Tuesday, 21 September 2021

NNSA Bronze Navigator Award with Pied A Terre Adventures

 This year I am 40 and I have many plans on how I will celebrate this fact, however things haven't gone quite to plan due to Covid.

One idea was to run the Shipwrights Way, a 50 mile set of trails from the oak forest of Alice Holt to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which commemorates the journey the wood from the forest took to be made into ships.  I was aiming to split the run over a couple of weekends and enjoy the run through the Hampshire countryside.

But while I am pretty confident running on the roads, I find trails a little worrying, as what the map says and what the trail does don't alway match, and when running you are moving that little bit faster so getting lost can happen that bit quicker.  To try and help boost my confidence I wanted to go on a navigation course to help me have the best experience possible, and hopefully not get lost.

Of course Covid was the first issue, but then I also hurt my foot in March which meant a break and some rehab before I could even consider running so far again.  Frustrating!

Anway, this weekend I finally got to go on my navigation course.  I'd decided if I was going to do a navigation course I should at least get a certificate for my effort and had signed up for the NNSA Bronze Navigator Award with Pied A Terre Adventures, based on the South Downs. 

I turned up on the Saturday morning with the specified map and a pack full of spare clothes, first aid kit and lunch, but unsure what to really expect.

What I found was our leader Rich, and two other ladies eager to learn how to get the most from our maps.


It was a pleasant start as we sat on some picnic benches in the sun to go over the basics of map reading before going into the woods to start putting things in to practice. 

While we did cover some stuff I already knew, we covered so much more that I didn't.  By the end of day one I had a really good set of 'tools' to use on my walks and runs to help give me confidence that I was in the right place and about to take the right track.

Rich showed us how to really read the map, so it wasn't just some paths and roads, but all the other features along the route that you can tick off as you go and confirm you are on the right path.  He also showed us how to pace and time our walks so you have a good idea when you are about to get to key points on the trail.


I positively floated home with a head stuffed full of great information.

Day two was a very different day.  Standing on top of the Downs with a cold wind blowing and spotting with rain, I was glad of my gloves and waterproofs.  It was also a doing day as Rich set us locations to navigate to and we walked in the pouring rain around a pretty beech forest.


It didn't rain all day and I easily hit 10,000 steps.  Although I was tired, it was great to cement some of my learnings from the day before.  And it was a great feeling when Rich told me I'd passed with flying colours.


I've grown up looking at maps, but what I really loved about this course was that Rich gave me access to parts of the map that I've never used.  There is so much more information there that I've never seen before and now I know how to use it.  It's a very powerful feeling.

Everything we did over the two days was aimed at walkers, so I now just need to work out how to convert that so I can use it for running - I hope my timings will be quicker.  I'm really looking forward to using my new knowledge going forward for runs and walks, although I'm not sure what Milo will think if we have to keep stopping to look at maps on our walks.


With a bit of practice I hope to run the Shipwrights Way next year now.

I'm also now pondering the Silver Award.  I like the idea of learning how to use a compass to navigate without trails...

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

The Sky Blanket - August

 I've found it pretty hard going this month.  I think there are two reasons.

1. I had hoped, as it's August, that there would be lots more blue in this months additions.  I've found all the grey a little wearing.

2. I've been distracted by knitting a jumper.  I'd much rather spend my time on something that is nearing completion and I want to start wearing!

But I got there in the end.  Only 5 months and 7 rows to go!

Monday, 30 August 2021

Pink Memories Jumper


I really want to knit myself jumpers that I can wear every day.  But my first attempt, although it fitted was too tight and not quite what I had it mind.  So while I've had this pattern (the original design is in pink, hence the pink title, I'm tempted to try a pink one soon) for a while now, I've been a bit put off trying it due to that first experience.

However since then I have made my friend a jumper that did fit, and several cardigans that also fitted nicely.  I'd also fallen in love with the light grey wool I've been using in the sky blanket.  It's Stylecraft Special DK in silver and it's so soft and a lovely colour.  I just had to try it. 

This time I took my pattern into the local wool shop and spoke to the lovely lady there.  She talked me though measuements and doing a proper tension square.  I ended up doing three as the suggested needle size was way too small for my knitting style!


Then with everything ready I got going.  And it came out so well!  I am totally in love with this jumper.  The drape is lovely and it feels so soft.  I also love how swapping between garter stitch and stocking stitch makes the back just a little longer naturally as you knit in the round. 


I've got several patterns from this designer and now I know its possible to knit a beautiful jumper, they are going to be much higher up my list of projects.  It's very exciting, I can't wait to knit more.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

A Bonsai Tool Roll


As I've started to do more bonsai, so my collection of bonsai tools has grown.  So I decided to make a tool roll for them to make it easy when I want to go out into the garden and use them, rather than having to pick up a selection of loose tools.

I had an old pair of jeans which a hole in the bum - the legs made a perfect 'sheet' of denim, once I'd sewn them together.  And I found a ribben from a past Christmas gift to act as a tie.

It's not perfect, but it does the job nicely, keeping all my tools safe together, and making it easy to take everything with me when I next need to work on my bonsai.  I've even left space knowing I'm likely to add to my collection in the future.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

The Sky Blanket - July

The blanket is growing, as you would expect.  As its July I had hoped for a bit more blue, but other than one week of heat wave it's mostly been sunshine and showers. 

One week of a heat wave

I thought I should record how I've been joining the squares.

I start by leaving a long tail when I finish a square - about 20cm long.

With right sides facing I then use the tail from the left hand square to sew them together.

I then continue along the line until the row is finished - always using the tail from the left hand square.

When I start the next row below, I use what is left of the tail from the left hand square above to join the square below.

I then repeat for this row - using the tail from the left hand square to join the next square, and so on.  Easy when you know how.


Sunday, 18 July 2021

A Lotus Tunic

Last weekend I was due to be a participant on a map reading course but it got cancelled due to low numbers.  I was notified a couple of weeks ahead of time so had a decision to make.  I could cancel the annual leave that I'd already booked and just have a normal weekend, or I could find something else to do with my time.

I decided on the latter.  I bought the Amy Butler Lotus Tunic sewing pattern maybe 10 years ago.  When I started reading the pattern I freaked out a bit and gave up - it looked really complicated and included a lining - something I'd never done before.  But I've made all sorts of clothing since then, the Coco dress, a pair of trousers, a t-shirt, the joni dress, and a whole bunch of other things.  So I was starting to feel a little more confident.

I'd found some lovely capri peach skin fabric (it really does feel like a peach skin) from Lulou Designs for the dress and I'd meant to try making the dress at Easter 2020, but lockdown stopped that (we got locked down before I could get all the other things needed).  But we're out of lockdown now and the shops are back open so I paid a visit to my local sewing show and the lady there was so helpful and found me a pale green cotton lawn to make the lining with. 

So last weekend, with everything prepared, fabric washed and ironed and all the other things I needed collected I started making the dress.  It was actually much easier that I thought it was going to be.  I did make a couple of mistakes where I had to unpick bits, but in general it came together very well.  I also added some pockets following a Tilly and the Buttons tutorial - they worked very well too.

I didn't quite finish it last weekend, so I finished the sleeves and hemmed it this weekend.  I'm really please with how its turned out.  However it's a bit more formal that I thought it would be, it feels like something a charactor from a Jane Austen novel would wear, not something I would wear into the office.  Of course I haven't worn a dress for over a year, so anything is going to feel more formal than my standard jeans and t-shirt right now.  Not something I have to worry about right now I guess.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

A New Running Hat

 When I first started running, years ago now, I wasn't sure how long I'd be doing it.  And as I didn't feel like a proper running I wasn't going to waste too much money buying proper running stuff.  So when it started getting cold and I realised I'd need a hat and some gloves for those early morning runs, I just got a cheap £10 set from Sainsburys when I did the weekly shop one week.

They were plain grey and did the job.  I could run in them all week then stick them in the wash with the rest of my running kit, no problems.  

But a couple of years ago the hat started to get a bit thread bare.  I'm a bit sad about that.  It was a good hat.  But I considered myself a runner now so how hard could it be to replace it?

Apparently pretty hard.  I don't know who designs them, but they don't seem to understand the concept of running and the fact it makes me sweat.  After a week of running that hat needs a wash, and yet all the hats I've bought so far have shrunk in the wash! 

So I knitted myself one.  I can't say if it will shrink yet, but it's machine washable yarn so I think it'll be ok.  Of course it's a bit warm for a hat right now, and I'm off running for a bit with a foot injury, but I'm sure I'll find out once it gets cold again.

Rather than keep it plain grey I added a little bit of detail with a yellow stripe.  I like it.  I might try some other colours next.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Carbeth Cardigan

 A few years ago I knitted the Carbeth Jumper for my friend Katie.  It's a lovely pattern and an easy knit and I added it to my list to knit myself one.  But I'm not that kean on a roll neck.  I find they itch, so I kept putting it off.

But then Kate Davies released a Carbeth Cardigan pattern.  Now the high neck wouldn't itch but I'd have the beauty of the rest of the jumper.  Win.  

So in January I got myself some wool - Paintbox Yarns in Chunky Mustard Yellow, and got knitting.  The cardigan is knitted in a different way from the jumper, but it was still an easy knit.  Until I ran out of wool in mid Feb, only to find they were out of stock and I couldn't get any more. 

I moved onto the Persian Tiles crochet blanket while I waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally in May I got more wool.  So I finished off the blanket before going back to the cardigan, which didn't take long to finish.  I then raided my button jar to find the perfect buttons, before giving it a rinse and blocking it out.

Normally I like a longer jumper/cardigan, and if I knit this again I might well add some length to the body, but I really love it and think its super cute.  It works just as well over a pair of jeans or a summer dress.  I'm looking forward to wearing it.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

The Sky Blanket - June


And the Sky Blanket continues.  I'm still managing to keep up, but our social lives are starting to pick up again as lockdown is reduced.

I thought I'd explain how I make my bumpy cloud squares today.  All my squares are knitted with double strength DK - so two strands held together, which allows me to have more colour variety.  For these squares you need 4 strands of DK.  Two of blue to make your sky and two of cloud colour - white or white and grey or just grey.


So cast on 12 stitches in sky colour.

Row 1:  Knit in sky colour.

Row 2: Purl in sky colour.

Row 3: Knit 3 stitches in sky colour, add your cloud colour and purl 3 stitches.  Make sure you bring your cloud colour to the back of your work and knit 3 stitches in sky colour.  Purl the last 3 stitches in cloud colour.

Row 4: Purl 3 stitches in sky colour, knit 3 stitches in cloud colour, purl 3 stitches in sky colour and knit 3 stitches in cloud colour.

Repeat these 4 rows 2 more times.  

Row 13: Knit in sky colour.

Row 14: Purl in sky colour.

Row 15: Knit in sky colour.

Cast off all stitches and sew in all your ends.  Leave a nice long tail of sky colour to sew into the rest of the blanket.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Beech Bonsai

I've been learning about and trying my hand at bonsai.  With two little trees sitting in pots I was very happy, then 'im outdoors bought me a present.  A beech tree he had dug up at a job.

The poor thing must be at least 5 years old, but has been hacked back a few times and looks like it didn't have much room too grow.

So I potted it up and had a proper look at it.  I cut a few crossed branches off and cut its main branched back a bit as it was getting too tall for what I wanted it for.  There was one branch which cut in, but if I could convince it to bend out, it would much inprove the shape of the tree, so I wired it up and then left the poor thing to get over the shock.  

I was very happy to see it produce leaves at the end of May.  It looked like a proper tree!  But now two of the top branches crossed over each other so I added some more wires to push them out, much improving the little trees shape at the same time.

I know that I should really cut back some of that new growth to encourage more growth but it seems to mean.  Maybe later in the year.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Persian Tiles Eastern Jewels Crochet Blanket

 Last year I was given a crochet kit for the Persion Tiles blanket in the Eastern Jewels colour way by Jane Crow.  But then COVID happened and I couldn't deal with such a big project.

This year I was working on a knitting project when I ran out of wool!  In lockdown and unable to get anymore I looked for something else to do and came across the crochet kit.

I have to say I didn't really like the colours when I first got them out.  And even when making the sections I didn't really like some of them.  It proably didn't help that quite a lot of it was made in artificial light in the evenings.  I also hated making the little crosses.  They were so hard to get even!  I had to undo the first two octagons when I'd done all of them to redo the crosses, they were that bad!

The magic happened when I started to put the pieces together.  Suddenly the colours looked great and the whole thing sang!  Seeing them in daylight also made them look much better.  This is a summer blanket.

I really enjoyed making it and look foward to using it.  The sort of thing to drape over your shoulders while sitting in the garden in the evening. Maybe on one of 'im ourdoors new benches.

Monday, 31 May 2021

The Sky Blanket - May

I had hoped for a massive block of blue this month but instead we had near constance sunshine and showers.  

This meant I finished my first 2 balls of wool, one dark grey and one dark blue.

It's definitely getting more substantial.  I'm not really looking forward to sewing in squares over the summer, however in the autumn and winter it should be a nice warm treat.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Fixing a Leather Bracelet

Years ago when I was a teenager and I finally had some money of my own and was allowed to go into town with my friends to spend it, I bought a pretty leather bracelet.  I chose this one because it was so soft to the touch.

But I didn't choose well and it didn't take long for it to 'break', where one of the leather strips had been fudged together rather than being a full strip.  It only cost a couple of pounds and wasn't the best made thing in the first place.

Being a teenager and with limited tools in my crafting armory I tried using a bit of PVA glue (at that point I used PVA for EVERYTHING) to fix it.  Which did work but left me with a hard bit in the middle of my soft bracelet and so it got stuck in my jewellery box and forgotten about.

While having a tidy up at Easter I came across it again.

I peeled the PVA off and had a look at what the actual problem was.  I have more tools in my crafting armory now.  Plus I had read about how the Japanese repair pottery with gold so you can see the repair.  I love this idea.

So I got out my favorite blue and pink thread and sewed the broken leather back together, I then wove the ends of my thread into the plaits of the bracelet so they could be seen, but would hopefully not come undone too.

So now my bracelet is fixed and retains its softness. And I have a bracelet that I can wear again.