4 dec: Sunday funnies

My Wolop Advent Box colour of today is:

very similar to the brown I used yesterday! It’s stopping me right in my tracks. I start thinking about frogging yesterday’s part but I don’t want the frogging and reknitting to become a habit. It’s time to let things just be.

So I’m not knitting on this today. I leave it pinned to the couch for a chuckle and wait for tomorrows’ colour to get me going again.

There’s plenty to do in the mean time! My nephew has his birthday party today (his actual birthday is tomorrow) and we’re visiting for the first time in years (health prevented me). We have the Starwars LEGO Advent Box for a present, that should score some points with a ten year old. And I’m going to brush paint a card for him, he’s still talking about the card I made him last year:

So sweet of him because I felt very insecure when I finished this. So many things were wrong. Colours, lines, wobbly perspective, so much ugh. But still, a heavily critiqued card is better then no card so I sent it and what do you know, he loved it and still talks about it!

Another area for me to learn to let things just be. And listen to other people when they point out where things I made or did are nice and beautiful and let that overwhelm the faulty parts I see.

This year I’m thinking baby snow leopard, holding a LEGO box:

It’s fluffy tail and the ribbons of the box will be on the front of the card, leading him to the illustration on the inside. (note to self: attach long ribbons to actual present so there’s an association between the parcel and the card.)

There’s something funny about snow leopards and their tails. Start your education here😉

Tomorrow is Saint Nicholas and I still have to finish the …. (thing I can’t tell you because Lieneke may read this). And there’s all the wrapping to be done and poems to be written.

And of course there’s plenty of knitting. This weekend I’m working actively on the Glitter Fir Cowl, on the stranded owl mittens and for the car ride and party I have the vanilla sock in bright dragon colours.

I’ve finished one mitten (minus thumb) and am halfway the second:

(At the bottom the too-small-mitten.)

 

3 dec: does this look like a polar bear to you?

A little study I made late last night:

This morning I thought it may look like a polar bear, especially with little black dots of embroidery thread added. So I went ahead and knitted white blobs in a sea of blue. Later I’ll add black dots for eyes and noses. I hope the blobs miraculously turn into polar bears.

It turned in quite a broad stripe, as broad as the one from the first day. I wanted to knit more blue and was about to add some more floating icebergs but then remembered I like Capomegranate’s cowl because of the small bands of colours:

And thought it’d be a good idea to just knit a small band for today’s colour:

It’s a blue, but a different blue from the polar bear blue. I knitted little diamonds with it, in a dark contrast colour:

I thought that maybe the dark brown will enhance the noses and eyes of the polar bears (not yet added).

Have a look at my very old tea set:
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It’s from the 1930’s I think. Or the ’50s.
The little diamonds I knitted for today’s Advent bit remind me of the motive on the sugar bowl and milk jug. I plan to revisit the knitted diamonds later on, when I get a yellow or light green skein, and add an accent colour to the centre.

The tea set was out today because I hosted a “pepernoten-knitting-afternoon”. A spontaneous idea I had once I knew we’d be spending this weekend in the city. Six of my knitter friends came by and we had tea and traditional Sinterklaas sweets and we knitted and talked about knitting and showed each other our knitwear.
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“Pepernoot” is “pepper-nut”, it’s our word for little blobs of gingerbread that are traditionally thrown into the house of well behaved children by Zwarte Piet.

Halfway the afternoon my husband and I had to step out and throw some pepernoten at the windows of one of our neighbours. Their children still believe in Sinterklaas. I also banged on the front door. The pepernoten rained on my head because their living room is on the first floor.
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We had “pepernoten” and the speculaas cookies I baked and bits of marzipan “pig” and chocolate money and tangerines and mouses and frogs made of sugar and little merengues shaped like Sinterklaas: all traditional Sinterklaas foods.

It was a lovely afternoon!

Afterwards Lillepoes and I laid on the couch and enjoyed the room with all the left over sweets and the candles still alight.
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Some left over cookies:
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Cookies in the shapes of goat (“cashmere”), alpaca and sheep for the knitters. Four different shapes of cats for the cat lovers. And the antique steamboat Sinterklaas arrives on, filled with parcels and gifts. And a carrot for the white horse Sinterklaas rides everywhere, including on the rooftops.

At the bottom is my new cake plate. I love (LOVE!) rectangle cake plates. Especially handmade, ceramic, with hand-applied glaze. Both vintage and new. I’m also a sucker for x-massy ceramics and bought this one a few weeks ago from a shop whose owners are going to retire.

The one with the cookies on it is very special. It’s Plateel, from Gouda, and was a birthday gift from Lieneke, from Wolop, who knows pottery and is from Gouda🙂
Last Thursday it was amazing how Sinterklaas-minded Gouda is. Burlap sacks with wrapped gifts everywhere. Lights in the shape of the Saint’s staff (a golden shepherds crook). Art and music. Wrapped gifts in every shop window. I even saw some in a little boat on the canal.

PS
this morning I went out to buy some more tea and I wore my hat and took my bag and looked the part again:
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2 december: not a scarf person


Day two is bright blue! I was thinking of a blue tree in the snow, like in Lorix5’s shawl:
Lorix5 infinitive cowl tree segment

Made a chart, started knitting:

Realised I hate thin scarfs. Not just dislike them. Hate them.

O my. There’s nothing to it, I have to frog. But this is giving me stress because will I catch up today? Probably not, my day is packed with stuff I have to do. This is giving me stress:

But I have no choice. I’m not a thin scarf person and would never wear it. I have to start anew, this time casting on 120 stitches instead of 96. Both are magic numbers for stranded knitting because the can be divided by so many pattern repeats. Mostly 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 18. (120 more so than 96.)

I’ve started anew and for todays stranded bit I am now looking at a polar bear on a sheet of ice instead of a tree:

Woodcut reduction print (my favourite kind of visual arts!) by SherlockHolmes6

I haven’t knitted on it today but My Glitter Fir Cowl is trucking along:

But it would help if I didn’t try to knit this into a scarf either:

Forgot to decrease yesterday, forgot to triangle😉

In other news my Tour de Fleece 2015 handspun cuffs match my new hat so wonderfully:
cloche hat and wrist cuffs handspun
I wore them again today, after a long day of Being Useful and hours of Sinterklaas Cookie Baking, when I wanted to pop down the shop to buy some more spiced chai tea for a tea party I’m throwing tomorrow. Wore lipstick even but forgot that nice vintage bag, brought a fabric WIPbag instead.

Halfway I grew too self conscious. Turned around and went home.
Sometimes a day is just done. You’re better to dab the lipstick of your lips and bury your face in cats, cookies and yarn.

First of December: celebrating Wolop and its Advent Calendar

December the first!
Day one of the Wolop Advent Calendar. AND I went and visited Wolop because today it is one year that the company is in business.

I wore my city outfit. With this fantastic vintage bag.
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It had knitting in it. And felted clogs. People on the train must have chuckled.
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I got several compliments while walking through the old city of Gouda though🙂

But first: the Wolop Advent Box! This is how it looked this morning:

I’ve added some basic colours in the same yarn baseL white, blue, dark brown, grey and the left over of my light purple sock blanket. This way I can combine whatever colour I get into a piece of stranded knitting with enough contrast.

First colour of my Advent Calendar: PINK!
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Happy Birthday Wolop!
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Afterwards I had a little wander around. The whole city of Gouda was decorated for Saint Nicholas. It was a delight to look at the lights and the old buildings. I also did a little shopping:
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Weird Wool Wednesday: Dragon Drapey.

Remember my friend and neighbour who’s going to crochet a Lillepoes-Lalylala doll for me? She’s going to do that right after she has finished Dirk the Dragon for herself, and she has:

Beautiful! She crochets so tight and neat.

She’s using Scheepjes Stonewashed and she said it was a daring case of yarn chicken. There’s only 15 cm’s of the green left, out of two skeins at 130 m each = 2600 cm’s total.

Next project will be my Lillirocco:

But first Dirk the Dragon needs a scarf, as per pattern:

and I’m knitting it. Coz that’s how we divide and conquer the world. She crochets my crochets and I knit her knits.

It’s a boring knit: “cast on 8 stitches, make stockinette stitch for fifty-five centimeters long, cast off, add fringe.”
55 cm. That’s a bout a foot, I think? A whole dragon’s foot worth of fiddly knitting to and fro.

(at this point I’d like to deny the fiddly to and fro knitting I’m currently doing on the Fir Cowl… but I can’t… deny.)

Anyway. I was looking forward to experience Scheepjes Stonewashed yarn myself so I casted on last weekend. On needles 2,5 mm because I always need to go smaller than pattern needles.
But after a few centimeter I knew didn’t like the fabric much so I changed to 2,75 mm. You can see the transition in the fabric somewhere between my pink and ring finger:

I told myself I could get away with continuing as is. “The ends of a scarf are better when they’re a little firmer anyway.”

But then this morning I admitted I still don’t like the fabric much, it’s just not Dragon Drapy enough. The original scarf looks so comfy and drapey. Mine just doesn’t.

So I changed to 3 mm. This looked way better and after a few more centimeters I knew this is the right drape. I can’t get away with another change in gauge so I frogged the 15 cm I had and am starting anew, with the right needles:

Now I’ve got a whole foot of dragon scarf to wander through!
And it’s the last day of November and there’s no time and wouldn’t it be lovely of Dirk the Dragon also got some matching mittens for Winter? And what about a matching messenger bag, that would be awesome.

(Also I’m wondering if 3,25 mm wouldn’t even give a better dragon drapeyness to this scarf.)(drapeness)(drapiness)(drapability?)

Baking spicy cat cookies

Out for a day to Nijmegen, to visit a knitter friend who is knowledgable about cats and arts and cooking. Wearing my Bleuet dress and store bough coat:
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Overseeing procedures is Luna,  a clever cat and very sweet. She has art for a feeding bowl:
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Luna’s roommate is Odin, a cat who’s not so smart but very lovable. He has the softest fur I ever felt on a cat!
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He’s so sweet, we could eat him up.
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My friend lend me this book:

of which I raved before. This is such an inspiration to read while preparing for the stranded knitting improvisations I’m going to do starting Thursday!

On the way back to the train station I bought a new hat, at Capello, a proper hat shop:
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Ready to solve some yarny mysteries!

——————————————————————-

RECIPE for speculaaskoekjes/ gingerbread cookies.
Prepare dough the day before.

INGREDIENTS:
100 gram soft butter. (I use full fat “roomboter”)
200 gram flower (I use 150 weat, 50 rice)
75 gram sugar (I use 50 gram dark caster sugar, 1 full table spoon of gingerpasta)
3 gram baking powder
1 ei (large or otherwise add half a spoon of liquid if necessary)
salt
lots of spices + extra ginger + extra pepper + cardamom. (we have prepared “speculaaskruiden” in Holland but it needs extra pepper and ginger and cardamom)

DIRECTIONS
Mix everything together. Leave the dough to rest, for four hours or overnight.

Next day: let dough warm up to room temperature. Roll with a pin (or bottle) into a slab of 5 mm thick. Use your cookie cutters. Place cookies on a plate. No need for paper or grease, just put them on the plate but leave room between them because they will increase a bit in size. Don’t put small parts (limbs and legs) too close to the edge because the edge may get the hottest and they’ll burn.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Put plate into oven and bake cookies for 20 minutes. Check now and then, you might have to turn the plate a bit. Since it will take 20 to 23 minutes this is a relaxed bake, with plenty of time to check and adjust.

They’ll still be pliable when they come out of the oven. They need to evaporate their moisture and then they will get hard and brittle. I turn them upside down while they’ll still hot. I tell myself it’s to help evaporate but really, I just want to play with them. I’m not sure if they stick to the plate if you don’t play with them, I’ve never tried.

It is rumoured they have their best taste the day after baking. But I’ve never tested this.

I really like cookie cutters but somehow I never bake cookies. Today, in Nijmegen, was only the second time ever that I baked them. Still I have about ten cookie cutter shapes, I collect them. I love unusual shapes such as cats and unicorns and would love to have some more.

As it happens, right across from the hat shop is a cooking shop. Bingo!

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I bought some more! But not the owl, that one is too complicated for me. You’d need two colours dough or something.

There’s already a new batch of dough resting in the kitchen, ready to become cookies tomorrow.

First Advent Sunday

The Advent star looks good in the front room and we have a second one up in the attic:
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I watched the Random Knitter podcast together with Lillepoes. Random Gwen is showing off Wolop yarns. We are fascinated.

I’m knitting an unexpected knit:

Fir Cowl by Ursa Major Knits. I saw it yesterday and casted on. Don’t know why. Cannot justify.

It has an interesting crocheted cast on where you crochet around your knitting needle:

The yarn is the custom dyed grey purple glitter yarn from Het Wolbeest that I used for cuffs:

I’m combining it with undyed yarn of the same base: a tightly twisted two ply sock yarn (fingering weight) that some people find too pronounced to use at the soles of their socks. It’s good shawl yarn though.

I’m knitting on needles 2,25 mm to get a gauge of 28 st per 10 cm. I’ve got two purple “trees” and now I’m to knit them together using a white “tree”. Fir Cowl is a modular knit.

Of course:
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Yeah, yeah, yeah, put a sock in it.

I finished and soaked some cuffs made from the left over of the Slush Sock Blank Yarn. The colour washed right out of the last picture but here it is before and after blocking:

It didn’t block as well as I hoped. Stitches still look a bit unregular. They only used 15 grams of this soft fingering yarn.

And I made panna cotta! A new well loved recipe and my vintage ceramic pudding mold:
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Yeah, yeah, yeah…

 

Preparing for Advent

This year I’m going to enjoy the month of December in the city. By now my health is well enough that I can make an effort and keep my home tidy and pleasant on a daily (ok, ok, weekly) basis.
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This December I’m really going to keep it up and enjoy my home life.

I want to mark every day. With yarn. Enter the Wolop Advent Calendar!
It is a mystery box with 24 miniskeins of soft, fingering yarn in unknown colours.
Wolop Adventsbox Adventskalender 2016 breiwolWolop Adventsbox Adventskalender 2016 breiwol
The colours are a surprise! Every day is a secret. I don’t do well with surprises at all but I’ve decided to enjoy this. I want to knit with a new skein every day although I won’t know what colour I’ll get.

So I’ve been looking for ideas to use yarn every day, regardless of the colours you get:
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These are just a few ideas from the many on this pinterest board, all gathered by Tineke from Atelier The Green Sheep.
I made a bundle on Ravelry with pattern ideas.

This week Wolop started her own group on Ravelry and it too has a bundle with patterns for the adventsbox.

I’m looking for a daily thing to knit, crochet, weave.
Specifically things to weave intrigue me. I love this shawl by Dreamersplace!

Absolutely love it. There are accent wefts, in the colour of the warp. And she divides mini skeins so she can use that colour again a second time.

This cloth was woven last year, using the Opal Advents box (which had 20 gram skeins):

How about making a little square each day on potholder looms?

Here too, I’d reserve parts of the daily skein and use it on a later day, to bring coherence in the end product.
A project like this would really show off the colours Wolop chose… which I don’t know… which is driving me bonkers… because I really like to be in control when it comes to colours!😀

Making a little finished item each day is also very nice. I looked for items that only take 10 grams (40 m) of fingering yarn:

These patterns can be found in the Wolop Adventsbundle, I put them there.
But I don’t think I need 24 little cats or elephants. I’m too hung up on usefulness. It’s ingrained into me. I’m culturally and historically burdened! Calvinism! “Thou shalt be useful.” Calvinism everywhere! Without a playful tiger paws from Hobbe….

…oooh….

I only now see what Bill Watterson did. That clever man!

“Calvin and Hobbes follows the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious, mischievous, and adventurous six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger. The pair is named after John Calvin, a 16th-century French Reformation theologian, and Thomas Hobbes, a 17th-century English political philosopher.” wikipedia

Love it. I already admire him for his art work (that brush virtuosity!) and compositions. Now this. Clever man.

Ah. Well. Not trying to fight my ingrained tendencies I’ve also been looking at combining unknown colours and usefulness.

Which logically leads to stranded knitting:


That last one is Lorix5’s Favourite Things shawl.

The pattern is ‘My Favourite Things’ Infinity Scarf by Jill McGee and it is free. It basically says: “cast on 72 stitches, choose a motif each day that makes you happy, continue knitting until reaching desired length, kitchener together.”

Yes please!

This enhances what I want for December: live and mark each day individually. Each day I’ll open one of the mystery packs from the Wolop Advent Calendar, see what colour it is, get inspired towards a certain subject or motive and knit that. Perhaps even make a little drawing to accompany the occasion. Salute mr. Waterson😉

I won’t fret about colours not being to my taste. This shawl will not be about my colour palette, it will be about the experience of December 2016. Marking each day and, hopefully, being a testament to a month in which I again leap forward in health and mental robustness. Or have a fun month regardless.

I can save a bit of the colour du jour to use it later, as an accent or to bring more coherence into the shawl. I’ll also can knit a bit of “bland” stockinette stitch and go back to it later and duplicate stitch onto it with a colour that is released later in the calendar.

I’ll cast on 211 stitches (or something). The 72 mentioned above is for bulky yarn.

And I’ll have a few basic colours standby from the start so I can knit stranded from day one. I have a bit of white, grey and blue so I’ll have enough options to knit in desired contrasts.

Yes, really looking forward to December and I’m already preparing the house.
The first few days are about this guy:
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Sinterklaas, which we celebrate on the 5th.

Around the 16th of December I’ll assist at Winterwol fair again, with Wolop, in the very north of the country.

21st is the shortest day which marks the start of the lengthening of the day.

24th is Christmas, which for me is the start of the “12 days of x-mas” which is the “time outside time”. From 24 until 6th of January (or perhaps 12th) I’ll be spinning. Together with Frau Holle, or Hulda, the pre-celtic goddess of nature, farming, spinning and cats. I mentioned this winter = spinning = weird time a few years ago. I’m glad to give it some attention in my life again.

But that’s all for later. Today I’m putting together the DIY Advent star:
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It’s an antique design, by religious group the Hernhutters. Just carton and split pins (cotter pins). The Hernhutters are do-gooders from 18th century Germany, they are also known as Moravians. I have no affiliation with them but grew up near their settlement in the Netherlands and their goodwill towards people permeated the whole town.advent adventsster hernhutters

Weird Wool Wednesday: goldilocks mittens

There once was a little knitter’s hand called Goldilocks who had gotten herself in a mitten that was way too tight:
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She then spend a whole day designing a bigger mitten, with snowflakes instead of leafs, because she was a spesiul one herself.
But when she tried it on…
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It was way too big. And the snowflakes looked awful.

So she threw a tantrum and dunked a mountain of spiced December cookies in her tea and felt sorry for herself and binge watched the British sci-fi series “Humans“.

The next day she decided to not try and be more clever than an owl mitten and just knit the darn thing on a slightly larger needle. As is, with leaves.
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And it fitted perfectly.

All she needed now was a small bucket of time to knit this mitten and then its partner and then little Goldilocks and all her friends would be warm and cosy for the Winter.

But alas, this is no Disney fairytale.

This is a European tale in which the fridge door just broke off its hinges (?!) and Goldilocks best friend demands attention all the time because she’s bored or wants food or whatever:
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Finished: Sock Blank Socks

I don’t know why one foot is longer than the other. I tried them on both for fit, during knitting, and they both fit.


They used 85 grams of yarn, on needle 2,25 mm.
With the remainder I’m knitting cuffs. They look terrible before soaking and blocking.

This will all even out.

UPDATE

Oh, I know why the feet are different. One sock was knit toe up, the other cuff down. I’m not good at toe up, always guessing where the heel should go.

Cuff down I understand better: