Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Knitter's Curse

I just got the best news and I am so excited! Olive is coming!  She arrives on New Year’s Eve and will stay with us for 3 weeks!  Olive and I both have Blackberry phones and we “bbm” each other daily (no additional texting costs).  We had been talking over the phone over the past week and I have been trying to convince her to come for New Year’s.  The harassment has finally paid off!  

Olive and I talk about all sorts of subjects but the conversation almost always swings around to knitting.  So I said, so what are you working on now and she told me she is making something for one of her sons’ girlfriends.  And then she said she was a little worried about “The Knitter’s Curse.”  I have never heard of “The Knitter’s Curse” and this is what she told me:  when you knit something for your boyfriend before you are married.

After hanging up with Olive, I had to know if this is really a subject that you can Google.  Yes it is!  I typed into Google’s search engine “The Knitter’s Curse” and up popped many topics relating to this.  Mainly, it is called “The Sweater Curse” but the word “sweater” can be any knitted item. 

Now, you are right in saying that Jigger, the son with the girlfriend, is not the one that is knitting.  However, Olive did make the Panbe Dress for another one of her sons’ girlfriends.  And … umm … they are no longer together.  Olive explained all of this to Jigger and he said he doesn’t believe in curses and to keep knitting.

So this past weekend, Gin went out with a nice young man.  So when Olive and I were discussing “The Knitter’s Curse” we talked about this: does the size of the gift matter?  I mean, at the moment, this friend of Gin’s seems to be very nice and respectable.  But what if it turns bad and The Shaker and I want him out of her life?  Can I just give him a knitted gauge swatch?  Think about it!  When making a gauge swatch you knit with patience making sure all the time that the stitches and the tension are correct.  And in all honesty, it can even be considered a washcloth.  So, technically, it can be a gift, right???

So I gotta know, is there really such a thing as a “Knitter’s Curse?”

The Martini Knitter

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sinterklaas is Here!

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! And yes, after being here for over 7 years, we still do miss Thanksgiving.  Some tidbits of information:  yes, sometimes we do celebrate Thanksgiving here.  However, we have to special order our bird from the butcher here.  It comes frozen, from France (I have no clue why!) and it costs a whopping €70.00.

But I have to say that this is my favorite time of the year here.  It started this year on Saturday, 12 November when Sinterklaas arrived by boat back to the Netherlands.

I cannot do the story any justice when Mr. David Sedaris can read it to you!  There is no video content and it is about 15 minutes in length.  And I can't take credit for discovering this from Mr. Sedaris, my sister-in-law, Vodka, got me this for my birthday one year.  The story also is it is pretty accurate. However, in defense of the Dutch, the Black Petes (called Zwarte Petes in Dutch) are now just happy people.  The parents, that I know, don’t tell their children that they are going to be shoved in a bag and taken back to Spain!  Sinterklaas is so imbedded into Dutch culture that if I ever have to move from here, I miss him dearly!

That's me the Sinterklaas gang our first year here.
Sinterklaas always comes to school on December 5th

 So what happens when the children grow older? Here’s what the Dutch do and, now, so do we:

  • Place the family’s names into a hat 
  • Everyone draws one name from the hat, if they draw their own name, they draw again
  • You buy a gift for your person
  • You must write (1) a rhyming poem about this person and (2) as if you are Sinterklaas
  • And, finally, you must make a “surprise” package

Everything is pretty easy up until this last item.  Here are few ideas from past several years that my family has done for me:

The first year, Vermouth picked my name.  She was little and needed a some help with what to make.  Gin suggested that she make a “bee” and inside the bee’s stomach, put broccoli inside all around the gift.  So I had to touch the broccoli in order to get my gift out.  And there’s always a backstory of why the surprise is created – I like broccoli but it doesn’t like me.

Another year, Gin selected my name and she “borrowed” my Snoopy and Woodstock salt and pepper shakers to create a surprise.  I had no idea that they were missing; and in her poem she wrote that something that was precious was missing and I didn’t even notice!  I like to collect “unique” salt and pepper shakers, which my girls find … well … odd.

But the one person who tries to tell you that he is not crafty is The Shaker.  He is so crafty! He made “The Laundry Fairy” for me one year.  Vermouth dubbed me The Laundry Fairy several years ago and it has become the running joke of the family. I have difficulty sharing the washing machine – I fear shrinkage and things turning pink in the wash. Now, over time she has lost her luster (and her wand) but she still sits on top of the washing machine and dryer.

She had a bottle of perfume inside her dress
For this year, we picked our names last weekend.  I will post the news and photos on December 6th.

The Martini Knitter

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not My Shoppers!

I drive a green BMW.  Ok, before you think that I am really fancy … a lot of people here drive BMW’s.  However, in my neck of woods, they are usually newer models.  My car is the same age as Vermouth - 15 years old. Now the girls wished I had I newer car to drive them to school in (i.e., the mini-cooper).  But I say no way; it’s paid for!  I mainly use the car to shuttle them to school, hockey and the grocery store.  It’s a great car but it does have it “problem” areas.  For instance, the radio can only play the “pre-program” settings.  By pushing these buttons it is all up to the car what music station it will be programmed to.  The BMW for some reason is partial to Sky Radio and not really my taste nor Gin’s and Vermouth’s.  To get it to go to Q Music or Radio 538 does take some effort.

Yup! That phone is built into the car!
I am sorry to say, it no longer works.

But the best particular feature is that when the car alarm is set, my BMW has a habit of randomly going off.  I would love to tell you that it is during the daylight hours.  But, nope, it’s always in the middle of the night.  So we get up, turn it off, and then proceed to look around; which, of course, there is no one there.  And, then, about 20 to 25 minutes later – right when we are falling asleep again – it goes off, again!  So we have finally given up on locking it.  There is nothing of value in the car; therefore, there is nothing to steal … except for my shoppers!

Next to my knitting stash, I have another stash – my shopping bags.  Now for my fellow Americans, you have to bring your own bags to the grocery store and then you get the added bonus of bagging your own groceries.  Which now, I actually don’t mind because the bread is never squashed and the tomatoes never burst.  Ok, now I probably have an average of 15 shoppers in the trunk of my car.  Plus, I am always on the lookout for new fun looking ones.  This always brings on the eye-roll from the members of my family when I find a new shopper to buy or receive for free.  Except for now …

So last Wednesday, I went out to warm up the car and scrape the windows and found that all the contents of the glove box is shatter all over the front seat of my car.  I looked around and there was no damage and nothing was stolen – including that mobile phone!

So I call my husband at work, he left early that morning to have a “breakfast” meeting with a colleague who is over here from New Jersey.  He is not my husband’s boss but he is definitely above him in the organization.  So when I called he was in his car on his way from the meeting to the office.  Since he was in the car, I knew that I was on speakerphone and I am just rambling on about the ransacking the car had and then I finally scream out, “and they took my Trader Joe’s bags!”  Which brought laughter from my husband and his colleague ... oops!  I try to keep my hysterics to my private life, so then I said, “You are not alone?”  Thankfully, I have met this man and even had him over for dinner.  But still …

So get this … I have to fill out a police report stating that my car has been broken into – even though it was unlocked - and that they stole my shoppers (the value being around €10.00).  And then I have to provide detail descriptions of all my shoppers; because – get this - they might be used in another crime! Sure go ahead Mr. Criminal! Please feel free to use my shoppers to help you in another crime spree! And all I am trying to do this week is to finish just one sock for my husband. 

But guess what? I have good news! I found my Trader Joe’s bags! They were not stolen; they were hidden next to Vermouth’s hockey kit!  But the other bags from Target, Harris Teeter, Fresh Market, Oil and Vinegar, etc. are all, sadly, missing …  But please don’t fret, I have replaced one bag all ready – a Blonde Amsterdam one:

And The Shaker did enjoy opening his one lonely sock on Thursday.  I want to be pass “the gusset” part by end of today …

The Martini Knitter

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I made it!  And with about 5 minutes to spare!  This brings “the 11th hour” to whole new meaning in my life! I mean I am upstairs wrapping this lonely sock just as The Shaker is walking in the door. Woo hoo!

Sock #1

I met friends today in Arnhem Centrum for coffee because I needed to get out of the house.  So I caught up on the latest … you know, stuff … and had coffee with the sock!

Now for sock #2. 

The Martini Knitter

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am working very hard on the socks for The Shaker.  At this point it would be nice to give 1 sock tomorrow!  So here’s my progress:  at the start of today, I had to do 5 more rounds before the “heel stitches.”

And along the lines of “progress,” I thought I would share something with you from our book club meeting from last week; as well as a little Dutch culture.  As you may have remembered I mentioned a few blogs back that the book club selection was The Assault by Harry Mulisch. 

On page 153 of the Kindle edition, it is written:  “A few times the four of them had gone on vacation together with all three children.

It can be considered typical Dutch when a Dutch couple splits up and re-marries that these 4 people go on vacation all together with their children.  In 2007, Unicef said that Dutch children are the happiest children on the planet.  It might have something to do with this and it gives new meaning to Modern Family.

Now the 4 the Dutch ladies that are in this book club are all in their first marriage (they wanted this mentioned!). They don’t know anyone that does this “vacation” practice. 

The Americans were the ones that had the hardest time getting their heads wrapped around this concept.  But I did say, I didn’t know any Dutch couples that were split up and did the vacation thing together.  However, I do know a couple here where they both come to the hockey games to support their daughter and are really nice to each other. In fact, when this guy turned 50 his ex-wife was invited to the party.  

For me, no way!  But I guess that’s the Dutch for you; pretty progressive.

And here’s the progress on the sock: I did the “heel stitches” (34 rows); the turn the heel part, and the gusset.  I needed a break and decided to fill y’all in on the progress.  I may just make it … wish me luck!

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Time!!!

I have to ask where has the time gone??  This Thursday, I will be celebrating 21 years of marriage to The Shaker.  We thought that this year we would share small gifts with each other.  So, I thought, “Hey, I have some yarn upstairs that I bought about a year ago to make The Shaker a pair of socks.”  I’ll make him these because I haven’t really made anything really truly involved in a while. (The Turn A Square hat that I made was something that needed to be done but could be done in while watching TV at the end of the day).

So I decided on making him the “Right-Twist Cable Rib Socks” from Ann Budd’s book Getting Started Knitting Socks; because they look “manly.”  I did do a Raverly search last week about “socks for men” and these socks popped up.  I got lucky, as I already own this book.  Woo hoo for me!

So I started last week, thinking, a week should be enough time.  This is how far I am …

And yup … that is the only the first one.  Look how far I am!  I am so screwed!

So I thought what I have I been doing? Well, I spent the weekend doing mundane things around the house that had to be done.  I take minutes for my daughter’s parent committee council and I had to just finish those – they are kind of important.  So this was my thinking: get all of this stuff done and then come Monday, knit!

So I was all caught up on Sunday night and then Monday came and before I knew it was 3:00 in the afternoon when I was ready to sit down and finally get to these socks!  I even blew off my friend who wanted to go walking on Wednesday because I simply don’t have the time.  And oh by the way – she reads this blog and gives me wonderful encouragement!  Yeah … I know, I know... So I start to sit down and knit and then the phone rang …

Wish me luck!

The Martini Knitter

Monday, November 14, 2011


I love Ravelry!  I am a knitter who doesn’t really have a knitting community around me and at times it can be slightly challenging.  This is why Raverly and the Internet are so important to me.  I never buy yarn without first checking to see what other members of Ravelry say about that yarn.  This information has become invaluable to me.

So as you know I am almost done with my Christmas knitting.  I bought some Ironstone (color changes) yarn that was on sale at WEBS.  But before deciding whether or not to buy, I read the comments section under “yarn” on Raverly.  It seemed like a good buy so then I continued on to “project ideas.” I looked at projects that people had made using this yarn and found this pattern:  A Hat Fit For a Boyfriend” by Stephanie Nicole.  I purchased 4 skeins but only 1 is needed for the hat. 

The other thing that has helped me with my Christmas knitting is a “stitch dictionary.”  I was given this suggestion through a Knit Picks podcast as they were reviewing stitch dictionaries and in particular Harmony Guides: Knit and Purl edited by Erika Knight.  They also suggested making scarves with stitch dictionaries.  Just cast on the number of stitches you desire for the width of the scarf and then follow the pattern’s instructions. 

I made the pattern “Loop Pattern” on pg. 31.  Again I am using the remaining 3 skeins from the Ironstone yarn. 
Loop Pattern
Ok, I know, you are waiting to here the oopsie part, right?  Here it goes:  about a year ago I made a hat for my dad and he was not too kind in saying it that it was huge and didn’t fit.  So I took this as a challenge:  I am going to knit him a hat that will fit!  But before deciding it was worth to send – come on, I had to make double sure.  I had the whole family try it on!  I wanted to make sure that with 4 different heads in this family, it would fit before sending.

The Martini Knitter

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two Girls Named "Gin" and "Vermouth"

About a week ago, Gin had noticed how much she was mentioned compared to Vermouth since I started blogging.  Vermouth knew that she was written about but that was about it.  I guess Gin is keeping tabs.  Then it was discussed about whom I love more.  For the record, I love both of my girls; equally.  It’s not about how much gin I like in my martini compared to vermouth.  Which Gin overheard me once saying, that I like 2 shots of Bombay Sapphire and ½ a shot of Martini and Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth in my martini.  You can see where this is going ...

So I will say this to you this morning ... Gin is far easier to knit for compared to Vermouth. And they both can’t deny this fact.  I really do enjoy knitting for others.  With this ruling: if I knit for you, you must use it/wear it!  That is all I ask.  You don’t have to wear the item everyday or if it’s a handbag, use it everyday.  Just wear/use the item!

Vermouth appreciates everything that is made for her.  She understands all the work that goes into making a quilt and into a sweater.  Even if it is torn out and made again, she gets it!  But she is also one of those people who do not want to hurt your feelings.  So I am constantly living on the edge about whether or not if I knit something for Vermouth, is she going to wear it? 

I just find knitting for teenage girls to be … sometimes … difficult.  I know that I was the same way.  If my mother was alive, she would write a comment below like this:  “Do you remember those beautiful, deep purple corduroy pants that I made for you and just had to have them? How many times did you wear them?” Again, you see where this is heading …

I am a firm believer in this philosophy: “what comes around, goes around.”  So here's the pay back for those (yes, they were expensive) pants:  during this past summer, I made the Panbe Dress from Knitscene (Winter/Spring 2010) by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.  Vermouth may tell you that you she wore the dress 3 times, but, really it was twice.  Not that I am counting or anything ... Anyway, I spent 3 weeks knitting the dress and my hands did start to hurt because I had to keep the tension just right. But Vermouth swears that she is going to wear it (again) in the spring; only time will tell ...

Vermouth modeling the completed dress

I Used Classic Elite Yarn's (100% organic cotton)
"Sprout" as suggest.  It knitted and blocked

But like I said earlier, Gin is far easier to knit for.  Here’s the “bottom line” on Gin: if you ask her this one simple question, “If I knit this for you, will you wear it?”  She will give you an honest answer.

I made this beautiful skirt from Interweave Knits magazine (Winter, 2010) called Isobel Skirt by Cia Abbott Bullemer for Gin.  Now I knew when I was knitting the skirt, it would be only worn a few times a year.  Gin participates in Model United Nations events.  She enjoys it and looks forward to meeting people from different international and local schools.  She may not like the clothing requirements: must wear appropriate business attire.  But the Isobel skirt is perfect!  It’s black and it very feminine has the nicest drape and movement. 

Knitted with Mano del Uruguay Silk Blend
Now in all fairness to Vermouth, I did make these beautiful fingerless gloves last year with a cable running up the top of the glove (Rib and Cable Mitts by Marji LaFreniere - Interweave Knits Spring 2006).  Can I just say this: cables - dead easy!  And I am happy to say that Vermouth does wear them and that she gets many compliments from her friends. 
Left glove

Right glove
So here’s the question of the day:  “Will I stop knitting for Vermouth just because she really hasn’t worn the Panbe dress?”  Nope.  I am knitting her a pair of socks that she approved of – but they might take awhile. 

The Martini Knitter