New Plants

Wow, gardening is tiring! Just 4 hours in the garden, planting new plants, pulling weeds, cutting the front hedge, and I’m sore and tired.

I started by going to the local garden center.  It was packed, as I expected on a sunny Saturday morning in Spring.  I spent an hour wandering around, picking out what I wanted and wheeling my heavy cart around.  When my cart was full I figured I’d better get out of there.

Above is the small area just next to our front door.  It’s a place where I’ve not been able to grow anything.  It’s the sunniest place we have and it doesn’t get any rain.  Everything dies that I plant there, mostly from neglect.  I am determined this year to make it look nice.

I bought the plants and pots and rose quartz stone.  It will have to be watered every day. Every single day.  It will become a ritual.

The thing I like about having a lot of little pots is that I can change out what plants run their course and put in new ones as we go through the season.  I won’t be precious about them.

I also planted pansies on either side of the little fig tree, and put a hortensia/hydrangea in a pot.

And planted some new strawberry plants.

And I also fertilized roses and the cherry and pear trees and the blackberry bush. I’m expecting great things in the garden this year.  I make the best of my small spaces.

Picked up

I started this table cloth/doily back in November.  And then I put it down to get some Christmas knitting done.  This past week I finally picked it up again.

This is a Niebling pattern called Frühling (Spring), which is fitting to work on this time of year.  The yarn is 50/50 cotton/silk that I bought from ColourMart. Once I get through the big leaf motif that is partially knit, the pattern shifts into flowers and leaves.  What you see above is through round 117.  If I knit the entire thing, it will be 369 rounds!  It is meant to be made on even smaller needles (I’m using US0/2mm) and fits a large round table.

I think I’m going to stop after round 245, which is also organized in the chart as a good stopping point, at the top of the first group of flowers.  That will be plenty big enough.

By my reckoning, if I can manage to knit 2 rounds per day, on average, I can finish it by the end of July.  As it grows each round takes longer and longer! Even now it takes me 40 minutes to knit a pattern round.

It’s really not as complicated as it looks.  It’s just knitting after all.  Just follow the chart. Once you get the hang of the mesh pattern with its double yarn overs, the rest is a piece of cake.  Pay attention to it, and you can even predict the next stitches and how it all flows together.  I’m enjoying knitting it quite a lot!


I’ve wanted to go to Finland for a long time.  It’s that lure of forests and snow and northern lights that gets to me every winter.  I haven’t managed to convince DB yet to leave our warm home for even colder climates in the dark days of December.

But I have booked my trip to Finland for a different but equally really good reason.  Knitting!

I’m going to the Nordic Knitting Symposium in Vörå, Finland, from 29 June – 5 July. The program looks amazing and now that I have my schedule, and everything is booked, I’m getting very excited about going.

Vörå is not the easiest place to get to from outside of Scandinavia.  I’m flying from Amsterdam to Helsinki, staying the night, then the next day flying from Helsinki to Vaasa.  We meet up there and go by bus to Vörå.  Here’s where it is:



Every day of the conference is jam packed with workshops, lectures and museum visits. On the last day there’s a craft market to visit.  The organizers have arranged for lodging, meals, transportation and everything you will need in a strange far away out in the woods place.  The price for the week is not at all expensive when you consider all that you get in the package.  The only expensive part is getting there and back!

When I saw the schedule I got so excited I signed up right away without waiting to see if anyone else I know would be going.  So far, I’m the lone traveler from NL, at least that I know of.  It will be strange to be there for a week, not knowing anyone.  But, knowing knitters, I’ll have made many friends by the time I come home.

If you are interested in visiting Finland, and enjoy a week of knitting and fiber related tourism, check out the site.  It’s not sold out yet!


Spring in Haarlem

This morning I went for a walk around our neighborhood.  In the middle of the night last night I had to get up and take a migraine pill, which meant that I really didn’t feel like running this morning.  But I did want to get out and walk.

The above photo was taken in a small park about 3 blocks from our house.  Daffodils are in bloom everywhere right now.  The crocuses have already come and gone.  It was a chilly but sunny morning and the only people out walking were people with dogs, or small kids, and me – the only single walker! People don’t walk on Sunday mornings it seems unless they have a dog or kid – or a camera.

I walked through the park, then along the canal next to the Jan Gijzekade.  I was looking for the black swans.  Every winter they disappear and I don’t know where they go, and then in Spring they are back along the canal.  This year there are 4! When we first moved here I only ever saw 2.  Then for a few years there were 3 – a pair and a singleton that I think is one of the pair’s offspring.  Now 4!  The pair are always swimming together.  The 3rd one hangs around with the pair but is not a partner with either of them.  The 4th one that I saw today was hanging out within site of the group of 3, but didn’t seem welcome or interested in swimming with them.

the pair

Last winter (2012-13) was so very cold and lasted well into June, and I don’t think any of the pair’s cygnets survived.  I didn’t see any anyway.  We’ve had a very mild winter this year and Spring has really started nicely, so maybe the pair will have young that will survive.  Maybe the 2 singles will soon have mates.  It’s just nice to see them back each year.

Breidag 2014

This year the Breidag (Knitting Day) was held in Amersfoort, at the Rijtuigenloods just a short 5 minute walk from the train station.  This is an old factory that has been turned into a kind of museum and event center.  As you can see from the photo, there are old railroad cars inside the building which are used for specific things like toilet area or meeting areas.

This photo shows about a third of the marketplace area, so there was a lot to choose from if you wanted to shop for yarns and knitting and crochet related things.

I went on Saturday and in the middle of the day it was busy, but not so busy that you couldn’t move around.  I saw a lot of people I knew, which was really great.  Some people I don’t see very often so it was nice to catch up with them.

One friend, who I met last year in Estonia, has written a book! Good for her! It’s called Öland Breien and has lots of beautiful color work patterns inspired by Scandinavian designs and also stories and photos of the Öland area. Way to go Marja! The book can be bought from her yarn shop web site here.

I took a class in the morning, which was very disappointing, and will be a topic of another blog post to come so I won’t talk about it now.  Let’s focus on the positive…

I have so much yarn already, and frankly there wasn’t anything new here that I hadn’t seen before, so I only bought 2 skeins of yarn.  And I only bought it at the last minute just before walking out the door to come home.  I know exactly what I want to make with it and I don’t already have anything suitable in my stash, so it was a purchase that I could easily justify.

This is Fiberspates Scrumptious, lace weight yarn, 50% wool and 50% silk. The color is called Midnight and it is as you see, a dark gorgeous blue.  I specifically wanted this fiber combination of half wool half silk.  The first lace shawl I ever made was this fiber combo and it’s still my favorite.  I want to make this shawl:

photo & shawl by Susan Pandorf

The pattern is called Evenstar.  A friend of mine has made it and it’s even more beautiful, if you can imagine, in person.  Don’t ask me when I will start it – I already have to finish a big lace project that has been languishing on my needles!

I went to the Breidag with my friend Jacki, and we traveled back home with the addition of Petra.  It was a fun day out, but the disappointing (and expensive) morning class has left an overall disappointing feeling about the day.  I’m planning to go to a knitting event in July in Finland and I really hope that the classes I’ve signed up for will be worthwhile.  I’ll certainly let you know!

Slippers FO

Last week you saw a photo of the first finished sock that I wanted to turn into slippers.  And this week the slippers are done!  I just finished them this afternoon and ran outside to get photos before I lost the light.

These are worsted weight socks that I’ve sewn on to slipper soles.  Here are the finished socks, some felt inserts that I bought a while back, and the slipper soles that I bought in December.

I set the felt inserts into the soles, which are suede on the bottom and have a layer of foam on top.

Then I put the socks on, set my feet into the soles, and set about sewing them on while I was wearing the socks.  This seemed the only way to get a nice fit.  The socks fit nice and snug, so I had to fit the soles around them.

And here they are finished! I love them so much already that the old ones quickly went into the trash.

Edison Bulb Socks

When you are away from home you need a traveling knitting project.  I didn’t have any small portable project so I started some socks.  They are actually house socks, or slipper socks.  My plan is to sew leather soles onto them.  First, knitting!

OK, it’s not a great photo.  This is not an official FO blog post, so I have time for better photos of the finished slippers.  I just wanted to try to show the first one – it’s done!

The second one is already more than half finished.  It knits up super fast with worsted weight yarn and the fabric is thick and sturdy since it’s knit on size 3mm/3US needles.

The yarn is Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Worsted in color Edison Bulb.  And it is bright!  It kind of blows out the sensor on my camera.  This was definitely an advantage when knitting on a dimly knit plane when others are sleeping or watching movies. 🙂

The pattern is Foxwood, from the Twist Collective web site.  It’s a very well written pattern, with charts for the cabled patterns, and 4 sizes to choose from.  Mine are the smallest size.  More photos next weekend!

All About the Food

Last week I was in Thailand on a business trip.  Before you get the idea that it’s fun to travel for work, let me tell you that, when you arrive, have to adjust to the time zone, are only there during working days without a weekend to go sight-seeing, it’s really just work.

I have incredibly nice colleagues in Thailand, and because I don’t drive there (NO WAY am I going to try driving in that chaos!), and there is no canteen at this facility, they take me (and any other foreign visitors) out to lunch every day.  What a treat!

We have everything from expensive (relatively) sushi, to the famous 1 euro lunch – both are delicious.  I tried to take photos at every meal, but sometimes just forgot.  Below are the food photos from last week.  Thai people like their food, and for very good reason. It’s the best cuisine I have ever tried.

My favorite lunch of the week was this fish and noodle soup.  It was not terribly hot spicy, but was full of amazing flavors that I can’t list here because I don’t know what they were. There were pieces of veg in the soup that I’d never eaten before.  Just delicious.

We went out together one night for dinner.  Along with all the good food, the last was the best.  Simple, fresh mango in slices, with sweet sticky rice on the side with coconut milk to pour over.  I have never in my life had mango that tasted this good.  So THIS is what a mango is supposed to taste like!  Ah!

And here are some other pics from the week.  I don’t know when I’ll be going back to Thailand.  Probably later this year.  DB has to come too next time.  I’ll save up my appetite!