For Mom

On Sunday’s I call my mom.  We talk for an hour or so about everything and nothing.  We just chat away and the time slips away.  Yesterday was no different.  I told her about my work and my weekend and about the Christmas knitting I finished up.  Then, in a small voice, she asked

“Did you make me something for Christmas?”

Gulp.  No, I didn’t.

“But Mom”, I replied, “you never wear anything I make!  I make you socks and you put them in a drawer.  I made you a sweater and you put it away and moths ate it!”

“Well, I’d wear one of those little scarves like the one you made while you were here visiting.”

Ah.  Ishbel.  I see.  So THIS is what she would really wear.

What color?  I asked.  Oh, I don’t know, she said.

“Ok,” I said, “I have just the thing – I know exactly what to make.”  And after we hung up the phone I went upstairs to my stash, picked up this yarn and needles and started right then and there on Ishbel for Mom.

This is yarn I bought in New Zealand.  It’s very special.  It’s 100% New Zealand merino and is the softest wool on the planet.  It was hand dyed in colors of the rainbow, only darker and deeper.  It’s been in my stash for 3 years because I just couldn’t decide on a project special enough to use it.  Now I have that special project and this is the perfect yarn for it.

I hope it’s not TOO colorful for her.  I think she will wear it well though.  I like to think I’m like my mom in some ways – small but punchy.  We might fool you into thinking we are quiet and timid, but people aren’t fooled for long.  I think these colors are perfect for such a woman – someone who will wear it proudly.  Merry Christmas Mom!  I’m working on it!

The Wedding

On October 17 John and Mandy got married.  It was the best wedding ever.  Really.

Mandy is my niece.  She’s spunky and gutsy and smart and funny and cute and clever.  If I was John I’d marry her too.  That makes him a pretty smart guy too.

We planned our trip to California around the wedding date.  We spent 5 days in San Francisco, then drove to my mom’s house, then drove up to Chico for the Big Day.

John and Mandy planned everything themselves, with big help from friends, family and I think especially John’s Mom.  It was a wedding on a shoestring, but it was the classiest shoestring you can imagine.  Creativity and class took the place of money and expensive excess.  Everything about the day represented the two of them, who they are, and how they live.

The day we arrived in Chico we went immediately shopping for cookie ingredients and set to making my dad’s famous Buffalo Chips cookies.  We made 12 dozen I think.  What a nice way to start the weekend!

The next day we helped them set up the wedding site.  They got married at an old farm house with huge gardens and grounds surrounding the old house.  There is even a redwood plantation where we gathered after the ceremony.

Even though it was mid-October, it was very warm.  We were actually amazingly lucky with the weather – it rained 2 days before and again 2 days after the wedding!

The Bride and Groom arrived to the front of the house, where the ceremony would take place, riding a bike (see first photo).  This grand entrance was a surprise to everyone.  It was so cute!  They rode all the way around the grounds while music played them in (I don’t remember the song now).

Here they are during the ceremony.

It’s very difficult, in a short space like a blog, to describe such a special day and such special people.  I won’t even try.  Suffice it to say that I was very touched by the two of them, by their loving friends and family, and the day that they created for all of us.

I will end this post by showing you one of my favorite Mandy-as-a-kid photos.  It was taken in 1984, in front of my parents’ house.   We were having a picnic and Mandy was telling me some big story.  I felt honored that this little kid wanted to spend time with me.  I still feel that way today.  She was, and still is, the apple of my eye.

The Longest Scarf in the World

The above is a photo of a scarf that doesn’t exist anymore.  Can you tell why?  Can you see why this afternoon I ripped the entire thing out?

The yarn is hand painted 4 ply fingering weight merino.  It’s beautiful.  But, as you can see above, the two skeins that I need to make this scarf are not identical.  At the point where I’ve joined the second ball, about 2 inches from the end of the scarf in the photo, you can see that the color changes at just slightly different lengths.  Where the first ball created blotches of colors in a really nice speckled effect, the second ball just made stripes.  I would have a scarf that looked very different on one end from the other end.  I don’t like the stripes.  I was really annoyed.

The scarf is for DB, not for me.  I asked him what he thought.  He wasn’t as worried about it as I was.  But I really REALLY didn’t want to spend the next 6 weeks finishing this thing only to have it look silly.  So I frogged it.

Here I am, unraveling the scarf and winding the yarn around the back of a chair.  I’m the human swift.

When I finished ripping it out, I tied off the yarn in 4 places, then lifted it off the chair.  It looked like this:

Funny, huh?  I like this look.  It looks to me like Zwarte Piet hair.

I took it to the kitchen sink, gave it a good warm bath, and now it’s hanging on a hanger in the bathroom, drying.  It’s all straight and normal looking again.

My plan is to combine the skeins, knitting with 2 yarns held together, on larger needles and fewer stitches.  The good news is that on bigger needles the work will go a lot faster.  The bad news is that I’m starting all over again.  I originally started this scarf over a year ago.  If I add up all the work I’ve already put into it, plus the work I’m GOING to put into it, it’s got to be the longest scarf in the world.

Kind of Thanksgiving

What do most Americans do on Thanksgiving Day?  Eat and watch football, that’s what.  We don’t have Thanksgiving here in the Netherlands.  The Dutch don’t know much about Thanksgiving actually.  I overheard a colleague of mine (Dutch) talking on the phone with another colleague who happened to be working in Australia.  My colleague asked the guy on the phone “so, do they celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day in Australia?”

People here don’t always realize that Thanksgiving is a North American holiday.  And some Americans don’t realize that there is also a Canadian Thanksgiving (celebrated in October).  Maybe that’s why it is such an important holiday in the U.S. – it’s uniquely “ours”.

Here in NL the 4th Thursday in November is just another work day.  There is no Black Friday either.  Here’s the best I managed to do to have a Thanksgiving dinner:

Baked chicken, potatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes and home made cranberry sauce.  DB was so sweet.  He searched high and low for sweet potatoes.  Usually they aren’t so hard to find, but for some reason they were only in the very last shop he looked in.

I also made banana bread earlier.  The house smelled of baking and cooking and with the rugby on the tv all afternoon, it was almost Thanksgiving.  I missed Mom and Mandy and the rest of the family, and that’s what Thanksgiving’s all about after all.

But, considering everything, it was a nice day and I’m thankful for the family here and the food and the life we’ve made.  It’s a good life.

Yarn Test

I got this cone of yarn in the mail today.  It’s 150 grams / 600 meters of cashmere/wool.  I’m trying it out.  It needs washing to bring the yarn to life.  This is a mill end.  We’ll see how it knits up!

You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged about knitting in progress lately.  There’s a reason for that!  I’ve been busy with Christmas knitting!  I can’t show you that, now can I?  The secret would be out.  Rest assured though that I’ve been constantly knitting and have 3 things FINISHED!  The last one is just drying and then they are ready for a photo shoot and then off to the post office.  Sometime after Christmas you will see what I’ve been up to.

But before I do anything else I have to make quite some inches on that damn scarf for DB.  Sigh.  It’s only 100 grams to go.  It’s only the equivalent of a pair of socks.  I can do it.  I can do it.

Bas is Sick

I was looking around for a good photo of Bas and I decided on this one.  It’s cold and he’s on the move.  It was taken 2 winters ago.  Bas is a sick boy these days.

We’re not sure how old he is, but somewhere around 16 years.  About 2 months ago he started crying after eating and then losing weight.  We took him to the vet and they said he had a pancreas infection.  He started on medicine, which did nothing, and then on to heavier medicine.  He’s been taking prednisone for about 4 weeks now.

After a couple of weeks of the prednisone he wasn’t getting a lot better.  Last Friday afternoon we headed off to a specialist vet who does scans.  This vet is out in the middle of no where.  It’s getting dark early now and I was very glad to have a TomTom, otherwise we’d probably never have found it.

The scan shows indeed a swelling on his pancreas.  They can’t say if it’s a bad infection or a tumor.  Either way the only treatment is to continue on the prednisone and see how it goes.  We’ll go back for another scan in 2 months and see if it’s better or worse.

We can tell that he’s feeling a bit better.  He doesn’t cry any more.  He seems a little more lively.  He’s an old guy and doesn’t do much anyway.  He follows us around and lays on our feet at night in bed.

Bas and I have a new routine.  At night I put him on my shoulder and I carry him up to bed.  He can walk just fine up and down the stairs, but we both seem to like this new ritual.  He waits for me to pick him up and carry him.  When I get up to the bedroom I wait for him to want down before I put him down.  Sometimes he lays on my shoulder, purring, digging into air with his paws, for a very very long time.  I indulge him.  I wait.  I bury my nose in his warm fur.  Eventually he wants down onto the bed.  And he sleeps on my feet.

It Must be November

Who are these people?  They just kept coming up to our table and sitting down!  🙂

This is a photo of half of our Stitch ‘n Bitch table last night.  These are the 6 “newbies” who were there.  The 5 “old timers” are sitting on the other side of the table.  We also have 3 “old timers” who were missing last night.  Our group is growing!  Pretty soon we’ll take over de Jaren completely on Monday nights!  It’s so nice to see that even with this horrible weather people still want to come out and knit.

To be honest I almost didn’t go myself.  G. sent an email saying she wouldn’t be there.  A. was packing for his trip to the U.S.  C. is still in the U.S.  I called N. and asked if she was going and minutes later M. called me to ask the same thing.  No one wants to go out in such storms if no one else is either.

M. wanted to make sure that I would be there because she had a present for me.  I was so curious what it could be!  A present? For ME?  Well, when I got to de Jaren she reminded me of the time I brought her a bottle of Kayro Syrup.  She couldn’t find it for sale anywhere.  I found some at a deli on the Leidsestraat and brought it to her.  This was a year ago.  I had completely forgotten about that.  Totally and completely.  She reminded me that she wanted it so that she could make pecan pie.  This last weekend she made it again and brought me 2 perfect small pecan tarts.   What a treat!  If you want pecan pie in this country you have to make it yourself.  THANK YOU!!

I’m sitting here on my couch, on the tv AZ is playing football, DB is sitting with his computer on his lap and I’m doing the same.  We’re eating pecan tarts and listening to the wind howl outside.  It must surely be November.