The Month That...

March: The month that…

Hello! This year I am writing a monthly post on things that wouldn’t always warrant a full blog post. Inspired by the weekly ‘Sunday Seven’s’ devised by Nat at Threads and Bobbins  the series is a great way to share little moments by posting 7 pictures of your week and letting people know what you have been up to. As much as I enjoy reading other blogger’s Sunday Sevens I’m just not disciplined enough for weekly scheduled blogging so I am doing a monthly round up instead, just of little things that fall outside of my normal knitty posts.

So here it is, March: The month that…

We Dusted off the BBQ

Sunday the 6th March was Mother’s Day here in the UK so we invited our Mum’s over to ours for a BBQ. I know it’s not quite BBQ season yet but we couldn’t resist! Mr. A’s BBQ’s are legendary with our friends and family, he doesn’t go for the traditional sausage and burger fare, instead he makes up delicious kebabs which are cooked over coals on the mangal.

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Our Mum’s really enjoyed them and we had a lovely day together 🙂

I went on a Spa Day

On the Monday after the knitting weekend in Portsmouth I had a day booked off work to go to a spa for a day of pampering with 2 of my close friends. We went to Sopwell House in St. Albans where I had a facial and a back massage. Oh it was heaven…

We even had a cheeky little glass of prosecco with our lunch 🙂

Spa Day

I Beautified March

I will do a more detailed post on this next week but I took the Beautify Your Instagram  online course run by Emily Quinton at Makelight. I am fairly new to Instagram but it’s fast becoming one of my favourite social media platforms, I love seeing other people’s photo’s and being inspired by their images and projects.

I signed up to this course after seeing Emily’s beautiful flat lay photographs, they are simply stunning. If you are on Instagram do go and have a look at @emilyquinton

Since doing the course I have been taking time every week to work on my own flat lays with the aim of building up a beautiful and inspiration gallery that I hope other knitters and crafters can enjoy.

This is one of my favourite images so far…

Socks

The project is the ‘Helix‘ two at a time toe up socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.

Our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ is now a ‘Megalo Fraoula’!

If you are a returning reader you may recall my post from last year about how we were adopted by a tiny kitten in Greece – Our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ (Little Strawberry). Well our little strawberry has now grown up into a big strawberry! Last week we received an update from ASAP the animal charity on Alonissos to say that he (yep, he’s definitely a boy cat – we weren’t sure before as he was so tiny) is at a shelter and is doing really well. He has been neutered and is very friendly and is being very well fed.

This is how small he was when we last saw him…he was only as big as my flip flop!

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And this is him now…

Stannis!

Isn’t he a beauty! I can’t wait to go and see him this year…I wonder if he will recognise us?

I wish there was some way we could magic him over here, although I’m not sure Mr. Pea and Micicles would appreciate us adding another cat to the fold.

Cats

I love this picture. Mr. Pea was just chilling and watching me knit when Micicles jumped up on the table.That look says it all – 30 seconds later Mr. Pea was well and truly usurped!

Until next time! x

Cats

Our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ (Little Strawberry)

Mr A and I have just returned from a wonderful 3 weeks in Alonissos, Greece. We go there every year and it holds a very special place in our hearts.This year was no exception, despite the financial crisis we found it to be very much business as usual and only slightly quieter than previous years mainly due to the Greek tourists not travelling so much.

We spent our first few days adjusting to the warm sunshine (a stark contrast to the cloud and rain we had left behind in England), swimming in the crystal clear Aegean sea, catching up with friends and enjoying a cocktail, or 2…

Like many other Greek Islands Alonissos has it’s fair share of wild cats and it wasn’t long before we had a number of feline visitors poke their heads around the veranda to check out the cat biscuit situation. We were particularly glad to see the return of Pitou from the last couple of years (his name came about as we have a cat called Pea and he looks exactly like him, but has half a tail and sits on the wall with a dangly leg)

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We were also revisited by Snowy and Adam from last year…and Adam’s 2 little kittens which we named Dani and Kritstoff. We thought about renaming Adam at that point too as the name didn’t quite befit the lady!

On about the 4th day in, after a relaxing day at the beach Mr. A decided to go for a siesta and I pulled my knitting out of the suitcase and set myself up at the table overlooking the valley. I was working a picot bind off on an exceptionally long shawl, it was getting monotonous but after working on it for 4 months I was just glad that the end was near!

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a little shadow appear at the edge of the veranda, accompanied by a pitiful meow. I looked up and there on the wall was the tiniest kitten I had ever seen! I stood up really quietly as most cats run away if we get too close, but it let me approach it. It was a sorry looking thing, all skin and bone, weepy eyes and matted fur. I picked it up and put in in the food bowl and it started eating straight away.

I went to wake Mr A and told him we had a visitor and that I was convinced it was deaf and blind as it showed no fear around me, which is very unusual for cats out there.

Boy that kitten could eat! But once he had finished he started running around the veranda crying for his Mummy. I put him back on the wall where he appeared and he ran off, but only to return an hour later. It was getting quite dark so we took him out the front and followed him to see if we could hear any cats respond to his cries. In the end he ran off again through a neighbours garden and we thought that would be the last we saw of him.

The next day was spent swimming at our favourite beach. When we got home I pegged the towels out and poured us some wine as we caught the last few rays of sunlight, when we heard a little ‘meow’. Mr A and I looked at each other and then over to the corner of the veranda and sure enough there on the wall was a little black ball of fur. He had come back!

We gave him some food and water straight away and watched him fill his little belly, wondering what to do. When he was done he flopped out under a plant pot. Mr. A approached him I was amazed that he didn’t try and run or back away, he was actually welcoming of a little stroke! He was in a bad way though, his eyes were infected and despite now having a little pot belly from eating so much he was still very malnourished. We bathed his eyes and installed him on a comfy chair.

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When we went to bed that night we left him sleeping on the veranda, but we didn’t think he would be there the next morning.

I got up early the next day and went straight outside, but there was no sign of the little scamp. Adam was there though demanding to be fed! I picked up my book and read for a while but I then became aware of a quiet mewing behind me. I got up to investigate and ended up finding the little kitten trapped in the charcoal bucket with his eyes glued together by the infection. Poor little thing!!

We had to help him. Luckily there is a fantastic charity on the Island called ASAP (Alonissos Society for Animal Protection). They do an incredible job – not only helping the animals by providing feeding stations, veterinary care and neutering but also providing awareness and education towards them.

I dropped them a message through Facebook to say we had a stray kitten and if there is anything we could do for it and within the hour we had Jane and Guy from ASAP come to the house with a bag of medicines. They provided us with eye drops, de-worming tablets, flea spray, kitten milk and a nutritious gel to feed him. At that point we knew he wasn’t going anywhere so we decided to give him a name. Stannis. (Although during our holiday I developed an irrational obsession with the Greek word for strawberry as it’s such a fun word to say, fra-ou-la, so I also called him Mikro Fraoula which means ‘Little Strawberry’ in Greek).

As the days went by little Stannis grew stronger and provided us with much entertainment. His favourite toy was a bit of toilet roll on some string, it kept him amused for hours!

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As well as his obsession with my flip flops

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He was the most adorable little kitten. When we woke in the morning he would appear from under a plant pot, or behind the watering can, or jump off a chair and run to greet us. He did have a habit of running between our feel though so we had to be so careful where we trod! He was the best at cuddles too 🙂

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And despite his size he was quick to stalk the big cats that still came by for their daily biscuits, he certainly knew how to stand his ground!

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We were lucky enough to have Stannis around for 2 weeks but despite having a pipe dream that we could somehow bring him home with us we knew we would have to find a home for him on the Island. He was used to human contact and so I wasn’t comfortable with him going back into the wild.

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We have some friends staying out there until mid-August who agreed to take him on. They fell in love with him as much as we did when they saw him and Sophie (aged 10) wrote him this brilliant acrostic poem.

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This sums him up perfectly! When they leave Jane from ASAP will take him to live at some apartments in the nearby village and has promised us updates, we know that he will be well looked after.

I keep saying he, when he came to us he was that small that it was impossible to tell. But by the time we left it was evident that Stannis was actually a she! Turns out we really aren’t very good at this cat naming malarkey :-/

This little bundle of fun certainly added an extra bonus to our wonderful holiday and we were sad to say goodbye. So farewell to our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ – hope to see you again next year!

Stannis

I can’t leave without sharing this super cute video of Mr A and Stannis having tickle times….

 

knitting

A Post About Knitting. And Cats.

I had set myself a deadline to finish my C&G module by end of November and I am tantalizingly close to the end, just a few more colour samples to knit and a bit of typing to do…but I have to admit defeat and push my deadline back a couple of weeks. Meh. The last couple of weekends have been really busy seeing friends and family and this weekend the wonderful Mr. A has announced that he is whisking me off to London. And who am I to argue with that?!

For some reason I find it hard to work on the course in the evenings, I think I need to be in the ‘zone’, which I find so much easier to get into at the weekend. Mr. A doesn’t argue with my need to knit at weekends, he is a keen musician so it means he gets to retreat to his man cave studio and work on his projects too. It’s a happy balance!

During the week I work on stitch samples, ongoing projects and designs. One ongoing project I have yet to cast off the rework of the mobius cowl I seem to have been working on forever.

Mobius cowl WIP

Only 4 more rounds to go though and it’s already twice as wide as it was before so that’s a good sign surely….I did the rework in the Roman Stripe stitch I posted about on Sunday.

I have also been inspired by the wonderful blogging community this week. Firstly, if you haven’t read the Contented Crafter’s recent post on Sharing the Love, you really should. It’s a wonderful and thought provoking post on just how powerful the blogging community can be. Pauline offers the chance to take part in two random act’s of kindness and it’s so inspiring that my next project is going to be dedicated to one of them. At the moment my work is taking me to London a few days a week and thanks to Ravelry I have found the perfect project for this that will accompany me on the commute.

I have also been inspired by the Twisted Yarn’s wonderful Christmas Trees. Living in a house with 3 cats it’s not feasible to put up a real tree as it will just get demolished so I have decided to knit one. It will probably still get batted over by curious paws but it’s a risk I am willing to take! Today I went to my LYS and stocked up on supplies.

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Speaking of the devil’s please let me introduce you to ‘they who like to sit on anything knitted’ – Micicles (Mike the small one), Pea (the great big doofus) and the sinister grumpster herself…Moomins (The Mooms).

Mike and PeaThe Mooms

These 3 are the reason why we can’t have a big Christmas tree, however it doesn’t stop me dreaming….

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Blogging101

Who I am and why I blog

I have decided to take up the Blogging101 challenge currently being run by The Daily Post. The first challenge is to write about yourself and let others know what you are about and why they should grab a cup of tea and start reading your blog.

So… is the kettle on? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

By way of an introduction – these are a few of my favourite things (please feel free to sing along):

My favourite things

Knitting and yarn shops and books full of patterns
Casting on projects and seeing what happens
Sunshine and friends, cats, cake and wine
Getting hooked on a TV show, forgetting the time
Holidays in Greece or exploring a new place
Benefit make-up to decorate my face
Writing, guitars and trying to sing
These are a few of my favourite things!

And why do I blog? I set up my blog about a year ago, mainly to write about knitting and to connect with like minded, creative people. I enjoy seeing what other people get up to and marveling at some amazing creations that fellow bloggers have made!

My page name is Jem Arrowsmith Designs as I am starting out in the world of writing knitting patterns. So far I have self published 4 patterns  on Ravelry, with another waiting to be written up and a new one on the needles. It’s a slow process for me as I work full time but I flippin’ love it!

Do stop by and say hello!

Travel

My Favourite Place in the whole wide World

Why is it times always goes so fast when you are on holiday?! The last 2 weeks have just flown by! We returned yesterday from Alonnisos, Greece. My favourite place in the whole wide world.

Most of our days were spent at the beach at Chrisi Milia, soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea.

Chrisi Milia Alonnisos

One day was spent at Chora, the Old Village on top of the hill. Chora used to be the capital of the island until a big earthquake in the 1960’s destroyed most of the houses so the people moved down to the port of Patitiri. For years the Old Village stood desolate and in ruins at the top of the hill but slowly it has been rebuilt over the years. Many ruins still remain which gives the village a rustic charm that makes it very popular with artists, and it is lovely place to spend the evening and with its many restaurants and bars.

Old Town Alonnisos Street in the Old Town Alonnisos

One night down in the port we witnessed the most amazing electrical storm. It began with a power cut that surged the whole island into darkness and for the next couple of hours the sky was a constant disco of lights. I was kicking myself though as it was the one night I had forgotten to take out the proper camera and I struggled to capture anything on my phone – this was the best shot I could get over the harbour.

Electric storm Alonnisos

Last Saturday was the annual Agia Paraskevi Island festival which celebrates the patron saint of the main church. It starts on the Friday with a big procession from the church into town, followed by traditional Greek music and dancing on the Saturday night, with the music continuing well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Agia Paraskevi festival

The evenings were perfect for a spot of knitting on the veranda as the sun was going down. Notice the little cat on the wall in the background of this picture – we had a return visitor from last year, little Pitou (he got his name as he looks just like our cat Pea, so we called him Pea 2). He was instantly recognisable due to his unique way of sitting with his leg dangling over the wall!

Jem Arrowsmith Knitting

All in all, it was another fantastic holiday and even though it went too quick at least our little furry friends, Pea and Mike, were pleased to have us home again.

Cat in a suitcase Cat in a bag

knitting

I just love cats!

One of my favorite youtube videos is the one of Debbie, the internet dating crazy cat lady who just loves cats. It never fails to amuse me – if you haven’t seen it and you fancy a giggle you can check it out here

At the risk of sounding like said crazy cat lady I just had to share with you my latest knitting treats. As you know I am very slowly working my way through a lace intensive wrap called Spring Haze and my need for stitch markers has never been greater. I was perusing Etsy a few weeks ago as I wanted something a little more interesting than the standard plastic markers, as great a job as they do they are, well, just a bit dull.

And so I came across ‘Weeones Creations’. Oh my goodness, where to start! Jillian at Weeones makes the most incredible polymer clay stitch markers. Pretty much every animal you can think of has been miniaturized and hand sculpted into the cutest little character and the level of detail captured is amazing. I couldn’t resist and placed my order for some little cats. Because I love cats.

They arrived today!

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Aren’t they just the most adorable things you have ever seen?

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I think the one playing with the ball of yarn is my favorite. He looks like a teeny tiny version of my cat Mr.Pea.

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One even has a little mouse…

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And just look at the level of detail, they have little paw prints!

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Here they are in action

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I can’t wait to get cracking on with Spring Haze this evening 🙂

There is also a really interesting article on the Etsy blog where Jillian talks about quitting the day job to start her own business which you can read here. Inspiring stuff.