Thursday, 21 July 2011

Knit Nation 2011

I know, I know, I promised a blog post after Knit Nation, and it's taken me ages to do it! Sorry! Work has got in the way, plus the fact that I have a million and one things to do before we set off for our holiday after work tomorrow.

Where to begin? Well, I set off last Friday after school to meet up with my dear friend snoopydog and we travelled down to London on the train. There was much chatting and knitting, and before we knew it, we were passing the Olympic stadium in Stratford and we'd arrived! Everything went smoothly, and before long, we'd arrived at our room in Imperial college (student accommodation has certainly improved since I was at university!) We headed to the student bar for a bite to eat, bumping into Minniemoll en route. Pizza was the order of the day, and after food, we headed back for an earlyish night. We knew we'd need all our energy for the marketplace the next day!!

And how right we were!! We headed straight to the registration desk before breakfast, where I had a quick chat with Alice, picked up our student passes and Knit Nation bags,

Knit Nation purchases 004

and fortified ourselves with breakfast! I usually have a bowl of porridge at home, but managed to polish off a plate of sausage, bacon, scrambled egg, beans and mushrooms, as well as a bowl of fruit!! Oink Oink! We kept spotting familiar faces from Ravelry ravatars which was a lot of fun! The canteen was full of knitters, all sporting their 'best' handknits. We had decided against it, remembering the heat of the marketplace last year!
A crowd was gathering around the entrance to the marketplace just before 10 o'clock, so we went to join them. I spotted Lily and her Mum, Amanda, so went to say a quick hello. Then the doors opened and the shopping began!!

Although many of the traders were the same as last year, both Snoops and I had a different focus to our yarn buying. Last year, bright multi-colours were in, whereas this year, we were both looking for semi-solids!! Isn't it strange how your tastes change? I went for shades of purple while Snoops went for shades of blue. Wanna see what I bought?!

Yarn from Old Maiden Aunt, Nimu Yarns, The Natural Dye Studio, Madeline Tosh and Socktopus! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!! (It's not all for me, some is for swaps!!) Mostly fingering weight, with a couple of skeins of laceweight thrown in for good measure!

Knit Nation purchases 002

Fibre from Juno Fibre Arts. Two braids of alpaca and merino, one braid of angora and tussah in the colourway 'kitten' (so, so soft!) and two braids of silk.

Knit Nation purchases 003

Stitch markers, highlighter tape and dyes! I have some skeins of undyed yarn in the depths of my stash, and have been wanting to have a dabble with dyeing for ages!

Knit Nation purchases 006

The market place was busy and trading was brisk! There were so many lovely yarns that I could have bought, but I had to (try to) be sensible! You may think that I failed abysmally, looking at my purchases! We broke up the shopping with a lunch break in the knit tea salon, where Ysolda had her photo booth. You could also try on various of her designs from Little Red in the City. Everywhere you looked, there were people knitting! I thought that there were more young people there this year, which was great to see. Anything to rid knitting of its 'granny' image. Here's a little taster of the marketplace. There are loads more photos on my Flickr page here!

Knit Nation 2011 montage

On Saturday evening, we met up with the Norfolk contingent of the Fall in Full Color club run by Anne Hanson. It was great to put faces to our Ravelry friends Janet and Gina, and we were delighted when Anne Hanson herself asked if she could join us for the evening!

Knit Nation 2011 223

The event was all in aid of Refuge, and there were some amazing yarny prizes. The vendors, designers and Ravellers had all been exceedlingly generous. Sadly none of the prizes came our way, but it was lovely to see Lily winning a shawl handknit by Anne. Here they are together.

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The next day, Snoops and I were up at the crack of dawn to get packed and ready for an all day sock design class with Cookie A. She went through the basics of top down sock design, giving us lots of things to think about as we chose our stitch patterns. I had a seed of an idea in my head, but couldn't find the exact pattern I was looking for. Mia had a stich-a-day calendar, and found this pattern for me.

Knit Nation 2011 228

It wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I used it as a starting point. It hadn't been charted, and as Cookie is a great advocate of charts, we had to chart out the design first. I showed my complete ineptitude with charts by forgetting that I'd be knitting it in the round, so my chart had alternate knit and purl rows! Duh! But I did a little swatch of the pattern.

Knit Nation 2011 231

The speed that some people knitted at was amazing. Mia knit continental, and it was like watching a machine. She had the cuff done in no time at all! At the end of the class, Cookie talked about each sock, and problems we were likely to face when dividing for the heel.

Knit Nation 2011 235

I shall play around with my pattern once the school holidays start, and then show you how it's coming along! It was such a fantastic weekend. We came home exhausted but happy! There isn't going to be a Knit Nation in 2012 because of the London Olympics, but fingers crossed it will be back in 2013. At least it'll give me a couple of years to knit up this year's (and last year's) purchases!!!!

I am off on my holidays after work tomorrow. Mr JK and I shall be spending just over a week travelling around Germany (I have plenty of plain socks to knit!), and on our return, we'll be fetching Elsie and Florence! I can't wait!! See you in a week! Have a good one! xxx

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Tour de Fleece - week 1

A very quick post this morning, because, would you believe it, I have to go into school for an all day planning meeting!! (I feel decidedly grumpy about it now, but won't when I have the holidays free!)

I've been busy spinning this week as I've joined the Tour de Fleece group on Ravelry. I'm in Team Superfleece, and am having a lot of fun. It's a laid back group, so there's no presssure on the spinning.


I started the week with some BFL fibre from Abstract Fiber. It was part of my amazing swap parcel from Kim. The colourway is ink, and it's a beautiful mix of deep purples. I ended up with about 300 metres of fingering weight yarn, so enough to knit a small shawl. I'm thinking about a beaded Les Abeilles.

Tour de Fleece days 1 and 2

Then I moved onto some fibre from SpinningAwesomeGood, a mix of BFL and Tussah silk. It really was incredibly soft and a delight to spin with. I was excited to see how it would come out when plied, it's always rather a magical moment to see what colour combinations emerge during the plying. I spun it into another fingering weight yarn, this time 310 metres. Not too sure quite what I'll knit with it - probably a scarf or shawl!

Fresh Cactus - Tour de Fleece 2011

The last fibre I've been spinning is 100% alpaca from Colourful Designs. It was quite hairy to spin. I split the fibre in half, and spun one half as it was. The second half I split into smaller lengths to increase the number of colour changes. You can see what I mean from this photo.

Tour de Fleece day 7 007

It's plied now, and I've got about 280 metres of fingering-ish yarn! I love the different colour combinations from the plying, don't you?

Tour de Fleece days 6, 7 and 8

I'm going to be working on three braids of Corriedale fibre this week, and I'm going to see if I can add a little more twist. I'll show you later in the week how it's going!

Finally, a couple more photos of the 'girls'. We went to see Florence and Elsie again yesterday. When we arrived, they were both snuggled up together.

Elsie and Florence - more bonding 013

Florence was an extremely purry, affectionate little cat this time, and I don't think she is going to have any problems settling down when she comes to live with us.

Florence - all relaxed and purring

Elsie was more relaxed with us this time, although still quite timid, but we did manage to get a teensy purr from her by the time we left.

Elsie - a teensy purr - eventually!

Mr JK is on cat visiting duties next weekend whilst I'm at Knit Nation with Snoopydog! You can expect a full report on all knitterly proceedings when we return! See you! xxx

Saturday, 9 July 2011

A nice cup of tea

a nice cuppa (1)

The British love their tea. It is the solution to any crisis. I'm a huge fan of the humble cuppa. I would probably say that it is my favourite drink. We have a large selection of mugs here in the josiekitten household, lots of them cat-related! Some bigger, some smaller, some chunky, some more delicate. But each is just perfect for a mug of tea. I like Yorkshire tea, (milk, no sugar!) and drink it piping hot. I usually use teabags straight in the mug, but we do sometime brew up a pot, in which case, a tea cosy is required to keep the teapot nice and snug.

Lovely cuppa 003

This tea cosy belonged to my parents, and was used everyday as far back as I can remember. It's a bit felted, and tea-stained, but I love it! It's full of memories of tea time, when we all sat round the kitchen table and had a proper tea every day of sandwiches and cake.

If all this talk of tea has you reaching out for the kettle, why not go one step further? Marie Curie Cancer Care are asking people to hold Blooming Great Tea Parties to raise money for Marie Curie nurses. They do a fantastic job providing free care for people with terminal cancer and other illnesses. What could be better than drinking tea and eating cake with friends and raising money at the same time? It's a win-win situation!

Simply Knitting magazine have got together with Marie Curie Cancer Care and come up with a competition to knit a tea cosy for their Blooming Great Tea Party teapot. It's a large, flat cardboard prop that is travelling around the country, visiting various tea parties. There is a great prize for the winning tea cosy too. So why not gather together your knitting friends and drink tea, eat cake and knit, all for a great cause. I'm going to see whether my knitting group are interested - it should be loads of fun, and we already drink tea and eat cake each time we meet, so we're almost there!!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Here come the girls!

Lots to show and tell you about today, great excitement in the josiekitten household! We went to visit our 'girls' again today. In a month's time, when we get back from our holiday, they'll be coming to live with us. They were both rather timid to begin with, but by the time we left, Florence, who is 10 months old, was much more relaxed, and almost on the point of purring!


Elsie, who is 6 months old, was less sure of us, and was still all big-eyed and wary when we left her. Hopefully, she'll remember us when we go back next weekend. We can't wait until they're properly ours!


I followed Minniemoll's suggestion for using the Noro sock yarn and knit another sample sock for my LYS, this time knitting from both ends of the ball, knitting 2 rows from one end and then 2 from the other end. If I got a colour combination that I didn't like, I simply wound that section of yarn out! I also used a larger needle to see how the knitted fabric felt. It was much softer and less dense than on the other sock.

Noro stripy sock (3)

I also finished my Ishbel shawl. To say I am pleased with it is somewhat of an understatement! I am so chuffed with myself, it's quite ridiculous!! It's knit using some yarn that I spun from The Thylacine - a blend of 70% Blue Faced Leicester and 30% silk, and I just love how it turned out! I added beads using the crochet hook method for the last two sections of the chart, and they just finish it off perfectly. I've made it as a gift for Alexa - we shall be staying with her when we are in Munich in a couple of weeks time. It's going to be hard to say good bye to it, but I know it's going to a good home!

Handspun beaded Aegean Ishbel

I had a tiny amount left over - enough for an Innocent smoothie hat and maybe a sock yarn blankie square. Belinda insisted on modelling this one, and was most put out that I hadn't added any beads to it!

Innocent smoothie hat of the week 37

The Tour de Fleece began yesterday, so I've been busy spinning. I've spun up the fibre that Kim sent me recently - it's a beautiful deep inky purple colour. I've still got to skein it, so you'll have to make do with a photo of one of the singles. I'll show you how the finished skein looks later this week.

TDF day 1 2oz Abstract Fiber 'Ink' 003

The garden is getting into full swing now. We have eaten almost all the broad beans, and are currently enjoying peas, mangetout and cucumbers. Mr JK picked the first tomato today, so it won't be long before I'm taking handfuls to school in my lunch box. Yum! He also picked the blackcurrants yesterday, and is making blackcurrant wine out of them! They just look like little jewels, don't they?

blackcurrants (2)

We are enjoying a little tub of flowers in the garden. A few years ago, on a trip to Ireland, we bought a packet of Irish wild flower seeds. Mr JK found the packet kicking around the shed, and sowed them, just to see what would happen. There has been a delightful mix of pretty flowers for the past week. Poppies, cornflowers, plus many more that I recognise but am ashamed to say I don't know their names.

Irish wild flowers (9)

I'll leave you for now with a photo of a visitor to the garden - a hedgehog! We're not sure if he is residing chez josiekitten, or was just passing through. We'll keep an eye open for him this week and I'll let you know if there are any more sightings! Have a good week, and I'll see you soon! xxx

our hedgehog (3)