Sunday, 28 February 2021

February round up

Books read: Two halves. I finished Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and I started Caught in the Light by Robert Goddard, which Mother Hand gave me years ago as it is one of her favourite books, but I've never got round to reading it. Concentrating on fiction is a helpful way of getting myself to read, though I have picked up a bit of non-fiction now and again in between, this past month.

Metres knitted: I reckon it's about 850. I have almost finished the Garnered pullover: just 4 inches of roll neck ribbing to go. It hasn't taken anywhere near the yarn amount expected and I should have about half a ball leftover at the end, annoyingly, but that will still be basically 1000 out of stash, as I won't count the final half ball as part of stash anymore. I really hoped to get it finished today but 1x1 ribbing is really dull and I've had quite a lot of work to catch up on.

I did introduce nearly 4000m into my stash this month, thanks to a virtual Flock event that showcased some gorgeous yarn, but let's not dwell on that. 

Pounds lost: Much like the knitting, this is a tale of two halves. I have lost the required 2lbs. But I gained 3lbs at the start of the month. So not too much celebrating allowed. I have stopped eating sugar (not being a purist about it: mainly no cake, chocolate, sweets etc) for Lent and this has arrested the increase. I'm hoping that things will continue going the other way. It's disturbing how distracted I have been by the desire to eat sugar. I am pleased to say that I have good willpower - I've never been one of these people who can't have anything sweet in the house if they're trying to cut back - but it has been interesting to observe how wheedly my brain has been with myself. 'Give yourself Sundays off!' 'Oh, it doesn't matter, it's only Lent.' 'You'll have to give up when you get back to school and everyone is bringing in cakes, anyway.' 

Sleep: Variable. I've been good about bedtimes but have had some sleeplessness this month. I have been quite sad about not being skiing and it has been difficult to drop off some nights. Nothing too severe, but I am really hoping to get some holidays booked soon.

Blogging: As you see....a barren desert of blog posts. But again - what is there to say? Once a week I go to school. Once a week I go out to exercise. I might occasionally go to the supermarket. I had a Skype and a catch up with my friend Helen in half term. A couple of projects are finally coming to an end and I have been nominated for a thing (it's all on the DL at the moment but it is quite a nice thing), so there are some plus points. But otherwise it's just the same old, same old. Maybe in a cleaner house these days, due to my weird cleaning obsession. 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

January round up

Rounding up my progress towards my aims for the year...

Books read: One and a half. I finished the Casual Vacancy (definitely not an uplifting read but I did find it very compelling) and am halfway through Song of Solomon, my first Toni Morrison book. This one isn't flying by as easily but it is intriguing and I find myself thinking about the characters during the day. 

Yarn knitted: I was estimating 840m. I was into the 4th skein on this jumper I am knitting...

...and adding that to the hexagons, meant I was close. Ish. Not too bad, considering how busy this month has been. 

However, I decided I didn't like the fabric of the pink pullover - too loose and open; the body was maybe an inch wider than it was meant to be so my gauge wasn't far off, but I became convinced I just wouldn't get the wear I wanted out of it. So tonight I ripped the whole thing back, made and washed a swatch (I know) and have cast on a needle size down. I'm narrowing the edges of the lace panel by a stitch each side - this pattern was made to be knitted in pieces but I want to do it in the round - and knitting a purl stitch fake seam instead. 

So...I did sort of knit 840m. But then I ripped out 600m of it. Depressing. That said, I never rip things back. It is a feature of my knitting that I plough on through mistakes and bad signs, even if I end up with something I don't really wear. So on a personal growth level, this was a win. 

Pounds lost: three. Some of the Christmas weight, but not all. I made good strides in the first week of January but then, as soon as teaching from home became a thing, I essentially stopped moving around. Happily PT Jenny is still seeing me on the rugby field once a week or I think my whole body would be one chair shaped lump that refused to unbend. I'm still sticking to the same eating hours but eating the same amount as when I'm running around school all day. So I could do some work here...or I could just not, because global pandemic. I'm happy enough that the weight isn't going up tbh. 

Sleep: I've averaged more than 7 hours a night every week since the start of the year: a significant improvement on pre-covid times, when a weekly average of 6h45m was a success. February is for working on a routine bedtime that is before midnight. It's too easy to stay up when I know I only have to roll out of bed at 8am to be in front of the screen in time.

Blogging: Three posts. Better than last year. Not as good as 2019. But what is there to say? It's January. It snowed. We're in lockdown. Meh. 

A couple of FOs

 These jumpers were both finished in December but I hadn't got round to taking pictures until now. 

Pattern: Cabeladabra (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Mirasol Miski, purchased lovingly a skein at a time from Get Knitted, circa 2008. I had 18 skeins of this wondrous yarn, which looked to be just enough, but turned out to be way too much, so I am left with 4 more skeins for a future project. 
Needle: 5mm
Mods: None, although the choice of yarn means that the FO doesn't look much like the original: it's possible I wasn't getting row gauge (although stitch gauge looked OK) and the yarn is 100% baby llama so it is pretty hefty and drapey. I was concerned, to begin with, that the cable definition wouldn't be good but it is nice and crisp. 

I think it's going to be one of those jumpers that is too warm for me to wear out and about, when any kind of rushing or spending time in warm shops invariably makes me overheat when I've got a coat over the top, so instead it's going to be a cosy, indoors sweater dress. It's long enough to wear over a pair of leggings without worrying about any knicker flashing (as pictured). The neckline is maybe a bit wide; I could always unpick the bind off and add a couple more rows, if it loosens up too much on wearing. 



Pattern: Candy Shop (Ravelry Link)

Yarn: Mr B's Hiddlestone in a one of a kind grey flecked colourway - flecks of purple and green. There was some variegation in the skeins that I didn't really clock until I was knitting with it and like an idiot, of course I didn't knit from two skeins at once, but luckily the skein that was more of a mauve grey was the one that I used for the sleeves. It's got a lovely crisp drape to it and I really love the fleck. I'm not usually a fleck person but they were selling this at a Flock event in 2019 and I could resist. 
Needle: 3.5mm
Mods: Longer sleeves, but other than that, as per the pattern. 

This one was a marvel - it's so clever how the v-neck is just done through paired increases and decreases, and then later evened out with short rows. It got a bit tedious on the sleeves and with the broken rib edgings (it's probably not broken rib, but that's what I'm calling it) which is why it took four months, but I can tell I'm going to get a lot of wear out of it. 4-ply jumpers are (sadly) the way forward. 

Monday, 18 January 2021

Aims for 2021

I'm not resolving to do anything for 2021, especially not this late in January, but I have had my usual period of self-reflection and been thinking about what keeps me happy and healthy, and it seems to be making conscious decisions to prioritise my leisure time. This isn't the same as putting myself first: I think I'm probably too good at that; but I enjoy my work and will binge on it too often, and then spend the little time off I allow myself endlessly scrolling under the pretence that this is what I like to do. So here are my intentions, to help with that. Hopefully they are all achievable in a time of covid. 

1. Read one fiction book a month. I was an avid reader before I was a teacher but have somehow convinced myself I am not one any longer. This seems to be because I've been attempting to force myself through endless non-fiction and history texts: not my jam. I picked up a novel from my shelf that I've had for years and finished it inside a week over the Christmas holidays. For January, I chose The Casual Vacancy, which Father Hand gave me years ago, and I finished it today. It leads to less scrolling. I remember how much I enjoy reading at bedtime instead of it being a chore. 

I've definitely got enough unread fiction on my shelf, too.

2. Knit 1000m every month. This one will be trickier to achieve but it is good to have a goal. If I can manage this, I will beat my 2020 yarn total. I'm hoping that this will encourage me to keep plugging away at the blanket hexagons (I'm up to 58 now but have at least as much yarn left as I've used) in between projects. I've done 8 this month and each one uses roughly 40m. Only 760m to go. Better get this post finished and get back to the jumper I've cast on.

3. Lose 2lbs a month. I've been doing intermittent fasting now since October. This essentially equates to skipping breakfast. It was hard at first but isn't anymore. I only have to fast until 10am on the split that I picked, so I can still have it when I feel like it, just later on, and one day a week I sack it off entirely, which usually just means a late night gin and an early-morning milky coffee. I'd lost a stone by Christmas: essentially the weight I'd put on during the last two exam series. 

I know people have Opinions about how other people choose to lose weight so please let me reassure you that you don't need to tell me if you don't like intermittent fasting. Your time is precious, as is mine. 

I'm not in a hurry, I'd just like it to be ebbing slowly away with no great effort on my part. I might need to make a bit more of an effort now we're all confined to barracks, though. Luckily Jenny and I are continuing our sessions, very distanced, in the local park, so I am getting some weekly exercise at least. 

There are a couple of other habits I picked up in 2020 that I'd like to continue, such as taking better care of my skin, going to the gym independently and getting more sleep, and a couple of others that fell off the end, like blogging, but those are a bit more difficult to frame and, anyway, I don't want to overload myself. We are in a global pandemic, you know. 

I'm off to pick another book off the shelf.