crochet · Lifestyle

My Cro-jo’s Under the Weather…

Where has my Crojo gone?

Well, it has been two weeks since I put a photo on Instagram or even picked up my crochet hook. What is wrong with me? This is unnatural for me. The thing is, I just haven’t felt myself… and I don’t know why. I’ve been having a think about why I feel like this, and I thought I’d share my thoughts.

My Crojo's Under the Weather....png

I want to be honest with you guys, and I want to share with you the good parts; but also the not so good. Social media means that a lot of us only get to see edited parts of each other’s lives, the tidy work-spaces, and uncluttered surfaces. Blemish-free skin and picture-perfect angles. This is all OK, and why would you want to share something that is not perfect?

Why would you want to share with your followers when you’re not feeling yourself? I’m scared that this post will prompt a bad reaction – but I don’t want to be fake, and I think it’s important for us, as a community (that is generally really supportive and kind) to be honest with each other.

This is kind of a therapy ramble, and I’m hoping that I’ll feel better after writing everything and getting it out. I may regret it once I’ve published though.

Maybe it’s just January blues… but here are the things that I think are bothering me.

  1. I am on a diet (*lifestyle change*) eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, and fresh foods. I have cut down the takeaways and the chocolates, no longer buying microwave meals and pre-packaged lunches. Opting for fruit and salad, whole grains and home-cooked food. This is absolutely brilliant for me; and I don’t want to turn it into a negative. Although I’m half feeling like I have more energy and half feeling drained and tired. I think my body is just going through a trans-formative period of figuring out that it needs to take it’s energy from different sources. I definitely feel refreshed and ‘lighter’ (not in a weight sense) and I know that what I am doing is so good for my health and happiness.
  2. All the CALs… How many CALs are there this month? I already have too many WIPs, but recently I’ve felt overwhelmed by the amount of CALs I’m participating in and struggling to keep up. I currently have 2 WIPs for the OneSkeinWonderlandCAL, a shawl for the Olannandcrisscrosscal, and the Woodland CAL blanket… and a pair of socks I started a while back… and after counting how many WIPs I have all together, I feel overwhelmed. When I’m splitting all my time between 5 projects; it is hard to see any progress on any singular project. Also after having the Christmas break, and enjoying the time off crafting, I feel like my productivity has drastically reduced and pretty much come to a halt.
  3. SADs… well January has been cold, wet and miserable. The days are grey and drizzly, frosty and damp. The day’s are short, and the evenings even shorter. How am I supposed to feel optimistic, creative and energetic when the weather has such a draining effect on my mood?

I think I need to finish a WIP to feel better. I know this sounds silly, but I think when I finish something, I’ll feel like I have accomplished something and achieved something small. I think this will trigger an upwards spiral to feeling more myself. When I finish one WIP, it will be one less WIP on the list, and one less project to split my time between.

My plan is to forget keeping up with the Woodland CAL, and put it to the side until I finish my Cosy Stripe Blanket. It is a lovely blanket and the colours are stunning, however the stitch is slow-going, with every other row a row of dc in the front loop only. Much slower than both the Cosy Stripe and the Moorland CAL blanket. Quite frankly, I’m putting too much pressure on myself to keep-up with the weekly installments despite the fact I’m doing my own colour order. This is a WIP that I can pick up any time, so for now, it is getting put away until I have fewer WIPs on my list.

I am going to leave the Simple Shawl I am knitting for the OneSkeinWonderlandCAL, and concentrate on the Triangle Infinity Scarf (which seems to be taking me forever!) – I think because it is single ply… In fact, I am going to make my aim for the rest of January to finish the triangle infinity scarf and put my other WIPs on hold. I want to finish the cowl, then my second sock… which means that I have the Cross Cross Shawl, and the Simple Shawl left as working-WIPs. (With only 4 days left of January, I doubt I’ll even finish the triangle scarf… but at least February should start with a FO.

In February,  I’m going to concentrate on the Cosy Stripe Blanket and the Fruit Salad TV Blanket. Generally just trying to reduce the number of WIPs I have on my list to reduce the stress. Hahaa. I think I should never have counted all of my unfinished projects…

Today I’m spending the day at Liverpool Central Library with Katie. I’ve brought all of my to-dos with me, and I’m hoping some productivity will cure me. I have 2 new crochet magazines with me, Crochet Now & Simply Crochet, and I have commissions with me to work on. Lots of wool packed into a suitcase, and #OneSkeinWonderlandCAL admin to catch up on. 🙂 I am feeling positive about today – and I hope I can put the last fortnight behind me.

How do you get your Cro-jo back? If you have any tips please let me know! It’s making me feel so odd not crocheting constantly. Maybe the break is good… but It’s making me anxious. I hope I didn’t over-share in this blog post – I didn’t want to be depressing and moany. But I wanted to be honest with you guys, and I thought you may be able to help…

Love Charlie, Xx

Blogmas 2017 · crochet · Lifestyle

2017 Reflections… Blogmas No. 10

Blogmas 17

Happy New Year! (I know I’m a little late) This is the final blog post in my series of Blogmas posts… Until next Christmas. 😉

How was your 2017?

My 2017 has brought me so many new experiences, opportunities, friends & achievements. This post is going to be a quick round up of my favourite & most treasured memories from the last 12 months.

2017 Reflections

Before I start, (in case you don’t want to read my ramblings) I just want to say a huge thank you to every single person that has encouraged and supported me on my journey to becoming  a crochet designer. If you’ve watched a YouTube Video, read a blog post or liked a photo on Instagram, whether you’ve liked one of my patterns on Ravelry, subscribed or followed; I am so extremely grateful and feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a loving and kind online community. Thank you, and I wish you all the best for 2018. I hope all your dreams come true!

Here goes…

January

January seemed to be full of baths! (I bought the Lush advent Calendar half price on Boxing day) and seemed to get itno the habit of having a luxury bath each week. I also worked on the Moorland Blanket CAL, and started to post my crochet on Instagram more than ever.

 

February

February I made lots of amigurumi Rabbits using a Tracy Coldwell design from Simply Crochet Magazine. I made one, then it seemed like everyone wanted one. I personalised them by embroidering initials onto their feet. I also managed to win a prize from Simply Crochet Magazine by using the hashtag #SCtreblemaker on a photo of a shawl I made using Elisabeth Davis De Herraiz‘s Cherry Sundae Shawl. This made me smile, as my New Year’s goal was to get a photo into the magazine. It just so happened that the photo was of a Shawl I started on New Year’s Day.

 

March

March was a busy month for me and Katie; and very stressful. We worked tirelessly everyday and to be honest it was a low point of our 2017. It made us appreciate each other though and we are stronger. If not for the tough times, the good wouldn’t feel so good. There wasn’t much time for Crochet and I became behind on my Moorland CAL.

April

April is my Birthday month and Katie had bought me surprise tickets to see Disney on Ice! It was wonderful & I would definitely go and see it again. (I really am just a toddler in an adult’s body) We moved house, and the weather started to change… Finally. I do love a bit of Sun! Apart from this, nothing else really happened; and there still wasn’t time to crochet, although I did gain a craft room, and finally started to sort through the craft materials I inherited from Gran.

May & June

Nothing much happened in May. June is always a month in which I remember my Gran, as it holds both the anniversary of her death, her Birthday and her name. This year (2017) I planted wild flower seeds all over her grave so that in the Spring and Summer it creates a small Wildflower garden for the Birds, Bees and Butterflies. In June I decided that I wanted to become a crochet designer. I had thought this for over a year but kept pushing the urge aside and letting negative thoughts swallow the idea down. I talked to Katie and I made the decision to start putting time aside to work on designs. Katie’s Uncle got married which was lovely.

July

In July I had an admission in hospital and had  a laparoscopy & appendectomy. I had been in pain for quite a while had various other health issues which turned out to be Ovarian cysts; and a complete coincidence but my Appendix was also inflamed. This discovery lead to me feeling so much better and being able to enjoy life again without pain (it was starting to affect my day to day life). I also finished the Moorland Blanket for Katie, who loves that she has her own crocheted blanket.

 

August

In August it was Katie’s Birthday and I surprised her with an overnight stay at The Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. We went out for a meal and drinks, and it was just so nice to have a ‘mini break’. We also got engaged in August! Katie finally proposed and I couldn’t be happier. We have a venue and registrar booked and now we have to plan the rest of the wedding. I also published my first blog post and first crochet pattern… the Trinity Stitch Dish Cloth. I also published my first YouTube Video and got an incredible reaction and support from the online Crochet community. Clarisabeth gave me a shout out on her YouTube channel Crochetcakes and I literally couldn’t stop smiling for days. August seemed to be a turning point for me, and my happiness. I finally made steps in the right direction to pursuing my dreams of becoming a crochet designer and very decision I made for ‘Love Charlie’ made me happier and just felt ‘right’.

September

In September, I had a WIP-Ban and worked on specific projects. This helped me to finish things that I needed to and helped trigger list-making for my crafting. I also met Fay from the Crochet Circle Podcast & I also went to Yarndale for the first time (with Fay.) I can’t explain how grateful I am and lucky to be able to say I know a person like Fay. She is incredibly kindhearted and full of knowledge. To say she has helped me would be an understatement! I also participated in Hannah’s (Thecozycottagecrochet) September Shawl-along. I also attended Woolgathering Sandbach for the first time and met lots of beautifully talented knitters, crocheters and sewers. It is so nice to have found ‘my people’.

 

October

In October I co-hosted a WIP-along with Laura from GoslingandPlumb. We called it the #AutumnWIPalong and it was fantastic. So many online crocheters & knitters (and embroiderers) joined and encouraged each other. There was so much kindness and motivation, people who had never met cheering each other on. It was so heartwarming. I also went to London and made some new crafty friends. Flic, Helen & Corrine. I am grateful once again for Fay introducing me to these lovely, very talented ladies who share the same love for craft as myself.

 

November

In November, I finished my Cocoon Cardigan that I started for the #AutumnWAL17. It is my first ever crocheted garment and it is very nice and slouchy, and perfect for snuggling under and chilling. It is a free pattern on Ravelry by Alexandra Tavel called the Movie Night Cocoon Cardigan. Click here for Pattern. I also enjoyed watching’ I’m a Celebrity’… and dying yarn for #FridayisDyeDay using icing colourants. I was absolutely amazed with the results and have since crocheted both up. One was a DK weight and the other Sock weight which I bought from Laxtons at Yarndale. I also made a couple of commissions; a crocheted shawl and two sloths.

 

December

December has been a whirlwind. I decided to do Blogmas, with the aim of uploading every other day and publishing some free patterns and tutorials. Blogmas has been challenging but great! I have pushed myself and am very happy with how productive I’ve been. Christmas was lovely! I was spoiled rotten and am very lucky to have a family that appreciate and enable my love of yarn. I’m also co-hosting the #OneSkeinWonderlandCAL with Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast, which encourages you guys to use up that treasured (or impulse bought) single skein of yarn with the aim of showing Knitters and Crocheters what beautiful projects can be made with only 100g of yarn. This way, next time you have a special skein; you can start right away without worrying about finding the perfect pattern.

 

There we go, in a nutshell, my 2017 was like a roller-coaster. I think that August was my favourite month. (Of course because I got engaged!) Hahaa, but it also triggered a lot of ‘firsts’ for me. August changed who I am and I plucked up courage from somewhere to start this blog and my YouTube channel and really commit to my aspirations. From August on wards, Love Charlie has continued to develop and it is very exciting. I hope 2018 continues with the same momentum.

Happy New Year again if you managed to read through my boring ramblings. Thank you for reading. My next blog post is going to be all about my 2018 goals and targets…

Love Charlie, Xx

crochet · Lifestyle

December Progress and SMART Targets… Blogmas No. 9

With only 1 more day left of December (and of 2017!) I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to. I’m also going to share some of my Tips for making goals in the penultimate days of 2017. I know a lot of you, like myself have a lot of motivation and like to set goals and resolutions in the New Year. I’ll share some of the methods I’m going to use for setting goals and targets.

Blogmas 17

I’ll make one thing clear – December did not go to plan. The reason why? My plan was completely wrong. (Part of the reason for sharing my strategy for making better plans in the future) I had made a list of my monthly goals without taking Christmas into consideration. I’m also stupid, and decided to do Blogmas when I already had a lot on my plate. But I don’t regret it for a minute! It has pushed me to get patterns out there that I didn’t want to leave until next Winter; and it has pushed my writing abilities whilst trying to keep up with an ‘every other day’ deadline. However, I was planning to publish a third pattern for the Hobbycraft 3 for 2 offer and make some mitts – they turned out way too chunky so I haven”t published the pattern. Please let me know if you’re interested and I may re-think publishing. They are just SO chunky! I’m going to have a think over the next few weeks and see if there’s something else I could make. 🙂

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My original December list looked like this…

  • Finish Katie’s Harry Potter Scarf
  • Finish Cosy Stripe Blanket
  • Make 20 Squares for a Charity Blanket
  • Edge 20 Squares for Fruit Salad TV Blanket
  • Finish 2nd ball of wool on Chunky Knitted Scarf
  • Make 2no. Amigurumi Cacti

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Here’s where it all went wrong.

  1. I wasn’t planning to make any Christmas presents; but in the end made 4.
  2. I didn’t plan to do Blogmas until the Christmas season started.
  3. I didn’t incorporate the time for Magazine submission work.
  4. Christmas is busy! and I underestimated the time that would be spent shopping/wrapping/preparing.

December has been incredibly busy, and I didn’t realise how much I’d achieved until I consulted my bullet journal last night. I realised just how different what I achieved was to my original list of goals. I decided to make a new list for December; despite only having a few days left. I think this ordeal has been a lesson in trying to chose more realistic, achievable goals for myself to avoid feeling disappointed.

My new list looks like this…

  • Finish Katie’s Harry Potter Scarf (Done)
  • Make Christmas Presents (Done)
  • Blogmas (Getting there)
  • Publish Hat & Cowl Pattern (Done)
  • Start #Oneskeinwonderlandcal (Done)
  • Finish 1no. Knitted Sock (Done)
  • Write up pattern & make ? for ? magazine (Nearly there)
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Baggy 1st knitted sock ft holes… but I’m still proud!

See… how different is this list than the original list? It has taught me that maybe I should only start off with a couple of goals because plans can change midway through the month. I am trying to set goals that are SMART targets. I haven’t used these since High School – but I’m hoping that it will make me think through y plan more thoroughly before committing pen to paper (In a notebook I don’t want to tippex/scribble in… see how obsessive I can get?)

SMART-goals

SMART is an acronym and stands for:-

Specific – Set specific goals that relate to more descriptive items. Instead of saying your goal is to crochet, it could be, crochet a scarf and a hat. It helps to compartmentalize tasks so you can tick them off (and ticking feels so good!)

Measurable – Goals should be measurable; and if my monthly goal isn’t to finish a WIP, then the goal should be specified in terms of a measuarble goal. For example; finish a ball of wool, repeat a whole section of colours, reach a halfway point, make a particular number of squares/hexies/circles… etc. This way, it is easier to manage time and tick off goals when they are completed. Write down your goals so that you can tick, highlight or scribble each off as you achieve… believe me – it is very satisfying.

Attainable – This is the one that I really need to consider when setting my goals. Is it attainable? There was no way I was going to finish my Cosy Stripe blanket in Decemeber. I haven’t even picked it up. Who was I trying to kid? I think I loved the idea of finishing it before the end of the year and having a little Christmas present for myself. I think this is the hardest part of setting SMART goals because you can both over and under-estimate what is attainable and also it isn’t ‘set in stone’ what you can achieve from one month to the next. I think it is important to take into consideration what other committments you may have for that period of time, and whether other distractions are likely.

Relevant – (although I like to reiterate the ‘is it Realistic? question here.) Is your goal relevant to your overall aspirations? Does your goal relate to a bigger picture? For example, my goal of knitting socks contibutes to an overall goal of ‘Improving my knitting skills’, and making charity blankets contributes to my overall goal of stash busting and crocheting for a cause.  However I’m not too sure thet relevance is 100% necessary when it comes to crafting (unless it is your job) as it is not for exams and coursework. This is a hobby, and should be something you enjoy. Goal-making isn’t for everyone (I’m just weird and like to push myself)

Time-based – They all are because they are monthly goals… so the time-goal is the end of the month. However if you are making goals for the year (like I will be for 2018) it is important to have a ‘deadline’ to keep you motivated. For example in Crochet I could say, I want to make the Doppio Colleseum Shawl before I go to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival so I can wear it.

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I hope you find some use in this random blog post. My failed plan for December has made me re-think how I should be setting my goals, and what better time to share my advice than the days before New Year when everyone is making new years resolutions.

Love Charlie, Xx

#OneSkeinWonderlandCAL · Blogmas 2017 · crochet · Lifestyle

Happy Holidays – Christmas Gifts… Blogmas No. 8

Blogmas 17

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday. This Blogmas is going to be an ‘All about my Christmas’ blog post and I’m going to share all the yarny gifts I received… I’ll also share a few bits that I made as gifts too.

Christmas Gifts... Blogmas No. 8

I wasn’t going to make any handmade Christmas presents this year as I found it very stressful last year. This year I wanted to spend more time designing my own patterns and working on ‘Love Charlie’ however there was no compromise for a handmade gift and I still ended up making  few.

This year, I made a scarf for Katie themed on Gryffindor house colours, a winter wreath, a sprout Christmas tree decoration and a felt needle book. Katie absolutely loved her scarf, and I really need to make a needle book for myself. It is getting hard to part with them.

 

For some of you, it’s time to go back to work – luckily I have a few more days to enjoy some time knitting and crocheting, spending time with Katie and eating ridiculous amounts of chocolate before the New Year diet kicks in.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was the ‘calm before the storm’, the house had been tidied and cleaned (I mean I finally put all the craft supplies from Christmas preparations away) presents were wrapped and I had time to start my Christmas Eve Cast Ons for the ‘OneSkeinWonderlandCAL.

 

Katie and I managed to binge watch the full 2nd season of the Crown in a day and it was so nice to be able to sit on the sofa in PJs drinking wine and actually relaxing – yes – relaxing. I thought I’d forgotten that word existed. Both of us have been very busy and stressed; so the relief of putting your feet up and turning your brain off was very well welcomed and appreciated.

 

Christmas Day

 

This year I spent Christmas with Katie’s family, swapping gifts, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and eating far far too much… all followed by singing Christmas songs merrily around the dining room table and Disney, 80s and 90s karaoke in the lounge. Dogs in Christmas jumpers, lots of yarny gifts, and my #OneSkeinWonderlandCAL WIPs to hand. What’s not to love?

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Usually I enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them, but this year I was very excited for my presents as I had only asked for wooly bits and bobs. I was given so much more than I ever imagined and I have been extremely spoilt. I have lots to keep me busy for a long time. I am very grateful and thankful to my friends and family for their generosity and thought for me.

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My next crafty venture is knitting; and knitting socks in particular. I asked for some of Arne and Carlos’ Pairfect sock yarn, Super Socks by Christine Perry, some short circular needles and DPNs. I was also given some wool wash and needle end protectors specially for circular needles. I literally have everything I could ever possibly need so there is no excuse. 2018 is the year to advance my knitting; and also have warm toes!

Katie bought me some beautiful River Knits and Fjord Fibres hand dyed yarn, some Wilton icing colourants and a double stranded sock blank ready for New Year’s #Fridayisdyeday. My Nan & Granddad bought me a yarn swift, so I wound up my #OneskeinwonderlandCAL yarn in my enthusiasm. I also received the KnittyGritty book, a Star Wars Crochet set, and my Mum bought me the Woodland CAL yarn pack ready for Attic24’s CAL in the New Year. My Mother and Father in Law also bought me another year’s subscription to my favourite Crochet Magazine, Simply Crochet.

Well, I sound like a spoilt brat now… and maybe I am.. but I’m a happy one – does that count? I hope you all got some crafty bits and bobs for Christmas – but more importantly, I hope you all got to spend valuable time with your friends and family over the Holiday period.

 

Christmas Gifts... Blogmas No. 8 (1).png

Boxing Day

On Boxing Day, Me and Katie went on a little trip to Liverpool in the afternoon. I bought this beautiful ‘project bag’ (supposed to be a cosmetics bag) from TKMax and it has a pocket on the inside perfectly sized for crochet hooks. This currently has 2 of my #OneSkeinWonderlandCAL WIPs in it so it is very roomy. We had a lovely Yo Sushi! meal and went home to do some online bargain shopping.

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Overall I have had an absolutely amazing Christmas, and I have so many new projects lined up; I’m going to have to do some serious planning to stop me from having about 50 WIPs at one time. I can’t start them all now; although the ‘force is strong’ – forgive me; I’m preparing for our Cinema trip to watch the new Star Wars… Katie is very happy with my Star Wars Crochet kit) Hahaa. What did you get for Christmas?

Love Charlie, Xx

 

 

crochet · Lifestyle

Sunday Funday…

As you know, I’ve been all about productivity and achieving over the last 3 months. It has been amazing and I have accomplished so much! Although this last weekend, I was supposed to spend a lot of time on my blog and publish a couple of patterns and tutorials – things didn’t go to plan. The weekend came and went so quickly and there are still no tutorials or patterns on the blog. That is because I decided to take a break from my to do lists and schedules and take some time for myself.

Things have been tough over the last few weeks, and although I don’t talk about it a lot, I actually suffer with SAD. That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder if you didn’t know, and it is awful. It affects me every year, and even though I know mentally that there is nothing physically wrong with me, I feel exhausted and lack motivation – I think that’s why I’ve been so dependent on lists throughout the run up to winter. I find it hard to get anything done when I get home from work and fight the urge to go straight to bed… which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to keep develop as a crochet designer, blogger and podcaster. Tired is an understatement. My crochet tribe is amazing, and I can’t express how grateful I am for all the encouragement and support there has been on Instagram. Anyhoo… I really didn’t feel like spending hours on the computer and I think I needed a distraction – something to concentrate on and something new.

On Saturday, we did some Christmas shopping, and at 4pm I ended up at Black Sheep Wools… because my amazing fiancée suggested I go 😉 On a whim, I decided to buy a circular needle and sock pattern for my first knitted sock. I thought this would probably be something that got pushed to the back of the pile… but I was really feeling the urge to learn something new. I thought ‘Am I crazy?’ I’ve never knit anything before, and have only recently learned how to do stocking stitch.

I started on Saturday evening on the rib. I started, ripped back and restarted about 6 times. Oddly though, I didn’t feel frustrated like I thought I would. There is something peculiarly satisfying about knitting that I never ‘got’ before. Although I’m sure I’ll be saying different when I reach the heel. I feel as though I’m going into this blind – but I’m really enjoying it so far.

On Sunday, Katie was going out for lunch near Black Sheep Wools, and I realised I needed another size needle for the socks. (I stupidly didn’t read through the pattern in my impulsive shopping spree.) I got to the shop and bought the size that I needed and then went to get some lunch. I had some lovely home made vegetable soup and a cheese and ham toastie then sat and worked on my sock. I am using Stylecraft Head over Heels sock yarn in the colour way Olympus. I got to the end of the rib (Finally!!!) and started on the knit stitch. I am knitting the Norwegian way so it is much quicker for me as a crocheter to knit this way. I am using a Sidar sock pattern and I think I’m going to attempt the short row heel. I then read through the pattern again (thankfully before leaving Black Sheep Wools) as I realised I will need some DPNs for when I get to the heel, so I went back to buy those and also a beginners knitting book full of images and tips and tricks. I also bought a new Sheepjes tote bag to put everything in and it matches my Crochet Sisters pin from CrochetLuna perfectly.

Click here for the Black Sheep Wools Website…

I then made my way to the cosy Rowan corner and plonked myself down on the comfy leather sofa covered in knitted blankets and continued to work on my sock, before asking the staff for a bit of advice on which heel to try.

I do feel guilty that I haven’t ticked things off my to do list and I do feel like I am behind now – even though I am the only one putting pressure on myself. I feel as though I deserved to have the weekend off and although we were very busy, it was a great comfort to spend a few hours on something that is completely separate to all of my targets and goals. But on the other hand I feel proud of myself for learning something new and giving the knitting another go, despite how much it scares me. Does anyone else ever feel like this when changing plans or rearranging personal schedules?

Thank you again to anyone who has provided comforting words on instagram – I don’t mean to be a Moaning Myrtle. I am honestly fine and it happens every year. It will be over soon enough and I will start to get my energy back when the sun returns. 🙂

Love Charlie, Xx

crochet · Lifestyle

My First Yarndale…

Queuing up with like-minded people, all eager to get inside Skipton’s Auction Mart, shuffling along like cattle towards a wooly paradise. As you excitedly walk in and get your wristband (So we can pretend we are hardcore festival goers) the smell of the wool envelops you. Or maybe it is the building itself – either way it adds to the experience, and makes the whole ordeal even more special and authentic. The flurry of crafters and the buzz of positive energy and creativity is overwhelming. I was speechless, and it took me a little while to adjust. Needless to say, I think going on the Sunday was the right decision (Thank you Fay). It think it would have been a bit too much to have had my first Yarndale experience on a Saturday when the crowds were a lot busier. Next year bring it on, I have had a taste and now I want more!

Crochet Garden

I was extremely lucky on my first trip to Yarndale as I went with Fay of Knit it-Hook it-Craft it (The Crochet Circle Podcast) and going with an experienced member of our crochet community really gave me the courage to meet a lot of new people. (Even though I did chicken out of saying Hi to Lucy from Attic 24!)

Selfie

Our first check list of the day was for Fay to ‘feed people’ with the delicious flapjack she had made and brought in for her favourite vendors and loyal friends with her ‘pay it forward’ attitude – making our first stop John Arbon Textiles, a firm, and dear favourite of Fay’s. At this point, you have to bear in mind, I have never purchased any hand dyed or indie yarn – or even any 100% animal fibre yarn – so when I walked into Yarndale, I went week at the knees. John and Juliet of John Arbon Textiles are so lovely and kind; and were the prefect welcome for me to Yarndale. Speaking to these guys felt like speaking to family, they were so friendly.  I wanted to choose some yarn to make Fay’s Doppio Colloseum Shawl pattern, as she used John Arbon Textiles Yarn when designing the pattern. I was drawn to their Alpaca Delights range because of the gorgeous dusky colours and it is oh-so beautifully soft. When I went to pay, John and Juliette generously gifted me the Alpaca delights, leaving me speechless. I gave a john a hug, and I’m not sure he knew what to do. Hahaa. It is the generosity of our crafting community is mind-blowing, and I feel extremely grateful to be a part of it. I returned to the stall before leaving yarndale, and purchased some Harvest Hues yarn in a ‘tweedy’ dark green to make a scarf for Katie. There is such a wide range of choice from John Arbon Textiles, the colours range from pastels and dusky shades, to rich autumnal shades to a vast range of pantone-inspired colours.

John Arbon

We paid a visit to the sock line so Fay could hang some socks she had made for Winwickmum’s charity project, where I came face to face with Lucy of Attic 24, and had a conversation about how I couldn’t knit. But I was too shy and like a dear in headlights. I just wanted to say Hi and Thank you for all of the time and effort she puts into her patterns. I wanted to tell her that she inspired me to want to design my own patterns, and that her eye for colour was genius. But I’m an idiot and couldn’t get the words out, no matter how much I wanted to, I was a bit starstruck!

We also met with one of Fay’s friends, called Kate. She was so lovely and I enjoyed meeting so many new people who share the same love of yarn. I think that is what Yarndale is all about. Bringing people together – or it felt that way to me at least. People who live different sides of the country can meet and chat, make friends and get to know each other. I finally felt like I belonged. The past 8 weeks have been incredible for me and I am making my way into a world where I feel comfortable being myself… the 23 year old who would much prefer to sit on the sofa with a cup of tea, crochet hook and ball of wool. I think I was made for retirement (A long way to go yet though!)

The rest of the day I spent going up and down the stalls on each row, patiently waiting to find Vicki Brown, Inside Crochet and Mothy and the Squid… filling up my new Yarndale bag as we went (briefly interrupted by the hilariously entertaining Sheep walk of Skipton’s Giant Swaledales). My favourite Vendors of the day were John Arbon Textiles, Riverknits, Vicki Brown Designs, Inside Crochet and Mothy and the Squid.

Here’s why;

John Arbon Textiles

John Arbon was a given considering how friendly and generous John and Juliet were and how gloriously soft the yarn was. Their coloour choice was incredibly vast and amazingly soft. Seriously… check them out!

Riverknits

Riverknits was another stall I came across, and initially was attracted to the stall due to the rainbow wall of mini skeins they had in such rich, warm shades. I think I spent the most on this stall alone. I bought a rainbow pack of 6 mini skeins for myself, and one for Fay in Autumnal shades as a thank you for bringing me to Yarndale with her. I also bought another 6 pack of mini skeins to gift to a couple of special people, and a full skein of BFL Splendiferous Sock in the colour way Stoke. This company is run by husband and wife, from a narrow boat, where they live and also dye all of their yarns. (How? I don’t know… Listen to Fay’s interview to find out) I hope to start designing with the yarn I bought from Riverknits, and I think I will definitely be buying more of this yarn and building up my collection in the future.

River Knits

Mothy and the Squid

Mothy and the Squid was another of my favourites, despite me not spending an awful lot of time at this stall. This was one of my favourites, purely because I have followed them on Instagram for quite a while, and I admire their colours and how they match palettes to animals and images from nature. My favourite was their Calico Cat yarn, because of how perfectly the colours matched the inspiration behind the colour scheme – however, it isn’t a colour theme which I would use myself. I bought a skein of their Mountain Moth which is an adorable, snuggly mixture of cream and grey; and a colour scheme I will definitely wear.

Colourful Yarns

Vicki Brown

Finally, I got to meet Vicki Brown! I was so excited to visit her stall as I am going to be crocheting my first pair of socks soon, and have recently bought her book – the Crochet Sock Collection. I was determined to buy some of her own yarn so I could eventually crochet one of her sock patterns with her own yarn. I settled on Blue Hydrangea after picking up multiple skeins. I will definitely be buying more of Vicki’s yarn in the future The colours are so beautiful, and I have my eyes on a skein of lime & turquoise. I will be making the Spring Fling socks first!

Inside Crochet

A you know, my dream is to have my deisgns published in magazines and books. I wanted to speak to the editors at Inside crochet and ask how I go about submitting designs. I talked to Sarah Moran, and showed her the baby blanket I had designed. She gave me her card and told me to email her some photos, and they would also add me onto their mailing list. Even though this is no achievement – it is a huge step for me… and the first step to [fingers crossed] getting some of my patterns published. The staff were, again, extremely friendly and easy to talk to… now I am checking my inbox every five minutes hoping for a reply. Hahaa.

Lamb

 

Despite the most amazing day I had, nothing can prepare you for the ‘come down’ and ‘post-festival depression’ that sets in. It has taken me a few days to really appreciate everything I saw and how great a day I had. It truly was so surreal, it feels like a dream. Next year, I would like to go for the whole weekend, and explore Skipton a bit as well, rent a cottage and take the time as a bit of a Holiday. I can imagine nothing better than curling up in a cosy cottage with a hot chocolate and some new yarn to crochet with. I would also like to donate some socks to the sock line, and participate in the Yarndale Charity Event. This year I didn’t have time to crochet and send in a heart, and if I ever get the opportunity again, I would love to say Hi to Lucy and thank her for her patterns.

Bunting 2

Don’t forget the Autumn WIP-along starts on Sunday 1st October. Read my previous blog post to find out more… or head over to my Instagram or Laura’s Instagram

Love Charlie, Xx

crochet · Lifestyle

A Proposal in the Lakes

Be prepared for a very image heavy blog post. I will not apologise as the photos are far too beautiful not to share! Hahaa… I was going to talk about all the things we did on holiday, but instead, I’m mainly going to talk about the most important part! Getting ENGAGED… So i’m sorry for the lack of crochet content, but I didn’t just want to document this for all of you, but also for myself to read back when my feet touch the ground.

Two weeks ago, I went to the Lake District for a staycation with my other half. We rented a holiday cottage called ‘The Pavilion’ through Cumbrian Cottages in Clappersgate, which is just north of Ambleside – a town at the top of Lake Windermere. After food shopping, getting ready, traffic, and generally being unorganised, we didn’t arrive at our humble abode for the week until 3pm on Saturday the 26th August. After unloading the car, (and enough yarn to keep one busy for at least a month!) we went to Ambleside to have some dinner. We settled for Shelia’s Cottage, a lovely restaurant adorned with chess piece salt & pepper shakers, tartan cushions and mismatched wooden furniture. The service was excellent, and their home-made pasta was to die for.

We then set off for Lake Coniston to partake in a treasure hunt (similar to geocaching) that Katie had been going on about for weeks. After falling out with the Sat Nav (a compulsory argument every British tourist should have with an inanimate object when the opportunity arises) we eventually arrived to Dodgson Wood 10 minutes before sunset. I’ll attach the PDF map that Katie sent me here.

Jetty 2

I spent a time searching the Jetty and surrounding rocks for a ‘treasure log’ before giving up and dangling my feet off the end of the Jetty – taking photographs and absorbing the picturesque landscape that was mapped across my horizon. Katie said stand up so we can take some photos together, and when I stood and turned around she was on one knee. Presenting the most perfect blue velvet ring box, containing the most beautiful engagement ring I could ever have imagined. She said that the treasure hunt wasn’t real and it was all just a ploy so that she could get me here and ask me to marry her. It turns out she had designed the PDF ‘treasure hunt’ all by herself and the accompanying poem, taking logos, phone numbers and boat timetables from across the internet. I honestly believed it was a real map! A minute after Katie popped the question, I couldn’t see a thing for crying and steamed up glasses! I was so happy and emotional, I don’t know whether I even said yes. I think I just stood there crying and vigorously nodding my head.

Jetty

The mood for the holiday was set – the rest of the week was spent in ignorant bliss from the rest of the world. We walked up to the Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls, and took a day trip to Keswick (where I bought 2 skeins of Stylecraft Head over Heels sock yarn in the colourway: Kilimanjaro) We also ate the most incredible Sushi at Wabisabi, a small Sushi restaurant, where the food is not only delicious, but also an experience! I also managed to publish a YouTube Podcast about packing crochet for holiday, and we took a boat trip to Windermere and Brockhole Activity Centre, where the scenery has provided me with a lot of inspiration.

I also got the chance to finish my pattern test for Blue Ammonite’s Cottage Garden Throw, and continued adding rounds to my Beautiful Shells blanket. See the free pattern by Lahoma Nally-Kaye on Ravelry here. It was especially nice crocheting in the sun at Brockhole on Windermere – watching dogs swim after sticks and families paddling in the lake.

As you can imagine, after such an incredible start to the holiday, and all the things to do in the Lake District, I didn’t get as much crochet done as I had panned. But I’m OK with that because we had such an amazing week. I definitely recommend a staycation to anyone who is looking for an alternative to an abroad holiday. The weather was unpredictable (as it is in the UK), but with the views and scenery that surrounded us, we really weren’t bothered.

The whole week was absolute bliss! There were so many things that we wanted to do but didn’t have time for, and we know for sure that we will definitely be returning. For now though, we have a wedding to plan! I am so happy and excited for what’s to come, and I am one extremely lucky girl who gets to marry her best friend.

Love Charlie, Xx