Pattern release: Ocaso

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Ufff…. it feels like forever since I started this design but it is finally here! You can find it on Ravelry here.

This tunisian crochet shawl is constructed using simple stitches and increases, and you can find a tutorial for all stitches in this space. Below are the pattern details and the tutorials which I think would be useful to check out.

Materials:

1 100g skein Ginger’s Hand Dyed Yakety-Yak 4ply (100grams/366metres/400yards 60% Merino, 20% Yak, 20% Silk) in Sound and Fury (Col A)

2 100g skein Ginger’s Hand Dyed Yakety-Yak 4ply (100grams/366metres/400yards 60% Merino, 20% Yak, 20% Silk) in Crunchy Leaves (Col B)

4mm/ US size 6 Tunisian hook with extension (min 80 cm)
1 removable stitch marker
Tapestry needle

Gauge

22 sts and 25 rows in Tss to 10 cm/ 4in using 4mm/ US size 6 hook (or size needed to achieve gauge)

Size

Finished depth: 45cm/ 18in
Finished wingspan: 160cm/ 63in

Skills

Tunisian crochet – foundation row, forward and return passes, Tunisian knit stitch, Tunisian simple stitch, increases, changing colours and bind off in pattern.

Useful tutorials:

Tunisian Crochet 101: Foundation Row and Tunisian Simple Stitch

Tunisian Crochet 101: Tunisian Knit Stitch

Tunisian Crochet 101: Changing colours

How to read my tunisian crochet patterns

Tunisian Crochet: YO increase

Tunisian Crochet: Horizontal chain increase

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If you have any questions regarding the pattern just send me an email at acrochetjourney@gmail.com

Enjoy!

Sol

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Why I am moving from free to paid patterns

"Ocaso" Sneak Peak
“Ocaso” Sneak Peak

Without planning for it, my blog has turned into quite an honest, vulnerable place for me this year. Even though I still share all my yarn and crochet pursuits I am also sharing my feelings, fears and struggles around designing and creating, and I now consider it as a big part of my path towards becoming a braver and more authentic person. For this reason I couldn’t not write this post, no matter how hard it has turned out to explain my reasons.

The free vs paid pattern debate has been something that has always been in the background of the designer world, always lurking. Some people believe that more free patterns should be available, some people believe it makes professional designers’ work more difficult and some people believe there is a place for both. I personally consider myself in the latter category: I think free and paid patterns have a different purpose and people are more and more aware of the value of a paid pattern that has been professionally designed and tested versus a free pattern that probably has not. However I must recognise that it has been a long road for designers to get to this point where their work is valued enough for people to be willing to pay a few pounds for it (which is still clearly not enough), so I understand their frustration.

If you follow my blog you will know that so far I have offered all my patterns for free. The main reason for this was time: I did not have the time to get my patterns to a place and quality where I would feel comfortable to sell them. I work a full time job, which means that I can support myself without having to be paid for my “hobby” and therefore I didn’t see the point in investing the time to sell patterns since I really didn’t need the money.

Well, here I am, a few months later, with a new design coming up and setting everything up to make it my first paid pattern. It turns out, that investing the time was not only possible, but necessary for me to start getting used to the idea that I may not be who I always thought I was. That I may be more than the girl that always had top grades at every single subject in school but always performed less than average in any art class.

The thing is, it has never and it may never be about needing the money for me. I am not saying I am rich and money will never be an issue, I am saying that the value of selling patterns for me is a lot more than the income that comes from them, which let’s face it: it will be very small. It will however, always be about taking myself and my craft (not hobby) seriously. It will always be about challenging and proving to myself that I can do this. That this is not a pastime, a hobby, something on the side that I happen to do, but instead that creating through my designs is a part of me, part of who I am, and my stubborn engineer-you-must-always-be-efficient brain should finally embrace it.

We all grow up with an idea of who we should be, who people around us expect us to be. This craft and the path that is taking me is my way to come to terms with who I am and who I want to be, and learning that it is enough. Learning that it is OK to do something even though it makes you lose money, it is OK to be “arty” as well as logical and brainy, it is OK to be myself. It is about one day finally thinking of myself as creative without choking up.

So here I go. Stay tuned for my upcoming pattern “Ocaso”, a tunisian crochet shawl. It has taken months and months to get to this point, but I couldn’t be more proud to have gotten here.

xx

Sol

Recharging

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We all need to recharge every now and then. As I get older, that every now and then becomes more frequent and even more necessary. Sometimes, I simply recharge by spending an afternoon in my couch, watching movies and crocheting, but other times a deeper recharging experience is required and what better option than traveling to somewhere new and sunny.

A couple of friends and I spent five days in Lisbon during the bank holiday weekend and it was bliss. Walking through those narrow streets, stopping for tea and knitting, a gelato every day and sun shining on our faces. Oh how I need it!

It is very easy to go down a path where being busy is valued over our wellbeing. Where we get trapped in a consumerism rabbit hole that makes us work harder and longer. Where we forget how to listen to our bodies and look for the signs that tell us that we should stop. Stop and take walk, stop and listen to music, stop and knit, stop and read a book. Anything that feels good and gets you to unwind and feel comfortable in your own skin again.

The one advice I would give (and I have to continue to give to myself) is to stop apologising and justifying the little or big things you need to do to get yourself back in alignment. If you needed to spend the whole weekend in bed but it felt great, so what? If you are the only one in your office getting away from the desk at lunch because you need it, don’t feel bad for one minute. If you need a friend rather than being alone, trust me: a true friend doesn’t need you to justify or explain why you called out of the blue asking for company.

So take a minute to think: what does your body and your mind really need right now to feel in balance again?  Then grab your courage and just do it: no excuses, no apologies, no thinking of what others may think. And I say “courage” because being brave is not only about the big decisions in life, is about the smaller ones as well. Be you, who you need to be right now and stop apologising to others for trying to be at peace with yourself. That is true courage to me.

I know I am not there yet myself, these words are as much for you as they are for me. I am a work in progress and realising that is what really counts.

xxx

Sol

Tutorial: Tunisian Purl Stitch (Tps)

It’s been a while since I have shared a tutorial with you guys, they take quite a bit of time but I have noticed that a lot of the traffic to the blog is to check out tutorials and patterns so I am sharing another one today and there are a couple more on the way.

When teaching tunisian crochet I find that the tunisian purl stitch is a stitch some people struggle with while others find it just fine, so don’t get discouraged if it is a bit awkward at first, it may take some getting used to but it is a very good stitch to learn since it gives lovely texture to your fabric and also counteracts curling (if you don’t want your edges to curl start and finish your project with a few rows of tunisian purl stitch).

I have worked a few rows of tunisian simple stitch to get started, check out my tutorials page if you are just starting with tunisian.

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Here is our undefined row, we will be working into the front vertical bars to work the purl stitch. IMG_0501_1

As always, skip the first vertical bar that is linked to the loop on your hook. Now bring your yarn to the front of your hook as shown below.
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Maintaining the yarn in front, insert your hook from right to left under front vertical bar of next stitch (just as you would for Tss)…IMG_0506_1

… and let the working yarn fall in front of the stitch creating a cross as you can see in the picture. IMG_0508_1

Now all that is left to do is yarn over and pull through the loop. To make things easier for you go ahead and hold the working yarn with your thumb to make it easier to pull the yarn over through. IMG_0510_1 IMG_0511_1 IMG_0512_1

Now give it a little tug… IMG_0513_1

And move on to the next stitch, remember to bring the yarn in front of your hook before starting each stitch.IMG_0514_1 IMG_0517_1 IMG_0519_1 IMG_0520_1 IMG_0521_1 IMG_0522_1 IMG_0523_1

The end stitch is worked as usual, going under two loops instead of one.

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And there you have it! IMG_0534_1

Hope that is clear, if not just leave a comment and I will do my best to help.

Have a great weekend everyone!

xx

Sol

March 2016 Favourites

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March has come and gone and with it I bring you another monthly favourites post. This month has been very busy on all fronts, with a bit of sunshine among all the cloudy and rainy days, which is always welcomed. I am finishing my new design at the moment and already thinking of the next one of course.

As predicted, lately I am knitting more than crocheting. There are not many crochet patterns that attract my attention lately, and when they do it is usually for shawls and accessories but and my garment mood has still not left me. So I am taking it as it comes, making sure that it doesn’t go too long without crocheting something. I think my next project will be the Riveret top from the latest Pom Pom magazine (you can check out this post where I mentioned it), I have a short holiday coming up and it seems like the perfect project for sunnier days.

So, as usual I will begin with a few stats for the month:

FOs: My only FO for this month was my Missed Kingfisher shawl by Joanne Scrace. I love love love how this shawl turned out and have been wearing it a lot with my Ramona Cardigan. I used some Shilasdair Luxury 4ply yarn that I purchased while on the Isle of Skye last year and also from Mei at Be Inspired Fibres. I love the subtle tones of their natural dyes, it matches my style very well and the yarn is also very soft.

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WIPs: My main WIP this month has been the Rosemont Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. I am so anxious to see how it will turn out, I have high expectations for this cardigan and I am a bit scared I will end up disappointed (I have always been a “glass half empty” kind of gal). I am using a 100% BFL yarn by West Yorkshire Spinners and it is so fluffy and soft it is like knitting with butter. Fingers crossed it will turn out alright!

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I am also very proud to say that I picked up one of my dormant projects and it is almost finished, my Red Robin shawl by Helen Stewart. This was one of my first knitted shawls and had been abandoned after I made a mistake and needed to do a bit of unknitting. I don’t have any pictures yet but will share these soon.

Yarn purchased: The only yarn I bought this month was the one I bought at EYF, you can see my complete haul here.

So, the favourites for the month of March are:

Favourite Patterns

I don’t have a favourite pattern that I have worked on this month, my Rosemont cardigan has been OK but nothing special really. In terms of patterns I have been browsing this month I have been dreaming with casting on every single pattern by Carrie Bostick Hoge, particularly her Sibella Pullover (for which I already have the yarn, thank you EYF!). There has not been much crochet that has appealed to me this month except for the Yoga Top by Elena Fedotova,  I think this is definitely going to my queue.

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Sibella Pullover © carrie bostick hoge
yoga top
Yoga Top © Lena Fedotova (ravliki)

Favourite WIP

Simply because I am proud to be finishing it at last, my Red Robin shawl wins for favourite WIP this month. It is a simple and small pattern (compared to my cardi which is huge at the moment) and therefore it has been my social/train project this month.

Favourite yarn

hedgehogfibres.com
hedgehogfibres.com

Even though I love the WYS yarn I am using for the Rosemont cardigan, I had forgotten how much I loved the Hedgehog Fibres yarn I was using for my Red Robin shawl. This is my first big project using variegated yarn and it was so nice to see how the colour changed through the stitches, never knowing what was coming next. The different tones of pink, fucsia and copper are just stunning. The base is their Sock yarn in the Pheasant colour way.

Favourite New Technique

I have a new section this month since I learned a new knitting technique and have been loving it: German short rows. Since most patterns call for wrap and turn short rows I had learned this but thought it was a bit easy to forget a step or miss a wrap. I had purchased a Craftsy class for short rows so decided to take a look and discovered the German short rows, now I am never going back to wrap and turn! There are loads of tutorials on Youtube and a free class on Craftsy so if you are not familiar with this technique I recommend you check it out.

Favourite Accessory

My friend Sariann from Chopped Ginger made a beautiful project bag using some fabric I purchased when I went on a Highlands road trip last year. I love the size and have been using it for my Rosemont cardi all month. Sariann also sells beautiful yarn through her Wool Project, which focuses on sourcing from local farms, make sure to check it out. I love having such talented friends!

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I also ordered the cutest stitch markers from Of Blithe Spirit, I just had to get them! They came in such a lovely package, there was even a green tea teabag in there 🙂

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Other things I enjoyed this month:

Life Favourites

  • Decaf Peach tea: This is my go-to tea for the evenings, the peach flavour makes me think of warmer days.
  • Sunbites Crackers: Have your tried these crackers? I keep buying them to take as a snack to work, they are soooo tasty.

That is if for last month’s favourites, let me know what you enjoyed during March in the comments section!

xx

Sol

EYF 2016: The haul

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Happy bank holiday weekend! Hope you all have a relaxing time, crochet and knitting included 🙂 I am currently working on a new cardigan myself: Rosemont by Hannah Fettig from her book Home and Away. I love all the patterns in this book and it is so beautifully presented it is just nice to flip through it, recommend you guys check it out.

I am back today to share my EYF haul with you guys, I am very happy with my purchases and also very proud that I didn’t buy much yarn this time which is a very good idea considering the size of my stash at the moment. I’ll start with my favourite purchases of the festival: I think I stopped by Pink Hazel‘s stall about a dozen times during the festival and managed to buy two of Annette’s stunning creations.

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The first is an interchangeable needle organiser in this awesome sheep fabric. She also sold these really cool rings for you to sew to your organiser and mark the sizes of the needles, so smart! This is SO WELL MADE. The quality of the fabric and the stitching, the details, it is just the perfect needle roll and I had to get it. She also sells a small travel version that I think I may have to buy from her online now!

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My other purchase from Pink Hazel was one of her wristband project bags, again this is such a smart idea to have a bag you can hang from your wrist for those projects on the go. I got this cool stag fabric, love it! Again, really good quality, I am sure this bag will last for a long, long time. Thank you so much to Annette, it was great chatting with her and hope she is back next year 🙂 Oh, and check her website to buy online if you can’t wait until then.

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Continuing the project bag and notions theme, I stopped by Little Grey Girl’s stall and got myself a sheep project bag and some tea-themed stitch markers (tea is my other obsession apart from yarn). I also stopped by Ginger Twist and Chopped Ginger’s stall and got a cute little notions pouch that I couldn’t resist, it s now the home of my stitch markers and they are loving their new place.

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Moving on to yarn, I only got two sweater’s worth this time: three skeins of Ysolda’s Blend Nº1 and four skeins of Baa Ram Ewe’s Dovestone in the colour Aire. Both incredibly soft and my hands are itching to cast on with them, but I shouldn’t…!

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Finally, I bought this beautiful wool blanket from Knockando Mill’s stall (I just saw that it is still available online if you are interested), they were having a EYF special and it simply called out to me. It is funny but I have recently bought quite a few home stuff that I put away the minute I get home because I want to use them in my “future-not-rented” home, and this one will definitely go on the back of a future couch 🙂

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And that is it! I am so happy with all my buys, please go check out some of the websites if you are interested in anything, we must support great small businesses like these.

Hope you have an awesome weekend!

xx

Sol

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

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

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