One Hundred

One hundred.

My beloved mother.
Had she been alive today, she would have been One Hundred.

mother at 18
my mom circa 1936

Maria Engelberta Heijboer – Staaijen. 
27-06-1918 ~ 28-02-2003

The picture above is probably taken around 1936 when she was 18. This is one of my most loved pictures of her and one that I really cherish. I love the look in her eyes, her hair, always so perfectly styled in finger waves, fashionable at the time. But it’s a look that suited her and she never really left it behind to follow fashion. She was a natural beauty.

I love how the photographer drew in the necklace, not even sure if she had a necklace like that one. But at the time, before Photoshop, it was customary to fill in the blanks as it were.

The wedding photographer took it one step further and actually hand-coloured their wedding photograph, as well as painted in the flowers in the vase in the background.

wedding day
my parents on their wedding day, April 14th, 1939

Despite the glare of the glass,  I cannot bear to destroy the backing of this picture to remove it from the frame and get a matte reproduction of it. I may have to have that done professionally sometime. But as I said, I can’t bring myself to do that really. It is what it is.

My parents were married right before WWII, the crisis was already rearing its ugly head and it was at the time customary to wear a dark wedding dress.
My father was 26 and my mother 20 (almost 21) at their wedding.

It just boggles the mind to think about One Hundred.
My mother was born when WW1 was nearing its end, and times were hard. The eldest of 10 children, she had to sacrifice much to help raise raising her brothers and sisters on limited means. She spent the first part of her married life surviving another war, raising my oldest sister (born in 1940) in times and conditions that are hard to imagine for us right now.

Our age gap spanned almost half a century, and it still pains me to think about how little time we were allowed getting to understand one another better. But I do know I am the woman I am today because, despite being from a completely different era, she was progressive. As was her mother before her.

Born at a time when women’s rights to vote were still up for debate. Forced to leave her job on the day she registered to get married, solely because of the fact that she was getting married.

It’s unthinkable to us now, yet to her, that was the reality. And she told me again and again, that I had it good. And that I should take and use all the liberties I had and that I needed no one. “You will be able to take care of yourself,” she told me. You don’t need anyone. Not a man. Not ever.

The day I turned 18, she had me take driving lessons and get my drivers licence. Being able to drive a car was the greatest freedom in her eyes. I remember how she enjoyed driving around just for the fun of it. For the feeling of being free and going wherever the heck she wanted. And that feeling I inherited from her. Of being free. And the need to wander.

She made me take all the classes and training I would need (in her eyes) to give me a good base to lead my life.
I am picking up my sewing again today, thankful for the couture sewing lessons she made me take at a young age. And enjoying it more now than I ever did, as she knew I would.
Her crafting Thursdays with all my aunts were legendary in the family and taught me all the skills I enjoy today. Knitting, crocheting, embroidery.

Cooking. Oh her cooking. The kind of uncomplicated comfort food I still crave to this day but can never exactly replicate. The importance of real food, good pasture-raised beef, fresh young vegetables, and no shortcuts. Simple uncomplicated food with wonderful flavours. A particular kind of potatoes because they taste better than the others.. Cooking with the soul.
Singing together in the kitchen while doing the dishes. She had an amazing voice and could have been a great singer if only the times had been different.

Typing. On one of those mechanical early machines that needed hammering to get text on paper. And Typex for all those errors. But it’s served me well over the years.

Ballroom dancing. Oh, my. I secretly kind of enjoyed those classes although I never found a boyfriend or husband even, who could dance more than a bad quick step. But if I do ever meet him, I am ready mom.

But the one thing I am most grateful for is that she let me do whatever I wanted to do. Even if she knew I would probably fail, I was allowed to do it and find out for myself if it was for me.
Because, as she said: “you can do anything you want”.
She let me take ballet lessons from age 4 because I dreamed of being a ballerina and dancing was my joy. My lower leg primary oedema made sure I would never in my life become a ballerina, but she never destroyed my dream. I was allowed to dance and live my dream.
And I still do.

Thank you, mom. I love you.

 

 

Self care – baby steps & Yoga By Adriene

selfcare babysteps yogitea

Hello lovely people!

While we are all yearning for spring to arrive here in the northern hemisphere, it seems we have a final bout of King Winter coming,  in the shape of another fierce and freezing Eastern front, bringing yet more snow and sleet and sub-zero temperatures this weekend. I do hope my birthday is going to have a few rays of sunshine, but I will settle for dry weather.
Fingers crossed!

Today is a dreary rainy Tuesday, so I thought I’d share this wonderful, healing recipe from a lovely lady who’s youtube channel I discovered a few months ago. Adriene is a veritable ray of sunshine, and her videos are very soothing, loving and at the same time funny and grounded. In a world of fake images, she is an authentic breath of fresh air, to me at least and from the count of her subscribers, many more.

I started making this yogi tea at the beginning of this year and it’s not only a wonderful, warming drink but the process of making it, is very soothing to me. A ritual that brings calm to my morning and grounds me for the rest of my day.

YOGI TEA

My personal “recipe” consists of Adriene’s ingredients:

  • 1 l of water, brought to a rolling boil
  • black peppercorns (about 15)
  • sliced ginger, unpeeled (about 8 or more, I like lots of ginger)
  • cardamom pods, crushed (about 10 )
  • cinnamon stick, whole
  • cloves, whole (about 6-7)
  • 1 black tea bag

plus, (and this is taking liberties with the original recipe but it works for me):

Add the ingredients one at a time to the boiling water, keep it rolling, put a lid on the pot and give it about 30 min. Adriene says you can leave it for up to 3 hours but I haven’t the patience for that, plus I feel the black tea would become too strong. Taking the bag out after 30 mins would remedy that of course.

Ok.. after your Yogi Tea has steeped, strain the liquid into another container and discard the spices.
Pour yourself a wonderfully fragrant mug of tea, and enjoy.
You can add a spoonful of honey and a splash of milk to taste. I used almond milk because I don’t drink regular milk anymore.

It’s the small things

What I am taking away from viewing her videos, in general, is that self-care is hidden in the small things. It’s not about forcing myself to hit the gym 3 times a week, (unless that’s what works for you, more power to you of course!)

For me, it’s about taking time to make this tea for instance. And to make it with love.  I have been watching, and later practising her shorter yoga routines for a while, and even though I feel frustrated sometimes that I cannot even do a decent Downward Dog, she always reminds us that it’s not a competition and that it’s about the feeling.
So even if I am in pain because my body is protesting that particular morning, I try to get on the mat and do what I can. And it will be enough.

Just as an introduction if you don’t know Adriene, this is one of my favourite videos of hers. Even if you can’t join on the mat (like I often can’t), and are just watching it,  I hope you enjoy and it brings you peace 🙂

Thank you for stopping by on my little space of the Web, and:

I am curious to know, how do you practise self-care? what helps you feel grounded and centred? I would love it if you let me know in the comments!

Make it with love.

Namaste

Monique

Work-in-Progress Wednesday | Reagan & The Beast

When I wrote about working on Intersect last week, I was actually suffering from “almost-nothing-on-the-needles” syndrome. It’s a bad thing, especially when working on something that needs full concentration. One of my favourite pastimes is binge-watching Netflix while knitting, otherwise known as “knitflixing”. It’s a thing amongst knitters, believe me. Intersect and Netflix however, do not gell. At. All. The only thing I can manage to watch while knitting those cable charts is the weather report and that gets old fast.

This means that Intersect is actually Work. As in, not mindlessly relaxing, but once you get into the flow it’s enjoyable nonetheless. It requires brain cells, and mine are sometimes incapacitated by a thick fog.

So what was needed was a mindless knitting project that could be done when Intersect was too much for my brain to handle, and Netflix was beckoning. In the past, I have been known to have multiple projects on the go at any given time. Every knitter has his or her ideal number of WIP’s, right?
My WIP list used to look something like this (or multiples of this)

  • 1. simple stockinette in the round (not too big so can travel to doctors office)
  • 2. something with a bit of lace or colour for when my lucid moments
  • 3. a fresh cast on, preferably a test to give me a deadline
  • 4. a shawl (this is recent, I never used to dig shawls much, but things have changed!)
  • 5. sleeves. (no socks, no please no socks but Sleeve Island is never far)

On any given moment these 5 would be on rotation, #1 (most likely a sweater body) would be finished; #3 (the fresh cast on) would progress past sleeve separation and morph into the #1 spot. #2 and #4 might occur in the same project, no problemo. And sleeves, well there is always at least one, right?

Lately, however, I have found myself finishing. all. the. things. And not casting on something new. And when you do that often enough, you end up with just The Beast to knit. Said Beast grew into a bolero with 2 sleeves (yay) last week, which left me with nothing mindless to knit. Because cables.

After much to-ing and fro-ing I decided to uproot my entire queue and careful planning and finally cast on that eternal dream: a black lace cardi. Now since black lace cardis come in many different guises and there’s only a fine line between coolness and rocking your gran’s style, I chose a pattern that has been on my wishlist since the day it was published.
Reagan by Isabell Kraemer

© Isabell Kraemer
© Isabell Kraemer

Imagine this in black and presto: UTTER coolness if ever I saw it. Wear it upside down, sleeves folded, I mean come on! Even in black you couldn’t look like your gran if you tried!

As luck would have it, I also had the original yarn in stash in black. Kismet I tell you. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
Anyway, Garnudsalg Blackhill CottonWool is the original yarn, and it’s definitely in my top 3 of all time favourites, because: non-itchy, non-scratchy, great colours, and works fabulously at a multitude of gauges.

Approx. 230 meter/50 gram (mine is still the old 100 gr.)
2½ – 3 -3½ mm needles
Approx. 22-28 stitches per 10 cm
50% merino & 50% cotton for a dreamy 4-season cardigan.

Looks pretty unassuming maybe, but trust me it’s a workhorse. 

Blackhill Cottonwool
© Monique Heijboer

Reagan calls for a provisional cast on with 2 cables, and although I have used that cast on and liked it, I decided to try out a new one named COWYAK by the unsurpassed Techknitter. Talk about a rabbit hole of knitting tips and tricks. My go to source for all knitting woes. 

So off I went and it’s seriously as easy as pie. Another thing learned which I love doing with every new project. Try to learn something I did not know. Check.

Reagan by Isabell Kraemer
© Monique Heijboer

As of yesterday evening, the mindless part has almost been completed, meaning I have 2 sleeves, held together by the back/shoulder piece and I am about to embark on the lace part. Nice and mindless.

Reagan
©Monique Heijboer

How did I progress on Intersect you ask? Ask me again next Wednesday. In the meantime I am crossing off my Netflix to-watch-list.

Happy Humpday fellow knitting enthusiasts.

Monique

Work-in-Progress Wednesday | Intersect

Happy Humpday everyone!

Last day of February, Spring is upon us (at least according to my calendar) but we are having a bit of a snow day here in Holland on the cusp of the new season. I’ve been hibernating like a bear for most of this winter, and I am in need of sunshine instead of snow.

Intersect sweater
Copyright Brooklyn Tweed

On the upside, there is much knitting to enjoy and to keep me warm. First and foremost I am working on the cardigan for my oldest sister. She requested one handknitted by me last year and we decided on Intersect by Norah Gaughan.

Admittedly, this is a sweater I put in the mix I presented her to choose from because it would not only suit her but also be a nice challenge for me to knit. Well, fellow knitting enthusiasts, let me say I have been thoroughly challenged by this beast.

We decided to go with the original yarn, Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, a wonderful lofty (duh!) woollen-spun 2-ply yarn that comes in an array of delectable colours. My big sis loves her greys and a sweater like this should go with everything, so “Sweatshirt” it became. Purchased at Stephen & Penelope in Amsterdam, one of my favourite wool dealers in the whole wide world, but more on them another time.

Loft
Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Sweatshirt

So if all was well in gift-knitting-life, how come it took almost a year to get even halfway through you ask?
Well, there were some hurdles to take along the way, being a trip abroad with no room for 10 skeins of wool, and then there was the start… First of all, you knit the back yoke strip and then add a little strap to start the shawl collar.

off to a good start on Intersect

However it happened, (and I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with the pattern but just a lack of knitting prowess on the part of yours truly) I ended up with 2 different lengths of the collar.
My row gauge was spot on        (a first!), my length was equal on both sides..  BUT.
There were 8 repeats of the pattern on one end and 10 repeats on the other.

 

Yes indeed. Now how I fixed this is a matter for another post, but suffice it to say I did, and it took me all but 3 weeks.

Intersect is definitely not a project for the faint of heart, especially when said knitter decides to make modifications to the pattern because she is allergic to sewing knitwear together. Even buttons are sometimes too much for me.

Let’s just say I could have finished 3 times over while figuring out how to fix my own boo-boos. Also, Intersect is not a TV project. At all. Which means I can only knit on it when I am fully concentrated. And that means I need to do other (mindless) projects in between.
Still, when all is said and done, I am still happy to work on it. I have to be in the mood for it, that’s true but when I am, it’s all good.

I managed to join the body mid-January so I could try it on her to see the fit. It looked narrow-ish so I was a tad worried but the fit was fantastic and it gave me a boost to carry on.

Currently, the first sleeve is done and I am picking up the second and working the short rows to shape the sleeve cap. Which required some math on my part because in the pattern the sleeves are worked bottom up.
I will write down a summary of what I did to enable top-down knitting, my favourite! If you’d like me to post it, let me know!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monique