Saturday, March 01, 2014

Family holidays and meeting friends

Last month, I went away on holidays with all my family (Charly and the boys).  Since my sister and her family live in The Netherlands, we prepared a small tour around a few European cities, with stops at her place at the beginning and at the end of our trip.

As you can imagine, it was a big change after all the summer days we spent by the swimming pool! And it was great to finally give some use to all the hand-knits I had been making all these years.

I am wearing my Leftover Hat and Striped Hugs cowl.  In the back, Leti (my sister) wears the Black Poncho my Mum made for her back in 2010, and Nano is also wearing his Leftovers Hat.

It was a fantastic tour!  Oh, all the places we went to... All the cities we saw...  Even the kids (who we didn't expect to have fun) had an amazing time and walked miles and miles each day.  It was absolutely refreshing and I feel renewed to start this still new year for me.

Oh man, these Leftover Hats did pay off... They wore them all the time!
*About travelling with kids:
Some people asked me what we did for the kids to have fun, and they were wondering whether it's worthy to travel with 5 and 7 year olds.  
Well, the secret is to gift them your time. My kids have 2 working parents who spend a lot of time with them (cause we work at home), but that doesn't mean we are always free to hang out with them... 
Whenever we have travelled with our boys, even if we don't go to the most interesting places for them, they really appreciate that we are more relaxed and have all the time in the world to explain them what we are visitting and why.  They do notice the big difference and enjoy every minute of our holidays.  So don't be scared!  They are like sponges and take in anything you can show and teach them.  
I believe a trip (even if it's just a few miles from home) is a wonderful experience for any family and changes the perception children have of the world...

All the family in Brugge, with no hand-knits

Besides spending time with my family, I had the opportunity to meet many Ravelry friends who I had been long wanting to meet...  Friends who I've had long conversations with for years, but whose laughter I had never heard, or whose smile I had never seen...

Sorry! This one is really out of focus, but it's the only one I have.  From left to right: Marion, Joji, Karin and Steffi.

The first of these meetings took place in Amsterdam, where I spent a whole day with 3 very dear friends: Marion (aka Mabuli), Steffi (aka Merliane) and Karin (aka Karinita0607).  They all travelled to meet up there, and we started the day having breakfast by the canal, and showing off all our handknits and yarn.  It was a feast indeed, and people approached us several times wondering what we were all excited about. 

 
We wandered around Amsterdam for hours, talking about life, yarn and knitting... And in the afternoon we came to Penelope Craft, a lovely yarn store in Amsterdam's heart, where I presented a little trunk show with all the garments from my collaboration with Veera Välimäki: Interpretations.

On the mannequin: At Dawn; On the table: Thoughts, Feather and Cloud, So Close and Fade.  On the hanger: Fine Tune.

At Penelope, I got to meet another special friend, who came with her family all the way from Germany.  How incredible.  I was really touched by all the people who came!
Cindy (aka Finismama) and her daughter Josi are just the most incredibly sweet pair of girls!

Josi, wearing her Lipstick, and Cindy, wearing her Thoughts.
Well, all the cool girls were wearing their Thoughts, so we even had a small parade... 

Takakoob, Marion, Cindy and Karin

There were soooo many great people to meet and talk to!...  I was even able to meet one of my favorite knitting artists: Stephen West.

Yes, I guess you could say I was a wee bit excited to meet him... :)  And he is wearing At Dawn.

After leaving Amsterdam, we drove all the way to Belgium, making a stop at Efteling to spend a day having fun as children.  These guys have the wildest roller-coasters!

And in Belgium, I got to meet Vera (aka Maanel), one of my oldest and dearest Ravelry friends, back from the old days when I couldn't design a thing, and Vera always helped me find the most beautiful and charming patterns to knit.  Our friendship dates back to the beginnings of 2008, so we've been friends for 6 years now!

Vera and I near the canal in Gent.  She's wearing The Way from Brighton, and I am wearing my Upper East Side.
Vera lives in a fairy-tale city called Gent, and together with her daughter Ellen, we spent the warmest (in spite of the weather) morning of my whole trip.  There were many hugs, many stories to tell, many places to see!...

You can see Ellen in the bottom picture, also a knitter, and the cowl I am wearing is Squeezebox, made by Vera for me. ♥
Goodbyes are always sad, and of course the visit felt too short for both of us.  So we'll keep dreaming of our next meeting.  Who knows, maybe even one day she'll come down here to Argentina...

The journey continued around Brugge, Brussels, and we finally reached London, where I was going to meet more incredible friends.  The first one was Ken, our host in the UK, who is so awesome that deserved a Leftover Hat of his own.  


And on the following Thursday, I visited Loop, in the neighborhood of Islington (seriously, what a cool neighborhood!), the cutest little yarn shop in the world, where I stayed in for one of their wonderful Knit-nights.



I met 3 great ladies there: Julie (aka Evieandlily), Ce (aka Theuncommonthread), and Dani (aka Lionessknits).  The photographs from this day were so terrible (most of them taken with my phone) that you get the old-style versions...

From left to right: Julie (wearing a preview of an upcoming design), Dani, Joji and Ce
Oh, what a great girls' night!  We told each other so many things.  I have been a fan of Dani's and Ce's yarns for ages, so it was a dream come true to hear them talk about the production process, and future plans.  Dani told us all about her new project Unwind Brighton, and they all showered me with gifts and laughter.


I must say I came home with a big haul of yarn and other goodies, but that's for another story...


There was a lot more going on in my trip...  The journey continued through Northern Scotland, Prague and other regions of The Netherlands, giving love and hugs to lots of people who live too far away... Much farther than anyone would like.
I feel blessed and lucky to live in a world where I can meet new friends through social networks and communities, and feel them close despite the distance and time.  To be able to meet them every once in a while and feel normal, as if we had been knitting together all these years!

This same world allows me not to miss so much those who moved far away...  Allows me to see my nephews grow through a tiny but meaningful screen, and tell them how much I love them, even if I can only come over a couple of times in their lives.

Noah's second Birthday

It took me all day to write this post, a very much needed one. A post that I will revisit again and again, when I miss these friends, and especially my family abroad.  Hope you all can live the distance the same way!

Leti, my sister, and inside that blankie is Fedde, my 2-month-old new nephew.

Love to all,
~Joji

6 comments:

Denise said...

So beautiful! I'm glad you got to see you family and all those Ravelry friends. And thank you for sharing this lovely time with us.

Virgi - Abuela Hada said...

Love you..., you know it...

Lara Judd said...

Lovely post - thank you for sharing. Is that your Upper West Side you're wearing in Gent?

Joji said...

Yes, Lara, it is! :)

knittingneedles said...

Joji, such a beautiful post. And the comments on how to spend time with your kids was precious.
I can't wait to get back to Argentina and spend my own time with you.
You truly are special and have great insight.
So happy you had such a lovely time and hope you get to see your family many more times in the future!

http://riverdogfarm.blogspot.com said...

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