Thursday, 31 March 2011

Where are they now? 2KCBWDAY4


Whatever happened to your ...................?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Back in 2009 I joined a small knitting group. We met each week in a local pub, The Pigs. This pub, not surprisingly, is packed with all sorts of piggy memorabilia, and so I decided that what they needed was a pair of woolly porkers to add to their already substantial collection. I searched Ravelry for the perfect pattern, and found this. A quick rummage through my stash gave me an odd ball of Noro Kureyon yarn, and before too long, the Ickle Piggies were born!

piggies (4)

I have to say that I really, really liked them, and found it very hard to hand them over to the pub at my next knitting group. But I bid them farewell, taking comfort from the fact that they were sitting by the 'Pigs in Knits' sign, waiting for my return each week. They proved popular with the regulars, and people were even reputed to have offered money to buy them! Every Thursday Knitnight, I'd say a little hello to them as they watched down on us knitting with their black buttony eyes. The knitting group took a break for the summer, and so, it seems, did the Ickle Piggies. When I next returned to the pub, there was no sign of them!! No one at the pub claimed to have any knowledge of what had happened to them! Did someone steal them in a drunken moment? Were they bartered for? Wherever they've ended up, I hope that someone loves them and is giving them a good home together! They'd hate to be separated! Oink oink Ickle Piggies!

piggies (2)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches - 2KCBWDAY3


How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

When I was a young child, I was incredibly messy! My parents used to have enforced bedroom tidying sessions, where they'd almost disappear into a black hole of junk. I was forever making things, and these 'things' would all get pushed into my rather large cupboards! Tidying was a major event, lasting an entire day. Luckily for my parents, things did improve dramatically, and I was an unusually tidy teenager. This (I hesitate to call it an obsession, but Mr JK might beg to differ!) need I have for order and tidiness has continued throughout my adult life. I'm lucky enough to have a room where I keep all my crafty accessories, and I try not to let them spread out too much round the rest of the house (apart from my current knitting projects by the side of the sofa!) Mr JK isn't at all worried about my stash (he collects vinyl LPs and guitars, and they take up far more space!!), so it's all on show. Nothing is hidden away! Do you want a peek inside my room?

being organised 001

In one corner I have a shelving unit. This unit stores folders of patterns, knitting needles, all my knitting and craft books, buttons, beads ........... you name it, it's probably there! Yarn and fibre are all stored in plastic boxes. I have (ahem!) six of them currently! Here's my 'posh' 4ply box.

being organised 016

I do have all my yarn photographed and listed on Ravelry. I bravely looked at the total on the spreadsheet to see how much I've got. Are you ready? Sitting down? Just over 83 kilometres!! That's over 50 miles! Blimey! Not all the yarn is currently stored in plastic bags, but that's something I'm hoping to remedy over the Easter holidays. I have another box of 4 ply, laceweight, DK, single balls and garment quantities of yarn plus 2 fibre/spinning boxes. Oh dear, it sounds quite a lot, doesn't it, put like that?! At least the fibre boxes aren't bulging at the seams (yet!)

being organised 014

I'm not going to show you what's in all the boxes - if you want to take a look, you can find them on my Flickr page!

I'm a compulsive gatherer of cards whenever I'm at knitting shows, and these I keep on a little ribbon board. You just never know when they might come in useful!

being organised 020

Tucked into another corner is a work table with 3 drawers (one is currently storing my Innocent Smoothie hat collection for this year, another stores my swift and ball winder, and the third is currently empty!!) My sewing machine lives here, along with the ironing board (the only time it gets used is when I'm sewing!!), and of course, my spinning wheel.

being organised 023

I'm a complete sucker for lovely project bags to keep my knitting in. These are some of my favourites and come from Three Bags Full. I've always had a fantastic service from Michele, and I'm sure that I'll be visiting her shop again!

being organised 025

Alongside my knitting bags, I have a thick plastic pencil case that stores all my knitting notions - sewing needles, stitch markers, dpns, tape measure, scissors....... I'd be lost without it!

being organised 027

The one area I definitely need to improve on is how I organise my knitting needles. They are currently stored in several places, and to be honest, I don't know exactly what needles I've got. I'm sure that I've bought knitting needles when I didn't need to. How do you organise your knitting needles. Please share the secret with me!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Skill + 1UP 2KCBWDAY2


Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or even forms of knitting/crochet that you didn't even know existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of knitting needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Each year, I try to set myself some knitting resolutions. This year has been no exception. For Christmas in 2009, I was lucky enough to get a spinning wheel. Thus began a new stash - fibre! But did I start spinning the fibre? No! Why not? I was scared! I knew exactly how I wanted my spun yarn to look, and I was scared that I was going to fail! Luckily for me, my Ravelry and Blog friend Julia was so encouraging, that I finally took the plunge, almost one whole year after getting the spinning wheel. Yes, my first yarn was definitely an art-yarn, but it was knittable! And since then, there's been no stopping me! I went away on a spinning weekend, where I learned the art of corespinning, batt making, Navajo plying, adding beads and sequins to spun yarn, and my confidence has grown and grown! In a short space of time, I've moved from this ....

3rd try

to this .......

Pink Lady Apple handspun 009

I know that I've still got a long way to go as a spinner, but I've made giant steps too!

Besides spinning, I've learned another new skill - knitting backwards! I was knitting a spiral scarf that had lots of short rows. It was driving me nuts having to constantly turn the knitting back and forth every few stitches. There had to be a better way! So I Googled 'knitting backwards', found this link, and the rest of the scarf was knitted in no time at all! Here's how the scarf ended up.

purple ruffles (1)

For the past couple of years, I've had knitting with beads on my 'to do' list. Perhaps this will be the year when I get it sorted?! I've been accumulating beads (as you do!) for sometime, so I'll have plenty of choice. Who knows, maybe this time next year, I'll be showing you some beautifully beaded, handspun lace shawl?!

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns - 2KCBWDAY1


Part of any fibre enthusiast's hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loather about them.

I am rather a yarn snob, and I don't mind admitting it. I like nothing better than the finest merino, maybe with a little cashmere, some silk, or how about throwing in some alpaca for good measure! That's not to say that my stash only has expensive yarns in it, because it doesn't, but I don't mind paying that little bit extra for something truly gorgeous. I have recently come across a yarn that has taken my yarn appreciation onto new levels. I had been admiring a scarf that Anne Hanson had blogged about, and I left a rather tongue in cheek comment about how if she ever needed a test knitter for it, then I'd be more than happy to oblige. Thinking nothing more about it, I was delighted when Anne replied, saying she'd love me to test knit it, and she'd arrange to have the yarn sent over to me! The yarn comes from Great Northern Yarns, and is 70% mink and 30% cashmere. If, like me, the idea of mink makes you think of old ladies wearing rather dodgy fur coats, then think again. According to Craig, who runs the business, the minks are healthy, stress-free animals, sheared annually to provide the fibre for this most wondrous of yarns. To say it's soft is an understatement. I can honestly say that I have never felt such a soft, silky, light yarn. It is amazingly warm, and wearing it makes the yarn bloom to give a luscious feel. I've worn it loads already, and there's no sign of any pilling! I love it so much that I'm going to treat myself to some more (thus breaking my pre-KnitNation yarn diet) to make the infinity version of the scarf, all ready for next winter! Here's a picture of the scarf whilst it was blocking. It really is just dreamy!

Monkey Bread blocking 001

A yarn that I have tried very hard to love, is actually more a range of yarns from Noro. I am and always will be eternally grateful to Noro yarns, because it was a skein of Noro Iro yarn that enticed me back into a yarn shop after a gap of about twenty knitting-free years. I was completely entranced by the wonderful, vivid colours, left the shop with a couple of skeins and the rest is history! Here's the scarf that I made way back in November 2007, in my pre-Ravelry days!

The start of it all! Noro Iro scarf

I still love the colours, although my yarn tastes have changed over the years, and I find myself being drawn more and more to subdued colours and semi-solids. No, what irritates me about the Noro yarns I've tried is their scratchiness, their overspun bits, their underspun bits, the added bits of twig, the knots and breaks in colourways that completely mess up a colour repeat you're working on! Do you get the picture? I'm sure an awful lot of you would want to dive into this little lot .......

Noro colour children in a sweet shop, and have a good old rummage around. I'd probably join you! But given the choice, I'd rather have the mink and cashmere yarn! Which would you choose?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Let's twist again!

Welcome to British Summer Time! The clocks went forward in the early hours of this morning, so the evenings are going to be lighter from now on! Wonderful! We've had such a fantastic week of warm, sunny weather and blue skies. It's an instant pick-me-up! Mr JK is looking forward to spending some time out in the garden when he gets home from work. The greenhouse is already starting to bulge with plants chomping at the bit to be planted out. They still need hardening off, but if the weather stays warmer, it won't be long before the vegetable patch starts filling up.

The garlic is looking good - this year we're trying it in tubs.

Spring veggies 2011 (1)

Our neighbour gave us loads of shallots - he's been growing the same variety for years and years. I think they're almost a family heirloom, so I hope they do well for us too.

Spring veggies 2011 (3)

The first sowings of peas and mangetout have just appeared. Mr JK will sow some more a little later on so that we can have successive crops. You can't beat freshly picked garden peas for sweetness!

Spring veggies 2011 (6)

Mr JK normally overwinters his broad beans, but this year he's sown the seeds in the spring. It'll be interesting to compare yields with previous years. A couple of weeks ago I made broad bean risotto using last year's crop from the freezer. It's a simple recipe, but really delicious!

Spring veggies 2011 (5)

There's lots more on the go too - beetroot, cabbages, cauliflowers, leeks, courgettes, French beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and salad leaves. Can't wait for our self sufficient summer to kick into action! I've been busy knitting and spinning and crocheting too! I sent off some granny squares to the Crochet a Rainbow project. I don't find crochet anywhere near as satisfying as knitting, but I'm glad to have contributed a few squares to such a worthwhile cause.

crochet a rainbow 002

My Peasy is growing slowly but surely! I'm down to the penultimate ball of yarn now, so the end is in sight! I still love the design, luckily, so I'm sure that it will get lots of wear once it's done!

Peasy WIP getting there! (1)

I've done a swatch for the preKnitNation KAL I'm taking part in. Alice has designed a shawl, Spriteling, and the first clue is released on April 1st. I'm not a very experienced lace knitter, so hope that it's going to be within my capabilities! I'm using the Malabrigo sock yarn I received from Shelby as part of a 'Favourite Things' swap on Ravelry. It looks quite pretty!

Spriteling swatch 004

I've spun some more BFL fibre this week. It's another braid that I bought from the Skein Queen at IKnit in 2009. The colourway is called Fifth Avenue. I literally split the fibre in half, spun each half using the highest ratio on my wheel, and then plied the two together. I had a bit of a disaster during the plying, when the drive band on my wheel snapped! I don't think that I achieved quite the same tension when I started up again, as I can see a difference in the amount of twist. I was trying to get more twist into my finished yarn. It's better, but still plenty of room for improvement! I have about 170 metres of Worsted weight yarn, so I'm going to go hunting for a pattern to show off the colour changes.

Fifth Avenue handspun

I've signed up for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011, so all being well, I should be back here blogging every day next week. Mimi has come up with some interesting blog subjects, so do try to pop in, won't you! I'll say goodbye for today, and leave you with a picture of our tulips. See you soon! xxx

tulips 2011 (1)

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Scarf's First Outing!

What better thing to do on a sunny spring morning than head off along the North Norfolk coast? We ended up in Wells-next-the-Sea, one of our favourite places, especially out of season! The first thing I spotted was this road name. I wonder what the history behind it is?!

a day in wells next the sea 001

We headed down to the harbour. The tide was out, so you could easily see the channels through the salt marshes out to the sea.

a day in wells next the sea 018

I wore my new Monkey Bread scarf for the first time and I love it! I really want to knit the infinity version in a different colour way too. To say that it's soft and warm is an understatement. It is pure luxury! Craig is currently restocking his yarns, and I'm pretty certain that he does the mink and cashmere yarn in purple. If so, bang goes my yarn diet! I shall be completely helpless to resist! I wore it like this .....

a day in wells next the sea 012

and it also looks pretty good like this ......

a day in wells next the sea 014

We walked down the path, following the channel out to sea, to get to the beach. There were several families with windbreaks, picnicking on the beach. The beach is lovely and sandy!

a day in wells next the sea 038

Wells is famous for its colourful beach huts, set against a backdrop of pine trees.

a day in wells next the sea 024

Most people take great pride in their beach huts, and they are well maintained. We only saw a couple that were in need of a little tlc! It's really hard to pick a favourite. I quite like the yellow, pink and green one. It's called 'Dolly Mixtures' and they were a favourite childhood sweet! We always had them at my birthday parties! Which hut would you choose?

Wells next the sea beach huts

We finished up the Three Horseshoes pub in Warham. It's a really small, traditional English pub that serves a great pie and proper vegetables! Mr JK had beef and horseradish, while I settled on beef and mustard. Deeeeeeeeeelish! Despite the rather generous portions, I found room for some pudding (the sea air must have given me an appetite!) and syrup and nut sponge with custard went down nicely!

a day in wells next the sea 051

The only trouble now is that I feel rather sleepy. Mr JK has disappeared to 'listen to the football match on the radio'!! I think that I might just go and make myself comfy on the sofa with a cup of tea. Hope you are having a good Saturday too! xxx

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Loose ends

Another weekend has come and almost gone! I've been busy trying to finish (and catch up with) a couple of projects this week. First, I finished my Monkey Bread scarf. I knitted until I was almost out of yarn, and the result is a lovely, soft scarf that will be perfect for next winter. I bought some blocking wires especially this week. I ordered them from I Knit in London on Tuesday, and they arrived the next day! Pretty impressive service! I'm planning on knitting more lace this year, so they won't go to waste. There are no modelled photos I'm afraid, as it's been so gloomy here today. But here's how it looked blocking ......

Monkey Bread blocking 001

Can you see just how soft and cushy that yarn is? In case you're tempted, I'll remind you that it's from Great Northern Yarns. A restock is expected at the start of April, so you could treat yourself and get ready for next winter!

I had a bit of catching up to do with my Innocent Smoothie hats. I knit most of them last night while Mr JK and I were at a concert. The lights were left on enough for me to be able to see - most considerate. The man sitting next to me wasn't impressed however. I overheard him talking to other people in his group about how irritating it was!! My hands were pretty much in my lap while I was knitting on small dpns, so I was barely moving at all! As Mr JK (who can be relied on to give an honest view) didn't think there was anything wrong with me knitting, I carried on until I'd run out of yarn at the end of the interval, and then put my knitting away with a flourish!! Here are the hats of the week for weeks 15 to 20!

smoothie hats of week 15-20

I had a couple of little packages in the post this week. The first was from girlontherocks - a sheep spinner's WPI gauge to help me work out what weight yarn I've spun ......

WPI sheep

and a sheep needle sizer. They are so cute!

needle sizer

I also got 500g of undyed BFL fibre from Forest Fibres so that I can experiment with the ratios and tension on my spinning wheel, without using up my beautifully dyed fibre. They sell all sorts of wonderful accessories for spinners, so I'm sure that this won't be my last purchase from them!

This evening I'm going to sit down and crack on with my crocheted granny squares for the flood victims in Australia. There have been some pretty terrible scenes on the news this weekend of the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I wonder if there is going to be a co-ordinated knitting relief project for the victims? How on earth do you begin to rebuild your life after something like that? It certainly makes you reasses what's important, doesn't it?

I don't think that I shared Mr JK's Valentine card with you. How's this for yarny love?

valentine yarny love

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good week, and see you again soon. xxx

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

And so to bed ......

The past couple of days I've been busy working on a little project using up some of my handspun yarn. It was some merino cross fibre from EasyKnits in the colourway Zippy (I'm guessing there's a link to the children's programme Rainbow here!), and I spun it as one long single, before Navajo-plying it. The yarn was a bit lumpy-bumpy in places, but I loved the way the colours worked out, and a little seed of an idea for a pattern started to germinate! I swatched (aren't you impressed?!) and cast on, frogged and cast on again, and before long, I'd got underway. So let me present to you, without further ado, a Tuesday 'tah-dah' .........

And so to bed 003

I've knitted myself a hot water bottle cover! I'm rather a hot water bottle addict in the winter, and have hankered after a knitted cover for absolutely ages. This was knitted on 7mm needles, with a provisional cast on, and 52 stitches. I knitted it in the round, and incorporated a simple 12 stitch cable pattern on the front and back. I grafted the stitches together at the top, knitting the central 24 stitches in 2 by 2 rib until I ran out of yarn! I then undid the provisional cast on and grafted the stitches together to close up the cover. It's by no means perfect - if I was going to make another one, I'd cast on a few less stitches and increase at the sides for a couple of rounds, and do the reverse at the top, to soften the corners a little. But it's for me, it's chilly tonight, and I want to toast my tootsies on my hand spun, hand knit hot water bottle cover! Sleep well!! xx

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Rolling onwards ......

I can't believe it's Sunday afternoon already! The weekend has whooshed by, and I haven't done anywhere near all of what I wanted to! I've been busy working on the pattern I'm test knitting for Anne Hanson, over at Knitspot. The pattern is for a scarf called Monkey Bread (I'm not entirely sure why!) and it is made out of the most Delicious, Luxurious, Sumptuous, 'Died and Gone to Yarn Heaven' yarn you could ever imagine!! I can quite honestly say that I have never felt such a soft yarn before. It comes from Great Northern Yarns, and is 70% mink and 30% cashmere. Anne very kindly arranged for me to have some yarn to try out the pattern, and I was thrilled when 2 skeins of Deep Forest Green arrived in the post. The scarf is really simple to knit, with some relaxed cables. I'm making the narrower version, but will probably add more to the length, because I have plenty of yarn! I'm almost (but not quite) wanting the cold weather to hang about, just so that I can wrap myself up in it! There's a hat pattern too, and I think that I'll be ordering some more yarn to make myself one for next winter. A perfect noggin-warmer!!

Monkey Bread scarf WIP (2)

I've also been spinning again! I used some fibre that I bought from the IKnit day in London a couple of years ago. It's 100% superwash BFL from the Skein Queen, in the colourway Pink Lady Apple. Now they happen to be one of my favourite varieties of apple, although I don't buy them very often. Sweet and juicy, and just like the colours in the fibre. It really is the perfect name! I split the fibre and spun each half, before plying them together. I'm working on getting enough twist into the fibre, and obviously need a little more, as I had a couple of breaks whilst plying. But I'm really pleased with the yarn, and love how the colours have worked out!

Pink Lady Apple Handspun

Talking of spinning, I've been playing around a little bit with some of my handspun from last week! I have this seed of an idea for a project, so I did some swatching and calculating, and have cast on! I hope that I have enough yarn! I won't give any more away at the moment, but hopefully next week, I'll be able to do a 'ta-dah!' post!!! Here's a sneak preview ....

knitting a rainbow WIP 002

I took part in a 'Favourite Things' swap on Ravelry recently. You had to send some of your favourite things (both knitting and non-knitting) to your partner. I was in a three-way swap with Shelby and Nancy. I received a fabulous parcel from Shelby last week.

favourite things swap parcel from Shelby 007

In my parcel there was a skein of Malabrigo sock yarn, in wonderful shades of green, some handmade chocolates, a sheep soap, a fantastic box with little compartments for all your knitting notions, some stitch markers and some Chibi needles. Wow! How lucky am I?! Do you want a closer look at those chocolates?! I can't believe they've crossed the Atlantic, they still look perfect!

favourite things swap parcel from Shelby 008

What would be your favourite things to go into a swap parcel? I'd love to know! See you soon! xx