Wishing you all...


a cowl


For Sinterklaas my sister got me one skein of yarn. She really wanted to give me enough to make something big, but was shocked by the price. She did tell me where to find more, but I liked the idea of just using that one skein and made myself (another) cowl. Since we don't have really cold winters here, I hardly ever use thick wool cowls. But I do have a jacket that doesn't close all the way up, so something to keep my throat warm would be nice.


(I used a free, online pattern for this, but I can't find it...)

Fun fact: when I told my sister what I made (a few weeks later), she said she thought that skein would keep me occupied most part of the winter. Does it show she's not a knitter? ;-)

yarn along


 joining Ginny's yarn along

Knitting: I cast on a hat last Monday, but this morning I frogged it. Too small. Oh well, it was the distraction I needed at that point and I'll cast on another hat with that soft grey yarn soon. But first I'll start something with that lovely green yarn my sister gave me.

Reading: The girls got me that magazine. I love looking at cozy pictures like that, though I learned the hard way that it doesn't translate too well into my own home and life. I'm also reading another Nora Roberts trilogy and when I finish that I look forward to read some Christmas stories.

So what are you knitting/making and reading?



On Tuesday

I know, I'm a day late. But yesterday was hectic and I still wanted to join the fun. so here's my Happy Homemaker's Tuesday.



As I look outside my window:::
sunshine! It's cold and frosty. I love that. So much better than our usual rainy days.
 
Right now I am:::
At my desk and my bigger screen since we discovered that my laptops screen is giving me headaches. Also, it's better for me to work from a set place, not from the couch.

Thinking and pondering:::
Hmn, I'm not sure if I should elaborate on this, but I'm partly thinking about family, what to accept lovingly  and where to draw lines. And partly about how much priority writing should have in my life. That has been a struggle ever since my first book came out. Balancing ambition (sell more books, make a living writing), reality (I do make money with it, but very little. I do have a publisher and readers, but I'm not at the top of any list) and other important life goals (my marriage, my family, my home) is really hard for me.

On my bedside table:::
Just my alarmclock, but it's running slow (right now it's 17 minutes behind - oops), so I never really use it. My husband has an alarm at his side of the bed and we get up when it goes. It's one of those alarms that starts with a light that keeps getting brighter. It doesn't beep, but plays birds singing louder and louder when it goes off. I have a love/hate relationship with that thing.

On my tv:::
Nothing. I don't even feel like watching youtube.

Playing on the radio:::
Radio 10. They have the Top 4000 right now, running from Nov. 30th till Christmas Eve. The higher numbers are fun to listen to, because a lot of them are forgotten songs that somebody decided to vote for. And getting closer to the top, it's more and more great songs that I love to hear.

On the menu for this week:::
I really don't know. I have some onion stew left over from yesterday, so I guess today I'll add some veggies and have an easy meal. I'm craving simple meals, just mash or something like that, so I guess that's what we'll eat for a few days. We have some great plans for the weekend and will be eating out a lot.


On my to do list:::
- Clean up after Sinterklaas festivities (Saturday we had my extended family over -11 people- and yesterday our own little family -5 people-, fun but messy)
- Some bookkeeping tasks (taxes)
- Deciding on and finishing the last posts for the year on my writer's website

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
I started a hat yesterday to help me through a difficult group conversation (knitting helps me to focus on what's being said, and protects me from channeling other people's feelings). I also want to start working on a cowl from the lovely skein my sister gave me.

My simple pleasure:::
cleaning up after holidays. I love remembering how much fun we had with every piece of paper I pick up.

Lesson learned the past week:::
That I need to be honest to myself. Even if that means that I can't please everyone.

Looking around the house:::
I think it's good that I already decided to make cleaning and decorating it a priority these weeks. Ahem ;-)

From the camera:::

  

Quote:::
You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us. The things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away. I need my pain. (Captain Kirk - Star Trek The final frontier)

Yarn along


joining Ginny's yarn along

Knitting: Only three squares to go! Looking forward to starting something different. Thinking about making other gifts (since I'm so early - do I miss the last minute stress? I guess so).

Reading: I wanted something simple to read while thinking about my own writing, so I reached for The Gallaghers of Ardmore by Nora Roberts. One of her trademark trilogies; lots of romance, family and friendship, a bit of a fairy tale ghost story and so much love for Ireland that I want to visit that country more than ever (but I have yet to convince my husband to spend a  much needed vacation in a region that has even more rain than we do).

So what are you knitting/making and reading?



Happy Homemaker Monday

Joining Sandra at Diary of a stay at home mom

http://familycorner.blogspot.nl/


The weather outside is ::::
well, it's November, in the Netherlands. so it's cloudy and dark and rainy.

On the breakfast plate this morning ::::
Two cooked eggs. Always. Enough for me to keep going till noon. (and coffee, of course)

As I look outside my window :::
We had a storm yesterday that blew off a lot of the leaves of the tree I see from my window. Sad to see them go... I can see the "for sale" sign at the neigbors now, though. Hope it changes to "sold" soon, that house has been empty too long.

Right now I am ::::
Thinking about cooking and cleaning, but I'm supposed to be writing. I finally found out what's bothering my main characters so I hope I can rewrite the first part of the book and then finally get going on the rest.

As I look around the house ::::
I'm glad to report that last weekend's renovation mess is cleared again. We tore down a wall (don't know how to say that in English, a wall that's built in front of an outside wall for isolation) and built it back up again. Next week will be all about the wall paper.

On today's to do list ::::
- cleaning (finished - sort of)
- laundry and change beds (half way through)
- write blogposts (in the middle of it)
- make soup
- a skype meeting with the committee of the Dutch Romance Writer's Association (I volunteered to be their new secretary after February, but I'm joining meetings already to prepare to take over from the current secretary) (had the meeting this morning)
- work on book (started)

Happening this week ::::
nothing special.
I want to do a deep clean of the kitchen before I start baking and cooking for Sinterklaas. Oh, and I need to sort through the gifts I already bought and buy the rest of it.
I also hope to get a lot of writing done. I sort of gave up on Nanowrimo already, but I hope to get back on track with that book. And then there's that story I want to finish for a contest.

Currently reading ::::
Nora Roberts. I somehow always end up reading her books as inspiration when I'm deep into writing myself

On the TV today ::::
We don't have/watch TV and I try to keep myself from watching Youtube. I have to admit though that this morning I watched John and Sherry's new house tour.

On the menu this week ::::
I don't menu plan, but I need to make stew (bought beef for it that needs to be used by tomorrow). I guess I'll combine that with some mash (kale, carrot/onion or sauerkraut). And I bought chicory that needs to be used this week.

What I am creating at the moment ::::
Still working on the potholders, but I am getting there. Only four squares to go.

New recipe I tried or want to try this week ::::
If I can find the time I'd like to try these gluten free cinnamon rolls

Favorite photo from the camera ::::



Inspirational Quote ::::
The secret of getting ahead is getting started - Agatha Christie

A hat for fun

Last Friday night I turned off my computer for the weekend, reached for my knitting basket and decided that in fact I really didn't feel like knitting. So I did a bit of light reading (Nora Robert's Gallaghers trilogy). About half way the book I suddenly realized I did feel like knitting, but I just didn't want to make potholder squares (still 12 to go).

So I grabbed some scraps of yarn and decided to make something fun. A hat. Yes, that's what I call fun ;-)
I didn't really have a plan, just picked some colors that looked nice together and started to knit something not plain garter or stockinette.



I messed around with twist ribs, a bit of texture and even cables.
And on Sunday morning I ended up with a hat that is actually wearable.


Maybe I should just give them all hats (again)...

Yarn along

I'm joining Ginny's yarn along today.



Knitting: Yeah, I know, I'm boring. Still potholders. Progress is slow. I haven't been knitting a lot these days. Mostly because I'm writing a lot (trying to do Nanowrimo this month - I will post about that soon, I hope). My hands need rest after full days on the keyboard.

Reading: Same story. When I'm writing, I hardly read. I am reading bits and pieces of the book pictured though. I don't think there's an English edition, but the title would translate as "Food on earth". It has lots of information about historic and recent food related traditions all over the world, accompanied by traditional recipes. So far, I like it.

So what are you knitting and reading?


Yarn along

I'm joining Ginny's yarn along today.



Knitting: Still working on those potholders. I made it a tiny bit more interesting by starting striped ones. Also, I decided to stop thinking about how many I need to make (24, not 28, I'll skip giving them to myself) and instead try to decide who I'm knitting these for. I think I have made enough of these squares to give each of the girls a set. Next I'll try and make my mother some (she loves them) and maybe I'll add my brother and sisters to the list. I also decided to give these for Christmas, not Sinterklaas (Dec, 5th). Feels like a relieve and that's great. It should be fun to knit gifts, shouldn't it?

Reading: The daughter by Jane Shemilt. I first heard about this book on Karens blog and what she said about the plot intrigued me. So I ordered it from the library and received it last week.
Oh my, this is another one of those books that I couldn't put down until I finished it. And then I kept thinking about it. I won't give away the ending, but it has a nice unexpected plot twist at the end and as Karen said, the family dynamics and the way the main character finds out she never really knew her daughter (or the rest of her family) are very well written.

Funny sidenote: I also kind of fell for the cover when I read that blogpost about this book. I liked the little house on it. But ours is different... (I think the other one is more fitting to the story)

So what are you knitting and reading?

Some knitting

In all the stopping and starting I did with this blog I seem to have lost my blogging voice. If I read through the older archives (almost ready to put them back online) I find myself documenting all the knitting I did and being so happy about a finished hat or another project in the works. And now... I do take pictures of (most of the) things I make, but when it comes to blogging about them I often sit at my computer and get stuck at "I made a hat."
Oh well, let's just try and keep blogging. May be it'll come back.
So.
I made a hat.
I wanted something easy, just to keep my hands busy and my mind free to talk (I made this while the girls were visiting), so I made my all time favorite pattern again. (if I ever bring my ravelry up to date I'll have a real number, but I do think I made well over 20 of these now)


And some slippers (this pattern again)


And since I do like looking back into those archives and see everything I've been making over the years I thought I'd add these from the last few months:

Potholders. For my mother. I made some of these years ago and she loves them and kept asking me to make more. I gave her these for mother's day. (this pattern, two of them crocheted together, I knit twice in one stitch to increase instead of yarnovers)


Another drop stitch scarf from a linen/cotton blend yarn. I gave this one to my mother for her birthday. And she loved it. Of course she did. Last year she stated she needed a bigger cupboard for her scarves and hats since I made so many for her. And there was no way she was letting one of them go, she wears them all for different occasions and with different coats.


Another simple hat, I made up the pattern while working on it. It's kind of big, but I like those colors together and it feels soft and warm. I might keep this one myself.


Um, yeah. Told you I love this pattern. Funny thing, my husband doesn't like how this type of hat looks on me, but this one he actually digged. Must be the two colors.


Over those months I've also been knitting on this shawl, but I didn't really like working with that uneven (cotton) yarn and all the garter stitch got really boring. I did manage to plow through until I had a decent size though. And truth to be told, I just put it on to take that (ugly - excuse the dirty mirror- ) picture below and it's still on my shoulders. It seems the shape (that I made up by messing around with increases) works for me. Hmn. Maybe I'll try that again in yarn I do like?


Yarn along

I'm joining Ginny's yarn along today.


Oh goodness, what a week we had.
Not fully recovered from the flu (still not) we dove into moving our youngest daughter into her new apartment as soon as she got the keys last Wednesday. So we did a lot of driving up and down to Ikea, we assembled some (ha! she had a tiny, tiny bedroom and needed to fill a good sized apartment) furniture, bought two second-hand couches, hung some lamps (that would be my husbands job, he's good with electricity) and... well, you get the drift. So busy.

Anyway, I still managed to knit a bit on the boring squares for the potholders I'm making as Holiday gifts. I tried knitting them on circular needles, but I'm not convinced that it's really easier that way. The other knitting is on hold for now, I'm still not sure what to make with that yarn.

Once I started reading the book pictured above (Illusion by Frank Peretti) I had to sneak in some reading time too, because... wow! That is such a great book! It's really hard to describe what it's about without giving too much away, but so, so good to read.
(confession: I took this picture last Monday and I finished the book that same day, the book I read after that was not really worth mentioning - though entertaining - and I'm between books right now).

So what are you knitting and reading?

Snapshot


Yarn along

I'm joining Ginny's yarn along today.




Knitting: After finishing the sweater dress, I've been working on some smaller projects. Although one of them is actually a big project. I'm trying to knit enough potholders to give to my family this Sinterklaas, but I did the math and well... 7 households times 2 potholders times 2 squares makes 28 squares to knit? Oh my, so boring...
So I'm allowing myself to work on something else too. I found this assortment of really soft wool at the thriftshop one day (you can see the whole bag here) and I've been dying to start working with it, although I'm not sure what I'm making. Maybe a hat, but it could also be the start of a sweater. I'm trying to figure out how far one of these little skeins will get me before I decide. Ha, that would make a bigger project too, I guess. I did knit some smaller items between the sweater and these though. I will show those soon.

Reading: Stephen King: Full Dark, no Stars. What can I say? I think Stephen King is one of the greatest writers of our time, but I'm not really into scary stories, so I don't often read his books. Sounds silly, I know.
When I do read his books I'm always impressed though. As a reader, but also as a writer. When I read his books, I feel I've got so much to learn.
I really appreciate his little forewords and epilogues for that matter, since he usually talks a little about writing in those. I think I read somewhere that he wrote a whole book about writing, maybe I should buy that someday...

Anyway, these four stories are really raw and harsh, but somehow I couldn't stop reading when I started.
I read the first two in one evening and I think I will start reading the third one tonight.

 So what are you knitting and reading?


My sweater dress


Though that bulky yarn makes it less suitable for everyday wearing (it's warm!), it does make for a quick knit. I finished my sweater dress last Thursday.


I love it. Some of you already commented about the colors. Yes, neutral, but not boring. That's why I love it so much (I made cowls with it before and knew I wanted a sweater in that colorway).

The cowl neck turned out a bit tighter than I was going for, but when I tried it on, I liked it, so I kept it that way.


The length is just right, a few inches above my knee. I know that in the picture it seems somewhat tight on me, but it does look good in person (so hard to take pictures of oneself). Also I lost a lot of weight lately and I hope to loose a bit more, so I like that it will still fit then.


Overall, I'm quite please with it.

Knit with Marl Wool from Zeeman (but I think they don't sell it anymore, can't find it online), no pattern but some help from Elizabeth Zimmerman on the yoke and the back neck short rows.

A good weekend

My weekend was mostly filled with this:



battling a cold (I think I won - feeling much better today), good tea. lots of knitting

Also there was some of this:



(don't worry, I am focussing on the good stuff here): more dark wood paneling gone, a view of beautiful old stones (original wall of our 1910-ish house) for now, a clean white wall once we finish this part of our big living room renovation project

And I paused to enjoy a bit of this:


It was a good weekend.
Hope you had a great weekend too and wishing you all a wonderful start of your week.

A stack of bags

It seems every time I post about sewing I want to write I  f i n a l l y  did some sewing. Well, that's what it feels like. And I guess it's the truth too.

The last time I sewed something was in June. And then I bought a lot of fabric (vintage pillowcases mostly) and planned to make some bags with them. Which I f i n a l l y did this weekend. ;-)

Well, actually I made two of them a few weeks ago, but then perfectionism jumped into the game and I got stuck.
But this Friday I told myself I just needed some simple bags, nothing fancy. I wasn't going to give them as presents, I wasn't going to sell them, I just needed bags to hold stuff.

I guess I have to explain this. Since January it's prohibited by law in our country to give out free plastic bags in shops. I am glad about that, because I already carried my own grocery bags and tried not to accept the plastic ones. But I often had to ask to take my goods out of the bag they already put it in before I could say I didn't want it and sometimes I just didn't and took the plastic bag. I also got plastic bags from my mother when we exchanged magazines and books, so they were always around. I guess I used them more often than I thought, because I did notice we were running out of them. And that's why I wanted to sew some bags.

So I did. And once I let go of too high expectations, I was on a roll. I made 5 bags that Friday and then Sunday, when I knew exactly what I was doing, I made 14 more.
I reused the seams of the pillowcases and found a way to make two bags out of one pillowcase with hardly any scraps left. They're just the size I want them, not full sized grocery bags, but big enough to hold a stack of magazines, or a knitting project, or anything else I used to grab a plastic bag for. Mission accomplished.




yarn along

I'm joining Ginny's yarn along today.

Knitting: I'm at the last part of the yoke of my sweater. I've been trying it on and it's tight, but it does fit. Now I'm guestimating how to make a wide turtleneck (is that the right way to explain this? I want something that looks like a cowl on a sweater) with a little help from Elizabeth Zimmermann (Knitting without tears, I love that book).

Reading: Peter Tremayne, The Leper's bell. My father loves these historic mysteries and keeps recommending them to me. This is the second one I'm reading and I'm still not sure if I share his opinion. I like the historic information that is added throughout the book (it's set in Ireland in the Early Middle Ages), but sometimes it feels like it doesn't really add to the story, but instead holds it up. Also I miss a feeling of connection to the main character. She doesn't feel real to me. But then again, it's quite entertaining. I am curious who stole the baby and why, so I'm sure I will finish it.



So what are you knitting and reading?

ten things that make me happy today



:: the gorgeous misty sunrise I witnessed this morning

:: looking back at a full but fun weekend


:: seeing the pile of bags I sewed this weekend (more on that later)

:: the bittersweet anticipation of our youngest girl moving out soon

:: family visits

:: thinking up a meal to cook for todays family visit, without having to drive to the supermarket.

:: remembering I planted four leeks in the garden. I think I'll go and see if I can add those to my planned stir fry.

:: my oldest daughter being my hairdresser. I've never been disappointed after a dye or a cut since she took over.


:: autumn flowers

:: knitting (of course ;-)  )

Wishing you all a wonderful start of your week!