Jim’s running (and knitting) for Refuge

VeufTricot

Who is this man? Well, some of you may know him as Veuf Tricot, author of the scabrous and witty column in UK magazine Simply Knitting. But I know him as Jim, husband of my good friend and colleague Jen. As well as being a teacher, writer, and all-round good egg, Jim is currently in training to run his first marathon in London on April 21st in support of Refuge — a UK charity which supports women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Not content with predictable methods of seeking sponsorship through through direct donations, Jim whipped out his needles and yarn and got to work to raise some cash. With the assistance of three great independent yarn dyers and, of course, the inimitable Jen, Jim has created a collection of three marathon-themed accessories, with all sales going towards his fundraising efforts. I recently caught up with Jim to hear more about the project.

Tell us about your three designs, and the inspiration behind them. 

It started off with an email from Sarah at Babylonglegs offering to do a special colourway to help with my fundraising efforts. We then both wondered about doing a pattern as well. This was on a weekend when I spent a lot of time waiting at traffic lights driving up to Manchester. I can’t imagine where the colour choices came from! . . .

ready2(The Ready Mitts will keep your hands warm during Winter training, and are knitted up in Fyberspates MCN sport)

. . .The choice of accessories was quite straightforward. Fingerless gloves are a must for winter running, so they are as much practical as decorative. Similarly, the hat had to serve the purpose of having a thicker brim than crown to keep my Prince Charles ears warm without running the risk of overheating. I also had visions of knitters cheering me along the marathon route in London swinging their scarves around their heads like continental football fans as I serenely loped past.

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(Jim’s ears are cosy in his Steady hat, knitted up in in Skein Queen’s beautifully rich and vibrant Saffron ‘Desire’ yarn)



This is your first marathon. What has been the most challenging aspect of the training?



The training itself is generally fine. It’s the worrying when I miss a session due to work, injury, illness, or simple exhaustion that’s the hard part. My real fear is that I won’t be sufficiently prepared. That and getting up on a Sunday morning to leave the comfort of a warm bed to pound the streets in the pouring rain.


Can you turn a heel?

I’ve turned my ankle on many occasions and turned stomachs, but I don’t think I’ve ever turned heads and never a heel.



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Some adventurous marathon runners, like Susie Hewer, have found ways to knit and run simultaneously. Will you be attempting to combine these two activities?

No. I can’t do more than one thing at once. Before Christmas, I couldn’t run and look where I was going at the same time, so I found myself landing face-first onto the pavement. In my defence, it was dark and the recycling box I’d tripped over was black.



Veuf Tricot had a lot to say about the penchant for pompoms this past Winter. What is your knitting-trend forecast for the Spring? 


Cabled onesies inspired by Aran jumpers. Infantile, but traditional.



You have documented Jen’s focused obsession with all things teal-hued . . . but is there a particular shade of yarn that floats your boat? 


My appreciation of all things knitted for me is well documented. I don’t think there’s a particular single colour that I must have absolutely everything in. Having said that, I do like my green Fyberspates Gloucester Tweed socks and the Skein Queen Steady Saffron for the Steady Hat in particular.



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Veuf Tricot documents the world of knitting with a certain amused detachment .  . . and yet you are a knitter and designer yourself, who is completely implicated in that world. What I am saying is that despite your occasionally scabrous remarks you clearly love knitting really. What’s your response? 


I am a knitter and designer, not a Knitter and Designer. While I’ve been satisfied with the outcomes thus far, I’ve no great affection for knitting itself. My being part of Knitterworld is probably more about my marriage than for knitting. I think that the columns I’ve done for Simply Knitting are a kind of alternative to love letters or poetry, neither of which are really me. Despite my antipathy towards Knitting, I still pay attention, take it all in and support her in her incoherent gibbering.

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(Jen will be supporting Jim wearing her Go! scarf, knitted up in Babylonglegs ‘semi-precious’ in a specially-dyed colourway)



Finally, tell us why you are running for Refuge?

Domestic violence is more prevalent within our society than most people realise. It’s not something you often see out in public, but something you learn about long afterwards. We have friends who have suffered domestic violence, or lived in fear of violence, and we simply haven’t known about it until much later on. Refuge work with mostly women and children to help them to escape from their abusive relationships and move on. Some funding for the services provided by Refuge comes from the public purse, but with budgets being cut, fundraising is becoming ever more important. I could have set up a monthly direct debit and been a supporter of the charity, but felt that I could do more.
The second reason is that Refuge has become a family charity. Both my sister and one of my brothers have run the London Marathon to raise awareness of Refuge and my sister-in-law has worked for them. Last summer there was a bit of an awkward family dinner with fingers pointed at both me and my other brother with cries of, “Who’s next?”
Of course, the main reason is that I have tried to escape from having to model for Jen’s blog. Unfortunately, it has all gone a bit wrong as I’ve had to model my own designs. Still, it will be worth it if I hit my fundraising target.

Thankyou, Jim!

Running a marathon is no small feat — living with another runner I know what a gargantuan emotional and physical effort the training takes and what a massive achievement it is to run that distance on the day. Jim’s fundraising target is £2,000. He has currently raised just over half that sum. Please support him and Refuge by purchasing the Ready, Steady, Go! ebook via Ravelry. For just five pounds you’ll receive three great patterns and help him reach his goal. If you prefer to make a direct donation, you can do so here.

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Refuge help run the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 08082000247. Call if you are worried yourself or about someone you know.

three hats!

Perhaps it is the time of year, but I definitely find myself in full-on hat-knitting mode. I’ve finished the first clue of my Woolly Wormhead Mystery hat . . . I’m not sure whether or not the next photograph warrants a SPOILER ALERT warning, since it is purposely rather cryptic and unrepresentative, but if you are involved in the KAL and would rather not see, then look away now!

I am using Fyberspates Rural Charm (70% Bluefaced Leicester 20% Silk & 10% Cashmere) in shade “Forest,” a birthday gift from Jen and Nic (thanks, ladies). This deliciously luxe, and slightly variegated yarn is quite unlike anything I’ve been knitting with recently, and I absolutely love it. It is soft and smooth in the hand, with an amazing sheen, but the high proportion of Blueface Leicester means that it also springs up with a little bit of steam – the stitches bloom and puff out to fill their available space in a most pleasing manner. The ‘forest’ colourway is a beautifully complex green, with some dark undernotes and a lot of Autumnal gold in the finish. . this is beginning to sound like a whisky tasting . . . in any case, it is a very tasty skein indeed, and I’m looking forward to my next clue, so that I can continue working with it.

Clearly knitting Woolly’s brim has made me hungry for head coverings, as I immediately cast on another:

This is not, strictly speaking, a hat, but Anna Elliott’s Spirograph Headband which appeared in a Summer Issue of Knit Now, and whose neat simplicity I have admired for some time. One of the perils of working from home is the inevitable neglect of one’s personal appearance. Recently, I have been working very hard, and I would frankly rather spend time on my book and other important stuff than superfluous matters like, um, brushing and styling my hair. The only person I tend to see during the day is the postie (who doesn’t seem to care that I am dishevelled) and I only leave the building to go for a walk with Bruce (who happily has said nothing along the lines of ‘she’s letting herself go a bit’ etc). Anyway, some days when walking time arrives, I just want to gather up my unruly mane, squirrel its hideousness away in a pleasing TUBE, get out of the house, and go for a good four mile stomp. Until the book is done and I can be arsed dealing with my increasingly unkempt appearance, this headband will hopefully fulfill that function. I am using Kid Classic, one of my Rowan favourites, in shade ‘Nightly’ (846).

And finally, some yarn that has not yet begun to be a hat, but will certainly do so soon. The yarn is grey Shetland 4 ply from the lovely folk at Shetland Organics. This yarn has a great bouncy hand, a proper Wintery sheepy feel, and a real depth of hue in its natural fleece shades. I have been gripped by a familiar compulsion to make lots of festive things, and fear I am about to design a hat whose seasonal theme will make Boreal look quite restrained. We will see how this goes . . .

woolfest


Herdwick lamb


Mel, Felix and I – setting up shop


Wearing our Deco cardigans, and ready for, um, action. . .


Woolfest throng


Periphery


Susan’s stand was utterly delectable. Everything was displayed so beautifully.


Customers admiring Helen’s gorgeous wares.

Natalie’s fab herd-of-sheep stitch markers.


Jen and Nic having a giggle.


Lily France looking fabulous in the Betty Mouat sweater


Bruno the North Ronaldsay ram. What a lovely old boy he is.


Woolsack cushions.


Deconstruction.

There are two rubbish things about my present situation: one is suffering from post-stroke fatigue, and the other is worrying about the grim possibility of whether or not one is going to be suffering from post-stroke fatigue. I can tell you that there was quite a bit of the latter in the lead-up to Woolfest. This was the first time I’d attended any sort of public ‘event’ in my new professional capacity and I was (to put it mildly) concerned about whether or not I was going to be able to manage. Happily, I have three amazing comrades – Tom, Mel and Felix – who shouldered much of the burden, and thanks to them, everything was totally FINE. Things were very hectic, and the weather was insane, but I met many, many lovely people, and it was grand to see folk walking around in sweaters I’d designed, and being generally enthusiastic about what I do. It has been quite a weekend, so I’m going to take a few days off to relax now. In the meantime, I have released the Sheep Carousel and Tír Chonaill patterns as digital downloads, and I will be back in a few days with news about the availability of my kits, if anyone is interested.

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