CH 308: 1000 Item Purge

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After an unexpected break to wrestle life into a reasonably manageable shape, the podcast is back! Today I have a giant group of giveaway winners from all of our KALs to celebrate. I also have a report from the island of decluttering, where I’ve been living for the last few weeks…

Show Links:

– THSS #5 Vapour Socks KAL: Post 21 – fifilou

THSS #6 Altitude Socks KAL: Post 9 – atrinka

– THSS3 Grand KAL: Post 29 – TheFibersmith

– Stillness MKAL: Post 460 Jastauff

– August knit20for2020

Ravelry winner:

Post 73 Pattyknits36

KNIT Long Island

Instagram winner:


White Gum Wool

The 30 Day Minimalism Game


Clutterbug: 5 Decluttering Methods

Simple Happy Zen: Emotional Decluttering


Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 308. 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 curioushomemade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at

Hello and welcome to the show. How are you this week? Last time I spoke to you three weeks ago, I was having a little bit of a challenging time with things going on at home, and that continued to be the case for longer than I hoped and anticipated. So I had an unplanned week off last week after a planned week off the week before.

And I don’t feel good about missing weeks on the podcast, especially when they’re unplanned, but I really needed to give myself the time last week. When I record the podcast, it’s not just the physical time it takes to write the notes and record, but if I’m not in a positive head space and I’m a bit stressed out, then I don’t like to record a show where I’m sounding really frazzled and not positive and cheerful. And sometimes I can push through and record it anyway, but last week was not one of those weeks. Everything’s fine. It was just too much going on.

So this week I am able to focus on things again. It’s Wednesday, when I’m recording, and so far I haven’t had either child at home from school yet, although it is an inter-school sports day for the kids tomorrow, so Lexi will be sitting that out because she still has her cast on. But the first half of the week has been the most productive I’ve had probably all year, so I’m feeling pretty good. And thanks to missing a couple of weeks publishing a podcast, I have a bumper number of knit along prize draws to announce this week. And later in the show, I’ll give you an update on my personal decluttering challenge I set myself a while ago.

So first to the knit along announcements. Yes, there are quite a few. So firstly for The Handmade Sock Society, which is now at an end, the knit along for the fifth socks in the series, the vapor socks, winner is fifilou. And the winner for the sixth socks in the series, the altitude socks, is atrinka. We also have the grand prize for the person who has knit all six socks in the season, the third season of The Handmade Sock Society, and drum roll. The winner of the grand prize is TheFibersmith.

So, of course I appreciate each and every one of you who have made any of the socks in The Handmade Sock Society this season, and whether you’ve entered them in the knit alongs or not, I know that not everybody does that. I often don’t do that, even when I have made something, I don’t post it on Ravelry or Instagram. But yes, I appreciate all of you, and I am especially grateful and huge kudos to the 50 or so people who knit all six socks. It’s a lovely thread to browse through and it makes me so happy to see people who’ve knit the whole collection. It’s really fun to see. So thank you very much everybody who participated.

And the prize will be a 50 US dollar voucher for the individual socks, and it is 100 US dollar voucher prize for TheFibersmith, who won the grand prize. So congratulations to you all. And if the winners could please email me at to let me know, one, your email address, and secondly what local yarn shop or indie dyer or online yarn shop you would like a voucher from for your prize.

We also had the Stillness Mystery Knit Along finish at the end of August. I didn’t really think about which month we’re in just then. That finished at the end of August. And again, I was absolutely blown away by the beautiful shawls you had knit. I could see that there was a little bit of a flurry of people finishing their shawls towards the end of the month, and I’m still seeing people posting their shawls on Instagram and Ravelry. They’re so beautiful. I’m so thrilled. And the winner of the Stillness Mystery Knit Along is post 460, who is Jastauff, J-A-S-T-A-U double F. Jane from Peacham in the US. She has knit a very sunny grellow Stillness shawl and she says it makes her very happy. And yes, it is a very beautiful, beautiful color combination and shawl. So thank you very much, Jane. And, again, I will be sending you a voucher via email for your prize.

And last but not least, because we had August come and go since I last recorded, we also have the August Knit 20 for 2020 winners. So on Ravelry we have post 73, Pattieknits36, who also posted a Stillness shawl as her finished object. And she has nominated Knit Long Island for her LYS. And on Instagram we have shellyknitsallthethings, who also posted a Stillness shawl for her finished object and used the hashtag knit20for2020 in the shawl category. A beautiful, summery, fresh color scheme. And in her comment she says, “It gives me sunset over beaches vibes, which makes me happy.” And I agree, it’s a very happy color combination, and the yarn is by White Gum Wool, which is an Australian company.

So thank you very much to all the people who participated in all those knit alongs recently, and congratulations to the winners. Just once more, please do get in touch via email,, to let me know your email address and which company or online shop you would like a gift voucher from, and I will get that arranged soon-ish. Oh dear, apologies for my tardiness on the prizes, but I do get there eventually. So thank you for bearing with me.

So I thought I’d give you a little update on my decluttering project because it has taken up a lot of my time in the last month or so, and some weeks I didn’t really have much else to talk about because I spent all my time working on it. About a month ago, I set myself a challenge of decluttering 1000 items. And it was kind of based on inspiration from the Minimalist 30 day Challenge, whereby you get rid of one item on the first day, two items on the second day and so on, and that adds up to 465 items. And I watched a YouTube video where a couple did it and then increased the items to 1000. And I thought, “That sounds like a good round number, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

And I didn’t do it day-by-day. It was very ad hoc. It wasn’t following the minimalist game. So in the end, I managed to do it, and it wasn’t too difficult, although I did cheat a little bit with one item or category of items, which arguably maybe should be counted as one item rather than 200 items. But anyway, I’ll read you out what I decluttered. So 155 items of clothes, 65 items from the kitchen, 130 items of rubbish, 175 skeins of yarn, 50 miscellaneous things, 20 empty picture frames that had been bought for a craft project that never happened, 35 project bags. I know, it’s shocking. 130 books, which was mostly kids books. 30 knitting needles, 10 items of fabric, which is a bit conservative, but I tended towards being conservative except for the 200 pens that I counted, which I don’t know if it’s cheating or not. But anyway, 200 pens is quite bulky.

So when I looked at the minimalist game, things that people counted as one item, I don’t know. Some people might not. Some people might. So anyway, I did. And I was pretty conservative on other things like rubbish. I threw out a lot of papers and things that I didn’t actually count, and a lot of just trash that I found in kids’ bedrooms and things that I didn’t count. So I think it kind of evens out a little bit. But that all adds up to 1000 items.

And yeah, I tried to pull some thoughts together about this whole process. So as I was decluttering, I was also watching a lot of decluttering videos on YouTube for inspiration. One of the ones that I watched I thought I would share, which is the ClutterBug 5 Decluttering Methods. So I just thought I’d share this because I was trying to remember how I actually did my decluttering. It was a little bit random. But I’ll just read out her five methods in case it’s helpful.

So number one is the Easter egg method, where you get a basket or a box or something like that and basically go around looking for things that you’re not using, loving or wouldn’t buy again. So it’s called the Easter egg method because you’re basically hunting for things around the house. Number two is the Marie Kondo method. If you’ve listened to my podcast in the past, you will have heard about this method where you sort things by category and only keep what sparks joy.

Number three is the no mess method, where you tackle an area and as you go through it you either put things in a garbage bag or put them back where they belong. Or I think put them in a bag to be taken to charity. But basically the idea is that you don’t have a big staging area. You just deal with everything as you pick it up and tidy it up. The trash bag method is where you go around the house just collecting rubbish, so good for kids’ rooms or messy areas of the house where rubbish accumulates, like the car.

The four sort method, which is kind of a more in-depth method where you have boxes or containers for keep, donate, toss or does not belong, and that’s the ClutterBug’s usual method of sorting things out. There are a couple of other methods she didn’t mention that I’ve come across. So one is the Swedish death cleaning method, where you have to ask yourself, “Would I want my kids or family to have to look at this or deal with it if I suddenly died?” Which is a clarifying question, I guess.

And then the other method that I quite like is the peel the onion method, which The Minimal Mom talks about, where it’s a gradual process over time where you go deeper and deeper into your clutter. So I came up with my own fairly random method based on a combination of some of these, and I call it the thousand item purge, where I basically went around the house manically pulling things out of cupboards and piling them up on the dining room table and then dealing with them.

So it was, I’d say, kind of a combination of the Easter egg hunt plus peeling the onion, because I went through the house several times, and then using the four sort method to dispose of the items. I was quite surprised how easy it was for me to find 1000 items, even given the 200 pens. I had the pens in mind the whole time, knowing that I could have them as a back up if I needed to make up the numbers.

Yeah, I would really recommend this method of choosing a high number, because it really made me let go of things that I’ve just been holding onto for not really any good reason, for way too long. For me, when I’m decluttering, it’s not so much knowing that I don’t need the thing. It’s more feeling bad about disposing of things not responsibly. I want to feel like they’re going to good homes or not being wasted or just contributing to landfill. But I kind of had to just draw a line on thinking that way, because otherwise I’m just holding onto stuff as a big storage unit. My house is a big storage unit with things I don’t want or need.

So some things I did throw out. I mean, they were basically things that were broken or rubbish or clothes that were too worn out. And I know that there are places that will recycle them, but in the current circumstances with COVID, I just didn’t … I don’t know. I didn’t want to burden a charity shop with tatty clothes, for example. So this is what I mean by, I just find it so hard to figure out the best way to dispose of things. I just go round in my head, overthinking it.

Anyway, I tried not to do that this time so much, but it definitely, definitely has a huge impact on reducing the amount of things I buy. Every time I go through the decluttering process, it reminds me not to buy things without being really thoughtful about it. So that’s a really positive outcome of it, even though I still do consume more than I need at times, but I’m an awful lot better than I used to be, so it’s good.

I came across another helpful YouTube video for emotional Cancerians like myself. It’s by Simple Happy Zen and How to Get Rid of the Things You Don’t Need. She talks about the more emotional aspects of things. So she talks about how things are part of your identity, often part of our fantasy selves. Like people who … we want to think of ourselves as people who will exercise or do our crafts or whatever, cook healthy meals, cook exotic, gourmet meals. I don’t know. So yeah, your stuff once you’ve bought it forms part of your identity, and so that can be why it’s difficult to let go of things.

And she talks about giving yourself permission and forgiveness for the mistakes you’ve made in your purchases, breaking the project down. And the switcheroo, which is not focusing on what you’re losing by donating or throwing things out or however you’re disposing of them, but to look at it in terms of what you’re gaining in terms of space, time and energy.

So yeah, I have wrapped up the project now. I had a big mess on my dining room table for about a month, and I finally dealt with it all. It feels fantastic. I’m definitely not a natural minimalist. I do like to have a bit of surplus things to hand and some knickknacks around the house. I like decorations and kitschy things, cute things. But I’m definitely leaning into having less stuff, and having less visual clutter. I think I can really see the benefits of that. It is definitely reducing the mental load of looking around at lots of distractions. I’ve really tried to simplify my office space, which has been semi-successful so far. My desk is still a bit too cluttered.

But making huge, huge progress, and it’s really, really helping. So I still have a list of problem areas that I still need to deal with. So I haven’t dealt with the pantry, the food, which kind of got a bit out of control with some lockdown stockpiling that I did. There’s boxes of old tax records that I should probably scan but might just hang onto for five years and avoid that nasty job. There’s kids craft stuff, and then there’s the digital clutter of photos and emails that I really would love to deal with.

So I came across a quote, which is, “Clutter is postponed decisions,” and that is a quote by Barbara Hemphill, who has actually trademark registered that quote, so I want to give her credit. But that is so true, isn’t it? Clutter is postponed decisions. Everything I’ve gone through and decluttered was all things that I put off deciding on when we moved mostly. There’s some new stuff there as well, but mostly stuff that I brought from the UK because I just couldn’t decide on it at the time. Including, I found a bag of extension cords and power boards with multiple plugs for UK plugs. What was I thinking? I think it was just one of those miscellaneous bags of stuff that the packers just put in before I had managed to deal with.

But I had been keeping it sort of thinking, “Oh, maybe next trip back to the UK, I can take it with me and give it to my friends.” But yes. I don’t know. How crazy is that? It’s sort of crazy but it sort of makes sense to me. But I think with COVID and the fact that we probably won’t make it back for about two years, sadly, I decided to let those go. Anyway, but example of postponed decisions. And so I’m going to think about things along those lines and try not to postpone decisions going forward to keep the overwhelm under control, to keep life under control. And maybe, I don’t know, try and use that as a bit of a new philosophy.

So thanks for bearing with me through my decluttering chat. It’s not a decluttering channel or podcast usually, although it does come up from time to time. But yeah, if you’re interested in the topic, there are hundreds and hundreds of really great videos about the topic on YouTube, and no doubt podcasts as well. But YouTube is particularly satisfying, seeing people show their before and afters and things like that, if you’re into that kind of thing. And yeah. So thanks for bearing with me. I hope that it’s kind of useful. I think sometimes it’s good to know that other people have issues with things.

Anyway, I promise to have some good solid knitting chat for you next week, how about that? So I hope you have a wonderful week. Thank for joining me, and I’ll talk to you again soon.

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