Saturday, 31 October 2009

Blankets, buttons and beads

Bonjour my friends! I'm back from Brittany, bursting with things to tell you about our few days en France. More of that later. First, I simply have to tell you about a workshop I went to yesterday. Meg, the lady who organises our knitting group, had arranged for Debbie Abrahams to come and give a workshop on blankets and throws. There were only twelve of us taking part, so it meant that we were really able to benefit from all Debbie's expertise. What a lovely person she is too. (I love her sweater - knitted in 4 ply, I think, with about 1000 beads knitted into it. Just the thought of threading all those beads onto the yarn before starting to knit gives me palpitations! But it was worth it - it looked stunning!)

Debbie Abrahams workshop 015

She brought a selection of her blankets and throws along with her for inspiration, along with copies of some of her books.

Debbie Abrahams blankets

We each had to choose a square to knit, according to what techniques we wanted to learn. I've been wanting to learn how to knit with beads for sometime now, so I chose a square from the Four Seasons quilt - a Christmas tree! This square also involved colourwork, so I was able to practise my intarsia - something I've not done since I first started knitting as a teenager, and picture knits were all the rage! (That must age me!) Debbie circulated around the group all day, giving advice, teaching new skills, and just generally enthusing us. She said that she loved knitting with beads, and that it would be a life changing experience for us! It was! It's incredibly simple to do, and it's amazing how it transforms a piece of knitting from something rather ordinary, to something rather beautiful. Here's my square....

Debbie Abrahams workshop spend (2)

I'm so proud of my little Christmas tree! The beads are all knitted into the design, and the light green edging was Swiss darned on afterwards. Here's a close up of just the tree!!

Debbie Abrahams workshop spend

Take a look at some of the other squares that were knitted...........

Debbie Abrahams workshop

At the end of the day, there was the opportunity to purchase some of Debbie's lovely beads and buttons. The beads are just perfect for knitting, as the hole is big enough for DK or 4 ply yarn to go through, even though the beads themselves look quite delicate. And the buttons are made by Debbie's Mum! I couldn't resist the two sets I bought, even though I don't have a project lined up for them at the moment! I also bought a DVD showing all the techniques (and more!) that Debbie shared with us.

Debbie Abrahams spend

I already had one of Debbie's books, Blankets and Throws to Knit, so I took it along to get it signed!

Debbie Abrahams workshop spend (4)

It certainly was happy knitting! And I have a sneaky suspicion that 2010 may well be the Year of the Blanket! You'll have to come back and see on January 1st next year!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Most fetching!

I've made a discovery this week. Knitting and a runny nose do not go well together! I've had a cold, and have not managed to get a great deal done! I did finish the hat to go with the Fetchings I made earlier in the year. I based the pattern on this one, and had to jiggle around with stitch numbers to get it to (hopefully) the right size! I made up the decreases at the crown, trying to make them fit in with the pattern as best I could. I actually like the hat a lot, and may well make one for myself at some point. Another one for the ever increasing 'to do' list! Here's how it turned out.....

Fetching hat

It's made using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn on 4mm needles, and it feels soooooo velvety. I hope that Brigitte will like the hat and mits set. We shall be seeing her next week when we spend a few days in Brittany. Talking of Brittany, I have been doing a little bit of sneaky advance planning for our holiday, and I've found a tres jolie yarn shop in Nantes. It is about an hour in the opposite direction to the way we will need to be driving, so my mission now is to convince Mr Josiekitten that Nantes is Not To Be Missed!! I will keep you informed of my progress!

I've had a lovely, totally non-knitting weekend too. Four of my old university friends came to stay. It's more than 20 years since we graduated, and we've managed to keep in touch all this time. We get together once a year, and this year it was my turn to host. We're scattered all over England, from Devon to Norfolk, so it requires some major logistics for us all to get together! We had a lovely time, catching up with news, eating far too much delicious food (I highly recommend Delia Smith's chocolate bread and butter pudding!), going for beach walks and playing all sorts of board games. We're always on the look out for a new one, and this year it was Qwirkle that kept us entertained! Mr Josiekitten spent much of the weekend outside, either digging the garden or pottering in his shed!

I'm hoping to make a start on my October socks this week. They will be coming with me to France, so with a bit of luck, I should have a finished pair to show you next time. Au revoir!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Great minds!

It's not been a very productive knitting week chez josiekitten this week. I've fiddled about with lots of different projects, then frogged back, and haven't got a great deal to show for all my efforts! I have started a scarf for a friend who sings in the choir I belong to. She admired my Lizzy cardigan when I wore it to a rehearsal, and jokingly asked if she could have it as it was in 'her' colours. She is undergoing chemotherapy at the moment and is feeling a bit low, so I thought that I'd knit her a scarf with the leftovers to brighten her day a little. I'm using the Ribs and Ruffles pattern, and as the yarn is thinner than the recommended one, I cast on 108 stitches to make it wide enough - this reduces to 27 stitches once the ruffle is done. I hope I've got enough Silk Garden left over to make a decent length scarf. Here's how it's looking so far...

Snuggly Silk Garden scarf WIP (2)

.......... and this is how much yarn I have left over to play with.......

Snuggly Silk Garden scarf WIP

I shall do my best to match colour changes at the end of balls, and hope for the best!

I've also done a little more on my Katerina shawl. It's knitted in Manos del Uruguay yarn, and I am seriously in love with it! It's not the sort of pattern that I can knit with any distractions around me, so I think it's going to grow fairly slowly. I've just finished the leafy pattern, as you can see in this photo.....

Katerina shawl WIP (1)

The yarn is an absolute delight to knit with, and goes a long, long way! I'm sure that I'll be using it again. (I have 3 skeins in my stash, so I'm certain!!!!)

I've also started a hat to go with the Fetchings I made in the summer holidays. I'm loosely following this pattern, and after a false start casting on 100 stitches (too small), I've gone for 120 and am crossing my fingers that it will fit 2nd time round. I'm not quite sure how I will work out the decreases at the crown yet, but I'll worry about that when I get there! It looks a bit strange at the moment, and not at all hat-like!

Fetchings hat WIP

I bought some beads this week to go with the gorgeous Handmaiden yarn I got from Cathy in my skein swap. I got them from Beads Direct, and can thoroughly recommend them for an excellent service. I think that I'm going to make a beaded Springtime Bandit scarf - watch this space! I love how the beads pick out the colours of the yarn.....

Beads! 002

The photo doesn't show the true colours of the yarn as I had to use my flash, but you can get a good idea! Beads Direct is a wonderful Aladdin's cave. I had to be very restrained because I could have bought loads of beads, with no real projects in mind, just because they looked so pretty! I'm easily pleased! Cathy received her parcel this week and was thrilled with the Natural Dye Studio yarn I sent. I also sent her a bag of fine Shetland fleece from Jamieson and Smith, as she has just started spinning. We both agreed that it had been a lot of fun, and plan to do another skein swap next year.

School has been a bit grotty this week, so I decided that I'd treat myself to some new yarn when I went into Norwich this weekend. I want to knit this scarf using the wonderful Rowan Colourscape yarn. It's not that I need a new scarf, or even a new project to start knitting, but you know how it is when you have a woolly obsession niggling away inside you!! Imagine my surprise when I noticed on Ravelry that my good friend Snoopydog had had exactly the same idea, and had even stashed the same colourway (431 Cherry) that I wanted! I sent her a message on Ravelry, joking that I'd not be amused if she'd had the last 2 skeins off the shelf! I called into John Lewis to buy the yarn, only to discover that she HAD taken the last 2 skeins!! I nearly texted her on the spot to complain! And then, who should I meet, but Snoopydog! She was kind enough to offer me the yarn if I was desperate to knit the scarf now this minute, but since I'm not really, I couldn't take the yarn from her!! I may have to satisfy my yarn cravings online (and you never know, just a little bit more yarn might just fall into my basket in the process!) I'll let you know if I've succumbed next time! Have a good week!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Autumn blackberries

I know I only blogged yesterday, but I just had to share this with you! When I got home from work today, there, sat on the mat was a squishy parcel with an airmail sticker on it! Yay! It was my skein swap parcel from Cathy. We got chatting on Ravelry after I commented on her socks, and decided that we would swap a skein of yarn - me sending something British (Natural Dye Studio Dazzle), and Cathy sending me something Canadian. Cathy has just been on a knitting holiday in the Maritimes in Canada, and I knew she was visiting some amazing yarn producers, and she sent me a skein of Handmaiden Casbah yarn, in the most gorgeous shades of purple and deep pink. It is sooooooo soft and squishy, you cannot believe it. I have it here, right in front of me, to admire as I type. The colourway is Blackberry, and I can just picture all those plump, juicy berries ripening. Take a look......

Canadian swap 007

I have recently bought a jacket, and I think that this yarn may well be destined to become a scarf or shawl to accessorise! It goes perfectly.

Canadian swap 010

Cathy also sent me a bag of Maple Syrup toffees, and they are delicious! I shall have to hide them away from Mr Josiekitten, as although he claims he doesn't have a sweet tooth, he does like maple syrup! In the meantime, I'm off in search of the perfect pattern!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Blowing bubbles!

Well folks, I actually finished knitting my September socks, and we're only 4 days into October! So I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, considering that I still hadn't started them on September 20th! The pattern I used was Bubble Wrap, with an Opal Zirkus yarn. I'd seen these socks knitted up in the very same yarn on Ravelry and loved them, but I don't have that same feeling of love for mine. Don't ask me why! They have a very wintery feel to them, and will go well with my walking boots, or for slobbing round the house on cold days. I think if I made them again, I'd use a less patterned yarn, and only cast on 66 stitches rather than the 72 the pattern states. I couldn't make a matching pair, as I would have run out of yarn. There's barely enough left for a blankie square! Here they are anyway, modelled specially in front of a roaring log fire in our stove. I'm trying to resist putting the heating on for as long as possible, although we have lit the fire a couple of times already this autumn. I can't believe how quickly the nights are drawing in. It's actually less than 12 weeks now until Christmas!!! Now there's a scary thought!

September Blowing Bubbles socks 005

Here's another picture to see the pattern a bit more clearly....

September Blowing Bubbles socks 008

I've posted a couple of swap parcels this week, and am stalking the postie for mine. More details once the parcels have been received. I'm still finalising my October socks, but they will definitely be toe-up, as I'm going to be using a Koigu yarn, and I think it's quite short on yardage. I'll let you know next time. In the meantime, I still have my 'July' socks to finish, and plenty of other projects too. Have a good week!