Friday, December 14, 2007

Met zweepslag naar Parijs

I had so much fun yesterday. Was on a day-trip by bus to Paris.

At the time I ran across the advertisement for this trip, I didn't have any health issues. I asked two friends which I'm close with locally but neither could join. And didn't think this would be something for my 5-year old. Or my husband either. So I just signed up myself. After all, this was to be my third visit to this city so I knew my way around a bit. And with the guide book and street plan, should be a blast!

And it was a blast even though I managed to tear my muscle (first I heard a sound of the whip and then realized I can not step on my left leg any more, so indeed a hit of a whip, locally known as zweepslag). I still payed for the trip and hoped for the best. Now, I've never heard of this injury before, but it turns out recovery time is quite long. Which makes it extremely difficult since life goes on around and doesn't stop for my leg to get better. So, I spent the most difficult first days on the couch, then started by taking and bringing back my son from school. It felt ridiculous, since I couldn't walk normally and then only in high heels. I didn't wear those in a few years now, good I didn't get rid of them yet. Never thought they might be even handy. I couldn't bike either so had to use the car for this 2min trips to school. Oh well, if others who don't have any medical excuses can do it, why not me for these three weeks?

I feel bad most about having to abandon my tennis practice (I sustained the injury in the last 5 minutes of the game). And that I can not sit behind the computer! I feel the pain in the leg even now. So, for the last three weeks I have been mostly parked on the couch, with knitting and crochet. And managed to finish John Stocking. And lots of snowflakes which are waiting to be stiffened and hung up.

And so, the day of the Paris trip arrived. I prepared knitting and reading material in case I would need to sit down and rest the leg. None of it was necessary in the end. I managed to do what I always do on vacations in cities: explore all day long till I drop. I dropped in the end once I had to walk from the car to the house and bed, but managed those last few steps, luckily.

Day started at 3am when the bus departed from neighbouring village. We arrived in Paris at 9am and I started my tour by first paying a visit to Brentano's. I was disappointed in the extent of craft book offer. Not much interesting when it comes to knitting and crochet books and priced (in my opinion) high so I ended empty handed. There have been on the shelf also Interweave Crochet and BHG Knitting magazine. I have the first and didn't like any projects in the second. There were loads of quilting books but the few I have are more than enough at the moment. There have been lots of japanese crafts books, but again, none that I liked. So I walked out with a nice compact street register in search of other interesting spots.

One of the turned out to be La Droquerie. But with a few days before Christmas, it was a zoo. And with my limited knowledge of yarn and non-existent french I didn't dare to buy any since they sell only their own yarn. So, next stop was Le Bon Marche. Now, that was a nice surprise. This is a very high end department store with extremely nice merchandise. So, I did some "window shopping" to end in the extremely nice craft section. There was Noro, Debbie Bliss, Rowan and some other yarn by manufacturers unknown to me. I had hard time separating from Debbie Bliss silk yarn but just didn't like any of the colors available (pink, light green, light yellow). So, a final pet and on to the overcrowded Galeries Lafayette. Yarn section here was small and represented only by Phildar yarn. All of these yarn stores have nice selection of needles, buttons, ribbons and the department stores also carry needlepoint supplies. All books are in french, even the nice Noro yarn kits. Had to give it all a miss.

So, for the last I managed to visit the british W.H. Smith store. That was a nice surprise. Book selection was even smaller than Brentano's (no japanese books) but managed to find two knitting/crochet and one quilt magazines that I liked.

And that was the only score of the Christmas shopping trip to Paris. And a nice fish in one of the pricey bistro's accompanied with a glass of wine and irish coffee. Had to sit a bit for all that alcohol to work through the system before I could attempt those dangerous looking stairs to the toilet! It was a sunny but cold day so a bit of warming up from inside was more than necessary!

Feet are still a bit swollen but the leg is mostly OK so am going to try to bike tomorrow. Without high heels, of course!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I've hit a major slump. And have totally stopped with all of my crafting projects for almost a day now. But since I just had one blond moment this gives me enough energy to start again.

First, vacation (oh, so long time ago) was perfect in hindsight. Out of six weeks maybe just a day without the sun. And that was important in the end, we didn't get to see much of that stellar body once we got back home.

My nephew came back with us, for a two weeks visit. And what is a favorite pastime of 13 old boys visiting their aunt? Roller coasters! We managed to hit three major parks in the area, this helped to double the number of times I ever sat in a roller coaster. Never my favorite, but have to admit, in the end I did have a good time. But am not asking for more unlike my 5-year old. He was at the time 121 cm high which qualified him for almost all rides. And we skipped only one, Python in Efteling. I thought no safety harness on that ride would keep him in the seat.

And then I tried to recover from it all. Bring house in order, establish routines and get a hang of my projects. Didn't do much during vacation, finished only the back of Schachenmayr micro fino pulli. But it is progressing nicely, eventually I should complete it. Did complete this monkey, gift for a baby, think it turned out cute. Did finish also a scarf and a girls purse, still didn't take photos! Will have to do it soon.
And now to the slump. Approx two months ago I've signed up for patchwork class. And, ambitious me, didn't select beginners class (none available anyway) but for a free-cutting method. It was a lot of fun getting drawn into this new world which I managed so far to admire just from the distance. But, this weekend it finally hit me. My project is turning out quite ambitious and I have spent now almost three days figuring one major point in my design. I believe I'm close to resolution on this big stumbling block, but the energy is not quite back yet.
There is one more project which led me to slump, Berroco's John Stocking. I'm at the foot, was happily going for it and then realized it is just getting way to long. I don't know of any Santa's with such disproportionate foot, so I went back and looked at the photo. And, sure enough I've added extra rows. And, how did that happen, might you ask. In its ultimate wisdom, all lines of different parts of the stocking are mashed into just one or maybe two paragraphs. And, once I read to repeat a section called "Next row", I did just that. Not suspecting that next row actually consists of just that, next row and not all instructions bunched up after it. So, the stocking will still be done before Christmas, but I could have done without all this frogging.
And the blond moment. A few weeks back I visited Veritas store in Lommel, Belgium, recently opened. I own a few of their pattern magazines, but yarn description is not contained in it. So, I bought some yarn and was sitting last few days trying to figure out the composition, gages and needle sizes based on this purchase. Only to realize today, after visiting, that is the yarn used in most of the projects. Now, why is it so difficult to publish this in either the magazine or on the web. It's just one more of the things I'm labeling as customer friendliness on this continent.
And now, back to the patchwork and later to the stocking as well!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two more complete

Yes, I finished two more projects and am now ready for vacation. Not, of course, from crochet or knitting, but a change of scenery will do me good. So, one more day of packing and we are gone. That is my son and myself. My husband will follow two weeks later.

Oh, it is difficult to wait to leave this terrible weather, windy, wet and colder than 20 celsius. I did wash all jackets so now we are reduced to wearing rain gear as protection from the wind.

So, the first finished project is crocheted giraffe. I didn't know it will turn out that big (115 cm long) but it does look appropriate as a companion to our almost a year old niece. This is her birthday present, her parents like it, I hope she does as well. Of course, it didn't go smooth, the connecting piece turned out to short so I had to extend it and stretch a bit to make it all fit. And I did make the horns but they just didn't fit nicely so I didn't attach them.

The other which I'm proud of is gloves. Pattern name is Progressive Gloves. This was my first knitting project with double pointed needles. I thought I'll just make mittens, but as I progressed I realized I prefer gloves. And so it was. I like the yarn (Schachenmayr Universa Color) and bought it as soon as I noticed snowflakes on the label. I made small adjustment to the pattern by adding two extra stitches for the little finger. And I also did three rows of decreases on the thumb to exactly match mine. And now just to wait for the winter to test the warmth! And it seems I'll not have to wait long, my fingers are getting cold as I'm typing right now!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My latest works

Of course, between various activities I managed to find time to knit and crochet. Most of these projects are small but various in complexity.
This is "Purple Pleasure" from "Crochet Kerchiefs" by Kely Robinson. Fun to make and fun to wear. It was perfect accessorie for my long hair during those hot days in Australia and Singapore. I just couldn't make it purple, thought beige is more coordinate friendly color.

On "Gerbera Doily" from Crochet Home and Holiday magazine of July 2001 I worked for of and on for almost a year. But like the pattern, might soon start on another colorful crochet project.

''Swirls Doily" (as I call it, made to a torn out schematics page) was also fun but the edge just didn't work out for me. I had to fudge it a bit to make it work.

"Chunky Monkey Scarf" from "Not your mama's crochet" by Amy Swenson is an easy pattern but with both meaning to the words easy. I constantly had to recount and ripple a few times since I kept making shells in the wrong spaces. But using three strands of yarn together made for a nice colored result. Nice option to the variegated yarn in my opinion.

"Cable Scarf" was my first cabled knit and amazing fun. Am definitely going to pursue this technique further. I had to frog on this a bit since I was not paying attention to the edges and they would end up being just knit instead of ribbed. I also forgot to rib the start of the scarf so had to match the end as well. Gave it to my brother in law as a birthday present but heard from him that it was appropriated by one of his 5-yr old sons. Yes, it is also warm and cuddly and am glad it has found such a nice home.

"Getting Dizzy Scarf" from "Not your mama's crochet" by Amy Swenson turned out a bit exotic due to the fuzzy yarn I applied on the outer edge. Am not sure if it will get mucht wear due to that fact.

"Crocodile Hat" from Impact Moda "32 Fabulous Colourwork Knits for Kids 4-10 years" was my first venture into multiple colored knits. Instructions suggested to knit in one color and later stitch the crocodile but I definitely didn't fill like it. Knitting with two colors to the schematics was a lot more fun (even thought I made that beginner mistake of wrongly wrapping the yarn at color changes resulting in a big gaping hole). And my son has happly worn it to school while the weather permitted. Now that I've bought him a store made fleece with an emblem of Spiderman, I'm afraid crocodiles will spend a lot of time in the drawer. Oh, well, maybe will feel sorry for his mama and use both interchangeably!

And the last one is "Jilly Scarf" which I made just with fuzzy yarn. I like wearing it, it doesn't itch and is not warm at all. Maybe I've made it just a tad too long (205cm, 81") but that didn't present any major issues so far.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Family day(s)

Family day was the name of my husband's company picnic which took place last Saturday. We arrived there for lunch (cold but big) and after a short program I went to learn how to arrange flowers while my husband stayed with our son.

I expected I will be arranging flowers in a vase or on a foam piece but in the end it turned out to be a lot nicer. We arranged eucalyptus leaves on a styrofoam board, attached them with pins and placed everything into a metal frame. I didn't like the part of instructions of leaving the heads of the pins visible. Instead, I covered pins by laying subsequent leaves over them. I'm quite happy with the result, hope it is visible on the photo. We also did the foam arrangement which turned out quite nice as well since foam is in the ring shape.

My son also had fun exploring all shapes and sizes of slides, swings, jumping and biking facilities. He was seriously sweaty by the time I saw him after two and a half hours of fun.

And last Monday (a week ago) we visited the Hoensbroek castle. It was a holiday so we could all go together with friends and their kids. And this day was also reenactment of the medieval times which meant knights tournament and archery demonstrations. It was all geared mostly towards kids but I did have a lot of fun myself.
We managed to walk through the castle, it is indeed big. Shame, like most of the Dutch castles, it is now used mostly for wedding ceremonies. There is barely any original furniture left and I definitely miss that. There have also been some old games set up in the courtyard but the highlight of the day was fight with the knits. Until they all dropped "dead"! First kids got the chance but after them the mothers! I was sceptical about my contribution in this quest but it turned out to be excellent way to relieve the stress! Are kids also fighting for that reason? I kind of doubt that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


So, where have I been all this time. Not that far away, actually, but somehow these simple activities still managed to keep me away from blogging.

We did spend Christmas and New Year with my family in Zagreb. It was nice, we even managed to play in the snow, real one and not the wet stuff that finally managed to fall in the Netherlands in March. We drove there and back. It is a doable one day trip so my husband is going to repeat it this summer again as we enjoy the sea this summer.
Needles to say, this trip was a bit to close to Australian trip, so I continued to recover from both for the next month. And we couldn't face another trip any more, so no skiing this year. Again! We promised to ourselves a ski vacation for next year, it has to be a good reason to stop us from going.
And then we finally booked our first real dutch vacation in May. Since I didn't trust the weather to stay as nice and warm as it was in April we went south, to the Limburg province. It turned out to be right decision, weather was showery and not to warm. We still managed to see a lot and stay dry. I fell in love with the rolling hills, tranquility, open spaces. Visit to Maastricht was painful. My son (5 at the moment) had not fun whatsoever there. While in Aachen he really enjoyed himself. How can it be that one city has all the fountains, slides, parks and similar places where a kid can recharge battery and the other none? And it is not that Maastricht has no room for this sort of entertainment. There is river Maas flowing through the center of it with nice green banks on the side, how about a small playground? Or have we been so unlucky to miss all of them?
My son and myself are leaving for summer vacation as soon as school is over, June 29th. I can not wait to dip again in Jadran (Adriatic). My husband is joining us two weeks later and will stay with us for the following four weeks. Oh, what a bliss will that be again. That is the only vacation we spend sitting, swimming and eating!
And I see it is necessary my son gets to be exposed to Croatian again. He is trying to talk only dutch to me these days and is starting to complain if I try to stop him. I want him to continue to speak Croatian. There is a small number of Croatians compared to other nations of the world, but still, these are his roots, I can keep at least this small connection. It is a bit difficult with school age kids, but I believe he will be able to appreciate it once he grows older. I did run into enough people that felt sorry for not being able to speak their parents language.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I know, it has been a bit since Christmas and New Year, but for me there was also our November trip to Australia to recover from. We are slowly getting into the groove (especially after I delivered souvenirs to my family in Croatia)

But the trip was complete success. We started in Cairns with a day trip to Great Barrier Reef, rainforest and a bit of dry inland. In the last one we stumbled upon a mango winery. No, it is not a typo, there was a huge mango plantation and a real distillery. We tasted all of their products - 3 different types of wine, two liqueurs, port and champagne. Champagne was definitely the best, too bad bottles are too heavy for overseas luggage. We managed to bring to Europe one bottle of wine, one of liqueur and one of port.

Yes, Great Barrier Reef was also great, I just hate the commercial part of all of these arrangements. Since you depend on boats to reach the reef, the hour and a half ride is used to push on you all possible ways of "enjoying" the reef. Snorkeling and the half-submersible was good enough for us.

Next stop was Kakadu National Park, east of Darwin (into which we flew). We have literally been blown off our feet by the amazing animal life. It was the end of dry season at the time of our visit so most of the animals have withdrawn to the few remaining wet spots. And therefore our sunset Yellow River Water Cruise was tremendous success. Our guide was an aboriginal woman, she even managed to spot some tiny tree snakes. Countless numbers of crocodiles and birds are still extremely fresh part of our memory. And the joey of a wallaby whose picture we missed to take! His mother got killed previous night by a car.

From Darwin we flew to Alice Springs, place where we rented camper (RV). Driving was easy since my husband had fun sitting by the steering wheel while I had time to plan our daily stops. So, on this stretch we also saw a lot, starting with Uluru rock, Cobber Paddy (opal mines), Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island (penguins and pelicans), Grampians, Minnamurra Rainforest and ending with Sydney.

Well, in Sydney we did walk around the Opera House, under the Harbor Bridge, through the Rocks and Darling Harbour. Most of the time of the three days we left over for this city we have spent with my father's family. Connection are three sisters, his cousins, whom my father saw only a few times since they emigrated in the 1960s. Contact with them and their family members is relatively good considering the distance.

We skipped all wine growing region (grapes, to be specific), have seen enough of those in California. And concentrated on seeing the unspoiled nature of this unique continent. There is still a lot we didn't get to see, but one month is too short to see it all. We managed to get a glimpse of all different regions (besides west coast) and that we will keep with us for a long time. Flying was arduous: from Dusseldorf (it is closer to us than Amsterdam), via Frankfurt to Singapore. We slept in Singapore both on the way over and back and that turned out to be perfect way of beating the jet-leg and adjusting to the tropical climate from the cold european weather.
We did all of the planning ourselves. I read travel guides, travel brochures and browsed internet, compiled a list of places we need to see, booked the RV. And my husband booked the air flights. It was not easy, actually quite time consuming, but definitely tailor made. We would not have it any other way.