CH 304: The Stillness Shawl and Silver Hair

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The big reveal of the Stillness Shawl after our MKAL!

After five secret clues and weeks of knitting and good company, today’s the day we reveal the full design of the Stillness Shawl Mystery Knitalong. On this week’s podcast episode, I’m chatting about the MKAL reveal, updating you on our other KALs and how I’m handling prizes. Along with the Stillness reveal, there’s also a bit of a reveal of my long-term personal project of growing out the grey. It’s the first time my almost-fully silver hair has featured in pattern photos! So today I’m talking about that process, what it was like, and how I feel about it now.

Show Links:

The Handmade Sock Society 3

Altitude Socks

Vapour Socks FO Thread

Altitude Socks FO Thread

July Knit20for2020 FO Thread

Use the #knit20for2020 hashtag to enter the KAL on Instagram

Habitation Throw KAL FO thread

Stillness MKAL

Call Your Girlfriend podcast

Ann Friedman Newsletter


Erica Henry Johnston

Nikol Johnson

@SilverHairandBretonStripes on Instagram

@wellness_with_walda on Instagram

Curious Handmade on Etsy


Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to Episode 304. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host Helen, and you can find me on Ravelry as HellsBells, and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at

Hello and welcome. I hope you having a good week. We are having lovely weather here in Queensland the past couple of days. We had a rainy week and now we’re having a lovely week. So that’s definitely lifting the spirits. I have been hunkering down on doing lots of design work the last week or two, and that’s going really well. I’m really excited about what’s coming up, but that means I can’t really talk too much about my knitting because I haven’t had any time to do any personal knitting projects, but I thought I would update you on some Knitaong news and just have a bit of a chat with you today. So we have the Handmade Sock society happening at the moment for all your lovely sock knitters. And the last pattern was published last week, the altitude socks.

And it was a little bit bittersweet to see that last pattern come out and the society finished for the year, but we still have some Knitalong time to go. So the vapor sock Knitalong is finishing on Tuesday, the 11th of August. So a little bit more time for that one. And then we have the altitude socks, which have just come out and the grand prize for the Knitalong for people who have knit all six socks that will be drawn on the 8th of September. So quite a few weeks left to finish up all six socks if you’re working on that and also be in the draw for the altitude sock, Knitalong. I am basically planning on switching to gift vouchers for prizes, and I will be offering $50 gift vouchers to the indie dyer or yarn shop of your choice, just so that we can get around this postage situation that we have here in Australia post is very slow from here.

And so I’d rather send you something close by or support a yarn shop or indie dyer that’s your favorite or close to you, just to make things a little bit easier and maybe even a little bit more fun. So I’ll be doing that for the rest of the prizes and I am a bit behind in organizing prizes for the Handmade Sock society so far. I’ve managed to get up to date on the knit 20 for 2020 prizes. That’s all up to date, I think, but having said that, today is the last day of the month for July. So I will be drawing that probably over the weekend or early next week for Knitalong. So if you’re working on the knit 20 for 2020 challenge, make sure that you get any things that you’ve knit this month into the thread on Ravelry or alternatively, I also draw from Instagram.

So if you’re posting something for knit 20 for 2020 on Instagram, be sure to tag it with a hashtag as well as let me know your favorite yarn shop or indie dyer, tag them in the post and the winner, which is randomly drawn winner will receive a voucher from that shop. So I draw both from Instagram and the Ravelry thread for that Knitalong. So that’s all that, I can’t believe its end of July already, but there you go. And also ending today is the habitation throat Knitalong. So that was extended and I’m drawing that over the weekend as well. So you might have a little bit of a leeway. If I haven’t look the post, then you can still enter. I’m just letting everything be a bit Wabi sabi at the moment and not too perfect. So please post any habitation throws in the finished object thread that is just in the Ravelry group. I’m afraid.

So hopefully people can post their apologies if you can’t. I set up this Knitalong, a long time ago, and I don’t feel like I can change that now, but I appreciate that some people can’t use Ravelry at the moment, so huge apologies, but I think that’s the best I can do for this at this moment. For the habitation thread, the prize is some set of hand wound, mini-skeins that I have taken from my stash from various designs over the years as well as a tote, which is a knit and light knit, taught back from French supply company. It is sadly closing up. So that will be a collector’s item. And of course last but not least, today is the big reveal. All of these Stillness Shawl Mystery Knitalong. Clue five was released last week. And I have seen so many gorgeous shawls that people have finished posted on Instagram and on Raverly.

And I am so thrilled that people are loving this show and have just knit such beautiful shawl. So I’m super excited about that. And from today seeing as we revealing the final pattern and I’m posting the completed pattern. All the clues consolidated together in one file. You don’t need to the post, the spoiler post on your final show anymore. Thank you to everybody who’s done that so diligently, it’s been really, really good. I have seen very few people posting without the spoiler post. So that’s been just amazing. You’ve been awesome. And the final Knitalong will continue until Friday, August the 28th. So you have until then to be in the drawer for the prize, which again, I will do as a voucher and allow plenty of knitting time for that. So if you have been joining in, on the Knitalong and have just received the final file. You might notice a big change in my hair.

I think this is probably, I have posted as of myself over the last year but this is the first pattern that I have really had with my gray transitioned hair and I feel a little bit self-conscious about it, but really happy. It’s not a hundred percent grown out yet though. Its not a hundred percent fully natural. I still have a few bleached tips at the end, which is a little bit frustrating, but I am tantalizingly close to being a hundred percent natural color. And I’m really happy about that. I can’t wait to have those final bleached bits topped off the end. And I just thought because of that, I would give you a little bit of an update today about, about that topic. I know that for some… For lots of people, lots it of women, it’s not an issue. She, they just never dyed their hair and so they never had to deal with a problem and didn’t take it on as something to do.

And I really admire that, but unfortunately I started dying my hair probably in my twenties and probably had some grace coming through then, probably even at university I don’t know. I was quite young when I first started noticing the gray hairs. And at that time I was kind of just dying my head, have fun with different colors, but it then merged into covering up, the grays. I think a lot of us are in that situation, so then it’s quite difficult to change and make the change in the decision to stop dying your hair. And once you’re in that situation and you decide to stop, then yeah, you really need to deal with the transition somehow and you don’t know what it’s going to be like, you don’t know what you’re going to look like, and you can’t really tell exactly what you going to look like until it’s all natural.

I think even, I can’t really tell exactly how it’s going to be, because I think when you have dye in your head, even if it’s just a little bit, it kind of… I don’t know, it skews how it looks somehow like the light reflecting and it… Ordinary, just the way it grows through it just distorts how your natural color looks like, you can’t really tell exactly what it’s like. I had actually been wanting to grow out my hair for a couple of years. I started to become frustrated by having to diet so frequently and it got to the point where there was really no time that the roots weren’t showing through. And I spent a couple of summer holidays, growing it out, thinking I was going to for it and then getting home and chickening out and dying it again.

And because I am a professional model, because I model my designs, I was always conscious of that. And it was a little bit difficult to get photos taken with growing out hair. And I also had a bit of a fear of, that I would look old and feel old, and that I would feel differently. And I also had a fear that I would be treated differently by society, that people would look at me and think I had let myself go or just look old or not really… Yeah, I had a real fear that I would be treated differently as a gray head woman. So I’ll just quickly share how I did progress to the stage and I had to go back and look at photos to get these dates because I couldn’t remember when I started and I had a vague idea, but this just been such a blow lately. I thought, I was like… Which year was it?

So I last dyed my hair on the 19th of December, 2018 for the holiday season or the parties I went to. Not really, but a couple. And then the way it happened, I didn’t refresh it in January, and then in February we went on holidays, for the half halftime school holidays. And I was sitting there on holidays and I was subscribed to an email newsletter by Anne Friedman, which I really enjoy. She sends lots of interesting links and she’s one half of the call your girlfriend podcasts that I really enjoy it with her co-host animator, Sal. And they’re just fabulous. I really love listening to friends chat and I cover really fantastic topics. Anyway, she does a weekly newsletter. And there was a link to an article about women going gray young. And so I read that article and was quite inspired and that linked to an Instagram account called Grombre, G-R-O-M-B-R-E so Gro and Ombre.

And it’s Instagram account, celebrating women transitioning from dying their hair to going gray, or just going gray naturally from the beginning, which is much easier path, I think now, but anyway, celebrating women with gray hair. And I was transfixed by this account because it was so positive and so many women were posting. It posts photos, plus a little statement by the women or a little bit of their story or their thoughts. And I was just so inspired by this. And I also thought that the women who had gone through growing their hair out and had natural hair, I just honestly thought it just made them look so beautiful and so fabulous, and it just really made their skin look great. And so I decided then and there that I was going to just continue on not dying my hair because by that stage, it was like two months since I’d dyed it and that was starting to show.

And then a month later I was at EYF and feeling a little bit self-conscious because I had really bad rates by that stage or really good but bad, because of the very severe lawn with my dark brown hair. And so I went to EYF and I survived that and I felt a little bit self conscious for photos, but I just didn’t really care too much because I was happy with my decision and I was happy that I was doing it. And then I got to a point where I was just fixating on it all the time. Every time I saw myself, I would just be really annoyed with the line and the contrast between the gray and the brown. And I just wanted it done. I’ve been following another account on Instagram. There was a hairdresser that was doing a lot of transitions where people were just bleaching the hell out of their hair and then toning it with a gray toner.

And so I decided that I would do that as a way to fast track the changing over and I’d convince myself that it would work. And so then in May, I did that and I had my hairdresser bleach my hair and it took two goes because the first time, she didn’t take enough color and it was this really bad. Light brown weird color and then we did it again. And the problem was, in that process, it ended up taking the dye back to square one because I thought she would be able to just split shit from where the color was, but really I think what happened was it bleached all my hair. And so I didn’t have the benefit of that five months growing up, but I’d already achieved. But I was happy with it initially and I have to say it was very fun being blonde for a little while. And I just sort of decided that yes, I would just have fun with doing it that way. And I don’t regret doing that.

The only thing I regret is not making that decision from the beginning because I thought I could cheat the system but yeah. So my tip would be to work out your strategy early on in the process because I waited five months, had it bleached and then I was back to square one in terms of growing. Growing out to the natural color and in retrospect, I should have just got some strikes probably just to even add that line a little bit, but I was… I had a bee in my bonnet that I just wanted it done then and there, and I couldn’t bring myself to cut it that short. I went for this interim approach and I’m probably… I don’t know what I like. I think if I’d cut it that short, it would have been a bit hard to deal with. I don’t know but probably. It probably would have been fun, but I just wasn’t ready to have such short hair.

And so I think if you can handle having short hair, or if you already have short hair, that’s probably the fastest and easy way to do it, just get it all cut off quite short. If you’re keen to just be fully natural, that’s the definitely the quickest way to do it. But if you’re just going to grow it out and keep a bit of length, then I would say even just for a bulb length, it’s probably going to take you two years to grow it out and I didn’t really fully appreciate that. How long it would take when I started? Because when I started, I felt like it was growing out so quickly, every month I was having to diet every four weeks but in reality, that was just like a centimeter. That just seemed like a lot. But when you’re trying to grow it, it seems super, super slow.

So anyway, I just thought I had talk about it this week because I know that a lot of people have not been able to get to hairdressers recently and perhaps are at a point where they have grown-up, they graze a little and maybe wondering about which way to go. So I just wanted to share my story and say, I am so happy that I’ve done this and it’s taken a while and it’s still ongoing, but I’m absolutely thrilled to not have to dye my hair anymore, to not have to put the chemicals on my hair and not have the expense and mostly just to be. I just feel like the color suits me well and I don’t know. People don’t really say too much, but I’m happy with it. And I feel like I don’t care what anybody else thinks too much because I like it. I really like it. And people who know me probably find it a bit startling if they haven’t seen me for a while. But anyway, I think it’s pretty cool.

And I’ve been really, really boosted by a couple of YouTubers as well. Erica Henry Johnson has a great YouTube channel. She’s smart, she’s funny and she’s super positive and down to earth. But I have found her… I think she’s really cool. And she has beautiful gray hair. She’s maybe 10 years younger than me, I think. And she’s a fitness instructor, personal trainer, and… She’s just super cool and does really funny outtakes of her videos with her kids and yeah, I really love her. And there is also Nicole Johnson who is more into the beauty side of things. She’s a model, but super positive and also relatively down to earth, but she talks a lot more about beauty products and makeup. And it’s really more of a beauty channel, but with a real focus on positivity towards aging, which I really like as well.

They have great YouTube videos and on Instagram there’s a huge community of people posting about this, which I discovered through Grombre. There’s also an account called silver hair and Breton stripes that are quite alike, and I recently discovered wellness with Walda, W-A-L-D-A on Instagram as well. Walda Lorena Sky and she has a great account to follow. So I just wanted to share that story and a little bit of the backstory as to the change in my pattern and photos. Just a little note in regards to my pattern availability as probably a lot of know especially if you’re on Instagram regularly or on Ravelry regularly, you will have seen the issues with the redesigned Ravelry site and that it’s causing people, headaches, seizures, and health issues. So eyes, things like that. And for that reason, I have decided to try to get my patterns up on an alternative platform.

And to be honest, I’ve been planning to try and create my own shop on my website anyway, and this is giving me more of a push to do that. But because it wasn’t sort of a current project it’s taking me a while to do. So, what I’ve decided to do is put at least some of my patterns on Etsy for the time being, I won’t be posting all of them because I have over a hundred now, but I’ll post some of the more recent ones. And in the main time work on developing my own shop on my website. It’s a little bit complicated because I’m currently redeveloping my own website anyway, and that’s been a project that I’ve been working on for about three years. So that might give you an idea of how long it takes me to do these technical things. So I thought I would be able to get a shop up quite quickly, but actually there’s a lot of considerations, especially when you have a lot of patterns.

And I’m also rebranding my patterns to be all in the same format and branding. And that’s also a very time intensive project as well. So I thought it would be reasonably simple to do, but it’s proving to be a bit more complicated. But I just wanted to let you know that I will have some patterns on Etsy and I’m working on an alternative solution as I go through the set of requirements. For evaluating different platforms, I do just come back to appreciating how amazing Ravelry is as a platform for knitting patterns and just I’m really hoping that they can get the site back to being accessible for everybody. I am trying to think the best and I’m sure that they’re trying to solve the problem, but have not been able to do it yet and I’m trying to provide an alternative for people as well. And that’s fine because as an indie designer, I think it’s good to have a little bit of independence from just one platform anyway, but it is a big job.

I will post the link to my Etsy shop. At the moment I’ve just set it up and have posted only a couple of patterns so far, but hopefully by the time this podcast is released in the next few days, I will have been able to post a few more patterns up there as well, and that will be an ongoing project. So thank you as always for your support, thank you to the people who buy my patterns and knit them and thank you. To all of you who are listening I appreciate you so much. I hope you’re looking after yourselves and going okay at the moment. I’m thinking of you all and just hoping that everyone all around the world is well and not experiencing too much stress by the situation. I’m sure that most people are experiencing higher levels of stress than normal. So yes, I really hope that this podcast can provide a little bit of light relief, a little bit of company, and yes, I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you. Just before I sign off, I like to thank my sponsor, Meadow Yarn.

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