Monday, 30 August 2010

Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Hello there - I'm home! Mr JK and I arrived back from two weeks in Greece on Saturday evening. We had a fabulous time, relaxing in the sunshine. For the whole fortnight, I didn't even see a wisp of a cloud. The sky was a beautiful blue,

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the sand was golden,

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and the sea was warm!

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It was Hot - Very, Very Hot! One day the temperature in the sun showed us why we felt like we were melting!

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(Apologies for the marks on the photo - I didn't realise that the lens was dirty!)

This was our view for much of the holiday.

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We spent our days relaxing on the beach, in the shade of the trees. Apart from going into the sea, these were my favourite ways of passing the time.

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We met Henrycat's big fat Greek cousin, a resident in one of our favourite tavernas,

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where we enjoyed delicious food - tzatziki, saganaki and tomato and cucumber salad. Mmmmm!

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The bougainvillea was in full bloom,

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as was the hibiscus,

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and the olives were getting ready for harvest in October.

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We watched the fishing boats in the harbour,

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and I shuddered at the squid hanging out to dry in the sun!

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We enjoyed fresh orange juice and Greek pastries - yum yum!

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and Mr JK enjoyed the odd ouzo or two!

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We took a trip to a neighbouring island, Nisyros, and visited a volcano.

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We walked on the crater, feeling the heat from the holes - hot enough to boil water and fry an egg! The sulphur smell was extremely stinky!!

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We wandered through the narrow winding streets in Mandraki, the main town on Nisyros, ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the pretty buildings.

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A great holiday! I'll show you how I got on with the knitting next time! See you soon! xx

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Catch up time

Hello again! This is a flying visit, as tomorrow, Mr JK and I are heading off for a fortnight in Greece. It's one of our favourite places, a tiny village on the island of Kos. We sort out our own flights and acoommodation - no package holidays here. It's very unspoilt and typically Greek. We've been going there for eight years now, and are welcomed back like old friends! Bliss! So tomorrow morning we take the bus from Norwich to Heathrow, and then fly to Athens, getting there at 2am on Saturday morning. Then we get the first flight of the day from Athens to Kos, arriving around 6am. I can't wait! All my knitting projects are sorted and packed, plus socks for the bus trip and hopefully the flight too. I'm taking a couple of baby knits, plus two pairs of socks and some lace. Reckon I've got enough?! I've yet to discover a LYS in Kos, so I'd better not run out! You'll have to call back in two weeks for an update.
I have a couple of finished projects to show you. Firstly, a baby cardigan and hat, knitted in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. There are no buttons sewn on yet, as I don't know if the baby is a boy or girl. I used my newly learnt finishing techniques from Anne Hanson's class at KnitNation, and am delighted with how the cardigan looks.

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I'm dead impressed with how well the stripes line up! Using mattress stitch and just going under one ladder at a time was what Anne told us to do, and she was right! This is one of the side seams.

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This is the sleeve set in.

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The little hat I knitted in the round rather than have to join it, and learnt how to do a jogless join, so that the stripes matched up. I used the method shown here for travelling jogless stripes, and it worked pretty well.

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Here's the two together. Once the baby is born, I'll show you the buttons I've used. I have the most perfect aqua hearts if it's a girl. Not too sure what I'll use if it's a boy! Might just mean a trip to my local sewing shop, which has a very good selection of buttons!

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I also finished my Jaywalker socks. I do like this pattern. The yarn I used was a Lana Grossa one with soya in it, and it's really soft. I hope that the socks will wear well!

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I've been knitting my garter stitch silky scarf this week, and have done about half of it. It is so light and soft, even Mr JK commented on how nice it looked! I was hoping to have lined my crochet cotton bag to take on holiday, but just haven't got round to it. Never mind, it'll keep for next year!
Before I go, I must just share with you my amazing swap parcel. I took part in a swap on Ravelry, and was paired up with Nancy in Pennsylvania. This week her parcel arrived, and what an adventure it was unwrapping it all!

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Where do I begin? Well, there were six balls of cotton for making dishcloths, along with two pattern books and a couple of dishcloths that Nancy had made, just for starters! The latest Interweave magazine, three sewing patterns for knitting bags and needle cases, lots of sweets, a huge bag of Kool-Aid for a bit of fun yarn dyeing, three beautiful skeins of yarn .........

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The pink skein is a local yarn for Nancy - Kraemer Sterling Silk and Silver. It has actual silver sparkling in it! It's too special for socks - this yarn needs to be seen! So I think it will become a shawl or scarf. You can never have too many, in my view! The multi-coloured yarn comes from Wyoming, and I think that I might make something felted with it. The colours are really pretty. The undyed skein is from Mountain Meadow Wool, and is beautifully soft. There were lots more goodies in the parcel, as you can see from the photo. A really useful gift was the yarn-tainer. Nancy specifically bought it for me because she knew I was going away on holiday, and thought it would be useful to keep my yarn sand-free! What a brilliant idea. It's packed, ready with yarn! Nancy is also making me something knitted, and that should be arriving after I get back from holidays! It's been such a fun swap, I'm looking forward to the next one in the group!
Right then, I shall love you and leave you now, as I still have a few bits and pieces to sort out before tomorrow. See you in two weeks! xxx

Monday, 9 August 2010

It's show time again!

Hello again. Oh, I've been busy, busy, busy since getting back from KnitNation, I've scarcely had time to fondle my new yarn, yet alone knit any of it! I decided that the house was too dusty, even for me, so gave it a thorough going over from top to bottom! That took three days!!! (I don't live in a hovel, honestly, but I do have rather a lot of 'things' that all needed to be moved and dusted!) Whilst tidying out the airing cupboard, I unearthed a bag of bits that had come from my Mum and Dad's house. Not knowing what else to do with them, I'd shoved them at the back of the cupboard to be dealt with later. A little rummage revealed some crochet that I must have done in the 1970's! All squeaky acrylic and garish colours that only a child would put together! I think I made them for my parents to use as seat backs. I'm sure you'd like to take a look, wouldn't you?!

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I didn't ever progress beyond the basic Granny square back then, although I do remember making a waistcoat of Granny squares, in purple, cherry red, black and ? I can't remember the other colour, and can't find any incriminating photographs of me wearing it. They've probably all been destroyed by the fashion police! I quite like these two giant Granny squares - I could sew them together and make a big cushion. Do you think Henrycat would like it to snuggle on?

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Talking of Henrycat, he celebrated his 15th birthday this week, doing what he does best - sleeping! Despite his rather mature age (105 in human years) he's still pretty spritely, running up and down the stairs, chasing his tail, and playing football with a bit of scrunched up paper! He is the world's most gorgeous grey velvety pussycat, and he knows it!

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It was our local garden and produce show this weekend, and Mr JK and I both entered a number of classes. I actually struggled to find anything to enter, since most of my knitting looked 'worn', but I managed to unearth my Monkey socks, knitted in France earlier this year, as yet unworn, along with my crocheted Inga bag. I was awarded two 1sts for those, and got 2nd for my photograph of a bee on an echinacea, so I was pretty pleased! Mr JK did very well indeed, and got three 3rds, three 2nds and three 1sts - for his peas, raspberries and his homemade blackcurrant wine! The latter was also judged best wine in show, so he won a cup (more dusting!) I can see a new hobby developing here! Chateau Josiekitten has a nice ring to it, don't you think?!
I'm trying to finish off a few projects before Mr JK and I head off for a fortnight in Greece, so I'll be back later this week to show you what I've managed. Bye 'til then! xxx

Sunday, 1 August 2010

KnitNation 2010 - a woolly feast!

Hello there! Thanks so much for stopping by. My head is still spinning after my 2 day trip to London with my great knitting pal Snoopydog. It is difficult to put into words just what a wonderful time we had. KnitNation was an amazing celebration of knitting, with a Marketplace packed full of the best yarns available, alongside excellent classes with topnotch teachers, and the opportunity to meet other knitters. I hardly slept a wink the night before, I was so excited, and set off to Snoopydog's house at 7am so that we could catch the 8:30am train from Norwich to London. The journey was spent most pleasantly, knitting and chatting, and before we knew it, we had arrived at Liverpool Street. We travelled across London to Imperial College, and after a very speedy registration to pick up our class/marketplace passes and KnitNation tote bags, we were ready to shop 'til we dropped!!!

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First stop had to be the Wollmeise stand, easily spotted not only for the number of people crowding round, but also because of the rainbow of yarns on offer. Where to start?! There was so much (too much?!) choice, that it was difficult to make a decision. The yarns have such a colour intensity, and a lovely feel to them. Go on, I know you want to have a look for yourself!

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What colour would you choose?

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Would you like to see a bit more? Silly question, of course you would!

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Apologies if some of the photos are slightly blurry - I didn't want to use the flash and change the colours. As you can see, the stand was truly a woolly feast for the eyes. I bought a couple of skeins as presents for friends, and eventually chose (in two separate visits!) these five skeins.

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The colourways are, from left to right, Magnolie light, Lila Ludmilla, Mond im 7. Haus, Pfauenauge and Suzanne. I'm very happy with my choices!!
We also searched out a couple of old favourites - the Natural Dye Studio and Skein Queen. As much as I liked the explosion of colour at Wollmeise, I also love the more muted shades that Amanda dyes using historical plant dyes. The yarns certainly feel luxurious, with their different blends of fibres, including silk, cashmere and alpaca.

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I ended up choosing a skein of Precious laceweight yarn in a shade of pale purple. It's 100% silk and feels absolutely wonderful. There's 1000 metres of yarn in the skein, so it's going to take some serious winding!

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I first discovered the Skein Queen at IKnit last year, and loved the colours she achieved in her dyeing. I bought a skein of Crush, a 4 ply sock yarn that's a mix of superwash merino and nylon, in the colourway 'Summer Bunting'. It's really pretty! A couple of mini-skeins also beckoned, and will be added to my sock blankie stash.

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I bought some fibre from Jon at Easy Knits, and he gave me a quick demonstration of how to prepare the fibre ready for spinning. I want to move on from fleece this summer, so watch this space! There just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to! I bought one bag of merino cross, and another of 100% BFL - the colours are lovely and vibrant.

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The colourways are Zippy (L) and Boogie-Woogie Berry Blast (R)! Great names! I also couldn't resist a skein of 100% superwash BFL sock yarn in the colourway Carousel. It's really bright and zingy!

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I discovered two new dyers - Juno Fibre Arts and Renaissance Dyeing. Both had extremely attractive, inviting stands. The lady at Juno Fibre Arts has her own Etsy shop, and was trying her first show. I somehow don't think it will be her last, if the quality of her yarns is anything to go by. How could anyone resist this?!

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Well, I couldn't anyway, and bought a skein of 100% BFL sock yarn in the colourway 'Heather Rocks' and a skein of 50% merino, 50% tencel laceweight in the colourway 'Boudoir'. They both feel really gorgeous!

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Renaissance Dyeing is based in France, and all the yarns are dyed using natural dyes. There was a beautiful crocheted scarf tied onto their stand, showing off all the beautiful colours of yarn. The pattern is called Bohemian Rhapsody, and hopefully the pattern will be coming very soon.

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Here's a closer look at more of the lovely yarn colours........

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I bought a skein of 100% BFL sock yarn in the colourway 'Louise', (named after the dyer's grand-daughter!) It's a really pretty shade of purple.

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I bought a couple of sets of stitch markers too. The first, from Atomic Knitting, are some funky bright rings, and the second, from Tricot Plume in France, are some beautiful beaded, non-snag markers. The beads are really pretty.

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It was very strange wandering around the college, spotting knitting celebrities. We saw Jess and Casey from Ravelry, and Ysolda was there with her photo booth.

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Cookie A was signing copies of her book, so I bought one to add to my sock book collection! At least I have plenty of plain yarn to use on the patterns!

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I would have loved to have taken her sock designing class, but we just couldn't fit it in! Maybe next time, eh?!

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Talking of classes, yes - Snoopydog and I did do something else apart from just spend money! (and as you can see, we were pretty good at that, each encouraging the other with 'just one last quick look around the marketplace'!!) On Friday afternoon we took Anne Hanson's Finishing class. Although we'd been told to make swatches to bring along, it ended up being a demonstration class, with Anne showing us how to block, seam and finish garments. I'm never happy with the way my garments look (that's probably why I make so many pairs of socks!), so I'm going to try very hard to follow her instructions to make up my stripy baby cardigan. Apparently, if you use mattress stitch and only go under one ladder at a time, matching the stripes should be a doddle! I'll let you know! She was a really lovely person, and was so generous with her knowledge that despite it not being as hands-on as I'd hoped, I came away knowing an awful lot more than I did at the start.

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We chilled out on Friday night at an Italian restaurant, a stone's throw away from the Royal Albert Hall and the hall of residence we were staying in, and before bed, spent some time ooh-ing and aah-ing over our purchases. Saturday morning found us making one of those 'just another look' around the marketplace, and at lunchtime we met up with Erin, a Ravelry friend from Canada. She had timed her holiday to England to co-incide with KnitNation, and we'd become friends through the KnitNation forum. She very kindly brought me some local yarn as a gift - some Koigu KPPPM and some Shelridge Farm laceweight yarn. It was extremely generous of her, and a lovely gesture. I gave her some Colinette Jitterbug (not quite local to me, but British as least!) and a little sock project bag that I'd made. I'm sure that this will be the first of many yarny swaps between us! It was a shame that we couldn't chat for longer, but we both had afternoon classes.

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Snoopydog and I were taking a toe-up sock making class with Marjan Hammink, also known as Yarnissima. We were given a mini-ball of bright orange Wollmeise yarn, and once we'd mastered Judy's Magic Cast On, we were off!

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It was a pretty intense afternoon, with a lot of techniques to learn in a short space of time. I have decided that I much prefer knitting socks on dpns rather than use magic loop!! There wasn't much talking as we were all concentrating so hard.

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I didn't quite get my sock finished in class, so transferred it onto my trusty dpns to finish on the train back home! I think that I need to make another sock following Yarnissima's pattern to really embed these new techniques. I'm sure that with more practise, I can avoid getting ladders.

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We left London to head back to Norfolk, tired but extremely happy. It was a wonderful 2 days of total woolly indulgence! I hope that you've enjoyed your virtual visit to KnitNation 2010 as much as we did! I'll leave you with a couple more photos to enjoy. Have a good week! xxx

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