Sunday, 29 January 2017

Highs and lows

It's been a funny old weekend. It started off well and I went to Parkrun with a spring in my step. The sun shone and there was plenty of blue sky to lift my mood after all the greyness and freezing fog we've had recently. 

I baked some biscuits too - Delia's gingernuts -  Mr JK's favourites. The house was full of that lovely warm spicy aroma and it was hard not to scoff several when they came out of the oven! 

I've had a vase of daffodils brightening up the kitchen this week. They are so cheerful and are from a local farm, so I don't feel bad about indulging myself. It's supporting a local business!

Yesterday afternoon I had a lovely time  with Snoopydog, chatting and knitting. We were both rather remiss and didn't take any photos! Snoops is going great guns on her Opal Advent calendar socks and I can't wait to get back to mine. I have some secret knitting on the go right now which I'm very excited about, but means that I can't share it with you for now. Oh go on then, just a little peep!

Today I've been in a slump. I find the weekends pretty hard as I'm on my own a lot of the time. During the week, I put on my 'I'm ok' face when I go to work, and then reality kicks in at the weekend when I have more time on my hands to think. I start off with good intentions of achieving lots but seem to drift through the days feeling very sad and tearful. Thank goodness for Florence who is my constant companion, cuddling up to me at every opportunity. 

Next weekend, I'm heading up to Stylecraft HQ for another Blogstars get together. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again and catching up. I think that all of us are going to be there (Angela and Zelna via Skype!) so that's rather exciting! I will report back next Sunday!

Don't forget, there's still a couple of days left to enter my giveaway. You could win this pretty haberdashery pouch and limited edition Flo stitch marker, just by leaving a comment here. Please do enter and I'll announce the winner on February 1st. xxx

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Beginning to pay things forward - giveaway no.1

Apologies for not posting this earlier in the week, but I have been struggling with an absolute stinker of a cough and cold and it's taken all my energy just to get to work each day. But better late than never, here I am! Having been on the receiving end of so much kindness and generosity from a huge number of yarny folk since Mr JK died, I decided that over the course of 2017, I want to pay forward some of that kindness. There will be giveaways throughout the year; you'll just have to keep checking my blog and Instagram feed to see when they're happening!

To start off the year, I picked up a really lovely haberdashery pouch at Loop last weekend and I'm also throwing in a cute 'Flo' stitch marker, made for me by Sarah at Fripperies & Bibelots. The pouch is limited edition and hand embroidered, perfect for keeping your favourite notions in. And who can resist a stitch marker made in honour of Flo?! 

The giveway is open until midnight on January 31st and I'll post worldwide. To be in with a chance of winning, just leave me a comment and if you're on Ravelry or Instagram, make sure you tell me your name so if you win, it's easy for me to get in touch with you! Good luck! xxx

Sunday, 15 January 2017

What's it shawl about?

Way back last summer, I spotted that Melanie Berg was going to be teaching some classes at Loop. There were two that I was interested in taking, and was dithering about which to go for, so Mr JK encouraged me to book both, meaning an overnight stay in London was needed. 'I'll pay!' he said, so I had an indulgent weekend of knitting to look forward to several months ahead. I even thought about cancelling this week as I have been suffering from a rotten cough and cold and having been feeling a bit 'blergh', but thought that a weekend away would do me good. It did feel a bit odd booking a taxi for the station on Saturday, and it was even worse coming home this evening. Previously, I would always be looking out for Mr JK waiting behind the ticket barriers to meet me and drive me home, but of course this time, there was no one there. However I did have a lovely time in London, learning A LOT from one of the current Queens of Shawls. I really like Melanie's designs - lots of interesting shapes and use of colour, and most importantly shawls that are wearable. I've knit shawls in the past, mainly triangular lacy ones, and I just don't feel right wearing them. They make me feel like an old lady, so after all that time and effort spent knitting them, they're unloved and unworn in the back of my cupboard!

Before the first class, I squeezed in a visit to Loop (the classes were being held elsewhere as Loop's basement is still drying out after their flood) and decided to treat myself to some yarn to knit myself one of Melanie's shawls as a memory of Mr JK's weekend gift. Loop is a fabulous shop, crammed full of gorgeous yarn and knitting notions and lovely, friendly people too! If you've not visited before, you should definitely go! I'd happened to spot on their blog the arrival of some particularly luscious yarn that I thought would be perfect for a shawl - Lichen and Lace one ply merino fingering. I even had a completed Loop loyalty card to get discount! The three shades I picked were Beetroot, Pewter, and Teal Tide and I think they look great together. What do you think?

The first class was all about colourwork shawls and Melanie talked us through many of the techniques she uses in her own shawls, with lots of samples to admire and swatches to examine. Then of course we had a go at trying out some of these ideas ourselves. There are several that I really, really like and I went back to my hotel room (after unbelievably bumping into Snoopydog and the younger Miss Snoops in M&S where I was buying something to eat for my tea!!!) with my head buzzing full of ideas! My swatch grew with several more rows of patterns being tried out, but I forgot to take a photo. 

Today's class was all about shawl construction and Melanie went through the different possible shapes for shawls, giving us a basic starting 'recipe' for each one. I especially like the asymmetric triangles and crescent shaped shawls. We then got to cast on for one, a crescent shawl, and knit a few rows just before the end of the class. She suggested that this would be a good one to work on as a 'first shawl' design, and that's what I intend to do! Once my secret knitting is completed, I plan on having a go at designing my first colourwork shawl. I'm feeling quite excited by the prospect.

It was a great weekend and I learnt so much from Melanie. She is an absolutely lovely person and was so generous with her knowledge. I will keep you informed on my shawl design progress, I'm thinking of one with colours of spring in it. Just hope I can get it knit for this spring, rather than spring 2018! I'll be back in the week paying forward some of the kindness I've received, so be sure you stop by. xxx

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Bright spots

In a somewhat cold and grey week, back to work after the holidays, I have been grateful for these bright spots to lift my mood. Leaving and returning to the house in the dark each day, I am looking forward to the days getting longer so I can get outside a bit more.

1. A bunch of tulips from the supermarket, bringing a splash of colour to the kitchen. 

2. Receiving some bags from my friend Michele, made to go with the wonderful blankets that continue to hug me daily. The fabric has a rather mischievous black cat on, so is perfect! And naturally Flo had to test drive the tote bag! The parcel had been sitting at the post office since before Christmas but they hadn't let me know it was there. Thank goodness it hadn't gone astray!

3. Receiving a mystery parcel from The Loopy Ewe in the USA. I had been nominated to receive a box of Loopy Love by at least two of my American knitting friends. It was a complete shock and such a lovely surprise. There were four gorgeous skeins of yarn - three from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and one from Malabrigo - some stitch markers, a bag tag and some pattern cards. Yet again, the knitting community shows how amazing it is. 

4. Finally finishing off some secret knitting and pattern writing. I hope to be able to tell you more very soon, but for now, my lips are sealed! 

5. Enjoying mashed avocado on toast. I am seriously addicted to it! Homemade granary toast is my favourite, although I am quite partial to Tesco's cornbread too. I can't believe it's taken me so many years to discover just how good avocados taste!

6. Volunteering at  the local Parkrun. I've been doing this for just over a year now and I enjoy the company on a Saturday morning. 

I hope you've had some bright spots in your week too. Before I go, I must just tell you about a fabulous giveaway that one of my fellow Stylecraft Blogstars is running at the moment. If you head over to Sarah's blog - Annaboo's House - you can find out all the details. Who couldn't do with a little yarny pick me up at this time of year?! xxx

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Looking back

I thought long and hard about doing my usual year end blog post; started it, deleted it, and eventually decided that I would write something about the past twelve months. Everything falls into one of two times - before or after Mr JK died. I can't believe almost three months have passed by. Time flies and all that, but I've definitely not been having fun. Mr JK and I always had a very low-key New Year. A lovely meal and then enjoying each other's company before heading up to bed, usually fast asleep way before midnight, with Flo snuggled in between us. Now I'm moving into 2017 and feel like I'm leaving Mr JK behind in 2016. Life is still incredibly sad, but sharing things with you does help me in my grieving. I'll try not to be too much of a misery guts!

These were the resolutions I made at the start of 2016:

1. To knit from stash as much as possible.
2. To sew a garment that is actually wearable!
3. To continue designing and publish some more patterns.
4. To improve my free motion stitching.
5. To start spinning again.
6. To finish my Cosy blanket and my Love Squared blanket.

So how did I get on?

1. To knit from stash as much as possible. 
Well although my stash seems to have grown exponentially, most of it has come as gifts from friends. I did buy a little at Fibre-East and Ally Pally, but I have tried really hard not to buy more yarn. Who knows what will happen in 2017 - I suspect there may be a little 'comfort' buying, and I already have a trip to Loop planned for later this month as well as Unravel in February. I promise to share any new squishiness with you!

2. To sew a garment that is actually wearable!
Yes, I did it! I did a workshop at the brilliant SewMeSomething in Stratford-upon-Avon and made a Kate dress. I have the pattern to sew an Imogen top and that's going to be my next sewing project. Here's the photographic evidence that it is wearable!

3. To continue designing and publish some more patterns.
I published five new patterns this year. There are several more in the pipeline that need writing up too! You can find all my patterns free here on Ravelry. 

4. To improve my free motion stitching.
I really love free motion stitching, having been inspired by the work of Poppy Treffry. I've made a few cushions as gifts for people this year and would like to do more of this kind of sewing, perhaps on some project bags too.

5. To start spinning again.
I did do some spinning last year - ready for the spinning competition at Fibre-East and also during the Tour de Fleece. Sadly, it hasn't carried on. I don't really understand why, except that there aren't enough hours in the day for me to do all the crafty things I'd like. It is very soothing so I really ought to find time again.

6. To finish my Cosy blanket and my Love Squared blanket.
The Cosy blanket is done! I love it, it's so colourful and happy. Its new home is over the back of one of the sofas, and as I often find a pussy-cat shaped dent in it, I think Florence is rather fond of it too! The Love Squared blanket is still in its individual blocks. I'll have to try and work on it this year.

So what for 2017? I'm not going to set myself lots of specific goals this year. I'm continuing to work with Stylecraft as one of their Blogstars and am very excited about that. Mr JK was so proud of me when I was asked to be part of the team and I want to keep making him proud with all the things that I achieve in the coming year. I'm so thankful for all my friends for all their kindness. Both at home and in Blogland, I have been really touched by the support I've received. I think that my knitting and other crafting is going to be one of the things that helps me as I begin my journey into 2017. I'll be taking you along with me, sharing the highs and lows, as I go. Please keep me company. xxx