Sunday, 30 November 2008

Happy Stitches!

I met Lucy Neatby this week!!! She comes over to the UK every year as some of her family live in Norfolk. To cut a long story short, Meg, a knitting friend of Lucy's sister, asked Lucy if she would talk to a group of knitters, and she said yes!! What a great evening. Lucy was a really lovely person, and she came armed with lots of her knitting, as well as some beautiful yarn. She told us how she started knitting and designing, and inspired us with many photos of her work. She answered questions, and was happy to show us many of her techniques. She told us how she liked to make stitches happy, by having them surrounded by other stitches, and her logo reflects this.
Here are some of the items I was in total awe of........

As you can see, the colours were absolutely stunning. I bought two skeins of Lucy's yarn (ok, I know I said I wasn't going to buy any more yarn this year, but these were exceptional circumstances!!) - the colours of the yarns are truly glorious.

I'm going to use the lower skein of Celestial Merino (shade Blue Vesuvius) to knit this scarf. I think that I have fondled the actual scarves that appear on the pattern itself, as Lucy knits all her own items, except for having people knit them to check the pattern. Lucy showed me how to make the holes, and when she did it, it didn't seem that tricky! We shall see! I expect that the other skein of yarn will become a pair of socks!

And here is the lady herself....

It was a brilliant evening. And I think that I may have found a knitting group to join too. Thursday night is Knit Night - Meg's group meet at a pub fairly close to where I live, so I shall try to go this week. Now excuse me while I go and make some stitches happy!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A few finished items

I've been trying to catch up with a few projects over the last couple of weeks. I have far too many things on the go at any one time, and consequently, I don't seem to get very far with any of them! I think that one of my New Year resolutions ought to be to limit the number of projects I have on the go at any one time. Anyway, I have finished a couple of Christmas presents. And they are wrapped up and ready for giving! (feels smug!)

The first is a Rib and Ruffles scarf from Misti Alpaca, that I knitted in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky. It was a super quick knit, even though I made it wider than the patter stated. I started off with 108 stitches, which after 2 rows of knit togethers, gave me a scarf of 27 stitches. The second scarf is a Wavy scarf from Knitty. I used some almost antique yarn that I bought when I was working in Strasbourg, way back in the mid 1980's! Apologies for the dark picture, but it shows off the wavy pattern of the scarf much better than the one I took with the flash. Both of these scarves are Christmas gifts for my two classroom asistants, Charlotte and Rachel. The 3rd item is a pair of socks, using the Violet Green sock generator pattern, and a Trekking yarn, made for Mr Josiekitten's cousin, Monika. We are off to Bremen to see the family in a couple of weekends time, so I'm glad to have got them finished well in time! I still have numerous washcloths on the go, and have just started a cowl for Monika's mother, Tante Gerda. It's growing pretty quickly, so will be finished in a couple of days. I'll post a picture when it's done.

I've put my Feather and Fan scarf into hibernation until the Christmas holidays. I've decided that lace knitting isn't my forte, and I really need to concentrate hard on this. I think I shall use lifelines when I start it again, as it's so hard to sort out mistakes.

I've also bought some Noro Silk Garden to make a Noro Striped scarf, as tempted by the Yarn Harlot in one of her recent blog posts. I am desperate to cast on and see how the stripes develop, but will resist until I've finished off all my Christmas present knitting. But here's a photo of the yarn colours I've chosen, just to whet your appetite.............

Nice, don't you think? I'm hoping for some really earthy stripe combinations.

We had snow today too, so it was the ideal day for staying at home in the warm and knitting. This was the view out of the front window.

Sadly, the snow has pretty much melted now, so no day off school tomorrow for bad weather!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Getting into the spin of things!

I went on a spinning day at my LYS, Norfolk Yarn, at the weekend. There were three of us there, with a spinning wheel each! I had a go on the Ashford Joy, a lovely little compact wheel. Hmmmmmmmmmm, I thought to myself - this wouldn't take up much space back home!

The first thing we did was fondle lots of fleece, and I have to say that my tastes fall at the luxury end of the fibre market - alpaca, silk, merino, cashmere.......... We were each given a little pile of fleece, and shown how to card it.

Carding puts all the fibres in the right direction, and removes bits of debris! The carded fibre is called a rolag. We made a few before we were let loose on the wheels!

I have to say that I was complete rubbish when I first started on the wheel. I couldn't get it to go round the right way, and the fibre kept breaking. But things did improve, and after a while, I'd spun this much ...........................

Becky and her mum, Christine, were excellent teachers. We had regular breaks for yarn fondling/purchasing, eating yummy chocolate brownies and drinking mugs of tea. Before I knew it, I'd spun two bobbins full like this ............................

My second bobbin of yarn was much better than my first, with far less lengths of overspun yarn. It was amazing what we achieved in such a short time! Then came the plying - twisting the two bobbins of yarn to make one. To achieve this, you have to make the spinning wheel go the opposite way round (anticlockwise). I'd been brilliant at this at the start, when I needed to make it go clockwise, and it had gone round anticlockwise, but now all it wanted to do was go clockwise!! After a bit of gentle coaxing, I succeeded in making it turn the correct way, and produced one fat bobbin of plied yarn. This was then wound onto a niddy-noddy (what a great word!) to produce a skein of yarn.

Ta dah!

I still have to wash it and let it dry with a weight on it (not quite sure why that's needed), and then decide what to do with it!! There are thick bits, thin bits, overspun bits and underspun bits, but I don't care! I feel really proud of my first efforts at spinning, and I think that it probably won't be my last!

Monday, 3 November 2008

1st Knitaversary in the sun

Mr Josiekitten and I have just come back from a week on the Greek island of Kos. It's one of our most favourite places, and we try to get back there at least once a year. We were some of the last visitors this time, which was fine. The beach was empty, the tavernas were very quiet, and we had a thoroughly good time. Whilst we were away, I celebrated my 1st Knitaversary. It was during our holiday in Ireland this time last year that I got the urge to start knitting again. I was reading The Friday Night Knitting Club, and happened to come across a wonderful yarn shop in the town of Kenmare - Spin a Yarn. I popped in, fell in love with the Noro throw on the sofa, and the rest, as they say, is history! I came away with 2 skeins of Noro Iro yarn to make a scarf, and haven't looked back since. Right through my teenage years, all I wanted to do was knit, and my ambition was to have my own yarn shop. Somehow I ended up becoming a teacher! Once I started teaching, there seemed to be no time for knitting, and it just fell by the wayside. I didn't ever imagine that so many years later, knitting would once again become such an important part of my life. I knit every day, as far as possible, even if it's only a couple of rows. It's such a stress-buster, and it's nice to have a bit of 'me' time. I've managed to accumulate an impressive stash during the year, and love knitting socks and scarves!

I managed to knit some lovely socks on holiday. Mr Josiekitten asked me (a little sarcastically I felt!) if I'd got enough wool, when he saw the bags that I extracted from the suitcases! I do like to have some choice, so I knew I'd packed more than I needed. The first pair of socks I made were Waving not Drowning , using yarn from WildFireFibres. I love the colours - they look so pretty! I make no apologies for the 'Yarn Harlot-esque' photo. The beach really was that empty, and the sea was warm. The colours reminded me of bougainvillea, so I took some 'arty' photos of the flowers growing near our balcony. These socks will always remind me of hot, sunny days in Greece, and I will wear them on cold, grey winter days to keep me smiling!

I also started a pair of Tiger Feet socks for my favourite 2nd cousin, once removed, Norm! We stayed with him over the summer when we went to Canada. His house is full of hunting memorabilia, animal skins and the like! So I thought he'd be quite amused to receive these for Christmas. I knitted the first sock in a couple of days, and got up to the heel flap on the 2nd sock during the flight home. I shall try to crack on with this over the next few days.

The wonderfully snuggly 'Haven' scarf was also on my holiday knitlist, using Rowan Cocoon yarn. Just the name makes me feel all warm and cosy. I came up with what I thought was a rather witty name - a 'Kos-y' scarf, since it was going to be knitted on the island of Kos. ( I know, I'm easily amused!) I only managed 3 pattern repeats as it was a bit too warm to knit with, and also wasn't as portable! I can't wait to get it finished, as it's so cold and gloomy here on the north Norfolk coast. I'll post a picture when it looks more impressive!