Thursday, May 31, 2007

Felting Fun

I was sorting through some old knitwear to take to the charity shop and was left with these items which weren't really in a good enough condition to sell. As they would have ended up in a jumble sale instead I decided to re-use them and have a go at felting so off they went into the washing machine for a good old hot wash!

They were all so old and matted anyway that I couldn't undo the seams so I just got busy with the scissors when they had shrunk. The first thing that occurred to me was that the yoke from my fairisle cardigan would make a smashing rug for the cats so I cut it out like this. I think I'll just add some crochet into the centre (I've got some dark blue DK yarn in my stash) and perhaps around the edge and that should be enough.

The remaining cardigans and waistcoat are destined to become tote bags of some sort. I've got a couple of shapes in mind and there's a great fringe from around the waistcoat that will make a good long shoulder strap.

A bit of Bliss (Debbie, that is!) and a bad back

Pleasure/pain, Yin/Yang, happy/sad, you get my drift?

Well, last Friday started really well. I'd emailed Debbie Bliss to let her know that it was her 'SoHo' yarn that I'd used to knit the scarf in the London Marathon. I didn't really expect to get a reply as none of the other manufacturers I'd approached had bothered so I was very pleased when not only did she reply, but she also offered to make a donation to Alzheimer's Research Trust

Even better was that she was actually coming to run a workshop at Laughing Hens the very next day. Well, I quickly emailed Nicki to ask if she would mind if I came along before the start to meet Debbie and she very kindly agreed (I promised not to take up too much of her time as that wouldn't have been fair because there was lots of preparation to do). I wished that I could have joined the workshop but we had other plans for the day. Hey ho, maybe next time. Mike came too and became chief photographer so here I am with Debbie Bliss with some of the laughing hens in the background. It's not every day that you get to meet an internationally renowned knitwear designer!

Of course I could hardly visit a yarn emporium and come away empty-handed so I left Mike happily chatting to Debbie's husband and nipped off for a rummage. I came away with a Strawberry Tea Cosy as we're having a 'strawberry tea party' in our village at the end of June, in aid of the village church and it just seemed perfect. It shouldn't take long to knit and I'll donate it as a raffle prize.

Here comes the pain.......I spent most of friday out in the garden on the ride-on mower; 4 hours to be precise (Mike hadn't had a chance to mow for nearly 2 weeks and it was looking like a field). Now that may not sound like much work but the machine is designed for a man and I am a woman and not a very tall one at that. As a result my sitting position is not very good, my back is not supported and I have to strain to reach the pedal. By the time I'd finished I was just a bit stiff in my lower back. I was very uncomfy in bed the whole night and tossed and turned with the whole of my right side aching like mad. When I got up to go for my run the next morning I knew I wouldn't be doing any running - my Illiotibial Band was grating, my piriformis was very tender, my hamstring was tight and my lumbar spine was very tender. When I sat down I got sciatic pain shooting up my leg and bum. OUCH and DOUBLE-OUCH.

As it was only 3 weeks until my next marathon I was very worried. I do have a weakness on my right side which is from an old riding accident nearly 30 years ago - these things come back to haunt you as you get older! After the initial shock (and a certain amount of sulking and grumbling) I realised the only sensible thing to do was cancel any plans to run for a few days, take ibuprofen to reduce the swelling, stretch and ice all the affected areas. I didn't rest too much as I am a firm believer in 'active recovery' and have learnt that my back heals much quicker if it's mobilised.

On Tuseday I took a few tentative running steps and everything felt reasonably comfy so I trotted out for 5.5 miles. There was just a bit of residual soreness but nothing too bad. Yesterday I managed 8 miles and today I've just done 4.5 miles without any discomfort so I'm hoping it's healing now. I'd love to have a sports massage but will have ot wait as Mary Massage Lady has gone to France on holiday (how inconsiderate!).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

I can't believe it's been so long since I updated my blog but I've been so busy. The last couple of weeks seem to have been filled with running and decorating and little else!

This is my first attempt at crocheting with plastic carrier bags. I've used double crochet and some trebles and it's quite fun to work with. It reminds me of a fibre my mum used to use to make herself a summer bag but I can't remember what it was called. I've got quite a few balls now so will hopefully progress quite quickly. I started by using a really big hook but the stitches were too open so I've switched to a 4.5mm hook which gives a nice, close weave.

My gloves haven't progressed at all as I need to concentrate when doing them and I've been too tired at the end of each day. Next week I should be able to get on with them again. This little swatch is from an intarsia/fairisle workshop I attended at Kangaroo, near Lewes. It was very useful as I saw first hand how to do the 2-handed fairisle method which I hadn't quite mastered before. You can see my technique improve if you compare the bottom row of hearts (done at the workshop and very loose) with the top row where my tension is much more even.

I've also just purchased some yarn for a quickie project that I spotted in a previous issue of Simply Knitting magazine. The yarn is made from bamboo fibres and is a gorgeous hot orange multi. Excellent for layering over a summer vest and should knit up in no time as it's a simple stitch.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Project updates

My gloves for the KAL are coming on nicely and I have just started the thumb shaping. I made a boo-boo on the first couple of M1 rounds because I wasn't concentrating. I used the 'knit in the front and back of stitch' method without thinking and of course it left holes. DOH! So, I had to frog it and undo some rows and then redo them, making new stitches by picking up the loop between and knitting into the back of it.

I was thinking about starting another crochet project and remembered reading about someone recycling plastic carrier bags by knitting them into bags. I have now accumulated a stash of purple, green and red carrier bags from Ocado and am busy cutting them into strips ready to crochet. I think I'll start with a simple stitch such as double crochet and see what develops as I think that should make it nice and strong. I also fancy making another afghan (well, you can never have enough when you've got 2 comfort-loving cats!) so need to delve into my stash to see what colours I've got.

Must take some photos soon but I've been really busy decorating our bedroom and haven't had much time for blogging. There are curtains to be made too.

My running is going well (touch wood) and I've got my mileage back up around the 50 miles a week mark. Last weekend I ran 15 on Saturday and then 20 on Sunday (in the pouring rain and wind). This weekend will be my first ever double, with 20 on both days (gulp!) then the week after I get a step-back week where I reduce my mileage to let my body and indeed my mind recover.

The hard slog begins.......

Having eased myself back into my running schedule this week I knew I had to do a longish run this morning so it was early to bed and up at 5am this morning. Fed all the animals (except my hubby, who was, sensibly, still asleep!), had a cup of coffee and headed out of the door by 6am. I still had some 'thank you' cards to deliver in the village so I devised a route that allowed me to do them first and then headed off across country. I need to do several long runs across country to prepare for my next marathon in June which goes across the South Downs.

The weather has been so hot over recent weeks that the bitingly cold wind was rather a shock and I felt quite cold for a while. Scrambling over stiles soon warmed me up! The hardest part was negotiating the ruts in the ground (the soil is a very heavy clay here and is hard as concrete) and trying not to trip over any more tree roots - I tripped over one in the woods during the week, went flat on my face and now have a beautiful back and blue arm! I heard several cuckoos calling and realised that I haven't heard anything like as many this year. There were lots of young squirrels about too, with lovely fluffy tails. At one point I disturbed a herd of deer. I love living here!

I ran for 4 hours and did about 18 miles or thereabouts which will do. Next weekend I will be doing back-to-back long runs - 15 miles on Saturday and then 20 miles on Sunday as I have to start building my mileage up for the Kent 50 Mile Challenge in July.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Back to reality

Right, I've had a dose of the post-marathon blues last week but I seem to have snapped out of it now - just as well as I need to get back into some serious training for my next event in June; the SIS South Downs Marathon on my 50th birthday.

I forgot to upload a photo of the lovely card I got from one of my neighbours so here it is. She's an artist and is obviously very creative. She's taken an image from the London marathon website and made it into a card then she's added her own special touch - she's knitted some beautiful lace using cocktail sticks and attached it to the front. I was really touched by such a kind gesture. I chuckled at the time shown on the clock in the background - 3:18, not the length of time I ever expect to complete a marathon!

I've finally started my glove for the KAL and here it is. I'm using a Lucy Neatby yarn (the multicoloured one) and an Opal sock yarn for the contrast and I really like the way the colours look. The pattern is very absorbing and I can't believe I've never attempted to make gloves before.

I finished off my crochet bag and it's rather nice. I customised it slightly by adding 3 rows of horizontal lines (crocheting into the front of the stitch only) just for a bit of added interest. I'm using it to keep my glove project together at the moment.

Last, but not least, here's Barney who was snoozing next to me. He's forgotten to put his tongue away!