Friday, May 25, 2012

Olive's Blue Drink

When Olive comes to visit she doesn’t usually drink martinis with me – which does not bother me in the least! In fact, it became a challenge for The Shaker to come up with the “perfect Olive drink”.  The Shaker does make a wickedly smooth mojito but he usually makes these on the weekends and always when Jigger and Scotch (Olive’s sons) come for a visit. 

So here’s Olive’s Blue Drink recipe made especially by The Shaker:
  • 2 shots of Vodka
  • 1 shot of Bol’s Curacao*
  • Tonic water
  • A squeeze of a lime wedge 

Again, Olive is not a fan of tonic water - so she gets only a splash.  Please add more tonic water, if you prefer.

Also, I have to share “the find of the week!” I was looking for something completely different while doing the grocery shopping this week when I found this:  “crushed ice bags.”  Now bare in mind that I haven’t lived in the US for nearly 8 years so maybe these already exist there.  But I found them here in Basel and I have never seen these in Holland.  Totally simple and they work.  You fill the bag; stick it in the freezer; remove once frozen; whack/break it up and finally pull apart the bag.  The little ice cubes fall to the bottom of the bag.  You cut it open and voila! crushed ice. 

They are located next to the aluminum foil
and plastic wraps

Found these at the grocery store called

The Martini Knitter

*You use any Curacao blue liqueur but we are partial to Bols because it’s Dutch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tip: Where Are My Needles?

Over the weekend, while everyone was sleeping I was catching up on my blog reading.  And I swear I am not a stalker.  But I was reading The Yarn Harlot’s blog and it looks like I am or at least a copycat.  In her blog postings from last week she talked about Wingspan and Color Affection. Both projects that I bought yarn for since Olive’s arrival and I have casted on Wingspan all before reading her blog postings. 

But let’s not stop there with casting on …  Olive gave me an idea about knitting needles that she had recently heard:  Write down on a recipe card the name of the project and what needles are being used for that specific project.  I thought, what a great idea! No more hunting around for needles.  So off I went to write down where my needles are.  The recipe card idea is almost a big mistake … it shows all the projects that are works-in-progress and what is actually not being completed.  Forget that I can find all of this information out on my project page on Ravelry.

Before Olive’s arrival, I had needles on the following projects: a felted projects bag, the Advent scarf (I will admit I am still on Day 7), Corduroy (yes, I have finally started the second sleeve), a beach sweater from this summer’s KnitSimple, a pair of Ann Budd’s socks, Owl’s cardigan, and Silken Straw summer sweater.  Yes, I know … that is 7 work-in-progress projects.  But let’s not stop there, because I have yarn and I have needles that are just sitting there with nothing on them.  So I have now casted on Wingspan for my mindless TV watching - Olive brought us Season 1 of The Killings and we are all hooked!

And then one day last week Olive said, “Hey can you click on Ravelry and find a “market bag.”  Sure, Olive! No problem ...  We bought yarn on Wednesday for Grrlfriend’s Market Bag and yup, casted on that project on Wednesday night!  That makes 9 casted on projects.  (Side note:  The grrlfriend bag has a really sweet backstory included with the bag pattern.)

Olive's Market Bag

My market bag so far

But why not make it an even number of projects casted on? We are suppose to be working on a project together in conjunction with Twisted Knitters group that we have called the “2 Sticks” project.  It’s an Aran sweater from an old book called “Two Sticks and a String” by Kerry Ferguson.  I have completed the collar and half of one of the saddle shoulders. 

The long piece is the collar and the pattern work is the
saddle shoulder so far
So what projects did Olive bring?  She brought a Pure and Simple’s Weekend sweater (she’s on the sleeves now), the “2 Sticks” project, and Wingspan - for which she has now finished and the reason why I have started it.  Now these are the 3 projects that I have seen; and yet, she may have even more stowed in her luggage.  She did buy yarn to make the Color Affection but that hasn’t been casted on … yet. 

Olive's Wingspan

My first triangle of Wingspan

I have to admit:  confession really is good for the soul!

The Martini Knitter

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reduced to a Pile of Ash

Ever since we have moved into our “temporary” apartment, I have noticed that most of the apartments are not “temporary” homes but are “real” homes.  Many of the balconies around us have beautiful balcony gardens with flowers blooming everywhere - and then there are ours …   The Shaker and Olive are both very good at landscape gardening.  So I have left that project for them.  Also, our real home will be an apartment with a balcony as well so the balcony garden can move with us. 

The Shaker had been looking around at plants for the past few weekends before Olive’s arrival but buying and transporting bags of dirt would pose a problem for us.  Ok, maybe not the buying part but parking is a problem in Basel. There is “no pull up to the curb and just dash into the store” kind of parking by us.  So this took some thinking; out came the roller bag (aka “the Oma Tas”). 

It was my idea to wheel the roller bag down to the garden store, put two 20 liter bags into it and wheel it home.  So this past weekend, we started out and got lunch first, did the grocery shopping and then ended up at the garden store.  By the time we reached there, we had 2 shopping bags filled but the roller bag was still empty.

Inside the store we got the bags of dirt, 3 pots, and 3 balcony trays, a watering can, and 2 kinds of fertilizer.  We got the 3 pots for some tomato plants that The Shaker was given at work last week from a colleague.  The Shaker had the 2 dirt bags, Olive had the 2 shopping bags, and I had the pots and a watering can and was given the 3 trays to hold.  We were starting to make our way to the cashier to check out when I some how or another had a walking malfunction.  The plastic watering can some how popped out of the 3 round pots and proceeded to bounce down the aisle, landing at the foot of an “older” man. 

Now remember my German is still not that great but the word “sorry,” I know, is understood everywhere here in Europe!  I am chasing this watering can down the aisle saying “sorry, sorry, sorry” knowing full well that no one can hear because the watering can is making so much noise.  So when the watering can finally stopped it landed a the foot of a customer’s foot – a man’s foot and mind you, it didn’t hit him or hurt him in anyway.  He just turned slowly around at me and gave me one of those “reduced to ashes” kinds of stares.  I was so shocked because I know that my mouth fell open and I felt like a 3-year old again.

Olive is standing behind me when this happening and I turn to around to her to see if she is seeing what I am seeing and do you know what Olive did to me – burst out laughing.  And not just any laugh; it was one of those sidesplitting, bent over, crying kind of laughs.  She had to duck down an aisle because she was laughing so hard.  She said this, “The “look” that man gave Sarah was like one moment, she was standing there and then next -she was pile of smoldering ash.”  I was given the “laser eye.”

By this time The Shaker is up ahead and turns around to see what all the commotion is about.  Now usually I try to be one of those quiet American people, but not this day.  I was so shocked by the “laser stare,” that I said, quite loudly at The Shaker, “Did you see the look that that man just gave me?”  All the while, Olive is still peeing with laughter and then I had to join in the laughing which made The Shaker start laughing that we forgot all about this sweet, little, laser-staring, not-hurt man.

Here are “before” and “after” pictures:

As you can see, the tomato plants have not been planted yet.  Olive and The Shaker ran out of dirt!   We have to go back to the garden shop today; I am making Olive walk into the store first …

The Martini Knitter

Labels:  olive, the shaker

Monday, May 14, 2012

Barf├╝sserplatz's “New Goods” Market Day

Olive arrived safely Thursday morning and after dropping off her luggage we headed back into the city for lunch. Every Thursday in Basel on Barfusserplatz it’s “New Goods” market day.  It has jewelry, leather goods, clothing, food and, naturally, a yarn stall. 

There is a lady here who sells her yarn every Thursday at this location and every Thursday it takes everything in me not to jump out at the Barfusserplatz tram stop!

Since I am still that “slightly experienced knitter.”  I needed Olive to come with me to ask the right knitting questions.  I had told her about the yarn stall and that I didn’t know what the yarn was; I just see this lady’s stall from the tram’s window every Thursday.  I would look out and see these bright and subtle colors of skeins hanging on a rack moving gently in the springtime breeze.  One day I did get off the tram and cut through the market place to go to the Post Office nearby.  So I did that quick look as you do, checking colors and prices.  But, sadly, no information was posted on or near the skeins.  So I made Olive do the talking.  At times, I have been told by her son, Jigger, that she can be quite shy not when it comes to yarn and knitting.

The name of the stall is Holzart Atelier Hachem and her yarn is hand-dyed silk.  The lady said that the silk “blanks” are from Italy and she hand-dyes the blanks herself. This lady also has several scarves and shrugs hand-made and are ready for immediate purchase.  In order to show me how wonderful her yarn was she had taken a scarf down and draped it over my shoulders.  It felt wonderful!  Last Thursday was a very warm and sunny day here and the silk felt cool and nice over me.  She explained that in Basel it can be quite warm and that even during the evenings you don’t want to wear anything too heavy.  Where as I am use to cool evenings in Holland because of the sea climate there, here it may not be like that.  So she had said that silk is perfect in the spring, summer, and early fall kind of fiber for here in Basel.  I liked her sales pitch – my father is in sales and he would even appreciate this woman’s sales tactics.  But … I have never knitted with silk and I know from my reading that silk has a tendency to grow after knitting.  Therefore a smaller project would work nicely with this fiber.  Of course Olive has knitted with silk before, hence the reason why I made her do most of the talking with this woman.  Plus I knew that Olive could suggest a project for this fiber.

I bought 3 skeins to make “Color Affectionby Veera Valimaki and then I had to go and buy a US 5, 32-inch knitting needle.

These are the colors I chose for this shawl
I am sorry to say that we never exchanged names but we did have a nice conversation about learning German.  (The word “knitting” in German is “stricken”). As you know, most of my time has been consumed with shaking the Dutch language from my mind and replacing it with German.  And this lady spoke very good English but we had a funny discussion about 2 words that Olive taught her: “variegated” and “solid;” meaning colors in the yarn.  We laughed at the word “solid” - she didn’t know that the word had 2 English meanings.  She thought it just had the one meaning, “a solid piece of wood, or item.”  She even pulled out a book and had Olive write the words “variegated” and “solid” down for her.  I liked that idea of having a small book to carry around for new German words and, well … knitting ideas too. 

The Martini Knitter

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Keep Walking

I have found that I have really enjoyed being outside since moving to Basel.  I am sure it has to do with the weather.  The sun shines more here and the temperatures have been around 15 to 20 C daily. So I have been finding any excuse possible to get out.  I have found a pretty good walking route that I can walk up to one hour, and also be able to shave it down to 45-minutes and even further down to 30 minutes.  A 30-minute walk means that I was probably sluggish the day before and I should get out and get some exercise. Without getting “too deep,” I have been walking almost everyday just to clear my mind and while listening to my music on my iPod.  I went on a walk last week with some people from the school.  A woman had one of those pedometers. She and I both walked the same distance our strides were different as she is tall and I am medium height.  But the pedometer measured that she walked 13 kilometers in 2-1/2 hours and burned 700 calories.  Well … I went out bought one of those gadgets because I wanted to know how far I walk each day.  I turned it on yesterday and I took 5600 steps, walked 4.30 kilometers - and that's just doing the normal day to day stuff.  However, I am sorry to say that I can't walk and knit at the same time as some can.  I know that Olive can – but I know myself a little too well - I would be tripping over the brick sidewalk here within a matter of a few steps.   These photos are taken while on my walks around here.

This place is 5 minutes from my home and it's wedged
between a bunch of shops and restaurants.  It has
given me ideas for what to plant in our city garden.

I love walking along the Rhine River! This is the water taxi
that takes you from one side to the other.
Gin and Vermouth took it with their German teacher
during German Boot Camp lessons—
it's 3CHF (per person)  - one way

I like walking along the Rhine River and looking across at
the Medieval city part of Basel.

From what I have been told, many people swim in
the Rhine when the weather gets warmer.
I thought that the shower  was interesting; I guess the Swiss
don't want you smelling like Rhine when you get back
on the tram. 

I pass by this fence towards the end of my walk along
the Rhine River.  It reminds me of Fasnacht
- the Carnival celebration here.

And this is by far the most interesting thing I have come
across on my walks - a cigarette vending machine
WITH an ID verification!  You can't buy your cigarettes
until you past your ID card through first. 

And lastly ... good news!  Olive arrives this Thursday; she's coming to visit because it's Vermouth's birthday this weekend.  Olive came 2 years ago for Gin's 16th birthday celebration and she made a promise to come for Vermouth’s.  Haven’t made too many plans yet but you can count on some yarn shopping – I have found 4 yarn shops so far in this city.  The latest one I found happens to be 2 doors down from a Starbucks.  I found it last Sunday while out walking with The Shaker.  And I just want to make it clear that it was his suggestion to go to Starbucks.  Can I help it if I found another yarn shop for Olive and I to check out???

The Martini Knitter

Friday, May 4, 2012

Those Nasty Cuticles!

In my daily life I have to do things like the cooking, the ironing and the washing – you all ready know how I don’t share the washing.  But while these jobs must be done, I listen to my iPod and the work seems to go by so much faster.  I am a huge audio listener and have been ever since joining Audible in 2006.  I usually listen to mystery/thrillers but the members at kept recommending Life by Keith Richards read by Johnny Depp and Joe Hurley.  It is fantastic if you are a fan of the Rolling Stones.  But I also enjoy knitting podcasts.  I usually listen to podcasts between finishing one book and starting another or in the mornings when the house is quiet   This week I caught up on some Knit Pick podcasts and just discovered a new one that I really like called Never Not Knitting by Alana Dakos.

I am now up to “Episode 179: Learning the Quirks of Lace” on the Knit Picks podcast where Kelley Petkun gave a great hand tip.  She said that her cuticles kept catching on the silk yarn/ribbon and were causing her problems. She said that she had heard a trick to put some olive oil and sugar onto her hands and scrub, scrub, scrub.  I looked down at my hands, and saw some straggly bits around my cuticles and thought, why not?  My hands feel amazing!  I just poured a little olive oil into the palm of my hand, added some sugar and scrubbed.  It felt a little thick and greasy at first but after rinsing my hands in warm water, my hands felt really nice.

The Martini Knitter

PS – please feel free to recommend other podcasts that you like – knitting or otherwise.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Handbags and Pouches

As you may know, I love a quick project to take my mind off of whatever is taking me forever to knit!  I am still knitting the same sleeve on my Corduroy sweater pattern from A Fine Fleece.  Yes, I can hear all of you including Olive saying “just get on with it already!”

But I did, I put the Corduroy sweater down for the weekend and started to make another bag.  I only have 5 handbags with me currently:  a blue bag that my friend Christina knitted for me about 7 years ago, a purple felted handbag that I made a few months back, a really worn red leather shoulder bag, and an orange leather shoulder bag and big orange travel bag that has 2 big compartments – one side for stuff, the other for knitting!  My rational to The Shaker is this:  the red leather bag is very used and just needs to be put down.  Plus, I don’t have a green one – but I do now.

Front of bag

This is the back and I added a small loop
and button to secure my phone.
Yes, I am bit paranoid about loosing my phone

First of all, I use Cascade 220’s worsted weight yarn for almost all of my felted projects.  I have use Patons Classic Wool as well and I like both yarns equally.  They both felt up beautifully after washing because there is minimal shaping after you remove your felted item from the washing machine.  There is always a little shaping afterwards, but honestly, I have felted with other yarns and I have found that I am pulling and tugging and shaping for a longer than need be, and, honestly, this is time where I could be knitting. 

The handbag pattern is called “Sweetwater Hipster Bag” by Julie Finocchiaro and the pattern instructions are fantastic!  If you have never knitted a bag and/or felted one and you are thinking about it, check out this pattern!  The pattern is $6.95 and totally worth it.  It comes with detailed instructions, which I like.  I am one of those knitters, the more clearly written instructions the better the outcome and, probably, I won’t have to rip out any stitches – which in itself is a bonus.  Plus the pattern comes with instructions to fabric-line the handbag. 

I haven’t lined any of my felted handbags but maybe you want to; Ms. Finocchiaro provides fabric-lining instructions with the purchase of this pattern.  Now I haven’t lined my handbags because I have made a ton of this little pouches from Kimie Quilts designs.  I did an Internet search of this pattern to include in this blog post - but I had the hardest time finding it!  I bought this pattern before I knew Olive; that is how long I have had it.  I think I bought it back in the last millennium – the late 1990’s!  I have stuck with the original pattern design, but I have now made the pouches in fun novelty fabrics and no longer make it with the fusible patterns that it shows in the photo.  I have even added beads to a few of the pouches.

I made the small one from scraps of a dress that Vermouth
wore when she was 3.  It was my favorite dress.
The Martini Knitter