all stored online so I won’t lose the history.  It’s more important that I keep running than to keep a running diary.

Nothing Like the Beach

I didn’t grow up near the beach, which probably explains why I still think it’s pretty special to hop in your car (or even on your bike) and be at the beach in 15 minutes and have dinner and take a quick snap of the sunset.

I was feeling kind of down, physically and mentally, so what better way to lift spirits than a trip to the beach.  It works for me.  We headed to Zandvoort Saturday night for dinner, at Bruxelles aan Zee.  We sat inside to eat, but plenty of people were sitting outside for dinner.

After having so much rain lately, it was nice and convenient that the sun came out just for the occasion.  After dinner we walked along the beach for a while.  There were still a lot of people out and about.  These last photos were taken at about 8:30pm.

There were even surfers!  This is about as big as the waves get here at the North Sea.

It’s times like this that I’m so glad we moved to Haarlem.  I know full well that if we still lived in Amsterdam we wouldn’t have bothered to drive the 25 minutes to reach the beach.   Any kind of nature, whether it’s a busy beach, or a small forest in the dunes, does my soul good.

1/2 DYO FO

Got it?

The above photo is 1/2 of a Finished Object, which is a pair of Design Your Own socks.  I finished this one today.  I am really really happy with it.  It turned out to be exactly what I wanted, but couldn’t find a pattern for, so I just made them up.

Here are some details to begin with.  When I make the second sock I will take photos along the way and write everything down into a pattern you can follow.

Yarn used: KnitPicks Risata (42% Cotton, 39% Superwash Merino Wool, 13% Polyamide, 6% Elite Elastic)
Construction:  toe-up, using my own toe design, left and right footed socks
Cast on:  60 stitches total
Needles: 2.25 mm, 2 circulars
Stitch pattern:  Italian Chain Rib, which can be found in Barbara Walkers first stitch dictionary, and also is in Charlene Schurch’s More Sensational Knitted Socks
Gussets: reverse Stockinette stitch
Heel turn:  wrap-less short rows
Heel flap: k1, sl1 on right side, purl all stitches on wrong side
Finishing:  k1, p1 rib for a few rounds, then k1tog, yo for 1 round, then k1, p1 rib for a few rounds, making a nice picot hem which was stitched down on the inside

They are really stretchy to fit my duck feet (see photo above) and lots of sizes of feet.

I have to tell you, I love love LOVE this yarn.  Unfortunately they don’t ship it to Europe so I’m afraid I’m going to have to buy some and have it sent to my mom for pick up in October.  It is really nice to work with, it looks great and feels great.  It’s much better than the other KnitPicks yarn I’ve used.  Highly recommended.

Stay tuned for the full pattern coming soon!

Crafty Updates

Above is my progress on Muir.  This represents 2 pattern repeats.  Not bad for a little over a week, especially since I didn’t work on it 3 days last week.  It seems like every damn thing I’m doing these days has a hard deadline (does this sound familiar?), which I also seem to do to myself regularly.  I have to stop that.  This shawl needs to be finished before we head to California in early October.

I ALSO need to have some sewing done by the same time.   This afternoon I worked on the test bolero that I’m making to send to M. so she can try it on and make sure she’s happy with it before I make the real one in silk.  I don’t have photos.  It’s going a lot slower than I had hoped.  It’s not so easy to make ruffles look good when you have no pattern to work from!  I made 3 versions of a little cap sleeve ruffle before I was happy with it.  I now have to take out the first one to make it look like the third one.  I hope to have the whole thing finished by the end of next weekend.

I’m so happy with how this sock is turning out!  I’m just making it on the fly as I go.  When I knit the second sock I’ll write everything out as a pattern you can follow.  Yesterday I made wrap-less short rows for the heel turn and I’m a little over half way through the gusset decreases.  I’ve only worked on the heel turn at home because it was too fiddly and complicated to deal with on the train.  The rest of it has been done only on the train all last week.  I started it 8 days ago.  The more socks I make, the easier and faster they are to make.  Perfect train projects.

So, that’s my crafty update.  Tomorrow night is our SnB night so more progress will be made on the sock.  Tuesday night we’re going to go see the new Harry Potter movie.  Oh boy!  I can’t wait for that!

In Spite of Myself

Today I copied the 3 day per week, 10 week, 10 mile training program into my diary.  In spite of the fact that I haven’t kept to a schedule very well in the last week, I’m still ok.  I still have time to meet my goals.

Today I ran 8 km in the dunes west of Bloemendaal.  Sometimes everything just comes together perfectly and a run is really enjoyable.  Today was one of those days.  The weather was cool and mostly sunny with no wind.  I was rested from not running at all during the week (trying to look on the GOOD side of that).  There were only a few bicyclists on the trail so I didn’t have to pay attention so as not to get run over.  It was really really nice.  Ahhhh.  It’s such a great feeling to have a good run.  I started to play the song “Aquarius” in my head.  “When the moooooon is in the seventh house, and Jupiterrrr aligns with Mars….”  I just felt like the stars and planets were aligned just right for my morning run.

The above photo was taken at my 3.5 km mark.  Someone was actually swimming there.  Brrrrr.  This route has a big hill at the beginning, and since I run out and back, also at the end of the run.  I ran pretty gently for the 4 km out, and picked up the pace and ran faster on the way back.  The hill at the end was tough, but I actually like running hills.  I am pretty good at it too.

Now that I have the 10 week schedule in my diary it will be in my face and reminding me daily of what is coming up.  Tuesday I should run 5 km.  I’m up for that.

My Antidote

Running?  What running?  Work?  Too much work!  And the dentist and the migraine.  Ugh.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks and I almost can’t take late evenings during the week with all the other stuff going on.  My running has really suffered (I’ve missed 2 days this week).

So, what to do about it?  Knit of course.  And do some stash enhancement.  It’s my antidote to too much other crap.

Today, Friday, I had the day off.  YIPPEE!  I relaxed in the morning and knit a bit on the new shawl.  Then I packed myself up and headed in to Amsterdam to have lunch with an old friend, R.  We ate lunch and talked and talked.  We walked around the city and drank coffee and talked and talked.  I had to go to de Afstap to exchange some knitting needles so she came with me.  R. is not a knitter, but is a crocheter.  She saw a scarf made up in the shop and just had to have the yarn to make one for herself.  If someone else is buying yarn, who am I to hold back? 🙂

De Afstap has at this moment 30% off on a lot of summer yarns.  I bought 10 skeins of Rowan Cashcotton.  The name is only slightly misleading.  The make up of the yarn is:  35% cotton, 25% polyamide, 18% angora, 13% viscose and 9% cashmere.  Now, I know full well that 9% cashmere isn’t enough to actually feel the cashmere.  It’s a marketing gimmick.  But who cares when the yarn feels this soft and is this lovely.  As long as I can buy it on sale I’m happy.  It will be very nice to wear against the skin.  Here’s a photo:

I’ve made amazing progress on my new socks.  I only work on these socks on the train or on Monday nights at de Jaren.  Look how far I’ve gotten already!

I’ve just kind of making them up as I go along.  I found a stitch pattern I liked, then just went from there.  I decided to do a reverse St. st. for the gussets.  At this point I think I’m going to make them anklets with a picot edge bind off.  They will be summer socks.  I’m liking it a lot so far.

Unfortunately, while taking this photo I broke one of the KnitPicks needles.  Damn.  These little wooden things are pretty fragile.  This is the second pair I’ve broken.  The first pair KnitPicks gave me a replacement for because I really only picked them up and they broke.  I have no one but myself to blame this time as I put a little pressure on them with my foot (“don’t you mean you stepped on your needle?” my get-real half says) and SNAP it was broken.  And they STILL don’t ship outside the U.S.  Love the needles, hate the policy.

Progress continues on the Muir shawl, but not enough to be worthy of a new photo.  Maybe in a few days I’ll have something to show you.

So, that’s my knitting update and my antidote to stress in life.  Try it yourself.  Works wonders.