Colouring in

I’ve knitting and crocheting steadily over the last little while and I’ve finally had the time (home with the lurgy) and some sun to photograph it.

These are flowers I’m crocheting for the Irish Floral throw in Comfort Afghans and Throws. While I usually have a love/hate relationship with crochet, I’m enjoying these flowers and using wool remnants from projects long finished. I’m improvising the flowers quite a bit and I can highly recommend my picot as a source of well illustrated crochet stitches. If you look under ‘Flowers and volumetric’ stitches, you’ll find some gorgeous butterflies. I’m going to try one of those soon.

The lad has commissioned a beanie and wristwarmer set, according to his own design. This one’s being knit flat to accommodate the colour work.

As gorgeous as this silk shawl is, I’ll be ripping it out. The lace border just wasn’t the right choice for this yarn weight. I’ve decided to go for a crochet border with a knitted, shaped body for its next incarnation.

This was my travel knitting – a bamboo yarn for a short-sleeve, v-neck tee. I’ve changed my mind about the pattern for this yarn a couple of times but didn’t start until I was quite sure. This is being knit in the round and I’ve just got to the point of dividing it for the front and back.

I’m quite ambivalent about this one. I substituted yarn in this pattern and I don’t think mohair was the way to go. This style of asymmetrical jacket needs a little weight to help it drape and show off its angle but the mohair is simply too airy to do that. I’ll see what can be done with shawl pins and other arrangements.

Now to finish off three other projects on the needles.

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Looking for the unseen things

The architecture in Leiden and Amsterdam is mostly 17th-19th century and has a Protestant, northern European restraint about. The 20th century stuff is out of the city centre as you’d expect but I did begin to wonder where the Dutch hid their art deco.

I mean, they know rather a bit about early 20th century architecture, what with the Amsterdam School and all. After hearing about the different gable styles it occurred to me to simply look up. If the buildings didn’t have the room to be obviously deco maybe the windows did.

Bingo!

It makes me think that there are quite a few quilt ideas in there.

The writing’s on the wall

Public art in Leiden – wall poems.

Lagging

The jet lag is slowly receding. Coming back this way, it means a wave of fatigue so deep I can barely stand. I can feel fine and suddenly find it washing over me and dragging all clarity with it. The tide’s coming in later each day and I’m hoping to make it through my first day back at work before it hits.

Some photos have also lagged but are definitely worth posting. This one was in the old part of Porto – I found it astonishing that it seemed to appear on a demolished site. At first glance I thought it was painted but zooming in with the camera proved that it was tiled.

It’s now my desktop background at work.

I love the simplicity of this bird against the old customs house in Porto. It was a little hard to make out and certainly didn’t rate a mention from the tour guide – he was too busy telling us about those bridges.

And there was this stunning tiled picture on a grand home near the university. The other reason it’s so remarkable is that it doesn’t appear to be religious. I checked for reeds, Moses and other biblical figures and it seems to be a straightforward desert scene. Quite eye-catching.

You’ll notice the summery quality of light. Melbourne’s winter light is taking quite a bit of getting used to after all that brightness.

Edited to add: There are other photos of the sewing machine company – here, a shop sign in the Azores, they also seem to distribute designs of national dress.

Visiting Rembrandt

Over my last two days in The Netherlands, I did my Rembrandt tragic thing. I found the Latin School in Leiden he attended before enrolling but not attending university (hey, it was enough to get him drinking rigths, it seems).

The next day I walked over to the Rijksmuseum from my hotel (the main consideration being its location in the museum district). The group of people sitting on the grass were a group of French art history undergraduates, taking it in turns to give their tutorial presentations.

A note on tour guides: follow the French ones. More likely to be an art historian and far more interesting. Of course I wasn’t on that tour as such. I just happened to be looking at Vermeer’s ‘The Milk Maid’ at the same time. And testing out my French listening skills.

This next is the side gate of the Rijksmuseum, in use until the restoration project is complete.

I could have walked out and around to the Van Gogh museum. I didn’t though. I think I was still recovering from the Dutch masters and to have encountered the genius of Van Gogh on the same day would have been too much.

The only word I could use to describe my reaction is ‘swoon’. The Rembrandt portraits are astonishing in their beauty and compassion. Vermeer’s milkmaid is breathtaking in its simplicity and solidity. And the colours! Any reproduction you’ve seen does not do it justice. I was breathless at the luminosity of the yellow and brilliance of the blue.

And as a little taster the museum also had a room looking at three of Miro’s pieces based on some works by Jan Steen.

I’m going back to the Netherlands later in the year for more field work. I’ll take a good look at Van Gogh then.

A little jaunt to Amsterdam

As part of my work here – yes, I am doing have done some work – I discovered that the train system is completely unlike Melbourne’s. It’s frequent, reliable and goes to places that people need to go to. Oh, and they have lots of people working at the main stations in each town. And their ticketing system works. And…you get the idea.

So I trotted off to Delft to conduct an interview on Tuesday arvo and returned rather more quickly than I expected. If I could get to Delft so easily, I reckoned I could spend the afternoon in Amsterdam today. Which I did.

And I’ve come back to tell you that I reckon everyone should spend at least one afternoon in Amsterdam. I only did one museum, the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, which was rather good but quite labyrinthine and clearly they don’t think you ought to be able to delete a century or two to get out a little bit quicker.

I’m very pleased to report that I didn’t get lost. The Dutch are rather fond of a grid system, thankfully, and my intentions were simply to get a feel for the place before I spend 36 hours there before flying home. Which means I didn’t try anything other than a reasonably straight line from the train station and out to the first canal ring. It’s remarkable that all one needs to do as a tourist with a brain is to walk parallel to the main strip by just one block. It’s just as interesting, has slightly fewer people and far less of the tackiness.

I did a canal tour which was lovely and quiet and I took some photos just to see how they turned out (I was next to a window). The weather looks rather dour in the first but it stayed fine and warm enough for me to be quite glad of the sunscreen.

This next shot is a replica of the first Dutch East India Company ship. I’m not entirely convinced of the historical accuracy of the colours. I know the ships were painted but I can’t see Calvinists going all out for razzle dazzle.

There are 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam across 100km of canals (see, I was paying attention). I couldn’t live in one but they usually look very attractive.

I’m spending the morning in Leiden tomorrow – time for a stroll, some photos, a couple of souvenirs and a chat over coffee with a political scientist* from the university – and then off to Amsterdam. Rather looking forward to it, really.

*I re-typed this word three times. My typing kept going Dutch or German on me.