Tuesday, September 18

Free Pattern: The Dangly Ball Hat

Autumn has made a crash landing in Amsterdam. Wind pounding the (recently double glazed) windows and a drizzle that will soak you to the bone has been a constant reminder that the cold days are coming. Even tough we didn't really have a summer to speak of anyways, summer is now really over.  We like the warm weather, but I'm always a little pleased when the colder weather arrives. I'm not a big heat lover and the chance to wrap up in cozy woollies is one I like to grab. I'm almost done knitting a warm cardigan for myself and a second one has been planned. I'm just still torn between Rowan Pure Wool DK and Drops Extra Fine Merino. Both 8 ply, both 11 wpi, both superwash. One is wool, I get to hold it before buying and check the colours in real life. The other is merino, I have to order it online and I have to hope the colour on the interwebs matches the real colour.
Opinions on that, anyone?

On another note, last year I knit a hat for my dear friend Faye. She is Canadian and she is tiny. So she has some issues staying warm in the winter. We improvised a cute pattern with a different take on the pompom. Miss Faye eloquently reverred to it as a dangly ball. Even though I understand the ambiguous meaning of this description, it is exactly what it is. A dangly ball.
Do you want to knit your own?

It is a pretty straight forward process. Knit you favourite model of hat. Pick your own edging. I do think that a simple stockinette hat is best to show of the pompom. When knitting your hat you will probably decrease to about 6 stitches and you normally would pull the yarn through the loops and weave in the tail. Instead, you will now knit an i-cord. Maybe it is wise to go down to 5 or 4 stitches. This is up to you.

Knit about 2 inches/5cm of i-cord. After that proceed as follows:

Put the stiches back on multiple DPNs, Place marker to indicate beginning of round.
R1 Kfb all stitches (or use your own preferred increase method)
R2 Knit all stitches
R3 (Kfb, k), repeat to marker
R4 Knit all stitches
R5 (Kfb, k2), repeat to marker
R6 Knit all stitches
R7 (Kfb, k3), repeat to marker
R8-10 Knit all stitches
R11 (K2tog, k3), repeat to marker
R12 Knit all stitches
R13 (K2tog, k2), repeat to marker
R14 Knit all stitches
R15 (K2tog, k1), repeat to marker
Now, stuff the ball, use fiberfill, a bit of old pillow stuffing, cotton balls, whatever you have lying around that coud be used as filling and you find suitable.
R16 Knit all stitches
R17 K2tog all stitches. cut yarn leaving a 6-8 inch/15-20cm tail. Pull yarn through loops and fasten off.

If you use bulky yarn you should omit rows 6,7,11 and 12 or the ball will be huge. If you have a light weight yarn you may want to continue increasing and then decreasing in the same method.
You, of course, are totally free to choose the ball size you like! (This is getting dirty now...)

Have a nice day!

Monday, September 10

FO - The Woodland Shawl

We are renovating. Again. After ripping out the bathroom in May we decided that such a big mess was a lot of fun and we wanted to do it again. -turns sarcasm off- So we are having all the doors and windows replaced. The ones that were in there were cheap pine ones that were installed in 1968, according to old newspaper we found in the walls when we were ripping the old doors out, and were rotten to the core. The new ones are sturdy (FSC) hardwood with layered double glazing. It will make our house a less noisy and drafty place.With winter already lurking around the corner this is a pleasant idea. Right now I am surrounded by men screaming, hack saws cutting trough wood and a lot of debris.

Working and studying really focused is not really an option today and since I needed to reinstall windows on my laptop anyways I'm hiding in the living room, Ludovico Einaudi blasting from the stereo to drown out the noises from the back of the house. He composes and plays the most peaceful contemporary classical music I have heard in a while. He has also composed the music for the movie Intouchables. If you have not seen this movie, go see it today. It is a masterpiece about class difference, acceptance and friendship. It will bring tears to your eyes and you willl pee yourself from laughter. Quite possibly at the same time.

After I reinstalled photoshop, which is a pain in the neck too, I could finally edit the pictures I took of the woodland shawl. I finished it a little while back and had already taken the pictures of it and I also misplaced the doohickey contraption thingamabob that I need to get pictures off my camera. But I found it, so here we are. For some reason my camera did not appreciate the orange and moss green colours that were in the yarn so the pictures came out dull and needed some fixing. I couldn't get it all perfect, but at least the picture, almost, shows the right colours.

Presenting: The Woodland Shawl:

The shawl is made from Drops Alpaca in a moss green colour with an orange fiber here and there. I made it for my mom and and it has been one of those lingering projects that live in the bottom of your project basket. The pattern can get a little repetative so once in while you pick it up to knit a few repeats and then put it down again. I started the shawl on her birthday in the end of April and finished it somewhere in the last days of August. It measured 20 cm by 150 cm when it just came off the needles but it grew a lot when I blocked it. It is now 50 cm by 200 cm and makes a nice warm autumn wrap with orangy green leaves that flow over your shoulders. I gave it to my mother the first weekend of September, when we were over for a visit.

Pattern: Woodland Shawl by Nikol Lohr
Yarn: 5 balls of Drops Alpaca
Needles: 3,5mm Addi Lace circulars
Mods: I subbed SKP for SSK and SK2P for S2KP since those are my preferred decrease and double decrease methods, but that is all. The pattern was really easy to remember and well written. I did 28 repeats of the leaf pattern.
Project is raveled here

When the doors in the back are finshed I will try to type up a post on the renovation of the doors and the bathroom, because waiting until this house is finished makes no sense. Renovating a 1930's house in Amsterdam never ends. It's a labour of love, like knitting.

Friday, August 10

Stripes and Flowers

Summer is finally here. Well, we had three days without rain and temperatures above 20 Celsius. In my Dutch frame of mind, that is summer. The city seams to awaken from the wet and dreary autumnal summer we had. Rain, rain, rain and cold. The weather looks good for the weekend and then it will go back to what it was. Wet. Cold. Dreary. Can't wait...
Don't get me wrong, I love autumn, with its storms and pounding rain on the windows. You snuggle up on the couch with your loved ones, blankets, some delicious snacks and a good bottle of wine. But I like this to be in autumn, not in June, July and August. That's the months were you live in the park, on your balcony or in your garden. Soaking up vitamin D, getting a little tan (we don't want melanoma!) and just enjoying being outside.

The view from the study. I am so going outside after I finish typing this up!

 When summer craps out again on us, in a few days, I will be ready! Thanks to the Ravellenics I now have two finished cowls. They are both really pretty but totally different. First up:


This pattern was brought to my attention by the lyrical, maybe even hysterical tweets from Heather McCoy, a.k.a. The A.D.D. Knitter. I follow her blog and tweets and a lot of time she cracks me up. She also picks projects that quite often appeal to me. So did Rayures. The stripes looked like a very easy and soothing thing to knit. So on a trip to Brussels (more on that in a later post) I dropped by Art et Fil. An absolute must for knitters who ever visit Brussels. I found it after this wonderful blog from a Croatian girl living in Brussels. The owner speaks very little English, but is incredibly helpful. Luckily I speak Dutch and French so we were fine. I showed her the pattern and she helped me to pick the colours. She had no problems with taking out ALL the Regia sock yarn from the shelves so I could compare them together.  She also gave some magazines from Lana Grossa and Regia that she wasn't going to sell anymore. Together with the rest of the day I had a wonderful day wandering around Brussels on my own. A long stroll through the lesser known neighbourhoods St Gilles and Ixelles, south of the city centre is an absolute must try for the "off the beaten track tourist".

All my treasures. Regia 4-ply in seven colours. Yet another 4mm circular needle,
magazines, an ochre and a green pair of tights and last but not least, matcha tea
powder to bake green tea cakes!
I had already picked one project for the Ravellenics. I was going to WIP-Wrestle my Imogen Cowl into submission but I was ready to start this one. So while I watched the opening ceremony in my hotel room I cast on. It took me 6 days knitting on it, on and off during the lost hours of the day to finish. And the result is stunning. And the best part? With this many colours (seven!), one of them is bound to match something you are wearing!

Pattern: Rayures by Amy Miller.
Yarn: Regia 4-ply sock.
Needles: 4mm 60cm circulars.
Mods: None
Techniques used, Jogless Stripes, and by lieu of a crochet hook this provisional cast-on technique and the Kitchener Stitch.
Raveled here. The colour numbers are here too.

Imogen Cowl
The second cowl is the Imogen Cowl. There has been a post on this Bad Boy before. But the repeating of the rather intricate Frost Flower Lace pattern got so annoying that I put it in the project bin to be buried under a lot of new projects, many of which have made the finish line way before this one.Then I attended the WWKIP Picknit in June I met Chris. He persuaded me to join his team at the Ravellenic Games, at that point still called the Ravelympics, so I would finish this baby.

Really bumpy and still really stiff. I had little to no hope for this project.
And I am glad I did! It turned out so much prettier then I could have imagined. The yarn went from scratchy and stiff to luxurious and soft after blocking. The lace flattened and got really attractive. The cowl just flows and drapes around your neck.
Thank you Chris!!!

Pattern: Imogen Cowl by Carrie Bostick-Hoge.
Yarn: Annel Malmedy in Teal.
Needles: 4mm Addi Lace 80 cm circulars.
Mods: None, alhough the way this provisional cast-on worked was not ideal, in my opinion. I think a crocheted provisional would be much easier.
Raveled here.

So, that's all from me for now. I am going outside now. Soak up some sunshine.

Have a nice day!

If you feel inclined to, I would love to know what you are working on. Drop me a line (and a Ravelry link) in the comments!

Tuesday, July 10

Tutorial Tuesday, Crocheted Edge Baby Blanket

Remember "Tutorial Thursday"? Well today is a Tutorial Tuesday! Ha, take that! And a big thank you for two days in the week that start with a t, to who ever came up with that.

In the last tutorial I showed you how to make these handy dandy reusable swiffer duster pieces.

When I finished making twelve (!!!!) I was left with a ton of microfleece. I was also in need of some handmade baby gifts. So I came up with these. I don't want to claim the invention of these. There probably are a lot more saffy and smart crafters out there who though of it as well. I'm just going to show you how I made them.

You need:
-A piece of fabric, I used the microfleece because you don't need to sew the edges to stop it from fraying. (Lazy? No. Convenient? Yes, remember this is a fast and easy project!)
-A ruler
-A small glass
-A marker in a somewhat contrasting colour, but not too much. If you own that marking chalk that sewers sometimes have, that is handy too!
- A crochet hook, 4mm
- Some cotton yarn. I used Catania for the green blanket and Phil 3 for the yellow blanket.
- A piece of paper to prevent the marker bleeding through the fabric onto you teak table. Oh wait that was me. Well, just grab a piece of paper!
- A pointy object to poke holes in the fabric

Put the glass on the corners of the fabric and trace with the marker. Cut along the marked line. This way you will have even and rounded edges. It also allows you to fib the placement of your holes for the crocheted edge. You could skip this step, but that involves carefully measuring your fabric. Since this is an easy project, fibbing is totally allowed! Grab your ruler. Put dots about one centimetre from the edge, along the whole edge, every two centimetres. In the corners you can go every 1,5 centimetres to prevent pulling, but it's not strictly necessary. If your marker bleeds, put the paper underneath!

With something pointy, I used a small cable needle, but an ice pick or a large needle could work too, poke a hole in all the dots. There even are crochet hooks that have a sharp edge to do this all while crocheting. I don't have one.
Crochet along the edge. In every hole I made 3 HDC stitches. You could even do regular DC stitches, but I prefer the HDC. Join with a slip stitch when you finish crocheting around. Fasten of and weave in ends.

The blanket is now done, but I chose to add a little embroidery. It's the simplest thing to do and it adds so much more charm. Just print out what you want to add. A name in a fancy font, or a line drawing are good starting point. Print the image in the right scale. Pin the piece of paper to your blanket and trace the lines using a back stitch. When you're done, just remove the paper and voila!

Some really cute and easy blankets. I think each of these blankets only took me about 3 hours to make.
Wrap the blanket and give to the new parents or parents to be. It's so much fun to give handmade presents.

Friday, June 29

Rhubarb (2)

None of the aforementioned recipes made it yesterday. I made something else. Something similar, but different. I made Rhubarb Grapefruit Ginger Confiture. With large chunks of grapefruit peel and just a hint of ginger.

Here's what I did:

I cleaned about 1500 grams of rhubarb and cut it into little 3 cm pieces.
I peeled the skin of 5 grapefruits with a potato peeler. After that I squeezed out all the juice. My grapefruits weren't heavyweights though. I got about 400 ml of juice.
On a low fire I heated up the juice with the painstakingly finely chopped peels and about 3 inches of grated ginger. I added 1000 grams of gelling sugar. This is a sugar with pectin in it. You need this pectin to get the jam to set.
When the juice mixture got to a boil I added all the rhubarb and let it boil quite vigorously for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
At this point you need to check if the jam has set.  There are a gazillion ways to do this, with plates in freezers and god knows what. Here's what I do: I take a spoon, put a little bit of the jam on the spoon and stick it in the fridge for 5 minutes. If the jam has gotten a jam like consistancy it has set. (Hurray!). If it doesn't, boil for a little longer, or if it doesn't set at all, you might need more of the pectin sugar.

I sterilized jars, put the jam in a measuring cup with a spout and used that to pour it in the jars. With a potholder (those jars get hot!!!!!) I screwed the jars shut and put them upside down to cool. This way you get a more secure vacuum and the jam will keep better.

The end result is a lovely tangy jam or confiture or whatever you want to call it. Slightly bitter, but that is how I like it!

Today I bought 2 kilos of nectarines and I think I'm going to do a nectarine, orange, cardemom (or vanilla) jam with that. The only problem: I ran out of jars! I checked to local stores, but they charge €1,50 for a very ugly empty jar. So, Mum to the rescue: she is bringing jars when she comes over this Sunday. I doubt that this will be the end of jamming season, so if you have any jars with metal lids to spare, AND you are close, please let me know!

Thursday, June 28


I have a lot of rhubarb from my mum's garden. And I mean, a lot. Thankfully my mom has, next to a lot of rhubarb in her garden, a rhubarb cookbook.

So now all I have to do is choose a recipe. Or two. Or three. There really is a lot of rhubarb!
The big contenders:

Rhubarb crumble, rhubarb cake, rhubarb ice-cream, rhubarb soufflé, rhubarb clafoutis, rhubarb croissant pie, rhubarb, almond cake, rhubarb whole wheat cake, rhubarb lemon marmalade or rhubarb orange confiture.

So many options! Do you have a favourite rhubarb recipe you are willing to share?

Sunday, June 24

Lazy Sunday

We just got home from a long weekend at my mum's. We spent some quality time together. From my mum's garden I picked these hydrangeas.
Aren't they gorgeous???
We are cuddled up on the couch, Kjell in his warm Brownstone Sweater. The weather isn't summery at all. We are probably not going to leave the house at all today.
I brought home a heap of rhubarb from my mum's garden and I'm contemplating baking something. Any ideas?