Sunday, 28 November 2010

Commencing countdown

Commencing countdown (3)

Good evening. Thanks for calling in! Today is the official start of Christmas chez josiekitten. Mr JK and I always put up our Christmas decorations on Advent Sunday. I love the build up to Christmas. We don't go over the top, and the decorations are pretty well limited to the lounge, but the tree is up, and all the ornaments positioned around the room. It's always such fun, re-discovering old friends as you unwrap the tissue paper and bubble wrap. I'll show you some of my favourites throughout December.
Hasn't it been cold this week? And it's forecast to be even colder for the coming week. Seems the perfect reason to stay inside knitting snuggly winter woollies to me. We haven't been too badly affected so far, right on the coast of North Norfolk. But I snapped this picture driving back from the west of the county on Friday afternoon. Almost as soon as I'd taken the picture, the snow started to come down again! I'm one of those people who likes the idea of snow, but hates the practicalities of it! It would be perfect to have a white Christmas, when you have everything you need at home and can stay holed up for a few days. But when you have to go to work, it just causes problems!

snowy november in norfolk (1)

I've been having a bit of a finishing frenzy over the last couple of weeks. I finished the Through the Loops Mystery socks 2010, and love them. I haven't knitted socks with so much pattern in them before, and enjoyed them. The yarn is from The Thylacine and knitted up beautifully. I'm sorry that the photos aren't great, but the light has been terrible all week!

TTL Mystery sock KAL 2010 (3)

I also finished my extremely orange Circle socks, using the Wollmeise yarn from Kate Blackburn. I love the feel of the yarn, and if I get the chance at KnitNation next summer, will definitely be buying Wollmeise in garment quantities rather than just for socks!

Extremely orange circle socks (3)

I finally finished my Katerina wrap. I'm calling it a wrap rather than a shawl because it literally does wrap around me! I started it the summer before last (said rather shame faced!), and I'm giving three cheers because it's finally done! It's a wrap, I guess you could say! I'm planning on wearing it when I'm singing, as we usually perform in rather cold churches. I think, given its size, that I'll be able to fit the other sopranos in it with me! The photo isn't great (I had great plans for some beach photos!), but we dashed outside for five minutes while the light was reasonable!

Katerina (4)

I will try to get some better photos another time! The pattern came from issue 4 of The Knitter, and is made using five skeins of Manos del Uruguay silk blend.

The other finished item is my McCafferty shawl. It's a very well written pattern, and I love the way it's turned out. The yarn I used was an alpaca yarn from La Droguerie, and it is so light, it's like being wrapped up in a cloud. The colour is 'brume' which translates as mist, and that describes it perfectly. It's amazing to think that the designer, Lily France, is only twelve years old. What a future she has ahead of her!

McCafferty (3)

I'm pleased with the sizing - I was a little concerned that it might be on the small side, from the photos modelled by Lily, but I needn't have worried! I'm just over 6 foot tall, and there's plenty of shawl, even for me!

McCafferty (4)

I received a little parcel in the post on Friday. If you cast your mind all the way back to August, you might just remember the amazing swap package that I received from Nancy. Well, Nancy sent me a beautiful scarf that she hadn't finished in time when she posted the parcel, and a few extra little goodies - a pine scented hand-made soap in a little Christmassy cloth bag, some dried cranberries, a bag of peanut butter M&M's (the bag is there just for show, I'm afraid - they were Deeeeeeeeeelicious!) and a box of Christmas chocolates - Hershey's Kisses. Henrycat was rather interested in those, and stuck his snout in just as I was taking the picture! Thank you Nancy - you have been a great swap partner!

more swap goodies (1)

Well, I think I've pretty much got you up to date! Don't forget that you still have time to enter my giveaway. I'll be drawing the winners at random on December 1st. Have a good week, and keep warm! xxx

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Busy stirring

Hello to you! Thanks for calling in. Can you guess what we've been up to?

stir up Sunday (3)

It's Stir-Up Sunday today, so there's been lots of activity in the josiekitten kitchen. The kitchen is rather steamy at the moment, as our Christmas pudding has to cook away for 8 hours! I'm on 'topping up water' duty while Mr JK is out in the garden. There's nothing nicer than making your own pudding. We use Delia Smith's recipe, and it's never failed us! Not too heavy, with delicious fruits and spices. I can't wait to try some on Christmas day. I always have custard with mine, but Mr JK is far more sophisticated and prefers a large dollop of brandy butter!
The veggies are coming to an end for the year, and today Mr JK has dug up the last of the carrots and swede, as well as picked the cabbages, and salvaged a baby butternut squash! We still have parsnips and sprouts outside, ready and waiting for Christmas day.

end of year veggies (3)

Just look at these carrots - they are going to become mashed carrot and swede before the day is out!

end of year veggies (4)

The tomato plants have been fabulous this year, and this little lot were picked this morning. They won't last long!

end of year veggies (1)

I received a wonderful parcel this week from my swap partner Jean. We both belong to the 'Awesome Swappers' group on Ravelry, and found ourselves paired up together for the Christmas swap. We both sat down to open them at the same time - me in Norfolk and Jean in France, listening to The Archers! It was lots of fun, knowing that there was some synchronised parcel opening going on! We'd both been doing a little bit of snooping and detective work to find out a little bit more about each other, and I have to say that Jean's parcel was spot on!

Awesome Christmas swap 003

Where to start? Well, the knitted item was a beautiful scarf in a 30:70 cashmere and merino mix. The pattern is based on Cinnamon Grace (Ravelry link), and I have hardly taken it off since Friday evening! (apart from to sleep and shower, naturally!!!) I love the way it drapes, and can certainly see me knitting this scarf as a perfect present scarf.

Awesome swap goodies (1)

Jean had noticed that I've just started spinning, so she sent me some alpaca fibre along with a merino top that she'd dyed herself. I love the colours.

Awesome swap goodies (3)

Jean also sent me a skein of 100% BFL sock yarn, again dyed by her. Mr JK has taken rather too much interest in it for my liking, so I can see it becoming a pair of socks for him. I shouldn't complain I suppose, as he has come a long way from only wanting black socks (which I refuse to knit for him!)

Awesome swap goodies (4)

Jean also noticed that I keep favouriting lacy shawls on Ravelry, and to help me along, sent me the pattern to make Adamas together with a scarily long skein of silk and merino laceweight yarn! There's 1400 metres of it, so I'm hoping that the Christmas fairy (aka Mr JK) will have taken my rather unsubtle hints and a swift will be sitting under the tree on Christmas morning! I've done my best - left the leaflet on his desk, highlighted and marked 'this one'! I've already seen a couple of finished shawls, with added beads, so you never know, this may just be the project for me! Also in the package was a little ribbon pinboard and some rather gorgeous soap. So a lovely parcel, I think you'll agree! In case you're curious, here's what I sent to Jean .....

Christmas swap parcel (4)

You can read more about it on her blog. I enjoy this group, and am already looking forward to the next swap in the Spring.

Not a lot of knitting to show you this week, although my needles haven't been still - positively smoking actually. I'm trying to finish off some of the projects that have been hanging around for a long time, before starting anything new. I have two projects currently being blocked, plus three more almost done. With a bit of luck, I should be able to show you next time. But, I have got two Innocent Smoothie hats to show you. I spotted these little hats last weekend when Mr JK and I were out and about. Needless to say, he made himself scarce whilst I was taking the photos!

Innocent Smoothie hats 2010 JS 006

Wouldn't it be amazing to spot one of your own hats on a bottle?! What are the chances I wonder? I didn't see any of the '2010 Baby Stripes' collection! Anyway, Hat of the Week for week 2 is a little purple cabled number, modelled by Betty, and Belinda is wearing week 3's shocking pink stripes!

Hat of the week 2 and 3

Don't forget that you still have plenty of time to leave me a comment to win some yarn. I'm really enjoying all your blog recommendations - thank you! Have a lovely week, whatever you're doing! xxx

Friday, 19 November 2010

Celebrating ........ and a giveaway too!

I bought a copy of the latest edition of Yarn Forward this week ........

Love my blog (2)

turned to this section ......

Love my blog (3)

and yippety doodah!! Look what I saw!!

Love my blog (1)

I cannot tell you just how thrilled, honoured and excited I am! The magazine said such lovely things, I've been going around with a big smile on my face! I never dreamed when I started my blog that it would ever be featured in a knitting magazine! So to celebrate, I'm having a little giveway. Three lucky people will receive one of the following goodies.....

two balls of Jojoland Melody, enough to make a pair of socks or a small shawl ........

Celebratory giveaways (1)

or three balls of Regia Pompon, perfect for slouching at home winter socks ......

Celebratory giveaways (2)

or three balls of Louisa Harding Kimono, a beautifully soft angora and wool mix. There's plenty to make some snuggly accessories, such as a scarf and gloves.

Celebratory giveaways (3)

All you need to do is become a follower of my blog (if you aren't already, that is!) and leave me a message telling me about another blog that you enjoy visiting. You've got until the end of November to do so, and I'll announce the winners on December 1st. I'm more than happy to post overseas, so what are you waiting for? I look forward to reading your blog recommendations. xx

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Yarn on my doorstep!

A new yarn store has just opened in North Norfolk, and I felt it my knitterly duty to investigate it for you. It's in the Georgian market town of Holt, a wonderful place to go shopping. Camilla apparently pops over when she's staying at Sandringham, don't you know! The shop is most appropriately called Les Tricoteuses, and is set in one of Holt's lovely little courtyards.

Les Tricoteuses 037

It specialises in designer knitting yarn, including Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Noro, Rooster Aran, Fyberspates Scrumptious, Icelandic Lopi and Bergere de France, as well as stocking a comprehensive range of KnitPro needles, pattern books and buttons. Mary, the owner, is on the lookout for new yarns and locally sourced knitting accessories too.

Les Tricoteuses 021

Going into the shop is like entering a woolly sweetshop, with all sorts of yarny treats piled most temptingly on the shelves.

Les Tricoteuses 025

I love seeing yarns arranged like this in shades. Just delicious! Despite having only been open for a couple of weeks, the shop feels most welcoming, with beautiful little touches such as bowls of yarn, knitted samples, and a table to sit and browse through pattern books.

Les Tricoteuses 009

There's even a 'man-creche', complete with Private Eye, where your other half can sit and relax while you squish skeins and generally ooh and aah over all the yarny goodness!

Les Tricoteuses 022

I'm delighted to hear from Mary that there has been a lot of interest in the shop already, and plans are afoot for a 'Knit and Natter' type evening, along with a customer loyalty scheme. Good Luck to Les Tricoteuses - the future of knitting in North Norfolk looks extremely bright!

Les Tricoteuses

I shall see you again next week, when I hope to have some exciting news and a celebratory giveaway! Miss it at your peril! Have a lovely weekend, whatever you have planned. xx

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Lazy Sunday

Hello - me again! I do hope that you've had a lovely weekend. Mr JK and I ventured into Norwich yesterday on a mission to blitz the Christmas shopping!! I know it's only just November, but seven weeks today, it's Boxing Day! Now that is a scary thought. We just hate battling around the city, fighting our way through the crowds, so with that in mind, we whooshed from shop to shop, following my list! I have to be organised - I've made some rather bad impulse present-buying mistakes in the past! And the good news is that the shopping is pretty much done now, apart from a few bits and pieces that I can either get locally, or need to be purchased online. I found some lovely Christmassy bits and bobs too. The first is a set of Christmas 'Russian' Dolls. These are heading off to Mr JK's family in Germany where I know they'll be loved!

Christmas decorations 003

The three Kings are all on the largest doll - you can see each one as you turn it round.

Three Kings

I really love it, and wish that we'd bought one for us too! The second Christmas decoration is a little tealight holder with a propeller 'hat' that turns with the warmth of the candle. We lit it last night, just to try it out, and it looked so pretty! I do like having lots of candles lit over Christmas, don't you?

Christmas decorations 001

I don't have much knitting to show you today. The edging on my McCafferty shawl is progressing slowly. This is partly due to the fact that Henrycat has been needing lots of cuddles and lap time this week because of all the fireworks going off. Fingers crossed that I'll get it finished this week. I can't wait to get snuggled up with it! Here's a little sneak preview of the edging. I've pulled it out roughly into shape with pins so you can get some idea of how it's going to look when it's all done.

McCaffertyWIP (4)

I've decided to follow Ozzy Blackbeard's brilliant idea of knitting one Innocent Smoothie hat each week. That way, by the time they need to be sent off next October, I should have a pretty good collection of them. So to start of my 2011 collection, here's Belinda Bear........

Hat of the week - week 1

Thanks for stopping by. Have a lovely week, and see you soon! xxx

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Woolly progress

Hello again, sorry it's taken me a little longer to get back to you than I'd hoped. Ireland seems like a lifetime away now that I'm back at school. Luckily I've got lots of knitting evidence to show for a week of relaxation.

Exhibit A, my McCafferty shawl. You may remember that I'm taking part in a KAL on Ravelry. McCafferty has been designed by Lily France. She's only 12 years old and is very talented. In fact, she's just had her first pattern published in The Knitter magazine. You can read more about it here. Clever girl! I think we'll be hearing an awful lot about her in the future. The main body of the shawl is in garter stitch, with a lace mesh section. The lace edging is knitted on perpendicularly and attached to the main body of the shawl as you knit! I'm using some of the grey alpaca that I bought in France earlier this year. It is so soft and fluffy, it's going to be like being wrapped in a cloud when it's finished. It's quite hard to show you what the shawl looks like, as I can't stretch it out properly at the moment. But here's a little peep at the lace mesh border.

McCafferty WIP 001

I had to join a new cake of yarn, so have been very brave and used the spit-splice method that Anne Hanson showed us at KnitNation. I can't actually see where the two ends are joined now, so I'm hoping that when it's blocked, they hold together. Watch this space!

Exhibit B, my Through the Loops Mystery KAL socks. I hurriedly printed out the pattern for clue 4 before leaving last weekend. The 'tiny trowels' pattern has continued down the foot, and looks lovely. Apologies for the way the socks look in this photo - they are a little crumpled from being stuffed in and out of my handbag all week. Nothing that a good blocking won't sort out once they're done. I just hope that I have enough yarn left to complete the toes. I just love the colours in this yarn. It comes from The Thylacine and Megan has just got a new website to showcase all her beautiful yarn and fibre. I especially love the way that you can look at all yarns in a particular colourway to compare them. Ooooooh, such delicious yarny temptations! Will you be able to resist?!

Mystery sock KAL foot WIP

Exhibit C, stripy socks for my friend Michele's Dad. He loves bright colours, so hopefully these should be perfect for him! Plain vanilla socks using the sock generator pattern from Violet Green and a Trekking yarn.

Michael's stripy socks number 3

Exhibit D, an extremely orange sock for Katy! Earlier this year, Kate sent me a skein of Wollmeise that she'd bought rather too eagerly, simply because it was Wollmeise, forgetting in her enthusiasm that she hated orange! I decided to make a pair of Circle socks, having rather liked some on Ravelry done in a solid colour. I cast on the first one in the departure lounge leaving England, and the second one leaving Ireland. I've still got a way to go before that one's done. It was my first real experience of knitting with Wollmeise, and I have to say that is a knitter's dream. Lovely, squishy, sproingy (is that a real word?!) yarn, with a fantastic stitch definition. My one big regret from KnitNation this summer is not buying enough yarn in one colourway to knit a garment other than socks. I shall try to remedy that if I get the chance next year!

Extremely Orange Circle socks WIP

Exhibit E, a spiralling scarf knitted with Koigu KPPPM. It's a simple pattern, basically knitting short rows either side of a central spine of knitting. I love knitting with Koigu. The colours are lovely, and the yarn feels great. This yarn was given to me by Erin, a Ravelry friend from Canada. We met up at KnitNation, and have arranged another get together at Christmas, when she is over in London again. A trip to Loop is planned, and I'm sure that we will be rather good at encouraging each other at yarn purchasing!

Koigu Ruffles scarf WIP (2)

This photo shows the scarf flat - once it's done I promise that I'll post a modelled photo so that you can see it twisting away.

Exhibit F, my knitted gift for my Christmas swap partner. I'm taking part in another swap on Ravelry and this time my partner is Jean, an English lady living in France. I just love what I've made for her, but as she hasn't yet received my parcel, I can't show you, just in case she decides to pay my blog a visit! All I will say is that it used one skein of yarn, and was knitted in a couple of days!

I did make a small squishy purchase whilst in Ireland. I paid another visit to Spin a Yarn, now in Killarney. Three years ago I was lured into their Kenmare shop by a skein of Noro yarn, and my love of knitting was rekindled. Here's the scarf I made ........

The start of it all! Noro Iro scarf

and here's the yarn I bought, to be added to my Ten Stitch blankie in due course. Gorgeous, gorgeous colours!

Silk Garden stash

And if that wasn't enough, I had the excitement of opening a squishy parcel when we got home. I won a giveway on Ve's blog, and was thrilled to receive these lovely goodies.

little sheepy prize

The kit will make a little cardigan for a 6 month size. I think I know where it's heading already! Just take a closer look at the little sheep buttons. Aren't they just perfect?!

little sheepy prize (1)

Well, I think that I've managed to catch you up with all my holiday knitting. Before I go though, I must just share with you some news about my blog. I was browsing through Kai's blog yesterday, and was most interested to see that she'd published the top 30 knitting blogs, as recorded by Wikio. I was even more amazed to discover that The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty is number 2!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow! I don't quite understand how the list is compiled, but I'm thrilled to be up there, sandwiched between Wendy Johnson and Ysolda! Bye for now! xxx