Wednesday, 1 April 2015

I do NOT need another hobby!

But I'm tempted! I went down to Suffolk to spend the day with a friend. I have known Cheryl for several years, first through the UK knitting forum Phoenix Knitters and latterly on Ravelry. I had forgotten that I had made a felted tea cosy for Cheryl back in 2010 in my early days of swaps and it was lovely to see that it was still in use!

Cheryl got a spinning wheel fairly recently and I went down to do some spinning with her. I know just how helpful I found it watching someone else spin when I was a new spinner. I showed her how to Navajo ply as she is hoping to spin some gradient yarns and this is the best way of keeping colours separate. We spent the morning spinning and after lunch, Cheryl's daughter Heather showed me how she makes lampwork beads. It was absolutely fascinating, watching how a tube of glass becomes a bead. And guess what?! I had a go too! It was quite tricky and certainly has made me appreciate all the effort that goes into making the beautiful lampwork beads. You start off with a rod of glass which gets heated in a flame until it starts to melt. This molten glass gets wound around a thin metal rod called a mandrel and then you rotate the mandrel whilst heating it so that the glass melts and flows into a rounded shape. You can add all different adornments; I rolled one of my beads in some tiny chips of blue glass called frits and then continued heating the bead until they melted into the bead. Once you are happy with your bead, it is removed from the heat and left to cool for a couple of hours in some vermiculite. Then it is put into some water to loosen the bead release coating on the end of the mandrel, removed with some kind of pliers very carefully so it doesn't break and the inside of the bead is cleaned with a pipe cleaner. Here are a few photos to show you.

First, the coloured glass rods. Aren't they just beautiful? Sometimes the beads end up a different colour depending on what temperature the glass is heated to and if there are any other additions to the bead. Fascinating stuff!

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (4)

In this next photo I have already melted the end of a glass rod and wrapped it around the mandrel to make a bead, and am turning the mandrel in the flame. Towards the back of the photo, you can see a couple of white pots with mandrels sticking out of them. These are beads cooling in the vermiculite. 

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (13)

Some cooled beads that Heather had made earlier. You can see the bead release coating on the end of the mandrel; it's a bit like a coating of slip (used in pottery.) 

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (16)

Some examples of Heather's beads. They are just beautiful!

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (8)

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (6) 

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (7)

And finally, my own efforts! I shall sew a couple of bags and use them on the zippers I think. 

spinning and bead making with Cheryl and Heather (21)

It was so much fun making the beads, I would love to do more of it. Cheryl gave me the name of the company Heather uses to get her equipment and glass supplies from (what a good enabler!!) and you can take a look at Tuffnell Glass to find out more if you are interested! I don't have room for this new craft at the moment, but who knows what the future may bring! xxx

Monday, 30 March 2015

And then there were socks!

sock knitting weekend (2)

Evening all! I got back home from Devon earlier today after a busy weekend of knitting, cake munching and tea drinking! The sock knitting went very well. We started off with a mini sock so that everyone could work through all the stages of knitting a sock. None of the girls had used double pointed needles before, so that in itself was a challenge to overcome! Add to that some revision on casting on and how to purl and it took longer than I had expected to complete the socks. However, the sense of triumph and delight when the final toe was grafted was tangible! Here are our mini socks for you to admire.

sock knitting weekend (4)

We made a start on the 'proper' socks using patterns from the Violet Green sock pattern generator. I like the fact that you can customise the pattern for both foot length and width and have always found it fits well. Flora managed to get the ribbing done before she had to leave.

sock knitting weekend (6)

After a hiccup with her casting on, Kay decided to work on her sock at home that evening, so Diane and I spent the evening knitting away together with the cats keeping us company. (Shhhhhh, don't tell Flo!!)

sock knitting weekend (13)

sock knitting weekend (7)

Kay popped back for a couple of hours yesterday morning and got her ribbing established and was so happy to have learnt a new skill. Diane was determined to finish her first sock and make a start on its partner. Just before lunch today, we had a grand 'ta dah' moment when we were both able to show off our finished socks.

sock knitting weekend (10)

Perhaps even more exciting, a new knitter was 'born' this weekend! Diane's 14 year old son was watching us fascinated, and wanted to have a go himself. Needles and yarn were found, stitches cast on and some progress was made on a skinny scarf! I cannot wait to follow the scarf's progress!

sock knitting weekend (9)

The girls are planning to get together this week to continue knitting their socks, and Diane is already planning her second pair!! Success! xxx

sock knitting weekend (3)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Devon, I'm in Devon!!

Or at least I probably will be by the time you read this! I'm off to spend the weekend with a friend from University. I taught her how to crochet last summer and she wants to learn how to knit socks, having been on the receiving end of several pairs from me in the past! She's invited a couple of other friends to come along too, so I have been busy putting together sock kits!

sock kits (2)

The tote bags were a surprise extra from Shiela at I ordered three sets of double pointed needles from her and when she found out that I was making kits up for friends, she very kindly threw in the bags for them to carry all their sock paraphernalia around in. We are going to start off by knitting a mini sock to learn all the different stages of sock knitting, before starting on an actual pair. Just look at this little sock, so cute!

mini sock

I am hoping for a clotted cream tea at some point over the weekend as well as plenty of knitting and chatting. I'll report back on how everyone gets on next week. See you then! xxx

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Twinkle toes!

Evening all! I am celebrating the completion of my sparkly socks. I started them on the way to London last weekend and grafted the toe of the second sock this afternoon. The yarn was one of the skeins that caught my eye at Fibre East last summer, and I am trying to knit up my purchases from last year before buying souvenir skeins this summer. The pattern is Gabriola by Kim Swingle and knits up nice and fast.

sparkly Gabby socks (2)

sparkly Gabby socks (4)

sparkly Gabby socks (5)

As a reward for finishing my school reports, I went to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday. Mr JK stayed at home and I went by bus, so had plenty of knitting time! The show had a lot of things I was not interested in such as card making and scrapbooking,  but I did manage to bring home a few bits and bobs; four fat quarters, some tiny wooden buttons,  a kit for making a scarf, a dress pattern and a sewing magazine. The scarf looks like it will be fun to make, and I have been inspired by the British Sewing Bee programme on TV to have a go at sewing something for myself. Talking of the Sewing Bee, I was browsing at some fabric when I happened to look up and standing next to me was Ryan from the show. He was a lovely lad, very friendly and happy to chat.

Sewing for Pleasure haul (2)

This afternoon we made the most of the spring sunshine and went for a walk around the gardens at Blickling Hall. We are so lucky to have so many beautiful places right on our doorstep. Back soon, I am counting down the days until the Easter holidays. xxx

Bickling Hall (6)

Bickling Hall (12)

Bickling Hall (3)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Time Lapse no.2

We spent the weekend in London as Mr JK was running the Vitality North London Half Marathon today and I took the opportunity of some uninterrupted car knitting to make a start on my Fibre East sock project. Here's how the weekend panned out.

Friday 15:01 Norwich

Gabriola sock time lapse (2)

19:42 Chigwell - a delicious dinner at the Ghandi restaurant.

Gabriola sock time lapse (3)

Saturday 08:54 Woodford Tube station, heading into London for the day.

Gabriola sock time lapse (6)

09:38 Victoria Embankment, looking towards the London Eye and Westminster; perfect strolling weather.

Gabriola sock time lapse (7)

13:56 lunchtime carbs loading for Mr JK (and me!!) after browsing around Borough Market.

Gabriola sock time lapse (11)

Sunday 09:48 Allianz stadium, North London, after waving Mr JK off on his half marathon, some al fresco, rather chilly knitting!

Gabriola sock time lapse (12)

14:35 Woodford. A tasty snack in Costa Coffee before the drive back to Norfolk; finisher's medal worn with pride by Mr JK who finished the race in under 2 hours, beating his previous best by almost 15 minutes! Yay for Mr JK!!

Gabriola sock time lapse (14)

18:08 Norwich. Back home and ready to chill out. xxx

Gabriola sock time lapse (16)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

This weekend....

........  I have enjoyed the spring sunshine sat drinking tea in the garden. Bliss!!

March sunshine

........ finished spinning the first half of my braid of pink fibre.............

Pink Coast handspun WIP (1)

.............. and knitted the third of my blocks for my Love Squared blanket.

Love Squared WIP (2)

This weekend, Florence has enjoyed the sunshine outside.......

bench Flo

basking in the March sun Flo (1)

.........assisted me with some spinning.......

Flo helps spin (1)

.........  and kept a beady eye on the progress of 'her' blanket!

Love Squared WIP (3)

See you very soon! xxx

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Slow and Steady

spring tulips

I had to share this beautiful vase of tulips with you - they were a gift from friends who came to lunch last week and they are still looking stunning. I love the way the sun was shining on them this morning. Also making the most of the sunshine was Flo. She seeks out any sunny spot in the lounge, emerging bleary eyed from her igloo if there's a cat-sized patch within flopping distance.

sunny Flo (1)

I have made steady progress (oops, sounds like I am writing a school report) on my jumper over the past week. I am almost at the point of separating the body from the arms, so hopefully then things will speed up a bit. There is already one finished sweater in the KAL, I am a long way off that at the moment! I'm looking forward to getting to the striped in the body. Then I'll really feel like I'm getting somewhere! More next week!

My Roger That blanket has grown a little, I'm aiming for one pattern repeat a week. I can imagine that it's going to become quite heavy when it gets near to completion.

Roger That blanket 4 repeats WIP

I haven't done a great deal on my Love Squared blanket - I cast on the third block last weekend, but it hasn't grown very much. I took this silly photo for a competition on Ravelry! Perhaps if I leave the needles with the gnomes, they'll finish it off for me! Some hope!

Love Squared Bloch Ness WIP (3)

There's a KAL in the Fibre East group on Ravelry just started too, to help knit up stash from last year before this year's event. I have wound a colourful, sparkly skein ready for action. I just need to decide on a sock pattern to show off all the beautiful colours! Any suggestions? See you soon. xxx

Fibre East 2014 projects wound (1)