Back to your regularly scheduled knitting blog post

I admit it.  There hasn’t been much knitting on the blog lately.  There’s been travel and music and festivals and even food.  But not knitting.  Don’t let that fool you.  I’m always knitting.  Even if it’s slowly.

Above is a finished glove that I’ve made for DB.  He NEVER asks for anything knitted.  In 10 years I’ve made him 2 sweaters, one scarf and one pair of mittens.  He only wears the scarf.  One of the sweaters we gave to his mom (which she will probably unravel and make something else from).  When he asked for gloves I jumped on the chance to make him something he will wear.

The yarn is Madelinetosh sock in color stovepipe.  Size 2.25mm needles for the 2×2 ribbed cuff, and 2.5mm needles for the rest.  The pattern is a modified version of “Bobbie“.  As you can see from the original, I’ve left off the complicated cuff and just made a ribbed cuff, and I’ve left off the i-cord adornments.  The hand and fingers are knit in a half-linen stitch pattern which I expect to be warmer than plain stockinette stitch and also is nice with the semi-solid yarn.

Since he is usually sitting next to me on the couch at night, it was easy for him to try it on every step of the way, so, of course, his glove fits like a glove, down to millimeter sizing of the fingers.  I don’t know what it would be like to make gloves for someone far away.  I would never have made these gloves this particular size without detailed measurements of hands and fingers.  Turns out DB has really short fingers! Who would have guessed.

I’ve started knitting the second glove.  Slow and steady gets the job done.  I should have them completely finished, including weaving in all those pesky yarn ends, before a big freeze comes along.  Since I’m on the train a couple of times each week now, this will be my train project.

I am also working on sweaters.  Lots and lots of sweaters.  For a book.  But that’s in the works and not for publication.  You’ll get very tired of reading that I can’t say more about it.  Until I can, you’ll have to be happy with accessories projects on the blog!

Regarding the shoulder…. it’s better…. but very slowly better.  I sat down and knit for 40 minutes this morning, non-stop, and that was enough.  I’m able to do that a few times a day.  But the days of knitting for hours without a stop are over.  That’s just not healthy – for anyone!  I went to yoga today for the first time in a while.  It was wonderful.  My neck and shoulders felt immediately better.  I have to keep moving, in many directions, to stay strong and healthy and most importantly, knitting!

TodaysArt Festival

This past weekend we went to the TodaysArt festival in den Haag.  It’s a festival full of music, sculpture, video, film, dance and more I’m sure.  We only saw a small fraction of it.

Friday late afternoon we showed up and wandered into the City Hall Atrium.  We watched a team of people put finishing touches on the Landscape:

And watched Wolfgang prepare for his show later that evening as Mohn.


Unfortunately Mohn would be playing very late Friday night, past our bedtime, so I was really happy to get to hear a little of their music while they set up.

After we had some dinner we headed to the Lucent Danstheater and listened to “Music for Solaris”.

The music was played by the two composers, Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason and a small orchestra from Poland.  In the background a video played, using film from a movie adaptation and other manipulations.  It was often beautiful and surprising, very moody and captivating music.  My only criticism is that it went on just a little too long and in the end didn’t seem to have a connection between video and music.  The video ran out of steam and showed colored screens until the end of the music.  The actual end of the piece was lovely the way they dropped away to silence, but they should have done it 10 minutes earlier.

After that we went back to the City Hall Atrium to see that the lights had been set and everything looked very different.  Also, on the stage  was “Inneract”, another music/video concert, this time with a harp player and two keyboard/electronics players.  Here are some photos of the scene there.

Outside, in the Spuiplein, “The Vortex” was alive with music and lights.  It’s made of garbage that had been gathered from people in den Haag (The Hague in English).

Saturday we went back and watched the film “Outliers Vol. 1: Iceland”.  It was basically part documentary and part art film about 7 artists who went to Iceland to take photos and film and sound and create something from that.  It was so beautiful!  The country is beautiful and the images and sounds and music they made is also beautiful.  I really do have to go there.  Especially when the seasons are changing and there’s a chance of seeing lights in the sky.

We didn’t do much else Saturday at the festival because I was coming down with the flu.  By the time the movie was over I was already feverish.  We ate, then came home on the train.  I felt bad because there was still so much to see.  Oh well.  Next year.

The train home:

(All photos taken with Nikon D5100 and 50mm 1.8 manual focus lens (thanks Mom!), no photoshop done anywhere.)

End of Summer

You’d never know that last weekend we had summer-like weather and had to smear on sunscreen all weekend.  Gone.  All gone.  This morning I went to the beach to walk and take photos.  I took my big camera for a change.

I parked at Bloemendaal, where I took the above photo.  You can see that they are starting to tear down the summer restaurants.  Here too, a little further up the beach:

You can see how grey the morning was.  It was windy, but it wasn’t cold.  I walked up the beach to Parnassia.  It was a lot more lively than Bloemendaal, for one reason only….. DOGS!

There were little bitty dogs

Funny dogs:

and really really BIG dogs:

Herds of dogs, such as

6 Golden Labs owned by one family

3 Bernese Mountain dogs owned by one man and his son

2 very large poodle looking dogs owned by one couple

There was the very proud dog owner.  This man was smiling ear to ear with his little dog.  He was busy making movies of the dog fetching a stick.  Ahhhhh.

Eventually I ran out of dog beach and doubled back to head up into the dunes from Parnassia.  I figured, I wasn’t running, I needed the exercise, I already had my camera with me, so go into the dunes and walk to the little lake and see what you find.

The first thing I found was a herd of horses.  These wild horses roam around the dunes, north to south.  I don’t know if they are ever moved around by people or if they belong to anyone besides the National Park (this being Kennemer National Park).  I hadn’t seen them for nearly the whole summer.

And then there were the trees and flowers and grasses of the dunes:

As you can see in the last 2 photos, the sun finally did come out by the end of my walk.  And by the end of my walk I was TIRED!  I had not intended to walk for nearly 2 hours, but once you are that far from your car you have no choice but to walk back.  I often have this problem.  I want to walk farther and farther and I deny to myself that getting back will be long and tiring.  I always make it back though.

When I left the house I was feeling kind of bad because I wasn’t running or biking.  I felt like a lazy slug, taking the car and a camera.  But by the time I had walked all that way through sand and hills, I realized how good it was for me and how well it cleared my head.  And I have the photos as a bonus!

Into The Great Wide Open

We spent the last weekend, actually a 4 day weekend, on Vlieland, the second of the chain of islands at the top end of the Netherlands.  This last weekend was the Into The Great Wide Open festival.

We drove to Harlingen, over the Afsluitdijk.

We took a boat across the Waddenzee to Vlieland.

We set up our tent at Lange Paal campground.

Luckily there are small trucks that carry all your stuff from Harlingen to the campground.  You are not allowed to take a car onto the island and everyone rents bikes to get around the island.  Here’s what camping looks like on Vlieland.

After we got our tent set up we hopped on our bikes and headed to the festival grounds.  Just like everyone else!

The festival officially started Friday afternoon, which is when we got there, but we heard that there were some unofficial, impromptu, gatherings and performances on Thursday night when people started to arrive.

There are 3 main areas where bands/musicians are playing, plus other areas where you can find art and activities (especially for kids).  The sports field is where the main stage was located, along with loads of food stands and a tiny ferris wheel and merchandise sales (very minimal).  A short walk from there was the Buiten (outside) stage which was set in the woods and was cozy and small.  Then, a bike ride away, up the hill near the lighthouse, was another small stage, the Vuurbuitsduin.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the weekend:

Whole pigs being roasted on a spit:

Kids running around collecting glasses.  They got 1 munt (2.50 euros) for every 20 glasses they returned.  The glasses were washed and reused all weekend.  These kids were tenacious!

It’s definitely a kid-friendly festival.  There were lots of things for them to do (besides collect glasses), such as “make your own poffertjes” (little pancakes).  There was also a place for them to make their own pizza.

Friday night we walked down to the beach.

And watched the sun set.

There was an art event on the beach earlier, but we missed it.  I did get a really nice photo of the piano though.

I love that photo!  It reminds me of Neil Young’s “On The Beach”.

We also went to the Vuurboetsduin stage late Friday night.  We didn’t like the music, but the stage and the setting was super.

Saturday afternoon was also spent on the hill, now in brilliant sunshine.

By the time Adrian Young took the stage, the place was packed.  Adrian and his band were great, and the band stay around after their set and mingled with the crowd, signing records and chatting.  It’s that kind of festival.

Back at the sport field and the main stage, things were heating up (or “hotting up” as the English say), with Alt-J:

And Balthazar (we are big fans of Balthazar):

And sake tasting (3 glasses per tasting with a nice explanation from the seller about each type of sake):

This photo was taken Sunday morning, at the Buiten stage, around 11:00 in the morning.  It was beautiful, sunny, in the trees, sitting on the forest floor drinking coffee and listening to interviews and music.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning!

Anne Soldaat being interviewed.  He sang for us afterwards.

Back to the main stage late in the afternoon and Dio was whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Now there were turkeys on the spit:

And the sun was still shining.  How lucky were we!

Oh! I forgot to mention that we also spent some time hanging out in the sun on the dike that runs along the south side of the island.

You could see tall ships off in the distance.

And walking down from the lighthouse you could see the boats stuck in the mud of low tide.

The festival ended Sunday early evening and we made it an early evening ourselves.  I think we were laying in our sleeping bags before 10:00pm!  We were beat.  Monday morning we broke camp and loaded our stuff into the truck at the campground (after a last minute panicked search for bike lock keys stuffed into a backpack already loaded onto the truck! ok- my fault) and biked back to the harbor.  We returned the bikes and waited in the drizzling weather for our boat.  Somehow the weather had been beautiful all weekend and then started to rain the minute we left.  Talk about timing.

I haven’t talked much about music in this blog post, and music is the whole point of this festival.  Clearly from  my photos I think it’s about a whole lot more than the music!

My highlights of the weekend:  the weather, Vlieland itself – GORGEOUS, Sunday morning music and forest setting, and the great company (DB, K & P) and the festival organization in general – oh and real flush toilets!  Food highlights: Vietnamese, apple tarts, roasted pig and sake tasting. Music highlights: Janne Schra, Balthazar, Alt-J, Dirty Beaches (a little story about THAT coming up).  The negatives? Hmmm, hard to find negatives.  The food we had Sunday (old chicken and corn that wasn’t edible). That’s about it.

The festival is limited to 5,000 tickets and they plan to keep it that way.  We were lucky to get tickets.  You can only buy them online, starting at a certain date and time and they sold out within minutes.  Having a festival on Vlieland forces them to keep it small.  The island can only accommodate 8,000 people in total, including people who live there year round (about 1,100).  I really hope we can score tickets again next year.  I wouldn’t miss it!

OK, the story about Dirty Beaches.  They (a 3 person band) were playing at the small (tiny) stage across the field from the main stage.  They are from Toronto.  They play loud grating music that isn’t to everyone’s taste.  The singer looked like an Eskimo and seemed just a little crazy.  At the end of the short set he jumped off the stage and ran around hugging people in a manic fashion.  He wrapped one arm around DB and another arm around someone else and dragged them back and forth through the crowd.  Someone shouted “til hem op!” (lift him up) and they crowd surfed him around.  Finally he came to the ground and ended the set on stage.  It was during that meelee that DB’s sunglasses went flying, never to be seen again.  His good sunglasses that he bought in Chico.  Oh well.  It was funny and fun and we are now fans.

Here is a flickr set of my photos from the weekend.  I could really write up a story about each photo, but it would be too long and become boring.  You had to be there.


Yesterday afternoon I convinced DB to get up off the couch and go for a walk.  We’d been hanging out at home all day, sitting in the (suddenly Autumn) sun, sitting on the couch.  I had to get up and move!

I took my camera and we walked down the street to the sloot that takes off from the Spaarne.  I knew that the black swans are there most of the time.  I was lucky and there they were.

There are three of them that live in this area.  There is another pair that used to also hang around this part of Haarlem, but they’ve moved off to somewhere else – I think along the Spaarne itself.

Just to throw in another photo, here’s the little pumpkin I’ve been growing in the front of the house.

I can’t believe I spent 10 euros on this plant!  Of course it held the promise of many more pumpkins.  There were lots of flowers on it in early July.  But the flowers fell off and the only thing left was this one pumpkin.

Yesterday I picked him.  It hadn’t changed in size in a few weeks and the plant itself was starting to die off.  I was also afraid that someone would take it out of the garden in the middle of the night.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  Earlier this year someone took a strawberry plant, which was in a pot and had lots of fruit on it, out of the garden in the middle of the night.  A few years ago someone took a large flowering plant out of the ground!  And this is a good neighborhood.  It’s just a busy neighborhood  with lots of people biking past.

Anyway, he will become soup.

Summer is over.  The blackberries are finished and now the pumpkin is picked.  Almost time to get the winter sweaters out again!

Starry Starry Night

I’ve been playing with yarn again.  This time I wanted to try tie-dyeing yarn.  I already had a name for it before I started: Starry Starry Night.

My goal was to make a night sky blue/violet/black with bright yellow “stars” here and there.  I decided to jump right in using 3 skeins of nice yarn.  So brave of me! “In for a penny, in for a pound” as the saying goes.  I used 80/10/10 merino/cashmere/nylon fingering weight yarn that I bought from Dharma Trading when I was in California.  It’s so soft it almost melts in your hands.  I figured if I was successful with this dye job I’d have enough yarn for a summer sweater.

First I soaked the skeins in water and a little bit of Eucalen.  Then I tied up the yarn with cotton string that I had to block it from getting dye.  I wrapped 2 skeins in 4 places, and 1 skein I wrapped in 6 places.  I didn’t wrap them at even distances (i.e. 1/4 skein, wrap, 1/4 skein, wrap, etc) but instead made the distance between wraps a little more random.  Why did I wrap 1 skein 6 times?  Well, to be honest, because the yarn was so soft that when I took that skein out of the water it kind of fell apart and started to get tangled, so wrapping helped keep it under control.  And, I figured, I can use that skein for the sleeves. 🙂

Here’s the wrap on one skein:

After all the wrapping was done I mixed up my dye colors.  I used 40% sapphire blue, 40% violet and 10% black.  From my previous experience with the black, I figured it wouldn’t mix with the other colors quickly, which was fine with me.  I wanted the colors to stay a little separate in the pot.  First I poured in the blue dye solution into the big pot and stirred well, then I added the violet and didn’t stir at all.  Finally the black, also without stirring.  Then I lowered all 3 skeins, held together at the top, into the pot.  I only gave them a slight swirl to make sure they were all under water.  I turned on the heat and let them sit, just under the boiling point, for 45 minutes.

Here’s how they came out:

It looks to me like the blue and violet mixed together really easily.  I don’t see much separation and the violent is certainly the “weaker” of the two, not making much impact.  The black, like my previous experience, stays separate quite a bit and made some nice transitions between blue/dark blue/black.  Lovely!

Before rinsing them, I laid them out on some plastic on my table outside to do the stars.  I mixed up some super concentrated fluorescent yellow dye and put it in a little sqeeze bottle.

Working around, from tied section to tied section, I sqeezed on the yellow and worked it into the yarn carefully.  I didn’t move the skein around so that the yellow didn’t spread to other parts of the skein.  When one skein was done I put it into a glass pan, with a little water and microwaved it for 2 minutes on high.

After I was finished with all 3 skeins I rinsed them all out and here is the result:

Now, when I picked up my camera to take the above photos, I suddenly thought “Damn! I’ve made the Swedish flag!”.  This was not my intention!  Whatever sweater I make from this will definitely not be worn on a trip to IKEA so I won’t be mistaken for an employee.

Today they were finally dry enough to wrap up and take a final stash photo:

My sweater ideas:

1.  Stockinette stitch in blue and when ever I come to yellow yarn, make purl stitches.

2.  The opposite of 1., meaning reverse stockinette for the blue and knit stitches for the yellow.

3.  Stockinette for the blue and when I come to yellow make a 3-into -3 Estonian lace stitch.

I like option 3. the best but will have to swatch to see if the yellow is wide enough to make it work.

I really like this technique, and there are hundreds of things you could do with tie-dyeing yarn, but does it make any sense for large volume dyeing for someone with a shop or selling dyed yarn?  I don’t think so.  Tying and untying the skeins took a lot of time and it’s really fiddly.  But for a one-off dye job to use for yourself, it’s super fun!

I have no idea when I will get around to knitting up this yarn I’m dyeing.  My shoulder is still really f-d up and I only knit about 90 minutes a day.  I’m still VERY excited about the book I’m working on and I’ve made a lot of swatches for that.  More news about that as the project progresses and I decide how much of it I want to share.

Next dyeing project?  I think I want to try making muted colors by starting with brights and then over-dyeing with their complimentary colors.  This should make some nice Fall yarn……