Sunday, 16 October 2016


My darling Mr JK died suddenly in the early hours of Tuesday morning. I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while as I grieve for my true love and best friend. xxx

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ally Pally and beyond

I've been looking forward to this weekend for a while now as the Knitting and Stitching Show (possibly better known as Ally Pally) has been in my diary for some months. I set off early yesterday to go on an organised bus trip. I like it because it's pretty much door to door service. I can knit on the bus and not worry about either driving into London or getting across London on the trains. Perfect! 

Although busy, I have seen it much crazier than yesterday. Perhaps now that the show is on for 5 days, the footfall is more spread out. I dropped off a load of yarn to the UK Hand Knitting Association who were collecting it for the charity Knit for Peace and had a chat with Juliet Bernard who was sporting a white coat and 'Yarn Doctor' name badge! Juliet co-ordinates all the Stylecraft Blogstars activities. I then did my usual 'up and down' the aisles, looking for anything of interest. I didn't go with a specific shopping list, but still came home with some rather nice treats. Three books - the latest Rowan book because I want to knit the poncho in it, a delightful Fair isle book (the 'easy' in the title sold it to me, as well as admiring all the samples there!) and a book of sock patterns which I had admired at Fibre-East back in the summer. Martin Storey was on the Rowan stand and very kindly signed my book for me. I felt a little bad interrupting his lunch but he didn't seem to mind! Three fat quarters of fabric called out to me - two kitty ones and one Christmas one. I also bought some sock yarn - 2 skeins of Socks Yeah! from Rachel Coopey. She has just brought out some new colours in the range and I loved the green. Debonnaire Yarns is another favourite and I couldn't resist a skein of sparkly speckled yarn. Finally a skein of sock yarn from Truly Hooked. The yarn is dyed by the same person who wrote the Sock Drawer book and she had a special deal on! I'm not one to miss out on a bargain!! When I'd finished my shopping and browsing, I went onto the Stylecraft stand to lend a hand there for an hour. It was so busy, I spent most of my time restocking the little cubbies with yarn. I also chatted with people about the new sock yarn, Head over Heels. It was fun to be a part of, but I don't know how they manage to do it for 5 solid days! Exhausting!

It's been a Happy Mail week here too. After dithering for a few weeks, I decided to order a book of mini patchwork projects from Love from Beth. I first came across Beth's designs at the Festival of Quilts the summer before last and I loved her style. In a recent blog post, she mentioned that people ordering her book would receive a pack of fabric to make one of the projects in the book until she ran out of packs. I was one of the lucky ones and have some rather lovely fabric (also designed by Beth) to sew a fabric dish. 

I  also received a skein of yarn from Laughing Hens - they got in touch with me recently and asked if I would like to do occasional reviews for them. Of course I said yes!! I knit some of the yarn on the trip to London yesterday and will report back later on it. But I will just say it's rather yummy!

Flo has been rather clingy today. Mr JK is away for the weekend running the Yorkshire marathon, and she is a daddy's girl! I was finishing off a project for the Stylecraft Blogtour coming later this month and she pounced on a skein. There's a video of her on Instagram if you want to take a look. Every ball and skein of yarn has to pass the 'Flo Squishability' test! 

I have lots of pattern writing to do over the coming couple of weeks, and with luck there will be a new sock pattern and perhaps more in a day or two. Pop back to see. xxx

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Just pootling along

Hellooooooo! It feels like such a long time since I was here! Hard to believe it was only last weekend. I've spent the week in Derbyshire on a residential trip with my class. It was a packed week with all kinds of adventurous activities such as kayaking, rock climbing and stream scrambling and the kids had a great time. It is a beautiful part of England with some stunning scenery and plenty of sheep too! I managed to fit in a few rows of knitting each evening sat outside the dormitories, waiting for the kids to fall asleep. As soon as they were quiet, I went to bed too, so I didn't make very much progress. Still, I've had a rather lazy weekend, filled with baking, knitting and sewing as well as catching up with what's been happening online. I had a mug of tea and cake to fortify me as I ploughed through a week's worth of photos on Instagram! It's a very delicious Marmalade cake - recipe here should you wish to try and make your own. If you like a cake with tang, it's worth a bake! 

I've been working on some secret projects for the Stylecraft Blogtour which starts later this month, so can only share tiny peeks of what I have in store for you for now. One of my designs is hopefully going to combine knitting and sewing, since I have become a little addicted to it in recent months. The last photo shows the start of an i-cord edging - I could be some time with this! I love the neatness of the finished project, so it will be worth it! 

I worked on a new sock pattern while I was away - using the new Head over Heels yarn from Stylecraft. I'm using a textured stitch pattern which hopefully shows off the colour changes quite nicely. I'm ready to decrease for the toe now, so ought to have the second sock on the needles by next weekend. The kitty bag is from ThreeBagsFull. Michele does have excellent taste in fabrics and I love how the lining matches so well. 

Talking of next weekend, I'm going to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday. I'll be on the Stylecraft stand at some point, so please stop by and say hello if you're there! I'm going to have a rummage through my stash before I go because UK Hand Knitting is holding a special event on their stand. They are asking visitors to take along any unwanted yarn to be donated to the charity Knit for Peace. In return you'll be entered into a draw to win lots of goodies. What a great idea. I know I have yarn in my stash that I'm unlikely to knit and it'll be going to such a worthwhile cause. If you're planning to visit Ally Pally this week, why not take along a couple of balls of yarn from your stash to make room for new purchases?! Have a great week, I'll report back on Ally Pally next Sunday. xxx

Sunday, 25 September 2016

This week .....

Florence has declared that Autumn is officially here, and has taken up residence in her furry igloo for the duration!

We travelled to Portsmouth for the weekend to celebrate my auntie's 99th birthday. She had a lovely day and was in great form, enjoying all the attention!

We spent a couple of hours going through some more things in my auntie's house - Mr JK sorted through boxes of sheet music and song books while I continued looking through cases of sewing paraphernalia. I was very interested in the sewing kits dating back to the Second World War (I assume), the colours of the sewing wools as vibrant as the day they were sold. One sewing project is partly done, it would be lovely if I was able to finish it one day! I am intrigued by the needle in the second photo - it's about 7-8cm long and looks like it could be made from either bone or ivory. I wonder what it was originally used for? I smiled at all the little rolls of silk thread, presumably for mending silk stockings! Life is definitely too short to do that these days, not that I wear silk stockings! 

The journey to Portsmouth gave me lots of car knitting time when I was able to work on a secret project for the forthcoming Stylecraft Blogtour. I can't tell you any more than that, my lips are sealed!

I am away all week on a school trip, so will see you all, rather bleary eyed, next weekend. Before I go, I want to share with you a very exciting Designer Knit and Crochet Along which launches tomorrow. KnitPro is holding its first ever knit and crochet along in aid of global charity Knit For Peace, called the KnitPro Designer-along. Having seen some of the pre-launch photographs, I am really excited about this KAL/CAL. You know how partial we are to blankets and cushions here in the josiekitten household. Well, KnitPro has worked with a number of high profile designers and magazine editors who have created 12 gorgeous blanket squares. I love these tempting photos that they have released to tease us with!

They include Debbie Bliss, Arne and Carlos, Erika Knight, Jane Crowfoot and Debbie Abrahams. Each week for six weeks one crochet and one knit design will be released. The patterns will be downloadable from the Knit For Peace website in return for a donation of £1 – all of which will go to the charity. Each launch will feature a giveaway of products from the new KnitPro collection. At the end of the six weeks KnitPro will also be releasing all the designs in an e-book with ideas for blanket layouts using the squares and instructions for different borders. Check out KnitPro's Facebook page here for more details and competitions. I am going to try to take part and hopefully improve my crochet skills. I hope some of you will join me! I'll be downloading the first patterns next weekend. See you next weekend. xxx

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Just me and Flo

I'm home alone this weekend. Mr JK has been running in a 24 hour race - you run as many 10k circuits as you like over a 24 hour period. (Yes, I know, my husband is officially bonkers!) As it involved camping, I declined the opportunity to go with him, as I prefer a proper bed and a nice bathroom! The very thought of a portaloo makes me shudder! So Flo and I have kept each other company. She has definitely missed Mr JK, and has spent the past two nights snuggled up to me on the bed. 
Yesterday, I went to see my dear friend Snoopydog for a long-overdue day of sewing. Snoops had admired my Contact Print cushions ...



Contact Print cushion no2 (1)

... so for her birthday, I gave her a kit to make her own cushion. We set a date towards the end of the school holidays but Snoops had the chance to visit Provence at the last minute, the lucky thing! So Saturday was set aside for sewing. Of course, the first thing we did was catch up with our news over a cuppa and cake!

The instructions for making the cushion cover are here on Crazy Mom Quilts blog. They are very clear and easy to follow. First Snoops arranged the mini charm squares in a pattern that was pleasing to the eye. Actually quite tricky to avoid pattern/colour repetition too close together! Anyway, this arrangement worked well...

The patterned squares are joined together in long strips, with plain blocks in between. Then each strip is separated from the next by a narrow strip of plain fabric, with wider strips at the top and bottom. 

The cushion front needs to be ironed before basting the wadding to it and trimming it nice and square. Rotary cutters are so handy for this.

After that, it's full steam ahead with the quilting. Snoops used a straight stitch. Next time I make one, I might try a wavy one and see how I like it. There are so many different stitches on my sewing machine, it would be good to try a few new ones out.

I had already picked a spotty backing fabric for the cushion, knowing just how particular Snoops is about details like that! The cushion has a simple envelope opening which is fairly quick to sew once all the lines of quilting have been stitched.

All that's left is to turn the cover round the right way, put the cushion inside and plump it up nicely! I think it's fair to say that Snoops was feeling pretty pleased with herself, and quite right too! I predict that this will be the first of many she will be making!

Today, once I got my planning out of the way, I worked on a couple of secret projects for Stylecraft. I'll be taking part in their Blogtour which starts at the end of next month, so you'll have to wait a little longer to see what I've been making! Here are just a couple of sneaky peeks!

Of course Flo had to be in on the action. I had pinned out my knitting and left it on the table in the garden to dry in the sun. Next time I looked out, Flo had plonked herself slap bang in the middle of it! And she did not want to move, no indeed! I was worried about her hurting herself on a pin, so eventually managed to turf her off! I promise to share some of the photos later! By the way, I am considering hiring Flo out for blocking knitwear. Very reasonable rates. Let me know if you're interested! Now I will love you and leave you for today and get back to my knitting. xxx

Friday, 16 September 2016

Steek! Eeeeeek!

Steeking - taking the scissors to your knitting - is enough to make the uninitiated knitter shudder and shake in fear. It's not natural to cut knitting is it? Surely the whole thing will fall into lots of little scrappy ends and pieces? That's what I thought before I gave it a try. I actually did a tiny amount of steeking at the beginning of this year when I took a colourwork class at Loop. It wasn't the main focus of the class and our teacher, Juju, only showed us the basics on a small sample of colourwork knit in the round. When I came home, I did cut my knitting and lived to tell the tale! 

Loop Colourwork class (2)

This started life knit in the round. I'm not sure I can remember exactly how I did it now. I think a crochet hook was involved! I'd love to take another class on steeking. My friend Juliet Bernard is teaching a class at Black Sheep on October 1st. Juliet is an expert Continental and colourwork knitter so you'll be in very good hands! You get to spend the day knitting a rather lovely colourwork mug cosy and then perfecting the art of steeking. Juliet is great fun so you'll have a fabulous time if you go. Details of the class can be found here. If I lived closer, I'd definitely be there too! xxx

Sunday, 11 September 2016

And the winner is...

pauses for drum roll and gets pompom bouquet ready ...

Congratulations to you PixieFoxtrot!! Thank you to everyone who took part in the giveaway. All your names were put in a hat and one was picked out at random by Mr JK. PixieFoxtrot, please get in touch with me either on Ravelry or by emailing me at josiekitten123 at gmail dot com and I will get your vouchers to you as soon as possible. 

If you weren't lucky this time, one of my fellow Stylecraft Blogstars, Heather, over at The Patchwork Heart, has a giveaway right now to win £25 of Stylecraft vouchers - that's enough yarn to make your very own version of her beautiful Batik blanket, pictured above. So head over there NOW!! Good luck everyone and happy knitting and hooking! xxx