Archives For Pondering

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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

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?

Gift Ideas for Crafters

Helen —  December 4, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’ve been really enjoying reading all the gift ideas that people have been leaving on the comments of the Adorn Gift Bags pattern page (have you entered the competition yet?). There’s so many wonderful gift ideas this year and not all of it has to be handmade by you. Here’s some of the goodies I’ve been drooling over recently.

Gift Ideas Collage

1. Fringe Supply Company

This is a gorgeous resource for stylish bags, bowls, notions and knitting inspiration. I love this simplicity of the design and statement logo ‘Knit and Let Knit’ of their large Tote bags. A must on the school run!  Also, their Holiday Catalogue might have been one of my absolutely favs this year- so inspiring!

2. Fancy Tiger Crafts

These screen printed tees are so stylish and give an understated ‘yes I’m a crafter’ nod on your day to day outings. There’s a unisex version to the one picture above that is slightly less shaped if you’re looking for something less structured.

3. Ray Stitch

A beautiful shop located in North London, very close to Loop that is one of my favourite haberdashers. These hand stitch calendars are such a cute idea and would be so simple but effective to make.

4. Amirisu

magazine filled with beautiful styling, inspirational patterns and so many yarns I’d love to work with. A subscription to this bi annual publication would make me very happy.

5. Yellow Bear Wares

Ever since discovering these hand crafted pieces at Unwind, I’ve been completely smitten. Claire hand makes each jewellery and accessory item from vintage knitting supplies she finds and I think this necklace is stunning.

6. Merchant and Mills

This Maker’s journal captures everything I love about this company- stylish, practical and minimal. This would be a fabulous present for those who love journalling as much as making.

7. Purl Soho

More screen printing but this time tea towels that can also be cut out and sewn to create children’s toys. Beautiful to look at and such a sweet idea!

What’s on your wishlist this Christmas?

Welcome 2013

Helen —  January 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

This year has a special sparkly feel to me. Shimmery and sparkly. I almost had butterflies on New Year’s Eve, this sense was so strong.

As always I spent time thinking about the coming year, possibilities, my hopes and dare I say it, goals. I used to make lots of resolutions, usually the same ones popping up year after year. I was eternally optimistic. After countless years of this intense plotting and planning it finally dawned on me that I never achieved any of them.

Last year I changed approach and set a single goal to run the New York Marathon and raise £10000 for a cancer charity. The simplicity was very powerful. I made it to the start of the marathon, all trained and geared up. Unfortunately, due to “Superstorm Sandy” the event wasn’t meant to be. But I counted it a success as I was fitter than I had been in years and I managed to raise over £6000 for Lymphoma and Leukaemia Research.

I thought about a single goal again this year but I haven’t been able to settle on anything inspiring. But I can’t let go of the pondering and musing about the year ahead completely. So for 2013, a theme:


I long for more energy. Not to need a cup of tea followed in quick succession by two coffees just to get started in the morning.

I had hoped that the increase in exercise associated with marathon training would provide this but alas it wasn’t the case. Maybe even the opposite was true. My wee one has not been as obliging getting into a good sleep routine as our first daughter. We lead busy lives and live in a hectic city. So a strategy to address the problem is required.

Firstly I will be sending myself to bed early on a regular basis. Not think about all the jobs I have to do or get distracted by rubbish TV – just get more sleep. Enough sleep. I will take a long hard look at my diet. Less sugar, less processed food. More fruit and vegetables. Gentle regular exercise and a few minutes of daily meditation.

Uh oh. This is starting to sound dangerously close to resolutions of years past. Maybe I will just be kinder to myself and leave it at that. And hopefully share with you the abundance of creativity that will come from all the extra energy.