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After a week of homeschooling, I’m grabbing an opportunity to chat with you in the hopes of keeping spirits as high as possible. I have some cheerful news, with a free pattern, some giveaway winners, and some fun projects on the horizon.

Show Links:

JeniB320 on Instagram

In Color Order Blog

House Quilt Block Tutorial

Photo credit: In Color Order


Farmer’s Daughter Fibers Yarn

asteride on Instagram

@retrosariarosapomar on Instagram

April FO Thread for #Knit20for2020 KAL

Download the 20 for 2020 Challenge printable

Follow #knit20for2020 on Instagram

Get the Habitation Throw for free with the code SHELTER

Pebbles and Pathway Socks by Marceline Smith

HeyBrownBerry on Instagram

Seren Yarns on Instagram

Seren Yarns on Etsy

Pure Joy by Joji Locatelli

P.E. With Joe


Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast, you’re listening to episode 290. 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 at Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and a transcript on my website, at I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsor, Meadow Yarn.

Hello, and welcome to the show, I hope you’re well. I am thinking of you at this time, and we’re all facing a lot more challenges in our daily life than we’re used to. So, I am going to try to keep the show light and cheerful, and I’m looking forward to having a nice chat with you today.

We have had a week, with the kids at home from school. I’m conscious that a lot of people listening to the show have had a lot longer than that, so I’m early into the journey. We have had a couple of days of trialing out a distance learning system that the school has put together, before we head into the Easter holidays, so I’m very grateful for that. It’s been reasonably intense trialing, and hopefully it will get easier if we’re using the system for a little while. I appreciate teachers even more than ever. I have never been a person to even think about homeschooling, I’m not that patient with the kids, and have found it fairly frustrating a couple of days, to be honest. I’m just so appreciative of everything the teachers are doing to keep things going for the kids, and the kids have been pretty good in trying to do what they’ve been asked, so I can’t ask for more than that, really.

I have to say, I’m looking forward to the holidays when we can just do our own projects, and that will involve some sewing, and cooking. Both the girls want to do those things, they’re much more interested in doing things like that, crafty things and cooking, than they are in schoolwork. Although, they’re both quite good readers.

I currently have my office floor covered in bits of fabric, because Lexi has decided to make some Easter bunting. So she’s cutting out egg-shaped pieces of fabric and hand sewing them onto a piece of ribbon, which is really cool. Sophie and I have decided to make a quilt, and I am super keen to make a pattern by JeniB320, that’s her Instagram name. Her name is Jenny Baker, and her blog is That’s color spelt the American way, C-O-L-O-R. I can’t remember where I saw the post in Instagram, I’m not sure if someone had it in their stories. I think that might have been what happened.

Jenny had made a post with 10 of her favorite free tutorial projects that she’s provided over the last 10 years or so. One of them is called House Quilt Block tutorial. I was very taken by this, and thought it was appropriate while we’re all stuck in our houses. It’s a very, very simple block, but there’s a little bit more to it than just plain squares. I’ll post a picture of it in the show notes, super cute. I think Sophie was quite keen to do it, but then she said, “Ah, I might just do plain squares.” So I’m not sure if she’s going to join me, with this particular one, but she’s pulled out Grandma’s old suitcase full of the scrap fabric that they’re allowed to use, and she’s pulled out some colors. I am going to use my fabric that I was gifted from a group of girlfriends, for my 40th birthday, which was a few years ago now.

I was intending to use that fabric as one of my happiness projects for this year, and I was planning to just do really simple squares. But, I think I’m going to do this cute house pattern, because I’ve got some white fabric. It has little roofs, little triangles at the top, with white fabric in between. Anyway, that’s a very long, ramble-y introduction, and I went a bit off on a tangent, there.

Yeah, we’re looking forward to having a creative couple of weeks over Easter, and I’m just really relieved tomorrow is a student free day, so I’m taking that to mean a holiday. Yes, well tomorrow as in Friday, so when you’ll be listening to this one day early for the holidays, and I’m looking forward to it.

I am feeling a little bit sad because, amongst other things, amongst the whole trauma of what’s happening, I’m also seeing from lots of Instagramers in London that it’s spring, and it’s magnolia season. So that’s making me a bit homesick for London because we used to have a beautiful magnolia tree in our garden there, and every year around this time it would just be full of blossom, and our street would be full of blossom. Yeah, I have to say I’m also quite grateful that we’re not in London at the moment, poor London is copping it really badly. I’m just thinking a lot about my friends there, and just sending them all my best wishes.

I actually had a friend, and her son who’s Lexi’s age, who have just had the Coronavirus. She just texted me last night to say that they had it for a week, and are on the mend. But, I just felt that like a kick in my guts, it was just so scary. But, she said that they didn’t have it too badly, so I just hope that’s the case and it doesn’t develop into anything worse. That was very close to home, when I got that message.

I hope that people can appreciate spring in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve been seeing pictures of bulbs bursting up, crocuses, daffodils, and I’m hoping that is providing people with a little bit of cheerfulness right now, if spring has reached your part of the world yet. Maybe not, if you’re in Canada, or further up in Scandinavia, so I hope that you can look forward to that.

Something that has been helping me hugely this week is going out for my walking streak. I decided I was definitely going to do a good streak in April, and so far I have been achieving it. It’s only been a few days, but I started a few days early to get into the swing of it. It has been just the best tonic, getting outside, going for a walk in the morning or the evening. Yeah, it’s just really beautiful around here, we’re so lucky. So, I have been doing that, and it has been making a huge difference to my mental state.

Apologies for any background noise in this episode, I’m being interrupted fairly regularly, and I also lose my line of thinking, such as it is.

So, I announced last week that we were going to have the Knit 20 For 20 knit along, with monthly prizes. Even though it was towards the end of the month, I set up a thread for March, and we had lots of entries in the thread in Ravelry, and also in Instagram. The winner from the Ravelry thread is MelissaH3, who knit a gorgeous pair of luminary socks, in Farmers Daughter Fibers yarn, in a lovely blue. She also nominated Farmers Daughter Fibers as her favorite Indie dyer. On Instagram, we have asteride, who entered a lovely … I think it’s a hat, in gorgeous green yarn. She is tagging her LYS Retrosario Rosa Pomar. So, you’re very lucky to have that us your LYS in Portugal, in Lisbon. So, thank you for entering, I will arrange for gift vouchers, or some way of getting the prizes to you. The prize is a US $50 gift voucher or local equivalent, so I will arrange with those two shops, to get them to you.

If you’re listening to the podcast, if you could email me at, or message me on Ravelry at HellsBells, with your email address or Ravelry address for Estheride on Instagram, then I will arrange that with you.

I’ve set up the April thread, and for anybody who didn’t hear about the Knit Along last week, all you have to do is post your project that you have ticked off in the month of April for the Knit 20 For 20 challenge. You can find details about that on the blog at Curious Handmade. We have a series of 20 prompts that people are ticking off, ranging from things like knitting lace or brioche, through to knitting a sweater, or using deep stash which is yarn you’ve had in your stash for a long time, and what is deep stash is up to you. The rules are all up to you. If you feel like you’ve ticked something off in the month for many of those categories, or several of those categories, pop a post in either in the Ravelry thread, which I have set up as a sticky thread, or using the hashtag on Instagram.

The idea is to spread the love around to our favorite small or big yarn businesses. But, I really did have Indie businesses in mind when I set it up, but it can be any yarn business, or Indie dyer, or LYS. You can tag them, show them some love, and I can support them in a tiny little way, by purchasing a gift voucher as a prize each month. So, huge thank you to everybody who entered, and I hope you’ve been having fun with the challenge.

We also have another fun giveaway happening at the moment, and I decided to gift my Habitation throw pattern. This was a design that was part of Knitvent last year. I know that lots of people are already working on it. I just thought this is really the perfect pattern for a project while we’re at home, if we’re having to stay at home at the moment. It’s a scrappy project, so you can delve into your scraps, or mini sets that you may have. It’s a very relaxing project, so it’s not too taxing to knit, and it’s quite a big project, so can keep you occupied for quite an amount of time.

It’s actually a project that you can decide how big you want to make it. Basically, you start in a corner of the throw, and just keep increasing until you’ve used about half your yarn, or you want to decrease, where it’s big enough. Then, you start decreasing again, and go back up to the other corner. It’s really flexible, and you can just use any yarn you want, have fun with it. So, I have made that free on Ravelry, with the code Shelter. If people don’t use the code, it’s still for sale and any proceeds that I receive from that pattern through the month of April, I’ll be donating it to the UN Refugee charity, for people that don’t have any shelter or a home at this time.

Yeah, that’s what we’re doing in April. I am trying to think of fun things to keep our spirits up, keep us going, and that’s what I came up with this month. I’m working on something that will hopefully be ready for next month, so stick around for that. I don’t want to commit to it at this stage, because I’m finding that I have less concentration than normal, and less time than normal with the kids at home. I’m having fun working on some ideas for next month.

I have been knitting on my Pebbles and Pathways socks by Marceline Smith this week. That was a WIP that I’ve had going for quite a long time, I’ve been picking it up and putting it down for over a year now I think, or maybe about a year. I’m knitting this in a yarn by my lovely friend Emma, Serena yarn, it’s absolutely gorgeous yarn. She gifted this to me, and it was one of her early skeins that she dyed. Emma is such a talented dyer, she’s such a beautiful person. She’s going through a tough time now, at the moment personally, and I just want to send her all my love. I’m enjoying knitting with her yarn, and thinking about her at the moment. So, really enjoying this project, and I think I’ll be finished this in the next few days. Again, I don’t want to commit, but it’s on the foot, I’m halfway done the foot of the second sock, so I’m zooming along now. Yeah, probably another couple of days knitting on this.

Then, I decided that my next WIP that I’m going to tackle before I start something new is Pure Joy by Joji Locatelli. That is, again, a very old WIP, so I want to say that’s been going for three years, now. About three years, maybe a bit less. It’s such a lovely project. If you’re not familiar with Pure Joy, it’s a crescent shawl, I think it’s the first short row shawl I’ve knit, and really enjoying it. I’m using some beautiful yarn by Juno Fiber Arts, that has merino, and a touch of cashmere, so it’s gorgeous, and soft, and drape-y. I think maybe silk, as well. Merino, silk, cashmere I think is the blend? I can’t remember, it’s been so long. A gorgeous, soft blue and a cream, beautiful. Joyful colors for me.

I was just pondering on what I should tackle next, and that popped into my head. What better project to work on, than something called Pure Joy? Before I sign off, I’d like to think my sponsor, A Yarn Story.

Well, I hope you have a good week, I hope you stay safe, stay well, stay sane. Keep up your meditation, keep up your walking if you can, maybe do some PE with Joe. If you haven’t heard of that, it’s a UK fitness guru, who is doing physical education lessons for kids online. I haven’t made my kids do it yet, but I’m planning to. He’s really cheerful, and upbeat, and positive, and a lovely guy. Do some PE with Joe, or whatever other exercise rocks your boat. Yeah, keep knitting, keep crafting, I think it’s going to keep us all sane at the moment.

Don’t forget, you can grab a copy of my Habitation throw pattern for free at the moment, it’s my little gift to you, use the code Shelter when you check out. Also, if you’re doing the Knit 20 For 2020 challenge, post your pictures of your challenges being met on either Instagram or in the Ravelry thread, and we’ll do another prize draw at the end of April. We also have the Knit Along for the Luminary socks, finishing soon. So, if you’re participating in the handmade socks society for this year, season three, the Knit Along for the first sock, the Luminary socks, is finishing on the 14th of April, so you’ve still got a little bit of time to finish your Luminary socks, get them posted in the Finished Object thread. The prize is a beautiful skein of Hedgerow yarn, as well as a lovely, cute project bag, sock sized project bag, from MinaMakes, with a fun London map print on it.

I’ll be drawing that soon after the 14th of April, and announcing that later in the month, as well. Lots of Knit Alongs to participate in. Yes, wishing you all the best, take care, happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Merry Christmas

Helen —  December 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Candlelit Shawl in Skein

Have a very Merry Christmas full of feasting and relaxing.

I hope you’ve finished all your holiday knitting in time and that Santa brings you just what you want!




Curious Handmade Podcast Episode 45

This week I’m answering a listener question about how I juggle designing with family life.

What’s in the WIP?

A lot of secret knitting.

Next Dream Big pattern will be released next week.

Next week is the last week of the Curious Collective DKAL.

The Simple Life – a listener question

Today I’m answering a question from TanyaMarie who hosts the Sampler Girl podcast about how I balance design and knitting time with my family life.


Stay tuned to the end of the show as I draw the lucky winner of the madelinetosh Prairie yarn from commenters on last week’s episode.

Thanks so much to everyone who commented.

Don’t forget to play the Instagram game!

Zen Cleaning

Helen —  January 18, 2014 — 2 Comments

Today I started on decluttering and streamlining around the house.

I wrote a list of all the spaces in the house I want to tackle, mostly so I can have the satisfaction of crossing them off when I’m done.

In the kitchen, the top of the range hood was a small yet very glaring area, so I picked that place to start.

This area is home to a set of copper pans from France I was given for my birthday a couple of years ago, and they were looking a little unloved.

I googled how to clean them and was very happy to find the solution was both natural, and items I had at home.

A simple mixture of lemon juice and granular salt, plus a little bit of elbow grease.

I found this tip on the Martha Stewart site and people also said white vinegar and salt works well.


copper pan

copper pan


copper pan

copper pan

This project took some energy to carefully rub all the pots clean but the result is hugely satisfying. I became engrossed with rubbing and scrubbing and let myself relax and enjoy the results instead of resenting the task.

I highly recommend starting a decluttering project in an area that is both really annoying and in your face every day, as well as not being too big or daunting.

I’m now motivated to tackle the next job, sorting out the girls clothes. Wow do those kids grow fast!

Simple Sunday Pleasures

Helen —  September 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

This morning I asked my daughter what she would like to do.

“Stamps!”, she said excitedly.

“Er what do you mean?”.


Ah OK. Mr Maker (BBC kids show) has a lot to answer for!

Luckily we had all gear required for a spot of potato stamping and got to work.

Potato Stamps

Happily, I had seen a recent idea on Pinterest to use cookie cutters to make the shapes. It worked a treat and we were up and running pretty quickly.

Potato Stamps

Serious face. When she saw this picture she exclaimed, “I’m still wearing my pyjamas!!”. Yup….slummy mummy strikes again.

I think pyjamas after midday is allowed on a Sunday tho.

Potato Stamps

I enjoyed the process as much as she did. Early homemade Christmas cards perhaps?!

Potato Stamps

Proud artist. Mission accomplished without tears. Winner.

Potato Stamps

Simple Sunday Pleasures

Helen —  June 17, 2013 — 3 Comments

Peony season makes me very happy!






Simple Sunday Pleasures

Helen —  May 20, 2013 — 2 Comments

After the incredible excitement of the launch of the Curious Collective Shawl Project it was difficult to calm down on Sunday (and has been since!).

I decided to try a “soft launch” with a few friends to test out the new polling gizmo I am using and that the instructions were clear. But as soon as I posted it on Ravelry it went crazy. I am so happy that people think this is a fun idea!

I can’t believe what a close run race it is between lace and texture so far! It really isn’t clear what the final result will be this week.

I did manage a few more down to earth activities on the weekend.

I finally cast on and managed a few rows of my Radiance shawl for the Curious Handmade KAL.

Sweet Clement yarn

This colour is electric. Miss L was rather taken by it too. I think she is appreciating the cashmere content!


I did a bit of cooking on Friday for meals for the kids and to stock up the freezer. I made a massive batch of spaghetti bolognaise. In an attempt to include veggies I followed a tip from my friend Oliva who told me about her Green Brew trick. This is a bag of baby spinach and head of broccoli after being steamed and pureed with the cooking water. Mixed in with the mince, the kids were none the wiser. I also added grated carrot to the sauce. I didn’t think it impacted the taste much but the texture was a little weird!

Green Brew

A lovely BBQ with friends on Sunday evening finished the weekend on a very relaxed note. The kids ran around and we caught up on life. Everyone was happy.

Simple Pleasures Sunday

Helen —  April 16, 2013 — 6 Comments

We had a relaxed Sunday last weekend, hanging out at home, letting the first sunny day of spring warm us up.

While we ate a simple lunch of bread, ham and cheese I watched with fascination as the magnolia blooms started opening up.

Magnolia in bloom

Magnolia blooms

When we bought the house neither Steve or I had a clue what this tree in our garden was and it has turned out to be the biggest gift we could have received.

There was a gentle breeze when I was taking these pics which gives it a bit of a weird effect!


Lunch was made even more delicious with Lotta’s chutney and jam. I love jam! Rhubarb and vanilla – yum! Thank you Lotta.

chutney and jam

Speaking of eating, the babe enjoyed her home made spag bol. That girl really likes her pasta. Like, a lot!

I love how this pic captures her innocence and love for life. I wish I could put my whole face into my food sometimes!


Then I discovered my two peony plants weren’t completely lost (like many, many of my other gardening disasters). I learnt from Katie that’s just what they do – and I should look for little red shoots. I’m encouraged from that video that a cold winter means more blooms. There may still be an upside of that ridiculous winter we had! I think they look beautiful already!

peony shoots

And my orchid that I bought from the supermarket a few years ago is rewarding me for totally ignoring and neglecting it with yet more beautiful blooms. Without a doubt the best £6.99 I ever spent on a plant. I learnt a tip from a green fingered colleague that the trick is to chop off the stalks from the blooms when they have finished. It seems to work!



After all that gardening taking pictures of flowers I hung out in the hammock with the girls, thinking about how lucky I am. Until they got too rowdy.