Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, what's been up then?

Well, a lot, if I have to believe the invoices I've been sending out. I've been working flat-out during November, and then sort of took December 'off'. Well, as 'off' as I can ever be... ;) It basically meant I still did my business translations, but there was no book for a month. And that was quite nice! It gave me some time to prepare for the SinterRAK, make decorations for the Xmas tree and to hand out to neighbours, family and friends in lieu of Xmas cards, decorate the house, clean the house for our Xmas dinner and just enjoy being home and with the kids. Which also explains the lack of blog updates ;)
We've been around each other a lot, and it was great. Although we can look like a chaotic bunch, we are a lovely chaotic bunch, and we love doing things together, which, with two parents trying to work fulltime and two kids going to school, isn't always easy.
There was some progress on the crafting front, apart from all those lovely decorations, though! I thought and thought and thought, and then decided to redo the sleeves on my Spoke. However lovely it was, they were just too short. Here's a comparison of new sleeve - old sleeve. See the difference?
Yup, that IS a difference! They are much more comfortable and at least now go all the way down to my wrists, which is much nicer! I have been wearing it as well, and as it is relatively short, it is making me aware of the fact that I still have some pounds to shift (plus the ones that I gained after my last attempt, oh, sigh... don't start)...
And here's a first picture of the box of hats. I've received about the same again in the meantime, but the box is in the attic, and it's dark, so I'll write a separate update on that next week, when I've knitted a few more myself! The colours are all amazing, such a bright box!
And I finally finished my Autumn Hat-Heels, just in time for Winter :D They are the bestest socks I've ever knitted! The fit is just amazing! And I realize now that 56 stitches is enough for my feet, whereas my calves actually like 60 better. With these socks, that's easily fixed. Next time, I have to try and pick up a bit more loosely and cast off more loosely as well. But otherwise, love love love them. The colours are amazing too. The yarn is Schoppelwolle Admiral Batik, a yarn I will definitely use again! I have to find a different supplier though, because I got them from Wolhemel, and they have sadly stopped trading.
Pattern: Hat Heel by Kathleen Sperling
Source: Knitty
Needles: 2.5 mm
Yarn: Schoppelwolle Admiral Batik
Alterations: 60 st for leg. Hat part extended slightly to fit around my ankles better.

The Hat-Heels were also on my feet when I did this:
We have ice, people! And it was/is great ice. In Friesland, as opposed to everywhere else in Europe (well, give or take a few regions), we have hardly had any snow, and it shows. The ice is as smooth as a baby's bottom, and if I had had more time and less knee trouble, I'd definitely been out there skating around trying to catch Sven Kramer in the act. However, I've had to make do with an hour on the Wielen, a lake just ouside Leeuwarden. We had all gone out for a skate, but first Big S's skates turned out to be unfit for use, then Batman's 'houtjes' just fell off his boots (still to big) and then Mermaid complained of sore ankles and cold. They must have more Irish blood running through their veins than Frisian, haha... As it is still freezing here, there might be a chance of me going out again tomorrow for a quick skate. There are a few great websites up to tell you where skating is safe, so apart from time and laundry nothing is going to stop me now! (Well, the dodgy knee might... yes, I know, it's that loose weight thing again).

Have a great New Year's, y'all! See you on the other side in 2011!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Update to follow soon...

Yes, I know it's been 2 weeks. Enough has happened in the meantime to blog about, like lots of baby hats, a nearly finished pair of socks for hubby, the difficulties of trying to design an Estonian scarf after drinking a glass of Chianti, the start of a mini Annis for my Mermaid... but right now, I have VAT returns to do. End of year and all that. Pictures of yarn, ice, snowless streets and a lovely Xmas are to come soon! We had a blast, still have a tummy ache from all the yummy goodies, and can't wait until Friday, when we are going to Rotterdam for New Year's weekend. We love spending that weekend away, high up in a hotel room with great views over a great city :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The other Santa

I totally forgot to show you what I got for Sinterklaas from my Ravelry Dutch RAK group, bad girl!
We had a ball teasing each other, asking silly questions on the forum and then preparing a package which consisted of something bought, something made and a poem. I made some Merletto mitts for my 'victim', but first, here is what I got!
The chocolate letter was devoured within minutes after opening... the little yarnies are in my sock blanket basket and the sock yarn will be turned into socks for hubby soon! He was a bit dubious about the colour, but as you can see, they are called 'Men Stretch', so, even though it's a long 'stretch', they are for 'men'. ;)
The scrap letters are great! They will be used up during the holiday period, when I will (hopefully) have some time to update my photo scrapbook. And then the self-made bag, it's brilliant! It's got loads of pockets and is handy for a larger project to bring along when I'm out and about! A big thank-you to my 'Sinterklaas' Sylletje!
And this is what I made to send to Yvonne, my 'victim'...
These Merletto Mitts are one of my fave patterns e-ver, e-ver! Really, I can almost knit them in my sleep now, haha... I knit these from homespun merino with some white silky threads through them. Also self-made are the little stitch markers you see in the background. Added to this some doggie cards, doggie biscuit recipes/cutter and soap, and I had a box full of presents! Such fun to do. Can't wait until next year!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DIY Xmas

So, any ideas what to put in your Xmas tree this year? Had enough of those shiny new glass baubles which cost you a fortune (and always break)? Then go DIY! We are having great fun this year making our own Xmas decorations; not only am I crocheting and stapling, but we've also made salt dough figures and are in the midst of turning these into great Xmas decorations (most of which will be handed out as gifts - actually our 'Xmas cards' - as we only have a 5 ft tree). It is great fun - and you can get the kids to help too! ;)
First, you have to make your dough. Remember, the drying out takes a while, so be sure to make this in advance! We made a double batch, which gives you over 3 trays full of decorations, but for a 'normal' batch, you need the following:

  • 250g of salt
  • 500g of flour (white, 'patentbloem', not wholegrain, use that for your bread, please...)
  • 300ml water
  • 2tbsp oil

Mix this all up into firm dough and start rolling. Make them around half a cm thick and then cut out with cookie cutters. I was in NI a few weeks ago and got these great ones, which add structure as well as shape (note the cup ;) ). But any Xmassy cookie cutters will do! Make sure you put a hole in the top for your ribbon. A hole that is BIG ENOUGH (I cannot stress this enough, I'm afraid, I learnt that from experience, I'm afraid - luckily we have superglue...)
After cutting out your 'cookies', put them on baking paper in the oven (you can put in several trays at the time) and then start drying them out. 2 hours at 80 and then several more hours at 100. It takes a looooong time. I did put a batch in the microwave, on the lower settings, but they turned brown and started bubbling at the back. I didn't like that at all, so I prefer the slow, slow, slow method in the oven. And then just leave them out to dry completely.
When you're left with this...
... call in the troops to put on the base coat! Hubby helped with the cutting out as well, and he thought it was super duper fun getting stuck in the painting.

When these are dry, go crazy! Use paints, glitter, stick-on stars and anything festive you have to decorate these little wonders!


Our messy table...

If you're feeling adventurous, you can do this too: make little snowmen or gifts from the dough. They can topple over, so put a little stick in it to keep things upright. These 3D decorations are mighty heavy though! (Although they are super duper cute...)
If you're less of a baker, get out your crochet needles! The Garnstudio Advent Calendar already had two lovely figures to crochet, of which I've made this:
There are loads more cool ornaments out there, both on yarn company websites, like Lion Brand, where I found this one, and Ravelry:
If you like snowflakes, go the Snowcatcher's blog. She publishes the most amazing snowflakes! I made some last year, but they're in the box of ornaments I haven't been able to find (missing the angel as well, of course), with our nativity set. 
To make sure we did have some angelic ornaments hanging about the house and in preparation of putting the proper set in our window, we made this! Our little angel is loving it up in our wee real Xmas tree!
All you need is some corrugated card, tinsel, cotton wool and decoration. Oh, and a stapler, and a kindergartner to help you ;)

Have a great Xmas, and don't forget: it's not about Santa, it's not about presents, it's about the gift and preciousness of life and love!
(peace out)