Tag Archives: Netherlands

Bicycles in the Netherlands

21 May

To answer a few questions about the actual cycling

Melissa asked about our boat, the Liza Marlen. Melissa, I have failed you. I didn’t take many photos of the actual boat. But, there were several bike and barge tours during the same time as ours.

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I should have taken a photo of my bedroom. It was so *teeny* that I walked in and was puzzled trying to figure out where the rest of the room was. Luckily Trena and I didn’t have to share as originally planned because the room could not have held both of our suitcases. But, you were hardly in the room so it barely mattered.

Thanks to Darci and Marie-Christine, I rewashed my clothes a few times with vinegar and borax and am odor free! I’m also tracking down Biz on another commenter’s suggestion.

Toby asked how windy was it. Well, it’s windy! It’s true Holland is relatively flat. But, the wind can make cycling hard.

I managed not to ride on the super windy day (I rode the boat into Amsterdam so I would have time to go to the Dutch Resistance Museum and the Rijksmuseum). But, I got a feel for it biking and I was glad I didn’t have my cape. I could just see myself blowing across the road in to a canal like a sailboat!

Weather: I was cold at night and by the end of the trip wished I had brought an actual coat with a scarf. Brrrr.

Riding: Well, I rode five out of the seven days and did fine. I was only sore on one day. I was in the middle of the pack of riders. And, oddly enough was more comfortable the times I had to ride in the street with cars than I was on the bike path. I guess that’s what I’m used to! I did ride to and from work on Friday and it was the first time I wasn’t wiped out and breathless on my all uphill ride home. So, I guess I did actually get some conditioning in while I was gone.

Now, on to the meat of this post!

I cannot express to you how many bicycles there are in Holland. And, how everyone, and I mean everyone rides one. In fact, there are 16 million bikes in the Netherlands and 16.5 million people. So seriously, everyone has a bike. I asked Sigrid when do children start learning to ride and she said, ‘As soon as they can walk!”

There are barges to carry bicycles and cars across the canals

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Here is the bicycle parking lot

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What makes the Netherlands an ideal biking country is the intricate bicycle network and infrastructure. Here’s an example

Above, you can see seperate signage pointing bicycles in the right direction and telling you how far something is

There are certain elements to Dutch (Oma) bike that I wanted in my new bike (the Trek Allant). These included fenders, stepthrough frame and an upright position. My actual Gazelle bike in the Netherlands was so heavy I actually could not lift it. But, because of the non hilly terrain you wouldn’t event know.

Prior to my trip I ordered several panniers (one set not pictured) that Sigrid kindly agreed to accept delivery of for me. They were on sale there and with the free shipping ended up being almost half the price as they are here in the US.

These has enclosed clips that allow me to easily attach them to my back rack.

This summer I’ll make some skirt gaurds too.

These prevent your skirt or coat from getting caught in the back wheel

And now, I have got to start working on a dress for the Seersucker Social in DC. Just two weeks away!

Amsterdam’s Kantje-Boord

19 May

L to R Sigrid, Sheila, me, Joana, Lynn, Hilde and Marta

My Saturday meet up with the Dutch PR crew took us to Kantje-Boord (K-B) about 25 minutes outside of the city center.

It is totally and completely overwhelming when you first walk in. There is lingerie fabric and findings EVERYWHERE.

Luckily, Sigrid was my secret weapon! She came prepared with a checklist of all the things I would need to make a set. Be sure to check out her lingerie tutorial section!

And, if you don’t have your own Sigrid, no worries, the woman at the cutting counter will remind you of everything you need.

One great thing about K-B is they will put together fabric packets for you. This takes a great deal of the guesswork out. They can also be ordered on line and are 20 Euro ($28 USD) per kit. That’s half the price of my RTW bras!


In addition, they have a dozen examples hanging on the walls of items that can be made.



It’s easy to go crazy in the store.

I couldn’t even count the many strapping and band options

But, I had a goal! I have several bra kits from Summerset’s Hooks and Wires. I just wanted some contrasting materials and to put together one new complete set for me.

Considering I couldn’t quite remember what I had waiting for me at home. I did pretty good with the matching!

Here’s the set Sigrid helped me put together.

And here are some gift stretch laces that Hilde picked up at the regular SAturday morning fabric market in Utrecht. I love Hilde. She and I both have a passion for vintage sewing machines. When she told me handcranks were practically free in Holland, I had a moment considering if I could liberate one from her and have it as my carry on for the flight home. You think I’m playing….

Hilde, Joana, Marta and Sheila were so very patient with us.

Can you beleive I’m looking at these photos and wishing I bought *more*?  I’m deep in to two UFOs, but am tempted to put them aside to tackle a new bra!

After this, we headed back to Central Amsterdam. On Els’ suggestion, I had picked up the moustache sleeveheads and basting thread.

Again, I fear I kept these lovely women out longer than they planned. I thought I would hang out a few hours and squeeze in a museum. But, seeing these friends may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. It was worth every moment. Thank you again!!

Tomorrow is ‘Bike to Work Day’ in Baltimore. So, my weekend post (if I can pull it together) should be about actual biking in Holland. And, showcase the obscene amount of bike paraphernalia I picked up.

Please, treat the artwork with respect

18 May

Because of usually high temps (which were a boon for us) the field of tulips I remembered never materialized. Because of the warmth, the tulips bloomed early. But, happily there were still some in the fields.

This also made me realize it was 23 years to the same Mother’s Day weekend I had been in the Netherlands the first time! I remember because I bought my mom roses and a black corduroy  skirt from a flea market. I think she still has the skirt actually.

I think the memory of the tulips all those years ago cemented them as my favorite flowers.

Luckily we stopped at Keukenhof where the curators were keeping the flowers alive out of doors and inside a massive greenhouse / display.

They had displays up in a pagent manner for different dresses.


*cough*  I may have stood in line to pose with  in the wedding dress.

There were many tulips to see at the gardens which were beautifully curated



My favorite memory of the garden though is this sculpture and sign.

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“Please. Treat the artwork with respect.”

You know, don’t tease the artwork because it’s not Michaelangelo’s David! It’s not the scultpure’s fault he wasn’t made into the Thinker. Not everyone can be Lady Justice! Show some respect! Heh. I know. I’m juvenile.

In Which I Eat My Way Through Holland

17 May

How can you travel without eating any and everything? Plus, I convinced myself that biking each day would cancel out all the foods I planned to inhale.

My first foray into Dutch food was a big fat serving of  frites with mayonaise. Possibly this was something I ate almost daily. I’m not sold on the mayo, but ketchup wasn’t hard to come by.

On board the boat, we were also treated to amazing Indonesian food and a special breakfast of crepes and poffertjes. The poffertjes were so good that when I got together with sewing friends on Saturday, we sought them out at the open air market.

Poffertjes, little puffy pancakes served with powder sugar or syrup.

Trena and I both caved for stroopwafels. Now,  I’ve had them pre-packed from Trader Joe’s so I had a sense of what they would be like.

But, let me tell you that popping hot fresh ones made to order are the things dreams are made from.

Our last night’s dinner was at Bolhoed (the Dutch word for a bowler hat) in Amsterdam.

I had the Bolhead special with fresh white Dutch asparagus. Can I just tell you I bought strawberries at the market that actually tasted sweet and like strawberries?!?

A dining companion went with the quiche.

Trena, had chocolate.

I’m also happy to report that beer costs as much as bottled water in the restaurants. I don’t actually like beer so I thought I’d try a lambic. Trena thinks it tasted like cough syrup.

How Do We Know Each Other? Oh, You Know. The Internet.

16 May

Our fellow travelers asked Lynn, Trena and I how we knew each other. It was great fun explaining PatternReview.com and how we had friends in the Netherlands. We gathered together in a little town called Nieuwport. How cute is this City Hall? The canal flows right underneath.

It really warms your heart to know how generous our community is. Really. These days, isn’t the most precious gift time?  I was looking forward to this ALL week. And not in that, ‘What will we talk about? What will we do? I hope they like me!” kind of looking forward. But, the ‘Woot! Woot! I’m going to see long lost friends!!” looking forward.

I was rather sad about missing PR Weekend in Chicago last weekend. It looks like it was the biggest turnout ever. But, honestly? This was just as good!
I had the pleasure of first meeting up with Sigrid, JoanaMarta, Hilde in a little town called Nieuwport. And truly, when you start talking, you feel like you’ve known them forever. I also learned that in the Netherlands, you greet with three kisses on the cheek. You can believe I’m going to be whipping that one out  at my next greeting.

Lynn, Trena and I joined them for some espressos, tea and wine.

Joana wanted our opinion on some handbags she crafted. I tried to buy the velvet bag Sigrid is holding below but Joana wasn’t selling them yet.

The time flew! The next thing I knew it was minutes to 10:00 p.m.! We’d kept them out all night.

I have to go on the record here to say that there is nothing better than traveling overseas and meeting people you ‘know’ that you never thought you would actually meet. It shows you how small the world is and how far reaching the internet has become. This is officially my thing. Wither I goest, you will be called / e-mailed / stalked until you agree to meet with me. I really cannot express how much I enjoyed my evening.

Plus, we left with magazines!

I’ll post about our second rendezvous seperately which was a visit to Kantje Boord. Be still my heart.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

16 May

I’m back from a week in Holland! The weather cooperated and it was gorgeous just about every single day. The one day it rained in the morning, I decided to stay on the boat while others cycled. It was perfect, I took pictures along the canals and caught up on some reading.

I have to say after seven days on a boat I swore the ground was moving underneath me at Amsterdam Airport!

Here’s a quick rundown of what I wore during the week. While there for seven days, I just have a few photos because I was washing every night in my sink.

RTW top purchased in Panama. Patrones skirt from issue #252.

New black Burda bubble skirt from August 2007 mag. Top so old I don’t remember making it. I think it’s a Vogue. And it’s clearly before I knew how to do an FBA. Or that I needed one. Dude.

Blue version of Burda bubble skirt and anonymous Vogue top. This top is at least seven years old. Even in my sports bra this top screams FBA ME!!

Burda tunic from August 2008 magazine. I wore this a bit more than planned. It was great on the cooler days and it was the only top I brought with sleeves.

I also worked in about three RTW Under Armour sleeveless tops with two different zip up hoodies for layering.

Now, truth be told. I put the knits in the washer last night with Tide Sport and a healthy dose of ammonia. I don’t know that these tops (and dress) are going to make it. They smelled a little funky after a serious washing. That being said, two of the tops are so old I can’t remember making them and the new top and dress won’t kill me to remake my dress.

Per my routine, I have half a dozen travel posts mentally planned and will just throw them up as I complete them. I can’t wait to tell you about the sewing friends meet up(s)!

Final photo: I try and get pictures of mail boxes in different countries. There were two styles in the Netherlands and I seem to have just captured one. Pooh.

I take mailbox photos because they are something that exist everywhere, but each country has their own spin. I am sad to report that due to my clumsiness, my backup hard drive that stored my mailbox photos died :( So, I’m starting my collage / collection all over again.