Harlingen Yarn Shop

Hello!

Thinking about knitting projects for the winter months and rummaging through my yarn boxes, I came across some yarn that I bought in Harlingen a while ago. I was going to write about it at the time, but then all kinds of other things cropped up and I never got round to it. Time to rectify that.

After dropping our charges off at the Harlingen ferry terminal on a glorious day in early autumn, we had the rest of the day to ourselves. As it was still early, we first went for a stroll on the dyke, saying hello to the two-headed stiennen man (stone man).

Harlingen (or Harns in Frisian) is the main port of Friesland, situated on the Wadden Sea coast. It was great to look out over the sea for a while.

And also to feel it under our feet, stepping onto the floating pontoon that’s there for bathers.

The wide open sky, the fresh air, the great expanse of water – so calming and uplifting. Why don’t we come here more often?

We took our time walking to the city centre via the harbour. I was keen to have a look at the replica of Willem Barentsz’ expedition ship. It set sail in 1596 to discover a new passage to China via the northeast. It is surprisingly small.

The woodcarving on the prow tells us the ship’s name: de Witte Swaen (the White Swan).

There were cannons on board for protection.

But they could not protect the crew from the greatest danger, the extreme cold. De Witte Swaen got stuck in the ice in the Arctic Ocean. Barentsz and his men were forced to spend the winter on the island of Novaya Zemlya. They built a lodge from driftwood and the wood of their colourful ship.

When they ran out of supplies, the crew decided to try and return in two small open boats. In the end only 12 of them returned. Barentsz himself did not survive. Yeah, it’s quite a story.

Well, let’s get back to the present day and continue on to the city centre.

There are many interesting buildings, a museum, a tile factory and lots of lovely shops here, including a wonderful bookshop, but I’m only taking you to one of them – a yarn shop called Atelier Swoop. It is run by mother-in-law/daughter-in-law team Geertje and Beau Ann.

Officially it is a ‘Scandinavian Concept Store’, selling Scandi style gifts and things for the home as well as knitting yarns, antiques and delicious home-made cakes.

(We had to sample these, of course, to make sure they really were delicious – I can now safely vouch that they are.) But to me it is first and foremost a yarn shop. So let’s take a look around at everything that may interest a knitter. The yarns in the shop all come from Denmark.

Here is a wall of Isager yarns. If the picture looks fuzzy on the left that’s the fuzziness of the ‘Silk Mohair’ yarn. On the right, Isager’s lace-weight ‘Alpaca 1’.

Here is a close-up of the top of the cabinet, with and adorable little knitted cardi, the ubiquitous dried hydrangeas and some antiques.

Small displays of yarn are dotted around the shop. This is some Isager ‘Spinni’:

And this is a thicker yarn that may be Isager’s ‘Jensen’ yarn, but I’m not entirely sure.

This cosy corner houses a CaMaRose yarn that really lives up to its name: ‘Snefnug’ (snowflake). It is very, very soft and airy, only much warmer than a snowflake.

There is also a small but interesting selection of knitting books and magazines, all with a northerly slant.

This attractive book is filled with warm outdoorsy colourwork sweaters in Norwegian and Icelandic yarns:

It is by Linka Neumann, and its title is Vilmarks gensere in Norwegian, Noorse truien breien in Dutch, Einfach nordisch stricken in German and Wilderness Knits in English.

Ah, that was lovely, tasting some delicious cake, browsing around, and chatting with Beau Ann and Geertje. And what did I leave the shop with? Three skeins of Isager Alpaca 1 (left) for a scarf for a friend. And a big bag of Isager Eco Soft (right) for a cardi for our daughter.

More about those in the New Year, I think. First I’d like to finish a few WIPs* and some gifts.

If you’re ever in the area, Harlingen is absolutely worth a visit. Please check out Atelier Swoop’s website (no web shop, brick-and-mortar only) for their opening hours. (In these uncertain times it may be best to contact them first to be on the safe side.) And there is a great website with loads of information about Harlingen here.**

Thanks for visiting Harlingen with me. Hope to see you again soon!

* WIP = Work In Progress
** As you’ll probably know by now, I’m not sponsored in any way. I only write about the things I write about because I think they are worth writing about.

Making a Twisted Fringe

Hello!

We’ve had a lot of rather gloomy days here lately. I don’t mean gloomy because of the current coronavirus situation, although there is that too, but literally so gloomy that we need to keep the lights on all day.

We haven’t actually had a lot of rain. It’s just that on many days it’s been cloudy and grey.

I don’t really mind, and even enjoy the quiet atmosphere of some of these days. For me, the problem is that there often isn’t enough light to take pictures indoors, while the table on the patio is too wet to spread my knitting out on.

But last Sunday suddenly the sun came out.

I quickly set to work, because I wanted to show you how to make a twisted fringe. I’d finished knitting my Striped Linen Stitch Wrap. In this project, every row starts and ends with a yarn tail. In the basic pattern these are knotted into a fringe, but a later adaptation has a twisted fringe and that was what I wanted to try.

The yarn I used was Rowan’s Felted Tweed, a blend of lightly felted wool, viscose and alpaca. Because I wasn’t sure if the technique would work for this combination of fibres, I tried it out on a swatch first, and yes, it worked! This is how it’s done step by step.

1) Pin the end of the wrap to blocking mats.

The yarn ends were tied into bundles during the knitting. These are now undone one by one.

While twisting the ends, they need to be kept in place. The pattern uses a binder clip for this, but as I didn’t have any of those, I used a hair clip and a T-pin.

2) Undo a fringe bundle. Find the next 4 tails (they should be twisted in the order they were knitted).

3) Twist the first 2 tails together in the same direction as the twist of the yarn (i.e. to the right). Continue until they are slightly overtwisted.

4) Secure with a clip and pin onto the blocking mat with a T-pin.

5) Twist the next 2 tails in the same way and hold. Unclip the first 2 twisted tails. Tie both sets of tails together with an overhand knot as close to the ends as possible and let go. They will now twist together. Smooth this twist by passing it between thumb and forefinger several times.

Continue like this until all yarn tails have been twisted. Then repeat steps 1-5 for the other end of the wrap. Remove the wrap from the blocking mats and place it on an ironing board. Comb out the ends so that they are straight and not crossing each other.

6) Spray the fringe with a plant mister.

7) Cover it with a clean, moist tea towel. (Make sure it’s an old one that won’t give off any colour.)

8) Then, with the iron on the wool and steam setting, press the fringe with lots of STEAM.

Repeat for the other end of the wrap and leave to dry thoroughly. The tails should now be slightly felted, preventing them from untwisting.

9) Place the wrap with one fringe on the end of a table top. Make sure that the wrap is placed straight and straighten out the tails. Then cut off the knots at the length of the shortest tail.

I used a quilting ruler to make sure I cut the tails off straight.

There, all done! This is a great finish for a scarf or wrap. It’s really lovely to see the colours combined differently in each tiny barber-pole tail.

I’m really happy with this wrap and at the same time slightly sad that it’s finished. Many of the things I knit are for others, but I’m keeping this one. I’ve loved working on it and will miss the soothing rhythm of slipping and knitting, slipping and knitting many, many stitches.

Now I’m hoping for colder weather so that I can wear it. It’s a strange autumn. The pelargoniums and lobelias in our outdoor pots are still flowering and it’s the end of November! Still, we’ve had some night frost…

… and more wintry weather is expected for this weekend.

In case you’d like to knit a wrap like this, the pattern is called Striped Linen Stitch Wrap & Scarf (there is also a smaller scarf version) and can be found here on the designer’s website and here on Ravelry. The free adaptation for the twisted fringe can be found here.

Well, I hope that just looking at this warm wrap with its colourful fringe has warmed and lifted your heart a little. Take care! xxx

Lazy Kate

Hello!

Before I embark on the story of Lazy Kate, I’d like to share some news with you. As some of you have already guessed from a few subtle clues in my previous post, I’m going to be a grandmother! It takes some getting used to the idea (how did I suddenly get so old?), but I’m thrilled to bits! And very, very happy for the mum-and-dad-to-be.

I’ve hesitated about talking about it here, as I don’t believe in sharing everything online. But I’d have to lead a strange kind of double life to not talk about it here. (Don’t worry, I won’t talk about it all the time.) It just feels good to know that you know, and not to have to be secretive about it anymore.

I also don’t feel very comfortable sharing pictures of loved ones online, but I think it’s okay to show our daughter’s feet here, together with those of the other great love of her life beside her husband.

And I think the girl with the big, hairy white feet doesn’t mind if I share a picture here. She loves going for a walk in the woods, rustling through the autumn leaves just as much as we do.

Neither this sweet-tempered pony nor our daugher is called Kate, and neither of them is lazy. So, who is Lazy Kate?

Well, actually this isn’t about who but about what – it is about a lazy kate (with indefinite article and without capitals). For the non-spinners among you: A lazy kate is a thing that holds yarn bobbins and comes in useful when plying several threads together after having spun them. It comes in different shapes and can be a separate box or rack that is placed beside the spinning wheel or it can be integrated.

This is my spinning wheel – a 21-year-old Louët S10.

I looked up the receipt and saw that I bought it in March 2000 for 515,00 guilders. Guilders, not euros! Goodness, a different era. It is still functioning just as smoothly as when it was new.

It has an integrated lazy kate – the rack with the two filled bobbins beside the treadle in the picture above. This is what it looks like without the bobbins.

With two bobbins I can make a 2-ply yarn, but the problem is that I now want to make a 3-ply yarn. I could hold the third bobbin on my lap, or place it in a basket or box beside the spinning wheel, but it would be much better to have an additional lazy kate.

So I decided to order one, and as the Louët spinning wheel factory is just around the corner from the stables where our daughter’s pony lives, I thought I might as well collect it instead of having it delivered. Do come along!

At the entrance there is a spinning wheel very much like mine, only more colourful.

Louët doesn’t have a factory shop, and it isn’t possible to visit the factory itself right now, but we are allowed to take a look around in their upstairs showroom. My spinning wheel is their very first model.

Since then it has evolved and several other models have been added. From what I understand, it is now even possible to have a spinning wheel put together to your own specifications, with single or double treadle, Scotch or Irish tension, etcetera.

The factory also produces all kinds of tools for fibre preparation, like combs, small and large hand carders, and drum carders.

On a shelf there is a niddy noddy, used for making skeins, and some fun hand spun yarns.

What I didn’t know, is that they also make weaving looms. Here is the very smallest and simplest one.

And here is one of the larger and more elaborate looms.

I don’t know anything about weaving, but just looking at the fabrics in progress on the looms is enjoyable, too.

Well, it’s time to collect my lazy kate and the block needed to attach it to my spinning wheel. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little virtual outing. I’ll tell you more about the yarn I’m spinning when there is more to show.

If you’d like more in-depth information about these spinning wheels or looms, please visit the Louët website. And if you’d like some chat about I-don’t-know-what-exactly-yet, please visit me again next week 😉. Bye!

A Week in November

Hello again!

Publishing a knitting pattern is a small/totally insignificant step for mankind, but a big step for me. It makes me feel vulnerable to be so visible, and I’m very grateful for all of your kind words here and elsewhere. Thanks!

This week, no matter how hard I try, I feel unable to put together a coherent story. So here are a few unrelated items from this past November week.

Market

On Saturday I visited a small market in a neighbouring village. It was all about sustainable and hand made products, and there were some six or seven stalls in all.

It was organized by a local shop selling organic clothes for adults, children and babies.

It was a joy to look at the lovely colours, fabrics and yarns used. The prices were staggering, but I think that they reflect what we should really be paying if clothes are to be produced with respect for the environment and the people making them.

There was also a rack of second-hand clothes, or pre-loved as some would call them.

I don’t think it was the purpose of the market, but I felt really inspired to make even more myself than I already do. I’ll always be knitting, of course, but I’m also thinking of taking up sewing again.

Even more than the wares on display, I enjoyed the lovely arrangements with hydrangea flowers everywhere around. Like this cheerful combination with red enamelware…

… and this beautiful wreath in faded shades.

I also stood gazing out towards the neighbours’ beautifully restored farm buildings.

Ah, lovely! Still, in spite of all that gazing around, I didn’t go home empty-handed. As well as some paper for folding stars, these two wooden roe deer came home with me.

On my needles

I’m knitting another Story Lines shawl. This time in a combination of two Rowan yarns: their all-time favourite Kidsilk Haze and their new Felted Tweed Colour. I’m not entirely sure about it – the yarns work well together, I think, but did I choose the right colours?

Sunday morning walk

As we usually do, we went for a walk on Sunday morning.

The sky was overcast, but now and then the sun came out, bathing everything in very bright light.

We saw a group of roe deer in a field. The horses in the meadow next to it were watching them too.

Towards the end of our walk there was a faint rainbow in the sky.

Struggling to stay positive from time to time, I drink in any symbol, sign or ray of hope, no matter how faint.

Visitors

The sparrowhawk visiting our garden last year is back (or at least I think it is the same one). We haven’t seen him for a long time, but there he suddenly was – now in his full adult colours. Just look at those fierce eyes!

And we’ve had another visitor, too, new to our garden – a red squirrel. Here it is, snacking on a hazel nut:

Over the past couple of weeks it’s become a frequent visitor, busily running to and fro burying nuts everywhere.

Up early

I often wake up very early and have given up trying to go back to sleep. Instead I tiptoe down the stairs and spend a quiet hour (or two, or sometimes three) before breakfast drinking many cups of tea, knitting and reading by lamplight.

My big linen stitch wrap is almost finished. All I need to do is knit on I-cord along both long edges and finish the fringe. I want to finish a few other items before the end of the year, but my hands are also itching to start all kinds of new things, big and small.

Well, that’s all for today. Enjoy your weekend and see you again next week! xxx

Story Lines

Hello!

It won’t come as a surprise that I love knitting. To me (and I know to some of you, too), seeing a knitting project grow stitch by stitch and row by row is immensely satisfying. Although I haven’t written much about books until last week, I love reading a good story just as much.

Now I’ve combined the two and knit a story in the shape of a shawl! Or rather two shawls, knit along the same lines but telling different stories.

The watery blue version of Story Lines, as I’ve named the design, tells the saga of a drowned village.

It is a slightly asymmetrical triangle that starts off on a light and airy note – transparent stocking stitch stripes with widely spaced out garter stitch lines. Later on, the plot thickens and the lines are knit closer together.

A village really did drown in the lake where these pictures were taken.

It was the village of Beulake. Extensive peat extraction had already made the area vulnerable. And when the dykes broke during a storm in 1776, Beulake disappeared beneath the waves. Only the church, where the villagers had fled to, was spared.

Fortunately no lives were lost, but the people who lost their homes must have shed a few tears. A row of Dainty Droplets seemed a fitting ending for this shawl.

Although the basic pattern is the same, the other shawl I knit has a different tale to tell. In fiery reds, it tells a love story from a time long gone by.

This story is set against the backdrop of a castle ruin, not far from the lake of the drowned village.

It is Toutenburg, the remains of a medieval castle in the town of Vollenhove. An utterly romantic spot. There is a moat around it, with a lovely fountain.

This version of Story Lines needed a different ending – a Romantic Ruffle. I’m not really a ruffle-y type, so I’ve kept it modest.

Story Lines is a very easy knit. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend it to an absolute beginner is that the thinner of the yarns used takes a little experience to handle.

The design combines two types of yarn: a lace-weight mohair/silk blend and a fingering-weight single-ply merino yarn – 1 skein (50 g) of the former and 1 skein (100 g) of the latter.

The yarns I used for both shawls come from an indie dyer in my little corner of the world. She creates many gorgeous colours. Below you can see the mohair/silk blend I used on the left, the 1-ply merino on the right:

‘My’ indie dyer is happy to ship world-wide,  but those of you not living in the Netherlands could also look for yarn closer to home. Here is a list of very similar yarns from indie dyers all over the world:

  • Canada: Lichen and Lace (Marsh Mohair/1-Ply Superwash Merino Fingering-Weight)
  • France: La Bien Aimée (Mohair Silk/Merino Singles)
  • Germany: Walk Collection (Kid Mohair Lace/Cottage Merino)
  • Ireland: Hedgehog Fibres (Kidsilk Lace/Skinny Singles)
  • Norway: Norne (Kid Silk/Singles)
  • Sweden: Fru Valborg (Fuzzy Mohair/Merino Singles)
  • UK: Qing (Kid Mohair Silk/Merino Singles)
  • US, New York: The Wandering Flock (Laceweight Mohair Silk/Fingering Weight Singles)
  • US, Oregon: Ritual Dyes (Fae/Crone)

Some people find a triangle a difficult shape to wear and I understand. Worn in a traditional way it can look old-fashioned. But it can be worn in so many ways, as already shown in some of the pictures above. Here are some more ideas.

Worn nonchalantly with the two long ends on one side:

Rolled up with the point at the back of the neck inside, worn much like a rectangular scarf:

With the ends knotted loosely:

Or scrunched up cosily:

The shawl has a versatile shape and can tell many different stories, depending on the colours chosen. Choose icy shades for an arctic adventure, greys for a ghost story, greens for a jungle book, or………………… The possibilities are endless.

If you’d like to knit your own Story Lines,

you can find the pattern HERE ON RAVELRY

In addition to the Dainty Droplets and Romantic Ruffle shown here, the pattern also includes instructions for a Basic Bind-off that ties everything up neatly. And there is a Dutch as well as an English-language version.

Well, that brings us to the end of today’s story. Thank you so much, dear photographer, for your patience and for capturing everything so well. And thank you, dear friends near and far, for reading and for your always kind support!

Minibieb

Hello!

It was on my way to the Knitting and Crochet Days in Amsterdam in May 2019 that I saw the first minibieb (pronounced as: mini beep). It was a beautifully crafted boat, complete with mooring posts.

Over the past 18 months or so, when our ‘real’ libraries were closed for a long time, these little libraries have mushroomed around here.

During my walks and bicycle rides I’ve taken pictures whenever I passed one. Most of them are like small cabinets, some with sloping and others with pointed roofs (click on images to enlarge).

Similar, but still all different. Many of them have mottos, like ‘give and take’; ‘one out, one in’, or:

‘A good book can be shared together, borrowed, swapped, donated.’

Here is a peek inside one:

Several English books among the ones in Dutch, a few crime and other novels, and a book with the intriguing title Chuapi Punchapi Tutayaca (or is it the author’s name?). As well as one that is also on my own book shelves: Zomerboek (The Summer Book) by Tove Jansson – who would give that gem away, I wonder?  

Some little libraries are tiny…

… and found along city streets lined with wheelie bins.

Others are slightly bigger and found in out-of-the way places. Along a grassy path…

…I found this one, also selling plum jam and walnuts.

En route, I passed this sign, where we are meant to tralalalalaaaa our way to the next little library.

One little library in our neighbourhood is located inside a café.

And several provide benches, so that you can start reading straightaway, like this one.

And this one.

Nice, isn’t it, with little olive trees on either side of the bench. This minibieb is called Bieb aan ‘t Diep.

That means Library on the Canal. And this is what it looks out on.

I had a nice chat with the owner of this one…

… that has a bench with a brass plate on it saying ‘Little Book Bench’.

I asked her why she decided to start a minibieb. She told me of her lifelong love of books. She also mentioned things like social cohesion, enlivening the street and serving people (especially young and elderly) who can’t easily get to the public library.

I’m writing about the minibieb because I think it’s a wonderful new phenomenon. And also because there is a link between books and my new knitting design. We’ve already been out for a photo shoot. I’m working hard on the lay-out now and hope to publish the pattern next week. Here is a sneak peek.

Googling, I discovered that the minibieb movement started in Wisconsin in the US and that there now are little free libraries (as they are officially called) in 91 countries. Do you have them near you, too? Do you use them?

Some people seem to be worried that they will steal readers from the public libraries. Hm, maybe. Or maybe they’ll create new readers eager to move onto larger libraries after a while.

More information and a world map can be found on the Little Free Library website. The Dutch minibieb website can be found here. I don’t know if this goes for the rest of the world, but in the Netherlands there are many, many more minibiebs than those registered on the website. Once you’ve found one, you can always ask the owner if they know more near where you live.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope to be back next week with a knitting story. Bye for now and take care!

Burgundy Cardi

Hello!

Thank you for your kind comments about last week’s autumn walk. Today it’s all about knitting again. Looking through my photos I have a feeling it may become a longish post, so why not make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee before diving in?

I’ve just finished a cardigan for our daughter and thought I’d talk about that for a bit. It’s the cardi I had to unravel the front of because I hadn’t read the pattern properly. Well, that was quickly remedied and it was soon time to check the sleeve length.

I didn’t have our daughter or any of her clothes at hand to measure the length, but I found an old sweater of mine she often borrows that I thought had exactly the right sleeve length.

It’s a different shape and size, but that didn’t matter. As long as the measurements across the chest and along the underarm were the same it would be all right (I hoped). Measured by the old sweater, the sleeve had reached the arm hole and the starting point of the sleeve cap. The sleeves were soon finished and it was time to go looking for buttons.

I popped into a large fabric store while we were on our way to visit our daughter and was greeted by a colourful wall of buttons. (For those of you in the Netherlands, it is just outside Deventer. There is nothing on their website but the address and opening hours, but as there are so few fabric stores left, I thought I’d include a link here anyway.)

I tried to be quick because my husband was waiting outside. He is always patient, but I didn’t want to keep him waiting too long or arrive too late. I got briefly distracted, though, by the displays of satin ribbons…

… denim fabrics…

… and bling-bling.

‘Come on, just focus on the buttons, you can do it,’ I told myself. I looked at the wooden buttons…

… as well as the red ones.

So much choice! These 4 seemed most suitable.

In the end I chose the colour that matched the yarn best, the bottom one.

Time to see if the cardi fit and the sleeves were the right length. I pinned it together on the outside to make it easier to try on.

Yes, perfect! And the sleeves were the right length too.

Now all that was left to do was seam everything together.

My waistbands are getting a little tight and I don’t think it is because my clothes have shrunk. I’ll really need to watch what I eat for a while.

For a low-calory, high-protein spread, I emptied a tub of no-fat fromage frais into a sieve lined with a piece of moist cheesecloth, placed the sieve on a mixing bowl and left it in the fridge overnight. The next morning it had a nice spreadable consistency and I mixed in a couple of tea spoons of dried herbs and some sea salt.

I used a tasty German mixture with wild garlic and chili flakes that we got as a gift, but almost any fresh or dried herbs will do.

Well, back to the cardigan. To sew everything together I used the ordinary back stitch. At least I thought it was ordinary. But a while ago I talked with someone who always used mattress stitch and didn’t know how to do the back stitch. For her, and others who have never back stitched their knitting together, I’ve sewn a part of the side seam with a contrasting thread and taken pictures.

Mattress stitch is worked from the outside. It is very precise and best for very delicate knitting and for matching up stripes. Back stitch is much faster and works well for anything else. It is worked on the wrong side of the knitted fabric. First everything is pinned together with the right sides together.

(My pins come from the chemist’s and are meant for fastening old-fashioned hair rollers.)

It’s very simple, really, but not so easy to put into words. I hope the picture below is clear enough.

Back stitch is worked from right to left, holding the edges of the fabrics up. What you do is, basically:

  • Insert your needle from nearside to far side about 0.5 cm/¼ inch to the right from where the thread came up,
  • *Insert the needle from far side to near side about twice the distance to the left.
  • Pull the yarn through and insert the needle from near side to far side again through the same hole where the yarn originally came up* (where the vertical white thread is in the picture)
  • Repeat from * to *.

It gives a neat seam on the outside and looks like this on the inside:

I hope this is clear. If not, there is a good video here on YouTube.

After sewing on the buttons the cardigan is all finished. The pattern I used is the Quintessential Cardigan by the Churchmouse design team – a simple, classic cardi with great attention to detail. An elegant neckline, neat button bands, a few short rows at the hem, nicely sloping shoulders and well-fitting armholes.

The yarn I used is Lana Grossa ‘EcoPuno’. It looks warm and woolly, but actually is 72% cotton. The other 28 percent is a mixture of merino and alpaca. It does not stand up very well to unravelling, but other than that it was a nice enough yarn to knit with. The ‘Eco’ suggests that it is (partly) organic, but the ball band or the manufacturer’s website do not say anything about that.

It is an airy, lightweight yarn and the entire cardi in the size I made (finished bust size 99 cm/39”) weighs only 270 grams. Here it is in its entirety:

It was a lovely cardi to knit and I can see myself making more of these in different colours and yarns.

I had great difficulty capturing the colour in my photos. In some it looked purple, in others almost fuchsia. In real life it is the colour of the darkest leaves on this farm building that we often pass on our walks.

A beautiful deep burgundy.

Talking about this burgundy colour reminds me of something else – an unmatched pair of Gazelle Mitts. I knit many of these mitts before I was completely satisfied with the design.

The one on the left is the final version, before I knit the ones that ended up in the pattern. The one on the right is a discarded version that is ever so slightly different. Can you spot the differences?

I think I’ll unravel that and reknit it to make a matching pair. They’ll make a nice December gift.

With that we’ve come to the end of today’s looooong blog post. As always, thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend!

Mindfulness Moment

Hello!

No knitting talk this week, I’m afraid. I didn’t get round to writing the post I had planned. Inspired by BBC’s Spring, Autumn and Winter Watch, I’m giving you a Mindfulness Moment instead.

The BBC started with these Mindfulness Moments during the 2020 lockdown – 90-second nature videos with in their words ‘No music, no commentary – just the beautiful sights and sounds of nature.’

In my case it isn’t a video but photos, and you’ll have imagine the sounds yourself (hints: not a breath of wind, chestnuts plopping down, a woodpecker hammering on a tree, a buzzard crying overhead, small birds twittering in the tree tops). But the general idea is the same – no talk, just an autumn walk.

I hope you enjoyed that. I’ll do my utmost to be back with a cosy, colourful, chatty knitting-filled post next week. Take care! xxx

Easing into Autumn

Hello,

Here, in the Netherlands, we’re easing into autumn. This past week some days have been VERY wet and a little windy, but other days were so mild and sunny that it was easy to forget that it is October. The trees still have their leaves and the globe thistle in our garden is forming new flowers. 

The acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts are telling us that it really is autumn, though. We’ve reaped most of the walnuts and hazelnuts now, and I’ve even collected some of the green outer husks of the walnuts for a friend.

They’re waiting in the freezer until the next time we’re seeing each other. She is going to use them to make ink.

I like bringing a little of the seasons inside, too. This is the windowsill in our hallway.

Seashells and beach glass have made room for chestnuts, candles and two autumn ladies having a chat.

I made them from felt years ago. They are stuffed with wool and wear acorn caps on their thick woolly auburn hair. One of them is also carrying a basket made from an acorn cap, the other lady has mislaid hers.

There used to be a shop near here selling kits for felt figures like these as well as materials for Waldorf dolls. It was called Niels Holgersson, after the boy from the Swedish story, and was a wonderful fairy tale kind of place. Unfortunately for people in the region the shop has closed. Fortunately for the rest of the world, they now have an Etsy shop.

There is also a small felt fox on the windowsill. It is only around 7 cm/2¾” tall and sewn together with tiny stitches.

I have lost my patience for these fiddly felt projects somewhere along the way. I really, really hope to find it again someday.

The windowsill in our living room is less autumnal, but does have a few candles as well as a glass bowl holding two autumn-flowering colchicum bulbs – a gift from my ink-making friend. They do not need to be planted in soil indoors. I just placed them on some sand with a few attractive pebbles for decoration. After they have finished flowering, I’ll plant them out in the garden.

Something else that tells us that it’s autumn is the last of the farmers’ markets. There was a new stall there, selling bulbs. No colchicums, but tulips and daffodils.

It was lovely strolling around and chatting with the stall holders. We won’t be seeing them over the next six months. The tea lady is one of my favourites. She sells loose teas and herbs as well as blends she creates herself – all organic.

I love the cast-iron teapots on her stall, in a mix of shapes, sizes and decorations and a rainbow of colours.

The tea lady is a very colourful person in a stylish way and kindly allowed me to photograph her beautiful armful of bracelets to show you here.

We arrived back home with a good supply of teas for ourselves and for gifts, some other groceries and two new sets of tea and hand towels – simple, useful, cheerful.

On the knitting front, my Striped Linen Stitch wrap, with 400+ stitches per row, is growing very slowly.

(The bunches of yarn along the side are going to be a fringe.)

The cardi for our daughter, on the other hand, is growing quickly. I’ve taken it outside, because there isn’t always enough light indoors for taking pictures at this time of year.

Back and fronts are finished, the first sleeve is almost finished, and the cuff of the second sleeve is also finished and waiting on a holder.

Our daughter is a tall girl, and I’ve added 7.5 cm/3” to the body of the cardi. That means that the right front needed more buttonholes. The stitch markers in the left front are there to mark the places for the buttons and the corresponding holes. I’m also making the sleeves longer but not wider, and that means spacing out the increases (preferably evenly) over the sleeve, and that means a lot of maths.

I now notice that I wrote these notes in Dutch. Sometimes I think in English and sometimes in Dutch, and am not always aware of which I use when.

Well, that’s all for today. Whether you are also easing into autumn or are moving into spring, I hope you’re well and hope to see you again soon. Tot gauw!

Soothing Sachets

Hello! Well, everything went more or less according to plan this week, so here are the lavender sachets I promised you last week. I call them Soothing Sachets, because lavender is not just known for its moth repellent qualities, but also for its soothing scent.

The ones in the basket above are still scenting our home. But they won’t be doing so for much longer, because they are meant for gifts. Let me show them one by one.

This is the first one I made, after several discarded attempts. It is very simple, from self-striping sock yarn.

It closes with a button. Because of the way the sachet is constructed, the stripes are twice as wide compared to a sock.

It was fun rummaging through my button box for just the right button.

All of the sachets use the same basic pattern. The next one is also very simple – colour blocks with a thin asymmetrically placed contrasting stripe.

The stripe is repeated in the button band.

Together with a box of calming herb tea, it’ll make a nice gift for a friend going through a stressful time. It is made from a combination of beautiful plant-dyed mini skeins.

The one below was made from some ordinary mottled sock yarn. A few stripes and garter ridges make it perfect for tucking under a sporty person’s pillow.

In this way even the smallest yarn scraps can be used.

For the next one, I again used colour blocks – this time embellished with a few tiny buttons…

… to match the mother-of-pearl button on the back.

Just the thing for someone’s lingerie drawer, I think. I made it from some of the tiny balls of yarn left over from my first ever published pattern – Tellina.

The Tellina cowl itself would also be a great project for using up some yarn remnants or mini skeins. It can be found here on Ravelry.

The Soothing Sachets have a fabric lining, sewn from small pieces of cotton fabric. No need to buy anything specially – any thin cotton will do, as long as it’s a colour that doesn’t show through the knitting. I used bits of an old pillowcase.

Making a lining sachet may be a bit of a pain for some, I thought, so I tried leaving it out and stuffing a knitted sachet with unspun wool with some lavender in the middle.

It is an option, but I don’t like the result as much as the lined version – its shape is less crisp and its scent is too faint to my liking.

So, why not knit a few first and then spend a cosy afternoon with the sewing machine on the dining table, and all other tools and notions needed at hand, to finish them all in one go?

Finally, here is my Pièce de Résistance 😉. Again made from self-striping sock yarn, but this time with a duplicate stitch heart on the front…

… and corrugated ribbing for the buttonhole band.

Won’t that make a nice gift for a beloved child? (Caution: Sew the button on very securely, or for small children leave it off and close the entire opening.)

Some of you reading this will be receiving one of these small scented gifts in the near future. My gift to the rest of you is the pattern (in English and Dutch). It contains instructions for knitting (including the corrugated ribbing) and finishing the sachet as well as a heart chart.

Click here for the free Ravelry download.

These Soothing Sachets are simple things, but with a bit of creativity they can become great little gifts. Have fun!

PS. Remember to make a few for yourself, too – to tuck under your pillow and keep the moths away from your knitting and spinning baskets.