Thursday, 31 December 2009

Looking back

Another year has come to an end. I've been looking over my projects on Ravelry, and have picked out a favourite project for each month of the year.

Best of 2009

Starting off in January (top left) are my Monkey socks. These were the first patterned pair of socks I knitted where I had to modify the pattern to fit my big feet! February and March are also pairs of socks. February saw me knitting my first toe-up pair, using the Yarn over Cable pattern from Charlene Schurch. March was another foray into pattern adaptation, using the Spring Forward pattern from Knitty. In April I knitted some baby clothes, and loved knitting those cute little booties designed by Saartje. In May I had a go at some simple lace, joining in the KAL on the Phoenix Knitting Forum, and was delighted with my Ishbel. It's had lots of wear, and won first place in the handicrafts section of our local show! In June I finally finished a garment for me! Salsa had been on the needles since the previous summer. It's a lovely snuggly cardi, perfect for these chilly winter days we're having at the moment. I discovered the Zauberball in July, and made these fantastically bright RPM socks. Socks again in August - this time Jaywalkers. They are one of my favourite pairs at the moment. It took me three attempts to actually get this pattern to fit. I'm so glad I persisted. In September I knitted lots of little hats for The Big Knit, to raise money for Help the Aged and Age Concern. This hat was one of my favourites. I'm hoping to knit a few little hats each month so that I get plenty knitted next year. In October I went on a workshop run by Debbie Abrahams, where I learnt how to knit with beads, and also how to work with several colours at the same time. It was a great day, and skills that I'd been quite intimidated by, proved to be surprisingly straightforward. In November I used one of my favourite yarns, Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, to knit a drop stitch scarf for a friend. I think that I'll be knitting myself one in 2010. The year ends with a surprisingly summery looking bag, from the wonderful blog of Lucy at Attic 24. I was inspired to give crochet a go after visiting Lucy's blog, and this bag was the result! The largest picture in the centre shows the knits I've made for my knitting club at school. I'm starting this next week, and I hope that I'll be inspiring a whole new generation of knitters.

My resolution to knit from stash hasn't quite worked out as planned! I was very good at the start of the year, but it's sooooo hard when I see some beautiful, squishy, colourful yarn! How can I resist?! I do have two favourite yarns; the first was from a swap with a Canadian knitter, Cathy, and is a skein of Casbah sock yarn by Handmaiden, in beautiful berry shades. It's going to be one of the first yarns I use next year, and I think beads will be involved too! The second is a skein that I bought at the I Knit weekender, from the Skein Queen. It's called Wisp and is a mixture of silk and cashmere. Mmmmmmm, luxurious.

Favourite yarns

There's a lot to look forward to in 2010. Snoopydog and I are heading to London in July for Knit Nation, where we'll be attending a couple of classes and no doubt doing a spot of stash enhancement! (Better start saving now!) I'm giving myself some much broader aims next year, so that I can attempt a greater variety of projects without pressure to meet a deadline. I'd like to be able to spin yarn worthy of knitting and to improve my crochet skills. I'd like to knit something lacy with beads, and to work on my blankets (and maybe start another one or two!)

Thank you for visiting my blog this year. I hope that you have a very happy, healthy and yarn filled new year! See you in 2010! xxx

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Great minds yet again!

Hello there! What a miserable day it is here in North Norfolk. It's so dull outside that I haven't turned the lights off since breakfast! I have a wonderful ta-dah moment to share with you, so I won't waste another minute. Earlier this year I discovered the wonderful, colourful hooky world of Lucy at Attic 24. If you haven't yet popped in to visit her, then you absolutely must! Her blog never fails to cheer me up, and has inspired me (along with a lot of others on the Phoenix Knitting Forum) to have a go at crochet. We depleted Kemps of its stocks of Patons Sorbet in order to crochet a bag. Mine has been off the hook, so to speak, since September, but as I wanted to line it, and my sewing skills are not great, I was waiting for a chance to see my friend Sally, whose sewing skills are brilliant! Yesterday afternoon Sally helped me to line it, so without further ado, I proudly present to you my Atiic 24-inspired bag!

Attic 24 inspired bag

I put some webbing on the back of the straps to help reduce any stretching, and I just love the fabric it's lined with. It's going to become my crochet project bag and, oh look! It's got some yarn in it already!

Sorbet Attic 24 bag (3)

Twelve balls of Debbie Bliss DK cotton to be exact! They just fell into my arms when I popped into Norfolk Yarn yesterday to get my spinning wheel checked over. I'm planning on starting off with a cushion cover from one of the patterns on Lucy's blog. You can be sure that I'll let you know how I'm getting on. My spinning wheel is all set up now and raring to go! I treated myself to some Corriedale tops to move onto once I've had a go with the fleece. There were lots of colours to choose from, but I settled on this trio.......

crochet and spinning stash (5)

I'm busy knitting another pair of socks, this time for my friend Charlotte. She started to knit this pair of socks over a year ago, and hadn't progressed beyond the first cuff. I offered to knit them for her, so want to get them finished before the start of term next week. The yarn is lovely, Solemate from Violet Green, and the colour is very rich. But perhaps not the best colour to use for your first pair of socks. I'm struggling to see the stitches at times! I've finished one sock so far.

perfect purple sock WIP

Whilst I was in Norwich yesterday, I called in to see my good knitting pal Snoopydog, and exchange Christmas gifts. Now I think that Snoopydog and I have a bit of knitting ESP, as several times we have bought the same yarn or the same book within a matter of hours of each other. We set ourselves a budget for presents, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself after visiting the Knitting Goddess and ordering some mini skeins of yarn for Snoops, just perfect for her sock yarn blankie. So imagine my surprise when I opened an almost identical set from Snoopydog for my birthday, a couple of weeks before Christmas.

birthday stash and more! (9)

A little bit of questioning gave me the answer I was dreading - Snoopydog had done what I usually do when buying a gift - one for josiekitten, one for Snoopydog! AAAAAAAAAAGHHHHH! I had to do a good bit of jigging around of miniskeins to get together a gift for Snoops that didn't involve duplication of skeins! We swapped parcels, unwrapped gifts, and laughed! Snoopydog gave me some more mini skeins from the Knitting Goddess, and a fantastic book to knit and crochet flowers.

Xmas goodies 002

And I am now the proud owner of a magnificent mountain of mini skeins! (not sure what the collective noun is!) Look!

sock yarn blankie (8)

I was well and truly spoilt, as the Misses Snoopydog 1 and 2 also gave me a wonderful gift of a Debbie Abrahams blanket book.

xmas gifts from snoops et al (1)

I think it will come in very handy next year. I'll tell you why another time. Bye 'til then!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

2009 Sock Challenge - done!

It hardly seems like a year ago when I set myself the challenge of knitting a pair of socks each month, each one using a different pattern. It wasn't always easy, and at least one pair of socks took considerably longer than one month to knit, but I did it!! Here is my ta-dah moment where I proudly present my 2009 Sock Challenge socks!

2009 Sock Challenge - done!

It's a relief to have finished. It was quite pressurised (all my own pressure admittedly!) at times, and having to knit a pair of socks each month ate into my knitting time. At the beginning of 2009, I only wanted to knit socks, but as the year has progressed, there have been other things that I've wanted to try but couldn't because I had to knit a pair of socks! Next year, I don't think that I'm going to set myself such a strict timetable, but undoubtedly there will be some 2010 knitting challenges to meet. I have a couple of favourite pairs, that seem to get pulled out of the rather bulging sock drawer more often than others. They are the August Jaywalkers (3rd row middle) and the January Monkeys (1st row left). Which pair do you like best?

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The 2nd day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me an Ashford spinning wheel!

spinning wheel (1)

It's not fully set up yet. I seem to be somewhat technically challenged at the moment. Could be due to the quantity of mulled wine that Mr JK and I are drinking! But I will get it sorted in the next few days. I have two bags of fleece to get me started, before letting myself loose on this lovely fibre. It's a merino/silk sliver, and is just soooooooooo soft.

Christmas stash 2009 (1)

At the other end of the fibre spectrum, I received these two balls of yarn from a (non-knitting) friend!

Christmas stash 2009

On the second day of Christmas I gave to my true love a pair of stripy socks! (See, technically they weren't late, as there are 12 days of Christmas!!!) Mr Josiekitten was very pleased with his socks, and modelled them for me.

Mr JK's Xmas socks 007

Henrycat seems rather attached to the yarn, and has been reluctant to give it up! I think he's saying, "Hands off, they're mine!"

Mr JK's Xmas socks 015

Now that the snow has pretty much melted, we took the chance to get out and about, and happened to be in Cromer at the time of the Boxing Day swim. It wasn't as cold as last year, but I still admire all those brave (mad?!) souls who ventured into the chilly North Sea to raise money for charity.

Boxing Day dip 2009 (9)

Crowds of people had gathered to watch, from Cromer Pier .......

Boxing Day dip 2009 (2)

and from the seafront .......

Boxing Day dip 2009 (3)

I felt cold just watching them! We came back home and warmed up in front of the log burner. Before I go, I must just share with you one of our presents, all the way from Germany. This lovely wooden Santa is brightening up the fireplace. Enjoy the remaining 10 days of Christmas, whatever you're up to!

Xmas 2009 (3)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The Great Sock Experiment - Day 4

All things Christmassy 009

This was what the Yarn Harlot told me this morning. Ok, so I haven't made it! I should have started a day or two earlier. I didn't take into account all the other things I needed to do, like make sausage rolls

All things Christmassy 011

and mincemeat palmiers.

All things Christmassy 004

Mr Josiekitten worked from home this morning, so there was no chance of getting in a couple of hours of clandestine knitting. Never mind, the world won't come to an end! I had fun trying.

All things Christmassy 005

Happy Christmas to you. I hope Santa stops by with a squishy parcel or two!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Great Sock Experiment - Day 3

When a picture speaks a thousand words ...............

Mr Josiekitten's Xmas socks day 3 WIP 006

I'm not panicking - well, not much! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Great Sock Experiment - Day 2

One sock done, one still to go! I haven't by any means knitted solidly today, and managed to finish the first sock before Mr Josiekitten got in from work.

Mr Josiekitten's Xmas socks day 2 WIP 004

Henrycat likes it, and is looking forward to snuggling up with Mr JK's feet on the sofa just as soon as they're done! I have quite a lot of things to do apart from knit tomorrow, so time management is going to be important! And to cap it all, Mr JK announced over dinner that he's thinking of working from home on Christmas Eve! That really would scupper my plans! I shall do my best to encourage him to go to work, although I can't appear too keen to get rid of him, as it's our wedding anniversary, and ordinarily I would be delighted to be spending all day with him!

We still have lots of snow, and it's bitterly cold outside. Our little tree was sparkling away this morning when I took this photo for you. See you tomorrow, same time, same place, for the latest sock news!

Oh Christmas tree 003

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Great Sock Experiment - Day 1

Well, the Christmas socks are started. I haven't done as much as I'd hoped for today. My knitting time was cut short by Mr Josiekitten arriving home 3 hours earlier than expected! Most inconsiderate of him! I'm on the heel flap of sock one, ably assisted by Henrycat, who was very willing to lend a paw.

Mr JK's xmas socks (1)

It's still very snowy outside, and the sky looks full of even more snow. The weather forecasters are talking about us having a white Christmas now! I'll leave you with some photos I just took outside. See you tomorrow for the sock update!

Snowy December days

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow time

It's a magical winter wonderland here in North Norfolk. Right on the coast, we hardly ever get much snow, but we've had some every day since last Thursday. Not enough to bring things to a standstill, but enough to be an inconvenience. I just wish that it had timed itself better and fallen a week later. Now, snow on Christmas Eve would be lovely. You could just batten down the hatches and snuggle in front of the fire. I need to be out and about doing last minute Christmassy things for the next few days, and could do without the snow! But it did look very pretty this morning.

December snowfall 2009 011

You can see where Henrycat went on his early morning stroll round the neighbourhood. He also used the short cut across the log store.

December snowfall 2009 005

This is the 3rd Christmas for our real tree out in the garden. It gets a bigger pot each year. I love the blue lights twinkling away on it!

December snowfall 2009 001

I've finished knitting my mini-stockings for this year. I only managed three as gifts, so I will have to start making them earlier next time. They are fun to make, and look very cute on the tree.

more mini stockings 008

My spinning wheel has had its first coating of Danish Oil. It's moved from the bed to the floor! The upstairs now stinks and it's too cold to open the windows! Hey ho!

spinning wheel 1st oiling

I found another ball of new yarn hiding on the shelves today. It's a Zauberball in Tropical Fish colourway, and I'm hoping it's going to become a pair of Mojo socks. The colours are lovely.

forgotten stash!

My December socks are still on schedule for completion this year. Hopefully finished photos next time! I have another, more important, sock issue on my mind at the moment. The question is - do I have enough time to knit Mr Josiekitten a pair of socks between now and Christmas Day? Well, there's only one way to find out! I'll be casting on just as soon as I see Mr JK pulling away from the house, around 8 am tomorrow! Fingers crossed we're not snowed in! Let the great sock experiment begin!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tis the season to be jolly!

Well hello! Sorry that I didn't manage to get back to you last week. It was a Mad week! It whooshed past in a flurry of glitter and tinsel. Never mind, I'm back now, and I have lots to tell you! Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I'll begin!
I celebrated my birthday last week, and was very spoiled by both Mr Josiekitten and my good friend Snoopydog. Mr Josiekitten ventured into our local yarn shop and bought me some fleece and two yummy skeins of Colinette Jitterbug. The colour are just gorgeous.

bday gifts and cards

Why fleece do I hear you ask? Well, here is my main present from Mr Josiekitten, for my birthday, wedding anniversary and Christmas combined! (December is rather expensive for poor Mr JK!) It's an Ashford Traveller spinning wheel and it currently looks like this.....

spinning wheel

I got as far as taking it all out of the box, but the wood needs to be sealed before it can be assembled. Hopefully this weekend, if I get a minute. I can't wait to get going! Snoopydog was extremely generous with her gifts - some yummy yarns, knitting needles, beads and a couple of books all about how to spin. I can't wait to be good enough to spin yarn that I can actually make something out of! I wonder how long that will take?

bday gifts and cards (1)

These birthday cards made me smile too. All on a knitting theme!

birthday cards

I've been busy making mini-stockings, some as presents and some for our Christmas tree. Here are the latest offerings....

mini stockings

I hope to get a few more made before Christmas. As well as knitted decorations, the children have been busy at school making felt trees. I taught them how to fix sequins on with beads, and they also used a sewing machine, with some adult help, to sew the trees together. I think the caretaker was just about ready to kill me after suffering a fortnight of sequins and beads on the classroom floor, but it was worth it in the end. The trees looked amazing all together (I forgot my camera that day), and the kids were rightly proud of their work.

sequinned trees

My stash has been enhanced a little too. I bought some more (yes, more!) sock yarn from Modern Knitting. Zitron Trekking in 3 different colourways, all already earmarked for projects!

sock yarn

I also got some Mini Mochi from a friend. She got a job lot at a show, and brought it along to knitting group to share. I didn't actually have a clue what colourway I'd ended up with until I got home as it was so dark in the pub! But I'm very pleased with my 'selection'!

birthday stash and more! (8)

I have another crochet book to show you too - it's called 'Beyond the Square - Crochet Motifs' by Edie Eckman, and it's packed full of different crochet shapes - circles, hexagons, triangles, squares and a few more unusual shapes. I'd like to spend a bit more time improving my crochet next year, and I think this is the perfect book! The book is beautifully illustrated throughout. I love the front cover!

even more stash 002

Snoopydog and I have booked for Knit Nation next summer - we're taking a finishing class with Anne Hanson, and a sock making class with Wendy Johnson. Should be a great weekend. I'd better start saving my pennies (or pounds!) for the market place. I have great hopes for the finishing course, as it's the sewing together that puts me off making jumpers and cardigans. Things don't ever look as good as I want them too. Although I have to say that my mattress stitch has improved since I've been making the mini-stockings as they have to be sewn together.

I have actually done some other knitting since we last met. My December socks are coming on well - one done and halfway down the leg of the 2nd. I still haven't got the pattern sorted, and was relieved to see that it didn't extend down the foot!

December sock WIP

I'm hoping to get the second one finished this week and knit Mr Josiekitten a pair of socks for Christmas. He's dropped enough hints!!

I've also cast on my 100th Ravelry project. I'm making a 10 stitch blanket using my stash of Noro Silk Garden. I decided to frog my Lizard Ridge blanket (I'd only done a little of one block) in favour of the 10 Stitch blanket, as there's very little finishing off! There are some fantastic projects on Ravelry to inspire you.

10 stitch blankie WIP

Mr Josiekitten and I went to Germany last weekend to see his family. We had a wonderful time visiting a couple of Christmas markets, so I shall love you and leave you with a snapshot of our weekend. Bye for now.

Christmas markets

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Normal service will resume shortly!

Hello there! I've only got 5 minutes, but I'll type as quickly as I can! Things are totally manic at school - I've been to Bethlehem and back more times than I care to think of in the last few days! I'm snowed under in carol concert rehearsals, making cards, calendars, sequinned Christmas trees for the Xmas Fayre (why was I so ambitious?!), mounds of paperwork and assessments, reports to write........ the list is endless. And I have so much to tell you too! New yarn, more stockings, my 100th Ravelry project, some squishy birthday parcels still waiting to be unwrapped! And Mr Josiekitten has been dropping some not very subtle hints about how much he'd love a pair of hand knitted socks for Christmas. Great timing, hey?! I'lll try and pop back later in the week to fill you in on all the happenings. See you soon!