Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I did it!

My Running Streak for Alzheimer's Research UK

It's finished.

111 days of running every day - a minimum of 5.5 days for 55 days starting with the London marathon back in April until my 56th birthday when it changed to a minimum of 5.6 miles a day for a further 56 days.  That's 1 day short of 4 months.

Oh my!

I can hardly believe I did it, but I did.  681.22 miles run during my streak and my year to date mileage is 1128.72.

This is my happy last run-of-the-streak face!

It wasn't all easy-going.  Some days I really had to push myself to go out for a run, especially when my asthma was really bad (and there were a lot of bad asthma days with the pollen count being sky-high this year!) but mostly I just got on with it.  There were times when I had to go out for a run at 5am in order to fit it in with what was going on during the day.  Other times I had to run in the evening which I really don't like doing.  I still can't believe that I managed not to injure myself and am amazed that my creaky old body held up well throughout.

After my last run we went into Rye for a wander around and for lunch at The Ambrette to celebrate which was most enjoyable.  Of course, there was also some champagne in the evening.

Now I've got to start writing my thank you letters to everyone who supported me.  So far my total raised this year is £2600 which is wonderful, but it will be even higher by the end of the year.

For the next few weeks I'll potter around with gentle runs just for sheer enjoyment to let my body recover a bit before I start gearing up for my 2014 challenge.  Yes, I do need to start thinking about it so soon as it's going to be another tough challenge!

Arthritis rears its ugly head

There has been no knitting for ages.  Quite apart from being so busy in the garden that I haven't felt like it, I have had a problem with my hands. Arthritis. Oh yes, that has been a real pain in the hands.  I think it's been aggravated by the gardening, in particular weeding and pruning.  

I'm having trouble gripping things with my  left hand and seem to have lost some strength too.  That won't do at all so I've been trying to do some strengthening exercises to help keep my hands supple and to try to regain some strength.  

There are some very useful stretches here and the other thing I've been doing is squeezing the ARUK stress buster brain.  It's one of those rubbery executive toy type thingies but it's actually rather useful and has helped to strengthen the muscles around my thumb.

I have, however been able to do plenty of crochet as that doesn't seem to bother my hands quite as much thank goodness.

Knitting projects

As always, the end of season yarn sales have been a happy hunting ground. I couldn't resist this gorgeous Colline yarn by Louisa Harding. It is a blend of 80% cotton 20% alpaca and it feels so soft. Oh and those glorious, jewel-bright colours.  How could I resist?  

I've swatched and am ready to go on this -

This is the top I'm going to make
Then the lovely people at deramores were offering 30% off all Rowan yarn. Well, what is a girl to do but stock up her stash!  I stocked up on some shades of cotton glace, which I sometimes use for crochet and I also splashed out on the new angora haze yarn in shade 'hug', a gentle green. I'm going to make the audrey cardigan.

Crochet club

I was pottering along with my crochet club patterns when the final instructions arrived together with the big reveal of the design.

When I first saw it I was rather underwhelmed as I don't think that it hangs together very well and some of the components look as if they could do with a jolly good blocking as they are rather stretched out of shape! Also, I really don't like the gappiness around the central motif as those little squares in the corners look strange and are pulling out of shape (I know some people have filled them in with circles or large triangles which are good solutions).  

Then I wondered what had happened to the border as you can hardly see it and looks rather mean. I think it needs a generous border to tie it all together and quieten down the busy patterns in the squares. I can only assume that the yarn usage was kept to a bare minimum to keep the cost of the project down.

Now that all sounds rather negative doesn't it which is a bit unfair so I stopped to have a good think about it.

There are many elements that I love - I think the colours are wonderful and most of the patterns are gorgeous as Jane is a talented designer.  So I had a good look at the pieces I've completed already and thought about how I could use them in smaller groups rather than as the whole blanket.

Gradually a plan started to come together.

I'd been thinking about draping the finished blanket over the back of one of the chairs in the music room as they are just an expanse of plain colour so why not use some of the motifs to make smaller drapes for each chair?

Then I looked at the central motif of the blanket but without the blue/green triangles around the edge.  Now that would look amazing displayed in top of the grand piano as the colours would really zing against the glossy black casing.

On a roll by then I realised that I could make a beautiful runner for the dining table with the remaining motifs with a few bits and bobs of my own.

Excellent, I have a plan of action!

The first motif I worked on was this beauty.  But what I'd noticed was that even after blocking it still wasn't quite square.  So I just worked another round using double crochet with half trebles and trebles filling in the hollows.

Hollow in the middle
Straighter edge
Then I started joining motifs together.  Should I sew them, which uses less yarn, or join with crochet?  Seam on the front or the back?

Aftert trying each option, I chose to join them with double crochet leaving the seam on the back.  I do sometimes like seeing the seam on the front as it can make a nice decorative feature.

Although there is a ridge on the back, the front is completely smooth and the stitches blend into the pattern.

At the moment I'm debating the border colours and stitches.  To add a fringe?  A decorative edge along the bottom of the piece?

Decisions, decisions!

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