Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Too much to do, so little time…..

As always, I am playing catch-up. There are definitely not enough hours in the day, it's official.

I have a stack of photos to upload but there's no point unless I've got time to write about them and so they get pushed to one side.

In attempt to get on top of things I'm just going to have to knuckle down and write about everything bit by bit and not necessarily in chronological order.


On the mitten knitting front there was an awful lot of faffing to get just the right colour combos!

I'm really pleased with how the cuff turned out and I like that the flowers could be either tulips or hearts depending on your viewpoint. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love both. As I started knitting the body of the mitten I was supposed to be using a dark brown background with pale blue for the pattern but I felt that it was introducing too many colours and I wanted a limited palette.

I settled on a pale blue background and used the beige of the cuff as the contrast but the colours were too close in hue and the pattern didn't show up enough so I undid it and started again. I realised that the colours I'd chosen were almost identical to those in my woven crochet afghan.

I also realised that a darker blue would do the trick and so I rummaged around in my sock yarns and came up with this turquoise/aqua colour which works rather nicely.

Tori's pattern was inspired by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and I guessed it from the clues almost immediately as I only re-read the novel last year. The image shows Mary standing outside the gate to the garden which had been covered in ivy and remained hidden until a robin showed her the way in.

I know from experience in knitting my Seahorse mittens that I need to start the thumb gusset a bit higher than in the pattern and so I started it 4 rows higher than in the chart as Tori suggested. The base of the thumb has a heart motif and I started by doing the thumb in red and beige but felt it was too fussy and re-did it in the turquoise - there's been a lot of redoing in this project but for me that is half the fun as I'll end up with something I really love rather than being only partly happy about it.

You'll notice that the structure of this thumb is different from the 'afterthought thumb' used in the Seahorse mittens. This one sticks out at the side and is known as a 'sore thumb'!

I've finished the left mitten now and am working on the right one so will save putting more photos on here until they are both complete.


I'm now on day 22 of my 5 month running streak and so far all's going well (touch wood etc etc!). So far this year I've run 131 miles and I'm just about to start cranking up the miles as my marathon training goes up a gear.

My first 2 marathons, on consecutive days, are at the end of March and so I had to start my schedule earlier than usual and have to factor in a couple of back-to-back 20 milers. By that I mean that I'll run 20 miles on Saturday and then 20 miles on Sunday. That's what I did when I was training for my 50th birthday challenge back in 2007 and it trains you to run on tired legs so I'm hoping it will work as well this time.

A couple of weeks ago I was out for a long run on Sunday when my Garmin went bonkers. It's been playing up recently, not charging properly, losing the satellite signal and just being generally annoying. I'd got the the 8 mile mark when it started beeping and then switched itself off. It became a battle of wills between me switching it back on and it switching itself off again.

Finally I got it back on and it revealed that I had set a new world record for the marathon distance - 26.26 miles in 1 hour 41 minutes 4 seconds - move over Paula Radcliffe!!!


OK then, it had flipped. Thankfully I knew I was 4.5 miles away from home as I know most of the distances on my routes. All attempts to persuade it to come back to life failed and so I had to get a new one. I went for an updated model, the Garmin Forerunner 210 which was much more compact and had a nice strap. I didn't like it as much as the old one though because it was really slow to respond to changes in speed which I found very irritating and the strap turned out to be rather uncomfy.

You may have noticed that I have started using the past tense about it. That's because after using it for 4 days some condensation appeared on the inside of the glass whilst I was out on a run. Well that can't be good as it will damage the components eventually. I searched online and found that although this is a well documented complaint from many people, Garmin say it is a natural part of the manufacturing process and won't cause a problem. Well I think that not being able to read the watch face because it's all steamed up is a problem and so it went back for a full refund! I've found that the Nike watch has similar problems so I'm still searching for a replacement.

As always, here are a few photos from my various runs.

A beautiful example of hedge-laying
Hedge-laying close-up
Glorious clouds!

The church bells at St Mary the virgin church in Salehurst were deafening as I ran past!

I love how the sound has changed when I was about a mile away.

A distraction

I haven't done as much crafting as usual this last week because we bought this jigsaw:

I'm ashamed to say that my knowledge of world geography is pathetic and I thought this would help me learn a bit more about where everything is.

The dining table was cleared and chairs pushed out the the way and we were off. It's a 2000 piece jigsaw so it's rather large. Look at all that light blue sea and that dark blue sky around the edge. That needed Mike's expertise as he's brilliant at spotting shapes.

Around the outer edge are national flags and they are fascinating too. We used a magnifying glass to spot tiny details on the cover of the box but the pieces themselves were really easy to read.

We put the final piece in last night. It's been a great time-consumer and we've throughly enjoyed it.

 I couldn't fit the whole thing in even though I stood on a chair to take this final photo.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Knitterly things

I haven't done much knitting this last week as my neck's been sore and very creaky which I put down to the wet weather. Instead of knitting or crochet, I've contented myself with some needlework using my tapestry frame on a stand which minimises the angle at which I hold my head.

Anyway, last night I couldn't wait any longer as I'd been itching to cast-on for Torirot's January mystery mittens KAL over on Ravelry. I'm trying to be good this year and use only yarn from my enormous stash so this project is ideal as it requires only small amounts of a few colours.

My first attempt at the rib, which is a twisted rib with little 'rosebuds' on either side was not at all to my liking (it just looked as if the red stitches were pulling out of shape) and so I started experimenting with my own version which also helped to fine-tune my colour choices.

I decided on a 3 colour cast-on
This green was too pale
A brighter red & darker green but I didn't like the line of red stitches on every column
So here's my solution - staggered rows of red
I'm happy with this ribbing now and so will continue to the next clue which is the start of the thumb gusset and main mitten. I expect there will be some more tweaking of colours then too.

Of course I've still got my intarsia cardigan to work on but I always like to have a cardigan project to dip in and out of as and when I feel like it.

The weather

I could hardly not mention it now could I?!

What a vile start to the new year it's been. There's been rain and wind ad nauseum and I don't think my feet have been dry this year.  We've had 2 days when the sun peeped out for a short while and I managed to get some more cheery photos:

This glorious sulphur-yellow bracket fungus looks as if it's been crocheted it's so frilly
Cheerful catkins
One of our beautiful old oaks set against an azure-blue sky and the rusty bracken - heavenly 
Hellebores looking pristine
A view of the valley taken from the outskirts of the village - the floodwater looks like a reservoir
An over-wintering guest who seems to alternate between my office and our bedroom. I nearly trod on her just before I took this as she was sitting on the carpet under my desk 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to one and all. I wish you health and happiness for 2014 and may your troubles be few.

So here we are at the start of another year.

The weather has been vile all night and when I woke up this morning I felt like staying in bed. Anyway, I couldn't as there were animals to tend and so I donned my wet weather gear and squelched into the fields.

I decided to take a couple of Helfies to celebrate - that's half horse, half me photos!

Esther just rolled her eyes as if to say "what on earth's she up to now….?"
Kizzy, on the other hand, refused to oblige and was very grumpy about it (largely because she was trying to eat her brekkie!)
I have now started the first part of my 2014 challenge - too run at least 5k every day for 5 months.

I'd been toying with the idea of running a local 10k race if the weather was OK and in the end I decided to just do it anyway to support the organisers who produce a lot of good races locally. I had been very restrained last night and only had a glass and a bit of red wine just in case I decided to run it and the rain had stopped as I left home. That didn't last long!

As I parked up in Lamberhurst the heavens opened and didn't stop at all. In fact it just got worse and worse and the wind got up too for good measure. The route had to be changed due to flooding and it was exceedingly UPdulating which I don't mind but it wasn't going to be the day for a new personal best time.

I was happy to manage to maintain sub 9 minute milling on all the downhill sections, there weren't any flat bits, and finished in 59:38 which I think is my slowest time ever for a 10k. My Garmin measured it as 6.38 miles which was as close as they could get to 10k given the changes to the course. The best thing was that my asthma didn't bother me at all today.

A massive thank you to all the lovely marshalls who stood around in the cold and wet just so we runners could get another medal. It was a great way to start the new year.