Saturday, 24 August 2013

Making things

Well I still haven't made myself anything but I did eventually get around to finishing up the Monster Moggy (another pattern from 'Knitted Cats and Kittens' by the fabulous Sue Stratford- ). Here he is:

He's a bit bigger than I expected- about 20cm tall- so he's turned into a kind of household familiar and guards the front door. I'm on the way to finishing up another of Sue's cat patterns, a crazy stripey creature and great for helping to get through a stash. I think I'll be making quite a few in a variety of colourways so watch this space...

The last week or so I've also turned my hand to a spot of jewellery making. Fabric brooches to be exact. They've been a lot of fun to make and are another stashbusting project as you can use up all those bits of felt, old t-shirts and random buttons and beads. Here are a few:


So much still to do but it's almost the end of the summer holidays. Next weekend I will treat myself to a last session of sewing before life gets too hectic and the table has a permanent covering of the kids' homework and resources for my work.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Been a Long Time

At last! Blogspot will let me post something! To be absolutely truthful, I've only had problems trying to write and post something this week; before then life has just got in the way.

I got very busy leading up to the end of term and also went through another (lengthy) bout of insomnia but it didn't stop me running. Now I am almost at the end of my get fit again training and although I didn't quite make it to running 10 miles I can do 7 miles in an hour which is pretty good going consdering the state I was in 6 months ago. So it would seem that I am a stronger, faster runner than before. After the coming week running will take a back seat while I focus on strength and flexibility for a couple of months. Then, well, I have a challenge in mind...

It's been a strange summer. I have hugely enjoyed the hot unlike many of my fellow countrymen. My heat-induced euphoria has been tempered by the fact that the garden has of course wilted and it's not been easy to get things to grow well. Salads have bolted, the heat came a bit late for the beetroot, and the broad beans were disappointing. But the basil that survived slugs is flourishing and we've had some fantastic homemade pesto. I'm not holding out much hope for the tomatoes though. I think the hot and dry weather came a bit late for them- but you never know. It's always fun planting seeds and seeing what happens.

Knitting, like blogging, has also taken a back seat over the last couple of months. But I have got a bit of sewing done and come up with some lovely things for my girlies. A couple of t-shirt dress projects and a fab skirt inspired by a photo seen on

T shirt dress for youngest

8 panelled skirt inspired by hideousdreadfulstinky

A-line dress made free-hand. It's a bit untidy but youngest loves it!

I think it's time I made myself something now!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Steady progress

I'm trundling along with training. Visits to the gym have lapsed a bit and I'm only making it there once a week to do some resistance training and once a week for interval sessions on the treadmill. Outside it's been mostly warm and humid and often breezy so road running has been hard work. Still, on Monday I did my longest steady run yet- covering 5.5 miles in 45 minutes! Perhaps I pushed myself a little too much as I've been a bit sore and achy since. It's strange though, that although I'm the same weight as this time last year I feel heavy when I run. Maybe that's down to doing light weights once a week- although I don't bulk up resistance training does make me feel bigger. I'm reluctant to stop all resistance work though since I have to keep my future health in mind: the thought of being a feeble old lady with multiple spinal fractures is a sobering one so I'd better keep my musculature strong so as to place less stress on the bones.

What else? Nothing. Life is a treadmill of work, running/training, kids, housework and neglected knitting projects. O, and trying to keep a bit of yoga going too. I need some fun...

Monday, 17 June 2013

17 June

It's been a while since my last post- I've just been too busy. Trying to take regaining my fitness seriously means the afternoons are a crazy rush of training, school run, sometimes work, all the usual domestic and kids stuff. Days have been too long: 14 hours of non-stopness is usual at the moment. Yoga, sewing and nearly all knitting have disappeared from my life as I just can't do everything and those are things I need to do when not exhausted.

I did my longest non-stop run today since all the injuries and illness started last September. 4.6 miles in 40 minutes! I'm acutely aware of the lack of muscle tone compared to how I was 9 months ago, but I seem to be a stronger runner even if a little flabby. It's not easy sticking to the letter of my training plan- I always want to push myself that bit further- but I know I really must do things by the book if I'm to stay injury free.

In between all the franticness I had to make a wedding present for a friend. It was a labour of love, sweat and tears but worth it in the end:

Isn't she beautiful? Thanks again to the wonderful Sue Stratford- the pattern is from her Knitted Meerkats book

Friday, 31 May 2013

Spring at last!

There is nowhere as heartachingly beautiful as an English hedgerow in May. A froth of cow parsley, joyful buttercups, a haze of tiny speedwell. The grasses are tall, a few poppies dancing among them and the nettle flowers are quietly elegant. Bluebells late to flower struggle up through it all. The hazy sun has turned the dandelion clocks silvery, and unexpectedly I happen on a patch of knapweed, shocking almost in its blueness.

At home in the garden early this evening a blackbird is in his usual spot atop next door's chimney singing his heart out. None of the great composers of opera wrote anything so vital and beautiful as that song.

I love the sight, sound and smell of it all. I have lived on three continents and nothing can compare to this. The love of it is a physical pain yet also a comfort, like coming home after a long absence.

And I am really running again! For now I have a goal over the next 3 months of getting to a reasonable 10 miles. I saw the consultant today and she says I can run. My hips are ok, spine not so good. I'm living with the fear of a spinal fracture and cannot have that fear confirmed or allayed until I get scanned again in 2-3 years. That's not great to deal with but for now it is spring and I can run.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Quietly Getting On

It's been a little while since I last posted here. The dreadful news from Boston really shook me. Running for me is a fundamental expression of the joy of being human- what better way of rejoicing in having legs than going for a run? Runners do no harm so why hurt them.

I should be running my first marathon this coming Monday except I'm not allowed to. If I were to entertain the thought of just having a go anyway the last 8 months of injury, illness then more injury have had a huge impact on my fitness and I would do so much harm to attempt a long run. But I've now completed 3 weeks of training back at the gym and that feels positive. I've even managed 3 fartleks of an hour each. No sprinting though, just brisk walking and a gentle run when it's felt right. At a gentle pace running seems to be ok although so far I can't manage more than 5 minutes of it.

Knitting and sewing have had to go on hold- it's a struggle to be back at work, keep up my training schedule and look after the children and run the house let alone do any of the 'crafty' things I find so restorative. But I've spent a bit of time in the garden (for health reasons I need to spend time in the sun) and have some vegetable seedlings going- so far broad and purple climbing beans, carrots, beetroot and salad leafs are planted out. Waiting on the Swiss chard to get a bit bigger and we'll see if this year will be better for courgettes...

Friday, 12 April 2013

Time to get on

Valentino Cat has been knitted, sewn together and put in the post. He was a delight to make and I really enjoyed the little details in the knitting like the W&T in the tail to get the perfect shape. Here he is:

He's from the fabulous Sue Stratford's latest book 'Knitted Cats and Kittens'.

Today I returned to the gym after about an 8 week absence. It wasn't easy to make myself go but once there it was fine and I enjoyed training. I'm going to get some advice on the best sort of training I can do in order to get back into something resembling shape whilst avoiding impact and not overloading my body with weights. It's going to be hard work but once I'm back in the routine of training on set days it will get easier. Eventually I'll be in better shape too. Really important just in case I have to have a hip replacement.

On the suggestion of a friend I tuned in to the Sewing Bee program on iplayer the other evening. I have always been terrible at sewing (although as enthusiastic as I am terrible!) but now I am inspired to try a bit more than cobbling together costumes for whatever theme day is happening at my children's school. Yesterday I went and bought some lovely cotton fabric and I shall settle down this evening to make a couple of simple skirts. It's not cheaper than buying from the shops, but these days it's getting harder to find things I like or things I think are suitable for the children. I'll keep you posted on my sewing exploits!

...and then I made this. Found the instructions for this on the great interweb- from a blog entitled Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom. There are some great things out there on blogs by mums in the USA. I don't think I did too badly for a first attempt!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Of Cats and Chickens

It's a busy time for knitting. Unexpected weddings and thank yous require gifts. The chicken tea cosy is completed and so is a wine bottle cosy. A delightfully fluffy cat is in progress.

The bottle cosy is the perfect project for a lone ball of Noro. I just love making the chicken and will do another one just as soon as the cat is finished.

Out walking today suddenly there are violets and shepherd purse in the grass. Perhaps spring has finally arrived!

Saturday, 6 April 2013


We're back again after a few days with my parents by the sea. It was good to walk on the cliffs and feel space around me.  Although I dislike being in water I need to be around it; I was born on the coast and until adulthood always lived near the sea so it must be in my blood. One of the most difficult things about the visit was seeing all the runners. The coastal walk I go into the habit of doing makes the most wonderful short run and of course I can't run any more. Walking is great but I can easily disengage from it- running is utterly absorbing and the movement becomes a kind of meditation. As runners passed me I felt caged and irrationally angry.

I have discovered how dependent I've become on regular yoga practice. Being unable to practice whilst away even for a few days I've lost so much mobility in my back and hips. Of course I'm trying not to attribute this to a sudden increase in osteoporitic problems- it's almost certainly the result of almost 13 hours of driving in just 5 days and my current episode of insomnia. But I'm doing a little yoga each day again repeating the mantra of start from where you are not where you think you ought to be. Yoga is never about ought or should. Some days will be flowing, others a struggle- just like days are in other respects.

As if seeking comfort I have returned to an old favourite of a knitting pattern. I have been using it for several years now and the current one is turning into the best I've made yet. As they used to say on TV- here's one I made earlier:

This was knitted a couple of years ago for a wedding present. Received with bemusement I think! Thanks to Sue of for the pattern.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

I've trodden on my own dreams, it would seem. On Thursday I was told that I have osteoporosis and that I have to stop running. Devasation, shock and incredulity scarcely begin to describe my feelings since then. It's ben snowing since about midnight and looks like snow has set in for the whole weekend- I'm too scared to leave the house in case I fall. Suddenly old age has hit me yet I'm only 41.

I was never much of a one for WB Yeats, but I looked at this earlier this morning and changed my mind. I think it has much of the simple directness of Seamus Heaney- a poet I very much admire.

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Baby Steps

My new resolution is to manage a fast walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Today I went out for a bit longer as I badly needed to get away from never-ending housework (it still hasn't all got done but I've now given up for the day). I was out for an hour and three times managed very short bursts of a gentle jog. By my standards a pretty poor effort at jogging but compared to so many people I see out, not so bad. But the main thing is I could go faster than a walk! It wasn't pain free but the discomfort was minimal as long as I didn't push it for more than 30-60 seconds. Sometimes I tried it and really couldn't, but it is progress.

And it bodes well for helping me get back in shape. Although the worst pain has been gone for a while now, I still haven't been able to completely get rid of the lurgy. It's not too bad now though so hopefully I can get back to the gym at last, too! The absence of training means I've had to put away some of my favourite Metalicus things because right now they feel just a little bit too clingy :-(

In other news: Far too many knitting projects vying for my time right now, with the unsurprising result being nothing is actually getting finished.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


So, physio has discharged me because he has fixed the problem he found in my back but it hasn't fixed my running injury in my hip. Maybe the bone scan results will shed some light on what's going on there. In the meantime I can manage a 30 minute fast walk now with a hill or two, and I'm trying very hard to do that each day. It's not easy to be motivated because to me going for a walk just doesn't feel like 'proper' exercise even though I do walk pretty fast. I'm continuing with daily yoga too. Often just 20 minutes but I guess that even a short session of something very gentle and restorative can only be a Good Thing.

I am distracted with LOTS of knitting projects I want to do as well as things I've promised people I'll do. I really have to get started on the bridal meerkat and this weekend need to do some knitted cupcakes for work (we're doing a unit on healthy living). Currently making a large green spider and I just found a really splendid pattern for a fly on that most fabulous site

But this is what I found and bought yesterday:
There are the cutest dinosaurs imaginable and I just want to make them all!

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Well, running remains off the agenda. I have  tried to look for small mercies; today was the MK half marathon and it snowed much of the morning so I'm glad I wasn't running in that!

Earlier in the week I went for a bone scan and from what the radiographer let on I have osteopenia. That was very surprising since I've been keeping fit regularly for years and always included some kind of bone-stressing activity. I guess I haven't been eating as much dairy recently and I do drink alcohol (but not to any kind of excess) so maybe my diet is to blame. And the lack of sun here in the miserably cold and wet and gloomy UK. Whatever the cause I have an uncomfortable 10 day wait now to see my GP to get the results of the scan.

It's hard not to feel completely beaten by this. My mood is low because of the lack of exercise and the associated changes in my figure, and it just feels like one set back after another.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Too much knitting!

A busy week for knitting. I had to make a Where's Wally hat for a friend, I started a dress for youngest's teddy, and to make up for having to knit boring stuff I made Alexander Beetle yesterday. Here he is:

The eyes are from buttons I'd bought to go on a chicken, but they are very good as beetle eyes.

I've gone a bit googly-eyed from so much needle work this week so might have to lay off for a few days. I wonder what would be fun to make next...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

What a week!

It's the end of half term and the end of a very busy week indeed. Today as part of our year's investigation into the celebrations of other cultures we had our own version of Purim and the end of Lunar New Year festivities. As a bit of extra multicultural spice, youngest insisted I make curry for our celebration meal.

Two sorts of curry, and cocktail umbrellas in the girlies' drinks. Plus party poppers.
We did attempt Hamantaschen. The children each made a fruit filling and I made the pastry. I think it ended up more free-style than the tradtional shape, but it was fun. And as far as the pastry went, not a soggy bottom in sight!

In stitching news: Today I finished mummy and baby platypus and have almost made a Fuschia Groan outfit for eldest for the upcoming World Book Day. We're dressing up for it at work too but I miss out this year as I have to be in hospital that day. Boo. I love dressing up!

Platypuses. I got the nostrils in the wrong place!
 Running news: I haven't been able to train for 3 weeks now, but this weekend I have been pain free for the first time! Physio is booked for the coming week but if I can I'll try a 10 minute gentle run tomorrow just to see what happens. Competing in the marathon in May is looking unlikely but right now I have to settle just for getting fit and strong again and maybe find another marathon to attempt later in the year.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


It's been a while. Busy at work, seemingly never-ending lurgy sapping my energy, treatments for my running injury, huge rearranging of the space at home... One of those times where one is really busy indeed but has nothing of interest to say. I could wax lyrical about being able to hang the washing outside for the first time in months and actually bring it in dry at the end of the day. A most ordinary event but one that always gives me a tiny glow of hope: warmer, brighter weather is on the way.

Towards the end of last week the crocuses suddenly appeared. One day there were faint spikes of purple and yellow and the next the garden was full of ankle-high floral fireworks. Even the primroses have got going. The daffodils remain reticent though. In another fit of optimism I dug out a pack of broad bean seeds and planted the lot, then tipped all the remaining orange thyme seeds onto another seed tray and stuck them in the propagator. Maybe this year will be better...

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Ups and Downs

It was a very busy weekend. There was the usual rush on homework (and the usual tantrums from my eldest!). My 6 year old produced a fantastic piece of writing for her Fire of London project. Apart from asking me for some spelllings she did it all by herself. Here's  page of it:

She used speech marks, exclamation marks, a semi-colon, complex connectives, paragraphs and some wonderful vocabulary. Where did it all come from?!

As well as homework we did lots of Chinese New Year activities- dragon making, colouring in of snakes and dragons, fortune cookie baking- although as usual I ended up on lantern-making!

What about running? Runing remains off limits and I spent the weekend in so much pain. With the children at home and needing attention most of the time I barely found time to do any stretching. Yesterday I finally managed 2 short yoga sessions and that has made so much difference. This morning I was even up extra early to fit in a short burst of yoga. I think the half an hour spent teaching dance to some of my year 5 children this afternoon was a bit much though as I can feel my hip in particular really tightening up now.

Time now to get out the mat and undo the damage of the day.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Friday, hoorah!

Yesterday was just really busy.

Today I went for a treatment to see if I can get this running injury fixed. Interesting to have my suspicions confirmed as to the cause. Somehow I just have to find the time for stretching 2-3 times a day. Fitting in one yoga session a day is easy- but as I can hardly move first thing in the morning making time for a second session will be a challenge.

In other news:
Here's the honey bee I made the other day.

 I made a butterfly yesterday but I don't like it. The wings haven't come out right even though I followed the pattern exactly. Tomorrow I might treat myself to a trip to the fabulous Knitting Hut ( and get some new yarns so I can make a fly or a bumble bee.

In the meantime it's time to prepare for Chinese New Year...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Heavy things

Since running is out the window for now I've decided to try to rekindle my love for weights. I used to love using weights and found the discipline and rhythm of it almost meditative. What I didn't like was that once I got very fit and strong it made me a bit agressive. Since I've been running and practising yoga regularly I prefer the fluid movement I find in those activities rather than the slightly edgy way I have of moving when I train with weights a lot. But not being able to run has meant I've lost so much muscle tone that it's time I did something about that. I'm hoping that if I stick to light weights and continue with regular yoga practice I can rebuild strength without losing freedom of movement.

Inspired by my children's karate teacher, Sensei Gareth, ( I'm also trying hard to eat more mindfully. I don't need to lose weight but not being able to take the kind of exercise I'm used to makes it doubly important to take care of what I eat and make sure it's all good stuff. Being vegetarian (more or less) I can't follow even a modified paleo diet, but I can eat more fruit and rely a bit less on toast! I've completely failed on the alcohol front though. Wine helps to suppress this horrid cough that I can't quite shift and it does work well with ibuprofen to dull the hip pain.

On a lighter note, I'm now knitting a honey bee.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Lurgy continues. At work there's me coughing and lots of the children coughing so the classroom is even noisier than usual! And there are 16 very excited children eagerly anticipating a lesson in Victorian dance. To prepare for next week's trip to Holdenby House ( I'm teaching them to dance a quadrille. Specifically the Lobster Quadrille. With instructions such as 'lobster your partner'  and  'grand starfish all the way home' it should be a hoot.

Can you tell what it is yet? It's the start of the latest project. Watch this blog for updates!

And here is the finished caterpillar. I altered the pattern slightly which I think works better.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Progress, perhaps

Well the running's on hold for now. Managed to get an appointment with my GP who's ordered a bone density scan and things so although nothing is happening right now at least things are moving in the right direction. This evening I tried out a new yoga DVD (Christine Felstead) which is aimed at runners. It was ok though not quite what I was expecting. It's a faster pace than the other DVDs I have (all Barbara Benagh who is just great) with a few new poses and so I can cover more ground in less time so to speak.

In the meantime I've started knitting a caterpillar for my latest project. I'm a bit concerned that in DK yarn it's going to end up a bit bigger than I want but as I've not used the pattern before I can only knit it and see. The green I'm using is a bit yuck- a kind of silky cotton sort of texture but I'm using some fluffy very fine yarn with it for a bit of interest. The pattern is from
although I have the UK edition.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Finishing projects

Another dreadful day as far as running goes- I've been in so much pain yesterday and today it's left me in tears. Time to pay up and see the osteopath again. Anything to get a diagnosis and a plan of action to fix things. Right now a marathon in May looks like an impossibility.

But I've finished the cushion cover! It hasn't turned out quite right but I think it'll be ok. And I'm well on the way to canibalising a skirt from the charity shop and making it into a Victorian apron for our Victorian day at work. I have some lovely frilled broderie anglaise-type stuff for trimming it.

Here's the front of the cushion. It does rather look like an enormous hedgehog!

And the back of the cushion.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Downs and ups

Yesterday was a Bad Day. I knew I shouldn't run so walked the required time instead. A couple of times I really wanted to break into a gentle run and tried- agony. A whole new pain. Maybe I'm doing the wrong thing and should just give up running.

To console myself I almost managed to finish up the current knitting project- a cushion cover using the Katia Rizos yarn. Just a few rows left and I need to choose some lovely buttons. Photo to come when it's all finished. Maybe then I should knit myself some new legs.

Friday, 1 February 2013


Day two of being off work. I hate being ill. Yesterday I didn't even feel up to knitting, that's how bad it was. Today I hate being ill even more because I should have a training run today. The thought of a horrid red square showing a missed run is galling. I know I shouldn't even contemplate training today but I so very badly want to get out and run!

I wonder if yoga counts as cross training? I've seen this subject debated on various running forums and I guess in the end it depends on each person. Recently I've begun 'mindful running'- instead of running with an empty mind I try to stay focussed on posture, stride, core, and free muscles. It is much more tiring because of the mental effort, but I think it has improved how I run. Because of this I think that for me yoga does count as cross training. The poses stretch and strengthen muscles, and the practice of minfulness (which is after all an essential element of yoga) will have a beneficial effect on mental fitness and balance.

The mental side of running and physical fitness is complicated for me. If I'm running lots, as I was last summer, I feel great physically and mentally. Almost invincible. If I feel down then muscles tighten, I get inury problems, get more down because I can't run and my whole well-being spirals down. If I can return to regular yoga practice I hope to keep that negative spiral under control. Easier said than done though- work, children, running the house all need my attention. It's hard to find a quiet place in the day.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Small steps

After several rubbish months of injury I've tentatively resumed training for my first marathon. This week I managed 40 minutes for my longest run, covering all of 6km. A far cry from what I could do last August (inlcuding a lovely 14 miles along the Tarka Trail!) but I keep reminding myself that 8 weeks ago I couldn't run a step. Literally and metaphorically I have to take small steps.

This year I intend to get serious with knitting but also to know my limits and stay away from sensible projects.  Scarves are fine as long as the yarn is daft, but I have a project in mind that involves knitted slugs...