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:
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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!
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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
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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.

Swap sent: Matilda by Roald Dahl

For the recent swap in the Dutch Karma Swap Group on Ravelry I read Matilda by Roald Dahl and made a handmade inspired by the book:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
It’s a pyramid WIP bag, with 4 equally exact triangles.

This means the height of the fabric was the width/4 x 1,73.
(Usually crafters will just make the width 4 times the height because math is scary and also because that can be nicely done with pre cut fat quarters, but that will not give a true pyramid: its top will not be in the middle of the ground plane. There’s a Dutch explanation on this Belgian blog.)

I chose the outer fabric to be nice and precise, both in print and in sewed lines to keep the batting inplace. Nice and precise, just like Matilda and my swappee are. (And like I am). My swappee is Meilindis from Meilindis.nl (English blog).

The zipper gives a hint to what else is important:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
It’s one of The Woolly Dodo stitchmarkers, without the ring.

This is the inside: chocolate cakes! Like the one the head of the school makes one of the pupils eat in totality. Enjoy some of the marvelous illustrations by Quentin Blake here 🙂

The lining of the bag:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books

And the content of the bag:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
These are her two favourite chocolates and a coupon to get some more.

Then I painted this mug, to bring some more “book” to the swap:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
Again I looked at Quentin Blake’s illustrations and let them inspire me.

This is at the bottom, because Meilindis and I both love cats:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
I also included three tins of cat food for her cat 🙂

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!
wolfeestje yarnparty

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).
wolfeestje yarnparty
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 🙂

Weird Wool Wednesday 3: just regular tea.

It didn’t work, the existing LEDs are too much incorporated into the kettle. With solid solid glue. So it’ll be just regular tea for us. From a water kettle with regular old blue LEDs.

Also, my husband says I’m one to talk online about his kitchen hacks.
He just caught me making chicken stock (gelatine) using our garden scissors:
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What? If it works it ain’t stupid.

Weird Wool Wednesday 2: no tea.

A knitter was coming to tea but she had to cancel and now my husband seizes the chance to take apart the watercooker/kettle to change out the blue LEDs for multicolours that change colour over time…

waterkoker

Is this where young whippersnappers use the online term “FML”? I feel it is.
waterkoker
Those are my tea tins. The big one holds peppermint leaves, which are still visible in my tea mug that overtly supports my husband. No Grim seen today.

He says he knows what he’s doing…
waterkoker
But I notice he’s not wearing one item of handknit clothing so I’m not sure that I trust him.
I’m going into town, to buy chocolates. BRB

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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X-mas in June

There’s a new KAL starting next Monday, to make 12 stranded mittens, themed to the 12 days of x-mas. Free pattern 12 Days of Christmas Mitten Garland KAL by Kat Lewinski.

The look of the designs is based on wood block printing and silhouette paper cut outs. Both of which I love. Clear contrasts. Playing with shapes and lines. Just my thing.
So I’m joining in. For the first mitten at least, which looks darling:

I’m also joining for the sheer giggles it gives me to do something x-massy in Summer, amidst roses in full bloom. And finding this KAL just as I’m secretly drinking tea from the tea mug I was saving for x-mas which also has that block printing vibe.

I so like it when things unexpectedly tie together. It’s so cheerful, this way I get to giggle each day.

I’m still giggling over two rabbits I met last week!
They are a short haired breed but have magnificent side burns. It’s whitish and so fluffy!
One is smart, the other dim. Both are very happy and they pounce and race and flop about. Living the bunny life.

When I left them I caught the bus and it was driven by a chauffeur that matched the rabbits exactly: magnificent white sideburns! The sort you only know from old Western movies. The kind you never see in modern days.
You couldn’t make it up. Nobody would believe you.

Now I have rabbits tied in my head to the profession of bus chauffeur, some being smart, some being dim. All of them racing across the room, feet squeaking across the flooring boards.
Someone is snoring under the couch.

Weird Wool Wednesday: two yarns, no milk please.

Robert: “Would you like a cup of tea?”
me:        “Yes please. But the thingy needs new yarn.”
Robert: “What?”
me:        “Errr… the tea egg needs new tea.”
Robert: “I actually knew what you meant the first time…”

And just when I want to show you my tea, my Robert and my knitting:
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Lillepoes channeling her inner tea cosy.

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!

Spin a yarn, have a treat.


204 meters out of 100 grams.

It’s the BFL hand dyed by Passe-Partout that I received in the Elementary, My Dear swap:

It’s Fractal Spun:

The person who gave me this great roving is coming here today, for a lazy afternoon of knitting and sweets. No worries, just hanging out:

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I have the sweets, you bring your knitting.

I, being the perfect host, am having breakfast at the moment by sampling the pears with custard:

Approved.

(The pears were cooked with ginger and kardemom, in addition to the cinneamon (and two clovers if I had been able to find them). It adds a delicious flavour to it. The pears themselves are organic, they have more flavour than regular ones.
The custard I made myself: unwhipped cream, egg yokes, vanilla, salt and pepper. YUM!)