Sunday, 29 November 2015

It's beginning ... look a lot like CHRISTMAS!!! I love the build up to the Big Day and as it is Advent Sunday today, Mr JK and I have spent a most enjoyable afternoon putting up the decorations. It might seem early but we have always done so on the first Sunday of Advent. I love unwrapping all our Christmassy bit and pieces, collected over many years, each with a story to tell. We only decorate the lounge, except for German candle arches in a couple of windows elsewhere in the house, so it's not over the top. We also put up the Christmas tree my Mum had when she was a child. There are still a few of the original decorations, including some angels with rather surprised expressions. They must date back to the 1930's.

naughty angels! (2)

Yesterday I baked Delia's Creole Christmas cake. The fruit had been soaking in a cocktail of alcoholic beverages for a week and the aroma was intoxicating. Once cool, I added a glazed nut topping and it's now wrapped up and put away until Christmas.

Creole Christmas cake with nut topping (3)

I do have a few bits of knitting to share with you but our internet is not behaving this evening. So I will leave you for now and try again tomorrow! xxx

first Sunday of Advent

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Creating a bit of a stir

It's been a busy weekend here chez josiekitten. Yesterday Mr JK and I went into Norwich and managed to get most of the Christmas shopping done! In truth, our list is fairly modest, but I did breathe a huge sigh of relief when I'd crossed off the last name. I still need to find a few bits and piece for Mr JK, but I have plenty of ideas. Can't say any more as he will be reading this later!! Then we spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, preparing Christmas puddings for Stir up Sunday and soaking all the fruit in a 'definitely over the limit' cocktail of alcohol beverages ready for turning into a Christmas cake next weekend, as well as preparing a huge pot of lamb and Guinness soup, bread sauce and sausagemeat stuffing for the freezer. We make individual small puddings and a couple are destined for friends. The recipe is Delia's, it works perfectly every time!

Stir Up Sunday (1)

lamb and Guinness soup and soda bread (8)

I received a lovely squishy parcel this week from Marianne. It was the latest instalment of her Luxury Fibre Club. The colours are not normally ones I would have picked, but I really love the mix and am looking forward to starting to spin again. It's been way too long. This is the perfect carrot to dangle!

Luxury fibre parcel (4)

I have been knitting. In fact I have a pair of socks and a cowl to share with you. I just need some decent light and good enough weather to be outside to take some photos. It has been such a miserable weekend. The temperatures have dropped over the past couple of days and today we awoke to a dusting of snow! I had to scrape the windscreen before I could take Mr JK to run in the Norwich Half Marathon. I had even bought a cover for the windscreen last week but of course hadn't checked the forecast properly to get it out of the box!! Must try harder! Mr JK ran a good race, finishing in just under 2 hours. Apart from a Santa Run (yes, all the runners have to don a Santa suit!), that's his running done and dusted for the year.

first snow of winter 2015

I have a pair of socks for Mr JK on the needles right now - the yarn is from Sparkleduck and is in the Norwich City colours. It is pretty much striping round after round alternating between yellow and green. I shall insist that he wears them on match days!

Mr JK's Canaries socks (1)

Those socks are going to have to compete with a pair for me! I am itching to cast on with the Opal yarn that I bought last week at Festiwool. The rainbow colours and the sparkle are just what's needed to brighten up the dull days. I wonder how long it's going to be before I can resist the lure no longer and cast on? Call back again next week to see how I'm getting on. xxx

Sparkly rainbow yarn

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Festiwool 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I was offered a ticket to go to Festiwool in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. After re-jigging my diary, I managed to free up the day, and at the last minute, my knitterly partner in crime, Snoopydog, was also available! Marvellous! So bright and early yesterday morning, we set off, putting the world to rights and catching up with the goings on in each other's lives the whole way there. The only time we stopped chatting was when we needed to listen to the directions from the sat-nav, approaching our destination!! Festiwool was a new-to-me yarn festival, in its second year. The location was perfect, in a light and airy college with plenty of space to spread the vendors out. Before starting to browse, we enjoyed a cuppa and some rather yummy millionaire's shortbread at the bargainous price of less than £4!!! The college canteen was providing the catering, so we were paying student prices!! What a great idea and something that other shows might consider where possible. There has been some talk on Ravelry about there being too many yarn shows popping up around the UK. But seeing the number and variety of vendors at Festiwool, I don't think think that's a problem. As well as some old favourites such as Whimzy and Sparkleduck, there were lots of new vendors to discover. It really was an excellent mix of indie-dyers, spinning and felt making, knitting notions and accessories and local yarn shops with mountains of more affordable yarn. A very well organised event with plenty of friendly volunteers on hand should you have needed them. Here's a snapshot of my day ...

Festiwool mosaic 1

Festiwool mosaic 2

Festiwool mosaic 3

Festiwool mosaic

As well as all the stalls to browse, there was a demonstration of felt making, a question and answer session with the model Daphne Selfe who then took part in a fashion show along with students from Bedford College. Hard to believe that this elegant lady is 87 years old! 

Festiwool 2015 (134)

I was very excited when I spotted packs of the Stylecraft limited edition yarns, along with a copy of my Ripple Stitch Cushion!! I just had to take a photo!

Festiwool 2015 (100)

Snoopydog and I had a wonderful time at Festiwool and were there pretty much the whole day! So I bet you'd like to know what I bought! I surprised myself when I actually laid out all my goodies this morning! In my mind, I thought I'd spent a lot more. A lot of the little bits and bobs are destined for gifts. The sparkly rainbow Opal yarn is mine, all mine, as well as a very pretty drop spindle from Spin City. There are also two balls of chunky yarn that I am going to use to knit the Fiddle Muff and two balls of a striping yarn that I fell in love with. It's a mix of wool and acrylic and the sample that was knitted up on the stand looked fabulous! I think  a hat/cowl/mitts set might just be in order! My last purchase was a pot of black dye that I have plans for!! More about that another time!

Festiwool goodies

So thank you very much to the organisers of Festiwool for their invitation. Definitely worth the drive from Norwich and I very much hope that there will be Festiwool 2016! I'll be there! xxx

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Like a child in a sweetshop!

We have been visiting family down on the south coast of England this weekend and I managed to sneak in a visit to the most amazing fabric shop, The Eternal Maker. I first discovered them at Ally Pally last month and have spent several hours drooling over their website since then. The shop was even better than I had hoped. Not only did it have a cafe where I could park Mr JK with his newspaper and a mug of coffee, but there was lots of yarn and more fabric than you could shake a stick at! I ended up buying some pink linen and floral bias binding to make an apron and a couple of skeins of yarn for Christmas gifts. I could very easily have spent a small fortune on other fabrics and when I next go to the shop, I will have a definite project in mind. Anyway, feast your eyes on this treasure trove of loveliness!

Eternal Maker (5)

Eternal Maker (4)

Eternal Maker (6)

Eternal Maker (2)

Eternal Maker (8)

Eternal Maker (3)

Eternal Maker (7)

I did manage to knit on my travels and have almost finished a pair of socks. Photos soon, I promise! I need some good light, so it will probably have to wait until next weekend. Talking of which, I am super-excited as I have been invited to go to Festiwool on Saturday. It looks like it is going to be a lovely day, and I will tell you all about it on Sunday! Have a good week! xxx

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Changes of pace

Hellooooo! Have you missed me?! It feels like ages since I last blogged. We got back from Ireland yesterday and I've spent today catching up with various bits and bobs, including a morning in school would you believe?! I needed to get myself sorted out ready for the off tomorrow morning. Now I'm settled with a mug of tea, I can tell you all about the goings on of the past 10 days!

We spent the first couple of days in Dublin, but were fairly lazy as Mr JK needed to rest his legs prior to the marathon. Also, I was struggling to get over a heavy cold and cough, so was more than happy to take things easy. We did a little walking and said 'top of the morning' to Molly Malone. If I'd had a spare scarf, I'd have given it to her. She'll catch her death dressed like that!!

Ireland 2015 (5)

My credit card was rather naughty and went on a little spending spree. I visited two yarn shops - This is Knit and The Constant Knitter - and bought yarn that had been dyed in Ireland. A lot of it is going to be for gifts, but I wanted a couple of souvenir skeins to remember this holiday. Feast your eyes on this little lot! Which one is your favourite?!

more Ireland 2015 mob 3

After visiting the Marathon EXPO (think Ally Pally but for runners!) on Saturday morning where Mr JK picked up his race pack and I did some carb loading by sampling lots of the energy bars, we drove down to County Wicklow. We were staying in a small village near to Blessington. Blessington was a delightful town, with everything you needed including a bookshop/cafe/yarn shop with wifi which was to become a regular haunt during our stay. Our home for the week was a converted cattle shed close to the shores of Blessington lake.

Ireland 2015 (138)

It really was in a very beautiful setting as the following photos show. Lush green fields, hills and lots of sheep!

Ireland 2015 (56)

Ireland 2015 (57)

Ireland 2015 (60)

Race day dawned on Monday (a Bank Holiday in Ireland) and we drove into Dublin bright and early. There was a real buzz in the air and the city was full of runners. I left Mr JK so that I could get a spot near the start, and walked almost half a marathon during the day as I went around the city to cheer him on! Can you spot the man dressed up as a leprechaun in the second photo?! (Not Mr JK, I hasten to point out!!!)

Ireland 2015 (34)

Ireland 2015 (41)

Mr JK finished his first ever marathon in 4 hours and 20 minutes! He was brilliant and I am just the proudest person in the world. He was running for CLIC Sargent and has raised £1140 so far to help children with cancer. He loved the whole event and has already booked his second marathon!! 

The day after the marathon we were both lazy. I had managed to share my germs with Mr JK and we were both coughing well! (He actually ran the marathon dosed up on Lemsip!) A complete change of pace and feet up (in handknit socks, naturally!) was the order of the day! We did venture into Blessington for tea and cake, but that was about the extent of our activity.

Ireland 2015 (55)

On Wednesday, we drove through the Wicklow Gap down to the town of Avoca. The landscape was quite bleak and eerie with the low cloud.

Ireland 2015 (65)

You might remember the BBC series Ballykissangel  which was filmed in Avoca. We visited the mill which is the Ireland's oldest weaving mill, dating back to 1723. The colours of the blankets are just beautiful. We were able to take a tour around the mill and see a little of how the fabric is woven. I can see why they are so expensive!

Avoca mill Ireland 2015

The following day, we went up to the north of County Wicklow to visit the seaside town of Bray and the Powerscourt Estate. It was a truly magnificent house and we thoroughly enjoyed walking around the gardens. 

Ireland 2015 (114)

Ireland 2015 (125)

Ireland 2015 (99)

On our last day, we stayed more local, visiting Russborough Hall and stretched our legs walking around the estate. This was followed by a last visit to the bookshop for tea, cake and wifi!! It's hard to pick a favourite cake from the week - there were many!! I did eat some 'to die for' Rocky Road made with Mars Bars, Maltesers, Crunchie bars and marshmallows. Oh. My. Goodness!! So, so yummy! And believe it or not, despite my daily cake fix, I actually lost weight this week! I clearly need to make cake part of my regular diet!!

Ireland 2015 (93)

Yes, I did manage to do some knitting too! Huzzah! I'll tell you more about that another time. I think I've gone on long enough for today! There are loads more photos in my Flickr album here if you're interested! Have a good week! xxx

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Off to the fair city of Dublin

Mr JK and I are off to Ireland tomorrow! After a couple of days in Dublin, we head out of the city to the Wicklow mountains where we have a cottage for the week. We will be returning to Dublin on Monday as Mr JK is running his first marathon that day. I have knitting packed, including a rather lovely skein of yarn that I was seduced by at IKnit Fandango earlier in the year. Flo has given it her seal of approval, so I shall have to be firm and keep it away from her clutches! See you in November! xxx

Kylebeg swatch (9)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Another crazy nine patch cushion to celebrate Sew Saturday

I noticed that yesterday was Sew Saturday, an event created to celebrate independent fabric shops and haberdasheries. Although I didn't actually buy any fabric yesterday, I put to good use both the skills learnt from my most recent class at The Makeplace and the Liberty Tana Lawn pieces from Alice Caroline that I bought at Ally Pally last weekend. I have long loved Liberty Lawn, it feels so luxurious and comes in so many beautiful prints. I wanted to make another crazy nine patch cushion cover. My starting squares were slightly smaller than on my original cushion, dictated by the width of the fabric pieces so I ended up adding a border all the way around the cushion panel to make it 18" square. I absolutely love it and Mr JK thinks it's beautiful too! He did suggest taking it into the office to use on his chair there, but I was selectively deaf at that point!!!

sew saturday Liberty lawn patchwork cushion (2)

Here it is on the sofa, which looks rather messy! I have tidied it since seeing this photo.

sew saturday Liberty lawn patchwork cushion (7)

sew saturday Liberty lawn patchwork cushion (4)

Of course, Flo was keen to investigate this haven of squishiness and deemed it a perfectly acceptable alternative while she awaits the return of her Ripple Stitch cushion. That cat has good taste!

testing out the new cushion (5)

testing out the new cushion (7)

sew saturday Liberty lawn patchwork cushion (11)

testing out the new cushion (4)

Mr JK (also known as random number generator) picked poster number 4 for my tape measure cosy giveaway. Congratulations PixieFoxtrot, please email me with your details at josiekitten123 at gmail dot com or get in touch via Ravelry and I'll get your prize on its way to you. Thanks to all who entered and if you weren't the lucky winner, you can always hook yourself one using the pattern! Have a good week. I'll hope to pop in before we head off to Ireland on Thursday. Mr JK is running his first marathon in just over a week. xxx