Sunday, 29 November 2009

Countdown to Christmas

I love the first Sunday in Advent - it's when Mr Josiekitten and I dig out all the Christmas decorations and put the tree up. My family weren't big on Christmas, and some years we didn't even have a tree, but I think that I'm more than making up for it now. I love the build up to Christmas once Advent begins, and get much pleasure from all the ornaments and trinkets we've collected over the years. So many memories in a few boxes. New on the tree this year are the mini stockings I've started knitting. I've made another one this week, with some beads, and have almost finished a third. This is the one I made first......

Mini stockings on the tree

and here is this week's offering.......

Mini stockings on the tree (4)

I've finished the drop stitch scarf I've been making for Michele. I didn't quite use a whole skein of the Manos del Uruguay silk blend yarn before I decided that it was long enough to wrap round and snuggle into. The yarn is really luxurious, and I hope that she'll like it! That's all my Christmas knitting done and dusted (except for mini stockings - and the list of who to knit for gets ever longer!)

Jewelled drop scarf (2)

My December socks are progressing too - I've managed three pattern repeats so far. Although the pattern is simple, it's different on every odd row, and I keep making mistakes. I can't knit it in the staffroom at lunchtime, or whilst watching TV. Luckily, it's easy to frog back! Here's how it looked earlier in the week.....

December Tidal Waves WIP (1)

I've decided to frog my Lizard Ridge blanket. Although I love the pattern, all the sewing together puts me off, and I've seen some absolutely stunning Ten Stitch blankets on Ravelry, knitted with Silk Garden. I'm not starting anything new until I've got more of my projects finished, so project 100 is not yet cast on (although I do have a pretty good idea what it's going to be now!)

Christmas has arrived in school too. We are busy making decorations to sell at the Christmas Fayre. I've been ambitious and have taught all my pupils how to sew on sequins by adding a bead, and the children are making felt trees decorated with sequins which they are then sewing on a machine and stuffing. Some of the children have struggled a bit with the sewing machine, but have persevered, and the finished trees look fantastic. I'm very proud! I will take some photos to show you when they are all done.

Snoopydog and I are planning to go to Knit Nation next summer, and are deliberating which class to take - at the moment it's a toss up between Toes and Heel for Toe Up socks with Wendy Johnson, or Two at Once Toe Up Socks using magic loop with Chrissy Gardiner. Decisions, decisions! Which would you do? Please let me know - booking opens in a couple of days, so we don't have much time to make up our minds! Have a good week!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Big socks and mini stockings

Do you know how many stitches it takes to knit a pair of UK size 9 socks? Have a guess! Go on! I worked it out this week, that to knit me a plain pair of socks takes a staggering 24,000 stitches! I was amazed. Not that I begrudge one little stitch. I love knitting socks. It's so satisfying, taking a skein of beautiful yarn and turning it into something so comforting. I've finished my November socks in record time, and am thrilled with how they turned out. The colour changes in the Trekking yarn are lovely. Here, take a look......

November Primavera socks 001

The Primavera pattern was very easy to memorise, and I can see me making them again in a different yarn. In the meantime, I'm ready and chomping at the bit to start my December socks and bring my year of sock knitting to an end. I'm going to make Tidal Wave socks using Tofutsies yarn. Possibly not the most sensible choice of yarn for December, a thinnish wool and cotton blend with soy silk and chitin from crab and shrimp shells! Sounds interesting. I'm sure that they'll make a lovely cool pair of socks for the spring or summer.

I had a couple of interesting parcels this week. The first was my spinning wheel from Ashford. It's my birthday, wedding anniversary and Christmas present all in one! At the moment, it's all boxed up, waiting for the wood to be sealed. I'm being very restrained, but I want to try and get most of my current knitting projects finished off before I get completely distracted by spinning. The second parcel was from Amazon, and amongst other things, contained this book. I'd like to improve my crochet next year, and this book is just full of squares to mix and match.


The third parcel was a very, very nice squishy one, containing part of Snoopydog's Christmas present, so I'm afraid that I can't reveal its contents just yet. There was much oohing and aahing to be heard and suffice it to say that I had a jolly good fondle and squeeze!

I'm almost done with Christmas shopping now. To celebrate, I allowed myself a little 'well done!' present from the yarn department of John Lewis! You might remember that I wanted a particular colour of Rowan Colourscape chunky yarn, and Snoopydog beat me to it, by snaffling the last 2 skeins in the shop! Luckily, more has appeared on the shelves, so I just had to buy some, didn't I?! It's destined to become Cora, a cabled scarf, and the yarn goes perfectly with my purple cord jacket!

xmas shopping stash

Following on from the decorations I made last weekend, I've started making mini Christmas stockings using some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. I ordered it from Modern Knitting - if you haven't ever bought from them, they have an exellent range of sock yarns, and the service is always great! The pattern I'm using comes from Little Cotton Rabbits. So far, I've only made one, but I'm planning to make several and try out some of my beading and colourwork skills. I'll show you how I get on next time.

mini christmas stocking 001

These mini stockings have become my 99th project on Ravelry, so I'm thinking about what to cast on for my 100th. It's got to be something special. A jumper? A shawl? A blanket? Pop back again to see what I decide on! Have a good week!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Hello there! I hope that your weather has been better than ours. Yesterday it was so wet and windy, Mr Josiekitten and I decided that we'd spend the weekend cooking. Our Christmas pudding (courtesy of Delia Smith - truly delicious!) is on its last 2 hours of steaming, until Christmas day. Mr Josiekitten braved the elements to pick some cabbages, and there are 3 tubs of braised red cabbage with apples (good old Delia!) ready for the freezer. The bread sauce (yes, her again!) is in the freezer too! The whole house smells so Christmassy, I love it!
While we're talking about Christmas, I must share with you the lovely little decorations I made at a 'Knitting for Christmas' workshop I went to at my LYS. Becky had come up with lots of simple projects for us to try, using Ashford Tekapo yarn. It comes in a lovely range of colours, and we knitted it on smaller needles than suggested to get a denser fabric.
I just love, love, love the little tree! I'm going to try to knit a few of these to send to friends and family this year.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I managed to make a couple during the session.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (4)

I also had a go at a little robin

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (3)

and a stocking.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (1)

I'm going to make some more stockings to try out my recently-acquired beading and intarsia skills. Don't you just love the ribbon trim? It's Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon, and the colours are just gorgeous! Bright, jewel like shades just glowing and sparkling. I might get some to use instead of gift ribbon for wrapping presents. Just take a closer look and I bet you'll want some too!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (9)

I've finished the first of my November socks and am loving the pattern. I've actually followed the pattern as written, without adding any extra stitches, and it fits perfectly. The yarn is beautiful too, and has been much admired.

November Primavera WIP (6)

I just love the colour changes, don't you?

November Primavera WIP (8)

No significant progress made on either of the 2 scarves I'm knitting. It's definitely been a sock week this week. I also finished my 'Eat your Greens' socks for Michele's Dad. They were made using the Violet Green sock generator pattern - I find this a reliable pattern for a custom-fit plain sock. I hope he likes them.

Eat Your Greens socks 001

Before I go, I must just share this photo with you - it's definitely sock-wearing season again! A week's worth of cosy toes drying! Have a good week.

sock-wearing season has begun (1)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Knitting all sorts

It's been a busy week here in North Norfolk. Coming home in the dark is pretty grim! And the air has a definite nip in it! But at least it gives me the perfect excuse to wear one of my (many) scarves! I have lots of knitting to show you, but first I'll fill you in on our weekend adventures. We drove down to Portsmouth to see family, leaving Norfolk on Friday evening. Mr Josiekitten was driving, and I had a rather cunning plan to allow me to knit in the car, in the dark! I borrowed Mr Josiekitten's clip on light that he uses when playing the guitar. A perfect solution, and I don't know why I didn't think of it before. I managed to knit almost down to the heel of my 'Eat your Greens' socks before disaster struck. We were driving round the M25, just over the bridge, heading round towards J10, in the rain, when the windscreen wiper on Mr Josiekitten's side suddenly sheared off!!!!! Picture the scene if you can - a busy motorway in the dark and the rain. Luckily for me, Mr Josiekitten remained very calm, and by hunching himself over towards me to see through the clear part of the windscreen, managed to drive the car until the rain eased off. On the other hand, I was so stressed that even my knitting couldn't calm me down, and I had to put it away for fear of snapping my wooden needles gripping them so hard! I was mighty glad when we finally arrived in Portsmouth, some 6 hours after leaving home. I had a yarn shop-free weekend, but Mr Josiekitten more than made up for my lack of spending! We had to pick up a guitar that he'd bought off eBay, and also just happened to be very close to Nevada music - most convenient as they were celebrating 40 years of trading with lots of special offers! I guess that it was the equivalent of me being in a yarn shop to Mr Josiekitten. He came away with an electric mandolin, and another guitar stand. Here's a very small part of guitar heaven ............

guitar heaven

On the way back, we called in at Sainsbury's, and I just had to take this photo.....

Innocent smoothies

Mr Josiekitten made himself scarce while I ooh-ed and aah-ed over the Innocent Smoothie hats! I had to explain what I was doing to a rather bemused lady, who asked me if I'd had anything to do with the little hats. So I was very proudly able to say 'YES!!!'

Time for a knitting update. I have finally finished my July socks! I am so pleased, you can't imagine. These socks (well, the yarn really) have been tormenting me for months! I just couldn't find a pattern to go with the yarn, and finally settled on Jules by Kate Blackburn. The yarn is Lorna's Laces in the colourway Desert Flower. The pattern is lovely, and very easy to memorise.

July Autobahn socks 005

I also finished my October socks (and in October too!!) The pattern is Garter Rib from Charlene Schurch's book, Sensational Knitted Socks. I knitted them toe-up, as I was using some Koigu KPPPM yarn, and was worried about running out. I love the colours of the yarn in the skein better than how they turned out in the socks - a bit too much pooling. I did short row toe and heel, and I am definitely getting neater.

October socks

I finished my Noro Snuggly comfort scarf for Lesley. She was thrilled and totally surprised, as she hadn't realised that I'd knitted my Lizzy cardigan. I managed to use up most of the left over yarn to make a pretty decent length scarf.

Noro snuggly scarf 001

I've made a good start on my November socks. I'm using a Trekking yarn, and am enjoying the subtle colour changes as I knit the Primavera pattern. It's a 6 row pattern repeat, with only one row that really needs much concentration. Here's how they're looking so far.....

November Primavera WIP

The aforementioned 'Eat Your Greens' socks are progressing well, and should be done this weekend. I'm making them for Michele to give to her Dad for Christmas. Photo next time. Talking of Christmas, I'm also making a scarf for Michele. It's the Drop Stitch scarf pattern that I used in the summer, only this time I'm using a Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend yarn - oooooh yummy!

Jewelled Drop WIP

Because I'm of the opinion that there's no such thing as 'too many scarves', I've started a Baktus scarf for myself, using a Crazy Zauberball and a ball of purple Elle sock yarn. I've seen some stunning ones on Ravelry, so am hoping that mine will turn out ok too! Not much to show so far.....

Baktus WIP (1)

I took part in a swap on the Phoenix Knitting Forums. The theme was 'Something Blue', and you had to knit something in the favourite shade of blue of your swappee. I made Beech Wood, a beautifully textured cowl designed by Ilga Leja, using Colinette Cadenza yarn. I love the pattern and the yarn, and will probably make one for me too!

Beechwood cowl 003

My swappee likes baking, so I made her one of these. Can you guess what it is before you get to the last photo?!


A doughnut pincushion! A bit daft, but hopefully of some use too! I've just signed up for another swap, this time Christmas themed. I'm off to my local yarn store this weekend for a workshop on Christmas knits, so I'm hoping for some inspiration! I'll show you what I made next time. Bye for now!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Cinq jours en Bretagne

Hello again! I'm back blogging as I didn't get a chance to tell you all about our stay in Brittany yesterday. We had a fantastic time, meeting up with some old friends - Isabelle, Catherine and Brigitte, who were very keen to show us their corner of France. The weather was amazing, only one cloudy day, and we spent a lot of time walking on some stunning beaches. Brittany is reknowned for its shellfish - oysters, mussels, scallops to name but a few, and I really wish that I liked these delicacies. Sadly, to me, it's like chewing salty rubber! However, Brittany is equally famous for its salted butter, which is made into the most delicious caramel imaginable. Luckily for me, I do love it!

Brittany beaches

Do you see what I mean about the beaches?

We explored some old towns and villages. Many of the houses have a statue of St Catherine, Mary's mother, above the front door for good luck. We were told how to spot an old house, as opposed to a new house made to look 'old'! The front door is always lower than the windows. Some had the date carved into the stone around the door. The oldest we saw dated back to the 1600's.

Brittany buildings

As well as sampling the local caramel au beurre sale (salted butter caramel), we made sure that we tried the pancakes or galettes, made with buckwheat flour. Every town seemed to have a handful of creperies, so we were spoilt for choice. Mr Josiekitten enjoyed the cidre rustique (local cider), and my mouth watered in the bakeries and patisseries. Feast your eyes on this yummy selection!

Brittany biscuits

We stayed in a lovely B&B on the coast. The house was packed with interesting objects, and was beautifully decorated throughout. Our wardrobe had a place for everything, so of course, I put things where I was told!

Brittany wardrobe

Take a look at our room. See if you can spot anything 'unusual'?!

Brittany B&B

Well? Does anything strike you as odd or missing perhaps? Take another look! The photos show the bedroom and bathroom. The thing we found strange was the lack of a door between the two rooms. Mr Josiekitten took this photo to illustrate the 'problem'. (Hope nobody's offended!)

Brittany 2009 138

No trip could ever be complete with out the opportunity to fondle some yarn, and I'd gone well-prepared! A bit of searching on Ravelry lead me to a wonderful yarn shop in Nantes called Laine et Tricot. I made contact with Gwenola, the owner, beforehand, and persuaded Mr Josiekitten that he'd love to make a one hour detour for me! It's run mainly as an online business from home, so there isn't a 'proper' shop. The yarn is all stored in the garage, which has become Gwenola's office.

Brittany yarn shopping

I had to be restrained, as we didn't have a huge amount of room in our luggage, but I bought 2 skeins of Kouigu KPPPM which called out to me to become another chevron scarf, some Hand Maiden Sea Silk which feels soooooooooo luxurious, and also some Malabrigo lace yarn in the colourway Oceanos, to remind me of the beautiful beaches of Brittany. I also discovered a French brand called Cheval Blanc, and bought 14 balls of Bamboulene, a machine-washable mix of 50% bamboo and 50% wool, in a variety of shades of green and blue. I'd like to make a blanket, maybe crocheted, with it. It was amazingly cheap at only 1 Euro 90 cents a ball. I do like a nice bargain!!! Have a look and see what you think.

Brittany yarn purchases

I did get some knitting done and have managed to finish my October socks, and the Noro snuggly comfort scarf. I'll show you how they turned out next time. I'm pretty sure I've settled on my choice of pattern for November's socks, and I'll try to get started on them today, so that I have something more to show you. It's a miserable day here in North Norfolk - heavy rain - so it's the perfect opportunity for some guilt-free knitting time! Until next time, have fun!