Youngins

I had my sporty bike tuned up this past week and have biked to the beach and back twice since then.  The first time I went was this past Wednesday and as I came to the small lake in the middle of our dunes running area I saw that the wild horses had had foals!  In the 5 years that we’ve lived here and I’ve been going into the dunes, I’ve never seen foals or calves.  They were laying down most of the time so it was hard to get a good photo, and I only had my iPhone with me.

Yes, I know, it’s hard to see them in this photo, but trust me, there are 3 foals laying there.  I also took photos of the ever present cattle.

The area around the lake on this day was crowded with animals.  Cattle, horses, bunnies, and all sorts of water fowl.  It was a busy and noisy spot that day!

Today when I biked past there, the cattle and birds were all still there.  There were more geese than ever, fattening up their young for the eventual trip south.  With the weather we’ve been having they are probably wishing they’d stayed in the south and not bothered to come up here!

The horses had moved to a much quieter spot much farther away from the bike route.  I saw them further up the trail, off in the distance.  I hope to see them again before the foals are all full grown.  I have also seen a fawn here in the dunes, which was also very special and hasn’t been repeated since.

By the way, after my fall down the stairs I’m a bit paranoid about falling, in any way.  Yesterday we bought me a bike helmet.  I will probably never need it (god I hope I don’t ever need it), but I feel safer and calmer wearing it.  I really like biking to the beach and through the dunes.  It’s the other crazy people out there that worry me – walking in front of me without warning or those crazy bike racers who think they own the road taking a corner too fast and taking me out with them.  I shudder when I think about it, but I get back on the bike and head out.  We live in a city on a busy street so this is my own chance for quiet and a little bit of nature.  I’ll take it.

 

Playing With Paint and Fabrics

I’ve had two more Friday Mixed Media classes at DIY Textile School so I have some photos to show you.  These past two classes we put paint onto fabric, and then learned how to take color out of fabric.  For example, here are two screen prints made with the same screen.  The one on the left was printed with silver fabric paint.  The one on the right was printed with homemade color remover.  I love them both!

We actually made the screens ourselves using photos or drawings that we brought to class.  I used a photo of a lace shawl that I knitted for my mom, with a little editing in Photoshop.

We also made our own stamps and stamped paint onto fabric.  This one started out life as a cleanup rag during the first class!  I stamped my self made stamp on it and I think it’s pretty cool just like it is.

During this past class we also made a fabric collage.  The idea during all these classes is to learn to use the different techniques and not worry so much about what you actually produce.  But of course we want to make something we like!  We can’t help ourselves.  Here are our collages, with Ginni giving us some hints and critiques about what we’d made.

Mine is the second from the left on the bottom row.  See the little purple flowered fabric in the bottom right corner of mine?  That fabric has a little story.  Before DIY Textile School was in its present location, I went to see Ginni on a “sewing night” at her old place where she first started having classes.  I had to cut out fabric for a dress that I was making to wear to my niece’s wedding.  I used Ginni’s big tables to cut it all out and I gave her the leftover fabric to use in her class.  I had forgotten all about it.  It was 4 years ago after all!  Well, I was rummaging through Ginni’s bins of fabric scraps to find something for this collage and I came across my own fabric! It was so funny!  What memories it brought back – of cutting the fabric, sewing the garment, going to the wedding, M&J now.  I had to use it in this collage.

We have only one more class in this course, which is a little bit sad.  I want more!  I guess I’ll have to sign up for more!  If you want to play with fabrics and paints and stamps and screens and photos and stuff, go check out the school web site and sign up for something.

Best Kept Secret – the secret it out!

We spent this past weekend at Best Kept Secret Festival in Beekse Bergen, just outside Tilburg. Three days of music, camping, sun, rain, food, friends, fun. This was the first year of this festival. We were all guinea pigs, but willing participants in this experiment. What’s it like to go to the inaugural year of a festival? In this case, fantastic. The organizers have had years of seeing how other festivals are organized and have taken the best of the best and tried to bring it all together on the beach of a manmade lake.

The festival web site is showing photos and clips from the event, and you can also see a lot on the 3voor12 web site. And a nice short movie that captures the event feeling very well here.

The Camping

We got to the campground early. It opened at 10am and we were there at 11am. As you can see, we thought we’d found paradise and were ready for a quiet camping experience like no other festival ever.

Four hours later, and the scenery had changed quite a bit. It became just like any other festival camping with people crammed in, tent stake to tent stake. Ah well.

At least they had thought of everything at the camping, with a camp store, plenty of showers and toilets, phone charging station, and hot cooked breakfasts available. We were usually up very early compared to everyone else (being old people you know) and didn’t have to wait in long lines for anything. Early bird gets the worm.

Friday night, however, was pretty sleepless. I’ve never in all my festival going years heard so much partying and screaming all night long. I think this was because there was no place on the festival grounds itself for people to party all night if they wanted to, so they did it in the campground instead. Bummer. It really sucked to go to the second day of the festival without much sleep.

Saturday night was marginally quieter, but I also took a sleeping pill and had my earplugs in, and that was the Best Slept Secret for me.

Food

Food is important at a festival. At least it is for me. I appreciate having decent food choices when you are a captive audience. LowLands is famous for great food. Into The Great Wide Open also had really good food. I think this is the trend for festivals in the Netherlands since this festival also made sure to have the best festival food possible. Gourmet burgers, big BBQ’s with whole chickens and pigs on a spit, vegetarian and organic food and excellent coffee bars. K. and I decided to go into business with coffee and cakes since there were such long lines at the coffee bars. In our dreams anyway. Absolutely nothing bad to say about the food here. Only compliments to the organization.

Festival Grounds

You wouldn’t think that it’s so important to mention here, but it is, because something happened at this festival that is unique and fantastic – it was CLEAN! No trash anywhere. People put their trash in the bins. Grounds people were everywhere picking up what didn’t make it into the bins. It was such a nice change from the trash pit that other festival grounds become after only one day. This made the whole thing much more enjoyable. We aren’t toddlers who can’t pick up after ourselves. We’re adults and we should just pick our crap up. Somehow at this festival it happened. I have a theory about this, and it’s really a theory that goes for any environment where people live. We don’t actually like living poorly. If a standard is set in the first 5 minutes of coming into some surroundings, those standards will be maintained by people. Thus, if you enter an area and it’s a garbage pit, you will throw down your trash like everyone else. And the reverse is also true. If you see a place is clean, you are likely to also keep it clean. The organizers certainly made the right decisions to give us a super festival grounds.

OK, now that I’ve said the good part, here are some tips for next year to make it even better. First, MORE TOILETS! They put out more places for men to pee after the first day when there weren’t enough and men were peeing in the woods everywhere. Solved. What about the women? The queues for the toilets were just crazy long, all the time. More toilets please!

Second, tent TWO needs to be sorted out. It was too small for some of the bands playing there. We were inside when Alt-J was playing and were so packed in that it became scary full. People started to become aggressive. We left, but getting out was not fun or easy. We saw fights nearly start. The problem is that there is no space around the outside of the tent to just hang out and still hear the music. For example, at LowLands, outside Alpha you can sit on the grass on 3 sides of the tent, which hundreds of people do. That wasn’t possible at tent TWO. OK, the rain didn’t help, but still, there needs to be more space around the stage and tent for more people. Or just make the tent itself twice as large (and keep the ticket sales the same). Also, I found the acoustics at TWO pretty bad. I read that some people didn’t think it was loud enough. It was plenty loud, but just badly set up. Far too much echo and bouncing sound everywhere.

Shopping

Festivals have to make money every way possible and shopping is another way. At BKS there was very limited shopping and I was just THRILLED to see that they had set up a row of Etsy shops! What a fantastic idea. Totally non-commercial and fun and interesting stuff for sale. I bought a little wallet made of tape measures. I bought it on Friday and went back through there Sunday and that shop was gone. I hope they sold out. Also, on Saturday between the camping and festival grounds there were tables set up by independent record labels and record shops selling vinyl and CDs by artists you are not likely to hear on the radio. Great idea.

Fashion

There are always fashion trends at these events. Several years ago I made a little movie about the trend of the year at LowLands. This year? No movie, just photos, of girls in cut off jeans and black tights. OMG. Whoever said this was fashionable was just plain wrong. And all the girls who blindly do as they are told are just plain silly.

Fashion that’s trending up but not yet mainstream? Men with long hair wearing it up in a knot. It’s coming. Look out.

Weather

Unfortunately, the weather has a part to play in festivals. We had typical Dutch weather this weekend – a little bit of everything – sun, wind, rain, clouds. You’ve seen some photos with sun, now here are a couple of good rain photos.

You can’t do much about the weather, so let’s just move on….

Music

Finally, the music. This is why we came, right? Right. The festival advertises itself as focusing on the music (no art installations, no movies or discussion groups, no street acts) and that it did. There were 3 stages in total. It’s a small festival and it was easy to get from one stage to the next in time to see what you wanted to see. The only time it felt crowded and full was Saturday night, but was still manageable.

Here are my picks of the weekend.

Best Boys to Keep Your Eye On – Mozes and the FirstBorn – These local guys had lots of energy and charisma and catchy tunes, all sung in English. We will be able to say “we saw them way back in 2013” some day after they make it big. The lead singer looks scarily like a young David Crosby. He also had skills.

Most Improved – tied with Bloc Party and Alt-J. Both of these bands I’ve seen before, live and live streamed, and both gave much better performances than ever before. Alt-J with a full rich sound and singing on key! Wow! Bloc Party with more energy and fantastic drummer. Too bad that Alt-J was at tent TWO instead of the main stage ONE. The should have been at ONE. It was hard to really enjoy the music when you’re busy coping with such crowds of people.

Most Surprising – Damian Rice. It amazes me that one man on a big stage with a guitar and piano can hold the attention of thousands at a festival. He did. While I thought he was going to be boring and weepy, we were actually spellbound by his voice and stories. Now I’d love to see him in a smaller venue too. I’m a new fan.

Best all round – how can you pick just one? I can’t, so my 4-way tie goes to Maccabees, Balthazar, Fuck Buttons and Suuns.

Balthazar we’ve been following since first seeing them at LowLands (I think it was 5 years ago) and we’ve seen them 5 times now. Every time they are better and better. They have a huge following in this part of the world. They are from Belgium and there were a lot of Belgians at this festival. They always play “Blood Like Wine” as their last song. It’s a thing. The last lines of the song go …”raise your glass to the nighttime….” and all the people in the audience knew it was coming so we had our glasses ready. Here’s a photo I took of everyone raising their glasses and singing along. They took a photo too from the stage and posted it on their facebook page.

So, in summary, we’ll be back next year, if we can get tickets. Crisis, what crisis? Festivals and events sell out here in minutes. We tried to get tickets to ITGWO for this year and didn’t get any. Sold out in 10 minutes. I imagine this festival will go the same way. I hope the organizers can find a way to sell tickets fairly and nicely so fans get tickets and not scalpers and bulk buyers. We will do our best to do it all again. We’re all getting older though and I think next year a group of us will try to rent vacation houses on the site rather than camp out. We need more sleep to keep up with all the bands we want to see!

(All my photos on flickr)

Estonia

It seems like ages ago that I was in Estonia, but it was actually just a month ago.  I don’t know where the time goes.  I do realize that I’m a terrible travel writer if a whole month has gone by and I still haven’t written about this trip.  I have uploaded 488 photos to flickr but haven’t put names or labels to them, nor have I edited any of them.  It is such a daunting task! Maybe you will enjoy them in their raw uploadedness.  I had a hard time deciding what the header image for this post should be, but finally decided that this one captures the trip for me – knitting, wool, outdoors, rustic and natural, friendly and fun.  This photo was taken at the yearly Heimtali Fair.

I went to Estonia to participate in the International Conference: Traditional Knitted Sweaters around the Baltic Sea.  When I say “participate” I really mean be there and watch and listen and learn.  It was not a big event.  I’m guessing only about 200 – 250 people attended.  Those who gave presentations were from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and the Shetland Islands.  There were people in the audience, like our little group, from the Netherlands, German, Denmark, and I think Latvia.  I felt privileged to be there among these dedicated, serious scholars and artists.  There were of course those who came who weren’t so serious, and just enjoyed being at the event.

I have so many photos of lovely Estonia, but I will leave you to look through them on flickr (see link above) and will just show you one or two photos of each part of the trip.  Keep it short and sweet.

J. and I traveled together and arrived in Tallinn Wednesday before the event.  The weather was cool but sunny and we walked around the Old Town.  It’s beautiful and extremely well maintained, in a sort of Disney-ish way, but still it is a working city center.  There are foreign consulates here, and museums, and offices in these old buildings.  They do cater to the tourist (huge cruise ships dock each day, spewing out tourists with cameras around their necks), but in the evenings when the tourists have gone back to their cruise ship, the locals come out to party in the pubs.

Dutch Embassy

On Thursday all the travelers who needed a ride from Tallinn to the event in Viljandi met up to get on the tour bus organized for us.  There were the other Dutchies, plus some others from Sweden, Norway and Finland.  We drove through the lovely countryside for two hours and then were dropped off at our accommodation.  Everything was so well organized!  Buses were always waiting for us at the right time to get us to the right place, all during the 3 day event.  It was flawless and took all the stress out of travel in a foreign country.

J & I stayed in the place farthest away from the town, in little houses in the woods.  It was charming and perfect.

We barely had time to drop our bags and grab a bite to eat (above photo) when we were hustled onto the bus, back to town, for the fashion show.  This was a show put on by the Viljandi Culture Academy students.  There were more than 50 students modeling their work, walking the runway to music that was also pretty amazing.  It was live streamed that evening too!  At this Academy students study textiles, woodworking or metalworking.  It was so impressive.

I took loads of photos, but from my angle sitting on the floor, they just don’t do the show justice.  HERE are some of the professional photos taken that night.  Since it was live streamed I was hoping to find a video of it somewhere so you could hear the music and see how they danced down the runway, but alas, I can’t find one anywhere.

After the show we walked to a small museum in the town and had dinner outside.  Just us and the mosquitos.

The next morning we were taken by bus to a building on the main street that had an auditorium – main stage with the room below filled with chairs.  The day was spent watching and listening to experts talk about the history of knitted sweaters in their country.  They were historians and artists, known for their research and writing.  It made me sad that I don’t come from a place with such deep traditions in fiber arts.  Even my adopted country has scant to show for knitting traditions.  We have a few fisherman’s sweaters and hats, which we most likely copied from our neighbors further north.  But the Scandinavians and Baltic cousins!  They are not only rich in history, but they also continue to value these skills and knowledge and support it so it will continue.  In the U.S., if it don’t turn a profit, it ain’t worth saving, and therefore much of value is lost and forgotten.

Friday night we had dinner in what was built as a German Baron’s summer house.  It is now a school building, in yet another school for traditional arts outside of Viljandi.  We were also entertained by traditional Estonian musicians.

The conference has been held in Estonia for the past 3 years.  It will now move to Finland for the next 3 years.  This was officially announced after dinner.  There was also a handing over of a very long knitted piece, the story behind which was kind of explained, but went a little past me.  I think you had to be in the In Crowd to know what that was about.

When we got back to our little cabin in the woods on Friday evening, our neighbors from Norway invited us to sit outside and drink some wine for a while.  What a nice night that was!  It was Norway’s National Day so they were ready to celebrate and sing songs and eat and drink.

The next morning we packed up and loaded up in the bus, heading to Heimtali Fair and Museum.  First we heard a short talk by Anu Raud and saw slides of her work, then there were talks by our presenters about where their inspiration comes from.  I wish I had been able to see Anu Raud’s work in person – her murals look amazing – but they are currently in a museum in another town.

After these talks we were free to wander around the small fair, spend some money, eat some lunch, and watch the walking knitting tag team competition!

There were lots of tables with things for sale made from wood, metal, and lots and lots of wool.  Later on there were dances by little girls in costumes.  As you can see, the sun was shining and it was so hot we searched for shade to sit in.  I did buy some yarn here.  I couldn’t resist.  It was such a bargain!  A sweater’s worth of yarn for less than 15 euros!

The afternoon came all too soon and we piled back onto the bus and headed back north to Tallinn.  J and I spent the night there and visited the Old Town again on Sunday – out last chance to shop and look around.  We visited a shop that we had heard about over the weekend.  We met the mother of the woman who designs all the clothing in this shop.  This photo isn’t the designer (she was sick) but this shop keeper was so friendly and helpful even when we didn’t buy anything.  They also had a bicycle covered in knitting in the big front window.  Who could resist going in?

And that was Estonia in a nutshell!  It was a wonderful trip and I’d really like to go back again.  The people are all very friendly, it’s beautiful, the food was excellent in the restaurants we went to, and the prices are much much cheaper than Amsterdam.  We were lucky with the weather too – while it was cold and awful in Amsterdam, it was warm and sunny here.  That and all the knitting – kind of a little paradise.

Dyeing Success!

Yesterday I went to the first day of the Mixed Media & Surface Design course at DIY Textile School.  We did lots of different resist dye techniques on cotton fabrics.  We brought home all our little fabrics in zip lock bags, which we were to open and rinse out the next day, which was today.

I am so excited about the results that I had to take a couple of quick photos and share.  They still need to dry and be ironed, and then I’ll do a better photo shoot.

How did we make all these beautiful fabrics?  Ha! You’ll have to take the course to find out!  Next week we’re doing screen printing and stamping to create our own fabrics.  Can’t wait!

 

FO’s to Report

We interrupt this travelogue to bring you photos of a couple of Finished Objects.  May was the month for Mad May, where you start and finish a project using Madelinetosh yarn.  Of course there’s a big “event” on Ravelry in the Madelinetosh Lovers group.  And of course I participated.  Here’s what I made:

The pattern is called Twice Born by Magdalena Kubatek (linked to Ravelry page).  It’s a very long stripey shawl/scarf, which after the first interesting part, is super boring stockinette knitting, on and on and on.  But the result is very nice!  I LOVE the new Madelinetosh colors, Wolf and Canvas. And the base is new too – Feather, with just a little alpaca in it to make it even softer.  Overall, very effective and lovely.  It is a gift for Mandy.  She already knows about it so it won’t be any surprise when it arrives at her house.  The only question is when.

While at the Swift Stitch in Santa Cruz I spied a skein of Tosh Sock in a color I’d never seen before – Victory Garden.  I immediately thought baby sweater.  I even had a stitch pattern in mind right away – using 3-into-3 Estonian stitches to make little plant leaves or flowers.  I didn’t have a pattern so I just looked around on Ravelry for general sizing info, made a swatch and cast on.  I knit until it looked about the right length, then made some sleeves separately.  I added the sleeves to the body and made some raglan decreases up to what looked like the right length for the front neckline.  Then I did short row shaping to make the back neck higher than the front, et voila, a baby sweater!

Yesterday I went to P&K’s house and delivered the sweater to the baby it was intended for.  It’s still a little big for her, which is perfect.  She’ll be able to wear it for another 2 months, perfect for a Dutch summer.  K. is a floral designer, so this seemed just the perfect gift for both baby and mom (and dad too of course).  I would post photos of baby, but you know, that’s up to the parents to decide about their baby’s photos and the internet.

It was a mad dash to get both of those done in the month of May.  Lots of people made lots of beautiful things in May and Madelinetosh got some new converts to the obsession.  If you haven’t knit with this yarn yet, go ahead, drink the kool-aid.  You’ve been warned.

California – Part III

While we were in California we went to Santa Cruz for the day.  It was well planned out ahead of time.  Actually months in advance!  Santa Cruz is the home of the Yarniacs, whose podcast I’ve been listening to for some time.  Back in March I contacted them to see if we could possibly meet up in May.  I got a resounding “yes!” answer so we planned a date and time.

I actually can’t remember the last time I had been to Santa Cruz.  When I was a kid we used to make the 2 hour drive there once in a while, probably to escape the heat of the Valley for the cool ocean breezes on the coast.  When I was in high school, the marching band took part in a yearly competition there and we hung out on the beach waiting for the judging results to be announced.  Can you imagine the coastline above crowded with thousands of teenagers?  I can’t either anymore.  It was glorious at the time.

Mom, DB and I left the house at about 7:30 in the morning to get to the Swift Stitch shop in time for our meet up.  The shop actually doesn’t open til 11 but Sharlene opened early just for us.  Soon Gayle showed up, along with Ien and oops, two others whose  names I’ve forgotten.  It was a fantastic meet up!  We talked yarn and patterns and knitting and design.  We had some show and tell.  My mom went off to shop and DB went for a walk to the beach.  Even so, 2 hours just flew by and I thought I’d best leave before my traveling partners got too restless and bored.  Here are some photos from the meet up.

Notice the lovely brioche shawl hanging there?  I smiled to see one of Nancy’s designs on display.  Did I buy anything?  What a silly question.  Of course I bought something.  How could I not in such a shop?  I bought 6 skeins of Madelinetosh and 1 skein of Zitron which DB picked out himself for socks.  I think I was rather restrained to only get that much!  It’s a great shop and I really recommend it if you are anywhere near the area.  And of course go listen to the Yarniacs!

We left there and drove to the pier.  I didn’t remember being able to drive all the way out to the end of the pier, but you can and we did.  We had lunch and watched the sea lions sunning themselves at the base of the pier.

They make such a racket too!

Then we headed over to the Boardwalk.  Mom and I especially wanted to see the Merry-Go-Round or Carousel.  It was built in 1911 and is now a National Historical Landmark.  It’s still beautiful and kids still like to ride it and reach for the ring.  I did the same when I was a kid.

And then I ran down to the water to put my toes into the Pacific.  I had to.  No photos of that though.  Trust me.  It was cold.

That was our trip to Santa Cruz!  I like Santa Cruz.  DB likes it a lot.  He actually said he could live there, which he’s never said about any other American town or city.  All we need to do now is win the lottery and we’ll be there.