Archives For July 2019


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

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

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.


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

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

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

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 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 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 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.