That Time Again

Lisse brioche sock

Here we are the 31st of October, the day after the time changed and the dark sinks down upon us even earlier.  It’s Halloween, but you’d never know it here in the Low Lands.  No one rings your doorbell or carves pumpkins.  Sure, there were some parties last night, but that wasn’t Halloween since it wasn’t the 31st.  Europeans just don’t get it.

You might have noticed that there wasn’t a whole lot of blogging going on the past month, or even two.  I am so predictable.  If you look back to last year at this time, or the year before that, it’s always the same pattern.  In the beginning of the Fall I’m a bit depressed and don’t have any energy.  I’m dreading the dark days to come.  I’m restless and listless.  Finally, by the end of October, I’m fed up with myself, I’ve brought out the candles and I’ve made some food that reminds me of the holidays to come.  I kick my butt and get going again.

For the past few years I’ve gone along with the silly notion that is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) which began as a movement to blog every day in the month of November.  I go from absolutely no enthusiasm for blogging to blogging every day.  It doesn’t make any sense, but it works for me.  I am a victim of seasonal rhythms and artificial habits.

So, here we go again!

The above photo is a close up of my Lisse sock.  It’s my own pattern for toe-up knee high socks, based on a stitch pattern from Nancy’s book.  It has taken me nearly forever to finish the pattern and get it published.  It’s 99% done.  Really.  All I need is about an hour to tidy up some loose ends and I can call it done.  I just need to find that hour.  I promise (you are my witness) that it will be before another week goes by.  There, I’ve thrown down the gauntlet.  And speaking of gauntlets, I am busy knitting mittens.  I am designing mittens using the beautiful and warm Supreme Possum Merino 8ply yarn from my shop.  I plan to give the pattern away free with the purchase of yarn.  Photos coming this week!

This afternoon my in-laws came over to visit and have dinner.  I helped my MIL with her lacy sweater.  She’s an excellent knitter who chose a not-so-easy pattern in English.  I’m playing knitting translator, which I’m not very good at yet.  I’m learning the Dutch knitting terms as I go along.  Between the two of us, we figure things out.  I made a dinner that was somewhat holiday-like.  Chicken from the oven and sweet potatoes.  Candles on the table.  Banana cake for dessert.  It made me feel better.  It made me feel like I can tackle November (and the rest of winter) with more energy.

Let’s see together how it goes…..

New Madelinetosh Yarn is Here!


Look what’s new in the shop!  The top left is Tosh Sock in colorway Field.  Top right is also sock yarn in color Shoreline.  Bottom left is sock yarn in color Celadon.  Lastly, bottom right, is DK weight in Mooreland.  All lovely!

I’ve also received replacement inventory for several colors, including Ink (in Lace, Sock and DK weights), Violin, and a few others.  Come on over to Yarns Apart and check it out!

Running and Waiting

Sorry, no photo this post.  I really have to get used to the weather and darkness again and start carrying my camera with me always so that when there IS good light, I have photos to share.

So what DO I have to tell you?  Some good things, like running the 8km race last Sunday (during the Amsterdam Marathon) in record time!  I ran a cool 10km/hour to come in at 48 minutes.  I’ve never run so fast in my life.  And this is the farthest I had run since the knee operation.  I was really beat after the race and I was sore for a couple of days afterwards, but I did run 5km last Wednesday and again 8km today, so I’m well and truly back!  Today’s run was tough though.  I was tired and the wind was really blowing.  I ran in the dunes and most of that is open and not sheltered from the wind.  It feels so good to just be able to make progress.

The not so good thing that happened in the last week is that my lovely iPad quit working.  OK, it still worked, but it would no longer sync and would hardly charge.  I took it Thursday night after work to the iCentre across from the Central Station in Amsterdam.  They have a repair center there.  The guy did all the tests I had already done at home.  It didn’t work for him either so he is sending it back to Apple and I should have a bright shiny new one tomorrow morning.  Unfortunately, since it wouldn’t sync, I couldn’t back up my data that I had in the app “Things”.  I had 2 months worth of work meeting notes in there!  All gone.  Bummer.  The “waiting” in the title of this post refers to me waiting for my replacement iPad.  It’s amazing how addicted you can get to a new tech gadget in so short a time.  I miss the little guy.  He’s so handy.  I’ll be glad to have a new one Monday.

My advice to anyone who has a new apple product that isn’t working well – TAKE IT BACK!  That’s what warranties are for.  I read so many posts on forums by people who were trying everything to get their iPad to work and just wouldn’t give up trying things.  Good grief.  Just take it back and get over it.

I have something else exciting to write about but that will be in the next post.  It’s a yarn topic so I’ll keep that separate. 🙂

I promise to have photos next time.

Handwerkbeurs Rotterdam

NE handwerkbeurs 2010

Friday I, and several of my knitting buddies, went to the Ahoy in Rotterdam for the Handwerkbeurs.  This beurs (fair, show, convention of sorts with stands set up for each company selling goods) is held twice a year, once in Rotterdam and once in Zwolle.  This was my first time going to Rotterdam.

I had also signed up for the class with Nicky Epstein (the woman in purple above).  Man this woman has some energy!  She was talking and moving a mile a minute the whole time.  Several times she was asked to slow down since the Dutch women couldn’t follow her shotgun English.  And luckily Brent (from the Utrecht SnB group) agreed to translate.  The photo above shows my favorite of her designs that she showed us.  I like the fact that it is architectural and not typical of knitting patterns.

What did I learn?  Not a lot actually.  I did learn (or rather reconfirm) that nearly everything I want to learn about knitting I can learn from a book.  That’s how I learned to knit, and until two years ago I had never taken a class in my life.  The only reason I continue taking classes is to meet the designers and find out their story.  THAT is interesting to me.  How do they feel about their craft?  What gets them excited enough to continue doing what they do?  What are their lives like?  Frankly the only technique I’ve learned from a class, and really needed a class to learn, was brioche knitting.  A brioche class from Nancy Marchant is worth every penny.

I didn’t buy much at the beurs itself.  Why would I when I have a house full of yarn?  I did buy yarn from the “Belgian Boys”  Bart and Francis.  They have the most unique yarn anywhere.  I bought 100g of 100% soft silk, undyed,  that I can’t wait to try dyeing!  It’s really beautiful stuff.  I also bought some glow in the dark thread from them.  That could be fun in the winter.

I also bought buttons.  Lots of buttons.  “Henk” (Ravelry name) showed me the button stand and that was all that was needed to get me filling up a basket of lovelies to buy.  What will I do with them?  I don’t know.  But they were too nice to pass up.  It’s hard to find good buttons in this country so when you do, don’t pass them up!

My best purchase, and one I’m very excited about, is my new floor lamp!  I bought a daylight lamp that makes big light for working under or just sitting under.  I think this will have a double advantage – I’ll have good light for knitting during the long dark winter AND I’ll have a daylight lamp to sit under every day to help with my SADD.  It’s already so dark here!  The sun doesn’t come up until after 8 and it’s dark before 6pm.  It’s only mid-October.  Soon I’ll be going to work and coming home in the dark.  I’m so curious to see if this lamp makes a difference to my panic stricken feeling deep in the winter (“I have to get out of here!” feeling).

In general I was a little disappointed in the Rotterdam version of the Handwerkbeurs.  It was too quiet.  There wasn’t a good buzz in the place.  I don’t think the sellers did as well as they do in Zwolle.  The one thing that was better than Zwolle was that there were no classes in the middle of the floor with teachers trying to teach over the noise and busyness of a fair.  That’s really a silly way to organize a class!

And that was Rotterdam.  Tot Zwolle!

Open House!

Stephen shopping

On Saturday, 9 October, I had an Open House for Yarns Apart.  All my inventory was available for touching and squeezing and ooo-ing and aaahh-ing over.  The Open House was held in conjunction with EFN Knitting Movies, which started at 16.00.  The shop opened at 11:00 and by 12:00 the space was buzzing with happy knitters.

We held these twin events at Cassandra’s studio in Amsterdam.  This is her space for giving music lessons but it was just right for this knitting event too.  I brought coffee and cupcakes, fruit and cheese and crackers.  Cassandra brought beer and popcorn for the movie part.  It was such a sunny day that I thought people would be outside enjoying the weather, but people indeed came and stayed and knit and chatted and hung out.  Gezellig!

I know I’ve said it before, but our little knitting community is rich with talent.  We recently added to the talent pool when Stephen moved here and joined our Monday night Stitch ‘n Bitch.  Welcome Stephen (and happy shopping too 🙂 ).

I wish I had more photos of the day, but I forgot to bring my camera.  Honestly, considering the week I had at work, plus the all the stuff to do to get ready for the open house, I’m happy I didn’t forget my head!  The photo of Stephen above was taken by Jacki (thanks!).  I think Cassandra also has some photos which I hope she will put up on the EFN site.

I do have a couple of pieces of Yarns Apart news.  The first news is happy and sad.  Sadly, my latest order of yarn from Madelinetosh did not arrive in time for the Open House.  I got word from TNTPost today that it is in the country and will be delivered tomorrow.  Happily, I will have new yarn to show and sell!  There will certainly be a blog post about that shortly and the shop will be updated too.  Currently it is taking 3 months from ordering to delivery from Madelinetosh, two weeks of which is shipping time from Texas.

Secondly, I want to let you all know that I will have a booth at the Handwerkbeurs in Zwolle in February.  I won’t be having another Open House before then.  If you want to see yarn in person before ordering, I’m always happy to bring some to de Jaren in Amsterdam on Monday nights.  Just email me or post a comment here if you would like me to do that.

Finally, thanks to everyone who came to the Open House, and happy knitting to all!

YA Open House and EFN Knitting Movies


I’ve been so busy lately that I completely forgot to post about the upcoming Yarns Apart Open House!  It’s tomorrow, 9 October, from 11.00 – 18.00, in Amsterdam.

From 11.00 until 16.00 I will have all the yummy yarn from Madelinetosh, Pigeonroof Studios, O-Wool and Supreme Possum available for your shopping and fondling pleasure (with discounts of course!).

From 16.00 – 18.00 EFN is sponsoring knitting movies for your viewing and educational pleasure.  These are DVDs from divas in the knitting world and are not to be missed.

There will be snacks, drinks and fun for everyone.  Come and join us!  (Click on the above image for more detailed info).

The Last Gasp

Last Gasp of Summer

Today was a perfect Fall day.  The sun shone the whole day.  The skies were blue.  The wind was brisk and leaves were falling.  It was a perfect Fall day if you live in California or Spain.  If you live in the Netherlands, a day like today is a rare gift that you have to treasure and use to its full potential because there probably won’t be another one like it for another six months.

Even though I had a ton of things to do indoors (paperwork, laundry, house cleaning) I put all of it aside and spent the day outside.  I don’t like hot weather, but my batteries need charging from the sun on a regular basis.

This morning I biked to the dunes and ran 6km.  There were so many runners and walkers in the dunes!  The running went well but I can sure tell I’m in training again.  Adding that additional kilometer was tough, but I did it and in reasonable time.  I have to get ready for that 8km race on the 17th!  I’m sticking to the 10% rule – don’t add more than 10% to your weekly distance from one week to the next.  This should keep me improving and also injury free.

After the run I grabbed a bite to eat and then we were off, by bike, to N & A’s house to see the new baby A. for whom I knit the baby kimono.  What a sweetie!  He’s really adorable!  No, I mean really, not just because all babies are cute.  This one really is.  We didn’t stay too long though and were soon off to the beach.

It’s about 15km one way to the beach by bike.  We parked our bikes at Bloemendaal and walked along the beach to Zandvoort (see photo above).  There were of course a lot of people also biking to the beach and driving to the beach.  It’s nice to pass all the cars in traffic jams, trying to get to the beach and find a parking place.

All the beach restaurants at Bloemendaal are closed for the season but they are still open at Zandvoort (and Parnasia).  We had a snack, then headed back up the beach, and biked home via Parnasia and the dunes.

All in all that’s 6km running, 30km biking and about 5km walking.  I’m now sitting on the couch with my legs up watching football.  The sun has gone down but I hope to see it again soon.  I love days like today.  I’ll have to hold on to this feeling of the sun on my face and the wind at my back.  I hope it’s enough to get me through the long dark winter.