Solar Dyeing by myself

Today it’s 30 degrees in the sun, a good prompt to do some solar dyeing.

I chose some duizendblad (= Cow’s Parsley) to see whether I could overdye some two toned blue Merino I’ve got. Mordanted with alum:

21-06-10 Cause I'd Rather Pretend I'll Still Be There At The End ~ Explored #1 pic by Bethan Phillips

This is the Merino I started with, a whole box full. It’s so soft! Two tones of blues, very similar to the Shetland I’m spinning at the moment.

The new and the old colour next to each other:

The darker blue only got a tinge of yellow. The light one is beautiful, really bright. But it’s all too bluegreen. I don’t enjoy spinning, knitting nor wearing greenblue at the moment. A good experiment. Now I know I won’t be overdyeing the Merino with Cow’s Parsley.

Here’s the experiment in a better colour photo:

When I tried to open the jar an hour ago it wouldn’t budge. I grew so frustrated that I decided to prick a whole in the lid. And I noticed I couldn’t open the other jar either….

It’s the red onion solar dyeing project I got at Wolop’s plant dyeing workshop a month ago! Might as well prick that one too. And since it then opened so easily I better take out the skein and look how it went, my first solar dyeing experiment.

Ooh! and Aaah!

It’s so hard to capture the colour! It’s golden green, through and through and it seems to come from the core of the yarn, not laying on the outer surface. It’s gorgeous.

I saved the dyebath and hope to cook it up later today and dye some fleece with it.

more WIPs

The new Sock Madness pattern dropped and it’s Symphony Socks by Elisabeth White:

Beads! Twisted stitches! Lots of little cables!

It’s a lovely pattern but pretty much from the start I knew I’d better be sensible and stop racing. Allow myself to become a cheerleader in the Sock Madness competition. A sock like this, with little cables and a deadline, would ignite my RSI. The same thing that knocked me out in the first round of the competition last year.

It’s not too bad to bow out. I had so many things I wanted to knit on instead. The startitus was raging and now I got to do something about it.



This flew off the needles.
It’s my continuous version of Debbie Vest by Aethalia O’Connor. Provisional cast on at the back, only need to cut yarn once before the body is cast off.

This part took 150 grams of handspun, about 340 metres on needle 3,75 mm. Getting pattern gauge which is 19 st /10 cm
The ribbing on the neckline and arm holes is done on needles 3,25 mm. Which means my 3,75 mm needles are free to cast on another Continuous Debbie vest in the green yarn I bought at Midwinterwol for a Spring vest.

I’ve also started on my mushroom dyed stranded project:
It will be a wristwarmer. So much more sensible than trying out for a vest.

This way I can try out the pattern I made on Stitchfidle and find out the gauge. I was tempted to cast on for a steeked vest but that’s really too ambitious if you don’t know your gauge, if you don’t know how much yarn the stranded parts take, if you aren’t sure about the design you made anyway and if you have never steeked before.
Also: next week there’s a woolfest in Nieuwpoort, organized by De Schapekop, and I promised to show my stranded mushroom thingie there. Knitting a stranded vest in fingering weight in the coming 7 days is ludicrous.

The yarn knits very nice and the pattern makes me want to do one more round, one more round, just one more round 🙂
I’m knitting on 2,25 mm and my gauge seems to be 26 stitches in 10 cm. The colour work is done over 60 stitches, the ribbing over 54 st.

In between I’m knitting away on my magic ball:

Here’s me this morning, having a bit of quality time by myself 🙂

The yarn is indigo dyed sock yarn from Wolop and I’m making it into Blattwerk pattern socks top down. The magic ball unravels while I knit and reveals little presents. This one was made by Lieneke from Wolop.
I’ve nearly finished one leg and the first little present is in sight!

On my plate i a Dutch pastry called a Bokkepootje. This one is huge! Usually they are about the size of a finger:
 pic by cliokchia
It consists of two almond merengues, glued together with buttercream and both ends are dipped in chocolate. With almonds sprinkled on top. Here’s a recipe.

The name means something like “Billygoat-feetsie” and originates from a baker in the very old dike-hamlet of Tuitjenhorn. In this God loving community there was an annual gathering to commemorate all the local people who had died. Eating pastry was part of that event. Eating little devil-feet shows wished victory over evil influences in the hereafter.
(I did not know. Eating “bokkepootjes” no longer has this connotation but it does explain where the name comes from.)

Two vests, a sock and a stranded cuff can be added to the WIPs I’m already working on.

Weird Wool Wednesday: startitus interruptus

Today I wanted to cast on three vests, a sock and one hat. Seriously.

I was going to show you funny pictures too.
A picture of these new WIPs-to-be (5) and the WIPS I’m currently working on (3 socks and 1 vest and 1 cardigan and 1 spinning project) and the WIPS I very much want to work on (3 cardigans and 1 weaving project and 2 knitting related sewing projects) and the WIPs I don’t want to work on and stuffed in the back of the closet but that I ought to get back to (3 cardigans and 1 shawl at least).
It would be funny, taking stock of the WIPs and I would knit like the wind all Weird Wool Wednesday long!

But here I am. Sick in bed. With a sore throat and or lungs. All day.
This is my third cold in seven years I think…
I’m never ill because I have this low cortisol level. It makes for a mean and reactive immune system 🙂 You could say I have a diva warrior defending me. “Everything is a threat and they must BURN!”

It seems I’ve crippled my warrior at the wool party, taking perhaps too much of my cortisol Hormone Replacement Therapy. There has also been some stress the past couple of weeks, with the planned manure plant next to the cabin (I’m still fighting them in court). And yesterday I had to manage a doctor at the hospital into getting me the exam I need. Not an easy thing to do since they are very overworked at that department and the times are still not ripe for patients who are competent discussion partners in their treatment. But we’re getting there. Luckily less and less doctors feel threatened by patients asking questions and giving suggestions. But it takes some grace and social skills, both of which take me a lot of energy to muster and apply.

Anyway, stress ups cortisol levels and cortisol surpresses the imune system but you have no time to be ill so you soldier on.
Untill you do have time. And that’s why you get ill at the beginning of your holidays or after you’ve done the doctor thing or done the legal thing. The stress has lessened overnight but the cortisol rages on for a while, it being a slow train of an anti-stress hormone.
You finally have time to be ill and so you are.

I’ve been in bed all day. Coughing and sleeping. Lillepoes likes it a lot. Not the coughing bit but the sleeping bit. It’s nice 🙂

I thought I just pop in here and talk to you, from my iPad. Hopefully tomorrow I can take those photo’s. But honestly, the magic moment has gone. Tomorrow looks to be just plain old regular Thursday.

But we’ll see. Haven’t touched wool today. Might be a decisive factor on magic.


Bremen and Lüneburg, in a non-sensical photocompilation. I didn’t bring my laptop and now I don’t know my passwords to the blog-places…
So I have to somehow get the pictures onto my iPad and you can see how I did this: saving Ravelry pictures and even taken a picture of my phone. Sideways.

Anyway. Germany is lovely!
Bremen is known for the Bremen music players and a wonderful little part of town called Schnoor. It’s unbelievable! Small houses, built close together. And there are artisan shops in every one of them!

Lüneburg has two yarn shops. In one I bought souvenir yarn, Feinheit, of 16 micron. That’s as soft as kitten bellies.
In the other I saw a merino-acrylic mix of which I want to knit a cowl. I’m just apping my neighbour to see if I can knit it for her. I think she likes the autumn colours but I love the darker one.

We’re sampling lots of chocolate!
I found this strangest of cakes: clotted cream marzipan poppy seed cake. It’s delicious! I just had some for breakfast.

Atmosphere of the city is wonderful. Nature is close by. I’ll tell you about it when we get home and I can show better pictures.

In the car I finished the bottom of Serra cardigan. I now picked up stitches along the sides for the collar/button band. Ready for knitting on the car ride home, tomorrow.

Before we travelled I cast on for the back panel of the grey Pumpkin Ale cardigan. This was such good knitting that “cast on” ran into the inches fast.

The cats are taken care for and are really happy! Lillepoes sits on the lap of my brother, who’s wearing monster slofs.

We saw a house near the Lüneburg Heath that had an observation construction, for stars.

Here are the pictures, in no particular order:

















21 dec: “Stop inhaling pickled herring.”

My husband suggested that I stop inhaling pickled herring salad.
Bietensalade van Marja pic and recipe by SoulSoup

It’s my end of year food and it’s a traditional Dutch dish, what with us being North Sea folk and herring mad.
But I couldn’t wait for the end of the year so I made some. Chopped up pickled herring, red beets, creme fraiche, vinegar, little pickles, little onions, salt and pepper. Usually I can’t have vinegar or onions but now that I have fixed my daily uptake of vit B12 and folate (by taking pre-methylated forms called mB12 and Metafolate) I can have a little bit now and then.

Unfortunately, “a little bit” is not in my herring eating vocabulary.
I gulf it down (“wolf it down”?) and food goes down the wrong pipe and I get a terrible coughing fit and tears are running down my cheeks and Robert is banging on my back and we’re all sure I’m going to die, stinking of herring.
Lillepoes comes running, worried.

This happens every year. Every time I have pickled herring salad. This time my husband noticed the pattern and said I should I eat my pickled herring salad more slowly. Stop inhaling it. “I can’t.” I said. “It’s too good.”

Lieneke, from Wolop, heard about this and had a suggestion:
 An anti-gobble food bowl like Luna’s, Hello Luna 🙂

Today’s Wolop Advent Box colour is blue:

I think I’ll chart some herring into my shawl:
And I charted Poekie, with her green lamp like eyes.

She was worried too. But only that I was eating something good without sharing.

Sinterklaas hats done and a necklace of little bits of beet:

19 dec: petting the goodies.

Here are some of the goodies I petted today. Like these 4 balls of Mulberry silk, 20 grams each, by Iboy’s Mohair:

I call this colourway Midwinterwol. I want to start spinning this starting Midwinter. Eeps! That’s in two days!

Earlier this year I bought this yarn at Sticks ‘n Cups in Utrecht. It’s by Zazu yarns, an indipendent dyer also from Utrecht:

Raveler Nifelster knitted it into a beautiful hat and send me it in a swap:

That card!

And how about that hat? It’s wonderful! I’ve been wearing it a lot already. It’s the first real slouchy hat I’ve ever had. I’ve been uncertain about that shape for years but now I think it may suit me after all:
 The pattern is mont-royal by tshep (free) and Nifelster used 50 grams on needles 2,5 and 3 mm.

At midwinterwol a nice lady reached over the stand and gave me some free wool and tea. This is how I met Alita Kramer from Atelier Aolt. She’s from former island Urk. What a nice way to introduce yourself!

Today’s Wolop Advent’s colour is sunny yellow:

I’m thinking Sinterklaas hats, together with the red and the sand colour from this weekend:

But first I took out the very first colour I knitted on the shawl, the white with pink snow flakes, to reknit it with the thinner white. But things are not looking good:

Because of the way I stranded the previous row(s) the horizontal piece with 5 pink stitches doesn’t look good. It skews the whole flake.

The original is so much better:

It has to do with when and where I catch the pink thread in the previous row. I haven’t got a clue and I’m lacking brain cells at the moment to try and figure it out.

I just took out the needle and inserted them on top, knitting Sinterklaas hats now.

This isn’t even all the goodies yet! There’s a weaving thingy. And I also wanted to dream with the Östergötlands Ullspinneri Visjögarn that I bought from Lida Holm at Midwinterwol. Put it next to the colours I already have in stash and peruse the stranded cardi’s I have in my favourites. But I’m too tired now. Besides I have a cat on my lap.

Lillepoes really missed me 🙂

This morning I was her favourite x-mas present all over again. I got cuddled and head butted and softly bitten. I’m not allowed to leave ever again. 🙂
cat love    cat love

17 dec: Midwinterwol Saturday

It was a great day! Nice people, nice colleagues. Some unexpected fluffybut visitors walking by. A new colour in my advent box and I knitted my x-mas trees and some little elf socks on my Advent shawl
We were selling these great little turkish spindles, handmade and laid in with copper. They spin like a dream! (They’ll appear in Wolop’s etsy shop, at some time.)
Lieneke teaches people to spin in 20 seconds.
I bought new Visjögarn at because this stranded knitting thing? I’m not done yet!
And great apple green yarn from a fabulous breed from Wales called a mule. Soft but not pilling fuzzy soft. Yes, for a vest. Not done with those either. (Need to sew more/better dress shirts to wear under them. Pattern pieces for them are laid out on the table for weeks now, as a matter of fact I was finally drafting the very morning before I took off for Midwinterwol. And then I had to go.)
The knitwear with the little knots on them were the fair’s star item. They are from Peru and are directly imported by the lady who sells them. Her daughter lives in Peru and is married to a man from a mountain village where the whole village now makes these things. The lady flies to see her daughter once a year and stuffs her suitcase full with knits. This little wool entrepeneurship serves the mountain village well and pays for the education or 14 children. 🙂












15 dec: road trip

A few hours drive to the north, with a little stop for tea and cake.
We’re staying in a lovely B&B above a floral shop.
We’re on the edge of Germany. We popped over to visit the x-mas market in Leer.
I knitted nearly four rows on my Adventshawl and todays colour is a pale kind of orange.









11 dec: the need for order & control

So today’s Advent colour is actually tomorrow’s colour. And the colour of two days later. The missing white is really making me stressed and I solved it by peeking at the days to come and finding two very light colours I can use to bring some light contrast into the shawl.

Yes, it’s cheating.
No, I don’t mind one bit.

This Advent Shawl is a game of pleasure and I want to enjoy my knitting.
I really like knitting stranded every day for a bit, thinking up patterns, trying them out in StitchFiddle, enjoying the flow of the quality yarn through my fingers.

And although I do like working within a pre-set frame of rules -it invites you to be creative- I’m not going to let one of the rules hamper my knitting pleasure.

Besides, I’m pretty stressed these days, feeling overwhelmed and incompetent with all the things on the to-do list that I’m not getting done. I don’t need the extra aggrevation of colour contrast troubles.

As an illustration of my need for order & control today I knitted little pink squares:

The next part are reindeer. Today’s the Swedish Julemarket in Groningen, a 3 hour train ride from here. I would have loved to have gone so much! But really I can’t.
So reindeer 🙂

Hopefully tuesday the white skein comes. I was contacted by the webshop owner late last night that she had read my mail and she would send the skein monday asap!
Until then she’s at the Swedish Julemarket, lucky her.

For the rest of my stress I’m telling myself: “Calm down already!”
Which is a useless phrase to throw at someone who’s stressed.

Useless, unless they’ve been handed the tools to calm down. Which I have. So here I go, calming down:

1. I’m safe, warm and nurtured. If I connect to my body and ask if we have any reason to be stressed it will respond: “noooo?”.
If I connect to my body I can enjoy some time with it and experience how happy it is, being safe, warm and nurtured. This will lower my stress levels fast.

This is what Mindfullness or a hot bath or Reverse Therapy or sitting in the garden with a cup of tea all do. Very important life skills to have.

If you do them a couple of times a day, let’s say two times a day, the calming down becomes a habit and you can enter that state with just one breath, anytime. No more “Fight or Flight”.

I myself was amused to discover there’s a whole other way time can pass. Not in seconds. Different.
I suspect this is what cats and cows experience when they’re peacefully resting.
just relax pic by Christian Pichler

2. Soooo….all stress I perceive today is mental stress, every subject brought on by myself, chosen to deem important.
That means I can pick and choose from this list. Ban some of them to the back of my mind, or even just ignore them. My husband proposes the need for making and sending x-mas cards as the first item to scrap. I’m not there yet, I want to create things.
Another one is not subjecting myself to the way news is reported. It’s all so manipulative and fear mongering and enticing. This one has been pushed out long ago. I follow investigative journalism and documentaries instead.
Subjecting yourself to the emotional format a Disney film follows is another one. I don’t need an orchestrated cry 45 minutes into a movie.

Other to-do items I can lump together and allow a time slot: “Tomorrow morning, 20 minutes, to do some of those administrative things that have been looming.”

3. Thirdly I chose two things each day to put on top of my to-do list. A useful, grown up thing such as reviewing the painters’ offers or health assurance reassessment. And a thing that makes me happy, such as sewing or taking a bath. There’s not much time for anything else really, with the time it takes to maintain my body and my household. So if (any of) these two things get done I’m glad and accomplished for the day.

And that’s how I handle stress.
In theory.
In reality I don’t do the “sit still for five minutes and notice how your body is safe and happy”, not even once a day. But I will today. Sit still. Except for hands, let them move, holding yarn.

Yeah, that’s what I’m doing today. Sit in my living room and knit for a bit, enjoy the advent things on display, the tree, the moose, the snoring cats. Have a cup of tea. Five minutes of not having to do anything in particular. Just breathing and noticing my body is safe, warm and nurtured.

internet meme from comic Gunshow by artist K.C. Green