Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Restoring equilibrium


Hello! It feels like ages since we had a chat, doesn't it? Pull up a chair and join me for a trip to Greece. We had a fabulous time in Kos; it's one of our very favourite places to stay. Mr JK and I have been going back year after year for a long time and love it as much now as we did on our first trip. We've made lots of friends there and it is always a pleasure to go round and say hello to people once we've arrived. Of course, we don't come away empty handed - an ouzo here, an ice cream there. It's a lovely feeling. The village where we stay is small and unspoilt. The villagers carry on with their daily lives despite the visitors. Yes, of course tourism is an important source of their income but also fishing and farming play their part too. Rooms in the village tend to be let out privately by the villagers themselves, so it feels good to be helping them directly rather than giving money to large tour operators. The beach is huge and never gets crowded and that's where Mr JK and I spend a large chunk of our time. We're not sun worshippers, far from it! In fact we spend our time on sun loungers in the shade under the trees at the back of the beach. Our days are filled with reading, listening to music (Mr JK), knitting (me), playing endless games of Scrabble and a new one this year - catching up on the goings on in Ambridge each day listening to The Archers podcast on the beach! It is the most perfect way for us to relax and recharge our batteries.


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Visitor numbers to Kos are down this year, in part due to some rather inaccurate reporting of problems with migrants and refugees. The local people we spoke to said that there was no problem at all and it had all been exaggerated by the press. I just hope that people return to stay on this beautiful island soon.

We took lots of cat food with us as usual, but noticed that there were far fewer kittens around this year. There is a neutering programme in operation on the island; cats that have been 'done' have an ear clipped so it's easy to spot them and also to identify cats that still need to be caught. Each day we walked down to the harbour first thing (after Mr JK had been for a run, that is!!) and had a trio of regulars who were waiting for us. They were sometimes joined by one or two others. The cat closest to the camera had a bad tail and we wished that we could have taken him to the vet for some attention. I love the second photo, showing them all washing after they'd eaten!


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You can quite clearly see the clipped ear in the photo below. This cat was a beauty and seemed to have taken up residence near our favourite lunchtime taverna.


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We ate delicious food every day - loads of salads and fish (Mr JK) and traditional Greek dishes (me) - I am such a baby when it comes to eating fish and can find a bone in a fish finger!! Mr JK has well and truly topped up his Omega 3 levels.


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Of course I did indulge in some of my favourite sweet treats too - it wouldn't be right not to have baklava or yoghurt with honey! We ate loads of fruit too and managed to chomp our way through two large watermelons, peaches, nectarines and grapes, all of which were deliciously juicy and sweet.


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I did some crochet on the beach on Granny Square Day, but the rest of the time I was working on some ideas using some of the soon-to-be-released sock yarns from Stylecraft. Sneaky peeks coming up!


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It was a fabulous holiday and I'm feeling nicely relaxed and (almost) ready for the new term! I'll leave you with a few more photos of the holiday. There are loads over on Flickr too in an album and if you follow me on Instagram (link at the top of the page), you'll have seen what I was up to each day. I'll be back soon with a new pattern to share with you, all ready for those chilly autumn mornings! xxx



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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Are you ready for Granny Square Day?


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On August 15th, it's Granny Square Day! You can read all about the background to the day here. The peeps at Stylecraft HQ thought that it might be fun to join in, so I have my yarn packed and will be crocheting along on Monday sat on the beach in Greece! Here are the instructions for posting a photo on Instagram:

On August 15th, take a photo of a granny square (a 4-round traditional granny works best) and crop it so that the single square fill the entire screen of your post. When everyone uses the same hashtag, a virtual Granny Square blanket is created! This year's tag will be #grannysquareday2016

We are also going to use another hashtag for our very own Stylecraft virtual Granny Square blanket  - #stylecraftgrannysquareblanketday2016 - and it would be great if you could join in with us. I think  that several of the Blogstars will be taking part. If you're not on Instagram, you can share your photo with Stylecraft on their Facebook page and I understand that they will post it onto Instagram for you. I'm really looking forward to seeing our virtual blanket. Happy hooking folks! xxx


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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Carousel - a Stylecraft CAL


Having recently completed my first crochet blanket, the Cosy Stripe Blanket from Attic24, I'm on the lookout for something else. I didn't join in the CAL with the Cosy Stripe Blanket but wish that I had because I think it would have helped me to finish it a LOT sooner! Seeing fellow crocheters progress from week to week is very motivating and encourages you to keep with it. When I was at Stylecraft HQ last month, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Sue Pinner's latest creation - the Carousel blanket. Sue has made two versions of this blanket - one in Stylecraft Special DK and the other in Stylecraft's new Batik yarn. Sue has taken her inspiration for the blanket from fairgrounds, carousels and the circus. It is a stunning design and looks quite different in the two yarns. I love the stonewashed vintage look of the Batik version in particular. Take a look for yourself!

Here's the Special DK blanket ...


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and here's the Batik Carousel blanket ...


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Gorgeous, aren't they? The Crochet Along starts on September 13th with 6 instalments over 3 months. Stylecraft are giving away a pack of each yarn to two lucky people. All the details can be found here but you don't have long to enter! The winners will be announced on Saturday 13th August. Good luck! xxx

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Holiday time


Mr JK and I are off to Kos again on Thursday. Tomorrow morning I shall be taking Flo off to her cat hotel for the duration. She's blissfully unaware of what's to come, mainly because there has not been a sniff of packing here yet. Last week we had plumbers in redoing our en-suite. It was meant to take a week!! However, the en-suite is still not finished, we appear to not have any hot water this evening and I have yet to gain access to the wardrobes as the bedroom looks a bit like a builder's yard! I'm sure it will all come good in time, and I'm just trying to stay calm, decide what knitting projects are going to get packed and picture myself in one of my most favourite places on Friday morning. See you later in the month! xxx


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ETA - Time permitting, I am going to schedule in a couple of blog posts while I am away, so that I don't completely vanish from Blogland! xxx

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Secrets


I have A Lot of Secret Knitting going on right now, I'd love to be able to share it with you, but I am sworn to secrecy! I can just give you a sneaky peek at one of the new Stylecraft sock yarns which will be coming to a yarn shop near you in September. I've knitted more than 100 pairs of socks and have tried lots of different sock yarns and I have to tell you, if you like your sock yarn to be colourful, soft, affordable and 'chuck in the washing machine-able', then you won't be disappointed! Flo has already tested it for squishability and has given it the paws up!


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I couldn't wait to get started on a new sock design either! Watch this space, I promise you'll be the first to know! xxx


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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Fibre-East 2016


Hellooooooooo!! It feels like a lifetime since I last chatted with you. Last Thursday, I headed off to Bedfordshire to help with Fibre-East. We spent that day measuring and marking out the halls and marquees for the stands and then shifting tables so that they were in place for the next day. Rather than travel over each day, I stayed in a Premier Inn, and spent the evenings relaxing and knitting. Friday was very exciting as the whole event began to take shape. Bunting was festooned around the site, signs stuck up for visitors and a steady stream of vans and cars meant that the vendors were arriving. It was wonderful to see all the lovely things that the vendors had brought with them, and also a little dangerous, as I kept seeing things to add to my shopping list! It was absolutely brilliant being part of the Fibre-East team; they are a lovely, friendly bunch who look after their volunteers so well. I have already got next year's dates in my diary! 
On Saturday, I wasn't officially volunteering, as it was the day that Snoopydog and I had arranged to meet up for a spot of retail therapy! Every single fibre craft you can think of is catered for at the show, and probably some you haven't thought of too! Knitting, spinning, crocheting, weaving, felting and more. A huge selection of vendors with a wide variety of things on sale. Soomething for everyone! It's on a lovely big site with plenty of space for people to be able to get in and look at what's on offer. I just hate the shows where you can't move around easily or get to see the stands without a bit of a tussle. Well, there's none of that at Fibre-East! Over and over again, I heard comments about what a lovely, friendly show it was and how nice it was to have things spread around.There were actually 3 halls, a corridor and 3 marquees, as well as a sheep shearing show, a historical group demonstrating traditional crafts from their own pavilion, on-site professional catering and some other small tents from individual vendors. There was even a 'knit and natter' room and somewhere for video bloggers to meet up. It seemed to be pretty near perfect to me! Take a look at the photos to see some of the yarny temptations that were trying to seduce me!


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You can see just what a colourful event it is, although there are plenty of natural yarns and fibre too. It's just that I am always drawn to colour! I did watch part of the Sheer Sheep Experience and wandered around the back to say hello to the sheep! They do have such lovely faces, I'd quite like a pet sheep, although it might not impress Flo too much!


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There was also a historical group, the Society for Creative Anachronism, Insulae Draconis, who were dressed in period costume demonstrating a variety of pre-1600 fibre arts. They were very interesting to talk to.


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Entries in the spinning and weaving competitions were far fewer this year, and I was delighted to see that I had two '1st' rosettes for items knitted using my handspun. My more recently spun skeins didn't get placed.


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While I was there, I said hello to fellow Stylecraft Blogstar Jane Crowfoot. She had a stand showing off lots of her beautiful blankets, with very tempting kits on sale. I also had time to chat with Sue Pinner and Sandra Paul who were both visiting on Sunday. A great gathering of the Stylecraft Blogstars!

Now I expect you're wanting to know what I bought aren't you?! I think, bearing in mind that I had ample opportunities to shop over the whole weekend, I showed a LOT of restraint! I have tried very hard this year to knit from stash, and so was quite happy to have a little splurge at Fibre-East. I wanted to buy a gradient fibre  and found the perfect one at Cat and Sparrow. I love Jon's dyeing and succumbed to a set of Easyknits mini-skeins on Saturday, topped off with a skein of grey in the same yarn so I can do some colourwork. The cream yarn with rainbow splashes was one that I admired on Saturday and it came back with me on Sunday! This was from FiveMoons. I spotted the crochet hooks and magnetic ceramic pin dish on the Fibre-East blog during the previews of the marketplace and had them on my shopping list, and also needed to top up my Soak. The little sheep charms are very sweet as are the ceramic cat buttons. I couldn't resist them! The fibre was my last purchase oon Sunday afternoon, when I went 'off duty'. I've often watched Louise from SpinCity at shows; she comes across as such a lovely person, really willing to share her skills and inspire people. She had been spinning some really fun yarn using a whole mixture of fibres, but I especially liked the bits with the little tails of Wensleydale sticking out. So I have a bag of bits of dyed Wensleydale just to play around with and spin some crazy yarn! I don't have a jumbo flyer on my wheel so it will be interesting to see how I get on. All in all, I don't think I went over the top, do you?! I think there's enough there, with what I've already got stashed away to keep me out of mischief until next year's Fibre-East! I left Bedford a very tired but happy josiekitten - I think this was the best Fibre-East yet!


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Oh, there may have been one more purchase, but more of that another time! xxx

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Well cushioned!


To celebrate the start of the school holidays, I took a sewing class last Friday. The class was about sewing an Oxford cushion cover, and as you know, I'm quite partial to cushions. I learnt a new technique for hiding a zip, and also how to make the easily recognisable flat edge of the Oxford cushion. (I wonder why it's called that?) The fabric choices were all plain, so I went for a light colour and plan to embellish it in some way. Not too sure how easy it will be to do as it's all stitched together now. It might mean some of the decorations have to be hand sewn!


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Of course, that made whet my appetite for making more cushions, so yesterday I sewed another Contact Print Cushion. I used some squares from a pack of Kaffe Fassett prints and a gorgeous deep blue for the contrast. 


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I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I used a variegated quilting thread in blues and purples which looks quite pretty. Miss Flo loves it too (naturally) - she was fast asleep when I went outside to take photos but her cushion detection skills are obviously very sensitive!!


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I'm off to Bedford for a few days for Fibre-East tomorrow. I'm helping to set up on Thursday and Friday, am shopping with Snoopydog on Saturday and volunteering on Sunday. I'll tell you all about it on Monday! No doubt there will be a purchase or two! xxx