Another Traveling Shawl

Last week, after coming back from Berlin, I finished this little shawl.  It was my travel project and was supposed to last me another month! I guess I’ve been traveling too much.

The pattern is from Joji Locatelli, called “Imagine When”.  It uses ~150g of fingering weight yarn.  I used a skein of Wollmeise in color Digitessa.  It weighs 154g and I had 6g leftover.  Just enough!

I knit this as part of the Yarniacs Colors of Fall KAL and as part of that KAL you had to “style” your project.  Well, it’s just too hot right now to even think about wearing wool around your neck.  So I put some clothes together on a hanger and that would have to do.

This color is so specific I think I can only wear it with black or grey or brown.  I really like the fact that it is reversible and I don’t have to think about right or wrong sides, and it was very simple to make.  And of course the Wollmeise yarn is fabulous.  Looking for a good travel project? Pick this one!

Speaking of the hot weather, here’s a photo I took this morning when I went out for a run.  I managed to run for 1k and walked another 4.6k.  It was just too muggy and warm.

Parnassia in May

We were at the beach before the crowds today.  Actually we were surprised at how quiet it was.  I went for a 5k run and DB sat at a table at Parnassia strandtent as he was recovering from a night with friends in Haarlem.  And his long run will be tomorrow.  Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day in the dunes and at the beach.

I did the usual 5k loop and even in that small distance I saw bunnies (too fast to photograph), 3 groups of highland cattle, 2 groups of wild horses, a shetland pony, lots of furry caterpillars, lots of birds and waterfowl.

I’m sure that tomorrow, Sunday, there will be traffic jams getting to the beach and back.  It’s a lovely place to come hang out or walk around or just sit and read or knit and drink coffee.  But come early or come by bike or train.  But definitely come.

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.

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.

Windy Day at the Beach

Windy Day
Windy Day

As we often do on Sundays, we went to the beach and dunes for a run/walk.  He ran, I walked.  And I took some photos.  It was sunny and cold and very windy.

The wind made interesting relief sculptures out of small stones and shells.

wind sculptures

I haven’t seen any animals here for quite a while.  I don’t know where they are hiding! I see lots of sheep and cattle poop, but not the animals themselves.  I did find a hole in the side of a hill where I think the fox lives.  Maybe I’ll have to do a stakeout and see if he comes out.

trees in dunes
winter lake

Little Birds

bird out the window

I was going to show you my progress on the lime lace project today, however, that project is in time out.  I’m mad at it.

Saturday morning I was working on it, starting a new pattern round.  The stitch count didn’t work. There was something wrong.  I counted, then recounted, and counted again.  Only after knitting and tinking 12 stitches, 4 times, did I see that there was a very small notation at the beginning of the chart on row 83.  “1M.Z.”  Oh. What the heck does this mean?

I remembered reading on Ravelry that on some rows you have to shift the start of the round 1 stitch ahead or behind.  I guessed that I needed to move 1 stitch backwards (zuruk) and indeed, once I did that, the stitch count came out perfect. On I went.

However, moving these stitches around means moving the stitch markers and somehow, I have no idea how, I dropped the stitch marker, went to reach for it, and pulled the stitches off the needles and dropped 3 stitches. And they fell. And fell.  This is at the mesh section.  You know, with double yarn overs and ssk and k2t stitches making a mesh.  I tried to recover and knit it back up, but it looked bad and I was not happy.

I tinked back 3 rounds. That took well over an hour.  Then proceeded to drop 2 more stitches and tinked back 2 more rounds.  And then when I tried to start knitting again nothing looked right.  It was, by then, 9pm Saturday night.  Screw you lace knitting.  I obsessed over this thing all day and couldn’t face it anymore.

I put it down at the end of the couch and there it has sat all day.  In time out.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone a day without knitting, but today is a break day.  Tomorrow will be better.

The above photo was taken out of our living room window this morning.  Isn’t he pretty?

Beat the Heat

We’ve been having a heat wave! Our weather has certainly gone from one extreme to the other.  Everyone has been heading to the beach this past week or so.  And so have we.  We try to beat the heat and beat the crowds by going early.  For example, this morning we biked to the beach and got there around 9am.  Here’s what it looked like:

DB went for a run.  I sat at the cafe at Parnassia and had coffee and a croissant and did some knitting….

When DB finished his run we went down to the beach and hung out for a while.  We dunked ourselves in the sea.  When we left at 11:30 the same part of the beach looked like this….

And people were pouring down to the beach.  We were salmon swimming against the tide as we walked up the hill to leave.  While biking home we passed this handsome swan family.  I thought I should take their picture.

Tomorrow should be cooler.  I’m planning to do some yarn dyeing so it had better be cooler!  I’m hoping for rain tonight so I don’t have to water the garden tomorrow.  Stay tuned….

Of Windmills and Color

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.

Despite the Weather

Despite the terrible weather we’ve had this year, some beautiful things are emerging from the garden.  The Snow White tree rose in the front of the house is looking better than it has in a couple of years.  I really was worried about it after this past winter.  I had to cut a lot of it off, but maybe that’s what it needed to come out and bloom like this now.

I also have a 3 David Austin roses in the front garden, but they just struggle to stay alive.  Two of them are currently blooming – just one flower each – but they are holding on.  They are such fragile things.  Each year I expect to have to dig them up and replace them with something hardier, but each year they manage to grow a few inches and only half of that dies back.  The flowers though are so beautiful.

And in the back of the house I have some little succulents growing in a place that doesn’t get much sun.  This year they are blooming!

I don’t have a photo, but we have about 5 meters x 2 meters of blackberries growing along a side fence, just bursting with flowers and green berries.  We’re going to have kilos of berries in August.

So, even though we’ve had far too much cold weather this year, all is not lost.  It’s not all bad news.  I’ll just keep looking out the windows at these signs of life and I’ll feel a little better about wearing my winter jacket.