Friday, 20 November 2020

Basingstoke Virtual 5k race


Every year I run the Basingstoke 5k race.  It starts at the cinema and goes through the shopping center, through the business park and round the boating lake.  It's a nice little race and I've completed it 8 times now.

But we all know that this year hasn't been like normal years.  So where I would normally run it on a sunny Sunday in May, this year I ended up running it on my own in the dark on a frosty Friday morning. 

If we had run in May I'm pretty sure I would have got a PB, I was running really well then.  But as it's gotten darker in the mornings I've felt more tired when running and my times have gone up a bit.

The race itself got moved a couple of times before they decided to go virtual and although I decided to give it a go I did not have high hopes of a good run.  

However it might have been dark and frosty, but it was a pretty morning.  As I was on open roads I had to stop for a couple of cars, and I had a stitch half way round, but when I stopped my watch at 5k I found to my amazment that I actually had a PB - 24:32. Thats 20 seconds off my old PB. 

I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact there was no one else there, so I didn't really know how fast I was going and there was no-one to get 'stuck' behind.  When I say 'stuck' I mean you find someone who is running at a nice pace and you stick with them for a while without realising that you could actually be going faster than that, but this pace feels comfortable so you just stay there for a bit. 

Whatever it was, it feels good!  I've submitted my results and now wait to see how everyone else did.  The've given us the whole weekend to run it, so results won't be out until next week. 

Amendment: I finally got my results - 33 overall (out of 153) and 9th woman.  I'm so chuffed.  Also I LOVE the new medal design.  Such an improvement on the old one and really cute.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Orange and Blue Kumihimo Bracelet


I'd like to do more kumihimo but I've found it very hard to buy beads online.  The colours don't always look the same and you can't see how they shimmer and shine.  What I'm looking forward to is being able to go to craft shows again, where you can see the products in the flesh and find just the right colour.


Here's an example.  I bought these beads online when I was buying something else to bring the postage down.  What I was looking for was a really bright blue and orange, a combination that I love, but when they arrived they were more pastel than bright.  


Now don't get me wrong, I still think they are pretty colours, just not quite what I was after.  They still worked well for my dotty pattern (which I created for myself), and another bracelet was born.


However I am also finding it hard to find findings for my bracelets (the catches etc) but found some lovely magnetic catches on Etsy.  They took a while to arrive (what with coming all the way from Hong Kong) but have finished it off well.


But now I've found out that although the beading is the same length as my rainbow bracelet which fits perfectly, because the magnetic catch has less give in it, the bracelet is much too tight.  But I have learnt something new and will know to add more beads in future if I'm going to use this sort of catch.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

More Little Hats

Simple crochet hat

I can't call this post more little knitted hats, as I have started making the crochet patterns too now!

They are all starting to get a bit more involved, so I'm not sure how many more I will manage.  After all Christmas making needs to take priority for a bit.

Post box hat
Post box hat

Ear flap hat
Ear flap hat

A sheepish sheep hat

Sombrero hat

Sheriffs hat

Shark hat

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Halloween decorations


I'm not really a big fan of Halloween, however the village organised a Halloween walk.  Rather than knocking on doors doing trick or treat, children could go round the village with their parents and when they spotted some decorations their parents could give them some sweets.

I wanted to join in a little, so painted myself a pumpkin and some squashes to stick in our window.  Not as impressive as some of the displays, but with a low enviromental impact and still fun.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Virtual Running - Part 5


This year I signed up to a virtual challenge to run 1000 miles over the course of the year.  This was before coronavirus was a thing, just because I wanted to challenge myself.

The challenge I signed up for split it into 4 distances with a medal at the end of each. Today I completed the last distance of 291 miles ‘along’ the Cambrian Way, taking my total to 1002 miles in all.


I can’t believe I’ve completed this challenge by mid October, when I was fully expecting it to take me to December and that I might even have to add some of my dog walks to make up the distance!


It’s been great to have a challenge to work towards, especially in these interesting times, but I’m not sure I’d do any more.  While it has been great to have a challenge to work to, it feels weird to finish a ‘race’ with no finish line or crowds, and I don’t really feel like I deserve the medals I’ve been sent.  For instance I ran 5 miles today and finished my challenge about half way through, but there was no acknowledgement of this, no fan fair, no finish line to run over, I just kept running till I got home.

I’m not a big racer, but I am looking forward to being able to sign up for races again and running with crowds and other runners.


For now I’m going to have a week off then see how far I can get in the next 2 ½ months.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Mystical Lanterns Crochet Scarf

In January, looking back at last year, I realised that I hadn't done any crochet at all!  And with no cash to spend on crafting, I had a look through what I already had to decide on my next big project.

My eye was caught by a kit I was given a couple of years ago for a crochet scarf from Janie Crow, and off I went.
Except I didn't as it was supplied with Coop Knits 'Sock Yeah!' wool which, while very nice, comes in hanks and had to be turned into balls first.  My first couple of attempts turned into tangled messes before I read how draping the wool on the back of a chair makes this easier. 

(The tangled messes came on my daily commute on the train, to be untangled while I listened to podcasts.)
So after a week of evening winding I finally was ready to start.

Except I'd forgotten how to crochet, so had to watch a YouTube video to remind me.  Then I really was finally ready to start.
I had to make 94 lanterns, joining them into strings, that were then attached to each other before a fringe was attached to each end. 

It's a pretty scarf and I'm pleased with how it came out, but to be honest it was a bit of a tedious project, from winding the wool, to the repetitive nature of the lanterns, to stitching them all together and adding the fringe.  That's probably why it had been sitting on my shelf for so long.
But it's done now (March) and was supposed to make a great Mother's Day gift - a light scarf perfect for indecisive spring weather.  However I didn't get to meet with my mum for Mothers Day and so I have saved it for her birthday in October.   
She was very happy with it and loved the range of colours included, meaning she'll be able to wear it with many different outfits.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Another Maddox the Mischievous Monster

I received this knitting pattern last Christmas and enjoyed making him.  But then I started to wonder what he would look like if he was made from fluffy wool?
Only one way to find out!
He was slightly harder to knit using the Sirdar Snuggly Snowflake DK wool, (if you drop a stitch you won't be able to find it again) but he's come out so well.
Milo thinks he's lovely, but he's actually for my dad who loves a knitted critter.  It was so nice to see his grin when he opened up his present and found this inside!

Saturday, 12 September 2020

More Face Masks

In May I made myself a couple of face masks in case we had to start wearing them in public.  Which actually became a thing.  I was quite pleased with them, and I have been wearing them when out and about, but I have to say they are a little annoying when you need to pop in somewhere quickly as you have to stop to tie them on (and you need both hands), and they are a little hard to breath in.

So I had a look for a different sort of pattern and came across the Olson face mask pattern. The beauty of this design is it uses hair bands round the ears so I didn't have to find/buy any elastic or make more ties for round the head.

Also the pattern and video are so easy to follow it took no time as all to make both masks.

I've spent most of the morning wearing mine - so many errands!  And it was really comfortable and easy to breath in, although my ears did get tired after a while.

So now I have even more choice about what mask to wear depending on what I'm doing and where I'm going.  Plus this is such an easy design to make I can easily make myself more, if I need to wear one more often than I am at the moment.

Mine is made from old pyjama bottoms while 'im outdoors' is made from off cuts from the t-shirt I made a while ago. (and yes I've had a hair cut - love it so short!)

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Dog Bells

We're finally working on our kitchen which is really exciting.  I can't wait to have it finished!  However we have come to the conclusion that we won't be able to have a dog flap in the new kitchen. 

Milo has a trick of opening doors, which is fine in the summer, but less good in the winter as he's not very good at closing them after himself.  So we put in a dog flap for him which meant he could come and go as he pleased and we didn't have to keep getting up to close the door after him.

Talking to a colleague they told me they were training their dog to ring a bell when it wanted to go outside.  I did a bit of research and found this is a thing!  So I bought some bells from the local wool shop, and attached them to a broken lead (he chewed through it) to create a set of bells that can be hung from a door.

The idea is that he will then ring the bells when he wants to go out and won't scratch the new doors.  It also has the added benefit of being able to take it with us when we visit people and hanging it on their door.

So the only thing to do now is to teach him how to use it.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Knit, Steek and Cuddle Cushion

When I was clearing out my study to make room for the new chest of drawers, I came across a cushion pad that I'd sort of forgotten about.  As soon as I found it I knew exactly which project it was bought for - the really cute Knit, Steek and Cuddle cushion.

I can't remember where I found the patter but the delivery note says I bought the cushion in 2017!  I except I chickened out once I found out it was knitted in the round and included steeking (cutting your round knitting to make a flat piece).

But I've learnt more skills since then and although I'd not done a steek before, knitting in the round no longer holds any fear for me.  And actually while I was a little nervous about cutting my knitting, once I found out that you reinforced the cut line with crochet I wasn't too worried about that either.


And not only did I learn how to steek I also learnt how to do an i-cord bind off and how to use an i-cord bind off to create buttonholes.  Skills I am sure I will use in the future.  And I made more space in my study.  Win win! 

I used Stylecraft Special double knit in white, cloud blue, denim and midnight and actually really enjoyed the knitting.  It's made in three pieces which are then sewn together.  So while I really enjoyed the knitting I hated the sewing together.  It just seemed to take forever and I couldn't seem to get it to look nice.

Now it's all done I am so happy with this cushion cover.  I think the pattern is so pretty, I love the colours and I could happily have the back on show as much as the front.  It will make a lovely addition to the family of cushions slowly taking over the front bay window seat, although I think Milo will have something to say about this, that also being his favorite seat.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Virtual Running - part 4

Today I finished my 3rd virtual running challenge - running 277 miles along the Grand Canyon.  Of course I haven't actually been running at the Grand Canyon, just the Hampshire country lanes round where I live.
But they have been good runs.  In sunshine and rain, surrounded by bird song and with the odd wildlife encounter, like the fox who dashed out in front of me this week.
But with only one more challenge left to make 1000 miles (291 miles along the Cambrian Way), I am starting to wonder - just how far can I run in a year?

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Kumihimo Beaded Gifts

Mothers Day got screwed up this year, what with not actually being allowed to see her due to coronavirus.  And then I kinda changed my mind about what gift I was going to give her.  Once I'd tried beaded kumihimo I knew she would love a pretty bracelet and I wanted to try something a bit different - what about a glasses cord?

The bracelet was easy.  As I went through my cupboards at Easter I found I actually already had some beads.  And I knew she would love these colours so I just made it up based loosely on a pattern from my book.

Tiny size 15 beads against regular size 8 beads
But if I was going to make a cord to hold glasses I would need something smaller.  So I found the finest cord you can kumihimo with, and some tiny size 15 beads and had ago.  The worst part was threading them all onto the cord.  I lost count of how many jumped across the room never to be seen again.  But I quite like the end result.  It's 30 inches long and has a nice feel to it.
If I tried it again I think I could go up a bead size so you can see less cord, but the colours match so I'm not too worried.
Both came out really well and she loved them.  Even if it was about 4 months late.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

More Little Knitted Hats

Monster hat

In-between everything else I've continued to knit little hats for The Big Knit. They are fun to do and I like that you can change the pattern slightly to make it your own, for instance I made my monster hat out of fluffy wool as that seemed to suit a monster better.  Plus I gave him a smile.  Why can't monsters be happy?

And I found some yellow wool I'd forgotten all about, so was finally able to make my banana hat!

Banana hat

My only disappointment is that some of the patterns aren't written very well so they miss out important instructions about casting off, or how to join things etc.  As a reasonably experienced knitter that hasn't been too much of an issue for me, but I imagine new knitters might find this a problem.

Tiny zion lion hat

A berry fancy hat

With love hat

Dinosaur hat

Juicy pear hat

Woolter melon hat