Sunday, 30 November 2014

It's that time of year again!

The festive season is upon us once more. Last weekend was 'Stir up Sunday' and we made our Christmas puddings as well as a Christmas cake. Today is Advent Sunday and it's traditional, chez josiekitten, to put up the decorations. So we have spent a very pleasant afternoon getting reacquainted with many 'old friends'! I love all the special memories that are attached to so many of our Christmas decorations. Over the coming weeks, I will try to share a few of my favourites with you. In the meantime, here are our trees. The main one is in our living room.........

Christmas 2014 week 1 (2)

and the second one is in the hall. This tree belonged to my Mum when she was a girl, so dates back to the war. We still have the original angels from that time, as well as decorations that I remember from my own childhood. Some of them are home made by my brother and me! It is pretty special.

Christmas 2014 week 1 (6)

I have done very little in the way of knitting this week. However, I do have some yarn to share with you from some recent spinning. The fibre was my purchase from Woolfest back in June. I loved the bright rainbow colours, it just felt happy! How could you fail to smile when you look at this?!

spin a rainbow (1)

spin a rainbow (10)

spin a rainbow (19)

School is super-busy right now - Christmas concerts, Christmas fair, cards and calendars to make as well as trying to keep some kind of routine for the children. Next Saturday, Mr JK and I will be up at the crack of dawn to go on a day trip to the Christmas market in Bruges. I do believe there may be some chocolate tasting on the cards!! xxx

Christmas 2014 week 1 (5)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Nice weather .....

...... for ducks!! It was the Norwich Half Marathon today and Mr JK was taking part. We kept our eyes on the weather forecast all week, telling ourselves that it was bound to change for the better. But for once, the forecasters got it right! Heavy and persistent rain, all day! 

Norwich half marathon 2014 (7)

Mr JK swam ran his way round the course in 2 and a quarter hours; to say I am proud of him is an understatement! He's already booked his place on his second half marathon next March! Getting out of the car park afterwards proved challenging. The rain had turned it into a complete mud bath, and a great many cars needed a helping hand to get moving!

Norwich half marathon medal 2014

I received a lovely parcel from Cathy this week. Florence was very keen to assist me with opening it. I think she knew that there was a little something inside especially for her from Cathy's two cats, Mack and Lucy.

PP swap from Cathy  (2)

Cathy had knitted Flo a mouse and stuffed it with cat nip. Very quickly, Flo was playing with her new toy!

PP swap from Cathy  (14)

There were lots of lovely treats in the box including a rather stunning crescent shaped beaded shawl. I would never had thought about choosing orange as a colour for myself, but I love it!

PP swap from Cathy  (21)

I have made some progress with my sock knitting this week - sock number one from my Halloween Roxy socks is finished, and sock number two is under way. With any luck, I will have a completed pair to show you next weekend. xxx

Purple Passion Grille socks WIP (2)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Forgotten projects

I had planned to spend part of the weekend sewing, but when a couple of unfinished projects caught my eye, they kept on looking at me in 'that way' to remind me that they had been languishing unfinished for far too long.

First, some gorgeous fibre that I spun up way back in July (I am having the decency to blush!) and then never got round to plying. I even put the bobbins on the shelf in the lounge so they would be handy whenever I had an odd half hour. But somehow, I managed to ignore them! As I have plans for some more spinning in the near future, I told myself sternly that I couldn't start anything new until those bobbins had been plied. (A bit like your Mum telling you that there's no pudding until you have eaten up all the main course!) I don't really know why I put it off for so long, because once I started plying, there was no stopping me. Mr JK went out for a run first thing this morning, and by the time he had returned, I had done almost half of it. 

Tour de Fleece 2014 Day  16(2)

The skeins still need to be soaked (which I shall be doing right after I have published this blog post, honest!), but I reckon I have about 550 metres of sportweight yarn. I am hoping to knit a stripy cardigan with it......................................................sometime!!! Here's how the yarn looks pre-soaking.

Briar Rose BFL TDF 2014 handspun (8)

The second project was one I started when I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally a few weeks ago. I took a wet felting class with Laura Guida and by the end of the hour long class, we had each made a strip of felt. Laura provided us with a kit to complete the project, and I have finally done mine! I don't think I shared many details of the class with you, so here's a brief summary.

You have to lay strips of drafted roving (we used merino) to cover a rectangle of bubble wrap, and then put a second layer on top going in the opposite direction. You can then add twists of other colours as well as tiny amounts of silk fibres (we used silk thrower's waste) to add some decorative features. You can see that I made some leaf shapes with my contrast colours.

Ally Pally 2014 (16)

Then, very carefully, you have to soak the fibre using soapy water. The wet, soapy fibre is then covered with a piece of thin plastic (we used pieces of throwaway dust sheets from a DIY store) before flattening it with the palm of our hand to get rid of any air bubbles. Using a gentle circular motion on top of the plastic begins the felting process. 

Ally Pally 2014 (15)

The whole thing then gets rolled up inside the bubble wrap (and a towel) so it can be rolled back and forth. You have to change the direction you are rolling from (both the long and short edges) and keep checking to make sure it doesn't go out of shape. You will see it shrinking and felting before your very eyes! It needs to be kept wet, so you might need to add more soapy water. Laura made this using unperfumed bathroom soap in water, not washing detergent as this makes too many bubbles. You have to tidy the edges as you go and before long, you have a piece of felt. I was surprised by how fast it happened.

Ally Pally 2014 (13)

The above photo was how my felt looked at the end of the class. When I got home, I rinsed out the soapy water and left it somewhere flat to dry. And there it has stayed until recently! I followed the rest of Laura's instructions to turn it into the cover for a needle book. Voila!!!

Ally Pally wet felting needlecase (1)

Ally Pally wet felting needlecase (2)

Ally Pally wet felting needlecase (5)

Ally Pally wet felting needlecase (4)

Ally Pally wet felting needlecase (8)

It's a quick and fun way to make felt and I shall definitely be using it with the kids at school. Flo is thinking about the possibility of a felted cat bed! She brought her first mouse in this weekend so is feeling like a proper grown up pussycat!

Before I go, I must just share this with you! Can you guess what it is? (It's not Christmas pudding!) See what it turns into next weekend! xxx

Christmas cake (1)

Friday, 14 November 2014

Between friends

Ravelry links knitters all over the world and I have made some wonderful friends through a shared love of all things woolly! Two of my closest knitting friends are Kim and Kat, who both live in the USA. We decided that we would have a swap to console each other for not being able to go to Rhinebeck in October. As well as swapping a skein of yarn and some edible treats, I knit each of them a pair of Helen socks. I love this pattern - it's a cosy sock, perfect for lazy weekends and it has a special meaning for me as it was named after me! I knit a pair for each in their favourite colours - purple and blue.  

Helen socks for Kat and Kim (2)

Helen socks for Kat and Kim (1)

As well as knitting the socks, I was busy sewing too. I made a little fabric bag for each of them in matching fabric. It will be fun to think of us as bag triplets, knitting away. 

sewing bags for gifts (2)

sewing bags for gifts (6)

sewing bags for gifts (3)

sewing bags for gifts (4)

sewing bags for gifts (5)

I had so much fun playing around on my sewing machine, I am planning a little more stitching over the weekend. Pop back on Sunday to see what I've been up to! xxx

Monday, 10 November 2014

Round 1 to Flo!

Not much I can write here, except to say that Mr JK's lap was THE place to be yesterday. Miss Flo thought she was on to a good thing, snuggling on 'her' blankie! xxx

round 1 to Flo

Sunday, 9 November 2014

And the winner is .........

............. Melissa from Knitting Sandwich! Congratulations to you and thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. Please get in touch with me Melissa so I can post your prize off! In the meantime, Flo is all ready for the Big Day! I'll be back soon to share some gift knits! xxx

Flo counts down

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Ho Ho Ho!

You know it's getting close to that time of year again when you start buying Christmas decorations! We bought this cute pair from York last week. Needless to say, they aren't in situ yet, but it won't be long! Four weeks until Advent Sunday. And that's when the decorations go up chez josiekitten!

Christmas is coming! (2)

In fact, on Mr JK's iPad, he has a countdown set up - and this is what it said this afternoon......

Christmas is coming! (1)

So, as a little precursor to Christmas, I thought I'd have a giveaway! To win a signed copy of Mini Christmas Knits by Sue Stratford, along with a bag of everyone's favourite festive vegetable - sprouts (although these are chocolate ones, haha!), tell me what your favourite thing about Christmas is. 

blog giveaway prizes (2)

blog giveaway prizes (1)

There are some really cute patterns in there that you could use as gifts or decorations.

What's my favourite thing about Christmas, I hear you ask? Well, lots of things......... singing carols, all the traditions such as making the puddings, baking stollen and sausage rolls, chilling out with a glass of mulled wine and an old film on TV and going to Midnight Mass.

The giveaway is open to anyone, I'm happy to post the prize world-wide. I'll be drawing a winner next Sunday (November 8th) at 7pm, so there's plenty of time to enter! xxx