Under Dutch Skies Shawl – FO

My Under Dutch Skies Shawl is finished!

This is a brioche lace pattern by Nancy Marchant.  The pattern is not yet available, but will be soon.  This is (obviously) a one color version, but there is also the possibility to make it in two colors.  That’s my next project!

The brioche lace is reversible.  Both sides look the same.

The yarn is from Pigeonroof Studios.  It is 70/20/10 alpaca, silk, cashmere.  It is so fine!  Almost a cobweb weight.  I knit this on size 4 (US) 3.5mm needles.

Was it difficult?  Well, the first few rows were tricky, partly getting the hang of the brioche lace and partly getting to grips with such fine yarn.  After that it wasn’t hard exactly, but I could only safely work on it when there were absolutely no distractions and also with good light.  Since I started in February, it’s pretty clear that I didn’t have many moments like that!  You have to pay attention to what you are doing with this kind of knitting.  At least I do.  By the time I was on the last pattern repeat however, I was so good at reading the knitting that I could knit it while watching tv.

If I were to give advice to someone wanting to knit this pattern, I would highly recommend life lines.  When you do make a mistake with brioche lace, tinking back is not fun and ripping out is just not an option.  Life lines can save really save you!

The size is really nice.  I’ll have to take photos with it around my shoulders.  It drapes just lovely too.

I guess the best recommendation for any pattern and yarn is whether you would do it all over again, or would you make it a second time.  Yes! Yes! Yes!  I will make this again with two colors and again with Pigeonroof Studios yarn.  Keep an eye out in the shop….. !

How My Garden Grows

These are roses from the front of our house.  The white ones are “Snow White”, a tree rose.  The little pink ones I don’t know anymore what they are.  Florabunda at any rate.  The tree rose has just exploded with flowers, so many that I HAD to cut some off before they broke from the weight.  I have 3 David Austin roses in the front too, but they were just planted this spring and are still small.  There are buds but no flowers yet.

The BACK garden is also growing like mad.  The tomato plants are getting huge and little green tomatoes are showing up all over.  I also have Moroccan mint that I’ve picked a couple of times and made fresh mint with.  Wow, is that good.  I let it cool and put it in the fridge for REAL iced-tea.

There’s also a pretty Clematis growing up the fence.

I’m also busy growing a lot of dandelions.  I let them get kind of big before pulling them out.  I’ve read that you can dye wool with them.  Maybe at the end of the summer I’ll have enough to try that out.  Meanwhile, my pile of dried dandelions grows.  And the rest of the garden grows too.  I’m so happy summer is finally here!

KIP-ping 2010

I’m struck by how much I look like my mom.  She can often have the same concentrated look, which results in a frown when I don’t feel like I’m frowning at all.  You can’t avoid genetics after all.

This photo was taken during the KIP (Knit in Public) Day in Amsterdam.  We had a photo and knitting scavenger hunt with winners and prizes at the end.  We started at de Jaren (our usual Monday night meeting point), split up into teams, and were given a list of photos to take.  The photos had to include our knitting and they could include more than one item on the list.  Items were given points between 1-5, with easy things like “an Amsterdammetje” equal to 1 point, and difficult things like “the smallest house in Amsterdam” worth 5 points.  We met up 2 hours later at the public library, loaded everyone’s photos onto a computer, the judges judged and awards were given.

Our team came in second place, but won the prize for most creative.  One of the photos on the list was “your knitting under water”.  We went to the entrance below the ground where they are working on the North-South metro line, on the Rokin.  You walk down to displays and an area where you can look around at all the huge pipes that drip water.  It’s kind of creepy.  We took a few photos, one of which is me holding up my sock (the dark blob) with the tunnel and pipes and water all around.  This was certainly under water!

Here we are at the La Place on the 7th floor of the library, looking at everyone’s photos:

Oh and the first photo, was for 1 point, “a photo of a sign in more than one language”.  That one is pretty easy in Amsterdam.

It was a really fun day and we were lucky it didn’t rain.  Thanks to Cassandra and Miranda for organizing the day!

Hell on Wheels

This is my new speed demon bike.  It’s a Jan Janssen, model Racerox.   It’s considered a “hybrid” bike because it’s got racing AND city equipment.  It has 15 gears, which is quite a lot of overkill in flat NL.  It is SO LIGHT that I can easily pick it up and carry it around, and it just FLIES down the road.  It has fenders and lights and a bell for legal city riding.  Well, you don’t need fenders to be legal, just the lights, but fenders are good in the rain.

It took 6 weeks to get this thing delivered.  Four weeks after I ordered it and hadn’t heard anything from the shop, I called them to find out what was going on.  They said, ugh, what color did you want?  BLUE, the STANDARD color.  Oh, they said, somehow a brown one was ordered.  So I had to wait another 2 weeks to get the one I really ordered.  Good grief.  Ordering stuff here often goes wrong.

Why a new bike?  My old bike weighs a ton.  It’s made of cast iron – at least it feels like it.  It’s really no fun biking in the dunes and to the beach with this heavy city bike.  It’s also a typical Dutch bike seating style – upright and arms in front of you.  The wind just kills you in this position.  I just wanted a bike that would be fun to ride as recreation, not just as a means to get from A to B.  And now I have it!

Since I’ve only had the new bike since yesterday, I took it out today for a little spin around the neighborhood late in the afternoon.  I rode out to Spaarndam and saw the pheasant I saw last year and never managed to get a photo of.  OK, maybe it’s not the SAME one, but I’ve only ever seen one, and only once per year it seems.  Indulge me the fantasy that it’s the same one.

Pretty and fat.  And no, he won’t be hunted.  There were also a lot of geese and ducks about, which made me happy.  Earlier in the year they were no where to be seen and I thought they had been chased away by the construction going on in the area.  But the construction is over and the birds are back.  All is well in the polder again.

Football Fever

Above is a photo I took just a few short blocks from my house.  The neighbors on the street all got together and decorated in support of the Dutch team at the World Cup.  It’s madness.  Today, the day of the second match we’ve played, there was a party going on behind those orange tarps on the left.  I guess they tarped it off in case of rain, which there wasn’t much of today.  Mostly it was very windy.  You should hear the sound of all those flags flying in the wind!  It’s almost as loud as those annoying horns that everyone blows at the matches.  I call it the angry bee noise.

The world around me has gone football mad.  I’ve only PARTLY joined in.  It was 5 minutes before the start of the game today and I thought – I’d better put on my lucky socks.  So I went upstairs and dug them out of the wash hamper and put them on.  Apparently they ARE magic, because we won again.

The TV was also full of orange.  Orange supporters.  Orange commentators.  Orange players.

Today’s game was against Japan.  We won 1-0.  The first half was tedious.  During that part of the game I did quite a lot of knitting on my ORANGE lace shawl (which I finished later in the afternoon – photos for another knitting post).  The second half was much more exciting.

I have to say, the refereeing is not very consistent and is something just plain pathetic.  Yesterday the US team tied 1-1 against Slovenia when they actually should have won.  There was a VERY bad call, disallowing a goal.  Pathetic.  Then today there was another terrible call, this time against Australia.  They were not only given a penalty for “hands” but the guy was given a red card!  He could not have gotten out of the way of that shot on goal.  It was just a terrible ref call.  I don’t where they dug up some of these refs and WHY they have dug them up.  FIFA seems more and more like a very corrupt organization.

Anyway, we march forward into the orange madness.  You know, every game we win sends the country further into a frenzy.  It’s fun for now, but what will we do for entertainment when it’s all over???

Once a Year

Friday was my birthday.  It was a pretty fine day.

It just happened to be one of my normal Friday’s off work (2 per month) which was handy.  I went for a little jog in the morning, then DB and I headed to Amsterdam for the afternoon.  We went to see Hinke’s showing at the Weterings Gallery.  I’ve give her a little plug here:

“Hinke Schreuders shows a new series of small works on paper. For them, she has selected pages of ladies’ magazines from the fifties and sixties. These pages with their pictures of fashion models have been treated with ink and yarn. Additions and changes have infused the original photographs with a different atmosphere.”

In de groepstentoonstelling Works on paper zijn verder werken te zien van Arie Berkulin, Jonathan Bragdon, Karin van Dam, Chiaki Kamikawa, Hamid El Kanbouhi en Lotte Klaver.
Zie het persbericht van de galerie voor meer informatie.

5 juni t/m 3 juli 2010

Wetering Galerie
Lijnbaansgracht 288

Opening zaterdag 5 juni, 16-18 uur

Galerie geopend woensdag t/m zaterdag 13-18 uur

After that we walked around a bit and headed over to Soap for massages.  If you need a good deep hardcore massage, go there and ask for Rachel.  She’s a goddess with her hands.  And her elbow.  My shoulders get big digs from her elbow.  Ahhhhh!

After that, while trying to come back to the real world, we returned to Haarlem and ate dinner at the just opened Sumo.  What a great find!  This is a Japanese place that just opened up, right behind the church at the Grote Markt.  It’s an all-you-can-eat place, but not what you imagine those restaurants are like.  This is big, spacious, nice, with friendly and efficient service.  Beat THAT anywhere else in NL!  Oh, and the food is really good too.  Here’s how it works… you get an order form with 6 columns.  Each table can order 6 times.  Each time you order, each person is allowed 5 items from the extensive menu.  Do the math – that equals 30 things you can order.  Believe me, that’s a lot of food.  We didn’t come close to ordering that much.  What stopped us?  Well, if you order more than you can eat and they have to take food back to the kitchen, you have to pay extra for that food!  Great concept, no?  I think it’s great and I’m sure it works.  We had sushi, dumplings, salad, edamame, tempura shrimp and more that I can’t remember.  We ended with the ice-cream you see above.  That’s green tea, black sesame and white sesame ice-cream.  Mmmmm yummy.  You can also see the bottom of a sake bottle there in the photo.  We had warm and then cold sake.  Also YUM-MIE.  I recommend Sumo to you.  Go there.  Give it a try.

So that was my birthday.  The rest of the weekend has gone by in a blur.  I got some knitting done.  I’m ALMOST finished with the brioche lace shawl I’m making with lace yarn from Pigeonroof Studios and a new pattern from Nancy.  I’ve also started some top secret socks using a brioche stitch from Nancy’s book.  Why are they top secret?  I might submit them for publishing.  Then again, I might just offer the pattern on Ravelry.  We’ll see how they come out.  Maybe the pattern won’t be worth writing up at all!
We’ve been watching a lot of football this weekend.  The US tied with England 1-1 which was a surprising score to a pretty boring match between 2 pretty poor teams.  Tomorrow the fun begins when the Netherlands plays their first game.  I’ll be wearing my World Cup socks to work!  Photos to come!

Election Day

Today was election day in the Netherlands.  We went to the polls to elect our new national government.  Above is a photo of the ballot paper that was hung in the hallway leading to the polling station where I voted.  See all the lines printed there?  Each line is a name of a person you could vote for.  There are 18 political parties represented in this list.  How can you run a country with 18 political parties for heaven’s sake?

It’s complicated.

First of all, you vote for 1 person, but you are really voting for the party.  Pick your party and from the party’s list of names, choose a name.  The names don’t really matter because the party will choose who from their ranks will be in the government.

The number of seats each party gets in the government is determined by how many votes they get.  In the current (collapsed and failed) government, there were 10 parties represented in the “Second Chamber” of 150 members.  Of course with this many parties no one party has enough of a majority to actually rule, so they must form a coalition.  It was funny during the recent UK elections to hear them exclaim about forming a coalition.  They were just aghast at the prospect!  But here it is very normal.  It’s always this way.

This year it’s especially exciting, in a Dutch way*.  The PvdA and VVD are neck and neck and the previously most popular CDA has lost a huge number of seats.  We just saw the first preliminary results on tv and it’s clear that the real results won’t be known until Friday.  It’s just that close.

And just because the election itself is over, don’t think that you will then know who is running the country.  Oh no.  Only then do they know how many seats each party has.  THEN they have to start the negotiations around the coalition and who will work with whom.  At some point the Queen herself gets involved as she has to give her blessing to any government.  It’s going to be interesting these next weeks!

* by “a Dutch way” I mean that compared to US elections it’s very calm and restrained.  They have limits to how much money they can spend on campaigns which is great.  There are only a few tv commercials and most of the campaigning I’ve seen has been the debates on tv.  The two big debates they had were between the 8 largest parties.  Try THAT in the US.  Ha!  It was run pretty well although the second debate, which was last night, was too much of a circus for me.

I’ll let you know the outcome, when there is one.  It’s never over until the fat lady sings (sorry Bea).

Letterenloop 2010

Today was the Letterenloop in Haarlem.  No, I didn’t run.  I was the supporter this time.  Above is the group I supported.  They all did very well!

The Letterenloop is a run for/by/sponsored by – writers, journalists, libraries and librarians, artists and such folk.  Here’s a quote from their web site:

De Letterenloop staat voor hardlopen met schrijvers, journalisten, cabaretiers, mensen uit het boekenvak, lezers en andere enthousiaste lopers. Met de Letterenloop wordt geld opgehaald voorStichting Run4Schools, een Nederlandse organisatie, die met behulp van sport kinderen in het township Mitchell’s Plain bij Kaapstad behoedt voor criminaliteit en prostitutie. De Letterenloop is een initiatief van Bram Bakker en Inge Happé.

There were about 1,700 runners today and it started and ended from the ice-rink on the outskirts of Haarlem.  There was a kids race, a 5km and a 10km.  DB and his friends ran the 5km race.  He did really well, coming in at 26:06. Here’s the “after” photo:

I have more photos on Flickr if you are interested in what the atmosphere was like.  Apparently there was a lot of famous Dutch people running, but of course I don’t recognize them.  If you point out Thomas Acda to me, I wouldn’t know him, but he ran past DB today.  There were other famous names thrown around, but I don’t know them.  I’m not THAT “ingeburgered”.

Actually, I DID run today.  This morning before we headed to the event I did (2 min run; 2 min walk) x 8 times.  I was really happy with that!  My knee felt good and it went really well.  Tuesday night I’ll do the same again.  Then after that I’ll try 2 min run and 1 min walk.  My goal is to be up to 5 km running, without stopping, easily and comfortably, by the end of the summer.  If things continue the way they are, I should make it.

World Cup Socks – FO

Last night I finished my Dutch World Cup 2010 socks.   They are a perfect match and perfect fit.  Now that they are done, well in time for the Netherlands’ first match (14/6) I might add, I will put them away and not wear them until that day.  Actually it’s too warm these days to wear them anyway!

I think I will probably wear them with the cuffs down.  I made them specifically to wear this way.

Man my feet look huge in these photos!

These socks were made from Regia World Ball, Holland colorway.  The pattern is Spice Man by Yarnissima.  Size 2.25mm needles throughout.  They were a really fast knit.  I made them in exactly 1 month, working on them almost exclusively on the train to and from work.  This is a super easy pattern – kind of a basic recipe – from which you could modify as you like to make your own unique socks.

I’m going to make my own unique socks as my next sock project.  The June SKA KAL on Ravelry has already started and I’m already 4 days behind!  The challenge this month is DYO (Design Your Own).  I’m going to use some beautiful Tosh Sock in colorway Ink.  I’m going to use a pattern stitch from Nancy’s brioche book, modified to knit in the round.  It’s going to be GREAT!  Photo to come once I have something to show.