Sunday, 29 January 2012

Pretty in pink

My knitting appears to have had a pinkish theme this week. I have been motoring on with the first sleeve on my Rene sweater, wishing that my arms weren't quite so long! I'm almost at the point where I cast off stitches for the armhole, so it'll be ever shorter rows again soon! It really is a lovely pattern, and easy to memorise. I just had to stay awake to incorporate the new stitches into the pattern.
Rene sleeve 1 WIP (1)
I have finished the first of the Roger socks. It's the first time I have knit with Old Maiden Aunt yarn, and it definitely won't be the last. It is lovely and sproingy, and has great stitch definition too.
Right Royal Rogers WIP (2)
I have also done some spinning. I have spun up a braid of Fluff -n-Stuff's Darling, a mix of merino, silk and cashmere. I found it harder to spin than my usual BFL, but I have managed to get a fairly consistent single. I plan on N-plying it to try to keep the colour changes. I have recently treated myself to membership of Marianne's fibre club, so I need to keep up with the spinning. I'm looking forward to trying out some different fibre blends and venturing beyond my usual colourways!
Fluff 'n' Stuff pink spun single (1)
We were busy in the garden yesterday. I cleaned the decking while Mr JK gave the vegetable plot a dig over. It certainly looks a lot better now. I spied a few signs of spring, with daffodils having made their appearance through the soil, and pots of tulips also waking up. Roll on warmer, longer days!  I'll leave you with a photo of some tulips, taken when we visited Amsterdam a couple of years ago. Have a good week and see you soon! xxx
Amsterdam May 2010 053

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bag addiction

I thought I'd share with you today one of my favourite knitting accessories - the humble project bag. While you're reading this post, I'd like you to keep in mind the fact that I don't own a plethora of handbags. In fact I only have two! So perhaps that allows me the luxury of accumulating a small collection of beautiful, handmade bags to keep all my knitting projects in. My first serious case of 'bag envy' occurred in the summer of 2010, when my dear knitting pal Snoopydog and I were at Knit Nation. We'd taken a class with Anne Hanson, and both of us admired the project bag she had sitting on the desk beside her. Here, take a look. I bet you'd like a bag like that, wouldn't you?!
KnitNation 2010 034
I asked Anne where the bag came from, and she very kindly gave me the seller's card. And that, dear reader, was the start of it all! The bags are made by Michele and can be found at her Etsy shop, ThreeBagsFull. I bought Snoops a bag for Christmas to start her off the slippery slope of bag acquisition, and since then, I have either bought or been given several of my own. Here they all are.
Bag Lady (3)
My first bag was the little Russian doll one, on the left. I bought that at the same time as the one for Snoopydog. We seem to have this thing going - 'one for Snoops, one for me!' Later in the year, Michele made me the large pink sweater bag, and the yellow kitty bag on the right. The floral bag in the centre was a lovely gift from another knitting friend Kat. The bags either side of this one were Christmas bags - the one on the left I 'gave' to myself when I bought Snoops' Christmas gift bag, and she did the same with the owl one!!! Great minds and all that!! Now I betcha want to know what's inside them all, don't you?!
The sweater bag has my Rene sweater in it. I've done some knitting on the first sleeve this week, as you can see from the picture. My goal is to have this sweater done by April, when we are spending a week in the Lake District.
Bag Lady (1)

The Russian doll bag contains my 10 stitch blanket. I haven't knit this for ages, but seeing it again has reminded me that I ought to pick it up. It's a very simple pattern and I have loads of odd balls of Silk Garden.
Bag Lady (4)
The little floral bag (perhaps my favourite of all the fabrics, but I keep changing my mind!) contains my current sock project - the Roger sock pattern using some Old Maiden Aunt yarn. They're a present for a friend, but I think I'm going to find it hard to part with them, as the yarn is gorgeous!
Bag Lady (6)
The Pansy bag in the middle is currently home to the leftover yarn from Mr JK's football hat and scarf. I bought way more yarn than I needed, so am going to use the rest to knit myself a 3 colour linen stitch scarf to wear when I go to football.
Bag Lady (5)
My owl bag is home to some gorgeous Sea Pearl yarn. I'm planning on knitting this shawl to wear at a Spring wedding. It goes perfectly with what I am planning to wear, so I hope that I get it done in time.
Bag Lady (8)
Finally, my little cat bag contains yarn that I've bought to knit an Almost Ovals scarf as a present for my boss, who is retiring at Easter. If I don't make that deadline, then I've got another bite at the cherry, as she will be 60 in September! The yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious laceweight, and should do the job beautifully!
Bag Lady (7)
Why don't you take a look in Michele's shop and see if there's a bag that catches your eye?! Someone please put me out of my agony and buy this one before I do!!! Have a great week! xxx

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Getting back into the swing of things

Goodness, is it a week since I last posted? Where has the time gone? I've had quite a productive week, knittingwise. I have been knitting my Rene sweater, and have now finished the back! It's quite a heavyweight knit - you almost feel like you've done a workout after an hour or two's knitting, as it's quite heavy on the needles, and there's lots of changing between knit and purl stitches, not to mention remembering which way the cables are going. But Rene and I are now well and truly reacquainted, and I'm even thinking of casting on both sleeves at the same time, so I can get them both done! I still haven't decided whether I'm going to make the sweater or cardigan version. I shall leave making that decision until the sleeves are done! Here's the back anyway.
Rene WIP (4)
I've also finished another pair of plain vanilla socks, this time for my friend Zena's Mum! I just did a stashdive and came up with some yarn I'd bought on a trip to Bremen. The self patterning yarns are such fun to knit. I like watching the pattern develop.
plain vanilla socks no5 (4)
I've been on the hunt for some fun buttons for my knitting club to use on their friendship bracelets. The Buttonshack had a nice selection, and their service was very good too. Here's a selection of some of the buttons I bought.
I've had two squishy parcels in the post this week. The photo on the left shows a skein of Exmoor Blueface and British Bluefaced Leicester yarn, from the Britsh Wool Club at the Natural Dye Studio. The yarn on the right is the last installment of yarn from the Fall in Full Color club. This is handspun!! I can't even begin to contemplate how long it must have taken to spin all that yarn! Now I'm curious to see the project. Not long to wait, as the pattern will be released on Tuesday.
Winter Blues yarn
Thank you to all of you who left comments on my last post, and became followers. I think I'm now up to 117!! I used a random number generator, and the winning comments were ...........
100 followers random number winners
Number 27 is Denise and number 17 is Jenny. I will message you both on Ravelry, and hopefully we will be able to sort out the yarn!
It's a chilly day here, the fire is lit and there is a casserole bubbling away in the slowcooker! So I can't show you what's for dinner today. But I will share with you last Sunday's extremely yummy meal - mince and dumplings! Mmmmmmmmmmm! It was so, so tasty. The recipe came from the Hairy Bikers Pie book, and the mince tasted just the way my Mum used to make it. Mr JK made it of course. He is such a dab hand in the kitchen! Have a good week and keep warm! xxx
mince and dumplings

Sunday, 8 January 2012

First and last, and a giveaway too!

Hello! Thanks for calling in. It's been a wild-weather type week here in the UK, with some extremely strong winds in different parts of the country. We battened down the hatches and survived unscathed, unlike some poor folk. The Christmas and New Year celebrations all seem rather distant now, and although the days are getting longer, warmer times still feel a l-o-n-g way off. I was listening on the radio to a discussion this week - apparently more than 7% of the UK population suffer from SAD or winter blues. That's a huge number of people. I don't know about you, but I need little things to look forward to - perhaps a nice meal, a squishy parcel in the post, a day out or some of my favourite chocolate to nibble on. Of course knitting is a great mood enhancer too. Just deciding to start a new project, browsing for patterns, rummaging through stash ....... all these things are guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.
I started a new project right at the end of 2011, and it flew off my needles! It's the Fallberry scarf from Knitspot (who else?!) knit using a skein of Natural Dye Studio Angel DK yarn. I made it for a friend who should be receiving it in the post any time now. I know she reads my blog from time to time, so I won't say any more and spoil the surprise!
Fallberry scarf 009
You have already had a look at the first project that came off the needles this year - my handspun Fartlek hat. I have worn it a couple of times and it has kept my head lovely and toasty warm. It's currently being blocked, but here's another look at it in action last weekend!
Handspun Fartlek  (1)
This photo shows the decreases on the crown really clearly. I love how the colour changes on the yarn turned out too. That's one of the advantages of Navajo-plying yarn - it keeps the colour changes separate, rather than getting a barber pole striped effect.
Handspun Fartlek  (5)
I wanted to sort out a couple of projects for my school knitting club. I decided to choose two pretty quick knits this time, although I have a feeling that the kids will want to knit more than one!! We shall be making friendship bracelets and bendy snakes. I've just stocked up on buttons and googly eyes!! So far I have 24 children signed up, some returning knitters and 6 or 7 new ones! So I shall pair up a new knitter with a confident knitter for the first couple of weeks.
Spring term knitting club
I currently have another pair of vanilla socks on the go - they are knitting up very quickly, so I should be able to show you a finished pair next time. I need to make myself NOT knit them at home though, as I am neglecting my meatier knits for the easy 'no-brainer' knitting!
I have done some spinning this year too - I spun up the Twinkle fibre from Picperfic. I had great ideas about being able to spin enough to knit me a pair of socks, but I am still way off that! I am hoping that my LYS is going to run an intermediate spinners class. I need to get to know my wheel better to have more control over the sort of yarn I spin! It's all a bit haphazard still!
Twinkle handspun
It'll make a nice blankie for Flo, no doubt! Talking of Flo, she has found a new place to sleep - on the spare bed! I caught her snoozing last week and she looked up rather guiltily - before carrying on with her nap! She's up there now I think!
  Innocent Flo (1)
I have had a couple of parcels this week. The first was my long-awaited December yarn from the Fall in Full Color club. I really thought that the yarn had got lost somewhere in the Christmas post, so was thrilled when it landed on my doormat. I couldn't keep my nose out of the spoiler thread in the Clubhouse so knew it was some mink and cashmere yarn from Great Northern Yarns, but I was longing to see the colourway for myself. It is called Rhododendron and is just GORGEOUS!!!!! I have managed to secure a second skein by swapping with Kyrie, and would dearly love to get my hands on enough to knit a cardigan. Just how warm and snuggly would that be?!
FIFC Great Northern Yarns Dec yarn (2)
My second parcel was a belated Christmas gift from my dear knitting pal, Snoopydog. I laughed when I opened the parcel, as it was a cute little owl bag from Three Bags Full. Snoops and I have the uncanny knack of being on the same wavelength when it comes to giving presents. I had bought her a knitting bag from the same shop too!!
owl bag (1)
The present was delayed because the first bag(s) - I pluralise here as Snoops bought one for herself at the same time (as did I!!! hahaha!) - see what I mean about great minds?! - got damaged in the post. Luckily Michele is such a sweetie that she remade the bags in superquick time and resent them! The owl bead is just perfect!
owl bag (3)
I don't know about you, but all this cold weather makes me long for hearty puddings - basically any pudding that you can serve with custard is pretty much guaranteed to get my tummy rumbling. Sticky toffee pudding is my absolute favourite, but I love crumbles and pies too. Last weekend Mr JK made a rice pudding, and oh, it was good! I love the skin on the top, don't you?! Here's a photo - all you need is your own spoon!!
Mmmmmm - rice pudding! (2)
I'm celebrating here too - just before the New Year, I noticed that my blog had gained its 100th follower! (I'm now up to 102!) I'm thrilled that there are so many of you lovely folk who want to read about my yarny ramblings. So as a thank you, I'm giving you the chance to win one of two woolly prizes - a skein of sock yarn from one of my favourite dyers, Laughing Yaffle, or three balls of Louisa Harding Kimono yarn. There'll probably be some chocolate thrown in too!!
100 followers giveaway (1)
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is become a follower of my blog (if you aren't already!) and leave me a message by the end of next Saturday (Jan 14th). I'll choose the winners using a random number generator and announce them next Sunday. I'm happy to post the prizes worldwide, so what are you waiting for?! Have a great week and see you soon! xx

Monday, 2 January 2012

A mighty fine way to end the holidays!

It was a beautiful, cold, crisp, sunny winter's day here today, so Mr JK and I decided to head down the coast into Suffolk, for a visit to Aldeburgh. It's a lovely town, always busy, and today was no exception. I spent the journey down finishing off a hat that I started yesterday. With 10 minutes to spare, the ends had been woven in and voila! A warm and cosy hat to wear on the beach! The pattern is Fartlek from Anne Hanson (and yes, the name has me sniggering away like a 10 year old boy!) I love this pattern, and am very proud of myself for using some of my most recent handspun yarn. Here's a quick reminder of what the fibre looked like.....
Alchemy Fibre Arts BFL
And here I am on Aldeburgh beach today.
Handspun Fartlek  (3)
The hat needs blocking, but I wanted to wear it straight away! I'll try to get it blocked at the weekend and share some more photos with you then.
We walked along the beach as far as the Benjamin Britten Scallop. There were lots of children there using it as a climbing frame!
Aldeburgh Jan 2012 (10)
Some of the fishermen had just landed their catch. It's the perfect place for buying fresh fish. Mr JK bought some cod fillets - homemade fish and chips to look forward to. Yum!
Aldeburgh Jan 2012 (7)
Of course I couldn't wait for fish and chips! There is nothing nicer that eating piping hot, salty, crisp chips by the sea!
  Aldeburgh Jan 2012 (19)
It was a wonderful way to end the Christmas holidays. Term starts for me tomorrow!
Aldeburgh Jan 2012 (9)
I'll be back soon to share the last knits of 2011 and the first knits of 2012! There will also be a celebratory giveaway! What am I celebrating? You'll have to call back in to find out! Bye! xxx