Thursday, 24 November 2016

How to make a Nidd Valley Beanie

This hat is crocheted using two different colours as a twin spiral.

You will need two standard balls of Aran weight yarn. One dark grey,  one yellow, I used Drops Alaska Dark Grey Mix  and Rico Essentials Sun yellow  along with a 4mm crochet hook, I like the knit pro Symfonie hooks, other hooks are available.

Most of my pattern is blatantly stolen from the Moriaty hat on little house by the sea  from whom I also nicked the pics (didn't seem a lot of point taking my own), but I have modified it as I find I get a hat that is too small otherwise.

When I crochet, I work the stitches pretty tight, I get an almost felted effect as I firmly snug the yarn up after each stitch.

Notes on sizing

I have an average size head and am pretty baldy, this hat fits snug with 120 stitches as the crown circumference.

If you crochet loose you might want to drop the 2 double crochet increases in round 18 and just double crochet into each stitch. Alternatively if you have a big head with thick hair or want a loose hat you could repeat round 18's 2 double crochets on round 19, you would then have 130 stitches and a bigger hat.


dc means double crochet

Shaping the crown

To start: with your dark grey yarn make an adjustable ring (this is just a slipknot) by making a loop with your yarn with the tail end of the yarn in front of the working yarn, insert your hook into the loop and draw the working yarn through, then chain 1.

Round 1: dc six times into the adjustable ring, then pull the yarn through so you have a big loop and remove the hook – remember to do this on every round so that you don’t accidentally unravel your stitches.

Round 2: Join contrasting yarn into the adjustable ring, pull the ring closed, then dc twice into each of the stitches in the previous round. (12 stitches)

Round 3: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (12 stitches)

Round 4: 2 dc into each stitch of previous round. (24 stitches)

Round 5: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (24 stitches)

Round 6: 2dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next stitch. Repeat until end. (36 stitches)

Round 7: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (36 stitches)

Round 8: 2dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next two stitches. Repeat until end. (48 stitches)

Round 9: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (48 stitches)

Round 10: – 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next three stitches. Repeat until end. (60 stitches)

Round 11: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (60 stitches)

Round 12: – 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next three stitches. Repeat until end. (75 stitches)

Round 13: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (75 stitches)

Round 14: 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next three stitches. Repeat until end. (93 stitches)

Round 15: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (93 stitches)

Round 16: 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next 4 stitches. Repeat until end. (111 stitches)

Round 17: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (111 stitches)

Round  18: dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next 11 stitches. Repeat until end. (120 stitches)

Crown shaping is complete.

Main body of the hat

Continue to alternate your colours by dc into each stitch as before for 14 more rounds. It helps hide the transition to a single yarn if you chain 6 stitches as you switch to working a single colour yarn. You will see what I mean when you get there.

If you have enough yarn you can then work 8 rounds in black or yellow as you choose to make the final coloured band at the base of the hat. I ran out of dark grey so I did 5 rounds in Grey and then 3 in yellow.

Weave in all ends.

This hat fits half way down my ears and over the eyebrows, if you want longer do a few more rounds.

Finally dip in some warm water and plonk on head to dry and block it into shape.
Posted on 09:12 | Categories:

Sunday, 23 October 2016

To do nothing would be stupid and dangerous

What if we had money to improve Leeds Transport along a gridlocked road corridor and had evidence that the current road layout was killing and injuring people disproportionately but we did nothing about it? That would be bonkers would it not?

So here we are, the Otley Road corridor into Leeds resembles a carpark at rush hour which is bad for drivers. It  makes Leeds a clean air black spot. It holds the buses up and as this new map of cycling casualties in Leeds for the last five years shows. It appears to be injuring more than it fair share of cyclists.

This is a bad thing and as of now there are no plans to do anything to change this lamentable situation. You can't make this stuff up.

What if you put a park and ride on the available land by the ring road. Improved bus priorities into the city and made them electric. Fitted a segregated cycleway so people could park and ride (bus or bike) and you funded it using some of the £175 million quid you have from your failed trolley bus scheme? That would be better for everyone.

If you wanted to drive  in you could, but if the buses where good or you fancied the bike you would. That's the experience from the rest of the world anyway.

So why wouldn't you do that Leeds City Council and Greg Mullholland MP?
Posted on 03:01 | Categories:

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The price of Sucess

Sam's Idea I acquiesce. Horton again, not long after dawn, sun is out, mist on the tops, a great day. Yorkshire's Three peaks is the target. I'm easily the least able member of the party which includes a dangerous Rickard, but nothing ventured, why not?

We start well, Penyghent gives in easily. 40 minutes sees us on top in the mist and making good time back towards Ribblehead, now in full sun, the miles tick by on good undulating tracks but mainly down. Sam is stamping out a good tempo. 10 miles in at the tea shed, all is well and nearly half distance done.

We take Whernside direct. It is steep, boggy and unrelenting. The ridge looks a good way off. There is a keen wind chilling you down as the slope steepens to hand territory at the top.

Sam is shouting the odds, threatening my death over route selection but he should be quiet, he is way out in front and unlike me can still speak. Matt is keeping him company as I hit my VO2 max and engage crawler gear.

The top is a windy freezer, no place to linger. I shuffle off to the valley, but the writing is rapidly on the wall. My legs are cold, solid and empty and sub 10 minute miles are but a memory of past glories, even though only an hour ago. I am the shambling man.

I stumbletrip down the track but I'm barely passing walkers, cramp is kicking off leftrightleft. Sam and Matt are now walking faster than I can run. We chat, they know the undead when they see it and I persuade them to keep going, I will self-rescue to the pub. What a trooper.

So here I am, there is a log fire. I contain some very nice sausage and mash and I'm just starting my second pint. I should be annoyed at a poor effort but that's the furthest I have run post op and the pace was ok. Even my disappointment is tinged with happiness.

Oh and Matt and Sam get to run a negative split on the last leg and smash 6 hours.

There is still a lot of work to be done by me, some of my long term goals look distant, but I have come a long way in 7 months after major surgery. The price of ultimate success is initial failure and I now know where my limits currently are. Good Day

Location:Horton in Ribblesdale

Posted on 08:02 | Categories:

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Doing the bike thing

I have been the cycle support Officer at Leeds Beckett University for two years now, dream job. When I tell my friends what I do I get a look of benign tolerance or "Is that actually a job?". Honestly it's great. I get people riding bikes so they are active and their Co2 and NOx emissions are then so low as to be not worth mentioning. I have discussed adherons and detecting anthrax in the blood whilst changing brake blocks and I have got tops tips about where to ride and climb to last me the rest of my life. For a year or two more, until my kids hit secondary school this will do nicely.

In previous lives I have driven a CAD machine to design robots, project managed a few heavy industry jobs and spent a decade at the chalkface in secondary education. All had their rewards, this is better.

We have a little more than a 100 bikes, that we hire out to students. £50 the academic year which has got to be the travel bargain in Leeds. Lots of our international students take advantage. I wish more Brits would, I'm working on that.

We help fix staff and students own bikes in our workshop one at the Headingley campus. One down in the city which we share with Leeds University. You never know what will come into the workshop next. Generally you can help and when people realise they aren't paying for labour often they are delighted.

We have quality facilities on campus, lockable bike cages, showers lockers. All things that make a cycle commute more viable. We have staff pool bikes, one of which is electric. I would like some more of these, they play well with people who might cycle but don't. Much has been done, much more needs to and will be done.

I am part of a great team at Sustainability a few of which help me directly. Jason the transport planner and also my boss is a cycling nut too. He gets involved with bike stuff as well as all the other things in his in-tray and increasingly is getting his hands dirty in the workshops. More importantly he is helping shape long term planning as I'm often in the workshops getting bikes under people. Esme is our intern and is turning out to be a social media wiz so hopefully we can get the message about what we do out to even more people.

We are lucky to have an excellent team of volunteers at both sites, who give up their time because they love what we do. Because they like to do some good and learn how to keep their own bikes in good order. Ultra volunteer Kathryn is soon to start a PHD in Hamburg, over peak hire period in the city she has helped every day and made this super busy time fun rather than a trudge.

If I have frustrations about my role its that you can only take what we do so far. The biggest barrier to people riding a bike in the UK is the perceived danger. It's safer than you think, but in Leeds with its poor cycle infrastructure and car-centric design that fear is ever present in many. We desperately need improved cycle provision on the Otley Road corridor into town. That more than anything is the single thing that could make cycling an easy and obvious choice for many more people. Leeds has £175 million to spent on transport after the trolley bus went the way of all things. Surely we can find 10% of that to spend on walking cycling on one of the busiest routes into the city that is nothing more than a linear car park at rush hour on weekdays?

Leeds needs political will now to make a difference like great world cities already have. More than ever this dynamic city, economically vital to the region risks grinding to a halt at rush hour, as last century's engine of choice belches fatal fumes into it's air. We can do better than that and we have the money to make that happen. I'm doing my small bit, who will help me do more?

Can the two universities acting together lobby local government to bring about a change in transport policy that would make Leeds a nicer city to live in. One where the population would also reap the massive benefits of activity that lead to longer lives that put less strain on our health service?

Before this turns into a rant let me finish by saying. If you are needing your bike fixed, If you need to know about facilities on the campuses. If you want to know the best routes through the city and there are best routes even if non are great, If you want to hire, borrow, buy or improve a bike. Or if you want to volunteer and help us make our city more sustainable Email

If I can help, I will.

Posted on 07:55 | Categories:

Thursday, 10 March 2016

One Night In Middlesborough

Last night one guy started doing the funky chicken, careering backwards across the room, he was just trying to make the rubbish bin on legs that had no blood in them. Down he went like a beer barrel into a cellar, catching his head on the way. Got away with it. I screamed "man down" and the nurses came running.  Everyone else just watched, but then he needed hourly checks to make sure he didn't have a head bleed. He had threatened to hit a nurse earlier, she came to help, I might well have taken my time. Tonight 84 year old John has got up at 2am to announce he needs a shower before his op in the morning. The nurses have got him back to bed. I am sure he is terrified but his arteries are like car injectors after too many miles with cheap supermarket petrol in the tank, he can barely manage a waddle. Welcome to the cardiac ward. Much human life is here but mostly the unwell and the hangers on hoping for an extended sentence. 

I can sleep for maybe of 20 mins in the hour. I had the minimal invasive op where they leave your breastbone intact, but my side is a little sore tonight, so I'm passing the time as the hippos belch and fart scribbling a few words. Most of these guys had the full cut, carve and rewire the chest job, despite the morphine many are in agony, some turning down pain relief, what the hell is that about? 

Cardiac wards have their own smell, I reek of it.  Phlegm from your lungs I think and gastric gas. Not nice it smells of death and defeat. 

Outside the birds are now singing tomorrow is already another day, with any luck I'm heading home, remodelled, serviced and with the potential for many more miles on the clock. Most of my fellow travellers will be here a few days yet. My scars will heal, it is worth it. My valve was scanned today it is back to full function. Enock Akowuah is a master craftsman. Thanks to everyone who kept me grinning the last few days. Stay Healthy, It has been an experience. Here is to sleeping through once more.

Posted on 18:45 | Categories:

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Rescue Me

I don't rattle the chugging tin very often, but I'm going to make an exception on January 10th and bang the drum for the Mountain Rescue. Two people I knew gave big chunks of their lives to the rescue and they both died recently. Jim Duffy and Steve Hildtich were both everyday people who did the odd extraordinary thing in their spare time and saved a few lives. Jim led the Oldham Team, Steve the Derby Team. Jim was a friend, Steve an acquaintance, both where really good at what they did and generous with their knowledge.

I didn't get rescued once, let me explain. Sometime in the 80's on the upper slopes of the Derwent Valley, I'm on a fell run practice in mid February. There is six inches of snow, we are breaking through a thin, friable ice crust and wading through the powder beneath, my shins getting cut to ribbons. Three of us break from our big group ignoring a fairly clear instruction, youthful exuberance getting the better of us. We lose contact with the rest. Suddenly we are three and one big empty moor. Then we are lost. We decide to follow a stream bed off the hill. I can't remember much about the next hour, but I remember being cold as we slowed down. Then climbing out of a snowed up stream gully, as I get to the ridge line a lump of powder snow slumps and there is a sheep frozen into the snow, its eyes open.

We get down to a road look at the map and see we are 7 or so miles from where we need to be. We start a run/walk to cover the ground to the van. We get there in time for a well deserved bollocking and the news the the rescue are out looking for us. Giving up their Sunday to look for some idiots who were out of their depth. We get word out, the pointless rescue is called off. We slink off home.
Since then I have always put a few quid in the fundraising tins, out of a mixture of guilt and as an insurance policy for the next time I do something stupid on a hill. I'm much more careful now but you never know.

Anyway a few of us are wandering round lower Wharfedale on January 10th and climbing a few boulders to try and raise some money for them. If you love the outdoors, or you know people that do, it might be worth remembering these few things:

The Mountain Rescue, work for nothing other than their own love of the outdoors and the odd bit of kit. They are perpetually underfunded yet still manage to apply their extensive local knowledge to getting prats like me and the genuinely unlucky out of tricky situations on the moors and mountains of this small but sometimes harsh island.

In some parts of the world you pay for rescue, sometimes if you haven't paid or can't pay you won't be getting rescued. Our rescue teams are a very British, low key, small scale success story and they always need a few quid, if only to put diesel in the Land Rover.

My local team is Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association and our just giving page for the event is here.

Don't give because you think we are doing something extraordinary we are not. Give because they do something extraordinary and we often take our real heroes for granted.

Posted on 14:11 | Categories:

Monday, 13 July 2015

An open Letter to Harrogate Borough Council

Dear Richard Cooper and Rebecca Burnett,

Well done on the big bike bash it was ace. I had fun my family loved it. Pity to get there that we had to ride across the Stray as letting my kids on Harrogate's roads gives me the fear and I'm a bikeabikity instructor.

For one day though cycling in Harrogate was king. That makes three days in all, in two years. Obvs the rest of the time if you want to cycle round the center of town you take your chances with the SUV's and Porsche's clogging up the centre, but well them's the breaks.

Real shame you have painted no cycling on some of the paths we road over on the Stray, do you think that will help? Or did you not really think it through? Here is why I think that was daft thing to do.

You see these are indeed pedestrian footpaths, at least in the eyes of the law. You could fine people if they ride their bikes on them, but will you? If you do I want hear from these people. I want to know why they thought that riding these paths made sense, were they intent merely on civil disobedience? Why weren't they taking their chances with the cars on the roads? Cars doing getting on for 40 mph on the side of the Stray. I  mean there is traffic free cycling for over halfway across the Stray and then admittedly it dumps you on the Stray Rein which is grand if you are going into town, but what if you are trying to get to the Big Bike Bash or Parliament St?

Simples, just time trial like Wiggo to the Prince of Wales Roundabout make the tricky right at the roundabout, get yourself down towards Betty's as the cars change lanes to get into the multi storey and you are grand, no drama, it is fun. I have even done it a couple of times. With my head down I don't even get beeped at and on Strava it looks fantastic. My youngest it doing intervals on the turbo trainer at the moment. I have promised him a fat rascal if he can make Betty's by bike on the roads before he is 14.

Maybe if you really want folk off the footpaths, you need to think seriously about some decent bikey infrastructure on the roads? Shared two way use of the Strayside down to the Prince of Wales would work too, from the Stray Rein down to the Prince of Wales. Not many walk that way they use the footpath by the mansions, or I don't know I can think of half a dozen solutions that don't paint bike riders as the enemy, but see them as part of the solution and would cost next to nothing. We are all in this together aren't we? I drive and walk more often than not, I want it to be good for everyone.

More shared use on the Stray seems to be a no-brainer, how did we go from centre of the cycling world to treating cyclists like they carry Ebola in 12 months? 

Maybe if you had consulted on this or looked for different solutions it would not have wound so many people up. I was only moved to write this because of the strength of feeling on social media, I'm not going to fight this anymore, I don't have the time to expose this any further as perhaps it deserves.

One final thought, I went to watch Federer/Jokovic down at Montpelier on Saturday, again good on you for putting it on. You know what? I took the car, it's too much of a pain in the bum using the bikes with the kids if you heading to that part of town. I have to break too many of your rules, so I was part of the problem once more and that's rubbish and it happened on your two's watch.

Posted on 12:18 | Categories: