Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I love Kenny!

Even though I had promised to do it earlier, only today did I find the time to do some blocking. I had also finished my Drops top, so both my Saskia and top went into a little bath and then outside under a towel (in the case of the top) and onto the bed, stuck down with pins to keep it in shape (in case of the shawl).
The top came out great. It fits nicely (even though knits can sometimes look huge!) and I love the neckline with the ruffle, which gives just a little (ahum) boost to my bust.
And boy, do I look slim! (Yes yes, I know, still several pounds to go, but the 70kg mark is drawing nigh... - don't look at the mess in our hallway...)

Pattern: Yoke top
Yarn: Drops Alpaca, both single and double thread.
Needles: 4 and 5 mm, knit in the round.
Size: I knit size L, and probably would have gotten away with a size M. I also realize I don't like knitting this much stockinette, but the promise of the yoke kept me going :) I did not use as much yarn as indicated, so I will use the leftovers for some nice cuddly toys!

The shawl took a bit more tweeking. I realized I had to double it over to actually block it properly, and luckily I had the right side up. Because I saw this:
Can you see it? Left top, around 2-3 leaves in? Aaaaaah, yes. A. Hole. Far enough from the top to not immediately get out the knitting needles, rip back and reknit. Bummer!
Basically, what had happened, is that where you knit three stitches together (left of the hole), I had dropped a stitch. So, I picked up the three live stitches below it on a needle, and as soon as the shawl is dry later tonight, I will work them up and secure the stitch with a little knot. Problem solved (I hope). Pfew! Close call! (Project details next time)
To make myself feel better, I put Kenny to work today. First he kneeded the dough for a walnut cake, which was (actually still is) delicious:
And then I decided to make some bread. Kenny has no problems with standing there kneeding dough for fifteen minutes, while my left arm (and then my right) do start to protest when I'm kneeding it by hand (or even with my mixer, which will start to smoke after a while too). I love my Kenny!
I got Kenny last week, as even though I am totally smitten by the KitchenAid, the price tag threw me off a bit. And this one was affordable, so I just snapped him off the shelf and took him home, where he is now a fixed member of our household staff. I'm now saving up money for the attachments, especially the pasta ones and the mini mill, for the Kenwood Little Chef. If you have any and aren't using them (just in case), please consider me as a worthy cause for donation. I have noticed that the attachments are a lot cheaper in the UK, so I will probably cave in on our holiday in a few weeks and return back home with a few extra bits in my suitcase. 

On another note: stash enhancement
How I do it, I don't know... But every time someone donates yarn to our SnB group, I end up taking loads of it home. Is it that I can't resist the yarn or can the yarn not resist me? Apart from the odd ball that will disappear straight into my stash box and will be used for whenever I want to hook up a crazy bag again, here's my loot:
Two skeins of Durable cotton, both nr. 8, which makes it fingering weight. I have a crazy idea of turning this into some kind of flower net curtain, a bit like this but then bigger. Still thinking though. Might also turn them into some celestines ;)
Three balls of something. No idea what. But, it is lovely and soft and around 135 grams, so a nice baby top will definitely be knit up out of this. Or a top for my little mermaid. We'll see.
What definitely will be knit up into a top for mermaid are these balls. Vintage Hema! Acrylic/cotton/nylon mix for size 5-6 needles. I have 4 balls, so around 200 grams. I like this, but might totally change my mind when glossing through my own knitting magazines.
My biggest gift was this, a whole bag full (11 balls) of Gratia de Luxe. No idea what this was, but it contains a fine metal thread, which makes it shimmer. It has a yellowy/green sheen which you can't see here. Aafke knit a great top out of this in blue, so I asked her for some advice on how to knit with it. For some reason, I fell in love with this pattern (yes... more stockinette... sigh...) and I have the audacity to think I can knit it in a size Medium (haha...).
This was a find in the thrift shop in Drachten. As we bought a stack of books and some other stuff, I have no idea how much it cost (we paid 6 euros in total, so I'm calling this a free ball of yarn, haha). It is really thin, almost spider weight, and after I've added some more colour to it, I'll go looking for a nice pattern. This is just screaming out for a huge, huge shawl... I got Marieke's NiddyNoddy to skein it up a bit for dyeing, after I had been to her house to fondle some yarn. She sells this you see:
Manos  Lace. Totally squeeeeee!!! I'm knitting this up into a Haruni, my holiday project to bring with me to Portrush in two weeks time...

That nearly was my update for today! To finish off some baby sockies I knit for my niece last week, and which are already becoming too small. I'm now knitting her some new ones in a size bigger. Babies do grow so fast!!!

Right, time for some more of that walnut cake and then tackle that hole... Wish me luck!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Sophie...

Another baby girl, another Sophie! I wanted to try a combination of knitting and some sowed-on patches, and when I got this fabric a few weeks ago in a RAK, I just knew that I had to combine it with a nice 'old' soft pink yarn.
In my stash I had enough balls of Patons Fairytale 4-ply to knit a sweater (which I actually started, but frogged), and when I touched it, I thought it would be perfect for a cuddly bunny. 
For the stitching (the eyes and nose, the little heart -  bless - and to sew on the fabric) I used grey alpaca from my stash and the gifted fabric, light pink with little flowers. It's just beautiful!

On little Sophie's bum I stitched a patch with the letter 'E', to make sure everyone knows it belongs to the baby girl who will get it tomorrow!

A big kiss to you all from Sophie E! (Who can't wait to cuddle little Elbrich tomorrow morning!

Friday favourites

Hydrangeas, lemon balm and coriander flowers from the garden, in one of my favourite finds from the thrift shop, a lovely jug. One of those jugs you pay too much for, but which has the potential to fetch thousands according to the bloke on the Antiques Road Show, being - of course - an antique, 'if only it didn't have that chip on the edge' (not visible here).
The house is filled with flowers these days, as the garden and the allotment are brimming. I so love my hydrangeas! (Don't believe me? Here's my business website)
Knitting again soon :) Promise... My Saskia is finished (has been for a while) and it will be blocked later today, I have finished another Sophie, which will be given the final touches today, and my Biedermanns are also nearly done.  
Despite it still being busy here - but manageable - and the kids being at home as school's out, I am finally getting some free time to knit, work on the allotment and enjoy our summer. We love summer, we dooooo...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A weekend in Bruges


Loved. It. Only a few days away, but a great way to start the summer holidays!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Plarn!


I got the idea from her and immediately knew what I was going to do with it... A bag for Hannahs teacher, as today is her last day at school before the summer holidays!
It was a bit last minute, so I spent both football games - which both yielded exactly the right results (and way longer until late into the night) cutting up bags and crocheting away with my plarn.
It is bit unwieldy, but such fun to do! It was quite an undertaking to get the colours I wanted, but thanks to the AH, Makro, Blokker and Aldi bags stashed in our attic and one visit to the shops, I had enough bags in enough colours to turn them into a nice new bag.
(front)
(and back)

It is big enough to put the jar with home-made strawberry-rhubarb jam in and Hannah's teacher will be 'making the blitz' on Sunday, when Holland are playing the World Cup final against Spain!

And today as well: HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVE! Nothing nicer than waking up to a gorgeous cake. Well, he could have done without me shoving a camera in his face ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Je maintiendrai

A month ago I dove into a few serious deadlines, and yesterday I emerged: luctor et emergo! In the meantime I finished GP book 3, wrote book 4 from start to finish, translated 2 travel guides (one of which I finished in 3 days - over 40K, must be a world record), completed a 40K medical translation and had loads of those little business jobs that come up and can't be refused. Add to that a test translation for a thriller, filling in the VAT returns, several interpreting stints at the police station, trying to keep the weeds in the allotment under control (unsuccessfully) and bottling up jars and jars of strawberry jam, and I really have no idea how I managed to survive and remain sane. June was hectic. But it's over now. It's July!!! (And 'we' are in the semi-finals of the World Cup - just to rub it in ;) )
All that hectic business here in the house had its effect on my knitting time. There was hardly any, as usually I would work until around 11, watch some telly and then collapse into bed. I did however get some work done on my big blanket, as I got loads of different mini-skeins in different colours via a Ravelry RAK, such as these, which I just had to use immediately:
Within the RAK group we also had a sock yarn swap, which resulted in a gorgeous selection of different coloured yarns too.
The blanket is getting on nicely, it's the ideal project for just the odd half hour here and there. Although, I do have to admit, that with the sweltering temperatures we've had this week, it has been weighing heavy and hot on my lap!

Other things that made me happy this month, and made it possible to pull through were these:
1. Home-made elderberry flower lemonade. It is amazing and very refreshing! And so easy to make! We have our own supply, as we have a small elderberry tree in our garden. But nature around us is very good to us, and there are loads and loads and loads of trees with branches hanging low enough to snip off a few umbels here and there. I just collect a pan full, cut up a lemon, add around 2 liters of water and let it sit out for a day. Then strain, add sugar to taste (I like it quite 'natural' while some people would add loads) and put in the fridge. Yum! With the hot weather, you can now see the umbels disappear by the day, so take the opportunity and make some while you still can, like she did. Another nice recipe to try is pancakes. Just shake off the flowers of a few umbels into your mix, add some sugar and bake away. It gives the pancakes a lovely delicate, perfumed flavour, which, according to Hannah, is a bit like lychee.
2. Strawberries. With over 60 strawberry plants in our allotment, we are stuffing our faces with strawberries. I collect around a kilo every 2 days, so just imagine... I make jams (just the strawberries, with rhubarb, with some red berries), strawberry souffles, coulis to put over ice cream, and of course we just eat them like they come, or mixed up in a nice fruit salad. Yum! (The picture above is of a bag containing 2.7 kilo of the red goodness. Seriously!)
3. The kids speaking English. They. Crack. Us. Up. We are going on holiday to Portrush late this Summer, and have been trying to get the kids to speak English a bit more. They finally start to understand that it will help immensly trying to get the kids there to understand them. (In turn, our mates in Ireland are teaching their kids a few Dutch sentences, haha) Whenever you hear Sam going 'Big fish, where are you???' standing in front of our fish tank, really, you melt... (ahhhhhh) (On the picture you're seeing Sticky Micky and Disco Dave having a little tête-a-tête.)
4. New drains. What has been bothering us for years, has now finally been fixed. And in the process, the dishwasher has also decided to start working again. Apparently the blocked pipe under the kitchen floor kept disabling the dishwasher drain motor. But now, fixed. Back in the 21st Century, without a smelly under-the-stairs-cupboard. Hooray!(See that hole under the door? That's how we communicated with the bloke who spent several hours under our floor. After spending several hours under our neighbour's floor, the day before. In a pool of sh... - yup, they had a broken toilet drain, yuck...)
5. Pride. When Hannah won first prize in her gymnastics category. Proud to bursting! And they look so cute in their new purple outfits!

6. Last chemo. June was also Last Chemo Day for my mom. She is such a trooper! Through it all, the tiredness, the fingers and toes going numb, the hair falling out, the colostomy becoming more and more of a hassle, she's been our BIG ray of sunshine! She's now got the Summer to recover, and will then start physiotherapy to get her fitness level back up, to get ready to have her bowels reattached. Another operation, yes, but one that will hopefully be the end of a very bad time, and the start of a healthy future.

And add to that number 7 and 8, one of my bestest friends D. getting married and another bestest friend T. having a baby girl! Unfortunately, our happiness at these two events did not last long, as the day T.'s waters broke, D. had a nervous breakdown, and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital the next day, for intensive treatment. Just married, mommy of 3 gorgeous kids (the youngest just 3 months old...) - heartbreaking... We're hoping and praying she will recover soon!

Right, more knitting-related content next time, as I've now got my mojo back (and time to knit)!