Maternity style: Fall colors

I really regretted not taking more pictures outdoors last fall. So this year, I’ve made more of an effort. Amsterdam doesn’t have a whole kaleidoscope of autumn colors, but what it does have is this glorious yellow that’s everywhere at this time of year. I wish I knew what these trees were called!

I love looking out the window—or down at my feet, if I’m out—and seeing these rich shades of yellow. They’re a much-needed burst of happy brightness against Amsterdam’s persistent gray.

Fall colors are also seeping into my wardrobe—like this burgundy, tan and blue-gray outfit I wore to take visiting friends out to lunch last Sunday. I’m happy to say that all this stuff is still non-maternity! The striped t-shirt is from Uniqlo, the mullet skirt is from Forever 21, and the gold flats are from Jonak, a French shoe brand that I fell in love with on a trip to Paris last year. The burgundy tights are from American Apparel; one of the surprising advantages of being a short girl who wears a large size is that all of my regular tights are so long on me that they go up and over the baby bump. Yay.

And the knit turban… well, I made that myself! I saw a similar knotted headband being sold at the Westerpark Sunday Market for a whopping €42. It came with this whole song and dance about being handmade from 100% alpaca by grannies from Belgium. Okaaayyyy.

Using this super easy tutorial from Craft Snob, I made my own version for just €3.25 (the cost of half a ball of yarn). And it’s got its own exotic song and dance too. After all, it’s handmade from 100% Icelandic sheep’s wool by an expecting mother from the Third World. Beat that!

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Knit it: Chunky ribbed cowl

This time last year, I was running around like a headless chicken. If I wasn’t traveling, I had some kind of class or activity on an almost-daily basis: watercolor, sewing, Dutch, a blogging e-course. This autumn, I’ve made a conscious decision to cut down on activity and slow down. With a baby on the horizon, I know our quiet nights and lazy weekends at home are numbered, and I want to enjoy them while they last.

So, while Marlon putters around the kitchen or bonds with his Playstation after work, I blog, surf, read… or knit. One of the easy knitting projects I finished this week is a chunky ribbed cowl in electric blue alpaca wool, based on this pattern from Knit & Bake.

To be honest, it was supposed to be for me, but it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to! I’m still a knitting newbie, so I’m awful at estimating gauge (yarn weight vs needle size) and all that. In fact, if you look closely, it’s pretty hairy from all the times I found myself stuck and bewildered, and just had to unpick and redo it.

Thankfully, Marlon was happy to have it. He says it’s soft and cozy, and keeps the wind out while he’s cycling. Yay for low-maintenance husbands!

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Who wore it better?

After knitting a very long scarf that I didn’t like very much, I finally completed a knitting project that I actually like. I found a pattern for this knit headband/neck warmer on Pinterest and thought it would be a nice way to learn new techniques, like increasing and decreasing stitches. It’s not perfect, but it’s been getting a lot of use, and I’m happy with the color.

Now, my question is: who wore it better? Me or Rogue?

P.S. I’m frowning because I attempted to take this in a narrow cobblestoned alley that suddenly turned into a wind tunnel. Narrow alleys here have a way of doing that in the winter.

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Oh no, knit again

It’s hard to cultivate thoughts of summer and sunshine when this is what greets you every single day. Apparently, this is what passes for summer in this little corner of the world. 

If cold can make things shrink, then the temperature of 12℃ over the past few days has definitely reduced the square footage in my brain that’s reserved for swimsuits, sandals, strawberry smoothies and other summery delights. Instead, all I can think of is staying warm.

I seem to have knits on the brain lately. Case in point: I’m currently lusting for a Missoni scarf. I saw my first one in De Bijenkorf (the Rustan’s or Takashimaya of Amsterdam) today and fell in love. A few seconds later my eyes drifted over to another one, and now my heart is torn.

Soft and feminine, or bold and striking?

Unfortunately, it comes with a price tag befitting a Missoni, so this love will have to remain unrequited… at least until I can figure out a way to drum up a regular income.

Also in the realm of knits: a few days ago, Audrey of Googooandgaga tweeted me a link to Zilalila’s hand-knitted jumbo Nest cushions.

It was another case of love at first sight.

It just so happens that Marlon has always, always wanted a beanbag. I’m not wild about shiny, shapeless pleather, so I’ve flexed my wifely veto muscles to keep them out of our home. But when I showed the Nest to Marlon, we instantly felt that another miraculous matrimonial compromise was in the offing… in the form of a beanbag both of us could love.

So, braving the rain and cold, we embarked on a Sunday afternoon mission to Sukha, a wonderfully curated home and lifestyle store on the Haarlemmerstraat, which itself turned out to be a lovely street dotted with interesting little stores and cafes. When we got there and sank into the Nest, our worst fears were confirmed.

The Nest indeed feels as enveloping, comfortable and warm as it looks in photos. Therefore, we simply had to have it. 
Good for the home, bad for the bank account… but wait! It turned out to be half the price that it was on the website. That was a big relief… as big a relief as this big cozy knitted beanbag will be in the winter. Or, come to think of it, in the summer.
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Knit wit

I just came from a wonderfully long lunch with some new friends from my Amsterdam Girls meetup group. Having realized the fundamental importance of girl friends in one’s life (this would have made a huge difference back when we were still living in Singapore), I’ve been making more of an effort to meet more girls. And it’s days like this when I feel like my efforts are paying off. With eight women from different countries and diverse backgrounds at one table, lunch stretched into a four-hour affair with lots of animated conversation.
It was also great to meet women who, like me, “gave up” a life or career back home to follow a boyfriend, partner or husband whose career leads to foreign shores. It reassures me that my choice hasn’t been completely insane. That’s the great thing about traveling and meeting people from all over the world—you get to see that there are so many ways to live, not just the way you’re used to… or are expected to.
Anyway, the conversation turned to knitting when several of my lunchmates admitted to being enthusiastic knitters. This is something that I’ve noticed since moving here: women will get together, sit in a cafe in a group with their yarn and needles, and knit. And talk, of course. But mostly, just… knit. I’ve even seen get-togethers for knitting groups advertised online. It baffles me.
Then I realized of course we don’t sit around and knit in cozy cafes because it’s just not a tropical thing. Because really, what the heck will you do with all the woolly scarves, blankets, cardigans, hats and sweaters you’ve produced in the Philippines’ sweltering heat? Aside from be hot, sweaty, itchy and bordering on the pretentious, of course. Like Singaporeans and their leather jackets.
Hmmm. Maybe there’s a knitting culture in Baguio?

After lunch, we meandered around the Jordaan for a while, and happened upon a yarn store. When I stepped in and saw all these gorgeous colors, I thought: hey, maybe these girls are on to something here. So much eye candy, and so soft too! I never realized you could knit with so many different types of yarn, depending on the season: cotton, silk, various blends, even cashmere. It seems like a whole new world, one that all the pretty colors are calling to me to enter. So who knows? I may just take up knitting soon!

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