Archives For January 2015

Editing the Stash Declutter and Simplify

I learnt a lot with the simplify and declutter theme this month. Here is my summary and top tips for decluttering.

1. Create a Vision

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo suggests that the first thing you need to do is to create a vision of your desired lifestyle. I found this to be inspirational and motivating. It really helped guide me as I was making decisions along the way and kept me going through the process.

I took some time to think about how I would really like my home to be. I realised that although things were driving me a bit crazy as they were, my vision was very achievable.

“I have a vision of being able to go through day to day life easily without constantly feeling like I can’t find things. I would like to be surrounded by beautiful colours and natural fibres and textures that fill me with happiness and nurture me and my family. There will be less visual distractions and clutter and instead some of the beautiful things I already own will be allowed to sing.”

2. Make it a Project

Have a plan and decide what areas you are going to tackle and how you are going to go about it.

Set some goals and a deadline for getting it done. Then you can have the satisfaction of ticking things off the list and also knowing when you’re finished.

Block out some time in the diary and be realistic (see tip 4 below)

3. Use a Method

There are different ways to approach this. I have talked about a few on the podcast and I believe it is best to do what you feel comfortable with.

You can start small with just one shelf or cupboard. Alternatively you can tackle the house entirely, in #KonMarie (Marie Kondo) style.

I think the main factor here is how much time you have.

4. Allow more time than you think you’ll need (a lot more)

I’m very glad that the theme was running for a month rather than a week because it has taken all that time to get to a stage where I’m happy with where I’ve got to.

I could have probably done it faster, but I do feel like the decluttering process is a skill that improves with practice. I have been working towards having less clutter for a couple of years now so I guess I’m not a complete beginner but it still takes me time to work through things. You will need time to physically take things out and sort through them. You might find that there are dependencies, for example on other members of the family needing to be consulted in certain areas. Then there is the task of getting the things out of the house and somewhere else in a satisfactory way.

I did find that the Marie Kondo method of gathering everything of a certain category together and then asking “Does it spark joy?” helped speed up the process considerably. It was much easier to focus on that one question, instead of torturing myself with considerations such as, “it might be useful in the future”, “but it was soooooo expensive” and my hardest one “but it was a gift”.

5. Question your triggers and reasons for keeping things

As mentioned above, in the past I would keep things for a range of reasons. It turned out that when I looked at things differently I didn’t need or want to keep a lot of things after all.

It is also very helpful to look at why we bought the things in the first place. This will help slow down the flow of things coming into the house which I believe is key for maintaining your vision.

In Episode 60 of the Curious Handmade podcast, Felicia, founder of The Craft Sessions talks about her triggers for buying stash items such as yarn and fabric in her personal project Stash Less.

I discovered through editing my stash, that my biggest triggers were sale bargains and fear of missing out.

6. Get help and share

It is incredibly helpful to have a friend either help you declutter in person or support virtually. I had a good friend help me with some of the areas that I just didn’t seem to be able to deal with myself and administer a little bit of “tough love”.

It was so brilliant to have the support and camaraderie of listeners and readers on the Curious Handmade Ravelry board.

I really enjoyed getting texts, emails and Instagram posts from friends and listeners all over the world too. It always feels nice not to be the only one doing something and having that support made a bit of a dull job much more fun.

7. Decluttering is physically and emotionally tiring

For most of us decluttering isn’t a day to day activity and it can involve a lot more walking and lifting that usual.

Also the process of examining the things in our life and why we have them and hold on to them can stir up a lot of emotions.

Both the physical and emotional energy used up can be very tiring so make sure to drink lots of water and take rest breaks.

8. Let it go!

Something that Paula of Knitting Pipeline mentioned in my chat with her on Curious Handmade Podcast episode 59 was to look at things as a lesson learnt. This meant that instead of keeping an item of clothing because it was expensive, even though it didn’t fit anymore (or never did), I could chalk it up to experience and let it go.

Marie Kondo suggests thanking items for their hard work and considering how an item has fulfilled its purpose for you and can move on.

I say – be a bit ruthless! It is scary and exhilarating at the same time!

Take the time to dispose of the things in a satisfactory way. I would recommend organising things into bags/boxes to either trash, recycle, give to goodwill, give to friends, sell (ebay or consignment stores). Then deal with them as soon as possible so they don’t creep back into the cupboard or circulations.

9. Less is More.

If you need any motivation to embark on a declutting project just remember that less is more, and in surprising ways.

You will have:

More time. Less time spent looking for things and cleaning.

More curated and confidence building. You will be left with the things you really love which will give you more confidence in your personal style.

More relaxing. You won’t be as stressed looking for missing things or visually distracted by mess.

More inspiring and joyful. If you are a crafter, having just the stash items you really love and easy access to your favourite materials will spark incredible inspiration.

10. Enjoy

Sit down, have a cup of tea and admire your work!

Useful decluttering resources:

Thank you to listeners and readers for suggesting some wonderful resources.

Zen Habits

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Project 333

Be More with Less

The Peaceful Mom Declutter Challenge

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste

The Daily Connoisseur – Ten Item Wardrobe


Curious Handmade Podcast Ep 60

Today I have a special guest on the show, Felicia Semple, founder of The Craft Sessions.

I met Felicia a couple of years ago at Squam and since then have been following her blog with great interest and wishing that I could make an excuse to be back in Australia in September to attend her wonderful Craft Sessions which is a weekend of craft workshops. Felicia is a very thoughtful and eloquent writer and her recent blog posts on her project Stash Less have given me lots of ideas for simplify and declutter month so I was thrilled she could join us to have a chat about all of that.

Felicia Semple The Craft Sessions

Image source: Felicia Semple, The Craft Sessions

Felicia mentions an Ira Glass quote in the interview about practising in the gap. Here is a beautiful video of the whole quote made by photographer and visual storyteller Daniel Sax.

The Vivienne Westwood quote I mentioned is from her autobiography Vivienne Westwood.

“My main point, though, is quality rather than quantity. What I’m always trying to say is: buy less, choose well, make it last.”

That interview wraps up simplify and declutter month on the podcast. Thank you so much to everyone for the thoughtful, inspiring comments and comraderie here on the blog and on the Curious Handmade Ravelry group.

Next Week on the Podcast – Joji Locatelli 

Next month the theme will be Sweaters and Garments. Unusually for the podcast, there will be another guest on the show next week. I was very excited to catch Joji Locatelli at her home in Buenos Aries, Argentina for a wonderful chat about knitting, designing and her new collaboration and collection with Veera Välimäki called Interpretations 2.

Interpretations 2 is a collection of 12 pieces – 6 by each designer and it is one of the most beautifully designed and produced books and collections I have seen. So have a look at the collection and look out for that episode next week.

Craftsy Winter Wonder Sale (Affiliate Link):


My 2015 Pledge

Helen —  January 27, 2015 — 8 Comments

As we come to the end of January, it’s a good time to reflect on progress with your New Year’s plans. For those of us who have picked goals or themes to make life a bit simpler and a bit more fun in 2015, the first month might have led to a little bit of reflection and realisation about our previous goals.

Global Nomad Cowl

For me, 2014 was about dreaming big. I set myself the challenge to design delightful things, write the most helpful patterns possible and support you to make that perfect knitted item.

On that journey I designed and published 17 new knitting patterns

Hosted over 10 KALs

Produced 45 podcasts

And attended some extraordinary events.

I covered topics from tips and tutorials for your knitting and stories of my travels. I shared some of the ups and downs of starting a creative indie business. It was wonderful to meet lots of you in person as well as connect with readers and knitters online who shared their stories.

So what does 2015 hold for me?

My new challenge starts with you! I want each person that follows Curious Handmade to have the confidence to admit “I am creative”!

I can relate to lacking in confidence when it comes to practical skills or being unsure of where to take the inspiration I find and channel it in order to create something beautiful and unique. That’s why you can expect more KALs, more gorgeous hand knit patterns and more ways to be part of the Curious Handmade community.

One way I’ve started this challenge in my own life has been to simply and declutter. It can feel distracting to have too much clutter around and chores hanging over you that you’ve been meaning to do for months (years!). Often it can feel that being creative gets pushed to the back of the queue in the humdrum of everyday life. I want to make sure that you find inspiration and time to create something truly beautiful in 2015 whether that’s on your commute to work, jet setting across the globe or from the safety of your favourite knitting spot!

I’m pledging to keep it simple and be creative in 2015. Are you?


Curious Handmade Podcast 59


Today I’m talking about what’s in the WIP, and sharing with you a conversation I had this week with Paula Emons-Fuessle of Knitting Pipeline, and and update on some events.

What’s in the WIP?

A little bit of knitting, and a lot of tidying and stalking!

Working on a big project this weekend to paint and reorganise my kids bedrooms.

Patterns I’m stalking to make use of my newly refreshed stash:

Ashburn by Melanie Berg

Leftie by Martina Behm

Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti

54 Rue du Chateau by Mary-Heather Browne, Amy Christoffers, Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Leila Raabe, Michele Wang, Bristol Ivy

The Simple Things

I talk with Paula of Knitting Pipeline about decluttering and the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

We also talk about the Knitting Pipeline retreat in Georgia USA on 12-15 April.

Thank you to BreadandButter for posting a link to this interesting New York Times article about Marie Kondo’s book.


A Playful Day Design Along Competition

Edinburgh Yarn Festival


CH 58: Editing the Stash

Helen —  January 16, 2015 — 5 Comments

Today I’m talking about what I’ve been knitting and an update on the decluttering project for January.

This week I’m talking about tackling the stash and craft stuff.

I’ve been very much enjoying watching and listening to some podcasts while I’ve been decluttering.

I mention:


Little Bobbins

Truly Myrtle


If you are interested in designing – check out A Playful Day Design Along

What’s in the WIP?

Making good progress on my Amy Herzog Custom Fit pullover. Twisted cast on. Fixed.

Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter Craftsy course (on sale at the moment!).
Amy Herzog Knit to Flatter Craftsy Course

Custom Fit – “CustomFit makes custom patterns for hand-knit sweaters. It takes your choices, your body, and your hand-knit fabric and produces a pattern perfectly suited to you.”

The Simple Things

My word for the year is “Simplify” and simplify and declutter is the theme for the podcast in January.

Today I talk about the KonMari method from Marie Kondo’s book below. I apply this method to the stash with surprising results.

Some more decluttering resources:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing


Curious Handmade Podcast 57

Today I’m talking about What’s in the WIP and some decluttering tips.

What’s in the WIP?

Candlelit Shawl in Skein Australia Merino Cashmere – 60% complete

Also reviving the Pebble Beach Shawlette also in Skein Australia – Sea Salt colourway

Cast on Amy Herzog Custom Fit pullover. Twisted cast on. Fixed.

The Simple Things

Word for the year is “Simplify”

Some more decluttering resources:

Clutterfree by Leo Babouta and Courtney Carver

Fly Lady

Curious Handmade Simplify and Declutter Ravelry discussion thread

CH 56: Hello 2015

Helen —  January 2, 2015 — 2 Comments

Curious Handmade Podcast

Today I’m talking about what’s in the WIP, planning for the year ahead and my word of the year, “Simplify”.

Show Sponsor – Meadow Yarn

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, Hazel Knits and many more.

What’s in the WIP?

Candlelit Shawl in Skein Australia Merino Cashmere – 60% complete

Husband Christmas Present blanket.

About to cast on Amy Herzog Custom Fit pullover.

New Year Planning

Working my way through the Do What you Love “New Year’s Revolution” workbook.

The Simple Things

Word for the year is “Simplify”

Some decluttering resources:

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste

Project 333

Into Mind

Be More With Less