Friday, 31 December 2010

Old Year's Night

Oh what a gloomy day it is here on the coast. Damp, foggy and cold! I'm having a 'stay-at-home-and-get-sorted-out' kind of day today. I like to have the house all clean and tidy for New Year, so have been busying myself with cleaning, washing and generally having a good tidy. Not that our house is particularly messy, but there just seems to have been a general accumulation of 'things' over the holidays. This afternoon, I'll be going up to my craft room with the same intentions! It's become a bit of a dumping ground recently, and there is rather a lot of new yarn to pack away into boxes!
I had a lovely day on Wednesday, meeting up with Erin in London. We visited Loop, a really fabulous yarn shop, in Islington. They have moved premises this year, and have more space to display their wonderful selection of yarns. I could have spent a fortune there, but was quite restrained (for me!), and went with a couple of projects in mind. More of that a little later, but first, I'm sure that you'd like to have a look around Loop yourself, wouldn't you?

London Dec 2010 001

We were there a couple of minutes before it opened, so were able to get our woolly fix by looking in the window! There's a washing line with red and green knitted stockings hanging up, with felt letters spelling out 'Happy Christmas', and lots of knitting inspiration. The yarn is arranged by thickness, with 4ply and laceweight downstairs, and double knit and thicker upstairs. There's a good selection of knitting books too, and plenty of places to sit down and browse. Perfect! Go on - have a good squish and a rummage round!

Loop London

I bought some Casade 220 to knit myself a Central Park Hoodie next year, a skein of Malabrigo Worsted to knit the Brambles beret from Knitty and some Jamieson's Shetland wool to make Caller Herrin. The skein of Shilasdair is to line the brim, so it should make a lovely warm and soft edging. The Regia Design Line that you can see in the photo below was bought later in the day, when we went to Liberty. There seems to be a bit of a colour theme going on, doesn't there! I very nearly went for bright red to knit my CPH, but changed my mind at the till, and went back for the purple!

London haul 004

We spent the rest of the day in Oxford Street and Regent Street, looking for bargains! We did find time to have afternoon tea at Liberty, and ate dainty finger sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, and cakes, and drank endless cups of tea. It was just perfect!

London Dec 2010 056

However you're celebrating tonight, I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2011. I'll be back tomorrow with a look back at 2010, and a look forward to 2011. See you next year! xxx

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time!

Hello there! Thanks for calling in! Did you have a good Christmas? We've had a very relaxing few days here in the josiekitten household. Mr JK has been off work for five days, and we've been enjoying not having to do anything at a particular time. That's not to say that we've been idle - far from it, but no pressures! That will all change tomorrow when Mr JK returns to work, and I have to be up early too, as I'm going to London! I'm meeting up with Erin, a Canadian Ravelry friend, who is spending Christmas over here in the UK. We are planning a trip to Loop amongst other things. I have been super-organised, and am going with a (small) shopping list, but am certain that I can be persuaded to buy more!! I'm sooooooooo weak-willed when it comes to yarn!
Was Santa good to you this year? I had some lovely presents. Mr JK gave me a beautiful Sunflower Swift, and I have been in total awe at the superb craftsmanship involved in its manufacture. I'm looking forward to winding some yarn and making some of those scrummy yarn cakes!

Christmas gifts 2010 003

I had a lovely present from Snoopydog too - a book of Crochet Borders (I already have another book by the same author and it's excellent!), and a skein of laceweight yarn from The Thylacine. It's really soft and in my favourite colour - purple!

Christmas gifts 2010 006

I must just show you my little 'gift' to myself! You know that when I buy something for Snoopydog, then I have to buy one for me too! When we were at KnitNation last summer, we were both smitten with Anne Hanson's collection of project bags. She very kindly gave me a card for Three Bags Full, and it seemed just perfect for a present for Snoops - a bag full of lovely yarny KnitNation memories.

Christmas gifts 2010 009

The most difficult part was choosing the fabric! The bags are all lined and have lovely details such as co-ordinating ribbon and beads. I chose a Russian doll print for mine, and Snoopydog got a floral one! They are just perfect for little sock projects.

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I'm off to get my bag packed for tomorrow's trip to London. I'll be back on Thursday to tell you all about it! Bye for now! xx

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Christmas Eve 2010 011

Happy Christmas to you! I hope that you've had a wonderful day close to your nearest and dearest! I have!

I found these 20 Christmas Questions on Little Tin Bird's blog, and thought that it would be fun to play along!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper for me. I love choosing rolls of pretty paper, and buying co-ordinating ribbon and gift tags. I only use gift bags for bottles!

2. Real tree or artificial? Well, both actually! We had a real tree three Christmases ago, and it's still alive in the garden. It has blue lights twinkling away on it. We also have an artificial tree in the living room which we've had for a few years. And up in the loft I've still got my Mum's tree that she had when she was a girl, back in the 1930's. It needs a bit of TLC and I didn't get around to fixing it this year, but we'll have it up next year, for sure! It brings back so many memories!

3. When do you put up the tree? Always on Advent Sunday! I love seeing it through the whole of December!

4. When do you take the tree down? You'll probably think I'm a bit of a party pooper, but we take it down on New Year's Eve! I like to start the New Year all tidy!

5. Favourite gift received as a child? That's quite tricky as it was a long time ago! I can remember getting a wooden sewing box with layers that opened out when I was about 9, and one of my aunties gave me some sewing threads and a bag of bits of fabric and ribbons to go with it! I still use the box today!

6. Hardest person to buy for? My brother! He's so hard to buy for that now I don't!

7. Easiest person to buy for? That's easy! My best knitting pal Snoopydog! I know that if I like it, it's highly likely that she will too!

8. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail! I like to receive cards and to send them too!

9. Favourite Christmas movie? No contest - it has to be White Christmas! Guaranteed to make me cry, every time!

10. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Early! I start making a list in October, and try to get it all done before the shops get too hectic! Next year, I'm going to try to make more gifts (but only for those people who I know will appreciate them!)

11. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so, but if I get given something that I know I'll never use, I pass it on to a charity shop.

12. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas pudding and custard! We always make our own pudding using this recipe and it's delicious!

13. Lights on the Christmas tree coloured or clear? Both!

14. Favourite Christmas song? I love Winter's Tale by David Essex, and Chris Rea's Driving Home for Christmas. Favourite carols are John Rutter's Angels' carol, and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home, home home! Nothing better!

16. Angel, star or ribbon at the top of the tree? An angel. Always have done!

17. Open the presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Always on Christmas morning, after breakfast!

18. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People buying huge (and I really do mean huge) quantities of food at the supermarket. Who on earth can actually eat all that? It's like they're stocking up for a siege!

19. What do you want for Christmas this year? Well, I have got what I wanted from Mr JK - a swift! And we have our Christmas jigsaw too - it's become a bit of a tradition!

20. Traditional colours (red and green) or other colours? I don't have a colour theme. Some people seem to change each year, but I like to keep the decorations and add to them with little bits and pieces over the years! That way, they're full of wonderful memories! Decorations are pretty much limited to the tree and mantlepiece.

If you fancy playing along with the 20 Christmas questions, please feel free! Enjoy the rest of your Christmas Day, and go steady on those mince pies! xxx

Christmas Eve 2010 021

Friday, 24 December 2010

1 sleep 'til Santa

Christmas Eve 2010 009

Hello again! Are you all ready for tomorrow? Mr JK and I are having a pretty low key affair - we have invited an elderly neighbour to join us for lunch, but apart from that, we'll be enjoying each other's company. The weather forecast is for a sunny but cold day, so fingers crossed we will be able to get out for a walk along by the sea at some point.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary today, and went into Cromer for a stroll around. The wind coming off the North Sea was bitter - in a couple of days time, lots of brave (mad?) souls will actually be going into the sea here for the Boxing Day Dip!

Christmas Eve 2010 001

I've made some mince pies - the more eagle eyed among you will notice that there's an empty space! Mr JK couldn't keep his paws off them! Needless to say, they went down to 10 pretty soon afterwards!! Yummy!

Christmas Eve 2010 008

Still no finished knits to show you, I'm afraid! I'm hanging my head in shame here. But there's nothing that had to be finished for Christmas Day. They were just ridiculously ambitious targets that I set for myself! Never mind, the world won't end! I shall (hopefully) finish them at my leisure over the next few days.

I hope that you have a very merry Christmas with those that you love. And don't forget to leave out a mince pie and a wee dram for Santa! Happy Christmas, one and all! xxx

Thursday, 23 December 2010

2 sleeps 'til Santa

The good news! The sofas arrived, and the delivery men managed to get them into the house (I was a bit worried about that!!)

new sofas 004

We've gone for a three seater and a two seater. I'd have loved a corner suite, but we don't have a spare corner! Never mind!

new sofas 003

Our old cushions look rather tired against the plumpness of the new sofas. Aha! I thought! Knitted cushion covers! So I spent a goodly part of the day (also known as that most mysterious unit of time, the Ravelry hour!) searching for all sorts of woolly squishiness and comfort!

The bad news! I spent so long searching for patterns that I didn't get any knitting finished! I'm not panicking! (Well, not much anyway!) Now I'm off to go sit and knit on my new sofa! See you tomorrow! xx

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

3 sleeps 'til Santa

Oh, it's so good to sit down with a cuppa and have a chat! I've been busy all day today. I drove into Norwich (in a mini-blizzard!) to call in on my good knitting pal Snoopydog and we exchanged Christmas presents. She also gave me my birthday presents, and I have to tell you that I have been thoroughly spoilt! We tend to give each other 'yarny' gifts, as we know each other's taste pretty well. When yarn-shopping, the general rule is 'one for me and one for Snoops' (or vice versa!) as you will see when Christmas presents are opened in a couple of days time! I shan't say anymore for the moment!!
There was a tower of beautifully wrapped parcels sitting waiting for me. First I unwrapped a skein of yarn from Juno Fibre Arts. We discovered Asti's gorgeous yarns at KnitNation this summer, and have quickly become Big Fans! This is a skein of Myrtle, 50% merino and 50% tencel, so it has a lovely sheen. It's almost too pretty to be a pair of socks - time will tell!

birthday goodies! 002

A tiny weeny parcel intrigued me - inside were some little metal tags to be sewn into knits, saying 'MADE WITH LOVE'. I've not seen anything like these before, and just love them! See what you think .........

birthday goodies! 014

Two vibrant braids of fibre followed suit, from one of my favourite fibre artists, Alchemy Fibre Arts. Go and visit her Etsy shop - but be warned, you'll need to wear sunglasses! The colours are just scrummy! I'm going to save these to spin up after I've been away on my spinning weekend in February.

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I can't decide which one I prefer. I just hope that I can do them justice with my spinning!

birthday goodies! 004

You may remember that I got into a bit of a pickle back in the summer when I spent the afternoon chez Snoops, winding some yarn. Well, I now have my very own wool winder, so I'll be able to make my own yarn cakes, hopefully perfectly formed, with no knots!

birthday goodies! 006

Lastly, a book - Brave New Knits by Julie Turjoman.

birthday goodies! 005

I first saw this book when Anne Hanson reviewed it a couple of months ago, and thought that it looked like an interesting read. It is! There are some fabulous patterns in there, plus a little background information on all the designers. There are several patterns that I'd like to knit already. THANK YOU so much for all my presents Snoopydog! You are very kind!

I don't have anything knitted to show you today, but I'm hoping for a day of concentrated knitting tomorrow. Mr JK and I have treated ourselves to new sofas, and they are being delivered some time tomorrow. So I have to stay in all day waiting (and knitting!) Can't be bad! I need to finish a pair of socks by Christmas Eve. I'm still optimistic that I'll make it! You can be sure that I'll let you know! See you tomorrow! xxx

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

4 sleeps 'til Santa

Hello there - thanks for stopping by in my snowy corner of the world. Mr JK and I were glued to the windows this morning watching the lunar eclipse. Luckily, there was no cloud, so we had a pretty good view. Did you manage to see it too?

Lunar eclipse December 2010

It's still looking rather wintery here today. Last night we went to the Christmas Spectacular at Thursford, and clocked a low of minus 10 Celsius on the way home. It's become a bit of a tradition for Mr JK and I to go and see the show. It's a really wonderful start to the Christmas festivities. It's very popular, and we always book our seats for the following December in January! If you don't, the chances are that you won't get a seat! We were in good company, as apparently Prince William and Kate Middleton were in the audience a couple of nights ago!

I have managed to finish one Christmas knit. I saw this pattern on the Yarn Harlot's blog a few days ago and fell in love with it. I decided to knit one for my friend Rachel, and I might make one for myself too in the New Year. Mine hasn't turned out as long as the Harlot's, but it's in a different yarn. It still makes a lovely snuggly cowl/hood.

Encompass 006

It's designed to be reversible, and is made up of four repeated pattern blocks. The pattern is called 'Encompass', and that sums it up perfectly!

Encompass stitch blocks

I really like the texture of the pattern blocks, don't you? I had to take this photo after I'd picked it up off the snow. Kind of fun!

Encompass 015

As Mr JK is at work, there was no-one around to take any modelled photos, so you'll just have to use your imagination when looking at these two. Firstly, as a cowl .......

Encompass 017

and secondly as a hood ......

Encompass 019

It should keep Rachel snug as a bug in a rug during the cold weather! I think it's the perfect 'football match watching' accessory too! Seeing as how Mr JK has booked for us to go and watch Norwich play on New Year's Day, I'd better see about making one for me sooner rather than later! I'm off to make some sausage rolls now. See you tomorrow! xxx

Monday, 20 December 2010

5 sleeps 'til Santa

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! It's freezing here! I've been out and about doing various jobs this morning, and I haven't warmed up yet! We had a few flakes of snow again last night, and the daytime temperatures are so low that the snow is refusing to melt. It hasn't got above zero here all day! I took this photo in the garden this afternoon - this little chap sits on our garden shed all year round. I love his frosted edging!

December 2010 snow (8)

I've picked up my knitting at odd moments, but have nothing completed to show you today! I'm still feeling optimistic that by Christmas Eve, I'll have five (yes, FIVE!!!!!) finished knits for your delectation and delight! I must just show you one of my latest stash acquisitions - my Secret Santa gift from school! Someone who obviously has a great sense of humour! Fancy giving me yarn in Norwich's colours when they know I'm a Portsmouth fan!! Needless to say, this is going to become a warm hat and scarf for Mr JK! On the ball, City! Keep warm! xxx

you're having a laugh!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

6 sleeps 'til Santa

Advent week 4 (2)

I'm in full Christmas mode now that school has finished! All the cards have been written and posted, presents wrapped and delivered (well, almost all - more of that later!) and tomorrow I'll be making sausage rolls and mince pies! Mr JK is getting some mulled wine on the go too. We're going to have some when we get back from church this evening. It's the Nine Lessons and Carols service, and I love to go along and join in the carol singing. No matter how many times I hear them, Christmas carols always give me a tingle!

I know that I said that I wasn't going to start any new projects until I'd got some of my long-standing ones out of the way. But I decided that I had to knit a couple of Christmas presents! I'm a huge fan of Anne Hanson's patterns, and last week she tempted me into buying this pattern. I knew that it would be perfect for Charlotte, my teaching assistant, who often suffers from a bad neck. Just the thing for keeping your neck nice and cosy, without the bulk of a scarf. It only used one ball of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK too! I think that I'll definitely be knitting more of these.

Cabled keyhole scarf 002

Nothing much else to show you on the knitting front, I'm afraid. I've got lots of things that need finishing before the Big Day, so I'll be back with a daily post to let you know how I'm getting on. In the meantime, here's this week's Innocent Smoothie Hat of the week, using up the remains of the cashmerino yarn. See you tomorrow, and keep warm! xxx

hat of the week 7

Saturday, 18 December 2010

A spot of festive vinyl

'Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!'
Good afternoon! Are you feeling Christmassy yet? We've had yet more snow, so have decided that the only thing to do is to stay at home in the warm, and relax! Neither Mr JK nor I are great TV watchers, but we do like listening to music. Being a 'wild-child' of the 1970's, Mr JK can only be described as a vinyl junkie! His collection of LPs and singles is one of the reasons why I never need to feel bad about the amount of wool that I have! Great stuff! Do you want to take a look?!

festive vinyl 018

There's even more still stored up in our loft! In the foreground you can see one of his other passions - guitars! Well, one of them is actually an electric mandolin, but you get the idea! I'm not quite sure exactly how many guitars he has - possibly seven. So I just tease him if he raises an eyebrow when new yarn arrives. I mean, how many guitars can he play at any one time, eh?! Whereas it's quite possible to have more than one knitting project on the go, isn't it?!

At the start of Advent, all the Christmas music gets taken off the shelves, and we have a 'pot-luck' listen through them. Some are old favourites, like Bing Crosby and Andy Williams. Others are more unusual, like Christmas with Pinky and Perky, and The Wombles' Christmas Party! It certainly makes for some interesting listening! Here's a little selection of some of the music we'll be singing along to this year!

Festive vinyl

How about you - what will get your toes tapping this festive season? xxx

Sunday, 12 December 2010

What a week!

Advent week 3 (1)

Good evening! Thanks for calling by. What a week I've had! At this time of year, school is always manic, with all the preparations for Christmas! It's a fun place to be, especially the age group I'm currently teaching (8 and 9 year olds) as they still want to believe in Father Christmas, and enjoy making all sorts of decorations. Basically you can make even the dullest activity seem exciting if Santa gets a mention! Picture the scene in my classroom on Tuesday - Christmas cards started, calendars started, origami Santas done, decorations for the Christmas Fayre on Friday started. The whole room was awash with glitter and glue, when we got 'the phone call'! OFSTED (that's school inspectors) were coming in on Thursday and Friday! So Christmas had to temporarily be put to one side and 'normal' lessons taught. I still snuck Santa into one of my maths lessons, because we were studying 3D shapes, so we were sorting out some packaging problems for Santa's elves!! Fortunately, the insepction went well, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when they left the building on Friday afternoon!
It was my birthday on Friday too! The school caretaker does a great line in birthday cakes, and I think he surpassed himself with this festive sugar burst!

bday cake sugar fest! (1)

I had some lovely presents, and Mr JK really spoiled me with some truly beautiful fibre. It certainly brightened my Friday morning when I unwrapped this little lot!

Birthday fibre

I can't wait to start spinning with it. He also gave me some Rowan Felted Tweed yarn to make Peasy - a cardigan that I've been wanting to make for absolutely ages. The colourway is called Scree, and it's bluey-grey. It goes perfectly with the buttons I brought back from France earlier in the year. The buttons are so pleased that they're finally going to be used, that they're making a big buttony smile!

Peasy here I come! (6)

We had a great time at the football match yesterday, and much to my delight, Portsmouth beat Norwich 2-0! I had to restrain my celebrations, seeing as how I was sat amongst the Canaries supporters! But hearing the Pompey chimes echoing around Carrow Road did make my heart soar just a tiny bit! I used to go occasionally with my Dad to watch Portsmouth play at Fratton Park, and you just can't beat watching football live for the atmosphere. I did take my sock with me, but it only came out for a photo!!

Play up Pompey! 003

I had a thank you card from Innocent Smoothies this week, which was a nice touch.

Innocent thanks (1)

The only knitting I've managed this week has been my Innocent Hat of the week - or hats of the week to be more precise. Seeing as how I was at the football this week, the hats have a football theme. Belinda is wearing the Pompey hat, while Betty models the Canaries one! I hope that this week will be a little more profitable!

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I shall leave you know with a photo of my birthday tea, courtesy of Mr JK - homemade crumpets with lashings of butter! Yum! Have a good week! xxx

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Monday, 6 December 2010

A visit from St Nick

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Although Mr JK grew up in the UK, both his parents were German, so his family celebrated a number of German as well as British customs around Christmas time. One of my favourites is St Nicholas. In Germany, children leave a slipper or shoe outside their bedroom door on the night of December 5th. When they awake they rush to look in their slipper, and if they have been good, they will find some sweets, fruit and a perhaps a little toy, left by St Nicholas. I suggested to Mr JK that we might celebrate St Nicholas' Day this year, and he was happy to humour me! So when we woke up this morning, we found the following gifts .........

a visit from St Nick (2)

For Mr JK, tickets to go to Carrow Road this Saturday to watch Norwich City play Portsmouth. (Clever old St Nick must have known that he had to deliver these before December 25th!!)

a visit from St Nick (3)

A book for me, to make the house a vision of gorgeousness!

Which team shall I support?

And for PD, a special supporter's scarf! Mr JK will be supporting Norwich City, and as Portsmouth is my home city, I'll be supporting Pompey! Poor PD is rather piggy in the middle, so I knitted him a dual team scarf!

a visit from St Nick (1)

I'm off to dig out my thermal long johns in readiness for the match! See you soon! xxx

Sunday, 5 December 2010

In the bleak mid-winter .....

Advent week 2 (2)

Good evening! Hasn't the weather been awful? The novelty of snow has worn very thin, and we haven't even had it that bad here in Norfolk. It's rather embarrassing how the first snowfall of winter always seem to catch the country unprepared, so that everything grinds to a standstill. Our worst time was overnight on Thursday, and I had a rather interesting drive to work on Friday morning, trying to get up a hill with wheels spinning! I made it in the end though - just as well as my boss never shuts the school! This was what it looked like when I drew back the curtains.

December snowfall (7)

You can just about make out the blue lights twinkling away on our tree - it's celebrating its third Christmas this year! I love being able to see it from our kitchen window in the evenings!

The snow and ice have kept me indoors all weekend, and I've managed to get a bit of knitting done. I have another pair of socks just started for my friend Michele's Dad. He wears them as bed socks to keep his toes all toasty at night. I'm using a Regia yarn that I bought on a recent visit to Bremen.

Christmas stripes WIP (1)

I've also made a start on the Sheepish cardigan for Snoopydog's grandaughter, Sophie. I won the yarn kit from Yarn on the House a couple of months ago. So far I've done a little bit of colourwork, and learned how to do an applied I-cord bind off! Most of it is knitted in one piece, so seaming should be kept to a minimum! My colourwork is by no means perfect - I think that I should have carried the yarn across the back a little more loosely - but as the sheep motifs are only on the pockets, I don't suppose it matters too much!

Sheepish WIP (2)

Here's a closer look at one of the little sheep. You can see the applied I-cord edging on the pocket too, although it all needs tidying up!

Sheepish WIP (1)

I have a couple of Innocent Smoothie hats for you too - hat of the week for week 4, modelled by Belinda, is a stripy Rowan number, whilst Betty is wearing week 5's orange offering with a fun fur trim! They both wanted to wear that one!!

Hat of the week 4 and 5

I have a little Christmassy bargain that I must show you too! When Mr JK and I were out and about last weekend, I spotted a set of tins in Tesco. The dear little characters on them have been made out of felt, buttons and yarn, so I just had to have them!

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Do you want a closer look? Silly question!! Here you are then .........

xmas tin

Aren't they just so sweet? I might even have to keep the tins in my craft room, and not put them up in the loft with all the Christmas things.

Apart from knitting, I've been baking this weekend. I tried out a new recipe of Sarah Raven's, for chocolate and mincemeat brownies. I thought they were rather delicious - really chocolatey and gooey, but Mr JK wasn't so keen. That's bad news for my waistline! Mr JK also excelled himself in the kitchen with a rather splendid cottage pie - perfect fare for such a wintery day. Don't you wish you had a fork so you could tuck in too! Keep warm! See you soon! xxx

Mr JK's cottage pie (2)