May 2022 Miscellany

Hello!

The other day, a friend wrote that it is like Mayvember in her part of the world, the Pacific Northwest of the US (waving at you P!). In the Netherlands it is more like Maygust – warm and very dry. Here are a few unconnected things I’ve seen and done this month so far. No, wait, not entirely unconnected. The common denominator seems to be wool – what else?

Lambing Season
The Sunday before last we were lucky. On our walk we happened to pass the sheep fold at the very moment the shepherd was gathering the flock for a walk. The ewes with the youngest lambs were staying at home, with several daring lambs high up on a bale of hay.

The rest of the flock was peacefully grazing in the field where they spend the night.

But in a matter of minutes the shepherd and his dogs had gathered them all together and were driving them towards the corner where the gate is.

Here they are all ready to go out for their day job:

Well done, boy!

The flock’s job is eating grass and young trees. Without them, the heathland would soon become a forest. Thanks to the sheep, we can keep enjoying this beautiful open landscape.

It is not just about the landscape, but also about the reptiles, birds and plant species depending on this habitat. I love gazing around at the open space, and also getting on my knees looking for special plants. This is one of them:

We call it Heidekartelblad. I looked it up and found out that it is called common lousewort in English – rather a lousy name for this far from common plant, don’t you think?

Blackbird Tragedy
The blackbirds have been flying off and on with worms and trying very hard to chase the magpies away, but alas… On Sunday morning we found the nest empty, bar one unhatched egg.

Magpies and their chicks need to eat, too, but still rather sad. It’s early enough in the season for the blackbirds to build another nest. Let’s hope they’ll hide it better the second time around.

Spinning Wheel Extension
My husband has made an extension for my spinning wheel to accommodate a second bobbin rack. Unfortunately the block I bought at the manufacturer’s a while ago didn’t fit onto my particular model. Fortunately my DH has two right hands and this is what he came up with.

The aluminium strips of the new extension slide around the lower bar of the spinning wheel. So there was no need to drill into my precious wheel and the extension can easily be removed when not in use. Now I can make 3-ply and even 4-ply yarns.

Knit leaves
I have been knitting leaf prototypes for a small project I have in mind.

They’re all different: Stocking stitch, garter stitch, different increases and decreases, long or short vein, different sizes and shapes. There is one among them that is exactly what I was looking for. (To be continued…)

Farmers Market
After a 6-month winter break the Farmers Market was back last weekend. It’s was so nice, chatting with the stall holders again, looking at the fresh produce and young plants for vegetable gardens…

… and trying (and buying) some homemade chutneys and dressings.

There is also a spinner and knitter selling her hand spun yarns and her colourful hand knit socks in children’s and adult’s sizes, each pair unique.

I wonder if other people realize how many hours of knitting and spinning the wares displayed on her racks and in her baskets represent. I do, and I’m in awe.

Well, that’s all for today. Back to my own knitting and spinning now. Bye!

Finishing Time

My knitting is out of sync with the seasons – again. The garden is bursting into flower and the blackbirds’ eggs have hatched.

Don’t those naked little chicks look vulnerable? I hope they’re going to make it. Their nest isn’t very well hidden and there are magpies about.

With spring well on its way and warmer weather around the corner, I’m finishing some warm and woolly knits. It has happened before, my knitting being out of sync with the seasons, but this time I have a very good excuse: Several months ago I dropped everything else to knit baby things. Now our grandson has more than enough to keep him warm for the time being, and there’s finally time to finish other projects.

The first one I’m tackling is a red tweedy cardigan. All parts are knit separately, including the button bands. That means a LOT of seaming, and I’ve done it in stages. Before I started the actual seaming, I pressed the individual parts, covered by a damp tea towel.

As I hope you can see in this picture the edges of the stocking stitch fabric roll inwards terribly. Pressing them flattens them out and makes seaming easier and neater.

As you can probably also see in this picture, there is something in the oven. It’s a batch of my Very Healthy Oat Squares (recipe in this older post; please scroll down).

Over the course of several days, I meticulously sewed on the button bands using mattress stitch. It’s a time-consuming job and I did a little every day.

Then I realized that it was going to take ages this way. So on a day when I had a to-do-list from here to Tokyo, I decided to take a different approach and alternate my chores with bursts of seaming. It looked something like this:

Clean bathroom and sink, sew right sleeve cap.
Replace light bulb, empty wastepaper baskets, water plants, fold laundry, sew left sleeve cap.

For a knitting connoisseur, the sleeve caps are lovely, by the way. Due to a special way of binding off using slipped stitches, the slope isn’t stepped as usual, but nice and smooth.

Dust and hoover downstairs, sew right underarm seam.
Catch up with e-mails and admin, sew right side seam, etc.

Granted, it wasn’t the most exciting day of my life, but at the end of it I had tackled many items on my list and finished the seaming of the entire cardigan. Time for a bubble bath…

… for the cardigan. (Should have taken one myself, too, instead of a quick shower.) And then, after drying flat, the final touch: buttons. And here it is, my simple but sophisticated tweedy cardi:

Entirely in stocking stitch, it looks very simple. What makes it sophisticated is the attention to detail: A-line shaping, sloping shoulder seams moved a little forward, smooth sleeve cap, customized sleeve length, side vents, a few short rows above the hem so that the cardigan ‘hangs’ better, and the careful finishing, of course. The cardigan is also knit at a looser gauge than normal for the yarn, which gives it a nice drape.

I’m particularly happy with the neatly sewn on button bands.

And also with the perfect sleeve length and the way the cardi fits around the shoulders.

The pattern’s name Go-To Cardigan is well chosen – it really is a cardigan to wear every day. Because of the A-line shaping, it is particularly flattering for pear-shaped people like me. The pattern can be found here on Ravelry and here on the designer’s website. The yarn I’ve used is Rowan Felted Tweed, shade 150 Rage. The pattern range goes from XS to XL. I’ve made size S, while my usual clothes size is M/L, EU 40/42 (UK 12/14).

To close off, I’d like to show you our ‘orchard’,  where these pictures were taken. It hardly deserves to be called an orchard, with just one apple and one pear tree, but it sounds nice. The pear blossomed early in spring and we’re now enjoying the apple blossoms.

Under the fruit trees in our tiny orchard, we’ve created a wildflower meadow with native plant species. Our meadow is also tiny (just a few square metres), but from spring into autumn there is always something flowering. This is what it looks like at the moment (click on images to enlarge):

Enjoy your weekend and hope to see you again next week! I don’t know if I’ll have another project finished by then, but we’ll see.

Sewing with Double Gauze

Hello!

I’m in the finishing stage of several knitting projects and hope to write about them here soon. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a simple sewing project with you. I used to sew quite a lot, but what with one thing and another I have hardly sewn anything for ages.

It’s so nice, having my sewing machine and basket of sewing tools out again. I’ve treated myself to some new, nice and sharp glass headed pins. A simple pleasure.

Out of practice, I’ve decided to start with something super easy: some double gauze squares for our grandson (who is thriving!), to be used as towels, changing mats, swaddle blankets etc.

I only knew double gauze fabric in the form of white diapers. You know, the old-fashioned ones with the woven-in squares. But when I started looking at fabrics again, I discovered that double gauze is hugely popular and comes in lots of lovely prints now. I chose three leaf prints. Here is a close-up of one of them:

Now that I’m on to the subject of leaves, look what’s hidden between the leaves of our honeysuckle – a nest with five beautiful blue blackbird’s eggs.

Well, back to double gauze fabric. As the term indicates, it is made up of two gauzy layers of cotton fabric. I don’t know how it’s done, but they look sort of basted together with small stitches.

Before starting to sew, I first zigzagged the edges of the fabrics to prevent them from fraying, washed them at 40 ˚C, put them in the dryer and ironed them. I expected them to shrink considerably, but to my surprise they hardly shrank at all. (I measured them before and after.)

Double gauze does look shrunk when it comes out of the dryer, and all shrivelled up, but it straightens out when ironed. In it’s shrivelled-up state it looks really nice, too, actually, so it’s not absolutely necessary to iron it.

I experimented with scissors and rotary cutter and found the rotary cutter easiest for cutting this fabric.

I made my double gauze squares 1 m x 1 m, adding a 2 cm seam allowance on all sides, i.e. cutting out 1.04 m x 1.04 m squares. I folded the fabric 1 cm to the wrong side, then folded it over once more and ironed the seams,

pinned them, and then sewed all seams at a foot’s width from the sides.

And here they are, three simple squares:

I really enjoyed sewing with double gauze fabric. It is very soft, light, squishy. Squares like the ones I made are not just suitable for babies – they’ll also make wonderful lightweight, quick-drying travel towels. A large rectangle would be great for a beach towel and/or sarong. And I think double gauze will be lovely for summer dresses, skirts and tops, too.

But my next project will be something for our little grandson again: a set of sheets for his pram from an adorable double gauze fabric with a woodland animal print.

I hope to be back with a post about some knitting next week. Bye for now and take care!

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!

Fragmented

Hello!

My days and weeks are very fragmented at the moment, and the only thing I can think of to do here this week, is post a few of those fragments.

Sunday
No workmen today. Ah, sigh of relief. I’m very grateful to them for all the work they are doing, and they are really nice guys, but I’m also grateful for a day without them. It isn’t just the upheaval. It’s also having to dance the distancing dance that we have been performing in shops and in the street this past year at home now, too, that is stressful.

After breakfast we’re escaping the house for a walk in the wood. Many trees are still bare, and in some places it still looks very wintry, but the amelanchiers are in bloom. Although torrential rain on Friday has made them look slightly dishevelled, they’re still worth photographing.

The fresh young leaves of the beeches make other parts of the wood look really springlike.

A couple of hours in the wood erase a week’s worth of stress.

Monday
Today the walls are painted. It feels like a luxury that somebody else is doing this for us – we have always done jobs like these ourselves in the past. Choosing paint colours was fun. There were so many colours to choose from…

… but in the end we chose more or less the same ones as before. We didn’t want to redecorate, after all.

For the living room we chose white with a hint of pink in it, like the blossom on our apple tree. Not like the buds, but like the petals of the fully opened flowers.

And we chose a pale yellow for one wall in the kitchen. Similar to these daffodils that are now flowering, only slightly less lemony.

The rest of the walls and the ceilings are simply painted white.

We’re suddenly without electricity and internet for part of the day, so no computer work for a while. When I head outside to do some jobs in the garden, it starts to rain. The only thing I can do now is retreat to our bedroom and knit.

Tuesday
This was the day the central heating radiators were going be re-installed, but alas… change of plan, it is now going to be Thursday (we hope). Changes of plans are not my forte. The weather is dismal (stormy view from our bedroom window).

Everything is covered in white dust again. I resist the urge to get back into bed and start cleaning again.

Flags are at half-mast around the village (and everywhere else in the country). On the 4th of May we commemorate those fallen during wars and peacekeeping missions since the beginning of WWII. At 8 pm we observe two minutes of silence and watch the ceremony on an almost empty Dam Square. The stories told by survivors and their children and grandchildren are deeply moving.

Wednesday
On May 5th we celebrate the end of WWII as well as freedom, democracy and human rights in general. Normally, there are all kinds of festivities. This year again only the flags show that it’s a special day.

I’m becoming more and more aware of how fragile these values are. We have a mini celebration at home with some sweet treats hot from the baker’s oven.

The June issue of Country Living magazine lands in our letterbox. I don’t think I’ll be visiting the UK any time soon, and it is a real treat to look at some lovely pictures of British wildlife. With phone calls with our daughter and a dear friend added in, this was, all in all a festive day in a small way.

Thursday
Hurray! I have an appointment for my first vaccine jab. And very soon, too. Can’t wait!

Hurray 2! The radiators have been re-installed! We have the house to ourselves again, and can start moving back in. This whole episode, with the semi-earthquake and the cracks in our walls, has taken up so much time and energy. I’m glad the end is in sight. I sympathize with all those people in the north of the country with far more serious cracks in their houses caused by real earth quakes due to gas extractions and fervently hope they will finally be compensated soon.

Hurray 3! The blue tits’ eggs in one of our nesting boxes have hatched. The parents are flying on and off with food. They refuse to be photographed, so here is just the nesting box and you’ll have to take my word for it.

Hope all is well with you and yours, hope to be less fragmented next week, and hope to see you again then. Bye!

Time Slot

Fun, aren’t they, these colourful knitted chickens? They live in the shop window of ‘t Ryahuis, one of the oldest (or the oldest?) yarn shops in the country. It was founded in 1963 by current owner Liane’s Mum and named for a Swedish craft form called rya that was popular back then. I think it is some sort of rug hooking, but correct me if I’m wrong.

Today, hardly anybody knows what rya is anymore, but every knitter around here knows ‘t Ryahuis. This (below) isn’t the best of pictures, and it doesn’t do the lovely window display justice, but it gives an impression of the outside of the shop.

All non-essential shops have been closed here from mid-December. If I’d been on the committee deciding what an essential shop is things would have been different, but as it was ‘t Ryahuis had to close its doors too. Fortunately, we can now book a time slot at ‘non-essential’ shops. It has to be booked at least 4 hours in advance, there can be no more than 2 customers in a shop at any one time, and the time slot has to be for a minimum of 10 minutes.

When Liane e-mailed me that the yarn I’d ordered had arrived, I immediately booked a time slot. Fortunately it was a lot more generous than those 10 minutes and I had enough time to browse around and take loads of pictures to share with you.

Let’s start with some yarn.

Ahhh, doesn’t it feel good just to look at… well, yarn? (I may be slightly deranged, but for me it feels so good to just look at all the colours and textures.) There’s some tweed there, some mohair, some alpaca and even a few sequins.

Every yarn shop has its own signature. One of the special things about ‘t Ryahuis is that they have many, many knitted shop samples to look at for inspiration or to try on.

There is this rack, and another one like it…

… shawls and scarves hanging or lying around everywhere…

… and there are several torsos and mannequins showing off knitwear.

I don’t know what cardigan this lady is wearing, but the shawl is a Stephen West design. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it is Vertices Unite.

While I was browsing around, a parcel was delivered and I heard Liane exclaim, ‘Yay, it’s from our knitter! That was quick!’ The summer top in it was immediately put on one of the mannequins.

It is knit in a linen yarn and the pattern is from the latest issue of Lang Fatto a Mano.

One other customer had booked a time slot at the same time. She needed some yarn and had a question about casting off a huge shawl (I think it was over 2 metres long) she was knitting for her daughter. While she (right) and Liane (left) were looking at it, I quickly snapped a picture (asking permission, of course).

It is a Rowan design, knit in their Alpaca Classic. And I can tell you, it doesn’t only look gorgeous, it is also unbelievably soft.

Apart from us, customers, and Liane, there was somebody else there as well – shop dog Ollie.

Sadly, Ollie met with an accident several years ago and will have to wear braces on two of his legs for the rest of his life. He is such a gentle and calming presence in the shop.

I don’t want to make this too long, because I want to show you a bit of the village, too, but there are a few more things I just have to show you.

During normal times, the shop hosts lots of knitting workshops and knit-‘n-natter groups. People will be sat around this table now covered in knitting books and yarns.

Even the lamp has a knitted shade, and two mannequins wearing knitted items (what else?) are looking on.

One of them has a Kaffe Fasset scarf around her neck…

… and the other one is wearing a light and fluffy cream sweater with subtle colour details and a lace scarf.

I didn’t ask, but looking at it, I think that the sweater is a Marianne Isager design.

Finally, let’s take a look at what is tucked away on top of this wall of yarn.

Hidden just out of sight in the top left corner is a row of hats.

And next to them a collection of knitted monkeys, bears and mice designed by Anita from Zij Maakt Het. Another one of her monkeys, called Saar, is in the shop window looking out. Do check out Anita’s website. Her stuffed toys are adorable and very cleverly constructed.

Well, time’s up. For more information about ‘t Ryahuis, please visit their website. They don’t sell all of their yarns online, but they do have a webshop for Isager yarns, and another one for knitting kits.

Because it was such mild and sunny weather and I had the entire afternoon to myself, I took a stroll through the village afterwards. The village of Zuidlaren is famous for its annual horse fair.

As you may know, I love looking at beautiful houses, and there are enough of those here. In the traditional farmhouse style…

… as well as many other styles.

I walked to the small harbour at the end of the village…

… because I wanted to take a look at the mill museum.

Like just about everything else, it was closed, but still nice to take a look at from the outside. The mill dates from 1851 and used to grind grain and spices, and press oil from flax seed.

Walking back to the car, I passed a flower shop. Flower shops are the only shops considered ‘semi-essential’. Like most other shops, they are closed to customers inside (apart from time slots now), but they can sell their wares outside.

Those lemons can’t be real, surely?

Well, I think that was a fabulous outing. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. Oh, and here is my ‘loot’.

Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace for a cardigan, Isager Bomulin for a summer top, and some Regia sock yarn. That should keep me busy for a while.

Wishing you a relaxed weekend. Don’t forget to take a snooze now and then! Xxx

Note: My blog isn’t sponsored. I just like writing about yarn and believe in supporting small and local businesses, especially during these difficult times.

Knit on, with Confidence and Hope

Hello! And how are you all doing? It’s always slightly frustrating to me that a blog is mainly one-way traffic. I hear a little about some of you from your own blogs, through comments, or via other channels, but on the whole it’s well-nigh impossible to have a real two-way conversation here. I just want to let you know that it isn’t because I’m not interested.

Over here, in the Netherlands, there are more and more signs of spring. The scillas in our garden are flowering profusely, and we only ever planted 1 single scilla bulb about two decades ago. The trees are still bare, but a few branches blown from our pear tree in a storm and brought indoors are delighting us with their delicate flowers.

And the daffodils on a roundabout I often pass are a cheering sight.

On a different note, we’ve just had another press conference from our (outgoing) Prime Minister and our Minister of Health about the Covid situation, and the national elections are behind us. Both have left me worried. But I refuse to despair and, as always, am living by Elizabeth Zimmermann’s motto:

“Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
(Wool Gathering #10, 1974)

I am making good progress on the fingerless mittens I’m designing myself…

… and am hoping they’ll turn out the way they look in my mind’s eye. Designing something is exciting and fun, but for me also surrounded with doubt and uncertainty.

It’s different with sock knitting. After knitting innumerable pairs, I’m entirely confident that they’ll turn out right. I’ve just finished a pair in a stripe sequence designed by Arne and Carlos, and am now knitting a pair in a subtly striped yarn with cashmere in shades of red, pink and orange.

I’m keeping the Arne & Carlos socks. The luxurious red ones are for a friend.

Speaking of socks and friends, I’ve been to see our daughter’s dear friend Silver. She has just moved to a new stables and was having a manicure while I visited.

Silver has magnificent (if slightly dirty) socks.

You may have met her in a blog post long ago, but if you haven’t, here she is:

Silver is whitish, has one blue and one brown eye, and hails from Ireland. She shares her new stables with black, brown and beige horses, with Norwegian, Arab, and I-don’t-know-what-kind-of roots. After a few initial bickerings, they have settled down peacefully together. Watching them makes me hum,

“Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace
Yoo, hoo, ooh-ooh
You may say I’m a dreamer…”

Well, back to knitting. It’s also time to start a few new projects. First of all, I dug out the yarn I bought at a crafts fair in February 2020.

This is going to be a new in-between-projects project – a huge wrap in linen stitch. I expect it’ll take me about two years to knit, and that’s exactly the idea. A project I can always pick up when I’ve finished something and am about to start something else, or just feel like knitting long rows of soothing simple stitches.

I’ve also ordered yarn for an oversized cardigan. Two different lace-weights in a tealy colour that will be held together, one a blend of alpaca and merino, the other mohair and silk.

I’m soooo looking forward to collecting the yarn from the shop and starting this.

That’s all about my knitting for now. I hope you have something on your needles to lift your spirits too, and I’d love to hear about it.

A Cup of Tea in the Garden

Hello!

First of all, thank you for all your kind comments about my new pattern, here and on Ravelry. Thús has already been downloaded many, many times. It’s been rather overwhelming, but very nice too. Maybe you’ve already noticed – there is a new button in the black bar ↑↑↑at the top↑↑↑ saying ‘Patterns’. If you click on that, you are taken to a page where you can always find ‘all’ of my patterns. There are not all that many yet, but I hope to add a few more over time.

But let’s not keep standing here in the driveway. Please come through into the garden! There’s a chair waiting for you in the shade of the old pear tree. Placed at a safe distance from mine, of course. I have a day off today, so there’s all the time in the world to catch up.

Please make yourself some tea. There’s hot water in the thermos and a selection of tea bags in the bowl with the blue decorations. The Dutch Blend is really good. Or you can pick some fresh Moroccan mint, if you like.

Looking up, you can see that there are already lots of small pears on the tree. It wouldn’t be safe to sit here later in the year. You’d need a helmet with pears falling from the tree left and right. But right now it’s the best spot.

And look, there is one of ‘our’ young great spotted woodpeckers. Several of them and their parents are in and out of the garden all of the time. Only the youngsters have red caps. Their nest was probably in a tall tree in the nearby wood.

This particular youngster is slightly clumsy. It has difficulty climbing up the stem of the apple tree, and last week it dropped down – thud – right in front of me into the long grass, squawking, squawking for its parents.

It will have to learn how to climb up, because it’s what woodpeckers do, and also because that’s where the food is. Here’s another youngster with dad. First they sit looking at the feeder filled with peanuts together…

… then dad gets a piece of peanut with his son or daughter looking on…

… and feeds it to his offspring (we know it’s dad, because unlike mum he has a red spot at the back of his neck).

I often sit here watching them. And knitting.

I’ve just finished a pair of socks, knit from the toe up to the cuff. There’s enough yarn left for another pair with the colours reversed. I’m knitting those from the cuff down to the toe. I’ll tell you more about them when the other pair is finished.

If the socks look slightly on the big side, that is because they are. I made them for someone with bigger feet than mine.

I’ve also been thinking about the pink striped cardi I wrote about two weeks ago. My friend Marieke suggested hanging it up with some weights on it to see whether it would sag. That was a great idea and I used clothes pegs as weights. Not only did it show that it didn’t sag, it also gave me the opportunity to look at it from a distance.

It’s fine. There is nothing wrong with it at all. It’s just that I’m not crazy about the stripes and can’t see myself wearing it. So, rrrrrrrip! There it goes! I’ll put the yarn away for a while and think of something else to make with it.

But here I am, wittering on about my knitting. How about you? How are you doing? I hope you and yours are well. Does your government still tell you to stay home? Or can you go out and about a bit more now? Do you have some nice knitting on your needles? Or do you prefer crochet, or embroidery? Or a good book?

Oh, how time flies. It’s been lovely to have your company here. Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!