Following my Heart: Part 2

November 23, 2007

weddingrings

We got married in New York on a beautiful day in May, 2005. Only our parents and my husband’s brother attended our sweet and very small ceremony.

I remember how a light breeze ruffled my hair as I looked into the big amber eyes of my soon to be husband. I slipped my hands into his hands and as the ceremony began, we were smiling, smiling, smiling!

How did we meet you might wonder? How does a gal from Amsterdam end up with a guy from New York City?

Well, we met in a post office… somewhere on the magical Island of Bali…

Bali – Amsterdam – Manhattan

In August 2001 I traveled with my mom to the magical Island of Bali. How I loved the gentle spiritual and creative energy that was all around present on the island! I was surrounded constantly by enchanting nature, gorgeous beaches, friendly people and so much beautiful art!

One day while I was strolling down the streets of Seminyak, I wandered into a small post office to buy some stamps and postcards. As I entered the post office I noticed that the clerk was carefully packing a stunningly beautiful wood carved art of a Balinese Goddess.

The guy who was sending off this Goddess waited patiently for the clerk to be done while sitting on a bench. Because of his Italian features I assumed he was from Italy and I asked him how much it costs to send of such a big piece of art to Europe.

He rose up from his bench, walked up to me with a light swing in his movements as if he was dancing, and much to my surprise and amusement, out comes this thick New York accent and I could not help but giggle!

Several days later we had our first dinner date and as the sun was setting we found a romantic spot on the beach. I remember how we both gazed at the starry nightsky and how we both pointed at the many shooting stars we saw.

We only spend one evening with eachother on Bali. He was to leave the next day back to Manhattan and I never ever thought we would see eachother again.

We said goodbye to eachother at the end of August of 2001. Little did we suspect that only within 2 weeks something horrific was about to happen in Manhattan on September 11th.

He was in lower Manhattan while the attacks on the Twin Towers occured during that black day in history. Days after he called me and asked if he could please see me again and visit me in Amsterdam. “Life is too short”, I remember him saying, “It can all be over like that.”

And so began our long distance relationship. For 4 years we flew back and forth between Amsterdam and Manhattan untill we finally got married.

How perfect and at peace the world felt while we sat on the beach under the starry nightsky in Bali. And what horror occurs in that same “perfect” world we all live in.

Yes, life is too short… Please enjoy it and please grab every single opportunity to love and cherish every single moment with your loved ones. And please, let us not hate and destroy… bring forth love always and… create.

amsterdam2 NYC2

As for knitting

I am afraid that besides finishing some sock(lette)s, I haven’t done much knitting over the past days.

First sock finished Second sock finished

Instead, I have been very much enjoying ThanksGiving with my husband’s family in New York.

Today, we drove back to Hartford and while I was enjoying the beautiful autumnal colors of the trees my husband put his hand on mine and told me how incredibly grateful he was we met in Bali. I smiled and my heart swelled!

Thanks for reading and untill next time…

Following my Heart: Part 1


Following my Heart: part I

November 16, 2007

Traveling

Yesterday I traveled to Hartford, CT to meet my husband who is there for work. While waiting in line to check my luggage, I looked around me to absorb the excitement one always finds at airports; the hustle and bustle of people hurrying to catch their flight, people being happy to leave, people being sad to leave. And as I am watching this all, my mind wanders off to that grey and dreary day in April of 2005 when I left the Netherlands.

Come with me as I start the series “Following my Heart” in which I tell you the story of my travels throughout the United States of America and how and when I became a knitter.

Spreading my wings

It was a grey and dreary day that day in April of 2005 when I left the Netherlands. As always, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was packed with travelers and I remember feeling the fast whirling energy of people on the go, nervous yet exciting arrivals and nervous yet sad departures.

Three beautiful ladies accompanied me to the airport to bid me farewell: my mom, and my two best friends Wally and Cartoon. We were giggly and giddy, not because we were happy but because we were nervous and we tried to push away our final goodbye as far as possible.

Wally with her long curly hair, petite as she was yet a grand personality, kept on looking at me with her big brown eyes and bravely tried to hide her sadness. Cartoon, who always has a naughty twinkle in her eyes, kept on holding me, resting her head on my shoulders while her long black hair tickled my cheek. And my mom, her darkbrown eyes soft and friendly smiled as she watched the three of us.

It was with pain in my heart when I decided to leave them, but there was a great joy for the reason why: to marry the man from New York City who I had met in August 2001.

When we no longer could postpone our farewell, we slowly walked to the security gate. How bravely they all pushed away their tears when I started to cry. They were strong, to make it more bearable for me. We hugged for the last time and as I walked away I looked back one more time.

All of a sudden, everything became silent, the busy sounds of the airport died down, and there was only me, Wally, Cartoon and my mom. Motionless I stood there for several seconds as if I wanted to freeze this moment in time.

My mom broke the spell by gently saying: “It’s okay, dear… you’d better go now”. I nodded… and walked away.

When my plane took off I just could not hold it together anymore and I cried so loud that the poor passenger next to me started to panic and so cutely tried to comfort me. “I am leaving my best friends and family”, I loudly sobbed as he petted my hand.

My family and friends knew I had to follow my heart. They knew that there was no other way for me. And allthough they love me dearly, and did not want to see me go, they so unselfishly accepted my departure, supported my choice and let me spread my wings.

There is no greater and no more unselfish love than that.

As for knitting

Great traveling project

Socks are perfect for traveling! While I knitted at the Pdx Airport waiting to board, I chattered away with two ladies I had befriended while waiting in the check in line. When one of them, told me she owned an Alpaca farm in Tuledo, Washington I nearly peed my pants and shouted “Really??? I am a knitter!” Needles to say, we had a lot to talk about.

My trip was long yet very pleasant because of my nice fellow travelers. I wore my textured tunic and got a lot of compliments by women! Even a guy made a nice comment. I was so proud to say: “I made it!” And smiled from ear to ear as I saw their eyes grow bigger in disbelief.

But the best compliment I got was from my husband. When I met him at his hotel, he just gasped at my tunic and gave me a big warm hug.

So now I am in a nice hotel somewhere in Hartford, CT. If you see a lady knitting away in the lobby, with a laptop on her side, come say hi. It most likely is me, Nancy from Getting Purly With It!

Hotel Lobby

Thanks again and untill the next entry!

Following my Heart: Part 2 


Nothing can stop me from knitting

November 12, 2007

Except for a power outage…

Candlelight

I was happily knitting away the other night when suddenly the power went out. Oh shoot… now what..? I guess no knitting…

Will you believe me when I tell you that I felt rather lost? I just did not know what to do with myself and after lighting some candles I just sat in my knittingroom, motionless for several minutes.

If one cannot knit, one can phantasize about it! I picked up my Chunky Rowan Cashsoft swatch, held it in my hands and closed my eyes…oh my word, it is so soft… wouldn’t it be heaven to feel this on my bare skin?

Swatch-Rowan-Cashsoft

After some more phantasizing I knew what I wanted to make with it: a fitted cropped short sleeved little top.

Inspired by the Textured Tunic I have come up with this sofar:

 

Fitted Textured Top

I simply love the color… it makes me think of a sexy yet robust red wine so I have named it “Shiraz”. And what a coincidence, the colorway I am using is also called Shiraz!

Needles to say, I had to rewrite the whole pattern. I took the base design of the Textured Tunic and added different textures to it: Seed stitch and moss stitch. I do not know yet how I am going to finish it at the bottom.

Maybe ribbing all the way down? Maybe KFB (Knit front and back) increases at the side? Have to think about it…

 

Socks!

3 Socks

Other than Shiraz, I am working on 3 different socks. From left to right you see Koigu in grey and teal colors, Claudia Handpainted Yarns in a beautiful autumnal colorway called John B and last but certainly not least Great Adirondack Silky Sock in colorway cappucino.

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Intimidated by Socks and dpns Part III

May 6, 2007

Soxies

In this third and final part of “Intimidated by socks and dpns” I am, as promised, going to touch 5 topics:

  1. Zen of picking up stitches
  2. Zen of picking up DROPPED stitches
  3. Seriously getting Geeky with it
  4. How variegated yarn behaves in stockinette stitch
  5. How the journey to get there can be more captivating than the destination itself

Should you have missed part I and II, see here:

Intimidated by socks and dpns Part I
Intimidated by socks and dpns Part II

But before I start, here is a little sneak peek of “Emanelle”:
sneakemanelle

Now let’s get started!

1. Zen of picking up stitches

At some point, you have to pick up stitches when knitting socks. These stitches are picked up alongside the heelflap:
heelflap2

The instructions of the pattern I was working with, said to slip every first stitch while working the heelflap. Why is that? Well, this is because alongside the ridge of those slipped stitches, you are going to pick up stitches later on.
Over at knittinghelp.com is an excellent video tutorial about picking up stitches in the “and more” tab of the basic techniques section.

Now picking up stitches was for me very difficult in the beginning. I would fail time and time again… but I kept on trying and finally I got the hang of it.

Just remember… with every stitch you pick up, breath in… and once the stitch is picked up, breath out… Just keep on breathing, okay, and things will be just fine.

If you get frustrated, lay down your work and walk away. Once you find the peace of mind again, go back to your knitting work, and try again. And remember… it is just picking up stitches…

2) Zen of picking up DROPPED stitches

Ever had this happen to you:
GASoxieDroppedStitches
Notice how the green strand in the back is not attached to the stitches that are hanging their heads down? Mercy mercy me, those are called dropped stitches… Now I can say to you not to panic, but I know you will. So panic for just a little bit, scream for all I care and then gently put your work down and s-l-o-w-l-y back away.

Take a deep breath, and rest assured that when you find yourself in times of dropped stitches troubles, crochet hook and a US#1 needle will come to you:
Twoheroes

Take another deep breath, and with the needle, catch the dropped stitches so that they will not drop any further down your work:
catch

In order to whip them back into the place they belong, you use the crochet hook. Put the very first stitch you are going to whip into place again, from the “rescue needle” to your crochet hook:
hook

Now remember that green strand the stitches dropped down from? Make sure that green strand is now around your crochet hook next to the stitch that needs to be whipped into place again:
heroesinaction

Next step is pull that green strand trhough the stitch next to it and you have safed your first dropped stitch! :
pullthru

Slide that safed stitch from your crochet hook onto the needle it belongs (that would be the bamboo needle on the left in the picture).Now that you have whipped that stitch into its place again, continue to do so with all the other stitches untill everybody is in place again!
in place

Remember… they are just dropped stitches. They won’t kill you. You are the boss of them and with the help of a crochet hook and a “rescue” needle you will be just fine.

4) How variegated yarn behaves in stockinette stitch

I realize that I could go on and on about this so I decided to dedicate another post to this very topic. So I think I will skip this one for now!

5) How the journey can be more captivating than the destination itself

When I started my journey with the Great Adirondack Soxie yarn I was simply thrilled. I so much loved the yarn when it was in a skein, and I so much loved the yarn when it was wound up in a ball.

GAsoxieskein

The uplifting colors from the stitches on my needle would make me knit faster and with every change of color I was in heaven. From soft pink, to fuchsia, to orangy pink, to orange to yellow and finally to go into the green, bleu and grey. I LOVED IT! It genuinly brought me joy.

The silky feel of the yarn made it truly a pleasure to work with.

GAsoxieheel3

As for the endresult or so to speak “destination”, the sock itself…eh… what can I say.
I like it. I am not loving it… I think it is okay.
soxie1

I think what I am trying to say here, is that I don’t particularly like how the colors of this variegated yarn behave in stockinette stitch… But as promised, I am going to dedicate a post just to that very topic.

And now, I am DONE talking about socks!!!


Intimidated by Socks and dpns Part II

April 26, 2007

My second Great Adirondack Soxie sock is done! Remember my first soxie?
soxie1

Here you see the Soxie pair:
Soxies

In this post I am going to touch two topics:

  1. Anatomy of a sock demystified
  2. Tip for knitting in the round with double pointed needles

In Intimidated by Socks and dpns Part III I am going to touch the following 5 topics:

  1. Zen of picking up stitches
  2. Zen of picking up DROPPED stitches
  3. Seriously getting Geeky with it
  4. How variegated yarn behaves in stockinette stitch
  5. How the journey to get there is more captivating than the destination itself

Before we start I just wanted to say that I am by no means a sock expert. I just wanted to document my own sock journey. Are you ready?

Now let’s get down to the Knitty Gritty.

1) Anatomy of a sock demystified

With these steps, I merely want to show how the sock is formed. I hope that by seeing these pictures, you will be less intimidated or even better, not intimidated at all anymore!

The pattern that I used for this sock is described in my post “How does one describe Beauty“. However, with this Great Adirondack yarn I used dpn #1.

Step 1: cast on x stitches on dpns and work in the round. If you do not know how to do this, watch the video instrcution on small diameter circulair knitting in section advanced techniques on the website knittinghelp.com.

Step2: Work back and forth on heelflap

heelflap1
Please note that on the sides of the heelflap, stitches will be picked up later on:
heelflap2

Step 3: turn heel and pick up stitches
GAsoxieheel2rs2
Step 4: Shape gusset
SoxieProgress3

Step 5: Knit in the round for several inches untill it is time to shape toe
GAsoxiecruisin

Step 6: Shape toe! Lots of decreasing.
fish

More decreasing untill there is only 8 stitches left.
eight2

Step 7: Grab those 8 stitches with a darning needle, pull slightly and stick needle in hole.
dneedle2

dneedle4

Step 8: Turn sock inside out and pull tightly. Weave in ends. (Yikes, looks like a snake)
Snake

Step 9: There you have it! Anatomy of a sock demystified!
done

2) Tips for knitting with double pointed needles

First of all, don’t get intimidated by the “many” needles you are going to work with. In my case I worked with 4 needles all together. Three needles you see on the sock:
SoxieProgress2

And a 4th needle is thrown in the mix to actually knit with.
Now FOCUS on just the two needles that you are working with, okay? Just try to pretend that those other two needles are not there. Focus on the two that you are working with!
Focus

At some point, the needles you are not working with get in the way. See how my thumb is cramped up by a “non” working needle? No fun knitting like that!
Intheway

If that happens, just gently push the needle that is cramping your flow to the back. And now you have plenty of room to focus and knit on the two “working” needles!
outtheway

Hopes this helps a bit…

See all other posts on this topic:

Intimidated by socks and double pointed needles part I
Intimidated by socks and double pointed needles part III


The Seductress

April 24, 2007

You know the type. The one with wiggling hips, pursing lips, batting eyelashes and oops you can see the black string of her bra just peeking from under her tight top … Yes, THAT type.

My first bought yarn
Ever since my husband explained to me what the word “yarn” meant, I so wanted to go to a yarnshop but our travels from Washington D.C, to Tampa and Hollywood, FL got in the way. I had to put my curiosity on hold untill we arrived in Pittsburgh, PA.

On a cold and windy day in March I set foot in a yarnshop for the very first time. The name of this yarnshop situated at Woodstreet in downtown Pittsburgh appealed to me:

“Ewe can knit”

I vividly remember the proprietress’ friendly bright eyes, her fair face adorned by an abundance of reddish curls. I felt warmly welcomed into a wondrous world of color and yarn.

As I was wandering through a cascade of colors, browsing, fondling all kinds of yarn, I nearly screamed of pure delight and was about to lose my mind when suddenly I felt tapping on my shoulder.

It was quite an impatient tapping. Somebody really demanded attention.

I turned around and there she was… wiggling her hips, pursing her lips, flirtatiously batting her eyes and I kid you not, she was showing off her black lingerie!

I gazed at her for only a brief moment and then slowly rolled my eyes towards the friendly proprietress to see if she too noticed this seductive piece of yarn.

“No, hon. The curly redhead won’t notice a thing,” I heard a raspy voice saying and I slowly rolled my eyes back to the seductress.

“It is you I am seducing. Take me. I demand it.”

What can I say? I had to obey.

MyFirstYarn

Here is how she looks knit up in garter stitch:

MyFirstYarncloseup

This HOT yarn contradictably called Polar by Filati FF in colorway 531 was a pleasure to knit with. I made my very first scarf with it! These two pictures are the only ones I could find in my archives. The scarf, knitted up in garter stitch with bamboo needles #13 was later given as a present to a very dear friend of mine.

It was the perfect first beginner’s project. Bulky yarn, big needles, instant gratification AND a good way to learn that knit stitch!

Great Adirondack Soxie Progress

I was cruisin’ along with my soxie today,

GAsoxiecruisin

when suddenly this happened:
GASoxieDroppedStitches

Oh bitter despair, I dropped them stitches!
In times of trouble, one needs heroes:

Twoheroes

See them in action:

heroesinaction

More tomorrow!


My first handknitted gift sweater…

April 24, 2007

Who does not remember their first kiss? Or their very first date? Even their very first break up for that matter…

Where ever your mind wanders off to now, hold on to that “my first” sentiment and link it to yarn and knitting.

This week’s theme will be, you might have guessed: “My First…”

My first (and only) handknitted gift sweater

A long time ago, when I was in my early twenties, my boyfriend’s mom knitted me a sweater. When she handed it to me, I politely said “thank you”, but my thoughts were condescending.

Being the smug and arrogant twenty something that I was, I looked down upon handknitting, categorized it foolishly as ‘old fashioned’ and oh ‘so not cool’. I stored the sweater in my closet and forgot about it. My boyfriend’s mom never saw me wear it.

Years later, long after her son and me had broken up, the forgotten sweater surfaced just by accident. I was amazed how well it actually looked on me! I got many many compliments whenever I wore that sweater. Still I did not appreciate it.

My First Sweater Gift

Now, a bit more mature, wiser AND a knitter, I hang my head in shame.

How I wish I could reach out to that sweet woman who knitted that beautiful sweater for me. How I wish I could say to her thank you for all the hours you put in that sweater, for choosing just the perfect color and yarn, for the time you took to sew the sleeves, front and back together.

Thank you so incredibly much for the LOVE you put in every single stitch!

However, some things from the past are better left untouched…

Great Adirondack Soxie Progress!

Uh oh … are you scared yet? Don’t worry they are just needles and so harmless, really:

SoxieProgress1

Phew, looks much less intimidating this way:

SoxieProgress2

Heel is shaped, stitches are picked up and the gusset is done:

SoxieProgress3

Soxie is scheduled to be finished tomorrow!


Sturdy Elegancy in the Counterpane Carpet Bag

April 19, 2007

Approximately one year ago, while I was figuring out how to make purl stitches, I saw a knitted bag on a Livejournal blog called“yaiAnn knits!”. With my very novice knitting eyes, I was oogling that sexy bag, drooling over it, wanting to touch it so badly.
I was shamelessly LUSTING that bag…

As much I was lusting it, I realized that I was too inexperienced to make it any time soon, so I let it go and focussed on my second scarf which I was purling all the way through.

It never let go of me though … and now, one year after I first set my eyes on that sexy bag, look what I have on my palmwood needles:

cbbookrs

The Counterpane bag, designed by Carrie Brenner and to be found in the book Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick, calls for 10 skeins of La Lana Forever Random Blend in colorway yellow brick road. Just like yaiAnn, I chose to work with Noro, Kureyon, colorway 95 instead and I am using size 10 straight palm wood needles.

The pattern is a lace scallop pattern and, at first glance, makes me think of the graceful Feather and Fan stitch. This scallop pattern, however, has a much sturdier appearance yet its elegant look stays untouched.

Sturdy Elegancy … Me like…

cbpagers

By the way, do notice how nonchalantly my Kureyon ball is seated on that piece of “cloth”. Oh yes, for the lining, we use, raw silk…

Great Adirondack Soxie progress

Of course I cannot wrap this post up without a picture of my first finished Soxie…

soxie1rs

I have been pondering on this one… there is much I want to talk about: how the variegation of the colors behave in stockinette stitch , the art of SSK, the zen of picking up stitches and finally how the journey to “get there” can be more captivating than the destination itself.

I am seriously going to get geeky on this one…but not untill the second soxie is finished!


Intimidated by Socks and double pointed needles

April 17, 2007

I would always tiptoe around socks and double pointed needles. Very quietly, tippy toeing, observing, closer and closer and then … hastily back away. Oh how those socks and double pointed needles intimidated me!

But then, there was Robert. My knight in shining fiber armor, helping a damsel in sock distress and teaching me that double pointed needles are harmless. I met Robert at a beginner’s sock class over at Close Knit, my favorite yarnshop. He chased away my fear and showed me with lots of patience and encouragement that anyone can knit socks with double pointed needles. Will you believe me that I hugged Robert when class was finished?

The turning of the heel, the shaping of the gusset and toe are no longer a mystery to me. However, I only knitted 2 pairs of socks, so more practice is needed to fully understand the anatomy of the sock. Off to Close Knit I went and bought me some of this:

GAsoxieskein

This luscious piece of skein is from Great Adirondack Soxie sock yarn in a springy colorway. It is 100% merino but so incredibly silky! Silky, Shiny and Springy… Yum. I decided to challenge myself and I am knitting up socks with needle size 1. So there you have it, this is what I have on the needles right now.

I just turned the heel:

GAsoxieheel2rs2

Although no longer mystified by the turning of the heel, I still gaze at it and ask myself who was this brilliant person who designed this? Just look at it…

GAsoxieheel3

The hardest part of knitting socks is not the heel but picking up the stitches. With such small needles I am working with right now, I have to remind myself not to hold my breath but to keep on breathing. Breath in, pick up a stitch, breath out… breath in, pick up a stitch, breath out… Untill I’ve got them all picked up and then with a proud feeling of victory, I kick up my heels and knit one round. And this is what you see, isn’t tight, crisp and neat?

GAsoxiepickup

Ha! Socks and DPNs intimidate me no more! You know why? Cuz I am Getting Purly With It!

Intimidated by Socks and double pointed needles Part II
Intimidated by socks and double pointed needles Part III


How does one describe Beauty?

April 16, 2007

She stopped me in my tracks this tiny little pansy yet grand and dramatically beautiful. She did not even whisper to get my attention, nor did she purposely radiate her beauty.

dscn7745.jpg

But I spotted her. She was well hidden amongst all the other mediocre and loud ones and I chose her to take home with me.

dramaticbeauty.jpg

The rich deep dark red with almost black streeks mesmerized me… Can you imagine how I gasped when I walked into my all time favorite yarnshop and saw this color yarn?!?

dscn7699.jpg

Be still my beating heart!

If one cannot describe beauty one has to knit it! I did not think twice, grabbed the yarn, searched for a sock pattern, got me some #2 dpns and right there and then in the yarn shop I casted on and started to knit. Within 10 days I had finished these:

dscn7690.jpg

They are my most recent finished object and my second pair of socks I have ever knitted. I simply adore them! I was so incredibly excited to knit these and I so eagerly wanted to finish that I knitted to tight in the end and I had to rip out the toe of the second sock several times and start anew. But that was okay, after all, it is part of the proces, isn’t it?

The pattern was written very very clearly, I had no problems at all following it. I did however, knitted the top of the sock 6 inch instead of 8 inch and I had plenty of yarn left. Also I knitted with #2 dpn instead of #3 dpn. I am a tight knitter, you see. It was a bit of a challenge for me to knit with #2 dp needles but as you can see, I did it!

Yarn: Jitterbug easy care merino 4ply by Colinette Yarns, colorway #116 Velvet Plum, 276 meters

Gauge: 7 stitches per inch

Pattern: Knitted Pure & Simple, beginner’s mid-weight socks #242

Needles: #2 dpn

Yarnsource: Close Knit


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