Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time for an Update

I'm sure that you are all wondering what ever happen to the socks? And what about the garden? Anything going on there?

But first I want to share my reading. I read....War and Peace! All the 1440 pages, although my e-version did of course not have any pages and without it I could have never done it because I physically could not have carried it around with me like I do my e-reader. That said it was an easy read, it really was. Again Goodreads has a great review of the book, although unlike the reviewer I did like the first epilogue, but would also skip the second one (although I did read it just to be able to say that I read all of it).

I did enjoy the book although not nearly as much as Anna Karenina. I did realise reading the book, that when I was younger and reading books like crazy, the stories where about people older than me and what the characters where experiencing was something that might happen to me in the future. Now my life is at that point where the characters will end up at the end of the book. When did that happen?

I just started Elizabeth Gilbert's the Signature of All Things and my first thought only after one page was "she has had some much fun writing this!" and then I got a link somewhere to this interview and about the first thing she says is how much she enjoyed writing it! And then I stopped watching and will watch the rest after I have read the book. 

So that is all on the book department. Moving on to the socks. 

I did manage to finish them with dozen little errors. I already started a second pair with the different set of instructions, but the heel remains a mystery for me. I do not get it how I'm suppose to pick the amount of stitches from the sides the pattern calls for, so, again, I must do something wrong. I'm thinking of unraveling these and start again with yet another instruction. I want to be able to make socks with little effort watching TV at the same time (in fact that is what I'm doing now as well which might be part of the problem). I love woolen sock and wear them all the time and everybody I know likes them too, so it would be great to be able to do these and give as gifts.
The garden has been a disaster this year, nothing wants to grow except the jerusalem artichoke, which is a pretty plant I must say with is yellow flowers. We harvested it this Sunday. With child labor so readily available it was a piece of cake. 
Now I have to cook, puree and freeze them. But I want to grow other things as well. I thing I need to replace the soil entirely to get there. Better luck next year and I'm truly greatful that my family is in no way depending on my gardening skills for food.

Linking with Yarn along

And Keep Calm Craft on

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Baby Quilts and Strawberry Pirates

The cake dilemma - do you go for a taste or the looks? My oldest son turned 5 and has been for the past six months tormented with the question: pirate cake or strawberry cake? Luckily I could find fresh strawberries and a giant marsipain strawberry and this is how I solved the dilemma:


This one was so tastey that I did not have time to take more pictures before it was eaten. I made a standard cake with this recipe: 6 eggs, weihgt them, add 0.7 x the weight of the eggs sugar, beat until very firm, gently add the same amount of flour as you added sugar. Let bake in 175 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

For the filling I let frozen strawberries and raspberries to soften in the roomtemperature just so that I could puree them and mixed with 200ml suger. I filled the cake with the berry puree and whipped cream and let it stay in the fridge for a night. Whipped cream and strawberries to decorate and done! So simple and so tasty!

In September I did a last minute decision to make a baby quilt for my friends baby. Last minute because I started on the day the baby was born. I was inspired by Rachel's Pixie Churns quilt but after making five Churn Dash blocks I had no desire or time to make more of those. So the rest of the blocks are improve blocks made around scraps that I had from the Anna Maria Horner sleep sack. The are voile and I think it might be quite nice for the little baby fingers to feel the difference of textur.



Attempt to free motion quilt. It was fun but I do need some kind of quilting table from my machine. 


Monday, November 4, 2013

From Gold to Gray

In October I spent a week in Finland visiting family. I can't remember the last time I have been there in October and I was so glad to enjoy the last faces of the autumn foliage. All the red had already fallen but the golden still stayed. Combined with the October afternoon sun it was magical. Between running after kids and spending time in shopping malls I sneak out to the forest one afternoon and tried to catch some of the magic with my not so great phone camera. The results are quite bad but after some tweaking I still want to share them. The sun was so bright but the pictures are so hazy. Finnish artist Anna Emilia has some great picture from about the same time on her blog.

On the other side of the world Ara Jane has made a beautiful blog post of October that looks like the fall here in the Netherlands. What a lovely month it is! After the cold spring I wasn't expecting it at all. I thought that we would go straight back to the grey after summer so this has been a really lovely suprise! Now if I only could be able to find the beauty in November...

When I was dragging my children to a walk in the forest my oldest asked me why I always want to go there. I told her that I'm actually a troll that went to live with humans when I was a baby. She didn't believe me. But if that had been the case I would have lived around the big stone seen in the last picture.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Space

I'm of course talking about my sewing space. Because I'm lucky that way and actually have my own table in a small attic room that I share with my husband.

For some time I have been avoiding that space. As I share it with my husband, I was conveniently blaming him for it. Like he keeps the space so messy that I don't enjoy being there and that kind of stuff (very mature, I know). After visiting a friend who just had created the same for herself - her own space - and being really exited about it I realised how lucky I am to have that space and it is up to me to make something of it. Laura's post at little and lots was also very inspirational. Celebrate what you have!

I'm a complete coward and do not have before pictures. All I can say it was messy, unorganized and ugly.

The thing most bothering me was the desk being so unattractive. Now it is covered with Anna Maria Horner's laminate and I feel so much better! I want to cover the desk with it properly but that is a bigger project since the desk is attached to the wall. This works however surprisingly well.


I also put my little precious stash on display so I can see it and enjoy it. All the unfinished projects and fabrics that I rarely use went to the storage under the roof.
My reorganised sewing space

The most surprising realisation for reorganising my creative space was that I feel more peaceful if non-sewing related administrative stuff is easily accessible. Before I had all binders tuck away on the lowest shelve and if I needed them it became an instant mess because I had to go through a pile of unfinished projects that were piled on the same shelve. It is so much better now when I can just pick up a binder, do what needs to be done, put it back and continue with the fun stuff.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Heels and Waves

I had such a grand knitting plans for the summer holidays. I brought with my knitting back planning to finish the second sock for my husband and after that start a new one for myself and maybe finish the whole pair. And then I got to the first heel and argh, frustration! It really should not be that difficult but either the description I'm following has a fault in it (I doubt that) or I just don't get it. I did managed to make a heel to the first sock but it did not go smoothly. I should try to find another explanation and see if it makes more sense to me.

As I tend to knit or read I managed to read quite a lot. I read Alex Munthe's The Story of San Michele and enjoyed it. I also read Dancing Backwards by Salley Vickers and it was nice but maybe a bit too light. Maybe everything feels light after reading only classics. What I was suppose to read was Waves by Virginia Woolf, but I just can not get through it. I read somewhere that you should read it like poetry. That would explain it since I have never really learned how to read poems. I guess I don't have the patience for it. Maybe one day I will get there. Tackle the heels and the waves.

Linking with yarn along

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quilter's Block

Lately I have been suffering a serious case of quilter's block - or maybe lack of blocks in this case? I bought these super pretty fabrics some time ago and have just been looking at them too scare to cut. Do you ever get that? I have tried to look for inspiration but I'm just getting intimidated by all the perfectness in the quilting world.


To get my self started again I signed up for Rachel's Penny Sampler online class. I have promised myself that I don't have to make the whole quilt. My goal is to learn new things and made blocks to be used later. But who knows, maybe I will end up doing the quilt after all.

.......I started writing this blog post already a week ago and can now report that it worked - I'm back to sewing and finished the first project although I did not made a pillow out of it. Or maybe we could call it a flat pillow. Or oversized potholder perhaps? The Dogwood petal shape is not quite my favourite so I decided to just practise with this project and use thrifted fabric that has been lying around for quite some time.


I do think that the fabrics go well together and it looks kind of nice...and hideous at the same time. That is always my reaction to beige and I really should keep away from it.  The sketch stitch that I used to applique is not really the right choice for this one, but since I wanted to practice it I gave it go. I kind of rushed through and I know that it shows (like the petals are not really correctly aligned) but at least I'm back in business!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Knitting and Reading

Funny how writing down things reveals a pattern. From time to time I have talked about the books I love and  now I notice that most of then have one thing in common - the story takes place in the writer's childhood environment. That is true for Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables (my favourite book ever!),  Rudyard Kipling's Kim and to my latest discovery Willa Cather and the two books I have read from her, O Pioneers! and My Ántonia. I suspect that there is something special in the way you are able to describe the surroundings where you spend your first years.

I get a serious travel fever when reading these books and after My Ántonia I have been a bit obsessed with Nebraska. Few years back I visited Jane Austins house in England and it was fun to see where she lived and how the world looked liked when she lived. Would love to make a trip like that to Willa Cather's home.

I have been reading so much the last year and that is all thanks to the e-reader I bought. It makes reading so easy. I don't like to buy books because I don't know what to do with them after I have read them and since I live in the Netherlands I can only borrow books in Dutch and I prefer reading in English. Also Dutch libraries are not free!

One other advantage of e-reder is that you can't really see how big a book is. So I read Anna Karenina (downloaded for free) by Tolstoy. If I had seen how big it is I probably would have thought that I have no time for it. It was so good! And for everyone who thinks it is only about the love story - it really isn't. There are other, in my opinion, more interesting stories and characters in the book. And then there are whole chapters about mowing. I can see how some people dislike that but I loved it and I think I will be rereading just those chapters.There is a review on goodreads that perfectly describes how I felt about this book.

Moving on to knitting. It is has been so cold here that it really feels like autumn (13 °C, 55 °F!) so I guess the best thing to do is to make a cup of tea, crawl under a blanket and knit. I started knitting socks to my husband that I promise to make him along time ago. Nothing too exiting but still fun to make.

Officially started...
Joining Yarn Along

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Lately I have been painting again and looked for knowledge and inspiration on Internet entering the scary land of art. I really enjoy the crafting community. It is so upbeat and positive and you can say what ever positive thing comes to your mind (oh! That reminds me of my grandma's scarf! I want to make that quilt!). Every encounter I have had with the art side however (and this has been outside Internet) has been much more focused on what is not cool and what is not art and all that negativity. I guess most of you are familiar with that? I have taken few painting classes in my time and I did enjoy most of them, but there where always this pressure to be on the right side of the "cool" (well, at least in my head), and very little focus on technique. 

I love to work with oil paint, but it is just not something I can do with little kids running around. Watercolours I can pick up any time and put away again in seconds. I did play with watercolours last year but that experiment was short lived. This time around I really want to focus on learning the technique. I used this tutorial for drawing the face and for the watercolour part I used this one.

I'm still working on it, but here you go. My first ever attempt to make a realistic watercolour portrait.


I already destroyed the paper around the mouth. It has been really fun to make, feels like making a puzzle. Now I just have to find the courage to continue. My goal is not necessarily to become a portrait painter, but I want to learn the techniques to do what ever I wish. When I was googleing for instructions I found this incredible Italian artist called Agnes Cecile working with watercolour. Her paintings are amazing but oh so sad!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Strings Attached


I'm participating in Rachel's Festival of Strings with the above quilt. This little quilt was so much fun to make! I received a suprise package of little string-scraps from Ms Minnado, mostly Liberty of London, and I love Liberty of London. There is something about the little floral prints that I adore. I had some free time and started to play with them. We all know the little voices in our head that tells stupid negative things, right? Well this time had compeletly different voices along the way. I head MelissaP telling me to play and let the fabric talk, Rachel incouraging me that quilting is allowed to be also easy, quick and fun and also giving a nice deadline with her Festival of Strings.
The fabric for the back I got from Muriël during our Double Dutch meeting. It was her ugly fabric for a swap. I like it and I like it even more with the brown quilting. I made the binding by turning the back fabric edges to the front. That is actually how I thought that the binding is always done when I started quilting. I think I will use that method more often, it is less hassle to make and like it how the back is peeking on the front. 

The quilt is hanging above my sewing table. It has no other purpose than brighten up my day and it really does make me smile everytime I see it. Big thanks to Muriël and Minnado for the fabrics, I adore them! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sunny Baby Quilt

The quilt is sunny but the weather here is not! Dutch summers where cancelled few years ago and now it looks like that we  lost the spring as well...
This baby quilt is finished and sent to the tiny sweet little girl it was made for. What a journey! It all started with a simple sketch and this is what became of it. I knew that it is much harder than you would think to give a random feel to a quilt top made of little pieces, but the orange made it even harder being such dark colour. Especially in the pictures it really pops up from the rest. I'm not sure I like it and if I would do this again I think pink would have been maybe a better choice. Or more soft yellowish orange.

I tried to mixed it up a bit by leaving in an irregularity that first was a mistake, and that one I like. What it comes to the two orange rows next to each other I can't remember was that intended or did I not notice? I'm not too thrilled about it, but I paid attention to it only when I had already sandwiched the quilt, so I left it. It can very well be that at one point I thought it to be a brilliant idea. 


The gingham fabric is a table cloth. It is 100 percent cotton but very different from quilting weight cotton and even though I did prewash it, it still made the quilt extra wrinkly. I think that is OK though. The binding was again a total nightmare. I tried to rush through it which was of course a mistake. Next time I really should see it as a mindfulness exercise and slowly work through it with help of some instructions videos or something.


My favourite part of the quilt is the quilting. I really like how it looks and adds texture to the quilt. It was also fast and easy to make. 

All troubles aside it felt very special to make this quilt to a baby whos mother I have known whole her life and most of mine. All the memories and thoughts of past present and future stitched into it. Quilting as it's best!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Books that I can Smell


My favourite childrens books are written and illustrated by Swedish writer Elsa Beskow. The nature that she illustrates is the same I grew up with. I know exactly how everthing in her books feels and smells, even taste like. I also love the idea of all the plants being little persons winking and waving at me when I pass by them.


So much memories come up when I look through these. I can remember walking in the lake among the yellow water-lilies when I was a child. Pure magic. 


Green and red goosberries!

This is my favourite picture. I can feel the exitment of playing by the brook when the snow has finally smelted. Good times! 

I really wanted my children to love these books as much as I do and almost spoiled the whole thing by starting to read these to them too early. They live in a very different kind of environment than I did (no forrest!). That makes me sometimes sad even though I know it is just different and they will have their own memories. Yesterday however they both wanted to read one of Beskow's books as a bedtime story, what a relief! 


The beautiful bag in the picture is what I got in our Double Dutch swap. I asked something to carry my knitting projects in. Betty van Os made this amazing bag for me. I could have never made something like this myself, thank you Betty! Now I just have to fill it with some projects.

Joining again with Yarn Along

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Knitting and Reading

Knitting and reading
I have been following Plain and Joyful Living for a long time (I mention it here). One of my favourite features is knitting and reading taking part in Yarn Along hosted by Ginny. Even though I'm not very familiar with Ginny's blog I decided to join the fun today and take a better look at her blog. She has some really nice tutorials there!

Most of my knitting and reading happens in the evening so on the right you see a bad but truthful picture. Actually for me it seems to be one or the other. When I'm working on a knitting project I don't read and when I'm reading I don't knit. In that way they seem to be connected that I do them on the same time slot and state of mind.

At the moment I'm reading O Pioneers! by Willa Cather and really enjoying it. The time period is my favourite era and the background story of Swedish immigrants in America fascinating.

What it comes to knitting I tried to crochet something with the lovely merino wool shown on the picture, but since crocheting is not really working for me, I decided that I will knit some baby socks instead. But first I have to finish my book!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Makeup Roll... and some bloglovin

Oh Google, why did you have to leave me. As you probably know they will shut down google reader. Luckily there are a lot of other providers and I decided to move my bloglist to Bloglovin. You can Follow my blog with Bloglovin and of course with all the other providers. I just had to add the link to claim my blog.

Moving on to something more interesting. We had our second Double Dutch quilt group get-together, this time with a mystery swap! I have never taken part in any swap thinking that I would get way too stressed out and insecure about my sewing skills. But this time it was a lot of fun and it did of course help that I knew the person I was making the suprise for.

Eva-Marie from zusjeb wanted something she can use. I have been so happy with my Makeup roll and use it almost everyday, so that was an easy choice. You can buy Rachel's pattern here. I think (hope) Eva-Marie liked it. (I don't get paid for linking to the pattern, I just love my makeup roll!)

The inside upside down

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Lately I have been knitting and I hereby present you with a child like enthusiasm (look what I made!) my new wrist warmers and my new cowl:


Here you can find the pattern for the wrist warmers and here for the cowl (on the website of the honey cowl you see a picture of the longer version, I made the shorter one).

The wrist warmers are made of Lana Gorssa MEILENWEIT sock yarn. I love the colour but I'm not too crazy about the yarn itself. They where fun to make, kind of meditative since I really had to concentrate. Every time my mind started to wander I made a mistake. No watching TV while knitting these!

The cowl is made of cotton. I really like the texture of the honeycomb stitch and I was able to work on it without too much thinking. I stopped half away and made my own version of the cowl by adding two buttons. I love the combination of yellow and turquoise, a new discovery for me!

Before these master pieces there where two serious failures. The pink cowl was my first attempt of making the honey cowl. Does not quite look the same, does it? I somehow misunderstood the directions and started adding stitches. When I noticed my mistake I just tried to make something of it to only discover half way that I had managed to twist the whole thing.

This poor sock will never get a pair. I really liked knitting lace but combining it with making a sock with heels and such was a bit too much for me. I decided to forget about the sock and made something else instead, hence the wrist warmers.

Bad picture of a sock gone bad...

Friday, February 15, 2013


UntitledI turned 34 this month. On my birthday we went to Rotterdam and after visit to (the playground) of Maritiem Museum we had coffee at the Bijenkorf, a fancy Dutch department store. I do have a thing for fancy department stores, they remind me of my grandmother. There was however another reason to go there - Jean Paul Gaultier was celebrating the opening of his exhibition in Kunsthal by signing books there. I read about it a day before in a Dutch textile blog that usually talks about embroidery and history of textile, and since we were anyhow going to Rotterdam I thought why not. I did not stand in line to get a book signed but I did get a glance of him. It was fun.

On Tuesday I headed back to Rotterdam to see the exhibition. I do not follow fashion or read fashion magazines, but Jean-Paul Gaultier is one designer who definitely has influenced me. I was eleven when Madonna had the Blond Ambition tour and I think I still could dance the Vogue. Jean Paul Gaultier was of course the designer who designed those corsets. The movie Fifth Element  is one of my favourites, I think it is just entertaining. Jean Paul designed the costumes for it.


I notice that lot of the audience were women that would have been my age around the time of the Blond Ambition tour. I'm very curious about what their connection to Jean Paul is. Do they just follow fashion and art in general, or do they also have memories from the back in the day? And in 20 years, is there anything that would stick with me from this time? I have really hard time to think of anything, I have no particular interest to any of the popstars and celebrities that are IT now.


Some of the work reminded me of what I have seen in blogs and got me thinking what a revolution this is. In 1989 Madonna sent Jean Paul a letter describing what she wanted. In the 1990 we only could get our inspiration from TV and magazines and only from people who got their work on TV and magazines. Now everybody can express themselves and share it with the rest. How amazing and wonderful! So maybe I don't know the latest hits but I do follow the grassroots and love it.