Sunday, 30 January 2011

Feeling happy

Things that have made me feel happy this week.
1. Finally getting the teeniest tiniest quietest little purr from Henrycat during a cuddle on Friday afternoon. Since coming back from the vet, he'd lost his purr, and I worried that I wouldn't hear him purring again. He's a little bit better this week, and returns for a check up on Friday. Thank you all so much for your kind comments and concern about him. I do appreciate it. He accompanied me outside while I was taking some photos in the garden this afternoon, and very kindly posed for this one!

Henrycat recuperates (4)

2. Discovering a new 30 minute recipe for soda bread. This recipe from Nigel Slater makes a really quick, tasty loaf. Mr JK and I had some for lunch today with a bowl of Zurek, a Polish soup.

soda bread (1)

3. Ravelry friendships. I love Ravelry! I've made some great 'virtual' friends, both in the UK and around the world. I've just packaged up some goodies for Cathy, as we're doing another swap of yarn and fibre. She's recently come back from a weekend at Vogue Knitting Live in New York, and has bought my swap goodies there, so I'm really excited to see what she chose for me!

Ravelry swaps

4. Some new yarn arriving in the post. (And no, before you ask, I haven't broken my yarn diet!) I received two skeins of a truly delicious mix of 70% mink and 30% cashmere from Craig at Great Northern Yarns, in the shade Deep Forest Green. Anne Hanson very kindly arranged to have them sent to me as I am going to be test knitting a pattern for her. I'm still waiting for the pattern to arrive, but can say without hesitation that it is probably the softest yarn that I have ever fondled!

delicious new yarn (2)

5. Signs that Spring is just around the corner. The tulips are just peeping through the soil in the pots .......

spring is creeping closer (2)

and the pussy willow is all soft and furry! I can't wait for some longer, warmer days again.

spring is creeping closer (1)

6. Booking flights to the island of Kos in Greece for October half term. One of my most favourite places to look forward to. I'll be hoping for a week that looks a little like this!

Greece 2010 188

7. Spinning some yarn that I think I can actually knit with! I used fibre from EasyKnits that I bought at KnitNation last summer, and managed to get around 120 metres of yarn! The colourway has a great name - Boogie-Woogie Berry Blast! I split the fibre into half, and then spun each half onto a separate bobbin.

handspun Boogie-Woogie Berry Blast (2)

I'm still overspinning it (although you can't really see that in this photo) because if I let the yarn relax, it corkscrews back on itself in places, but each time I spin, I can see some progress! Here's how it looked when it was plied together.

handspun Boogie-Woogie Berry Blast (6)

What's made you feel happy this week? xxx

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Knit two, frog two!

Hello there! Yes, it's been one of those weeks! Although I've managed to fit in some knitting (but not as much as I'd have liked!), there's precious little to show for all my efforts! It's been a tough week here in the josiekitten household. First, poor Mr JK was unwell, and we ended up at A&E. Luckily he's feeling much better now. Then Henrycat had to spend two nights at the vets. He's just been diagnosed with kidney failure, and needed to be on a drip to get his blood levels back to normal. He'll be 16 years old in August, and is starting to look his age. He has to go back to the vet in two weeks, so we should have a better idea of how he's doing then. It's just nice to have him back home with us, and enjoy the cuddles while we can. He's such a gorgeous boy!

Henrycat (2)

My Peasy cardigan, which did look like this ......

Peasy WIP (4)

has now been frogged, and restarted! I tried it on and decided that the armhole wasn't deep enough, and also it was going to be rather tight over the boobage department! So I'm making the next size up (I have just enough yarn for this, needles crossed) and Heidi Kirrmaier, the designer, has given me some really helpful advice about how to deepen the armhole without creating excess bulk around the whole garment. I'm about to start the lace pattern on the front, so maybe there'll be something worth photographing next week!

My Circles sock has progressed a little, mainly because it was in my bag when Mr JK had to go to hospital, so I was able to sit and knit and keep calm! What good medication knitting is - who needs drugs?!

cirles WIP

The Kirkstone hat that I was test-knitting for Lily was looking fabulous until I blocked it. Then the Debbie Bliss yarn lost all its body and went far too big and baggy, so I frogged the hat and will reknit it on smaller needles to try and achieve a denser fabric. This was how it looked post-blocking. It's a lovely design, so it's worth doing the job properly! My test-knitting was useful for Lily anyway, so that's the main thing!

Kirkstone after blocking (2)

I have knitted another cabled keyhole scarf, this time for a colleague whose birthday was this weekend. It's a super-quick knit, so is perfect for that instant gratification feeling I often get! I used the ball of Sublime Organic Merino that I had left over from knitting Sheepish.

cabled keyhole scarf

I do have two Innocent Smoothie hats of the week to show you - last week's and this week's. Belinda is modelling a beaded number, while Betty is wearing a camouflage hat knitted with some Colinette DK yarn. I have a dozen little hats already made, so I should have a good number ready to post off later in the year.

Innocent Smoothie hats of the week 11 and 12

Being on a self-imposed yarn diet, I was somewhat surprised when there was a squishy parcel waiting for me when I got home from school on Thursday. When I opened it, I found some mini-balls of sock yarn from Ethmay. She sent me some oddments last year, and was kind enough to think of me when wondering what to do with all her leftovers. Thank you so much Ethmay, your unexpected gift really cheered me up! Aren't knitters nice?!

sock yarn minis

Talking of knitters (and crocheters too!) being nice, Melissa blogged about a project that's just been started to collect Granny squares to make blankets for the victims of the Australian floods. I've signed up to make a few. If my contribution can bring about some comfort in any way, it'll be more than worth it. The project is called Crochet-a-Rainbow, and there's a link on my blog too. I shall have a rummage through my leftover DK yarn to see what I can find, and post some pictures next time.

I've started another little cabled keyhole neckwarmer for myself too. I needed some 'comfort' knitting last night, and settled down on the sofa with this little lot in front of me.

an evening of self-indulgence awaits

A cup of tea, my favourite chocolate, a new knitting project, a yarn cake made using my ball winder and swift, a roaring fire and a pussycat alternating laps between me and Mr JK. What a perfect way to spend the evening! Have a good week everyone! xxx

Monday, 17 January 2011

The great needle gobbling sofa monster!

Dear Yarn Gods and Goddesses,
Please forgive me because I have sinned! But it wasn't my fault! I was busy at home sat on my new sofa, sewing in ends, finishing up projects just like I promised I would, when all of a sudden I dropped my most favouritest 'sewing in ends' needle! And before I could stop it, the nasty sofa had gobbled it up! I searched high and low for it, my trusty faithful old friend. We go back a long way, you see. But it was no good. The nasty needle gobbling sofa monster had eaten it all up! There was nothing I could do. The next day, when I was out shopping, I happened to come across a most wonderful shop, Hobbycraft, purveyor of all things crafty and good! There I managed to find what can only be described as the twin brother of my needle! Oh how good it was to see him! Alas, as I was walking along the aisle to find the needle, my eyes happened to glance at some yarn. Not just any ordinary common or garden yarn. No indeed! This was sock yarn of the most bargainous kind! Yarn that I had been ooh-ing and aah-ing at from the depths of my computer screen. And before I knew it, several balls of this yarn had thrown themselves into my basket! I want you to understand that this sock yarn is not for me (well, probably not anyway!), but for some of my friends who have requested socks in these very colourways. How could I turn away and ignore such wonders! Besides which, Mr JK was there with me, and he authorised the purchase!
Please forgive me, and I promise that I shall not be lead astray anymore!
Love from josiekitten xxx

essential post footy match purchases (1)

PS - Just in case any of my friends should be tempted by the same purchase, I feel duty bound to tell them that Regia Design Line Jazz Colour by Erika Knight is only £2.99 a ball at Hobbycraft. Thank you! xxx

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Plodding onwards ......

Hello there! Have you had a good week? It's been a little less Arctic here, which has made the earlier mornings back to work a bit more bearable! I dug my llama cardigan out of the depths of the wardrobe and have been wearing it all week. It's kept me toasty warm and I've had lots of (positive) comments from colleagues too! I don't know why I haven't worn it more. I love the colour.

Salsa cardigan 001

Mr JK commented that it was a shame that I'd run out of yarn and had to make it so short! Don't you just love him!

On the knitting front, I've finished the Kirkstone hat I've been test-knitting for Lily, and it's currently blocking, so hopefully there will be some photos next time. I'm still on the yoke of Peasy, so it doesn't look a lot different to last week, just a bit longer, and my Circle socks have two pattern repeats so far! Nothing photo-worthy! I have found time to do a little spinning. I used the braid of fibre that Jean sent me just before Christmas.

Awesome swap goodies (3)

I spun it as a single, so that hopefully I have enough to make something - maybe a little scarf. I don't know how much yarn I've spun. I wonder if any of you spinners out there can tell me how I work out how much yarn I've spun. I'm still overspinning and underspinning at various points, but I shall keep practising. I'm going on a spinning weekend in 6 weeks and need to be able to spin a pretty reliable single by then!

handspun (2)

My knitting club at school is still going strong. You may remember that we started making owls last term. Progress has been slow, but steady - with 21 beginner knitters and only me to sort out dropped stitches, I'm amazed that all the children have kept at it! Anyway, we are now at the point of starting to turn our knitting into little owls. So this weekend, I've made some little bean bags to use inside the owls to give them a bit of weight, and make them more tactile, and cut out all the owly parts in a rainbow of felt.

owl production line

Belinda is modelling this week's hat - knitted with some left over Mirasol Hacho. The colours remind me of summer berries!

Innocent Smoothie hat of the week 10 (1)

I've also bought a veritable library of books with Christmas money! The new Cookie sock book, Knit. Sock. Love., and Knitting at Home by Leanne Prouse. The latter book was reviewed on Anne Hanson's blog, and looked fabulous - it is!

post Christmas reading (2)

Also two books from the One Skein Wonders series - one that uses sock yarn skeins and the other that uses luxury skeins. One look at my stash tells me I have plenty of both, so I justified the purchases as a means to stashbusting!!

post Christmas reading (1)

I'm off to start planning my first project. Have a good week! xxx

Monday, 3 January 2011

Off with the old and on with the new!

Hello again! Time for a quick round up of projects that got finished at the end of last year! I set myself the crazy target of five finished items by Christmas Eve! You'd have thought that I'd have learnt from the previous year's experience, wouldn't you?! I imagine that I'm going to have all this free knitting time, when actually, preparations for Christmas take far longer! Never mind, I'll try to be better organised next Christmas so that I don't have so many bits to finish at the last minute!
First off the needles were Michael's stripy socks, made with Regia yarn and the Violet Green sock generator pattern. He uses them as bed socks, and must have the brightest toes in North Norfolk!

more colourful socks for Michael (1)

I finished my purply ruffles spiral scarf, knitted using the Koigu yarn that Erin kindly gave me at KnitNation last summer. I learnt how to knit backwards using this video, and it really speeded things up, knitting all those short rows. I shall definitely do that when I knit my 10 stitch blanket, so that I don't spend lots of time turning the needles back and forth.

purple ruffles (1)

I finished knitting Sheepish, the lovely little baby cardigan that I won from Yarn on the House. I'm really pleased with how the finished garment looks. It was fun to knit, and I just love the little sheep buttons! It's going to be winging its way up to Sophie this week.

Sheepish (6)

Here's a closer look at those buttons!

Sheepish (9)

I also knitted a little hat for PD, using some leftover sock yarn. He looks very cute in it!

PD's Christmas hat! (1)

My Innocent Smoothie hats of the week for weeks 8 and 9 both have a festive feel to them. Betty is sporting a Santa hat, while Belinda shows us what Santa wears off-duty!

Innocent Smoothie hats of the week 8 and 9

I was in a ruthless mood last week, tidying up my craft room. There were some projects that hadn't been touched all year, so they were frogged! I have just one project in hibernation - my crocheted summer stripy bag - it's all done bar the lining. So time for some new projects!

I cast on Peasy, and have just started the vine pattern on the yoke. It's knitted all in one, top down. The yarn is a bluey-grey colour - the light was terrible for the photos!

Peasy WIP (2)

I've also cast on a pair of socks as my portable project. This pair are for Charlotte, using the Circles pattern. It works well with this Regia Deign Line yarn. I've barely started them!

Birthday Circles WIP (2)

My third project is a test knit for Lily France. She's just designed a gorgeous hat, and was looking for test knitters. I volunteered, and got the pattern yesterday. I'm using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK (from my stash!), and have only done the ribbing so far. I hope to have more to show you next week.

Kirkstone WIP (1)

As well as these three new projects, I've got my 10 stitch Silk Garden blanket, my sock yarn blanket and my Innocent Smoothie hats on the go from last year. Hopefully the blankets will get more of a look-in this year! I'm hoping that my desire for instant gratification will be satisified with the socks and blankets, while I push on with the bigger knits. Will it work? There's only one way to find out! Keep on calling in - you can be sure that I'll let you know! Have a good week! xx

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2011! Happy New Year to you! 2010 was a pretty good year in the josiekitten household - lots to celebrate and be thankful for. Fingers (and knitting needles!) crossed that 2011 will be just as good, if not better! I've been looking back over my knitting and crochet projects, and have picked out a project for each month.

The best of 2010

As you can see from the photo mosaic, there's not much that I'd call a really 'meaty' knit there! I've knitted (and crocheted) lots of smaller projects throughout the year - socks, scarves, baby clothes - but no garments for myself. I've also had loads of projects on the go at any one time. I think 12 was my highest! So I'm going for a different approach this year. Let me present to you my knitting resolutions for 2011. Drum roll please!

1. To knit from stash! I have a huge amount of yarn stored away in my craft room, and it needs to be used! I'm aiming to knit 100 balls from my stash during the year, and I will try my hardest not to buy any yarn until KnitNation in July. If you take a look at my stash on Ravelry, you'll see that this should be an easy job, with plenty of choice!

2. To knit some garments for myself. I currently have yarn lined up to knit Peasy, Central Park Hoodie and Coraline.

3. To have less projects on the go at any one time. I'm going to try to focus on less and get things finished quicker, rather than have projects hanging around for months (or even years!)

4. To try some different techniques. I'm keen to improve my knitting skills, and want to have a try at some colourwork, lace knitting and knitting with beads.

5. To have a go at designing. I have some ideas bubbling around in my head for a pair of socks. I need to take the plunge and start playing around!

6. To improve my spinning. My spinning wheel just celebrated its first birthday, and I have accumulated lots of gorgeous fibre, so I need to try and spin more regularly to produce some yarn that I'm really proud of, and able to knit into something useful!

Well, there you are! That's my list done. I wonder how successful I'm going to be? Have you made any knitting resolutions or set yourself any knitty challenges for 2011? Do please share them with me. Call back tomorrow and I'll show you the last knits of 2010 and the first knits of 2011. xxx