Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving Wizards

I am blogging from my mobile phone this morning. I hope this works. I am standing in my kitchen watching a "Moving Wizard" pack my kitchen. I have to write down what is the box then I put a color sticker on the box to denote what room that box goes into. The kitchen has an "orange" where as the sewing room has a "blue" sticker etc. It helps the Moving Wizards over on the other side move the box into the correct room/location. Can you tell I have done this a few times?

While standing watching I have started knitting a summer sweater from Purl Soho using Alchemy's Silken Straw. I can't attach the link! But it's on my Ravelry "project" page or you should be able to "google" Purl Soho Silken Straw sweater pattern.". I have done 3 rounds so far ...

The Martini Knitter

Friday, March 23, 2012

Joining a New Ball

I learned something new this week - I learned how to join a new ball of yarn.  Crazy, right?  I do like the “spit-splicing method” of joining one old ball of yarn to another new ball of yarn - no weaving in of ends.  And I am sorry to say that I don’t dip my yarn into my martini and splice together rather I stick them both into my mouth as discretely as possible and rub together.  Furthermore, I googled “spit-splice method in knitting” to make sure I was getting the term right and up popped someone saying don’t spit on your yarn.  FYI- I block my garments using a mild laundry detergent so technically my spit is washed away.

This was my current method of joining a new ball of yarn that I can’t spit on: 

I take the 6-inch tail from the “old yarn,” and a 6-inch tail from the “new yarn,” put them together and knit these 2 pieces of yarn as one.  Then I drop the “old yarn” and continue knitting with the “new yarn.”  When I am finished with the garment, I weave in the ends. 

I thought my stitches look nice on the outside and I, like every knitter, try not to twist the yarns. But this week, Knitting Daily’s Kathleen Cubley sent out an email to their subscribers about Knitting Bummer: Joining New Yarn.  The tip is actually from The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square and it works!  It looks so nice. 

Also this week, I finished my Flugan sweater.  I am very pleased with the outcome!

The Martini Knitter

Monday, March 19, 2012


I have noticed over the years that some of my friends hold their creative side almost secretively – where as mine is out there for all to see.  Quilts lie in every room in my home.  And now that I can knit, it’s on my body. 

So last Thursday, was the official “kick-off” of the bon-voyage parties for us.  It started with the book club that I am in, follow by a party on Friday night with friends that we know from the girls’ school.  Saturday night we hosted a “leaving party” for Gin and Vermouth.

I have 2 friends here that paint.  They are beautiful artists.  They made this painting to hang in our new Whiskey Room.*  The man in the middle is The Shaker, and I think, I am to the right of him wearing the pearls.  Again, I just found out in the past year that they paint! 

Then I found out literally a few months ago that a woman in my book club “throws pottery.”  I had no idea!  And this woman talks a lot in our book club gatherings.  But no mention, until recently, that she throws pottery! 

And lastly, I have an American friend here who has just recently learned how to paint in the “Hindeloopen” style.  There is a small village in the northern part of The Netherlands called Hindeloopen for which this name and style comes from.  I made a “trade” with her this past Christmas for a hand-painted Hindeloopen Christmas ornament; I made her a Christmas Star.  I say trade because she was making these only for her family.  I needed to have one of these. I apologize for no photo of the Christmas ornament; instead you will have to see the wooden clog that she just made for me instead: 

I said recently about dying yarn and how I know that I will get “completely wound up” by the distribution of color.  These women know this.  I tried pottery many years ago – ok, middle school - and I got complete frustrated with the wheel.  I have never tried it again.  So I am always impressed with people who can mix colors, do beautiful brushwork and put this all on a piece of canvas.  And people that can throw pottery, make the perfect bowl and then add color!  These gifts to us are sacred – thank you.

But last and not least, it all started almost 8 years ago with this very first leaving gift from the quilting bee that I was in – “Chicks with Pins.” This is where Olive and I met.  Olive’s block is the one with the “North Carolina Hurricanes chicken.”   

The Martini Knitter

*We call our living room “The Whiskey Room.”  This room has a fireplace, our book library, and a bar.  I am not sure how we came up with the name, The Whiskey Room but the name “living room” sounded too formal.  It is my favorite room to knit in - it is just “gezellig!"

Friday, March 16, 2012

It’s done and then it’s not …

I finished the Flugan cardigan yesterday.  And my plan worked - I knitted it in one piece!  It took some planning and some concentration - but I got it to knit up with minimal seaming!  But, sadly, it’s too long.  The yarn (Sandes Garn, Alfa) I have chosen is really heavy – even though I reached my gauge.  I haven’t blocked it yet.  (Check out my notes here).

Now I can hear my friend Christina telling me that I should stick it into the closet, close the door, and think about it.  I had nightmares of it last night – I know! I should be having nightmares about moving - but no!  I am dreaming of yarn and knitting!

Olive would probably say, “Are you going to wear it?”  And that’s simple, no. 

This is it completed before frogging

I look at the yarn as an investment; and I want my return in my investment.  So I will “frog” it this weekend and cast on again.  But I know that I will wear it!  And that is all I want!

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Confession

While we were in Switzerland, we looked at 7 places to live.  Four of them were just outside surrounding the city area and 3 were inside the city.  In the morning we saw the first 4 and after lunch, we saw the last 3 in the city.  (Here’s a tip, if doing a move like this, bring a camera – the houses start to jumble in one’s mind).  The first house we saw after lunch was in the dead center of Basel.  All 4 of us were chanting, “please be perfect, please be perfect” over and over as we walked up to the door of this apartment.  Like I said, the location was perfect, but sadly the apartment wasn’t, for many reasons other than what is said here. 

The man, who I think owned the home, gave us the tour of the apartment.  We walked into a pretty good size entry way for any apartment building to a common area where we could hang coats and leave shoes, if we wished.  The other owner, a woman, lives in front part of the building and we if we lived here, we would be a the back part.  The man walks us from the entry way, pass the staircase leading to the woman’s apartment to a door located just on the other side of these stairs.  He opens it and says, “This is the washing machine but you need to make an appointment with the lady upstairs when you want to use it.”

Gin was standing next to me when “this statement of fact” about the washing machine was spoken and she witnessed my reaction.  She immediately left my side and started back towards the front door to where Reinhardt, our relocation guy, was still standing.  She said that she went back to stand with him so that she would not burst out laughing.  Once we were outside after the viewing and Gin had stopped laughing, Reinhard said, “What is so funny?”  

I didn’t mean to ignore Reinhard or his question; I was just concerned that I might have been rude to this man and his home.  I asked Gin “Did he see my reaction? Please tell me that I was polite!”  Gin said, that I did very well, under the circumstances, at hiding my reaction.  She said it was only a slight glimmer of shock on my face and no one would have my seen the reaction if they didn’t already know me.  She then turned to Reinhard and said, “Look, we haven’t even seen anything in this apartment yet and this man says to my mother that she ‘needs to make an appointment to use the washing machine.’  Because of this statement, this apartment isn’t even an option for us; let’s go and see the next place, please.”  As we walked off, Gin filled Reinhard in on my confession, he teased me reliantly at every place after that.

The confession:  I cannot and will not ever share a washing machine. 

Period. Full-Stop.  Insert anything you want here. I will not let my family touch the dirty laundry without proper clearance.  It’s only because I have had way too many things ruined in the wash. It drives me absolutely nuts. So here’s my rational:  if I make the mistake, I can’t yell at anyone.  It’s my fault and that’s the end of it.  No one is to blame.

And what does Olive think about this? She thinks I am absolutely nuts!  Last year I travelled to see her and where I got to meet the lovely ladies from “Twisted Knitters” that she knits with every week.  She couldn’t stop laughing when I told her that I had to show my family how to sort the laundry and to use the washing machine.  When she comes here, she doesn’t mind me doing her laundry because she knows how, as she calls it, “obsessed” I become about the washing.  And, oh, don’t even get her started on my dryer!

The Martini Knitter

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not One, but Two Sweaters

One thing I have noticed when I am introduced to a new Dutch person, is that the question of “what do you do?” meaning this question: “what do you do for work?” is not the question at all.  The question of “what do you do, actually means “what do you do for fun or what do you do in your free time?”  Here's my observation, the Dutch work, just like everyone else in the world, because they need to pay their bills. But their job doesn’t define them as a person; what they do in their free time is what truly defines them as a person. 

So when I first arrived here my answer was, “I make an American Patchwork blankets. I am a quilter.”  The interest that this answer sparks is amazing.  The lists of questions that are brought forth to me are always interesting and some times surprising.  And sometimes I get this, “Hey Hans get over here, this woman makes quilts!”   Like I am some kind of novelty – but in a good way.  I explain to them about how much time it takes to complete a project, my sewing room and my “stash.”  And finally, that I enjoy making “traditional” ones compared to more modern types of quilts. 

This then naturally segues into how I learned to knit. I am not sure if I would call myself a “fiber artist,” as I am not sure I really understand of the meaning of this.  I do not dye my own quilting fabric, therefore, I do not dye my own yarn either. I get way too uptight about the color and distribution of color.  And to answer any questions about learning to spin my own yarn … just look at the answer again about dying fabric/yarn and that would apply to spinning as well.

I have to say this, I have been working very hard during the day until about 3:00ish with regards to this move.  But this is not my only priority.  I need to knit.  It’s my sanity.  If I am only doing the general things in my house and not creating, I become a little cranky … ok, ok, very cranky.  I am not asking for mounds of time, just a little, 1-hour minimum but more is always welcomed!

This is the pattern worked around the ribs
From where we live now to where we are moving is about a 6-hour car ride.  I started “Corduroy” from A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd.  It’s a nice simple project for a long car ride.  Round and round we go!  The sweater is worked from the bottom up and I was hoping to be done with the “body part” by the time we came back.  No such luck.  So I have been working on it during the evenings while watching TV.  The photos show currently how far I am.

This is the front

During the daylight hours, I have started “Flugan” by Cirilia Rose.  On the front of the cardigan it has a nice pattern worked over 21 stitches on each side. The pattern calls for a bulky weight yarn, so I knew that it should knit up quicker.  I have noticed in myself over the past few months that I want a little more challenge from my knitting.  I had bought the yarn, “Alfa” by Sandnes Garn over a year ago for another pattern; since then I have changed my mind.  Now I am using this yarn on “Flugan.”  But this pattern is worked all in flat pieces and then seamed together at the end.  It has raglan sleeves so again I don’t understand why it’s not worked as one piece. (FYI – I have made some notes about this on my project page on Ravelry).  Of course, before starting this, I had to call Olive …

This is my right front
This is my left front

The Martini Knitter

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Bombay Sapphire Martini, please!

I was going to call this segment “Terms and Conditions” because when The Shaker told me that we had the opportunity to live abroad I came up with my own “terms and conditions.”  But honestly, the decision was made over a martini … are you surprised?

Our family was given tickets to see the ice hockey team, the Carolina Hurricanes.  I picked the girls up from school (they were 7 and 9 years old at the time) and drove them to The Shaker’s office.  We were told that he was in a meeting with one of “the big guys” and would be done shortly.  

From here we went to The Texas Steakhouse for a quick meal.  When the waitress, who was a little over 18 years old, asked us what we wanted to drink, I asked for a glass of Merlot.  The Shaker, leaned over to me and said, “Umm, you might want something a little more stronger than that.”  I immediately turned to the this young lady and said, “I would like to change that to a Bombay Sapphire martini with 2 olives, please.”  I will never forget how by asking for a simple martini could frightened this poor girl have half way to her death. Not to mention the shock on Gin and Vermouth’s little faces.  I remember seeing the look on Gin’s face, “Mommy doesn’t have martinis until after we go to bed; it’s not my bed time!”  Immediately after the waitress’* departure, I turned to my husband and said, “For the love of God and all that is holy, please tell me you have a job!” (His company was currently “reorganizing”).  This was his response: “Yes, but not in this country.” 

Already, The Shaker had been traveling about once a month back and forth to Amsterdam.  So I said, “Are we moving to Holland???  Now, I should say this, it took me about 4 hours to agree to move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Raleigh, North Carolina.  I really don’t know what my problem was over that move, because I really like the Raleigh-Durham area.  I met Olive there! Need I say more?

But I digress … I made this decision to move to Holland in under 30 seconds and without my martini … it arrived soon after.

The next morning The Shaker went to work and met with the man who was in his office the day before.  They had a routine meeting and afterwards The Shaker said he wanted to discuss his decision.  The boss, who is Dutch, was a little startled by The Shaker telling him of his decision to move to Holland so quickly.  The Shaker said this about me to him, “When Sarah makes a decision and it’s yes, you go with it!  You don’t wait for explanations.”  And this statement is still true to this day.

This is us on Family Hockey Day
 2009 at the girls' hockey club.
We were part of a team was called
"Team Gin and Tonic."
We came in 2nd to last.
This was March 2004 and the terms of The Shaker’s contract was 3- 5 years and the plans were to return to the United States after this.  I thought, at the time, you have a contract and I want one too.  I asked to have a beach house at the Outer Banks and to travel to Barcelona, Spain.  Officially, we have been here in The Netherlands for 7-1/2 years. We arrived in July 2004 on the morning of The Shaker’s birthday.  I do not have a beach house (yet) and as we have seen many wonderful places here in Europe, we still have not been to Barcelona.  Gin is demanding that this happen soon – very soon! 

The Martini Knitter

*A note to that young waitress, if you are reading this, you brought me the perfect martini. I sincerely hoped I said thank you