Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Stroopwafels, sock yarn and soap!

Apologies for the long gap since my last post. Mr Josiekitten whisked me off to Amsterdam after work on Friday, and since getting back, I've been super-busy catching up with all the jobs I normally do at the weekend! The weather was glorious, and we spent the weekend walking by the canals, drinking coffee and eating stroopwafels, visiting local markets, going to a concert, eating a delicious dinner and going round the Hortus Botanicus. It was such a relaxing time. Here's a snapshot of our weekend.

Amsterdam weekend

We stayed in a lovely hotel on Herengracht, right up in the attic room. I don't know if you're familiar with Amsterdam canal houses, but the stairs are incredibly steep, and we had 55 to contend with to get to our room. Infact, when we opened our door, we were met with another flight of stairs! You can get some idea of just how steep they were from this photo. These are the stairs leading down to our door.

Amsterdam Sept 2009 066

Mr Josiekitten was horrified by the sight of his 'bald' patch in this photo (he's been in denial up 'til now!), and has ordered me to knit him a toupee at once! Anyone got any fun fur going spare?!

We are very much creatures of habit when we visit Amsterdam, so I had to pop in to a couple of my favourite shops. La Savonnerie is a delicious soap shop, with a rainbow of soaps on offer. I found it very hard to restrict myself to only buying four, and I shall ration them until my next visit! The owner let me take one photo!

Amsterdam Sept 2009 046

We also called into De Afstap, a small yarn shop, where I was most restrained and only bought one ball of a new Regia yarn, called Regia Hand-Dye Effect. The colours are lovely, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it knits up. It may not become socks, as I've seen some rather nice shawls on Ravelry. I don't think that I'll be making a pair of thigh length socks as shown on the label! They'd never stay up! Anyway, this is the colourway I chose....

Regia Hand-dye effect

The weekend finished perfectly too - there was a chef cooking fresh stroopwafels at Schipol airport. Yum Yum Yum!

Knitting-wise, I've finished two things for a swap that I'm taking part in on Phoenix Knitting Forums. The theme of the swap is 'Something Blue'. I can't show you the photos yet - all will be revealed later! My September socks aren't going to be finished by tomorrow! I've finished one and started the second. The pattern is Bubblewrap from Sockbug, and I'm using an Opal yarn. They have a definite wintery 'boot sock' feel to them. My aim this week is to finish off the July and September socks! I shall be glad when the Sock Challenge year is over. At the start, when all I was doing was knit socks, it wasn't a problem at all, and I often knit two pairs in a month. But I've moved on a bit and want to knit a greater variety of things, so having the pressure of making a pair a month is getting a bit much. I know that it doesn't really matter one bit of I don't do it, but it does matter to me, if you know what I mean?! Anyway, enough of my wibbling on! I'd better go and knit a bit more sock! Toodle pip!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Innocent Hats - the Autumn collection

I realised this weekend that I needed to get my skates on if I was planning to knit any more little hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles. This year's Big Knit is well underway, and finished hats need to be posted before October 16th. For each behatted smoothie sold, Innocent and Sainsburys will give 35p to Help the Aged and Age Concern. It's a great cause. I was aiming to knit 40 hats this year, but time has caught up on me, and I've only managed half that amount. I knitted 10 during the summer holidays with snoopydog, and knit 10 this weekend. Belinda and Betty were more than happy to help out with the modelling, but there was a little bit of a tussle about who was going to wear the tall 'princess'-style hat. Betty won (I told Belinda that pink really wasn't her colour!) Here is the Innocent Smoothie Autumn collection for your delectation and delight.

Innocent Smoothies Autumn collection 2009

I haven't got a great deal else to show you this week. School is really draining me. I have a really big class this year, and just keeping up with the day to day marking and preparation is eating into my knitting time. I've knitted a bit of my 'July' sock, started my September socks and started (and frogged) a project I'm knitting as part of a 'Something Blue' swap on Phoenix Knitting Forums. The pattern itself isn't difficult, but almost every row is different, so you need to keep your wits about you! I managed to lose a stitch, and could I find it? NO! I kept undoing rows, one at a time, to no avail. So now I have 2 balls of yarn, ready to start again.

I do have a little something to look forward to later in the year. I returned to my LYS to have another try at spinning earlier this month. Mr Josiekitten has promised me a spinning wheel for my birthday, wedding anniversary and Christmas presents (December is a very expensive month for him!) and I wanted to make sure that it was going to be money well spent! I was much more relaxed 2nd time round, and was really pleased with my efforts. I used some Shetland fleece, and it feels wonderfully soft. I have 38g and am determined to find a pattern to show it off! Here it is in its skein. Ta da!

own spun sept 09

I shall be back soon, with (hopefully) more to show you! Have a good week.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

I Knit day

Greetings! There hasn't been a great deal of knitting going on in the josiekitten household this past week. It's been exhausting being back at school, and already the holidays are a distant memory! But I did have a delightful woolly treat to look forward to - the I Knit weekender! Yesterday my good friend Snoopydog and I went for an adventure in London! My bag was packed the night before with everything I could possibly need (and more!), and I was up with the lark (well 5:45am anyway!) in order to get to Snoopydog's in plenty of time. We spent the train journey chatting and knitting (I'm still knitting my 'July' socks!) and I was delighted to be the recipient of not one, but two of Snoopydog's little knitting project bags. Look - just perfect for a sock!

I Knit stash 2009 014

We took a taxi to the Royal Horticultural Halls (just as well, since several of the Tube lines were down apparently) and got excited by the sights of the City - Trafalgar Square, The Mall, Buckingham Palace on the way there, and Westminster and the London Eye on the way back. I love visiting London, but am always glad to be back home in quiet old Norfolk!

We had a great day, fondling lovely yarn, and my resolution to look first and buy later didn't last very long - the first stand to be precise! I did go with a shopping list, and more or less stuck to it, with one or two extras! I was using my 'guilt-free' money, saved up from all my knitting from stash, and I even came back with some money!!! Here's what I bought....

I Knit spending spree

From the top, left to right we have mini skeins from the Natural Dye Studio, Skein Queen fibre, mini sock yarn balls (Skein Queen again!), Skein Queen 2ply cashmere and silk, Dazzle from the Natural Dye Studio, Malabrigo lace, Crazy Zauberball, more fibre from the Skein Queen and Peaches and Cream Victorian Christmas. Yum yum! I'm planning on making a beaded swallowtail shawl with the Malabrigo lace yarn. The photo doesn't really show off its true, rich purple colour properly. The mini-skeins are going to be used for my Posy crocheted scarf. The mini sock yarn balls will add to the sock yarn blankie, and the fibre is an incentive for me to get really good at spinning! I'll tell you more about that another time! My favourite 'find' of the day was discovering the Skein Queen. Her yarns are absolutely beautiful, and I'm sure that I'll be visiting her online store frequently!

In the afternoon, we took part in a 3 hour workshop with Woolly Wormhead, finding out about how to make a hat that fits. There's an awful lot of maths behind it, working out the decreases on the crown, whilst making sure that it fits fairly snugly round the head. I discovered that my head wasn't as big as I'd thought! After some head measuring and stitch pattern selecting, I started making a beret, even though I haven't worn one since leaving the Brownies many moons ago! I'll show you how it's going later. After the workhop, we had more shopping and browsing time, and stopped to chat with the Dutch Knitters to admire their beautiful brioche stitch work. It's stunning colourwork and makes fabulous scarves. Definitely something to learn. And of course they had brought mountains of extremely yummy stroopwafels with them! Mine didn't last long! Here's a glimpse of our day ........

I Knit day 2009

On the train journey back to Norfolk, we spread out our purchases to admire them! It was a great day out! I'm looking forward to I Knit 2010!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Progress report

Well, the end of the summer holiday has come! It doesn't seem that long ago that I was delighting in the 7 weeks that lay ahead of me. And you may remember that I shared with you my holiday knitting project list. The time has come to give you a progress report! Here goes!
1. Wolfgang's stripy socks - done!

Wolfgang's stripy socks 001

2. Spinning Around Zauberball socks - done!

Spinning Around 005

3. July sock challenge socks - one sock made and 2nd one started. These socks have caused me a real headache. I loved the yarn, but every pattern I tried looked terrible! I settled on Jules by Kate Blackburn.

July Autobahn socks WIP

4. Lizzy cardigan - done!

Lizzy 007

5. Secret Phoenix Knitting Project - done! (no photos yet, sorry!)

6. Felted pigs for the pub we knit in - done!

piggies (4)

7. August sock challenge socks - done! I finally made me a pair of Jaywalkers!

August Jaywalkers

8. Crochet cotton bag - almost finished! Just got the handles and flowers to do, and then the lining to sort out. Here's how it's looking at the moment.....

sorbet bag WIP 003

9. Sock yarn blanket to start - started! Not got very far with this at the moment, but am looking forward to spending a bit of time on it very soon. My mini-skeins are calling out to me!

sock blankie day 1

10. Lizard Ridge blanket to start - started! I haven't got very far though, as I'm finding it hard to knit from both ends of the ball without getting in a Big Tangle! So I need to split my current ball into 2 before knitting any more. This is what it looks like at the moment....

lizard ridge 1 WIP

11. Innocent Smoothie hats - started! I'm hoping to make a few more than this - maybe Snoopydog and I will have another day together working on them. I've made 10 so far.

Innocent Hats 2009

12. School knitting club samples - done! I'm all ready for the kids now!

K is for Knit 018

13. More socks for Michael - one sock done and one to go!

Eat your greens WIP

14. Baby Yeti hoodie for Gabriella - done!

baby yeti 002

15. Socks for Isabelle - done!

Waving Sweet Peas (1)

16. Fetchings for Brigitte - done! Luckily her hands are much smaller than mine!

brigitte's fetchings (6)

17. Scarf for Catherine - done!

Catherine's scarf

18. Scarf for Beryl - not done.

19. Manos del Uruguay shawl - started. Not got very far. Need to concentrate! The yarn is gorgeous and it feels sooooo luxurious!

Katerina shawl (1) WIP

20. Ishbel number 2 - not done!

21. Natural Dye Studio mini-skein crochet scarf - started! Again, I need to concentrate on this! Am hoping to buy some more mini-skeins at I Knit this coming weekend, and maybe this will spur me on!

Posy WIP

22. Swallowtail shawl - not done!

23. Feather and fan scarf - still hibernating! I might even frog it!

24. Kitty cat to finish - done!

Kitty cat 006

25. Wormy scarf to finish - still hibernating!

I'm fairly pleased with my achievements! Probably set myself far too much to try and do, but it's been fun! I've enjoyed the crochet, and would like to try more next year. I think I'd award myself a B-!! Now I must go and get a good night's sleep ready for the little darlings tomorrow! Night night!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Totally hooked!

I'm not meant to be here - I'm meant to be sorting out my class groups for next term, (which starts tomorrow!) But I just had to tell you all - I'm hooked, completely and utterly on my crochet bag! The pattern is a delight, from Lucy at Attic 24, and if you've not yet visited her blog, then you must. It's a lovely, lovely place to call into, and I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be picking up a crochet hook before you know it! I'm using Patons Sorbet yarn, most of it purchased from Kemps for the bargain price of 79p a ball. I haven't really done much crocheting apart from granny squares, but the pattern is so clearly written, with lots of photos, that it's not proving too tricky. I'm hoping to line it with the help of my friend Sally, whose sewing skills are infinitely superior to mine. Here's a couple of photos, although it's grown considerably since these were taken!

sorbet bag

Now, I must get on, but not before I've done one more round! Byeee!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Back home!

Hellooooooo there! Mr Josiekitten and I arrived back home late on Sunday night, after our two week jaunt around Germany. We had a great time, catching up with family and friends, visiting beautiful places and eating far too much delicious food! But it's nice to be home - there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed with fresh bedding, is there? Our garden has gone mad too! The courgettes have become marrows, tomatoes are now compulsory with every meal, the watermelons are getting huge, and just what can you do with six butternut squash?! Yesterday was spent catching up with 'housey' things. And now I'm allowing myself the indulgence of an hour or two surfing my favourite sites, and catching up with fellow bloggers. I did make one or two discoveries whilst I was away.
  • It's a good idea to discover that the back of your car isn't magnetic before getting on the boat! (But at least I had some scissors handy in my knitting bag for the sticky tape!)

Germany August 2009 342

  • It's true what they say about never forgetting how to ride a bike. It must be at least 17 years since I last did, yet I managed to cycle about 20km through some beautiful countryside, without falling off, and being able to walk the next day!

Germany August 2009 073

  • The German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen (that's afternoon coffee and cakes to you and me) may be very civilised, but after a fortnight, it plays havoc on the waistline! My favourites were strawberry streusel kuchen and gooseberry quark kuchen. Yummy! Sorry there are no photos, but the cakes never stayed on the plate long enough!!
  • German cats are just like English cats, and always go to the person who's knitting!

Germany August 2009 079

  • I am totally in awe of the technology behind Tom-Toms! I love the person who invented it, as it allowed me the luxury of knitting, rather than navigating Mr Josiekitten up a crease in the map!

Anyway, here's a snapshot of our fortnight away.

Germany 2009

I did manage to get some knitting done (although my holiday knitting bag was perhaps a little bit over-ambitious!) I knitted 2 whole pairs and 2 half pairs of socks..........

Summer socks

The first pair are Jaywalkers, my August sock challenge socks. I've had no end of problems with this pattern in the past, but this time it worked out ok. I made the smaller size and used 2.5mm needles for the cuff, and then 2.75mm needles for the rest of the sock. If anything, it's a little bit too big, but it's not being frogged, no way, never! The yarn was a Lana Grossa one. The second pair are one of my favourites, Waving not Drowning, from Violet Green, using Dazzle yarn from the Natural Dye Studio, colourway Sweet Pea. The third pair is my basic plain vanilla sock pattern, using a Trekking yarn, and the last sock is my 'July' sock challenge sock. This yarn has been started so many times. I finally found a pattern where the pooling wasn't too bad. It's Jules, by Kate Blackburn. I'm making the larger size. One sock down, one to go on each of the last two!

I also made a scarf, using the beautiful Drop Stitch pattern by Christine Vogel. I used 2 skeins of Mirasol Hacho, and it knitted up very quickly. This one is a present, but I can see myself making another one! It needs blocking, but I was impatient to take some photos. But I will block it to open up the pattern even more.

Catherine's scarf

I started a shawl using Manos del Uruguay yarn. I haven't got very far, as it's quite 'anti-social' knitting - you need to concentrate on every row, so wasn't the best thing to knit when staying with people! The yarn is absolutely gorgeous. The last project is my Posy crochet scarf. I've joined a CAL on Ravelry, but my crochet is very rusty, so I needed to concentrate very hard! I only managed 3 motifs!!

Unfinished business!

I did manage to sniff out a couple of yarn shops in my travels! I even managed to impress Mr Josiekitten, by finding 2 in Stollberg, a small town in the east of Germany, almost as soon as we arrived (and that was without pre-planning!) I bought some sock yarn there - 2 lots for Mr Josiekitten (NOT black, and he chose!), some for Snoopydog, and some for me. We also visited a shop in an old village called Fischerhude with Mr Josiekitten's (non-knitting) cousins. They couldn't understand my need for yarn. 'You have a big box of wool at home,' they said. (They'd seen it when they'd visited at Easter.) So my delight in browsing a beautiful yarn store was cut short by them standing waiting in the doorway! I quickly found some Lana Grossa sock yarn with some viscose in it. It's beautifully soft, and I love the mix of colours. Anyway, I needed to be restrained, as I'm meant to be on a stashbust, and the I Knit day is just around the corner!

summer knits WIP 004

Many thanks to all those of you who left me messages on my last post. I used a random number generator in the presence of an independent adjudicator (Mr Josiekitten), and this is what happened. Drum roll please!

Random number generator 001

The fifth person to leave me a message was menthapip. Congratulations to you! If you're on Ravelry, send me a message or email me at josiekitten at hotmail.com to let me have your address, and the yarn will be winging its way to you!

I'm off now to spend a bit of quality time with Henrycat. He returned from his pussycat hotel this morning and is still being very vocal in his disapproval of the events of the past fortnight! He's desperate for a sleep, and his eyes keep closing, but he won't allow himself to, just in case he gets whisked off in his basket again! So a bit of smooching and cuddling is in order. See you soon!