A Walk, Some Talk and Chocolate Eggs

Hello! And how are you all doing? Gliding along tranquilly, like this swan? Paddling frantically to stay afloat? Or something in between? For me, it’s something in between at the moment – rather busy, but there is still time to write a blog post. And we’ve also been for a relaxing walk on Sunday.

This time in the wetlands of Weerribben-Wieden National Park. On the whole, the area is more suitable for canoeing or cycling, but there are a few lovely walking routes.

Later in the year, there will be orchids, butterflies, waterlilies and dragonflies to admire. Now, it is mainly the landscape itself that draws the eye…

… although the lily leaves are starting to surface.

It’s also a great place for bird watching. My camera isn’t really suitable for bird pics, but I did get a nice one of a group of greylag geese with goslings. Can you see the fluffy little things?

While we’re strolling along, there is something I need to get off my chest. I hope last week’s post wasn’t painful for any of you. I realize that some of you may have longed for children or grandchildren, but didn’t get them and will never have them. Please know that I never take these things for granted. I’ll write about our grandson and the things I make for him from time to time, because he is part of my life now. But I promise not to bombard you with baby stuff, and to continue writing about walks and cycle tours, nature and gardens, all kinds of other things that may be of interest, and last but not least knitting.

Speaking of knitting, there isn’t a lot to show you right now. Just the start of my pink Morbihan. It colour-coordinates nicely with the book I’m reading.

Disappearing into a fantasy world for a while now and then helps me cope with the real one better. I love Juliet Marillier’s books because of the interesting characters and plots, the fascinating worlds the author creates, and the fact that these novels are nice and fat and often part of a series good for many hours of reading. (Veel van haar boeken zijn ook in het NL vertaald; zie hier.)

My week has been extra busy because I have been helping out at our daughter’s place after the maternity nurse left – a real privilege.

The new parents had an unwelcome visitor during this special time – Covid-19. They’ve been so careful to avoid infection, and then, on the morning of the delivery our SIL tested positive, and several days later our DD did, too. He probably caught it at work. Fortunately he was allowed to be present at the birth, fortunately they both had hardly any symptoms, and fortunately we have all had our jabs and boosters.

But in spite of all that, for some people the virus still isn’t cat’s piss, to use an elegant Dutch expression. So the professionals around them wore protective clothing from head to toe. And we need to keep a safe distance and wear face masks. To be on the safe side, I take a test before meeting other people. So far, I’ve tested negative – that’s positive.

Now, time for some chocolate eggs. What flavour would you like? I can recommend the dark chocolate ones with advocaat (my favourites with Dutch egg liqueur), but there is also toffee coffee, chai crisp, chocolate mousse, butterscotch, caramel…

Whether you’re celebrating Easter or not, I wish you a lovely weekend!

The Stork has Landed

Hello!

Good news! The stork has landed and brought our daughter and her husband a sweet little baby boy.

First and foremost, I’m immensely grateful that, apart from a few start-up problems, mother and baby are doing well. I’m also flooded with tenderness for this tiny human being, very happy for his mum and dad, looking forward to getting to know my grandson, worried about his future, hopeful that he’ll have a good life and determined to be the best grandmother I can.

Where do the storks get the babies from, I wonder. Fish them up?

Thanks to a reintroduction program, these graceful birds have become a common sight around here. And sometimes even a nuisance. It isn’t because they deliver too many babies, certainly not in our family. It’s to do with the places they choose to build their nests.

Last week I was at the library when suddenly the lights went out, together with the computer terminals, the electric doors and, as it turned out, electricity in the entire town and surrounding villages. After rummaging around in the dark for a while the librarian found the key to the emergency exit (!?!) and we were able to get out (phew!). What had caused this power cut? Storks building a nest on a power pylon and setting it on fire!

Photo: Steenwijker Courant

We’ve already had the privilege of paying the new earthling a brief visit, bearing gifts for his first 10 days (they didn’t all fit into this basket).

The first one will have been unwrapped by now, so I think I can safely show it here – a nice and warm coat knit with much love for our grandson…

… with buttons with the best ever message for a baby coat: Welkom kleine ukkepuk (welcome little one). (Excellent pattern here.)

It will come in handy in a month that is like spring one day…

…and like winter the next.

I feel a bit bad about the stork story above, because it isn’t doing our daughter justice. Supported by the baby’s father, she has done all the hard work. But I think they know how proud I am of them and will be able to appreciate a bit of folklore.

Well, that was my news for this week. Thanks for reading and lots of love!

Cherry Blossom and Magnolia

Hello!

Thinking about a simple, portable knitting project I could start straightaway, I remembered a bag of mini-skeins stashed away for just such a thing. Lovely 25-gram skeins in a gradient of pinks, from a deep rose to the palest of petal pinks.

It’s too early in the year to find the darker shades of pink in gardens and parks. This is the season of the paler pinks. Most trees are still bare around here, but many ornamental cherries around our village are in full bloom. Very romantic with their frothy cloud of blossoms.

From close up the flowers look almost white, while the buds are a lovely shade of pink.

And then there are the magnolias. Oh, so utterly beautiful. There are all kinds of fancy varieties around, including pure white ones, but for me the most beautiful magnolias of all, are the ‘ordinary’ ones with the pink-and-white flowers. From a distance the general impression is pale pink.

But from close up – Oh la la, what a beautiful magnolia!

Well, back to the yarn of the mini-skeins. That’s what started all this talk about shades of pink, after all. It is John Arbon’s Knit By Numbers yarn, organically farmed 4-ply Merino. Each of the colours of this yarn is available in 6 shades, from dark to light, and there are over 100 shades in total.

The interesting thing about this yarn is that it is not dyed in these shades, but blended. Coloured top is blended with increasing percentages of white wool to make lighter and lighter shades.

Taking the palest of my mini-skeins as an example, it is just as with looking at the blossoming trees. The general impression is pale pink, but looking more closely you can see the marled effect: there is pink, white and even some grey in it.

John Arbon Textiles is a small-scale spinning mill using refurbished old machinery, located close to Exmoor in North Devon. Apart from yarns, they also produce tops for spinning. And once a year, they publish their informative and funny Annual.

It is filled with information about their yarns and tops, patterns, stories, cartoons and puzzles.

I always feel slightly uncomfortable talking about yarn brands, shops etc. It’s as if I’ve been hired to promote them, which I’m not. I just want to share information that may be of interest to other knitters and spinners. Several years ago, we spent a summer holiday in Devon and camped close to John Arbon Textiles without knowing they were there! I wish someone had shared the information with me so I could have visited them.

Fortunately there is always the internet. I’ll give you a link to their website at the end of this post. But before you zap away from my blog, I’ll quickly show you what I’m going to knit from the pink mini-skeins. A pink version of Morbihan, a shawl I first designed for a different yarn in a gradient of blues. This is the original.

The pattern can be found here on Ravelry. I’ll show you what it looks like in pink when I’ve made some progress. Finally, as promised, here is the link to the John Arbon Textiles website.

Enjoy your weekend!

Squirrel Nutkin

Hello!

“This is a tale about a tail—a tail that belonged to a little red squirrel, and his name was Nutkin.” That is how Beatrix Potter began The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. It was what I thought of when choosing yarn for a baby set in a colour called… Nutkin!

It really is the same warm reddish brown as a red squirrel’s coat. The other reason for choosing this colour was that the parents-to-be have indicated a preference for natural/undyed, green and brown for baby things.

During the weekend and every evening, I knit, knit, knit… and finished the complete set within a week. These are only wee things after all.

Some of the things I’m making will remain a surprise until after the baby is born, but I’m giving them this set beforehand. It looks deceptively easy all in stocking and garter stitch, but certainly isn’t for novice knitters.

I had some trouble keeping track of the different increases and the button holes at the same time. I also had some difficulty with the place where the sleeves meet the fronts and back. To be honest, I was unable to prevent fairly large holes from appearing no matter how hard I tried and had to cheat a little to close them. The ears on the hat were not easy to get right, and the bootees were a bit fiddly.

The patterns ask for double pointed needles in three different sizes. I didn’t have all of those, so used circular needles and the magic loop method for the hat and bootees.

They take some patience and concentration, but all in all, these are very nice little projects. (All of them can be found here on Ravelry.) What I like most of all are the small pointy ears on the hat – they really look a lot like Squirrel Nutkin’s ears.

Last autumn, a red squirrel visited our garden every day. We have lots of hazel bushes bordering our garden, and we watched it burying hazel nuts all through our garden and our neighbours’ for weeks on end. Now, when it is time to dig them up and eat them, we don’t so much as catch a glimpse of the squirrel. But we do see the empty nutshells it leaves behind.

Not all of the nuts were eaten by the squirrel, though. I’ve collected some and tried to find out who made which holes. These halved ones were 100% certain cracked open by an adult squirrel:

At first I thought that the ones with the oval holes were all left behind by the great spotted woodpecker:

But looking more closely, I’m not so certain anymore. Some of them look pecked out with a sharp beak, but others (like the one on the right) clearly have tooth marks around them. Hmmm… A young squirrel perhaps? How long does it take for a squirrel to become an adult? Or could it have been a mouse?

And then there are those with small round holes drilled into them:

I haven’t been able to find out whose marks these are yet. Some kind of insect? There is so much I don’t know.

Red squirrels have become fairly rare in our surroundings over the years. We do not see them very often. But last week, my husband was lucky and saw no less than four of them on one walk, twice two together. This is one of the pictures he took:

In appearance it looks a lot like the squirrels in Beatrix Potter’s lovely pictures, but in behaviour not so much. I can’t see this one carrying hazelnuts in sacks, or rafting on a lake using its tail as a sail.

I only discovered Beatrix Potter’s delightful tales as a teenager. Did you grow up with her stories? Which one is your favourite?

Baby Things, Worries and Hope

Hello!

March is giving us many gloriously sunshiny days this year. The weather seems very much at odds with the world news. But the sun will shine, regardless of what we’re up to down here on Planet Earth.

I’ve used some of these sunny days to wash baby things. I’ve given most of our daughter’s clothes and other stuff away, but kept some, too. After nearly three decades in the attic they’d become rather musty. Now, after a wash and a day in the sun and the wind, all sweet-smelling and neatly folded, they are ready and waiting for her baby.

I’ve been busy knitting, as well. When I first thought of publishing some of my designs on Ravelry, I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:

‘But if I become a Ravelry designer, does that mean that I can never knit from a pattern anymore? In that case, I’d rather not.’ ‘Don’t be silly. Of course you can continue knitting from patterns!’ ‘Oh, that’s a relief! Because, you know, there are so many beautiful designs around. And it’s just so nice when someone else does all the thinking, swatching and maths for you.’

At the moment, I’m knitting from this booklet – Bloom at Rowan:

It contains 11 designs by Erika Knight – baby things, garments for mums-to-be, a crochet blanket and a simple shawl. I’m knitting a cardigan called Little Lamb, and have even chosen the same yarn and colour used in the pattern.

Terribly uncreative, but so very nice and relaxing. I’m going to knit the matching hat (with ears!) and bootees as well.

Meanwhile I’m also working on a baby design of my own. Here is a peek. More about it when it’s finished (which may take a while.)

While I’m knitting for our first grandchild, I’m beset with worries. No need to spell them out, I think.

A group of Ukrainian refugees is now staying in a holiday accommodation near us. (Interestingly, the same accommodation housed a group of Russian refugees from 1945-1947.) There is a special fund to provide them with everything they need, and we are asked to contribute by buying some of these ‘drops’:

A donation often feels like a drop in the ocean, but in this case I know it really helps. I hope these people will feel safe and welcome here. More information about this small initiative here.

Speaking of hope – I’m reading this:

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams. (NL titel: Het boek van hoop: levenslessen voor een mooiere toekomst)

I haven’t finished reading it, so can’t write review, but here are a few quotes:

  • ‘Hope is often misunderstood. People tend to think that it is simply passive wishful thinking: I hope something will happen but I’m not going to do anything about it. This is indeed the opposite of real hope, which requires action and engagement.’
  • ‘Hope is contagious. Your actions will inspire others.’
  • ‘…millions of drops actually make the ocean.’

Hope to see you again next week!

How to Design Your Own Sweater

Hello!

Instead of just showing you the cardigan I’ve designed and knit for our daughter, I thought it might be more interesting to tell you how I did it.

There are many approaches to designing things, of course. This is merely my simple, practical way for designing a sweater knit from the bottom-up in pieces sewn together later. I’ve developed this method over the years and have tried to summarize it in 10 (hopefully easy to follow) steps. So, here we go.

How to Design Your Own Sweater in 10 Steps:

1 – Decide what you’re going to make
For whom would you like to knit a sweater: For yourself? A loved one?
What type of sweater would you like to make: A pullover? A cardigan? A summer top?

2 – Take measurements and draw a diagram
Find a garment with approximately the fit you’re looking for and measure:

  • Chest width
  • Length
  • Armhole
  • Neck width and depth
  • Width at shoulders
  • Sleeve length
  • Sleeve circumference at wrist
  • Any other things you think may be useful

The chest/shoulder/armhole part is the most important. The rest is easy to adapt. Draw a diagram incorporating these measurements. It doesn’t need to be to scale, it’s just for your own reference. This is mine:

3 – Think about what you want and draw another diagram
Things to consider are:

  • Silhouette: straight, A-line, waist-shaping, tapered etc
  • Body length: cropped, hip-length, tunic
  • Sleeve length and shape
  • Neckline: V-neck, round neck, boat neck, turtle neck, shawl collar etc
  • Details: buttons, pockets, stitch pattern, ribbing or no ribbing…

Add any relevant measurements to your new diagram.

Tip: If you have never designed anything before, keep it simple. If you have a little experience, you could set yourself a challenge. I used a very simple armhole and sleeve cap:

And gave myself the challenge of adding a cable, flowing from the ribbing at the bottom and into the neckband.

Another challenge I set myself was matching the ribbing of front and back so that the seam would be near invisible.

4 – Choose your yarn and work out approximately how much you’ll need
If you’re an experienced knitter you’ll probably have some idea. It also helps to look at other people’s projects from the same yarn on Ravelry. Find a few similar garments in a similar size and check how much they took. Then add some extra for swatches and to be on the safe side.

Note: I did it the other way around: Fell in love with the yarn first and bought a generous quantity. Far too generous as it turns out. Never mind – it only means that I have enough left for a hat and a scarf.

5 – Swatch
a – First swatch to decide what needle size you’re going to use: how open, drapey or dense do you prefer your knitted fabric for this project? Knit generous swatches – aim for at least 12 x 12 cm/5 x 5”. Wash your swatches and leave them to dry flat, or block and/or press them, just like you intend to treat your finished sweater.
b – Then knit more swatches. This time in different stitch patterns and ribbings you might want to use. Again wash/block/press them.

6 – Decision time
Decide what needle size(s) and pattern stitch(es) you’re going to use, how wide your ribbings and button bands (if any) will be, exactly what your neckline is going to look like, where any pockets will be placed etc. Add details to your diagram if you think that will be helpful.

7 – Start knitting the back
Using your swatches, calculate how many stitches you need to cast on. Do you need to increase or decrease for, say, an A-line or waist shaping? Write down everything you do and keep your notes together. It isn’t necessary to work everything out beforehand. You can think about the armhole, neck and shoulders while knitting.

8 – Do the maths for the front(s)
If you’re designing a cardigan with button bands, make sure they overlap. Work any buttonholes in the second front. Think deep about your neckline, and work out how to get what you want.

9 – Work out the sleeves
How long? How many rows to armhole? How many stitches do you start with? How many do you need at the armhole? Spread the increases out over the length.

10 – Work out and knit the final details
Now all you need to do is wash, block and/or press your pieces and seam everything together. Add button bands (if not incorporated), patch pockets, neckband etc.

There, all done!

Starting from a deep green, finely knit, shop-bought V-neck pullover, I arrived at a fawn, chunky, hand-knit cardigan with a round neck and cables along the fronts.

It does not fit over our daughter’s already impressive bump, but will keep her back and shoulders warm.

With quite a few weeks to go, how much more will that belly grow?

Well, I hope this all makes sense. Do you sometimes design your own sweaters, too? Is your method very different from mine? If you’ve never designed anything yet, why not give it a try? Your sweater may not turn out perfect or exactly how you envisioned it, but it will be uniquely yours.

What Can We Do?

Hello!

I really wanted to write a warm and fuzzy post about knitting, but with everything that’s going on I can’t. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, I’m holding my breath and my mind is working overtime. Some of the things that popped up in my mind were images from an earlier visit to the Dutch Open Air Museum. What have they got to do with anything? Please bear with me.

The photo above shows the interior of a 1950s/1960s post office in the museum. Stepping inside, I’m a child again, queueing for I-don’t-know-what with Mum, looking up in awe at the high, high ceiling.

Oh, how I’d love to work here later, using those wonderful stamps all day – pomPOM, pomPOM!

It was an unexpected wave of nostalgia – I had all but forgotten about this childhood ambition.

The Open Air Museum is an amazing place. The old houses and other buildings are lovely.

And it’s very interesting to look at household utensils and tools from different periods.

But it’s the things from more recent times that really evoke strong feelings of nostalgia for me, like the living-room from the 1970s. The photo isn’t great because it was taken through a window, but it gives an impression: A woman in a maxi dress, that special seventies design style, and everything in brown and orange.

This No Nukes poster was the most unexpected item to push my nostalgia button. It whooshed me right back to the huge peace protests of the early 1980s. We were dreaming of a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.

And look at where we are now, in 2022. I feel shocked and abhorred by what is happening in Ukraine, and the return of nuclear threat.

I heard a Ukrainian woman living in the Netherlands say on the news, ‘We don’t need your concern, we need your help.’ I never got to work in a post office, but I didn’t become a world leader either. What can we, ordinary citizens, do?

The Open Air Museum houses a small exhibition about knitting for the war effort in 1914. Nobody in their right mind would feel nostalgic about WWI, but at least knitters could make a real difference. The newspaper article below calls on the women and girls of the town of Zeist to knit socks for soldiers, preferably dark grey.

From what I’ve read, I know that these socks and other knitted items were not just a great comfort, but a real help too. Woollen socks could even help prevent a serious condition like trench foot.

In the US literally millions of items were knit and shipped to Europe under the auspices of the Red Cross (interesting article here).

Now, again, the Red Cross is asking us to help – this time not by knitting, but by donating to them or other reliable organizations giving medical and humanitarian aid. More information can be found on the websites of the Dutch Red Cross, the international Red Cross or the Dutch Cooperating Aid Organizations at Giro 555.

Let’s do(nate) what we can. And let’s not forget to breathe and to appreciate the good things in life.

Take care, dear friends.

Snowdrops, Storms and Cables

Hello!

It’s snowdrop season! A garden I sometimes pass, is carpeted with them.

We have only small clumps here and there.

Maybe they’ll grow out to a carpet, too, over the years. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? For now, I’m very happy with the ones we have dotted through the garden. I just love their beautiful little bells.

But it’s not just snowdrop season. It is also aconite season.

And iris season. We have yellow and blue miniature irises. The yellow ones are a little later, but the blue ones are in full bloom already. They are especially beautiful looked at from above.

Apart from the snowdrops, everything is earlier than normal this year. We haven’t had any real winter at all, and it feels strange to see so many flowers in the garden already. Compared to the 1950s spring arrives three weeks earlier now, according to Nature Today.

It’s crocus season, too. This is a photo I took last week:

And this is what they look like after triplet storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin raged across the country.

Especially Eunice was fierce, but we do not live close to the coast and it wasn’t as bad here as in the north and west, where it killed four people. Although the solar panels on our roof rattled dangerously, they stayed put. The strong gusts tore tiles from other people’s roofs, though, and toppled quite a few trees.

Some weeks the words flow easily from my keyboard, other weeks they do not. This is a week in the latter category. The seasickness-without-having-been-on-a-boat has gone, but my head is still tired and achy, like having a hangover-without-having-had-any-alcohol. It is also filled with worries about the storm hitting Eastern Europe.

How can I write about snowdrops and knitting at a time like this? But then again, maybe these humble little, peaceful things are more important than ever. So here is a report on my progress on the knitting front.

Remember the cardigan I’m designing and knitting for our daughter? (I wrote about it here.) After some initial swatching and brainstorming, I swatched some more and this is the winning swatch:

I scribbled down notes during the process.

The back was simply knit in stocking stitch. I added a cable to the front, next to the button band, but underestimated how much narrower the cable would be compared to the same number of stitches in stocking stitch. I should have made a larger swatch. Almost at the armhole, I realized that the front would be too narrow and the button bands wouldn’t overlap.

So I ripped the whole thing out, cast on a few more stitches and started again.

This is my favourite type of cable needle. Its V-shape holds the stitches really well, and it is easy to manipulate.

I’m halfway through the second front now, and have good hopes to have the entire cardigan finished by next week. Or am I being too optimistic? Anyhow, I hope to see you again next week. Bye!

Little Red Riding Hood or Grandmother

Hello!

As soon as I saw these sheep, huddled together in a field, I realized that something was wrong. They looked distressed. Looking into the distance, I saw the reason why. Oh no! A dead sheep, and the owner and somebody else looking upset, searching for something. Tracks? Other evidence of the culprit?

Only DNA-testing can tell whether this sheep was killed by a wolf or a dog, but chances are that it was a wolf. We hear about sheep being killed by wolves around here on a weekly basis now.

For the people who lived here long before us, those who built the impressive megalithic burial monuments called hunebedden, wolves must have been a fact of life to be reckoned with.

But for us, in the 21st century it’s a phenomenon we’re not familiar with. There haven’t been any wolves here for at least 120 years. And now, all of a sudden the wolf is back! Arriving here from Eastern Europe via Germany, the wolf is supposed to eat roedeer, rabbits and other furry creatures. But it isn’t playing by the rules, because why waste energy chasing a meal that runs away fast when there is so much juicy mutton to be had with far less effort?

I’m talking of ‘it’ and ‘the wolf’, but it is uncertain how many there really are in this area. There is at least one, probably a couple, and maybe even a third. This newcomer is certainly causing a lively discussion. Some people are thrilled, while others are of the opinion that there is no place for wolves in this small, densely populated country.

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I think, who are we to decide who or what is to live in this corner of the world? We are happy that the raven is back. We are happy that the otter is back. And we are happy that the badger is back. There are badger trails everywhere nowadays – zooming in, you should be able to see their paw prints.

Shouldn’t we be happy about the wolf being back as well?

On the other hand, when I hear of a wolf jogging past a playground full of playing children in broad daylight in the village where a friend of mine with school-going children lives, well, I don’t know…. How dangerous are they?

It is hard to imagine these otherwise peaceful surroundings being populated by packs of wolves in the future. Will guests of this Bed & Breakfast hear them howling at night in a few years’ time?

I’m fairly certain that the Highlands belonging to the B&B owners will be able to defend themselves with their fierce horns.

But how about me? I have no idea what to do if I were to come face-to-face with a wolf. Take photographs? Hide behind a tree? Call in my own personal superhero, ‘HELP! DO something, shoo it away!’?

Or strike up a conversation like Little Red Riding Hood?

Inside, I still feel like Little Red Riding Hood, but to all intents and purposes I’m becoming more like her grandmother by the day. In fact, I am becoming a grandmother this spring. And I may even need hearing aids before long.

Ménière’s disease is affecting my hearing. Although I’m still managing in everyday life, I can’t hear the little birds high up in the trees anymore. Fortunately I do not have the dizzy spells that go with it very often, but I’ve recently had one.

It wasn’t so bad this time that I’m in bed. And it’s never bad enough for me to be wearing a frilly cap.

It does mean that I need to take some rest and limit my screen time. So if you’ve posted a gorgeous FO on Ravelry or published a great blogpost and haven’t heard from me, please know that it isn’t because I’m not interested.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time quietly knitting, but had to rip out almost as much as I knit because my brain wasn’t functioning properly. Awooo! No, I wasn’t really howling like wolf. I thought, oh, well, we all have times like these and hope to show you some progress next week.

Stay safe! xxx

Grou Yarn Shop

Hello!

Another little outing, today. This time, I’m taking you along to the Frisian village of Grou (rhymes with ‘now’), where I grew up. It is situated on a lake. In summer you won’t be able to see the lake for the boats, but now it’s deserted.

A cormorant sits hunched moodily on a mooring post, its feet clamped around the top. I know how you feel mate. I have days like that too, only not today.

Today, I’m happy to be in these familiar surroundings. Today, I have some time to stroll around and visit a yarn shop!

The village has changed a lot since I was a child here, but the old centre has remained largely the same, with everything built closely together.

The 12th Century church and the surrounding narrow streets and alleys with not-quite-as-old houses form the most picturesque part of the village. (I grew up in a considerably less picturesque part.)

The houses here are small, some even tiny, but very attractive.

Long ago there was a yarn shop in one of the houses around the church, the one with the red roof tiles and red brick front on the left in the photo below.

Later there was a yarn shop here, on the central square, where there is now a men’s hair salon (left of the striped barber pole).

When the owner retired, she asked my mum if she’d like to take over. Unfortunately, my dad vetoed it. I think mum would have loved it, and I would have loved helping around the shop.

After years without one, Grou got a new yarn shop in October 2020. Not an easy time to start, with a lockdown soon after the opening and another one recently. But Van Draad, as it is called, survived the ups and downs of the past two years and here we are:

It is a fairly small shop, but there is room for a cosy table where knitting circles and workshops will be held in the future, I expect. (The shops are open again, but under the current restrictions it isn’t possible for groups to gather in such small spaces.)

There is a wall of colourful yarns that is a joy to look at.

Here is a close-up of some pinks and purples.

There are swatches tucked in among the yarns here and there.

And on top of the wall of yarn is a sweater with a beautiful cable down the centre, knit from 4 very thin threads of alpaca held together (Lang ‘Alpaca Super Light’)

In a corner by the window there is a tempting display of laceweight mohair yarn (Katia Concept ’50 shades of mohair’). It’s like a knitter’s box of crayons.

No fancy hand-dyed yarns here, but a great selection of good quality, affordable yarns from Lang, Katia and Scheepjes, as well as books, magazines, needles, tools and accessories. I feel very much at home in this shop, I have to say, all thanks to Sytske, the very friendly and welcoming owner.

Q: Are all yarn shops in the Netherlands so lovely and their owners friendly? It looks like that from your blog. Or are you making things up?
A: No, not all yarn shops here are wonderful places. I just don’t write about the ones I don’t like. I’m not sponsored to say nice things either, so what you see and read here is honestly how I experienced it.

I took loads more pictures, but think this will have to do for now. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, do pay Sytske a visit. Her website – with address, opening hours and webshop – can be found here.

Oh, and did I buy anything? Yes, I did – small quantities of 4-ply cotton and merino wool for baby things.

Oant sjen! (Frisian for See you!)