Hello! For today, my plan was to have the cardigan for our grandson finished and write about that, but as I’m writing this, the pieces are still drying on my blocking mats. In other words, I didn’t meet the deadline.

But hang on, who said I needed to meet a deadline? The word deadline popping up in my head made me stop dead in my tracks and set a whole train of thoughts in motion. It also brought back some unpleasant emotions that made me feel like withdrawing into a place like this…

… and spend lots of time on the bench opposite philosophizing about deadlines, getting things done and the meaning of life.

I photographed the house and the sculpture by Stephen Beale in the village of Houwerzijl. The sculpture is called Concrete Thoughts and is made from concrete and a patchwork of aluminium.

Back to deadlines. Why does the very word make me want to hide away? Well, for 30 years I worked as a non-fiction translator specializing in agriculture, sustainability, management and psychology. And whether I was asked to translate a grant proposal, a manual for a potato harvester, a research article or a self-help book, the contract always included a deadline.

For a long time I was fine with that. But over time the deadlines became non-negotiable and tighter and tighter, until they became totally unrealistic. When my work/life had become a race against the clock, I decided to quit.

No more deadlines EVER, I promised myself. Life is too short to let the seasons rush by without enjoying them. (It’s orchid season here now.)

One of the things I wanted time for was creativity and making things. I am fortunate enough to now have an undemanding job as a web editor. And with no children at home and no aging parents to care for anymore, time is not really an issue. But how to get things done without outside pressure and deadlines? I have given myself one deadline – publishing a blog post on Fridays. It’s a helpful deadline, that gives me courage and helps me overcome perfectionism, but it’s the only deadline I’m willing to impose on myself.

Some projects come with their own deadlines, like gifts that need to be finished before a birthday, or a child’s cardi that needs to be finished before it is outgrown. Writing this, I’m beginning to see that it’s especially creative things I would like to do just for my own fulfilment that I’m struggling with.

For instance, I have been working on a new shawl design for a long time, planning to publish it in January or February. But first I got side-tracked, and then kept knitting more and more swatches to tweak just one last thing.

At this rate I may be ready to publish this pattern for a nice warm shawl in July or August. Or November. Or never. Does that matter? In the grand scheme of things not in the least. But to me it does.

Having always been driven by deadlines, I am wondering about a more gentle way of getting things done. I do love making things, and there are many creative ideas I’d love to pursue, but somehow I don’t get round to them or I don’t finish them. Apparently love is not always enough. Do you struggle with this, too? Or do you find it easy to take time to just be creative? Do you ever set yourself deadlines? Do you have other strategies? Or are you fine with not finishing things?

I have no idea whether this is an issue for others, too. Anyway, thank you for reading this long and personal post!

Joure Wool Festival 2023


Last Saturday the annual wool festival Joure onder de Wol was held again. For me it is close to home, but it is so varied and inspiring that people from all over the country come flocking to it. Arriving before the actual festival started, I first paid a quick visit to the local yarn shop for some yarn for a soft toy for our grandson (more about that in another post). Draped over the back of the bench next to the entrance was a dazzling crochet blanket.

So not my taste, and yet I was fascinated by it. The techniques used are interesting and the choice of colours is also well-balanced. I wonder why crocheters often seem to have such different tastes from knitters?

Leaving the shop, my phone made that owly who-oh sound telling me that there was a message. It was the friend I was meeting up with, ‘Where are you? I’m with the sheep’. Typing ‘I’m coming!’ I hurried towards her. The sheep shearing was already in full spate.

Some sheep had already lost their coats, while others were still wearing theirs. Looking closely at the photo below, perhaps you can see the woman on the left, wearing a straw hat, pointing her finger. She is pointing out which fleeces she wants, and then the hectic catch-me-if-you-can between sheep and shepherd starts.

It’s fun to watch, although I feel a little sorry for the sheep, too. Being undressed in front of a large audience doesn’t seem like much fun to me. The next sheep waiting its turn doesn’t look unduly stressed, though.

Next, it was time to look at all the other woolly things. There was so much to see that I hardly know where to start. I’ll just pick out a few highlights. First of all there was wool – raw fleeces from many different sheep breeds…

… washed, carded and dyed rovings…

… and yarn, yarn, beautiful yarn – much of it hand-dyed, sometimes using natural dyes (click on images to enlarge).

And then there were the things people had made with wool and yarn. Again, I’m just showing a few of the highlights.

There was needle binding. Although, as with the crochet blanket, the maker had a very different taste from mine I could see the beauty and possibilities in the technique he was using.

There were felted items, both needle and wet felting. Simple yet beautiful objects, like this wild and woolly nest with eggs:

And stunning felted ‘paintings’ of the northern Frisian coastal landscape. The photographs don’t really do them justice, but I hope you can see why they blew me away (again, click to enlarge).

A beautiful woven blanket also drew my eye. Weaving isn’t really my thing, but I’d like to give making small squares using one of these hand looms a try someday.

And then there were many people who’d brought their spinning wheels. I could write an entire post about those alone, but I’ll end with just one picture – a young teenager (I promised not to show her face) spinning the most beautiful coloured thread from local wool on an e-spinner – a lovely sight to see. Young people like her make me feel hopeful about the future.

I feel immensely inspired by this day at the Joure Wool Festival and hope you’ve enjoyed it, too.

The festival website can be found here, and a list of participants here.

Tiny Chicks and Tiny Cables

Hello! Please meet the latest additions to our household: three tiny chicks. With just two ancient hens left, it was time for some new life in our chicken coop. Not all of the eggs we put in the incubator hatched, and sadly one of the four chicks that did hatch died soon afterwards, but we’re very happy to have three healthy, lively, fluffy, adorable speckled chicks.

Ideally they’ll turn out to be one cock and two hens, but they may just as well be three hens (fine too) or three cocks (not really what we’re hoping for). We’ll wait and see.

With the new chicks, fresh green leaves unfurling on the currant bushes, fat blossom buds on the pear tree and many bulbs in flower, spring has truly sprung in the garden.

On the knitting front, it’s as if it’s a little earlier in the year. Do you know that feeling? You can feel that all kinds of things are happening below the surface, but above ground there is very little to be seen as yet.

I have made some progress on my Linea socks, though, and the foot of the first sock is finished.

I started out doing the cables without a cable needle, as a fast and easy method. (All the cables are basically just pairs of two stitches crossed in front or behind each other.) But after an inch or so, I noticed that they didn’t look great. Especially looking at the tiny cable to the left of the diamond, I think you can see what I mean.

Along the bottom half of the diamond (without cable needle), the tiny cables look irregular and sort of angular. Along the top half of the diamond (with cable needle), they are more regular and rounded, as well as more open in the centre. So from here on I’m using a cable needle, even if that means slower progress.

The rest of my knitting is still in the incubation stage. I keep lists of the projects I want to focus on now and would like to knit someday in this notebook.

For me, old-fashioned hand-written notes on paper still work best. With ideas and notes in computer files it is often a matter of ‘out of sight is out of mind’. And the actual act of writing things down by hand seems to connect to a different, more creative part of my brain than typing does.

The notebook was a souvenir from France, and the cover is a design by Gaëlle Boissonnard. I adore her work. Her blog can be read here – it gives a lovely insight into her creative process. Google doesn’t do a great job translating her poetic texts, but just looking at her images is inspiring, too.

Feeling frustrated by the slowness of my creative process, I was thinking of the garden. Why can’t my projects flower now, like the hyacinths and all the other spring bulbs? And then I discovered that I just need to be a little more patient, because I’m a sunflower! 

You can find out what flower you are by taking this quiz. Have fun!