Friday, 22 August 2014

Late summer holiday......

........ to Ireland! We both love the Emerald Isle and are revisiting the west coast of County Cork. In the meantime, we're leaving this little person in charge chez josiekitten!! See you in a week or so, to be sure! xxx


Monday, 18 August 2014

Sew much fun!

I have been busy sewing as well as knitting and crocheting this holiday; I am not an experienced sewer (why does that word look sooooooo wrong?!) so I was delighted to discover that there is somewhere right on my doorstep that runs a wide variety of sewing classes. The Makeplace in Norwich is terrific - a wonderful, light and airy space in which to learn, with a 'bulging at the seams' fabric shop a couple of doors down the road. I've taken classes there before to learn needle felting and free motion machine stitching, and decided to take a couple of different classes over the summer holidays.

The first class was making a zipped bag. You all know just how much I like bags for keeping my projects in! Now a chance to make my own!! The first bag I made was the little one with the fun bird print fabric. I decided to use some ric-rac on one side (if I'd put it on the back as well, I'd have had to be super-careful about matching seams and patterns!) I actually made this bag when I took the class last year, but I left it so long before trying to make another bag, that I couldn't remember what to do!! So when I spotted that the class was running again, I jumped at the chance to book a place! This time I made the pink and green bird bag - I love this bold print, don't you? When I got home, I thought that it would be a good idea to make another bag straight away so that I'd remember what to do for future bags. After a few technical hitches, such as discovering that my sewing machine didn't have a zipper foot, and then not being able to fix it on without Mr JK's assistance, I sailed through the third bag, using a batik fabric. I've made this bag for my friend Diane to keep her crochet projects in.

sewn bags (1)

Here's a closer look at each of the bags .......

sewn bags (7)

sewn bags (6)

sewn bags (5)

sewn bags (4)

sewn bags (3)

sewn bags (2)

My head is already buzzing with possible fabric combinations for future bags after rummaging around in my small (but growing) stash of fabrics! Which of these do you like the best?!

Bag possibilities!

The other class that I took was a crazy patchwork class, designed to use up all kinds of oddments of fabric. After selecting a variety of fabric scraps, we set about fixing them to a backing panel, one piece at a time. It's a very clever way of doing patchwork, using a sewing machine. I used an overlocker to neaten the edges and will eventually turn my panel into the front of a cushion cover (I'll probably need to do another class for that!!)

crazy patchwork details (1)

I love how some of the different prints look together.......

crazy patchwork details (3)

crazy patchwork details (2)

There just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the crafty things I'd like. Roll on retirement!!! xxx

Sunday, 17 August 2014

All coloured in!

My 64 Crayon blanket is finished at long last!! I checked on my Ravelry page and I actually started it on January 1st 2013, so it's been a long time in the making. It was a skein of Noro yarn that got me back into knitting again and I have been acquiring balls of Noro Silk Garden for the last few years. Some have come as souvenirs from as far afield as Canada and Dublin! This pattern was the perfect way to use them all up and show off the beautiful colours of the yarn. I ended up knitting 4 narrow strips and 3 wide strips. I did a crochet border once I'd put all the strips together - 4 rounds of double crochet, and I'm happy with the way it finishes the blanket off. So without further ado, let me present to you my gorgeous 64 Crayons blanket!

64 Crayons done! (14)

I bet you're wondering where Flo is aren't you?! She's not normally one to miss out on a photo opportunity with a blanket, but she was fast asleep inside her furry igloo and didn't even notice that I was outside! (The light patches on the blanket are where the sunlight was coming through the leaves on the tree behind the bench!)

64 Crayons done! (11)

64 Crayons done! (12)

Here are some of my favourite colour combinations............

64 Crayons colour schemes

I cannot begin to tell you just how much I love this blanket! It is going to live on the sofa in the living room. I reckon I'm going to have to fight Mr JK and Flo for it tho'!! It'll be the perfect blanket for snuggling under this autumn. I might just be willing to share! xxx

Friday, 15 August 2014

Ends in sight!

64 Crayons ends in sight!

I have a mini-mountain of Silk Garden ends which can only mean one thing - 64 Crayons is finished!! Woo hoo! Call back soon to see just how beautiful this blanket is. xxx

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Playing hooky down in Devon

Oh I've had such a lovely weekend! I went down to Devon to stay with an old friend from my time at University and we spent our days visiting National Trust properties, dodging the downpours and having some yarny fun with crochet hooks! 

The first property we visited was Knightshayes, a Victorian Gothic house. The house was built by the Amory family, whose ancestors invented the mechanised bobbin lace making machine. In fact, the factory was moved down from Loughborough to Tiverton in 1816 after it was destroyed by Luddites, and many of the factory workers walked from Loughborough to Devon to continue working for the family. 

Devon Aug 2014 (6)

Devon Aug 2014 (4)

Devon Aug 2014 (17)

There were beautiful gardens to explore as well as woodland to walk through. The walled garden was enormous, and bursting with produce.

Devon Aug 2014 (22)

Devon Aug 2014 (23)

The other property we visited was Killerton. As well as the house and grounds, there's a costume collection there and I spotted this knitted wedding dress!

Devon Aug 2014 (39)

The National Trust had worked with local schools on a project connected with World War 1, finding out about the impact of the Great War on villagers and there was a very moving display of poppies made by the children, each one remembering a villager killed during that time. Quite shocking to see the number of dead from just four small villages in Devon.

Devon Aug 2014 (43)

In between times, I taught Diane how to crochet! We both knitted while we were at Uni, but she had never tried crocheting before. Well, she was a natural and managed to master the basic stitches to produce some flowers and granny squares. Ta dah!! By the time I got back home to Norfolk, she'd emailed me a photo of her next square!! I love the fact that I've taught someone a new craft to enjoy.

Devon Aug 2014  crochet(29)

Devon Aug 2014  crochet(34)

And of course, I didn't let you down! We enjoyed a delicious cream tea on Sunday afternoon - freshly baked scones, Devonshire clotted cream and blackcurrant curd from the National Trust shop. It's really yummy and I'm going to call in at our local NT shop to buy a pot for Mr JK's birthday tea on Sunday! xxx

Devon Aug 2014 (46)

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Blooming marvellous!

Just popping in to share a very quick project with you. I'm off to Devon tomorrow to stay with an old Uni friend, Diane, and she's asked me to teach her to crochet. I have already directed her towards Attic24 - Lucy's crochet tutorials are excellent for both beginners and more experienced crocheters - and Diane has taken a fancy to the triple layer flowers. So I thought it best to have a go at making one myself first. I'm really pleased with the flower, I might well add a brooch fastening to the back. I'll let you know how we get on. 

Triple layer flower (2)

Triple layer flower (3)

Triple layer flower (1)

The Japanese anemones are in flower at the moment. They are scattered in patches all around the garden, giving little splashes of pink. Just lovely. See you after the weekend, I'm hoping that a cream tea will be on the agenda at some point! xxx

summer flowers  Aug 2014 (7)

summer flowers  Aug 2014 (3)

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Go Big or Go Home!

.............. that's a saying that my friend Kim is very fond of. So with that in mind, I have given myself an ambitious target list of projects to work on over the holidays. I thought I'd share them all with you now, and then in September I can revisit this list to see how I've done! (The notes I have next to each item were made at the start of the holidays; I have made some progress on some of these now!)

1. Gabriola socks - half a sock knitted
2. crochet ripple baby blanket - 2 repeats of the colour sequence done
3. Twig and Leaf shawl - 1 pattern repeat done
4. 64 Crayons blanket - needs edging
5. test knit sock - to start
6. Pueperium cardigan - to start
7. Simple baby hat - to start
8. plain vanilla socks for a friend's daughter - to start
9. socks for Monika for when we go to Germany in September - to start
10. socks for Hermi - to start
11. socks for Coral - to start
12. podster mitts for Muriel - to start
13. swap gift for Kat - to start
14. swap gift for Kim - to start
15. swap gift for Julie - to start
16. Purple Passion club shawl - to start
17. September Morn sweater - to start

Each project is in its own bag, ready and waiting! I'm off to Devon for the weekend so will need to pick out a suitable project for some train knitting. I'll report back soon on my progress. xxx

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Fibre East 2014 - Spinning class with Sarah Anderson

When I started spinning dyed roving, I read about Navajo plying and the advantage it had over 'normal' plying, because of keeping the stretches of colour separate. Off I went to find out more and came across Sarah Anderson's YouTube video. I was mesmerised by the relaxed simplicity of her technique and watched the video several times, pausing it while I was spinning. She explains it perfectly and makes it look so easy. Seriously, if you want to learn this method of plying, take a look and learn from an expert. When I read that Sarah was going to be a tutor at this year's Fibre East, I really wanted to take one of her classes. The question was, which one?! As well as teaching the technique of Navajo plying, Sarah was also going to be teaching classes on making some speciality yarns, including coils, beehives and pigtails. Eventually, after much agonising, I decided to do the N-plying class to improve my technique. I ordered Sarah's book from Amazon and gorged myself on a wonderful array of photographs and step by step instructions on so many different spinning techniques.

The day of the class arrived and I set off on my journey with my spinning wheel belted into the car. I was amazed to find out that there were only two of us taking the course; it seemed that many people didn't want to stay late on the Sunday afternoon. But Cecile (the other student) and I were delighted as it meant we would be getting so much input from Sarah. Laid out all around the room were samples of Sarah's different yarns, many of which I recognised from the book. I would have loved more time to look at them more closely. During the course of the afternoon, Sarah showed us different samples and talked about them. I learnt so much.

Sarah said that as there were only two of us, we would be able to cover more than the original class content, so we decided to start off learning how to spin a slubbed yarn. I found this hard to start off with. As a spinner, I have tried to get my spinning as fine and even as possible, yet here I was being asked to spin yarn with thick and thin parts!! I discovered that you need to treadle really s l o w l y and be nice and relaxed when you are spinning slubs. Eventually I got the hand of it and Sarah gave us some dyed roving to spin up. 

While that yarn was resting, we had a go at Navajo plying a bobbin of singles that we'd pre-spun. I think I showed you them towards the end of the Tour de Fleece. No sooner had we started, with Sarah showing us a neat way to start off, than she suggested we add some beads! So with a little tube of beads and some fishing line, we were adding pretty beads at random on our yarn. It's much simpler than I thought it would be, but quite labour intensive. Worth it for a special yarn though.................. I have plans!!

Before we could ply the slubbed yarn, we plied it with a silk blend fine thread - it gave the yarn an interesting look and I'd like to play around with it some more. Then Sarah showed us the technique of Andean plying - you wind the yarn around your hand in a special way so that you are able to ply from both ends of it. So clever! The aim was to ply the slubbed yarn so that the slubs lined up with each other so there would be really fat bits and thinner bits in the finished yarn. I'm not sure I quite achieved that effect because my slubs weren't that evenly spaced. But I'm still pleased that I've learnt another spinning technique.

All in all, it was an inspirational afternoon of spinning, learning from a really lovely person. If you ever get the chance to take a class with Sarah Anderson, do it!! You won't regret it, I promise you! xxx

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Fibre East Goodies

Back for the next instalment of Fibre East 2014, today I'm sharing with you some of my purchases. It's probably just as well that I don't go to that many yarny events, or I'd be broke!! But when you're surrounded by such delectable delights, it's very hard to resist! Some of the yarn I bought specifically for swaps, or to knit into gifts, so I'm not going to share those with you yet. But fear not, there's plenty for you to feast your eyes on!!!

Fibre East haul (2)

Where to start? Well, how about an old favourite - The Natural Dye Studio?! They used to be my most local indie dyers until relocating to Devon. I love the beautiful colours that Amanda and her daughter Daisy dye using all natural dyes. Snoopydog and I both treated ourselves to a kit to crochet a scarf! Now neither of us has what I would call great crocheting skills, so this is going to be a bit of a challenge for us! Something to get our teeth into this winter perhaps?

Fibre East goodies (1)

While browsing the stands of yarn, I couldn't resist this pretty skein of Godiva 4ply yarn - it's a single spun merino and I've heard very good things about it on Ravelry.

Fibre East treats (2)

I bought some fibre from Easy Knits when I was at Woolfest, but this time I was seduced by a lovely new yarn - a deliciously soft marled yarn, made up of a mix of 50% light grey alpaca and 50% extra fine merino.I ended up with two skeins - one purple and the other grey. I think they will make perfect cosy cowls or infinity scarves. Whimzy also had a stand at the show - it took me back to the heady days of Knit Nation when Alice was selling her Sokkusu yarns. Ling has taken over the business and now trades under the new name, although the yarn base is still the same. A skein of sock yarn demanded to come home with me, so how could I say no?! Lastly in this batch, a new dyer to me - Fleabubs by Lala. I just loved the colours and the sparkle in this skein, perfect for a pair of pick-me-up socks when it's all grey and cold this winter.

Fibre East delights 2014

Another new find was Fivemoons and I could have spent a small fortune here - lots of luxury blends as well as the more hard wearing merino/nylon mix, and just utterly beautiful colours. I bought a skein of Diana 4 ply which is a mix of 50/50 merino and silk in the colourway called Flump in a Tutu! I love that name!! I also bought two sets of mini skeins gradient dyed to knit some socks. 

Fibre East delights 2 2014

My last yarn purchase is some Drops Alpaca yarn which I hope is going to work alongside my handspun yarn from the Tour de Fleece to knit a stripy cardigan. It's the recommended yarn for the pattern and was surprisingly cheap at around £3 a ball. Once I've finished plying up the yarn, I'll be able to swatch them together and see how they look together.

Fibre East treats (9)

I first saw Freyalyn's fibre at last year's Fibre East and as soon as I saw the colours glinting and gleaming, I knew I wouldn't come home empty handed! I bought two packs of BFL (one black and the other oatmeal) and silk. One colourway is Iris and the other is Silver Sky. I am itching to spin them.......

Fibre East 2014 fluff

Last, but by no means least, some beads and buttons. Some metallic brown beads for my Purple Passion cotton yarn, some cute pink kitten buttons and three beautiful ceramic buttons.

Fibre East delights 3 2014

So, all I have to do now is make sure I've knitted/crocheted everything before going to Fibre East next year! Yeah, right!! I'll be back soon to tell you about my spinning class. xxx