Sunday, 28 February 2010

A bit of oo la la!

Hello there. It's been a tad quiet on the knitting front this week. I can't remember whether or not I told you that next month I am off to France for 2 weeks! I've got a grant from the British Council to go and spend a fortnight in Toulouse. The first week I will be at the University, improving my French (my bedtime reading is currently 'GCSE French in a week'!!!), and the second week I will be working in a French school. Last week, we were hosting the French teacher, Fanny, who I'll be staying with. She was absolutely lovely, and we got on with her so well, that she has invited Mr JK over to Toulouse for the Easter weekend! "Let me sleep on it," said he, when invited. Ten minutes later, he came into the living room with a big smile on his face saying,"I can be in Toulouse just after lunch on Friday!" Needless to say, the flight was duly booked, and trips to Carcassonne and the Pyrenees are being planned. I'm so pleased that he's coming over - it will be lovely to share part of the experience with him. (He has just read this and said, "I expect I'll be bringing back some of the wool you'll be buying!") I have done a little yarn shop research, and discovered that literally 2 minutes walk away from my hotel is La Droguerie. Oh my goodness! I need to do some planning and decide what I'd like to buy before I go there, as I think once I get inside, I'll be hyperventilating!!! I just read about it on this blog here, and am very, very excited - the yarn, the buttons, the ribbons! Oh, just everything!!! And of course, it'll be very good for my French! I promise to report back and tell you all in due course. Our evenings were spent talking, cooking, going out and about, and generally having a jolly good time, so consequently, my knitting has suffered. I did manage to finish the first 'Half Century' sock, for Mr JK's cousin. I'm using the Circle sock pattern and a Trekking yarn in Monika's favourite colours.

Half century socks WIP (4)

I'm hoping to crack on with its partner this week, and also the Rainbow cardigan I showed you last time. I'm taking my spinning wheel round to Sally's on Thursday, so I may have some hand-spun yarn to show you too! Have a good week.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Hello again! I'm back from Poland, and it feels soooooooo good to be home. I love going away, but it's always nice to be back home, surrounded by all my familiar bits and pieces. We had a very relaxing time in Lodz. It's a fascinating city. There are some absolutely stunning buildings. I especially like this one on the main street, Piotrkowska. It's covered in beautiful paintings.

Lodz buildings

Lodz was the birthplace of the pianist Artur Rubinstein, and there's a statue outside the house he was born in.

Lodz February 2010 014

We spent a couple of hours wandering around the cemetery on Ogrodowa Street. It's a vast place, split into Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox sections. We have yet to find any graves for Mr JK's ancestors, but it's rather like looking for a needle in a haystack! Despite the snow, many of the graves had fresh flowers on them, and burning oil lamps too. It seems that you can get a lamp for any occasion - Valentine's, Christmas.....

Lodz graves

There are some rather impressive graves complete with statues.

Lodz February 2010 031

I did manage to squeeze in a trip to a yarn shop. It's a really old fashioned shop, the sort that doesn't exist in the UK anymore. A wall of buttons, another of ribbons and trimmings, and loads and loads of wool; sadly most of the yarn is 100% acrylic, but I did buy some cotton in sugared almond shades to make myself a little bag for the summer. It's going to be crocheted, and based on this one from Attic24.

Lodz cotton stash (2)

I also bought some buttons there for my Rainbow cardigan. It's for baby Ida's first birthday next month. I need 4 in total, and I couldn't decide on what colours to get! I ended up buying 2 of each colour! The pattern I'm using is from Drops Design, and the yarn is a Trekking sock yarn. Once I got my head around how the pattern worked, I quite enjoyed knitting it. I needed to read ahead the whole time, because there were great chunks of instructions, followed several times by the words 'AT THE SAME TIME'!! Luckily I didn't miss any of these out. It's knitted in 2 halves, and then joined mid-back. Here is the first half, all stretched out.......

Rainbow cardigan WIP (1)

and here it is folded in half, so you can get a better idea of how it's going to work out!

Rainbow cardigan WIP (2)

And here are those buttons I mentioned earlier. Which do you think go best? I can't make up my mind at the moment! Let me know which you prefer. See you!

Rainbow cardigan WIP (5)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sending a little lurve

Happy Valentine's Day to you! Mr JK and I are celebrating in the Polish city of Lodz. Known as the Polish Manchester, it's not really on the tourist route! The city was big in the textiles industry in the 1800's, and Mr JK's ancestors were all involved in some way or other, from sheep shearer to weaver! It's also home to the 2nd largest Jewish Ghetto of the Second World War. An interesting place to visit. The Polish people have certainly embraced Valentine's Day. Everywhere you look there are hearts. There are balloons on almost every street corner ........

Lodz Feb 2010 015

extravagant floral displays professing undying love ........

Lodz Feb 2010 011

mouthwatering cakes in the bakeries ..........

Lodz Feb 2010 024

and Mr JK even had a heart on his cappuchino this morning!

Lodz Feb 2010 013

I took part in a Valentine's swap on the Phoenix Knitting Forums. I posted a little parcel of lurve to Joy, and made a felted tea cosy. I got the yarn and pattern from Bev Beattie at Knitting4fun, and sewed on some of my heart buttons to finish it off. I called it my 'I'd luvva cuppa' tea cosy, and here's how it looked .........

I'd luvva cuppa tea Valentine swap

I was fairly pleased with it, but would double mount the buttons next time, so the hearts make more impact. I received a lovely parcel from Pinkshoes - a beautiful crocheted heart with a soap inside, and some rather yummy Swiss chocolate hearts.

Valentine swap (3)

We are off out for dinner in a while, and I'm expecting candles, balloons, flowers, the works! Hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day too, whatever you're doing! See you soon.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Dropped stitches

Hello there! A mid-week (well - ish!) post this week. I thought I'd share with you the progress of my knitting group at school. So far, I've started off eight very enthusiastic seven and eight year olds. This is only week three, and I staggered their starting, so that I wasn't driven completely potty by their demands for attention! Just as well, because I am spending pretty much the whole session picking up dropped stitches!! We religiously chant the rhyme to help us with our knit stitch. Do you know it? I think I am probably saying it in my sleep! It goes like this:
In through the front door,
Round the back,
Out through the window
And off jumps Jack!
We've started off with a simple garter stitch scarf for a small cuddly toy. One of them brought in the intended recipient this week, and he wasn't exactly small! At the rate she's going, it won't be finished by the end of the school year! Never mind, I will probably knit a few rows for each of them, to help them along a bit. And I'm hoping that once they get a bit more proficient, they'll be able to take their knitting home and work on it during the week. The yarn we're using is a rainbow of acrylic, but perfect for them!

knitting club

I finished Charlotte's birthday socks in time for her birthday this weekend. I do like the way Trekking yarn knits up - it has a lovely feel to it, and washes very well. I hope she likes them!

Charlotte's birthday socks

Mr Josiekitten and I are off to Poland for a few days next week. It's pretty chilly there, and lots of snow forecast too. I've been busy sorting out knitting projects to take with me. I've ended up with a pair of socks (no surprises there!) and a baby cardigan. The socks are for Mr JK's cousin as a present for her 50th birthday in April. I've chosen the Circles pattern, which I'm sure she'll like. She's very appreciative of hand-knitted socks! The baby cardigan is knitted sideways, in 2 halves, a little like the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. I can't quite get my head around how the pattern works at the moment. I'm hoping it will all fall into place as I knit! I might manage to blog whilst I'm away, as we have Internet access in our hotel, and Mr JK is taking his laptop with him! Until then ................................... Do widzenia!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Time flies!

Blimey! Where did the last week go? It just whooshed by! I've been meaning to tell you about our trip to London all week, but just haven't managed it until now. We had a lovely weekend. The weather was fabulous, cold but sunny, so we wrapped up warmly, and packed in loads! We visited the Imperial War Museum, and spent a couple of hours totally engrossed in the World War 2 section. There's a beautiful knitted dress on display that belonged to a little girl who came to England on the Kindertransport. She was probably dressed in her best clothes when she left her homeland to escape persecution. Very poignant, but I guess that the fact her dress is there, meant that she must have made it to safety too. Mr Josiekitten bought me this postcard.....

Get knitting now - it's an order!

I bet the yarn that was used then was rather itchy! Not like the lovely, soft, squishy skeins we are spoilt with today. Outside the museum, we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall.

London January 2010 001

After a rather yummy sausage sandwich lunch, we headed into the centre of London, to Trafalgar Square, and visited the National Portrait Gallery. I especially loved looking at all the portraits of Henry VIII and his family. Having taught the Tudors for several years, and used postcards of these portraits with the children, it was brilliant to see them up close.

London January 2010 005

We called in at Loop, so Mr Josiekitten left me there and went off to seek out a pint! The shop was tiny, and there were loads of people in there, which made it hard to really get a close look at all the yarns. I did fondle some rather lovely Blue Sky organic cotton, but there was nowhere to sit and browse through patterns. I guess I was tired, as I normally wouldn't pass on an opportunity to buy yarn, but I left the shop empty handed, and met up with Mr JK before he'd even found a pub! On Sunday, we headed back in to London. I knitted on the Underground, and was an object of interest, particularly to youngish women. Maybe they are the generation that missed out on learning how to knit? We went back to Trafalgar Square, this time visiting the National Gallery. We took an audio-tour and visited the 'main' works of art. Again, incredible to see paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Constable, Turner, Monet, Seurat, Van Gogh......... the list is endless. I hope that the people of London realise just how lucky they are, having all these museums and galleries on their doorstep, with no entry charge! After lunch we went to the Shaftsbury Theatre to watch the matinee performance of Hairspray. Brilliant!

School has been hectic this week, and I haven't had a lot of time for knitting. I've finished the first of Charlotte's purple socks, and have knitted past the heel on the 2nd, so they should be done in time for her birthday next weekend. I've also finished my 'Heart' for the Valentine's swap that I'm taking part in, but I can't post any pictures until my swappee has received her parcel. Here's sock number one, just so that I've shown you something woolly this post!

Charlotte's b'day socks WIP (5)

Henrycat is back to his old self again now, thank goodness. He went for a check up at the vet's this week, and had put on 1 kilo in just 7 days! If he carries on at that rate, he'll have to join the fat cats' diet class there! He is much more chunky and solid now, and back to his normal weight.

I must just share with you my latest purchase. I blame Ozzy Blackbeard entirely! I noticed on her blog that she'd bought a lovely buttony mug. I wanted one too! So I went in search and found out that you can have mugs, jugs and teapots too! I'm making do with a mug at the moment. Anyone fancy a cuppa? See you soon.

button mug 007