a day of Spring at the cabin

It is lovely here! We’re outside, working on the land.

I love Ribes. “Now,which way does the camera work again?”

We have some particular jobs to do. In the last winter storm two trees collapsed into a third three. Last week a couple of workmen have chopped up the two trees and repositioned the third one. It is now secured with a metal rope to a big birch. The root system of the tilted tree will take hold again and in a few years it will be safe to take away the security band.

The floor is littered with the chopped up pieces of tree. In other places there are the many many branches that came off, they are in piles scattered around the site. It’s a chance for us to rethink the configuration of our piece of woodland. Where paths are. Where secluded areas are. Where the sun hits the ground and where shaded areas are. Areas with untidy walls of stacked branches, which are a haven for many birds, mammals and amphibians.

Funny how this type of “gardening” deals in decades, not seasons.

Part of caring for a piece of woodland is dealing with other people’s trash:

Can’t leave it all to rot. Gotta pick it up and put it in our trash bins.

In this country the government makes us separate trash. Every week a different kind of trash is collected: paper; plastics; compostables and residu. They’ve made the residu-trash container the smallest.

A victim of schlepping bits of pointy tree around:

My handspun vest! Will have to repair. It does show that sideways knitting, on a loose gauge, makes for vulnerable fabric. I should have used a more tighter plied yarn.

Spring socks are coming along nicely. Great colour, the onion dyed yarn from Wolop!
First try of the cables leg part turned out way too tight:

I was doing size S which has the ribbed part of the cuff on 60 stitches, which is plenty for me. Fits comfortable over my foot and heel.

The leg part has three cables each turning 3 over 3 stitches. But it does not increase the total stitch count to accommodate for these cables. Normally you’d add 1 extra stitch for every 1 over 2. So in my case that would be 3 x (6/2) = 9 additional stitches. Pattern should be over 69 stitches.

But the pattern has some ribbing in the cables part and the designer probably thought this would offset the tightness of the cables. It did not for me. You see how much further the leg has to stretch to get to my instep and heel. I tried to wear it as a wristwarmer and it was even too tight for that. Which is shocking because I have tiny twig like wrists.

I have now frogged and am knitting the leg part on 72 stitches, which is size L. It’s a shame of the two hours of concentrated knitting I did yesterday evening. But it’s nice to knit this part again with this yarn and this wonderful Spring like colour.

72 stitches fit alright:

Lillepoes is so very very happy to be here on this Spring day:


Weeeeeeeeeeh!

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Pushing back, looking forward :)

Today it has been 10 years that I fell ill.

We travelled back from Oslo. We were there to look at apartments, to emigrate there. My husband had a light flu for a few days. Then he confessed that he did not see himself living in Norway. He’s just not the kind of guy to live in another country.

I stomached the disappointment because some things are non-negotiable and I complimented him on finding the courage to disappoint me. It’s a huge thing for him.

On the way back there was a small hiccup where we travelled underground to the airport instead of on the surface and I didn’t get a chance to see the city and say a proper goodbye to the place that feels so much like my true home. I bawled my eyes out over this for a few minutes but then buckled up because we had a plane to catch and I had to navigate for the both of us. (Since then I have come to recognize these short, violent cryings as a signal from my bodily stress-system, the HPA-axis. It’s a signal of total overwhelming and need for immediate rest and shelter.)

Back in the Netherlands I fell in my bed, exhausted, and woke up with the same virus that had plagued my husband. Only mine lasted. I didn’t get well for months. Years.
It was Q-fever that evolved into ME/CFS which eventually turned out to be adrenal insufficiency (amongst other things).
I’ve recovered only about a year ago and will never take health for granted again.

I never visited Norway again. But the pain of missing it has subdued and I can think of it again. I will travel there again one day.

Now, all this telling will end into a positive, I promise 😉

Thing is, my mind seems to live ten years behind. I dream of things that happened ten years ago. In my mind I walk in buildings I knew ten years ago. I cringe at things I said and did ten years ago.
It’s a weird thing. It seems I can only process things and put them behind me after a decade of mulling over them.

So for the past year I’ve been dreading today. The day I’d look back at how things fell apart ten years ago. How deep I fell. How ill I’ve been. How much I missed. The living, the loving, the friendships, the adventures, the career, everything.
How I stumbled through the years of illness. Not allowing myself to have the cabin at a comfortable temperature. Not having the right medical care. Not having the brain power to notice things that were wrong. Not righting them and getting better sooner (if that had been possible at all). So much stumbling.

I woke up this morning with a sigh. I WhatsApped my friends and one of them wrote back: “Looking forward has the best perspective.”

Bam.
Done.
Embroider that on a canvas and hang it on the inside on your glasses.

Not looking back today.
Have done enough of that over the past year. I’m done. There’s no need to chronicle where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Who cares? Everybody has a story. Why waste time, the present time, on reminiscing? The present time is a gift. Unwrap it.

Looking forward today.
I’m going to make some snowy stitch markers. I’ve finished sewing a dress shirt (blouse). The mushroom spencer already has a neck band and might get done before Thursday. There’s a cat that wants to sit on my lap. There’s an itty bit layer of snow left and somebody put their big feet in them:

First thing I did this morning was have chocolate custard for breakfast. And I’m looking forward to a bonbon-filled lunch.

Second thing I did was order a felt I crown from Mathilde van den Broek, from Feltstudio “Bij Til Thuis” on Facebook
Example:

She embroiders them! They are so full of love and detail, they are spectacular! I’d love to have one and wear it on a wool party.

This is the inspiration collage I just send Mathilde for mine:

Light green, daisies, pine forest. Nature!

I added this one to introduce me and my husband, who is a gentle, nature loving fox at heart.

Mathilde loves it and will felt the base today and I’m thrilled that we will both be working with colours and nice materials today.

The Dutch light over the Dutch canal with the antique ships also looks amazing today:

No belly button gazing today. I’m looking up and looking forward.

Finished: glitter cuffs


Handdyed soft fingering yarn with silver angelina. Each pair takes about 20 grams of yarn.

The colour is magnificent! Handdyed by Wolop and given to me for Sinterklaas. They were x-mas baubles. They’ve hung in the Wolop Advent Garland and now I’ve knitted them into cuffs.

This time of year the sun regains its strength and the air can be so crisp and clear. No longer appropriate are the dark greens and reds and golds of December. This is the time of clear skies and sun glittering on snow. I also think of mountains and quarts and I wear my rings to celebrate:

These feelings are combined with the wish to celebrate wintergreen trees. So my x-mas tree is still up, converted to the colours of quarts and snow and mountain streams. I’m spinning white under it whenever I can. It smells so nice! Celebrating wood creatures too.

ALERT: life philosophy ahead!
Not particular funny either but perhaps of interest? It’s something that is part of my daily life at the moment.

(I do feel burdened because while I celebrate trees I’m watching this tree dying in my house. It’s such a ridiculous industry anyway, the x-mas tree industry. So wasteful, so phoney. Also, woodland creatures are quickly disappearing in my country due to overpopulation with humans and their narrow minded ideas of economic progress.

I counter these feelings by living in the moment. By noticing and celebrating the small things. By resigning myself to what life actually is and by resigning myself to the era I’ve been born in, with its characteristics that I cannot alter. We are in the process of overpopulation and we can see how our future living environment will look like by looking at dense populated areas in Asia. These people live, these people laugh. It’s not a drama.

Yes, things will disappear from our lives. Things, habits, knowledge, experience, animals. It has always been happening. Who now knows the once common knowledge and skills of making fire with the tinder box? How part of common life it was to travel by moon light? How everybody knew the classics like Greek drama’s and opera’s and they were the memes and cultural vessels of the day? All these things have gone. The only difference is that now we are with many, many humans and we are devouring our surroundings. But it’s not that different, really.
The loss will happen slowly. It is a shame. But it is not a drama. I should not perceive it as a drama. Perception is faulty anyway. Always biased.

Besides, I can live in my head. I can travel to the mountains, wade through the snow, be a mountain spirit, in my mind. A little thing like a ring or glittery cuffs is a reminder of this freedom.)

Sinter Sushi

So last Saturday I did Sinter Sushi. It was a gift exchange and poem reading at Coco Sushi in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, one of those true sushi restaurants. Not the all-you-can-eat-places.

It was a set up with Spectre120, the dear friend of Suus the cat:

 who got a little poem of her own.

Some impressions:

We had a lovely time 🙂

I could tell you all about it but one of the gifts Spectre gave me was good advice on how to find more time. So I’m going to let these pictures speak for itself.

getting in the mood: Advent Calendars!

Yesterday’s calendar shows that I’m getting in the mood for Advent Calendars. This year I’ve bought TWO handdyed yarn surprise boxes!


Wolop offers one with glitter yarn and one with hand dyed yarns. I bought the plant dyed one! Both will give about 10 grams each day in a soft fingering yarn with nylon. Wolop ships internationally!
Last year I had one with a different colour theme and made this stranded cowl with it:

So this year I bought the plant dyed one. Those colours will combine and harmonize with each other in an amazing way! I’m thinking stranded socks and wristwarmers or mittens. Or ànd socks ànd mitts ànd mittens. Or perhaps weaving…

The other box I bought is from Het Wolbeest, you know, the wool studio in the ceramic village in the South with the ice parlour attached.
   
Het Wolbeest also has two advent calendars, one Over The Top with glitter and nepps and dyed with speckles and multies. And one Soft and Mellow, with (semi)solids. Both contain 10 grams of soft sock yarn each day and this one has some little gifts in it. She’s been teasing us with sneak previews in all greytones!
I bought the Soft and Mellow one. For stranded knitting. Perhaps socks. And mitts. And mittens! Or weaving?

So much choice and opportunities!
If you too are looking for ideas what to do with 24 x 10 grams of handdyed yarn, I have a bundle with ideas on Ravelry:
adventkalender ideeen

Not that listing options makes choosing between them any easier.
Yes, the first of December is going to be very festive and chaotic and colourful woolly in my house.

To heighten the anticipation I have my wooden calendar with the stitch markers.
And this:

It’s an advent tea box from Sonnetor, bought at the market stall from knitter and spinning friend Meta from Thee-en-Kruid.
At the bottom of the tree there’s a little door and one bag of tea slides out every day during Advent. As December approaches I will put more and more things on display to mark the change of season.

Thusly I try and structure the months to come. It is a conscious effort because I am submerged in a few things that need some counter-stress-measures and I also dread the shortening of the days.

These are things that give me stress:
By the end of this month, October, I have to submit a paper to the court against the manure plant they’re still planning right next to the cabin. Over the years I have regained my abilities to concentrate, as I healed from my illness, and this is reflected in how I was able to address the court. First drafts were terrible. This year I’m finally in full swing and I’m playing with the big dogs, who now also take me seriously and sling some serious judicial mud my way. I am working at my maximum capacity and it gives a bit of dread, knowing this is it, that this is all I’ve got to give.

Of course there’s the added stress that his case involves my personal living conditions at the cabin. The cabin is under threat and things will be different there, not for the best. My adversaries are merely seated behind their work desks and pushing numbers and stamps around. They get to go home at the end of the day, to a manure free, risk free living space.
Beware _ Manure happensDanger! Manure!
Changing my frame of mind and looking at this strategically instead of personally/emotionally takes a lot of effort each time. Each time I do succeed and then I enjoy the strategic game, played within the boundaries of the law.

But then I return to the cabin and am overwhelmed again with losing the peace, the nature and the memories from the last ten years that I lived there, in harmony, healing. I find it difficult to go with the times, to accept time flowing forwards and growing populations.

That’s one court case. By the end of the year there’s a hearing in the second court case pending, about the same plant, and this one involves about 15 families in the neighbourhood of the cabin. For which I am the spokesperson and the one writing and submitting the papers. (Mind you, I have no training in this field. I’m just an urban engineer.) This case involves a lot of contact with my neighbours which I haven’t even met all personally, yet. We communicate through email and they are very nice, even though they do not understand the judicial games. I also shield them from the mud that is thrown our way. Because that judicial game… it’s not a pretty one.

In this social thing too I am coming into my own this year, having been a hermit for years, hidden in the cabin. This process however goes more abruptly, with me being bold and sociable one day and crying in my pillow fort the next. Introverts, ha! Such a fun bunch.

My neighbours accept my introvertness though and they are really nice and supportive. They gave me the flowers and the wine last week 🙂

As a third process this Fall I’m sewing my own clothes. A city wardrobe, following my own colour palette. I now have sewing lessons every week and I have that new sewing machine and things are going well. Still takes a lot of time and thinking and concentrating. Luckily no matter how “funny” or “idiosyncratic” I make something, my teacher always shows me ways to fix it. It’s a lot like spinning yarn in that regard, you can always build on top of what you have and fix it that way. (This is not the case with knitting. Knitting you have to frog and build anew).

skirt with pockets and godets, handdyed indigo linen. sewinghand sewn bottle green linen skirt fishtail pockets sewinggreen wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing
I hope to finish all the garments I need this year. Smoothly transferring into next year when I can just grab any thing from my closet and always look smart and coordinated.
If I dress nice I feel nice. If I don’t have to question myself in front of the wardrobe I have a good start of the day. That’s what the palette is for.

When I get all my sewing done this year it will become a hobby next year. For when I have time and inspiration or meet a nice piece of cloth. (Or weave a nice piece of cloth!)
That will leave a slot open next year for something nice. Something creative. Something productive. Something economically visible. Yes I hope, when the days begin to lengthen again, that I will have the calm, the health and the mental capabilities to feel truly alive again.

So I have a lot riding on a friendly unfolding of the last three months of this year. I’ve put some measures into place to achieve this.
I hope and expect the new year to be the start of new, fine thing!
It will also be 10 years, in February, that I became terribly ill from one day to the next. (I have ME/CFS/SEID, Addison’s, DNA faults, mitochondria faults, ridiculous sensitive brain chemistry, EMDR, digestive disorder, lifelong insomnia). But I seem to have fixed this.
I’m still cautious but I’m making plans to celebrate my recovery in 2018.

So now we sit and behave until the good times start:

Wall calendar by illustrator Fiep Westendorp

10 years of Dutch sock knitters group on Ravelry


10 years ago Ravelry was young and Beta. Moonwise, a Dutch knitter started a Dutch speaking group for sock knitters.

Nowadays Ravelry is a force to be reckoned with, world wide, and the Dutch Sock Knitters Group has over 1200 members and hosts KALs every month.

To celebrate the founder Moonwise, who is a real good sock pattern designer, designed a sock pattern that’s free:

“Wish” by Janneke Maat. It’s in Dutch, well written and features a lot of cables. It’s a birthday present for all the members.

For people who cannot or will not knit cables there are other themes to participate in this month such as mock cables and/or using your most precious sock yarn. All to celebrate Soktober Tien Fest.

I can’t knit these many tiny cables but I love mock cables. The group has a bundle with mock cabled sock patterns and they are not all koffieboontje-stitch:

I may put a mock cabled sock on the needles… I love koffieboontje and I love mock cables. You hear me waffle on about Prickly Pear Socks at least once a year!
the Prickly Pear Socks by Thayer Preece:

The group also rewards prices to people who finish their sock within two months. And whaddayaknow, these month’s sponsors are two of my favourite artists: Wolop and FiberRachel!
 Wolop Etsy   FiberRachel Etsy
Wolop will donate a skein of handdyed festive sock yarn and FiberRachel one of her birdhouse WIP bags:

Where was I 10 years ago? I didn’t even knit back then. I wasn’t ill yet. I was in Norway, building a sea kayak out of 2 by 4’s, canvas and beewaxed hemp:

using special sewing stitches to insure water tightness:

Made under guidance from Kayak Specialist in Norway Anders Thygesen.
I’ve never even taken it out to sea… I got ill and couldn’t go outside anymore and inside I got too sad to think of anything Norway related. Then this Summer I found out the canvas is rotting…
Right!
I think it is time to put away the last 10 years. Just shelve it. Ignore bad memories. They are of no use since I cannot learn from them anymore.

Live in the here and now, enjoy the sunshine on this beautiful Sunday morning. Bask in what blessings and fun there are here, now.
Such as a sock fest on Ravelry.
And this picture of an ambitious cat:

that I used to make a drawing for another month fest: Inktober 2017. (draw every day, using ink)

Also today I will be sewing on a new dress. It features gnomes in Volkswagen vans!
gnome dress volkswagen van
As it reads on my About Page:
“My name is Anna. I think wool and funny dresses make life better.”

at the cabin

My husband send me to the cabin, with the cat, to try and get me out of Fight or Flight modus.

We’re trying hard, but the trick is to stop trying.

The light is beautiful! The green so intense. My onion dyed socks complement the garden.

Lillepoes helping:

Internalizing the scenery:

Weird Wool Wednesday: friendly pill cosy

This morning: I have a day long workshop and these pills need to be kept cool:
bottle cosy

bottle cosy

These are my favourite wristwarmers and I love the colour, it goes so well with the colour of the salted lemon-water. They will be a friendly encouragement as I go to this workshop where I don’t know anybody and we’ll be eco dyeing all day long and I’ll be weird and self conscious and if I just keep my cool and just relax and enjoy and there will even be dinner which I won’t eat and people will wonder and I will smile and wave my little bottle with the friendly pill cosy around it.

The pills are Florinef, which bolster blood pressure, and I will certainly need one extra today as it will be a hot day today and I won’t bring my day bed to have a little lie down. (I will bring my car and lie down if I have to.)

A better armhole and nice things on the walls.

This is the new armhole:

Much better!

It may still look a bit large but in my experience it shapes up when you pick up stitches (3 for every 4 rows) and start the sleeve. Tubes always feel more narrow.

I kept the increases at the neckline the same because I will attach a shawl collar to it. It feels a bit weird, having fronts that do not close and a neckline that even runs over the apex of the bust. But my Grey Pumpkin Ale has the same neckline and wears very nicely with its shawl collar. (And this yarn is soft enough to wear next to the skin.)

Oooh, what’s that behind me, in the hallway? Is that an embroidered cat?

It is!
cabin cosy decoration cat window sill cat embroidery
This is a vintage embroidery I found at the thrift store many years ago. Somebody put lots of love and effort in this! It came with the frame too.
I often stand before it and have a little pause, appreciating it.

It hangs over my birthday calendar, right between the front door and the hooks where we keep our keys. Under it hangs a small ceramic cat hanger, bought at the x-mas market in Muenster. There used to be some glass x-mas baubles there too, all year round. A happy little hippo and a cat, but they broke in the course of time.

The first few years we had the cabin I’d go to the church thrift store in the village here. This was before thrifting gained a main interest. It was just old farmers bringing their stuff and trying to raise some money for (the roof of) the church. It was an empty building with local ladies volunteering and a table with a coffeepot and a tin with cookies for people to have a sit and chat.

I’d look for old handmades with a friendly vibe to put on the wall of the cabin. My foot treadle sewing machine is from there too. And my kitchen scales. Most of the crockery. Some hand tools.

In later years having friendly decorations became more important as I had fallen ill by then and was staying at the cabin permanently. I’d lie on the couch most of the day, not able to move or think, and it was vital to have friendly things in sight, wherever my gaze fell. This is the wall opposite my couch:
cabin cosy decoration cat window sill cat embroidery
The embroidered cats came from the thrift store, the rest are gifts from Ravelers (=people from Ravelry). All from people who understood I had to be approached softly but not tepidly. Most of them I hadn’t met in real life when they send me things. There are hummingbirds under the lamp 🙂

Over the years family and ravelers send cards and handmades and I stuck them on my walls and they encouraged me when I felt down:
cabin cosy decoration cat window sill cat embroidery
The birdy paperclips were a birthday present.

Above my sewing machine these two hang:
cabin cosy decoration cat window sill cat embroidery
That pincushion is a handmade taking hours of love, also a present from a Raveler 🙂 Someone I’ve met maybe twice in the past 8 years! Talked to her online four times total. You don’t need to be an active presence in my life to contribute significantly to my wellbeing 🙂

The wren I painted myself, sometime in the last century. The frame is all oak, from the church thrift store.

And this is the window sill next to my sewing machine, right over the chair Lillepoes loves to sleep on. It’s also opposite my couch so I’ve seen these cards every day all day long for the last 8 years 🙂
cabin cosy decoration cat window sill cat embroidery
Cards from Ravelers, handmade pincushions, cats and fairytales. These are the four subjects my happiness revolved around for all the time I’ve been ill 🙂 I’d simply enjoy the colours and the sentiments if I was very brainfogged. I’d explore compositions and alternative storylines if I had two braincells to rub together.

I no longer live at the cabin. I’m a city girl now.
Times have changed here too. The thrift store has moved into a real store and is now a professional venue. They still have coffee but it’s a machine now: drink up while you shop.
The old farmers have all gone and their (grand)children have sold all their stuff online, cashing in on “vintage”.

We visit the cabin for short stays now. A weekend here, a midweek there. I slide right back into the old habits of friendliness and peace. But it is not sustaining me anymore if I stay here for longer periods. If I stay here longer than 5 days by myself, I get antsy and sad. I feel society’s progress closing in. There’s always more traffic, more people, more stuff being build around here. Time is running through my fingers.

It’s still a safe haven but it’s edges are defined now.
I wonder where the next decade will see us. Me and the cabin.

By the way, I recognize this antsy-ness, the feeling of being restrained. It’s the sign of one door closing and not yet seeing which window opened. It’s the sign of new opportunities. Ones you can forge yourself, should you desire to.

It’s an uneasiness I know from points in my careers, studies, relationships, internet groups, society as a whole, you name it. So I’m not unsettled by the uneasiness itself. After all, it’s the breeding ground that brings forth the most innovative things.

It’s the possibility to determine and forge a new direction that hinders me. It feels like an obligation. Be smart. Act.

But I’m not ready to bring the cabin to a new era. I’m still very much attached to old ways, old nature and old embroidered cats on the walls.

Or other beasts:
cabin kitchen wall decoration embroidery bird gaai
(that’s the wall above my stove:)
cabin kitchen wall decoration embroidery bird gaai

Weird Wool Wednesday: competing in the brainfog

On the last row of the leg I see I’ve been knitting it wrong:

I did not start the pattern on the back of the leg, after I put in the waste yarn for the afterthought heel.

It’s my first after thought heel and it was all new, not having a clear bend in the sock, an end row after which you do something different. I kept the sock on magic loop and just continued what I’d been doing: stockinette stitch on one needle, pattern on the other. Aiming for the endgoal: the cuff. Because then there’s be dessert: knitting the striped heel!

Only now, after 68 rows, do I discover that my sock is WRONG. Not the sock I meant to knit. Butchering the designer’s intent.

I could cry… not because of the competition, even though I probably lost it now. But because I’ve been working so diligently, catching and correcting every mistake I make in the stitch pattern (and I make mistakes every row because of brain fog). And now I’ve made this big mistake and didn’t catch it for 68 long rows. All that concentration, all that dedication and positiveness. I feel cheated. I hate ME.

UPDATE

It’s now a few hours later and I’ve started a new sock, with new yarns (both Drops Fabel):

Nice in white with greenish contrast colour. I’ll see how far I’ll go. At least the pressure is of the competition now, for me.