Sunday, 14 January 2018

The tiniest seed

Oh my goodness, what gloomy weather we've had this week. I don't think the sun has bothered to make an appearance in Norfolk once. It's been cold, grey, foggy and damp - not the best weather for lifting the spirits. And tomorrow is apparently 'Blue Monday' - the most depressing day of the year, taking into account post-Christmas debts, lack of motivation and failure to keep up New Year's resolutions. So you'd probably be best staying in bed with your knitting or crochet all day if you can, with a plentiful supply of tea and chocolate! 

I needed something new to focus on and so the teeniest, tiniest seed of an idea has started to germinate. I'm really, really excited about it and I think you will be too once you hear about it. With luck, I'll be able to tell you all in early February. Already this teeny, tiny seed has roots and a shoot and with luck it's going to grow into something truly amazing. 😀

There has been some sock knitting going on chez josiekitten and I've finished the first of my purple striped pair. So I have the partner of two socks to knit asap considering that they were meant to be Christmas presents! Here it is, not very elegantly modelled on Flo who was on my lap at the time!

The sewing machine has also been busy. I made a string of bunting as a birthday present for a pink-loving friend. I've got quite proficient at cutting out and making bunting now. I managed this in a couple of hours! 

I've started back running again this week after more than two months of enforced rest because of injury. I feel like a complete beginner again but have been assured that it will come back quickly! I hope so. I'm taking it very steady as I don't want to injure myself again by doing too much too soon. There may be one or two races in the pipeline! Talking of running, I'm not sure I shared with you some amazing presents that I received for my birthday and Christmas. My dear friend Snoopydog gave me a medal holder which I love; the wording on it is perfect - 'She believed she could ...... so she did!' I am just a little bit alarmed by the number of hooks on it though. Snoops is clearly expecting a lot of me! 

For Christmas, my friend Charlie's Mum gave me a frame with Mr JK's Yorkshire marathon medal and photo and my Yorkshire 10 mile medal and photo in it. It was something that I wanted to get done but was finding it quite a challenge emotionally to do it. The end result is even better than I could have hoped for. It also includes my VIP wrist band, baggage tag and train ticket to York. Loads of memories of a very special day.

And here it is on my bedroom wall. It's the first thing I see every morning and I love it. It inspires me to think that I actually did it and hopefully there are a few more miles left in my legs!  Chin up tomorrow and see you the other side of Blue Monday! xxx

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The socks have it

When I opened my sock drawer this morning, it was hard not to be seduced by all the beautiful colours there and dither about which pair to pick for today. I do have one or two current favourites which appear in the wash on a pretty regular basis, but there are also other pairs that may stay hidden at the back of the sock drawer undiscovered, only to be greeted by my feet as long lost friends at a later date. When it comes to choosing which socks to wear, I'm not generally guided by colour - it's unusual for my socks to match the rest of my clothes! Often, a recently finished pair becomes the new favourite, as is the case for my Squeezebox socks.

And at other times, it's an old friend that cocoons my toes, keeping them nice and snug...

Sometimes, when I need a hug, a rummage in Mr JK's sock drawer is just right. Mr JK was a late convert to hand-knitted socks, but absolutely loved them once he'd worn his first pair. Luckily our feet are the same size so I can wear his too. 

This pair of Mr JK's have been worn a lot over the holidays - I bought the yarn in Dublin as a souvenir of Mr JK's first marathon and designed a pattern, Kali Kardi, which you can download free from Ravelry here

There is nothing quite like a pair of hand-knit socks - they are warm and comfortable. Apart from the socks I wear to the gym, I never wear shop-bought socks now. They are ideal projects to work on as they are portable, if it's a plain sock, the pattern is easy to memorise and once you've finished knitting and sewn in the ends, there's no more finishing off to do. Sock knitting is definitely addictive. There is so much temptation to just knit another round so that you can see the next colour or pattern emerging and before you know it, you're almost at the heel flap! It's little surprise then that I currently have three pairs on the go - well one pair down and two pairs to go to be more accurate. These were all meant to be finished and given as gifts at Christmas but as ever, my focus has been rubbish. But I am cracking on with them and am determined to get them finished in the next couple of weeks.

There is so much lovely sock yarn around these days, we are quite spoilt for choice. For everyday socks and for socks that I am gifting, I tend to choose yarns such as Regia, Opal, Stylecraft Head over Heels and West Yorkshire Spinners as these are all good washable yarns. Sometimes, a treat from an Indie Dyer is just what the sock doctor ordered. I like the self striping yarns from Easy Knits and also the stripy yarns from Fab Funky Fibres. In fact, any stripy sock yarn floats my boat right now. How about you? Do you have a favourite go-to sock yarn? xxx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Looking both ways ...

Slightly later than anticipated, I'm taking a look back at 2017 and looking forward into 2018. I know that Blogland is full of this kind of post at this time of the year, so apologies if you've already read lots and have had your fill!

Last year was an incredible year for me. Amongst all the sadness and grieving, I achieved some things that I never thought possible. With a dislike of sport and very bad memories of cross country running from my school days, I decided that I wanted to run a race in Mr JK's memory and raise some money for the British Heart Foundation. I didn't even own a pair of trainers at the time. So I joined the gym and started training. Taking part in the Great North Run, the world's largest half marathon, in September was an unbelievable experience...

... something that I couldn't have done without the support of new friends from the gym. Whoever would have thought that I'd be having to reorganise my clothes to fit in a drawer full of sports kit, or worrying about whether or not I've pressed the button on my Garmin watch to record a run?! I'm sure my antics have made Mr JK smile!

One month later, I was able to run in Mr JK's footsteps in York, completing the Yorkshire 10 mile race a year after Mr JK's final run, the Yorkshire marathon. I didn't ever think that I would be able to do anything like that and I know that Mr JK would be so proud of me and probably pretty surprised too! My JustGiving page has gone from strength to strength and the total currently stands at an amazing £4117. Do take a look at it because it tells more of my running story. And if you'd like to make a donation to help fight against heart disease, that would be really lovely of you. Thank you. 

I was able to meet up with Twitter running friends who supported me over the year. So good to be able to put faces to names!

And of course I had my own support team from the gym who have been just unbelievable. I couldn't have done it without them. Their friendship has helped me enormously over the last 12 months.

Spotting myself on the TV coverage of the Yorkshire marathon and 10 mile event was a little surreal as was seeing myself in Women's Running magazine. I was honoured that the runner Susie Chan wanted to interview me and tell my story. I would never have imagined that I'd see myself in a running magazine! 

Another proud moment was presenting a trophy to the winner of the Kings Forest 50km event in November. I was so honoured that the organisers wanted to remember Mr JK in this way. 

Photo thanks to Positive Steps

Running gave me something positive to focus on during very sad and difficult times. It made me feel closer to Mr JK and I'm certain he was there running alongside me during my races, pushing me on towards the finish line. I certainly needed that focus as I have found it very hard to concentrate on things over the last year. My knitting output has been pitiful; I'm very thankful to be one of Stylecraft's Blogstars and designed two pairs of socks for their Head over Heels range of sock yarn. One was released early in 2017 and the other will be released any time now. I also designed a pair of slipper socks for the annual Blogtour and  my first crochet pattern which appeared in Crochet Now magazine. 

Picture copyright - Stylecraft
Picture copyright - Stylecraft

I didn't set myself any specific goals for 2017. My aim was to do things that would make Mr JK proud of me and I hope that I've succeeded in doing that. I do have a few goals and challenges that I'm setting for myself this year - some knitting-related and others to do with running. They sound so far fetched to me at the moment that I'm not ready to share all of them yet. But I will do as the year progresses. I am setting myself a monthly challenge to come up with a pattern for one of the many lovely Stylecraft yarns that I have in my stash. Each time we visit the Mill, we come away with a goody bag bursting with yarny loveliness and I want to try working with some of their other yarns instead of sticking with the old faithful Special DK! Another challenge is something that Mr JK and I discussed and started planning a couple of years ago on our favourite Greek beach and I'm going to see if I can turn our idea into a reality. I'll be sure to let you know if I do! 

2017 has been a year of highs and lows. The feeling of loss doesn't lessen; I frequently feel like I'm drowning in a sea of emotions. I still miss Mr JK terribly and think about him every day. But my world has definitely widened so it's not the only thing that I think about. Along the way, I've had lots of support from my dear friend Snoopydog, who has found herself making the same journey as me. And I have been very blessed to have made some friends at the gym who have been there for me too. My friends have shown me that there is a way forward and that it's ok to have fun and laugh, and for that I can't thank them enough. 

So 2018 is going to be about moving forward, living the dream and aiming to be the best that I can, all to make Mr JK proud. Thank you for your company over the past year. Your comments have helped me immensely and it's good to know that people actually do read my ramblings! Please join me on my adventures over the coming year. xxx

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A year of paying kindness forward comes to an end

My year of paying forward a little of the kindness I received from the woolly community has come to a close. After Mr JK died, I received so many thoughtful gifts from people, some a big group collaboration and others individual gifts from online 'bloggy' friends. It was incredibly touching to be thought of by so many people and the gifts were very generous and heart-warming. Each month of 2017 I had a giveaway on my blog. Here's a little reminder of all those goodies...













The random number generator picked comment 28 for December's prize so many congratulations to Christi. I'll be getting in touch with you very soon to get your details so I can send your prize to you! Thank you so, so much if you've entered one of my giveaways during 2017. I had a lot of fun finding little treats to give away and I'm sure there will be more in 2018. xxx