puzzling with crocheted blanket blocks

These are all the blocks I have at the moment:

That’s slightly over half I need, I think. Now it’s time to plan a bit about how many blocks I need of which size.

I’m already planning colourwise. These are the darkish large squares:

I didn’t like them much in the total so I started making them with only the lightest flowers and lightest colour combination (top rows).

These are the light large squares, the main part of the blanket:

These all have lightest back ground colours. I see I need a couple more with the lightest flower petals. Sixteen I’d say.

I quickly found out that if I want this blanket to be cheerful on dark winter days that it’s best to stick to the lightest background and use the other colours as accent. There are already two balls of the lightest colour crocheted in these squares and I bought another two. I will buy a third ball (fifth really) for sewing together the blanket.

The lightest colour for the flower petals gives jolts of light. Exaggerated if I flank it with a darker colour such as dark grey or purple. But I can’t use that in the largest squares because it will be too large a square of darker colour. So it comes to the smaller sized squares to have the jolts and contrast:

In the smaller squares I’m putting my most purple yarn next to the greenest petals. Darkest petals to lightest background.

All these squares are on the floor now and I love looking at the colours and combinations. Thinking about contrast and planning ahead. They are enormous in the way, making the place look cluttered, so I can only play a few hours at a time.

Today I also started to think about size. Eventually the blocks will be combined in a random fashion and it is good to know upfront which combinations are possible. This is what I found out:

The side of one large one is equal to the sides of two smallest ones.

Two large ones and on smallest one equal three of the third size.

One large one and one smallest one is as wide as one of the third size and a smallest…. hey, this can’t be right:

Never mind. It’s a puzzle in progress.

There’s also this: not all blocks of the same size are the same size. Some are crocheted more tight than others. So every formula is approximately and will be adjusted in real life.

I think I’ll be starting soon with sewing it together, while still crocheting more blocks. Just to get a start on that so it won’t be a daunting new task. Putting it all together is a big job …. 30% of the time it takes to make the blocks is something I once heard.

Right, first I’ll crochet some more: lots of light petaled flowers, putting sixteen of those in largest squares in lightest colours and then a whole lot of smallest squares in all colour combinations.


Weird Wool Wednesday: a snack for a felter

When I finally started felting last weekend and put on my working trousers and boots I discovered that “someone” had put six beech nuts in my right boot:
A bit of stealthy doping from a felting fan?

You know who you are!

Finished: grey handspun Flinders vest

So much gets done when you don’t take your crochet with you to the cabin.
I also finished Grey Flinders Vest while I was there:

Top-down vest pattern with raglan at the shoulders:

Before I started the ribbed hem I added a few shortrows at the front because it was considerable higher than the back. Three pairs in total, that’s six extra rows.

pattern: Flinders Sweater Vest by Linda from clickertyclick

yarn: 170 grams of handspun Wolop hollands grijs on needles 4 mm. Ribbing on 3,5 mm. DK weight, 411 m used.

It’s really nice! Now that we’re back in the city I want to make dress shirts asap to wear under it. Like the ones I’ve been planning since last Noveber. But first I have to sew a pair of trousers. Linen Summer trousers. For Summer 2016.

Ofcourse this happened:

Not looking too bad near apples and gotland fleece

So we went to the Apple Day yesterday!
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016
The same mobile apple-squeezer was there again. It has a large hydraulic press and produces cartons of apple juice. Farmers from all around come and bring their crates with apples to be processed on this day:
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016
The rare notaris apple was out in the open 🙂

I didn’t look too weird either:
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016
I’m carrying my new WIPbag, holding Bines Sock, and a pair of socks I purchased at a stand. Around my neck is my Forest Shawl, based on Kudzu Shawl (pattern by Rachel Henry), which features leaves and Dutch mock rib “koffieboontje”.

There were knitters too.
This lady showed me a neat trick to see if a sock is your size. Put your thumb into your fist. Wrap the sock around your fist, if toe and heel just touch each other, it’s your size:
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016
It’s an “old wife’s tale” and it works.

Amazingly your fist is also about the size of your stomach. If you eat more than that volume, your body will produce insuline, no matter what the food is you ate. So a head of lettuce will induce an insuline peak even though it has no carbohydrates. (This modern old wife’s tale is told by dr. Bernstein, the oldest living type 1 diabetes in the world and insulin specialist. 84 yo and going strong!)

I bought these socks:
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016
They’re in my current colour palet. And they have the traditional Dutch sock pattern: ribbed leg, large heel flap, small heel, gusset and a rounded toe. Well made too!

They only cost 7,50 euro’s (less than ten dollars)….

To which I commented that it was too cheap. The lady kindly explained that these socks are knit by lonesome people, retired farmers mostly, who are stuck in the country side, not able to leave the house easily. They feel useless and alone. Knitting gives them some occupation and selling their knits gives them some kind of purpose.
Having learned something new about the world I then told her how much I appreciated the skilled labour that went into these socks and that I would wear them gladly. Her face lit up and she said she’d pass the message along. (I now wish I bought more socks from her.)

We drove back through the wonderful landscape of the Achterhoek:
appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016

Then we were at the cabin again and I had to finish a felting job: the foot warmer, made from gotland fleece, I started three weeks ago.

I hadn’t left things too well then. The fleece had felted nicely to the mountainsheep but I had not put on enough mountain sheep. It was too much like lace:
Where I to proceed to the second stage of wetfelting, the shrinking part, this would probably result in all kinds of holes in the fabric. No, this bag needed another layer of mountain sheep fulled to it, before I could start felting (the shrinking).

I procrastinated for a few hours and then finally I make myself do this:
wetfelting gottland

It took hours and hours. It smelled so bad, of poo and pee. Finally it was time to shrink the feet warmer:
wetfelting gottland
Rolling, rolling.

The sun was nearing the horizon, I was quite done with this project. I’d rather sit in the sun or walk around our little patch of wood and admire nature. It’s amazing how beautiful and green everything is this late in September!

Rolling… Roooollllling…… Another day rolled away.
wetfelting gottland
That’s it. I’m done. I don’t want to roll anymore. I hate wool.

appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016appeldag Woold boerengoed 2016

Once all the wool has fulled adequately and all that’s left to do is the shrinking you can toss your felt project into the washing machine, provided you don’t mind if the shrinking occurs a bit thuggish. If you want to shrink in a controlled manner you’d have to do it by hand. I did a cold rinse and then spinning cycle.

gottland bag feet warmer wetfelting
gottland bag feet warmer wetfelting

Still wet because I didn’t dare put it in the dryer. It’s not drying too quickly because although it’s nice weather it’s actually not very dry air or hot sun. Luckily there’s always IKEA to the rescue:
IKEA stool as a drying tool
Once it’s dry I’ll pry out some more of the vegetative matter and then I’ll take some decent pictures. Trying it out on the couch, with cat supervision, no doubt.

Savouring WIPbags and old apple breeds

This is my new WIP bag, a creation by professional seamstress Dolle Griet, via her Etsyshop. In it is Bines Sock which only needs a cuff.

pic by Dolle Griet

wip bags for knitting

I’m savouring the cuff for the car ride home to the city. Knitting is planning!

I also tried to sew a WIP bag myself. A different model. An easier model! It features owls from a towel from the Ulster Weavers, a UK family business based in Hollywood, Northern Ireland. We bought a towel from them on the last holiday we were on, to Ireland in 2013. I’ve been hacking up the towel into a bag for my hot water-bottle and now this WIP bag.

For the closure I needed a button and I remembered I had the perfect one un the cabin:
wip bags for knitting

It’s a cat on a handpainted ceramic button by Maria.quinn (facebookpage). Also bought on the same trip to Ireland in 2013, in a yarn shop in the centre of Dublin.

Now I will bring it all with me to the city. I plan to embroider an owl in the white space between the owls. Or perhaps a cat in an owl-disguise!
wip bags for knitting

But first we have a weekend at the cabin. Mr Marvel is outside, mowing the meadow (all young trees are sprouting with this beautiful weather). Ew! I’ve just been informed he mowed through an deceased toad… eww. (He’s very considerate of living toads and frogs, scaring them away before firing up the strimmer.)

I will go outside shortly too. There’s a load of washing to be put onto the washing lines we strung between the trees here. And then there’s felting to be done on the Gottland feet warmer.

Tomorrow we’re visiting the annual Apple Day in a small hamlet to the east of us. This time I won’t go dressed like a knitting fool like I did in 2014:

That’s me, not picking up on subtle hints. Sigh.

I’m looking forward to the apple fun tomorrow. The apples on our own trees are not ready yet. Except for the Lemoen of which we had ONE this year. The first one after we planted the trees 10 years ago. It needs a while to grow.

 Lemoen apple, pic from applegardenid.co.uk

Lemoen (no spelling error) is a variety akin to Rode van Boskoop or Goudrenet. It’s another breed a famous notary from the province of Gelderland invented back in the ninetheeth century. Notary Van den Ham really was an apple-man! He advocated the theory that new apple breeds should be grown from seeds, not merely oculating existing root systems. (Don’t know the proper terms in English, it’s ‘enten’ and ‘oculeren’ in Dutch).(eta: “grafting” is the English word for “enten”.)

He also founded the first imker-society of the Netherlands. But really his boyhood dream was to sail the seven seas. His first voyage gave him a hero’s welcome at home. His second voyage made him step ashore for good and study for notary and follow his interests in fruit. Four of his apple breeds are now famous: Lemoen; Notarisappel (I bet you can read this); Luntersche Pippeling and Oranjeappel. (More info on this man, in Dutch)

Notarisappel, Goudrenet

I think Lemoen superior to Goudrenet which is why we planted the trees. It’s an early apple which only lasts the month of September. You can hardly get it anywhere but organic farm ‘t Aailand (“the Petting land”?) sells some each year at the organic farmers market in Den Bosch on Friday mornings. Which is where I tasted it the first time and where I still buy them each year. I brought some with me to the cabin, for warmed apple chunks and to put on pancakes.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking my new WIP bag from Dolle Griet to the Apple Day, the bag hangs so well from the wrist and has the perfect colours. Only what project to put into it? Can’t do the Bines cuff yet. Will it hold the Grey Flinders vest I brought with me? Oh. I can put apples in it of course! I wonder what breeds they have tomorrow.

Weird Wool Wednesday: who’s been eating my socks? + Zorro

This morning I found this:


Then I saw this! The other sock has a hole too:

The culprit:


Now I’m forced to go to the shops and buy thin, factory made, cotton socks!

And I have to mend my socks. Which I’ll never do, judging by previous holes in previous socks. But these are darling socks! With a pattern! So maybe I will?

You probably know the Yarn Harlot’s way of darning socks. She holds them above the rubbish bin, says “darn it!” and throws them in.

I’m not that courageous, throwing out socks that can still be mended. These will go to the back of the closet, where I keep all my good intentions.

Here, let’s have some cat pictures.
This is the kitten I found abandoned in the woods around the cabin a year ago, he’s grown all big and playful and cat.

It’s Zorro!


A yarnbowl and other ceramics

I bought myself a yarn bowl:
yarnbowl Knots and Pots at Etsy, ceramics.
It’s handmade by ceramic artist Knots and Pots on Etsy, a fellow raveler. She also sells handwovens and stranded hats.
This bowl has just the perfect colours for me at the moment.
Look at this amazing glaze:
yarnbowl Knots and Pots at Etsy, ceramics.

It has already seen me through hours of resting while knitting on Bines sock and I only received it last Friday! It makes me feel sophisticated, instead of rebellious about having to rest.
yarnbowl Knots and Pots at Etsy, ceramics.

Inspired by it I traveled to the east of the country on Saturday, yesterday, where a big ceramics fair is on this weekend: Keramisto 2016. I had been there once before I think, 10 or 20 years ago? I couldn’t go for many years but now that my health is a bit better and I have my own car I planned it so I could go. Brought some homemade pancakes and apple sauce for the trip and just went.

You know that I’ve been longing for large handmade tea mugs for some time now and I was hopeful to find some there.
And I did! Barely five minutes there I found the perfect stand and had the perfect Buying Ceramics Experience.

Keramisto 2016 ceramics by Markus BöhmThese hold half a litre each! Their glaze is amazing. Thick and full of character. They are salt glaze or soda glaze. They are by artist Markus Böhm from Müritz Ceramics in Germany, east of Berlin. He has has been woodfiring ceramics for 30 years now.

They are made in a wood fired kiln, which is unusual nowadays since it requires so much wood. They need to keep the temperature at 1300 degrees celsius for three days and two nights. Which means feeding the fire regularly, also at night, I think.

His team mate is Ute Böhm, who specializes in chrystal glazes:

Her work was stunning too. She creates perfect shapes.

But my taste lies with the salt glazes and wonky shapes. Which Markus Böhm provides:
Keramisto 2016 buit
After throwing his mugs I think he hugs them?

They have the perfect “wonky” shape to wrap your hands around and cherish the warmth of your drink. You know that typical pose people do with their cup of coffee or hot chocolate:
Hot Chocolate, Portrait pic by photographer Tom Brindley

My new mugs have a triangle shape halfway their belly:
Keramisto 2016 large mug by Markus Böhm

When I was there Markus himself was at the booth and he was delightfully quiet, mostly keeping behind the large displays. Giving me the time and peace to chose from the many bowls who were all singing to me.

As an introvert person and an artist this gave me a glorious ten minutes. Was it ten? It might have been two. Twenty perhaps. I have no idea. There was no rush. All I know is that I got time and peace to open up my …whatyamacallit… artistic soul?… to the materials, the tactility, the colours, the recognition of skills which set the boundaries in which coincidences are allowed to bloom. It was pure delight.
Keramisto 2016 buit

Making these kind of ceramics has (therefor) much akin with wool spinning I feel.
And painting also. Other artfull skills too, such as reduced wood block printing. Dancing. Making love. Playing with cats. Wandering around a forest. Raising kids (I imagine).

I was very, very grateful for Böhm’s non-invasiveness and I brought that feeling home with me, it is now part of the mugs and of my life as I use them.
Keramisto 2016 buit
One more thing about ceramics: as with the wool arts, admiring ceramics is done by touching it, not only looking at it. Yay!

I also bought these two fun bowls, by Hubert Eller:
Keramisto 2016 buit
Very handy since I use small bowls and plates daily for all my foods and chocolates.

For my daily dose of whipped cream I bought this tall mug:
Keramisto 2016 buit

Made of porcelain, by artist Kamila Dziedzic. She works in Poland, with an excellent brand of Polish porcelain. She travelled all the way to the Netherlands (it’s on the other side of the continent) to participate in this ceramics fair. She was very nice and funny! And very skilled.

I really like having one of her pieces and using it daily. My superb cream whip machine, the Bamix mixer, fits right in.

Here’s a picture showing the scale of my new ceramics:
Keramisto 2016 buit
Ahh, using well made, individually designed, functional objects! That’s what truly brightens up my daily life.

Sitting here, writing this, with my new mugs here and my new yarn bowl in the other room something artful strikes me. I live in this antique house, with high windows that look out on a canal, with a double door, with me wearing typical wooden slippers called “kleppers”, pronouncing the pleasures of well made ceramics and well fitted clothes.
Sunday morning sunlight is streaming in:
I’m channeling Dutch life as portrayed by 17th century painters!

Vermeer and Pieter de Hoogh are nodding their heads 400 years ago:

O my…. I’m an antique…. a Dutch antique.
Nothing changed. We still have the same light, the same city, the same lives.

Imagine the ladies back then also enjoying the light and their houses and their ceramics and clothes. It is just something the artists picked up on and portrayed, for which we now applaud them. But it started with the women and their life and their ability to enjoy the little things in it.

You have a good day today too!


Weird Wool Wednesday: Roco Lillepoes in the picture!

I sketched up Lalylala’s design for Roco the Raccoon in Lillepoes’ colours.

What do you think, does the blue mask work instead of blue eyes?

Colours will be Scheepjes Stonewashed
black – 806 Black Onyx
white – 801 Moonstone
creme – 821 Pink Quartzite
brown – 8-4 Boulder Opal
blue – 813 Amazonite (or perhaps 805 Blue Apatite)
 pics from scheepjes.com

The black is not Lillepoes black… will it be important? The white Moonstone doesn’t look as white as her toes either. What do you think?
And which blue is better? I thought the light would look better in contrast with the dark face. But I love the true blue colour more!

What’s that you say, you could do with a closer look of Lillepoes to base your advice upon?

All right.

The picture below is a link to a long (nearly 3 minutes!) video of Lillepoes and me scratching her left ear, which is a particularly good ear as you can tell. It was taken in the cabin a week ago. Enjoy, there’s a typical Lillepoes squaak! at the end. 🙂

Lillepoes has the most delicious left ear in cat world! She's a short hair Birman from an irresponsible breeder (too small chin and throat system and misformed foot). Very sweet animal. 12yo and on a daily inhaler now.

Hiding from cleaners with Lillepoes, not crocheting.


Today the window cleaner is here AND the lady that cleans our house every other week. Naturally Lillepoes and I are hiding in the attic:


Our attic is a great place. It has high beams which are just peeled tree trunks, really. Great wooden structure, all put together with pegs and joints. Not a nail or drop of glue anywhere. Here I keep my art supplies (I used to be an artist before I fell ill in 2008) and a lot of my arty books and inspirations are here.

Over the past few months I’ve put my boxes with fabric here. And some wool. And a wheel or two. I hadn’t been up here for ages because for years I lived in the cabin and there’s a lot of city noise up here. Even when I was still creating art it wasn’t very nice up here, with all the noise. Always have to wear ear mufflers which means I cannot wear my glasses.

But today I’m here and I love it. Over the past year I’ve grown more resilient towards noise. And this is Lillepoes’ and my special place. When she first came to live with us we put her here, to make her feel safe. (She came from a bad home, at 4 yo.) I slept here for a couple of nights and she grew to love me and this attic very quickly.
All these years later she still enjoys being up here and she’s always inviting me up here and spend some time with her.


It’s a mess but it’s all right. I’m watching a podcast and crocheting on my blanket until it’s safe to go downstairs again. The curtains are drawn because it’s a whopping 30 degrees out there today!

Talking about crochet: a friend of mine offered to crochet me this:

A lalylala pattern called ROCO the raccoon, designed by Lydia Tresselt

I’ve been wanting a Roco for a long time now! It’s been in my queue for a couple of years but I knew I couldn’t make it because you have to crochet these kind of stuffies really tight and I can’t do that with my shoulder impingement. But I kept it in my queue because maybe I could do it in smalls steps or something?

I also wanted to change to colours to mimic Lillepoes’ colours:


Lalylala is a very well known designer and she has a distinctive style. The patterns are offered in many languages. Her website is here.

There’s a community of crocheters who adore her style and make moderations to her designs, such as mini-versions, which the designer then shares on her site. With the pattern that particular crocheter has made!

My friend didn’t know I’ve been adoring Lalylala’s designs for some time now. She just mentioned she is crocheting a lamb by her at the moment and that she has several of her patterns.

I told her about Roco in my queue and then she offered to make him for me. To which I said “NO thank you” immediately. As a member of the “Selfish Knitters and Crocheters Ravelry Group” (Meaning I create what I want for whom I want. Not because of x-mas or social obligation or because some pedestrian thinks yarn creations are cheap or fast or because some mermaid/hot dog blanket is doing the rounds on Facebook.) I know how much work this is and I feared that just because we were talking about it and just because she’s able to make it and I am not she felt obliged to offer.

We talked on about these patterns and she said that for herself she will be making Dirk the Dragon:

DIRK the dragon / dinosaur by Lydia Tresselt

But the next day she brought Roco up again. She insisted she’d like to make one for me. I started to talk about payment then (150 euros/dollars would be a good starting point for one stuffie) but she wasn’t having it. She then explained, in small words so I would understand, that she crochets for relaxation and that she really wants something to crochet in order to relax. She would like to crochet more of Lalylala’s designs but she has no use for the products, she wants the process. It’s not like I would do her a favour by granting her to crochet for me, no, but she would like to crochet something and then give it to me, especially seeing that I love the design and the work involved. Win-win, so to say.

I got off my high horse and understood and thankfully accepted her gift. And now I’m all excited! I had already the yarn in mind I’d want “Lilleroco” made from and I knew I had to do some study to figure out which colour goes where. But before that we had to figure out which yarn would be good for Dirk the Dragon. (We did agree that I buy the wool for both stuffies.)

 colourway 285, pic by Eki

So I studied the pattern for Dirk and it’s made with Trekking sock yarn with neps. Not cotton, which is usually used for stuffies and amugurimi, but wool containing sock yarn. She loves the colour and the nepps but this particular colour is no longer on the market: Zitron Trekking XXL colour 285. I did find a couple of Ravelers who still have a ball and was thinking about asking them to sell it to me (kind of a social no-no on Ravelry, asking people about stash items which are not marked “for sale” but I was willing to do it).

But first I showed her the various sock yarns that are on the market, including the Trekking XXL, and asked her to crochet a little swatch with some of them. Just to find out if wool yarn will work for her.
We’re both glad she did because she found out she doesn’t like it one bit!

The wool stretches where cotton does not. And Trekking is not soft, it’s kind of scratchy (just like all the sock yarns made from wool such as Opal, Fabel, Regia and the lot).
However I do have some high end sock yarns which are way softer, including one with nepps:

Dutch Wool Diva Diva Sock Donegal Nepps in colourway Statue, I still have some left from my Nurmulito shawl and I could perhaps have some dyed up in a good Dirk colour. But my friend flat out refused to try this out. To her 8 euros for a ball of yarn is expensive. 17 euros is plainly ridiculous!

I don’t think it would have worked anyway. This yarn is a two ply (not round) and the nepps are in brown, white and black where my friend fell for the brightly coloured ones in the Trekking. Plus it’s still wool and stretches.

With all the sock yarns out it was clear there’s not a good yarn, with nepps, in a good colour for her Dirk. In cotton yarns nepps don’t even seem to exist. This cotton, however, does exist:

Scheepjes Stonewashed, 130 m per 50 grams, cotton with a touch of acrylic, shown here in only some of the colours.

For Roco/Lilleroco I had already settled on this yarn because I like the semi-solidness of the colour. When I saw the yarn at Sticks & Cups in Utrecht a couple of weeks ago again I noticed how good it looks and how soft it is. The only reason my blanket is not made from this is that cotton is tougher to crochet with than the Scheepjes Crafter I’m using. And the price.

After our week of searching for good Dirk yarn -I even contemplated spinning some- my friend now thinks that Scheepjes Stonewashed will be good for her Dirk too. The examples others made look promising:

 Dirk and pic by Lezelie

So that will be it then. In a few weeks I will visit Sticks & Cups in Utrecht again and then I will buy the yarn for both Dirk and Lilleroco.

This gives me the time to figure out which colours should go where to make Raccoon Roco into Lilleroco:


Lillepoes has a black face and black ears. Blue eyes which I’m thinking might be fun to indicate with the little mask Roco is wearing in blue. Her white toes ask for faster transition of the colour changes. The one on the left is the one I’m currently at.

I’m playing with colours again, in my attic, it is lovely  🙂





I want to come in again. There’s too much noise and weird cleaning smells downstairs.

Frankly, I’m disappointed in you and the house you keep.