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

Lifestyle

Just stop for a moment…

How taking a break can boost your creativity!

So, last weekend it was my partner’s birthday and I arranged a surprise for her. A 1-night stay at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. Somewhere we had both wanted to stay for a few years. She had absolutely no idea, until we practically turned into the car park (suitcase packed unknowingly in the boot of the car). After checking in with huge smiles on our faces, we got a taxi to the Albert Docks and proceeded to eat and drink merrily at Gusto’s before doing a little bit of shopping and returning to the hotel quite tipsy!

gustos

Getting to the point though… Things have been quite (extremely) hectic for us over the last year. What with losing Gran, moving house, renovating a house, changing jobs, having PCOS, and an appendectomy, Katie’s Ulcerative Colitis and flare ups, her promotion and busy work life… etc. etc. So we were in desperate need for a break, despite counting down to our weeks stay-cation at the end of August.

bed

Taking just 24 hours to concentrate on ourselves and each other was like pressing a re-set button. For Katie, she managed to stop thinking about work for a few hours, and you could see a weight lifted in her eyes. For me, it was a nice treat after spending time in Doctors waiting rooms, a hospital bed, and being trapped in the house recovering. For us, it did the world of good and I think we reminded ourselves that there is so much more to life than work and daily chores. We also remembered how much we love this city.

docks

Everything about our afternoon in Liverpool was perfect! The sun was shining, the food was delicious and we indulged far too much, stretching our bellies to capacity, shopping and spending more money than was necessary…

I bought a small A6 journal and fountain pen from Paperchase so I have a notebook to design and write new crochet patterns in – this is working out very well so far, and it’s so small I can put it in whichever handbag/project bag I have with me. It’s so annoying when you get an idea that’s so good you don’t want to forget it but have nowhere to write it down. And in some ways, I’m an old-fashioned technophobe and prefer to write things down rather than key them into my phone.

rum

I was so shocked by how organising just one night away as a surprise for Katie’s birthday benefited us both so much. The afternoon we got home, we were both so exhausted and (a little bit) hungover. [Blame Stanley’s Rum Bar] But the next day my mind was refreshed and I had so many pattern ideas. I finished two dish cloths (click here for free pattern) and worked on my Virus Shawl which is now finally complete, and blocking as we speak… (or read) And I also made some progress on my tapestry horse blanket. I am so motivated to carry on doing what I want to do, and there’s been so much support online. I can’t thank you all enough.

chairs

Finally, I’m going to talk about Imposter Syndrome which Emma Houghton talks about in her most recent blog post over at Blue Ammonite Designs. Imposter Syndrome, as Emma tells us, is how you feel no ‘right’ to do what you do because you may not be as experienced as you think you should be. I can really relate to this, and it got me thinking. Making the decision to follow your dreams (cheesy I know) is daunting and I find it slightly embarrassing to put my work out there for fear what people will think. Not only am I young (23… is that young?) but I also don’t even have 5 years under my belt in terms of crochet experience.  I feel as though I am throwing ideas into a vast pool of knowledge where there is always going to be someone who has done it already, and most certainly better than me. But on the other having read the advice of many successful people, a lot stick to the term ‘fake it till you make it’ so perhaps everyone feels like an imposter when they first start out. I just feel that if I don’t give it a go – I’ll never know if I could have done it, and I’d never know how far I can take it. I don’t want to deny myself the chance to succeed. So I’m going to carry on no matter how ridiculous I feel, or how scary it is. I’m writing my own path, and hopefully it’s going to lead somewhere beautiful one day.

Enough of the spiritual revelations! Hahaa…

I’ll be publishing another free crochet pattern in the next week so watch this space…

Love Charlie, Xx