EYF 2016: The morning after

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It is the day after the EYF 2016 and I am sitting in my living room writing this post, trying to arrange the thoughts and memories in my head of the past weekend.

As expected, the workshops I taught this year are what comes up most whenever I think back, I couldn’t be more grateful to Jo and Mica for putting their trust in me and to all those who showed up each day excited about learning a new skill. Their enthusiasm and their smiles whenever they managed to tackle a new stitch are food to my soul and it made me realise that teaching, even though it came to my life quite unexpectedly, may be a love that lasts a lifetime.

The marketplace was a huge array of beautiful stalls, with everything a fibre enthusiast could want and it was very tempting indeed, I will share my purchases later in the week. The yarn fumes were all around and the atmosphere was amazing, with everyone proudly wearing their projects while at the same time admiring other people’s creations and enquiring after pattern info whenever they couldn’t stop themselves.

It was definitely an event to remember and now all we can do is wait for 2017 to come soon.

Have a great week everyone!

xx

Sol

Here we go (again)

My Missed Kingfisher shawl will have its debut at EYF this weekend
My Missed Kingfisher shawl will have its debut at EYF this weekend

A year ago I was getting ready for my first ever fibre festival. I had just finished a project I was very proud of: my Moroccan bag and I was excited to breathe all the yarn fumes and see so many knitters and crocheters in one place.

It is hard to believe that one year after I am getting ready again: choosing what FOs to wear, getting my shopping list ready, planning what stalls to visit first and this time also preparing the classes I will be teaching there. I am so excited and honoured to be part of the amazing line-up of teachers taking part of the EYF this year and I am doing my best to make sure that everyone enjoys my classes and has such a good experience as I did last year.

It is a funny thing when so many knitters and crocheters get together, if you haven’t experienced it you are in for a treat: it seems that when we get together we become even more enthusiastic, supportive and kind to people that we may have never met before. Who cares where we come from or what we do for a living when we have yarn and craft in common? No one. And that is the beauty of this community.

Hope that you have an awesome time if you are lucky to be in Edinburgh this weekend, I will be wearing my Moroccan bag so make sure to say hi if you see me around 🙂

xx

Sol

February 2016 Favourites

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I am back today with another post with my monthly favourites. This is a series I started this year to share my favourite patterns, yarns, notions and all yarn-related things that I enjoyed during the month. If you want to see my January favourites check them out here.

I don’t know about you but for me February started way too slow and then suddenly it went by in a flash. Work has been very busy in the last couple of weeks with no signs of changing in the near future so apologies if posts are less frequent.

Let’s begin with a few stats for this month then.

FOs: During February I finished an Acai hat, a lovely pattern by Clare Devine using Phileas Yarns. I love Clare’s hats, they always fit perfectly unlike every other hat pattern I have ever made, so go check out her Tea Collection if you love hats.

I also finished my Owl jumper by Kate Davies (photos to come after blocking). I do like this sweater but was not very impressed with the pattern, maybe it is because I am a beginner knitter but I found that I needed a bit more explanation in certain parts of the pattern (or at least a link to a tutorial). I also did not like that the measurements for the length of the body or arms were not given by the pattern. I had never done a bottom up sweater and wasn’t sure when to stop for both to make sure it was comfortable to wear (right where my armpit starts or maybe a bit lower?).

Finally, I also finished the sample for my new design and I am very excited with how it turned out. I am currently writing the pattern so it will be a bit longer until it’s published but I will share more sneak peeks soon!

WIPs: During February I also worked on the Missed Kingfisher shawl by The Crochet Project, and it’s still ongoing. I am using some lovely Shilasdair yarn and plan to wear it for EYF if I finish it on time.

Yarn purchased: Z.E.R.O. Ain’t that good? I must plan my shopping for EYF though or it could turn dangerous…!

Now for the favourites for February:

Favourite Patterns

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As I mentioned, I really liked Acai by Clare Devine. I find that I always cast on one of her hats when I want to give myself a knitting treat: quick, uncomplicated and oh-so-pretty.

I am also really liking the Missed Kingfisher shawl by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project, it is a crochet shawl using short rows and I have never done anything like it. It requires some concentration and to keep count of your stitches but Joanne did a great job writing this pattern to make sure that you keep track of your work and warns you whenever you may have difficulty keeping up with your count, it is always appreciated when designers take the time to make their patterns user-friendly.

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Tri Cowl by Yulika Tkacheva – © Yulika Tkacheva

I have also been adding some patterns to my Ravelry library this month: I LOVE the Tri Cowl by Yulika Tkacheva, she is always pushing boundaries with crochet so I keep an eye out for her new patterns. Also, The Crochet Project released a new collection called “Crochet Yeah” with some beautiful patterns using Coopknits Sock Yeah yarn, I particularly like the Tenbury hat and I happen to have two skeins of this yarn in my stash 🙂

Favourite WIP 

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Missed Kingfisher by Joanne Scrace – © Kat Goldin

The award for favourite WIP this month goes to the Missed Kingfisher shawl, it has been my train companion during very long commutes during the last month and for that I will be forever grateful.

Favourite Yarn 

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© Phileas Yarns

This is an easy one: Wanderer Aran BFL by Phileas Yarns which I used for my Acai hat. My dear friend Sylvie is the talented woman behind Phileas Yarns and this yarn is so soft and squishy it was a delight to knit with. Her colours are beautiful and I loved the subtlety of the Sultanhani colour, it makes it perfect for every day wear.

Other things I enjoyed this month:

Life Favourites

  • Gilmore Girls: I started re-watching the whole series and it goes so well with knitting/crocheting! Lorelai Gilmore, you are my hero.
  • Harry Potter audiobooks: I have read the books many times but started listening to the audiobooks during my commute and I am loving them all over again, they are narrated by Stephen Fry and he does a really good job, also a great knitting/crochet companion if you are looking for one.
  • Lucuma powder: If you have ever been in Chile or Peru you must have come across this particular fruit which is an incredibly popular flavour used in cakes, ice creams and desserts. I came across a powder version during this month and have started putting into my yogurt every morning. It tastes like home 🙂

That is it for this month’s favourites, what have you been loving during the past month? Let me know in the comments!

xx

Sol

The value of slow

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For most things in my life, I strive for using as little time as possible. I also try to organise my day so that every hour is planned and therefore used efficiently, given my tendency to start watching TV and suddenly realising that is midnight and I didn’t do anything. These days everyone is working towards faster, faster, faster and I am not the exception.

I realised the other day however that the only slow thing I do is crocheting and knitting. If we think about it in terms of process and time, we are talking snail-speed here. From choosing a pattern (we have all spent countless hours on Ravelry), to finding the right yarn, swatching, then knitting/crocheting the actual project, finishing and blocking, it is a very slow way to get a shawl/hat/sweater/etc. into your closet.

There is a new term going around called slow fashion, it is mainly applied to the fashion industry and how to make the whole supply chain more sustainable and fair to all who take part in it. I believe that this is extremely necessary and important, and we should all support it as customers. But I also believe that this micro level of slow fashion, the personal one, is essential. Taking the time, however long that is, to make something with your hands that is to be worn and loved is something I have really come to appreciate in the last year. Instead of falling on this “go faster” mentality us knitters and crocheters are constantly looking for more challenging patterns that actually make us go even slower, ain’t that amazing?

At the end of 2015 I made my first knitted cardigan. I started on a train journey at the beginning of October and finished it by the holiday time in December, it was a beginner pattern and it actually felt like a quick project. Hallelujah for knitting/crocheting and its magic to make us go slow in a world where faster is king.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

xx

Sol

PS If you are looking for a great beginner sweater pattern, the Ramona Cardigan is perfect. Top down construction in aran weight yarn, a very well written pattern and a lovely and simple fit. Can’t recommend it enough.

Empathy and gratitude

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Empathy’s the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too. – Brene Brown

Last week I wrote a post about my struggles with designing and how I often felt I just wasn’t good enough. I knew I was putting myself out there and wasn’t sure what the reaction would be, I even thought some people would be offended about my rant about “perfect” Instagram feeds maybe hiding not-so-perfect lives. So when so many of you commented here or on social media about how you shared the same fears I was more than surprised: I was dumb struck.

It took some courage for me to hit “Publish” that day, and I thank you all SO much for your own courage to come out and say “yes, I’ve been there too”. Each and every one of your comments has helped others and me see that we are not alone in our difficulties, and as Brene Brown would say: empathy is the antidote for shame. When we share our shame experiences with others and realise we are not alone that feeling of not being good enough starts to shrink. We see that is OK to be imperfect, slow and insecure because despite our constant self talk that “only I am finding this so difficult” it turns out we are all imperfect together.

So THANK YOU. For putting yourself out there, for your honesty and courage to keep it real with me. I could’t be more grateful to have found this fibre community.

Have a great weekend everyone!

x

Sol

How my most liked pattern made me want to quit designing

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Sneak peek of my latest design…!

This is for all who think they are alone in their struggles…

Last year I shared in this space what would become my most popular pattern to date: my Moroccan Tote. It has been favourited by over 2,000 Raverly users, has over 50 projects and was even featured in an issue of Simply Crochet. After reading these facts you may be surprised to hear that my one and only thought after releasing that pattern was: that is it, I am never designing again, I am just not good at this.

Before you think this is a pity party, let me explain why I believed I was not a good designer: because it was too damn hard and if I were good at it (like all the effortless designers I follow on social media) then it wouldn’t be this hard.

If I were part of the “cool designer crowd” then it wouldn’t take me so long to come up with a design idea, I wouldn’t change my mind so many times, I wouldn’t get stuck for hours looking at an unfinished pattern with no clue as to what to do next. It wouldn’t take me so long from idea to published pattern.

And to top all of the above my design process does not look at all like what designers share on Instagram: I don’t have a beautiful workspace at home that looks over stunning scenery, I don’t have pretty dried flowers or cool vintage backgrounds all around me while I work to take amazing pictures with and I can never come up with such awesome colour combos as they put together. These are seriously talented people, and I just couldn’t compare.

So I stopped designing and had been enjoying some quality crochet and knitting time just for myself since then. Until I was reading a book by Brene Brown a few months ago and stumbled upon this quote:

The new cultural belief that everything should be fun, fast and easy is inconsistent with hopeful thinking… When we experience something that is difficult and requires significant time and effort we are quick to think, This is supposed to be easy; it is not worth the effort, or, This should be easier: it’s only hard and slow because I’m not good at it.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

At that moment I thought: Shit. That is exactly what I’m doing. 

I don’t know when it was that we as a society stopped giving value to really hard work, but it is out there. We give up because we don’t believe something is worth the time or because we think we are not as good/quick as we should be. And the latter is usually a consequence of us comparing to others, or most of the time, our idea of those others.

After this it was easy to realise that just because it is (so damn) hard doesn’t mean it is not worth doing. And just because it may be harder for me than for others doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be doing it either. I saw so many people trying out tapestry crochet after my pattern was published, people picking up their hooks or saying that they were inspired to try crochet because of it. That makes up for all the hard work. 

I didn’t realise how much I was comparing myself with my idea of other designers and hadn’t realised that it was shame that made me want to quit: shame that I could never be like them. So if any of you are thinking of designing (or anything really) but are not sure you’re good enough, here is my advice to you:

The rest is up to you. Just know that we all struggle and that usually when you think you are the only one finding something difficult, you are not alone. We are simply more used to sharing the successes than the struggles.

So to keep it real let me tell you that until a week ago I was horribly stuck with the design that I am working on right now and it has taken SO MUCH longer than I thought. I want it to be good, and I am scared that people won’t like it. It took hours of staring at it to find a way to finish it that was just right and I am glad that I stared at it for so long because now I love how it turned out.

Do you want to keep it real with me? Share something you are struggling with in your life at the moment, anything! You may just realise you are not alone…

xx

Sol

Doings and undoings

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Hello everyone, how’s your week going? I have been very busy lately with the blog, my new design and my upcoming classes in Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Did I mention I am teaching three classes this year? I couldn’t be more excited!

I also need to sort out my shopping list for the festival, which let’s be honest: it should be nothing considering the size of my stash but we all know that the yarny fumes at festivals are unavoidable so I might as well be prepared. Any of you going to EYF? Would love to meet up if you are around!

The last few days I have mostly worked on my Owls jumper, the pattern is by Kate Davies and it is sooo cute. I am using a yarn my sister got for me when she was on holiday in the south of Chile last year, it is a very rustic blend of wool and alpaca and I love the colour with browns, greens and pinks showing through. It is very unfortunate that after reaching the underarms I had to rip it all out though… 😦 I realised I was making the wrong size (two times bigger) after forgetting my bust measurements (we all have our days) and getting my gauge wrong. I considered leaving it but decided to rip out and start over and I must admit to being a bit proud of myself for doing this.

It takes so little to undo all that knitting, quite scary indeed to see all those stitches come undone: it’s probably the definition of a horror movie for knitters. It is a quick project though so I am already at the waist with the new size, and now of course I am worried it is a little too small… ain’t that always the case? That is the problem with bottom up sweaters, you can’t really try them on easily. I don’t particularly like fitted jumpers but the pattern calls for a bit of negative ease and it seems to look nice on everyone else on Ravelry so fingers crossed! I don’t think I could rip it out again to be honest so it will just have to fit.

What is YOUR criteria for ripping out and starting over?

Let me know in the comments!

xx

Sol

January 2016 Favourites

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A few years ago I got very obsessed with make up, so much that I created a blog and YouTube channel. In the online make up world YouTube videos are very popular, I guess they are a kind of video podcast where people talk about their favourite products and share great tutorials. One of my favourite types of videos were the “monthly favourites” where each YouTuber would share their favourite products of the month for skin, make up, hair and sometimes non-beauty favourites as well.

I was thinking about new ideas for the blog and thought that I could do my version of monthly favourites, with new patterns I have favourited in the month, yarny tools/accessories I am enjoying, favourite WIP, FO or yarn and some life favourites as well. I don’t want these posts to have a very structured format cause I don’t want to end up choosing a favourite yarn of the month if I didn’t really have one, so I will improvise as I go but I think it will be a fun way to wrap up the month. I won’t put too much detail into these and will opt for making individual posts for things I want to share in more depth with you, such as FOs, WIPs, yarn acquisitions, etc.

Let’s start with a few stats for this month:

  • FOs: just one, a cosy shawl I crocheted for someone very close to my heart while I was in Chile. It was my own design and would like to release it eventually, just need to find the time to write it down and make another sample. In the meantime you can see a sneak peek below…!

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  • WIPs: Apart from the FO I just mentioned, during January I worked on my new shawl design and I also started the Owls jumper by Kate Davies as part of a small KAL we are having at my local knit club. I think I’ll do a post for this later in the month to tell you how its going (in one word: BIG).
  • WIPs on standby: I started a pair of crochet socks by Kat Goldin in the plane and one of the shawls from the Crochet Project but they are both on standby until I finish my shawl design. Has anyone crocheted socks before? Would love some pattern recommendations 🙂 Also on standby are my Freyja shawl by Aoibhe Ni and my Red Robin shawl by Helen Stewart. Both were giving me a headache for different reasons (a complicated chart and a dumb mistake that requires loads of unknitting) so they are in the naughty corner until further notice.
  • Yarn purchased: Way too much! Yarn in Chile is a lot cheaper than in the UK so I admit I went a bit mad… I will share more of what I purchased throughout the coming months, though probably not ALL I purchased…

Now onto the favourites of January 2016:

Patterns

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Here I want to share patterns that I discovered during the month and fell in love with or patterns I have worked on and really enjoyed. For this month I don’t have any favourite patterns I have worked with but I did fall for a few on Ravelry and are now happily sitting in my library:

For knitting I have been obsessed with hats and garments, while for crochet I am always looking for something different and the shawls by Yarn and Style definitely hit the mark. Simple, modern and with great use of colour: now that is the crochet I want to see more of in Ravelry.

Favourite WIP of the month

I think it has to be my shawl design. It has been a love/hate relationship since I started it but overall I am very proud of it so far. Just can’t wait to put it down though… 🙂 For now I will only share the yarn that I am using: some lovely Ginger’s Hand Dyed Yakety-Yak 4ply, you can see one of the colours I am using below… isn’t beautiful?

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Favourite yarn of the month

I haven’t worked with this yarn but it was my favourite purchase while in Chile. It merits its own post but all I will say is: merino yarn in natural shade handspun by Chilean artisans in Patagonia… stay tuned!

Favourite knitting/crochet accessory

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I was looking for a small pencil case to use as a notions/needles/hook case to put in my suitcase for my trip to Chile and found this one in Paperchase. It is just perfect, not too big or too small, it has three separate compartments when you open it and the one in the middle has its own zipper which makes it perfect for small things such as stitch markers.

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I think those are all of my yarny favourites for the month, other things that brought joy to my life during January are:

Life Favourites

  • Yoga for Bedtime by Yoga with Adriene: I love all of Adriene’s routines and have mentioned her in the blog before, but this was the practice I kept returning to during the month for relaxing and unwinding at the end of the day. It only lasts for 20 minutes so it is very easy to fit it into my evenings. Thank heavens for yoga.
  • Flavoured green tea, particularly Regents Park from Yumchaa Tea. The first time I tried green tea I hated it with my life. Then while in London a few months ago a girl in a stall in Camden Market convinced me to buy this green tea but to only brew it for a minute or two since green tea didn’t need more. Oh boy, I didn’t know what I was missing. This tea is deliciously fruity and is perfect after brewing for just one minute.
  • Marvel Agents of Shield: This show saved me from killing myself during 17 hours of flying time, I’ll be forever grateful 🙂 If you like all things Marvel and want something entertaining but that doesn’t require much brain power then this is your show.
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown: This is my third Brene Brown book and it has been my go-to book for those 10 minutes before I go to bed. At first I was a bit disappointed to see that it repeats quite a bit from her older books but it has actually been helpful to revisit some of her insights. If you are feeling stuck in life and looking for some inspiration I cannot recommend this author enough. If you ask me, her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” is the one you should grab first.

What are your favourites for January? Let me know in the comments!

xx

Sol

Crochet in Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 16

Unfold by Yulika Tkacheva © Amy Gwatkin
Unfold by Yulika Tkacheva
© Amy Gwatkin

Hello there! How is the weekend going? I had a very lazy afternoon yesterday watching Gilmore Girls and working on a new crochet pattern (details to come!), don´t you love Saturdays?

I have a quick post for you to share something I came across this week: Pom Pom Quarterly released the preview for their new spring issue and there are some lovely crochet patterns to check out.

Riveret my Merrian Holland © Amy Gwatkin
Riveret my Merrian Holland
© Amy Gwatkin
Imitation by Judith Brand © Amy Gwatkin
Imitation by Judith Brand
© Amy Gwatkin

I particularly like the Riveret pattern by Merrian Holland, I love oversized tops like that. I am really excited to see crochet featuring in great publications such as this one, though I would like to start seeing more garments and less accessories but that may be just because I have been in a “garment mood” for the last year 🙂

Go check them out and let me know which one you like the best!

xx

Sol

Hello again…

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Colours of Chile

Loads has happened since I last wrote in this space. I turned 30, visited my family in Chile after more than three years away, I started to learn how to weave, bought (loads) of yarn, started reading Harry Potter again, unsubscribed to Inside Crochet (is it just me or they used to be a lot better?) and much more.

I can’t really explain my absence: all I can say is that it wasn’t planned and even though I missed it I am also glad I gave myself some breathing room. Now many months later my space in the bloggersphere is calling me back so here I am everyone: older (though probably not wiser) and ready to bring you the stories that surround the stitches that make up each of my days. Again. Welcome back to my crochet (and now also knitting!) journey 🙂

Will be back soon with a sneak peek to a new pattern I am working on and some designing confessions…

Have a great week everyone!

xx

Sol