Sunday, January 30, 2011
Another Week in Apeldoorn
This week I've had to spend the weekend here, which is always a bit of a chore. Our official pattern is every second weekend here, which means only home every second weekend also - I'm tempted to go home more often, in fact, but at this stage I feel it's better to save the money, as I'd have to pay any extra train fares myself.

The weather is not brilliant, being very cold, with fearsome frosts in the mornings, but at least it is not the dreaded snow that has turned to ice, as before Christmas, and on Friday we actually left the office in daylight! I hope it doesn't snow again, but I am sure it will.

Yesterday I went to Zwolle - the town where I passed through in the dark a couple of weeks ago on my involuntary tour of the region. It seems a nicer town and more lively than Apeldoorn, but as almost everywhere strikes me like this, I don't know if it is correct. It seems to have more shops, and among them is a very good yarn shop called "Astrid's Wol", which has more Estonian yarn than I have ever seen anywhere, even in Estonia. Plus some other things, of course, a great collection of sock wool, and some beautiful pure alpaca, very expensive, but the best I have ever seen. I looked around all of the shopping area, and had lunch in a very nice little restaurant, then came back to Apeldoorn with some regret.

When I returned, I then remembered I had decided to buy another camera battery charger, so out into the shops of Apeldoorn, with no luck whatever! Apparently Dutch camera shops do not sell these things, because as one salesman gratuitously informed me, Dutch people look after their possessions and do not require replacements. So I'll go to the FNAC next weekend in Paris. I actually think I left it in Cyprus, it wouldn't be the first time I put something in a hotel drawer - or the maid did - and left it behind.

I have finished my Pink Bird, as I said, and am also on the point of finishing "Pemberley" - which I am liking very much. It is the most blue thing I have stitched for ages, I don't normally do things in blue (all my school uniforms were blue, so I've never been keen on it since), but this is lovely. I'm going to find a frame and put the fabric around it as in the original Sampler Girl finishing.

Now I'm going to go for a walk around the deserted streets of Apeldoorn - may run into a colleague or two doing the same - then come home and do a bit more


posted by Ally at 2:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, January 24, 2011
A Little Update
But really only little, because I cannot find either my camera battery charger or the cable from my phone to the computer that I could use to upload photos........ this is very frustrating because I have nearly finished my Pink Bird and am also on track to finish "Pemberley" some time this week. I managed some very good progress on the train on Friday and yesterday.

I went home to Paris for the weekend - well one and a half days, really - and found that I had good mail, the latest Louisa Harding book, "Knitting in the Details" and also some yarn that I needed. I love getting mail, and I only get it every two weeks at the moment!
posted by Ally at 5:47 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Sunday, January 16, 2011
The Complete List
This is the complete list of my fifteen new starts:

1) Marquoir de Blanche (Couleurs d'Etoile)
2) Rabbit Garden Sewing Set (Elizabeth Ann Talledo)
3) My Needles’ Work (LHN)
4) Jane Austen Party Reticule (The Sampler Girl)
5) Sail Away (Shepherds Bush)
6) Mademoiselle Paris (C Mon Monde)
7) Housework (Lizzie Kate)
8) Bird In Hand (Blackbird Designs)
9) Summer Basket (Blackbird Designs)
10) Necessities Sampler (LHN)
11) Pemberley (The Sampler Girl)
12) Bluebird (Blackbird Designs)
13) Small Token (Blackbird Designs)
14) Elephant and Bees Needlework Bolster (Old Colonial Designs)
15) Eiffel Quaker (Jardin Prive)

I need to work out how to do the percentage bars, then put them at the side, so I can keep up with the progress.

This weekend has been very quiet (well I am in Apeldoorn). Yesterday I took the train to Zutphen where there is a patchwork shop, and bought some pieces of fabric that I thought would be good for finishing the Pemberley piece, which calls for "Regency fabrics" to be added as borders before framing. I have not got a clue what Regency fabrics are, so just chose appropriately coloured old-fashioned looking ones! Also into my bag slipped a French General needlebook and a kit from Facile Cecile, just too tempting.

Today I have not even been out, I have been stitching on the "Bluebird", which is actually pink, and have got about half done so far. So it may be the first finish - I want to "finish-finish" as I go along too. Apeldoorn is very quiet on a Sunday, nothing at all is open, and the only noise is periodic bands of young people running around the streets screaming or letting off fire-crackers, which appears to be all they have to do. I've always thought that Paris is quiet on Sundays, but Apeldoorn gives new meaning to the concept.
posted by Ally at 4:31 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Catching Up!
I didn't post yesterday, as I was so exhausted after the scenic tour - quite late in the evening I thought I ought to, and went to take photos, but the camera battery is dead and I think the charger is in Paris.

So I'm just going to post the finished photos of my last three starts - Thursday and Friday already started, and the final one, Saturday, will be started today.

First is my pincushion from Thursday, Blackbird Designs Small Token:

It's lovely in real life - I am using the recommended Crescent Colours threads on a 32 count linen.

Yesterday I put a few stitches into this one:

It's by Olde Colonial Designs and comes as a kit with the thread keeper.
And later today I will start this one, I think we all know this is the Jardin Prive Eiffel Quaker:

I am doing it in the pink colourway on a 32 count country white Belfast. In fact, when you get up close to the Eiffel Tower, it is a pinkish colour - they have special paint for it, and I think it is officially called Eiffel Tower Bronze, but it is distinctly pink, in my opinion. I am very fond of the Eiffel Tower - I can see the top of it through my windows, as I am only a few hundred meters, about ten minutes walk from it, in Paris.
Tomorrow I hope I will be able to make a list of the 15 projects for my side bar, so that I can note the ongoing progress. Of course I've never started so many projects at once in my entire life, but I have a feeling I will be able to finish them all this year!

posted by Ally at 11:16 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Involuntary Scenic Tour of the Netherlands
I've just stepped in the door after leaving the company's office right next to Amsterdam Zuid railway station at 5:30pm - yes, about five hours to get from there to Apeldoorn!

What happened was that I sat there and stitched happily as far as Amersfoort (the station before Apeldoorn), and then became aware that we had sat there a long time and then everyone was leaving the train. So out I get too, and find that there are not trains to Apeldoorn for the foreseeable future, because of some disturbance on the line. The advice was to go north to Zwolle, then south again to Deventer and then east to Apeldoorn i.e. three trains around in a kind of circle. So that's what took more than three hours.... I'm slightly worried about my Brazilian colleague who was on the same train, I lost him at Amersfoort in the crowd, and he understands no Dutch at all (sadly I am only too familar with the Dutch for "this train will not depart"), so I can only hope he found someone to help him. He has all our phone numbers anyway, so could have called me if he really had a problem.

So I have done quite a lot of today's new start - which is yet another Blackbird Designs pincushion, but a bigger, multi-coloured one - but no photo, as I am literally too exhausted to take a decent one. It remains to be seen whether I am in any shape to go to the office tomorrow or whether I have to stay home....
posted by Ally at 11:50 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Minor Progress on Wednesday
Not so much of Pemberley last night:

For some reason I was very jittery last night and couldn't settle to anything, but today has been better, here is a butterfly:

This is lambswool linen (again!) and Belle Soie Rosebud, it will be this one:

Not a Bluebird, but a pink one!
I cannot believe there are only three more new starts to go........... then on Sunday I will have the fun of deciding what is next!
Running off to dinner with two colleagues now.....

posted by Ally at 8:42 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Oops! Monday Unpicking!
Oh dear, I have spent quite a bit of today unpicking a lot of what I did yesterday - I miscounted, so I must have been more stressed than I thought - this is what is left of my LHN design:

Not very impressive at all.

For today I have chosen another Sampler Girl Jane Austen design, "I'd Rather Be At Pemberley":

This will also be done on 32 count Belfast of unknown colour! And I am going to be very, very careful about my counting.....

Today was my first day back in the office, so I am fairly tired. Also rather sad, as we had bad news this morning. The wife of one of our project directors passed away very suddenly, he had gone home because she was not feeling well, and then called later to say what had happened. We all feel for him, as he is such a nice man and, although we had not met his wife, he often spoke of her, and they had been happily married for 35 years.
posted by Ally at 9:26 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, January 10, 2011
Totally Exhausted
My trip to Den Haag today was uneventful, but incredibly tiring......... I started my new piece on the train, but did not get a lot done and have not had the energy to take a photo yet - I will see if I can continue tonight.

Today's new start is this one, the Necessities Sampler by LHN:

I am using a 32 count Belfast, the colour of which I cannot remember, and the recommended DMC threads for this.

Tiredness aside (I must be getting old, it is less than two hours by train to Den Haag), Den Haag is so far my favourite city in the Netherlands. After the official appointment, I did some shopping and had lunch before I came back. The shops there are excellent, and I could have spent a lot more than I did. I don't know how I'm going to feel after going to Amsterdam on Thursday - this is for a training course (very interesting, not, about estimating how long work is going to take), and it will be eight hours of training and four hours of train travel. The one good thing about all this train travel is that, for French employees, it is in our collective agreement that we can travel first class on trains, so at least I get peace and quiet and a bit more space.

Back to the office tomorrow, it will be interesting to see what they have got up to in my absence. Think I will wear lime-green crochet capelet that I bought in the sale at De Bijenkorf, that will wake them up!
posted by Ally at 6:59 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Saturday and Sunday's New Starts
First the beginning of my Blackbird Designs pincushion:

It is on the wonderfully versatile 32 count Lambswool linen, with Belle Soie Cranberry.

And today's new start was also from Blackbird Designs:

It will be this one, Summer Basket, stitched with the recommended threads and linen (the linen is called Baby's Breath, and it is a nice colour, but I'm not sure about the name!):

Yes, the big one, the sampler, am I not rash? I have wanted to do this one for a while, and this seemed like a great chance.
I am sitting here in my apartment in Apeldoorn, listening to a series of small explosions, which is the usual evening entertainment of some young people here, letting off fire works in the street. Fortunately my bedroom is on the non-street side of the apartment, so I won't hear them when I go to sleep. Actually while I was at Gare du Nord this morning, the police blew up someone's abandoned parcel or suitcase, I didn't see which, now that WAS an explosion.
Also fortunately I did bring my dinner from Paris with me, since I had leftovers, and now I don't really want to go out and find any food in Apeldoorn with all of this going on. I am very near restaurants and takeaways, but better not to go out when there are fireworks around - Apeldoorn streets are very deserted at nights, apart from the ones who let off the fireworks, and none of us like to walk alone at night. Giulia, my Italian colleague, had a nasty experience just before Christmas - in fact it happened inside the Albert Heijn supermarket, she thinks - her backpack was opened, and a plastic shopping bag taken. There was nothing else in there, and it was one covered in Italian supermarket names and logos, so we are all looking to see if it surfaces somewhere in Apeldoorn.
Now I'm going to sit in front of the tv, and sort of my case of wips and future starts - time to select what I shall stitch on the train to Den Haag tomorrow!

posted by Ally at 8:34 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Not So Much Progress
So last night I did not get much done at all:
I had planned to stitch while watching Thalassa, but instead last night there was just some variety show, and I don't like those. So Iread instead, I have just discovered Jo Nesbo and am reading all the Harry Hole detective stories, which are set in Oslo.

Today's new start, goodness it must be number 8, is a Blackbird Designs pincushion:

This will not be the last time you see Blackbird Designs among my fifteen choices either! I chose another small one for today because I am packing and stressing about travelling tomorrow. Not that the train is stressful per se, but there's so much I have to take and not forget, like keys for the Apeldoorn apartment and my badge to get in at work. Plus my fifteen projects, plus my knitting etc etc etc.

posted by Ally at 3:35 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, January 07, 2011
Thursday's New Start
Last night I did well (thanks to a rather riveting episode of Julie Lescaut on tv) and finished a whole Parisian lamp post:

This one is on the 32 count Weddingen linen again, and with the DMC conversion of the recommended Vaupel and Heilenbeck threads.

Tonight I will start on another small one:

Lizzie Kate is another designer where only a few attract me, but I have to say that this one is perfect for me - I am not the queen of housework, especially since I spent six months last year living in hotels.
I am just off to the hairdresser and some shopping, I have to buy Nespresso capsules to take with me next week and a few other necessities. I am reminded of one of my French colleagues who spent six months in the Netherlands a few years ago, she is a very fussy person, always moaning about small things (although she is actually very nice and very clever as well), and she used to take all her own food with her! My mind still boggles at that... my problems with the Albert Hein are more to do with its opening hours and the drunks outside than the food inside.
It is raining heavily here, this is doubtless to get me into an Apeldoorn frame of mind.

posted by Ally at 12:53 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Day 5 - Sail Away
I did do more than this last night, but I took this photo near the beginning:

Those silks were a pain to sort out, all the colours are so close, and I hope I have it right. Working in one strand of silk is something I have not done for some time, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy this. I am working this one on a frame, given that it is silk and there are some special stitches.

Today's new start is this one, Mademoiselle Paris from C Mon Monde:

Of course this had to be on the list, considering where I live! And this may not be the only time during this challenge that a certain local landmark (visible from my window) appears....

Tomorrow I'm off to the hairdresser, since I have to look respectable for work next week - sigh, I'll be on the train on Sunday afternoon again....... I hope the snow has melted in Apeldoorn, I haven't actually checked the weather there yet, as I didn't want to depress myself.

posted by Ally at 6:00 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Tuesday's New Start
"One cannot have t...." - this is as far as I got last night, and I'm looking forward to coming back to this one after the 15th of January:

Today I have just started this one, "Sail Away" from Shepherd's Bush:

It is a kit that I bought fairly recently, after not liking any of the SB designs for some time, although I did do a lot of them once. But this one said something to me, so here we are! The silks are quite beautiful, some Thread Gatherer and some Gloriana.
I've been looking at everyone's starts (and even one finish, I nearly fainted) every day, and have been really enjoying to see what people have selected. I'm glad I have this week at home to get everything sorted out for this challenge and do some each day - next week will be interesting, as I have to go to The Hague on Monday and Amsterdam on Thursday for work. The Amsterdam day will be quite long, what kind of lunatic schedules a meeting where half the people have to come from Apeldoorn and it starts at 10am - I think the train to Amsterdam may be crowded, since most of the population of the Netherlands travels the length and breadth of the country each day to get to work, or so it seems to me. We have people in the office who live in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Hengelo, all of which seems insane to me - lots of people live in Utrecht or Amersfoort, which seems more normal, but even so I think the Dutch are made of tougher stuff than I am, because I would find so much commuting very hard.

posted by Ally at 7:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Part of A Chicken
Today there is part of a chicken that emerged last night, plus two letters of the alphabet:

I do my stitching at night, and my blogging earlier in the day, which is why you get last night's new start each day, plus a photo of the one that I shall start in the evening. This evening I will be moving away from partial animals and starting the Jane Austen Party Reticule:

So far all my new starts have had some wording, and I think that may be true of all the ones to come, in fact. There may even be another Jane Austen one, as I am particularly fond of Jane Austen. I am not actually sure what I shall do with a reticule, but, having bought the mother of pearl handles just before Christmas, I just had to put this on the list! I did go to Modes et Travaux today to find some linen banding, mine is slightly wider than the original, but also with the red stripes.
Well, had better go now and get on with it!
posted by Ally at 6:56 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Monday, January 03, 2011
Part of a Rabbit
This is yesterday's stitching, part of the front of the pinkeep from the Rabbit Garden Sewing set:

It has now gone into the case to take to Apeldoorn - for which I now have a ticket next Sunday. At least I have a ticket for Schiphol, because the SNCF is going through one of their periods of not letting me book for Apeldoorn, so I have to get a second ticket when I arrive at Schiphol. It would actually be quicker to go via Rotterdam, but I am avoiding that station (scene of my nearly freezing to death before Christmas in any case), mostly because to buy another ticket there involves carrying one's luggage up and down steps and standing in a long queue, it is hell.

The travel thing was why I was hesitating about doing this challenge - and why some of my pieces will be quite small. At least I do not have to take all of them backwards and forwards all the time, in fact, most of them will stay in Apeldoorn once there. And I will get a chance to do some on the train - since we are no longer allowed to book our travel time as work time, I don't feel compelled to work on the train and instead I do things like stitch and drink wine!

Today's new start is this one:

I've had it for quite some time, with all its Crescent Colours threads, and I have just found a nice piece of unidentified brand vintage linen (could be R&R, I am not sure at all) that is exactly right for this. I am not buying very much for this challenge at all, so far nothing, and I think over the whole fifteen days, probably one piece of linen banding and a few missing threads. So it's great to get to use some things I already have, and to spend this week at home looking through my stash.

I did have to go to the office today, to get my new computer working, as I only want to take one laptop to Apeldoorn with me - travelling there with two would be just too much! Hopefully I will get everything transferred to it by the end of the week.
posted by Ally at 7:40 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Second New Start
First, yesterday's progress, not bad for me:

Now it is in the case I have bought to put all these works in for transport, as they will be going to Apeldoorn next Sunday.

I am about to try and book my Thalys ticket, if the French railways internet site will recognise the existence of Apeldoorn, which they wouldn't yesterday. And our work housing bureau calls it APELDOOM, which surely must be a Freudian slip! Actually it is not a bad little town, or would not be, if it were not covered in snow and ice, but there are some strange aspects of life there. Even buying food is very different from Paris, and I cannot say I am a fan of the Albert Hein supermarket!

Today's choice is the Rabbit Garden Sewing Set by Elizabeth Ann Talledo:

One of the reasons I chose this is that I recently acquired both the Lace Scissors and Mother of Pearl Ruler that it is designed for. I am using 32 count Lambswool linen from Permin, together with (mostly) the recommended threads. The pattern says they are all GAST, but I really cannot find a GAST colour called Juniper, whereas there is a Weeks Dye Works Juniper, so I wonder about that one.

I'm already thinking about the remaining ones......... Kathryn asked me what this was all about, and it is just a challenge I read on another blog, to start 15 new projects on the first 15 days of January, and finish them in 2011. Easy to see why it is called Crazy January Challenge, as it is simply not the sort of thing I should be thinking of at all, but I could not resist. The only comfort is that there are a few other crazy people out there!

Thank you for all the New Year greetings, too - let's hope we can all get it together and make 2011 a great year!
posted by Ally at 3:38 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Happy New Year
Best wishes for a happy 2011 to any faithful readers I may have left after the sporadic blogging of the past year!

I hope to do better this year, in many ways, and a big part of that is going to be health-related and avoiding the depression I sank into for much of last year. I feel very good after spending the week in Cyprus, which was great - 25 degrees every day, so I swam in a heated pool, then lay on a sunlounger outside, surrounded by hotel cats. I got back on Wednesday, a couple of hours later than expected, as they had to fix the plane before we could take off (slightly worrying, but obviously everything was OK).

Back here, it is much colder, but not unbearably so, and we have no snow, although some is forecast for Wednesday. If it happens, I will stay inside! I have plenty to do, and have started doing some things, like defrosting the fridge, which is a nightmare, the kitchen is in complete disorder - it will be Monday before it gets back into shape.

I have started the Crazy January Challenge, probably inadvisably, but here is the first one I have chosen:

It's "Marquoir de Blanche" by Couleurs d'Etoile, and I am doing it on a 32 count Weddingen ecru linen, with Raspberry Parfait Gloriana silk, which is a dark pink colour.

I haven't chosen all my fifteen pieces yet, as I am still considering the many candidates. It is hard because there are so many that I want to do, but I have to be realistic and choose quite a few smaller pieces, because I will have to transport them. This first one is likely to be the largest, in fact.

As for other resolutions, I haven't made so many, apart from to look after my health and my finances. I did not so so badly on the finance front last year, being still debt-free, but I did spend a lot of money on travelling, because of the Perth and New Zealand trips while I was in Australia - but this year I will not be going anywhere near the Southern Hemisphere. I've decided that, if they ask me to do that again, I'm going to ask the doctor to write to them and say I cannot do long haul flights at all.

Well, that's about all for today, I'm going to go back to Blanche, plus the Kaffe Fassett scarf I am knitting (also probably inadvisably, it is 160cm of fair isle patterns), plus watching for icebergs from the fridge!
posted by Ally at 1:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 3 comments