Saturday, 28 May 2016

By the skin of my teeth!

It has been a week of madness here, spinning at every opportunity in a desperate attempt to get my yarn spun up and plied in time to get in the post for the spinning competition at this year's Fibre-East. I know that I work better under pressure, but even so, this was perhaps a little too close for comfort! Last weekend, I got the spinning wheel turning again and made a start on my competition entry. I shared with you the first of the braids - 'Sunset'. Over the following days, I spun up 'Dusk' and 'Night', with my trusty feline assistant close by to supervise. Thank goodness for Flo! I'd be lost without her!

Fibre East spinning (3)

more Fibre East spinning (2)

When it was time to start plying, I set up my own version of a tensioned Lazy Kate. I find that the bobbins turn round too fast on the one that is on my wheel, meaning that too much yarn unwinds and then plies back on itself. This one may look a bit 'Heath Robinson' but it works really well.

Fibre East spinning (4)

Fibre East spinning (5)

Crikey, I don't think I could have squeezed another metre of yarn onto this bobbin! Satisfyingly full of lovely springy yarn!

Fibre East spinning (6)

Fibre East spinning (1)

I'm very pleased to say that I posted my entries off to Fibre-East this morning! As well as this 3-ply yarn, I also entered a 2-ply yarn that I'd spun a year or two ago and a shawl and socks both knit from handspun yarn. I'll let you know later in the summer how I get on. I had forgotten just how relaxing spinning was. It's not too long until the Tour de Fleece begins; I'm looking forward to a whole month of playing with fibre. Do you fancy joining me? xxx

Fibre East spinning (2)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A bit like riding a bike!

Or so it would seem! I can't actually recall the last time I did some proper spinning. It must have been at least a year ago, before tendinitis reared its ugly head. So it was with some trepidation that I dusted off the spinning wheel this weekend. I have until the end of the month to submit my entries into this year's spinning competition at Fibre-East. I grabbed a braid of fibre from stash and set  about preparing it. Before long, Flo was there to test how soft it was! Perhaps she was wondering if it might become a blanket for her! She also inspected the quality of the spinning! I split the fibre into three lengths and spun each one, before plying them together. And wonder of wonders, I hadn't forgotten how to spin! I even ended up with a semi-decent yarn at the end!

Today, I started spinning the fibre for my competition entry - it has to be a three ply yarn, each ply a different colour. I knew exactly which fibre to use; fibre from Picperfic's luxury fibre club that was dyed with a three ply yarn in mind. I  love Marianne's dyeing, the colours are always beautiful. I was drawn to 'Sunset' as my first spin - vibrant shades of pink, red, orange and violet, with so many shades in between. Mr JK was out on a long run in preparation for a 100 km run in three weeks (yes, I did write 100 km, it wasn't a mistake!) so  I had the day to myself. I opened the door to the garden and enjoyed the bird song as I spun. Flo mooched around - in, out, shaking it all about!! She even jumped up and sat on my shoulders for a while!

My aim is to get the other colours spun over the next couple of evenings. It was such a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours and I was pleased with how the spinning went. Aren't those colours just glorious?

Other news - my Cosy crochet blanket is progressing. I haven't quite finished the 4th repeat of colours. I think I have three more colours to go. Flo is keeping a close eye on its progress! You can see how it's looking from the second photo where I've spread it out.

I've started another Contact Print cushion cover. This time, I've tried to use a rainbow of blocks using mainly scraps that I received in a fabric swap from my friend Michele. I took a quick photo of  it spread out on Mr JK's keyboard. I think this is the most accurate one I have sewed so far.

I'll leave you with a photo of our lilacs. They have been promising to burst into bloom all week and today, when I walked past, I was hit by that heady aroma. Gorgeous! I wish you could smell the scent too! Have a lovely week! xxx

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Randomly on a Sunday afternoon

Hasn't the weather been extreme over the past seven days? Hard to imagine, sat here wearing three layers, that this time last week, we were enjoying the warm weather and sunshine with the first bbq of the year! Let's just say that I haven't packed my socks away for the year quite yet! We did fit in a visit to Blickling Hall to walk through the bluebell woods last Saturday. They are absolutely magnificent - the photos really don't do them justice. I did upload a short video onto Instagram which I love; you can see the huge expanse of blue accompanied by bird song. It really is a magical experience.

bluebells at Blickling 2016 (8)

bluebells at Blickling 2016 (6)

bluebells at Blickling 2016 (13)

This week I have tried to work on just one project - my Cosy crocheted blanket. I love the colours and the yarn (Stylecraft Special DK) and would really like to get it finished before the autumn. Over the course of the week, I have managed to almost complete the third set of stripes, which takes me to half way. Florence has taken a keen interest in the hooky goings on and it won't come as a surprise to know that having tested the blanket, she likes it a lot! 

sleepy Flo on blanket (3)

sleepy Flo on blanket (2)

I have to admit, she does look rather good contrasting with those bright colours, doesn't she?! I reckon it's just another woolly item that is going to have to be shared!

I don't think I shared with you the progress I made on my new socks last weekend. Remember I had to buy some yarn on Yarn Shop day, so cast on immediately to show just how essential that purchase was. The first pair I am knitting alongside Snoopydog, who has an identical ball of yarn - Opal Sweet & Spicy in Fruchtgummi. I have reached the heel flap on the first sock...

weekend woolly workings (1)

and the second pair, knit in the new Debbie Bliss Rialto luxury sock yarn, was up to the heel flap before I discovered a dropped stitch, most likely from when I tried them on for fit and some stitches slid off the dpns! So I have frogged back about half the leg, with much muttering and cursing! The pattern is a possible new one, I will see how they turn out.

weekend woolly workings (2)

My goal this week is to finish the next set of rows on the Cosy blanket, Flo  permitting! I've just heard the cat flap, so shall go and claim ownership of the blanket again. Have a good week! xxx

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

There's no such thing as too many cushions!

The Great British Sewing Bee returns to our screens next week and I cannot wait! Although I have only made one top for myself so far, I love using my sewing machine and with each project I make, I learn something new or do something a little better than the previous time. I am looking forward to finding out more about this year's contestants and predicting the garment of the week! At the moment, I am rather obsessed with sewing cushions. I made another Contact Print cushion at the weekend. I used a mini charm pack from Moda again and backed it with a floral print fabric. It was a gorgeous weekend here, so the both cushions went into use on the bench in the garden. You can guess who went for a closer look, can't you?!

Contact Print cushion no2 (3)

Contact Print cushion no2 (2)

Contact Print cushion no2 (6)

I plan on sewing some more of these as presents, but making my own charm squares, so I have just ordered a template from The Cotton Patch to make it easy. It probably won't come as any surprise to you that I have started a fabric stash, so I will be rummaging through scraps to pick out various prints. We are running out of sofa space with all the cushions I have made! Here they all are - which one's your favourite?! Back soon with yarn-related goings on! xxx

cushion fest

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Magic View - Style - Curve

I have been making the most of the glorious weather this weekend and time has run away with me! So here's a super-quick Magic View post, looking at photos with curves. I'll be back very soon to share what I've been up to over the last few days. Enjoy! xxx

Old Vicarage East Ruston 21st June 2015 (15)

igloo in the sun (4)

East Ruston Old Vicarage June 2012 (8)

Esme Darling handspun 006

free motion stitched cushion home is where the yarn is (9)

trying to spin a gradient yarn (2)

ripple ripple WIP 003

Wurmy rainbow cushion (6)

Monday, 2 May 2016

Last week ...

Last week I ...

** started walking again in the mornings **
The countryside is beautiful and it's a great way to clear your head before a busy day at school. 

morning walks begin again (2)

morning walks begin again (1)

** admired some of my sewn cushions on the sofa **
We are running out of space for cushions but I can't stop making them!

cushion admiration

** sewed the May block for the Sugar Block Club **
I really like the idea of sewing just one block each month. It's manageable and each block teaches new skills. This one was all about foundation paper piecing. I am definitely getting more accurate with my cutting and sewing. I love the Kaffe Fassett print in the middle, it makes me very happy!

more sewing

** met with my dear friend Snoopydog for a catch up **
I showed Snoops how to do Magic Loop and also how I knit Continental style. There was tea and cake - I just need to say that we didn't polish off those two boxes of cakes!!

meet up with snoops

** supported my local yarn shop on Yarn Shop Day **
 I don't often visit my LYS - most of my yarn purchasing seems to be done on line these days, but I did buy two 'essential' balls of sock yarn - one Opal (always a good 'un) and the other a new one from Debbie Bliss. The hardest part was picking the colourway!

supporting yarn shop day

** started off two new pairs of socks with my new yarn **
Clearly I didn't have anything suitable in my stash so my yarn purchasing was entirely reasonable!

sock projects begun

** baked a batch of biscuits **
By way of a change from ginger nuts, I baked chocolate chip and hazel nut cookies. The recipe is from Delia Smith's baking book and always works well. 

choc chip cookie time

Last week Mr JK ...

** ran a 10K race **
Just a few seconds short of a personal best, this was a great return to running after a foot injury meant that Mr JK had to defer his place in the Brighton Marathon last month.

Mr JK's run

Last week Florence ...

** carried out assorted yarn-related duties **
These included snuggling against balls of yarn to check for softness, helping to block out a shawl and keeping guard over the spinning wheel. 

Flo's busy week (2) 

Flo's busy week (1) 

Flo's busy week (3)

So what's been happening with you this week? xxx

PS Thank you so much for all your suggestions for how to treat my dry hands. I have been liberally covering them in a couple of different hand creams all week and also sleeping with cotton gloves on and they are the best they have been for some weeks. Knitting has been much easier and less painful too. Hopefully by next weekend they'll be in tip top condition!