CH 291: Gentle crafting and self care

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Productivity has been up and down over the last two weeks as we all try to adjust to a new normal. Today on the podcast I’m talking about some of the self-care strategies that are helping to keep me sane, some resources that I’m finding useful, and the gentle, soothing craft projects that are bringing joy and calm into the day-to-day just now. I’m also working through some old WIPs and savouring the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finally casting off.

Show Links:

Yoga With Kassandra

The tree-growing focus app Forest

Hello from my daily walk!

Luminary Socks

The Handmade Sock Society 3

Our winner for the Luminary Socks KAL is Post 131 by DorothyMayNZ

Hedgerow Yarns

Mina Makes, aka The Knitting Expat

Ambient Socks

The Ambient Socks FO Thread in Ravelry

Pebbles and Pathway Socks by Marceline Smith

HeyBrownBerry on Instagram

Seren Yarns on Instagram

Seren Yarns on Etsy

Pure Joy by Joji Locatelli

Download the 20 for 2020 Challenge printable

Follow #knit20for2020 on Instagram

JeniB320 on Instagram

In Color Order Blog

House Quilt Block Tutorial

Get the Habitation Throw for free with the code SHELTER

#habitationthrow on Instagram

April FO Thread for #Knit20for2020 KAL



Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 291. 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 transcript on my website at I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsor, A Yarn Story.

A Yarn Story is the city of Bath’s premier knitting boutique, with a beautifully curated selection of luxury yarns in a wide range of fibers, shades and weights. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Company and Walcot Yarns, to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath, or shop online at A Yarn Story is actually doing online orders at the moment, and Carmel is also offering consultations either by video or phone to help you choose colors and yarn for projects. So be sure to sign up to the Yarn Story email list for all the latest news about what’s happening. Carmel’s doing some really fun projects and knit and craft alongs. So I’d recommend signing up for her cheerful email that comes out about once a week.

Welcome to the show, and I hope you’re well and coping okay with the current pandemic crisis. I am going pretty well here and thinking of all of you, all the time. I have to say, it’s been very up and down on a daily basis. My mental state is all over the place. I haven’t had much concentration and distraction has been very, very high. But I’m slowly, slowly getting myself into a bit of a better state and I’ve been doing some particular things to help me do that. I created a spreadsheet for April to track my streaks. So I have things on there like walking every day, and yoga, meditation, eating healthily, and getting enough sleep. So all the things that I’m just trying to do. And so I have a spreadsheet that I fill in each day with either red or green, depending on whether I’ve achieved that thing that day.

So I’m not aiming to be perfect. It’s far from perfect, but it’s keeping me a little bit on track, and I think I’ve got more green than red over all my streaks. I’ve got a fairly ambitious list of things I’m trying to do all day. So what I just mentioned, plus music practice, and a few other sort of personal things that I’m trying to do, as well as encourage my children to do some of those things as well. It’s definitely not all going to happen every day, but just having a few things that I’m doing most days is really helping keep me a bit more grounded and a bit calmer.

I started a really nice practice with one of my best friends who lives down Sydney way, not in Sydney but near Sydney, and she’s one of my oldest friends. I went to university with Jo. And not right at the beginning of the month but a couple of days in, we decided that we would have a morning yoga practice, and we chose Yoga with Kassandra. I saw that she was doing a month long free stream of classes, and they’re only 10 minutes. So that’s really good for me because I have done yoga in the past but not for years. And so 10 minutes is super doable. It’s easy to fit in, and it’s morning, sort of, it’s meant to be done in the morning. So it’s basically the first thing I try and do. Sometimes I’ll need a coffee before I tackle it, but I can generally just get up and do that straightaway. And at least, then I feel like I’ve done something for the day, something positive.

And Jo lives by herself and is basically self-isolating because she has asthma and immune kind of issues. And so yeah, so it’s really nice for both of us to have that little connection. And we don’t talk every day, but we talk some days before or after the session, and we text and just update each other if we’ve done it. And we’re trying to do it at 7:00 am, but that fell by the wayside a little bit over Easter weekend because we sort of gave ourselves Easter weekend to have some sleep ins, but getting back into it now. So that’s been wonderful. And I’m also trying to do daily walks with my sister, or by myself if she’s not available. I’ve managed to get the girls out on a couple of walks as well, which kind of feels a bit like I’m dragging them out and around, but they kind of enjoy it once they’re out.

So yeah. So just a few things like that to keep me, I don’t know, healthy, I suppose. It is really, really helping. And my work productivity has been pretty low, partly because kids home, and partly because distracted by endless news rabbit holes. But I’m trying to get myself back to doing a little bit of work as well. And I’ve been finding using an app to help me with concentrating has been really good. I’m not sure what the name of the app is. I’ll try and find it and put a link. But basically, it’s you grow a tree, and try and grow a forest. So you set the timer for however long you want to set it for. So I’ve been doing half hour stints. And yeah, so setting the timer, and if you go onto your phone and interrupt the session, then your tree dies. So it’s just a little mindfulness thing to stop you just picking up your phone and getting distracted by Instagram, for example. So I really like that app.

So I have to say, the month of April does seem to be going a little bit faster than March, for me, anyway. And that means we are up to drawing the prize for The Handmade Sock Society. Sock Number One, the Luminary Socks Knit Along. And the random number generator is number 131, and the winner is DorothyMayNZ, who’s posted a gorgeous pair of Luminary Socks with a lovely Easter decoration. And so congratulations, Catherine. Catherine is in Wellington, New Zealand. So waving across the pond. And I’ll get in touch with you about sending your prize, which is some gorgeous Hedgerow Yarns, sock yarn, as well as a little Mina Makes project bag. We currently have the Knit Along happening for the Ambient Socks, and that Knit Along runs through till Tuesday the 12th of May. And we have The Handmade Sock Society Socks Number Three being released next Tuesday. So coming up very soon. So I’m excited to share those with you, and loving seeing everybody’s socks, for people participating in The Handmade Sock Society this year.

I’ve been plugging along on some personal projects, which has been really lovely. I apologize that I didn’t have an episode for you last week, as Easter just came up quite quickly and I didn’t really take into account the fact that it was the Good Friday holiday on Friday, so I didn’t plan for that in advance. Sorry. But anyway, so two weeks ago, I was working on the Pebbles & Pathways socks by Marceline Smith, Hey BrownBerry. I did finish those by that Friday. I was hoping to finish them sort of before I released the podcast, and I did. I blocked them and have taken some photos. They’re not the best photos in the world, but I might try and get some better photos of them and share them with you. So that was lovely. I used Seren Yarn, by my friend, Emma, and it’s just beautiful. So enjoyed having them off the needles. I’ve been working on those for about two years, I think.

And then I pulled out another WIP from the cupboard, which is Pure Joy by Joji Locatelli. And if you’re not familiar with that shawl, it’s a crescent-shaped shawl that’s created with short rows, and it’s a series of wedges, broken up by contrast, color, line of eyelets. And I was up to, I think it’s six wedges in total, and I was up to the fifth, and now am on the last wedge, which is the contrast border. And I’m nearly finished, I think. I’m quite a way into the last wedge, and yeah, excited to be nearly finished another long-term WIP. I started knitting on that when I was going to the first Laine Retreat in Portugal that Joji was attending. So I wanted to be working on something that was one of her designs. And so I chose that shawl. And I think that might be three years ago now. Yeah, I think it was around this time of year as well. So yes, another long-term WIP.

So for my Knit 20 for 2020 Knitting Challenge, I have a lot of items that can be in the Finish a WIP category. So I have Clio, Pebbles & Pathways, and very soon to be finished Pure Joy. I’m recording this on Wednesday the 15th, so a couple of days before it will be released. So maybe by the time I release the episode, that one will be finished as well. Probably not blocked, but maybe cast off. I haven’t decided what the next project will be, whether I will tackle another WIP or start something new. But, yeah, I’ll decide that in the next few days.

I did start my quilt project over the Easter weekend. The pattern I’m using for the quilt is the House Quilt Block by Jeni Baker. Her blog/website is, and this tutorial is free on her blog. She has a lot of patterns for sale as well, and a lovely blog and website. I saw this on Instagram and was so taken by it. It’s just such bright, pretty colors. And she has, one of the samples that she’s made using this block, is kind of like a gradient, I suppose. Kind of a bit of a rainbow gradient. She has blue, then green, then yellow, then pink in the houses, sort of going up the quilt. And so I am basically copying that.

I decided to make a queen-size quilt. So a lot of blocks required. I have cut out the squares for the houses, and now I need to cut all the white squares for the sky part of the block. Yeah, so you cut out two white squares for each block. So I have to cut out a lot of little white squares for that. So I will probably try and do that in the next couple of days so that I’ve got everything cut out and then can start sewing up the blocks. But it’s such a nice gentle, easy project, and pretty colors and working with fabric always makes me happy. So I’ve been enjoying working away on that and I can’t wait to get sewing. That’s another WIP that’s coming along.

And I’m using fabric that I was given by a group of girlfriends for my 40th birthday, as well as some other fabric. I’m using a bunch of different fabrics so I needed to supplement what they’d given me with some more variety of colors and prints because it’s kind of a scrappy project. But I’m using quite a bit of the birthday fabric, so it’s really nice to be finally using that.

I did start a, I don’t know what you call it, it’s like where you just have all different shapes and sizes of fabric blocks, like a really scrappy kind of thing. So I had started working on that with the birthday fabric years and years ago, and I’ve decided that I’ll use that piece. I didn’t get very far with it. Like I don’t know what the dimensions of it would be, but I’ve sort of got a strip of patches put together so I’m going to use that on the back, for the backing, as a stripe across the quilt. So yeah, quite a bit of gentle, relaxing crafting happening. You might have seen that we have the Habitation Throw giveaway happening as well, because I wanted to gift that to people if they needed or wanted some very, very gentle, relaxing knitting during this crazy time we’re in.

So yes, so I’m giving away the Habitation Throw knitting pattern on Ravelry with the code Shelter. And also, if people want to purchase it, I will be donating the proceeds to the UNHCR charity, the United Nations charity for refugees, to help support work with refugees at this time, on the basis that it’s very hard to shelter in place if you don’t have a home. And a lot of generous people have bought the pattern, which I appreciate. I think we have about £1,500 to donate already and we’re only halfway through the month. This is happening for the month of April.

And I’ve also had about, some thousands of people have downloaded the pattern as a gift, which I’m also super happy about. And I’ve seen lots of people posting their Habitation throws on Instagram, and it’s making me so happy. That is really one of the things that cheers me up during this time, seeing people using the pattern and downloading it. I’ve had so many lovely messages from people, thanking me, and it’s just been delightful and just cheered me right up. So thank you for everybody who has done that. And it’s just such a nice reminder of our lovely community, and just makes me feel connected to you. So that’s been really lovely. And yeah, the code is continuing through till the end of April, if you’d like to have a copy of the Habitation Throw.

And don’t forget to post any projects that you finish for the Knit 20 for 2020 Challenge, because we are drawing $50 prizes on both Ravelry and Instagram at the end of each month on that hashtag, and The Handmade Sock Society Knit Along is also happening. So lots of little things happening over here. And yeah, I’m just really enjoying staying in touch with you all through these hashtags and knit alongs, and it’s been a really nice part of my day to go on to Instagram and Ravelry and just see those things popping up.

So thanks for joining me today. It’s been lovely having a chat, and I hope you’re well, I hope you’re staying safe, and staying sane, and having some knitting time. Take care, and I’ll talk to you again soon.


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