We're at the Unravel Festival and I'm literarily blocking my new jumper on the hotel room floor, hoping for it to dry so it can be shown off at the opening next day. We're exhausted after set up, we've had our hearty dinner, and we're ready to crawl into bed for some evening knitting. George is knitting away on his designated festival project, and then it strikes me - I didn't bring a project - I have NOTHING to knit!

As a yarn shop owner, this never happens, there is always something to knit, something that has to be done, a sample, a new design, yarn swatching... the list is endless, and more than the occasional exception, it is for the shop and not for myself. But there I was, suddenly realising that I had nothing planned for a whole weekend, all the pressing projects had been left behind and there was no urgency.

Showing off our woollies at Unravel 2020

What a luxury problem you might think - yes it was! I was surrounded by the woolliest gorgeousness you can imagine, after all Unravel is the most amazing festival for yarnies - it is packed with inspiration. But with all this freedom I ended up being completely indecisive, what should be next in line. That evening in the hotel bar I was literally staring at George and Natalie knitting away on their projects, for me the only thing to hold on to was my cider, you know idle hands and what comes with that... The revelation came to me after a couple of ciders I have to admit, that might be why it felt do profound and I exclaimed with a rather high pitch:

"Guys! You know my Askews Me Shawl that I literarily wear every single day, it is huuuuge and I love it so muuuuch and it hasn't been washed for ages because I wear it all the time. That's what I want, I want to knit something I really really want for myself, a humongous squishy shawl! And then finally my Askews Me can have a dip and a soak, and I'll have two favourites to swap between!"

I know, too much information... Read about my Askews Me here.

So how to find the perfect shawl? What I often do when looking for inspiration is to look at the design history of my favourite designers. I find that sometimes a designer reaches some momentum or a hype around one particular design, and after that everyone is just hungry for the next one, the latest, hot off the needles from a hot designer. Several designer friends of mine have told me it is like everything before that point is forgotten, which in a way is quite sad as there are so many gorgeous projects left with mush less attention than what they deserve. I've had a designer crush on Veera for a long time, her style is quite graphic but in a subtle way, and she sprinkles her projects with some interesting techniques - as the complete construction geek I am, no wonder her designs appeals to me. So this evening I'm going through Veera's shawl designs to find the dream project I'm looking for. I did find it, decision made, I'm going to knit the Stay Soft Shawl.

Stay Soft Shawl by Veera Välimäki

Come next morning, back at the festival, and this is where the fun really begins, I am going to choose my yarns! Stay Soft is an airy design made in 4ply yarn on 4mm needles, but I want it to be larger and squishier, so I'm thinking DK weight and because I'm also bringing the needle size up to a 6mm I want a woolly yarn with a good grip that will bloom when finished so my shawl doesn't end up so airy it looks like a net. I addition to this I'm going to challenge myself colour wise and go for something I usually don't. It is a pretty easy decision, the Hillesvåg Tinde has all the components I am looking for and with George's help I end up with a pale blue (Lys Dongeriblå 2113) and a greyish brown (Beige 2102). Now for my contrasting section my mind is set on a pinkish colour, I love the look of the coral in the original version, however the pinks in Hillesvåg are leaning too much towards red/purple and I need something leaning towards brown to accentuate the other two colours I've chosen. I know the perfect one: Kettle Yarn Co. Ramble in Hawthorne. Ramble is a 4ply, but the fibre composition makes it springy and it blooms similarly to the curly fibres of the Tinde, all though two different weights they will behave in the same way and the difference is not recognisable when knitted up.

You know I am a rule breaker - and I hope this project will encourage you to be a bit rebellious coming to your knitting as well. Try out different fibres and weights together - see how they act - when you have done this a couple of times you are more than equipped to mix and match the way you choose to regardless of the rules set out in a particular pattern. Two things to remember though: a tailored garment with more shaping and fit needs more consideration when breaking the rules as to a two-dimensional project, so maybe start your rebellion with something like a shawl or a wrap, secondly, always consider the 'weakest' fibre coming to after care like which wash to use and at what temperature.

On our way home, driving for a couple of hours, I cast on. Needless to say, maybe, as the world went into turmoil, this project became my comfort blanket, what I grabbed after when everything became too much. One stitch at the time, breathe, stay safe, breathe, stay soft...

And then with the first glimpse of summer, it was done, ready to be blocked! What normally would take a day or two to dry in our usual London weather dried in the sun in half an hour. As you can see, it turned out as huuuuge as I wanted it to, to wrap me up, to continue to provide comfort for a long time to come which goes beyond the current crisis we're all dealing with at the moment.

Until next time my friends, be safe, be kind ... stay soft!