Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A weekend of stroopwafels and canals

This weekend Mr Josiekitten and I went to Amsterdam. We flew from Norwich, our local airport, and landed half an hour after take-off! Not worth trying to take knitting on board for such a short flight! Everything went really smoothly - those of you who have been to Schipol airport will know that sometimes you can spend ages taxi-ing around until the plane finally comes to a stop. We only taxied for about 3 minutes! Straight through passport control, luggage some of the first to appear, quick train to Amsterdam Central station, and so within 2 hours of leaving the UK, we were out and about in Amsterdam, finding a rather nice Italian restaurant to have dinner. And the restaurant we ended up in had an extremely friendly resident ginger cat, who was rather partial to cheese, steak, ham, pizza ............ and made himself at home on my lap!
I didn't let a stinking cold spoil the weekend, and as usual, we managed to pack in a fair bit! First thing on Saturday morning we visited the Noordermarkt. It's a fabulous market, packed with stalls selling flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, bread and cheese. We bought some loaves of bread and some raisin and nut rolls to bring back home with us.

After stocking up on Stroopwafels to take back to work, we called in at the local yarn store, De Afstap.The shop stocks lots of Rowan yarn, and also Regia sock yarn. I bought myself a couple of balls of the new Kaffe Fassett Regia sock yarn, and also treated myself to a skein of Rowan Colourscape Chunky, and four balls of Rowan Cocoon. I paid a bit more for these than I would have done back home, but the yarns came with free patterns, so I managed to save quite a bit that way! The Colourscape Chunky is gorgeous. A little bit Noro-esque, with beautiful colours, you can definitely see Kaffe Fassett's influence here. Both of the Rowan yarns are destined to become scarves. In my view, a woman just can't have too many!

We then caught the train to Leiden, and spent the afternoon browsing round this University city. It's a smaller version of Amsterdam, with beautiful houses on the canals.

I managed to fit in another yarn store, after a bit of forward planning with the Dutch Knitters at the I Knit day in September. Ribbels is located in the centre of the city, amongst lots of interesting side streets (luckily for me, so Mr Josiekitten could wander while I browsed!) The shop is incredible - all the yarn is arranged by colour, so the impact is tremendous when you first go in. However, I didn't find it very helpful for quick browsing. I bought some Lang Mille Colori yarn (another scarf beckoning!), but would have needed a lot longer there to really get to grips with all the yarn! Mr Josiekitten is extremely tolerant of my woolly obsessions, but even he has his limits!!!

We wandered round another market and ate freshly made stroopwafels (YUM!), and also visited the Hortus Botanicus there, wandering around the beautiful gardens in the afternoon sunshine.

We went out to dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Seasons, and had a delicious meal. I had a Dutch speciality called Stampot - potatoes and leeks with smoked sausage. It was very tasty, and definitely something to try and make back home.

On Sunday we went to a concert at the Concertgebouw, and heard Dvorak's cello concerto and Smetana's Ma Vlast. Wonderful! After lunch we visited Rembrandt's house, and luckily our visit coincided with a very good demonstation on how etchings are made. We wandered along various canals, stopping off for drinks and a spot of people watching at various points,before ending up at the Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht for a bite to eat before our journey back home.

We had a great weekend. Can't wait to go back again next year!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Autumn Show - huh!

Mr Josiekitten and I entered the local horticultural society Autumn show today, with mixed results. Mr JK triumphed with two 1sts for his spuds and beetroot! I was not so successful however with the 'handicrafts' section. I entered my Noro Silk Garden Wavy Scarf and was placed 3rd........................ out of 3 entries! The 1st and 2nd places were given to two baby cardigans, both plain stocking stitch, in what looked and felt suspiciously like acrylic! I shall try again next year, and my motto will be 'She who expects nothing is rarely disappointed!'

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Knitting and Rock 'n' Roll

We decided yesterday on the spur of the moment to go to an outdoor festival. It was run by Breckland council to celebrate the handover of the Olympics, and the headline acts were Showaddywaddy, Hot Chocolate and Suzi Quatro! Mr Josiekitten is a relic of the 70's! Resisting the temptation to pack up a 70's style picnic (luncheon meat sandwiches on white cotton wool bread, Mr Kipling battenburg and French Fondant Fancies, and Corona lemonade), we got there in plenty of time to get ourselves a good view of the stage. The crowds arrived and the ground filled up, although we noticed that there was plenty of space by me! Why? Well, dear reader, I have discovered the perfect solution to getting enough personal space at an event such as this. Sit there and knit! I was knitting my pink Wavy scarf, and it seems that no-one wanted to sit close to the mad woman with the knitting needles, just in case anyone else thought they were with said knitter and knew them! All around crowds were packed together, as can be seen from the picture.However, notice the rather large expanse of empty grass by me!

I must try out this tactic when I go to the beach! The concert was great, although some of the performers were a little past their best! We drove home with our ears ringing, belting out Can the Can! I can't believe Suzi Q is 58! What a woman. I hope I look as good as she does when I get to that age. Rock on Suzi!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Summer's almost over!

I can't believe how quickly the nights are drawing in. There is a distinctly autumnal feel in the air. I'm still in my sandals, but I think that the pull of snuggly socks will be too great before too long! When the sun was shining recently, I did take these photos in the garden, and I'm really proud of them! So I am blogging them , even tho' they have nothing at all to do with knitting!

I just happened to catch that bee on the lavender. It's in a bed along with a mass of cat mint (fairly well squashed and laid upon by the two resident cats), and so it's a haven for bees. We also grew some sunflowers, but the best ones were those that the birds 'planted' when they dropped the sunflower seeds we have in the bird feeder! The fuschias have been magnificent this year, with such vibrant colours. And the dahlia isn't from my garden, but from Salle Park, a garden we visited a couple of weekends ago. I love dahlias because they remind me of my dad. He always grew them, and at one time had more than 100 different varieties growing. What an earwig paradise!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

I Knit Day 2008

Where to begin...........? It was an early start yesterday morning. I had to catch the 7:17am train from my local station to get a connection to London, in order to be at the Royal Horticultural Halls for the 11 o'clock start. I was all ready for my adventure. Map, tickets, sandwiches (made by Mr Josiekitten) and clean handkerchief, a large bag and, of course, plenty of money! I knitted on the train. My neighbour, after watching intently for sometime, finally asked me what I was knitting. "A sock!" I said, showing her. "That looks hard," said she. So then followed a brief lesson in sock knitting. I'm not sure quite at what point I lost her, but she didn't speak to me for the rest of the journey!

At St James's Park tube station, I quickly spotted fellow knitters, clutching maps and wearing their woolly 'showing -off my bestest knitting' garments. We headed towards the Horticultural Halls. It was very easy to know you were in the right place - a long queue with plenty of people (mainly women, it has to be said), many of them knitting. It made me smile, although I wondered what passers by would have made of it all! Before long, I was inside the hall. What an amazing sight! Imagine a sweet shop for knitters, with every kind of delicious squishable delight possible. It was hard to know quite where to go first!

I went to the Natural Dye Studio stall. They had their beautiful blankets as the backdrop. (Note to self - think about joining Bessie's blanket club.) There were baskets overspilling with Amanda's beautiful yarns. So of course, I succumbed!

I bought 2 skeins - (top) BFL Dazzle sock yarn in Camelia, and Angel - a baby alpaca, cashmere and silk mix. A pair of socks in this will make me feel like I'm floating! With my first purchase under my belt, it became much easier!

I spent far too much money buying yarn - but justified it because I was buying not only for myself, but also for my good knitting pal, Snoopydog, who wasn't able to go! So it quickly became 'one for me, one for Snoops', as the squishy packages got stuffed into my (luckily cavernous) bag! So here goes with my complete woolly splurge:

They are (from left to right), 2 skeins of Easy Knits bamboo mix, in Luau and Crystal Berry, 2 skeins of Misti Alpaca, in Maple Gray and Marino, 4 skeins of Indie Dyer Merino in As If and Treasure Trove, and 1 skein each of Madeline Tosh hand dyed merino in Chartres and Fyberspates sock yarn (not sure of exact sort or colourway, as no label!) Snoopydog and I will have fun deciding who is having what! I also had a bit of an impulse buy, and got myself a drop spindle, and some gorgeous merino roving from Moonspinning. Of course, I realised afterwards that I should have bought myself some much cheaper, undyed stuff to start off with, but the colours swayed me! And the name - summer sunset. I'm such a pushover! So I will have to put it to one side and practise before I let myself loose on this. In my mind I can see a pair of socks, in pinks, blues and purples. Maybe I will have a different view once I've been on the spinning day at my LYS! Watch this space! I also bought the latest edition of Interweave Knits. It's the first one I've seen, and I like it - a lot! A couple of little extras were the Keychain Sock Blocker Sock kits. I had to buy two, or I thought that Snoopydog might throw a hissy fit! Lol.

I also saw the Yarn Harlot. She was as entertaining as her blog is, and oh how true her words were! Afterwards, I joined the queue to get one of her books signed. The queue moved quite slowly, as she chatted with everyone! My turn finally came, and as well as having my photo taken with my first socks (I will have to check her blog to see if I appear!), I gave her my sock (I'd been knitting it in the queue!) for a photo, and she knitted some while I was taking the photo. How cool is that?!! I was grinning like an idiot for ages afterwards, thinking to myself, 'the Yarn Harlot has knitted a bit of my sock'!!!

Everywhere you looked, there were people knitting. There was wool of every colour imaginable.

I kept my eyes peeled for friends from the Angel Yarns knitting forum, but only managed to say hello to Susan Crowe, who looked fabulous in her purple top!
I saw the world's biggest knitting needles, saw the contents of a knitted house, chatted with the Dutch Knitters (and ate yummy stroopwaffles!) and found out about yarn shops in the Netherlands for our trip to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks, admired many beautiful hand-knitted garments worn by fellow I Knitters, smiled at the knitted Aliens and had a thoroughly enjoyable day!

Can't wait for next year!