Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Changes ........

There have been more changes here in the josiekitten household, for the worse. We started off the summer holiday with 2 members, then went up to 4, and sadly now we are 3. Poor little Elsie had to be put to sleep today. We noticed at the weekend that she had been dribbling some blood, so made an appointment at the vets to get her checked out. It took both Mr JK and I to get her into her basket and she was completely stressed out. The vets did a blood test for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, and needed to sedate her in order to get the blood sample. That proved negative, which is good news for Florence, as it means it won't have been transmitted to her. However, when they looked inside her mouth it was in a terrible state, with lesions, gum inflammation, pus and blood clots. The vets agreed that there must be some other underlying condition to have caused this to develop so suddenly, and given that Elsie was so stressed out by any sort of handling, they advised us to have her put to sleep rather than to face a lifetime of treatment and trips to the vet. It's no wonder that she was so anti-social, she must have been feeling really rotten with her poor mouth. She was a sweetie though, and we did manage to have some lovely cuddles together. Sleep well Elsie. xxx

playful Elsie 001

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Purls by the Sea

It isn't very often that you have a knitting exhibition right on your doorstep! So this week I paid a visit to The Belfry Arts Centre in Overstrand, on the North Norfolk coast. In the flier it says ....

'Often defined by the materials used to create it, yarn used in knitting is small and warm and soft and lacks the glamour and scale of other media. There is however excitement in the idea that complex three dimensional forms can be created from a single length of yarn and anything can be used for knitting as long as it has length and flexibility.'

Elizabeth Gaston (Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Design, University of Leeds)

I'd heard mixed reviews of the exhibition from members of my knitting group - some loved it and others hated it! So I was interested to see what was on offer. Knitting still has a very 'grannified' image in this country, so it was lovely to see such creativity on show. The exhibition is meant to be part of a celebration challenging the idea of knitting as a traditional domestic craft.

The centrepiece was a display of miniature fishermen's ganseys. Each of the one hundred represents locations key to the fishing industry along the coastline.

Purls of the Sea exhibition 036

All the ganseys started out the same, and were decorated in a variety of ways. This was recorded on a label attached to each individual gansey, as you can see below.


There were some stunning fish, knit from wire. They were incredibly tactile, and looked fantastic hanging in a shoal.

Purls of the Sea exhibition 062

There were a number of intricate 'pictures' on the walls that drew you in to examine them more closely.

Knitted picture

There was a wall hanging that had been produced using contributions from both local and national knitters, as well as from workshops held during the exhibition. It was very bright and cheery! It's going to go on permanent display at the centre.

coastline wall hanging

This little chap made me smile - I wonder where he is going to end up on the wall hanging?!

Purls of the Sea exhibition 016

An awful lot of work has gone into putting on this exhibition, and I enjoyed looking around. I wonder if it has managed to change people's perceptions of knitting at all?!!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dyeing to spin - part 1

I've been having fun in the kitchen this week, playing around with dyes. There's nothing complicated about these dyes though, they are Kool-Aid dyes, made using the powdered fruit drink from America. I was sent loads of sachets of different flavours in a Ravelry swap, and decided to try dyeing some fibre. So if you'd like to try dyeing either some yarn or fibre, using Kool-Aid, here's how to do it!

First, get your fibre. I used Blue Faced Leicester fibre and weighed out about 100g.

dyeing to spin part 1 001

Soak the fibre for at least 30 minutes in warm water. Add a squirt of washing up liquid.

dyeing to spin part 1 003

While it's soaking, choose the colours of Kool-Aid you want to use. You can buy Kool-Aid here. And if you look here, you can see what colours you get from the different flavours. I chose pink grapefruit, cherry, grape and tropical punch. Mix the powders up with a little warm water. You can make the colours more or less intense by changing the amount of water you add. Mine was a bit trial and error!!

dyeing to spin part 1 004

Lay out the wet 'sausage' of fibre on a table or worktop, on top of cling film. This cling film will wrap around the fibre once it's been dyed. The Kool-Aid will stain so wipe up any spills straight away!

dyeing to spin part 1 005

Apply the dyes to the fibre. I used a separate syringe for each colour. Make sure that the dye penetrates right through the fibre so that there is no undyed fibre left. You might find it useful to wear some rubber gloves for this. Where two colours meet, blend them together.

dyeing to spin part 1 006

Roll the cling film up around the fibre and place it in a microwaveable container. Make sure that the steam can escape from your container. I made some holes in the lid of mine. Microwave on medium power for about 5 minutes. Make sure that your yarn doesn't dry out.

dyeing to spin part 1 007

When it's dyed, the residual liquid in the container should be pretty clear. If you need to, microwave for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool and then rinse in warm water. If you use water that's too cold, you might end up felting your fibre! Hang up and allow to dry.

dyeing to spin part 1 008

When it's dry, make it into a braid.

dyeing to spin part 2 005

Coil up your braid so that you can admire it in all its beauty! It is now ready to be spun!

dyeing to spin part 2 002

Come back soon and I'll show you how it looks when it's spun! Byeeeeee! xxx

Monday, 22 August 2011

Spinning a yarn

Me again! I wanted to show you the yarn I've been busy spinning. I was browsing on Etsy one day when I came across Hedgehog Fibres. The colours in the fibre were just beautiful, so I decided to buy three braids with the intention of spinning up enough yarn to knit something other than a scarf! I chose Corriedale, as it was a fibre that I'd not spun before. I spun up the first braid during the Tour de Fleece, and then spun the remaining two after returning from holiday. I Navajo-plied them this week, and have ended up with about 600 metres of sport weight yarn. Sadly, I don't think that I've got enough yarn to knit this, so I'm on the lookout for another pattern. Any suggestions? Please let me know if you have seen the perfect pattern! See you soon! xxx

Corriedale fibre - Hedgehog fibres

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Dabbling with dyes

Hello there! A quick post to share with you my first efforts at dyeing. When I was at Knit Nation, I watched Helen Deighan demonstrating how to dye yarn using the microwave. It looked so straightforward, that snoopydog and I both decided we'd buy some dyes and give it a go. The first difficult decision came in choosing what colours to go for. Helen had helpfully made up a huge swatch to show the effect of mixing two colours together. Basically, if you take a swatch from the top (or bottom) and one from the side, where they meet shows the colours you'll get.

Knit Nation 2011 187

I chose plum, stone, autumn sky, sage and turmeric. It really was very easy to do, and no mess either, which can't be bad. I'd actually put on my scruffiest clothes that day and was dreading someone coming to the door!! I dyed one skein using autumn sky and sage, and the second using plum and stone. Here are the results! Ta-dah!!!!!!!

chocolate cherries and lagoon hand dyed

The bluey-green one I've called Lagoon and the plum and brown one is Chocolate Cherries. I think they look quite nice, of course the proof of the pudding will be the eating, or in this case, the knitting. They might pool terribly! We shall see! I have some other dyes that I'll have a little play around with this week. I'll be back tomorrow to show you some spinning! Bye! xxx

Friday, 19 August 2011

Delicious squishiness ... by post!

Good afternoon! I can't believe that this is the fourth week of the school holidays! The days are just whooshing by. I'm trying to put of the moment when I have to think about school again, by filling my days with yarn-related things. Today I'd like to share with you the contents of two squishy parcels that I've received recently.

The first is from Melissa. She was my swap partner in a recent Ravelry swap. We decided that we'd like to do an additional swap between ourselves. I was very excited when the postman delivered this little lot on Wednesday!

Melissa's swap parcel 002

There were three different yarns - a skein of Bugga! in beautiful, vibrant greens, a skein of merino and cashmere yarn from the Plucky Knitter in more muted greens. I haven't come across this yarn before - it feels gorgeous! There were also two skeins of Shepherd's Wool in royal blue. As well as the yarn, there were lots of extra goodies packed in! These gift labels made me laugh - I wonder who will be the recipient of one?!!

Melissa's swap parcel 003

I love these yarny earrings too - each one is made from a mini-skein of Bugga! yarn. They could be my 'emergency yarn' earrings!

Melissa's swap parcel 004

There were lots of other wonderful gifts - teas, lip balm, soap, needle holders, sweets and a magnetic pattern marker. It really was a lovely parcel, thank you very much Melissa. I hope you like your parcel too!

The second parcel actually arrived just over a week ago, but I have held back from showing you until now. The reason is that it was the first parcel from the Fall in Full Color club run by Knitspot, and US parcels were only posted this week. Everyone ought to have received theirs by now though, and the pattern was released on Monday, so I think I'm safe to share!! There was a project bag (which you've already seen!) along with a skein of Nona yarn from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. The yarn is 50% merino, 25% cashmere and 25% Bombyx silk, in a beautiful bluey-purple colourway called Autumn Aurora.

Fall in Full Color August yarn - Nona Spirit Trail Autumn Aurora (4)

The pattern was released on Monday. I kept logging into my account throughout the day, and finally in the evening, the link to the pattern came up. It's a beautiful lacy scarf with a leaf motif. It's knit in two halves and then grafted together. So far I have done almost five repeats. It's a lovely rhythmical pattern, and the yarn is a sheer delight to knit with - it is so soft and buttery! I'm afraid that I am turning into rather a yarn snob!! Here's how it looked after three repeats.

Long Shadows 3 rpts wip 001

Isn't it gorgeous?! Here's a close up of the leaf motif.

Long Shadows 3 rpts wip 003

The pattern was included as part of a 26 page download all about the design, the yarn, and how the project came into being. It was rather like an extension of the Knitspot blog, which is one of my favourites. If this is the first month's treat, I can't wait to see what's in store for us over the coming months! I shall leave you for today, as I have a VERY needy cat sat right by me. Florence is very demanding of human attention when she's awake, wanting you to play with her and stroke her. Elsie, on the other hand, is still keeping her distance! I'll be back very soon with some dyeing and spinning adventures to share! Bye for now. xxx

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Just chilling

Well, since we last chatted, the cats have pretty much dominated the goings on in the josiekitten household. Florence is such a friendly little cat. One of her favourite occupations at the moment is looking out of the window 'chattering' to the birds. I think she is looking forward to the day when she is allowed to set paw outside. She and Elsie get on really well most of the time, spending a lot of their day curled up together. Elsie is getting braver each day, and will allow me to stroke her. But she hasn't initiated the contact herself yet. I can't wait for the day when she comes to me for a snuggle. As Elsie has become more confident, they have begun playing together too, and Elsie is certainly able to give as good as she gets!! Just take a look at this photo - double trouble!!

Double Trouble!

I've had two squishy parcels in the post this week. One is the first shipment of yarn from the Fall in Full Color club run by Knitspot. The pattern gets released tomorrow, and I've wound my yarn into a nice fat cake. I just managed to avoid a near yarn disaster when my yarn got tangled round the teeth of the winder. Luckily I was almost at the end of the yarn so was able to pull it all through to sort out the tangle. Phew! Imagine having to cut it!! The yarn is absolutely beautiful, I can't wait to show you. But I am going to wait until later in the week, when all the yarn has been shipped out, just in case I spoil anyone's surprise. I will just show you the lovely 'extra' that was included in this month's parcel - a pretty project bag. Here it is, all ready to rock and roll, with the yarn snuggled inside. No peeking in now!!

Knitspot club August project bag

My second squishy parcel came from my Ravelry friend Cathy. We have been swapping the last couple of years, and it's always fun sorting out some goodies for her. Just look at what I unwrapped!

swap from Cathy Summer 2011

Some beautiful fibre from SweetGeorgia Yarns. It's a mixture of merino, bamboo and nylon in a rich red colourway, Pomegranate. I'm going to try and spin enough for a pair of socks. There were also 4 mini-skeins of yarn from the Unique Sheep. It's a gradiance set, with the colours changing from fresh green to soft blue. I'm not sure if they will become socks or a shawlette at the moment. This photo shows off the colour changes perfectly.

latest stash acquisition 024

Cathy then really spoilt me with a beautiful project bag, embroidered with little sheep. It's really cute, and will have a project in it before very long! Take a closer look at one of those sheep.

latest stash acquisition 027

I have knit a few more Innocent Smoothie hats this week. I think I have another 9 to go before reaching my target of 52, one for each week of the year. Betty is modelling most of the hats this week, as she'd complained that Belinda had done more that her! Honestly!! Fussy or what?!

Innocent smoothie hats of the week 38-42

I have managed to finish spinning some Corriedale fibre this week. I spun the first braid during the Tour de Fleece, and have spun the other two braids since returning from Germany. This is how the fibre looked.............

Tour de Fleece 008

.... and here's how it looks spun up as singles.

Corriedale singles (1)

It's from Hedgehog fibres, and I just love the colourways. I'm planning to Navajo-ply the yarn, to try and get some reasonably long colour runs, and if I have enough yarn, then the plan is to make this! If you look through the projects on Ravelry, you'll see some gorgeous hand-spun versions.

I've been busy knitting the two remaining socks currently on the needles, so fingers crossed I will be able to show you two completed pairs next time. I have also been right through my stash and checked that it is all ziplocked away safely. There's an awful lot of it, but at least it's insulating the house! Hahaha, that's what I shall be telling Mr JK anyway!! See you soon! xxx

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

And there was some knitting too!

I had a profitable knitting time in Germany. We did a lot of autobahn driving to get from Hook van Holland and back via Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Delft. So I knew that I would need plenty of knitting to keep my mind off the speed that we were travelling. German autobahns generally have no speed limit, so it can be seriously scary. Mr JK was happy to drive, with me (and TomTom) acting as navigator. So I got a lot done! The faster he drove, the faster I knit!! Or at least that was how it seemed to me!

I finished a pair of Tesserae socks, knitted in sparkly purple yarn that I received from a dear Ravelry friend, Julia. The yarn is very, very pretty. Almost too pretty to be hidden away inside shoes. But luckily I have a little bit spare for my sock yarn blankie.

Twinkletoes Tesserae (5)

You can see the sparkly wool a little better in this photo. I've called them my Twinkletoes Tesserae socks!

Twinkletoes Tesserae (4)

I finished the second pair of socks for my University friends. We meet up once a year, and last year they all put in a request for a pair of socks! This pair is made using a Regia Design Line yarn. I have gone for easy care socks, as I'm not sure that they would be willing to handwash them!! But the yarn looks and feels great!

Plain Vanilla sock no (2)

I have until early November to make two more pairs. But I've actually made a start on pair number three, this time using a Trekking yarn. The pattern is my favourite plain sock pattern using the Violet Green sock generator. I've knit the first sock and am almost at the heel of the second.

Plain Vanilla sock no.3

I've also been knitting another Anne Hanson sock, this time Roger using the skein of Bugga! yarn sent to me by another dear friend Kim. It really is one of the most gorgeous, luxurious yarns I've knit with. My feet are really going to be pampered when I wear them! The colour way is called Fairy Wren, and is very soft.

Roger sock WIP

Finally, I finished the test knit I was doing for Anne Hanson - the Almost Ovals scarf. I used a skein of laceweight yarn from Fibre-Isle, Kami Bison. Unfortunately I don't think the company is still in business which is a real shame as the yarn was a delight to knit with. I did 16 repeats of the pattern (I knit until I was almost out of yarn!) and after blocking, it measured 60" long and 10" wide. It is feather-light, and is going to provide a lovely warm layer for chilly autumn days.

Almost Ovals (11)

I think that this pattern would look great in a chunkier weight yarn as well. I might have to make myself another version for winter. A girl can never have too many scarves!!

Almost Ovals (9)

So, that pretty much brings you up to date with my knitting. I have a squishy parcel to share with you, but I'll keep that for another time! A quick cat update for you. Elsie is getting braver by the day. She let me stroke her while she was sat on the chair today. Up 'til now, she's seen me approaching and hidden!! She and Florence have spent lots of time today cuddled up together. So sweet! See you soon! xxx

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cat news

We have some progress! I took this photo today! Elsie has emerged from underneath her chair and has taken up residence on top. She is still extremely wary of us, but she has stayed on the chair as we have come in and out of the room.

Elsie and Flo Aug 7th 2011 007

She has also played with us a little bit, grabbing at a fleecy string. (This was Henrycat's favourite toy, and Elsie and Flo seem to have taken a shine to it too!) The next breakthrough will be when she actually comes to us for a fuss.

Elsie and Flo Aug 7th 2011 014

Florence on the other hand is one extremely chilled out little cat! She has settled down so well, and is very relaxed around us already.

Flo Aug 2011 (1)

I'll be back very soon with an update on all my holiday knitting so far. There has been plenty, but the new arrivals seem to have taken precedence over yarny news. I'm on 'postie-stalking' duty too, as the first parcel from the Fall in Full Color club is due any day now. What excitement! See you very soon! xxx

Thursday, 4 August 2011

And now we are four!

Hello everyone! My name's Florence and I've come to tell you how Elsie and I are settling in with Mummy and Daddy Josiekitten. Everything was a bit strange and scary to start with, but I was very brave and before long, I began exploring my new home. There are lots of comfortable places for me to sleep, as well as my own basket. I like this chair in particular.

Flo and Elsie day 4 004

I've also been taking a look out at the garden - that looks like an exciting place to be too! I managed to fit on the window sill quite nicely, and only knocked off one ornament!!!

Florence exploring 003

The stairs are quite a comfy place to flop down after I've been playing. I like running up and down them very fast!

elsie and flo day 3 and 4 001

We've got lots of toys to play with too. I haven't quite decided which is my favourite yet. I gave my Mum a fright when I disappeared up the chimney, but I did come back down again. I've looked in almost every corner of the house, and found lots of cobwebs. I think my Mum needs to do some cleaning!!!

elsie and flo day 3 and 4 002

Elsie is being more of a scaredy-cat than me, and she prefers to stay hidden away. She doesn't know what she's missing!

Flo and Elsie day 4 010

She is getting a little bit braver, because today she came out of our bedroom all by herself. Then she hid behind a chair!

elsie and flo day 3 and 4 006

I do hope it won't be long before we are able to play together. I've got lots of exciting things to show her in our new home. I just know we're going to love it here!

Flo and Elsie day 4 014

Before I go, there's something that's puzzling me. I wonder if you might be able to help? My Mum spends lots of time sitting with little pointy sticks and a big ball of what looks like string to me. I think it's some wonderful cat toy that she's making for us both. What fun we shall have!! Miaow for now! Florence. xxxx