The Bright Side

The Bright Side

What a week it has been. From being without internet for days to the weather making the Dutch holiday “Konings Dag” (Kings Day) a weary and wet event and not to mention I locked myself out of our apartment…again… I think its time to curl up with a cup of tea and knit away.

IMG_20160428_215841Boschebollen in the spirit of Konings Dag! Look at that orange chocolate!

Alex and I have two beautiful, cuddly and immensely curious cats. I love them dearly and they are my house companions but as a knitter, I’m constantly  on the battle of keeping them from laying all over my projects! Their favorite spot as of late is to sleep in my basket I keep my current projects in. While it is adorable and I’m sure it is quite comfortable, they shed horribly all over my WIPs. Solution? Remake the basket into a smaller basket with a lid. Sorry kittyfurs, I’m sure you’ll find another favorite spot to sleep in!

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Whilst binging YouTube videos earlier, I learned a new technique! A lot of my knitting and crochet projects are done with acrylic yarns. I use acrylic for a multitude of reasons. The colors range is wide and vibrant, its durable and can be washed  and lasts for ages. It holds its shape well and the colors never fade, but acrylic yarn does have its drawbacks too. You can’t simply put it in a wool wash and pin it flat and leave it to dry and call it a day. Soon after you unpin it from drying the edges will begin to curl and the piece will go back to its original shape before you blocked it, defeating the whole purpose of blocking. All any knitter wants is a nice finished project that lays how its supposed to lay and drapes how it is meant to drape.

Steam blocking is the solution to all your acrylic yarn problems. Its a permanent solution and with careful manipulation of your project, you can bend the acrylic fiber to your will and have a nice finished look and a project that looks just how you want it. So off I went to dust off the iron that has been sitting in a bag taking up space in our closet for…longer than I’d like to admit. I don’t iron clothes…Ever. For those of you gasping “But what about the wrinkles?!”, where’s your sense of adventure? Adds character.

So I’ve dusted off my iron, grabbed an acrylic swatch that was all sorts of mangled from being stuffed in a box for reference at later times, and gave it a shot. It was like magic. A few puffs of steam and the fabric swatch just seemed to let out a big sigh. All the stitches relaxed and made the fabric very drapey, the corners laid flat, it looked like a perfect rectangle instead of the previously indistinguishable shape.  Best of all, what truly blew me away was how SOFT the fabric became after a 3 minute steam blocking. Acrylics are not known to be the softest yarn but after some steam I just want to snuggle with this tiny swatch.

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Excited by the results of my test swatch, I immediately went to my yarn cabinet and dug out a table center piece I crocheted months ago but the way the edges curled up drove me bonkers so I tucked it away in a shelf in project time out until I figured out a way to fix it. I laid it out on a tea towel and steamed away, pinching and smoothing and making it the shape it was supposed to be. Now it sits proudly on the coffee table in its glorious state of flatness. I really should have taken a before photo to show the true magic of the before and after but I was maybe a pinch skeptical and it didn’t come to mind in the spur of the moment experiment. If you’d like to see the video I watched, here’s a link! Steam Blocking Acrylic Yarn

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Now that I’ve shared my excitement on a new technique, a certain lazy hiker shawl is almost done and requesting my attention to finish it up!

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Until next time dearies.

-Wol Harpy

 

 

 

 

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Rooted

Rooted

Spring in The Netherlands is a fickle and wet season. If you’re lucky though, there are peaks of sunshine to go out and get some fresh air and what better way to do so than by bike! Having grown up in rural areas and usually always by water, living in the downtown of a busy city is quite a change. I love this country and it’s bustling streets, historic buildings, charming canals and bikes as far as the eye can see, but it’s always nice to find peaceful and secluded areas to touch back to familiarity. Places where you can center yourself and feel at ease.

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The “Lazy Hiker” shawl is well underway. I was originally going carry on throughout the whole piece with cream and the denim blue variegated colors but I reached the roman striping and it just needed…a touch of excitement. So in goes some hot pink and it instantly comes to life! I’m really happy with how this piece is going and I’m excited for it to be finished so it can be worn.

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     Also, startitus (a wave of uncontrollable desire to start a new project) washed over me and I have cast on and got through a cable repeat on a sweater for Alex. I realized a little too late I was reading the cable chart upside down so my cables will be in the incorrect order, but that adds charm! And personality! (I’m really just too lazy to tink back 8 rows to correct it). I think I’ll blame the sudden bout of startitus on Ravelry for having such a large collection of patterns instantly available. My library is well on its way to 500 different patterns…I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be running out of project ideas in my lifetime!

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     I ventured out of my comfort zone this week and went to a local knitting café. My Dutch is not exactly the best but I get around and if all else fails me, most people here understand English very well. Sometimes, since a large part of the population here speaks English, I feel a bit hindered at learning the Dutch language. Most people hear my accent and immediately speak English with me. It’s a blessing and a curse depending on the day but I digress.
     I was looking around online for a yarn shop to go and scope out and I happened across Breigaren-Den Bosch. It’s a cozy little yarn shop not far from my home (that could be dangerous…my stash always wants for more) and on Thursday evenings you can go there and drink coffee or tea and talk about what brings us all together, love for knitting and crochet. I met many friendly people there, got a little practice speaking Dutch, learned a few new tips on knitting and had an all around lovely time. It was a wonderful atmosphere (“Gezellig” as the Dutch say) and needless to say I’ll be going again fully armed to finally learn sock knitting (Thanks Ilse!).
    
     When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Until next time dears,
     – Wol Harpy

Catching Up

Catching Up

After an unexpected move to a new city and all of the challenges that came with it, I’m happy to say that I’m back and ready to get started again! Moving is always such a process. Packing, moving, unpacking, settling. Familiarizing yourself in new territory. I’ll share some of the beautiful areas of ‘s-Hertogenbosch along with some of the things we’ve been up to the last months.

IMG_20151227_143953-Sint Jan Cathedral in downtown s’Hertogenbosch

 

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hdr-New additions to our family! We adopted these beautiful ladies in late December. They’re young sisters named Padmè (left) and Sabè (right).

 

IMG_20160222_201149-Golf cap I crocheted for Alex.

 

Aviary Photo_131050213633513838-Yet another Rip-Tide slouch hat in blue/green/cream colorways. One of my absolute favorite hat patterns!

 

As first order of business, it’s time to sort and organize the mess that is my yarn cabinet. The dreaded process of going through projects that are cast on, figuring out what they were intended to be, ripping out projects that got lost along the way. The payoff being starting projects anew with recent inspiration. Spring has sprung and its time for color and light textured fabrics and I have a list a mile long (what else is new) of project ideas that I want to bring to life!

IMG_20160413_140234-Oooooh boy…What a mess!

 

IMG_20160413_140018-“Lazy Hiker” shawl I cast on before we moved. It’s going to get finished! Will be perfect for spring weather!

 

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Now that I’ve given myself a direction, its time for coffee and knitting. Feels so good to be back. Thank you for stopping by  lovelies! Hear more from me soon!

-Wol Harpy