100% Wol

Hellooo! How wonderful that you’ve come all the way to the Frisian Museum of Agriculture to visit us!

Eh, well, we eh…

Moo, yes wonderful! I love telling visitors all about ourselves and our legendairy milk production.

Wel, eh, that sounds udderly fascinating…

…but we’re a bunch of knitters and spinners, and we’re actually here today for your colleagues the sheep, and the 100% Wol exhibition.

Baa, did I hear someone say sheep? Welcome!

I’m more than happy to tell ewe about ourselves and especially our wool.

Happy? We thought it’d be all gloom and doom, what with your wool ending up in waste incinerators or being shipped off to China as a waste product.

Oh, that! Yes, that’s too baad. But in the grand scheme of things it’s just a temporary blip. Think of all those centuries that our wool was a highly valuable commodity. We have a few items from the past here that’ll give you an idea.

There’s this interesting teasel brush, used to raise the nap on woollen cloth. So much care was taken for a perfect finish.

And here are some spindle stones from the 15th to 18th centuries. It must have taken so much time to spin our wool this way. People wouldn’t have put all this time and effort into it unless they thought the end product was really worth it.

A lot of care has also gone into knitting these woollen mittens. And they were valuable enough to the wearer to repair them time and again.

There were a few decades when people thought importing synthetic items from low-wage countries was better than using our fleeces, but let’s forget about those. Let’s look at the great initiatives now being taken using local wool.

To begin with, there’s this movement called Pleed that started with making woollen blankets and is now branching out into other projects.

And look at this wall of new products, all using our lovely fleeces.

There’s also been an experiment using locally grown woad to dye wool blue. You may already have heard about it.

And many more great initiatives are being taken. Just look around and you’ll see that the future is looking bright for us and our coats.

All’s wool that ends wool, we always say. Do come again – we have lots of woolly activities scheduled.

Or for those living too far away, there’s also a virtual tour of the museum. Thank ewe so much for your visit – it’s been such fun! Baa-bye!

Textile Cycle Tours 2

Hello, and welcome to the second day at the Weerribben Textile Festival!

Looking through the many, many photographs I’ve taken, making a selection was again a struggle. There were so many beautiful and interesting things to see. In the end, I’ve chosen to focus on the items that have made the most surprising use of materials.

Before we head off, here’s a picture to give you an idea of the landscape we’re cycling through.

We’re on the edges of the Weerribben National Park. It’s my ordinary, everyday landscape of farmland surrounded by hedgerows and small plots of woodland.

The first location we’re visiting is a gallery housed here:

Inside are multiple items by Atelier Vuurwater, a collaboration between a ceramist and a textile artist. You’ve already seen the bowls they call barstjes (cracks) at the top – cracked black raku-fired ceramic with a blue felt lining. And here are two of their urns in the same unusual combination of materials.

There are also several works solely by the textile-artist-half of this duo, Miriam Verbeek. These use only one material (felt), but in a very interesting way. They resemble old black-and-white photographs, but because of the way the felt has been manipulated they give the impression of fading, just like memories fade.

One of the nice things about cycling from location to location is that it prevents what is sometimes called ‘museum fatigue’. At our next stop, there’s this intriguing combination of acorn caps, organza, lycra, glue, wood, cardboard in a work called ‘Golden Days’ by Godelieve Spee.

It is accompanied by a poetic text about autumn and the changing of the seasons.

The next exhibit, by Janny Mensen (no website), uses different materials and techniques again: photographs transferred onto wood overlaid with embroidery. Studying it closely it looks to me like a naked female form in some sort of yoga pose, but I may be wrong. I like how the embroidery stitches resemble pine needles.

Well, time for some lunch. There are no cafés or restaurants along this part of the route, and all benches are already taken by other festival cyclists. So it’s sandwiches on the grass around the next location, I’m afraid. The locations vary from community buildings to private homes, campsites and churches. This is the church at Paasloo.

In one of the pews, there is a row of small cushions by Attje Oosterhuis:

They were made using scraps of antique silk and wool fabrics, lace, linen yarns, card and (curiouser and curiouser) bird’s nests and a bird skeleton (click on images below to enlarge):

The text embroidered in red says: ‘Let us pray for the animals… for the chickens… that they get more space and no flu… for the birds… that they take a detour… for the people… that they chase less growth…’

The next work, by Ilja Walraven, was actually on the route of the first day, but I felt it had to be included here because of the very unusual use of materials and objects: Chairs…

… with wine glasses and beakers filled with bits of sheep’s wool on the seats, arranged according to hue, from dark to light.

Is it art? It looks like it and it was made by a professional artist, so yes, I suppose so. Is it textile art? Hmmmm… And what does it MEAN? Does it matter what box it fits into? Does it matter what it means?

I also wonder why haven’t I seen a single stitch of knitting during these two days. Coincidence? Doesn’t it belong in the category textiles? Doesn’t it lend itself to art? And why do I feel drawn to making useful stuff instead of art?

Some of the things at the Weerribben Textile Festival have raised question marks. Some have made me smile or feel inspired. Others have evoked feelings of nostalgia. Some have even upset me, and I think that’s all good. Because isn’t that what art is all about – uplifting and challenging us?

Well, after this philosophizing let’s end on a light-hearted note, with whimsical collection by Erna Platel, using tins, maps, bits of ribbon and lace, buttons and other haberdashery:

The Weerribben Textile Festival will be held again in 2024. Check out the website for more information.

Textile Cycle Tours 1

Hello!

Every other year a textile festival is held on our doorstep and I’d never been. High time to rectify that, so this year I gave myself two whole days to cycle the two tours plotted by the organisation. Textile art was displayed in 18 indoor and outdoor locations in and around the Weerribben nature reserve.

Here is my impression of the first day, the route through the peat bog part of the area. From the literally hundreds of pictures I’ve taken, I’ve chosen exhibits that have a strong link with these watery surroundings, although they are by artists from all over the country.

Take these ferns by Rineke van Zeeburg – don’t they look as if they grow here naturally?

Monique Aubertijn made shapes from hessian using crochet and embroidery. Displayed in this location, the ones below look like fish traps from a fantasy film scene.

The same artist who made the big fern leaves from rough hessian, also makes exquisite art quilts. To the left ‘Poisonous Frog’ and to the right ‘Dragonfly’.

She told me that she dyes all fabrics herself. The longer I looked, the more I saw. Dragonflies inside the dragonflies, and machine embroidery that gives the impression of veins on the dragonfly wings and of water droplets around them.

These quilts look very much at home here, where many different kinds of dragonflies flit among the water lilies.

Along the water and opposite a campsite, there’s a strange pillar in shades of rust and blue.

The sign next to it says ‘Roadside Book’. Margriet van Vliet (no website) has created a fascinating object from many of those face masks carelessly dropped along the roadsides in recent years.

To get from A to B I’ve decide to deviate from the official route and follow the ‘100-bridges-cycle-track’ (as I’m secretly calling it) instead. There are not exactly 100 bridges to cross, but there are many.

Halfway along it is a perfect lunch spot. In the reed bed right behind the bench: the song of a reed warbler. In the distance: cuckoo, cuckoo.

To reach the next location, we need to wait for a bridge in the village of Kalenberg. € 2,20 per boat, the sign along the canal says. No debit cards here. The bridge keeper collects the fee in a wooden shoe…

… attached to a fishing rod.

At the next location, two works by the same artist, Helma van Kleinwee, evoked opposite emotions in me. The first one made me laugh out loud.

The second one is so subtle, that I hope you can see it on your screen. It’s a semi-transparent piece of fabric showing two human figures, moving in the wind between two pollarded willows. For me, it is a poignant image of our fragility. It made me think of the song ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas. (The funny thing is that Dutch uses the same word for both dust and fabric: stof.)

Finally, here is a sketch of a tjasker by Monique ter Beeke (no website). Only, instead of charcoal she has chosen machine embroidery as her medium. The edges are sandwiched between layers of irregularly shaped glass. (Click on images to enlarge.)

It’s the same tjasker we’re passing along our route. (A tjasker is a small wooden windmill. In the past it was used for draining the land to make peat extraction easier. Now it is sometimes used for pumping water into the land to prevent it from drying out.)

Usually, I go on outings like these together with a friend. This time I went on my own. On the one hand, that gave me complete freedom, on the other I missed the company and talking about the artworks.

Sharing this day here is a way for me to process everything. I hope it’s also been fun and interesting for you reading this. I’m planning to write about day 2 next time and hope you’ll join me again then.

Joure Wool Festival 2022

Hello!

Together with a friend, I visited the annual Wool Festival in Joure last weekend. We had a great time and (not entirely unexpectedly) saw LOTS of wool. There were bundles of curly locks, bags filled with raw fleeces, and cleaned and carded batts of wool from specific Dutch sheep breeds, like Texel, Dutch milk sheep, Kempen heath sheep and Dutch piebald sheep.

There was also wool from many other breeds of sheep, single or in blends, undyed or dyed.

I remember a time, not so very long ago, when I could only get raw Texel fleeces, and later some merino from Australia. It is amazing how much the wool landscape has changed over the past decade or so, and how much more local wool is available and appreciated now.

I don’t know why, but there was no sheep shearing this year. There were other fleeces walking around on four legs, though.

Don’t they have the sweetest faces?

There was also wool in the form of yarn, of course – machine-spun and hand-dyed, hand-spun and dyed and hand-spun in natural colours.

And then there were things made from wool. Adorable hedgehog mittens, Scandinavian and Latvian inspired mittens, and felted and woven items (click on images to enlarge).

Among all the animal fibres, there was also one plant fibre present: flax. “The Frisian Flax Females are spinnin’ flax into linen” the notice board, decorated with a bundle of flax, said.

Very interesting! Spinning flax into linen is very different from spinning wool into yarn. The flax fibres are kept from tangling by placing them on a distaff. On the rack to the right of the spinner you can see a few of the towels woven from the hand-spun linen.

The spinner keeps her hands close to the flax on the distaff and feeds the fibre onto the spinning wheel in short drafts.

And do take a closer look at the spinner’s traditional cap.

More information about flax, and how it is spun and woven can be found on one of the spinners’ website. It is in Dutch, but if you have Google as a browser, you can right-click on the text and have it translated.

And then, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the market, a quiet corner with an elderly couple. She is spinning and he is keeping her company.

They are both made from wool, needle felted and wet felted. And they are part of the project Gewoan Minsken (Frisian for Simply People). Artist Lucie Groenendal portrayed the people living and working in a care home by felting, drawing and painting them.

These are just two of them, with to the right in the photo above a work called Helping Hands. More about this beautiful project can be seen and read on the artist’s website.

I’m ending today’s post with the answer given by one of the people portrayed to the question what makes life worth living:

“Look for the good in people, enjoy the things you do, and know that growing old is a search for a new balance.”

xxx

PS: The general website of Joure Wool Festival can be found here, and a list of participants here.

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!

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

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.

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

Quilts in Kampen

Hello, and welcome to the last of the outings on my blog this summer! Hope you have the time for a good long read. I have really tried to keep this post from getting too long, but failed miserably.

All of the other outings were close to home. This time we’re travelling a little further afield, to the city of Kampen. And this time it’s not just me, but also my husband you’re traveling with. Kampen is not very far afield (it is only about 28 miles from here), but somehow we rarely visit it and we really felt like tourists ourselves.

With less than 40.000 inhabitants city seems too big a word for Kampen, but that’s what it officially is, I think. One side of the city centre is bordered by a park and several old gate towers.

On the other side, there is the river IJssel, where several tall ships are moored today. The white ship on the left is The Flying Dutchman. When she is not in Kampen, the ship and her crew are sailing around Scotland, navigating the Caledonian canal, visiting the outer Hebrides and treating their passengers to Scottish whisky and music.

Like any other town or city at the moment, Kampen has its share of empty shops. It also has the usual chain stores that can be found everywhere else. But there are also many small and quirky shops, beautiful old buildings, museums etcetera.

This is the main shopping street with on the right an old tower called ‘the new tower’.

Below the carillon and the clock, something is dangling from the balustrade. On closer inspection that something turns out to be a cow. (Fortunately not a real-life one.)

Why? Can it be a farmers’ protest or something?

Branching out from the main shopping street there are many lovely narrow streets and alleys to discover.

My eye is always drawn to old buildings and I feel most at home in the older parts of towns and cities, but the juxtaposition of old and new can also be attractive.

The wooden buildings on the right are the workshops of the Koggewerf, where a shipwrecked kogge (a medieval wooden sailing vessel) found here was carefully reconstructed. Unfortunately, the kogge was out sailing and the buildings were closed, but just peeking in through the windows and looking at another boat and the buildings from the outside was nice too.

What really struck me in Kampen this time, is that it is very much a city of makers. Or maybe every town and city has them and they are just more visible here. Or maybe it was just that I was more open to them this day.

Anyway, as a maker myself I feel a sort of kinship with other makers. I make things with wool and other fibres, words and sometimes fabrics. But I’m also interested in people making things with wood, metal, dough, chocolate, glass, paper or in any other medium. What materials do they use exactly, how do they use them, what do they make and why? It’s the process of making things I’m interested in at least as much as the product. And here, in Kampen, we cannot only see the finished products, but also some makers at work actually making things.

This time we didn’t visit the smithy, the coffee roasting company or the cigar factory, but from a previous visit I can tell you that even for a non-cigar-smoker cigar making is interesting and the smell is overpowering!

We did see the chocolatiers at work, though.

Of course we had to sample some of their products.

I think that for my husband, as a great amateur cook and occasional chocolate maker, that was the highlight of the day. For me, it was SuperGoof Quilts.

Now that was a super lovely surprise. I didn’t know anything about this quilt shop. Turns out it is owned by a blogger who has been blogging about quilting since 2007! With a great sense of self-mockery, she calls herself SuperGoof, or Goof for short.

Of course SuperGoof Quilts is a shop, and of course it sells fabrics, as well as some other things. Just look at these fun stuffed toys with their finely knitted sweaters and hats:

But this is about more than buying and selling. What this is really all about is the love of making things.

The fabrics are lovingly chosen and express Goofs exquisite taste.

The fat quarters and eighths are neatly folded and lovingly displayed by colour. Here are the blues…

… and the reds.

I didn’t ask, but looking at the quilts on display, my guess is that red is Goofs favourite colour. Isn’t her sampler quilt stunning?

Would you believe that she doesn’t own a sewing machine? It is all done by hand! If that isn’t love.

Goof (sorry, I don’t know her real name) told me that as a mother of four teenagers, carer for her parents and maternity nurse, she used to get up before everyone else for a spot of quilting. Amazing that she found the time for it in such a busy life, but at the same time I totally understand how important it was for her. The quilt with the stork and the words ‘home is where the heart is’ reflects her life at that time.

The finished quilts are beautiful, but I also like it that there is quite a bit of work in progress on display.

And then there is this mouse quilt that was a mystery quilt-along project from autumn 2020 to spring 2021. I don’t know if you can zoom in, but there is so much to see on it.

More pictures and information about this quilt can be found here on SuperGoofs website. She doesn’t have a webshop, so you’ll just have to travel to Kampen to visit her some time!

Since I discovered her, I’ve been reading SuperGoofs blog. It has lots of lovely pictures and her writing is light and fun. She writes in Dutch, but in the top right-hand corner of her homepage, there is a Google Translate box where you can select your language. I just loved her recent post in which she explains how she reacts when non-quilters visiting her shop comment on how much time quilting must take. Here is a quote:

“And if you love something?
You don’t think about time at all.
At most something like, Goodness is it that late already?”

And that’s just what I’m thinking now. Time to close off. Thanks for your time and hope to see you again next time!

Cycling to Giethoorn

Hello! Before I get back to more ‘serious’ posts about knitting, spinning etc. I’d like to take you along on two more outings this week.

In a roundabout way, this bicycle track leads to the charming village of Giethoorn. The track is bordered by a beautiful flowering verge. To my delight I see a group of common yellow swallowtails fluttering around the red clover. There are at least ten of them!

With a wingspan of about 7.5 cm/3”, this is one of our largest native butterflies. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not common. At least not in this part of the country. I saw the first one ever in our garden only last year. It seems they are gradually moving north with the rising temperatures. And now a whole group of them! I know that a group of geese is called a gaggle, but what is the word for a group of butterflies? A flock? A flight? A flutter?

Among the plants in the verge are wild herbs like watermint, soothing for stomach and mind.

There is valerian, too, also flowering at this time of the year, another calming plant.

Picking them for a herbal brew is not allowed here, in this nature reserve, but just drinking in their scent and their colour is soothing enough in itself.

A little further on, a white stork is gorging on frogs. There are plenty of those in this wetland environment.

A cow is dozing in the sun with two starlings on its back. It is all so peaceful – an oasis of peace in a crazy world.

And then the smell of pancakes tells me that I’m in Giethoorn. It is not as quiet as last year, but still not as busy with tourists as it normally is.

Giethoorn is lovely all year round, but especially now, when the hydrangeas are in flower.

There are hydrangeas in almost every garden, and they come in many varieties and colours. The deep pink mophead ones are the most common.

But there are also hydrangeas with flat or pointy flowerheads, in many shades of blue, pink and purple, as well as white ones.

In some places it is almost too much.

I’ve taken a zillion pictures and am having a hard time limiting the number here. Before I stop, I just have to include this one, with the house with the blue shutters mirrored in the water.

It is getting late, so I cycle home without stopping. Only back in our own, slightly less charming, village do I squeeze my brakes to take a few more pictures, because the sheep are back!

A flock of sheep visits us several times a year. Instead of the heavy machinery that used to do it, they now mow the grass in green spaces around the area. And here they are ‘at work’ in the local business park.

And this lovely day doesn’t end here. Back home a surprise awaits me – a parcel from Devon, UK.

Finally, the yarn I’d ordered for something I was going to knit during my summer break. I’d left it a bit late and then it got held up at customs.

It is a heathered organic wool in a gradient of pinks, from palest watermint pink to deep hydrangea pink. No, wait, I don’t think hydrangeas come in this particular shade of pink. It is more like foxglove.

Instead of a summer project, it is now something to look forward to for autumn. You’ll probably see it cropping up in blog posts later this year. Well, that’s all for today. Hope to see you again for another outing in a few days’ time!

PS: Last summer I wrote a blog post about crochet curtains in Giethoorn. For anyone who missed it, it can be found here.