Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Theatreknit's Warm Winter Socks

This pattern was donated as part of my campaign to get people knitting for a London homeless shelter. Thanks to Ravelry's Theatreknit. I have added links to knittinghelp.com in places where you might need extra intstructions. 

Yarn: DK weight (sample knitted with Patons DK with wool)
Needles: 3.25mm

Loosely cast on 48sts. Divide over 3 double-pointed needles and join being careful not to twist the sts.
Work in K3 P1 rib for 7 inches (or preferred length)

Heel Flap:
Knit 24sts turn
Row 1: Sl1 purl to end
Row 2: Sl1 K1 repeat to end
Repeat rows 1 & 2 14 more times.

Shape Heel:
Row 1: K 14 sts, ssk, k1, turn.
Row 2: Sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 3: Sl1, k to one stitch before turning gap, ssk, k1, turn.
Row 4: Sl1, p to one stitch before turning gap, p2tog, p1, turn.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until all sts have been used
End on WS row with either p2 tog or p2 tog, p1.
14 sts on needle

1. Pick up 15 stitches knitwise down side 1 of the heel flap. Place a marker.
2. Rib across the 24 stitches from the cuff.
3. Place a marker, then pick up 15 stitches knitwise up side 2 of the heel flap.
You should have 68 stitches.

Now continue with the following 2 rounds, until 48 stitches remain:
1. Knit up to 3 stitches away from the first marker, then Knit 2 together, then Knit 1.
Slip the first marker, then Knit across until you reach the next marker.
Slip the second marker, then Knit 1, then S2K2tog, then knit to the end of the round.
2. Knit around.

When you have 48 stitches remaining, continue without decreasing until foot measures at least 8 inches (UK size 6) from back of heel. You can adjust the length at this point. The easiest way to work out a size is to ask a friend to measure their foot! For men, size 8 or 9 is ideal.

1. (Toe Decrease Round) K1, ssk, k to end of Needle 1; k to last 3 sts of Needle 2, k2tog, k1; k1, ssk,
k to end of Needle 3; k to last 3 sts of Needle 4, k2tog, k1. 4 sts decreased.
2. K around.

Repeat these 2 rounds until 20sts remain
Use Kitchener stitch to graft these stitches.

Originally posted on RowleyPolyBird

Monday, 26 September 2011

Why I'm Running 13.1 Miles

On the 9th October, I'm running the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon for young people's charity YouthNet. It's been a really difficult period of training - recently interrupted for weeks at a time by ill health - and I'm working really hard to do this.

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose not many people have heard of YouthNet, the charity that runs TheSite and Do-It, but they have an enormous, unseen impact. I started as a service user on TheSite ten years ago, so I feel like they've seen me through my awkward adolescence and out the other side.

I'm not going to claim to have had a terribly difficult life; I had a rough time with mental health difficulties as a teenager, which manifested in a number of different ways, but generally my family were supportive. I still needed somewhere more private and anonymous to talk and be listened to. A non-judgemental outlet is one of the most helpful things you can give to young people in these circumstances, and that is a huge part of the ethos of TheSite. The fact sheets present information without judgement, and the message board and live chat user communities provide a peer-support system that allows people to be anonymous and therefore more open than they would be among friends and family.

Back in 1996, when the charity was first forming, it was very difficult to find funding. The idea of a charity offering services entirely online seemed somewhat limited in the days of dial-up, and there were concerns about the sort of information children and young people might be able to access (predictably, early on the non-judgemental nature of the information TheSite.org provides has in the past riled the Daily Mail). Now, we can hardly imagine the world without the internet, and it seems obvious to me that young people who find it difficult to access support services turn to the internet for help. Indeed, TheSite.org appears in the top results on Google for issues such as unplanned pregnancy and self-harm. Online support isn't the be-all and end-all for big issues but it can be very helpful in sign-posting people to local services, and persuading them to seek help.

I'm hoping to start training as a chat moderator in the next few weeks, to help facilitate the live chats. These days, a lot of people come to the community through the live chats and it's inspiring to see how uplifting the community can be for people who are in real distress.

Originally posted on RowleyPolyBird

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Only Skin Deep?

Image has been on my mind a lot lately.

If I'm honest, image is on my mind a lot, full stop. If I'm not fretting that my straighteners don't work in humid weather (grrrrr), I'm probably staring agonisingly at my wardrobe / make-up bag, wondering why nothing I own makes me look how I want to.

Actually, I'm even multi-tasking whilst I write this - touching up my roots with my favourite Superdrug blonde - the one that looks like banana-flavour penicillin when you mix it.

I was watching the lovely Ms. Cherry Healey on BBC3 the other day; Cherry's Body Dilemmas (and doesn't she look good in a corset?). I was fascinated by it. I don't suppose this is the place to go into my own particular quirks and insecurities, but I'm a mess of them. For all that the UK media is obsessed with our bodies and how we use and see them, it's actually quite unusual to see this level of frankness and diversity on mainstream telly.

The way we talk about our bodies is warped. It's all extremes and almost never rational. From the HateMail's Liz Jones and her anorexic obsessions to the constant railing against celebrities' wobbly bits and how fatties are eating the NHS out of house and home. The sad truth is that we just can't bear the sight of ourselves.

But what is most refreshing is to see someone who is thin, successful, beautiful, etc., facing up to her own self-consciousness with others without judgement. I admit it challenged my assumption that gorgeous people both know how they look and judge others harshly. I was particularly inspired by the beautiful, and stunningly dressed, Kirsty Lou and her blog. Whilst I cower in high street changing rooms sobbing over size labels, she makes her own clothes and refuses be conformed into someone else's body.

I was struck by her admission that she's suffered because of how she looks. It resonated with me. I've had people cross the street in London to tell me I should diet; they've taunted me from cars in Oxford at 7am and in the back streets of Edinburgh late at night. Friends have called me fat in public and looked astonished when I was upset by it. I even find myself justifying my weight to doctors who don't believe I exercise. I desperately want to take my feminista deconstruction kit to conformist body-shape standards but the truth is that all this just really bloody well hurts and it's too personal to try.

But in the mean time, brava Cherry, Kirsty et. al. for honesty without sentimentality or falsehoods. If telly makes a difference, this is what it looks like. And an honourable mention to Hadley Freeman of the Guardian for this piece which I heartily "hear, hear"-ed earlier this month.

It happens that today is also the fourth anniversary of the death of Sophie Lancaster, a young woman who was killed for her looks. I remember being devastated by the story when I first heard it, as I am by any form of hate crime. The senselessness of the loss of life - not just hers, but also the life her boyfriend and family had known with her in it. S.O.P.H.I.E. (Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere), the foundation her mother founded, is doing great things to teach children that image isn't everything. I wanted to share the video they released today, as further food for thought. We all judge people harshly for how they look; this is a stark reminder of what that culture of judgement does to the world we live in.

Originally posted on RowleyPolyBird