Archive for category Knitting Projects

I’m Having a Knitfest

Remember me struggling with the fisherman’s rib stitch jumper?  The stitch makes a great looking fabric but every mistake shows and it’s very hard to put them right.  Anyway, having undone almost the whole thing once, I persevered and now I have a back, front and almost one sleeve so it looks as if I might have a wearable ‘slob around the place’ jumper at the end of it after all.

I need another blanket/quilt/throw like a hole in the head but I was sorely tempted by this knit along (KAL) run by Black Sheep Wools and designed by Sarah Haddon.  It’s called ‘A Day Out’ and I liked the idea of lots of squares made with different knitting techniques so I thought I’d do it and call it a learning curve.

The above example was made with one of the colour packs put together by Black Sheep Wools but it’s a merino wool which is not as easy care as acrylic and, much as I would prefer merino, any home furnishings in this house need to be as dog and cat proof as much as possible. So I tried to find similar colours in the alternative yarn (Sylecraft Special Aran) but couldn’t see a similar purple so substituted a dark charcoal.

So, full of good intentions and unreasonable expectations I joined the Facebook support group and cast on for the first of many 20cm squares.  The new squares have been introduced weekly on Tuesdays and some new (to me) techniques were involved and looked a bit scary

Week one was fun and we had to make four of these.

I finally gave in and bought some foam interlocking mats which were much cheaper than proper blocking mats – although I did treat myself to those rather cheerful rainbow blocking pins.  A lot of people don’t block at all – let alone acrylic yarn – but I find pinning the squares out to size and giving it a couple of squirts with the steam iron held a a few inches above, not touching the yarn, works wonders in getting the size right and opening out the pattern.

Week 2 was mosaic knitting which I thought would be very scary.  However, it wasn’t scary at all and I enjoyed it.  Quite difficult to see the effect in the subtle colours I’ve chosen (I have lots of crochet blankets in bright colours so wanted a change) but this square proved to be my undoing in the process of trying to keep up in the KAL as we had to do eight of this particular one and I just don’t knit that fast or that often.

So, once I made five I decided to come back to this one and carry on with the following week and, up to now, have managed at least one of the new blocks released each  week just to try them and give myself some encouragement and will go back and finish the others in the fulness of time.

Here’s week number three’s square, a pretty lacy sort of design.

Week four looked very scary but it turned out to be one of my favourites and was actually quite simple. You make the inner cabled square and then, one side at a time, pick up the stitches on each side and do the stripy garter stitch to make it into a 20cm square with the inner square on point.

I was also happy to see my charcoal coloured yarn introduced into the three colour mix as there are only  three colours and I was getting fed up with only using two.

I love this mosaic square for week five.

Week six was a bobbly pattern which involved a different technique than the usual one for making bobbles which some liked, some didn’t, There have been quite a lot of mavericks on the Facebook group going off in different directions or substituting different blocks for the ones they found too difficult or just not to their liking,

Week seven was one some people weren’t keen on,  It could be worked flat or in the round – I’m not keen on circular needles so did mine flat.  It was quite fascinating the way it started off with a lot of stitches then gradually decreased in a clever way until it looked all frilly on the needles.

Then, when you cast off, and after sewing up one seam, it turns into this square.

Clever eh?

Fascinating to make but it’s not my favourite and we have to do eight of them.  I’ll probably make four and do a different pattern for the other four – somebody on the FB group has come up with one that looks nice so I’ll use that, I’m not proud.

Anyway, this is where I am up to so far.  Long way to go  but there’s no rush.

Which is just as well because now I have my knitting mojo back I bought this….

to make this

and this

to make this.

What am I like?

That second pattern with the star in relief wouldn’t have caught my eye if I’d just seen the pattern leaflet but, when I went to the local ‘town’ the other day, I noticed there is a yarn/fabric/haberdashery shop – Glory Be! – and they had the finished article in blue on a mannequin in the window and it looked really good. So it is now in my ‘knitting whilst watching (although nothing with subtitles)’ queue which has to be simple knitting otherwise I go wrong.  Those squares have to be done with concentration so have to be ‘fully conscious during the daytime’ knitting and that’s probably why I’ve fallen behind.

The only thing is, I have taken up a whole bedroom in the new house as my workroom and I tend to knit downstairs so Mr. Tialys is starting to doubt the wisdom of that decision.  This means I have to get back on to that sewing machine but I really do have too many clothes already and my patchwork mojo is decidedly absent at the moment.  I have made a few new items for my Etsy shop but, since the ‘B’ word and the ‘P’ word (Brexit and Pandemic) I’m only selling within the U.K. so my audience is limited and, therefore, so is my enthusiasm for it.

Not to worry – I find that, unlike fly-by-night crafts I sometimes indulge in, my regular enthusiasms are on a constant turnaround  – what happened to my dog portraits for example? I would do those in my workroom.  I’d better get back to them at some stage as I have the national collection of wool fibre in assorted colours – probably enough to make a life-size dog, let alone a 2D ten inch square portrait.

I got up at 6a.m. this morning – the sunlight glinting off the frost woke me up – but I wrote this post instead of knitting another square.  Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.

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Who Wants A Baggy Jumper Anyway?

Back in January I showed you a pattern for a rather comfy jumper, perfect for lockdown.  I thought I might be able to get it finished for Miss Tialys the Younger’s birthday on 24th February.

This was the pattern

This was how far I’d got with it when I wrote the blog

and this is how far I’ve got with it now.

Yes, yes, I know it’s exactly the same photo enlarged but the sad truth is that really is about where I’ve got to again  having had to start from scratch on more than one occasion.  At one point, I had knit up almost the whole thing, excluding one sleeve, knowing there were two or three mistakes but thinking they wouldn’t show.  How wrong I was.

Fisherman’s Rib.  It seems like a simple enough stitch to do – a variation of k1, p1 rib in that you knit into the stitch below (k1b) instead of the usual knit stitch – and it is!  The problems come if you should make a mistake by not putting the needle in the wrong bit of the knit stitch or, heaven forbid, drop a stitch altogether.

Not having the heart to take one of my own before ripping it all out, I’ve tried to find a photo of ‘a mistake in Fisherman’s Rib’ to show you the horror but couldn’t, even though the fact there are many, many tips, tricks and YouTube videos showing you how to put them right means I’m not the only one making them.  I tried unknitting (or tinking, or frogging) then I tried unravelling rows and picking the stitches back up again but I couldn’t get them back on the needle the right way round.  I thought I had succeeded at one point so carried on knitting but it left an obvious line through the back of the jumper and I knew I’d never be satisfied if I left it there.  Nightmare.

In the end I undid it all right back to zero and was just going to leave it.  I don’t like giving up though so I thought I’d try one more time and use a lifeline.  For the non-knitters amongst you – and heaven knows why you’d have read this far as the pants would surely have been bored right off you by now – that means threading a piece of wool through a row so that, if a mistake occurs later on, you don’t have to rip out the whole piece but only as far down as the lifeline.  Obviously, as you progress with a few inches of faultless knitting, you take out the lifeline and move it up to create a new one.

Needless to say, since inserting a lifeline I haven’t made a mistake but there’s still a long way to go and it’s last chance saloon for this jumper because, although I really like the effect of that raised rib, and I’ve been able to use stash yarn, life’s too short to grapple with it repeatedly when I could be getting on with something else.

Anyway, the 24th of February came and went with no jumper for Miss T. the Younger.

However, I’d spotted on a blog somewhere, something else I fancied having a go at so I abandoned the needles for a hook, found some double knitting yarn in the remains of my stash and made these instead which, as she’s just moved into a new flat, served as a little house warming gift too.

Ahh! I’d forgotten the more ‘instant fix’ joys of crochet.

If you are a knitter, have you ever tried Fisherman’s Rib and, if so, did you manage to get to the end of a project without tearing your hair out?

If you are not a knitter, I apologise for the non-quilting/dressmaking/general crafting/gardening/animal based content of this post and, be assured, I will be back to one or other of those subjects -or something else altogether – before too long.

In the meantime, and as compensation, here’s another couple of woolly jumpers.

Spring Lambs

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

 

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Mélange

Pretentious? Moi? Get me with that title – can’t quite shake off the last 16 years of Frenchification.  I still sometimes say ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Merci’ to people out of habit which comes over as a bit odd as not many people would mistake my accent for a real French person especially the real French person who lives just down the road I haven’t yet met and can’t quite believe exists considering we are in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, I’ve recently written a couple of posts about our new garden and, as Mr. Tialys is starting to get into gear with it at weekends, thought I’d start taking a few before and after photos although the ‘after’ ones might be a long time coming as he’s working during the week.

You may remember that the previous occupant was a bit eccentric, shall we say, in her gardening methods and design and this birds’ eye view (or out of my sewing room window’s view) of the extreme right hand side of the front garden is a prime example.

Obviously Mr. T. had concerns about losing the wheelbarrow in the garden as he seems to have bought the most garish colour available 🙄

In her defence, Mr. Tialys has spotted lots of evidence – backed up by neighbour testimony – of a ground elder invasion.  However, he has decided to do away with a lot of the gravel, black plastic mulch and slate little by little and resort to a regular good digging over and perhaps some root barriers.  This small section is where he’ll start and the straight box hedge with no apparent purpose apart from to make it look as if it marks the end of our garden – which it doesn’t – will be dug up and planted alongside the path that runs along the front of the house instead.

I took this view of our lovely old oak tree because on a sunny(ish) day it started to rain but, on closer inspection, it was only raining from the tree.  It seems that any leftover frost from previous days had begun to melt in the admittedly weak heat from the sun and it rained down for a good twenty minutes or so.  I took a  photo from the front door porch but the raindrops haven’t shown up so you’ll just have to believe me.

It does, however, show the section on the other side of the little, irrelevant box hedge.  At the moment it is also covered in gravel and will probably become incorporated with the first section I showed you once the hedge is put to better use.

My sewing room is still a mess.  I’ve managed to get all the boxes unpacked – well, nearly – but now I can’t find anything.  Mr. T. said to push a couple of projects through and I’d start to find stuff out of necessity . I’m not  very motivated at the moment as, like most of us,  I don’t go anywhere to wear anything other than jeans and comfy tops and I have enough quilts and crocheted blankets to fill a much bigger house than we now have.

However!! In the last minute madness that accompanied our packing when leaving France for England, I made some strange choices as to what to leave behind and what to bring over.  As we haven’t sold the French house yet we were fortunate to be able  to leave quite a bit of stuff there to either be retrieved at some time in the future, sell it, give it away  or call in the house clearance company – it will probably be a combination of all those things.

Why did I pack a ‘posh’ dinner service we have had for 30 years and never use and eight – yes, eight – antique mannequins and then, on only the second day I could possibly have hung washing up to dry outside (well, it is winter and it is England) I realised I hadn’t packed the peg bag?

In a nod to the cows that were grazing in the field behind I found some fabric in deep stash (though what I’d originally intended it for I can’t imagine) and a pattern for a slightly different style than I’ve had before. This ‘wigwam’ style means I can use a trigger hook at the top to attach it to the washing line and it won’t blow off in the wind as the more common clothes hanger style tends to do and it was very slightly more challenging to make which forced me to employ some methods I haven’t used for too long now such as pattern cutting, making and attaching bias binding and some simple quilting.

In the process I finally set up both my sewing machine and overlocker, unearthed my rotary cutter and unpicker (hooray!) and used some fabric stash.  Plus, I think these would make good rat/hamster/insert other small pet/ beds which might be a fun item to put in my Etsy shop should I ever get round to stocking it again.

Since learning to crochet I’ve severely neglected my knitting and some yarn that escaped my pre-move cull was eighteen 400g balls of aran (medium worsted) weight yarn. I had six balls of three different colours because I used to make big chunky blankets with this wool which were made knitting six strands at a time on huge circular needles. You might remember if you’re a long term follower.

Everyone I know and love – and even one or two that I don’t – now has one of these blankets so I searched for a pattern I could use to make a comfy jumper for my daughter’s birthday next month and found this one.  Perfect lockdown wear.

I had some of the yarn in red fleck, black fleck and cream so chose the cream and this is as far as I’ve got.

I’d forgotten how long knitting takes compared to crochet.

A 400g ball of wool won’t fit in my usual yarn bowl so I put my huge Mason Cash mixing bowl into service – in case you were wondering.

Not to be outdone in the creative stakes Mr. Tialys made some rather nice shortbread which is one of the good things about having him working from home rather than in another country entirely and, although it’s taking some getting used to it definitely has more benefits than disadvantages.

 

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #10

Another post in my series where I don’t say much at all – or not as much as usual anyway.

I made a lovely Eastern Jewels blanket last year

and then gave it to my daughter.

I miss it.

I worked out if I bought just another 4 balls and substituted a couple of the colours with some from my stash I could make another one for me.

So, I’ve made a start

This is because the knitted cardigan I’m making is too complicated to do in front of the telly but there are only so many crochet dishcloths one person needs and the ‘devil makes work for idle hands’ or, in my version ‘idle hands make me fall asleep’.

See what I mean

I’m making slow progress but am hoping to speed up as I get used to the pattern.

Would it be cheating if I did the back in stocking stitch?  Please say ‘no’.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #8

A parcel will be going off to Baby Benjamin tomorrow.

My concession to the current trend for grey in baby stuff.

 

Though I switched back to blue for the boots

 

One I made earlier

 

This is one my Mum made and left here one time – a poignant find

I found this forgotten little linen number just needing to be sewn up but it can wait for the next arrival in June.

All for a very rarely seen niece’s baby – I don’t know what I’d be like if I ever become a grandmother.  But what knitter/crocheter/sewing enthusiast  doesn’t love an excuse to make baby stuff?

 

 

 

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More Pixieness

Last time, I showed you the cute pixie hat I knitted using leftover Stylecraft DK yarn and a gorgeous little pattern devised by Wild Daffodil.

Well, Sandra wanted to see it on a real life model so I asked my niece to send me a photo once she’d received her hat and tried it on the baby.  She obliged and I thought I might as well share it with you too.

I told you he came out  in at a massive 10lbs didn’t I?

This was taken exactly one week later.

He doesn’t look sure about it and I won’t blame you for thinking he would look more at home in a baseball cap or hoodie – he looks like a real little bruiser doesn’t he?

Anyway, his Mum thinks he looks really cute in his pixie hat which is the most important thing and I did the right thing with those colours because note the pale grey body suit.

As if the Pixie Hat wasn’t enough, Daffodil has given us yet another free pattern in the form of a gorgeous little jacket which you can find on her blog here.  It will fit 0-3 months but larger sizes are available in her Etsy and Ravelry shops.  Details on her blog.

How blooming lovely is that?  Although I can’t see that particular pixie wearing it!

No matter, I have more nieces and one is having a baby in June and it’s going to be a girl and I still have more Stylecraft scraps – what more could a knitter ask for?

 

 

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Hot Off The Press Pixie

I’ve got a new great nephew, born this morning weighing 10lbs (ouch!).

You may remember I was crocheting a blanket for the new arrival but he beat me to it.  However!……

…….. Sandra, over at Wild Daffodil released a free pattern for a gorgeous little pixie hat yesterday and so I set to work last night and finished it this morning just as I got a text from my sister to tell me baby Benjamin has arrived.  Though surely 10lbs is practically a toddler 😮

As with the blanket, I went with the ‘on trend’ grey that the modern baby is sporting, so it isn’t really pixie colours but I love it anyway.

Here is Sandra’s version, which is in more traditional pixie colours.  I know, because I’ve met a lot of pixies.

Easy, quick and gorgeous – what more could you ask?  Click on the photo above to go to Wild Daffodil where the pattern is available for free.

 I used Stylecraft Special DK as suggested.  I had plenty left over from various blanket projects and this is a wonderful project to use up those scraps.

I used approximately

Purple – 5g

Pale Lilac – 1g

Cream – 5g

Grey – 8g

Another great nephew or niece due in June so there’s definitely another one of these on the horizon.  I’m also wondering about adapting it to make holes for dog ears – but that would just be silly.  Or would it?

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Long, Dry January

I don’t make New Year resolutions or set myself lists of targets or challenges – I don’t like the pressure.  I don’t need it.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t randomly decide to do things that stretch me a bit.

For instance, I made a pair of jeans recently that stretched me but, ironically, didn’t stretch enough themselves to fit me comfortably.  As you know, I’m making a coat at the moment which is also promising to be a challenge but, hopefully, will fit me at the end of it.

I also decided to do Dry January again which is a challenge every year and I’m sure they add extra days to the calendar. (For those who are not overly concerned by alcohol related matters, this means not a drop to pass my lips throughout the month of January 😱).  I did briefly consider continuing the abstinence forever but, as I found myself literally counting up how many days were left until 1st February when I was out walking the dogs the other morning, I really don’t think that’s going to happen.  It’s been harder this year as Mr. Tialys didn’t join in so I’ve had to watch him glugging sipping  a glass of wine with his dinner while I’ve noticed that both the frequency and quality of my kitchen dancing has deteriorated since the 31st December.

Anyway, back to the crafting.  I spotted a new yarn by Rowan the other day and also a lovely book of patterns using the yarn designed by Martin Storey.  I fell in love with this cardigan and decided to ditch the hook for a little while and take the needles up again.

My last knitting projects were a pair of socks knitted on a teeny circular needle and a cabled blanket knitted on a massive circular needle.  It felt strange to be holding a pair of needles again and even stranger to contemplate working from a chart.  I usually prefer written instructions and have actually translated the first couple of rows but I think, once I’ve got those under my belt, I’ll be able to just go with the chart.

The beautiful yarn used is Rowan Moordale with is made with British wool and alpaca – however, it costs around £16 for a 100g skein which would make this cardigan cost almost £100.  I baulked at that a bit – especially since I haven’t knitted anything this complicated in a while.  The patterns says ‘expert knitter’ which, although I’ve been knitting since I was knee high to my mother, I’m not sure is how I’d describe myself.

I recently found a site called Yarnsub which will suggest alternative yarns to use if you can’t afford/can’t find/don’t like the one specified by the pattern.  They grade the suggested alternatives by taking into account the density, the ply, the appearance, the cost, etc. and put them in order of suitability.  One of the top ones in this case was a Bergère de France yarn called ‘Lima’ which has the same amount of wool (though French rather than British)  and alpaca and the same ‘haze’ on the finish.  Lima comes in 50g balls – as opposed to the 100g Moordale skeins so I needed to buy double the amount, with a little extra just to be safe.   I went on the Bergère de France site and found Lima to be discontinued so they had it on sale for half price – only £2.20 for 50g which means, if I ever finish it, it will cost me less than a third.  You’ve got to love the internet at times like these.

This is the colour I’m using, it’s a muddy kind of green called ‘Mangrove’ which sounds horrible I know but I think it’s a colour that will be useful as it will make a change from the greys and blues I usually go for.

As I had purchased the pattern book, and there’s some other nice items in there, I went back online and bought some more Lima in a blue colour.  I’m thinking about using it for this one but Mr. Tialys says it looks like it’s been put in the wash and shrunk.

Personally, I like the cropped body, but do you think it would spoil the style if I made the sleeves full length?  I will have plenty of time to make a decision as I don’t anticipate finishing the heavily cabled cardigan before next autumn – it’s not one I can do in front of a Netflix box set that’s for sure.

There is a baby on the way in the family though (for my niece) and I can crochet a stripey blanket while immersed in real life crime stories or a drama that manages to drag on for 24 episodes or so.  I’m using the ‘Little River Blanket’ pattern again but, as I am reliably informed by my sister and  Cathy who is given very particular instructions when knitting for her grandchildren, grey is on trend for the tot about town.  Who would have thought it?

I can’t possibly make it all in grey though – even if those greys are in slightly different shades.  I’ve got two big packs of cotton yarn – one 50g ball in each colour of the Paintbox range and also, in my stash, some sunny yellow Rowan cotton yarn which I thought I’d use for the first and last rows, and the highlight on every 5th row as stated in the original pattern.

This is it so far.  I’m intending to switch subtly between grey through lilac through duck egg blues – don’t know about the middle yet – then repeat in the opposite direction for the other end.  The gender of the baby is unknown. The niece might consider the yellow too bright.

If it’s not ‘baby appropriate’ by the time I’ve finished it, I will still like it myself and I’ll just have to whip up a quick baby hat or something for the niece’s baby as it’s due in February some time.

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Tight Lipped Tuesday #5 – Putting My Second Best Foot Forward

I finally finished a pair of socks I started in Winter 2017.

These are the third pair of socks I’ve knitted which obviously didn’t help as I messed up a bit with these somewhere along the way.  They are, however, still wearable which is the main thing.

I spent a lot of time trying to match up the stripes until I realised it wasn’t possible with this yarn.

Mr. Tialys bought me this handy, and beautifully crafted, yarn bowl for Christmas.


With any luck it will help me get to grips with the shawl I’m trying to crochet which, as you can see, is slow to progress.

Although I doubt it.

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A Slow Start

Although, as far as I can remember,  I never qualified as a Doctor I believe I have repetitive strain injury in my left thumb due to overdoing the knitting and crochet leading up to Christmas.  I am trying to rest it, ice it, ibuprofen it and generally wrestle it into submission but the frustration at not being able to continue with my current projects is really getting to me.  I cannot console myself with a glass of wine as I’m doing Dry January and I can’t seem to get back into the swing of sewing – I haven’t taken the cover of my machine for several weeks.  Woe is me!

                               Yes, I know that looks like a seal waiting to come in the house but it’s supposed to be a dog. I call it artistic license.

Although I never qualified as a physiotherapist either, I have decided it’s not so much the crochet activity that’s doing for me as the sock knitting.  I don’t really need any new socks at the moment so I’m putting that project aside until I can manage the close pinching movement needed to hold the teeny circular needles I’m using without taking to my fainting couch with an ice pack afterwards and sulking.

So, I have moved on a little with the Eastern Jewels blanket by limiting myself to half hour(ish) crochet sessions followed by ice and now have four completed octagons.  I might do as Sheila over at Sewchet did and try to join the rows of four as I go so I can be inspired but mostly so I won’t have as much of the boring stuff to do at the end.  I can only hope my blanket will turn out half as beautifully as Sheila’s  has.

                                         The first four being blocked – pinned to a yoga mat which is as much action as it has seen lately.

Talking of being inspired, I rather like Trish’s Liberty tana lawn shorty pyjamas over at The Small Sewing Room and decided to make some myself because I need to get back on that horse  sewing machine again and I don’t really need any new clothes but a new pair of P.J.s appeals as the RTW ones with shorts never seem to fit me properly and are often so short that I end up taking in tomorrow’s washing if you get my drift 😮

                                                                     I might not show off my belly button off quite so freely.  

Anyway, Trish’s version uses lovely, feminine, softly coloured tana lawn but mine will be covered in pears  – although they are still Liberty pears so will be nice and soft and comfy and, anyway, the fabric was a bargain on eBay and I decided I didn’t have anything against pear covered pyjamas at that price.

Once I’m back in the swing of things I will have another look at the Winifred Aldrich pattern cutting book I got for Christmas.  I had a quick shufty through and it scared me half to death so I bought a Craftsy pattern cutting course as well to get me started.  I am going to try making a skirt block/sloper for the younger Tialys Mademoiselle.  I was going to do the trousers course, as she wears those more often, but I think the skirt course has more of the basics included which is probably what I need.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

For reasons that I won’t go into again I was very physically inactive during the couple of months leading up to Christmas and over the whole holiday period.  Ironic then that, when I returned to my Zumba class last week, I had the cheek to have my hand and wrist in a support glove thingy as if I’d been doing all sorts of sporty stuff rather than too much knitting.   I didn’t own up to it though – what does that say about me?

Not my hand  – my hurty hand is my left one -you get the idea though.

Usually, I walk the dogs up some very steep land every day and go to Zumba and Pilates classes every week but I had done absolutely nothing.  The difference in my fitness level in the Zumba class was evident to all as I staggered,  gasping for air and water,  out of the side door in the midst of a routine.  Well, that’s a slight exaggeration but I did have to stop mid-fling about and swig from my water bottle instead of waiting until the music stopped :/

It’s been a slow start all round but I’m working on it.

Has 2018 begun well for you?

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