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

Saturday, 10 September 2016

First Tracks

First Tracks (15)

I am delighted to be able to share with you the first of my patterns designed especially for Head Over Heels, Stylecraft's new range of sock yarns. When I was at the Blogstars day in July and Annabelle told us that Stylecraft were going to be bringing out some sock yarns, I was excited beyond belief!! Socks are my very favourite thing to knit and I am really enjoying my ventures into sock design.

First Tracks (3)

As the colours in the range are all named after mountains, I decided to keep the mountain theme with my designs. Today, I bring you First Tracks. It's designed with the new sock knitter in mind. Having knitted a pair or two of plain vanilla socks, this easy to memorise ribbed pattern will add a little interest to a plain sock. Like the first skier leaving their marks down fresh snow, this pattern gently leads the knitter down the 'slopes' of stocking stitch to make their own marks on their knitting. Let First Tracks be your first venture into the world of patterned socks!

First Tracks (2)

Although the pattern is one size only, because it's ribbed, there is a lot of negative ease which means that it will comfortably fit a range of foot sizes. The simple two row pattern is easy to remember, making it perfect for both new sock knitters and for TV knitting or social knitting. It looks great in the self striping colours of Head Over Heels and would suit both men and women. The pattern is available to download for free from Ravelry and you can find more information here.

First Tracks (6)

I hope you like it! I can't wait to see your versions popping up on Ravelry. xxx

First Tracks (9)

Flo photobombing the sock shoot!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Giddy with excitement about Head Over Heels

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this new sock yarn from Stylecraft! Called Head Over Heels, it's a mix of 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon. Because the  team at Stylecraft have used a finer count wool, the yarn is softer than other similar sock yarns and can be used for socks, shawls and other accessories. It would make lovely colourful baby clothes too. I think that it's a brilliant addition to the Stylecraft yarn collection and has definitely filled a gap in their range. Each yarn is named after a mountain - Kilimanjaro, Matterhorn and Everest have short colour repeats for gorgeously stripy socks while Fuji, Olympus and Eiger have longer, more phased colour changes and stripes, so could be used both for sock and shawls.  You can find it online here for the very reasonable price of £6.49 for a 100g ball, and it will be in your local yarn shop very soon. I was lucky enough to be given a ball of each colour from Stylecraft. I was like a child in a sweet shop and didn't quite know which colour to use first! In fact, I had four projects on the needles during my recent holiday to Kos. and kept swapping between them! Pop back tomorrow - form an orderly queue, no pushing or shoving please! - and you'll be the first to see my latest sock pattern. xxx

Sunday, 4 September 2016

More vintage treasures

Earlier in the year, I showed you some of the lovely things I had found in my auntie's house. I went down to Portsmouth again last week to see her and called in at the house to check that all was well and for another little rummage. I wasn't disappointed! I had mentioned to Mr JK about a little cat picture that I had stitched as a present for my uncle and aunt when I was little. I thought, given my auntie's reluctance to throw anything away, that it had to be in the house somewhere, but where?! It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack! So imagine my surprise and joy when, in the very first bag I looked in, I pulled out this!

more vintage finds (2)

I can still picture the birthday card that I copied it from more than 40 years ago! The colours have stayed strong and it's not looking too aged either. I was over the moon to find this, I can tell you!

more vintage finds (1)

I love the little pink pads on the cat's paw too. I ought to get it framed or at the very least, hang it up n my craft room don't you think?

more vintage finds (3)

I also found a pile of old knitting patterns. I have only flicked through them so far, but there are some real classics - knitted bathing suits for example! Some of the patterns could easily be worn today, so you never know, I might get round to making something.

more vintage finds (4)

I imagine that I will find more patterns in another bag or box as things seem to have been squirrelled away in pretty much every room of the house. I came across a bag full of buttons - all carefully sorted and packed away in paper bags according to colour. This was the contents of the 'brown' bag...

more vintage finds (5)

... and here are one or two favourites that I picked out ...

more vintage finds (6)

Another yellowing paper bag revealed the crocheted edging to a table cloth. It's unfinished but the pattern is there and the live stitch is on a safety pin! It hasn't aged well and needs a good clean. I don't think I have either the crochet skills or the eye sight to finish it!

more vintage finds (7)

more vintage finds (8)

We'll be back in Portsmouth at the end of the month, so I will try to do a little more sorting then. I promise to share with you any crafty goodies that I come across. Don't forget that you still have time to enter my giveaway here. Plus remember all my sneaky peeks at projects? Stylecraft are launching some new yarns this week, so I'll be able to share my projects with you and (hopefully) three new patterns at the weekend! xxx