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Today we have a new Knitvent pattern to celebrate, and I’ve been planning out my collections for next year and a new creative space, which I’m very excited about. I’ve also got lots of other little life bits to share in a chatty podcast episode.
Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 276. 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 Handmade. You can also find full show notes and a transcript on my website, at curioushandmade.com.
Hello and welcome. I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s been pretty busy on here with Knitvent happening. Lots of things happening to make that all run smoothly. And yeah, doing a bit of planning, doing lots of still settling in myself and the kids into life in Australia. It seems to be ongoing still. And yeah, it’s been good.
I feel a little bit scattered because there’s just been so many things going on, on so many different fronts. But if we start with Knitvent, perhaps. Thank you so much for everybody who’s joining in. It’s been really, really lovely seeing people’s projects starting on Instagram and Ravelry. I always get a huge thrill. I try and follow hashtags. So if you’re posting under Knitvent 2019 or hashtag curioushandmade on Instagram, then I’m seeing most of your projects hopefully. And yeah, just loving it.
I’m so pleased that you like the Habitation Throw, which was the scrappy advent calendar project for this year. That seems to be quite popular. I am knitting away on one as well, so I’m just using scraps and not being too specific about what yarn I’m using. I’m just grabbing yarn and knitting it in, and so it’s a lovely, relaxing, mindless project to have to hand on the sofa when I get a few minutes to sit down.
And also the Homebody socks seem to be quite popular. DK weight socks, they always knit up really quickly and it’s such a simple pattern. I wanted something that was unisex and super simple but yet looked cute. So I see that lots of people are knitting them for all ages and genders, and yeah, really, really pleased about that too.
So this week, yesterday the Dwelling cushion cover came out. And I felt like I was going out on a little bit of a limb doing a cushion cover, but I wanted to do a couple of at least, home decor kind of things for this homebody hibernation theme. And I’ve been thinking about doing a cushion cover for a while.
One of the technical things about this was whether to do an opening or not. And I did initially swatch it with a band for doing a button closure at one end. But then in the end, I just thought, I’m just going to make it clean and simple and less knitting, and just have it so that it’s closed up with just a whip stitch or a mattress stitch at the end. And then if you need to wash it, you can just undo that stitching and then do it up again later. It’s a little bit more work and maybe not as easy for non-crafters or non-knitters to be able to do that. But I just thought how often do you actually wash your cushion covers? In my case, it’s not often, even though I have messy children. I just sort of do a spot clean and off we go.
So that was the decision I came to you, but if you really feel strongly that you wanted a closure, you could just do a band of ribbing at one end and pop some eyelets in the band, and have some buttons to close it off. That was sort of my original plan. So you could still do that. And if there’s a huge demand, I could write that as an option into the pattern as well. But I just figured for the sake of a simple Knitvent pattern, I’d just do it this way for now and see what you thought.
So it’s also a scrappy project potentially. So you could use your DK weight scraps. You could also use fingering weight scraps held double, and it’s just meant to be a little bit of a Missone inspired stripey fun design. I hope people have fun selecting colors. You could do it all in one color as well. Or you could do more even stripes. There’s lots and lots of room to play with this one. So I hope you like it.
I’ll just read out the description. Dwelling is a very pretty word for home. With a fairy tale sound, it conjures up thatch and cobblestone, Hobbit holes and toadstools, and all those old fashioned signifiers of someplace where you know you’ll find a crackling fire, an overstuffed armchair, and a pantry full of tasty morsels. But dwelling sometimes has a different meaning. One that’s tinged with worry. To dwell on something is to set up camp and hunker down with a problem, to live amid our anxieties. The challenges in our lives do need attention and care, but we deserve a sanctuary in our home, someplace we can shut out the distractions and just be with our own thoughts. A place where trouble cannot follow us. Social media and messy kitchens, current events and squabbling relatives, overstuffed to-do lists, and overdue correspondence can all wait. Fill your favorite mug with something fragrant and steamy, close the door, sit down and breathe. This corner and this moment is yours and yours alone.
The Dwelling cushion cover is a soft place to land, the perfect accessory to mark your favorite chair or window seat as your own particular dwelling place. It’s also a lovely gift for anyone who could use a little extra comfort in their life. Designed to use up scraps of DK weight yarn, this is an easy, speedy knit and a lot of fun. The pattern is written for a 40 centimeter cushion insert but is easy to modify. Artful chevron stripes of random widths offer the creative opportunity to play and experiment with color. The resulting cushion cover is a lovely blend of contemporary style and cottage charm.
So I hope you agree and I’m looking forward to seeing your cushion covers pop up on social media as well.
The other thing I’ve been doing this week is some planning. And I am looking forward to next year. I love doing a little bit of planning for the year ahead, and am gradually getting better at planning ahead for business and life. And it’s getting smoother as I get better at planning ahead.
And this year I was really pleased that I managed to schedule all my pattern releases not in holidays, and not when I was going to be traveling or at a retreat or on a family holiday. So that made a huge, huge difference to my feeling of calm and wellbeing, because the previous year I tried to do that but wasn’t really strict enough about it. And I still had a couple of patterns coming out when I was traveling. It was just super stressful, relying on uncertain wi-fi and things like that.
So last year I think pretty much every single pattern release was when I was at least in a sort of fairly stable place. I know with the move that wasn’t entirely perfect, but yeah it worked out really well. So I’m going to do that again next year, make sure that I schedule around trips and holidays as best I can. And sometimes that means a little bit of juggling if I have something like the Sock Society or the Shawl Society. Sometimes it means that the pattern has to come out a little bit earlier or a little bit later. But generally it’s been fairly even and fairly easy to do that. So I’m going to make sure I do that again next year.
I’m thinking about what collections I’m going to do next year, and I will talk a little bit more about that when I firm that up. I’m going to try to reduce the number of collections I’m planning, just to give myself a little bit more time for creativity.
The last few years, I’ve worked pretty hard and feel like I’m, if not burnt out, verging on burnout. And I feel like I need a bit of time and space for my creativity to come back, and yeah, just have a bit more fun with designing and not have so much pressure on how many things I’m taking on. I did try and take on less this year, and I think I did. I didn’t really pick up any extra projects. I said no to a lot of projects. But there were still a few I couldn’t resist. But yeah, I think I was fairly good being fairly strict with myself. But I think next year with just seeing how it went this year, I might even try and reduce things a little bit more even. It’s really hard saying no to fun projects, but I really feel like it’s necessary for me at the moment to just yeah, just need a bit more time to play, and possibly do a little bit of more fun personal knitting, bring back the joy of that.
And I also am itching to do some other crafts like embroidery and dressmaking or clothes making and some quilting. I think being here in the hot climate that the sewing and quilting is really popular here, and I think there’s just more of an urge to pick up some cool cotton fabric than wooly wool. So I think I’ll be wanting to do a little bit more of that kind of thing and see what happens with that as well.
So yes, I’ve been having fun playing around with planning and thinking about what an ideal day would look like, what the year would ideally look like. I’ve got some fun trips planned, have a very exciting wedding to go to in Ireland, in June next year. And so I’m super looking forward to that. And yeah, just lots and lots of things to look forward to.
One of my very, very favorite planning techniques is to sit down and write a letter to myself from the future. So I think like a three year timeframe is quite a good timeframe. So you sit down and think, okay, it’s Christmas 2022, and what am I doing, what’s happening, what am I working on, where am I living? And I really love that activity, and I find that’s a really, really nice way to set goals because you just envisage what you want your life to look like. And then work right from there. So that’s a really nice one.
And I’m also working on my word for the year, so I’ll announce that probably early next year as well, and have a little bit of a chat about plans and collections and word for the year and all that sort of thing, early in the new year.
So after this episode, we’ve got two more weeks of the podcast before I finish for the holiday season. I usually try and wrap up the podcast for the year around the time that the kids finish school for the year. And this year it’s a bit earlier because they finish a bit earlier in Australia than we did in the UK, just a little bit. But that’s come around pretty quickly as always.
So in terms of personal knitting, I have pulled out my Clio pullover by Elizabeth Doherty again, and I did say that I wanted to finish this by the end of the year, so I need to do some focused knitting on this project if I want that to happen. So I’ve pulled it out again. It’s been in hiatus for a while. I did think I would do a bit more on that before now, but I haven’t had time. So looking forward to doing that. I’m still keeping that as a goal to finish up by the end of the year. So we shall see. We shall see.
I feel like I haven’t been able to catch up with people very much lately and I feel a little bit sad about that. I haven’t caught up with many knitting podcasts or audio podcasts either. And even on Instagram, I’ve been on there and seeing what people are up to a bit less than usual. It’s been super busy settling in here. And just getting the kids settled has been pretty time consuming. They’ve needed a lot of support, understandably. And we’re just getting used to doing packed lunches, new routines, new places to shop. The food is pretty similar to the UK but just a little bit different. And it’s a lot hotter here, so we don’t really want to eat exactly the same things. So meal planning is taking me a bit longer. And yeah, just funny things like that are just taking up a little bit of time as we settle in.
We’re also creating some creative spaces for each of us in the house that we’ve moved into. So that is incredibly exciting. I am going to you have a office, slash craft room, slash studio of my own, and I am thrilled about that. We’re actually building that at the moment. And so I’m having daydreams about how I’m going to decorate that and set it up, and hoping to make it quite practical, as well as really inspiring. So there’s been a little bit of Pinterest and magazine browsing for inspiration on that. And I just wish I could be in touch with people a little bit more. But I think that will come in time as we settle in.
I just wanted to send out my love to Paula from the Knitting Pipeline podcast. Paula, as you might know, has been fighting ovarian cancer this year. She had the diagnosis at the beginning of the year, has had rounds of treatment, chemotherapy, and did have the good news a few months ago that the prognosis looked very good. But we had a message from her last week saying that she just had a checkup and the cancer was aggressively coming back again. And so I just wanted to give you a little update because I know that a lot of my listeners are also fans of Paula’s. And I just wanted to send out my love, and if you could send her your healing vibes, prayers, thoughts and love, I’m sure she will appreciate that and feel it.
And yeah, she is incredible. She is so inspiring, so strong, so positive, and it just makes me want to cry, how amazingly she’s handled it. And I really appreciate how much she’s kept everybody up to date. There’s a website called CaringBridge where she can post updates. It’s kind of like a blog but a bit more private. So you can sign up to get updates there, and that’s been really helpful. I just love Paula so much. She’s the reason I podcast and I just can’t wait for her to get better.
I’m reading a very interesting book at the moment actually. It’s called Mind Over Medicine. And it’s by Lissa Rankin, which is L-I-S-S-A, R-A-N-K-I-N. And this book is just all about how the mind can help with healing. She talks about it in quite a scientific way. I think she’s actually a doctor herself, the author, and she’s reviewed a lot of medical studies on the topic. So it’s not a woo woo book, it’s a scientific book. Yeah, it’s really, really interesting. And also, I don’t know, quite reassuring that the power of positive thinking can have such an impact on everybody’s health. So yeah, I would recommend it. It talks a lot about studies and it’s a little bit chatty. But yeah, just some really, really interesting things in there about how more intangible things like loving relationships or reducing stress and positive thinking can impact very strongly on your health.
So I just thought I’d mention that. It’s a really positive read, so I am thinking about that quite a lot in terms of improving my health. I have been going to Pilates three times a week for just over a month now. I was looking for a new fitness routine to get into and to look after myself as I get a little bit older and creakier. I’m really enjoying doing the Pilates. It’s at a studio where they use the reformer machines, which was super intimidating at first. But it’s kind of just like a really nice gym resistance workout. If I could describe it as anything, I’d say it’s kind of like going to the gym but a lot nicer.
And so you work on strength and core muscles, as well as flexibility and stretching. I think there’s about 10 people in the class. And they’re all women in all the classes I’ve been to anyway. I don’t think it’s a women-only gym, but it tends to be all women. And it’s just a really nice environment. It’s a really nice way to spend 50 minutes looking after yourself. So I’ve been really enjoying that.
Trying to do a little bit of swimming but haven’t been too successful there. Although I have been swimming in the ocean a couple of times, which is just gorgeous. And yeah, doing a little bit of walking. But the temperatures here are getting high that you have to plan walks early in the morning or late in the evening. I can’t just pop out in the middle of the day like I used to in London. So that’s taking a little bit more thought to arrange.
So I hope you’re all well and doing your best in this hectic season, running up to the end of the year, and running up to the holiday season.
Have a wonderful week. Happy knitting and I’ll talk to you again soon.