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! . . .
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
Refuge help run the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 08082000247. Call if you are worried yourself or about someone you know.
Go Jim! Good luck with your training. I adore your humour and admire your (and Jen’s) designs, adventures in knitting. I also love what I learn from the knitting community, every single day. Best from QC, Canada…
what a great picture! he’s totally cover in hand knits!
I must delurk & admire this man publicly. Great cause, great smile & a great athletic heart teeming with humanity. The knitting is just icing. Go Jim!
I’m with you – well done, Jim! Cheeky little interview, too. :)
What I really love about technology? Finding out instantly about how my love of knitting and of doing something, even from far away, to help others can be connected. Thank you for this fun interview, Kate. Bought the ebook and look forward to knitting the designs, especially the scarf. Good luck, Jim!
I am a survivor of domestic violence. (My husband of nearly 10 years is a wonderful man, it isn’t him). Too often DV is glossed over by people who could extend a hand to help. They are embarrassed and, after all, didn’t the woman not ask for it, just a bit??? No!
It is vital that victims of DV, be they women or men, get some expert advice. Leaving the relationship and the time afterwards are the most dangerous- many victims are murdered at this time.
Expert advice can be found on these websites:
And of course, support from friends can be a lifeline.
Now that is impressive, the designs and the cause to RUN!!! Thank you and may you be fleet of foot.
What an exciting post! I ran the London as my 1st marathon. I lived in central London for 2 yrs. I had my 1st real kiss on the bridge along the Mall. So it seemed fitting that I run the London for my 1st marathon for great inspiration. Didn’t quite turn out that way. It was over 80 deg, I had no idea what fancy dress was, and ran behind a man in sheer stockings with only a fig leaf in front. I finally turned that last corner to the Mall, hoping to sprint to the bridge with a memory of Geoff from long ago, but the finish line never passed that magical place. I will buy the kit and wish you fast feet and good training. I will run my 20th marathon this year:)…Would love a fair isle hat pattern for running…Kate?
Ordered as well! Must. Know. About. His. Cowl. Lots of luck Jim!
The cowl is in fact a very tightly wrapped scarf. It’s the imaginatively titled Green Man Scarf by She-Who-Knits (jenacknitwear) and I think you can get it from The Making Spot. The details will be on Jen’s Ravelry pattern page.
Ordered! My husband will love these designs. He can no longer run (he’s 83 and took a bad fall) but he can cheer others on–and he loves knitwear.
An excellent cause and a wonderful hat – good combination!
Thanks for the mention – I’m actually running and knitting the London marathon again this year so tell Jim to watch out for me as he storms past. Good luck with the fund-raising as I know how tough it is as the fund-raising is much harder than the running! Just in case anyone has any spare money, details of my latest efforts are on my blog and London will be my 31st marathon in 8 years.
Hope you’re feeling well at the moment.
I’ll keep an eye out for you Susie. I think I’ll be sporting the mitts to make myself a little more visible. I’m hoping that it will be too warm for the hat!
Jim, odds on it will be another hot one at London this year ‘cos we’ve been doing all our training in the freezing cold! If it does turn warm then please make sure you reduce your pace and don’t push yourself too hard – and take on plenty of fluids. Good luck!
Jim sounds like a stellar guy. Go, Jim Go! We”ll be knitting (and waving) his scarf from this side of the water.
Thank you for letting us know about this opportunity to support such an important cause. I just bought the e book, and the patterns are terrific! I intend to buy the yarns, as well.
Hope you are feeling stronger! Ellen
Done! Well done, Jim, and good luck on the day.
Wow, go Jim!! At the risk of sounding like a show-off…I came in 17th in the London Marathon (women’s race, obviously!) in 1998, so I know the great joys of that event and of heavy training. I always wore a handknitted hat and scarf when running in cool weather and in fact had a “running sweater” (knitted by me) that I used to wear as warm-up gear in training. My fellow athletes would make fun of that running sweater, but I always thought that wool was much nicer than those synthetics that are always so stinky. What a great cause and such useful designs (I especially love the fingerless mitts!). Enjoy the day, Jim, and good luck both with the running and the fundraising. It’s a wonderful event.
Thanks Stephanie. I’ve had a few strange looks as I’ve been charging around in a bright orange hat.