Sunday, 25 April 2010

A little bit about not much!

Hello there! Hope you've had a good week. Not much to report on the knitting/crochet front this week. I've been so tired in the evenings that I've barely managed a couple of rows before I've fallen asleep! I'm hoping for better progress this week. I'm three quarters done now on the ripple scarf, and it's looking good. Just one more set of yarn repeats to go. It's just as well that I did start again, as I'd never have had enough yarn to finish the wide version.

an even smaller ripple WIP

I've done three pattern repeats on Monkey socks, so there's still a way to go on the second one. Not that I'll be needing to wear the socks for a few months (I hope) because for the first time this year, my feet 'got out'! I'm modelling my particularly scruffy garden sandals!

get your feet out! (1)

Mr JK was busy in the garden all day yesterday, potting on lots of veggie plants - swede, cauliflower, red and green cabbage, aubergine, celery to name but a few. The greenhouse is full to bursting, as it's still a bit soon to plant them out. The tomatoes are going great guns too. Can't wait to make tomato salad with the first pickings.

greenhouse getting ready

Despite all the activity in the greenhouse, he found time to fix this sign onto the shed. No comment!

hmmm - no comment!

Henrycat came and lazed on the table, soaking up the sunshine. I can't believe he will be 15 in four months time. He still chases around like a kitten at times!

Henry relaxes

The tulips finally opened and they were pink! We couldn't remember what colour we'd planted!

tulips (1)

I gave myself a little yarny pick-me-up this week. I'd seen some Colinette Jitterbug mini-skeins on Alexandra's blog, and so I popped over to Colinette, just to have a look (as you do!) and before I knew it, I'd somehow managed to order two Colinette Jitterbug Creative packs! Thirty two yummy little skeins of squishy, colourful perfection. They are destined for my sock yarn blankie.

Colinette Jitterbug blankie stash 003

It's pot luck what colours you get, so I was pretty thrilled with my selection. Now that I've got all this yarn, it's about time I knitted some of it into my blankie! Mr JK and I are off to Cornwall at half term, and I think that the sock yarn blankie is going to be going too! Have a good week.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Back to reality

Hello there - normal Sunday service has resumed! It's the end of the school holidays, and I can't believe that I'll be back at work tomorrow. It feels like an absolute age since I was last in school, and I have to admit that I'm not particularly looking forward to it! I missed the last week of term because I was in Toulouse, and had a supply teacher in my room, so I shall enter with some trepidation. You can never be sure if books will have been marked, or if your supply of card that you've been saving has been used all in one go!! I'm still not feeling 100%, as I came back from France with a chest infection. I had to resort to going to the doctor to get some antibiotics because I felt so rotten, but I finish them tomorrow, so fingers crossed the bugs will soon be gone!
Mr Josiekitten and I have spent the weekend in the garden. We've had two days of lovely warm spring sunshine here in Norfolk. Yesterday I gave the shed a fresh coat of woodstain, and revamped some wooden pots while Mr JK prepared the vegetable plot. Today the potatoes went in, along with garlic that'd been growing in modules for some time, and leeks. The tomatoes and cucumbers are in the greenhouse, and there are big plans to get more veggies planted during the week. We picked our first rhubarb and have just enjoyed rhubarb crumble and custard. Yummy! I sat outside crocheting this afternoon, and was amazed by the number of bees visiting the flowering currant bush. I can't wait for the summer!
Talking of crocheting, I'm about half way now on my Ripple scarf. I made sure that I sewed in the cast on tail so that I wouldn't make the same mistake again! I love the colour combination, and hope that I'll have it finished by next weekend so that I can get a little bit of wear out of it before the warmer weather really kicks in. Here's how it's looking now .......

An even smaller ripple WIP 001 (2)

and here's a closeup of the colour combinations. It reminds me of spring blossom I think.

An even smaller ripple WIP 004 (2)

My Monkey socks are half way there too. I didn't get anywhere near as much knitting done in France as I'd thought. The yarn is from Laughing Yaffle, and is lovely to knit with. Here is sock one - sock two will hopefully be cast on tonight so it can go into my school bag!

Les singes WIP

And here's a close up of all the gorgeous colours in the yarn. The colourway is called Carnival just in case you're tempted to buy some!

Les singes WIP (2)

I haven't got very far with the other scarf I took either. Despite the fact that it's all garter stitch, it's taking me longer than I thought, mainly because 2 out of every 4 rows are knitted on size 9mm needles, and I'm finding them pretty cumbersome to knit with! They feel ginormous after I've been knitting socks! Still, I shall persevere, because I like the effect it's mkaing. (Mr JK asked me why I was making a scarf full of holes!)

silk scarf WIP (1)

Well, that's all my knitting news caught up with I think, so I shall pootle off now and get that sock cast on. Have a good week!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Toulouse - part 4 - meet Edouard!

Hi there! Me again! I promised that I'd introduce you to my new friend. Well, here he is - Edouard! He's a chamois and is native to the Pyrenees.

Edouard (26)

I bumped into him in La Mongie, and he decided to come up the Pic du Midi with us.

Edouard (10)

Don't you just love the dog on the snowmobile behind him?! Edouard went skiiing - here he is taking a break on the piste!

Edouard (12)

He was very excited to go in the cable car, as usually he just scrambles about on the mountain slopes and makes his own way up. Here he is enjoying the view.

Edouard (33)

When we got to the top, Edouard had a look through the viewer to see if he could spot any of his family!

Edouard (35)

It was so sunny at the top, that Edouard decided to do a spot of sunbathing!

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He looks a bit chilly in this photo - maybe he needs a scarf?!

Edouard (38)

One last view of the cable car before we came back down the mountain.

Edouard (50)

Before you send the men in white coats round, let me explain! I bought Edouard to take back to England to use as a French-speaking resource. Children respond really well speaking a foreign language to a puppet, so I thought it would be fun to buy a puppet whilst I was actually in France. He provided hours of entertainment throughout my stay! (and got me lots of smiles and odd looks too!) He sent my class a postcard from the Pyrenees to introduce himself, went all around Toulouse (imagine all the photos I showed you in my first post, but with Edouard!), went to buy croissants at the local boulangerie, made crepes, travelled on the Metro, bought vegetables at the market, and of course, went to school!! He's done an awful lot in his short life, and I have a feeling that this won't be the last adventure he has!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Toulouse - part 3 - On top of the world!

Hello again! As promised, we're off to the mountains today. We headed down to the Pyrenees for the Easter weekend, our fingers crossed that the weather would improve and the visibility would be good. Someone must have been smiling on us, because when we got to La Mongie, the clouds were lifting and the sun was shining. I've never been skiing before, so it was quite exciting to be in a ski resort. The locals (and visitors) were making the most of the last few days of snow.

The Pyrenees (139)

We were going to be travelling in a cable car from La Mongie (1800m) up to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2877m).

The Pyrenees (23)

The sky cleared, the sun shone, and before we knew it, we were off! You have to take two cable cars to get to the summit. Here we are approaching the mid-way point. Almost time to change cable cars!

The Pyrenees (35)

Then we were off again, this time heading to the top of the Pic du Midi! Don't look down!

The Pyrenees (42)

At the top there's an astronomical observatory, and whilst we were there, we got the chance to look through a telescope at the sun. I saw the corona, something I'd only ever read about in physics text books!

The Pyrenees (46)

The views were breathtaking, and it really did feel like you were on top of the world. The sky was a deep, clear blue, and the sun was warm!

The Pyrenees (52)

In this direction, you could see Spain in the distance. Just a stone's throw away!

The Pyrenees (60)

It was a fantastic day, and as we drove back to Toulouse on Monday, this was one of the last glimpses of the Pyrenees that I had.

The Pyrenees (81)

I'll be back again tomorrow - I've got a new little friend to introduce to you! See you!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Toulouse - part 2 - The Squishy Bit!

Toulouse stash 016

Hello again. Thanks for popping back for the next installment! As this is primarily a knitting blog, I expect that you're wondering when I'm going to get to the yarny bit! Well, I won't keep you waiting any longer! As we were in class until gone 5 o'clock each day, I was a little concerned as to when exactly I was going to manage to get any shopping done. Luckily for me, the shops in Toulouse stay open until 7pm, which gave me plenty of time to visit a couple of yarn stores. I'd done some research before leaving the UK, and knew that La Droguerie HAD to be my first port of call. It certainly was an experience! The shop is situated in a tiny square just off the Place du Capitole, so was within easy walking distance of my hotel!

Toulouse 2010 (100)

When you go into the shop, the first thing that hits you is colour, colour, colour, colour, colour everywhere! Rainbow skeins of yarn hanging down, shelves stacked high with cones of yarn, walls of ribbons, and trimmings, shelves of beads and buttons. It was hard to know where to begin. I'd taken a couple of patterns with me, and had started to browse when I was pounced upon by an assistant. The first yarn I bought was to knit another Ishbel. The girl recommended using 2 yarns knitted together - a 4 ply alpaca and a 2 ply mohair. Who was I to disagree?! The yarn came on large cones, and she wound the two yarns together in one yarn cake. I chose the colourway Mure (blackberry). Want a look? Oh, go on then!

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I then chose some more alpaca to make Peasy. I went for a lovely soft grey colour, Brume, which is French for mist. I hope that the yarn will work out ok, because it's a little finer than the suggested yarn, but this was the yarn that they recommended I use in La Droguerie. Fingers crossed! I reckon that all the girls who work in the shop must have strong arms, because all the yarn has to be wound, either from cones or skeins, into the yarn cakes! It also means that you have plenty of time for more browsing whilst your yarn is being wound!

Toulouse stash 017

Just looking at the yarn, I can already see it's going to make a lovely snuggly cardigan. I wanted some buttons to go with it - talk about being spoilt for choice! The buttons were just beautiful and it was hard to make a decision. In the end, I settled on some mother of pearl ones. Do you like them?

Toulouse stash 018

The alpaca was my favourite yarn in the store, partly because it feels sooooooooo soft, and also because of the fantastic range of colours it comes in. I treated myself to 50g each of five different shades of purple to make into some kind of scarf. Aren't they delicious? Just like a bowl of ripe summer fruits!

Toulouse stash 014

As I already mentioned, the buttons there were fantastic. I've never seen such a range anywhere before! I bought some simply because I liked them, without any specific projects in mind. I know that it isn't usual to match yarn to buttons, but hey! I'm willing to give it a try! I bought four of these .......................

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and eight of these ........

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and ten of these .........

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and twenty of these........

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I think that the little flowers will be used for some kind of Attic24 related crochet project. I could have bought loads more! If I lived in Toulouse, I'd definitely need a bigger button box! Here are all the buttons together!

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Taking photographs in the shop wasn't allowed! So you'll have to make do with these glimpses through the window. I can imagine you now, your nose pressed up against the screen, peering in!

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In one window there was a big tray of beads of every colour imaginable!

Toulouse 2010 (214)

Once all of my yarn had been wound, and buttons chosen, I had to go to another counter to pay. It's not the sort of shop you can go into if you're in a hurry! I was in there for about an hour and a half, so was jolly glad that Mr JK wasn't pacing about outside!! A true yarny experience that I shall savour for a long time!

I also visited another yarn shop selling Anny Blatt yarns, and treated myself to ten balls of merino for (another!) Attic24 crochet project!! The range of colours was spectacular, and it was really hard to only choose ten! This was my final selection .......

Toulouse stash 012

So, a fun and squishy time was had by yours truly! Call back tomorrow to find out more about my trip en France. We're off to the Pyrenees, so get your skis ready! Bye!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Toulouse - part 1 - La Ville Rose

Hello there! It's good to be back home! I've had a fabulous time in France, but nothing beats being home again. It's been an exhausting fortnight. During the first week, this was home during the day.

Toulouse 2010 (94)

It's part of the University of Toulouse, and we were there from 9am until 5pm every day, reading, writing and speaking French! I was amazed at how much French grammar I managed to dredge up from somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain. It was more tricky remembering what was 'le' and what was 'la', and the logic behind it! But my French is much more fluent, so I'm pretty happy!

Toulouse is a beautiful city. It's called La Ville Rose (the Pink City) because most of the buildings have been constructed using bricks which have a pinky-red glow to them in the sunshine (of which there was plenty!) In the centre, literally a stone's throw from the hotel we were staying in, was the main square, the Place du Capitole.

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There was some kind of market held here most days, and it was one of the main focal points of the city. The flags of Europe, France and the Midi-Pyrenees are all flying proudly.

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The city is full of interesting doorways

Toulouse 2010 (16)

with tantalising views of secret courtyards

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leading to hidden treasures within them.

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One of my favourite buildings was the Couvent des Jacobins, a beautiful Gothic church with incredibly high roof arches ......

Toulouse 2010 (53)

........ so high that you would get neck ache trying to take it all in, so luckily there was a huge mirror to help. It did make for some pretty strange photos though!

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It was a warm spring afternoon the day we arrived, and many of the locals were enjoying the sunshine on the banks of the River Garonne, which runs through the city. You can see Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge crossing the river in the background.

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Saint Sernin's Basilica is apparently the largest in Europe, and was where Simon de Montford was killed in the 13th century.

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I preferred the Cathedrale Saint-Etienne - it was a mixture of architectural styles, with some humourous gargoyles guarding the doors .......

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.......... colours from the stained glass windows patterning the floor........

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....... and ornate altars all around the cathedral.

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Walks down small side streets led to unexpected discoveries.......

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A beautiful city to be staying in, I think you'll agree. I'll be back again tomorrow to show you some more. Bye 'til then!