Sunday, 27 November 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Advent week 1 004
Hello there! I can't believe that it's Advent Sunday today. Christmas seems to have crept up on me all of a sudden! There's still presents to buy and wrap, decorations to be brought down from the loft, Christmas food to prepare and of course, all the cards to write! I thought I was being organised when I bought my cards a few weeks ago, but I somehow can't bring myself to write Christmas cards before the beginning of December. It just doesn't feel right!
I have done some knitting this week, mostly on the second Fishbone Gansey sock. The trouble is, I just don't seem to have found time when there was enough decent light to take photos. By the time I get home from work, it's hopeless! I know, Bad Blogger josiekitten! I will try harder for next week! Mr JK and I are off to Liverpool for the weekend, so I may well not blog until Monday. I'm looking forward to the trip - I've only been to Liverpool once, many, many years ago, and I think it's changed a lot since then. I wonder if there are any yarn stores there?! Must do my homework before we go! Have a good week and I'll see you soon! xxx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Popping in briefly

Good evening! I have a few things to show you rather quickly today. Firstly Mr JK's Weihnachts socks - done and dusted and it's not even December yet! I'm feeling just a teensy bit smug!! It's my usual 'go-to' pattern from Violet Green for plain vanilla socks and always gives a good fit.
Mr JK's Weihnachts socks (2)
I also finally got round to plying up a single that I spun earlier in the year. It's been sat on my work desk looking at me rather reproachfully. This is what the spun single looked like.
Alchemy fibre Arts BFL single 002
I Navajo-plied it and the skein is still wound on the niddy noddy.
Alchemy fibre arts N-plied BFL (3)
There are some rather pretty colour changes in the yarn. I'm not quite sure about yardage yet, once I've soaked it to set the twist I'll show you some photos of the skein.
Alchemy fibre arts N-plied BFL (1)
I got a squishy parcel this week too - the November yarn from the Fall in Full Color club. It's a deep chocolatey brown with a hint of gold in it. I don't wear a lot of brown generally, but it is so rich that I might just have to give the pattern a go. I have a choice of two cowls to knit. Oh, I think I forgot to mention that the parcel also included two rather yummy chocolates. Sadly they didn't stay around long enough to be photographed!! Here's the yarn for you to drool over instead! Have a good week and I'll see you soon! xxx
FIFC November yarn 005

Sunday, 13 November 2011

At last - some knitting!

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. My bodyclock has just about adjusted to the 3 hour time change (coming back from Greece and putting the clocks back an hour on the same day played havoc with my sleeping!) and my fingers haven't been idle over the last couple of weeks either!
I decided to have some easy knitting for the plane, so took some Regia stripy yarn to knit Mr JK a pair of socks for Christmas. I bought this yarn when we were in Cologne this summer - the colours are supposed to mimic the German flag! So far I've knit one whole sock and am working my way down the foot of the second, so they should be finished by next weekend. The other sock I took required a little more concentration - the Fishbone Gansey sock from Knitspot. I'm using the skein of Woolen Rabbit Kashmir yarn that I received from Kim in the first Clubhouse swap. It feels absolutely gorgeous, and my toes (or perhaps Mr JK's!) are going to be utterly pampered in them.
Odd socks
I finished knitting up the October yarn from the Fall in Full Color club. I had decided not to knit the shawlette that had been designed especially; instead I took inspiration from Snoopydog's Miss Doolittle scarf (another Knitspot pattern) and knit myself another scarf!! I managed to get 20 repeats on each half of the scarf, and was careful when I grafted the two halves together not to pull the stitches too tight. I am really, really happy with how it turned out. The colourway is definitely growing on me!
Miss Doolittle (6)
Talking of happy, I finished knitting the last pair of socks for my University friends - the yarn I used was Wendy Happy, a 100% bamboo yarn. It feels very silky, but I'm not sure how well the socks are going to hold their shape.
Happy Ribbed socks (2)
Last weekend was our annual meet up, so I was able to hand over all the pairs of socks. They were very well received, and I have been asked to knit some more for next year! Always nice when your knitted gifts are appreciated! Here we all are modelling our socks!
Best foot forward!
I have been a very lucky josiekitten recently. Just before we went to Greece I received a parcel from Kat. We have become good friends through the FIFC clubhouse, and in the autumn I sent her a Knit Nation bag (Kat is a TOTAL bag addict!!) and a skein of Natural Dye Studio yarn. I was thrilled to unwrap not only a skein of Socks that Rock yarn, but also a project bag sewn by Michele over at ThreeBagsFull.  The eagle eyed amongst you may already have spotted this bag in use when I was knitting on the beach in Greece! Thank you dear Kat, it was a lovely and generous gift!
Gift from Kat (1)
I did a skein swap with my friend Julia, in Germany, and ended up with a skein of sparkly Zauberweise yarn. It is gorgeous and the silvery thread really does twinkle. I think I may knit a shawl or a scarf to show it off, it's too pretty to stay hidden in my shoes!
Zauberweise sparkly yarn
I also received a parcel from Kim. We have become great friends since we first 'met' in the FIFC clubhouse, and this was our third swap. I sent Kim a selection of yarns that I'd bought at Knit Nation along with her very favourite Granny Wobbly fudge (it is just the yumiest, crumbliest, most delicious fudge I have ever tasted, and I have discovered that it's possible to buy it over the Internet - bad news for my waistline!!) Kim chose my yarns during her annual Rhinebeck visit. I had three gorgeous, squishy skeins of yarn - from top to bottom, a monster skein of Miss Babs merino yarn in shades of plum, a deep purple shade of Eidos from The Sanguine Gryphon and very pretty merino and silk laceweight yarn from Fiber Optic Yarns.
Swap with Kim
Kim also bought me some delicious fibre from Spirit Trail - it's 50% merino and 50% silk and is truly beautiful. Its shimmery lustrousness is so difficult to capture in a photo, you'll just have to take my word for it!
Spirit Trail fibre
I received a little thank you card from Innocent Smoothies this week too. The little hat on top of the bottle is just amazing. It makes all those that I knit seem very boring!! It's nice that they bother to thank all the knitters individually - and the cards are hand written and peronalised too. A nice touch, I think.
Innocent thanks 005
Florence went on a Very Big Adventure today - it was her first time outside, as she'd been microchipped at the vets this week. She thought that it was a very big world outside for pussycats .....
An awfully big adventure (2)
..... and she didn't go far at all. In fact, she decided that it all looked a lot better from inside the door!
An awfully big adventure (9)
I'm sure she'll be a bit braver next time! Have a good week, and I'll see you soon! xxx

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Seven Days in Greece - part 4

When I am packing our cases for a trip to Greece, I always put in a couple of boxes of cat biscuits. This year, courtesy of Flo, there was also a box of kitten food and some sachets of Whiskas that Flo turned her nose up at! We told her that all the hungry pussycats in Greece would love it, and so they did! We had hardly had time to unpack before we met our resident felines. This family consisted of Mum and 4 kittens. They were our welcoming and farewell committee each time we opened the door to our rooms!
Greece October 2011 002
One of the kittens was much smaller than the others, and was often excluded by them. I can't imagine his chances of survival are great, although he certainly got stuck in whenever we fed them.
Greece October 2011 092
Most of the cats we saw seemed to survive on scraps, and food from the visitors. The local craft shop also collects money and donations of cat food to help the cats through the winter time. Very few of the cats seem to be actual family pets, only one or two were wearing collars. A lot of the cats are very friendly, like the two that spent some time with us down at the beach. It seemed that they wanted some company, and a bit of a fuss made of them. I spotted this handsome chap walking down a side street.
Greece October 2011 013
Many show signs of battles, with torn ears the number one injury! There are lots of tomcats all fighting for domination! The locals were hoping that some volunteer vets would be visiting soon to neuter as many of the cats as possible, in an attempt to keep the numbers down. The harbour is home to a large number of cat families. They live amongst the rocks, snuggling down in beds of dried seaweed. If you stroll down to the harbour in the late afternoon you are certain to find plenty of cats sunning themselves. I don't know how this one stayed balanced right on the edge!
Greece Oct 2011 004
This one was King of the Ropes!
Greece Oct 2011 009
This little cat was such a sweetie - she loved being stroked and having a fuss made of her. I wish it was easier to bring cats back home to the UK - she would have been the perfect little sister for Flo! (Mr JK lost count of the number of times I managed to find the perfect brother or sister for Florence!) But just look at that little face, isn't she gorgeous?!
Greece October 2011 269
There was one ginger tom who was obviously the overall boss of the harbour cats. He was ENORMOUS, and the other toms all backed away from him! Here you can see a 'biscuit stand off'! Those biscuits had his name on them, and no one else was getting a look in!
Greece October 2011 025
This cat was another of our favourites during the week. He was always around when we rattled our biscuits, and enjoyed nudging against us.
Greece October 2011 009
There were several kittens too. This tiny ginger one was quite timid at the start of the week, and retreated to the rocks to watch us. By the end of the week, he was much braver and would come up close to get fed.
Greece October 2011 033
Here you can see a few of the kittens we met. I wish that they could all have been found loving homes. When I think of  the warm, snuggly places that Flo has to sleep, and all the love that she gets from us, and the regular food, it's awful to think about how hard it is for these little kitties to survive.
Greek kittens
I wonder how many of our little furry friends we shall come across next year? Some of them will be around for sure. I'll certainly be there with my camera to take a few photos! Normal blogging will resume tomorrow, when I should be able to show you some knitting!!!!!!!! So I shall leave you now with one of my favourite photos - this one was taken by Mr JK. Bye! xxx
Greece Oct 2011 050

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Seven Days in Greece - part 3

Mr JK and I decided to spend a day away from the beach and took the bus into Kos town. As soon as you step off the bus, you enter the busy main town square. All around the square are cafes, full of  locals drinking coffee. There's an old mosque in the square as well as a market selling fruit, vegetables, honey, herbs and spices. We bought some spices to add to beef to make a stifado, and some seasoning for Greek fried potatoes. Mr JK is cooking a Greek meal this Sunday ........ mmmmmmmmmm!
Greece October 2011 193
Next to the square is a beautiful Greek Orthodox church. It was open, so we did go inside for a peep, but felt a little like we were intruding. The walls and ceilings are decorated with the most lovely paintings.
Greece October 2011 185
On the walls outside the church are some magnificent mosaics of icons.
Greece October 2011 186
We stood by the plane tree under which Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is supposed to have sat teaching his students medicine.
Greece October 2011 199
Kos town is a port, and standing at the entrance to the harbour are the remains of an old fortress. The castle of Neratzia was built by the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who captured the island in 1314. For only three Euros, you can wander  around the ruins pretty much at will, and imagine what an imposing and powerful position it must have had all those years ago.
Greece October 2011 237
Some of the towers are still standing, and the whole place is littered with bits of broken pillars and columns. We saw archaeologists shifting barrow loads of ancient bits and pieces, presumably for sorting and classifying. It certainly is a massive jigsaw.
Greece October 2011 240
It amazes me how you are allowed to clamber over all these ancient ruins. If they were in the UK, they'd all be barricaded off with fences, and 'do not touch' signs everywhere.
Greece October 2011 241
We then wandered around the Agora. This ancient market place was only discovered following a severe earthquake in 1933 that destroyed much of Kos town. Again we were free to wander where we liked. We could have walked on the mosaics, but it didn't feel right to us!
Greece Oct 2011 097
Here you can see a close up of part of this mosaic floor. It looks like a little duck to me.
Greece October 2011 258
There are some extremely photogenic streets in Kos town. I think that this one is just picture-postcard-worthy, don't you?!
Greece Oct 2011 101
This street led down to the harbour, where we admired all the boats. Some were offering trips to Turkey, less than an hour away, whilst others were going off on round island trips.
Greece October 2011 236
On the way back to the bus stop, I spotted this Greek lady sitting in the shade, knitting! Wonderful stuff!
Greece October 2011 267

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Seven Days in Greece - part 2

Greece October 2011 129
Mr JK and I both LOVE food, especially Greek food, so we were looking forward to our first lunch. Tomato salad, saganaki (fried cheese) and tuna salad. No matter how many times we make tomato salad at home, (and we do make it a lot in the summer time) it never quite tastes as good as the ones we eat, sat at one of our favourite seaside tavernas. The sunshine and the view just make it one of the most delicious meals you could possibly savour.
Greece October 2011 070
Not to mention those kalamata olives. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Mr JK hates olives, but being a Grecophile, feels it's his duty to try one each year, just to see if his tastes have changed. They haven't (yet!), but watching him try is always amusing, as he pulls some wonderful faces! And what to wash lunch down with, but a glass of Mythos beer. The glasses are kept in the freezer, so the beer is ice cold!
Greece October 2011 068
Next day, we tried another favourite, a spicy sausage or loukaniki. Oh yes, and another tomato salad. I can't have enough of them!
Greece October 2011 114
It wouldn't be right to visit Greece without sampling a Greek salad. The feta cheese is just delicious, crumbly and a little bit salty.
Greece October 2011 117
Mr JK enjoyed a plate of fresh sardines one lunchtime too. Greece Oct 2011 128
I had to have a few sweet things too - I love Greek yoghurt and honey, with or without nuts!
Greece Oct 2011 131
Although I didn't eat any baklava this time, I did try a honeyed pastry one day. This one had a custard filling and was rather yummy indeed!
Greece October 2011 195
Amazingly, we found that we'd only put on a couple of pounds while we were away! And I hope you enjoy a little taste of Greek food, all calorie free! See you soon, for more Greek adventures! xxx