Sunday, 26 February 2017

Colour Tuck Cushion

I designed this cushion way back at the end of last summer. Along with a couple of other (as yet unpublished) patterns, it was going to feature in the Stylecraft Blogtour in October 2016 when new colours in the Stylecraft Special Aran yarn range were being launched. As you know, my life was turned upside down in October when Mr JK died suddenly, and it's taken me until now to get the first of the patterns written up properly. I love cushions! Mr JK once asked me if it was possible to have too many cushions, but I don't think it is!! For me, they are a symbol of cosiness and comfort, making a house into a home. 

This cushion features an easy tucked stitch pattern to give an interesting 3-d effect to the colour stripes. I love this 'touchy-feely' aspect of the cushion, don't you?

I also decided to combine my love of knitting with my latest hobby of sewing and made an envelope backing using some pretty coordinating vintage fabric. I love the chunkiness of the knitting against the delicate floral backing. There are instructions with photos to help you with the envelope backing in the pattern if you'd like to have a go yourself.

It won't come as any surprise to you that Flo assisted me in the blocking of the cushion front. She can be a complete pest to be honest and I was more concerned about her getting a pin in her than anything else! 

There are endless possibilities with this cushion. I'm planning on knitting one in the round next with those tucked stripes going all the way up the front and back. If you don't fancy sewing the cushion together, you could very easily knit two rectangles to create a similar overlap. I'd probably do some 2 by 2 ribbing at the top edge of each to make sure that the opening doesn't gape too much. If I knit a version, I'll add the details to the pattern. Meanwhile, you can download the pattern free from Ravelry here. I'll leave you for now with a few more photos, taken last week on a gloriously sunny afternoon. xxx

PS Don't forget, there's still time to enter my giveaway to win a sheep mug, tea and biscuits! Enter by leaving a comment here before the end of February.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Little Box of Crochet

Do you subscribe to any of the monthly boxes of delights that are currently popular with knitters and crocheters? I first became aware of them on Instagram last year and frequently had a bad case of 'the wanties'! Little Box of Crochet stood out for the fun designs and thoughtful extras that were included in each box, and when I found out that one of my fellow Stylecraft Blogstars, Lucy at Attic24 was the designer behind the February box, I decided to treat myself. I knew that Lucy's designs would be colourful and happy, and that's just what's needed chez josiekitten at the moment. My box arrived this week and it was an absolute delight to open, from start to finish. Just feast your eyes on the rainbow box for starters! This is definitely going to store 'nice things' in it once I've finished the project.

Open the box - perfectly folded pink tissue paper with a fun sticker on ...

Carefully peel back the sticker to look inside, and find a booklet with a photo of stripy rainbow mug cosies - happy days!

And that was just the start! There was much oohing and aahing as I delved deeper into the box. It was the most perfect end to the week and I love the thoughtfulness that has obviously gone into putting this box together. 

Squee! Nine balls of prettiness - a crochet rainbow in the making, along with a crochet hook.

A darling Matroyshka brooch ...

The most perfect stitch marker complete with a slice of cake (nom nom!) ...

A blunt needle for sewing ends (they really have thought of everything!)...

Six tiny colourful buttons in a red and white spotty paper bag (I bet I'm not the only person who got excited about the bag!) ...

A sheet of stickers for a planner ...

A colourchart to show all 100 colours (yes, 100!!) that are available in the cotton yarn (you can buy them here if tempted!!)

And a photo to show everything together...

I am really impressed with the box and whilst I probably wouldn't subscribe every month, I would definitely consider getting it again depending on who the designer was. It would also make a most gorgeous present for a crochet-loving friend. Now please excuse me, those rainbow stripes are calling me! xxx

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Unravel 2017

I have always hankered after a visit to the Unravel yarn festival in Farnham, but to get there and back in a day is just not doable from Norwich. So imagine my delight when I realised that my brother and his wife now live almost within spitting distance of the venue. I hadn't managed to get down there to see them over the Christmas holidays thanks to being struck down with lurgy, so when I spotted that Unravel coincided with half term, it made perfect sense to combine the two! 

I was lucky enough to book two workshops; one on Saturday called Beyond Basic Brioche and the second on Sunday called Choose your own Sockventure! Brioche knitting has intrigued me ever since I first saw it being done by the Dutch knitters who came over for the IKnit yarn festival some years back. The tutor for the class was Nancy Marchant, an American who lives in Amsterdam and she is the undisputed Queen of Brioche! The evening before the class found me sat trying to get to grips with basic Brioche, and actually it was ok! My sample looked like the photo on screen - huge cheers and celebrations! 

Nancy told us a little about her knitting background before getting us started on two colour Brioche knitting. It creates a lovely squishy fabric which is very cosy. And it's great for using up stash because you need twice as much yarn! Once you get going, it's surprisingly rhythmical and soothing to knit. You do need to concentrate pretty hard to being with until you learn to 'read' your knitting. Another thing that's good to know is that it's a complete nightmare to correct mistakes, so the best thing to do is not make any!! Either that or learn to live with them, because unpicking Brioche knitting, you not only have to deal with the stitches, but also yarn overs too. We started off just working some basic Brioche knit and purl stitches, so you end up with a dark side and a light side.

Then we tried some increases and decreases. I went a bit off-piste here because I accidentally swapped around an increase and decrease, so my swatch isn't symmetrical, although you still get the idea of the movement of the stitches.

Nancy had brought along lots of example of her work. I especially loved a scarf that she'd knit in Kid Silk Haze - it was so light and floaty and not at all like the dense, cushy fabrics of her other knits. I definitely want to do some more of this knitting and might get one of Nancy's books to play some more. 

After the class, I started to make my way around The Maltings to see all the vendors. Some old favourites were there like Jon from Easyknits, Debonnaire yarns and Whimzy to name but three. It was also good to discover some new vendors - I especially liked The Little Grey Sheep and West Green Loft Yarns. I also caught up with fellow blogstar Jane Crowfoot, hat designer extraordinaire Woolly Wormhead and managed to meet Rachel from My Life in Knitwear, whose blog I have followed for some years now. Here are a few photos from my day. I didn't take loads because (a) the artificial light wasn't great for photos and (b) I was too busy squishing yarn!!

I also went to a PomPom Podcast interview with Nancy Marchant later in the day which was interesting, having spent time in her class that morning. Here she is with the girls from PomPom magazine.

In the entrance to the festival, there was a knitted aviary. People had made birds which were going to be auctioned off at the end of the weekend. It certainly made a lovely feature as you entered. 

The following morning, I was back at Unravel to take a sock class with Rachel Coopey. I love her designs and sock yarn and was excited to see what she had in store for us. It was really good fun - a roll of the dice decided whether you would be knitting striped, lace or texture, a second roll determined the pattern and the third the number of repeats. Such a simple idea and of course, if you didn't like what the dice decided, then you could always roll again! I'd chosen some miniskeins from The Knitting Goddess to play with.

Rachel talked about sock construction as we knitted and gave us choices for heels. I think I will try an afterthought heel on this pair of socks to see how I like it. By the time the class ended, my sock looked like this; the turquoise stripe has since been followed by an orange one! More photos at the weekend, I promise!

And this is Rachel's sock that she inspired us with ... fun, eh?

Although I had no business whatsoever to be buying yarn, it would have been rude to leave empty handed! I bought a few things as presents, and also came away with a few nice things for myself. A gorgeously bright rainbow-striped skein from Easyknits, five skeins from The Little Grey Sheep and a really pretty skein from West Green Loft Yarns.

And do you know what the best bit of my few days away was? My sister-in-law wanted to learn how to knit!  Here's her efforts from one evening - pretty flipping good, don't you think?! I am going to be putting together a 'new knitter' parcel to send her this weekend. That will give me a lot of pleasure. xxx