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

jan faves

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

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Love your blog challenge: Beginnings

A Playful Day

I am back today with my post for the next prompt for the Love your Blog Challenge organised by A Playful Day (if you missed the first prompt you can check my last post here). If you are a blogger I would really encourage you to check out the posts that Kate has developed to support the challenge, they feature some amazing bloggers and really great tips to help keep your blogging mojo.

First of all I want to thank everyone who left a comment on my last post about interactions and community, it was really nice to get your feedback and views on this topic and I really appreciate the encouragement you have given me as well. It has been so fun to read other people’s posts and I am very happy to be contributing to our awesome community.

I have been so inspired by readers and bloggers and what really made my week was to see Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch change her “knit-along” to a “make-along” to include both knitters and crocheters! That really made my heart leap several times *sigh*

This week it is all about beginnings. And unlike last week’s post which was a bit of a struggle to get done, I couldn’t wait to get started with this one after such encouragement. I decided to give my blog a bit of a new leaf to honour this theme, with a new look, a new domain and also a new section. You can now find my blog at acrochetjourney.com, any of the links to the wordpress.com site will still work with this new domain.

If you look at the menu on the top you will see my usual pages for tutorials and free patterns, but you will now also see a new one under the name “handmade wardrobe”. I realised while thinking about beginnings that I really wanted to start exploring this theme more, first with crochet but eventually with other crafts such as sewing and knitting.

After realising that I was spending hours and hours working on projects that I never used I have been putting a lot more thought and attention to each of my projects to make sure that it will be something that I will love to wear once finished. One thing this challenge has made me realise is that I really want to inspire people to give crochet a try and wouldn’t it be great if I could inspire some of my readers so that we are all making lovely garments or accessories that we not only love to make, but also love to wear. There is something so special about handmade items, and clothes really strike a cord with my practical self. You always have to wear clothes don’t you? Well… not always but now we are getting off track!

The new section will contain all my posts from here onwards which relate to creating your own wardrobe pieces, from inspiration and patterns that I would love to try to WIPs and FOs that are being added to my wardrobe. I will do an introductory post soon and start creating content for this new section. Of course this is still a crochet blog so it will centre on crocheted items but with a bit of inspiration from other crafts as well.

So there you have it, my beginning in a new journey… a handmade journey. Hope you continue to join me and thanks for reading 🙂

x

Sol

And here we go again

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“Like so much in life, the joy of knitting isn’t necessarily in the destination, but in the journey itself”

I am sitting on my couch after a long day, pondering about what project to tackle next. I am still reading the book with knitting stories and came across this quote that I couldn’t shake off. It feels like lately a lot of my crochet is about the journey and not the destination.

My Doris Chan top is blocking in front of my eyes as I write this (very… slowly…) and the more I look at it the more I realise that this top is not really… me. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice top. I like the rolled edges in the neck and sleeves, I like the stitch pattern, and the colour, though a bit too pink, it is not a bad pink at all. But if I look at my closet right now I realise that this top is going to be one lonely garment amid clothes which are not in that style at all. Lately I am very into neutrals, into large and long sweaters that don’t hug my body. And this is definitely not that.

I have been crocheting for many years and I do enjoy a challenge. After focusing mainly on crocheting accessories I realised garments were the next step but it has been very difficult to find patterns that catch my eye. Because of this I think I have lowered my standards when it comes to finding patterns for garments and will settle on something that is well above the rest of what I have seen, but maybe not up to what I would like to make. I am not saying there are no good crochet patterns out there, just not many I would wear which is a very personal thing.

I do like the concept of a handmade wardrobe and I thought that is what I had been doing but now that I think about it there are very few things that I have crocheted that I actually wear. I don’t wear fingerless gloves but I continue to make them for some reason, even design them! I do wear my Uva shawl and my Cobbled Street cowl, but I think that is it.

So I have decided to really start thinking about what patterns to do/design and truly work towards my handmade wardrobe. We put so much time and effort into our crafts and even though I do not consider the time spent in my Doris Chan top a waste of time at all (it has made me realise I LOVE top-down construction), I do want an extra satisfaction with my crochet by making sure that the finish product fits my style and gets along with the rest of my clothes. This means no more projects using yarn from my stash that I know I don’t like anymore just for the sake of using it and no more settling with patterns that are not me. I just have to go figure out what is “me” now… 🙂

Have a great week everyone,

x

Sol

My 2015 project queue

Happy New Year everyone! I hope this year brings you loads of good things, including loads of crochet of course 🙂 I have been thinking about what projects I want to start working on this new year, I have loads of magazines and books but put them aside on 2014 to spend more time designing. I will continue to work on my own patterns but I do miss working on other people’s designs, there are such lovely things out there that I want to give a try.

This is a long list and I am aware that there is probably not enough time in the year to crochet all this and also do my own patterns, but a girl can dream right?

Let’s start with magazines, I went through my collection and narrowed down my crochet wish list to the following patterns:

  • Leaps Cardigan by Annelies Baes: I came across this cardi on Issue 57 of Inside Crochet and immediately fell in love. As you know I am always in the lookout for some wearable crochet and this pattern definitely hits the mark.
© Tailor Made Publishing
© Tailor Made Publishing
  • Penelope Top by Jennifer Reid: Another find from Inside Crochet, this top is gorgeous and can see myself wearing it all summer long. I think that the alpaca in the yarn used makes it look even nicer so will try to find a similar yarn to the one used by the designer.
© Tailor Made Publishing
© Tailor Made Publishing
  • Rockin Red Dress by Doris Chan: I purchased a few more Interweave Crochet issues during the holiday sales and there were quite a few projects I really liked. I always check the patterns on Ravelry and was surprised to find that most of the ones I had liked had very poor ratings and comments of badly written patterns. I am not sure if this is common for Interweave Crochet, I had an idea that their patterns weren’t so throughly checked and I believe I had mentioned it before, but I didn’t think it would be that bad. Anyway, I did find a beautiful crochet dress by Doris Chan, she is quite a famous designer and her pattern had good reviews. I have found that for Interweave magazines it is safer to look for patterns with known names, I guess they have a reputation to keep and more experience as well. I have never crocheted a dress but this is really stunning.
© Harper Point
© Harper Point
  •  Quartz Lace Top by Dora Ohrenstein: You know by now that I am a fan of Dora Ohrenstein, but didn’t know this pattern was hers until I looked it up just now! I saw it on Ravelry a while ago but found it recently in one of the Interweave magazines I bought.
© Harper Point
© Harper Point

Moving on to books now… I have purchased a few books this year, haven’t reviewed them yet but thought I could still list the projects that are at the top of my wish list. As you can imagine some designers will sound familiar!

Haru from Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan: I found this book at a charity shop at a very cheap price so had to get it. My favourite pattern is this striped long cardigan, I love how colourful it is.

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  • Buttoned Capelet from Hook, Stitch, Give by Kat Goldin: There are quite a few things I would like to make from this book including this beautiful capelet, I am so drooling over that yarn!

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  • Slouch and Bobble Hat from Hook, Stitch, Give by Kat Goldin: Love the hat, love the colours, love the pompom. Love, love, love.

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© Dora Ohrenstein
© Dora Ohrenstein

Finally, I have a few patterns found on Ravelry and other places… and then I’m done I promise!

© Caro Sheridan
© Caro Sheridan
  • Freyja by Aoibhe Ni: I purchased the Legendary Shawls eBook and still have many left to do… this one is at the top of the list though!
© www.halfadreamaway.com
© http://www.halfadreamaway.com
  • San Marino Bag by Hooked: I have never liked crochet bags, I had never really found a pattern that doesn’t look a bit tacky but this one caught my eye. I love that the kit comes with the handles as well.

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As you can see I am drawn to garments, mostly because I can’t design garments yet so I look for other designers for these patterns. Have plenty of ideas for accessories for this new year so as usual, stay tuned 🙂

Let me know in the comments if you have any patterns in your queue for next year that you can’t wait to try!

x

Sol

Mitts!

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Hello everyone! Is it cold where you are? I haven’t taken my thicker coats out of the closet yet but I fear it won’t be long now. I have to say I do like winter and I love to have a cold Christmas (and the excuse to wear Xmas jumpers) but they are still difficult months when it is harder to get out of bed than ever since all you want is to stay in with your crochet and yarn.

My mum and my aunt are visiting me so I haven’t had time to do any crocheting or blogging but they are out doing some shopping so I wanted to show you how my mittens turned out. This pattern is from Bianca Boostra, it is called Velvet Olive Mittens and it appeared on Issue 57 of Inside Crochet. That issue has been one of my favourites, there are so many patterns I would love to give a try so be sure to check them out since you can buy back issues of this magazine.

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The pattern is easy to follow, I could never get the gauge right and tried with loads of different hooks but since they were for me it was easy to alter them as I went. I really like the effect with both colours and I am sure I will give them a lot of use in the soon to come Scottish winter.

You won’t hear much from me in the next week but hope to be back soon and pick up that vest again, my armhole swatch is half done and my fingers are itching to finish it! Will just have to wait… the only thing that comes before crochet is family I guess 🙂

x

Sol

A new crochet world: Kat Goldin

Slugs on the Refrigerator
Slugs on the Refrigerator

Hello everyone! I assume you are as happy as I am that tomorrow is finally Friday (yay!). I have been so busy lately that weekends seem to come rather quickly and they are gone even quicker. I had some time today so I thought I would start to talk a bit about my inspiration and how this crochet journey began. I will write a series of posts highlighting designers and patterns that I like or have tried and hopefully it will help when you are looking for some inspiration yourselves or just some really nice pattern to try.

Before I jump to it, I wanted to give you an update on the fair isle pattern I have been working on: both mittens are done and I was going to start writing the pattern when I realised that a photo tutorial would be very useful for some parts that might be confusing with just written instructions. So, I have decided to take a bit longer and do a proper tutorial for you guys, hope it is worth the wait! Have never taken photographs of me crocheting, I am predicting it will be quite interesting…!

Back on subject, let me tell you a bit about my crochet journey. I learned to crochet when I was around 10 years old and have been crocheting on and off ever since. A few years ago I started to find some free patterns online and was drawn back into crochet once again, but it wasn’t until around 2 years ago that there was a real change in the way I saw crochet.

As it happens, some friends were having a baby and I decided to crochet something as a gift. I was already living in Edinburgh and I went to the library to find some books when I came across Kat Goldin’s book “Crochet at Play”. I have crocheted many baby items, but for the first time in my “crochet experience” I was seeing something different, something I hadn’t seen before. Fun and different patterns that weren’t the typical light pink or blue baby blanket or the white cardigan with matching hat. Those patterns are lovely, but I have seen them MANY times before.

 

 

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“Crochet at Play” has slippers with claws, hedgehog mittens, wolf cardigans, fox scarves, octopus pillows and much more. For the first time in my crochet experience I was seeing fresh, interesting, inspiring patterns. I think that is one of the reasons why I had left crochet aside: patterns didn’t have attractive colours, didn’t look wearable or practical, sometimes they looked outdated. I am not sure of the timing when patterns like these caught my eye, maybe they have been around for a while but it was my first encounter and that really kicked off this crochet journey.

Slugs on the Refrigerator
Slugs on the Refrigerator
Slugs on the Refrigerator
Slugs on the Refrigerator

I really recommend Kat’s book, she is great if you have any questions (talking from experience!) and she has some other beautiful patterns that, as her book, are different. She has designed modern and wearable garments and accessories, with lovely colour combos and fibres (check her website here). She has become one of my favourite designers and can’t wait for her new book coming out in September.

Maybe the knitting/crochet boom has helped, maybe the beautiful new yarns available online to every part of the world has contributed as well. I often go on Ravelry and there are so many lovely patterns, but only some of them catch my eye: those that use techniques I haven’t seen before, or different stitches, or combine colours differently. The ones that I think: “I have never seen that in crochet” or “That doesn’t even look like crochet!”. This has driven my own creative process for my patterns: I am trying to design things I haven’t seen before. I think granny shawls are lovely, but I won’t make a pattern for one when there are so many around and when I know more talented people can get more beautiful colour combos than me. I want to try new things, challenge myself and make my small contribution to this new crochet world, one with endless colourful opportunities.

Have a great Friday 😉

x

Sol