Feeling Green

I took this photo this morning in the dunes after my “run”.  I put run in quotes because it was mostly walking.  I refuse to feel bad about that anymore.  I have to find the fun in running again and at this moment I have a lot more fun and enjoyment walking so that is what I do.

I feel these days that I have to find the fun in a lot of things.  Even knitting.  I put myself under so much pressure to finish projects this last Winter, Spring and early Summer that not only did I injure myself, but I also lost the joy in knitting.  It was work.  It was something I had to do in order to get some things finished (for various reasons).  I put myself under pressure to design things.  I felt like I had to achieve something.

I have been under pressure to achieve things for a long time and I don’t feel like I’m having fun at anything anymore.

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like?

I always thought that at some point in my life I would achieve something.  Yes, it was always just as vague as that sounds.  I would know it when I found it.  But it would come, I would find it, the BIG THING that would give me deep satisfaction.  Write a book.  Find a creative niche that I would excel at.  Be the best at something.  Anything.

But that hasn’t happened.  I didn’t have the focus when I was younger and now I feel like everything is more difficult than it would have been earlier in my life.  I have commitments.  I have a lifestyle.  I have expectations gathered from a lifetime.

Anyway, I will continue running/walking at a level that makes me feel good.  I will get my shoulder healed.  When I can, I will knit what  makes me excited to knit.  If I feel like creating an entirely new design, I will do it because I enjoy it, not because there’s a magazine deadline coming up or a season I will miss if I don’t hurry up.  And I will figure out what kind of work will make me happy to get up in the morning.

No pressure.


Summer Socks FO

I started these socks on the 1st of June and just finished them today.  That’s a long time to make a pair of socks!  But I’m sure you are just as sick and tired of hearing me complain about my shoulder as I am sick and tired of having this pain in my shoulder, so I won’t go on about it.  It’s enough to say that my knitting has crawled to almost nothing compared to what I was doing earlier this year.

Here are the stats for the socks:
Pattern: Helen Socks by verybusymonkey (only available on Ravelry as far as I can see)
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock, (75% wool, 25% nylon, superwash) purchased from Harlequin Yarns (Utrecht)
Needles: 2.25mm, 2 circulars

They knit up really fast and made for a perfect traveling project.  The pattern stitch is quickly memorized so there’s seldom the need to look up instructions.

These socks were part of the Sock Knitters Anonymous June challenge for “under appreciated patterns”.  The pattern you chose had to have no more than 15 projects assigned to it on Ravelry as of 1 June.  Even today these socks have only 13 projects on Ravelry.  What a shame!  They are great socks!  Go on, you know you want to make a pair…..

My Precious

Yesterday I did something I’ve been meaning to do for years.  I had some jewelry that I didn’t wear anymore and traded it for something very much older.

Here’s my new ring, my precious.

The center stone is a Moonstone and there are little diamonds all around it.

From the side you can see the filigree gold work and two more little diamonds on the side.  It was made some time in the 1920’s.  A real antique!

I just love it.  In fact, it was love at first sight.  The woman at the shop showed me 4 trays of rings but when I saw this, the deal was done.  She didn’t know that I used to walk Moonstone Beach in Humboldt County, picking up rough moonstones and wondering what I could do with them.  This ring really spoke to me.

The shop I went to is one that I’ve walked past and looked in their windows for many years – Lyppens Juwelier on the Langebrugsteeg in Amsterdam.  They were so nice and very helpful. I highly recommend going there if you are looking for old, or even not so old, jewelry.  They also have silverware such as spoons or candle holders or trays.

FO’s, inside and out

I went to the physical therapist again this afternoon.  My shoulder is really screwed up.  This was my third appointment and while it is better, it’s a long way from ‘good’.  Movement is still painful and I can still only knit or use my computer for limited amounts of time.  I so miss my knitting!!  Really.  I’m starting to go through withdrawals now.  I’m having to force myself to put down the needles after only a few minutes, even if it hurts, because I know I shouldn’t do it but I want to so much.  Is this an addiction we knitters have?  If so, what is it about knitting that is so addictive?  No answers today, only questions.

I did manage to finish the hat I started 16 days ago.  16 days to make a little ol’ hat!  Sigh.  A couple of months ago I would have knocked this out in a couple of days.  But I’m glad that it is finished and I think it is super cute.  I hope M. thinks so too because it will be sent off to her tomorrow.

The yarn is Pigeonroof Studios High Twist Sock in color Whirligig.  The pattern is Lace and Cable Cap, a free downloadable pattern.  This is a chemo hat for M., who is about to start treatment for cancer (there, I WROTE it, thus making it more real).  She says she might not lose her hair, but then again, she might, and besides she loves hats.  If you are so included, her cancer blog is here.  She’s pretty funny, which helps a lot when faced with the Big C.

In other knitting news, I’m now working, ever so slowly, on the second of my Helen socks.  They are baby blue to match the blue cotton sweater I finished at the end of May.  At the rate I’m going I hope to get them finished by the end of this month.  Sigh.  I only have about 4 inches left.

I have participated in every Ravelympics um, you know, the online knitting event that the USOC decided it didn’t like very much, since they started.  I even have Ravelympics pins to commemorate the events.  But this year with my stupid bum shoulder I will probably just do some yarn dyeing and skip the knitting part.  I really have to knit an example sweater for the sweater knitting class I’m teaching in September and that will be all the knitting I can handle between now and then.

My advice to all you knitters out there…. stretch your muscles every 20 minutes while you are knitting!  Get up out of your chair and swing your arms wildly!  Stretch all of your upper body often!  Take breaks!  Do yoga!  Believe me, you don’t want this kind of injury.

In other FO news, I have a kind of finished object in the garden.  The red English roses, which are kind of fussy and don’t always do well in this weather, are blooming.  Yea!  Here’s a nice photo to end on a happy note.

Bright Dyes

With my bum shoulder I haven’t been able to do much knitting lately.  But I can still dye yarn and that’s just what I did yesterday.  Above are the results (plus some black silk, photos below).

The 4 skeins at the front of the photo are all Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky Undyed.  I used these colors on this yarn mainly to test out the dye and see how it looks on wool.  And yes, it’s kind of expensive yarn for a dyeing experiment, but undyed yarn is not that easy to find around here and it’s what I had.  (I bought these from Ribbels, in Leiden) Now that I see it, I’m super happy with the results.  You know, bright colors are the in thing, so I’m planning now to make a hat and cowl/scarf with these four colors together.  THAT ought to brighten up a dreary Dutch winter day!

The dye colors are all Dharma Trading acid dyes in colors:  fluorescent lemon, fluorescent safety orange, true turquoise, fluorescent fuchsia.

This green is 50/50 wool acrylic Mille II from Lana Grossa, also a bulky weight.  The dye color is chartreuse.  I’m going to make a new iPhone sock with it.  You know, green apple green.

I also dyed some 100% silk lace weight yarn, 3 skeins 50g each.  One skein had already been dyed black, but it wasn’t a good dye job.  There were some grey and white spots where the dye didn’t get under the skein ties.

If you look hard at the above image you can see that the skein on the far right is the one that had already been dyed black.  It’s just a bit blacker.  They aren’t quite dry yet but I don’t expect the colors to change much.  Silk is tricky to dye.  It takes stronger dye to get the same strength of color as you would with wool, and you have to watch the temperature carefully.  If you cook silk at too high a temperature it will loose its shine.  For this dye session I used quite a lot of black dye powder (double strength) and it soaked up every bit of the dye without any rinsing out.  I think I will just call it good and consider them 2 different dye lots.  At least there are no light spots or streaks of color.

All of this dyeing was done with the immersion method on my stovetop.  First I made up dye solutions.  I could have made the solution right in the pot I would use for dyeing, which I did for the green and the black (the first and last to cook), but I used the time while the green was cooking to make up these other colors ahead of time.  I made up 2% solution which is double the strength I needed.  I just wanted to be ready in case I wasn’t happy with the ‘normal’ strength and wanted to boost the color.  For each dye cook I poured in half the jar of dye solution, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 liters or so of water – for 100g of wool.  It was only with the yellow that I ended up dumping in the second half of the dye solution.  I wanted a super yellow and seemed to need the extra dye to get there.

Each dye pot was cooked, at just below boiling, for 50 minutes.  I then drained the water out and dumped the wet yarn onto my rack outside to cool off completely before I rinsed them.  The only variation was the silk, which was cooked at a little lower temp for an hour.  I also let the silk sit in the pan with the fire off for a couple of hours to cool, but that was mainly because I was eating dinner and didn’t want to bother with them.

What’s next?  I have a lot of other colors I want to try out, and lots of fingering weight yarn to try it out on.  The Ravelympics Ravellenic Games are coming up (beginning 27 July) and I will dye yarn then for my event.  I want to do some multi-colored skeins using paintbrushes and spray bottles.  Those skeins will then be either steamed or heated in the microwave to set.  I can’t wait to try it out!

I end up dyeing yarn like I do most things – I expect, and want, my experiments to be good enough end products to be usable in projects or wearable designs.  I don’t make time or resources available for true experimentation.  Is that because I tend to be a Type A personality? Or because I just never seem to have as much time/resources as I think I need to experiment?  Or do I think deep down that experimenting is a waste of time?  Am I so practical and so non-artistic?  When I have some more time I’ll have to think further about that….

Segway, again

Yesterday we went on a Segway tour of Amsterdam with BestDam Segway Tours.  It was my second time, DB’s first time.  This second time for me was certainly much warmer!  My first time on a Segway was in January and it was SO COLD!  Yesterday was warm and sunny and perfect.

The guys that run BestDam are great.  They make sure you are able and comfortable on your Segway before heading out onto the street. First you have to get set up on your Segway.

Then you practice inside with little cones.  You learn to stop and go and weave in between the cones.

And then we’re out on the street, negotiating bike, pedestrian, car and tram traffic.  We did the architecture tour, so every few minutes we’d stop and Daniel would tell us about the buildings we were looking at.  Most of the tour took place in the Jordaan, but also around the Dam (top photo).  I’m a little surprised that they take people into such crowded and busy areas.  We are used to the amount and type of traffic on the streets of Amsterdam, but most people are not.  I wonder how many people fall off or get into problems on a Segway in the city center.

WE had a great time!  I’d do it again. And again.


Walk on Water

Last night we went to see Orfeo ed Euridice (official poster above) at the Palace at Soestdijk.  This was (still is?) a royal palace, but it was/is a museum and special event place now.  The opera takes place on and in the water outside of the palace.

We were not supposed to take photos but I took a few before the performance began and sneaked a couple during the performance.  I wish I could have taken more. It was just stunning!  There was fire and water and music and singing.  The did amazing things with light and water.  Even the royal family got in on the act (you’ll have to go see it yourself if you want to know what I mean).

We got “cast and crew” discount tickets because a friend of mine plays the trombone in the orchestra.  Not only were they at a terrific discount, but they were great seats!  We were in the second row, left of center.  We thought that the performance started at 9:30 but that’s when the gates open, normally.  They vary the start time depending on the time of year and when it will be dark.  Last night the performance started just after 10pm as that’s when it was dusk.

Some photos:

I didn’t know the story in detail and was surprised that there was a happy ending.  After all the wailing and gnashing of teeth (figuratively of course) the story was saved by Queen Juliana.

I highly recommend going to see this wonderful opera production.  Even if you aren’t an opera fan, and I’m not, you will enjoy the spectacle and the surprises here and there.  You can get tickets here.  Be quick! August 8th is the last performance!

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Yesterday was our friend M.’s birthday party, at their camping spot in Bakkum.  It was sunny (until it rained) and we had lots of BBQ’d meats and salads and drinks and laughs.  It was a super party!