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

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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
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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

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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

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

A catch up and knitting FOs

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Coming back to reality after the holidays is always mixed feelings: I love being back home to my bed and yarn stash but it is so difficult not to miss the amazing places I visited and the great time I shared with loved ones. These holidays were super busy but so much fun, I first spent a few days with my boyfriend in the Lake District and then my sister and one of my closest friends arrived to the UK and we did an awesome road trip through the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye. I will be sharing some of my adventures here in the blog soon including a little shopping guide (featuring yarn of course) to some of the places I visited.

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Everything was a bit crazy before my holidays so I didn’t have time to share how my first two knitting projects turned out. Remember the infinity scarf I was making from that Craftsy class? Well, I decided to simplify the pattern a bit and it is now finished! I really really like how it turned out, I used West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley Aran, it is so warm and cosy. I enjoyed so much to knit the centre in stockinette, such a simple stitch but so beautiful and different from crochet fabric. It had been a while since I had used anything thicker than 4-ply yarn so it was lovely to use a thicker yarn without getting a very thick fabric.

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After finishing this project I knew I wanted to cast on a hat. I thought about starting with a very simple pattern but I’d had my eye for months on Clare Devine’s Chai pattern and decided to go for it even though it has a cable and you need to use DPNs for the decreases. The pattern calls for chunky yarn and I decided to use Ginger’s Hand Dyed in Little Cat Feet.

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The pattern is great and it goes really quickly even for a beginner like me, I had a hat finished after 3 days! I only panicked with the DPNs when I was doing the crown and started to get confused with all the needles but managed to sort it out and now I have the most beautiful hat ever. I love it so much and already wore it while on our trip to the Highlands.

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I already casted on a new knitting project with some very special yarn and have two other crochet WIPs at the moment, so loads to crochet and knit as usual 🙂 What is on your hook/needles? Let me know in the comments!

xxx

Sol