Magic Toes and Flowers

Hello!

Later on, I’ll take you to the place that has this milk pail saying ‘Open, Welkom’ at its entrance, but first of all some sock talk.

Unlike most of the socks I knit, the Garia Socks I started last weekend are knit from the toe up. I cast on for the toe using Judy’s Magic Cast-On, a technique someone in my knitting group taught me years ago. Most of the sock knitters among you will be familiar with it, but in case you aren’t here is a video with Judy herself explaining it clearly. It’s very simple, really, once you get the hang of it.

After the toe, the sock is turned inside out and is worked that way to just below the cuff. Why? Well, this way most of the stitches in the knit-and-purl stitch pattern are knit instead of purled, which makes for easier and more enjoyable knitting. Such a clever idea!

This is what the sock looks like while I am knitting it:

And this is what it will look like turned right-side-out later:

The magic is not just in the toes and in knitting the socks inside out. It’s also in the magic loop method I’m using, worked on a long circular needle.

The heel uses German short rows, also knit inside out.

A very enjoyable and cheerful summer knitting project, these socks. I’ve taken some of the pictures with a summery bunch of flowers as a backdrop…

… picked from the pick-your-own flower garden I’ve taken you along to before. It’s just a short bicycle ride from our home.

And it’s always such a joy to visit, especially towards the end of summer, when our own garden is looking rather tired. Everything is still growing and flowering so abundantly that the paths are hardly visible anymore.

I’ve composed a small gallery of flowers in the colours of my sock yarn (click on images to enlarge).

Like a butterfly, I fluttered from flower to flower, collecting pictures instead of nectar (but that’s where my likeness to a butterfly ends 😉).

Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend! xxx

Quiet Summer Days

Hello!

With many of our friends and neighbours away on holiday, it’s quiet. We have planned a short break later on, but for the time being we’re at home, quietly working, gardening, caring for our grandson, decluttering and DIY-ing. It’s quiet in my inbox, quiet on Ravelry, and even quiet in our chicken coop, as our old cock Floris has died.

He was a magnificent bird and his presence and even his crowing are sorely missed (by us, perhaps not so much by our neighbours.) Floris’ death was followed by that of the last of our old hens. Now we have only four hens of a younger generation left. This is a photo of them I took earlier.

At the moment they are moulting, which means that they look scruffy, are rather subdued and are having a break from laying eggs.

It’s quiet in the forest, too.

We’re in the middle of a heatwave. Adapting our pace to the temperature during our walks gives us the time to notice things that we may otherwise just have walked past. Unassuming brown butterflies on blackberry blooms.

The veins on the wings of a bumble bee.

And this:

Some kind of fungus covered in droplets. Could it be dew? Beads of perspiration? It is very hot, after all, but a perspiring fungus…?

Looking it up, we found out that it is called zwetende kaaszwam in Dutch, which literally means sweating cheese fungus. Seriously! (I haven’t been able to find the English name; in Latin it is postia guttulata.) A saucer-shaped older one had droplets along its rim (click on pictures to enlarge).

Okay, I realize this may be getting a tad nerdy. For everyone who isn’t all that into sweaty fungi, the heather is also in bloom:

I wonder why it is so quiet in the forest, with all of the campsites and holiday parks around here fully booked. Can you see the tent and caravans on the edge of the wood, looking out on the sheep? I think they have some of the loveliest camping spots around.

What are the tourists all doing, if they are not out walking? Maybe they are sitting in front of their tents, caravans or cottages knitting? That wouldn’t be a bad way to spend these quiet, hot days, if you ask me.

It is, in fact, how I am spending part of these quiet summer days, and my Featherweight Cardigan, knit from the top down, is growing nicely.

While I’m writing this, there are 10.2k Featherweight Cardigans on Ravelry. Over 10.000! And that is just the ones posted on Ravelry. There must be thousands more who knit it without posting theirs. I wonder why this simple little cardi is so immensely popular. Knitting on, I hope to find out.

I have also wound my cheerful pink-and-orange sock yarn and decided on a sock pattern. My friend and fellow-translator Angelique suggested 2 patterns from the book 52 Weeks of Socks (scroll down to see all of the 52 sock designs). She has finished translating it into Dutch, but the Dutch version won’t be published until January 2023.

I’ve chosen Garia by Erika Lopez A – socks knit from the toe up with an interesting detail at the cuff. I’m looking forward to starting them.

If you’re in a heatwave, too: kalm an, hè?

PS: Angelique is also a knitting pattern designer – her designs can be found here on Ravelry.

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!

Places to Sit and Knit 4

Hello!

The last instalment in my series ‘Places to Sit and Knit’ was over 6 months ago, so high time for another one. It’s about an hour’s cycling from our home to get to the place I have in mind, along narrow roads and bicycle tracks. We’re cycling through Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the largest lowland bog in Northwest Europe.

It’s lovely, cycling here, but it’s also a warm day and I’m glad we’ve reached our destination. So, where exactly are we and why here? Well, look:

Today’s place to sit and knit is a very special bench in the village of Wanneperveen. The people living here have decorated it with mosaic, showing local highlights. The back shows a ewe with a lamb, a farmhouse, a bell tower and a monument with a stepped gable.

And this is what the front looks like:

We’re in an ordinary street, and the view from the bench isn’t very special either:

Today it’s all about the bench itself, or rather the Social Sofa, because that is what it is. The aim of the Social Sofa project is promoting social cohesion by working on a creative project together, as neighbours, and ending up with a beautiful place to meet and have a chat.

Here are some of the details that these people have so lovingly created together. Several black-and-white Friesian-Holsteins:

A mallard:

And a water lily flower, with leaves in many shades of blue and green, and the date:

I think it’s a lovely place to sit and knit and have a chat.

So, what is on your needles? Do you have anything on your needles at all? If not, why not? Do you feel uninspired or is it too hot for you to knit at this time of the year? What do you do if you’re not knitting? Crochet? Other crafts? Draw or write? Or do you give yourself a break from crafting and creativity? I’m really interested, so do leave a comment if you feel like it. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, just reading my writings quietly is fine, too.

And what have I got on  my needles? Nothing very interesting, really. To be honest, big life events, even good ones, always unbalance me. No matter how wonderful and positive the birth of our grandson was, it had that effect on me, too. For a while I felt totally uninspired. But my hands need something to do, so first of all I finished every WIP (Work In Progress) in the house. When there was absolutely nothing on my needles anymore, I started with some simple and familiar things. First of all the most basic of socks.

Yarns (from left to right): Zitron ‘Trekking XXL’ shade 104, Lana Grossa ‘Landlust Die Sockenwolle’ shades 503, 406 and 501, and Regia ‘City Streets Color 4-ply’ shade 02898.

The Landlust ones have strange memories attached to them. I bought the yarn during a lockdown last year, when non-essential shops were only open by appointment and no more than 2 customers were allowed in simultaneously. It seems like a long time ago. Will it remain a thing of the past?

The next simple thing I cast on for was a stocking stitch Library Vest (with pockets – I love pockets) by a familiar designer. I had some dark blue tweed yarn left over from a cardigan, and was able to get three more skeins (in the same dye lot, yay!).

It’s a really nice project, but I’m writing this on a hot day, with a thunderstorm threatening. And just looking at this picture makes me feel like: what was I thinking, starting this woolly, tweedy thing at the beginning of summer?

And here is the third simple and familiar thing I started – another Thús 2.

I’ve knit this tiny house lace pattern so often now, that I can knit it in my dreams. I’m very happy with this as a summer project. It’s a summery colour, not too big and warm on my lap, and I can easily take it along.

That’s all of my knitting at the moment. I think it’s time for something a little more interesting now, but what? A more complicated knitting project? A detour into another craft? I don’t know yet, but ideas are starting to bubble again.

What do you think, shall we cycle on?

As of next week I’ll be looking after our sweet little grandson one day a week, when our daughter is going back to work. I’ve already spent two days at his home as a trainee and feel fairly confident that I can do it.

I don’t know what this means for my blog, though. I may be able to keep on publishing a blogpost once a week as before, or less frequently, or less regularly, or shorter posts. One thing I do know is that I will keep blogging – I enjoy it too much not to.

For the next couple of posts I have planned some textiles-filled cycling tours. I hope I can find the time and also that you’ll join me again. Bye for now! xxx

Lavender and Moths

‘Oh, no!’ I thought while I was whizzing around the living room with the vacuum cleaner sometime this spring. (Or I may have thought something a little less polite.) I had just lifted the basket with spinning fibres beside my wheel…

… and discovered  a kind of grit under it. I knew what that meant – moths!

I had stuffed the fibres into a plastic bag, put them in the freezer, removed the grit, and shaken out the basket before I thought, ‘this could be interesting for my blog.’ The only things left to photograph were 3 cocoons.

Moth problems are unavoidable in a house containing so much that is high on the moth’s Munchability Index. (Isn’t that a brilliant term? It was coined by Adrian Doyle, conservator at the Museum of London.  There is a link to the article in which I found it at the bottom of this post.) Fortunately, I haven’t had moth problems very often, but often enough to recognize the signs.

I’ve taken a few photos of moths lately. It isn’t that I’m a moth geek or anything. It is just that with my camera in hand I’m becoming more and more aware of my surroundings. And when I see creatures I don’t know, I try to find out what they are.

This is the large yellow underwing on our kitchen floor. It is called grote huismoeder (literally: large stay-at-home-mum) in Dutch. Whoever thought of that name?

And this is a box tree moth.

Isn’t it beautiful, with its almost transparent veined wings in a dark frame? We don’t have any box in our garden, and its family has already destroyed our neighbours’ box hedge, so I can admire it without getting nervous.

Several moth caterpillars crossed my path while I was out cycling this summer. This hairy little monster is the caterpillar of the majestic white ermine (NL: witte tijger).

And this big fat beauty will later transform into a small emperor moth (NL: nachtpauwoog).

It isn’t any of these that munch on spinning fibres, knitting yarn and sweaters, though. It’s the clothes moth that does that. I have, (un)fortunately, not been able to photograph it and am borrowing someone else’s picture. Here it is – every knitter’s and spinner’s nightmare:

Photo: © Olaf Leillinger, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Doesn’t it look glorious in this picture, all shimmering gold? In real life it is only about 7 mm (0.25”) long – an unsightly beige-ish little fluttery thing.

So, what to do about them?

Moth balls and moth paper are one option, but they smell horrible and are carcinogenic. Another is cedar wood. There was a block of that in my spinning basket. Maybe it loses its moth-repellent quality over time? Something else moths hate is lavender.

This bush along our driveway established itself there years ago. It is a pale shade of, well, lavender.

This isn’t a moth, by the way, but a butterfly called painted lady (NL: distelvlinder).

Last year we planted some more lavender in our front garden.

It is smaller and a darker shade of purple.

Moths may hate lavender, but I love it. Its scent, the purple of its flowers, and the silvery grey of its leaves. When all the lavender in our garden had finished flowering, friends coming to spend a sunny afternoon chatting in our garden brought us a big pot of a different variety.

It has beautiful tufted flowers. I have placed it just so that we can see it every time we look out the kitchen window.

I don’t know what it is that makes moths hate lavender so much, but it is a well-known fact that lavender is an excellent repellent.

Over the summer, I’ve been knitting some lavender sachets from small remnants of sock and other fingering-weight yarn. Not the old-fashioned frilly kind, but more modern? simple? plain? ones. I don’t know exactly how to describe them, but if all goes according to plan, you’ll see what I mean next week.

Meanwhile, here are a few links to some interesting reading about moths, the problems they pose for textile-lovers and what to do about them.

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.

Sheltering from a Thunderstorm

Hello! Here is another extra blog post. This time I’m taking you along on one of my summer walks. It starts at this church door. Legend has it that at the time the church was built a certain young lady of noble birth…

… fell in love with the master builder and vice versa. Her family thought this highly unsuitable and sent her away, hoping she would forget about him. During her last night at home, she had a dream about what the church steeple should look like, and before she left she had the opportunity to whisper it into the builder’s ear… (More about that later.)

This walk leads us through an environment that holds many happy memories for me. It isn’t a nature walk this time, but a walk through an agricultural landscape with many lovely old farmhouses.

Some of them still have the little old baking house next to them.

And they often have well-tended vegetable plots.

It is all truly idyllic and picturesque. But just as in any paradise, there are snakes around here. Well, this isn’t really a snake, but a slow worm – a legless lizard. I found it lying upside down with a damaged tail, apparently run over, and thought it was dead. I didn’t like the idea of more vehicles running over it even though it was dead so tried to move it, and then it suddenly wriggled – Eeeeek!

But also – how wonderful! These are rare and elusive creatures, and this is only the third slow worm I’ve ever seen in my life. I moved it to the verge hoping it’ll survive.

We also have one type of poisonous snake in this country: the adder. But the poison that is bothering people around here doesn’t come from snakes. It comes from fields like this:

It is a field of gladioli. The cultivation of these as well as lilies and flower bulbs meant for export to Asia is a source of great concern to those living here. When these fields are sprayed, people living next to them can see a mist of pesticides descend onto their lawns, trampolines and vegetable plots. People are worried about their own health and that of their environment. The discussion about this issue has also become venomous. I really hope a more sustainable solution will be found for the future.

Agriculture has changed enormously here over the past decades. Many farmhouses have been turned into Bed & Breakfasts, and the old agricultural tools have become decorative objects.

Looking at it from a positive side, I’m glad that the old farm buildings have not been pulled down, but been lovingly restored and given a new destination. Small bits of land are still used for growing corn – here flattened by heavy rainfall.

While southern Europe has suffered from unprecedented heatwaves this year, our summer has been cool and unsettled, with frequent thunderstorms. Before going for a walk or a bicycle ride, I always checked the storm radar and I also kept an eye on the sky. Although it felt slightly oppressive this afternoon, the radar didn’t predict any storms and the sky looked clear enough. But halfway along I heard a rumbling in the distance and a terribly dark sky came closer VERY quickly.

Fortunately I found the perfect place to shelter from the thunderstorm: under the eaves of a farmhouse, with my back against a small door.

A door too small for a cow or a person to walk through. Maybe it was for pigs in olden days. Sitting there, with my umbrella to cover my legs, I waited until the storm was over. Snug like a rabbit in its warren.

With the storm disappearing into the distance…

… I walked back to my starting point – the church from the story that still needs an ending.

Well, the master builder did what his beloved had whispered into his ear and gave the church a very special onion-shaped steeple of which the village is proud until the present day.

The young lady’s father realized that the builder was a person worth his daughter and when she came back from her travels they married with his blessing and lived happily ever after.

So, where is the knitting in this story? Uhm, hidden inside my walking boots. I always wear a pair of hand knit socks in them. More about some of those next time!

No Plan but a List

Hello, I’m back (although I haven’t really been away). I hope you’ve had a good summer and feel ready to get back to normal life, in as far as it can be called normal at the moment.

Beforehand, I imagined myself during my Summer Break like the sculpture above, only slightly more curvy and with a pair of knitting needles in my hands. No plan, just lazing about.

Except… I’m not the lazing-about-type (I must have been an ant in a previous life or something). I soon realized that staying at home with a husband working through the summer, there was the danger of my two precious weeks becoming two very ordinary weeks. I still didn’t feel like making a plan, but I needed something to give me some sort of direction. So, I got out a notebook and made a list.

A list of things that make a summer holiday into a summer holiday for me. It included:

  • Travel
  • No alarm clock
  • Simple, orderly environment (tent or cottage)
  • Read a foreign magazine
  • No newspaper, no tv
  • Grocery shopping in an unfamiliar shop (I love those huge French Hypermarchés, and the aisles with dozens of different types of muesli and honey in German supermarkets)
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible
  • Lots of exercise (cycling, walking)
  • Lots and lots and lots of time for crafting and reading
  • Simple food, try a few new things
  • Sightseeing, visit a town, city, museum
  • Some pocket money to spend on frivolous things
  • Send postcards
  • Eat or drink something somewhere
  • Several new books to read
  • Take photographs
  • Keep a diary

Most of the items seemed doable, although some would require a little imagination. I didn’t want it to be a to-do-list with items to check off, just something I could use as a kind of compass. I didn’t do everything on it. One of the things I did do, was take photographs. Loads of them.

Photographs of landscapes…

… lovely houses…

… flowering heather…

… and many, many more.

I didn’t go grocery shopping in one of those big French or German supermarkets, but I did visit a health food shop close by that I’d never been to. They had a display of deliciously fresh looking vegetable plants outside…

… and some lovely honey and other nice things inside.

I did send a few postcards, but I didn’t keep to the ‘no newspaper, no tv’ item on my list. I felt the need to stay informed, and especially the publication of the IPCC climate report felt too important to not read about.

So scary! But the hopeful thing about it is that it seems to have conveyed a sense of urgency. I often struggle with the bad news from around the world. How can I enjoy a Summer Break and blog about small pleasures when so much is going wrong?

This is one of the books I have been reading during my Summer Break:

It is set in an imaginary place in Ireland (travel!), far removed from the real world. In it I found a nugget of wisdom that applies to our everyday world as well: ‘… even in times of death, destruction and ignorance, there are still good people who can make a difference.’ (p. 90)

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Trying to be a good person making a difference. And to be able to do that, we need a break from time to time. Knitting isn’t going to save the world, but at least it isn’t making things worse either. So, I’ve sat knitting and reading on our veranda, behind the flowering dill, quite a bit.

And although the weather was unreliable, I’ve also been walking for hours and cycling for miles and miles.

I didn’t keep a diary, but I’d like to write about a few of the things I’ve seen along the way and thought I’d do that here over the next couple of weeks. It’s far too much for one or two blog posts, so there’ll be a few more than my usual Friday ones. Hope you don’t mind.

What I would have liked to do as well, was visit a few yarn shops in the area, but most of them were having a Summer Break just like me. The only one I visited did have some nice yarns…

… but otherwise was such a mess…

… that I beat a quick retreat and won’t even tell you where it was. But not to worry – there will be a few other crafts-related things to share.

Bye for now, and see you again soon!

(This isn’t my bicycle, but a purely ornamental one in a neighbour’s garden.)

Places to Sit and Knit 2

Hello, and welcome to another Place to Sit and Knit. It’s there, under the giant white-and-yellow striped parasol behind the artichokes. I hadn’t planned on writing the second instalment in this series so soon, but couldn’t resist.

It was our niece who brought us here. She has been a student at Nijmegen university for a year now – a lonely year filled with zoom lectures. She rents a room in a house with several other students in a village outside the city. We arrive bearing a basket filled with goodies and a pair of old-fashioned crochet pot holders.

We’ve kept in touch by e-mail, Whatsapp, snailmail and phone, but it is wonderful to see her face IRL again and to finally see where she has been studying so diligently on her own all year. I really, really hope our young people will be able to have a slightly more normal life after the summer.

After several mugs of tea/coffee and a guided tour of the village we paid a visit to the local windmill.

It is no longer functioning, but now houses a shop selling everything a home baker will ever need, from dozens of different kinds of flour to seeds and nuts, dried fruit, yeast, baking tins, proofing baskets and much more.

To my husband this is what a yarn shop is to me. This time I was the one waiting patiently outside. (I didn’t mind – I brought my knitting.) This time it was my turn to ask, ‘Did you get everything you wanted? Are you sure you don’t need anything else?’

As we rarely get to this part of the country, we thought we’d better cram as much into our day as possible. So, on to our next stop: Nijmegen Botanical Garden. There are actually two gardens separated by a beech avenue: the botanical garden proper and a flower garden.

On the afternoon of our visit, the bog area of the botanical garden looked like something from a fairy tale.

At least from a distance. I hope they’ve been able to keep the wedding dress and the bridegroom’s shoes from getting too muddy and their tempers from getting too frayed. Whose idea was it to take wedding pictures in a bog anyway?

The Friesian horses drawing their fairy tale carriage were pacing back and forth outside the garden, only stopping for me to take a picture.

It’s beautiful to look at, but I’m so glad I’ve never had to go through the ordeal of a fairy tale wedding like that.

Today’s Place to Sit and Knit is in the flower garden. There are lots of lovely places to sit and knit here. Ordinary benches surrounded by flowers.

And extraordinary seats covered in foliage.

We’re heading for the tables and chairs under the big parasol.

Time for some tea, fruit juice and carrot cake. Did you bring your knitting? What are you making?

I’m ‘working’ on my new shawl design, using a combination of silk/mohair lace yarn and a fingering-weight merino yarn. It doesn’t look like much yet, does it? It’s a work in progress and I’m not ready to show you more at this stage. Sorry! These things always take a long time, at least for me. I plan to have the pattern finished sometime in September. Saying that here out loud feels like giving myself a deadline, and I think that’s a good thing or I’ll stay dithering over the details forever.

At the first of our Places to Sit and Knit, my blogging friend Helga from Sweden told me about a linen top she is knitting, using a pattern called Siw (Ravelry link). It is an oversized top with a lovely lace panel on the shoulders. It might be just the thing for some linen yarn that has been marinating in my stash for a while.

My yarn is thinner than the yarn used in the pattern, but it may work. I’ll swatch and see.

With the 1,071,226 patterns currently available on Ravelry, it can be hard to decide what to knit. There are all kinds of filters available to help us choose, but for me nothing beats tips and inspiration from friends – real-life knitting friends, Ravelry friends and friends met in the blogosphere. Thanks, Helga! How is your Siw coming along?

It’s nice here, isn’t it, just sitting and knitting, sipping a drink, and enjoying the flowers (click on images to enlarge). And the best thing is: admission is free and you can come back anytime you like!

Places to Sit and Knit 1

Hello! Today, I’m taking you along for a short walk, to a lovely place to sit and knit.

The bench in the photo above is about a mile from our home, a 20-minute walk. It is around the bend of a sandy path.

At first glance the view from the bench is underwhelming.

But the better you get to know the spot, the more you start to appreciate it. We cannot enter it, not just because it is a protected nature reserve…

… but also because it is a bog and we’d have a hard time keeping our feet (and the rest of ourselves) dry.

But we can walk around it.

We can say hello to some of the inhabitants. Hello big green frog!

Dragonflies are whirring through the air or sunning themselves.

At first glance, the vegetation is unspectacular, too. But again, the better you look, the more you see.

Our native blueberries, billberries, are much smaller than the ones in the shop. They are easily overlooked, but kneeling down and looking between the leaves you can see that they are ripe.

Another thing that is easily overlooked is the sundew. It is a teeny tiny carnivorous plant, with round leaves of only a few millimetres across.

Looked at from very close up, it is beautiful, with its glistening, sticky and treacherous (to insects) drops.

Strolling around here, taking photographs and enjoying the quiet, I suddenly had the idea of doing a series about ‘Places to Sit and Knit’. I thought we could virtually sit here, and in some other lovely places, together, look around and chat about our knitting a bit.

Of course, a blog is always mainly one-way traffic, but I am really interested in what is on your needles or hooks. Do leave a comment telling me about it, if you feel like it. Mention the name of a pattern or yarn and I may know what it looks like, or I’ll look it up on Ravelry or elsewhere. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving comments on blogs, that’s fine, too.

Today, I don’t have a lot of knitting to show you, though. There are the beginnings of a small object from sock yarn remnants that doesn’t look like much yet:

Some swatches for a new shawl design I’m working on:

And a December gift for someone who’ll probably be reading this that I want to keep a surprise:

And I’m not entirely sure this will really become a series either. Maybe the idea will fall by the wayside, or maybe not. Anyway, I think it’s a nice idea and I’ll try to keep it in mind.

Well, let’s head back home, past the house with the prettiest front door for miles around…

… and through a ferny, sun-dappled (at least today) part of the wood.

As of tomorrow, I have planned two weeks off. My husband prefers to keep working through the summer, albeit at a more leasurely pace, but I really need some time to just sit and knit. Apart from not setting the alarm clock and not doing work of any kind, I haven’t planned anything. The plan is to have no plan. That also goes for my blog. I may pop in if there is something to write about and I feel like sharing it, but I’m not sure.

I hope that you’ll also have some unplanned time this summer. To just sit and knit. Or to read, go for walks, maybe even travel a bit, or do nothing. Whatever you are planning (or not planning) to do, I wish you a lovely time!