Yesterday G. and I rode our bikes to the Zaanse Schans to buy dyes for dyeing yarn and fabric. It was a glorious day!
I suggested going to the windmill De Kat to buy these dyes because I knew the weather would be nice. G. suggested going by bike, which made me gulp and exclaim “bike!?”. I’d never biked that far in my life and was a little nervous about it. Silly me. It was great.
We met part way there because she lives in Amsterdam and me in Haarlem. We met at bike route point #11, which is where one of the many ferries takes cars and bikes across the North Sea Canal. She had mapped the whole thing out using “Fiets!” app, which also has a web site where you can see your routes and upload and download them. Luckily, here in NL, the country is crisscrossed by numbered and marked bike routes. My route yesterday was this:
We biked through small towns and past fields of sheep and ponds with ducks and geese. We got a little bit lost in Zaandam because there wasn’t a sign where we should have made a left turn. It’s times like that that I’m happy to have GPS on my phone! We were soon back on course. We biked past not one, but TWO chocolate factories which smelled so strong it was almost (but not quite) sickening. We can smell the chocolate in Amsterdam and Haarlem when the wind is right.
G. couldn’t believe I’d never been to Zaanse Schans before. I live with a Dutchman. Why would he want to relive his school trips with me? I feel bad that I didn’t go there with my mom when she was here. I just didn’t know how nice it was. And how close to home.
We only went to the one windmill, De Kat, because we were on a mission to buy dyeing stuff, and because we didn’t want to get home too late in the afternoon. There were tourists, but it wasn’t super crowded. We climbed up the stairs to the middle layer of the mill, where the works are inside and the walkway is outside.
There’s a small gift shop and we asked where we would buy the dyes. The woman said “oh you have to get Piet to take you to the back room”. Piet was dressed in traditional clothes, including wooden shoes, and carried his bone pipe with him. He took us through the door marked “Private”, into a fantastic room filled with magic powders.
Nearly all of the products they sell are for making your own paints. Only a very small part of it, just one “bookcase” was for fabric and wool dyes. That’s ok. It’s enough for us to play with! Isn’t this a fantastic place?
G. wanted a photo with Piet to send to her mom. Here it is. Very sweet.
I bought more stuff than I was planning on buying. I couldn’t resist. I bought cochineal which is very expensive. I’ve never dyed with it before so I’m looking forward to playing with that. Logwood, which I have used before. Fustic and woad, which are new to me. I also bought some chemicals for mordants and modifiers – alum and iron and potash. I was looking for copper for a modifier, but they didn’t have it and I suspect you can’t buy it anymore because it is dangerous to use. Just as well I couldn’t get it. I also bought a sweet little book of recipes which included bits of yarn as samples.
We had a quick sandwich in the area and hopped back on our bikes to head home. G. left me at Zaandam to head to Amsterdam and I pedaled back the way I had come. I have to say, by the time I reached the ferry I was pooped! Still 8km to go. When I was on the ferry you could see in the distance a big cruise ship coming up the canal heading for Amsterdam. I stopped on the other side and took a few photos of it. I wanted to include the boat watchers. I found it really funny that people would drive to this point, get out their chairs and picnic stuff and hang out watching boats come and go on the canal. Plane spotters and train spotters and now boat spotters. Takes all kinds.
I biked 40km (24 miles) in total yesterday. When I got home at around 3pm I put my head under the kitchen faucet and ran cold water. The farthest I’d ever biked before was 20km to the beach and back. This was twice as far. I felt really tired but really good. Today my legs feel tired, but not sore and not nearly as bad as I was expecting. I even went to knit night last night in Amsterdam and BIKED to the train station!
I complain a lot lately about getting older and how my body is changing. I don’t like it. Not at all. Getting old sucks. Pains popping up where there weren’t any last week. Swollen fingers and sleepless nights. And then I go for a bike ride like this and I count my blessing over and over again. I’m so happy I can do this. Getting old sucks, but getting old in style is pretty ok.
p.s. If you want to know how to change the direction that a windmill is facing, you can find out HERE.