Thursday 31 December 2020

My Second Half Marathon


This year my running focus has been to complete 1000 miles.  To complete this with 2 months to go was kinda cool, but also weird.  Although I got medals for this I still don't feel like I earned them, and I don't think I'll try this sort of challenge again.

I don't race much but I have missed it, so even though it wasn't a normal race I did take part in the Basingstoke 5k in November, a race I normally attend in May.  Run in the dark on the roads round my house I did enjoy this challenge.  I think because it was a time challenge against myself.  I knew what my 5k PB was and ran to beat it.

With that in mind I decided on one last challenge to finish 2020.  A half marathon.

I've only run one offical half (the Reading half back in 2014), although I must have done several when training for the marathon

At the time it was the furthest I had ever run and seemed quite amazing to me that I could push my body that far.  Having now run a full marathon and regularly running 10 miles for my Sunday long runs, a half doesn't seem quite so awe inspiring.  However it is still a good distance and one that needs commitment.  Also I know what my PB was so I had something to race against.

So this morning, a cold, frosty and grey day, I went out and ran 13.1 miles on the roads around my house.  I was well chuffed when I stopped my watch to find a time of 1 hour 53 minutes.  Not just under 2hr which had been my main aim, but 3 minutes faster than my half PB. 

This was a virtual race, logged with the Lonely Goats Running Club.  I love their medal and I'm very proud to have it hanging on my wall. 


Over the course of 2020 I managed to run 1271.89 miles.  I find that quite amazing.  I won't be trying to beat that number in 2021 but I hope that I can keep my mileage up in that regon. Here's to more new PBs in 2021.

Monday 28 December 2020

Gift boxes

I'd normally be blogging about the things I made friends and family for Christmas about now, however due to Covid19 I haven't seen many of these people to share gifts with and so I can't really blog about them yet, not wanting to spoil the surprise in case they look here.

But while I can't share the content, I can share one of the little gift boxes I made.  


One of my Christmas/Birthday gifts was a subscription to Uppercase magazine.  It's sent out in a cardboard envelope (it does travel all the way from Canada) and they suggest you keep the envelope to do creative things with, or just simply to re-use.

So using an old gift box that I had been given as a template I cut out and scored the shape from the envelope which gave me a beautiful gift box.  The card is thin enough to flex, without being too thin to hold its shape.  And it's good enough that the recipient could re-use it themselves if they wanted.

It's a lovely little box and I think I'll be making more.

Thursday 24 December 2020

Hand Printed Christmas Cards


This year I finally had time to create my own hand printed Christmas cards.  

I've wanted to do this ever since I spend a day at my neighbours house learning how to lino print last year.

I started by drawing out my design in my sketch book before transferring it onto my block of lino.  I then spent ages carving it out before doing my first test print.


I used way too much ink that first time, but my print still came out well and knowing that it would work, I started preparing my paper for printing.  I wanted my star to be coloured so I painted each sheet yellow first.  (the yellow is more lemon in real life)


Once they were printed I hung them up to dry and a week later cut them out and mounted them on old wapping paper before sticking to the cards.


I'm really pleased with how they've come out and I hope everyone who received one liked them too.  Maybe next year I'll be a bit more adventurous and try something bigger!


(Note to self: if you want people to know they are hand printed, you need to tell them - maybe by writing it on the back or something!)

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?