A Good Run

Haarlem runners

Today was the Zilveren Kruis Achmea run in Haarlem.  There was a half marathon, 10k and 5k.  Above is a photo of the start of the half marathon.  There were about 4,000 runners in total today and DB and I were among them.

DB ran the 10k, his first 10k race ever, in a respectable 53 minutes.  I ran the 5k, my first race since the knee thing (over a year ago) and I’m THRILLED with my 30:15 time.  The weather was certainly chilly but at least it was completely dry and I was so thankful for that small miracle.

The race started and finished in the same spot in the Grote Markt in the center of Haarlem.  The 5k wound through the west part of the city.  The 10k went further to the ring road and Bloemendaal.  The half marathon went even further west, into the dunes and to the edge of Zandvoort.  And back.

Now I have to get myself ready to run 8k in 3 weeks.  I think it will be ok.  My knee feels pretty good (but feels “used”) and the rest of me feels fine.  Even my cold is much better (I didn’t run at all this last week due to my cold).  Now, let’s hope for dry weather on 17 October!

FO – Baby Kimono

Big Al's baby kimono

Last weekend our friends N. & A. had a baby boy.  Last week I finished this baby kimono for the new arrival.  Good timing!  We haven’t been able to visit yet, so N. & A. SURPRISE! 🙂

This is a pattern I found on Ravelry and I couldn’t resist.  You knit the fronts and back separately, bind the shoulder seams together, then pick up the sleeve stitches at the shoulder and knit down to the cuffs.

The body is knit with Madelinetosh DK (superwash, so you can throw it into the washer, gentle cycle, and hang/lay to dry) in colorway Clover.  The ties are knit with some leftover Pigeonroof Studios in sport weight, colorway Aubergine.

I hope he likes it!

Family Weekend

Last night we made the trek to Ommen, east of Zwolle. For someone living in the Randstaat this is the Middle Of Nowhere. It was a 2 hour drive from home. It’s the annual family weekend.

We’ve rented a big vacation house for all 29 of us. This is an old landowner house built in the mid-1800’s. There’s a kitchen bigger than our entire living room. There’s a dining room with tables to fit all of us. There are 3 living rooms and 42 beds.

This morning my MIL and her sister and I sat knitting in one of the living rooms. I’ve started a small revolution here. Before, I never saw anyone in the family knitting in public. Since I’ve started bringing my knitting, they are coming out of the closet! (see photos below)

Tante Gre had the wrong size needles so DB searched with his iPhone for a local yarn store. We called and the woman opened just for us. We came back and the knitting continued.

This afternoon we all drove to a farm in the neighborhood for a little open house. There was a quilt exhibition, horse rides for the kids, a man making baskets (I bought the one in the photo to sit next to the fireplace). I also bought 2 pumpkins and a jar of homemade strawberry jam. It was a very nice day out!

Now I’m sitting at this huge dining table, typing on my iPad while everyone talks around me. It’s actually tiring to live in a foreign language all day. I’m taking a break.

Tomorrow morning we (4 of us) are going for a run. Me 5km, DB 10km, Ing and G. 16km! Oh I will catch up with them next year. The weather today was lovely, sunny and cool. I hope tomorrow will be the same. I’ll let you know….

With Some Success

Last weekend I dyed some yarn, with some success.  I think I was just a little too ambitious.  I only have 1 big canning pot and one smaller “spaghetti” pot and I dyed 6 skeins.  In one afternoon.  With natural dyes.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I started the process on Saturday by mordanting the yarn in alum and cream of tartar.  Man that stuff stinks when it’s cooking!  It kind of upsets my stomach.  I don’t think it is poison or anything, just yucky.  I had the windows and doors open and the stove fan at full force.  Still.  Also on Saturday I made the dye baths.  I had some logwood left over from my first natural dyeing experiment, so I put that in a cut up stocking and boiled it for a few hours, then set it aside to cool.  The dried weld plant I bought at UK Knit Camp Market from The Mulberry Dyer.  Same story.  Put it into a stocking, tie the knot at the end and throw it in the pot to boil for a few hours.

Then the fun began Sunday.  First I dyed the yellow.  I put two skeins into the pot with the dye bath and put on the heat.  After about 20 minutes I could see it was turning a dull dark yellow/brown.  This was not what I was after!  I wanted that big bold bright yellow that I had read about.  So I quickly got out the trusty laptop and Googled “brighten weld dye” and found out that my water is too soft.  If you want bright weld color, your water has to be hard, with chalk in it.  CHALK.  Damn where was I going to get some quickly?  I Googled “chalk” and went to a wikipedia page all about chalk and found out that it is the main ingredient in antacid tablets.  RENNIE!  I know we have some somewhere.  I went upstairs and dug through cupboards and found a pack of 18 tablets.

I took one tablet and threw it into a glass, ground it up, then threw it into the pot.  Nothing.  Then I dipped out some of the pot water into the cup and ground a tablet into that.  I could see the water turning bright yellow!  Ha!  It works, you just need more tablets.  I ended up throwing all 18 into the pot.  And cooked.  Look what I got!

merino dyed with weld

The first and middle skeins were the first 2 in the pot.  The skein at the very top was thrown in after about 45 minutes.  The lightest skein was just an afterthought when the cooking was done and I took everything off the stove.

What DIDN’T go well was that I stirred too much and the darkest skeins are a little bit felted in places.  They are still good and very usable, but I will have to be more careful next time.  I was doing all that stirring trying to get those tablets to dissolve and mix in!  But good colors, yes?

I’m going to keep the first one (at the bottom of the photo) just like it is.  It’s the best one.  The others will be overdyed, with indigo to make green, and the lightest I’m not sure yet what I will do with it.

So, by then it was 4 in the afternoon but I hadn’t even started the logwood yet.  I cleaned my pots and threw in the logwood dye and yarn.  It seemed to me right away that I had too rich a dye.  The color was kind of brown.  Good old Google came to my rescue again.  I read on a few sites that if your logwood color is brown it means too much logwood, not enough water.  I drained off half the dye water (which I didn’t keep because I had nothing to put it in!  Must get more dye pots!) and filled in more water and carried on cooking.  Again, great color.  I’m really happy with these.

merino dyed with logwood

So, now all I have left to do is indigo and I’ll have a rainbow of colors (red and orange from the first session, yellow and purple here, and blue and green with the indigo).

I bought a very small indigo kit, also from The Mulberry Dyer.  I’ve never dyed with indigo and it sounds very very complicated.  I’ll have to sit down and really think about it before starting.  But I can’t wait.  I have 2 skeins of undyed wool left, plus the yellow to over dye.

Now I just need to figure out how to get the purple dye stain off my tiled sink…..

Running With Numbers


I’m BACK!  Today I did two things for the first time.  One, I ran 5km for the first time since the knee operation, and two, I ran with the new Nike+ iPhone app.  What a great morning it was for both events!

DB and I went to his favorite running place – the beach.  I prefer the dunes myself, so we trade off, depending on the weather.  It was low tide, but the sand for some reason was softer than I’ve noticed before, which made for a squishier and more difficult run.  No matter.  I easily finished 5km with lots of energy to spare.  You have no idea how happy that makes me!  The knee felt fine.  The ribs still a little sore (man am I sick of that).  In two weeks I’m running a 5km race in Haarlem and I’ll be really ready for it (and should be faster than today).  Mid-October I have a 8km race and I’m sure, at this rate, I’ll be up for that too.

Now, about the gadgets and numbers.  I’m a self-confessed gadget freak and numbers junky.  My running gadgets have progressed with my running itself.  Here’s the gadget progression:

Nike running watch
Nike+ and iPod nano
Nike+ wristband and iPod of some type (nano or shuffle or iPhone)
iPhone with RunKeeper app (horrible, didn’t work)
Garmin 305
Garmin 405
Nike+ iPhone app

All the above gadgets are still working just fine.  The Nike watch works perfectly after 7 years.  There was no need to continually upgrade gadgets except for my continual need for more and better data and smaller and more clever devices.  Last year you could have seen me running with the Garmin 305 (affectionately known at my house as The Fridge) on one wrist, the Nike+ wristband on the other wrist (because of a challenge with work colleagues), my iPhone for music and a phone if needed, AND a camera for decent photos, AND 5 extra kilos on my body.  Good grief.

As I’ve left gadgets behind, DB has picked them up.  He started using my Nike watch when I bought the Garmin 305.  When I stopped running with my knee problems he started using the 305.  Now that’s his, and I bought the 405.

Today I ran with the Garmin 405 and my iPhone in my pocket, playing music and tracking my run with the new Nike+ app, and 5kg less on the body than last year.  I felt practically lightweight.  I took a couple of photos with my iPhone after the run, and as usual the photos themselves are crap, but I wasn’t packing a real camera.

beach running

How was the Nike iPhone app?  Fantastic!  After the run I started to wonder why I spent 280 euros on a Garmin watch when I get just as much info, and more fun, from this iPhone app!  Damn, why didn’t Nike release this app 3 months ago?  Would have saved me a load of money.

The GPS on the iPhone, combined with the app, worked flawlessly.  This was my main complaint with RunKeeper, which never worked well and which I abandoned pretty quickly.  With the Nike app I got a voice notification of distance and pace every km, which was nice and you obviously don’t get with a watch (only a beep).

While the app gives you the basics of distance, pace, time and mapping, you also get the fun things Nike adds to the experience of running.  From your iPhone itself you can tag your run with weather, type of surface you ran on, your rating of the run (with smiley faces) and notes you can type in.  The app then syncs automatically with the Nike+ web site.  You can see your stats and history and all your Nike+ info directly from your iPhone, or from your computer of course.  When I got home and logged on with my laptop I could see everything I had just done (see top image) plus I set up two goals for myself and joined two challenges (Netherlands provinces competing against each other, and Men vs Women).  Nike+ makes it just so much FUN to use their devices and software.  The Garmin site has just as much info for you, but it’s just not as much FUN, visually or using communities to interact and participate in.

I’ll keep using both devices for the foreseeable future.  Why not?  I’ll take all the stats and maps and challenges and such I can get.

Now that I’m back to regular running again, you, dear reader, will be treated to stories of my running again.  I hope you don’t mind.  And maybe even be inspired to keep at it and not give up.  If I can come back from injuries and carry on, so can you.

New and Old FO’s

new and old

The two tank tops above were knit from a pattern from in Vogue Knitting, Summer 1991.  The one on the right I made in 1991 or 1992, I don’t remember which.  The one on the left I finished knitting in early August.

The new one is made from O~Wool Balance, 50% cotton and 50% wool, all organic.  The old one is 100% cotton and even though it’s a little smaller, it is heavier.

When I finished sewing together the new one I tried it on.  It was ok.  I wasn’t thrilled with it.  It was just a little bit too big.  I wore it anyway several times.  Even R. from Vogue Knitting, who I met at UK Knit Camp, took photos of it.  But I wasn’t really satisfied.  So I threw it in the washing machine.

I was hoping for just a little felting shrink and that’s exactly what happened!  It’s now perfect!  It’s a little thicker and denser, but not terribly so.  It’s about the size of the old version, but longer, because I knit one more scallop repeat at the bottom and wanted it longer.

NOW I’m happy and will call it an official Finished Object!