Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Waving goodbye to 2013!

So here we are then - Christmas is done and dusted chez josiekitten and the decorations have been packed away in the loft for another year. (I like to start the New Year with all signs of Christmas gone!) I hope you had a good celebration. Mr JK and I had a lovely time. It was so good to just have time to do nothing! Not that we sat around being lazy, but our day to day lives are so busy, it was great to not have to worry about meeting deadlines and just being able to please ourselves. I have done lots of knitting and Mr JK has been reading and cooking. Bliss! We did get a jigsaw puzzle out a couple of days ago, and it won't come as any surprise to you that Florence was keen to lend a paw! What is it with cats? She has never shown any interest in sitting on this table until now!
Flo helps with the jigsaw (2)

It's the time of year to sit back and reflect on my yarny projects over the past 12 months. I have to say that there don't seem to be as many as usual! I'm not too sure why, except that for a couple of months we were preoccupied with moving house and unpacking boxes at the start of the year. So I shall blame my lack of productivity on that! Here are a couple of my favourite projects from the past year.
Firstly, a beaded Citron shawl, knit for a dear friend's birthday. The beaded cast off nearly killed me, but it was worth it in the end!
Beaded purple citron 043

Beads feature again in another favourite - my not so plain Jhayne mitts. These were knit using a ball of qiviuk yarn; a truly luxurious fibre from the underbelly of the Alaskan musk ox. I cannot begin to tell you just how soft and warm these are.

Not so Plain Jhaynes 005

Finally, a pair of comfortable, slouchy socks. Anne Hanson named these Helen socks after me and I was delighted to be able to test knit them. They are fast becoming one of my favourite sock patterns!
Helen sock 010

Now comes the bit I am dreading - looking at last year's knitting resolutions!!! (I have the feeling that I am going to score a big fat fail here!) Deep breath - here goes! I am among friends after all!

1. To knit from stash as much as possible.
Actually, when I look back through the stash photos from this year, it's nowhere near as bad as I thought! Pretty much all my new stash has come from swaps, and yarn that I have bought was specifically to give away in swaps. The only thing I have splurged out on is some yarn for a couple of sweaters, and both lots were in the sale! (So really I was saving money wasn't I?!)
2. To try some colourwork.
Sigh! No hiding place here, but all I can say is I will try harder to actually achieve this next year. I have several pairs of mitts favourited on Ravelry. They would probably be a good starting project.
3. To carry on spinning.
I have spun during the year, but in little bursts. I did spin most days during the Tour de Fleece. I shall carry on being a member of Marianne's Luxury Fibre Club because it is simply the nicest fibre I have ever spun! My favourite skein of handspun is a very pink skein of Wylie - a blend of Polwarth, yak and mulberry silk.
Tour de Fleece Day 8 2013 (9)

I have joined my local spinning guild and they meet every week. My aim is to go to a couple of meetings each month, which will help to keep me spinning all year.
4. To have a go at designing something.
Well, I actually have dabbled a little bit this year and hope to release a pattern in the New Year! More of that in another post!!
5. To do some knitting/crocheting for charity.
I have done some crocheting for charity - I made a cat blanket that Flo rather took a shining to! (Naturally!) But I ought to have done more. I rather ambitiously named this cat blanket no. 1, suggesting that there would be more!
cat blankie no (5)

My class made pompoms for Sense's Great Pompom Challenge and I did knit Innocent Smoothie hats with the kids at school as part of this year's Big Knit, so that's got to count for something, right?!
6. To knit a blanket.
Well, I have started a blanket, but it's not finished yet!! My 64 Crayons blanket using all my odd balls of Noro Silk Garden is going to be amazing when it's done! Hopefully this time next year, I'll be showing you a photo of it on our sofa with 'you know who' curled up asleep on it!!

colouring in 005

Time to set some woolly goals for 2014. I am calling 2014 the Year of the Jumper!! I have knit so many pairs of socks, scarves, cowls and other smaller projects, it's time to get stuck in to some serious sweater stitches!! So here are my goals for 2014.
1. To knit from stash as much as possible.
2. To spin more regularly and enter something either into Fibre East or one of my local guild competitions.
3. To knit at least one jumper for myself.
4. To carry on designing.
5. To try some colourwork!!!
6. To finish the 64 Crayons blanket.
So there we are, that's almost it for 2013. But before I go, I must just tell you about a wonderful scholarship scheme that Anne Hanson over at Knitspot has running. Each year she designs a scarf and the proceeds from the pattern sale go towards the Red Scarf project. It is a wonderful scheme which provides support to foster care kids as they go through college. This year's scarf is great (and the pattern includes a cowl too if your prefer!) Today is the last day for buying this pattern and helping a student through funding a knitspot scholarship. So what are you waiting for, it's a win-win situation. You get a great pattern plus that warm feeling from knowing that you are helping a young person through the next stage of their life. This is taken directly from Anne's blog -
foster care 2 success helps students who are aging out of the foster care system to navigate a continuing education and advancement into independent adulthood. they provide guidance and counseling, classes in life skills, scholarships, and other types of support that a family would normally provide.
Go here to buy - all the proceeds from the sale go to the fund! If you prefer, you can buy it through Ravelry so the pattern goes into your library.
Anne also released a shawl kit and for today only, $5 will be donated to the fund for each kit sold. The kit is limited edition and is rather beautiful. You can buy it here.
Thank you to each and every one of you who reads my blog. I love writing it and hope you enjoy reading it! I wish you a very happy New Year, filled with happy times, good health and peace. See you in 2014!! I have a feeling it's going to be an exciting year! xxx

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Day plus 1

Well good evening to you! I do hope that you had a lovely day yesterday. Mr JK and I spent the day at home - it was a wonderfully chilled out affair. I do love a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. And of course, Christmas pudding with custard! Mmmmmmmm! Santa was very generous and gave me some very nice gifts. Flo gave me a heated seat cover for my car - what a thoughtful kitty! I get so cold when I'm driving, so it will be most welcome. She, however, was not so enthusiastic about the gift that Santa brought her and has studiously ignored her scratching post. Who needs a scratching post when you have carpet to claw?! Florence showed much more interest in the wrapping paper!
Flo enjoys the wrapping paper! (3)

In an attempt to cancel out some of the calories consumed over the festive season, Mr JK and I have been out walking. The light was beautiful on Christmas Eve afternoon when we walked around the village.
Christmas Eve walk (1)

Christmas Eve walk (7)

This morning we went up to the North Norfolk coast and walked along the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea. This area was badly affected by the storm surges at the beginning of December, with many properties and businesses being flooded. We could only imagine the power of the sea by looking at the remains of some of the beach huts there. You can see in the first couple of photos where entire beach huts have been destroyed.
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Surprisingly, there weren't that many people out for a Boxing Day walk, although the dull weather may well have put some people off. The beach was quite empty as you can see. Afterwards, we walked back through the pinewoods.
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Wells Boxing Day 2013 016

Now you must excuse me, as I have a deadline for finishing some test knitting. Let's get those needles smoking!! See you soon. xxx

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve 001

It's Christmas Eve and the house is filled with the delicious aroma of pork roasting in the oven. We always eat the same meal on Christmas Eve - roast pork, sauerkraut and potato dumplings, as that was what Mr JK ate with his family as they celebrated together. It's nice to be able to keep this German family tradition going. My aim will be to try and only eat one piece of crackling!! I do love it but it's terribly bad for you!
I made a couple of jars of lemon curd yesterday - one for us and one as a gift. I used Delia's recipe, it's nice and simple and quick to make. Perhaps I shall taste it later this afternoon with a hot buttered crumpet. Now there's a good idea!
Christmas Eve 002

I received a lovely package from Marianne yesterday. We did a fun Christmas ornament swap, and I was lucky enough to receive a painted wooden decoration and some dark chocolate candied orange slices (from Marianne's recent trip to Bruges) and the most delightful crocheted tape measure.  I cannot tell you how much I love it! (Unfortunately Miss Flo has taken a fancy to it, but more of that in a minute!) Here, see for yourself! (I love the gold spotty tissue paper too, don't you?!)
swap with Marianne (2)

swap with Marianne (1)

Mr JK and I were out last night, and when we returned home, we were met with a variety of knitted items strewn about the living room. Flo had obviously been bored and decided to go for a rummage in my knitting bags. Not only did she drag my little baby sock across the room, but she also ferreted deeper and dug out a finished sock that I have been test knitting!! To cap it all, she had been in the study and stolen my tape measure from my desk!  Naughty cat!
Flo amuses herself (2)
Merry Christmas to you, I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by your loved ones. Don't forget to leave something out for Santa tonight. I think he's going to be getting a slice of stollen from us, not too sure about the drink yet!! See you later in the week. xxx

Monday, 23 December 2013

Two more sleeps

countdown week 4 (1)

Hello again! Are you ready for the big day? I did an early morning supermarket shop first thing to try and beat the crowds, and have settled down for a day of knitting and cooking. The weather forecast isn't great, with storms heading our way later in the day. Time to batten down the hatches and relax.
We made a stollen over the weekend, using the Great British Bake Off recipe. It was enormous and we could probably have made half the quantity! Or at least have baked it in two halves as it was really too large for our baking tray. But Mr JK declared it every bit as good as his Mum's, and it will be a delicious treat over the coming days.
baking stollen (5)

I received my Secret Santa swap parcel from Dana in the ThreeBagsFull group on Ravelry last week. I am a moderator in the group and had arranged a secret swap in the run up to Christmas. Dana sent me a very pretty project bag (you can never have enough in my book!), a skein of Miss Babs fingering weight yarn, some BlueFaced Leicester fibre that she had dyed herself, chocolate, a Lo-Lo bar, some stitch markers, a tape measure and some fun sheep dpn holders. It's such a fun group to be a part of. We are very good at enabling each other when it comes to buying bags and yarn!! I am meeting up with the other moderator, Katharine, when she is over from the USA in 2 weeks and we shall be planning some more fun events in the group.

Secret Santa 3BF swap (1)

I am still plugging away at a couple of projects, I want them done and dusted so I can have a play with some colour!! I have been accumulating this gorgeous bundle of skeins for the past year and I cannot wait to see them all knit up! See you very soon! xxx

Knitting a rainbow! 002

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Going full circle

We have seen almost a whole year through in our new garden - here's a snapshot of each season, starting with Spring.

Spring garden (1)


garden June 1st 2013 (13)


November garden (4)

And Winter, taken this afternoon.

garden dec 2013 (2)

We are so, so happy in our new home. Flo loves it too. I'm looking forward to the days getting longer so we can sit outside again in the evenings. Happy days! xxx

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Playing catchup!

counting down week 3 (3)
Whoosh!! Where have the last two weeks gone?! I have been suffering with a throaty bug which left me without a voice for a couple of days. Thankfully, it is finally showing signs of going, so with any luck I ought to be fine for Christmas. Yesterday was the last day of term and I am looking forward to a lazy, self-indulgent fortnight!
Last weekend, Mr JK and I went to Amsterdam. It's been a while since we visited, and we enjoyed it just as much as before. Here's a snapshot of our weekend.
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Amsterdam Dec 2013 017

There was a Festival of Light going on across the City and we encountered this piece of artwork both during the day ........
Amsterdam Dec 2013 013

and also at night, when it looked pretty amazing!

Amsterdam Dec 2013 021

I have lots more to share with you, but will save that for another post. I will just let you know who the winner of my birthday giveaway was - the random number generator selected post number 4 which was Marie. I will be in touch with you on Ravelry to make arrangements to get your prize to you. Thanks for all who entered! See you soon. xxx

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Sharing birthday goodies

Yes, it's a cake! And very nice it tasted too. All part of my birthday celebrations! I'd love you to have a share of the birthday fun as well. Interested? Then read on!

Earlier this year I asked Anne Hanson if she was able to design some 'slouchy, stay at home, it's cold outside' socks. No problem! So I test knit for her and the result was this..........

I loved them so much that I knit Anne a pair to say thank you!

The pattern has just been released, and it's called 'Helen sock' after yours truly! I feel really honoured! To celebrate, as it's my birthday today, I am going to give away a copy of this pattern to one lucky reader along with a skein of sparkly yarn from the Natural Dye Studio.
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is become a follower of my blog (if you're not already) and leave me a message. I'll post world-wide, and the giveaway will stay open for a week until midnight on December 17th. So what are you waiting for?!! Enjoy a piece of cake - there's plenty to share. See you soon! xx