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.

Monday Monday

This morning while walking to work and passing the public library, I thought “wow, I used to spend my Monday evenings here, in between work and Stitch ‘n Bitch at 7:30pm”.  I haven’t done that in a very long time.  The last few months it became normal to work until 7pm and then leave for de Jaren.  I’ve been working a lot of long hours lately.

Today I decided I needed to get back to a more relaxed time.  I decided this morning to leave work at 5:30pm and by god I really did it.  The above photo is the entry of the public library, just east of the Central Station.  It has 7 main floors, plus a lower floor for kids books and a top (8th) floor just for employees.  There’s a La Place restaurant on the 7th floor.  In case you are wondering, the knitting and other crafty books are on the 5th floor, kind of in the southeast corner of that floor.  They don’t have much in that subject.  Ah well.  They have a lot of very nice magazines and movies on DVD.  There are Mac computers everywhere that you can use free.

I’m sitting in a comfy chair, knitting something (that I won’t talk about yet), and watching the lightening flashing over the city.  I’ve got Brenda Dayne on my iPhone talking about her knitting.  Ahhhhh.  Now this is quality personal time.

For Sale!

I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I live in a flat country without snow in the winter.  I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I will never learn to snowboard.  I’m happy to be left with my skiing, thanks very much.  So, I’ve decided to sell off what I haven’n used in years.  These items are listed on eBay.  If you know of anyone in my area who is interested, please let them know!

First, the snowboard and boots:

O’Sin snowboard
“Power Girl” by Charlie Adam
144 cm length

Emery clip in bindings

Emery snowboard boots, size 38 with clip in binding posts

This snowboard and the boots have only been used 4 times.  They are all in near-new condition.

The link on eBay is here.

Now the cross-country stuff:

Fischer Royal Crown skis
pre waxed sintered base with center “fish scale” construction
188 cm long
Salomon SNS Profil bindings

Salomon ski boots, size 38
Insulated with Thinsulate

Techno Pro Classic Touring poles
120 cm

This cross-country ski set has only been used 3 times. They are in perfect as-new condition. Perfect for your next snow vacation!

The ebay link for the cross-country gear is HERE.

Politically Incorrect

While looking around at different kinds of web shops that people have set up, I came upon a web shop for head scarves (hoofddoek in Dutch).  Looking at the photos of the scarves for sale, I got to thinking…. head scarves should become a fashion statement.  We should all start wearing them.  There are some really beautiful scarves out there!  And you’d never have to worry about having a bad hair day.

I don’t know why left leaning women haven’t picked this up and started it already.  Just imagine the horror on Geert Wilders face when his daughter comes home wearing one.  If everyone is wearing a hoofddoek then there’s no discrimination possible anymore is there?  At least none based on what you wear on your head.

Of course this is probably terribly politically (or religiously) incorrect.  Wearing a head scarf for muslim women shows a respect for the religion.  It would be blaspheme to wear one without that religious belief.  Or would it?  It’s just a piece of cloth after all.  And frankly, if you saw all the teenage girls wearing head scarves, and how they act, you would wonder too just how much religion has to do with any of this.  And continuing along these lines, since when has the heart of any religion played any real role in politics?  I mean seriously – people have been killing each other forever in the name of religion.  How can you even take religion seriously anymore?

But I digress….

The other day I got a calendar in the mail from the Wollmeise, the goddess (keeping to the religious theme on this Sunday morning) of indie yarn dyers.  She produced the calendar to be sold, online, and the proceeds go to Terre des Hommes, a very worthy cause.  I was pretty happy to get this calendar in the mail and, as any good blogger would do, I took a photo of it and posted it here on the blog.  I also posted this small photo on a couple of forums on Ravelry, to show off my new purchase.

On the Wollmeise group on Ravelry, my post was quickly edited to remove the photo from the calendar and I was asked politely to remove all my photos from all places on the internet.  WTF?  She promised all the models that their photos would not end up on the internet.  Well, I took them all down because, well, you just don’t want to piss off the Wollmeise and ever hope to pay a normal price for her yarn again.  She has an ARMY of devotees (acolytes?) who will hunt you down and shun you from all Wollmeise commerce.  Seriously.

But I think she is very naive to believe those photos will remain only on the physical walls of those who purchased them.  She is not censoring who buys her calendars.  We didn’t sign any agreement regarding what we can or cannot do with the calendar.  It’s a web shop!  I’m sure there a lot of people out there who are not as polite as me who will just say “screw you and your silly agreements” and will post photos of the calendars where ever they want.  I may end up there myself.  The more I think about it the more I’m annoyed that some stranger (albeit a Wollmeise approved stranger) tells me to take down a photo and I just comply.  I might end up showing you that photo again anyway.  They are such great photos that I can’t imagine the models NOT wanting their photos all over the internet.  They should be proud.

Last week, again on Ravelry, I started a topic on the Sock Knitters Anonymous forums asking “When will we talk about December?”.  You see, every month there is a new KAL and challenge.  I wanted to start planning for December.  It’s only a week away!  My topic was quickly locked by a Mod (Moderator for those not in the know) and I was told that we will discuss December when the time is right and not before.  Harrumph!  Man, whatever happened to being able to say what you want without being shut down all the time.

I think I’m beginning to feel that everything I say is just inappropriate somehow.  I’m a little fed up with that!   Everyone in the world is just too tetchy these days.  “Live and let live” seems to be a quaint fantasy of the 60’s, even here in the Netherlands.  You think that this is an open minded place where anything goes?  Think again.  If that were true then people like Geert Wilders would never have an audience, and he definitely has one these days.

I begin to lose the plot lately.  I don’t know anymore who I’m going to offend and when.  I’m just going to go on, doing what I want, and if I offend you, I didn’t mean to, and if I sound naive, just blame it on old age.  I’ll be old eventually.