Sunday, 24 November 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like .....


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! (1)

Apologies to those of you who feel a bit bah-humbug about the festive season, but chez josiekitten, we are getting into the Christmas spirit! Today Mr JK got the boxes of decorations down from the roof so we could check that the lights were all in working order. You may remember that this time last year, we were surrounded by packing boxes, so taking a peep inside some of those boxes was a real treat this morning, meeting old friends again after a long absence. We always decorate the house on Advent Sunday, so I will be able to share some photos with you next weekend. I love the build up to Christmas, it makes me feel like I'm a kid again!

It's Stir Up Sunday today, so Mr JK and I have been busy in the kitchen making our Christmas puddings. We always make Delia Smith's recipe - it's delicious! This year, as well as making one large pudding, we've also made eight individual ones to give as gifts.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! (2)
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! (4)

And it's become a bit of a tradition to make lamb and Guinness soup to use up the bottle of stout! So this was our lunch today, accompanied by some soda bread. Yum!
lamb and guinness soup

I haven't had much knitting time this week, and most of it has been spent working on a test knit that I can't share with you yet! I have cast on a hat for Mr JK to keep his head warm on our walks. We went out to the theatre last night, and when we got home, Florence had been ferreting in my knitting bag!!

Flo helps out! (2)

Luckily no damage was done! It's an easy knit, so it shouldn't take me too long to get it done. Mr JK wants it to fit snugly with no slouching, so I shall have to keep trying it on for fit. So I guess it won't be a surprise Christmas gift!! Here's how it's looking so far.
Mr Jk's hat (1)

Mr Jk's hat (2)

I received a couple of squishy parcels this week. The first was a skein of Dazzle DK from the Natural Dye Studio. I have been a member of their Rainbow Club for the past year, and next month's skein will complete my rainbow of beautiful yarns. I am planning a blanket and this might well become my Christmas holiday knitting project.

Rainbow club November

The second was some fibre from my friend Marianne's luxury fibre club. She dyed two colourways - one semi-solid and the other multi-coloured. I opted for the semi-solid version and got a braid of 'Veg'! The multi-coloured version is called 'Fruit' and it is seriously gorgeous. I have a bad case of the wanties - after all, I need a balanced diet don't I? Five a day and all that!! Take a look here at Marianne's photos. She really is a genius with the dyes.
Fluff-n-Stuff veg

I'll see you next week, when I'll hopefully have a finished hat to share with you. Have a good week! xx

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Getting free and easy(ish!!)

Well good afternoon to you! Thanks for stopping by. I have some lovely things to share with you today, starting off with the results of a sewing workshop I did last weekend. It was called Free Motion Machine Stitching and was a lot of fun! Normally when you use a sewing machine, the little  'teeth' on the sewing plate pull the fabric through the machine (apologies for any inaccurate terminology here!), but with free motion stitching, these 'teeth' (in my machine manual they are called feed dogs) are lowered, so you are in control of the fabric and the direction in which it moves. To make it easier to start with, we stretched fabric in an embroidery hoop and moved the hoop around under the needle. First, I just played around, changing direction and trying out some patterns.

free motion machine stitching (2)

After that, I wrote my name, in both printed and cursive styles.

free motion machine stitching (3)

Next, we were shown how to take a piece of fabric and using an iron-on Vilene, to attach it to the backing fabric and then use free motion stitching to embellish it. You can see my attempt at a flower here.

free motion machine stitching (4)

I rather like my little owl too. All I did was stitch around the edge and then around the eyes and wings. It almost gives a 3D effect don't you think?
free motion machine stitching (5)

To finish the workshop, we had a little project to complete - to make a felt needle book with a decorated cover. I chose to make a butterfly. I should have kept the black thread in my machine rather than change to the light pink as I don't think there is enough contrast between the stitches and the fabric. After all, the stitches are a feature of this style of sewing. But I'm still quite happy with the way it turned out. If you'd like to see some really beautiful work, Poppy Treffry is a leading light in this area of sewing. (I've put her book on my Christmas list!) There is a really interesting YouTube video here too.

free motion machine stitching (1)

On the knitting front, I finished the first pair of baby socks using the mini ball of Regia yarn. They have already been worn by baby Otto and fit well, so I shall make another pair with the other ball of yarn I bought in Delft.

Cosy toes no.1 002

I still have secret knitting on the go, so can't share that with you yet. I have also wound up some handspun to join in the Phryne mitts KAL in the Fluff-n-Stuff group on Ravelry. The pattern is one I test knit way back in the Spring for my friend Marianne. It's a lovely pattern and super quick to knit, so if you fancy joining in, come on over! Here's the yarn I've chosen.
lots of projects! (4)

I also hope to knit Mr JK a hat before Christmas, so have the yarn wound all ready for the off!

lots of projects! (2)

We have a dusting of snow forecast for later in the week and temperatures are set to drop. Brrrrrr! Hope you're nice and toasty where you are. Keep warm and see you soon! xx

Sunday, 10 November 2013

What's in my bag?

Rachel left a comment on my last blog post which led me over to her blog, and to cut a long story short, I discovered Nicsknots lovely blog. Nic makes beautiful project bags and other accessories any knitter would love to own and she is currently hosting a giveaway. All you have to do to be in with a chance to win a project bag is to spill the beans on what's in one of your own knitting bags. So I took the bag I'm currently carrying about, a cute hedgehog print (very autumnal!) from ThreeBagsFull ......
What's in my bag 001

and took a look inside. Here, can you spot anything familiar?!

What's in my bag 002

Then I took everything out and spread it out to show you! It's amazing how much you can fit in really!

What's in my bag 012

I bet you would like a closer look, wouldn't you? It's always fun to snoop through someone else's knitting notions. I like finding new things to try out. So first, there's my current knitting project, some baby socks knit with a baby Regia ball of sock yarn. First sock finished bar the grafting, I hope to get the second one done today.
What's in my bag 013

A second ball of baby Regia to knit another pair of socks.

What's in my bag 005

A LoLo bar and some lip balm. I suffer from dry hands and find these LoLo bars very moisturising. They also smell divine. It's a shame you have to get them from the USA, I wish someone like Loop would stock them!

What's in my bag 006

Highlighter tape, a needle gauge and knitting needle conversion chart. I was sent some tape in a swap once and always use it now when I am working on anything remotely complicated to mark my place!

What's in my bag 007

Some reading glasses for when I am knitting wearing my contact lenses. I have reached 'that age' where I cannot see close up!! Blergh!! Plus a bit of handspun yarn. (Not quite sure how/why that's in there!)

What's in my bag 008

Some mini skeins and key ring chains from The Skein Queen, destined to be Christmas stocking filler gifts, fingers crossed!!
What's in my bag 009

A little notions purse, again from ThreeBagsFull.

What's in my bag 010

And inside this, a few essentials for knitting - stitch markers from Atomic Knitting, scissors, a funky robot tape measure, a selection of sewing needles, a row counter and a broken dpn (I wondered where that had got to!)

What's in my bag 011

So now it's your turn! What's in your knitting bag?! Please share! xxx

Monday, 4 November 2013

1300 miles = lots of knitting time

Just popping in to say hello!! We had a great week in Germany. We were visiting friends and family near Frankfurt and Munich and luckily for me, Mr JK was happy to do the driving whilst I knit and kept my eye on the Sat-Nav! The round trip was around 1300 miles, and that meant a LOT of stitches!! So hot off the needles are a pair of Roxy socks, knit with a Regia self-striping yarn.

Roxy socks (2)

I finished the back and one front of my Caissa cardigan. I bought this yarn last year when we went to Skye. It has a lovely dense, velvety feel to it and I am looking forward to wearing it this winter!! It is a pretty straightforward knit, so I am hoping that I am going to be able to whizz my way up the second front and sleeves!

Caissa WIP (5)

Caissa WIP (6)
I have also made great progress on some secret knitting. I can't share it with you at the moment, hopefully in a few weeks all will be revealed!!!
I did make a couple of squishy purchases during our travels. First was two balls of a Regia sock yarn with silk in it. I need something soft to knit our German friend Wolfgang some special socks. His feet need a lot of TLC as he has recently undergone foot surgery. I also bought two tiny balls of Regia sock yarn for baby Otto's new socks!! These balls are seriously cute!! One 25g ball knits a pair of baby socks. Awwwwwwwww!!


holiday yarn (6)

Of course no trip to Germany would be complete without cake!!! And yes, we did have a bit of a cake-fest!! In fact, by the time we got home, both Mr JK and I were longing for fresh fruit, vegetables and salad, all of which seemed to have been somewhat lacking from our diet the whole week!!
Germany October 2013 014

I do love German soups - this is linseneintopf with wurst, and it is really, really yummy! It's a thick soup made with lentils, vegetables and smoked bacon.

Germany October 2013 004

We took a trip down to the mountains one day, there was a definite feeling of winter in the air. It won't be long before those mountains are covered with snow!

Germany October 2013 024

We stopped off in Delft on our way back to the ferry. A lot of things were closed because there was a memorial service being held for Prince Friso who died recently. Security was high and there was a huge police presence. We saw the event on the news later that day - as well as the Dutch Royal family, there were members of other European Royal families and other guests included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the singer Bono and the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. We visited the Royal Delft factory to see how the famous blue pottery is made. There was a rather impressive Delft version of the Night Watch.

Germany October 2013 054

It was good to sleep in our own bed again last night. And tonight I reckon we will have the company of a certain little cat who I picked up from her 'hotel' after school today! See you soon! xxx