Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's all in the head

view out of my bedroom window, like it's not smack in the middle of a city
I wasn't going to do it,
I really, really wasn't...

But I did,
I did because I just couldn't help myself.

I just went in there to buy a starterskit (motivatingly pretty yarn that you háve to see knitted up & 8mm needles) for my friend Zita. I wasn't going to look hard, just scanning, getting the kit and 'hop', be on my way.

But they had the black, thick sock wool that I needed...
And they had some really good deals...
And then there was this crazy yarn that looks like it would be worn by a 20's have-been diva, too 'out there' and 'way over the top' to just walk by and leave it. It actually looks like someone ate a peacock, some butterflies and a chameleon and vomited it al out in a twined thread (how can you resist) ...
Not to mention lush green 100% wool to start a new felting project...

I need help!
I need Yarn Gatherers Anonymous!

So now it's saturday morning (I'm late posting this...) and I don't have to do anything or go anywhere until two 'o clock, a great day to lay in bed, take it easy, make a café latte at around 12 and start knitting.
But no... noooo, not this chica... I woke up at 6:30... yup, 6-freakin'-30, my head just overflowing with ideas and plans and yarns and colours and patterns, colours, stitches, presents for others, projects for me, it kept coming, like someone slipped something in my drink before I went to bed.
I couldn't take it anymore, got out of bed, got my notebook and started to write it all down, drawing (very) rough versions of the pattern ideas in my head.

Now, it's like after a thunderstorm in summer, all is quiet again, calm, silent, peaceful...

Thing is... al these things I design in my head are way beyond my abilities at this point in my knitting 'career'. I'm thinking of all kinds of intricate patterns and I've only done one Fair Isle project ever. Not to mention my lack of fast-knitting skills. If I want to make everything I thought of this morning alone I'll have to give up my job, start ordering meals every day and use a personal shopper for about a year (and lose all my friends and Boyfriend Dear in the process).

So I'm thinking, I know what I am. I'm not a neurotic, I'm not a maniac, I'm not over-eager or just naive...

I'm a Conceptual artist.
That's it... A CONCEPTUAL artist!

Through the generations

What you see here is a long story in short.

There's four knitting women in my direct family, (my own Omi not included since she stopped knitting years ago) in order of experience:
- BDG (Boyfriend Dear's Gran)
- BDM (Boyfriend Dear's Mum)
- me

- CC (Boyfriend Dear's Sister)

CC really can knit, has great ideas and loves to do it, but she and BDM have a very fragile knitting relationship. I remember one of our last Knittogethers were CC told us girls she knéw BDM was going to make a negative comment as soon as she would show her WIP (work in progress).
And yes, she was right, BDM díd comment, I was there. The first thing she said was, 'it's too tight!' I will not get into detail but lets just say that their fragile knitting relationship at that point was looking like silk from the 1700's in a museum (falling apart...).

So now the funny bit...

As BDM started this project, she used red mohair and it wouldn't work as she'd like. She started over two times, using different cast-on techniques but it was just not an easy pattern-yarn combination.
When BDG visited, she -apparently- got a strict look on her face and ripped the needles out of the work, saying 'What's this?? This is no good, I'll start over.' The same fragile knitting relationship had not skipped a generation. BDM stood by, a fullgrown woman, with a fullgrown daughter, as her mum destroyed her work and started it over.

So now the extra funny bit...

BDG didn't manage either and so they both decided the yarn was to blame. They went to a yarnshop together and bought a mixture of mohair and silk this time. It worked!
What happy ending!

CC hasn't heard the last part of this story yet, so I decided to write it down for her. This one's for you, CC!
Just so you know, it's nót you, it's the mother-daughter-knitting-teaching-thing and you really should be happy to be part of that chain. I'm not in it, sure, I don't get critisism like you, but that critisism is part of something bigger & better! It really is. :-)

I leave you with these pictures of BDM with her stack of Handwerken Zonder Grenzen and the start of what is going to be the most beautiful shawl ever! (oh, and that straight forward bulky black thing, that's Tempting... I'm getting there, slowly but steady)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Midnight Murder Special

google today...

When my friend Kuno has a birthday, he likes to celebrate it with a twist. So this year he and his girlfriend Miriam (who happens to be my best friend...) came up with 'The Midnight Murder Special'. They planned this whole elaborate quest to find the murderer of all 11 characters played by us, his friends. Every one of us got a character description with information on how and if your character was related to you. This was mine:

Sas F.
Well well, if it isn't miss charming... You started out as the good girl in school, was spotted as the design talent of the new fashion generation. When fame and fortune found you, you decided to get out of it and started to teach knitting to children with learning disabilities! And as if that doesn't take enough out of your social skills, you are also a volunteer at Amnesty International where everyone thinks you're adorable and honest and real. You love to take strolls in the woods. But are you really as cosy and snugly and warm as everybody seems to think, little Miss S.? Why did your fashion carreer end so abrupt? Was it your conscience that made you do it? Because your most important competititor tripped and fell on her own knitting needles, piercing and killing her? It stayed a mystery and it was never directly linked to you. It's that charme, isn't it; it makes you get away with murder...
Oh, and what else, you are not an idiot: you never spoke of the incident since...

I was dressed to match my character: combat meets knitwear

There was an anchor woman, an accountant, a biker, a cigar salesman, a veteran, a guitar player in a metal band (boyfriend-dear), a travelling consultant, an architect, a publisher and a shop owner. But I was the knitting teacher, the knitting teacher who might have killed 11 people. I was (and am) by far the coolest character. I'm sure you'll agree. The knitting teacher... she may kill all, maybe with her needles, maybe with sweaters soaked in poison, maybe by making people wear her first ever FO's (which should be enough to finish them off in a second). I'm the piercing assassin, I'm the knitting killer. Needles to say (...can I go there? Yes, I can!) I was totally up for the challenge and came prepared with the outfit to match. An outfit saying, I'm a combat proof knitter. I wore a knitted cardigan, my Dream Swatch Wrap, my combat hat and hiking boots with knitted legwarmers. I brought sunglasses that made me blend into the dark, I brought a light bulb just in case I needed a good idea, I brought wet naps ('cause you never know...), I brought band aids and sunscreen, toothpicks and a garbage bag. Ofcourse my SAS Survival Guide (a gift from Miriam) and my Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. And most important of all... I brought M&M's!

I was ready to go!

strangers in the dark / / Miriam & Kuno explain the drill

We had to get in the back of a small van and drove to the woods. There we were informed of the general idea. It was 2300 hours and pitch dark. The mystery then unfolded as we went from one murder scene to another where we were told some, but not all, details of what had happened there. The guitar player was hung from a beam but the beam was tempered with, so it broke and he fell, he was left on the ground. The travelling consultant was shot while picnicking with her friend who then mysteriously disappeared. The biker crashed when his brakes didn't work and he was speared at the bottom of the hill. And so on and so on, one bloody story after another. And with each story we saw evidence in ziplockbags, strings with blood, snakes, bolts and rope and of course; yarn and needles. In between murder scenes we walked through the woods and tried to figure out the details by asking around. Some, willing to trade information, would spill. Others kept silent, as their graves...
The hardest part in finding the murderer was figuring out how deep to dig, how hard to think, how far to go. Keep it simple or add some of your own imagination? What would lead to victory? I figured to keep it simple and focus on 'who was where when' and take it from there. But halfway I started to second-guess my tactics and turned to Kim (the accountant). We decided to make a deal and work together. She'd go for the honour of winning and I would keep the prize. (typical...). Thing was, her tactic was the opposite of mine; she was going mad with alibi's and motives and all kinds off details. This wasn't going to work, it messed up my straight forward thinking... But along the way we started to combine our thoughts and came up with the same murderer three rounds in a row... When Kuno revealed, anonymously, round after round the different murderers that were mentioned by the players, we knew -since we were the only ones mentioning this one particular murderer- that we were either geniuses or way, way off...

cigars, can't do without them in a Midnight Murder Special

So lets say we were geniuses... this wasn't all there was to this bloody game. Oh no siree! In between rounds / visiting murder scenes we were asked questions. Each good answer lead to an extra point and a bonus tip. I'm pretty good at random knowledge, always have been. Don't ask me the date of Napoleon's birth or who discovered gravity, but I'll tell you the height of Jon Bon Jovi, I'll give you the effects of food allergies and I can name zillions of old TV shows. So I thought I was in, I was definately going to nail these silly questions, I was the master!


Name the name of the actress in Murder She Wrote, name two Agatha Christie books, name 4 British detective shows on TV, it got worse and worse... I know NOTHING about detectives, I don't like reading them, I don't watch them on TV, heck I even had a dislike for Sherlock Holmes when I was small, espécially the Disney version with the mice! Ok, so I managed to tell Miriam that the 00 in 007 stood for 'licence to kill' and because I was the one that got even close to the real answer, I got a point. And yeah, working together (cheating only a wee bit) Kim and I thought of 4 detectives on British TV. Only because she knew 3 and Miriam accepted 'The Thin Blue Line' because she felt so sorry for me. (It’s a show about a police station, has nóting to do with detectives). Luckily Miriam isn't a very strict game-leader-question-asker, and a very good friend, so she gave me (ánd the others too, don't worry) second questions to make up for our (my!!) lack of knowledge. She asked me the name of Tin Tin’s dog first... Total blackout... Ok, moving on. The next few second questions saved me though; I had to name a serial killer. Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dammer, it hardly took me a nanosecond to answer those... So now you now know this about me: I have no idea what the name of the sweat, pink, fluffy actrice that plays Jessica Fletcher is (it's Angela Lansbury, for those who are cracking their skulls now) but I can name a bunch of serial killers in a jiffy...

Guess what?
I won the game! I won the freakin' game!

The knitting teacher with no detective knowledge nailed them all! The fanatic and loud boys, the giggly and louder girls, everyone who was bluffing, everyone who was trying to get information out of me, everyone that thought I was just messing about... EAT MY DUST!! HA!! I WON!!

And yeah, of course I thanked Kim in my acceptance speech, clutching on to my new bottle of faux-champagne!

fun and games with flashlights, don't matter that we're 26 and up... Kim and me


Here's how Tempting is coming along:

it blends in so nicely with the decor doesn't it? (spoken in posh English...)

it might not look like it, but it is black, dark & slimming black.

The yarn I use is Scheepjeswol / Isis / 100% gassed (?) cotton in color 804.

The cotton is shiny but not too shiny, it's really nice but I'm a bit worried about loose threads... it seems to get caught on things quickly, so I'll have to be carefull.

It's a bit boring now and I'm crossing my fingers that all goes well when the real shaping is taking place, I don't want to mess up those hours of knit, knit, purl, purl, knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl,knit, knit, purl, purl.

Ok you get it...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dream Swatch Wrap in action

To make up for the worn out look I have on the last blog, here some pictures with face-paint on, much...much...much better! So here I am, in all my morning glory, showing off the Dream Swatch Headwrap. I could be smiling a bit more though... you'll have to imagine the smile then... ;-)


Mothers Day

I just wanted to share some pictures of mothersday with you. There's boyfriend-dears mum en his sister CC. Oh yeah, and me.

CC's moddeling the Dream Swatch Wrap that I finally finished, boyfriend-dear's mum is starting on the wedding scarf that's in
Handwerken Zonder Grenzen. She hasn't been knitting for a while, she makes lace (!!) and does embroiderie mostly, but I think I can say that the virus caught on again when we were at the yarn shop in Oudewater the other day.

And yeah, that's me, holding up what is the start of

This is my first sweater ever... and oh my gosh, it's taking a while, I'm only two skeins along the way... I need to do at least 6 more, it'll be Christmas before I wear it... (oh well, I'll add red and green ribbons)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The witches

Yesterday was great, Boyfriend-Dear's mum (BDM) took me to this yarnshop she's been telling me about for ever. BDM is my present knitting coach, my omi is now too old and lives too far away, so these days BDM saves my disasters and shows me the ropes. She's great!

So this yarnshop is in Oudewater, a small town that's know mostly for it's
witch weighing.
BDM thinks she was a witch in one of her former lives and what's even funnier ... she thinks I've been one too. I might have been, sure, I think I would've been a great witch, hehehe! So there we were, two witches in modern times, on our way to the yarnshop from were we get our supplies wich we then will turn into something that will look completely different. It's like magic...

The shop is called De Distel and is run by a very friendly lady that has a mega-amount of different yarns and all kinds of wannahaves. I love it when a shopowner takes the time to talk to you and is honest when it comes to selling. And in the knitting-bizz you really want to sell, since it's not soccer or golf, not everybody does it and not everybody spents their month's wages on it. (ok, maybe some...)

Anyway... after entering the magical world of yarn, I had, offcourse, in no-time managed to put a great big pile of new yummiestuff on the counter. But I was on a budget (as I usually am) so she helped me to, step-by-step, decide what to take and what to put back in the cubicals, and she made me feel good about my choises too. BDM added some of her wise mummy-like remarks and I left the shop feeling happy and in a 'new-project' mood instead of a 'deprived-of-what-I-so-obvioulsy-should-have-but-the-world-won't-let-me' kind of mood. (which is good)

Since I've become more serious about knitting (read: obsessed) I have visited about 6 or 7 yarnshops in the Rotterdam area and this one is definately in my top 3 so far. It wasn't the biggest, it wasn't the prettiest and it certainly wasn't the closest to my house... but the combination of a great choise of yarn, the friendly owner and the way she talked about keeping her prices low by deciding to do things differently is definatly worth a little free advertising. I took some pictures of the shop and my new cutieyummieyarns for my new projects. And since I can't make a link because there isn't a website, here's the adress:

De Distel - Wol
Korte Havenstraat 1
3421 AG Oudewater
Tel. 0348 561935

So these are going to be my projects for the summer:

Tie One On ,
Tempting &
Clapotis .

I'll start Tempting first, because it's my first sweater and I might need some help from BDM or the internet, before I go on holiday. And I want it finished so I can wear it when strutting on boulevards in Italy or lingering by a Swedish lake (Boyfriend-Dear and me are still deciding where we want to go...).

Clapotis will be a great project to take with me and so will one of the Tie One On variations. And I've bought some sockyarn too, so I'm set. In summer the knitting is competing for my attention with reading. It'll be a heavy fight this year, I've got a bunch of great books waiting for me, but then last summer I wasn't so serious about (read: addicted to) knitting...

Oh I just remembered... I'll have to start knitting an orange scarf or something soon, the World Championships Soccer are almost starting and I have to look fantabulous in our national color (why orange... why?? WHY??). I'm thinking a very thin summerscarf. Any other great ideas anyone?

I think my camera is suffering from depression... I took these pictures in full sunlight, but they don't look sunny at all... Poor cammy ... :-(

The black yarn is Isis from Scheepjes and is 100% -slightly shiny- cotton.
The Jamaica from Katia is 100% cotton.
The light and dark blue glitter yarn(Rpma) is 81% wool, 14% acrilyc and 5% polyester.
That lush green number is for the most part mohair (the tag fell off...).
The multicolor sockyarn Invicta Coloris form Scheepjes is 75% virgin wool, 25% nylon.
the multicolor yarn on top is Phildar, plaisance and is 50% cotton and 50% acrylic.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Omi-Wan Knitobi

It's become a great habit, our monthly knit-together (brei-eenkomst). We have our own little Stitch & Bitch going on, the girls and me. A while ago I asked them whether they would be interested in starting a local S&B here in Rotterdam. We pondered on the thought and thought of a good café but in the end we decided that we would rather keep it personal, small, snugly and cosy. And I have to say, although I love the idea of the S&B groups, I love the idea of our own group even more and I'll tell you why:

Enter -the grandmother- ... My 'oma' or as I used to call her; 'omi', well, she's my Omi-Wan Knitobi... The mistress of the universe when it came to knitting when I was, well... let's think... seven (or something). She taught me the basics and I still love her for it. I remember asking my Omi to help me knit some bloomers for my teddybear (named: Teddy). Baby blue bloomers for my baby blue bear because, oh my god, to be naked under a dress, uncalled for! Teddy, still in my life, somewhere in a basket so that he/she can still breathe but no one adult can see him/her, well .... he/she's still wearing them. I'm referring to him/her as he/she because, come to think of it, I never choose a gender for him/her. Although I did put him/her in a dress soon afther I got him/her and he/she has been wearing it since. (i'll have to read up on Freud to see what that says about me...)

What great times I had knitting at my grandmothers house, I remember it was great, but the only thing I remember actually finishing are the bloomers. And maybe a small pillow or two. The rest of my knitting I learned from a very strict schoolteacher that came in once a week to teach us the joys of fabric and yarn crafts (don't know the exact term). Oh joy, oh joy. Pitty she was about as joyfull as a nest full of dead kittens (sorry for putting that image in your head). Anyway you catch my drift, right? Oh and also, she used fabric glue that smelled like rotten fishbits...yikes, I can still recall the smell.

Ok, so I went from the knit-together, to my grandmother, to rotten fishbits. What's my point?
My point leads back to my grandmother, whom I love. My greandmother is actually me, but older, and when she was me, it was the 50's and things were pretty different. I don't know much about my Omi's life back then but I know she made the most of the life she had (post-war-time). One of the things she did, and that's were I get her genes, is organise things. So she started a bookclub and did that at my age, about 50 years back. Guess what... that same club... it still excists!!!! How amazing is that?! The exact same club, some new members, some members went on to do other things, but a steady base has been there since the beginning. Eat your heart out Oprah! I think that's so great, I couldn't get over it the first time she told me that. (not Oprah, my Omi...)

And eventhough I'm not going to áctively try to keep our knit-togethers happening for 50 years. I'd shudder at the idea of what that would do to my frienships: 'You are coming, I don't care if you have a broken wrist, you ARE coming' / 'What do you mean you don't like knitting that much, why don't you stab me right away... you're NOT leaving the group'! Ok, enough already... But wouldn't it be awesome if it just happened?! So that why, for me, a group of friends to knit with (knitwit...) wins it over a S&B (eventhough it's a great, great, great initiative!) Do both? Well, if I had that much time, I'd be my Omi's age. ;-)

Fellow knitters, may the Force be with you!

And to really, really finish Episode I, here's a picture of some tiny things I did, an I-pod bag (attached to it is a really cute crochet charm my friend Roos gave me), a sunglass bag with smallyballythings, Alain de Botton's 'Status anxiety' (a mustread in my status... according to my good, good friend Miriam who lend it to me). On the right you see a part of a 1970's hooded sweater desing that's on my 'to do list', and the start of my Dream Swatch Wrap

Those small bags are great to practise stitches on by the way, usefull swatches!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mother Mary (Jane)!

It took me about 4 days... but I finally finished the Mary Jane Footies . Mother of God... I think I started again about 6 times, before I finally understood that I had to start with two needles and what I was making wasn't the toe-part, but the heel. (my first English pattern...)




I have this (weird) habit when it comes to knitted socks and footies. As soon as I finish the first one, I'll start wearing it. Just the one. And I'll wear it when knitting the other one untill the other one is finished. Must be some sort of maternal instinct; I cut the cord of one and I'll have to keep it close to me untill they can be together. I get attached quite literally.

You might not know this about me, but I'm a perfectionist. That's probably what got me here in the first place, at home, resting with a virus (that is more common for people that have been working too hard) and a clear: 'You are getting rest now mylady!' from my doctor. What I have to do now (and have to learn from now on) is not to set my goals too high and that takes a whole lot of soulsearching and mirrorlooking.

The first Mary Jane (let's call her Mary, the other one will be Jane..) Mary, she isn't perfect, like no one is. She's inherated my genes obviously. Which means that, when I created her, I made some small mistakes (as you sometimes do while creating...). That's fine though, character is what makes things/people interesting, so... fine.
But when making Jane, stricktly following the pattern this time, I discovered that there were more than a few flaws. And this is the part when it becomes hard for a perfectionist... What to do? Either 'kill' Mary and start all over (for the 7th time) or create, her sister in her image, so they are both the same, wíllingly making the mistakes again? It's a harsh world! But since I've been doing a lot of learning and soulsearching and looking at myself in the mirror these days, I had to practise what I've been preaching in my head. I finished Jane and they are together now, not perfect, but finished.

finished Mary

working on Jane in the park (with baby Sterre's feet)

It'll be a great day when I'll be able to do exactly that in my job, finishing and rounding up things that might be less perfect and moving on rather then keep perfecting it while other stuff piles up and creating stressfull situations for myself.

Who knew a pair of footies would become a metaphore for my life...

finished Mary Jane Footies (Jane still with umbilical cord)

ps the yarn I used is Anchor Magic

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vertigo for Celine & me

So... turnes out that I have something incommon with Celine Dion. Of all people...Celine freakin' Dion... Her viral infection is the same one my doctor diagnosed me with last tuesday. He sent me home to get some rest so now I'm spending my time.... guess.... right; knitting!

Good news for me, the weather turned the exact day I went to see the doctor. And it has been fantastic since. So I've cleaned up our terrace and installed myself with my ice-cream-colored-gigantic-tote-to-be and at the same time started on the Mary Jane Footies (find the pattern at the bottom of the blog) wich are proven to be somewhat difficult since it's the first pattern I have to figure out in English... (I think I started over 4 times already) but hey, I'm a pitbull when it comes to knitting; I háve to get it right, and I wíll get it right.

Here are some pictures of me, knitting in the city:

notice: the i-pod bag / my super-de-luxe-brunch / and my self-conciousness when it comes to my toes...

Monday, May 01, 2006

First Time Felting; I felt dissapointed...

A week or two ago, I found a small arts & crafts supplies shop tucked away inbetween Turkish bakeries and Maroccan stores in a long and narrow street that makes you feel that you're not in Rotterdam but somewhere in Africa. I entered the store and heard two ladies in the back talk in the typical Rotterdam accent. They were talking about a radio channel, they were very critical. I wondered if I should tell them that I have a weekly apperance there to promote the shows in Nighttown (the club that I do PR for). They were saying that the music was too oldfashioned and that they'd nowadays rather tuned in to some other channel. So funny... I can't explain well in English, you would have to hear them talk. But imagine two old ladies in a store in New York, chatting away on everyday stuff and doing that in a really thick accent. When that happens I always feel like I'm watching my own private short-film. I love that stuff!

Anyhoo, I found some skeins of 100% phildar wool in grey on sale there and decided that they would be the material for my first felting project. I found a pattern for a really cute and practical small felted bag on
Crazy Aunt Purl
You attach bracelets, so you can wear it when going out without having to pay attention to it all the time! Great pattern!

first attempt at felting, before and after

What happened? You ask. I will tell you what happened...

I knitted the pattern (which is really easy and fast!) and dropped the bag into a pillowcase, into the washer, washed it on 60 degrees (Celcius) and took it out. So far so good. I opened the pillowcase and what I found there was a smal ball, like an egg of something. (insert drama music here) My heart pounded, sweat on my forehead....No problem I thought, just straighten it out and it'll be fine... It wasn't, I could still see the knitting clearly in some parts and there was a hole in it and it was basically very bulky and hideous.

I created a MONSTER!!

compare: felted and not felted...

knitting with corks / the finished bag without felting (much, much better)

What do you do when you've created a monster you ask? Well, you move on! To be more specific; you move on to what you know. I knitted the bag again, smaller, without felting and it turned out pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.

Lesson learned: my yarn was probably too thick, next time I'll use thinner yarn. Plús I learned that I can use my #10 (mm's) dpn's with korks (I typed dorks first...) pushed on them so that I didn't have to buy new ones.

Was it worth it?
Yes! It was.