Sunday, 31 October 2010

No place like home

Good afternoon to you. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you've had a good week. Mr JK and I returned yesterday from a really wonderful week in Ireland. We were staying in Kenmare, a vibrant little town in Kerry. Just two minutes from our door were the most wonderful walks. Have you got your boots on? Come on then, off we go!
Turning right lead down to Kenmare pier, where you could take a boat trip out to see the local wildlife.

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We wandered down there on our first morning, and the views across the bay were stunning.

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It was so peaceful there, the perfect place to chill out!

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Turning left lead to Reenagross Woodland Park. We followed various paths, enjoying a real taste of autumn. Imagine waking up to this view each morning. Bliss!

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The air here is so clean - just look at all the lichen growing on this tree!

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Looking at all the orangey leaves, it was easy to see that summertime was over.

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We drove down to Glengarriff and took the boat over to Ilnacullin. It's a beautiful little island, full of little gems. Here are a selection for you to ooh and aah over!

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We drove round the Beara Peninsula one day. My Great Grandfather was born here, and both his parents are buried in Castletownbere. Stunning scenery met us around almost every bend in the road.

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I especially love the village of Eyeries, with its brightly coloured houses.

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The little church there has the most amazing stained glass windows. You can see more of them in my Flickr photos.

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The village of Allihies once had a thriving copper-mining industry. My family lived here at one time.

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There were plenty of opportunities for some liquid refreshment!

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The Guinness signs are a real work of art!

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We saw Dan Foley's Pub in Annascaul, on the Dingle Peninsula. It often appears on postcards from Ireland.

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We saw plenty of sheep, both real .......

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...... and knitted!!

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All the towns and villages were selling beautiful knitwear, so it was somewhat surprising to me that yarn shops seemed to be in such short supply. Luckily, I found Spin a Yarn in Killarney and bought a couple of balls of Noro Silk Garden for my Ten Stitch Blankie.

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Mr JK was happy too because we stumbled across a German butcher, so he was able to buy a selection of German sausages and salamis for supper!

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The Dingle Peninsula was really beautiful. There were some glorious beaches. Luckily for us, the mist cleared as we were driving round.

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The movie, Ryan's Daughter, was filmed on the beach at Inch. It was really windy while we were there, but there were a few hardy souls braving the elements and having a quick dip!

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I preferred the view from inside the beach cafe, with a cup of tea and a slice of carrot cake!! Yum yum!!

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Another windswept beach was Barley Cove, on the Mizen Head Peninsula. It's been designated as a special area of conservation.

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We had the whole beach to ourselves!

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Despite the sign, we didn't see any of the little people!

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And this rainbow didn't quite lead to the pot of gold we'd been hoping for! Just a 10 Euro win on the lottery!!

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I hope you've enjoyed yourself in Ireland! We had a great time. I'll be back very soon to share with you all the knitting I got done. Bye for now. xxx

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Countdown to the Emerald Isle

Good evening to you! The bags are packed, and Mr JK and I are ready for the off after work tomorrow. We are flying into Waterford, and then picking up a car, before driving over to Kenmare, in the west of Ireland. I have an assortment of knitting projects packed - my Mystery KAL socks (I'll print out clue 4 once it's released tomorrow), a spiral scarf using the Koigu yarn Erin gave me at KnitNation, the very orange Wollmeise yarn from Kate to knit a pair of Circles socks, my McCafferty shawl, a secret project for my Ravelry Christmas swap partner Jean, and a spare pair of Trekking sock yarn for mindless sock knitting if needed! I'm sure that I have far more wool than I can possibly knit in a week, but I do like to have plenty of choice! I'll show you all I've done when we return.
I must just show you what I did with some of my handspun yarn. After plying, I had a little bit of single left on one spool, so used it to knit a little scarf for a furry friend. His name is PuppyDog (PD to his mates!), and he has been with Mr JK and me since we got married!

1st handspun little scarf (6)

I also had another try at spinning. This time, I used some fibre that I'd received from a fibre swap with Cathy in Canada. You might remember this lovely package I received earlier in the year.

fibre swap

The fibre was unbelievably soft, and it spun up pretty quickly.

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Before I knew it, I'd filled two bobbins with yarn!

2nd handspun

I then plied the two singles into one, and twisted it into a skein.

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The words of a Queen song come into my mind - 'Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball'! I'm definitely going to be making up for lost spinning time! Have a lovely week, and I'll see you when I return, to be sure! xxx

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Signs of aging!

Hello there! Hope all is well for you. I'm stuck at home at the moment, with a sore throat and very croaky voice. Yesterday I could barely make a sound (Mr JK rather rudely said that he thought he'd gone deaf!!) but today it's a little better, but completely hopeless if you have to teach a class of rather unruly children! Fingers crossed things will be better by tomorrow. In the meantime, I've been busy catching up with my spinning. I spun the other half of the fibre yesterday (well, I say half, but it obviously wasn't, as the second bobbin wasn't as full), and this morning I plied the two together. I've learned a lot about what not to do when spinning, and am looking forward to my second attempt!

I think that I will make a little neckwarmer of some kind - it seems a shame not to use the yarn, even though it is rather lumpy and bumpy in places! I love the colours. It's interesting to compare how the original fibre looks as compared with the spun yarn. I've wound it into a skein, and will soak it and leave it to dry to help set the twist.

my first handspun! (4)

I managed to get caught up with my Mystery sock KAL this weekend. I spent about nine hours in total travelling on trains on my way to and from a get-together with my old university friends. We meet up once a year, taking it in turns to host. This year, we were all travelling to Reading. On my return journey, the seat I'd reserved was occupied by a mum and young child, so I couldn't turf them out. Feeling somewhat irritated that I was going to lose knitting time having to stand (the train back into London was chock-a-block), I stood in the aisle, and was surprised when a young lad offered me his seat! I didn't think that I looked that old!! At least he didn't call me 'my dear' as well! Still, I probably lived up the the 'Granny' image by getting out my knitting!
I was able to press on with clues 2 and 3, so I'm now all up to date, and chomping at the bit for clue 4.

Mystery socks heel WIP (2)

Roll on Friday! The next clue will be released, and it's the start of half term. We are off to Ireland for the week. We shall be staying over in the west, in a little town called Kenmare. Our previous trip to Kenmare has a lot to answer for - it was here in 2007 that I went into a yarn shop, drawn in by skeins of Noro yarn in the window. The rest, as they say, is history!! Have a good week, won't you, and I'll try and pop back again before we go away. xxx

Friday, 15 October 2010

Wool Week 2010 - Day 5

Well, I did it! I actually did some spinning last night. And, what's more, I really loved it. Infact, while I was spinning, I kept wondering why I hadn't done it before! Never mind, I'm sure that there will be no stopping me now! A whole new stash world awaits me! I've spun up half the fibre so far, and when I've spun the rest, I'm going to ply it together. Yes, there are thick bits and thin bits, overspun bits and underspun bits. It's what you might call a 'character' yarn, or 'arty' yarn I think! I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself nonetheless!

first handspun from roving

I must just show you what proper spinners can do though! Last week I received a lovely parcel in the post. I'd taken part in a giveaway on Minniemoll's blog, and I was lucky enough to win a beautiful scarf. Helen had spun the yarn herself, before knitting it up, but as she says in her blog, she wasn't feeling the 'lurve' for it. Lucky me, is all I can say, and it gives me something to aspire to with my spinning!

lovely sea scarf (3)

I'm off for a girly weekend, to catch up with my old university friends tomorrow. I'm hoping to get some knitting done on the train journey from Norfolk to Reading, and have packed my Mystery Sock. I just need to print out clue 3. See you after the weekend. Hope you have a good one! xxx

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wool Week 2010 - Day 4

In honour of Wool Week, I bought myself some fibre in the hope that it will spur me on to get spinning! You may remember that I got a spinning wheel last Christmas, but my efforts on it have been pretty pathetic. I think, if I'm being honest with myself, that I'm just a little scared of having a go, because I know that what I produce to start off is more than likely going to be unknittable! (I'm a bit of a perfectionist.) While reading up about Wool Week on Folksy, I came across some absolutely beautiful fibre. The colours made me smile! So without further ado, I bought it!

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The fibre is from Alchemy Fibre Arts, and you can find her other goodies in her Etsy shop. The colours are just stunning, I'm sure that my attempts won't do it justice, but I'm going to have a go! I've undone the plait ...........

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and now I need to stop procrastinating and get upstairs so that I can

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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Wool Week 2010 - Day 3

What's your approach to knitting? Are you a 'one-at-a-time' project knitter, or do you have several different projects on the go? I definitely fall into the latter group! I currently have nine projects on the needles (eleven if I count the two in hibernation on my Ravelry list, ahem!!) I always have a relatively easy sock handy for knitting at odd times when I need something simple. My current mindless sock is in a Trekking yarn, for my friend Michele's Dad. I have another pair of socks on the go that require a little more concentration. It's the 2010 Through the Loops Mystery Sock. A clue is published weekly. I'm a bit behind, having only just finished clue 1 (the cuff), but I have rewound my yarn to knit both socks together.

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The yarn is from The Thylacine and I love the subtle colour changes. I've been busy working on the leg pattern, and will have more to show you after the weekend. I also have three shawls on the go! My Katerina shawl now stands at 20/40 repeats, and I'm starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel! The other two are McCafferty and my beach party shawl, which I'm finding really complicated to knit if there are any distractions. Thank goodness for lifelines is all I can say! I have three blankets too - my sock yarn blankie, and 10 stitch Noro Silk Garden blanket and a crochet blanket (although this hasn't yet been started, and might end up being crocheted cushions instead!) I still have my stripy summer bag to line too. My hibernating projects are a feather and fan scarf, and a Baktus. Not sure about the colour combination here, and think it may well be frogged so I can use the Zauberball for socks!
Let me know how many projects you have on the go. Can anyone beat my eleven?!

By the way, I have discovered that as well as being Wool Week, it's also Chocolate Week! So I shall leave you now, and go and have a couple of squares of my current favourite - Green and Blacks Ginger!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Wool Week 2010 - Day 2

What's your favourite yarn? I guess if you're like me, your answer might depend on what you're knitting. When I'm knitting socks, one of my favourites has to be Dazzle from The Natural Dye Studio. It's a really soft wool with a lovely sheen to it, using 100% pedigree British Blue Faced Leicester fleece. I've made two pairs of socks with it, and it really is a joy to knit with. Unfortunately, the NDS lost their undyed stocks of Dazzle recently after a fire at their supplier's warehouse. But fingers crossed that there will be more on sale before Christmas. This is one of my favourite colourways - Sweet Pea.

Stash NDS (5)

Keeping on the theme of sheep, I discovered this morning that I had won a lovely prize from the weekly giveaway at Yarnonthehouse's blog. If you haven't visited yet, why don't you pop over? I've won a kit to make this Sheepish sweater, using organic merino wool. That's all for now. I'll be back tomorrow to show you what I'm knitting at the moment. Don't forget to tell me what your favourite wool is! xx

Monday, 11 October 2010

Wool Week 2010 - Day 1

While Mr JK and I were out and about this weekend, I spotted this in a shop window.

wool week 2010

Further investigations lead me to discover that today is the start of Wool Week. Prince Charles is supporting a campaign to promote wool as fashionable, eco-friendly and a hard-wearing alternative to cheaper 'throw-away' garments. It is hoped that wool will make a fashion comeback, to stop the dwindling demand and falling prices. Savile Row, one of London's most famous tailoring streets was closed to traffic today, turfed over, and brightly dyed sheep were allowed to graze. I was shocked to read that many farmers have been burning fleeces because of the low prices. Can you imagine a world without wool? Woolless sheep are apparently being bred. What better reason could there be to get out your knitting needles and go and buy some wool?

woolly related (4)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Getting all fruity!

Hello there! Hope you've had a good week. I've been knitting little hats in every odd moment, for The Big Knit 2010. This is the third year I've taken part. Every little behatted bottle of Innocent Smoothie sold in Sainsburys and Boots raises 25p for Age UK, and the bottles are on sale for only 3 weeks from November 3rd. You've probably already worked out the theme of this year's hats, from my last post. I think that I must have still had stripes on the brain after knitting all those striped baby garments this summer! So I dug out all my oddments of Baby Cashmerino and got stuck in! I managed to knit twenty little hats, and they are all packaged up, ready for posting tomorrow. Do you want to see how they turned out? Of course you do! Without further ado, I present to you the 2010 Baby Stripe Collection, modelled beautifully by the fruit gang!

First up, we have the banana boys ........

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Let me introduce you to the satsuma sisters!

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The kiwi cousins are next in the show.....

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The pear pals are next up!

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And we close this year's collection with the gang of golden plums!

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Here they are altogether to show off their little stripy hats!

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And that brings this year's show to a close! I'll be back very soon, assuming the men in white coats haven't carted me off! xxx

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A week of little concentration

Good evening to you! I'm sat at the computer, Henrycat curled up on my lap, and a box of tissues and mug of Lemsip as my other companions. I've finally succumbed to the cold that has been going round my class since the start of term. We managed to get through one box of tissues in the first wek, and the germs are still being shared a little too generously for my liking! It's also meant that I've not been able to knit a great deal, since I couldn't be parted from a tissue for more than a nano-second! I'm now just bunged up, but have had the concentration span of a gnat! So I apologise for the lack of great knitting progress this week. I have done a little more on Michael's stripy socks, and am on the heel flap of sock 1. I do like this Trekking yarn - it's so vibrant and spicy!

Michael's stripes WIP

My Katerina shawl has been on a go-slow this week, and stands at 13/40 repeats! Oops! I have been inspired by Ozzy Blackbeard to have a rummage in my leftovers, and have made a start on some little hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles. I can't believe that it's come round again already. I'll hopefully have a little more to show you at the weekend; see if you can spot the theme of this year's hats from this photo!

Innocent smoothies 2010 WIP (2)

We went over to Germany this weekend too, to see Mr JK's family. I took my McCafferty shawl with me. I love the way the alpaca yarn is knitting up - it's so soft and light. Knitting from a centre pull yarn cake is great too - it pulls out so easily, and so far, no tangles in my knitting bag. I've got 167 stitches so far, so have a little way to go before the pattern changes.

McCafferty WIP (4)

Arriving in Germany was a little stressful. My cold was making me feel a little grotty, and my mood didn't improve when my bag failed to appear on the luggage carousel! We usually only take one case when travelling for the weekend, but Mr JK wanted to bring back a load of German speciality foods for Christmas, so we took another bag with us. I'd left packing until the last minute on Thursday, and rather than travel with one bag empty, I'd scooped out the things that were at the top of the case and dumped them in the second one. Guess whose things they were?! Yes, mine! So Saturday morning saw Mr JK and I at the local shopping centre, not only buying food, but a toothbrush, other toiletries and a top! In the midst of all this, I managed to spot sock yarn in three separate department stores, and Mr JK insisted that I had some to comfort me on my lost luggage! I didn't say no!

Bremen comfort stash

The yarn on the left was only 4 Euros, and will make some fun stripy socks for someone. The Regia yarn on the right is another self-striping yarn, and the colours are really jewel-like. No sooner had we got back from our shopping trip than the airport phoned to say that my bag had arrived and they would bring it round! Phew!
I haven't yet started my Mystery sock, as I didn't get a chance to print out the first clue before leaving for Bremen. But before I do start, I'm going to rewind my yarn into two separate balls so that I can knit both socks at the same time. That's the theory anyway. I must admit to having had a sneaky look at some of the photos of the cuff on Ravelry, and I like what I see! I hope that when you next pop in, I'll have something to show you! Until then, hope the rest of your week goes well! xx