“I travel not to escape life…

IMG_4115.jpg…but so that life does not escape me.”  Someone much wiser than me expressed those sentiments.  I share her philosophy; I travel so that I can continue to thrive.  And if there happens to be a knitting festival in the area – that’s a bonus!

Fanø, a small Danish island in the North Sea, is an easy train journey from Copenhagen. Riding the 15-minute ferry over from Esbjerg, I could see why the island attracts so many vacationers from Germany and Denmark who rent homes along the sandy stretch of beach along the west coast.  Although seals, sea otters, and migratory birds draw nature lovers to the island; during one woolfull weekend in September, over 12,000 knitters descend on the World Heritage site to learn new skills and peruse all things fiber related.IMG_4120.jpg

Christel Seyfarth, a fiber artist born on the island, is the brains behind the Fanø wool festival.  Her bright shop hums with the whirling winders that skein up colorful cones of fibers destined for the beautiful knitting kits and garments sold in the store.  If you’re a Fair Isle knitter, you will be overcome with inspiration (and temptation) in her boutique.

While our non-knitter companions took advantage of the island’s other attraction,

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we knitters focused on touching new fibers, trying on samples and chatting with friendly vendors.

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I was really excited to see that Nordiske Masker was there.  I first met them several years ago at the  Faroe Island Knitting Festival.   At that festival, I fell in love with their asymmetrical motorcycle jacket finished with copper zippers and, even though I do not speak or understand Danish, I purchased a kit.  I figured google translate would come to my rescue.  Fortunately, the wonderful Ravelry community of Danish-speaking knitters helped me tremendously and I managed to knit the jacket.  Although I finished my jacket without the additional attachments, whenever I wear it, people ask me where I purchased it.  After I answer “I made it.” I enjoy seeing the look of surprise on their faces. All knitters or artisans who create with their hands can probably relate to how great it feels to say that.

IMG_4080.jpgIn Fanø, I noticed that Nordiske Masker’s kits are still only available in Danish, but even if you do not understand Danish, I highly recommend their kits.  Beautiful designs and luxurious natural fibers await you.  One of my friends purchased the same jacket kit I knitted.  She needs me to help her with hers; I hope I can find my old notes and recall what I did.  Although I wanted to purchase one of their new tunic kits, I found the small size a tad too big for me.  If I were a more advanced knitter, I could probably decrease the size, but the thought of modifying a pattern that is already in a foreign language requires more effort than I was willing to commit.  I wish more designers would consider the smaller-sized knitters when they write patterns only in small, medium and large.  This seems to be the norm with Scandinavian designs, but we knitters do not all fit into just one of three generic sizes.

The vendor that attracted me the most and to whom I returned each day was g-uld, a Danish plant-based hand dyer.  You can see some of their natural colors below. I think the woman’s sweater may have been knitted with their yarn. Doesn’t her sweater seem to match the skeins on the middle shelf?

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I made my own kits for several of their shawls (the green-gold color was screaming my name).  Chatting with one of their friendly helpers whilst paying for my purchases, I learned that G-uld will be participating in the Oslo Knitting Festival in October. Hmmm…I wonder what my schedule looks like in October…Could I finish this shawl by then?

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What I enjoy about traveling to knitting festivals, aside from the obvious “yarn porn”, is the opportunity to connect with other fiber folks and to share our passion for all things fiber related.  Whether it’s chatting with a Danish gentleman from Roskilde who sold me some beautiful Japanese bamboo knitting needles (not that I need more knitting needles) or chatting with Di Gilpin about her soft Scottish lambswool or her cute Coda hat, which I plan to knit, there’s always plenty of incredible inspiration, oodles of ooh-ing and ahhing, and something new to learn.

On this trip, I learned that all Danes speak perfect English, even if they confess that they don’t (however, I wish more Danish designers would translate their patterns into English). They knit with beautiful, natural fibers rather than the ubiquitous ‘superwash’ (acid-killed) yarns that knitters in other lands prefer.  The Danish designers sell their patterns in kits or books rather than on Ravelry or as single patterns.  And the Danes seem to love David Hasselhoff.  Another knitter? Am I the only person who didn’t know this?

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Cool and thought-provoking way to start the day…

A good friend of mine sent me this link, which was a refreshing way to start my morning.

Wolves Introduced to Yellowstone with surprising results

As I watched this little clip, my morning brain was still fuzzy but I couldn’t resist the random thoughts and questions that floated here and there…

What would the deer and elk supporters say about this?
Why are wolf howls so hauntingly beautiful?
How does Nature know how to rebalance herself and why does it seem as if humans have forgotten that basic skill?
How does the wolf population affect any farmers or other livestock dependent families near Yellowstone?
What happens after balance is achieved? Who or what will tip the scale next, because as THEY often say, “Mother nature can’t leave well enough alone….’

She’s got balls! I wish I could do that!

She's got balls!  I wish I could do that!

Living in a city offers opportunities to see things that one would rarely spot in a small town or village. As I ventured to the store to pick up some fresh milk, the exotic sounds of belly-dance beats bounced off the Zeil and lured me into its trance. As I followed the rhythms to the heart of the street, I noticed a well-endowed “woman” with belly-dance bells over her flirty skirt entertaining the crowd with her dramatic hip actions. All the shoppers, also lured by the sounds and scene, broke from their consumer frenzy to enjoy the surprising scene.

The first thought that sprang to my mind was, “Wow! She’s got balls! I could never belly dance in front of a growing group of strangers, let alone in front of my friends.” Apparently, I was not the only one piqued. A squat man in a red-striped shirt that stretched over his rotund stomach focused his eyes only on her. He sprang into action, twirling, teasingly strutting his stuff, and sashaying his body to her. The crowd cheered in excitement by clapping and hooting, encouraging them both. We all stood rooted to our places, enjoying the performance, until the band eventually ended their gig and the two dancers went their separate ways.

Still mesmerized, with bewildering thoughts going through my head, I started my journey home only to realize, when I was climbing back up the stairs to the flat, that I had forgotten to buy the milk. Doh! But then I realized “Who needs milk or substances when street performers provide nourishment and remind us of what it means to be alive and free to be who we are.” Would you ever see a performance like that in a small little town? I didn’t think so.

She’s got balls! I wish I could do that!

Amuse bouche, I worship thee

amuse bouche in Alba, Piemonte

amuse bouche in Alba, Piemonte

Is it your petite, bite-sized sweetness, your unexpected appearance before my hungry lips, or the gentle way you prep my eager palette for what is yet to come – more scintillating surprises and morsels of enticing deliciousness just around the corner -that keeps me addicted to you and coming back for more?  I am a willing slave to your demands.

And, to keep our affair fresh and enlivened, a suitably aged bottle or two of wine from the cellar?  Is there a better threesome than this?

Vintage bottles from Ca roma

Vintage bottles from Ca roma

Amuse bouch, I worship thee

Pointillism in Borneo

Pointillism in Borneo

“Drawing a line”, oft used as an ultimatum between feuding sides, reminded me, instead, of this strange, natural art work I stumbled upon on an island in Borneo. Instead of lines drawn on the sand, these clearly deducible images would make Monsieur Seurat smile with pride. And then one has to wonder, did the creators of these wonders come first or did George-Pierre Seurat really invent pointillism without any other influences from nature?

Is there a sense of order, logic and purposeful intent in these abstract images. I see a bird in flight, a maple leaf, etc. What do you see?

The individual spheres of sand, no more than a few millimeters in diameter, are the artistic equivalent to the dots created by Monsieur Seurat’s small paint brush. However, to the creators of these drawings, the minuscule crabs, their elemental dots are as big as their entire bodies. And with these tiny balls of sand, the crabs create complex compositions that fascinate me with wonder and curiosity.

Pointillism in Borneo

Broken pots required

Broken pots required

Reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, I quickly learned that 10,000 hours of practice is the necessary requirement to achieve excellence and mastery in any endeavor. However, the hours of practice are not relegated to iterations of the same routine over and over again. In fact, to become good at anything, it requires thousands of hours spent making mistakes, learning from the mistakes and then having the ability to change and redirect. I often think of this when I am trying to perfect my hand at pottery, a losing battle thus far. Often the clay wins, but in the mistakes I see the potential for future perfection and excellence.

Broken Pots Required

Home, where I unload my armor

Wanting to combine this week’s photo challenge – objects – with today’s daily prompt of home, I settled on this photo of an antique armor that I admired at the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. Home, for me, is more than a building, a place, or a country; rather, it’s a state of mind where I feel uninhibited, secure and safe to be myself, by removing the mental and physical armor that I carry whenever I am not at “home”.

Armor

Home, where I unload my armor