Totally off topic: tugboat and pancakes

This little beauty is parked in the harbour near my house:
mslb Energie sleepboot varend monument

It’s an antique tugboat, out of solid iron. It’s the MSLB Energie, 14,6 meters long and not even 3 m wide, build in 1923 and a registered nautical monument (Dutch link).

mslb Energie sleepboot varend monument

What a beauty! Don’t you just want to put it on like a handknit sock and admire it all day? Oh, how I love tugboats. Always have.

It may have something to do with the children’s series “Poll, Pel en Pingo”. The Dutch alias of the Danish Rasmus Klump:

One day this little bear cub called Poll and his friend Pingo the Pinguin find a wheel. They think it’s a bicycle wheel but their friend Pol the Pelican tells them it’s the steering wheel of a boat. So they built a boat around it and they name it after Poll’s mother, Mary.

 boat by Simon Søgaards

They travel the world and have adventures and each adventure has them home right before dinner with Mary, who happens to just be baking a big stack of pancakes for which Pol is never too big. Nor for a little kiss from his mama.

I love pancakes! Especially after an outdoor adventure. Pancakes have been important in my life.

When I was at little school I got to invite friends over during lunch time on Tuesdays and my mom would bake pancakes. We’d roll them up and eat them like little bears.

Tugboats and pancakes… In another life I’d love to have owned a, antique tugboat. It fits with the Dutch history of canals and harbours and aquatic industry.

The Energie is a type of tugboat called Amsterdammer:

 pic by Pieter Klein

Low, sleek, powerful. My favourite type of tugboat I think!

I painted a tugboat once:

 art by Marvelknits

It’s done in the Japanese brushing style called Sumi-e. Very spontaneous ink brushings on rice paper which soaks up the ink very fast. No time to think, you have to paint fluent and without hesitation. Like breathing out. Every stroke is one breath. You can’t fix mistakes.

It’s certainly not my best work…

This one illustrates the technique better:

 art by Marvelknits.

I made these one Summer, many years ago, to celebrate the boating festival that happens every other year in and around the harbour near my house. Next year, 2017, it’s that time again. Perhaps I’ll stay in the city again and enjoy the festival, firing up the affinity I feel for historic ship. (I wrote “sheep” there :D)

There’s bound to be a tugboat visiting.
mslb Energie sleepboot varend monument

But first Summer 2016: tomorrow I travel to the cabin again for two weeks holiday. I will bake myself a pancake. Hopefully have an adventure or two.


I finished the cat wristwarmers for my friend and gave them to her!

Her birthday was back in May but I just couldn’t make myself finish the embroidering of the eyes and whiskers because I was so certain they were too small. Once I resolved to give them anyway, (“perhaps she can use them as decoration”), I finished them:

She got them last Saturday and seemed to like them!

For mindless knitting I’ve started a new sock:

It’s a Zauberball yarn. You wind off the ball until you’ve got 2 x 50 grams and then you alternate and make stripes. Explained in Magic Zauberball Stripe Socks by Tofutrulla
This is Zauberball Crazy, a 2 ply, in colourway 2170. Probably my favourite colourway:)

The regular WIPs are progressing as usual. I’m working on Rockefeller and on the socks with the froggy beads. The other WIPs are in the closet, dreaming.

After the first mitten I did not knit any more of the 12 Days of Christmas Mitten Garland KAL by Kat Lewinski. There have been two mittens since, the third one is being released today:

They are lovely designs! And it’s a lovely Ravelry group to read so I’ll be following their progress and look at the new designs. The reason I did not progress is that mitten 2 and 3 do not have that graphic style that mitten 1 had me raving about.

That’s the well documented graphic style called “wood block printy bold shapes what’s meant to be the back ground colour anyway?”

Done in storytelling prints by artists Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel and Hilke MacIntyre:

Done with blocks of colour by Milton Avery and Tomoko Suzuki:

In monochrome prints by El Gato Gomez and Isabel Cosin:

Bold shapes owning the canvas, by Pierre Bonnard and Chun Eun Sil:

Playing with negative space, Daryl Hochi and Noma Bar:

Storytelling, bold shapes and use of negative space, that’s what I love about the first mitten design:

And now for my final miscellaneous trick, here’s a picture of me spinning last Saturday:

Anna-spinnend-bij-Wolop Photo by Meilindis

Tour de Fleece Day 21: Finish Photo

Tour de Fleeve 2016

One Wolop (vest), two gradients, one Passe-partout (hat?), two Iboy Mulberries, half a purple (green) vest with silk and these icy colours from Passe-Partout that still need to be plied:

Today I finished the last of the ice colours, they now have to rest for a day before plying.
In the mean time I spun some more silk singles to ply with the purple(green) singles for the vest. It’s still on the wheel and I plan to continue tomorrow:

Tour de Fleeve 2016

The wheel has a new drive band, one of 3 mm thick. Instead of the thick one of 5mm I put on on Day 2 of Tour de Fleece. It spins well now.

I spend the rest of the day sewing a skirt. It’s about half done now:

Tour de Fleeve 2016

Linen fabric, cut on the bias, with a chiffon lining. A pocket in one side seam, a zipper in the other:

Tour de Fleeve 2016

The satin band on the top will fold down on the inside. It hides the raw edges and reinforces the waist. Biased fabric will stretch terribly otherwise. I used this satin band instead of a sturdy waistband because this is less work and is enough for a Summer skirt (I was hoping).

The skirt has to hang for at least a night for the fabric to relax a bit before I can hem it at an even length.

That’s quite a bit of things I want to do tomorrow! Spinning and plying and sewing and hemming, on top of the other things Monday brings.
Luckily I won the most important medal today:

“Do things on your own time and as they inspire you. A non-stressed spinner is a winner!”

(the purring a cat does is called “spinning” in Dutch. It’s the same verb used for spinning wool.
Plien is the surname of the spinning friend who advocates to only spin when you enjoy it and not pressure yourself in any way.)
Plien is a wise woman!

Tour de Fleece day 20: ice colours

I plied the turqoise mulberry:

and then I spun hours and hours of ice colours of these Passe-Partout Winter whisper mist colours:

Merino with mulberry silk. Got it at the Knitter’s party with chickens last Summer. There’ll be a new party again this year! Looking forward to it.

This roving is so beautiful, with true Mulberry silk, it gleams and glistens in the light. It’s like spinning spider’s silk, from a happy spider.

It contained the colour of my new skirt (sewn by me, finished this morning, a light Summer linen with a silk chiffon lining):

We were spinning at the new studio of Wolop and I bought this beautiful soft ice blue BFL from her:

to go with the grey sheep I spun earlier this Tour that needs an additional colour to make a vest for me.

And I bought this green sock mix:

as an alternative for the blue Leicester above, as a companion for the vest. I’ve had my eye on this green one since the Midwinterwol Fair but Lieneke from Wolop knew to keep it from me because it contains mohair and I didn’t enjoy spinning mohair the first time I tried it.

Today I bought it because the colours keep making me happy. If the mohair still proves to be tricky I could chose to just ply the two other breeds and leave the mohair out of it. The mohair has a beautiful colour and gleam though!

I’m looking forward to what I will make with today’s yarns and rovings. They fit my palet wonderfully.

With the skirt I made I now have a workable basic pattern. Tomorrow I’ll cut the first real skirt from it, using one of the linens I bought in the right colours:

new yarn: Wol met Verve 100% mulberry

I bough two skeins of the wonderful Mulberry plied silk from Wol met Verve!
Both were custom dyed for me:

the second one is a replica of this colourway, nr 450:

which I perceived to be a white base with a mysterious willow green cast and some dark grey smears. But it turns out it’s a trick of the light, this colourway is in fact a semi-solid minty green and is in permanent demand from the dyer.

Again I learn: “don’t shop fibre that you haven’t seen in real life.”
The yarn base I had seen and I knew it was exactly what I wanted.
The skeins have 800 m on 100 grams and are well plied and of non-fuzzing Mullberry silk. Better than the silk I used for Aquilegia Temptress which already grew fluffy during knitting.

The colourways I had not seen before and I asked Sylvia to dye them. We talked a lot about the purple grey one and it turned out beautiful. Way more beautiful than my picture shows!
But for the green one I just showed the picture of Sylvia’s own stock. In which we both saw something different.

Ah well, I might use it for weaving. It’s such excellent yarn and weaving can shift colours so interestingly.

For now I keep dreaming about a white silk shawl in mist colours. I may ask Sylvia to dye another skein… and this time use my words.

Tour de Fleece day 17: 4 silk singles on one bobbin

I had to stack both turquoise singles onto the same bobbin because the Hill Top Cloud Gradient Pack is on the other two bobbins. I plan to ply those once I’m back in the city which for now leaves me in the cabin for a whole day with just one usable bobbin and a strong desire to spin on my Finnish wheel.

So I spun half of the turquoise silk on the bobbin and then I put a marker colour on. I then spun the other half. When I’m in the city again I’ll unwind the bobbin onto another bobbin until I meet the colour marker. That’s when I can start plying the two singles together.

Here’s the marker, it’s yellow and curly:

The silk is so intensely coloured.

It makes me shake.

I wasn’t done spinning silk on my Scandic Slanty yet so I added two other silk singles on top of the turquoise singles:

And I changed the position of my wheel, to have a different view:

That’s Dutch cyclist Bauke Mollema, he is in second position in this 3 week race!

Oh, how I love to spin these silk balls now that I finally found the wheel to spin them on. They are dyed by Iboy and I want to buy some more later this year.

That one on the right, it looks just like labradorite!

My view for the rest of the purple silk:


Tonight I drive back to the city. I had a wonderful few days here at the cabin. I look forward to return here shortly for a longer vacation.

Weird Wool Wednesday: the life of a handspun sweater, from beginning to end.

Back in May 2009 I sheared half a sheep by hand, with non-electrical scissors. It’s Veluws Heideschaap from the flock in Loenen. My husband had to do the second half as I was not well enough. It was a marvelous experience!

You have to tap into your own “mammal-ness” to do this. You use your own body to communicate with the sheep’s body. Touching and breathing is very important. You create a rapport doing so and then the ewe allows you to manhandle it. You get to co-operate with another mammal, wordlessly. A lovely experience.

Here’s the shepherd walking a ewe to its destination by keeping it between his legs:

(Those are adult cows near the flock, a natural landbreed: Heidekoeien. They come in fantastic colourings and are very healthy. The ultimate and perfect cow, in my opinion.)

At the end of the day we went home with two fleeces, here’s one washed and one not:

I was just learning to spin and I spun this:

322 grams, 483 meters in a thick and thin single,

Sturdy but not scratchy yarn, surprisingly. With a nice gleam. From an ewe called Stientje. (All the ewes were called Stientje in that flock, it made it easier for the shepherd.)

In February 2013 I strived to knit a Stientje sweater in a month. I didn’t succeed, maybe because back then I was still brainfogged and not very relaxed. But I did manage to surround myself with a friendly environment and post to the blog regularly. And I used a handspun yoke in colours that suit my face (Winter-type) and that were chosen especially for me by Passe-Partout:

On the 3rd of March 2013 I finished Stientje sweater. I was so happy with the project! Resonating the sheep shearing and the spinning and a pleasant month of February which in other years usually had me depressed:

Feeling connected to sheep, nature and the history of knitting I wore my sweater with pleasure every day!

Albeit a little less so after I got an unfriendly comment about it from a Dutch knitter.
As a group, we were having a technical discussing about yokes and how they can play optic tricks with breasts and I used this picture as an example:

He said that, as a fashion educator, he though my yoke was very ugly.

Now, he just could have left out the word “very”, I feel.

That comment stuck with me for a long time.
But it didn’t stop me from wearing the sweater. Although now mostly at the cabin and not in the city.

In November 2014 I separated the body from the yoke because it had become too ragged. That’s a soft spun single for you. It pills. Heideschaap has a long staple and when it comes loose from the thread it floats and catches dustbunnies. Ragged.

The yoke went on to become Februari sweater, marrying some Irish Donegal Heather Yarn. The Stientje body became a seatwarmer for the cat, on the bench, outside on the porch.

There is has been for years, through Summer and Winter. Various animals have enjoyed it including birds and a ferocious squirrel who tried to tear it apart for nest lining.

The sweater withstood all these attacks marvelously. Which is why I thought of it when we had some trouble recently with another animal attack…

Let me take you out on our meadow this early morning, our meadow with an exotic tree on its horizon:

It’s the fig I got for my birthday last year.

There are already figs on it! Five of them. It’s happy on the spot that we choose for it. I take that as personal feedback.

A real fig, in the middle of Dutch farming landscape:

As you can see it’s a true knitter’s fig, it’s wearing a sweater:
A tree wearing Stientje sweater?!

You know I’m not the one for decorative yarning. Yarn bombing is not my style, I’m too lazy for knitting without practical use. So this tree sweater must have a purpose.

Somebody is vandalizing my fig.


I think it’s a deer rubbing its antlers. But it may also be a hare.
Sturdy Stientje will divert further attacks!

It’s a normal thing to have to protect your trees out in the country. This is the hare protector most of our apple trees wear:

The fig can’t wear these since it has too many stems sprouting upwards and they are too small for such a thing. Ideal for pieces of knitwear though!

A tree with sleeves, who’d have thought.

Yet some fruits need protecting from another mammalian vandalism:

This is my tortured gooseberry bush, it’s wearing chicken wire and A Big Stick to remind my husband that this is not a weed when he’s frolicking about with his strimmer. We’re getting mixed results. Perhaps I should adorn it with some bright coloured knitwear.
Preferably in eye searing Landscape Dyes Kingfisher…

that’ll be the bright turquoise on the left:
pic by Wingham Wool Work


Ugh@ blue green.

Today I’m dyeing part of the Swifter fleece. Later on I will card the coloured bits together with the white an spin for a light coloured, interesting pullover:


Although these are lovely elfish colours they are way too mintblue coloured for my taste.  I don’t want any more green-blue yarns at the moment. I don’t want to spin it, I don’t want to knit it and I don’t want to wear it.

There’s too much green-blue, mint blue, turquoise, see foam, mint green, teal, cyan, aqua, kingfisher, eye searing smurf and blue-green in my knitter life for way too long now.

Back in it goes. Add yellow and dirty reds:

What’s this? Autumn colours? When am I going to wear a bright green with orange and brown patches sweater??

(On the top left I kept a bit of the first dye bath that wasn’t too blue/green.)

I don’t know what to do now. I guess I could chuck it into the dye pot again. But I’m not sure that’s wise. Today is pretty consistent in showing that I fail at dyeing with a goal in mind.

Because, believe it or not, both times I was sure I was dyeing this colour:

Absolutely dead sure.

I guess I could use the brown parts and some of the green parts… But will it ever be “Tranquil Winter Birch”?

I’m so unsure that I’ll spin for a bit to get calm and zen and relaxed again. Grabbed some lovely silk:


Tour de Fleece Day 16: sitting outside celebrating the day.

Spinning the second half of the gradient pack. It’s a beautiful day in the Netherlands. Tomorrow it will be nearly tropical and the same on Wednesday. 30 degrees Celsius and more.

During the day I’m sitting inside with the curtains and shutters closed. I come outside early in the morning and late in the afternoon, just after all the commuting traffic has passed. It’s lovely.

Lovely the second: I’m baking a lot of pancakes!

Pancakes are celebratory food in my family. When I lived in Norway I was baking pancakes and at the same time my brother was baking pancakes, while studying in Spain. Together we spanned the European continent, with my parents somewhere in the middle.
Pancakes also featured in my wedding celebration, ten years ago.

I haven’t had pancakes in a couple of years because it was thought I couldn’t handle gluten but it turns out it’s bran that’s the problem.

Can’t have bran and nuts and corn and seeds and raw vegetables and broccoli and kale and any sulphur rich vegetable and cheese and mascarpone and ham and bacon and alcohol and yeast and fried vegetable oils and garlic and onions. I think that’s about it? And artificial vanilla flavouring.

That leaves me eating pancakes!
This week I learned to make them in a regular pan, not one with the anti-sticky bottom. A real pan needs more fat (I use coconut) and needs to be really hot before you pour the batter.
Then it sticks like mad but if I leave it alone for a while it unsticks itself. The taste is amazing! You are invited to come visit and I’ll bake you a pancake and we can both worry whether it will come loose from the pan or not and then you can taste for yourself!

I eat them with jam/jelly.

(‘jelly’ is American for jam, the Brits use ‘jelly’ for ‘jello’. Don’t try to make a PBJ sandwich with British jelly.)

So I eat pancakes or white bread with full fat butter and a fruity jam once or twice a day.

My third meal is protein rich, to get all the repair-proteins for bodily maintenance and regular operating procedures such as cell division on board.
It can be four runny egg yokes on white bread. Drumsticks, steak, homemade curries, chicken soup, fish. Liver.

Proteins are quite hard for me to digest, what with the weird bodily makeup I have.
First my stomach acid is not acid enough due to low cortisol. But if I supplement cortisol and I overdo it just the tiniest bit digestion is suspended because my body thinks we are in Fight or Flight.
Secondly my duodenum is twisted in an irregular way. The human body isn’t build too smartly anyway in the area where the exit of the stomach is. Organs are stacked on top of each other, with tubes running every which way trying to deliver digestive enzymes and bile. On top of all the colon comes for a visit, twisting its way from the back to the front and then to the back again, just curling forward to keep the exit of the stomach in a choke hold it seems. At least mine does.
Thirdly my liver isn’t willing to produce bile at the moment.
I have to coax and aid all of these factors. No wonder I have to lie down after this meal, when the stomach is ready to release its content.

Then fourthly, if proteins do manage to get absorbed into my bloodstream, I do not have enough blood pressure to push them into my cells.
Fiftly my cells cannot handle proteins very well because of DNA unfortunalities in the mitochondria. I aid this with activated vitamin B12 (methyl-B12 and methyl-folate). For years I couldn’t do this because mB12 is like pouring rocket fuel into your cells: you boost the processes big time. If there are heavy metals or other toxins or not enough minerals and cofactors in the cell the process will burn and crash spectacular, making the person crash too.

It took me a few years to get rid of all the heavy metals, to bring minerals into balance, to boost my blood pressure to minimum working levels and to calm down the various organs and nervous system.

Now I’m at the stage that I can take mB12 and mFolate on a regular basis without burning or crashing. So now I can eat protein and hopefully use it for needed repairs and adequate hormone levels.

And that is how I recovered from ME/CFS. I have a bunch of other problems still to deal with such as Adrenal Insufficiency, messed up neurotransmitters due to MAO A and MOA B being too slow and a traverse colon that won’t work (sending me into Fight or Flight every night).
But I’m not complaining. At least I’m no longer in my bed, very ill. I can sit outside again and spin a bit.

Which calls for celebratory pancakes!