Hi, Merry Christmas, and a Wonderful 2020 to each of you!
With this, my seventh and last newsletter for 2019, I’ve officially done better than 2018 (which saw only six newsletters).
This year has been quite a roller-coaster, with epic highs and very sad lows. What I will take away from it is immense gratitude and a renewed focus on finding joy in all its simple and magnificent instances.
I have three patterns to share with you. I won’t waffle on about them too much, but I will say that everything I would usually pile into the newsletter (all the chatty stuff) has already been shared in the posts I will link to here. The Yarn Arrival for the Lynda blanket, in particular, contains a synopsis of my year (minus the last two months).
The last two months have been a rough ride for me in many ways, but they also taught me a lot about the simple joys. If you are going through something, or you are trying to make sense of something that is happening to someone you love, may I encourage you to grasp all the little joys:
- Play an adventure game with the cracks and textures in the pavement. Hint: Keep away from the Lava, remember to read the coordinates on man covers carefully, and remember to claim your 'bonus of mindful force' at the end. (Boy 3's rules, not mine).
- Go for a walk on a windy day and let the wind blow through your soul. Choose a day when the wind is body temperature and not gale-force.
- Put your headphones on and listen to the music of your choice as loudly as you can bear it (and feel the music run up and down your arms and spine in goosebumpy ripples). May I suggest Native Tongue by Switchfoot or Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe? Or Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah…
- Take the day off work (planned, don’t duvet day it!!!) and go to your favourite restaurant before having an afternoon nap – IGNORE all the chores
- Meet a friend for a walk-and-talk rather than a sit-down visit (might I suggest having hot chocolate AND ice-cream afterwards?)
- Go for a run around a lake (or a walk… or just sit and look at the lake… or listen to it... basically, find a body of water and let it feed your soul.)
- Give someone an anonymous gift.
- Make something for someone you love (you know you want to!)
For 2020, I am thinking about taking annual leave (wherever possible) on the 20th of each month (20/2020 - how could those dates NOT make me happy?). I am going to use those days to actively do something that brings me simple joy. Even if it is as small as doing a chore that I have been meaning to do for years, or going for a walk during a lunch break. When I discussed this with my friend Jane from Yarn By Hook, she said that the first thing that popped into her mind was 20/20 foresight. I like that: dedicating a whole year to predicting what you will need to do in order to charge your batteries and then DOING IT!
Right. Enough of that! On to the crochet (and some Admin) 😊
1. Lynda Blanket
I loved everything about the Lynda Blanket. It is a celebration of colour and unpredictability (due to the colour-changing nature of the Secret Garden yarn used). It is the first time I have made a blanket with a silk blend, and I thoroughly enjoyed the earthiness of the yarn and the way the colours married.
I shared this pattern as a 4-part project, starting with the yarn arrival and ending with the pattern. Each post contains plenty of personal chatter and some pretty great photos, so I do encourage you to go through them with a cup of tea in hand :) Yarn packs for this blanket are also available in my Wool Warehouse Shop, and contain a printed copy of the pattern.
2. Simple Joy Blanket
"Simple joy. Simple, simple joy. That is what creating offers us, regardless of what is going on in our lives. Sometimes the projects we make are stunning and intricate; sometimes, they are simple and easy. Sometimes they celebrate the best in our lives, and sometimes they help us through the worst."
This blanket was also shared in 4 parts. When I started making it, I never imagined that this blanket would become my companion and solace quite as it has. Every single stitch contains a prayer or an acknowledgement of gratitude. Every single stitch prompted me to remember and acknowledge all the simple joys.
3. Crochet Ammonite Wrist Warmers
I designed this pattern for the December 2018 Yarn Retreat with Devon Sun Yarns. I thought it was high time that I shared the pattern with you. I have to tell you that I had no idea it would be this popular!! They are easy and relatively quick to make, and simple to customise if you need them longer/shorter/wider.
You can find the free photo tutorial HERE: Crochet Ammonite Wrist Warmers Pattern. Please don't be daunted by the length of it. Those sneaky ammonites are easy to make but super hard to explain in words.
In November, my website got epically hacked. It was redirecting people to all sorts of weird and freaky places and I was locked out of my admin area, so couldn't fix anything even if I had the vaguest idea of where to start.
Luckily, my brilliant 'website guy' could sort it out (and make it pretty darn secure in the process), but the initial fix took us more than 48 hours of hunting for dodgy code, and we broke the website many times during the process. It turns out that the hacker was more devious than we realised at the time, and all in all it cost me A LOT of money and more than a month to regain total control of my website.
This affected me more than I am comfortable to admit. I received some quite heated correspondence, and people started sharing my patterns between each other because they became impatient with me and my efforts to restore (at great financial cost to myself) a website that's sole aim is to spread joy through sharing free patterns and empowering others. I had a real moment of 'Why am I even doing this?'
Turns out, I'm doing this because I just cannot help myself. I LOVE seeing people's look-at-what-I-made posts and reading about their stories and lives as they intertwine with what they have created. I am blessed to be part of those stories and journeys, and they enrich my life as much as I hopefully enrich theirs. Regardless of cost! That was Realisation One.
Realisation Two (much harder to come to grips with) was this: people were willing to help me if I let them; eager, even. And so, although it is extremely uncomfortable for me to do so, I am offering you the opportunity to help me recoup some of the losses too.
If you would like to help me raise the money I've had to part with to keep Look At What I Made running after the attack, you can buy one of the patterns in my Ravelry Store, or you can make a donation HERE.
There is no pressure and no obligation. Only a grateful opportunity :)
2019 Newsletters in Review
Just in case you have missed any of my newsletters this year, I am adding a list of them below (with links to the patterns featured in them).
It's been a blast (for the most part).
May 2020 be an eye-opening, soul-searching, joyful-making year for you.
All my love!
ps. BEST 2019 Make? The four gorgeous Sophie's Dreams my Jenny made: one for each season. As soon as the yarn is back in stock, we will start sharing details. For now, here are the blooper photos for all four seasons, photographed in Lyme Regis at the start of December.
pps. It was one of those wind-through-your-soul days x