I already know from your comments that you people are lovely, wise, witty, and creative (yes, even YOU lurking at the back, there), but now I know that you’re generous too. Thanks to you, £1646 and rising is going to pancreatic cancer research. You’re awesome. More than awesome. Awesomer! Awesomest! Thank you. One day when you read about a new treatment for pancreatic cancer, you can smile in the knowledge that you’ve helped that happen. A heartbreakingly high number of you have commented on my JustGiving page about the loved ones you’ve lost to this vile disease. But through your donations, you’re helping to create hope that in future, people won’t have to suffer the grief that you’ve been forced to endure. Thank you, dear friends. And there is still time to donate if you are so inclined. Here’s another link to my JustGiving page, because if I’m going to pester you, I may as well do it thoroughly.
By way of an update, I’m 959 miles (88% of the way) in to this race from Land’s End to John O’Groats, with ‘only’ – and I use that word rather loosely – 125 miles to go. Due to my own (breast) cancer treatment, I’ve sometimes been playing catch-up with the miles because there were times when I was too ill to run, but right now I’m slightly ahead of target to be done within a year, i.e. by mid-August.
I think about you lovely lot whilst I’m running, and it keeps me going through the torrential rain, and the blazing heat, and the ankle-sucking mud, and the snow, and the sunburn, and the hail, and the blustery wind – a surprising number of which can occur within the same run. Actually I don’t mind running in the rain – you reach a level of sogginess where you stop bothering to avoid the puddles, because it’s not as though you can get any wetter than saturated, you know? “Yeah puddle, what ya gonna do, replace some of this water with other water? Ha! Go right ahead.”
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘What on earth is the woman blithering on about?’ then you might want to read my previous post, here.
There has been a lot of knitting here, too, and I can’t wait to be able to show you the designs that I’m proud to have created for a certain gorgeous company… but I mustn’t spoil the surprise. So instead I’ll pepper this post with pictures of other things I’ve designed in the past. Predictably, this recent design work involved stranded colourwork inspired by the natural world, because that’s the way I mostly roll. I promise to show you in a couple of weeks’ time, once it’s a bit less of an if-I-show-you-then-I’ll-have-to-kill-you type of scenario, OK?
The design process and the pattern-writing were careful and thorough. But when it came to knitting the samples of all the colour/design/size combinations in time, lets just say that things got a weeny bit hairy. Several all-nighters were pulled, small children and medium-sized husbands were neglected, and the vegetable garden was respectfully begged to fend for itself for a couple of weeks if it would be so kind, even though we were in a mini-heatwave at the time and it was a crucial stage in the dinner-growing calendar.
Yet still, there was a yawning chasm separating what needed to be done from what could humanly be achieved in the hours available. Enter stage left and in shining (knitted) armour @buttonsandpickles – that’s her Instagram name – a friend with a bottomless heart and speedy needles. Without her help, I would have failed. But between us, we did it. And whilst usually I enjoy the anecdotal possibilities of things going wrong, this situation inconvenienced other people, so I ain’t laughing. Anyway, the knitting is done, and you’ll see it very soon.
So now I’m back to designing my own stuff. Current design mood = dragonflies, because it’s the time of year when the juveniles of these ancient beasts emerge from our pond, crawling up a reed to shed their exoskeletons before flying their maiden voyages. Their distant forebears in pre-dinosaur times had a wingspan of up to 75cm (that’s 2’5″), which definitely crosses the very important boundary that separates “Gosh, what a delightfully fascinating and beautiful insect” from “YIKES, IT’S A MONSTER! RUN AWAY!” You really can have too much of a good thing, y’know?
Given that this post is about both running and knitting, I’ve been thinking about how the two activities are almost exactly the same. No please, hear me out. Think about it: if you’d never done either, you’d look at the marathon or the laceweight Fair Isle jumper in the same way – as crazy, unattainable, gigantihumonganormous projects. And yes, viewed in the whole, I suppose both of them are. But the secret to success in both cases is identical: commitment to dogged repetition of the tiny units that make up the whole. Step after step after stitch after stitch. Not looking forward too far, but sometimes allowing yourself the pleasure of looking back at how far you’ve come. There’s no point in a one-off burst of activity – instead, the route to success lies in relentless persistence and an almost meditative repetition of tiny, not-in-themselves-difficult units. A zen-like immersion in the details that ultimately make up the difficult whole. Seriously. I’ve run a marathon and I’ve knitted a well-over-100k-stitch underwater picture. Outwardly they’re very different but the mindset is the same. Just keep going.
And that’s all that any of us can do, really. Just. Keep. Going.