New pattern: Ana Violeta (and a coupon code!)

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Hello there!

I am very excited to announce the release of my latest pattern: Ana Violeta. This tunisian crochet shawl is perfect to welcome the colder season and it uses beautiful yarn from Eden Cottage Yarns. You can find more information on the Ravelry page here.

There are so many ways a design can come to be, and in this case it was meant as a gift to a special person. I created the first version of this shawl as a present to a wonderful woman that has been part of my life since I was born, to whom I owe much more that I could ever share in a few words.

Some family you don’t choose, and some you do: even though we are not blood relatives, she has always been family to me. She taught me so many things: how to pray, how to set the table, how to make meringue, and most importantly, how to crochet. She showed me how kindness can change people’s lives, that patience is a virtue and that love, true love, can last a lifetime.

Her name is Ana Violeta, and to her I dedicate this shawl.

This design has made me think of the power that our projects have: how much love we put into them and how much love we can give if we present them as a gift. I don’t usually crochet for others, and therefore when I do it is extra special for me. Do you usually knit or crochet for others? Or have you ever dedicated a project to someone special that is no longer with you? Let me know in the comments.

Finally, as a little treat for you I am offering a 50% discount on this pattern until the 13th November, just use the code “TREAT50” when you are checking out on Ravelry.

Hope you a great day!

x

Sol

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

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

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

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

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

June WIPs

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Hello everyone, how are you? I thought it would be good to start the month by sharing what has been on my hook lately and what I plan to start soon as well. I have so many projects I want to work on (and so much yarn waiting to be used), particularly all the summer garments that are on my queue since I want them finished by those two weeks in July that are called “summer” in Scotland.

First, I thought I should show you how my Freyja shawl is coming along. Last time you saw it I was starting my repeats and I am afraid there is still long to go. This shawl is beautiful but oh dear how much time it takes! I am about a third of the way but hope to finish it this month, have some travelling to do for work next week and have decided to bring this project along to make sure I work on it.

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What has been taking most of my crochet time is this awesome Lorelei Pullover by Dora Ohrenstein. It appears in a tunisian crochet book by Dora called The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs from Time Honoured Traditions, it is a great book for learning new stitches in tunisian crochet but unfortunately the patterns didn’t really catch my eye, except for this one. I knew I had to make this as soon as I saw it, and after I found the perfect yarn for it it wasn’t long until this was on my hook.

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The yarn I am using is Ginger’s Hand Dyed Swanky Lace which is a beautiful blend of 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere in the colour Girl on Fire. This is the most luxurious yarn I have ever worked with, Jess has a great eye for colour and this one is no exception: it is just beautiful. It is definitely more on the bright side of what I usually wear but the colour suits me (after doing a quick poll in the shop) and since it is a summery item I think that is the best bet to go a bit more colourful.

The stitch pattern for this pullover was adapted by Dora from a vintage magazine, and it is very special and unique. As you may have noticed I love working on things that don’t look like crochet at first sight, and this definitely fits the bill. Gauge is tricky since the length of the stitches are determined by how much you pull that loop in each stitch, and it can vary a lot. Halfway through I realised that even though my swatch had a very loose row gauge I was now crocheting a lot tighter, so I am having to add a few more rows to make sure it is not too small.

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This is also a project where you can see the magic of blocking. It makes SUCH a difference, from an uneven fabric with a huge bias to beautiful and drapey. It is hard to see how it fits before blocking so I am just trusting that it will all work out in the end, a bit of crochet faith!

So that is what is on my hook just now, very proud to have only two projects on. I am eager to start more and so I will start swatching soon for my next garment to make sure I can start as soon as I finish one of these two WIPs (definitely the pullover). Here is a sneak peak at what I will be working on next!

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What are you guys working on? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great week,

x

Sol

Freyja journey: Charts

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If you have been following the Freyja journey you will know that it has taken a long time to get that first row finished. After many (too many) stitch markers and many hours of sitting down in concentration it is finally done! And I was only off a couple of stitches in the end so nothing that couldn’t be easily fixed (or hidden).

By the time you are done with that first row you need to make sure that you ended up with the almost 500 stitches stated in the pattern, which wasn’t easy to count. My advise is to count every 50 stitches and place a marker, that way when you lose your count you just have to begin again from the last marker and not from the beginning.

After an easy row of dc the dreaded charts have begun. There are three charts in total and you alternate them through the pattern until you have run out of those 500 stitches. It will make you laugh a bit when I tell you it took me a couple of hours to get through the first 20 stitches…! Only a few hundred to go… I don’t even want to do the math, I just know it will take a while and that is even considering I should go faster once I’ve repeated the charts a few times. But as I said in my last post, patience is a virtue and this shawl is in no rush at the moment.

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If you know the pattern you may have seen there is a new stitch called “cnupps” which some people are a bit afraid of before starting the pattern. The designer has a really good video explaining everything and I have had no issues with them. I do think that the fabric around the little clusters is not very nice since it has to stretch to give them space, but hopefully once blocked all will be good. In case you are following the pattern, in the first chart there are some numbers on the top and bottom, there is no explanation for them in the pattern but they are only the number of vertical bars before and after the cnupps so that you can keep track of your loops.

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You can see the results of the first chart in the pictures with the little cnupps coming off the surface, I really like them even if they take a bit of time. Like many other things in life it requires time and gentleness, concentration and precision. This is not an easy pattern but is has been very satisfying indeed, hope I remember this and not only that it took forever to finish!

x

Sol

Freyja journey: Patience is a virtue

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My mum always used to say: “patience is a virtue”. She said this because she, as a very impatient person like myself, understood the value of patience. I am the kind of person who goes about life as if there is never enough time: I am always running to the the next thing which is I think the basis for my impatience. There is no time for slowness or inefficiency, from trying to open a package that seems like it was made to never be opened or to pair my boyfriends socks which are all black except for this tiny little embroidery in different colours (I keep trying to convince him no one will notice if they are different).

So it is no wonder that until recently I was also impatient with my crochet projects. I wouldn’t swatch before a garment, or I would use a DK yarn even when I knew the pattern would work a lot better with a 4ply so that I could get started sooner, I would not block my finished project because I couldn’t wait to start the next one and I would not do a proper swatch for my designs but just go straight for the sample instead (I still do this actually…). And most important of all the rules for the impatient crocheter: you don’t rip out, you just pretend like the mistake isn’t there. Because who has time to work all that section again, right?

If you are reading this and nodding (don’t pretend like your weren’t now!), then let me give you a small advice. It will probably sound ridiculous but hang with me for a moment. Here it goes:

If you actually take the time, if you are patient with your projects, you will enjoy them more.

I know, it sounds crazy right? But people, it is true. Not easy, but definitely true.

I am still an impatient crocheter in recovery but I can honestly say that ever since I started taking more time planning my projects, choosing my yarn, making proper swatches, weaving in ends properly, working proper seams and everything else that a patient person would do, I have actually enjoyed my craft a lot more. I not only feel better because the finished product looks and fits better, but I also feel very proud of myself for taking the time to re-do that bit that wasn’t looking very well, or to start again with a different hook size to get a nicer drape. This realisation has helped grow this idea of mine to create a handmade wardrobe that I will want to wear, and time is definitely key in that process. Time and of course, patience. Patience to understand that it is time well spent.

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As the weekend flew by I didn’t have much time to work on my Freyja but I was determined to finish that Row 1 before this next post. Why? Who knows, no one is timing me and I am sure you won’t mind if I take a bit longer. When I had a few hours to spare on Sunday I started working on it and had made some good progress until I realised I made a mistake right after I picked it up that day. I could either get to the end of the row and try to make it work somehow, or rip all I had done in those precious hours. I am proud to say I didn’t think (that long) before deciding to just undo my work and start again.

It is not always easy and I still don’t follow my own advice every now and again. And of course patience has its limits and I won’t start a whole sweater again if I made the mistake right at the beginning (which just happened with my Alyssium cardi by the way). But here I am, with no progress with my Freyja compared to last week and feeling quite good about it. The world hasn’t ended, that mistake is not there to annoy me anymore and that shawl is still going to get finished, just maybe a few days later than planned. For someone so used to running about, I am really enjoying to take things slow for a while.

x

Sol

Freyja journey: Getting through Row 1

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I love short weeks, it is so amazing that it is Wednesday already! Wednesdays will be the day when Laura from Made in Oxford and I have planned to keep you updated on our progress on the Freyja shawl by Aoibhe Ni, you can check the first post here where I talked a bit about the pattern and the yarn I am using.

I am halfway through Row 1 of the pattern after working on it over the long weekend. As I have mentioned before, Aoibhe Ni uses a special construction in some of her designs that takes some time to get used to. You basically start with a VERY long chain (we are talking hundreds here) after which you work perpendicular rows and attach the end of each row to the initial chain until you run out of chains. Since the foundation chain consisted of hundreds of chains, that means hundreds of rows that need to be worked up and it takes a while… I am a bit past the middle of the first row and can’t wait to see the end of it!

It is looking quite nice already though, and this yarn.. I LOVE IT. It is Rooster Delightful Lace and it is SO soft and creates such a nice fabric that I think this is going to be shawl that will be around my neck quite a lot once it is finished.

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In case anyone of you is working on Freyja or thinking about trying it in the future I thought I should give you some tips from my experience with this pattern so far:

  • I don’t usually swatch for shawls but when I started working on this pattern I wished I had because I realised after a few perpendicular rows that I didn’t really like how the fabric looked. Tunisian crochet with lace-weight yarn can look too loose for me sometimes which I think makes the stitches look uneven. I ended up starting again with a smaller hook size and I am really liking the way the stitches look now.
  • The pattern says to begin with a long foundation chain, however I chose to work foundation double crochets instead. There is a tutorial for this stitch in my Tutorials page if you are not familiar with this stitch. I think it gives it a nicer and sturdier edge than if I were just doing a chain.
  • There are many lines to the instructions of Row 1 and the only way I could keep track of where I was in the pattern was to use one stitch marker per line, which is a lot of stitch markers! I am actually running out and will have to turn to using safety pins but it is the only way I will ever find a mistake if necessary.
  • With this method of construction there is always the chance that you will work through the lines of instruction in Row 1 and realise that you still have more lines to work but have run out of chains in your foundation or the other way around. I already know I am off by one or two chains if my counting is right and as long it is not much more than that I am not even going to try and find what I did wrong. You can always work two perpendicular rows into just one chain, or even skip the last one and no one will know 🙂

That is all I can share so far with this shawl, hopefully by this time next week I will have survived this first row and will be tackling another challenge. I have to say it feels great to work a difficult pattern again, I hadn’t done this in a while and I am really enjoying the satisfaction I get from every milestone I achieve. I am always looking for simplicity when designing patterns, mostly because of my inexperience in design but I truly hope one day I can create a challenge as beautiful as this pattern.

Hope you have a nice end of the week!

x

Sol