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!).

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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!

 

 

TAPER Time!

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.

 

 

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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:

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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!

Just look how far I have come!

Have I told you that I am running the London Marathon? I thought so ;) It is now approaching very fast. In fact 2 weeks today. (eek!)

This is it. The medal that I shall be getting. How awesome is that?

Today has been one of those days where I have realised how amazing the journey has been and just how far I have come. I would go so far as to say that Sunday the 25th April will (hopefully) be the end of a journey of at least 7 years and probably more. I knew it would be emotional but that doesn’t really cover it. I would go so far as to say that I am a completely different person.

I have been very lucky for many reasons:

1.Initially I was very lucky to find the people who helped me overcome the worst of post natal depression  (maybe they found me!) My health visitor was amazing, supporting me and finding the help that I needed. One of these people was a former sufferer herself who gave me a lot of her time. Again a truly amazing individual who without, I would not be where I am today. This lovely lady also encouraged me to take up knitting again which has truly been a life line.

2. I was lucky enough to get a ballet place for the London Marathon on my first ever attempt. I decided that if I was going to do this then I wanted to use the opportunity to raise some money. My decision was pivotal in so many ways . It gave me the opportunity to share my experiences about my post natal depression to a wider audience and hopefully help other people to remove to seek help .

3. I wasn’t well enough to run the marathon last year so had to defer, which may not appear to be good at first. It was very hard at the time but a year later and I can see the benefits of this:

a) I have been able to ‘socialize’ with an amazing group of people through Facebook. These people are truly amazing. They are all running for MIND and have their own stories to tell. They have made me laugh and cry but above all have been amazingly inspirational. I am going to miss these people.

 

 

 

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b) Through this group I have found the strength to come off my medication. It is early days but their stories and experiences have convinced me that I have got the strength and can do it.

4. I am happy with who I am and I no longer worry what other people think. This is a truly amazing feeling for me who spent a lot of my life being sorry and trying to conform to what I thought other people were like.

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The journey has been hard. There have been times, even this year when I thought I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon due to health reasons (asthma). I do know that I am going to find the 26.2 miles really, really, really tough going. I will however do it whether I have to walk, shuffle or crawl around. When the times get hard I will remember why I am doing it and where it has allowed me to get to. I am and will always be very grateful for the opportunities the whole experience that I have been lucky enough to have.

Should you wish to donate then this is the link. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Knitnrun4sanity

I also have a competition going. For minimum donation of £4 if I have to post, £2 if not to go towards Mind. Guess how long it will take me to run the London marathon. The winner will receive a bespoke bracelet like the one below in any colour you choose. Times range from 3 hours to 6 hours and 22 mins (each hour has .12, .24, .36 and .48). Simply donate on my page http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Knitnrun4sanity and let me know the time you would like. 

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Leggings

I have been so busy crafting there has been very little time for blogging! I do now have a lot to share with you now. :) The first thing that I am going to share with you is the first item of clothing that I have made recently (ie the last 20 odd years!):

The 'finished' leggings.

The ‘finished’ leggings.

I have put finished in inverted commas because they are not finished (the ends are not sewn in etc).

To be honest I struggled with these. The leggings above are actually the second pair I attempted as the first were even worse!

I am not going to share the pattern that I used with you because I don’t want to mislead you. I am absolutely sure that there is nothing wrong with the pattern and everything wrong with me. I know this because I have since successfully made another pattern from the same source!

Although I have said that the fault lays with me I have got some excuses. The first, (and probably the main) is the material that I have used. Being meant for working out it needs to be stretchy – in 4 different ways. This in itself comes with its own problems:

Can you see the puckering just behind the side seem?

Can you see the puckering just behind the side seam?

This (so I believe) is a result of me over stretching the material as I sewed it.

Having since made another exercise piece I now think that the material I used for this project was not as good quality as I would ideally have liked. I bought this over the internet which meant that I couldn’t actually feel it before I bought it. It seems quite thin. Maybe I am clutching at straws and simply making excuses?

I also think that I was maybe a bit ambitious with this project as my first one for many, many years. Sewing with stretchy material is not quite as easy as using something like cotton that will not move as you sew it. Before you ask, yes I did tack all the seams to minimise the movement as much as I can.

I will however, be making this project again as I will not be beaten ;) I just need to find the right material.

A summer top

I promised something other than running…..here it is:

A top I made myself.

A top I made myself.

I can honestly say that it is unique. I got the material from a website called spoonflower. It is an amazing site that allows you to make up your own material by uploading your own patterns onto it. I chose this fabric because….well because it is turquoise.

I chose the jersey option (there are many). I did make a few adjustments to the pattern:

I took the sides in to make it a more fitted top.

I took the sides in to make it a more fitted top.

I know get me! I enjoyed playing with my new machine (borrowed) using a stretch stitch that prevents the material from fraying and joins all in one go.

I then cut the excess off.

I then cut the excess off.

The only thing that I would change is to add some interfacing to the hem to prevent the slight stretch that has occurred. I don’t think that it is that noticeable though.

I have to say that I really like the longer length!

I have to say that I really like the longer length!

I am hoping that spring is on its way so that I can wear this soon. :)

 

 

 

 

 

Running For You

My husband writes, performs and records songs. Not something that I have shared with you before but he has done something pretty amazing; he has written a song to help raise funds for MIND (the charity that I have chosen to support. For reasons why see here and here). I am so grateful to him because I have been rubbish at raising any money at all this year.

We decided to ask other people who are running for MIND to submit photographs of themselves to make a video as this way it would give them an opportunity to ask people for sponsorship in a different way and therefore hopefully raise more money.

I am lucky. I chose to raise money for mind despite getting a place through the ballot. This means that I haven’t pledged to raise a huge amount of money in return for my place. The flip side to this is that I raised money last year but this year I have not done nearly as well. I am just not comfortable asking the same people for money again, especially when I didn’t actually do anything last year.

Anyway – enough of my  words:

Here it is:

Did you spot the panel I made last year?

Next time I promise to not write about running. I have 2 things that I have sewed to share.

Have fun. x