Trunk Show @ Penelope Craft

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Joji Locatelli. Joji is the knitting designer who’s pattern I used to make my Neon sweater. Her designs are clever, fun to make, fit perfectly and are beautiful as well! Joji was in the area visiting family and came to Penelope Craft to have a trunk show.

She had with her her latest designs and also those from Veera Välimäki.  The two of them joined forces to create a group of patterns, self published as “Interpretations“.  We got to see the samples and even try them on, which was really nice of her to let us do.  Joji was so friendly and I really enjoyed meeting her. I think she’d be a fun person to hang out with and talk knitting.

I couldn’t resist buying a couple of printed patterns that she had on hand.  I bought “Laneway” and “See You There”, one from each designer.

I also couldn’t resist some of Malia’s new Madelinetosh shipment. I know I KNOW! I don’t need it! But just look at it! How could I resist?

(Sorry for the lousy photos. It’s so dark and stormy today – no good light.)
The Jade and Firewood colors go so nicely together.  I think I will use them to make a shorter version of “Laneway”, with shorter sleeves too.

After hanging out for a while, four of us left and walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant and drank margaritas and ate nachos. What a great way to end the afternoon! I came home to dinner ready and Olympics on the tv. Of course, after drinking margaritas I didn’t dare try to cast on that lace shawl again. Instead I went to bed early.

This morning I was awake at 7am and decided to get up and turn on the tv to the Olympics, make some coffee and cast on the shawl.  This pattern starts at the bottom edge so you have the longest part to do first.  It gets smaller as you go along and work up.  So far so good now!  Here’s a photo.  Again, terrible light.  It really is a very bright orange, not so red as here.  It goes well with the orange everywhere on the tv while watching the ice skating! Hup Holland!

 

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.

Healing

I had a very nice Saturday, day 10 after The Fall.  In the morning I made the above Flourless Chocolate and Pear Cake.  I followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfect.  You can’t really tell from the photo, but there are big chunks of pear in there.  And no flour!  I highly recommend this recipe.  The only thing I did differently was to add the chocolate fondant on top.  Had to.

After making the cake, DB and I went to Amsterdam.  I had to see how tired the trip would make me and how confident I would be to do it on my own this coming week in order to get back to work.  AND it was the grand opening of Penelope Craft‘s new location at Kerkstraat 117, Amsterdam.  There would be cupcakes! And yarn! And knitters!  I had to make the effort to go.

We went by bus, then train, then tram, then a two block walk to the shop.  I didn’t even think about taking photos at the shop, which goes to show how tired and spaced out I was.  I sat and knit with friends and pet some yarn and picked up a couple of skeins of super giant fat yarn to make demo materials for the class I’m going to be teaching there.  It was lovely to be out and with my peeps.

When we got home I kind of collapsed on the couch, fell asleep for a while and was woken up to the delicious smells of DB’s spaghetti.  We then spent the evening watching episodes of Justified, season 4.

All in all, a great day.

Oscar Weekend Recap

This last weekend was our 5th annual Parool Oscar Weekend.  You know, where you go to the Pathe de Munt movie theater at Muntplein in Amsterdam and sit for 2 full days watching back to back Oscar nominated movies.  I love it.

If you haven’t noticed, on the right side of this blog page I am now posting my Twitter feed.  During this weekend event I sent out tweets summarizing my movie review and giving each movie a score out of 10.  I’ll just expand on that a little bit here.  Warning, it’s full of spoiler alerts.  But then, you should already know how Lincoln and Argo end.

Saturday we started at 10:30am with Lincoln.  This is the movie that starred Daniel Day-Lewis, who won his 3rd Oscar as Best Actor.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It helps if you are raised in the U.S. and know a bit of the history and can relate to the story and the times.  It also helps if you are a native English speaker.  The language in the movie is not simple or easy but it is beautiful and thoughtful and lovely to listen to.  As a language lover, I really appreciated the care they used in recreating the sound of the times.  It is also so interesting to contrast politics of that era with politics of today.  In both cases it’s a dirty business.  But in both cases there is one party that is ignorant and wishes the country to remain ignorant.  What’s interesting is that those parties have switched titles over these 160-odd years.  I highly recommend the film and gave it a 9/10.

Next, with a 30 minute break in between we saw Beasts of the Southern Wild.  I really didn’t know what to expect of this movie.  The main character is a 6 or 7 year old girl who lives with her father and a few scrappy characters in a swampy island that has been abandoned by the government and society.  They are all a bit wacko.  When a big storm comes most of them leave but not the most crazy ones and this girl must stay with her father.  They end up at the end in a shelter, but then escape, and go back to the swamp where he father dies of some disease.  Some parts of the movie were touching.  Some parts were just more of the same.  It wasn’t my kind of movie really.  It went no where and didn’t seem to have a place it should go.  I gave it a 6/10.

Finally Saturday we saw Argo, yet another historical fact/fiction movie about getting Iran hostages out of Iran.  This movie was so suspenseful, even though you know how it’s going to end, that it had my stomach in knots.  The acting was good and I have to say that Ben Affleck really outdid himself as actor and director both.  And he doesn’t look half bad in a beard.  It did remind me of All the President’s Men in look and feel, which is not a bad thing.  I can see how it won best picture as everything was so real you lost sight of which parts were historical film reels and which was recent movie making.  I gave it 8/10.  It’s as well made as Lincoln, but there was something beautiful about Lincoln that got it the extra point for me.

And that’s all we saw Saturday.  We had a concert to go to in Paradiso that night so cut it short at 6pm and only 3 movies seen.  But we were back at it Sunday morning at 10:30 again!

We started Sunday morning with The Master.  After reading the synopsis I was looking forward to seeing this movie.  The first 30 minutes had me sucked in and I was really intrigued.  And then it just droned on and on and on making the same points over and over and over again.  Finally we end up in England for no apparent reason.  The movie should have been 20 minutes shorter, or found something else unique to say.  Having said all that, Joaquin Phoenix was exceptional in the lead role.  Now this is acting folks, every bit as good as Daniel Day-Lewis.  Too bad the movie was such a let down.  I gave it a 6/10.

Next up: Prometheus.  Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  And seriously bad.  This is the pre-quel to Alien and poor Ridley Scott just can’t let it go.  This movie was nominated for visual effects and that, folks, is ALL it had going for it.  Laughable science, deadly predictable script.  The very best part was the very last scene, which ties this movie to Alien.  That’s it.  About 20 seconds.  5/10.

Movie 3 on Sunday was Django Unchained.  Some people don’t appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s movies or his point of view or his humor, but I’m a fan.  Maybe you have to be a fan to be excited about seeing this movie.  I think it’s his best in years.  It was clever, funny, punchy, bloody, and never ever dull.  Jamie Foxx is perfect in the lead and Christofer Waltz won best supporting actor as the German bounty hunter.  If you like dark humor you have to go see this movie.  8/10.  Oh, one thing, here’s a tip Quentin: don’t act in your own movies.  It ain’t your forte son.

Finally, the last film for Sunday was Silver Linings Playbook.  It’s your typical dysfunctional feel good movie.  Screwed up boy meets screwed up girl, lots of screwed up stuff happens and finally they get together.  That’s the plot.  That’s it.  What makes it so entertaining are the actors and the stuff that is just crazy enough to be real and just real enough to be crazy.  You can see these people living next door to you.  You feel for them.  You root for them.  You want them to be happy.  When such a simple plot can do that to you then it’s a highly successful movie.  8/10.  Go see it.  Everyone should laugh and smile at the movies now and then.

And that’s it!  Last year we saw NINE movies, this year only 7.  Next year I’m aiming for 9 again.  I can’t wait.

Rembrandt in His Square

I went to Amsterdam this evening to have dinner with my friend J. and before I got to the restaurant I took this photo at Rembrandtplein. The statues are back!

These are life sized statues of the famous Night Watch painting figures. 4 1/2 years ago when my mom came to visit they were also here and I took a photo of my mom standing next to them. Then at some point a couple of years ago they were taken away. The Square was remodeled and now they are back. It’s good to have the statues there. I like them. I hope you can kind of see them with this dark photo taken with an iPhone.

Today Queen Beatrix announced that at the end of April she will step down and her son and daughter-in-law will become King and Queen. This is not a surprise but it is big news. The national holiday of Queen’s Day will, in 2014, become King’s Day and will move from 30 April to 27 April. This year, on Queen’s Day, there will be a ceremony and I’m guessing an even bigger party all over the country. If you’re planning to visit at that time, come with plenty of orange clothes.

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Indulgence on Friday

I had been meaning to get to the FOAM for months now to see the Diane Arbus exhibit there.  Today we finally made it.  We got there early before it got busy, which is good.  The FOAM is small with lots of hallways taking you from one small room to the next and I imagine if it’s crowded it wouldn’t be much fun.  I hate having to negotiate space with people in order to see things on walls.

If you want to see this exhibit, hurry, it ends 14 January.  There are not only photos taken by Dian Arbus, but what I found really interesting was the section about her life, how she became a photographer, what cameras she used, who hired her and what media she was involved with.

What DB and I both found curious about the photos chosen for the exhibit is that they were all so somber.  Looking at the books in the shop later, and looking at her original proof sheets on display, she had a lot of photos of happy looking people.  For some reason, whoever chose these particular photos to hang on the walls, didn’t use them.  No happy people allowed.  Curious.

Like all highly acclaimed artists, she makes her art look easy.  If you didn’t know better you’d come away thinking “well, I could have taken those photos”.  Well, no you couldn’t.  Look at how she used light.  Look how she used contrast.  What has she chosen to include, and more importantly exclude, in the picture frame.  That takes an eye that nearly everyone else doesn’t have.  When you look at the cameras she used it is even more amazing that she got those shots.  Even with all our fancy camera equipment available these days, that is fairly affordable, we take snapshots that no one will look twice at.  And I won’t even start about Instagram, something I really hate….

Looking at her first Nikon on display I had a momentary longing for my first 35mm camera, a Pentax with a 50mm lens.  Totally manual.  I took B&W film and developed the negatives and made prints in the darkroom at school.  It would take me days, even weeks, to come up with something I liked and would show anyone else.  A far cry from our instant everything digital world.

Going to this exhibit was inspiring for me.  If nothing else, it made me realize again that I need to carry my camera with me at all times.  Using my iPhone camera is just plain laziness.

Oh, btw, after the FOAM, we had lunch at an Irish pub.  We pretended to be tourists and had the full Irish breakfast.

Then we went to Soap and had hour long massages.  It was indeed a self indulgent day.

Today in Amsterdam

Today I went to see my friend Ginni at her school.  First we had lunch on Haarlemmerdijk then went to talk about web sites and shops and html code and stuff like that.  As I walked down the street to meet her I took this photo of a shop window.  It’s actually an eyeglass shop. You’d never know it by looking in their window.  The cat is always there, no matter what the other decorations are.

Ginni and I also talked about shopping.  Neither of us likes to shop for clothes.  It’s not fun to always be faced with the fact that your figure isn’t what it used to be and all the clothes in shops are designed and sized for the figure you no longer have.  Shoes, however, are another story.  I don’t mind shopping for shoes.  My legs are my best feature, despite their lack of length.  On my way home from Ginni’s I decided to stop into a shop on Haarlemmerdijk and bought these –

I’d say it was a very successful afternoon in Amsterdam!

 

Creative Sunday

Yesterday was a very crafty day.  I went to a spindle spinning class at Penelope Craft in Amsterdam, taught by the very talented Christopher.  He’s a wizard with a spindle, with any kind of fiber, and can stand there making lace weight perfect singles while talking to us at the same time.  He’s also a professional singer and musician.  Such a talented guy!

Some of the students had done this before, but most of us had not.  It’s much harder than Chris makes it look.  My feeble attempts came out like bulky weight thick/thin singles.  The only fiber that I was really happy with was the pure silk.  It was just easier for me to draft for some reason.  I find that drafting (pulling the fiber out it just the right amount at the right speed) is so difficult to get right.  I know, practice makes perfect.  Chris kept reminding us about how long it took us to get really good at knitting and not to be disappointed in our first 3 hours of spinning.  We all seemed to be perfectionists who want results NOW.  Silly us.

At the same time as this class was going on, Ginni was having a craft market at her studio, DIY Textile School.  I didn’t want to miss it so I ran out of Penelope Craft just at 3pm and headed to the other side of Amsterdam as fast as I could.  I got there in time to buy a necklace of crocheted steel and beads, and a pair of earrings made with vintage beads.  And I had a tiny piece of the most amazing chocolate pecan pie.

If you are in Amsterdam at the weekend before Christmas, I think the Sunday Market at the Westergasfabriek will be pretty amazing.  I won’t be able to make it because I’ll be busy painting our downstairs toilet (more on that later).  But go there if you can.  Happy crafting everyone!

Kaffe Fasset in Amsterdam

Last night Kaffee Fassett had a book signing and a gave a short talk in Amsterdam.  It was sponsored by the American Book Center (ABC).  The book signing took place on the ground floor of the ABC shop and the talk was just a short walk away at the ABC Treehouse.

That’s Kaffe, seated, signing books and laughing with customers/admirers.  Brandon Mably stands nearby.  Kaffe is so animated and is always moving, making it a challenge to get a good photo of him!

He has just published his memoirs, titled “Dreaming in Color – an autobiography”, which is the reason behind the book tour.  I have yet to read it, but given the amazing life this man has lead, I’m sure it’s going to be a page turner!

During the talk at the Treehouse he showed us some of his work.  It was just a tease.  But still nice to see some of his things in person.  I first saw both Kaffe and Brandon on the Vogue Knitting Tour to Alaska in 1999.  They tried to teach us how to use color in free and organic ways.  I think I failed.  At that time I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around knitting without a chart to tell me what to do.  I think today I would be a much better student.

Here are some photos from last night.

Of course I wore my Tumbling Blocks Kaffee Fassett sweater.  I made it in 1990 as far as I remember.  I definitely remember cursing at all the ends I had to weave in in the back!  That sweater is over 20 years old but it’s still going strong.  I don’t wear it very often anymore because the style is rather out of date (remember big 80’s sweaters?).  But for this occasion I had to wear it.  When Kaffe was signing my book I showed him the sweater, then I showed him my copy of his first book that has that sweater pattern in it.  He signed that book too and seemed really happy to see someone carrying it around.

I just wish that he would have talked longer.  Much longer.  The talk seemed really short and constrained by the ABC’s timing issues.  I would have loved to hear about his amazing life.  I’ll just have to read about it instead.

 

The Natural

There he is, number 25780, the natural runner of the family.  This was his second half marathon in 3 weeks.  Three weeks ago he ran in Haarlem with a time of 1:45.  Three weeks later he ran in Amsterdam with a time of 1:43.  He was SURE his Amsterdam time would be slower than Haarlem.  I had more belief in him than he did!

The Amsterdam marathon began at 9:30am.  The half marathon began at 1:30pm.  The slowest of the marathon runners were still running when the half marathoners started coming in to the finish.  The photo below was taken in the Vondelpark, 4.5 hours after these people had started running.  Let me say it again.  They had been running for nearly 5 hours when they got to the park.  They still had 3km to go.  Respect.

DB was so enthusiastic after this race that he signed up for Egmond that same evening.  And I must admit that seeing all these people running (15,000 of them just for the half marathon) made me pretty enthusiastic too.  I signed up for the Egmond 10k.  It’s in January.  I have time to get ready.  Yes, January.  In the cold.  On the beach.  Yes, we are crazy.