Finished socks “Streepje anders” after yarn party yesterday.



Pattern Streepje anders by Heleen Kok with modifications.

Today I finished one toe and a whole foot (plus its toe) as I took the whole day for resting and knitting after a wonderful yarn party yesterday.

At the party there was yarn and knitting and spinning and weaving and cake and bonbons and pie and quiche and taco’s and cats and “Bossche Bollen” and cat tea mugs and lots of handknit socks!
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One girl brought these stitchmarkers that she makes professionally. She made these especially for the birthday girl:
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Those are chocolate, a cookie and Bossche Bollen. With a bite out of them! The birthday girl LOVES Bossche Bollen, usually when I go visit her I have to bring some, so this was a perfect gift.
These are very well made too. It will be a happy day when the maker decides to open her online shop 🙂

Another girl, Meilindis, brought her loom! That’s a new one for me, someone chatting and weaving at a party. Go check out the wonderful patterns she can make on a rigid heddle on her site Meilindis.nl (it’s in English).
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It was great seeing her work and she explained a lot. If you have extra heddles you can do all kinds of patterns on a rigid heddle, just as if it was a loom with “schachten” (don’t know the English word. What people consider to be “a real loom”.)

She dazzled me with her colour handling and I learned a bit how a weaver can manipulate colours. Soothe them, ease them, shift them. Meilindis has a special knack for this!

(I do not. I somehow lack the imagination or the courage for it, to combine “strange” colours. It was funny to discover this “handicap” of mine. It made it much more marvellous to see Meilindis combine an try out colours with such ease and wit! But I think I may have confounded her a bit with my squeals and boggling eyes and compliments 😉 )

The birthday girl is just as fond of big cat mugs as I am:
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The one on the right is my present to her!

Here are better pictures by the maker:

It’s an handmade mug from Budapest artist Brigitta Bondar who has an Etsyshop ARTushkashop as well as a brick & mortar shop in the centre of Budapest. Near the trainstation or centre square I believe. She’s also on Facebook, in English.
Brigitta is a wonderful artist and was very fast en precise in communicating with me and then shipping fast and securely.

ARTushka also has this sheep mug in her Etsy shop:
pic by ARTushka
and more sheep in the Budapest shop:
pic by ARTushka

The birthday girl is not allowed to keep sheep in her house so she settles for cats. This is wonderful Suus, a fairly young rescue who is so friendly and curious:
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There were a lot of cat ladies at the party and Suus was adored!

Equally adored was cat Sproet who came down from the bedroom for a visit. Sproet is old and blind but made the rounds and found his way, using his whiskers.

An afternoon with yarnwomen, tea cats, real cats, cake and chocolate, made for a wonderful party 🙂

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.
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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:
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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:
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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.

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You have a good day today too!

 

Knitting in the rain.

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This wool vacation is different that I had planned. It rained all of this week and I couldn’t go outside and do all the carding and fleece washing and felting and dyeing that I came here to do. Oh my, and the gardening! The garden has run wild and I’ll never reel it back in again! I don’t want to talk about it.

I mostly stayed indoors and grumbled and my needle had broken and I went too fast on the car knitting project because its colours make me happy and I didn’t want to think too much:

But you can’t just knit away on your car knitting project. These kind of mindless socks need to be timed smartly so there’s some easy knitting for driving. The leg and the foot are such mindless knitting and need to be savoured for such needy times.

This week I finished one sock and knit the leg of the other, while ignoring the rain and the garden. But now that I’ve turned the heel I have to leave them alone because otherwise I won’t have any suitable car knitting. And I need a car project because tomorrow we’re going for a drive.

To Münster, Germany:munster germany

Look, it’s only about a cm from where I am in the Netherlands!

We love to go to Münster for a day, every year. It’s our one day together. Until now it was usually a day in November, to visit the x-mas market. But we haven’t been for the last two years because of my health. Tomorrow we’re cashing in that rain cheque! Münster is so nice. Old and cute and with little shops and nice cafés. And a botanical garden that we’re going to visit tomorrow. A good opportunity for some mindless knitting, while walking.

So I need both car knitting and walking knitting for tomorrow. I’m bringing that green Zauberball sock but I’m afraid I’ll finish it on the way over. So I’ve just cast on for the next sock:

The socks on the right are by fellow raveler Nasti, a Finnish knitting wonder who is excellent with both stripes and colours, here’s her blog.
I love her socks! And I’m shamelessly copying them.

These are two 50 gram balls and because I don’t know how far the grey will get me I did a provisional cast on off the leg and will work my way down to the heelflap. co 56 st on needle 2,25 mm. I’m doing 2 yellow stripes and 5 grey ones. Nasti did 2 and 3.

This week I did do some of the things I planned for this wool vacation. I spun some more silk for the purple(green) single and I set the twist on the spun silk and on the Passe-Partout 3 ply:

The last one will become a Rikke hat, which is easy knitting and is coming with me in the car tomorrow.

Yesterday I cast on for the second cashmere neckwarmer I’ve been wanting to knit for months now:

The pattern is Pudorosa neckwarmer by Lia Moya. Only I replaced the cables in the neck part for a mock cable (herring rib).

The yarn is a 100% Cashmere DK. The same as the pink one, which I wear all the time. Where the rose one is a neckwarmer with round shapes, the lavender one will be more pointy:

 pic by Leo

With the rain I thought it’d be a good plan to crack on with my sewing projects. But somehow I find it difficult to concentrate on them here. It’s easier in the city, where everything and everyone is productive and efficient and fuelled by coffee and urban culture.

In the cabin there’s more of a friendly vibe. “Relax, recuperate, enjoy the view.” Then I got this lovely container full of friendly sewing vibes and things clicked:
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It prompted me to do some of the hand sewing that the skirts need. Lovely!

I got something else too. A new tea mug:
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Stoneware, big (500 ml!), with big blobs of glaze on the outside and with a light interior on the inside. Handmade by Claire Benoit in the UK and bought via her shop on Etsy.

I’ve yet to test it but it meets a lot of my requirements for a Knitter’s Tea Mug. With the light interior it’s better than my dark cat-mug because I can never see if I need to take the tea egg out because its inside is black. (this is a tea egg. I love it in weird shapes.)

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So that’s me finally settled for the rain I think. I’ve now got my head around it and I can do some sewing and knitting now that I’ve got the good vibes, a new tea mug and a new needle 4mm.

Let’s see how I feel the day after tomorrow and how the weather will be.

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Weird Wool Wednesday: choosing colour over content

This year I’m looking forward to knitting a new pair of Party Paws

Here’s my version 2009 en Tilly Trout’s 2015 version:

so this year a self striping sportsweight is on my purchase-list for when visiting a yarn shop. A kind of souvenir-yarn. A nice reason to spend some money.

Yesterday I visited Deventer which has the amazing yarn shop Dol op Wol at Kleine Overstraat 6. Next to a lovely lunchroom Bij Peet, with homemade cakes. Peet herself is someone to experience! And she knows knitters.

The yarn shop had a particular festive selfstriping sportsweight:

But it’s 96% cotton and 4% polyester. Lana Grossa Elastico Print. It has more give then usual cotton yarn. But cotton, for gloves? Not very smart I’d think.

I just WANTED souvenir-yarn. I chose colours that make me giggle. So this is now my yarn, in cotton, for a pair of Party Paws. I don’t know WHAT I’m doing here. But it’s fun and harmless so probably ok.

Deventer is a lovely city by the way. It wasn’t bombed much in the war so it has lots of old buildings. It’s positively cute!

It was a big trading centre in the 15th century and an important part of the trading routes that ran from the Channel to Poland (Hanze route) and that history is still alive in the city.

This part of history is before the Dutch Republic became great; before Amsterdam, Delft, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and tulips shaped the Dutch identity.

The Hanseatic period is when there was a shared culture between Belgium and Holland all the way to Poland, Estland, Lituania, Rusland. It ran for centuries. Brugge, Bergen, London and Veliki Novgorod where the big cultural centra and all the Hanze cities between them were strong and flourishing. As you travelled between them you could transit through the languages and be understood everywhere because linguistic changes were gradually and all these languages are in the same family.

I believe this is where our shared fairy tales stem from -the ones that take place in forests- as well as a shared acknowledgement of knitting. This is when the Baltic got knotted to the North Sea and the forests of Germany and all the tales got shared. This is why Hansel & Gretel feels local to the whole of the Hanseatic region. This is why the fairytale Vrouwtje van Stavoren rings a bell in all the seafaring Hanze cities. And I just learned Lufthansa gets its name from the Hanse trade.

Anyway, Deventer, lovely city.

It’s a small enough city that rent prices are not too high so it’s filled with little fun shops selling weird and wonderful things. Such as De Regenboog at Lange Bisschopsstraat 4.  It’s crammed full with curiosa including double knit cardigans from Iceland. I bought a tea mug there. It’s very colourful, I’m not sure I’d welcome it early in the morning… But it was such a fun shop! Been there for 30 years too and the lady that owns it is still as enthousiastic as ever.

It’s not quite big enough, it’s 0,4 l instead of the 0,5 l I need. I think I chose colour over content here too.

Well, I really recommend people visit Deventer for a day of friendly weirdness and historic marvelling! I’ll be visiting again soon I hope. It’s also known for its books, its Toy Museum and famous spice cake.

So how did I end up visiting Deventer? Not just for colourful yarn and mugs, surely?

Well, I went along with my husband who was invited to visit with one of the big central heating condensing boiler producers of the country. They develop and assemble various boilers at their plant in/near Deventer. Some time back they developed a smart application that allows your phone to call the thermostate and change the temperature while you’re not even in the house (or while you are in the house but you’re on the couch covered in cats and knitting and can’t get up).

An application my husband hacked.

Over the x-mas holidays.

Because he was bored.

There’s a whole forum of people interested in Domestic Robotica (“domotica”) who had been trying to hack it for some time now. My husband did it and they were delighted.

The people at the boiler company were not so much delighted. But not particularly annoyed either! They were positively interested as to WHY he had done it. (“Really, just bored? Nothing else? No grand scheme plan for world boiler domination?”)

They are a proud bunch, the boiler guys. Proud of their products and their brand, proud enough to want to learn and advance their products and that made for a nice conversation about apps and users and user friendliness and security and how users might “brick” their app if they don’t know what they’re doing and nerdynerdynerd and zzzzzzz (I don’t remember everything he told me afterwards. It was 3 technical guys and my husband who’s a top software developer and they got their nerd on.)

I was in the inner city, being seduced by impractical colours.

Weird Wool Wednesday: a knitter’s tea mug

You know my sheep mug:

I use it every day, either at the cabin or in the city. I have one at both locations.
They were given to me by a friend who lives in Lüneburg, Germany:
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That’s Germany in yellow. In grey are the Netherlands, to the left of Germany. To the north is just a bit Denmark. Upper right, under the Baltic Sea, is Poland. Czech Republic underneath it. (we’re now at the grey country in the middle, right of Germany.)
Right lower border shows Austria. In the middle, under Germany, is Switzerland. Left lower border is France. The little country shown in grey at the left is Luxembourg and to the left of that is Belgium. Then we’re back at left upper corner with the Netherlands again. The blue in left upper corner is the North Sea.

Lüneburg is a beautiful city, chuck full of history and fairytales and culture. I’ve been there once, in winter, it was magical.
There’s an impressive heath nearby where a flock of sheep live with their shepherd. They’re moorland sheep of the German breed Heidschnucke:


This looks just like the picture on my mug! The heath in bloom and with those weird long trees.
Heidschnuck sheep is a very handsome breed. And also intelligent. Beautiful ewe:

Heidschnucke.jpg

Heid = heide = heath and Schnucke = candy. Sweet heath-candy sheep 🙂

My mug supports the flock at Lüneburger Heath.
I’ve had it for years. For as long as I knit, I think…
it was one of the first “knittery” gifts I ever received. Oh, I love this mug! It’s big, it has green on it, it was a gift given at a time I was low on energy and happiness, it reminds me of Lüneburg and my friend and it’s a knitter’s mug.

Right before Advent the mug in the city fell to the floor and shattered 😦

I had to do a lot of internet wizardry to find a suitable replacement and this is it:
advent knitting jultalamod
from a husband and wife team in Bulgaria: Miglena & Miroslav from MMceramicdesign at Etsy.com

A knitter’s mug has to meet a few requirements:
– it needs to hold half a liter of tea (14 to 17 ounces of fluid)
– it must have a handle (we say “ear”)
– it must be higher than wide (I often forget I have tea, it mustn’t cool in a hurry)
– I prefer it to be handmade and directly support the creator
– I love porcelain, more than stoneware
– I love thick glaze
– I like particular colours
– I don’t like comically drawn sheep
– I can’t go out and visit ceramic artists and look for a mug, I’m still house bound. So internet shopping it is.
– if purchased outside of Europe it must cost less than 24 euros (26 USD) otherwise I’ll have to pay a ridiculous amount of import costs
– I don’t trust a handmade mug that costs 24 euro or less, handmades ought to get a fair price

This was the only one to fit the bill. The only one in the whole wide world! Or so it seemed to me, after days of growing a set of screen shaped eyes.

It’s not particularly knitterly but Cat Lady is a close second to Knitter and it met all the other requirements so I’m well pleased.

It’s part of a line of handmade ceramics by a husband and wife company in Bulgaria. It’s well made as judged by Lieneke from Wolop who has a degree in ceramics. The shape keeps the tea hot. It holds 500 ml easily. It’s green, handmade and has a cat.
I like it!

They even do yarn bowls!

And sheep mugs:

Comical sheep….

I’ll keep searching for another mug. A knitter should have more than one mug I feel. For when another knitter comes to visit. And for when you are in a different mood. Or for when I feel more of a spinner than a knitter.

I have one other good mug. It’s not knitterly at all but I love it. It’s my Winter mug:
adventmok

It’s a cheapo mug from a cheapo store but it’s big, brown and festive! (oh look at my scrawny claw hand in that photo! That’s my inner witch peeking out, I suppose. I DO have fairytales on the mind these days…)

At Sinterklaas Wolop got a beautiful knitter’s mug from Starbucks. A proper knitter’s mug!

Ooooohooooo!

A cat with a golden collar, playing with green yarn. Lots of volume. High mug. Porcelain, I believe. What a beauty!

I wanted to steal it. Very much.

I didn’t steal it.

Now my New Years Resolution is to steal less (I love resolutions that don’t require any change of behaviour but still give cause to self congratulations) and to go out of the house and meet ceramic artists in real life instead of online. See their products. Find myself another knitter’s mug.
There are some ceramic fairs throughout the year and in 2016 I plan to visit at least one of them. There’s one in Gouda, the city where Lieneke lives. Gouda is traditionally known for it’s ceramics. And cheese. I wonder if it shows functional ceramics or more arty statement things.
There’s another fair in a piece of grassland in the north of the most southern province, Limburg. Someone in the know will enlighten me.

Here’s another knitters’ or spinners’ mug I once had:
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(I gave it away. I saw straight away that it’s too wide to keep my tea hot for the time it takes me to remember I made a cup.)

So there we are. One new knitter’s mug and some beautiful New Year Resolutions. Congratulations all around!