A Kind of FO

As some of you might know, I was busy sewing stuff before heading off to California in October.  Back in June we went to Paris and in between being sick as dogs, we managed to get to a fabric store where I bought some PERFECT white silk fabric.  Above you can see what I did with it!

Back in May, Mandy found a wedding bolero on Etsy that she really liked.  We were chatting online one night and she sent me the link to it.  I immediately wrote back “oh heck I could make that easily”.  Next thing I know I’ve volunteered well and truly.

I first made a TEST bolero from some cheap cotton fabric.  It had 2 different sleeves and the front and back were different lengths.  That was all on purpose.  I mailed the test bolero to Mandy for her to check out and try on.  It fit her perfectly and she picked out the sleeve type and length.  Then I had to get up the courage to cut into that silk fabric!

I’m pretty proud of that bolero.  I had kind of a pattern, for a top, that I bought, but it was only to get the general shape of the front curve.  I had to make up all the ruffles and remind myself how to invisibly line something like that.

Unfortunately, it was so warm on the day of the wedding that she didn’t wear it during the ceremony and I didn’t wear my knitted shawl either!  Later, after the wedding and reception, we all met up for the after-wedding-party at a bar in Chico.  I walked in and was just THRILLED to see her wearing the bolero.  She still had her hair piece from the wedding in her hair.  Isn’t she adorable!  Love you Kiddoo.

What Every Girl Needs

EDITED!!  There used to be a photo here from the calendar.  I was asked to take it down because Claudia has an agreement with the models not to post their photos on the internet.  I can understand that.  Sorry!

Wollmeise yarn is what I’m talking about of course!

Look what I got in the mail today!  A Wollmeise Calendar and some yarn to go with it in “Oh Tannenbaum” color.

This is the Christmas deal from the Wollmeise’s special web site.  You can buy a calendar alone, or in combination with a skein of yarn (red, blue or green).  Yes, they are in stock as I write!  Proceeds from the sale of the calendar go to Terre des Hommes, which I am very happy to support in this small way.  Thank you to Claudia for such a nice Christmas present to myself and to this organization.

The calendar is super high quality, big and beautiful.  The photos are gorgeous and the knitting isn’t bad either.

I’m going to make some stranded mittens with this yarn.  I’m thinking of these:

photo by Louhitar on Flickr

Stash Enhancement

I realized that I never showed you the yarn I bought in California in September.  How remiss of me!  Let me fix that situation.

Above is Noro Silk Garden Sock.  These are very bright and cheery.  To go with them I bought…

These two are dark but still beautiful.  The 4 of them together will be perfect for a vest.  It will be of my own design (all set up in my head anyway).  I probably won’t get around to starting it until next year, which is luckily right around the corner.

I also bought….

11 of these Noro Silk Garden plus 11 of these…

These 22 skeins will make a lap blanket for the cold Dutch winter nights.  I haven’t decided how exactly I’m going to make this blanket.  I might just pick a simple stitch pattern that I like.  I might just knit a gigantic square of garter stitch, knit on the diagonal, or I might make a 10 stitch wide strip in kind of a log cabin pattern.  We’ll see.  My first criteria is that it must be something that I don’t have to sew together, so no blocks or small pieces allowed.

And that’s it for yarn!  Those 22 skeins of Silk Garden broke the yarn budget for the trip, but it was the one thing I really wanted to buy.  I bought all of this at a lovely shop in Chico California called Heart Strings Yarn Studio.  Their web site is, well, less than perfect, but the shop in person was very nice.  It is packed with yarn for everyone, loads and loads of books, and a knitting/teaching area in the back.  I also bought Jared Flood’s book “Made in Brooklyn” there.

Now I need to get knitting!

Yikes! Stripes!

photo by Eunny Jang
photo by Eunny Jang

I was lurking on Ravelry, on a dyer’s forum called “Love to Dye“, when I came across a topic about self striping yarn.  Eunny Jang has a fantastic “how to” on her web site which will explain how to dye yarn like the above, which turns into this when you knit socks from it:

photo by Eunny Jang
photo by Eunny Jang

She dyed this with Kool-Aid, another cheap and easy method for dyeing.  Reading Eunny’s blog post makes me really excited to give this a try.  Anyone up for it?

Eye Witness

Last night was Stitch ‘n Bitch night at de Jaren.  The cafe is just off the Muntplein in Amsterdam, which is at the very south end of the Kalverstraat.  The Kalverstraat is the most popular shopping street in Amsterdam and runs from the Muntplein to Dam Square.  After leaving de Jaren last night around 9:30 (after a great evening of knitting and chatting and laughing – I just love our group), I waited a few minutes for a tram, but then decided to walk to the train station since it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t really that cold.

I also decided to walk down the Kalverstraat because I could look in the shop windows and see what I was missing.  There are always people walking down this street even after the shops are closed.  Except for Thursday nights when shops are open til 8pm, everything closes up at 6pm.  How very Calvinistic on the Kalverstraat.  Last night was no exception – a few people like me just walking from point A to point B.  I decided to pull out my camera and get a photo of the Christmas lights, ALREADY up.

As I took this photo I heard shouts just up ahead.  I lowered my camera and saw a guy on a bike coming towards me and 3 girls behind him screaming their heads off to “Stop! Stop!”  He had stolen a purse from one of them and was making off on his bike.  Somewhere in the far depths of the photo above is the whole thing as it happened.  If I had CSI powers I’m sure I’d be able to count the number of hairs in his left nostril.  But I don’t so you’ll have to take my word for it.

The guy on the bike turned down a small alley towards Rokin with the girls running as fast as they could after him.  I continued walking up the street, keep a wary eye out (as always) and I could hear them screaming still as they went from alley to street to alley again.

There weren’t any cops around at this moment, which is kind of unusual.  Normally there are cops around in Amsterdam everywhere you look.  This is not a bad thing.  In Amsterdam the cops are a more kinder gentler kind of cop.  They would rather talk a guy out of doing something stupid instead of using a taser on him.  I like this approach.  Make no mistake though, if they have to they will pull their guns.  Cops here are also much more fit than cops in the U.S.   They actually LOOK like they could give chase on foot, unlike the doughnut eating fatboys with “dunlop disease”** in the U.S.  But in any case, they weren’t to be seen when this purse snatching was going down.

Just minutes later when I got to the Dam cops seemed to be everywhere – on foot, bike, motorbike, car.  The only thing missing were the cops on horseback.  I wonder if they ever caught the purse snatcher.  I doubt it.

Even though this kind of petty theft happens now and then (my mom was pick-pocketed here) I still feel MUCH safer in Amsterdam than I do in San Francisco or even in my own home town.  I feel perfectly safe to walk around at night on my own.  I might get my purse yanked (still, not at all likely), I never feel in danger for my physical safety.  It’s not possible to go down to the local sporting goods shop and buy a gun.  Not a chance.  I have no idea at all even IF you can buy a gun here.  People don’t get shot in their own homes.  People don’t shoot family members when mistaking them for a burglar.  Kids don’t find guns and shoot other kids.  Gangs don’t roam the streets of Amsterdam shooting at each other.  It just doesn’t happen.

Don’t get me wrong, there is crime here, but it’s much less violent than in the U.S.  Last year a middle school kid came to school with a knife and stabbed his teacher.  That was a major shock and wakeup call here.  Can you imagine?  That would hardly make the local news in California.

Living in Haarlem I become very complacent.  I don’t even think about crime happening here.  Heck, our neighbors don’t bother to lock their bikes up at night (the bikes are parked in front of the house).  I try not to become TOO relaxed though.  I colleague of mine who lives in a town even smaller than Haarlem, was burgled in the middle of the night, while they were asleep upstairs (!) and lost all the electronic stuff they had sitting in their living room.  It happens.  Our neighbors in Amsterdam were burgled in broad daylight.  But I’d rather loose all my STUFF and keep my life and health.  Gun control?  You betcha.  Every day that I live here and I’m damn happy about it.

** “dunlop disease” = when you are so fat that your belly “done lops” over your belt (should be read with a hillbilly accent)

New Socks (kind of)

Remember the yellow mystery socks?  The ones that were ruined in the rain?  Not any more!  Today I dyed them this color.  It’s a dark grey.  Someone on Ravelry said that the solution of over-dyeing was a great one because you get dark socks without the eye strain of knitting dark wool in winter.  Exactly!

It’s a nice color that I’m sure I will wear more often than yellow anyway.  The above photo was taken while they were still wet, just cooled and rinsed out.

I used acid dyes for the first time and I have to say it was every bit as easy as dyeing with Kool-Aid.  I cooked it in the microwave for 10 minutes total.  Presto – grey socks!  I bought the dye at iKnit London weekend from Tall Yarns.  She is a very nice Dutch woman located in the U.K.  Go check out her site and buy the book and dyes.  Highly recommended.

Winnings and Whinings

This is the skein of yarn I won on 1 November.  Isn’t is lovely?  It will become socks.  More precisely, it will become KawKawEsque.  This probably won’t happen until January at the rate I’m going on other projects.  But it will happen!

Today is a very dreary rainy grey day in Haarlem, and probably the rest of NL.  It’s a perfect day to play on the computer and do some knitting.  DB went to the gym but I just didn’t feel like it at all.  I’m taking a mental break from exercise this week.  Everyone needs a break now and then.

I had big plans for today anyway.  I always have a lot of big plans.  Unfortunately my plan list is always bigger than the amount of time available.  Today the weather is also working against me.  I was going to do one or more of the following today:

  • walk in the dunes (since I can’t run and I really miss some nature)
  • work in the front garden.  Some things need cutting and some things need to be thrown into the green bin.  But not in the rain!
  • take photos of my snowboard and boots, and cross-country skis and equipment, all to sell on ebay.nl.  I might as well get used to the fact that I live in a flat country where it rarely snows.  I will take the money from these sales and buy some ice skates.
  • take photos of my knitting.  The only time these days (yes, it’s time for my yearly rant about not having any daylight for knitting photos) when there’s good light is during the weekend in the early afternoon.
  • over-dye my yellow socks that got ruined in the rain the other day.  This one is still a possibility since it is not dependent on the weather.
  • start writing up a business plan for something that may, or may not, come about.  Also a possibility today.

I just spent the last hour trying to write a DIFFERENT blog post, but I needed some photos scanned in order to do it right and I found that my old scanner just won’t play nice with my brand new Snow Leopard operating system.  I was afraid of that.  The same thing happened for my mom and she went right out and bought a new small scanner.  I guess I will do the same.  I guess the nice long special blog post will have to wait another week at least!

Well, I’ll get on with my list and see how far I get.  I’ll let you know.

Wishing for a Sandbox

This blog runs on WordPress.  WordPress.org that is, meaning that I’m hosted by a company of my choice and I have total control over all my files.  This is not the same as Blogger or even WordPress.com.

Since this is a new computer (brought back from the U.S., saving me a load of money), I still have to install a “sand box” WordPress on this computer.  Those helpful people at apache friends have created xampp, which is an automatic install of MySQL, PHP and Perl.  When that is done I can install WordPress on my laptop and simulate an internet blog on my own laptop.  That way, you can experiment and try different things with your blog and no one will see it until you replicate these changes on your real blog, hosted and open to the world.

I want to try some things to make this a more interesting blog.  Maybe a survey.  Maybe something more interesting on the side bars.  At a minimum I will clean up the links you see on the left of the page since the list is very outdated.  Some of those blogs are not updated by their owners anymore.  They are orphans.  So sad.

I hope you will enjoy the upcoming changes.  Stay tuned.

Oh, by the way, remember a couple of weeks ago I told you about the photographer who wanted to come take my photo in my home, of me knitting?  She came today and took my photo.  Lots of photos.  She was so friendly, and open, and really a pleasure to have in my house.  She will email a photo or 2 to me when they are done, and I have the a-ok to post them on the blog.  So I will.

Swift Swift

As some of you might remember, back in September at iKnit London weekend, I bought a lovely big wooden swift and then carelessly left it at the W.H.Smith shop at Stansted airport.  No one turned it in.  I never got it back.  I’m still pissed off at myself for that.

Meanwhile, I needed to ball up some yarn to continue knitting DB’s famous (in my knitting circles anyway) Most-Boring-Scarf-In-The-World  project.  I figured that he could do his part by holding out his arms with his yarn so I could wind it up easier.  He played swift and I played ball winder.

Isn’t the yarn lovely?  The colors are really beautiful and the yarn is soft luxurious merino from New Zealand.

The good news about this scarf is that I’ve knit an entire ball of sock yarn in this oh-so-boring 2×2 rib on 3mm needles.  The bad news is that I have another ball of sock yarn to go to make it as long as he wants it to be.  Sigh.  “I’m getting to it I promise!”, I keep telling him.  I only have 2 Christmas knitting items I’m making this year and one is already done.  THEN I will FINISH this damned thing.  Really.  Truly.

On Ravelry there was a forum post about a super cheap swift and ball winder you could order online from China.  The site is here.  I think I’m going to go for it.  Or maybe I should wait till after Christmas to see if anyone gets it for me.  🙂

Home Movie

The other day Lou posted about the rain in her part of the world.  She said she was walking around singing “Why does it always rain on me?” by Travis.  Oh yeah!  I made a movie with that song as the soundtrack!  I never posted it anywhere and it’s about time I did.

I made the movie in 2007 for a training course I was in.  We had to do a presentation on anything personal to us.  It wasn’t supposed to be more than 3 minutes, but mine was as long as this song (just over 4).

The photos and movie were taken at LowLands in August of 2006.  It was sunny for 2 days and then it rained on the last day.  It really rained.  What was funny was that lots of people knew that it was going to rain and they came prepared.  Especially the girls.  Luckily fashion and rainwear combined to give me a huge photo opportunity.  Watch the movie and see what I mean. 🙂

Here’s a link to the movie. It’s on YouTube.  I would embed it here but the quality wouldn’t be as good and it deserves the high quality of native YouTube.

This was the first movie I ever made and I was surprised how easy it was.  It wasn’t quick, but it wasn’t difficult either.  I made it with iMovie, which comes free with any Mac that you buy.  Just another reason why I love Apple products.