As Knitvent time approaches, I know many of you are already deep in your planning for this year’s gift knits. Handmade gifts are truly precious, and so much preparation and anticipation goes into the process: making a list, matching patterns and yarn, and somehow scheduling all that knitting into our busy days. It is one of the great joys of the season, as long as you have a plan, give yourself plenty of time, and remember that this is supposed to be fun!

There will be exciting new gift-knitting patterns on the way when Knitvent begins, but to help you in your early stages of gift knitting, here is our annual Curious Handmade Gift Guide. We’ve curated some tried-and-tested favourite designs which are sure to delight your dear ones this holiday season.

As a Knitvent warm-up treat and to make sure the season gets off to a glorious start, I’m running a buy-one-get-one free sale across all Curious Handmade patterns and collections from now until Monday, October 21st, 2019. Now’s the time to stock up on any patterns you might have missed. There’s no code necessary to get your free pattern. Just put any two of my patterns or collections into your cart by the end of Monday, October 21st and the least expensive item we be automatically free as a gift from me to you and your loved ones!

Shop The Curious Handmade Gift-Knitting BOGO Sale!

I hope you find some perfect patterns to keep you busy while we wait for the Knitvent launch: maybe you’ll be able to cross a few names off your list a little early this year!


One Skein Wonders

A smallish shawl makes an ideal gift. You don’t need much time or yarn to whip up one of these beauties. Easy to knit and easy to wear, these one-skein shawls are great for showcasing a special yarn. Choose something lacy and delicate for a special-occasion shawl (you can even add beads) or look for something solidly comforting to wrap them up warm for every day.

Large image: The Peace of Wild Things Shawl. Small images, clockwise from top left: Tulle Shawl, Little Meg Shawl, Alpine Sunset Shawl, Rewilding Shawl

Perfectly Matched

Any one of these items would make a fabulous quick-knit gift, but if you have the time to make a matching set you can really make your knitworthy loved one feel cherished. Pair a stylish hat with a coordinating warm cowl or a toasty pair of mitts. Almost all of these patterns come in multiple sizes or are easily adjustable, and with the right yarn choice they should suit just about anyone on your list.

A collection of accessory knitting patterns from Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade
Left to Right: Ice River Hat, Ice River Snood, How Quiet Hat, How Quiet Mitts
Left to Right: Kindling Hat, Kindling Mitts, Tchaikovsky Hat, Tchaikovsky Mitts

Snug Socks

A handmade pair of warm woolly socks is a wonderfully nurturing gift. Choose a squishy DK-weight yarn for the ultimate cosy kicking-around-the-house-pair or look for a sock yarn with a little touch of luxury (a bit of cashmere never went astray) and your lucky recipient will be dancing for joy.

A collection of five pairs of socks designed by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade
Large image: Vintage Fairy Lights Socks. Small images clockwise from top left: Winter Sleep Socks, Juniper Socks, Red Robin Socks, Winter Rose Socks

Cuddly Cowls

Much quicker to knit than a scarf but just as warm and comforting, a cowl makes an excellent gift. If you have a bit of time before you’re exchanging presents, you can chose a delicate yarn, but for knitters in a hurry, a chunky, cosy cowl is often the answer. With large enough yarn and needles, anything is possible: many a knitter has been known to work a one-evening miracle with a super bulky cowl!

Large photo: Land of Sweets Cowl. Small photos clockwise from top left: Crisp and Even Cowl, Frost at Midnight Cowl, Fresh Powder Cowl, Laveer Kerchief

Grand Gesture Shawls

Reserved for only the most knitworthy of all your loved ones, a grand gesture shawl is a magnificent way to show how much you care. If you’re planning to knit a present on this scale, be extra sure to start early. With their interplay of colours, lace, and fancy stitches, these designs are a joy to knit, but it takes an investment of precious yarn, time, and energy to create a shawl like this. A true labor of love. The final result is sure to be cherished for a lifetime. This is how heirlooms happen!

Large photo: Inkling Shawl. Small photos, clockwise from top left: Sprite’s Fen Shawl, Maytham Shawl, Surprise Party Shawl, Snowmelt Shawl

Hopefully this guide has given you an idea or two to get you started! If you’d like even more inspiration, why not pour yourself a cup of tea and spend a little time exploring the whole library of Curious Handmade designs? Remember, every pattern and collection is buy-one-get-one-free from now until Monday 21 October 2019. Happy knitting!

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Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Knitting Designer Helen Stewart models a green lace shawl named the In The Dunes Wrap

We’re just starting to settle in Australia, and as I get my bearings I have a little bit of an update for you, and the newest shawl/wrap from The Shawl Society Season 4 to talk about. I’ve also started a new and lovely novel by a good friend and member of the maker community. It’s just launched and has become part of my summer reading, and I think it might appeal to some of you as well.

Show Links:

Emu Runner movie

In the Dunes Wrap

The Shawl Society Season 4

Meadow from The Fibre Co.

Pure Joy Shawl by Joji Locatelli

Stories for my Sister by Elizabeth Duvivier

Join Elizabeth for a launch party hosted by BROOKLYN TWEED
The Hoxton (Portland, OR)
Thursday, September 5th
doors open at 6pm

space is limited
RSVP at Brooklyn Tweed Events Page

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Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

After a couple of weeks of packing, moving into and out of a temporary flat, and generally uprooting life, it’s finally time to fly away to to Australia! I also have some really sweet new socks to share with you from The Handmade Sock Society.

Show Links:

The Cornish Cream Tea Socks

Circus Tonic Handmade

Clio by Elizabeth Doherty

Play

Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Today’s episode is just a bit of a snapshot of what life is like here at the Curious Handmade headquarters. We’re in the middle of the first stage of the move now and it’s all very real. As I pack up our lives (and my stash!) I have some thoughts about the emotions stuff holds, how clutter and minimalism and waste interact, and which skeins I should pack for a few month’s transition.

Show Links:

Jarr Market

Gather (Peckham No-Packaging Shop)

The Low Tox Life

Low Tox Life Episode 149

Clio by Elizabeth Doherty

Elton Cardigan by Joji Locatelli

La Bien Aimée

Pure Joy by Joji Locatelli

Episode Transcript

———————————-
Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 271. 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 Hell’s Bells and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find the full show notes on my website at curioushandmade.com

Hello and welcome to the show, I hope you’re having a great week. We are having a heat wave in London at the moment and it is pretty hot, I have to say. Sometimes when people say, “We’re having a heat wave here,” I’m like no, high twenties is not a heat wave. But yesterday it was well over 30 and tomorrow is predicted to be 38 degrees, which considering that no one in London has any air conditioning, it’s pretty disgusting. So not looking forward to that very much. It’s early in the morning at the moment, so it’s still reasonably cool. So I thought I would pop in and podcast while it’s nice and cool and I have a bit of energy to do it.

I’m not sure how much knitting I will have to talk about today, my mind is a little bit scattered. I’m surrounded by packing boxes at the moment. We are moving out of our house this weekend and we’re not leaving the UK for a couple of weeks, but we’re moving to a temporary place and the people coming to pack what we’re taking to Australia are coming early next week. So, yeah, so my mind is a little bit scattered and it’s partly because I’ve got a lot on, but also partly because this process of packing and going through everything you own is quite emotional. Some of it is a bit disturbing when you discover things that you bought twelve years ago and I’ve just had in the back of a cupboard. Yeah. I’m looking through boxes of cards that people have sent to me.

I actually found a bundle of cards that my best friend had written to me, who’s passed away eight years ago and yeah, just lots and lots of little emotional moments as I go through everything. And as you know, if you’ve been listening to the podcast, I have been decluttering for about five years. I’ve been trying to move to a less stuff life. And so it’s a little bit disheartening to be honest, to still have so much stuff and be confronted with my consumerism. But you know, it is what it is. I’m trying to improve, and this is a great opportunity to really sort of clear the slate a little bit.

Yeah. So it’s been a big week, another big week. But I’m getting there. I’m getting there slowly but surely, I’m running out of energy a little bit. I haven’t been sleeping very well. I’ve been sort of getting really tired and then sleeping and then waking up at anywhere between 3:00 AM to, you know, 5:00 AM and not being able to get back to sleep. So it’s not really helping. But I think I hopefully it’s just a phase and it’s partly because it’s so light so early here in the UK at the moment, that doesn’t really help and all sorts of things going on that’s contributing to that.

But yes, so that’s where I’m at today. Sometimes I record these shows and think it’s amazing that anybody listens to me talking about these I don’t know, personal things or probably quite repetitive and boring things sometimes, I’m not sure. But thank you for listening. I appreciate you. I love all my knitters. I love my listeners on the podcast and yeah, I just really appreciate the community we have. And you know, I guess I’m just feeling that a lot because I’m saying goodbye to people here. I’m thinking about the new friends I’m going to make where I’m moving to in Australia, where we’re moving to is not a place I’ve lived before.

I basically lived in Brisbane for university and working for a couple of years after university and for the last couple of years of high school. Before that we traveled around, lived in three or four different places in Queensland. My Dad was a teacher and worked for the government, so he got transferred to different schools and so yes, so we moved around a reasonable amount until I was about 15 and then I was in Brisbane. So we are moving to the sunshine coast, which is about an hour north of Brisbane. It’s the beach and yeah, so really excited about that. I’m really excited about, instead of walking in the park here in London, I’ll be walking along the beach out there. Maybe some bush walks as well, yeah.

Hoping to find a place where the kids will be able to either walk or cycle to school and yeah, just looking forward to hopefully a really, I don’t know, less intense lifestyle than we have here in London. Living in London, it’s really just hard to avoid, it’s impossible to avoid traffic. It’s impossible to avoid being surrounded by a lot of people all the time. I am certainly going to really, really miss very much my friends here in London, I’ve lived in London three different times in my life. I came here as a working holiday maker when I was about 26 for two years and I came back for almost a year in between that and then lived in Germany for a while and then came back again.

So this is the third time I’ve lived here and I think this time it’s been about 14 years, and in that time I’ve had the girls and we’ve met a lot of really good friends through meeting other parents through school, and I’m really good friends with my mum’s group, girls and women. And I think I can call them the girls because that’s what we say. It’s going to be really, really hard. And I think I’m going to miss the convenience of a lot of things here. Everything is on tap. Amazon has a lot to answer for with that. And you know, nothing’s very particularly far away. Although if someone’s living on the other side of the river in London, you tend not to see them very often. But yeah, it’s really just everything at your fingertips. So many opportunities to go to museums or plays or concerts.

And although I don’t do it very often, I think, oh, I’ll miss the ability to do that as easily. But I’m looking forward to a different lifestyle. I’m really looking forward to quieter, hopefully more, I don’t know, a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. I’m hoping that living at a slower pace, hopefully it will, I don’t know, just mean less consumption, more walking, more time to cook. Yeah, just lots of little changes that I’m looking forward to. I’ve been trying really hard for a long time to minimize plastic and waste and food waste and things like that, but I don’t know. With the fast pace of life, things go by the wayside sometimes, so I find myself slipping in and out of good habits a little bit.

I’m really proud of some of the habits and changes we’ve made. We get all our laundry detergent and washing up detergent refilled. We have a Milkman, so he brings milk in glass bottles. And just a few a few things like that that we’ve been able to change. But when I first started trying to really really reduce plastic and things, it was about, I don’t know, I want to say six years ago that I read an article by BA Johnson in a magazine on the way to a holiday. I was reading this magazine on the plane and I got off, I read the article, it was all about zero waste. And I got off the plane and then downloaded her books on my phone and read them on holidays. And then I came back from holidays and went to find the one shop in London that I could find that had like, package free groceries. It was miles away from where we lived. Really, I went there twice, but it really wasn’t feasible as a grocery shopping option.

And especially when at the time I was working in the city and doing some designing and I think maybe podcasting on the side. So it really wasn’t feasible to schlep across London to go and buy our groceries from this place. But ironically in the last couple of weeks, two package free shops have opened in, you know, my neighboring suburbs to where I live. So just sort of a mile away. So I mean that’s good. I’m really, really excited to see them opening and hope to have a chance to visit them. One is called, I was just looking at it on the Instagram. I found it on Instagram, Jarr Market, J-A-R-R market, and they’re in Herne Hill and there’s another one opening in Peckham, or opened in Peckham as well. I can’t remember the name of that one. So if you’re in southeast London and are wanting to do a bit of bit more packaged, free shopping, there are two shops that are available to you, which is super exciting, really, really exciting. And they look lovely online. I’m sure that they’re lovely in person as well. So I’m looking forward to seeing those.

Anyway, that was a bit of a ramble. I know that where we’re moving to has a package free market near where we’re going to be living. So yes, so hoping to use that a bit. One thing I’ve been doing for the past year or so, is twice a week just sort of doing meal planning and cooking meals and just shopping for those meals that I’m cooking rather than going to the grocery store and buying heaps of like seeing nice fruit and veg or really you know, nice things and just buying things randomly. And that’s really cut down on food waste. And I was just listening to a podcast that I haven’t finished listening to yet called The Low Tox Life, which I dip in and out of occasionally.

And it’s an Australian host called Alex someone and I just saw the title, the climate crisis, the power’s in your hands and she has a guest Ann Foster on the show. So I started listening to that and it’s quite a hopeful discussion. I have most of the episodes still to listen to, so I can’t talk about it too much. But one of the first things they were talking about was how food waste can make a huge difference and also how individuals actions can make a huge difference. And so sometimes you wonder whether if what you’re doing is making any difference whatsoever. But this podcast was really, it was really hopeful and I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of it as I’m doing some more packing today. So that was episode 149 of Low Tox Life.

One of the things that I need to do today before my stash gets packed up is to figure out what yarn I am keeping with me for the next, I don’t know, three months or so? I’m not sure how long I will be without my stash. And they say it takes six to eight weeks for things to ship to Australia in a container. And I think we will probably be house hunting for a bit longer than that. So probably be a bit longer before I get to unpack things. So, yeah, so I’m trying to plan, and my mind is not really in a good place to be thinking about this because I’m so scattered. I wish I had sort of set aside some time to do this a little bit earlier, but I think it’s one of those things, you know you, I tend to do things very last minute. I’m still, even though I talked about this, getting better at it in the last couple of episodes, I’m still not fabulous at planning ahead.

So as a result I will be trying to plan out my knitting for the next three months today I’m thinking I’ll definitely have my Cleo project and I will wind a couple more skeins of yarn for that. Not that there’s anything wrong with winding yarn by hand, but I might just try and wind a few skeins just to make that easier because I know that I’m going to be working on that. So I’m thinking Elton, my Elton Cardi by Joji Locatelli in yellow brick road. I think that might be a nice project for travel. It’s super simple and it’s a beautiful bright yellow color. It’s quite cheerful and yeah, and thinking about Joji patterns, I might, I’ve got pure joy is in my, collection of whips, which is a gorgeous shawl by Joji, I’m knitting that in some really deep stash and it’s lovely, lovely yarn. So I think that might be quite a comforting project to bring with me.
I’m also looking forward to doing some designing, so I’m going to try, if I have time to plan out a couple of designs and pack the yarn for those. I have an idea for a pull over and I have some gorgeous La Bien Aimee dk white yarn. I posted a picture of it in my Instagram feed this week and yeah, it’s just gorgeous yarn, super inspiring. I have a little idea for it. So I think I’ll try to include that in my traveling stash and hopefully just work on that a little bit. And yeah, I think, I don’t know, I’m going to need to be reasonably sensible about what I bring with me, but always so many ideas, so many projects. And I think I will need my knitting more than ever in the next few weeks and months. Yeah, it’s going to be my comfort, I think through a big transition.

So I don’t want to apologize too much, but I am sorry if this has been a bit of a ramble-y episode and I hope you’ll forgive me. I hope you’ll bear with me and understand it’s, yeah, just a lot of upheaval at the moment. A lot of things going on and yeah, but I just wanted to pop in and say hello, have a chat with you. I love you all so much. Hope you’re well. I hope for all the people in the northern hemisphere who are moms and dads, you’re coping okay with school holidays. It’s a challenge at the best of times. I hope you’re enjoying some nice warm weather if you’re in the northern hemisphere.

For all my southern hemisphere listeners, enjoy your knitting weather, enjoy the cold weather. Hope you’re cozy and yeah, I’ll talk to you again soon. Most likely next week and I’ll try and be a bit more together for you. Have a slightly more structured conversation.

That’s all from me. Have a fantastic way and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Play


Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Today on the podcast I’m answering a question I’ve gotten a lot recently…how am I getting so much done this summer, with such a big move on the horizon? I’m always curious about how other busy people manage their time and to-do lists, so maybe this will be helpful. I’m also thrilled to introduce the latest addition to The Shawl Society 4!

Show Links:

The 3rd pattern of The Shawl Society Season 4 was released yesterday!

The Rockpooling Shawl

When the tide is out, there are wonders to be found in the shallow rock pools along the shore. To see what there is to see you have to crouch down, get very still, and peer very keenly into each puddle. You have to take your time, and you may have to visit a few pools before you strike gold. The reflection of sunlight on the water glitters, you squint, and then it’s there, and you’re rewarded with a moment of pure delight.

A flicker of movement turns out to be a shy little hermit crab, a bouncing company of prawns, or a troupe of busy little fish. Look deeper, and you may even spy a waving anemone among the seaweed or one perfect starfish hidden in the sand. Moving from pool to pool, exploring and discovering and wondering: it is a wonderful way to spend a few hours at the seaside. Compared to the wildness of the open ocean, rockpooling seems a very small sort of adventure. Sometimes that’s the very best kind.

The Rockpooling Shawl is our third pattern of the season. A traditional triangle shape with contemporary detailing, it features an easy but evocative slip-stitch pattern. This three colour shawl offers plenty of scope: go for a sharp contrast or a more gentle dappled effect. A smart garter border finishes it all off beautifully.

The Wool Kitchen BFL Silk DK

My amazing test knitter traceyrr has a gorgeous pink version up on Ravelry

Tracey’s Instagram

The Comfy Red Couch Podcast

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Hand Made Podcast, you’re listening to episode 270. This podcast is all about crafting a life with 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 the full show notes and transcript on my website at Curioushandmade.com

Welcome to the show and I hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks. I didn’t publish an episode last week. I took a little bit of a break and I thought I would talk a little bit about that later in the show today. I’ve been asked a lot recently by friends and listeners how I’m getting so much done at the moment, and so I thought I’d share a few thoughts and perhaps some tips about that this week. And firstly I wanted to share with you some Shawl Society news. The third pattern in the Shawl Society was released this week, yesterday. And it is called the Rockpooling shawl. So I’ll just read you the description to set the scene:

“When the tide is out, there are wonders to be found in the shallow rock pools along the shore, to see what there is to see you have to crouch down, get very still and peer very keenly into each puddle. You have to take your time and you may have to visit a few pools before you strike gold. The reflection of sunlight on the water glitters. You squint and then it’s there, and you’re rewarded with a moment of pure delight. A flicker of movement turns out to be a shy little hermit crab, bouncing company of prawns or a troop of busy little fish look deeper and you may even inspire a waving anemone amongst the seaweed, or one perfect starfish hidden in the sand. Moving from pool to pool, exploring and discovering and wondering. It is a wonderful way to spend a few hours at the seaside. Compared to the wilderness of the open ocean, rock pooling seems a very small sort of adventure. Sometimes sets the very best kind.

The Rockpooling shawl is the third pattern of the season, a traditional triangle shape with contemporary detailing, it features an easy but evocative slip stitch pattern. This three color shawl offers plenty of scope. You can go for a sharp contrast or a more gentle dappled effect and a garter border finishes it all off beautifully.”

This design was completely inspired by the yarn this time I saw a post on Instagram that Helen of the Wool Kitchen had published quite a long time ago now. And she published these colorways together in a picture, and I immediately wanted to do something with them and they immediately just said like rocks and rock pools, to me. So it was just one of those times where the inspiration really strikes hard, and I just knew immediately what it was going to be. And I love it when that happens, it’s absolutely brilliant. So Helen is just an absolute dream to work with. And so we worked together on the details about the yarn, came up with the right base and yeah, I’m just absolutely thrilled with this shawl and the yarn.

So the yarn is the Wool Kitchen BFL Silk Dk. So it’s 55% Blue Face Leicester and 25% silk. So that gives it an incredible sheen and drape. And I think a silk content for shawls is really, really good. And it also just makes it, yeah, just lovely and drapey. And although DK weight is a bit of a heavier weight for shawls for this time of year, I think that it still has a sort of a lightness to it because of the silk. So the colorways are called Skyfall, Wild Swimming and Cobalt. And in the shawl there’s a plain section, and then the rest is kind of a way of doing color work, which is using slip stitches rather than carrying yarn behind stitches. It gives us a fairly similar effect, but it also gives a little bit of texture to it as well, which I really like. And so yeah, it’s really, really simple knit and you may not be able to see it at first glance in the photos, but there’s a section of the Skyfall and Wild Swimming together. And then the section of the Wild Swimming and the Cobalt together.

And that’s quite a big contrast between two of the colors. But the middle section is a very subtle contrast, I really like it. Yeah, so it was a really fun knit. I knit this sample while I was doing some traveling and I knitted a lot of it on a plane and so yeah, I can confirm that it’s really good, easy travel knitting. So I thought that was nice for this time of year when we don’t necessarily want to be thinking too much in the heat. The sample did use almost all of the three scans of yarn, so I used 90 grams, 80 grams and 95 grams. And you can pretty easily adapt it to do less repeats if you feel like you’re running out of yarn at any point, you can simply switch to another color or you can play with the yarn amounts that you have fairly easily. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

If you’re not wanting to play yarn chicken at the end, you could switch to a different color for the border, or all sorts of options with this one, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you combine more colors or want to make it bigger or smaller or it’s a really flexible design. So thank you so much to my test knitter, Tracy. Tracy RR on Ravelry. She’s the Comfy Red Couch podcast on YouTube, and she’s done an absolutely gorgeous pink version with three different pinks and it’s so pretty and so summary. So if you want to see it in a different color way, our checkout Tracy’s project on Ravelry, it’s really gorgeous. So as I said in the introduction, I have been having a lot of questions lately about how I’m getting everything done. And I think it’s partly because I’ve been quite active on social media and had quite a few patterns coming out, I suppose.

But it kind of doesn’t feel like I’m doing a massive amount, well it does, I am doing a massive amount at the moment. But in terms of what I’m posting, a lot of it has been prepared for some time in advance, if that makes sense? So for example, my designs have been pre-prepared so they’re just kind of publishing them and that’s kind of almost the easiest part in the whole process. So I started thinking about how I’ve been managing, and to be honest in the last couple of weeks or the last month or so, it has been pretty intense, I’ve been quite stressed and just had a huge amount to do with winding things up, helping the girls finish at school and get through to the end of the school year, and just lots of things happening at this time of year for everybody. It’s not just me that has a really, really busy time at this time of year, especially in the northern hemisphere when it’s the end of the school year, if you have kids or I don’t know, it’s particularly busy.

I think a lot of people try to get a lot done before they go on holidays and you know, just all sorts of reasons. It’s a busy time of year, but I’m really pleased with where I’ve ended up at. I feel fairly on top of things and to be honest, that is quite a new feeling for me. I usually feel like I’m way behind and just getting things done in the nick of time, and I don’t know, about a year ago now, I decided that needed to stop, I had to stop feeling like that all the time. It wasn’t making me happy, it was making me too stressed out and too overwhelmed. I wanted to really reduce my feeling of overwhelm that was my constant companion. And so I’ve been working on it bit by bit for about a year and while I haven’t got everything done that I wanted to do, I’m feeling pretty good about where I’ve got to, it feels manageable.

So I just thought I’d just talk about a few tips and things I’ve done to get to this point. So a lot of it has been changing my habits, and one of my really bad habits was just leaving everything until the last minute and just scheduling so much in that that is the only way I could do things. So I would, as soon as I had a spare minute in the schedule, I’d agree to do something else or decide to do something else. So I was always wanting to do all these ideas that I had. And I kind of realized that in order to get ahead, I had to do less for awhile to sort of catch up a bit, get a bit ahead. And to get ahead you really almost have to do twice as much for a while. So it’s really hard work to get to that point. But I guess then once you get to that point, you can continue and keep going.

So I had to change that mindset of planning further ahead, which has been quite difficult and I’m still getting used to it, but I really like it. I really like sitting down now and thinking, “Okay, in six months or a year, this is what I want do? Rather than next week, what I wanna do, or next month, what do I want to do?” So just really extending the timeframe that I’m looking at and that I’m planning for has been the first step, I think, that I really started to change things. And so yeah, starting this whole process basically a year ago and realizing that I needed to start preparing for moving a year ago, basically probably at least six months, but probably to some extent a year ago, you know, I started decluttering with the thought in mind that we would be moving.

So that’s been really, really good. And it’s also helped me do things a lot more thoughtfully, a lot more economically and being more environmentally friendly. I’ve been able to declutter really thoughtfully, taking things to their correct places where they can be reused or recycled, stop buying so much of certain things that I know I won’t need in the future. Yeah, it’s really helped, for lots of different reasons. And the other thing that’s really helped me is to be more focused. So I think before, I was always really distracted by ideas that I would hear on podcasts or YouTube or you know, just so many things, I don’t know, as a crafty person, there’s so many projects you want to do. And so I’ve just gradually also got into a habit of trying to be a bit more focused. And just trying to be happy with having less things on the go, having less things in my queue and just calming all that down quite a bit.

I always loved the idea of the 80, 20 rule where 80% of the effect is from 20% of what you do, I think that’s right. So basically focusing on what’s going to be most effective, I think is my understanding of the rule, my paraphrasing of the rule. I really enjoyed reading and absorbing a book called The One Thing, the Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller, and a similar themed book, which is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. And these books are in line with my minimalist strategies and yeah, just to try and really, it’s part of the focusing idea of just trying to really focus on what’s important and yeah. Just try and work on that rather than getting completely distracted by a million other things.

And along with that, I would say the other big thing that I’ve done that’s really helped me is setting lower goals for myself this year and saying no to lots of stuff. So I have had to really reign myself in. And the last, you know, five or so years I’ve been trying to grow the business, grow Curious Handmade, do more, add more collections and yeah, just basically trying to grow it into a thriving business. But this year I’ve had to consciously say that it wouldn’t be a growth year for the business. I’ve had to pare down to the sort of, what I consider the bare minimum. I’m still doing quite a bit, but for example, I decided not to do a mystery knit along this year even though I really wanted to, I’ve been going to fewer events and saying no to a lot of collaborations that I really, really wanted to do.

So I’ve just been saying no to a lot of things. And no to a lot of social events, which you know, all of which I’ve been getting some quite bad FOMO, but I’m also getting quite a bit of JOMO, the joy of missing out because it is making things more manageable. And so just trying to really consciously and intentionally, which is my word for the year, take things off my plate as much as possible.

So I would highly recommend all of this. And you know, it just depends on what season you’re in or what phase you’re in, whether this kind of strategy would suit you. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by things, maybe you can, I don’t know, take some inspiration from some of this because it’s had such a good effect. I’m so pleased and I will be sort of trying when, after we move and get settled to see, you know how and what I continue to do along these lines. Because I’m just feeling so much freer with having done all the decluttering. It really does lighten, I don’t know, just a feeling of much more lightness in the house. It’s faster to manage things and manage stuff and really, really enjoyed just having that sense of more space and more freedom.

I’ve had more time to spend with the girls. I’ve been able to focus on them more and help them through some tough times. And yeah, just be there for them more than I have been in the past, I think. I’ve definitely been taking better care of my health, been getting a bit more sleep, not enough still, but improving that a bit. And just really enjoying getting some regular gentle exercise with my walking streaks. That has been huge, that’s been the biggest game changer for me, I think is regular walking. It’s not, probably could do as being a bit more vigorous on the exercise front, but just at this point it’s just doing me so much good to get moving more and do something. Like I feel like I could do more, I’d like to do some weights and you know, just all the things you’re supposed to do. But for the time being, just having those daily hour walks has just been awesome.

And in the last month it hasn’t been a regular streak. But you know, I think having been doing it, I still am getting a few walks in. It could be better in the last month, but it’s really helped in the past year or so. So that’s been great. So, yeah, just I guess in summary, I’m a big convert to getting organized and planning a bit more in advance. It’s taken me a really long time, I mean I’ve been sort of actively changing my habits for the past year. But I’d say it’s probably three years before that that I was wanting to be more like this. Yeah, it’s been surprisingly difficult to change in that way, but I feel like it’s a really good change and well worth it. So I just thought I’d share that story with you, that experience.

I’d love to hear if you’re a planner or if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants-er, I’m always intrigued by how people do things and manage workloads and I find it endlessly fascinating to hear stories about that. So if you have any comments on, you can post them on Instagram or on the show notes. Apart from the new shawl for the Shawl Society, I don’t really have much of a knitting update for you, as you can probably tell. I have been working a lot on my sort of secret collections and getting them all up to date. So yeah, I can’t really talk much about what I’ve been knitting recently, I’m afraid.

So thanks for joining me. Thanks for all your support and your lovely messages, posting all your projects on Instagram. I follow several hashtags with Curious Handmade, and just love seeing your projects popping up there and on Ravelry. Thanks again for being so awesome. Have a good week. I’ll talk to you soon.

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This week I have some thoughts to share about recent events in our knitting community, why I am committed to anti-racism and to how we can make our spaces safer and more inclusive. I’m also thinking about some sewing projects I would really like to get started on this summer, although my plans might need to wait until after the big move.

Show Links:

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

Creative Ceci on Instagram

Adaku Ezeudo

Creating a Culture of Inclusion by Adaku Ezeudo

Clio by Elizabeth Doherty

Elton Cardigan by Joji Locatelli

La Bien Aimée

Gathered Dress by The Avid Seamstress

Ray Stitch

Merchant & Mills

Chardon Skirt by Deer&Doe

Simplicity 1108

Little Koto’s Closet on Instagram

Pom Pom Quarterly

New Look 6145

The Fold Line Podcast

Brooklyn Knitfolk Podcast

Voolenvine Podcast

Joji’s Journal Podcast

Circus Tonic Handmade

The Wool Kitchen

Show Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmaid podcast, you’re listening to episode 269. 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 Handmaid. You can also find full show notes and the transcript on my website at curioushandmaid.com

Hello and welcome to the show. I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a busy week just for something different. I’m sure you have too. Thank you to everybody for your wonderful reading suggestions on Instagram and emails. I have a list of fabulous recommendations, mostly detective series which is what I asked for and, yeah, one thing leads to another one. You start looking at things on Amazon. You get lots of suggestions for similar things, so that’s really fun as well. Yeah, so I’ll have lots of summer reading and thank you again for suggestions.

We are winding up towards the end of the school year here in the UK. I know that in the US things probably wrapped up a few weeks ago and I think Canada is about now as well. So we’re just in the midst of end-of-year concerts, end-of-year sports days, assessments, all that winding up stuff that happens, so it gets really busy. I’ve decided to take next week off the podcast. Yeah, just give myself a little bit of space, because it’s been a bit hectic lately and I’m just coping with things, so I won’t have a show coming out next week, but I thought I’d decide now rather than just not have something come out, let you know.

I am going to be aiming to publish an episode every week or almost every week over the summer and do a summer series like I have in the past, I don’t know, three years now that I think I’ve prerecorded episodes, so when we go on holidays to Australia this year it’s going to be a little bit different because we are moving to Australia, but I’m aiming to prerecord some shows just to get through that period where we’re moving and things are a bit up in the air. I’m not sure how successful that’s going to be, because I’m already behind my schedule of where I wanted to be. Anyway, who knows? I might catch up a little bit or get a burst of energy from somewhere.

I’m hoping to make that one of my priorities, because I love recording the show and keeping in contact with you all. This week I am talking a little bit about sewing and sewing patterns, because when it starts getting warm, that’s what I start thinking about a little bit more, and I know lots of you do, so I’ll be talking a little bit about that, this show as well as what I’m knitting. 

First, I wanted to make an important announcement. I don’t often talk about politics or political things or, I don’t know, stuff like that on the show, but sometimes I do, and today is one of those days that I feel compelled to.

There’s been a lot of discussion on Instagram in the past couple of weeks about the policy Ravelry posted on their homepage this last week. They posted the policy that, “We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is unambiguously support for white supremacy. For more details, read the document.” 
 
This is a statement that has been made by Ravelry and I feel that it’s part of the big discussion and awareness raising campaign, if you like, led primarily by black indigenous people of colour from many countries around the world.

It’s been happening for a long time, but has intensified dramatically in January this year, I would say. Personally, I’m endlessly grateful for those people speaking up. I’ve mostly seen it on Instagram, because that’s my social media of choice. I don’t go onto Twitter at all, and very rarely on Facebook but … so, I’ve seen it mostly on Instagram, and lots of posts of leadership and education. Yeah, just awareness raising that have been posted by the BIPOC and LGBQT people who’ve started these conversations, continued the conversations and, yeah, just opened themselves up to a lot of criticism, actually, from people, but also a lot of support from people as well.

They’ve been the ones that have stood in the firing line and spoken up about issues of racism and inclusivity and diversity. I have learned a lot and am very grateful for them speaking up. I think this raising of awareness has, I don’t know, it’s just led to a lot of conversations. I mean, I’ve been a member of Ravelry since 2007 and I think that would make me a reasonably early member, and I’ve always loved it. I’ve always loved being part of it. We have a really thriving discussion group for Curious Handmade on there. I think that the reason Ravelry has been a really good community over the years, have been as a result of the policies that Jess and Casey, who are the founders of Ravelry, have put in place.

Recently, there was a incident where someone was basically abused, a person of colour was abused, so they have put this policy in place. I support this policy, I don’t support any hate speech or any harassment of anybody. Although the wording is quite confronting, especially if you’re white, and especially if you voted for Trump, Ravelry have made it clear in the policy that Trump supporters are not banned, it’s the talking about supporting Trump that is banned. If you are someone who doesn’t want to talk about politics on Ravelry, then on my reading of the policy, nothing has changed for you.

A lot of people have said that they wish that it wasn’t political, that Ravelry wasn’t political, and that a lot of people like myself and designers and dyers, people who work in the industry aren’t political. People have said that they don’t like that we’re making political statements, but I don’t agree with that. I think it’s important to talk about these things. If you don’t want to talk about them, you don’t have to. There’s plenty of groups where politics aren’t discussed and generally I would say that politics aren’t discussed very much in the Curious Handmade threads. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any discussion along those lines in the threads.

I just think that, this is a policy, it’s been made, I think we should abide by it if we want to participate in this free platform that Ravelry provide, it’s free to use. As a designer, I pay very minimal fees, I think, to sell my patterns on Ravelry. I think that Jess and Casey are incredibly inclusive. This platform is amazing and I think that we should all support that. I know that some people have decided not to, but I think that there’s a big difference between feeling confronted and defensive about the policy, because of your political camp compared to genuinely being harassed and made to feel unsafe because of who you are.

I don’t think there’s any room for hate speech in our community or anywhere, that’s why I support them. Obviously, the issue of equality and discrimination is much broader than the fiber community and Ravelry, but for those of us who spend time on Ravelry or Instagram and follow fiber people, we’re getting every wake-up call at the moment. Personally, I’m grateful for that and I’m grateful to the activists that have been doing that work. I mean, I think that the what and the why, are very clear. Discrimination, intolerance and hate speech, it’s just not acceptable.

In most of the countries that most of my listeners live in, definitely the US, UK, Australia, will have anti discrimination laws in legislation and case law as part of our legal system. I think it’s one thing to have the laws and policies, but the how of real change made in our day-to-day lives and as individuals, is really the challenge we’re facing. Just because we have laws protecting people against discrimination on the basis of race or sex or colour, age, physical and mental disabilities, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist in society. It does exist. Discrimination does still exist. I think it’s all of our responsibility to face that.

I am on a steep learning curve, when the conversation sparked up in January, I started doing a lot of reading and I would recommend the ebook, Me and White Supremacy, I thought it was a bit of a confronting title at the time. It’s a book by Layla F Saad, at the time it was a downloadable ebook and now it’s a physical book and ebook on bookstores, including Amazon. My awareness has raised significantly since then. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was in a bit of a bubble before. I think a lot of us were, to be honest. I think my vocabulary to talk and think about issues around racism and inclusion and diversity have improved a lot, which is helping me analyze all the arguments and understand what people are saying.

I’m still a long way from fully understanding all the issues that people face and knowing what I can do to act better as a person or as Creative Ceci says, to level up, but I really want to and I’m working on it. My hope is, if we all become more tolerant and inclusive and supportive, our community is just going to be more wonderful than before. I’m just don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to do that. 
 
I recently listened to a talk by Adaku Ezeudo and she spoke at Woollinn, which was a recent yarn festival in Dublin, and they’ve published a video of the talk on their website and I’ll link to it in the show notes.

I would recommend, everybody listen to this. It was just a wonderful talk that she gave. She spoke about how small every day actions can make an impact and that leadership is a privilege and responsibility. I was really debating whether I would or could talk about this on the podcast, because I don’t want to be tokenistic, I don’t want to be performative or center myself in this, so I was really wondering if I could talk about it meaningfully. She had line in her speech that said, leadership as a privilege and responsibility.

I am very privileged in society as a white person, a white able-bodied a straight person, and I’m just realizing more and more how privileged I am. I have a lot of listeners, I have a lot of followers on Instagram, so I thought I would, it just felt like my responsibility to say something here, but the point about the talk, by Adaku Ezeudo at Woollinn, is that she had a long list of practical steps we can take. I would encourage you to listen to it. She explains it really, really well and really clearly, it’s really fantastic.

Some of the things she talked about is having a zero tolerance policy towards racism and also evolving your business as you go along and as you learn more and as society evolves and to create inclusive products, to think about advertising and marketing, being inclusive, to create strategic partnerships with minority-owned businesses, have an inclusive mindset to acknowledge our bias, to be aware of our biases when we’re making important decisions. Some of it is only from the perspective of the business owner, but most of these things are just from the perspective of anybody.

She talks about some more business oriented things like hosting trainings and events. She talks about recognizing your privilege, that it’s not just about being wealthy or having money, it’s about things that come to you naturally that don’t come to other people, and use your privilege to advantage people less privileged. 
 
A big one is, when you hear people talking about privilege, to not get defensive, to think about what you can do to promote change. I think from what I’ve seen in comments on Instagram, a lot of people do get defensive, myself included, I feel a little bit under scrutiny as a white person.
That’s to be expected and that’s for me to deal with, I think, but I need to stop being defensive and think about it from a different perspective and to overcome that initial reaction. That’s about all I want to say about the topic today. I mean, it’s a huge topic and there’s so much reading and materials out there to educate yourself if you wish to. I’ve found it both confronting and very rewarding to educate myself on all of these things this year. Yeah, and I hope other people can can do the same. I know that many of you are already thinking about these things and doing and acting on them. I am very hopeful for our knitting community and society in general and I hope things improve for everybody. 
 
I have a fairly brief knitting update for you today. Most of my knitting recently has been working on designs and most of my designs are secrets, so I can’t really talk about those too much. I’m working really hard at the moment to try and get a bit ahead of schedule. Never been particularly good at being ahead in my design schedule, but I’m trying very hard this year to do that, because I need to be ahead at the moment and, yeah, just been working like crazy to get on my collections for the year wrapped up before we actually pack up and move. It’s going okay. As I said before, I am behind schedule, but I don’t know, I might have to work a few evenings or just pick up my pace a bit and try and get there. 
 
I have been doing a bit of relaxation, personal knitting, and I’ve been working on Clio by Elizabeth Doherty and I have finished the body now, so I’m excited about that. I have been working on the, what do you call it, the band at the bottom, I’m sure there’s a more technical name for it, but I can’t think of it right now, of the body for the last couple of weeks really and have finally got that cast off and I’m now bobbing away on sleeve island, but I’m quite happy hanging out on sleeve island. I don’t mind knitting sleeves, they’re just part of it and they just have to be done, so I just consider that part of knitting a garment. Yeah, I’m enjoying that. I am looking forward to finishing it. 
 
I don’t know if I will just cast on something else as well for a bit of variety while I’m working on the slaves. I was very generous. They gifted the Yellow Brick Road yarn, how he used in the sample in La Bien Aimee and Amie gave me the yarn, which I’m very grateful for and I am so looking forward to knitting that. Especially now it’s become really summery here in the UK.
I think that bright yellow is just calling my name, so I think I might start that as well and have two garments going at once, which I don’t know, I probably should just finish Clio and then move on to something else, but I just feel like doing that as well, so we’ll see. I haven’t given into that temptation yet, but I’m itching to. Probably by next week it will be on the needles. 
 
As I mentioned in the intro, I’m itching to do some sewing as well. I think realistically this is going to have to wait till later in the year, but again, when summer and warm weather come around, it really sparks my craving to do some sewing.

I just thought I’d talk about a couple of patterns that I have in my queue. I’ve been packing up my knitting and sewing stashes and I’ve been going through these things. I have lots of lovely fabric and patterns that I want to make. The first one I have in the queue is the gathered dress and it’s by The Avid Seamstress. Oh, this dress is so cute. I bought the pattern at Ray Stitch in London. It’s a fabric shop, is LinkedIn. Ray Stitch has an amazing area where they have all their patterns displayed and they also have a fantastic sample rack. There’s often items there that inspire you to want to make a particular pattern.

You can actually try them on if the sample is sort of around your size, just to get an idea of what size you might want to make or how it looks on, so that’s quite cool as well. I got the gathered dress there and I’m not very familiar with The Avid Seamstress. It’s a fairly new to me pattern label. I think they’re UK-based, their website address, which is on the back of the pattern, is theavidseamstress.co.uk. That would indicate that they are UK-based. I also bought Merchant & Mills linen in a dusky pink to make this, it’s a really cute dress. You can make it long or short sleeved, which is quite cute.

This is very, very simple. At the front, it’s, I don’t know what line it is, but it just goes straight down at the front, maybe slightly fitted, then at the back there’s a really cute line of gathers around the waist. It’s gathered at the back, which is quite good for my shape, because I’ve got a bit of a bum and I’m fairly straight at the front. Yeah. I thought this would would be good, it’s also got pockets, which is really cute. I’m looking forward to doing that one at some point. 
 
I also have the pattern for the Chardon skirt by Deer&Doe. I actually have this twice. I bought it and thought I couldn’t find it and then bought it again, so now I have two copies of this pattern. It’s a pleated skirt, a high waisted skirt with inverted box plates, knee length, and you can do it with or without a hem band. I love this pattern on my friend, Stuart, made it years ago and that’s when I bought the pattern the first time. It’s just super classic, I think, and cute as well. I’ve got several lots of fabric to make this. I just need to get on with it. Yeah, so that’s one. I’ve got this really cute print that I bought in Paris and it’s got little Eiffel towers on it. It’s super cute. I think it’s got poodles or something as well. Something sort of French, maybe a bit cliched, but quite fun. I’ve always intended to make this Chardon skirt with that fabric, but it’d be cute in any fabric I think. 
 
The last pattern I have, which I talked about last summer, is Simplicity 1108, which isn’t a very romantic name, but it is a robe sort of cover-up type garment. It’s a really cute pattern. Actually, on the back, they actually call it a kimono, but we know better than to call it a kimono. Having been educated about cultural appropriation, especially about the kimono by, in particular, little_kotos_closet, an Instagram account. An Instagram account that is written by Emi Ito. Emi talks about cultural appropriation specifically around the kimono. She’s written an article that was in Hong Kong Quarterly number 29 and on some other websites, but you can find out more about that at little_kotos, K-O-T-O-S_closet. I think when I was talking about it this time last year I was using that term, Kimono, about this garment, but I’ve now learnt not to do that.
 
Finally, I have another dress and it’s just a simple fitted dress. Again, I saw the sample for this at Ray Stitch. The pattern is New Look 6145. I think what I liked about this, on the sample, is that it’s got a really cute boat neck option, and I think it’s also a really simple pattern. I think it would be a good pattern for a work dress, probably a more formal dress, but I think it could be also a nice dress for, I don’t know, I think a going-out dress. It’s not a flowy dress, it’s quite a classic fitted dress. I don’t know if I still love it as much as I did. I think, when I bought the pattern, I thought that the pattern really didn’t do the dress in the shop justice, so I’m trying to remember, because I loved the dress when I saw it made up, but I’m looking at the pictures on the pattern cover and it’s not super inspiring.

I’m thinking, why did I love it so much? But I remember the dress, maybe it was the print that they’d used in the shop, but I thought it was super cute at the time. That’s an option as well, but that will probably be the last on my list. 
 
Along with my wish for more sewing time at the moment, I’ve been watching some sewing podcasts and in particular The Foldline by Kate. This because it has been around for a few years and I dip in and out of it from time to time, but I’ve been watching a few episodes recently. It’s a fantastic sewing podcast. I haven’t found any other sewing-dedicated podcasts that I like as much as this one.

I haven’t tried to find that many and I would appreciate any recommendations of fun sewing podcasts that you like listening to. I really like Kate. She does reviews of patterns she finds, new patterns that have come out and talks about why she likes them and features that she thinks are cool. She has episodes where they’re just talking about sewing related but not just sewing patterns. She talks about fabrics, she talks about events. Yeah, just stuff happening in the sewing world. Yeah. She has a nice descriptive way about talking about patterns that, yeah, just makes you look at them in a different way. So I enjoy that one.

Of course, I enjoy some of the knitters who sew, who talk about sewing on their podcast from time to time. I enjoy hearing about Brooklyn Knitfolk’s sewing projects, Kristin on Voolenvine podcasts. Really enjoy listening to her sewing projects. She does a lot of really cute dresses, adorable dresses and skirts. She has a very feminine style, probably more so than what I would go for, but I really enjoy seeing what she’s made, as well as Joji. Joji from time to time will talk about sewing projects as well and she’s really inspiring, because she talks about it from, well, she’s not really a beginner anymore, but when she started talking about sewing, she said she was a complete beginner.

Yeah, it was quite inspiring to see as a beginner what she was accomplishing and she has lots of fun ideas about her makes. Yeah, just really enjoy listening to them talk about knitting, but also I really enjoy hearing about the sewing projects. I’m sure there’s more that I’m not mentioning, but those are the ones that have just come to mind as I’m having a bit of chat about this. This podcast has gone on for a bit longer than usual, mostly because of my serious chat at the beginning. 
 
The colorway name is Homemade Jam and you can find the listing on her website at circustonic.com.au and it’s listed as Helen Stewart The Sock Society Homemade Jam. The pattern itself won’t be out until the 15th of August, if you’re a member of the Handmade Sock Society, but because the yarn is coming from Australia, we are trying to get the listing up nice and early, so it can reach everybody.

Also, we have the yarn for the third pattern for The Shawl Society and we just announced that this week and that is by The Wool Kitchen and the update for that is just starting today. You can find the details for that at thewoolkitchen.com and that’s for the third shawl which is coming out quite soon. 
 
As usual, if you are members of either society and you have signed up for this specific email for the society that you are a member of, you should have gotten an email about that. The details of where to sign up for emails are in your information sheet that’s part of the collection that’s available in your Ravelry library if you are participating.

Thank you to everybody who is participating in the societies this year. I, of course, appreciate all of you and love seeing your shawls and socks popping up on Ravelry and on Instagram and for the messages you send me and, yeah, just really appreciate it. We appreciate your support and love seeing what you’re making with my patterns. I will be with you again in two weeks time. I, as I mentioned, taking next week off and look forward to talking to you again soon. 
 
Happy knitting, bye for now.
Play

Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

This episode, as part of my effort to design my summer and come up with holiday projects, I am putting together a reading list. I have some really amazing reads coming up but as they are on the more serious side I’m also looking for some fun fiction recommendations, if you have any! I am also building a fantasy sweater knitting queue…if I start now I might have one finished by the end of the year!

Show Links:


Court Number One: The Old Bailey Court Cases That Defined Modern Britain by Thomas Grant

Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture by Bruce Pascoe

Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands

Hay by Clare Mountain

Like a Cloud by Jojo Locatelli 

Confetti by Veera Välimäki

Clio by Elizabeth Doherty

Zweig Pullover by Caitlin Hunter

Magnolia Pullover by Camilla Vad

Laine Magazine

Cushendale Woollen Mill

La Bien Aimée

Elton Cardigan by Joji Locatelli

Winterfell Cardigan by Katrin Schneider

Episode transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 268. 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 Hell’s Bells and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at curioushandmade.com

Hello and welcome to the show. I hope you’ve had a fantastic week. Thank you for everybody who commented and sent me messages about your holiday projects. I loved hearing about those. I’m still working on mine actually. I haven’t had much time this week to think about it in too much detail. But today I thought I would share with you a couple of books that I’m hoping to read over the summer holidays that I have in my pile beside my bed at the moment. Also do an update on my thinking about my knitting capsule wardrobe pattern ideas. Just before I get into all of that, I wanted to remind you that we just have a couple of days left for my birthday sale. It’s my birthday today in fact, so I have been running a sale for the last week or so to celebrate, and it is a buy one, get one free sale.

So all you have to do to make the most of that is to put two or more of my patterns from my Ravelry store into a basket and use the code, happybirthday, oh, one word. So I just wanted to give you a little reminder about that, that runs through to Sunday 30th of June before that offer ends. It’s also to celebrate the release of the individual patterns from last year’s show society collection. So I have just had that available as a collection up until now. And now each of the patterns from the Shawl Society Season 3 from last year are now available as single patterns. So lots of people have been waiting for that, sorry it’s taken me so long. I meant to do it earlier in the year, but the years got away from me a little bit. So we’re doing it now with a lovely buy one get one free sale to go along with it.

So as part of my summer holiday project, along with moving countries, I am compiling a bit of a reading list. I have a few books collected already, and I thought I’d just share about them a little bit with you. So I’ve just grabbed three books from the top of my pile beside my bed. So the first one I grabbed, I picked up recently at a local independent bookshop. And it is called, Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials That Defined Modern Britain by Thomas Grant QC. This was just on the counter when I was buying some books for the kids and I just thought it looked interesting. When I was working in the city many years ago, in one of my very first jobs in London, I worked in an office building opposite the Old Bailey. And so I was always fascinated with the comings and goings from the court. And also, one or two of my ancestors were tried in the Old Bailey before being transported to the colonies. So I guess that’s why the title piqued my interest a little bit.

The book says,

Court Number One of the Old Bailey is the most famous court room in the world, and the venue of some of the most sensational human dramas ever to be played out in a criminal trial. The principal criminal court of England, historically reserved for the more serious and high-profile trials, Court Number One opened its doors in 1907 after the building of the ‘new’ Old Bailey. In the decades that followed it witnessed the trials of the most famous and infamous defendants of the twentieth century. It was here that the likes of Madame Fahmy, Lord Haw Haw, John Christie, Ruth Ellis, George Blake (and his unlikely jailbreakers, Michael Randle and Pat Pottle), Jeremy Thorpe and Ian Huntley were defined in history, alongside a wide assortment of other traitors, lovers, politicians, psychopaths, spies, con men and – of course – the innocent.

Not only notorious for its murder trials, Court Number One recorded the changing face of modern British society, bearing witness to alternate attitudes to homosexuality, the death penalty, freedom of expression, insanity and the psychology of violence. Telling the stories of twelve of the most scandalous and celebrated cases across a radically shifting century, this book traces the evolving attitudes of Britain, the decline of a society built on deference and discretion, the tensions brought by a more permissive society and the rise of trial by mass media.

So I thought that sounded quite interesting. And yeah, we’ll see, I hadn’t read any of the pages sometimes before buying an unknown author. I like to stand in the bookshop for a while and read a few pages just to see if I like the style, but I didn’t have time, this time. So we’ll see. It’s quite unknown at this point. The next one I have seen recommended on Instagram by mostly Australian Instagrammers I guess, in the knitting community. It’s called Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture by Bruce Pascoe. And this was recommended and I thought sounded very interesting, especially with the move from the UK to Australia. I thought I would inform myself a little bit by reading this book.

So the blurb says history has portrayed Australia’s first peoples the Aboriginals as hunter gatherers who lived on an empty uncultivated land. History is wrong. In the seminal book, Bruce Pascoe uncovers evidence that long before the arrival of white men, Aboriginal people across the continent were building dams and wells, planting and irrigating and harvesting seeds and then preserving the surplus and storing it in houses, sheds or secure vessels and creating elaborate cemeteries and manipulating the landscape. All of these behaviors were inconsistent with a hunter gatherer tag, which turns out to have been a convenient lie that works to justify dispossession. Using compelling evidence from the records and diaries of early Australian explorers and colonists. Pascoe reveals that Aboriginal systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history. And that a new look at Australia’s past is required for the benefit of us all. That gave me a bestseller in Australia, won both the Book of the Year Award and the indigenous writers prize in the New South Wales premiers literary awards. The truth telling must go on.

So I’m looking forward to reading that. When I was in primary school, we learnt a version of Australian history and it will be really interesting to supplement that with this book. Finally, I have a book which was recommended to me by my copywriter and teammate Amanda. And it’s called, Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands. Craeft is spelled C-R-A-E-F-T, in one letter F-T. So, not sure quite how to pronounce that, but Craeft, something like that I’m not sure. And this sounds super interesting, especially for crafty creative types.

In the midst of a seemingly endless supply of mass manufactured products, we find ourselves nostalgic for products bearing the mark of authenticity, handmade furniture, artisan breads, craft beers and other goods produced by human hands. What often goes unnoticed is the transformation of our understanding of craft, or rather craft in the wake of industrialization.

In craft archeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands argues that our modern understanding of craft only skims the surface. His journeys from his home in Wales have taken him along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, from Spain through France and England to Scotland and Iceland, in search of the last meaning of craft, reaching as far back as the Neolithic period. He combines deep history with scientific analysis and personal anecdotes. We follow the author as he herds sheep, keeps bees, tends hides, spins wool, and thatches roofs. We learned that sides work much better on tall grass than the latest model of wheat trimmers, that you can spin wool using a large wooden spoon, and it was once considered criminal to work on animal hides before a requisite 12 months soak. When it first appeared in old English the word craft signified an indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom and resourcefulness, rediscovering craft will connect us with our human past, a sense of place and our remarkable capacity to survive in the harshest of landscapes. Craft helps us more fully appreciate human ingenuity, and the passing on of traditions from generation to generation.

So, that sounds a bit interesting. I feel like we would be quite receptive audiences to this message. I wouldn’t go so far as to say preaching to the choir, but you know what I mean. I think we kind of understand the idea, but I’m very interested to delve into it a bit more and find out a bit more of the history and a more in depth analysis of it. So those are three books that I am looking forward to reading. I feel like that towards the heavier end of the spectrum for me, at least, the nonfiction, so I would be very welcome to any suggestions of some fiction series, especially along the lines of Jack Reacher style, John Milton style, action thrillers, I suppose you call them. I really enjoyed books by Mark Dawson. He’s an English writer. He has a podcast about writing and having an author business that I really liked listening to. And so I started reading his thrillers and I’ve read all of them now. So I really enjoyed those.

I’ve also recently just read the Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling books, The Cormorant Strike detective series, really enjoyed those. I like a good detective series I really enjoy Ian Rankin. So if you have any fairly light hearted, not too gory, fun series to recommend I would be very open and would welcome that because I need something light and trashy to offset the serious and the nonfiction. I’ve also been thinking about my capsule wardrobe ideas. And I have really loved having a couple of hand knit sweaters, cardigans to wear in the last year or so. I knit Hay by Claire Mountain and Like a Cloud by Joji Locatelli and I mean I’ve knit sweaters before but these two along with Confetti that I knit by Veera Välimäki. I guess the three have been really great wearable pieces, and probably my most successful garments to date.

So I am considering what’s next on the list. As you probably know, I am halfway through knitting Clio by Elizabeth Doherty. And that’s going to be a wonderful staple in the wardrobe as well is sport weight, I’m knitting it in a really lovely neutral, light neutral color. So I think that’s going to be super versatile. But of course, once that’s done, I’m going to be looking for something else. So I’ve got four contenders for my capsule wardrobe. Again, I think this time of year is quite a good time of year to start thinking about knitting garments. Because even though it might not be, you might not think it’s the best time of year to knit. I mean here in the UK, it’s really knitting weather all year round. It doesn’t really get that hot most of the time, that isn’t very pleasant to knit. And I’ll be heading to Australia where it will be winter so again, very pleasant knitting weather. And then you have something ready for the Northern hemisphere winter if you start now. Possibly if you’re a faster knitter than me or Christmas 2020 perhaps.

Anyway, the first one on my list is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. I met Caitlin at Squam recently very briefly, but it was absolutely lovely to meet her. I’ve been wanting to meet her for ages, and I have been admiring her patterns since she first started publishing them on Ravelry. And so it was so nice to meet her and there were quite a few Zweig pullovers at Squam. So I was admiring those. And this is a fingering white pullover knit in I think two colors. I think I’m right to say two colors. Some people knit it in one color, which looks fabulous as well. And so I think the fingering white pull over is a really great white, especially for me. It doesn’t really get that cold here in the UK, so it’s nice to have light layers. And of course, moving to Queensland where we don’t really have winter, fingering white is about as heavy a pullover as you want as well. So, that’s going to be a good white.

And I think with the lovely yoke detail, it’s got some lace, it’s got some texture. It’s really interesting. And I think this piece can go from casual to a bit more dressy so you can dress it up and dress it down. My uniform is basically jeans 24/7 well, not while I’m sleeping obviously but you know what I mean, I don’t often not wear jeans. And so I think a nice sweater really dresses that look up a little bit. So I think that would be a really nice contender. I’ve just seen so many lovely versions. You can’t go wrong with any color combination almost and yet it just always looks really good. Another one that I think is a nice casual but can also look quite classy is Magnolia by Camilla Vad. This one was in Laine magazine, I can’t remember which issue. I think it comes out at about a sport weight.

Looking at the materials, I’m 99% sure that it’s a lace weight and a silk mohair, how to double, pretty sure that’s what’s happening. And so it’s fairly lightweight, but also cozy and warm. It’s knit on 3.5 millimeter and four millimeter needles. And I have some Cushendale lambs wool in a lace white that I purchased on my trip to Ireland recently and I would have enough I bought four scans of a beautiful greeny blue color called Jade. And I have lots of silk mohair and I think I could find something to match. So potentially I have the yarn in stash for this one. And I think it would just look really adorable with a skirt and boots. It’s a really plain pullover except it has a beautiful lace section around the bottom of the body of the pullover. So it’s really classic but it just has beautiful pretty detail without being over the top. So it’s a little bit romantic. And again, I think it would dress up boring jeans and a T-shirt uniform really well.

So I’m really like that one, I’ve been admiring that since it was first released in Laine a little while ago, lot sometime ages I’ve been admiring it for a long time. And then looking at cardigans. I think if I was to do a cardigan my first pick would be Elton by Joji Locatelli, because I have the exact cold for yarn for that. I have the La Bien Aimee yarn in yellow brick rod and it’s a really fabulous yellow and it’s knit in two skeins of single pi and one skein of lightweight for my size which is I think medium. This is just a super chic cardigan, the mohair and singles or striped it’s really simple in concept but super effective in the end result. It’s quite cropped so I think Joji designed it to wear over dresses over tunic style dresses and would dress up a skirt or jeans and it would be the perfect white for not very cold Australian winters.

Similarly, the Winterfell cardigan jumped out at me. And this is by designer Katrin Schneider she has really gorgeous designs. I love everything she does. She has a tagline of, I think something like pure and timeless which is what all her designs are, just super classic, super timeless, but really lovely details. So this one is a fairly classic cardigan. I think it’s a little bit fitted. I’m not 100% sure, but it has really nice slip stitch diagonal stripes going across the front piece, and I think the rest of it is quite plain. Her description says, beginning with the neck band the cardigan is worked back and forth in rows from the top down diagonal slipped stitch lines are added to the front. The body is worked with a slight A shaping and finished with a rib turn. The front bent picked up a netted after the body is complete. The sleeves are worked in the round and finished with ripped cuffs.

So yes just lovely simple tilled and she has knitted her sample in the La Bien Aimee Winterfell colorway which is an absolutely stunning dark blue almost with a bit of gray in it I think. I’m not very good at describing colors but this is just a lovely really dark rich color. So those would be my picks for my capsule wardrobe that I’m slowly working on. I think that I would have the yarn for all of those except perhaps the Winterfell. I’m not sure if I’ve got anything in my stash, that sport weight and sweater quantities. I definitely have the yarn for Elton and probably have the yarn Magnolia and definitely have some fingering white skeins for Zweig. So yeah, so I think I probably start with Elton first from that list, although they’re all just calling me at the moment. So yeah, so I would like to know what is on your sweater knitting list.

You can leave a comment in the show notes or on Instagram. I’ll do a post about it. And I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about, get some ideas. 

So I hope you all have a fantastic week. Don’t forget last couple of days of my birthday sale. It’s a buy one, get one free on Ravelry. And don’t forget the coupon code. Happybirthday. So have a fantastic week. Happy knitting and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Play

Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Today on the podcast I’m thinking about what it might mean to design our summer (even with an international move in the middle!) and announcing a little birthday sale on my patterns! The TSS 3 shawls are now available as single patterns. And there’s a brand new TSS 4 shawl to celebrate!

Show Links:

The Shawl Society Season 3

Maytham Shawl

Ivy Over The Door Shawl

Wick Shawl

Planting Seeds Shawl

Learning to Cry Shawl

The Whole World is a Garden Shawl

The Shawl Society Season 4

Sea Gleam Shawl 

Floating Shawl

Sky Map Wrap

The Happier Podcast

Design Your Summer Happier Podcast Episode from 2016

Design Your Summer Happier Podcast Episode from 2017

Design Your Summer Happier Podcast Episode from 2018

Design Your Summer Happier Podcast Episode 2019

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 267. 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 Hells Bells and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at curioushandmade.com.

Welcome to the show. I hope you have lots of weekend things planned and a little bit of knitting hopefully. We are planning to go to the school fair this weekend, and we have some birthday parties for kids to attend and, hopefully, a bit of knitting for me too, so I’m looking forward to the weekend. And in this episode, we are chatting about the release of the second Shawl Society shawl, a little bit of a happiness project update, and some ideas for some activities.

Before I get into all of that, I wanted to announce a birthday sale. It’s my birthday next week, and so I thought I would have a pattern sale in my Ravelry store. We are also celebrating the release of the Shawl Society season three patterns as single patterns. We are going to have a buy one, get one free offer starting today and running through until Sunday, the 30th of June, and so it will be just over a week, this week and next weekend. All you have to do is put two or more patterns from my Ravelry store into your basket and use the code happybirthday, all one word, and you will get the second least expensive pattern for free. If you’ve been waiting for one of the Shawl Society patterns, a particular pattern from last year’s season, then now is the time to snap that up.

Speaking of the Shawl Society, season four is happening at the moment, and the second shawl has just been released yesterday. I am super excited to introduce you to Floating shawl. We’ve had a really magical start to season four, including the giveaway where people posted about their happy places, and it was so inspiring. I think that people who are knitting away on the Sea Gleam shawl at the moment or have knitted that one are enjoying the season so far and I hope you enjoy Floating just as much. I’ll just read out the pattern description for the Floating shawl for you.

From the moment your feet hit the surf, the first swim of the day feels like freedom. Although swimming may be too strong a word, movement is effortless and this is more about relaxation, about surrendering yourself to the joys of the sea. Finally, you can let go and just float, buoyant and supported by the salt water. Bobbing up and down amongst the waves, you’re almost weightless. Somehow, a dip in the ocean can be both exhilarating and deeply calming. Any stress or fretting that manage to follow you here dissolves and drifts away. When you’ve had enough, there’s a happy striving back to the shore as you are lifted and set back on your feet by the movement of the water, heading for the crisp welcome of a sun-warmed towel. A little sun, a little rest, a cool drink, and then you’ll be ready to venture out into the swing of the sea once more.

Our second shawl of the season is called Floating after the simple pleasure of an ocean swim. It’s a generous half pi or semi-circular shape with beautiful drape around the shoulders. The base of the shawl is mostly garter stitch, the most relaxing stitch I know, perfect for holiday knitting. There’s also a gorgeous panel of simple lace finished with the delicate ripple of a picot bind-off. The Floating shawl is a joyful and rewarding knit and a lovely addition to any outfit.

The sample pictured in the pattern is knit in Sweet Fiber Sweet Merino Lite, which is 100% superwash merino single ply yarn, and the yardage on that is 434 meters per 115 grams. The sample took two 115-gram skeins and I used a significant amount of that. The sample used 215 grams overall. If you are using a regular 100-gram single skein, you will probably need three or, if you’re using the Sweet Fiber, you just need two skeins, or another yarn that has slightly more yardage in the skein. If you’re using a light fingering that has a bit more yardage, you’ll be okay, but just be aware that it uses 112 meters or 888 yards in total, and that was what I actually used, so you want to give yourself a little bit of a buffer so you’re not playing yarn chicken.

It’s quite a nice, generous sized shawl. It’s in one size, and I think it looks good knit in one colour. You could potentially use two different colours. The lace section would probably be a good place to start a new colour and that’s at the 60% mark, so if you’re using three skeins, you could use two colours for the body and change to a different colour for the lace or the lace panel, something like that. It’ll be fun to have a play and think about how you want to do that. Sweet Fiber is a gorgeous yarn. I actually discovered Sweet Fiber through Joji, I think. She was knitting something with Melissa’s yarn and then I met her when I went to Knit City in Vancouver last year, so that was really lovely, and I might’ve purchased a sweater quantity in one of her colorways, so really enjoy knitting with the Sweet Fiber yarn and I hope you do too.

Around this time of the year with my birthday looming, at the almost halfway point of the year, I’ve never really thought about it that much before, but it really is right smack bang in the middle of the year, it’s a good time to do a little bit of a review of what I was thinking about at the beginning of the year in terms of my word for the year and things like that. My word for the year is intentional, and I wanted to be more intentional about how I spend my time this year. And when I decided on that, I hadn’t announced it on the podcast just quite yet, but I knew that we would be moving countries and that I would need to be fairly organised and on top of things this year in particular.

I’ve been focusing on streaks for trying to get into good habits with things like walking, healthy eating, and music practice, and sprints for probably more work-related things like designing patterns and getting other projects up and running. At the moment, behind the scenes, I’m working on creating a new website because my website is pretty old now and needs some love and attention paid to it. I’m working on various streaks and sprints in the background and also intentionally saying no to things and taking things off my plate so that I can de-overwhelm myself a little bit. I’m not sure how realistic that is in a year like this where we’re having a major move, but I’m trying to keep things as calm and minimal schedule as possible in the circumstances.

Because of that, I chose not to have a Make Nine this year because I thought I just don’t have time for that. I would love to have a Make Nine and choose nine projects to work on, but that’s just not on the cards this year, maybe next year. I decided for my personal, fun knitting goals at the beginning of the year to just focus on one project at a time, work away on something, try and finish it, and then do something else and just not have any time pressure around that. I started off working on my Star Map wrap by Emily Foden, and I was working on that for a while, which is lovely, relaxing stockinette in the round, so super good. I’ll probably turn to that again in the summer, but then I picked up my Clio pullover in March and have been just really getting into that and enjoying that, so I’m working on the body of that at the moment and making pretty good progress, so I’m enjoying that as well.

I also decided that I would have a happiness project this year, and I talked about that in January, I think, and I just went through my list. When I set my list, I only had 17 things on it, so the happiness project is something I heard about on the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister, Elizabeth Craft. Last year, they did 18 in 2018 and, this year, they are doing 19 in 2019. I just ended up with 17, intending to add a couple more things, but I think I’m happy with 17. It seems doable. I’ve actually achieved quite a few of the things. I have started learning the flute again. I did my grade four exam back in, I think, March and did really well. I don’t know that I ever came back and told you about that, but I ended up getting a distinction for that exam. That gave me a huge boost and I decided to go for grade five, which is next week. I’ve been practicing quite a bit for that and really, really loving it. That’s been absolutely brilliant.

KonMari to the max was one of my happiness projects, and I am getting there and that was, obviously, put on the list ahead of the move and we’re getting there. I wouldn’t say I’m finished, but we’ve made really good progress on that. I was planning to go to June Squam Arts Workshop and that is ticked off. That was last, not last month, earlier this month. Other things that have happened, our holiday to India, which I talked about on the podcast, as well as Edinburgh in March, which has obviously been and gone. And, yeah, walking streak, a little bit patchy lately, but generally happening. I wanted to walk every day and, yeah, it’s been, to be honest, in the last few weeks, things have been a bit overwhelming on the personal front, so I probably needed to walk even more than usual, but that’s gone by the wayside a little bit. I bet I can pick that up again.

And so some things that are still coming up, making a quilt, I might hopefully be able to do that when we settle in Australia. Reviewing the list has reminded me that I need to book in a date because I have dinner with an old friend of mine, Catherine, on the list, and we haven’t done that yet and I need to do that before we leave in August. And I have to get a really nice pair of black jeans, which is a very frivolous one, and I haven’t done that yet. I’m putting that off a little bit. I’d like to lose a pound or two before I do that, so it’s even more frivolous than it initially sounds, but anyway, we all have our little things. And then there’s also a skive off day with my husband that we do in December, so that will happen later in the year as well.

Yeah, lots of things achieved and quite a few things still to look forward to. I feel pretty good about that. Yeah, I feel good about what I’ve achieved so far in the year. I can’t quite remember if I deliberately spaced things out so that things would automatically get ticked off. I think I was a little bit strategic about it like that. Anyway, that’s all worked out really well.

Speaking of the Happier podcast, I do enjoy listening to that podcast. I tend to listen to it in fits and spurts, probably more when I’m on my walking streak than when I’m not. I listen to podcasts quite a lot when I’m walking, which is really nice to get out and walk around the park and listen to my friends, in inverted commas. Some of them are friends. Some of them have no idea who I am, but I feel like they’re friends. I was listening to Happier podcast recently and Gretchen was talking about her Design Your Summer project. I think this is at least the second year, if not the third year. She got the idea from a quote she read to really intentionally make a nice project for your summer.

Obviously, for Southern Hemisphere people, it’s not quite the same, but you can just consider this as getting ahead and think about it for the end of the year, but summer holidays are either underway for a lot of people in the U.S. or coming up very quickly, I think, for Canadians and, over here, we’re not on summer holidays for kids yet for a couple of weeks, but we’re getting there. The weather definitely isn’t summery here yet. It’s been raining and cold and I’m still wearing sweaters, so it doesn’t feel very summery just yet, but I’m hoping that, when the summer solstice rolls around, we’ll be feeling a bit more summery.

I have been thinking about a summer project and I was talking to my sister, because we both listen to the Happier podcast and sometimes chat about it, and she laughed at me and said, “Your summer project is moving countries,” so there is that, but I would like to hope that I can make it about a little bit more than that, not just about logistics and admin and packing and things like that. I’m going to have a little bit of a think about how I can make the summer holidays more fun, especially for the kids. They have been really patient with all the organizing and KonMari-ing and keeping the house super tidy while we have it on the market to sell and things like that, and so I think that what I’d like to do is have them write a little bucket list. I was looking on Pinterest, and probably because of my searches that I’ve been doing all right the summer project, images for summer bucket lists started popping up, so I think it’s a bit of a thing.

Yeah, there were lots of lists of fun things to do over the summer, with kids or for grownups. There’s lots of different lists on there, things like make s’mores and have picnics and just lovely things like that. I think maybe this weekend or maybe when they are on holidays, we’ll write some lists of just really fun things that they want to do and that I’d like to do as well. I just thought I’d put that out there. If you haven’t been thinking about that, and maybe if you don’t have kids, you might have been thinking about it a bit less because, when you’re just in a work environment, sometimes you think about booking a summer holiday perhaps, but not necessarily about the whole summer as something to particularly enjoy.

I would be interested to know if any of you are planning summer projects and what they are. You can leave a comment on Instagram. I’ll post about it on Instagram or on the show notes thread, post, on the website. I’d love to know what you’re planning. And, of course, if you’re planning any winter projects Down Under, you can talk about them as well. I don’t want to exclude Southern Hemisphere people.

Thanks for joining me today. I hope you have a fantastic week. Don’t forget about the two for one, buy one, get one free sale with the coupon code happybirthday. That will be on my Ravelry pattern store and, yeah, I hope you’re enjoying the Shawl Society, and I hope you have some nice daydreaming about the summer holidays. Happy knitting. Talk to you soon.

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Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

I’m back from a truly magical week at Squam, and this week on the podcast I have tales of the workshops I experienced, the projects I worked on, and details of some of the treasures I brought home. This week also brings us a new pattern from The Handmade Sock Society, so I have the Cliff Walk Socks to introduce, as well as a bit of help for Society Members who may be confused about how to get onto the secret mailing list.

Show Links:


Abigail Haplin on Instagram

Purplebean Bindery

Hollie Chastain on Instagram

If You Can Cut You Can Collage book by Hollie Chastain

Linen and Spoon

Amy T Won

Wing and a Prayer Farm

Clio Pullover by Elizabeth Doherty

Our third pattern of The Handmade Sock Society Season 2 was released this week!

The Cliff Walk Socks

The Yarn Tart at Suffolk Socks

House of A La Mode

House of A La Mode at A Yarn Story

Join the Handmade Sock Society Season 2

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to Episode 266. 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 Hell’s Bells, and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes on my website at curioushandmade.com

Hello, and I hope you’re well. Welcome to the show. I hope you’ve been having a good week, and I will catch you up on my week and also last week when I was at Squam. I got back to London Monday morning this week, and have basically been catching up for most of the week, I think. It’s been a little bit of a blur, slightly jet lagged, and just sort of catching up on lots of admin and doing a little bit of planning because now the countdown is on before we move countries and head off down under to Australia. So yes, I’m looking at a matter of weeks now and thinking I need to use my time wisely. So spreadsheets have been created and lots of lists are being made.

I’m trying to not spend too much time obsessing about all the details, and just also try and crack on with some of the actual work. But I have to admit that it’s been a little bit slow this week. I have been enjoying the inspiration that I drew on at Squam, and it was a really lovely week. I flew over last Tuesday just in time for the start. Sometimes I go a little bit earlier and spend some time in New York with my friends, but time was at a bit of a premium this time. So I just went over just before it started, and it started off not very auspiciously because the plane that I boarded, we sat there for nearly three hours and they decided that they couldn’t fix the fault in the plane, so we all had to hop off, and shortly after getting off the plane, I got a text saying that the flight was canceled because they could not fix it.

So luckily, I was able to get on another flight about three hours later, so I spent the day at Heathrow and arrived into New York quite late in the evening, but it was okay. I was just really happy to get there that evening, and then the next morning I met my lovely friends Bowen and Stewart, and they came and picked me up from the airport hotel I crashed in that night, and we drove all the way up to New Hampshire and Squam. I think it’s about a five hour drive. We made a little stop on the way for some food and stocking up on snacks and beverages, and we also stopped at a little antiquey secondhand shop, which was really cute, quite close to Squam, in a town near there. So that was the first evening, and we did the usual chicken procedure and found our cabin.

We were staying in a cabin we’d stayed in before and it was just lovely. The cabins there are fairly rustic. They’re not rustic in the sense that there’s electricity, and there are decent showers, decent water pressure. They’re nothing fancy, but there they’re fine and the beds are really comfy, and it’s all quite cozy, and there’s always a fantastic fireplace, and there’s always a great porch, which is part of the routine to sit on the porch, and they have rocking chairs and a lot of time is spent sitting, and knitting, and eating the snacks, and drinking the beverages.

This time the highlight for me, well one of the highlights, was the weather. The first evening we arrived, and there was a big thunderstorm, and so it was raining and it was just really kind of romantic with the rain falling, and falling asleep to heavy rain was really nice. And then the whole rest of the time we spent there was just glorious. It was blue skies, sunny and not too hot, not too hot or sticky, just perfect. It was so nice, and the only downside to that was the bugs. There was a ton of mosquitoes, there were just swarms and swarms of mosquitoes, and there were also lots of ticks, so that was slightly off-putting, but it was okay. We managed to stop up most of the holes on the porch from all the bugs and lit fires, and created enough smoke to keep them away in the cabins.

But whenever you ventured outside you would get bitten for sure. It was a minor thing compared to the beautiful scenery and weather we had. I did two classes, which is the sort of standard thing to do. The first class I did was creating a sketchbook practice, and the teacher was Abigail Halpin, and she is an illustrator, mostly of children’s books. She’s just illustrated a version, a shortened version of Anne of Green Gables, and she’s on Instagram as Abigail Halpin, which is H-A-L-P-I-N. She has a really beautiful Instagram feed of her illustrations mainly, and just also other interesting bits and bobs that she’s thinking about or being inspired by, some posts about her travels and where she lives in Maine. So have a look at her feed. She taught us mostly how to use watercolors for a sketchbook practice.

It was really interesting and enjoyable. I haven’t been much of a sketchbook person. I have never thought of myself as much of an artist, but yeah, I would, I would consider it. I actually purchased three little sketchbooks from the Squam Arts Marketplace on Saturday night with the intention of perhaps using that to have a little sketchbook diary, and I bought one for each of the girls as well because they were really cute. While I’m talking about it, the vendor I bought the sketchbooks from is Purplebean Bindery. So that’s Purplebean Bindery at Etsy, and all the books she makes are unique and they’re just really beautiful.

They’re just handmade, handmade sketchbooks. That was quite inspiring, and then on the second day, which was the Friday, I took a class called Heart of Collage with Hollie Chastain, and that’s H-O-L-L-I-E C-H-A-S-T-A-I-N, and that’s also her Instagram name, and she also has a very inspiring Instagram feed. So as it says on the tin, it was a collage class, and a Hollie was a really wonderful teacher and she was one of these teachers that just lets everybody kind of do their own thing, and then helps and supports them to try and execute their vision. I went in kind of quite stuck.

I didn’t have any plan and I hadn’t brought any materials. Some people have brought paper and old letters and things that were meaningful to them and I hadn’t prepared anything, and so I kind of sat there feeling quite blank for a while, and Hollie suggested I just paint the background of my board in a color just to get started, and it worked. So I kind of had the idea of doing a quote, an inspirational quote. I have, I don’t know if you call it a board, a tab in my Instagram. You can save posts on Instagram, you can create boards with sort of names, a bit like you can on Pinterest, and I find it a really, really good feature for saving things to come back to later.

If you don’t know about that, it’s really, really handy, and you can save them by, when you’re looking at a post, just underneath the picture there’s icons on the left where you like and comment, and then on the right there’s a little sort of banner and then it says, it’s a collection, so it says, “Save to Collection,” and then when you click on “Save to Collection,” you can choose a collection and create a collection. So I decided to go through my quotes collection on Instagram, and while I was looking at that, I saw a picture of Frida Kahlo, which someone had posted with a quote attached to it.

The picture itself was a self portrait of Frieda. I don’t know the name of the particular painting, I’m sorry, but it had sort of lots of lush tropical foliage in the background, and she has a cat sitting on one shoulder, and a monkey on the other shoulder, I think, and so I decided to use that as my inspiration. I basically spent the whole morning making the leaves for the background, and some of her face, and then in the afternoon I finished off her head and her face, and I did some embroidery as part of it and was really, really pleased with the end result.

I have a little Frieda keeping me company on my desk at the moment because I haven’t figured out where to put her just now. That was what was really, really good, and I think that might be something that I would do as an activity with the girls. Holly has a book, it’s called, If You Can Cut, You Can Collage, From Paper Scraps to Works of Art, and so I’ve ordered that book because I saw it when she had a copy there with her at the class, and it’s just got lots of information about techniques, and inspiration, and ideas. So I’ve ordered that thinking that it might be a summer holiday project that I do either for myself or with the girls on our summer holiday camp, which will be transcontinental probably.

Then, Saturday was a completely free day. There were some extra classes offered, but I did not partake in any of those, even though I sort of wanted to, but I wanted to relax and knit even more so that’s what I did, and in the evening was a wonderful art fair, and as I mentioned, I purchased the sketchbooks. I purchased some lovely things from Linen and Spoon. That’s linenandspoon.com and they’re two makers, husband and wife team. He carves beautiful objects including spoons from wood, and she makes beautiful items from linen. I bought a small wooden tray or platter as well as a gorgeous drawstring linen bag. She labels it as a bread bag, but I think it’s going to be a project bag. So that’s so tactile and gorgeous.

I had bought a spoon from them before and it just reminded me that I need to find that. I think it’s in my photo props box. I also bought A Deck For Wonder-Walking, and this is by Amy T. Won, who was one of the teachers at Squam, and she had this deck of cards and I asked if it was a Tarot deck. I don’t really know how to use a Tarot deck, but she explained it’s a walking-deck and I’m not sure if this is a concept she’s developed herself or whether it’s a thing, but she has this absolutely gorgeous deck of cards with different prompts on them, and then a little booklet to explain what the prompts mean.

The idea is that you draw a card to get an idea and then go for a walk and then look for that thing. For example, I drew The Woods, “Enigmatic, mysterious, and full of life. The woods is for exploring the unknown within and without.” So when you’re walking you can just think about that prompt and maybe put a little journal or a little notebook in your pocket and make some notes about that or just sort of meditate on it while you’re walking.

I thought with my walking streak, that would be a way to make it a lot more interesting, and they’re just beautiful works of art in their own right. While I was determined not to buy any yarn, I did buy some yarn because I couldn’t resist some yarn from Wing and a Prayer Farm, who does breed-specific yarn from Beloved Flocks in Vermont. I met Tammy at the arts fair last time I was at Squam two years ago, and I kind of regretted not buying some of her yarn then, and so when I saw her there again, I had to get some.

I got some of the hundred percent Como wool, and I got two skeins of natural, and two skeins of, I think it’s avocado. It’s a pink, pinky skein and it’s so squishy, and it smells really good. I keep sniffing that because it’s sitting on my desk. It’s so nice, and then before we knew it, the whole experience was wrapping up. Sunday morning we said goodbye, and my lovely friend, Elizabeth, gave me a lift back to Boston and I made my way home. It was a lovely, lovely time. I saw lots of friends there and it was a joy to spend time with my cabin mates. Every time I go, since the first time, I have stayed with Stewart, and Bowen, and Elizabeth Doherty, who is Blue Bee Studio, and this time we also had the lovely Natalie, Susan, and Ann staying with us.

We spent most of our time when we weren’t in classes, or eating, which is another big thing at Squam. We just chatted and sat on our porch knitting, and I got a lot of knitting done. So that was really, really good. I got a lot of work done a design, which was very good, and I also worked on the neckband for my Clio with Elizabeth’s guidance, and bound that off. So I got that done. Now, I have made a little bit of progress on that, and am going to finish the body and then start working on the sleeves. I am up to the ribbing on the body. We decided that it was long enough in the pattern, and I could start the ribbing. So I’m pretty excited about that, and we’ll continue that rather epic project. But it’s definitely on track to finish before the end of the year, which was one of my goals.

So thank you to Meg, and Elizabeth, and the Squam team for putting on such an amazing event, and just very, very grateful to be able to go to that and to have had such a relaxing and restorative week away. I’ve come back with more energy and just feeling a lot more relaxed, so that was exactly what I was hoping for and I’m very grateful to have had that time.

Coming back into reality, this week at Curious Handmade HQ, we have the release of The Third Socks in the Handmade Sock Society yesterday. The Cliff Walk Socks. I knit two samples of these. The first sample is knit in The Yarn Tart’s sock yarn, and the colorway that she developed, especially for these socks is Just You and Me by The Deep Blue Sea. It’s a gorgeous deep blue. I also knit a pair in House of A La Mode sock yarn. I’d just like to read you the description for the pattern as written by my lovely copywriter, Amanda.

Breathe deeply. The air is salty and clean. The light is soft and magical. Seabirds wheel and cry here at the edge of the cliffs, they are as likely to be below you as overhead. There are almost three hundred miles of breathtaking Cornish coastline. You could walk your legs right off if you wanted to. There’s so much to see, so many places to explore, and centuries of history and romance to ponder. Hidden coves and mysterious sea caves, legends of smugglers and tales of ghosts.

Evocative names like The Devil’s Frying Pan, Mousehole, and Tintagel. Climbing up the winding footpath, you may find yourself completely alone, looking out over the water, keeping company with your own thoughts. There’s a peculiar kind of privacy at the top of a cliff. You can see for miles, but who can see you? You’re just a little dot on the horizon, hidden in plain sight. If it’s lonely up here, it’s the very best kind of lonesome there is.

Time spent in this landscape holds a constant reminder of what is possible. It’s a place to get perspective. The scale and wildness of the ocean find a counterpoint in the very small and very fragile. These ancient limestone cliffs may look sheer and forbidding, but they are home and shelter to a huge community of little lives. Rugged wildflowers and grasses set their seeds in the rocky crevices and cling, blossoming courageously just out of the salty spray.

The birds who make their nests and lay their precious eggs on narrow ledges are braver still, or maybe just silly. Their name, Fulmar, comes from the Dutch for foolish gull. But this is life, and the creative life most of all: dizzying heights and humble, hard-fought corners, and a knowing that beauty can spring up even in the most unexpected and inauspicious places when you’re willing to take a risk.

The Cliff Walk Socks are the third pattern in this season of the Handmade Sock Society. All-over lace makes them seem a little fancy, but look closer and you’ll see that the cushy stitch pattern makes these socks perfect for pulling on with a pair of boots and heading out over the dunes. The wavy lace brings to mind the ocean swell crashing into the cliffs. A simple twisted rib cuff, my trusty heel flap and gusset, and a comfortable wedge toe round out the details. Like all the Handmade Sock Society patterns, the Cliff Walk Socks is easy to customize and includes three sizes, so you can find your perfect fit every time.

So I hope you like this third pattern in the Handmade Sock Society, and you can still join in any time as a member. I just wanted to make a little note about both societies, the Shawl Society and the Handmade Sock Society, that if you are a member and you wish to get any secret emails that I might send out about yarn coming up and the next design, and any notifications about patterns coming out, then you need to join the email list for that specific season and that specific society.

You can find where to sign up in your information sheet. That is the first document, not pattern but document in the collection in Ravelry. For each of the societies there’s an information sheet in Ravelry where you find your patterns, and in that is a URL to sign up to the email. It’s a little bit complicated. We used to just sign people up, but now with the GDPR laws in the EU, we’re not allowed to do that anymore. You have to sign up yourself, and so I just wanted to make that clear if there’s any confusion.

I think people get quite confused about the emails. I have my main email list that is just newsletters and news about everything happening, but if you want to find out specific news for the society for the current season, you have to sign up to that particular list. So thank you to everybody that has, and I hope you’re enjoying it, and if your are a member of either society and you haven’t, and that’s the way to do it if you’d like to. There’s no obligation of course, but it’s mostly just information about upcoming yarn, and yarn hints for the next pattern coming out.

That’s all the news I have for you this week. Thanks for tuning in. I hope you have a wonderful week. Happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Play

Show Sponsors:

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Today I have a chatty little catch-up episode, which I recorded just before heading off to the Squam Art Workshops. As ever, there’s the question of travel knitting. It’s also the time of year where I like to take stock of my goals and plans so far, as we head into the second half of 2019. With the big move to Australia just around the corner, there’s a lot to plan for!

Show Links:


Squam

Clio Pullover by Elizabeth Doherty

Pebbles and Pathways Socks

Hay Pullover by Clare Mountain

Like a Cloud by Joji Locatelli

Seren Yarns

The Yarn Tart at Suffolk Socks

House of A La Mode

House of A La Mode at A Yarn Story

Join the Handmade Sock Society Season 2

The Minimal Mom

The Mount Juliet Shawl

————————————————————

Show Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 265. 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 the full show notes and transcript on my website at curioushandemade.com.

Hello and welcome to the show and welcome to June. How on earth did that happen? Oh my goodness. Nearly halfway through the year and I guess it’s a really good time for thinking about planning for the second half of the year. I’ve been thinking about planning all year because I have such a big deadline hanging over me, which is moving to Australia in August. So I’ve been very, very conscious of deadlines all year. But I always think that around June, just before halfway through the year, is a really good time to reassess goals and look at what you’ve achieved for the year so far and what you might like to achieve for the second half of the year.

I am even more conscious of time frames because as I sat down to record this, I’ve just been doing a little bit of catching up on my planning, reorganizing myself a little bit. And realized that it’s 10 weeks until we move, until we leave. 10 weeks today in fact. So yeah, there’s a handful of weeks that the kids still have at school or just over a handful, but under two handfuls, and then we’ll have a few weeks in which we will be going to a wedding and having movers come in and pack everything up.

So even though it’s 10 weeks, it’s not really, because I’m off to Squam this week as well. So I am really looking forward to visiting Squam Lake in New Hampshire for the Squam Arts Workshops. And as you will probably gather, if you follow me on Instagram, I am away as this is being released. So I’m prerecording it just a few days in advance this time. But by the time the episode comes out I’ll be over in the US.

So just now I am in the process of packing for that trip and I am not working this trip. Sometimes I have a stall at the art fair that they have at the end of Squam, and it’s always a really beautiful art fair, beautiful vendors. In the past I’ve had a stand there but I’m just pure holiday this time, and I feel like I could do with a break cause I’ve been working really, really hard to try and meet lots of deadlines recently.

So I’m really looking forward to relaxing. And the venue is the most relaxing place I think I’ve ever been to, it’s so beautiful. The lake is gorgeous. Being near water is really nice and being in the woods is beautiful as well. It’s just really low key and relaxed. I just can’t wait for a little break.

I’m thinking about knitting projects I’m taking, so I am taking one design project. But the design work is done, so it’s basically just knitting, which I’m really enjoying. So that’s not too taxing. And I will also be taking Clio, which is a pullover I’ve been working on for some time. At one point I did think maybe, maybe possibly I could finish it for the trip, but no, not even close. I still have part of the neckband, part of the body and the sleeves to go. So although I have done most of the body, which is a substantial part of the knitting, I am still a fair way to go. I would be interested to know what percentage it is, but I haven’t had time to calculate the percentage checklist for it. I sometimes do do that when I’m knitting other people’s patterns, put it into a percentage checklist so I know where I’m at but I haven’t this time.

And I’m looking forward to making some good progress on that as well as I am taking Pebbles and Pathways, which is a pair of socks I’ve been knitting on for awhile. It’s a pattern by Marceline Smith and I met Marc at Squam a few years ago now, probably four years ago because I didn’t attend last year. So yeah, I think it would have been four years ago. Yeah, so I don’t think Marc is going this session, but I will be taking my socks along and thinking of all the good times we’ve had at Squam together and we were cabin mates when I first met her. So I’ll be enjoying working on her design while I’m there as well. Knitting, a few rows on my socks. They are in a really summary yarn. The yarn is dyed by my friend Emma who is Seren Yarns and really loving the yarn that I’m using for that project as well. So that’s always very nice.

I’ll be packing a capsule wardrobe. And over the last few years I’ve really been working on making my wardrobe more and more capsule, which means in a way it’s a little bit boring because it’s fairly black and navy. I have my jeans and T-shirts. It’s fairly simple. I would love to have more hand sewn items in there, but I’m pleased to have two hand-knitted sweaters to take with me for once. I have my Like a Cloud by Joji Locatelli and my Hay Pullover by Clare Mountain. So I am really pleased to have two hand-knit sweaters to wear, which is not always the case for me.

Yeah. So I am enjoying how fast it is to pack with my capsule wardrobe because everything goes even though it’s a bit boring, black T-shirts go quite well with black jeans, et cetera, et cetera. So it means that I can just grab a few trousers, pants, jeans and a few tops and it just all goes fairly easily. I don’t have to worry about making outfits. I will be just taking carry-on luggage and usually when I’m traveling I have a problem with space, more because of all the knitting projects I want to take than with clothes. So I’ll probably just take the one pair of shoes to have as much room for knitting as possible and any little pieces I might pick up at the market. Although with my intensive decluttering efforts lately I am less and less inclined to make purchases, although I probably will be tempted by some of the beautiful handmade things.

Anyway. I say that’s what’s coming up for me this week. I just can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to lots and lots of knitting time. I am doing two classes and I can’t remember what they are off the top of my head. So I’ll look forward to telling you all about my adventures and classes when I get back next week. We also have the third Handmade Sock Society socks coming out very soon, next week in fact. And I’ve already updated members with what yarn I used for these socks.

And the first yarn we used is by The Yarn Tart and The Yarn Tart is the hand-dyed yarn range by Julie at Suffolk Socks. Julie’s a great friend of mine and so she very generously has dyed up a gorgeous colorway, called You and me by the Deep Blue Sea, for these socks. A gorgeous, gorgeous tonal blue. Just really my perfect blue, one of my perfect blues. I love all blues. This is a really, really nice one. She still has some available on her website. I’m not sure if they’re pre-orders now or she has some ready to send, but when I checked just now, she still has some of the special colorway for the third socks.

And I also knit a second sample in House of a la Mode in their Fingering Sock weight yarn. And that is available for UK listeners at A Yarn Story, my lovely show sponsor. She has a wonderful range of House of a la Mode and she is one of my new favorite indie dyers. Just really love the jewel tones and beautiful tonals. She’s doing just gorgeous, gorgeous color. She has a a range called something like Simply Smokey or Nearly Smoky, sorry, I can’t quite remember. But a little bit smoky, and smoky colors, and I love this range. In fact, when Carmen posted a picture of a collection of colors, I just went online and bought the exact collection that she had put together. That was some time ago. I’m still wondering what I want to design with that because it was just really, really inspiring.

Anyway, so that is one of the yarns that I’ve used for the socks coming out soon. Of course you can use pretty much any sock yarn for these ones. You might want something not too multicolored or not too variegated for these ones. Let’s just say you’ll want something that will show up a bit of pattern. But that’s all the clue I’m giving you at this stage and they will be out very soon. It’s not too late to join in the Handmade Sock Society, season two. There’s still four socks in the season to come including these next ones, number three. And they will be released every other month through till December. So we still have half a year of the Sock Society still to come.

So when I get back I think I’m going to be in full-on move preparation mode. I’ve been working on getting organized for at least six months now, probably since last, I don’t know, September or October. I started thinking it would be good to start getting organized and I did have a renewed burst of decluttering at that point, which you will have heard about if you been listening to the podcast for a while. And I found myself getting a bit frustrated with the whole thing because I’ve been trying for many years now to follow the Marie Kondo method of decluttering, which is all in one hit, category by category, going through the house and really just doing a great job once. And I’ve been actually trying to do that for years and it hasn’t ever worked. I haven’t ever been able to go through and get it all decluttered in one hit.

So I was feeling a bit frustrated by this because I love the idea of being able to do it. And then I recently discovered a podcast called the Minimal Mom. I’ve mentioned her before and she’s really been very, very helpful because she’s very practical. She’s got four kids. So I know that it’s real, if you know what I mean, for a situation like mine where I have kids. So I can know that if she can do it with four kids then I should be able to do it with two. Whereas sometimes I look at people who have beautifully minimalist times and they don’t have kids and I’m making excuses because I think, “Well, I can’t do that because I have children.”

So on a recent episode she did a, my decluttering journey. And she said that she used the onion method. So obviously it’s like peeling the onion layer by layer and she talked about how she would just go into the kids room, clear a little bit out, get rid of that, then go in again the next week, do a bit more and go around the house like that. Just little bit by little bit. And so I had a little bit of a revelation because I was like, “I’m doing the onion method. Yay. I have a method.” It’s not just slightly hopeless hoarding, unable to let go of things method. It’s just the onion method. It’s bit by bit, layer by layer and that’s okay. So yeah. So I really enjoyed that episode and I’m still working on my layers.

But I think once I get back from Squam, I don’t have a huge amount of time to be too precious about too thin layers. I think I’m going to have to just be now, “Okay, you need to get down to what it is that you’re going to take with you because you don’t really have that much time to faff around anymore.” So I think that’s going to give me a really good boost for a final round. It’s going to help me be really clear about what I am going to pack and what I am not going to pack.

So that’s coming up for me when I get back from Squam and also working on the Knitvent designs. So it’s my goal to try and get those all ready for you for later on in the year so that I can have that all ready and lined up and I don’t have to worry about it or think about it too much while we’re going through the actual move, and settling in and getting kids started at new schools and things like that. So I will be trying to make sure that I have a really good rest while I’m away and hopefully coming back with lots of energy and looking forward to catching up with you again then.

So have a wonderful week everyone. Thank you so, so much for your kind words about the Mount Juliet shawl that I published last week. Lots of people have signed up to start knitting that, purchase the pattern and said lots of lovely things, so I really appreciate that. This design was very dear to my heart and was for a special group of people that we went away together on the retreat, and I’m so pleased that so many of you like it as well and are joining in with us knitting on that.

I am looking forward to seeing … I’m hoping that somebody knits it in one color. I designed it for two colors. And so it’s basically stripes of lace with some ribbing and garter texture in between. And I would quite like to see it in one color. So if you do end up knitting it in one color, do Pin me and tag me in so that I can see what it looks like. Because I think it would look quite, I don’t know, just quite sophisticated in one color as well.

So anyway, I hope you have a fantastic week and thanks for joining me for this rather chatty, somewhat not very knitting related episode. And hopefully when I catch up I’ll have lots of knitting updates to share with you. So have a fantastic week and I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.