selfcare

A blanket to hide under

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Yesterday I did something that I don’t normally do, and posted an off the cuff and deeply personal caption on my Instagram feed. I do normally try to ‘keep it real’ and be authentic there as much as possible but like most people (I suspect) I do heavily filter what I chose to share (and to not share) with the world.

Yesterday though I admitted that I’ve been really struggling with anxiety lately. Partly due to personal circumstances, partly due to the uncertainty and political turmoil of the whole Brexit saga - it’s hard to stay positive in a world where you seem to be bombarded with horrible divisive rhetoric everywhere you turn.

My salvation, as ever is in my knitting and that probably explains why my favourite thing to knit right now are mahoosive garter stitch mitered squares. No thought required, just pretty yarn and soothing stitches.

So many people got in touch yesterday to share their anxieties and their coping strategies that it turned what started off as a pretty dark day into something much more positive, more upbeat, more manageable.

Jokingly we discussed the idea of knitting your own survival blanket - anyone else remember making a blanket fort as a child? And so, obviously my crafting little brain went off at a tangent.

As the Precious Metals Socks KAL is drawing to a close my thoughts turned to the possibility of a very gentle, no-pressure, blanket KAL - think soothing garter stitch, think squares of different sizes, think about an adaptable, flexible pattern (or recipe maybe?) where you can just relax and enjoy creating for the sake of it. Whether you decide to make a cushion cover, lap blanket or full-on “hide from the world” blanket.

I’d like to do this one a little differently though and my ideas are still sketchy so bear with me. First up, there would be a charge for this KAL as I would like to run it more as a community based event, with a closed Facebook group and maybe with a yarn swap component. The pattern will be purchased via Ravelry and purchase will give you access to the weekly prompts/pattern downloads and the Facebook group. The actual KAL itself will run for about 8 weeks with a weekly email from me. I’ll alternate the emails so that one week you’ll receive a weekly pattern/recipe for a mitered square (along with tips and tricks for a neat finish) and the following week you’ll receive some ideas for self-care and mindfulness. I’d also like to use the KAL to raise money for charity, so from each purchase I’ll be donating a fixed amount to Mind - the mental health charity.

So what do you think? If it sounds like something you might be interested in please click the link here to express an interest and as soon as I have more information you’ll be the first to know.

Self Care Cowl

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Well, this is a surprise. Last time I checked my publishing schedule for the last 4 months of the year definitely didn’t include a cowl. Socks - yes, a shawl - yes. But definitely not a cowl.

This skein of Malabrigo Chunky had other ideas though and was originally a plain knit cowl that I never wore. I had knit it in the round at a slightly too-tight gauge and it always gave me the feel of wearing a neck brace.

So I ripped the yarn back and decided to see what would happen if I knit the cowl flat with a textured slip stitch pattern. As it turns out, it makes all the difference and creates a wonderful warm, smooshy texture and 1 skein is enough for a not-too-snug cowl, perfect for chilly autumn mornings.

If you subscribe to my newsletter please check your inbox for a special discount code. For those that don’t (please do think about it - I promise not to spam you) there is an early bird 25% discount until 1st October. Please just use code SELF-CARE at the Ravelry checkout.

You can buy the pattern here.

Chunky yarn and large needles make for a super quick knit and it’s no exaggeration to say that I knit this cowl, the whole thing, in an afternoon. It’s the perfect knitting project for when you need some self care time. Turn your phone off, stick Netflix on and spend a few hours treating yourself to a fun, luxurious knit.

PIN FOR LATER:

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Our most important tools: and top tips to look after them

As knitters we are often asked what our favourite tools and notions are and we will happily discuss the merits of wooden needles vs metal ones. We rarely give much thought to our most important tools of all though - our hands.

I experienced a mild bout of RSI a few years ago after trying to take part in a challenge to knit 26 pairs of socks in a year. I got to June if memory serves but all that sock knitting took its toll and I had to take a short break from knitting altogether. That experience was so unpleasant, and the thought of not being able to knit was so uncomfortable (read: horrific) that I vowed to take better care of my most important tools in the future.

1. I always try to give myself a weekly manicure. If my nails and hands look good I'm more inclined to treat them better. I try to wear gloves whilst washing up and doing the housework and have little pots of handcream dotted around the house and in my project bags. I particularly like the solid lotion bars, such as the Love + leche ones pictured above, for my knitting bag as there is no risk of the dreaded lotion explosion.

2. Some knitting friends on Instagram recently shared a tip with me for smoothing rough skin when working with silk yarns - which will catch on every tiny flaw. Mix a small amount of olive oil with sugar or salt and use to massage into your hands. Rinse under hot water and dry.

3. Frequent breaks. I take a tip from the Knitmore Girls and take a short break in my knitting every 15 minutes. Even if it is just to set down the needles, flex my fingers and move my gaze to somewhere in the middle distance (my eyes also have a habit of complaining if I focus too long in one spot). I do this even when power knitting to meet a deadline but I do find it hard to remember sometimes so I set a reminder on my phone.

4. Stretches. I found this website a few years ago and they have a great series of hand exercises specifically for knitters which I try to do as often as I can. 

I hope these tips help you to take care of your mitts and if you have any top tips that work for you do please let me know, I'd love to hear them.

If you need a bit of motivation you could always check out the #nailsandknitting hashtag on Instagram where people (myself included) have fun matching their nails to their yarn. If you are going to be taking a photograph of your hands that's always a good incentive to slap a bit of handcream on.