Lilla Ull Huset

Hello!

Sit down and enjoy the moment, the wooden sign at the top says in German. It was placed behind a stone bench along a hiking trail in Das Bergische Land, an area about 45 km east of Köln/Cologne. We’ve just spent a week there, and I have so much to show and tell, especially for the knitters among you. I hope you have some time to sit down and enjoy this moment at your computer, or in a lazy chair with your tablet or mobile.

The people we rented our apartment from had the most amazing garden. It was private…

… but we were allowed to spend as much time in it as we liked. This is a view of the garden from the veranda at the top:

There was a woodland walk, a vegetable and herb garden, fruit trees, roses, herbaceous borders and several photogenic summerhouses and sheds.

So romantic! We didn’t spend the entire week in that beautiful garden, though. Part of our week was spent visiting friends and relatives, chatting and sampling some utterly delicious cakes.

And to burn all those calories off, we also spent several days hiking. Compared to our flat Dutch country, it’s quite a mountainous area, although it doesn’t show much in this picture.

One of our walks was a themed one around Fachwerkhäuser. How I love those beautiful timber-framed buildings. I could fill an entire post with the pictures I’ve taken of them alone and have had a hard time choosing just one.

The first couple of days were warm and sunny, but then the weather changed (sneaking in one more Fachwerkhaus here).

And on a very, very wet day, we decided to go shopping in the town of Gummersbach.

I’d googled a bit beforehand and discovered a yarn shop there called Lilla Ull Huset, specializing in Scandinavian knitting yarns.

It is a veritable Valhalla for knitters, with yarns from Danish Isager, Holst and Geilsk, Norwegian Sandnes, Swedish Ullcentrum Öland, Islandic Istex Lopi and more. I’m adding as many links as I can, so that anyone who wants to can spend even more time drooling over lovely yarns and patterns.

This is a close-up of the Isager section:

And this simple yet stylish striped scarf was knit from a combination of their yarns.

There were quite a few knitted sweaters, scarves and shawls to inspire visitors. This is a soft and cosy Sandnes one – isn’t it fun how they styled it with those over-the-top pearl necklaces?

Below right is Christel Seyfarth’s Mongolia Shawl. And left Isager’s sweater Clouds of Sils Maria.

The sweater is a wonderful Scandinavian amalgam, designed by Danish Marianne Isager, with an Icelandic yoke, and knit for the most part in Geilsk Tweed. I’d love to knit it, especially in this tweedy yarn.

There was also a great selection of books. The entire series of those beautiful Norwegian Kofteboken, many Isager books and also books by designers I’d never heard of, like Susie Haumann, Ditte Larsen and Annette Danielsen.

So, did we drive home with a boot filled with enough yarn to cover all my loved ones in knitting from head to toe? It was tempting, but I’ve been prudent and ‘only’ came home with 3 skeins of yarn, matching buttons and two books. The books are by Annette Danielsen:

Wintertage (left) is a thinnish booklet in German, containing several easy-to-make recipes as well as 7 sweater patterns. And Fynsk Forår (right) is in Danish and contains patterns for many beautiful pullovers and cardigans, as well as fabulous photographs of Danish landscapes, buildings and art.

The designs all look very wearable and have interesting design details, like this horizontal cable along the top of vertical ones on the back of a cardigan.

And last but not least, I found a pattern, yarn and the cutest buttons for a jacket for our grandson.

More about that when I get to it.

Perhaps I should create a map with all the yarn shops I’ve blogged about – that might be useful. Until I find out how and can find the time for that, Lilla Ull Huset and all of the other ones I’ve visited can be found by clicking on ‘shopping’ in the list of tags in the right-hand column on your computer screen (below the ‘Search’ window) or via this link. The only ‘problem’ is that you’ll also need to scroll past a quilt shop, book shop and farmers’ market here and there.

Hope to see you again next week! (I’ll try to behave and keep things shorter then.) xxx

Lightness

Hello!

In need of a little more lightness in my life, I’m abandoning all other knitting projects for the time being and starting a Featherweight Cardigan. I’ll come back to the nearly-or-half-finished warm and woolly things when the weather gets cooler in September.

I could have ordered the yarn online, but it’s always so hard to judge the colours on a computer screen. Besides, visiting a real brick-and-mortar (or in this case wood-and-glass) yarn shop is much more fun. Pink was what I wanted, but which pink?

Seeing them IRL I knew it straightaway – the palest shade top right.

I try not to buy yarn on a whim anymore, planning carefully what I want to make, what yarn will be most suitable, and how much I’ll need. But in spite of my best intentions, this naughty skein of sock yarn hopped into my shopping bag.

So irresistibly cheerful! I’m thinking of a pair of socks a little (or a lot) more intricate than my usual simple ones. Cables, perhaps, or a twisted stitch pattern, or… I don’t know. Suggestions welcome!

On the way back I stopped off at the village with the onion-shaped church steeple (I wrote about the legend behind it here.)

It’s always nice to take a stroll along the lanes. There are so many lovely spots…

… and beautiful houses.

In the past, the village was surrounded by essen – fertile, raised arable fields with a domed shape resulting from spreading many layers of manure and grass sods on them throughout the centuries. Housing estates have been built upon the essen, but in a place where a school was demolished there is now a small cornfield again.

This small, flower-filled cornfield won’t feed the world, but it does feed many birds, bees and butterflies.

Because by this time I couldn’t stop yawning, I did something I rarely do and treated myself to a cup of cappuccino before going home.

Ahhh, that did me a power of good – not just the cappuccino, but the entire little outing. Thank you for coming along. I really appreciate your company!

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!)

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.

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!

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!

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!

Colourful Socks

Hello!

Cycling for the sake of cycling is often good enough for me. But sometimes it is nice to have a destination. One of my favourite cycling destinations is the village of Vledder. It is the home of the museums of Forged Art and Contemporary Glass Art. The museums’ entrance is at the back of the house with the clock.

But that’s not why we are here. Today I’m taking you along to the local bookshop. It is a small bookshop with a great selection of books, as well as postcards, magazines, gift items and artists’ supplies. The sight of their wall of coloured pencils never fails to lift my spirits.

But I’m not an artist and didn’t come to buy pencils or paints. My aim was to spend some pocket money and buy a foreign magazine.

There is a whole host of German magazines with titles like Landliebe, Liebes Land, LandIdee, LandLeben, LandZauber and so on. They all contain luscious photographs of lovely homes and gardens, recipes and articles about all kinds of things to do with the countryside. They are hard to distinguish from each other.

This time I chose Landlust. There was an article in it about a Felt Studio, with colourful photographs that had the same effect on me as the wall of coloured pencils.

There were also several knitting designs in this issue – three sweaters, a dress and a shrug.

I’m not terribly excited by them, but I discovered that the magazine has an extensive archive of knitting patterns and really enjoyed browsing through it. All patterns are free digital downloads in German. (If you don’t want to subscribe to their newsletter, just click the window away when it pops up).

There are also other crafts ideas sprinkled through the knitting patterns in their archives, including some cute cardboard sheep wrapped in wool that would be great to make with children.

The magazine also has its own line of knitting yarns. I have never tried any of them, but I did squirrel…

… away several balls of their sock yarn a while ago. Reading the magazine reminded me of those and I started a pair of socks straightaway, in cream, a rosy pink and watery blues and greens.

The yarn is called Landlust Die Sockenwolle, has 420 m/459 yds to 100 g and is composed of 75% wool/25% polyamide. It looks and feels like most other, similar sock yarns: smooth (not hairy) and hard-wearing enough to be worn in walking boots. (As you know I’m not sponsored, so this is my own honest impression of this yarn).

Some balls have subtle colours and patterns, others come in bold colourful stripes.

I’ll show you what they look like knit up when I come to them.

Well, that brings us to the end of another post. The way back home leads through a village that was awarded Unesco World Heritage status several weeks ago. It is now overrun with visitors. That would be another nice cycling destination and I’ll keep it in mind for some other time.

Bye for now and have a nice weekend!

Woolly Country Life

There was a small market in the square behind the church in the photo at the top. This market – called Wollig Landleven (Woolly Country Life) – visits a different village in our part of the country every month from spring through autumn. It is a lovely small-scale event.

The Country Life part refers to ‘essentials’ like soaps, sausages, cheese, herb teas, clothes and all kinds of knick-knacks for the home. My favourite of these is the baker with his wood-fired oven.

The smell is heavenly, and their lovingly displayed loaves are delicious as well as a feast for the eyes.

But I mainly came for the Woolly part, of course. There was wool in different forms. There were raw fleeces in plastic bags…

… complete sheep skins…

… and hand-dyed fibres for felting and spinning.

The last time I went to a ‘real’ crafts fair was in February 2020, and no indoors yarn events will be held here in the near future, as far as I know. The organizers of our regional (indoor) crafts fair are now aiming for February 2022. This market only gets permission because it is outdoors and complies with all the regulations, lilke one-way traffic and a limited number of visitors. And we still need to be careful to keep a 1.5 metres distance, disinfect our hands etcetera.

But in spite of all that, the atmosphere is relaxed, and it is wonderful to stroll around looking at the wares and just be among people. It takes some getting used to that again. There was one person who stood out because of her daring and original outfit.

Looking at the shawl now, it occurs to me that it might be a Stephen West design. And yes, a quick Ravelry search tells me that it is Slipstravaganza. He is so creative, and his designs really stand out.

I enjoyed looking at several baskets filled with handspun yarns. To me it is always inspiring to see what choices other people make. What colours did they choose to combine? How many plies? How thick or thin is their yarn? Is it slubby or even?

It was a lovely surprise to meet two new indie dyers. The first was Wat Wollie (which is a pun in the local dialect and could be translated as What WOOLd you like). Petra dyes her yarns in beautiful saturated colours.

Apart from at these markets, she also sells her yarns through Etsy, and her website can be found here. Petra has only been knitting for a few years, but has quickly become an accomplished knitter, as her sweater shows. I forgot to ask which pattern she used, but I think it is Goldwing by Jennifer Steingass.

The stall next to hers was that of Badcattoo Yarn. It’s fun to see how every dyer has her own style. Badcattoo’s yarns are generally lighter and often have parts left undyed. She also has a website.

For a long time now, my policy has been only to buy yarns with a specific project in mind. But for once I’ve deviated from that rule and bought a skein from both dyers with no idea what I’m going to do with them yet. I had some pocket money to spend on frivolous things, after all.

Both are fingering-weight yarns with a percentage of nylon in them. Top right is Badcattoo’s yarn in lovely pale sky blues with black, white and brown tweedy neps. And bottom left Wat Wollie’s skein in deeper hues of blue and purple, with a few brown speckles here and there.

It felt so good to be hanging out with my ‘tribe’ again for a while.

For anyone living in or near Drenthe, an overview of upcoming Wollig Landleven markets can be found here.

Incubation

On weekdays, when I come downstairs my husband is already at the table having breakfast and reading the morning paper. But one morning a few days ago, he wasn’t there. I found him on the veranda with his camera and binoculars. ‘Shhh,’ he said, ‘the blue tits are fledging.’

I grabbed my small camera, too, and together we sat watching the blue tits leave the nest box just outside our living room window (some of the pictures in this post are his). First one stuck its head out. And when it got a little bolder, its feet came out as well, grabbing the edge of the opening.

Then it decided ‘no, I’m not ready yet’ and popped back inside. They took their time fledging. While the young were plucking up courage, the parents kept plucking caterpillars from trees and bushes.

They kept feeding their young all the time.

And then, one by one, the young birds decided that the time was right. With a wriggle and a wrench they flew out.

When we had counted 7, we thought that the nest box was empty. But after a while, another little blue tit came out. The others all immediately flew up into a tree or onto the fence, but this one seemed weaker. It flew down to the rubber mat in front of the French windows.

And while it was sitting there, looking around at the big wide world, a great tit flew onto the threshold. It took one look around and then disappeared into our living room. I wonder what it thought when it came flying out a few minutes later. ‘Goodness, so much space! And what do they want with all that stuff inside their nests? Aren’t humans weird creatures?!’

After a while, the last little blue tit scurried away to find cover.

That evening we cleaned out the nest box. Unlike us, the blue tits didn’t have much stuff inside their nest – just a thick layer of moss and some feathers.

We heard that it’s a difficult year for blue tits. Because of the cold and wet spring there were not enough caterpillars when they needed them. With 8 healthy chicks, ours were lucky. Maybe the peanuts from our feeder also helped a little.

The parents will keep feeding their young until they can fend for themselves.

Now we’re waiting for the great tits. They have nests in two other nest boxes in our garden. And also for the second nest of the blackbirds in the beech hedge.

Meanwhile I am incubating a clutch of knitting ideas. It’s not a straightforward as with the blue tits’ eggs. I don’t know how long the incubation will take and exactly what I need to feed them when they hatch. What kind of TLC do they need if I want them to fledge? I can only go by what my intuition tells me.

One thing my intuition told me was, ‘Buy yarn’. I wondered at the wisdom of this advice at this early stage, but I let myself be led by it anyway and bought some yarn in blue tit blue.

And some more yarn, also in beautiful hues of blue.

Time will tell whether this was a wise thing to do. At least browsing around Wolverhalen was a very enjoyable thing to do. (You may have read about it in a previous post.)  Leafing through some pattern books and magazines…

… immersing myself in colour…

… and swooning over skeins lovingly hand dyed by Catharina.

I don’t know yet what shape my ideas will take. I’ll do what I can to make them fledge successfully and hope to show you more if and when they’re ready to fly out into the big wide world.

Until then, I’ll try to keep feeding you/myself/us all kinds of other tasty morsels. Bye for now and take care!