What the Garmin Stats Aren’t Saying

IMG-20140918-00181IMG-20140718-00169The running around here is beautiful. Oddly, although I’ve moved to an area that’s got forests everywhere, I run more on the roads than I used to in the middle of a village. The forests are lovely, and I would love to run in them more, but every one requires that I drive there and I just don’t have the time to spare during the day to do that.

I was thinking on my run today (3.11 miles / 5 k and it was lovely with 1 short stop) about Garmin watch statistics. I read several running blogs and follow runners on Twitter and there are always the shots of watches showing how far they ran in whatever time. I spent a long time feeling bad about being slow because of these pictures (I still do, but not because of other people, because I want to run further and faster and I’m frustrated!) and then I realised something. The stats don’t actually tell you the full story of their run.

See this chart from my watch for the run I did just before Half Term:

fallThat double dip just before 29 minutes looks like I was moving out of the road for something to pass by like I did just before 25 minutes. What you wouldn’t know by looking at this was that I turned a corner onto the road that goes downhill, relaxed and them promptly tripped and fell down grazing my left knee and calf and ripping a big patch of skin off the palm of my left hand. Yep, I carried on running, that little rise between the big dips are me figuring out if I’d twisted anything (first time I fell I ran home on a twisted ankle thinking it was nothing and was out of action for several weeks) and then deciding I was ok to carry on.

What I’ve noticed on a lot of running blogs, alongside the watch pictures, are lots of photos of what they saw on their runs.

IMG-20140904-00178Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t run and take a photo at the same time. First I have to get my phone out, swap from the music to the camera, take a shot, make sure it’s ok, swap back to music, put my phone away again and then I can run. It hit me that these bloggers are stopping multiple times during their runs, which of course gives you time to catch your breath and recover a little before carrying on. The photo above, by the way, was taken at the end of a run, it’s the bottom of the hill I live on and I walk back up as my cool down if I go this way.

I’m not saying that stopping is bad, I walk when I need to walk (or when I can’t convince myself to keep going) but if I’m able to keep running, I keep running and if things are going well I don’t care how bloody pretty it is, I’m not stopping (there were some views today I’d have loved to show you, Northumberland does great things with mist and there were some very curious calves). Also, to me, and this is a very personal thing, running a distance means running the whole thing. When I say I can run 5k I mean I can do the whole thing without stopping. Today I did run 5k, but what my stats won’t tell you is that at 1.05 miles I stopped for a wee (I’m 41 and it was raining, plus I drink too much coffee…) because I stopped my watch and then started it again when I got back onto the road. That information goes in my training diary and when I’m comparing times and distances to see how I’m doing I take that information into account.

IMG-20140718-00170IMG-20140718-00171I ran down that steep hill in the distance today, it was rather scary as it is a 10% grade and it was wet. So if I do post pictures, like the ones above taken before it rained and rained and rained and rained, you can rest assured that I was having a horrid time, or couldn’t make it up a massive hill and I had to stop running, there are no pictures of the good runs, just nice memories and motivation to go out there again in the pouring rain.

Fabric and Finishes

So, I mentioned before that I was going to a fabric sale locally. I got there nice and early with my Landlady and Landlord and was glad that I had, as by the time we left there wasn’t much left that I would have wanted to buy! I couldn’t believe how many people were there, quite amazing for such a rural area. The sale was the stash belonging to the Organiser’s Mother (who I think had passed away), and I came home with 19.5 yards of great vintage fabric for the small sum of £22.50!

002These are mainly cottons with a few synthetics thrown in.

003The fabric marked 1960′s is cotton, as is the leaf print, but the front one is sort of a crepe type fabric, medium weight. I was so glad I pre-washed the blues together when the colour catcher came out the same shade as the fabric! I guess they didn’t have as good dye fix back then!

004One of the blue florals is a synthetic that feels like cotton and the top left dotty print is stretch knit, there’s much more of it than the label says!

005Finally there’s this border print. I kept going back to look at it over and over again not knowing what I’d do with it. I still don’t, but for that price it was silly not to pick it up, a pattern will turn up for it at some point!

Apparently there is still more fabric to come and there will be another sale in the Spring! There were quite a lot of wools and some decorating fabric, I’d missed an earlier sale where the majority of the cottons and all the quilting cotton had gone, but I will be keeping an eye out for details of the next sale. The Organiser was also clearing out her Father’s wood workshop so there were men walking around with tools and pieces of wood, it was quite amusing. All the money went to charity too which is great.

A few quick finishes then, these are the October Do Good Stitches blocks, wonky log cabins made entirely from my scrap basket again.

009010And a holey dishcloth made whilst waiting for various things to happen. This one is a little bitter-sweet as I knit quite a bit of it in my Grandmother’s hospital rooms before she passed away at the age of 101.5 at the end of last month.

011I have more to show you but I think that is enough photos for today!

Consolidating

For years now I’ve had a few blogs. This has always been my main one, but I also had a vegan food blog, Vegan Food for Thought, for a while a blog where I posted a picture of what I wore every day (I took that one down a while back now) and when I started running I began a blog called Ran Anna.

When I started my PhD 3 years ago (yes, really, that long and I’m still only half way!) the food blog was the first thing to fall as I needed the time it took to photograph things and post there for my research. I’m still vegan, it’s been 10 years now, both boys are also vegan and I cook pretty much from scratch 90% of the time, I just haven’t had time to share much of it.

I began running on the 5th of September 2013, the day the boys went back to school that year. I did the Couch to 5k plan, which took a lot longer than 6 weeks for me and left me able to run for 30 minutes but nowhere near 5k! Just over a year on I can now run 5k but I want to run further and quicker so there’s a lot of work to be done.

I’ve decided that rather than separating the various parts of my personality all over the internet I will combine them all here and shut down the other blogs. I feel like it’s time to say ‘these are all the things I am’ and have them in one place rather than trying to write for individual audiences.

I’ve imported the posts from Ran Anna here, sorry if I blew up your Reader, however there are far too many from the cooking blog to import so I’ll be leaving those there and starting fresh here. I hope you’ll find the new subjects, whatever they may be, that I will be covering interesting, and there will still be plenty of knitting and sewing, but this space will hopefully reflect me better as a person who does lots of different things, rather than just one or two.

Winter’s Coming (So It’s Time For New Pyjamas)

If The Game of Thrones reference makes you think that I watch it, you’d be very mistaken. I’m a huge Sean Bean fan and the fact that they not only killed his character in the first series, but decapitated him meaning he couldn’t be pretend dead and come back later (along with the bizarre random sex and huge cast of annoying characters I couldn’t find any empathy for), put me off for good.

Anyway, it is turning colder now so it was time for new winter pyjamas for the boys as they’ve both grown out of their old pairs (I had to remove the monkey ones from Piggle’s drawer when he wasn’t looking to avoid a fit!). I am out of children’s flannel and fancied a change from the usual ‘proper’ pyjamas anyway (as well as not being able to afford to buy 8m of the stuff) so I dug into the fabric collection and along with Kwik Sew Sewing for Children and Kwik Sew 1557 for Jim’s trousers I came up with these.

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Jim isn’t a fan of race cars or baseball but I figure as he’s going to have his eyes closed most of the time he was wearing them he could live with it! The blue London pair I made for Piggle he picked the fabric for and the Dylon that I used to dye it all, the bottoms of those are a cotton velour. All the other bottoms are sherpa left over from my nappy making and selling days I still have enough left for a few years worth of pyjamas yet, or I might make some hoodies from it sometime just to use it up as it takes up one hell of a lot of room.

Anyway, both boys are very happy with their new cosy jimjams and all the sets have been worn. That’s sadly the last of that little car print, I don’t know how much I bought but I can think off the top of my head of 5 different things I’ve made from it. I took a too small t-shirt out of Piggle’s drawer in that print and he didn’t want me to get rid of it until I told him he was getting pjs using it. The rest of the tops are PRR jersey which I couldn’t be bothered to dye so white it is!

A month and a half ago or so I looked at the baskets of fat quarters and quilting fabric stacked in the sewing room and became irritated with them. I was always having to dig through them to try to find stuff and they were an annoying waste of space. So I measured the gap and went to a local antique place to see if they had anything. I came home with a lovely bamboo bookcase which has narrow shelves (think paperback size) and is therefore perfect for putting fat quarters on.

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I’m really happy with how it fits in the space and how I can now see what I have (and that I seriously need more grey fabrics, that stack is tiny). Now if I could just fine two nice comfy chairs, one for my office and one for my bedroom, and some curtains for the boys’ room we’d be all sorted… You can see from the first picture how uneven the floors are in my sewing room, I can’t actually look down the length of it from the door as the tilt makes me feel a little queasy!

The statue of the two people on the top of the shelf I got years ago from a nick nack shop, it’s called ‘Shotgun Wedding’ and the bride is very pregnant. Always makes me smile as it’s just so silly.

So, this weekend I’m going to go and look at a local fabric sale, going to a food fair and also going to try to attempt to get some sewing done. I have the Maya Shirt/Dress pattern all cut out and some fabric ready to do a test run with (I think the shirt needs more length). I also want to start cutting the linen for the boys’ quilts. 9y is a lot to cut up into small pieces and that type of major cutting is my least favourite part of quilting, I just want to sew, therefore it’s been put off for weeks and weeks, time to just get on with it. I have curtains that need making too, but my Mum is here for a few days start of next week so I will get her to help me cut them, then I can blame it on her if it all goes wrong! Just remembered I need more curtain tape too. Also just remembered that I need to do my Do Good Stitches blocks at some point this month, better make sure I spend as much time as I can in the sewing room this weekend, doesn’t look like it’s Tinder’s time to be seamed….

Hope you all get to sew and knit as much as you want this weekend!

In the Knitting Basket(s)

I’ve been blogging since July 2004, the earliest entries are embarrassing (I think everyone with a blog feels that way) and I talked a lot about gardening until I got into knitting and sewing. I’ve read a couple of posts lately that have made me feel nostalgic about how blogging used to be and the community that surrounded it, Jodi’s in particular. Her’s was one of the first blogs I ever read, and one of the few from that period that I’m still reading today.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how the way I blog and what I blog has changed over the years. There used to be a lot more progress reports along the way, now it all seems to be about FO’s and completing things, the whole getting there has disappeared. I used to update all the time about what was in my knitting basket. I now have three of them (and will buy a couple more if Ikea has some more nice ones as I like one for each project!) so I think that every now and again, semi-regularly if I can manage it, I will let you know what I’m working on, rather than just what I’ve finished.

I know that if you’re on Ravelry and have me as a friend there you can see my progress (my username is Anna, yeah, I’ve been on there a long time too!), but if you’re anything like me you tend to use Ravelry to record stuff and find new stuff to make and don’t have a lot of time to cruise through your friend’s pages, in fact I don’t remember the last time I actually did.

So, here’s what I’m working on now:

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This is Space Girl, I bought the yarn specifically for this two years ago but only cast on last month. Not sure what’s going on with that stitch to the left of the bottom of the V. Anyway, this is my desk knitting that I work on while I’m reading. I find just sitting there reading doesn’t work with my inability to actually stay still, so the knitting keeps me in my chair for longer and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. I have about another 30 cms of round and round stocking stitch to go on this, and then obviously the sleeves, so it’ll be a while, but I’m loving the way it’s looking so far and really enjoying knitting with this SMC Cotton Time yarn.

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The first Curiosity Cabinet project, I’ve done two repeats on these socks and I think it’ll be another two before I get to the heel. These are actually living in the kitchen at the moment and I’m doing a row here and there whilst I wait for things to come to the boil or finish cooking etc. I love the way they’re looking and I’m loving the new Knit Pro dpns, so non-bendy and pointy, lovely!

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This is Tinder, I’ve had this on the needles for about 18 months now, it’s been in this blocked waiting to be seamed state for about a month now, I’ve even got the buttons there waiting. I really must get on with it as otherwise it will end up waiting for Spring to be light enough to pick up the collar and the button bands in this dark yarn. Seeing Marie working on her version of this got me working on it again after a long break, now I just need that final burst of enthusiasm to get it done.

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This is a jumper for Jim, he picked out the pattern and the yarn from a local yarn shop, hard to say now when they’re so enthusiastic about you making them something and take the time to go through the pattern books! I’m adding a little length as he’s a bit taller than the largest size of this. I’m enjoying working on it and have finished the back and half the first sleeve. There is something that bugs me about this jumper though that I didn’t realise until I was too far into it to be bothered to rip it out and start again, and that’s that the cables all cross the same way rather than mirroring each other. I’m trying to convince myself it’s a design choice and not to be bothered by it, but my brain is finding it weird. I’m trying to get on with this so he can wear it this winter, it’s on 5mm needles using aran weight so it works up quite fast.

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This is the Austin Hoodie that I’ve had on my list to make forever and a day. I bought a huge amount of Twilley’s Freedom Gorgeous when Kemps had it dead cheap almost 2 years ago now, I mean tons of the stuff for different projects as I love the feel of this bamboo mix yarn and was annoyed that it was discontinued. This was my desk knitting until I got to the back and forth patterned sections (the lower body is knit in one piece back and forth, it’ll even out when it’s blocked and not scrunched up in a basket!). I knit the hood before the sleeves as I didn’t want the stitch holders catching the work or coming undone and dropping stitches like they had done a few times so now all I have left are the sleeves. For some reason I picked up 2/3 of the stitches for a sleeve and then stopped and didn’t go any further. They’re just stocking stitch after the short row shaping at the shoulder so I think it will go back to the desk once I get to the round and round bit and hopefully get this done soonish.

Also in my list of WIPS on Ravelry is Linda, however I’m not 100% sure where that project is as the moment (probably behind the table in the living room). I cast on and knit a few rows and then put it down again. I will get to it one day, it’s just not calling to me at the moment.

I found this in a basket too:

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According to Ravelry this is Cold Mountain which I cast on for in July 2012… I’m thinking that as I can’t even remember the last time I worked on this that maybe it’s time to frog it and put the yarn back in the stash where it’s apparently most comfortable as I’ve owned it for about 9 years now! One day a project will come for it I’m sure.

So, that’s where I am right now with the knitting. I do have a dishcloth on the go but there’s only a few rows left of that before I show you the FO so no point taking pictures now. There is also my crochet sock yarn blanket no. 2 which is up to date except for the Rhubarb yarn, it’s got a ways to go before it’s big enough though, maybe I’ll snap a picture soon though. I have some sewing FO’s to show you soon too and maybe I will show my next planned sewing, we’ll see. Right now Space Girl and my research are calling!

Curiosity Cabinet Challenge

A few weeks back I followed a link on Ravelry, when I should have been doing something else, and discovered a series of books called The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet.  There are three books to the series containing patterns for shawls, hats, gloves and socks. Usually when I find a collection of patterns there are only one or two that I like and want to make, this time I like everything and want to make it all. I bought the third volume first (in ebook version which works out at £13 for 18 patterns which is a bargain, plus it’s not available on Amazon over here) and have decided to set a challenge for myself.

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I am going to attempt to knit all 18 projects from this book, in the order they appear. In this volume there are 3 hats, 9 pairs of socks, 3 shawls and 2 pairs of gloves. I’m not setting a time limit on this as my last pair of socks took me 3 months and I don’t want to add more stress to my life like I felt with the 12 pairs of socks in a year challenge! I do want to make progress though, especially as I love what’s in the other two volumes too and want to knit some of those things!

The first pattern is for the Conferva Villoso Socks:

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and I will be using some Yarntopia Treasures bamboo cotton sock yarn in the Sunflower colourway.

Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo Cotton Sock Yarn

I’m just waiting for my new 2.25mm needles to arrive in the post (they weren’t there today, hopefully tomorrow) and I will cast on.

The only thing I find odd about the book is that it doesn’t list the needle sizes with the patterns, I think the designer wants you to go on gauge and use whichever size works for you and your yarn. However, they do seem to be listed on Ravelry which is helpful as it’s nice to have a good place to start from, especially when you’re substituting yarns as I always do.

Has anyone knit any of these Curiosity Cabinet patterns? I’m excited to get on with this, there are some lovely things and I’ve not knit a hat or a shawl in a long time. It’ll also be a good stash busting exercise which is always a bonus!

Christmas, Both Early and Late

This time last year I bought the pattern and things I needed for the Fifteen Degrees Quilt. I don’t know why I fell for this design so hard, but whatever it was got me to spend £15 on a ruler than I’m not sure I’ll ever use again! I had also fallen in love with some Christmas fabric, so I decided to make myself a Christmas quilt.

All was going well, the top went together nicely, I loved the way it looked. I pin basted it and got to quilting. At this point, about 25 rows of straight stitching in, using a walking foot, the quilt top and bottom had moved so much I couldn’t carry on.  Basically, as I was sewing the quilt top was sliding down the batting slowly, something that has never happened to me before. I had been ignoring it for a while and telling myself it would be fine, but once the top went over the edge of the backing there was no way I could recover from that. I was so angry and annoyed, it was November for goodness sake, I should have been home free and had a finished quilt. I folded that puppy up and stuffed it WAY into the stash and then I sulked for a good long time.

I had bought poly batting as this quilt will be stored in a box for 10.5 months of the year and it seemed like the right thing to do. It is Dream Puff, highly recommended by a lot of quilters, and I had used my usual number of pins, so why it slid like that I really don’t know.

It got moved to this house in its ball of shame and I decided that over the summer I would sort it out. I unpicked all the rows of stitching, which took forever and a day. I thought I had some cotton batting the right size, but unfortunately I didn’t, so I used the Dream Puff again and ALL THE PINS I could find. I also did my straight line stitching further apart so I didn’t end up screaming at the walls half way through (it always takes MUCH longer than you think to do straight lines, stippling in much faster).

So, off I went with the quilting full of hope, and the bloody thing shifted again. The cursing was varied and extreme and went on for a long period of time. I did not want to unpick again, so I waited until it had shifted right to the edge of the extra inch I allow around the edge of my quilts and then I changed directions. This means that there are two rows on this quilt that are puckered, this always happens when you change direction like that when quilting. But I figured after washing the quilt it would be wrinkled anyway so it wouldn’t show, and it doesn’t really. I had to do that on both sides of the quilt (I start with a row down the centre and then work outwards to one side, turn it around and work outwards to the other side). Needless to say I will never be buying this batting again.

Finally though, I do have a finished quilt which looks like this:

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The fabric is called Hip Holiday and I bought a half yard bundle of it. The grey and white are Kona solids and the pink is a Bella solid, but it’s been so long I can’t remember the names (except for the white that is!).

The backing is the pink tree fabric from this range, I was going to use the cars with trees on their roofs as that’s my favourite print, but then I realised that this was already white enough so I went with bright pink instead, because nothing says Christmas more than hot pink…

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The bed picture is just to show the size of it, it’s going on the sofa, not a bed. The binding, which I don’t seem to have a good shot of, is scrappy from all the different prints. It’s funny how often a random binding matches up to the print it’s going next to.

So, now it’s done I really like it, I’m still angry at it, but I’m hoping when it comes out of the box on December 1st that I will feel better about it and have at least forgotten, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the batting for what it put me through…

Since then I have made this month’s blocks for Do Good Stitches. These are a disappearing 9 patch and I don’t actually like what I came up with very much, I hope they work for the quilt as they fit what was asked for, guess they can’t all be something I love.

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I finished up a pair of socks yesterday, why on earth it took me three months to make these I don’t know, especially considering that the second sock took me less than a week once I got working on it. They are the AM Socks from the Sock Trio Ebook which is a free download (I want to do the other 2 pairs in the future). The yarn is Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo Cotton in Rhubarb. I’m not sure where the purple comes into rhubarb but the reddy pinks are spot on and I got over the green and purple striping after a bit.

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The ribbing is mirrored on each sock. They had the most bizarre toe I have ever worked, you did double decreases on only 2 of the needles, but it seems to work and looks ok, I will see how it feels to wear them though.

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And now, if we could have a moment’s silence for my 2.25mm sock needles that I have been using for about 10 years now. Not only are they blunt and bent but they are also bendy which makes them irritating to use and a new set is on the way to me now. Thank you needles for all your work and for the brief moment of heat you will provide when I use you for kindling in the wood burner.

And on….