Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Venice Marathon

A couple of weeks ago my lovely boyfriend and I travelled to a city I've always wanted to visit, to do something rather amazing. We went to Venice, and ran the 29th Venice marathon.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Halloween and a finished scarf

It's been a surprisingly busy few weeks since finishing uni. There's been a LOT of running (*ahem, marathon*), lots of sewing and recently, a lot of knitting.

It was Halloween a few days ago - not that anyone told the weather that it was the end of October. 24 degrees no less! The boyfriend and I had made the mistake of going to the Tower of London to see the poppies, unfortunately several thousand other people had had the same idea. We gave up as soon as we saw the queues and just came home. To add to the disappointment our supermarket had sold out of pumpkins. My first pumpkin-less halloween.

So I made some paper ones, using this tutorial. I've never seen leaves on pumpkins, so just went with the wire twist. They looked surprisingly cute.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Richmond Running Festival Kew 10k

Ok, I've been away from the blog for a loooooong time. Plenty of things have happened, both crafty and running-wise (not so much progress on the knitting!). I really have loads to show off. But the thing that's finally spurred me back online was the race I ran on Sunday with my boyfriend.

It was the Kew Gardens 10k, part of the Richmond Running Festival which also includes a half marathon, and a post-race music festival. It's only in its second year this year, but sold out. We had originally wanted to do the half, but places were already gone by the time we heard about it.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Why I keep running

I've had a bit of a struggle with running recently. It felt like I was getting up early for too many mornings, to do a chore that I wasn't enjoying - and ending up with times that I was disappointed with.
So I took a week off from my entire training plan. I used it as a chance to make some changes with my diet. And now that I'm returning to my training, I've reassessed why I run - in the hope that I'll avoid any future similar grinding halts.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Summer throwback makes

It's actually been resembling summer here in London, most days anyway. I've not been able to sew as much as I want (I have SO many ideas!) due to uni work, but have still managed a bit.

What I have made has ended up being vaguely childhood throwback themed. First up, a friendship bracelet. I used to make these when I was little, and even set up a little card board 'stall' and tried to sell them to the uninterested members of my family. With a pattern refresher from here, I made up this little summer themed beauty;

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Colette Madeleine Mini Bloomers

One of my recent sewing projects has been the Madeleine mini bloomers from Colette Patterns. I like to kick my legs around a lot when I sleep, so pyjamas just ride up my legs and shorts wedge themselves where no shorts should wedge. These seemed like a perfect solution to my nighttime wardrobe woes...

Monday, 23 June 2014


I've been busy sewing recently. Including an epic weekend wrestling with a project for my sister's birthday...more of that soon.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Marathon training begins

...this isn't a triumphant return to training. I've left it a bit too long and my fitness has plummeted. We've recently moved house, and while we're now actually local to Bushy park for our weekly parkruns, I don't have any familiar running routes. I've just started my Masters dissertation this week, and the day by day timetabling combined with some serious mental overworking has left me feeling pretty fatigued. Not to mention my commute into uni now totals an hour each way. And depending on the time of day costs up to £15 a day.
So, despite my careful planning in a newly designated training diary, I've only managed one Nike workout and an 8km run. 3 days after the workout my legs were still sore for the run, which should've been perfect - glorious morning sunshine, little rabbits and baby geese along the river.... but instead was an unpleasant slog.
Still, got to start somewhere. Like I've been saying to my study subjects when I stick their hand in ice water - the first bit's the worst.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Long term WIPs

Just to prove that I do still manage to do some knitting (it's not all running and my new obsession with sewing), I'm finally making tangible progress on a project that's been on the needles for years now. Properly years.

To cut a long story short, it took me an age to knit the back piece, and once it was finished and looking lovely I placed it against a jumper I already had and realised it was a good few inches too short. No mention in the pattern of it being a more 'cropped style' jumper, just rumblings on ravelry about having to add length. I was a bit distraught and put it away in a bag of shame. Where it sat until something so mindlessly boring (lace knitting) made me feel ready to face it again.
And now I've got a front and a back! Of an appropriate length!
By the way, the pattern is Craft, from Kim Hargreaves' book Scarlet.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Helsinki City Run 2014

It’s been a while since I blogged, because things have been a bit non-stop recently. I was on placement for 5 weeks which is always hard work and a bit stressful, then had a hen party, an essay deadline, a trip to Helsinki and the small matter of the half marathon, and then moved house. And have my finals next week. Things have been busy and there’s not been much me-time. 
But, better late than never, here’s my thoughts on how my first half marathon went. (I hope you're sitting comfortably, it's a long post).

In the shower at the hotel in the evening after my first half-marathon I cried angry tears of frustration and disappointment. I was sorely disappointed with my time (2:16, something which no longer seems quite so awful). I hated the medal. I’d wanted to enjoy the full race experience that I’d envied as a spectator, but had felt little of it. I wanted to throw away the medal and all it represented.
The next day I still wanted to, but the feeling was being overtaken by a determination - to learn from my mistakes, to train hard, and to finish my first marathon. I could tick the half off my list and look to the future. 

Helsinki - the city. Great public transport and a lovely city with plenty of things to see and do. We were staying right in the center among the shopping district and there were plenty of restaurants and cafes and upmarket shops; there was a nicely bustling but not overly busy atmosphere. A trip out among the islands was definitely worth it.

Over at the sea fortress on Suomelina

Helsinki City Run 2014
Organisation; It was pretty immaculately organised, based in the Olympic park. Pre-race bags and t-shirts were easy to collect, the large supervised bag drop well staffed. Signs to the start were a bit sparse but there were plenty of portaloos once you found it. The big downside was that the start groups were heavily staggered. My boyfriend was aiming sub 1:45, I was aiming 2:15, so a bit of a difference. He started at 3:10pm, I didn’t start until 4:05pm (and there were still a few start groups behind mine). We couldn’t share the experience as it felt like we were running different races (he ran in the sunshine, it was cloudy by the time I started), and there was a lot of hanging around involved for us.
The Olympic Park

My start group

The course; The heavily staggered starts were presumably to accommodate the 17,000 runners over a very narrow course. Although I’d never run a half before, I’d spectated at Stockholm and Copenhagen so thought I knew what I could expect. I was left quite disappointed. The course took in footpaths along railway lines, through a forest and around a lake, and while not hilly, it wasn’t flat. A narrow footbridge over a large main road had to fit both ‘out and back’ runners, with marshals standing in between. There were no big closed off roads, drummers, dj’s or bands, and only a handful of spectators. Slogging through the undulating forest it was silent. It was quite demoralising. The only redeeming feature was running into the Olympic park at the end (after a vicious hill), which was over in a flash. I saw one little elderly man in 3 different places on the course and he was almost the only one interacting with the runners; clapping his hands and quietly chanting ‘yes, yes, yes’ in time with footfalls. I was so grateful for him.
Little me in black between the two green shirts

View from the tower at the Olympic Park

The goodies; The t-shirt was a nice technical asics shirt, in luminous orangey-pink; I was a bit sad that it didn’t have the magic words ‘half-marathon’ on it. The post-race food was ok, nothing exciting. I ate the banana and the weird crisps, but the yoghurty drink and vinegary rye bread weren’t much touched. The medal was, personally, massively disappointing. Fortunately it does have the magic words on, but the colour very easily scratches off. And there’s no ribbon. You can’t hang it around your neck, or display it with your other medals. I’d always joked with my boyfriend that I only wanted to run for the medals. I’ve been incredibly proud to build my up my collection of 4 10k medals, and all through training had daydreamed about adding a major milestone to them, wondering aloud what it would look like. For the weeks leading up to the run I’d voiced how much I hoped it would be a good medal. When my boyfriend crossed the line and received his, his first thoughts were that I would be so disappointed with it. Which I was. And still am.

In summary; the glory finish in the Olympic park was everything I’d hoped it would be, but the dreary slog before hand was a let-down. The race felt as though it was designed to rake in the runners and their money, but inconvenience the city as little as possible. The 17,000 were tucked away onto narrow footpaths, watched only by silent marshals. The medal wasn’t one you could wear in triumph, but had to be grasped in a sweaty hand and then lost to the bottom of a race bag. For my first half-marathon experience, the Helsinki City Run 2014 was disappointing.

But not to worry, because now I’ve got a marathon to train for. And my faithful Saucony Triumph's that I bought as a reward after my first park run have earned their retirement.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Spring is here!

Spring is here! Life is skittles and life is beer! I think the loveliest time if the year is the spring, I do. Don't you? Course you do! (Bonus points for recognising the song).

Today (actually, it's taken me ages to post this, and 'today' is now 'last Saturday') was an utterly perfect spring day. The sun shone, the flowers were out, the leaves are just starting to appear on trees and everything seems right in the world. Spring is my most favourite month; no other makes you feel so glad to be alive. And unlike summer which can only disappoint, spring can never let you down when so much loveliness is bursting forth after winter, and every sunny day feels like a blessing. Ahh, spring.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Quilled Mother's Day flowers

I've been at it again with the paper and glue. It doesn't exactly look how I imagined it (more tree-like than bunch of flowers) but I still think it looks nice. I used some of the tips on Ann Martin's blog All Things Paper, as well as her very handy e-book, 'Creative Paper Quilling'.
I bought some quilling paper at christmas because trying to cut out the strips straight was driving me mad, but it was quite cheap and very worth it. That's the only special buy I've had to make; I made my quilling 'tool' out of a couple of needles stuck in a champagne cork - they're different thicknesses so one provides a nice tight coil while the other is a bit looser. Also, after faffing around with stick and pen glues, I can highly recommend getting something that you can squeeze a blob onto a bit of scrap card/plastic with, because that and a pointy skewer made applying glue a whole world easier. I had some fabric lace sticky tape from Tiger that I've been itching to use on something, but followed my sister's advice to exercise restraint and only use it along the bottom.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Oh pants!

My sewing spree continues. Big news; I have finished my dress. My lovely, lovely Anna dress. You can have a sneak preview of what it looks like, but it will get its own post at some point, giving all the details of my beautiful french seams, and adventures with the zip... Here it is next to the lavender fields embroidery that is now framed and ready to take home for my mum at the weekend;

Monday, 17 March 2014

Knitting and Stitching Show, and another Bushy 10k

We're experiencing some much needed sunshine here in the UK at the moment, and it's been a glorious start to spring for the past week. Couple that with the fact that I've got 2 weeks off from uni and I'm in a very Good Mood.

On Thursday I took a break from preparing for a uni presentation and pootled along in the sunshine to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia. I've never been to something like this before, but to say I enjoyed it would be something of an understatement. Text to the lovely boyfriend a couple of minutes after stepping through the door; "Oh. My. Goodness. I've died and gone to a sweet granny-filled heaven." There was yarn and fabric and sewing stuff and sweet little old ladies everywhere. It was indeed heaven. I spent a blissful couple of hours wandering around and abusing my bankcard, before I decided it would probably be in my best interests if I left. I bought some alpaca yarn and a jumper pattern from PurlAlpaca, a couple of embroidery sets from Rowandean Embroidery, some fabric from Fabrics Galore, and some really sweet little heart scraps and buttons from NaturaLeigh. Watch out for progress on those projects soon.
Actually, I already finished one - the Rowandean Lavender Fields embroidery kit. It took less than 24hrs, and will be framed and gifted to my mum for Mother's Day.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Long runs

Yesterday I managed my longest long run ever. I ran 18km. It took me over 3 bridges along the Thames. The sun shone but wasn't too hot, lots of other runners smiled, and things felt good. "Maybe I can run a half marathon after all!" I found myself thinking. And then I hit 16km and my legs felt as though they no longer belonged to me. It felt as though the last 2km took an hour to complete, my sweaty despairing face desperately hoping it would be over soon. And hey, it was. I just had to keep plodding. The end always comes, sooner or later. Just keep plodding. I got home, sat in a cold bath and drank a protein shake and felt like a Propper Runner. I'm really starting to enjoy it all...

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The sewing bug bites

I've been saying for a while that I'd show off my recent sewing efforts - namely, my lovely Cath Kidston-esque bag. Well, the time has come (the walrus said)....

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Listening to legs

So, I've finished week 5 of my marathon training programme. Sort of. It suddenly got very mile heavy, and I decided things would go very wrong if I tried to stick to it religiously. When I say 'I', what I really mean is 'my lovely boyfriend made it clear to me'. Personally I felt torn between wanting to follow a programme because 1) I'm new to this and don't really know what to do otherwise and 2) I really want to run well on Race Day. But since the lovely boyfriend HAS done it all before and did indeed run well on his Race Days, I listened to him about listening to my legs.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Sew and Bake

Strictly speaking, this post is neither knitting nor running related. But there is a bit of a tedious link in there so bear with me.
My boyfriend's brother and his wife are expecting their first child. He's knitted an amazing baby blanket (and he'd never knitted before). His mum has knitted baby clothes. It didn't really seem right for me to crash the knitting party - so I tried some sewing. I have my mum's old sewing machine that I used once for adjusting some curtains. I don't really know how to work it or anything about sewing, but the internet told me the answers and said that 'burp cloths' were the thing to make. So I gave it a go;

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Valentine tourism

So, I'm a bit slow writing this post up, but better late than never...

Last Friday was Valentine's Day, as I'm sure you noticed. You probably noticed even if you were trying very hard not to.
I took it as an excuse to get my quilling paper out and see if I could have a bit more success than my rubbish attempts at snowflakes over christmas. Turns out hearts are really easy to do!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Climbing Mount Impossible...

Half marathon training. 2 weeks down, 13 to go. To paraphrase Dawkins and famous sporting brand, I feel I'm climbing Mount Impossible. At first thought, a half marathon seemed a ridiculous impossible idea, a huge towering rock face of endless running. But, on the other side of the mountain is the gently ascending path of 15 weeks training, the steady climb that will see me (hopefully) conquering the half marathon. Impossible is nothing.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Racing starts

Ah, hello 2014! You've got off to a rocketing start - where's January gone??

But to be fair, I've been rocketing along with it, and have not one but 2 finished objects and a shiny new medal to show off.

I had this pattern sitting waiting for a while, and when I saw the yarn on the Knitting Goddess website (a day or so after watching the Dr Who anniversary episode) I knew 1) I had to have it, and 2) exactly what it was going to be. So after Christmas and all the present knitting was over, I rushed back to London from home in Kent to start this; my Bark.