Sunday, 29 June 2014

To Woolfest and beyond!!

Just popping in to share some photos from my weekend. Mr JK and I went up to the Lake District for a couple of days. Amazingly, our trip coincided with Woolfest, so while Mr JK was climbing Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England, I was surrounded by yarny loveliness over at Cockermouth!
I set myself a budget, and managed to stick to it. Most of my purchases were for gifts, I only bought one skein of yarn and one braid of fibre for myself, plus a couple of buttons for my Vodka Lemonade cardigan. It was my first visit to Woolfest and it is definitely a fabulous show to visit if you are at all interested in yarn. Not only was there an amazing selection of vendors, but also there were so many different rare breeds of sheep on show as well as extremely knowledgeable people to talk about them.

I have loads of photos, so I shall just let them speak for themselves!

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I spent ages looking at the different breeds of sheep that were there. They were just gorgeous. Woolfest really does seem to champion British rare breeds.
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Here's my haul of goodies - these are all gifts for birthdays and swaps!

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Here's my personal treats - I couldn't resist the rainbow braid of fibre from Easyknits, and I just loved the shades of blue and sparkles in the skein of Debbonaire yarn.

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So while I was surrounded by yarn, Mr JK was climbing up Scafell Pike. The weather was pretty good and gave him some great views, as you can see from the photos below.
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Mr JK took this little video of the view at the top - he said it was incredible to be able to see Morecambe Bay to the west, across the Moray Firth to Scotland to the north, across Yorkshire to the east as well as many of the surrounding lakes.

The next day, we visited some old favourites in the Lakes. First stop was Beatrix Potter's cottage at Sawrey. I think I spotted a relative of Peter Rabbit munching away in the garden! She was an incredible woman - not only was she an author and artist, but she was also a great countrywoman. She saved the Herdwick sheep from extinction and left all her property and land to the National Trust in her will. She even specified the inventory for her house and how everything needed to be laid out. It's almost as if she has just popped out into the garden and will be in any minute to make a cup of tea! Unfortunately, photos weren't allowed inside the house.

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We then stretched our legs for a walk around Tarn Hows. Although the weather was a little bit dull, it was still a very pleasant walk.
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I managed to finish some secret knitting over the weekend. I need to sort out some simple knitting for the coming week as I am away on a residential trip with the kids. I think some plain vanilla socks are the order of the day!  I'll see you next weekend! xxx

Sunday, 22 June 2014

What a week!

Knitting has been a bit thin on the ground this week, thanks to the arrival of Ofsted at school! We have been expecting a visit since before Christmas, so it didn't come as a surprise. I was just a little fed up that they chose to come in a week when I was not feeling especially well - I have lost my voice - but still had to teach as usual! Anyhow, it's over now, and I am just chilling out for the weekend.
The garden is looking beautiful, there are so many flowers in bloom right now. I just went outside and snapped away for a couple of minutes and came back with this little lot!
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I ordered some more wool to knit one more strip on my blanket; it arrived in the week, but of course I was so busy that I didn't cast on until yesterday.

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Once that's done, I shall have the tricky task of prising Miss Flo off her new blankie!! It won't come as any surprise to you to see that she has already claimed it as her own. But I shall stand firm  - this one is all mine (well, mine and Mr JK's!!)
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I'm not too sure if I will get a chance to blog next weekend. Mr JK and I are off up to the Lake District - while Mr JK is climbing Scafell Pike, I shall be surrounded by woolly goodness at Woolfest! Then it's straight off on a residential trip with the kids from school. So I may well see you, somewhat bleary eyed, in a fortnight. xxx

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Loose ends

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I finished writing the last of my school reports today. I'm ahead of schedule because they don't have to be handed in for another week, but it feels soooooo good to have them out of the way!! That's one big task ticked off my list!
I've been working on my 64 Crayons blanket at odd moments this week, joining the panels together. It's actually gone much faster than I imagined. You have to pick up stitches using a circular needle on next door strips and then join them using a 3 needle bind off. I've actually joined all the strips together now - three wide and three narrow - but have decided that I want the blanket to be symmetrical, so am going to knit another narrow strip to join on one side.  I want to do some kind of edging too, and wonder if some kind of I-cord might work. I need to do a little more research to see how easy it is to knit and join one as you go. Here's a sneaky peek at the blanket. I love it! It's been knitted using lots of odd balls of Noro yarn that I have collected since I started knitting again. It was the gorgeous bright colours of Noro yarn that lured me back into a yarn shop way back in 2007.
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Of course Florence thinks it's all for her. While we were out walking earlier this evening, she investigated it, as you can see from the pussycat shaped indentations on the blanket! She's looking totally innocent in the photo, naturally! There are lots of ends to weave in, but I am inspired by how lovely it looks to get it finished over the coming weeks. It'll make the perfect blanket for snuggling under this autumn.

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We finished a jigsaw this week too - it's been sat in its case on the dining table since Christmas. It's not that we haven't wanted to do it. It's more that every time we sat down to do some, we had a little 'help'!!
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The jigsaw actually didn't take us that long when we finally got the table to ourselves!

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I received a lovely swap parcel from Cherie in the BareNakedKnitspot swap. She sent me a skein of locally dyed yarn, along with an assortment of treats, including some unusual chocolate - with maple bacon in it! It was different to anything I'd ever tasted, but not at all unpleasant!

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Cherie very kindly included a couple of homemade mice for Flo, filled with catnip from her garden. Florence was delighted and pounced immediately!

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It's only two or three weeks now until the Tour de France (and therefore the Tour de Fleece) starts. I am really looking forward to fitting in some spinning each day. I love doing it, but somehow never seem to find the time during the week. I have some fibre ready and waiting - these two beautiful braids are from Marianne's luxury fibre club and arrived last week. I'm pondering how I could use both braids in the same pattern. Any suggestions? I wondered about a Citron shawl, starting with the multi-coloured braid. If I spin it either as a single or N-ply it, I will get some lovely long colour changes. Then as it gets bigger, I could carry on the edging with the semi-solid colour. I think it would look beautiful.
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I'll love you and leave you with a couple of photos from our walk on Friday. Mr JK and I decided to go to Blickling Park rather than walk our usual route. It's such a beautiful setting as you can see, we must do it more often. Have a good week. xxx
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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Educating Greek kittens about the delights of yarn, amongst other things!

Oh my goodness, a whole week has gone by in a blur. My body clock is still on Greek time, very slowly adjusting to being back in the UK. School has been full on this week and all my good intentions of blogging about our holiday in Greece just vanished! So sorry about that! Anyhow, here I am with a little spare time (in between writing school reports!) to bring you up to date on our recent holiday.
Mr JK and I have been holidaying on the Greek island of Kos for many years. It holds a special place in both our hearts and neither of us can imagine a year when we don't fit in a trip at some time or other. This year, we decided to visit in May. The flight over was with easyJet and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. The views over the Alps were spectacular.
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I managed to get some knitting done during the flight too - a little 'secret' something I'm currently working on. More details in due course!

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People often ask us if we get bored going back to the same place, and quite simply, the answer is a resounding NO! Our holiday starts the minute we land, we are greeted as old friends, and it is the most perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries. The locals go about their daily business and most of the accommodation is owned by them, so you really feel like you are supporting the village rather than the big travel companies.
Once we've unpacked, a walk down to the harbour is usually next on the agenda to stretch our legs as well as to see which cat families are currently residing in the rocks around the harbour. We always take over a couple of boxes of cat food pouches as well as biscuits.
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We were greeted by a little family of cats - a mum and her three young kittens - who became our surrogate family for the week. Given how young they were, we were amazed at how friendly the kittens were, which bodes well for their survival.
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There are loads more photos in my Flickr album if you want to take a look! We made them a little toy using some wool and paper. The first day, they were quite cautious and didn't quite know what to do with it, but by the time we left, they were having loads of fun, trying to drag off their paper trophy to their little home in the rocks. We let them keep it on our last trip down! You can see just how much they enjoyed it from the videos.



Of course there were plenty more cats. This was another kitten family who got some of our attention. They were a little more timid than the ginger trio, but still wanted food and attention each day! It is heart breaking to see how they live, finding shelter in the rocks, with a bed of dried seaweed. Florence doesn't know quite what a lucky pussycat she is, with her furry igloo, a lap to sit on any time and meals whenever she is hungry.

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We had a guest join us for  breakfast a couple of mornings too - she looked a little familiar and when I checked up on photos back home, we were delighted to see that it was the same little (or not so little!) cat who had breakfasted with us four years previously!
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Part of the pleasure of a holiday in Greece for us is the delicious food - fresh fish, salads and sweet treats like baklava and yoghurt with honey. We enjoyed tasty meals every day. Feast your eyes on this little lot!
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Much of the days are spent soaking up the sunshine, people watching in the tavernas and generally observing the life in a small Greek fishing village going about its daily business. The pace of life is slow, no one is in a hurry to do anything, so it is just the most relaxing place to be.
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There was plenty of time to knit too, you'll be pleased to hear, having seen the large collection of project bags that accompanied me on the trip. I worked on my Twig and Leaf shawl for part of the time, although it was quite antisocial knitting as the rows have more than 400 stitches of lace knitting! So once I had finished one pattern repeat, I put it to one side and concentrated on my 64 Crayons blanket. I managed to pretty much finish the last wide and narrow strips. All I need to do now is the finishing off! I also worked on my secret (plane knitting) project at odd moments.
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May is a beautiful time to visit Greece - it's not too hot and you are usually guaranteed wall to wall sunshine (although we had one stormy night during our week) - and the flowers are in full bloom. I love the bright, vibrant colours. I couldn't believe all the snails that had gathered on the thistle. Not quite sure what was in it for them, but it must have been worth all those prickles!

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So with the sun setting for the final time, it's time to say goodbye to Kos for this year. One thing's for certain though - we'll be back again in 2015! Hope you have enjoyed a little taste of Greece too. xxx
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