Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Celebrating an unwedding: personalised crochet wreath

Bit of a ta-dah post for you today. My lovely friends celebrated ten years together recently and had a party to celebrate. They asked us not to buy presents but I had an idea and and I decided to make it!



 So, the different elements...

I bought a 200mm polystyrene wreath from Hobbycraft, then used 3 colours of Red Heart Soft to create a long thin piece of double crochet (UK) stripes. I then finagled it onto the ring and seamed it at the back with grey yarn, tucking in the ends as I went.  
(ignore the bauble, I ended up not using it)

The bow was four sections, the loops bit was a ring of DC in the amigurumi style, no joins. Then the two tails and the middle were thin strips of DC. The initials were chains that were then sewn on the the loops, the J had a few slip stitches at the top to create the straight line.

The rest of the elements were made with DK acrylic yarn, mostly Hayfield Bonus or Women's Institute for Hobbycraft. 

They keep chickens so I had to include some romantic chooks! The pattern is Tiny Chicken
Aren't they cute??

At the top I added a bumblebee...just because. The pattern is from the book 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet: A Collection of Beautiful Blooms for Embellishing Garments, Accessories, and More by Lesley Stanfield

The flowers were from the same book, Two hellebores, one geranium and one clover leaf (cloest I could get to the Girlguiding symbol for Tawny Owl!)

I added a loop (a strand of foundation double crochet) for hanging!

Here's my ravelry project link so you can see the exact details and patterns!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Linkysdream October unboxing

After watching a few of Mrs Brimbles' videos on her Linky Boxes, I decided to take the plunge and ordered the October and November boxes. At £15 plus p&p, they're really good value for the amount you receive, and personalised!

After placing the order, I received a questionnaire asking about my favourites, hobbies, types of planner (as you can choose to receive a planner version of the box), etc. This was definitely used in packing the box! I chose the A5 planner version for October, and no planner for November.

You can watch the unboxing here: 

Here's some photos of what was in the box:

Monday, 25 August 2014

Weekend WIPs

The GILs shawl is growing! The 4ply bamboo cotton is beautiful to work with but it takes ages as it's so delicate.

I've also started the Amigurumi craftsy course and the first task, a simple bluebird, is coming together: wings and beak compete, body half done. 

Lastly I've been challenged by a friend to create a cowl like that worn by Katniss in the second Hunger Games film. Lion Brand Yarns have a pattern which I'm adapting but using the same wool: Wool-Ease Think & Quick in Grey Marble. 

I'm not sure it's quite right yet so it may get frogged and started again, but as the wool is so chunky it works up quickly. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Great Foot Dilemma

On Tuesday I went to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon, or Orthopod as my GP likes to call them, about the Morton's Neuroma in my right foot. Morton's Neuroma is a condition that affects one of the nerves between the toes. Fibrous tissue develops around the nerve, which becomes irritated and compressed. This causes severe pain on the ball of the foot and at the base of the toes.

In my case, it rears its ugly head when I'm exercising, dancing, walking for long distances, or skiing (my family are very patient with me needing to take my boot off regularly!). At its worst my toes 'pop' and I can't put any pressure on the foot.

I've had ultrasound-led cortisone injections in my foot to treat the pain in the past, but the times between injections, where I've noticed the pain coming back, have got shorter and shorter (9 months, 4 months, 6 weeks!). The last time the pain came back two weeks before our epic holiday, not enough time to get referred on the NHS but luckily Mr H has BUPA insurance through work, and I got in privately two days before we flew!

2 weeks after returning, the pain came back - not suddenly but it was there, and has built slowly. Back to the GP I went and she referred me to the Orthpod.

I had a very helpful appointment with Mr Bob Sharp, who took me through the options. Simply put I can have another injection (not my first choice. The injections can cause wastage of the tissue around the area if taken too regularly, and after the last one I've started to notice my bones in the area far more!), live with it or he can operate (as it's a 'very large Neuroma': 1cm is large apparently). Surgery is the last resort with these kinds of things, and for a few people it makes it worse. I'd be in and out in a day, out of action completely for 2 weeks, able to hobble slowly for another 2, back in normal shoes 8 weeks after the op, and skiing (!) in 3 months.

So here's my dilemma. We're about to enter the busiest period of my working year. I have a weekend in Austria coming up in 7 weeks, and a UK weekend away in 2 weeks. I'm starting a training course this term. Brownies is back on 9 September. I don't have time to be off my feet for that long. But then again, this needs to be done, and putting it off just means more months in pain.


This is my thought process in my Hobonichi...

The dates are ranked in sensibleness - but I'm leaning towards number 3 as it's earlier... aaaarrrrgggghhhh.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Weekend WIPs

New thing for me, and hopefully a weekly post. I've recently taken up crochet, and been practicing here there and everywhere. On our epic holiday I crocheted about a million (exaggerated, but not by much) octagons for an eventual quilt. They were easy and space saving to take on planes, and completed ones were thrown in the suitcase. Now we're home I'm working up the energy to putting it all together, and learning new skills and patterns. Here are my works-in-progress (WIPs) from this weekend:

I'm slightly obsessed with the corner-to-corner pattern, which I discovered through The Crochet Crowd. I love how easy it is to pick up, and how quick it is!

I'm making a shawl for my Grandmother-in-law from King Cole Bamboo Cotton 4ply in Mauve and Pebble

 Also making an afghan from this lovely Rainbow Gradient Superwash Merino sock yarn from Norah and Me. Although I can't decide if I like it looser with the 4.5mm hook (purple) or tighter with the 3mm (red)...

There's also a scarf being made for my Maman's birthday but I won't show that, or I'll ruin the surprise!

Not quite a WIP, as I finished it in an hour, is this granny daisy heart - another gift for the GIL

As well as shelving the octagon quilt, I'm also shelving the tunisian crochet multi-garment . Craftsy classes are great (in fact I've signed up for an Amigurumi one which looks really cool), but this class is really full on, and requires a lot of concentration! I'll pick it up again in the new year, once work silly season, and Christmas, are out of the way. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Epic Holiday: Summer 2014

Many of my loyal readers will know that I recently came back from an amazing month in the USA. I thought I'd share a few photos of our 4 weeks travelling west to east, and some of my favourite stops. 

Alcatraz, San Francisco

Attempting to sketch Lower Yosemite Falls 

Paddling down river, Yosemite

Hugging a Giant Redwood, Sequoia National Park

Sunset over the Grand Canyon, North Rim (we camped!)

 Hilarious sign, on the way to a meteor crater in Arizona

 Mucking about with the camera!

The Very Large Array, New Mexico (just before we got caught, and soaked, in a giant storm!)

Mesa Verde National Park

Obligatory jump shot

Horseback riding and cowboy cookout in Yellowstone National Park

Cowboy cookout in Yellowstone

 Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

 Hot spring flowing into the Firehole River, Yellowstone

 Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone (who kept us waiting for almost two hours!)
Kayaking on the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake

Lunch at Pappy's Smokehouse, St Louis (best meal of the holiday!)

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara (Canadian side)

Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre, Broadway 

 Manhattan Skyline from the Staten Island Ferry

Of course you have to shop in New York!!

We also had a camcorder with us and shot some videos of our activities - I'll be posting that soon!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Saturday share: five things about me

1. I have been able to ski pretty much my entire walking life
2. I met my lovely man in the mountains and we were engaged a month later 
3. I am currently obsessed with crochet
4. Not one bit of my body has been pierced (I don't have any tattoos either)
5. I work for the old English-speaking university in the world

Saturday, 14 June 2014

30 Day Shred: update

So the injury and a return of the pain in my right foot has put the kibosh on the Shred. I went to the osteopath yesterday and after a beating she has said no strenuous exercise for 3-5 days.

So I'll take this chance to review my experience of the 30 day shred. Things I've learnt:
1. Make time for exercise. I found I worked hardest in the morning and getting up 30 minutes earlier than normal was easy to do. 
2. Warm up, cool down and stretching are so important. The warm ups for both level 1 and 2 were pretty good but there definitely wasn't enough stretching in the cool down. Luckily I've been taught to stretch a lot after exercise by my lovely Zumba/Pilates teacher Gemma so I always did more once the DVD was switched off. 
3. Exercising in the morning makes me ravenous! 
4. I can do press ups (only knee ones but still!)
5. Water weight is real. 

Overall I think the 30 day shred programme is good. Jillian Michaels' instruction style suits the way I like to learn and I like that there are different ability levels catered for with Anita and Natalie assisting. The 3 2 1 approach works well and the exercise were varied. If I were to do it again I would schedule in a rest day every 7, I inadvertently did but not intentionally. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

30 Day Shred: day 14

First injury! Not sure how I did it but I've pulled a muscle in my thigh. It was so painful, more so than anything I've pulled before. Lots of stretches and painkillers and sleep and it feels slightly better this morning but sore. Walking upstairs is the worst. Going to try to get an appointment with the Osteo to see if she can fix me. 

Otherwise level 2 is now getting easier, it's not easy though by any stretch of the imagination! 

Monday, 9 June 2014

30 Day Shred: day 13

Weekly weigh in and measurements time! I'm back down to the 'never go above this weight again' weight which is encouraging and I've lost a total of 15cm around my body, mostly from my thighs. Was definitely feeling buoyed as I started the DVD this morning. 

Level 2 is hard, and I am having to take 5 second breaks every so often but I'm getting used to the amount of plank variations now! 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

30 Day Shred: day 12

She's still mean! Found a great keep calm and... poster on Pinterest which pretty much sums up what I'm doing: 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

30 Day Shred: day 11

Jillian Michaels is MEAN! Level 2 is a whole new world of pain, she's slotted in planks everywhere! Lots of static lunges too. Actually dripping with sweat...

Thursday, 5 June 2014

30 Day Shred: Days 9 and 10

I forgot to post yesterday! So two for the price of one...

Day 9 was completed after getting home from work. It was difficult to fit in with cooking dinner and my evening Guiding meeting but I made it work. As such I kind of powered through, a big sweaty mess at the end.

Day 10 I was back to the normal before-work routine, much better and this morning was a nice cool temperature which helped!

Up to Level 2 tomorrow!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 8

I may have discovered something. I think I do better at this DVD in the evenings. A combination of early start (every Tuesday due to brownies) and soreness from Fitness Pilates combined with a visit to the osteopath on Monday meant I couldn't do the shred this morning. So I planned to do it after dinner (with time for digestion). And I really enjoyed it! 

The problem is mornings are easy, I just get up earlier. With all the evening activities I do it's harder to build a routine for exercising after work. Hmm, something to ponder further. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 7

I didn't do it twice yesterday... With lots of walking in town (we went holiday clothes shopping) I was bushed in the evening! Hopefully I'll catch up another day.

This morning was hard to get into, but I enjoyed it once the dreaded press ups were done. I think I will be ready to go up to level 2 in the next day or two.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 6 (on day 7)

Yup I missed one. Combination of whole day in London plus what I ate for lunch not agreeing with me last night. I'm going to do it twice today, morning and evening. 

Today was weigh in day and I was dismayed to find I'd lost nothing. Nada. Zip. Then I googled '30 day shred first week no loss' and saw that a lot of people had experienced this. Apparently it's water weight as my body is conserving it to rebuild my muscles as I work them. So a little happier. I have lost a cm on each of my upper arms and thighs so that's something. 

Friday, 30 May 2014

30 day Shred: Day 5

Halfway through level 1 and it's definitely getting easier. It's by no means easy but I no longer feel like I'm dying at the end of the 20 minutes. 

One side effect is that as I'm eating breakfast an hour or more earlier than I used to (I can't workout on an empty stomach and then need time to digest so I don't get indigestion), I'm finding I'm really hungry at 9ish. Any suggestions? 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 4

Woke up much less achey and it's definitely getting easier to step it up during the circuits. Still dripping with sweat at the end but it doesn't HURT which is nice!  

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 3

Well that was a struggle getting started! Woke up particularly stiff and needed a lot of warming up before I felt I was exercising at the right level. The first circuit was particularly challenging (why oh why does she put press ups first??) but I got into it in the end. 

Lesson learnt from this morning: keep the door open, it got stiflingly hot in my lounge! 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 2

Woke up with sore shoulders and thighs, amazingly not sore abs! The Fitness Pilates class I've been taking is working. 

Completed level 1 again, definitely know it'll get repetitive by the 10th day! For the most part I'm still following Anita (she's the lower impact demonstrator) but trying to take it up a notch every so often. 

Feeling sweaty but good! 

Monday, 26 May 2014

30 Day Shred: Day 1

am a broken woman.

But seriously, that was hard and I'm dripping with sweat but I feel good, if a little shaky! I really enjoy Jillian Michael's teaching style. 

We'll see how it goes tomorrow when I do it before work. 

And being me I've created an insert for my planner! 

It's Banditapple paper from a sample request I made a while ago. The paper is gorgeous to write on but as it was smaller than regular MTN inserts and larger than field notes I have known what to do with it. I needed 5 double page spreads for 5 weeks of food tracking so I slipped 3 sheets under the central elastic of my bullet journal. The front page is my exercise and measurements tracking and I'll use the back page for weekly measurements tracking. So I don't lose it I've added a large Martha Stewart tab to the side.