stranded knitting in the morning and other surprises

I was working on my stranded cuffs last night, with the only light coming from the computer screen on which Bake Off The Professionals played. This darkness is because I married a bat man, or possibly a vampire, who cannot stand the light.

Either way: I didn’t notice how bright the purple was:

Might have to frog.

There were other surprises too, especially on my road trip on Thursday, and they were all lovely.

My visit to knitter friend Hanneke came with unexpected birthday cake!

We both had celebrated our birthdays the week before and she put candles on the cake she baked for my visit! I sang a little “happy birthday to us” but only with my inside voice. My inner inside voice.

The visit was so nice! Hanneke is a wool spinner and we talked wheels and spinning techniques and colours. I LOVE to talk spinning. Hanneke is spinning for one year now and is a natural talent but stil exploring and learning. Such fun to talk with.

She also loves ceramics and has a collection of tea pots!
She was showing me her pieces around the room but then we had to take an unexpected break because she had skins of dragon flies on display and my husband is a major dragon fly fan (so he’s probably more of a bat than a vampire?) and I had to photograph them and show them to him via WhatsApp.

A whole, finished beast crawls out of these. An animal ready for hunting in the skies, after a life time of hunting in the pond:

Of course my husband knew all this already. Tss.

THEN! It turned out that Hanneke is AN EXPERT on dragon flies!

She knows all the Latin names and we had to sit down properly and talk dragon flies and have more cake and I now properly dragon fly dazzled my husband with things Hanneke told me.
Dragon flies are dear to my heart. They are so intelligent, and such skilled hunters. Not afraid of humans. There are plenty around the cabin, we made micro climates for them when we bought the place.

The meadow floods every Winter and in Spring you can see my husband going around with a bucket, catching dragon fly young and transport them to the pond behind the cabin.
Last week, in high Summer, he spotted a dragon fly laying eggs around the pond behind the cabin. Succes!

He also photographs them and this is a Beekrombout, a protected species, which comes in handy in the court case I’m involved in at the moment. (Gomphus vulgatissimus, the common clubtail)

Then Hanneke reveals she’s also an expert on hoverflies (Syrphidae)!

Which I like too because they can hang still in front of you, watching you curiously, and then they will sit on your finger after they have tapped it a few times to check it out. I don’t know names apart from the “I Am Wearing Pyjama’s Hover Fly” which is the Dutch name of this guy:

Episyrphus balteatus, called “marmelade hover fly” by the English world. Man, you guys missed an opportunity to name your animals! Or you lacked liquor.
The humans who named the Dutch dragon flies and damsels were pleasantly drunk: The Big Emperor; Horse Gobbler; Glazier; Glass Cutter; Flat Belly; Little Light; Water Sniffle;

It took a while before Hanneke and I could go back to the ceramics and it was such a nice visit that I totally forgot to take pictures.

That day I ran two errands in the town Hanneke lives in. One was to the fabric store FiberRachel had shown me: Harry’s Stoffen. Loot:
road trip enschede harry’s stoffen
That’s two (or four) table clothes for the cabin and some sturdy fabrics for skirts and some smooth gaze for washing Merino. And a jersey on top for a Winter dress.

They wrap your purchases in paper. I asked to take a picture before she taped it shut, so I had a visual record of my fabrics and could think about them while I had a cup of coffee:

Which comes with liqueur in Twente!

I had to sit there for a while because a major rain cloud was coming over (and to allow my body to process the alcohol). So I bought more fabric:

Two viscose tricots, for simple sleeveless dresses. I have one viscose dress like that and it’s the only thing I wore when temperatures where above 30 degrees celcius. Better make some more because people are telling me heat waves will be more frequent in the future.

Before the fabric and the rains this was my breakfast:
road trip enschede harry’s stoffen
Van Der Poel is a famous local ice cream parlour. With the biggest vitrine in Europe.

It was ok. Rather sweet. I’ve had better ice cream. Both at Wolbeest’ Da Giovanni in Swalmen (major ceramic village! Hanneke has been there) and in Den Bosch.

And I picked up a darling tea set that somebody sold online:

This person had lots of things for sale so I was sure it was a dealer of some sort. But it turned out to be a darling old lady who is trying to empty her home so she can move. She’s 87 you know. I asked where she plans to go and she told me about these small apartments in town, just a living room and a bed room. With assistance nearby.

“But there’s also this little cottage outside of town, in the middle of nature. Even though my son does not approve I plan to go there.”

This tea set had belonged to her mother and she had had it in her attic all her life. Barely used it. I will use it, I love the quirky design. It looks ’50s futuristic space age but it must be from the 1920’s or even earlier. There are no markings at the bottom.

Yesterday I send this picture to the seller:

to show her a bit about where her tea set has landed. With another darling old lady, in a cottage in the country. Probably not approved by some people’s sons but I’m trying not to let that bother me.

At the end of the day I drove home, accompanied by an unexpected ’80s music parade on the radio and my trusted Knitted Hammer Shark Navigation Unit:
road trip enschede harry’s stoffen

Back at the cabin Lillepoes was pleased I was back:

I send these pictures to my husband who laughed out loud and then Poekie presented because when you can laugh you can pet and cuddle. And should.


Keramisto 2017 ceramics fair: buying tea accessoires.

This weekend I visited Keramisto again, the yearly ceramics fair in the east of the Netherlands. Last year I went for the first time, eager to get some unique tea mugs. This year I returned for more things. I went with my neighbour who is a ceramist herself, and her mother.

We arrived early and it was cold and wet:
Keramisto 2017

But never mind because within 5 minutes I had bought these two big tea mugs by Ute Böhm from Müritz Ceramics in Germany:
Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiekKeramisto 2017 ceramics keramiek
I bought two of salt oven tea mugs from her husband Markus Böhm last year:

This year I bought a matching plate:
Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiek

Then we found a stall showing work from Joop Crompvoets. He’s a man from Swalmen (yes, the small village in Limburg where The Wolbeest has her wool studio and runs the best ice cream shop in the country. This village is magic.) and he is a master potter. He can plan a thing and then make the thing!

He makes tea things in wonderful salt oven techniques:
 pic by Crompvoets

I bought a tea thing!
Keramisto 2017Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiek
Yes, that’s a real handmade tea pot, at my house now. Mine! Wow!
It’s amazing at the touch, so smooth but with many textures and colours to marvel at.

You can imagine that after that purchase I was giddy and thrilled and satisfied and beaming and exhausted all at the same time. We’d only been at the fair for 15 minutes and already I was done!
We spend the next two hours slowly making our way through the ailes, admiring all the work. There is such variety at Keramisto!

Unfortunately it was very very cold and I was not suitably clothed. I went back to the car for some back up wools I keep there….
Not sure I fitted in with sophisticated ceramic aficionados after that:
Keramisto 2017
But only one person laughed, the rest behaved and let me look at ceramics in peace:
Keramisto 2017
This was at the stand of Thierry et Christiane Dupuy Joly where I bought a small bowl with big glaze:
Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiek

At the next stand I saw these small porcelain bowls by Sylvie Gorde:
Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiekKeramisto 2017
These are ideal to hold water when painting. Let’s see me try tipping over these babies!
They are so fine and translucent. It will be a pleasure to dip my brushes in these.

It was still very cold but the sun came through a bit:
Keramisto 2017

What’s that?
Keramisto 2017
Keramisto 2017 Ah yes. Obviously. A meerkat checking his phone.

We spend a lot of time looking at the wonderful work by Lina Bekeriene (facebook link) from Litouwen:
Keramisto 2017
It’s raku fired, meaning in a fire pit outside and then while the work is still piping hot it is placed in a vat with saw dust. That’s when the clay becomes black and that’s when the glaze cracks and the cracks become black.
Now note how the moon in this work is made from typical Raku glaze (=cracked) while the other glazes are non-crackling glazes. That is amazingly use of techniques.

My neighbour explained all this to me and made me marvel.
And then she made me smell the work….
It smells of firewood! It is amazing.

 pic by Keramisto
All Lina Bekeriene’s lidded pots and containers and tea pots have secret glazing stories on the inside. Like in the middle of the container or on the inside of the lid. This is an amazing artist and one day I am going to buy something from her.

The weather got better.
Keramisto 2017

This is the stand of Hubert Eller from Germany, where I bought two little bowls last year which I use every day, sometime even cleaning it out with that fat finger of mine:
Keramisto 2017

This is work by Ewelina Suchanek, who wants to bring the magic and tactile pleasure of nature to urban people:
Keramisto 2017
It’s raku fired and there are lichen growing in it. She also has jewellery like this. And many containers and bowls. I bought this wonderful “stone” which lies in the hand so friendly and confirming that I held it in my hand for the rest of the fair:
Keramisto 2017 (I didn’t put the lid on right here, it fits perfectly.)

This lady makes fine porcelain for sophisticated tea parties:
Keramisto 2017Keramisto 2017
Maranke Thunig

Potter’s fun: throw raw clay at a display of wooden shoes (clomps) and if it sticks or gets into the clomp you get a prize. A freshly turned plant pot. No idea how you’re supposed to bring a wet piece of clay home, let alone fire it in a kiln!
Keramisto 2017

When we were about to leave I ran across the stand of Shrusko Ceramics, whom I had identified previously on the list of participants to pay a visit. You can see why:
Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiek
Such friendly and fun work! I love the handpainting, the spontanity of the lines.

They have such eye for detail. They wrapped up my purchases in a really nice way:
Keramisto 2017 ceramics keramiek

Then we drove away, through wonderful Dutch landscapes, crossing the river by ferry:
Keramisto 2017
Keramisto 2017Keramisto 2017Keramisto 2017Keramisto 2017Keramisto 2017

And then we had tea at the inlaws of my neighbour and their pets are as lovely as their people:
hond op schoothond op schoothond op schoothond op schoothond op schoot
I’ve never had a dog sit in my lap!

Enjoying the city of Utrecht

Yesterday I met a knitter friend for a stroll through the city of Utrecht and hand over the Tour de Fleece price she choose: the pyramid bag I sewed. We had a blast!

We started off with coffee and pie at the Koekfabriek:

They specifically employ mentally challenged people at their bakery, that’s located close to the café:
 pic by Koekfabriek.
The pies an cookies are of very high quality. Hey, they’re starting a Koekfabriek in Breda too! In “hartje Ginniken”. Another city that needs exploring with a knitter.

Then we went across the street to the local yarn shop Sticks & Cups where I bought some salmiak yarn:

Sticks & Cups Sockstravagance, 400 m fingering but quite fluffy, felt more like sportsweight.

They had this weird yarn, it feels like a x-mas tree:
The lady said it was for making scrubs but my mind was already on an ’80s sweater for a pregnant lady: big piece of this on your tummy, preventing people from touching you.

Next to the LYS is a cat shop!
Jacq is a cat lover too and we had a blast. The owner at Mermaidy told us there will be a cat café opening soon in Utrecht! We need to come back.

Then we walked under the Dom, which has a book store and they have a special section with Frisian books. Bookstore Steven Sterk:
Dom vanaf de Maartensbrug
pics by E. Dronkert and by Indebuurt
It reads: “No must-you listen!”. Frisian is just stirred up English.

We had also visited the haberdashery Ria’s fournituren at the Zakkendragerssteeg where I got some nice hooks and bars for all the skirts I will be sewing, someday, soon.

looking otwards the museum in utrecht pic by douglas johnston

We strolled through the city, along the old canals with all their little weird shops and along the more quiet streets with their old buildings and hidden gardens.
In one little shop, Loeksgood at the Oude Gracht, we had a peek and then I ended up buying two coats for windy and rainy days:
A purple and a raspberry one with a hood. These are “soft shells” which is a new term to me. It’s wind proof and water proof and you can just scrunch them up in a bag or sit on them and they still function. I’m so old fashioned, I emerge from a time where these were called “in-between-season-jackets” and you couldn’t scrunch them up because the waterproff layer would crack and disintegrate. You couldn’t wear a bag strap on your shoulder either because the that layer would falter and you end up with wet shoulder.

My, how time’s have changed, the future is here! Never mind I didn’t get my hoover board, good functional light weight jackets are here!

Just to show how backwards I’ve been, this is the second time I’m learning about “soft shells” this week. On Thursday I learned about soft shell tacos:
pic by In de Buurt.
New food bar fifty-fifty in Den Bosch.
I learned I like them, soft shell tacos!

(I also learned these soft shells are entirely different from soft shell crabs, which I learned about earlier this year when my husband bought those instead of regular fancy crab for me to make salad with.)(which I failed at.)

(Please tell me I’ve now been educated about all the soft shell things that have emerged in the past decade. It’s a theme I would gladly not peruse any further.)

Utrecht is full of old houses with wonderful facades (lots of Art Nouveau!) and secret passages and gardens. A very green city.
View from the Dom tower pic by Jasha

At the canals the trees are planted on the lower quays, making you walk amongst the bulk of the tree at street level now. How smart is that:
Winkel van Sinkel pic by JTWS85
Oude Gracht, Utrecht pic by David Spender

Last century:
The Oude Gracht Viebrug Utrecht Holland pic by Snapshots of The Past
And they love their canals too. They are currently digging up a canal they had previously filled to make way for cars to travel along the city centre fast. Nowadays they are of the opinion cars should travel to the centre and then park. If you want to bypass the centre there’s no need for you to do that in close proximity of the centre.

This map highlights the old, 12 century waterway, which laid all around the inner city as a protective measure. Last century they got it in their head to fill it all up and make a highway of it. Luckily they only did that small piece on the left:
 Dutch Wiki about the plans.
Nowadays they are digging that part up again. The whole waterway has greenery on both sides, it’s like a park. It’s called a “singel”.
(From north to south you see the smaller, light blue line, that’s the Oude Gracht. Those are canals, they don’t have the soft earth shoulders.)

Along one of the canals we found a piece of technology:
We messed around with it, making the camera turn this way and that. But us, even though being both engineers, were too high on pie and wool fumes to realize what it actually is.

It’s a device to measure changes in the height of the wall, possibly caused by the construction on the other side. Duh. Don’t play with it.

We walked around the south part of the inner city. Here the Miffy museum is located, its artist Dick Bruna having been a well know inhabitant of the city until his death earlier this year.
 Dick Bruna

In the south there’s also the observatory Sonnenborgh and lots of greens along the water/ the singel.
Sterrenwacht Utrecht pic by Kars Alfrink

We ended our city trip at the old botanical garden:
pic by Universiteitsmuseum
We had a stroll through the garden and more tea and knitted on our projects.

I knitted on this:

Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier in the silk cotton yarn I bought last week in The Hague.

Just as we were leaving the Hortus I found a new addition for my collection of large, tall, ceramic-y tea mugs:
It’s a Danish design, by Galzone. It’s huge!

It was a LOVELY day! 😀
and I spend more money than I’d ever thought but hey, wool and jackets and large mugs are important to have.

The amount of greenery and the many peaceful spots of the city of Utrecht have me thrilled. So many places where there was no noise. Just birds chirping. If you ever visit the city, do take a canal adjacent to the Oude Gracht or walk along the outer parts of the Oude Gracht, in the north or south. It’s only the middle that is busy and noisy. Which, to be honest, certainly has a charm of its own and must be seen too. Lots of chocolates to be had there.

A swap received: Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

I visited with Meilindis yesterday, in our important city of The Hague. We went for a stroll in the city forest (yes they have a forest in the city, with fully grown trees and it feels like visiting a green cathedral. There’s also a royal palace in the middle. And a Japanse garden.)

trees overhead pic by J E Theriot

After an hour we stopped for tea and cake.
And then she presented me with my swap!
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
A total surprise! I had only send her her own swap package the other day and now it turns out she was my return swapper all along. For our Favourite Books Swap. Rascal!

She had read the book Hitch Hiker to the Galaxy which is one of my favourites:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad coverswap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

This is an iPadcover is in her own handspun:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Project page here. Adorned with large friendly letters 🙂
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Such gorgeous colours. Exactly the green I adore: misty misty green.
For reference: these cat eyes always live in my mind.

Stitchmarkers in the binary code for 42: 101010
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
I adore mathy geekery like this. Meilindis also mentioned in the swap card that “42” in ascii code is *
And in normal/internet writing an * stand for “anything you like” which is a wonderful answer to the question about life, the universe and everything.

And she knitted a shawl in the blueest blue, which she knows I won’t knit for myself:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
The pattern is Magrathea by Martina Behm. Magrathea is the planet where planets are being designed and made.

It has an genius construction: you start at the narrow end on the right and increase, incorporating the lace edge as you go. Then, at 75% of your meterage, you stop all garter stitch and start the lace edge at the left side. It looks like its sibling but is knitted in another direction.
 pic by Meilindis
The famous shawl Hitchhiker is also by Martina Behm and is also inspired by the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy 🙂

Shawl Hitchhiker en Leftie, also by Behm:

Hitchhiker currently has 27698 projects on Ravelry!

The booklet in the swap is from the ’80’s and invites the reader to look at the world differently. Very suitable, both in reference to tHHGttG as in reference to me.
A wonderful swap!

After all the fawning over the goodies we had a nice lunch and then we went to the high quality local yarn shop of The Hague: Cross & Woods.
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
It’s “a crafting parlour”…. and they have gorgeous yarns, fabric and fibre:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

I went home with this:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Ah… uhm…

That silk cotton yarn will become a Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier:

A lovely summer top and I’ve been wanting to knit a second one for a few years now. I knit one in Tussah silk back in 2013 and I wear it a lot, even though it has the totally wrong colour.

Six weeks ago I nearly bought 4 skeins of bright yellow linen at Spinspul but it didn’t happen. Now I’ve gotten my hands on this soft, silvery yarn, I’m sure a Buttercup will happen now!

But first knit like the wind on that lila cardigan! I’m at the sleeve now and I knit in the train towards The Hague and also on the way back. I barricaded myself with woolly things in the train. This my woolly bubble:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

Back home and I’m using the iPad cover:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
It gives a good feeling about that electronic window upon the world: the iPad.

Meilindis send two pictures of her lovely cat Freya who always helps with blocking:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover pic by Meilindisswap 42 hhgttg ipad cover pic by Meilindis
And I just noticed she wrote a blogpost about our double swap and she takes much better pictures than me: go read it here 🙂

Knit- and Crochet festival in Nieuwpoort last Friday

We had a nice day out in the old town of Nieuwpoort where everybody had joined in the knitting madness. All houses were decorated, both inside and out, with balls of yarns and knitwear. Here’s the beautiful old town hall:
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017
The stand of mushroom expert Chiel Noordeloos:
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

He was glad to see my projects 🙂

It was on the first floor of the old town hall. Beautiful old atmosphere and exposition:
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

The people from where there!
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017
Wonderful people 🙂 The vest is made with their own program, the free site in which you can make charts for knitting, crochet and embroidery: I use it too for my vests and mittens.

There were many vendors and I didn’t take enough pictures. Organizing vendor De Schapekop had a nice idea for trying out little balls of yarns for a stranded wrist cuff. Wolop offered something similar last year.
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017 Ooh, nice colours!

This guy…
brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

For the mushroom vests I bought some extra ball of white so I definitely have enough and then I enrolled for the same workshop again, next year. (!!)

I also bought a second hand book about plant dyeing. The book by Dutch wool expert Iet van de Vrande. THE book. Heavily sought after. From 1979. Mine is in Swedish…  :s

I did not buy the beautiful carded fleece that was dyed with nettles in a beautiful light green…. celery green. It was suffolk. Enough for a sweater. But I did not buy it. Because we are still sleeping in the attic because I stashed all my fleeces in the main bedroom. And I prefer to spin other fleeces such as Swifter. But I loved that colour and the vendor was such a nice person.

I also did not buy a yearling fleece of Fries Melkschaap. The only breed I still have to try out! It was about two kilo’s, of skirted fleece, looked very good, not much vegetable matter or poo. But they did not offer bank card payments (pinnen) and it was too much of a hassle to try and get the cash somewhere and I was pretty worn out by then and maybe it’s for the best. I’m sure another Fries Melkschaap will trot across my pad on of these years. Let’s hope so. I’ve been yearning for this breed for 5 years now. Exactly the time spinning has become popular and prices have soared and good fleeces are hard to source.

It’s alright, it’s alright. I have the box full of blue Shetland right here next to my wheel to finish. There’s the light green Swifter waiting at the cabin to be carded. There’s half a fleece of blue Merino ready to be wool picked. The other half wants to be washed and have its locks combed (I have a date for help with this this Summer, it’s definitely going to happen). There’s the Bont Schaap yearling fleece from last year waiting to be skirted and washed… And many, many rovings in my stash and all kind of things that can be carded into batts. Breathe. Breathe. There’s plenty of years in the future to find a quality Fries Melkschaap.

I did buy some tea and got a recipe to make ice tea, unsweetened. Will be trying it out during spinning adventures this Summer. Starting next Thursday when I spin at the Sheep Shearing Fest in Lichtenvoorde in the east of the country, near my cabin. Tok! Tok! Tok! Tôôôôôôk!

brei haakfestival de Schapekop Nieuwpoort 2017

art “Swedish Chef” by Paul Schipper for sale

Lüneburg in Germany and back to Holland

Lüneburg is filled with characterful houses:
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerkLüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerkLüneburgLüneburgLüneburgLüneburg

This is the street we were staying at:
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk

In that bit of shrubbery on the right a family of sparrows lives. They are chirping all day. To their neighbours, the family of sparrows, that live in the bit of shrubbery on the left. Those chirp back. It was so cheerful 🙂

We had a guided tour of one of the wedding guests of the St Michael’s church in Lüneburg. It’s an amazing place!
It’s old, filled with history and weird bits of information.
Bach was a student there, he studied music with the monks. Because of the salt trade the columns are crooked and the church might actually collapse. There’s a whole second church in the basement, by design.
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk

Yes, there’s a whole second church underneath the large church. The monks built it so they had a proper place of worship while they took their time to build the large church with attention. Rightly so, it took them 40 years to build the big place, back around 1400.
All the while they used the “basement-church” for their daily prayers and sermons:
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerkLüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerkLüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk
The under-church is still in use, in Winter, when it’s cosier and warmer there then in the big church.

There are ceiling-seals meant as resting points for the faithful gaze. They all depict an animal that have a special meaning.

Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerkLüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk

The church upstairs is beautiful too. But less cosy.
It’s large columns are crooked. 60 centimenters from the straight vertical!
There’s a string hanging from the top of the colomn, with a weight. It’s straight but it veers away from the column:
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk
The only thing straight in the upper church is the organ.

Back-up dinner:
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk

We had a stroll along the beautiful landscape surrounding Lüneburg. They made a tower there, just to have a view. And then we found a throne, in the woods.

More chocolate! This is a Lüneburger heath bonbon:

The Lüneburger salt-sow (in the background there’s a Dutchman holding groceries (a.k.a.chocolate!) in a shopping bag):
The story of the salt-sow is marvelous! It’s a 1000 years old.

It truely is that old. Once upon a time hunters saw a mythical sow with a white belly. Upon investigation they found where the sow had been sleeping, it was in a large salt pan. The salt had crusted her belly white.

That’s how the humans found out about the large salt deposits beneath the town of Lüneburg. They started to exploit the salt and it made them very wealthy, all through the Middle Ages. They brought up 20.000 tons per year in the 1400’s! That’s why the houses are so richly decorated. That’s why Lüneburg has been an important Hanze stad. They transported it to the town of Lübeck, which is now known for its Marzipan, and from there it travelled all over Europe. Especially to Bergen, Norway.

Salt has been a valuable commodity for centuries. Roman soldiers were payed their wages in salt.  Another illustration is the saying “The salt of the earth”.

Lüneburg had a blooming salt industry for centuries. They flushed the salt deposit underneaht the city with water, brought up the sludge and cooked to evaporate the water. Until stupidly smart people in the West started drying sea water and getting cheaper salt that way. The German industry dwindled and the factory closed in 1980, after having been in business for a 1000 years. A thousand years!

Now you see sows depicted all over Lüneburg. And all the houses -both old and new- swing and sway because the city now stands on unstable ground. Nobody knows where the caves have all been eroded away by the salt practices. This is why the St Michaelis church is so off kilter.

This morning we packed the car and travelled back, seeing some beautiful German landscapes. With strange phenomenons…the ground seems to reach for the heavens.., what’s this? These “hills”.

Bit of a quarrel with my phone, I’m knitting while being driven:

After a few hours we entered safe, flat grounds. Dutch landscape:
More wrestling with my phone. Unmeant screen shot of my screen saver.
Oooooh I miss the kitty! Looking so forward to get home and be showered with cuddles!

But when we came back home, my cat was lying on the lap of my brother, all cosy in a woolen blanket. She had been there for hours and was not interested in leaving nor saying hello to us.
They’ve had a wonderful few days, filled with cuddles and naps and treats, our cats and family.

We kicked my brother out and after a while Lillepoes came to sit on my lap and everyone settled down for some recuperation time.

This is what 5 hours of travel knitting looks like, just two fingers width of collar/button band.

Someone picked up some bad habits 😉
This is not for you, you never liked butter! It’s way too salty for you anyway.

All the loot from my trip 🙂
Lüneburg church St Michaels underkirche underchurch onderkerk

18 dec: trip through Holland, visiting Bourtange

We drove back from the very north east of the Netherlands to the city of cheese and candles in the south west, Gouda.

In between we made a short stop in Bourtange, the historic fort, which hosted a x-mas market. The fortified town has a superb shape and I will knit it into my shawl later.

The Wolop Advent colour of today is a sandy brown and I used yesterdays teal to knit some LEGO blocks. In memory of the LEGO I gave my nephew on his birthday earlier this month and Lieneke from Wolop who is a real LEGO expert when it comes to advising on presents for 10 year olds. I chose the teal in a background of the multicolour. It doesn’t show very well but neither do LEGO bits on the corridor floors at dawn.

When I left Gouda after I had brought Lieneke and all the wool back to her studio I saw a large cow made of massive LEGO blocks and I had a good chuckle.

Bourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotel

x-mas maatjes herring haha!

Bourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotel

Local Santa baking “poffertjes”:

Bourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotel

Handmade insect hotels and wooden bat houses:Bourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotelBourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotel

LEGO cow in Gouda:

Bourtange kerstmarkt 2016 vleermuishotel

LEGO in my shawl:

Those elf socks in the purple band, I saw those in real life for the past two days:

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:
outfit handmade dressoutfit handmade dresskoekjes bakkenkoekjes bakken
koekjes bakkenkoekjes bakkencookie cutters

Overseeing procedures is Luna,  a clever cat and very sweet. She has art for a feeding bowl:
koekjes bakkenkoekjes bakken
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!
koekjes bakkenkoekjes bakken
He’s so sweet, we could eat him up.
koekjes bakkenkoekjes bakken

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:
koekjes bakken
Ready to solve some yarny mysteries!


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

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)
lots of spices + extra ginger + extra pepper + cardamom. (we have prepared “speculaaskruiden” in Holland but it needs extra pepper and ginger and cardamom)

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!

cookie cutterscookie cutters
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.

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.

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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.

Our day in Münster

We drove to Münster and both of us did our favourite thing in the car:
"Dont stop believin' " Anakin Skywalker... just another emo teenager on a weekend night.
I knitted and Mr Marvel got angry at every other driver on the road.

He was positively fuming and spitting on the steering wheel at times. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a hobby of his.

I took it as an opportunity to practise to leave it all with him. After all, I know he forgets about his anger a mere 500 m further down the road. It’s of no use that I carry all the charged negativity for another two hours.
Seeing all his anger as a mere hobby of agitated song & dance helps me to disregard it for sure!

The landscape just over the border is already foreign and I enjoyed it very much. Hills! Mysterious bits of forest. Little see throughs and exotic cottages. And: not every inch of land is as neatly suffocated as it is in my country.
Untitled I didn’t take any good pictures.

There are also many fields of rye (not the golden wheat) which is a staple in the German diet.

Lovely old landscapes that weren’t bombarded during the war:

pics by and

To me these landscapes refer to the European area where the main fairy tales are from: Germany, Central Europe, Eastern Europe.

We arrived in Münster and started with a coffee and some fortifications. Look how much knitting I got done on the way over:

We then walked in the city and it was lovely. Many interesting building and people. Münster is a university city with many young people, many bicycles and many idealistic causes.

We got caught in a very heavy shower. I didn’t mind waiting it out under some shelter:

At the end of the day we visited the botanical garden just behind the city castle. It’s one of the best I’ve ever visited!

Yes, they also have indoor green houses with many tropical plants. I showed the hat a chocolate tree in blossom:

Nice thistle:

Being here in Summer means many plants were in bloom. So many happy bumble bees! Again not everything was neatly groomed, there were many hidden places and nooks where plants and nature just grew free. But the garden is very well organized and this basic structure makes that it’s never chaos or nasty. And every plant has a label. It’s such a photographer’s paradise.

They had 50 kinds of mint… and most of them smelled awful.
Then, on our way out, we discovered a whole section of dyer’s plants!

I learned some new things and I really want to try some out.
For example, Lily of the Valley (Lelietje van dalen) dyes green:

Comfrey (smeerwortel) voor dyeing red?!
Red is one of the illusive colours in the natural dyer’s palette.

These are all the dye plants that are in the garden:

I have some Lily of the Valley in the wood behind the cabin, I really want to try it out.

We then left Münster and on the way back we stopped at a large supermarket to do some shopping. They had lots of Lindt chocolate! Their 85% chocolate has been my favourite chocolate for years (but not anymore).

Strawberry spaghetti eis chocolate?

I picked some that I fancied:
and had a piece (or two) before we drove the last leg back to the cabin.

Major sugar bomb alert!

(now I know for certain that Swiss Chocolat Stella 75% is my all time favourite)

Sitting in the car with my tooth enamel crackling and my brain rattling in my skull I found a new car knitting hobby… at every traffic light I showed my knitting to the car waiting next to us:

Then I showed what it was meant to be:

I got many laughs and thumbs up. Happy people! Knit in public ambassador! More chocolate!

Robert also found a new driving hobby: racing away from every traffic light as fast as he could and loudly praying that the next one would be green and he’d never have to see these laughing drivers again.

At home we relaxed a bit by watching olympic cycling:


and I discovered sugary chocolate brings out my old frenemy of stockinette knit: