Sunday, 25 September 2011

Dear Mum

Dear Mum,
I know that I do have lots of comfortable, snuggly warm places to sleep. But...................... what I'd like more than anything else in the whole wide world is my very own Rene blankie. In the meantime, I'll just use your Rene sweater back.

flo's new blankie (3)

Lots of love and purrs,

Flo xxx

PS I think pink is very 'me', don't you?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cambridge blues

Goodness, the last week has gone by quickly! I hope you've had a good one! Mine has been busy, busy, busy, with not enough knitting time! I'm still working on my Longshadows scarf. I have made some headway with the second half, thanks to some train travelling yesterday (more of that later), but I still have almost 5 repeats left to knit, plus the grafting and blocking. It WILL be done by next weekend! My Rene jumper is also progressing. I'm almost at the armholes now. I love the cosy, dense fabric that's being created. But it doesn't look tremendously different to the last photo, so I'll save it for another blog post.
I have done some spinning over the last couple of weeks. I spun up the Cormo fibre that I received from Briar Rose Fibers. It was a delight to spin - really soft and very easy to draw the fibres. I decided to spin it as a single since I only had 1.5 ounces, and I have ended up with just over 300 metres. I'm thinking some sort of neck warmer at the moment. The colours are so deep and atmospheric, I love them.

Deep blue Cormo

I also received the second installment of the Fall in Full Color club. It's a wonderful springy yarn from Shalimar Yarns- a blend of sw merino, cashmere and silk.  When I first saw the colourway, I wasn't bowled over by it - it's a mix of sage green and greeny yellow, called Hazel Leaf. Whilst I would probably never have picked it up in a yarn shop, it has grown on me, and I like the way it looks in the pattern - a pretty shawlette with a leaf motif. I think it's quite a good idea to try new yarns and colourways that might be out of my comfort zone, so I am looking forward to casting on, once Longshadows is finished. (I need the needles for this project too, haha!)
Anyway, here's the yarn. How do you like it?

Hazel Leaf FIFC September yarn (1)

Mr JK and I decided to take a trip to Cambridge yesterday. It's less than 3 hours away by train; much easier than driving to let the train take the strain! So before long I was all set up for the journey - knitting, tea and stroopwaffels!! I was delighted to spot these at the station!

Cambridge Sept 2011 003

We spent a most enjoyable day in Cambridge, doing lots of touristy things. First on the list was King's College.

Cambridge Sept 2011 005

It really is breathtaking when you step inside the chapel and look up. The roof is so, so high and has the largest fan vault ceiling in the world. It almost makes you dizzy just looking!

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The chapel was started in the 15th century when Henry VI laid the first stone. The wooden screen which houses the organ was given by Henry VIII while he was married to Anne Boleyn, and their intials can be seen covering it.

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I think the letters look more like an H and an R, but it must be the way the Tudors wrote their A's!! It's incredible to think that this screen has survived through so much history. I bet it has a good few tales it could tell!

Cambridge Sept 2011 021

If you listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve each year, you will know that it comes from King's College Chapel. I'd love to be there one year. People start queueing from very early on Christmas Eve. If you get in the queue much after 9am, you're unlikely to get a seat apparently! And it doesn't start until 3pm! That's a lot of waiting around on Christmas Eve when you could be peeling potatoes, stuffing the turkey and wrapping last minute presents!!

Cambridge Sept 2011 025

We got caught in a shower when we left the College, and sheltered under a tree by a bridge overlooking the River Cam. Some brave people were having a punt on the river! The rain was pouring down at this point, and we did feel sorry for the poor souls in the punt. They can't have seen much!!

Cambridge Sept 2011 036

Luckily the rain didn't last for very long, and the sun was soon shining once more. This was the courtyard of Gonville and Caius College. There was a huge wisteria in one corner that must look stunning in bloom.

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The Colleges are all extremely well maintained with beautiful gardens and perfect lawns. The reason for that is that no-one is allowed to walk on the grass. And just in case tourists aren't sure, the message is loud and clear in a choice of languages!!

Cambridge Sept 2011 041

We also looked into the courtyard of Trinity College. There is a race held annually around the courtyard where competitors try to run the 341 metres around the courtyard in the time it takes for the clock to strike 12 o'clock. It inspired the film Chariots of Fire.

Cambridge Sept 2011 055

We also stuck our noses into the courtyard of Sidney Sussex College, so I could show Mr JK where I almost ended up! I had an interview for a place to study Natural Sciences many moons ago, but eventually took a place at Bath University instead. I think it would have been a great place to study (although Bath was a lovely city to be a student too!)

Cambridge Sept 2011 064

In between all our College visiting, we wandered around a couple of markets and visited a food festival on Parker's Piece. It was a great day out, and we both agreed that we'd have to do it again. Next time, Ely perhaps? It's another city close by that I've never been to.
Florence is fine, really settled. She doesn't seem to be missing Elsie too much, so we are not looking for another cat at the moment. She has become my office assistant! She is completely fascinated by the printer and as soon as it clicks into life, she is up on the desk with her snout right inside it!! I have no idea what could be so interesting for a little cat!

office assistant flo (5)

A minute or so before these photos were taken, she was fast asleep! And I mean fast asleep in pussycat dreamland, with little paws twitching. The printer started and wham! There she was up on the desk, a little bleary eyed to begin with, but desperate to lend a paw! She really is a funny cat!

office assistant flo (6)

The garden is still providing us with lots of lovely vegetables and fruit. Mr JK picked this little lot last weekend. On the menu this week is potato, courgette and cheddar soup, with soda bread. It sounds delicious. I'll report back next weekend.

September harvest (1)

It's certainly getting to that time of year when I need to have warming, hearty and wholesome food. There's a definite nip in the air, and it won't be long before I'm back in socks! The leaves on our copper beech tree are starting to turn too. Autumn is definitely here! I'll love you and leave you with a photo of one of our recent food discoveries - Greek lamb with orzo. It is completely yummilicious! We found the orzo pasta in our local  supermarket. Go on, try it! We're going to make it with beef next time. Mmmmmmmmmm! XXX

Greek lamb and orzo

Sunday, 11 September 2011

It's Smoothie time again!

A quick  post today to show you this year's collection of little hats. This is the 4th year now that I've taken part in The Big Knit to raise money to help keep old people in the UK warm each winter. I started knitting these hats way back last October, with the aim of knitting one hat each week. (Thanks for the great idea Lynne!) Whilst not actually knitting one per week, rather knitting them in little bursts, I have managed to knit 52 hats. These little hats will be going on top of Innocent Smoothie bottles in Sainsbury's and Boots from November 23rd, and each behatted bottle sold raises 25p for a great cause. The forecasters are already predicting another cold winter, so the more hats that are knitted, the better! The deadline for posting hats is Friday 14th October, so there's still time to knit a few using up oddments in your stash. There are free patterns to download. I'm really impressed with some people's creativity - there are some pretty amazing hats over on Ravelry! Belinda and Betty kindly agreed to model this year's collection, so without further ado, I proudly present the 2011 Innocent Smoothie Hat Collection! Ta dah!! Which one is your favourite?!
Hats of the week 1-26 Hats of the week 27-52

I'll see you soon with an update on my Longshadows scarf. I might also have received the yarn for the next Fall in Full Color project, so I really need to get a wiggle on with this one! Crikey! Have a good week!  xxx

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Home Alone!

Today was my first day back at work, so Florence was home alone for the day. This was what met me when I opened the front door.

Home alone 004

A couple of steps further and more was revealed........

Home alone 005

Where was Florence, I wondered? She was on her chair, somewhat tied up. At the weekend, we'd put a collar on her for the first time, and she wasn't impressed with it one little bit. Indeed, she gave Mr JK and I  a 'look' that all cat owners will recognise - hurt indignation! Despite us telling her that the collar is her key to the outside world, as it will hold the magnet to get in and out of the cat flap, she shook herself, scratched at it and licked at it to try to remove it. Sometime today Flo had managed to get one of her front paws through the collar and was now stuck! She tried to blame it all on her little mouse. He tried to steal her bell, she said. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Home alone 010

But where was the soil from? It wasn't too long before I found out!

Home alone 003

There was a pot of Aloe vera cuttings rooting on the landing window sill. I think Flo got herself in a tangle up there and knocked the pot off in the process! She couldn't have made a better mess if she'd tried! I set to with the Dyson and cleared it all up, with Flo shut in another room.

Home alone 007

Sorry Mum!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Farewell to summer

Hello! I'm making the most of the last day of my summer holiday. Officially schools in Norfolk went back today, with training days today and tomorrow. We worked today's hours one Sunday in July. How I moaned about having to go into school at a weekend then! But how I'm enjoying that final 'extra' day of holiday now!! It feels like an unexpected treat!

I have lots to share with you today, so I'll get cracking. When I returned from Germany at the start of August, I'd completed one each of two different pairs of socks. Well both socks now have partners! The first is a plain vanilla pair for one of my University friends, who requested a blue/green colourway. I think this Trekking yarn fits the bill perfectly, don't you?

plain vanilla socks no.3  (2)

The second finished pair is Roger by Anne Hanson. The yarn is Bugga!, quite simply, pure joy to knit with. Mr JK asked me who they were for once I'd finished them, pointing out that they were knit in 'his' colours!!! 'Paws off, Mr JK, these are mine, all mine!' It is a lovely pattern to knit, so I expect I'll knit him a pair too!

Roger socks 004

My Fall in Full Color project is coming along. I finished the first half of the Longshadows scarf a while ago, and need to cast on the 2nd half pretty urgently as before too long, the next project will be arriving! The photo isn't great, but I'd just rescued the scarf from Flo, who thought it ought to be her new blankie, and was kneading it with great urgency and a glazed expression!

Longshadows WIP (2)

I've been working on another test knit for Anne Hanson. It's a lovely cabled winter warmer of a knit - it could end up being a jumper or a cardigan. At the moment, I'm leaning towards a cardigan, but there's still time to change my mind! I'm using some Cascade 220 that I bought from Loop last Christmas. I'm about half way up the back now. This is what the pattern looks like.

Rene WIP 002

I did some more dyeing over the weekend - two more skeins of superwash merino and nylon. The first colourway I've called Autumn Crackles. It's a lovely mix of autumnal shades.

Autumn Crackles hand dyed

The second skein I've called Midnight Sky. This could be the perfect yarn for a pair of Roger socks for Mr JK!

Midnight sky hand dyed

I've enjoyed my first real venture into yarn dyeing. It would be lovely to be able to dye some yarn to sell. One day, maybe!! Here are all four skeins that I've dyed so far - from the top we have Lagoon, Autumn Crackles, Midnight Sky and Chocolate Cherries.

hand dyed yarn

I don't think I told you that I won a prize for my spinning in the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry!! I was part of Team Superfleece, and I won a prize for the most yardage spun by a new spinner! My prize was a $30 gift certificate at Briar Rose Fibers. I chose two fibres that I've not had the chance to spin yet, some Wensleydale and some Cormo. The Wensleydale has quite a crimp to it, and feels quite wiry at the moment.

Briar Rose Fibre 003

The Cormo fibre is very, very soft. I just love the dark, intense colours that Chris has used.

Briar Rose Fibre 001

In fact, I've already started spinning up the Cormo, and the colours look fab! As there's only 1.5 ounces, I'm going to spin it up as a single and see what I can make with it. Maybe a neck warmer.

Cormo single

With school looming, I've been giving some thought to this term's Knitting Club projects. For the first half of term, we're going to knit squares to make into blankets to take to the cats' home. When we rehomed Florence and Elsie, they both came with their own hand-knit/crocheted blankies as a little bit of security. Elsie loved hers and would snuggle into it. I reckon that we ought to be able to knit a couple of blankies between us.

Elsie and her blankie 001

For after half term, I wanted a project that would be perfect for selling at the school Christmas Fair. So I've come up with a little Christmas tree, decorated with buttons, sequins and beads. I know, thinking about Christmas in September!!! But you have to plan ahead! It's a simple pattern (details on my Ravelry project page) but one that I think the children will enjoy.

Christmas in September 003

Well, I think that I might go and make myself a mug of tea. Let me share with you last Monday's tea. Homemade crumpets, one day-old homemade raspberry jam and a pot of tea! Enjoy!! xxx

crumpets and jam! 001

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dyeing to spin - part 2

I left you with a braid of fibre to admire, didn't I?! Here's a quick reminder of how it looked, BFL fibre dyed with four flavours of Kool-Aid.

dyeing to spin part 2 002

Split the fibre in half and then spin each half up as a single. I like to pre-draft the fibre a little bit to make it a little easier to spin. The cherry red colour seems particularly bright!!!

dyeing to spin part 2 (5)

Ply the two singles together to make a 2-ply yarn. It's got quite a tweedy effect.

dyeing to spin part 2 (6)

Wind the yarn into a skein using a niddy noddy. Tie yarn around the skein in four places to secure it. Then soak the yarn in warm water for at least 30 minutes until it's completely soaked through. Squeeze out the water gently by wrapping the skein in a towel. Be careful not to twist the fibres - you don't want to felt them.

dyeing to spin part 2 (1)

Hang the skein up to dry. Give it a good tug to straighten it out. If the twist is very tight, you might need to weight it slightly. When it's dry, twist the skein up.

dyeing to spin part 2 (7)

And there you have it, a beautiful skein of squishy yarn, all ready to knit!