February is the Longest Month

I remember why I put off blogging every single time I come here and try to upload photos, I don’t understand why WordPress doesn’t seem to be able to do it without giving me error message after error message but it makes the whole process very tedious. I am going to try using photos from Flickr from now on and see if that makes it any easier as I will only be arguing with one upload…

So, my nephew’s Birthday was in January and I made him a few things for it. First up a library bag like my sons have. This time I used some Essex denim linen for the body of the bag and I really love they way it turned out.

019Library BagI also made him some dungarees as I do love these 1970s patterns. This one is Simplicity 5050 from 1972 and I used some very thick cord that I actually bought to use for Jim when he was about 4 but never got around to!

Simplicity 5050 1972Sorry for the blurry winter pictures….

The boys went through the knees of almost all their summer pjs the second year they wore them so I couldn’t donate them to the charity shop like I usually do. It seems like a lot of fabric to just throw away though so I have it in a bag and am using it for facings and hidden bits as and when. Robots on the inside!

016I made a second pair using Simplicity 4417 from 1953. The pattern envelope was rather ratty so I was surprised when I opened it up to find that the pattern was uncut!

IMG_20150110_143718Simplicity 4417 1953Again with the pj fabric as facing, I also used a bit of bird and hedgehog ribbon to hold the strap in place.

061This pattern had an interesting way to enclose the side opening that I’d never done before. I’m not sure if I got it exactly right but it’s not too bad. The cord for these was dyed for Piggle and never used, the benefits of having a young nephew, I can use up all the fabric bits that mine are too big for!

064I decided that I’d like a new t-shirt to go with my Tinder cardigan so I pulled out a brown stripey knit and quickly whipped up a Union Street T-shirt. I found that this pattern was really long in the body and sleeves and I had to take some length off both which is unusual for me, usually I have to add to the body length.

IMG_20150131_153255I seriously did not try to match the sleeves to the body, if I had tried they would have been nowhere near. I just made sure that the sleeves matched and when I put it on the dressform I saw that they matched the body almost perfectly, very happy accident! I did match the side stripes though and I’m happy with the way it came out. It’s very comfortable and I’ll be using this again no doubt.

My next projects weren’t so successful. Everyone has been posting Linden sweatshirts left right and centre so I pulled out some fabric and had a go. There seems to be something off about the larger sizes (I made the 16) if you use ribbing. The neckline ends up all Flashdance and horrid as so.

IMG_20150201_161248The ribbing just isn’t wide enough to pull it back in, this is after I took 4 inches off the neckband and tried for a second time. I have a wider neckband cut out with the extra length taken off but I haven’t had the patience to rip this one off for the second time, the first time I was so angry I managed to rip the back piece right down the middle and had to re-cut so I don’t want to repeat that.

The other issue with it is the cuff, this doesn’t look right to me….

IMG_20150201_170439I sewed the cuffs on the first version and they are as floppy and horrible as you would expect from them being this big (I made the first one start to finish without adjusting anything as no one else had mentioned issues). I am going to have to cut this cuff down to about a size 2 to get it to fit properly.

I did ask the designer via Twitter if anyone else had had problems or if the pattern perhaps isn’t quite right for ribbing in the larger sizes. She responded asking me if I was using the right seam allowance (yes, I was) and then never replied again which has put me off buying the two other patterns of hers that I fancied, guess that’s good for saving money… I will work on these two sweatshirts when I find some enthusiasm to make them right, but I think I need to re-draft the neckline if I make any further versions as it’s just too wide in that size for anyone who might want to keep their bra straps to themselves…

There is more to be shown, but I have run out of time and patience with WordPress and Flickr for one day.

As for the title of the post, we’ve had a bit of this this month

IMG_20150129_081111Which, although, beautiful, also causes winter rage in me. I find February one month too far for winter and I get very grumpy and fed up with it. I also find that February is when the Christmas spending bites me in the ass, so although it’s a short month it feels incredibly long in terms of being cold and broke. Roll on Spring!

Rounding Up 2014

So, here we are again, another year gone and time to see how the crafting went. I had some grand plans, and a lot of that never even got started. I’m finding that when I do have time over a weekend or in the evening that I’d much rather sit and knit than go upstairs and sew, and that sometimes I just need to sit and not do anything more strenuous than reading a book. But, I still managed to get quite a bit done and I’m not giving up on the list of things I want to do, I just need to realise that they’re going to take longer than anticipated.

The last sewing project of the year was a dog cushion for my nephew. He liked mine when they visited, so I made him a sort of i-spy version with lots of pictures on it.

002001Sadly my sister was really ill over Christmas so she, her husband and the nephew didn’t get to come as planned (my Aunt was also ill so I cooked for 6 rather than 10) so he’s not seen it yet, but I hope he likes it.

I took the boys to their Dad for a week and came home thinking that I would try to finish off Jim’s jumper. 4 days and 2.5 series of Glee later I think the sofa has the permanent shape of my bum and I got 3 projects off the needles!

First, Jim’s jumper which was a Rico Design pattern using King Cole Big Value Aran. Jim picked both the pattern and the yarn for this on his own so I’m hoping he likes the finished thing! I added a little length to the body for him as I want it to last longer than the last jumper I made him.

005006This wasn’t a hard knit at all, lots of cables but pretty easy to keep track of and in aran it knit up fast. I am still a little annoyed by the fact that the cables aren’t mirrored and if I use this pattern for Piggle in the future I will change that about it. The back is cabled as well in cast you’re wondering, no easy pieces to this!

Next up was Spacegirl which has been sitting around waiting for sleeves for far too long. I knit the body whilst doing my research reading but the sleeves were too fiddly on dpns and keeping track of rows to do without a little attention so it’s got chucked to one side! I used SMC cotton time for this from Kemps which is a lovely yarn to knit with, although I think it’s going to pill quite a bit which is annoying.

004003I don’t know what happened at the bottom of the V, but I’m going to put a stitch in there to hold it together better because it’s annoying me to look at it. I’m happy with the way this came out and I’m looking forward to wearing it. It’s plain but not too plain and the cotton has nice weight to it.

Finally, I got the Conferva Villosa socks done. There were some errata with this pattern, the website does list one for the heel which I didn’t know before I’d finished both socks, but I had a few other annoying problems along the way. I’m still puzzled as well as to why there was a left and a right sock as it’s not a pattern that needs to be mirrored in any way and I sort of wish I’d knit the left one twice as I prefer the way the toe looks on it, but you live and learn (looking at that photo I’m wearing the left sock on my right foot, but as I don’t know my left from right without thinking about it that’s not a surprise really).

007Next up in the Curiosity Cabinet Challenge is a hat which I’m looking forward to as I haven’t done one in years!

You’d think my list of things on the needles would have shrunk after these finishes, but actually they have just been quickly replaced with projects that were waiting to be cast on, which is fine as I don’t have what feels like too much going on with my knitting at the moment and I’m happy to start the things that have been waiting. I have one more ‘old’ project to finish that just needs one sleeve and a zip so I will hopefully get that done soon too, only the start of it requires much attention so I might try to get that at least started tomorrow.

So, stats for the year.

I bought 75 y/m of fabric this year which isn’t too bad. I had that huge 19 y/m haul from the local sale and also bought some quilt backs, but I had three months where I bought nothing. I sewed 67.5 y/m, not a huge amount for me but not too shabby. It breaks down to:

3 Bags

2 Christmas Stockings

2 Dresses

1 Coat

8 T-shirts (for me and Piggle)

5 Cushions

7 Pairs of kids’ pjs

1 Curtain

1 Shirt

3 Quilts

Goals for next year are to buy less as I really don’t need it and to finish the quilts that are in progress as well as a couple of the ones I have all the fabric for, that should keep me busy! I have a list of clothing sewing and some cool new 70s patterns I bought recently so I hope to get more of the fabric off the shelves an into my wardrobe next year.

I don’t keep track of the amount of yarn I buy or use, I still have the goal of eliminating the yarn drawers and having it all in one cabinet, I will get there if I try not to buy too much in Kemps sale area and keep finishing off things! This year I knit:

4 Shawls

3 Pairs of socks

4 Jumpers

3 Cardigans

3 Dishcloths

Not bad, not great, but not bad. I’ve actually run out of places to store my hand knits despite giving a big bag of ones I never wore or didn’t like to charity so a slight slowing down isn’t a tragedy (I have 2 drawers just for hand knit socks!).

Running – in my first year of tracking I ran 233.55 miles this year. I was hoping to do 250 when I saw that I’d gone over 200 but the weather and lack of motivation put an end to those plans. My running goals for next year are to get up to 10k and take part in a few races. I will need to work on my strength and general fitness to manage it, as well as finding some running shoes that don’t put my right foot to sleep after 1.5 miles. I am planning how to manage this and hoping that I can stay motivated and injury free (and fall over less than I did this year).

Looking at how many books I read this year it’s not really a surprise that my knitting and sewing were down. I think I set a new record finishing 126 books! I read a fair amount of urban fantasy rubbish and YA series, but also some heavier and more interesting things. I wasn’t all that certain about buying a Kindle but I have to say that I’m a total convert now and don’t go anywhere without it.

There have been some ups and downs this year, we said goodbye to my Grandmother at 101 years old and my Uncle far too early. I’ve had some academic ups and downs as well as health ups and downs. But, we moved somewhere we love, we’re happy, pretty much healthy and still here ready to keep on moving forward, at the end of the day that’s still pretty damn good.

So, that was 2014. I hope you had a great Christmas, have a lovely New Year celebration whatever you chose to do (I’m going to carry on with Glee I think and maybe crack open some wine later on). Thank you for reading my blog this year and I look forward to sharing what I do with you in 2015!

Getting These Posted

I haven’t sewn for a bit, kind of lost my mojo again and got caught up doing other things with the time I would have been sewing, as you do now and again. I have finished a few things that I’ve not posted about though and, what with the end of the year coming up and all that jazz, I wanted to get them on the blog and clear the FO decks.

012First up is Tinder which I showed you in pieces a few months back. I finally spent a weekend putting it together and getting the bands knit. This took me over a year start to finish, which is silly really as it’s not a hard knit. I think I put it down in the winter as it was hard to see the dark brown yarn on dark nights.

013The yarn is Rico Creative Cotton in Aran which I got from Kemps. I actually paid full price for it as I wanted to start this cardigan right away rather than waiting for a sale, it’s always those that end up taking forever to knit!

014The buttons were from John Lewis in Edinburgh when we were there on holiday this summer with my parents. I do like buying buttons or fabric on holiday as the memory of the trip is tied into what they’re used for. I also love a wooden button as you will no doubt know if you’ve seen any of my previous knits!

I’ve not actually worn this cardigan yet, I don’t know why as I really like it.  I think I need to find some things to wear it with and pull it out!

I mentioned the Maya pattern the other day and this is the first version I made using some lawn from Boyes. All the seams of this shirt are finished so it’s perfect for a lighter fabric that needs a french seam finish.

I have a feeling that I used this print upside down. It’s the same on the front and the back and doesn’t look horribly noticeable (I don’t think) but I do think I got it wrong…

This is really comfortable to wear and I’m sure I’ll drag it out a lot in the summer.

Under Tinder in the first photo is the dress I made from the same pattern using some baby cord that must have been in my stash for about 9 years or so. I have used it once and I have enough left for another project in the future, which is good as I love it!

015I did size the dress up a little bit, I’m quite large at the moment (going to do something about that in the New Year she says once again) and I wanted to be able to wear a t-shirt under the dress. I just added a half inch to the outside of the front and back when I cut it out and called it done. Again, I’ve not worn this yet for some unknown reason, but I am planning to wear it on Christmas Day as I think it will be comfortable and I’m cooking for 10 so short sleeves when I get hot and bothered will be good!

I have plans for at least two more versions of this pattern, one from a lovely flannel that I bought especially, should probably get on with that before the weather warms up and a flannel tunic will be a bad idea!

I’ll be back for a round-up of the year and to show you, hopefully, two more projects that I am working on.

Freemantle Coat

I just saw on Marilla’s blog that her new pattern for 3 versions of the Freemantle Coat and Jacket is on sale from today. I had the pleasure of testing the pattern for her so I thought I’d do a really quick review whilst procrastinating over some writing I now have very little time to finish for my PhD!

007This is a retro shaped coat, very loose and a sort of tulip shape. I made the basic version, but the pattern includes a shorter version with a zip and a version like mine but with ribbing cuffs which wasn’t on the tester pattern or I would have made it as I do like a cuff to keep the wind out, it can be grim up North on occasion!

012I’d never done a welt pocket before and Marilla’s instructions were very clear and easy to follow, excuse my pencil marks, those will come out at some point! The instructions in general for this coat were very clear. It also has an underarm gusset which I’d never sewn before and I just did as I was told matching up the right bits and markings and it worked great.

The pattern is for intermediate sewers which is the level I’d put myself in. If I could be bothered or wanted to sew harder things I probably could but intermediate suits me just fine, enough of a challenge to keep me interested but easy enough that I’m not throwing fabric across the room and slamming the door in tears!

009Everything inside the coat is finished off with binding. Please excuse my non-matching lining and random bias binding, I was just using what I had on hand to test this! The pattern calls for a Hong Kong finish on the seams, but I bound my seams together instead because I’m lazy like that. The coat version has HUGE pockets which is wonderful, so many coats don’t give you room for your phone and keys let alone tissues, gloves or a hat.

You can buy the pattern in Marilla’s Etsy shop, and I’d advise picking up a copy of the Maya pattern while you’re there too, I’ve made a shirt and a dress from that pattern already and have fabric out for a tunic version, it’s my Scout T-shirt pattern replacement I think.

Thanks Marilla for letting me test, I really enjoyed it!


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!


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.