You know those tests that are designed to catch you out? The ones that are a list of questions that tell you to do all sorts of weird things with a piece of paper but then the last one is to ignore all the instructions above?

Yes? Well I have fallen for that one. I am far too old and (I hoped) too wise to but it has happened :( I was so eager to cast on my latest project having gone through all the trauma of swatching etc, etc that I failed to read the instructions properly. By this I mean read them all the way through until the end.

I read  the first bit up until where it says repeat the last x number of rows a total of 5 times, and off I set. Merrily knitting away each evening.  Then I read the next bit where the instructions are slightly different for each increase row. Oh bum. I have now got almost 2 balls worth of knitting wrong.

Tonight will be working out how much of a mistake it is and whether I do truly have to undo the best part of 2 weeks worth of knitting. My mistake totally. Doesn’t make me feel any better though.

(Excuse my while I scream into a nearby cushion; ARRGGGHHHHHH!)

I am so Lucky.

I have a new toy – well actually I have had it for a while now but only got around to actually using it this weekend. Look:

Please forgive me for the photos, we haven't been bessed with very bright days this weekend.

Please forgive me for the photos, we haven’t been blessed with very bright days this weekend.

Up until this point I had to rely on a visit to my good friend Joanne and whilst this is always a good thing I can now wind my own balls whenever I want :)

What am I making?

The beginnings of Hut 8.

The beginnings of Hut 8.

The only remaining question is which technique am I using?

An unexpected 10K race

In the UK this week has been Woman in Sport week. What better way to celebrate this than to  take part in a race? To be honest, I hadn’t intended to take part in a  race this week but I saw a competition on Twitter that simply involved a retweet and I thought why not? I will never win anyway. How wrong I could be. On Wednesday I was told that I had won and was now running the Womans  running UK 10k down in London. A huge thanks to @ukrunchat who are the brains behind an amazing running community on twitter, Womans running UK  a fab magazine and Endomono who is another sports community, activity tracker.

My first thought was to contact my running friends to see if anyone fancied coming with me but they were all busy :(. Not to be put off I started to make plans to go on my own anyway :).The forecast was good (if a little hot) and it was the right side of London to make it easy to get too for me.

Getting there

Sunday morning came after a night of little sleep but I got up, ate my porridge and set off. The car part of the journey took an hour and the tube about half of that! (The tube cost me £11 which I thought was a bit steep for only going about 7 stops – 20 pence more and I could have got all the way into the centre of London!)

The first thing I saw when I got to Finsbury park was the queue for the toilets. Not too bad – a good sign. Because my entry into the race had been late I had to collect my number on the day. This was a really easy process. I put my bag into baggage and headed for the toilet queue with 20 minutes to spare. . I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t make it but I had plenty of time.So far so good – everyone was as friendly as I had hoped.

It was a nice 'small' event with a good range of pacers.

It was a nice ‘small’ event with a good range of pacers.

As you can see the sun was shining for once and I wasn’t at all cold waiting for the race to start. I chatted to a couple of people (who had come all the way from Sunderland!) and then it was time to go to the start.

I have never been so close to the start line!

I have never been so close to the start line!

There was a 5k option too and these started at the front with us 10kers further back.

The course

On the day before I had found a course map and looked at it. I made the assumption that being in London it would be fairly flat and, looking at the map a bit demoralising too as there appeared to be a few up and backs where you would be able to see the people ahead of you.


In reality the out and backs weren’t a problem as you were separated more than it looks and so were not really that aware of those ahead of you (thank goodness!). It was however hilly (well coming from the fens hilly). My Garmin says it had an elevation gain of 85m. To be fair, at the end everyone was talking about how hilly it had been so can’t just be the fen girl’s opinion.

The upside to hills are the down hill sections and with these I wasn’t disappointed. There was just one hard hill in the last Km that was a bit mean but once up that it was downhill all the way to the finish. :)

Before the race, when I saw that there were 2 water stations I was a bit surprised but to be honest today I was really pleased that there were (3!) stations as it was soo hot. There was some water poured over my head!

The Finish

The finish was a very welcome (as you would expect). What was a really nice touch was the way everybody had their name shouted out as they approached the finish line. This does make a big difference so a huge thank you for that. As always with a race a huge thank you to all the encouraging comments and big smiles from all the marshals – it all makes such a difference to how the whole feel of the race is.

Probably the best bit of the whole event, however was the goody bag:

For a smallish race this was awesome.

For a smallish race this was awesome.

There was also some sort of ice cream that was yummy as well as a drink. Also:

We musn't forget the bling!

We mustn’t forget the bling!

No expense spared - there was even an engraving on the back!

No expense spared – there was even an engraving on the back!










This is a great race. Really friendly and far from intimidating. Being small and so encouraging it is a great run for those who feel a bit unsure or are just starting out (with the 5k being a good first option). Everyone is made to feel as if they have achieved something really worthwhile. The pacers make it good for those getting used to running races and who want to try to keep to a pace. Being a fairly small event with wide paths keeping with them would have been easy unlike many of the other races I have done.

The course itself is challenging enough for runners looking for that bit extra and the goody bag is well worth it. Had I not won the competition would not have gone but I am more than pleased that I did – running in a different place is always welcome and a good challenge for me. I shall not always dismiss races in London as although I started quite early I got home in time for a late lunch and a rest in the garden.

There is another one in September and I would encourage you to consider it. It really is 5 mins (or less) from the station so if you are in London there should be no excuses. Why not make a weekend of it like those girls from Sunderland?

Thank you ukrunchat and Womans running Magazine for a really lovely Sunday race.

Note: All views are my own.





So what about the tension?

A huge thank you for all your comments on my last post. It was really interesting. It seems that most of you learnt to knit using the throwing style. I wonder if that is because most of you are predominately English-speaking? I doubt I shall ever know.

I decided to do a bit more investigating into the different styles, both as a practice and out of interest too. I knitted up 3 swatches using each of the styles.

I knit and crochet tightly. This means that I have to use larger needles or crochet hooks than is mentioned in the pattern. I was interested to see if the different styles had any impact on my tension.

I took two measurements, one before blocking and one after:

First the Portuguese one

24st and 29 rows

24st and 29 rows

22 st     29 rows

22 st 29 rows









Then the continental:

25 st   33 rows

25 st 33 rows

26 st     30 rows

26 st 30 rows









Finally my original style:

25 st    33 rows

25 st 33 rows

25 st     32 rows

25 st 32 rows









To be honest this was not what I was expecting at all. Before blocking the Portuguese style of knitting was the tightest. This may be explained by the fact that the tension is not just done with your hands but around the pin/neck. This is very different to using your hands so may well explain the even tighter tension. The other two were exactly the same pre blocking. I guess I knit so tight that there is no room for getting any tighter!

The biggest surprise however was when I compared the pre and post blocking – they got smaller. I thought they got bigger! To be fair it was not an aggressive block, I simply took out the curl. I am still surprised. Before you ask, I only soaked them in a bit of water. Not hot as I put my hands in it.

To be honest I was hoping for a simple answer such as; If I use …….style my knitting is a better tension. I like easy answers but it seems that it is not to be.

I have the yarn to knit a cardigan so shall have to think some more about which style to choose. Which would you choose?


What is your style?

I was privileged to attend a class at my local yarn store (The Sheep Shop) on Saturday. I say privileged because without Joanne it would totally have passed me by. The class was run by the lovely Gillian and was all about different styles of knitting. It was really interesting. Also quite intense. 3 hours of concentrated knitting. You know the sort….learning something new for the first time concentrated.

To set the scene – I knit in the traditional English or cottage style where you hold the yarn in your right hand and ‘throw’ the yarn over the needle. Having thought about it I suppose it is quite a clumsy style but it was the one I was taught and, until recently I haven’t thought anymore about it. Then I met Joanne who is very interested about finding the most efficient way to knit (well it is her job!).

Image result for cottage style of knitting

Throwing the yarn with the right hand .Source

We started off with looking at the continental style of knitting (Swedish if you live in France!). This is different to my style because you hold the yarn in the left hand. As I do this for crochet this was not too hard a step for me. It also wasn’t too hard because I had actually done this, with my left hand, when doing stranded knitting:


This is what I made – my first ever piece of stranded knitting. When I made this I had the grey in my right hand as I always do and the coloured yarn in my left.

This time I only had one strand of yarn and it was in my left.

Image result for continental style of knittingSource

With this style of knitting you sort of manipulate the needle around the yarn rather than the other way around.


I really like this style and found the knit stitch to be really fast. Then came the pearl. This seemed a lot harder and took a bit to get my head around it. I did get there in the end but so far it is not as quick as the knit version.

We then moved onto a stitch called Norwegian Pearl. Again the yarn is held in the left hand. It is a way of doing a pearl stitch keeping the yarn at the back of the work. For anyone who has done 1by1 rib you will know how amazingly useful this will be. No more switching forward and back between each stitch! I liked this,  as again it meant more manipulating of the needle rather than the yarn around the needle.

Next came a style of knitting that (I think) originates from Shetland. It involves a special pouch that you put one of your (long) needles into. This keeps it still and  means that you don’t really have to hold this needle as such.

Image result for Shetland knitting beltSource

The idea behind this is that you work really close to the end  of the needles and simply flick the yarn over the end of the needle. It is meant to be really, really quick. Not for me however. There was one lady on the course who had back problems and she thought that this style of knitting would really help her.

Finally we were introduced to Portuguese style knitting. Joanne thought that this style of knitting might come across as a bit pretentious as you loop the yarn around your neck (or attach it to a pin).


You hold the tensionin the right hand and the use your thumb to flick the yarn around the needle. Rib is also easy as you change the position of the yarn with a flick of the thumb. I did find that my knitting ended up getting closer and closer to my face as I forgot to pull the yarn around but I am sure that is just a beginner’s mistake.

Which style will I adopt? Probably a mixture. As I have been playing around a bit more I got quicker at the continental pearl but the Portuguese style was one where I could do without looking quite quickly. A good test as I like to be able to knit without looking as it means I can do it during car journeys. I have the yarn for a cardigan so will let you know which I choose to make this. It will be one of the new versions as it seems like the perfect opportunity.

Which style were you taught to knit in?

Virgin London Marathon – the Expo

It has taken me this long to process it. It was one of the hardest but most amazing things I have done. I still cannot believe I managed to do it! The first thing that struck me about the marathon is how much hype there is about it. It was all over the media. You could hardly turn the radio or TV on without it being mentioned somewhere. That in turn meant that everyone was asking me whether I was ready and wishing me luck. Amazing but it did mean that there was very little time to forget that it was happening.

The first big thing that we had to do was to go down and collect the race number the week before the race. I went with my friend who, lucky for me was also running the marathon this year. As we were travelling down on the day, my friend and I went down on the Wednesday. This was the first day that it hit me. I was going to run (well shuffle) the London marathon.

This is where you get your number from.

This is where you get your number from.

As Wednesday was the first day it was open it was really nice and quiet. No queues! Well organised though.

No expense spared!

No expense spared! This is where we went next – to go and get our timing chips.

As it was the 35th anniversary we were going to be able to keep these timing chips. They were a special edition.

The wording says ready for my

The wording says Ready for my greatest run ever. How true this was.

We then wandered around the rest of the expo –  a range of stalls with people trying to get us to buy things or enter into more races. I managed to buy myself a pair of running leggings but otherwise was very restrained. :)

There were also some motivational talks about what to expect and how to deal with race day.

There were also some motivational talks about what to expect and how to deal with race day.

Finally there were some amazing facts about the marathon.

Finally there were some amazing facts about the marathon.

A few that I can remember:

It is the biggest single fundraiser in the world.

It is shown on the TV in over 100 countries.

The percentage of women runners has gradually increased over the years.

There are 36, 000 people running the marathon this year.

Most of the places are charity places.

I came home really excited and more than ready to do this!




A week today and I will have finished the London Marathon (fingers crossed). It will leave a big empty hole in my life. 16 + weeks of build up, the culmination and then ……The running will obviously continue (as long as no injury occurs) but hopefully there will be a bit more time left for crafting. In reality however I suspect work will quickly fill any gap left.

The journey so far has been amazing. I have ‘met’ and conversed with a lot of amazing people on social media. I am already a completely different person (better obviously ;)). I have also learnt an awful lot more about running than I would have ever believed possible. I suspect I will learn an awful lot more about me next week!

As for this week: TAPER Time.




To be precise I have really been on taper for the last couple of weeks. This means that my running mileage reduces right down having been ridiculously high (nearly 40 miles Easter week). The longest runs were 12 and 10 miles during the last couple of weeks.  It is a bit of shock to think that 12 miles is now considered to be a short run! For this last week I have only a couple of gentle runs to do. Nothing long. Nothing fast. The idea behind this is to allow your body to recover and replenish all the stores of glycogen so that you get to the start line in tip-top condition (well as best as is humanly possible!)

All the training is done. Nothing more can be done on the running side (eeek!). I can however rest and eat well. This week I shall be going to bed early (for me that will probably mean 8 O’clock!), trying to drink more than normal (water obviously) and eat well. Towards the end of the week I will be increasing my carbs.

I have prepared well:

Chocolate and carrot cake!

Chocolate and carrot cake!

The only problem is trying to stop everyone else eating these before I can get to them!

The down side to this tapering is the side effects:


We are used to running. Not being able to run is hard on the mind. You are aware of any minute aches and pains, convincing yourself that you have an injury or illness that will completely scupper your marathon plans. Add nerves to this and well….lets just say it will probably not be very pleasant for my poor family.

At least it is short-lived! In case you are wondering I have booked a few races for after the marathon just to give me something to aim for.


Thanks for reading. Sorry for babbling on about running, AGAIN!