Leaving on a Jet Plane

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I made this lap blanket for my mom as a Christmas/birthday/going away present. I’m the one going away.

The pattern is “A New Angle” and you can find it on Ravelry to buy and make one yourself. The yarn is Cascade 220 superwash worsted. Each square is 7” on a side and I added 2 rows of double crochet as a border.  It took me 2 1/2 months to make, working on it pretty steadily.  I had a deadline!

Just to bring you up to date, we sold our house in SoCal, I quit my job, selling my car to Carvana tomorrow, and on Saturday I’m flying back to the Netherlands. DB has been back there since January 1, working at his new job, and we already have a new house picked out and an offer accepted. We’re BACK baby!

There will be another blog post regarding “why we are moving back” and all kinds of discussion about being an American in the Netherlands. One step at a time. 🙂

It feels like the past 3 years have been a kind of dream and now we are going back to reality. Living and working in SoCal was not a nightmare, but was definitely not the dream we had imagined when we moved there. Life is hard there. Dutch people have no idea how good they have it. They complain a lot about life in NL, but honestly they have no idea what hard is.

All of the above is why I feel like resurrecting the blog. I have a lot to say, having come out of the dark tunnel of a terrible job and terrible traffic and not so great health. I am on a better path and want to talk.

Buying and Selling

It seems that lots of knitters are also wannabe shop keepers.  We hoard our yarn that we’ve bought here and there, without an idea of what to make with it but we bought it because it was just too beautiful to leave behind.  And when we have more than is reasonable for space/budget/partner understanding, we sell it on to other like-minded knitters.  We buy and sell and trade yarn with almost as much enjoyment as knitting with it.

I have so much yarn now that I’m in danger of reaching SABLE (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy).  Yes, this is a subject discussed on Ravelry.  I love all of it.  Some more than others.  I decided the other day that if I can in any way justify buying a spinning wheel I have to sell some of my stash.  I have to get this monster under control.  If you are interested, and are on Ravelry, you can find my destash page here.

It doesn’t help the stash balance when I go to interesting places and end up buying yarn.  I always say that yarn bought while on vacation doesn’t count.  But I still have to find somewhere to put it!  I never did show you what I bought in Finland.  It wasn’t much since I was trying to be good.

I bought this yarn from Tuulia, who’s company name is Knitlob’s Lair.  The blue/green is sport weight wool.  The multi skein is sock yarn with 75% wool, 25% poly.

Then, when we went to Vassa to look around, I bought 2 skeins at a yarn shop.  It has dog hair in it.  Actually, 30% dog hair.  I bought it for the uniqueness of it and I think it will make a fine pair of color work mittens.  It’s actually pretty darned soft.

And that’s all the yarn I bought to bring home and knit with later.  I did buy 2 big skeins of Finnish wool that I used in the Swing Knitting class.  Here’s a photo of my project in progress.  I’ve set it down now while I finish some other things first.  I really like the gradient dye.  It’s going to be a large rectangular piece which I will sew into a bag and will wash and felt it.

And that’s all I bought in Finland!  Good, right?

So, I’m busy trying to sell stash yarn (and I did immediately sell off 5 skeins), and up pops an ad in the Dutch Spinners group on Ravelry.  OMG.  You know, I’ve been stalking spinning groups and spinning sites for 6 months now and nothing ever made me want to put down my money before.  But this was just perfect. In every way.  Here she is.

I will pick her (all spinners call their wheels either him or her, mostly her) Tuesday night and this is the photo from the owner.  It’s a Kromski Mazurka.  Now, I’ve fallen in love with the look of the Kromski Minstral and this Mazurka is kind of the grandma to that newer wheel.  What a perfect wheel to learn with and at a steal of a price.  The owner is also going to show me a few things about it when I go to her house Tuesday.  I can’t wait!

Which leads to my last recent purchase…some fiber to practice with of course.  I bought this at Penelope Craft Thursday.  100% merino.

And now I’m done buying.  For now.  Until I need more fiber.  And sell more stash.

Berlin with Bowie

Last weekend DB and I and 2 friends took the train to Berlin, mainly to see the David Bowie exhibition. P. is a maniac Bowie fan and this was his birthday present from K.  DB and I just went along for gezelligheid.

We left Amsterdam at 7am Friday morning and rode the train for 6 hours.  We talked, ate snacks, and I knit my travel project.  We checked in to rooms in a really nice small hotel in the North-Center of the city. Already Friday afternoon DB had bought an album (on vinyl), I had bought chocolate and we drank beer.

Saturday morning we were up early because we had tickets for a particular time slot at the museum.  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos of the Bowie exhibition.  On the one hand that made me a little sad, but on the other hand it freed me from thinking about taking photos and to enjoy the event instead, and also freed me from annoying people putting their cameras/phones in the way.

The exhibition was mainly about his costumes, but was a full emersion experience with headphones with music and voiceover, videos, and pictures and artifacts from Bowie’s life.

The costumes were just amazing. They were all exquisitely made down to every detail.  Here is a photo from the V&A web page.  I just loved this exhibit.  It made me feel nostalgic, and in awe of this creative genius.  The exhibit will be in the Netherlands, in Groningen, at the end of 2015.  We’ll be going back!

We also saw, on another floor in the museum, an exhibit by WeiWei, the Chinese dissident artist. After seeing Bowie, this was so different and kind of a let down.  I understand that the topic was to demonstrate the way that he has been dealt with by the Chinese government, but both DB and I asked ourselves, if he wasn’t treated in this way, would he still be a famous artist?

I really like Berlin. This was the 3rd time I’ve been there.  If I had to live in a city, this is one I could live in.  We spent most of our time in the old East Berlin.  There are so many great shops and cafes!  And markets.  We were there last time in January and it was ice cold and snowy.  What a difference the weather makes!  There were no people out and about in January.  In July the city is humming with people, outside at cafes, beer gardens, shopping. It has a nice buzz going.

I didn’t take a lot of photos during the weekend (compared to my usual clicking habit) but here are some of the best.

The above photo was taken at a flea market Sunday morning.  They are boxes full of old black and white photos.  I couldn’t stop myself from looking through them, wondering, who are these people? are they still alive? what were their lives like? why are their photos here in this box?

Weversmarkt

Today was the yearly Weversmarkt in Hoorn (weavers market).  There were, at last count, 140 vendors selling everything from weaving looms and supplies, to knitting yarn, to felting stuff, buttons, spinning supplies and more.  We were 7 and stayed all day.  Luckily it was sunny and very warm all day!

I bought a few things.

Two skeins of Kauni in blues, purples and greens and a skein of grey to go with it.  I’m going to make a “swing knitting” shawl with that.  I bought 2 skeins of undyed sock yarn for, well, dying.  I bought a pair of felted baby shoes my hair dresser (her baby of course).  And buttons.  Just look at how fabulous these buttons are!

And I bought a hat.  I don’t wear hats, but this hat is just perfect.

Here are some photos from the day….

You can see all my photos from the day here.  I will definitely go again next year. This was the best market I’ve been to in the Netherlands, for what I’m interested in anyway.  I didn’t get to try any spinning on a wheel, but I did get to see a few, which was also pretty interesting.  I’m still thinking about getting a wheel.  Yes, I need a new hobby like a need a hole in my head, but that’s never stopped me before!

Mad May Indeed

 

Over on the Ravelry group Madelinetosh Lovers, Mad May is in full swing.  Lots of people are knitting with Madelinetosh yarn with the aim of finishing a project within the month of May.  I started a project but I clearly won’t make the deadline.

Above is one finished sleeve.  I knit nearly all of it on my trip from Amsterdam to Bangkok.  I’ve also started the body, knit in the round, but I’m only about 3 inches (7.5cm) along.  I’m here in Thailand, on business (photos taken in my hotel room), and have been working a lot and not having a lot of knitting time.  I only have one day off while I’m here (today) and I’m going to spend 4 hours in a spa getting rubbed, scrubbed and pampered.

Anyway, back to the sweater.  This is a mashup of 2 sweater patterns.  I liked parts of each so put them together in my own kind of concoction.  I’ll detail all that out when the sweater is finished and I know which of my modifications really work.

Here are some closeup photos so you can see what the lace really looks like.  The yarn is Tosh Sock in color Lettuce Leaf which I’ve been hording for quite a long time, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.  I guess I had to make up my own.

And, yes, you read correctly, Thailand.  The place that has just been taken over by a military coup d’etat.  Luckily I’m not in Bangkok, but in Chiang Mai, up north where life is still peaceful and people just go to work and go shopping and carry on with their lives.  As long as the airports stay open…..

Fabric Find

I’m in the L.A. area, working, for 10 days.  I only have 1 day off during this time and what did I do with it?  I went fabric shopping.

Now, I grew up in California, but in CENTRAL California, which for people down south is thought of as NORTHERN California and north of San Francisco doesn’t even exist.  Sigh. Never mind.  I can’t complaint about their ignorance about their own state because I’m just as ignorant about SoCal.  I had no idea there was a garment or fashion district in L.A.  I had been missing a lot!

I heard about these amazing fabric shops from my mom, who learned about them from my aunts.  Block after block of fabric shops. I saw them for myself today.

I actually only shopped at one place.  I read online that they had the widest selection of fabric types so I thought I’d start there.  I went to “Michael Levine” on Maple Ave.  It’s a super busy street with markets on both sides but there’s plenty of parking in the multistory garages.

And no kidding, they have everything!

I first walked around and looked at everything before I pulled out any bolt.  And then I went back to the beginning and pulled out the things that caught my eye not once, but twice.  I got fabric for 3 dresses and 2 tops.

The above are 2 of the dress fabrics.  The bottom one, the black, grey and white paisley, was the most expensive purchase.  It’s printed knit rayon – basically man made silk.  It was $40 for a dress amount.  The fabric above it is some amazing heavy-ish cotton with 3% spandex.  Perfect for a semi-fitted dress.  That was the bargain of the day at 5$ a yard! Yes, $5 a yard. I was even happier.

This colorful fabric is also cotton with some stretch for another dress…

I love the colors! I guess I’ve been feeling in need of the colorful.  Because look at what else I bought, for 2 tops….

Yay! After I found these fabrics I decided I’d better stop.  Knowing my available sewing time, which competes with knitting time and the fact that I have to work for a living, there was no point buying more that would just sit around my house for months.

Now I need to get home and start sewing.  I’ll show you what I make….

Hitchhiker WIP

This is the sum total of an 11 hour flight.  It doesn’t look like much, but I really did work on it a lot during that long flight from AMS to SFO!

And even though it is totally mindless knitting, I’m actually loving the result and the colors keep me motivated to continue on as the rows get longer and longer.  When I decided to take this particular yarn with me on this trip, I really didn’t think about the time of year and the colors of the yarn, but now that it’s knit up a bit, it really looks like Easter! What a coincidence. Or my mind works harder than I think it does.  Anyway it won’t be finished in time to wear for Easter so I’ll just call it Spring colors.

It’s also really good practice for my change to continental style knitting. The combination of fingering weight yarn and 3mm needles is just perfect, no stress knitting.

As I said earlier, this is ONLY a flight/travel project so while I’m not at an airport or in a plane, I will be working on something else.  I might not get this done after all before I get home! We’ll see.  Two more flights to go…

Hitchhiker it is

I asked you to vote and vote you did! Hitchhiker got 37% of the votes and as promised, this is what I will cast on Thursday at Schiphol. I’m busy packing today for my two weeks in California.

Here is the designer’s photo of this quick and easy shawl (but I like to call it a neckerchief – does that make me very old fashioned?)

Photo & pattern – Marina Behm

No, it’s not a vacation.  Well, ok, 4 days of it is a nice long weekend with my mom, but otherwise I’ll be working.  I have a lot of work travel coming up in the next 2 months.  I think between now and the 1st of June I’ll be home a total of 10 days.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

I’ll be posting photos of the Hitchhiker project so you can see that I really am making what you decided I should make.  And if I finish it quickly I’ll have to cast on another travel project.  Don’t worry – I’ll have lots of yarn in my suitcase to choose from.

Typically Dutch

The weather is perfect this year for flower growing. This is especially good since last year’s weather was terrible for flowers and the farmers really suffered. The fields are full of color and the air is thick with the smell.  I wish I could share the smell with you!

DB has never been to the Keukenhof.  I’ve been twice before.  I had planned to take 2 colleagues from out of town there today but they had other plans so DB and I went there by ourselves.  I was really afraid that it would be super crowded so we went early.

Along the way I insisted we stop and play tourists and take photos of flowers “in the wild” with farmers and tractors.  There are fields like this all along the western part of the country right now.  Field after field of daffodils and tulips and hyacinths.  Later there will be gladiolas and other summer flowers.  But now is the best time to visit the Keukenhof.

The park was so beautiful.  It was a little bittersweet since I had still fresh memories of being there with my parents (although the weather was much better today than that day in 2001).  It made me miss them both but especially my dad.

We actually bought bulbs too! The bulbs that are now blooming need to be planted in October, so we ordered now and they will be shipped to us in September.  We also bought some Dahlia and Anemone tubers that I will plant tomorrow.

We got there around 9:30 and by 11:30 it was definitely time to leave.  The bus loads of tourists had arrived and it was impossible to take photos without them included, or even to walk around.

It’s really a lovely park and when the flowers are in bloom you not only get to see them in the most perfect condition in the park, but the surrounding area is covered in colors as well.  If you haven’t been, you really should go!

I actually wanted to ride my bike down there, but this was one occasion when DB wanted to go by car since his bike is not in the best condition.  After we got home we discovered that my bike also has 2 low tires and we couldn’t get them pumped up with the pump we have, so we would have gone by car in any case.  Tomorrow – off to Haarlem to get my tired looked at so I can bike to the dunes on Sunday.

If you can make it through the dark winter here, the rest of the year is well worth the wait!

Finland!

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:

Vörå

 

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!