CH 319: The Comfort and Joy of Planning

As the end of such a strange year rushes towards us, I’m slowing down a little bit to think about what’s left to do and what’s still to come. There are knitting, quilting and creative projects to finish, new collections design, and fresh journals, planners, and calendars to consider. So come join me for a chat and let’s dream about finishing this year strong and starting the next one full of inspiration.

Show Sponsors

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at

Show Links:

Hearten Cowl

Knitvent 2020 on Ravelry

Knitvent 2020 on Gumroad

Land of Sweets Cowl

The Dust of Snow Wrap

Habitation Throw

Sweet Fiber Yarns

Knitvent 2020 KAL FO Thread

Knit 20 for 2020 November winners!

Ravelry: toni810 (Post 26)  

Instagram: Knit20for20 @sheelamcl 

Join in and enter your FO in our December thread on Ravelry and/or on Instagram with the hashtag #knit20for2020 and a nomination for a local yarn shop or indie dyer!


The Maker’s Yearbook

Show Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 319. 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 the full show notes and the transcript on my website at

Hello knitters. How are you? Thank you for joining me today. And we’ll have a little bit of a chat about knitting and crafty things and some chat about fresh new notebooks and planning for the year ahead because we are in December, which is quite incredible. It has been such a strange year, mostly, obviously, because of COVID times, and so much regrouping and replanning, and replanning again has happened. So I’m just taking a little bit of time to process all of that in the next few weeks. And to think a little bit more about the year ahead.

First, a couple of announcements. I wanted to thank everybody for supporting my small business sale last weekend. I think it was Small Business Saturday. I think maybe the UK does it at a slightly different week than the US. I always get a little bit confused, but decided to make mine last weekend. And I published all of the Knitvent patterns as single patterns. So they are now available as singles rather than just as the collection now. And I did have a little bit of a mix-up with the code, so thank you for bearing with me and sorry about that. I had a few messages on Instagram and emails. I set up the coupon code before I set up the patterns of singles, so they didn’t get included in the code at first. So I was a little bit too organized, sort of. So that’s what happened there. So I appreciate all your support very much, and thank you for shopping the sale.

And just a little reminder to try to think about making your purchases for the holiday season from small businesses. I saw a little meme on Instagram saying Jeff Bezos doesn’t do a happy dance when you purchase something from Amazon, whereas small business owners definitely do. So I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here and most people do think about that. You listen to this show, but just a little, gentle reminder. I sometimes turn to Amazon. Oh, not so much now I’m in Australia because it’s not such a big, easy thing here. It’s not like in London where it was sometimes same day delivery, if not the next day. It’s not like that here. But I still have to remind myself to sometimes go for the less convenient option and put a bit more thought into my purchases, which requires a little bit more forward planning, which is I’m discovering, a very nice thing to do anyway, and has all sorts of benefits being a little bit more organized and forward planning, which I will talk about a little bit later in the show today.

In the meantime, we have a Knitvent knit along continuing. The last pattern for Knitvent was released last week, the hearten mitts and the single patterns are now available. So you can either purchase the collection or each pattern as individual. Of course, we had the first of December come around this week and lots of excitement about opening advent calendars or other calendars you may have, either chocolates, which is the traditional calendar, or perhaps beauty advent calendars are quite popular. Some people have tea. And of course we have yarn. Lots of people have done swaps with friends, which is really lovely to see. And I mentioned last week that I had a surprise that I had actually ordered the Sweet Fiber advent calendar. So that was super exciting. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and it’s just absolutely beautiful. So I am enjoying that one. I ordered that back in May and had forgotten about it. I’m such a dick sometimes. So yes, so that was a lovely extra surprise for me when that arrived.

For Knitvent we have the knit along happening through to the end of the year and just post any finished objects from any of the patterns in the one finished object thread, which is the Knitvent, 2020 finished object thread in my Ravelry group. There are about a hundred finished objects there now. So that’s really lovely to see, and I’ll be drawing some prizes in January and announcing them when I return. Probably in January, I think I’ll return to the podcast. We have school holidays here from about now through to the end of January. It’s our summer holiday. We’re a bit upside down here, and so I haven’t quite worked out what day I’ll come back. I’ll announce that next week because next week, is the last podcast episode for the year, so I’ll figure it out before then, and let you know.

I am really enjoying seeing people’s finished objects in Knitvent. And lots of people are knitting from stash and using scraps and leftovers from projects to knit their hearten cowl, which was the advent design for this year. And I also have three other projects that are suitable for your advent calendars, if you haven’t decided which one you might knit yet. So we have the land of sweets cowl, the dust of snow wrap and the habitation throw from last year, which has been very popular this year. I did a little promotion of that earlier in the year and so many people have been knitting habitation throws through this slightly crazy year we’ve had, and people have found it to be quite meditative, I think. Some people have knit several and it’s been really lovely to see that being a comfort to people. So thank you for sharing all your projects throughout the year, and I look forward to seeing lots of advent and scrappy projects throughout December as well.

For my Sweet Fiber advent set, I’ve decided to knit a habitation throw as well, and just have the joy of seeing those beautiful colors being knit into a blanket. We also have the Knit 20 for 2020 November prize winners to announce. And so the Ravelry winner is Toni810, which was post number 26 and Toni knit some fabulous socks. She lives in Queens, New York, according to her Ravelry profile and has nominated the indie dyer, To the Max. And the Instagram winner is Sheila MCL, I think Sheila McL who knit a very cool beanie. So we will get in touch with you or feel free to get in touch at email.

And I thought for December, perhaps it would be fun if people want to post a summary of their progress on Knit 20 for 2020 for the whole year, and I will endeavor to do that as well. I need to go through the list and look at what I have and haven’t achieved. I have hit quite a few prompts, I think, but definitely not all of them, especially some of the more challenging ones that I put in there as a challenge for myself, like knit a toy and brioche, I haven’t got to yet. Whether I manage that in December or not remains to be seen. I do need to remind myself to be realistic about these things. I have a lot of goals for the end of the year still. So we will see, but I’ll sit down and have a look at the list and see where I do get to by the end of the year.

Last week or the week before I was talking about whether to run the challenge again next year. And I don’t really have any basis for making that decision, but let’s go for it. I haven’t had much feedback from people in particular, but I think let’s do the challenge again. I’ll make it 20 prompts again. I think I’ll keep it at 20. So it’ll be 20 for 2021, rather than try to do 21, 22, et cetera. I’m not sure where it will end up. So I think 20 is quite a nice number. It’s enough of a challenge for people who like to challenge themselves. And it’s probably a bit over ambitious for those of us who don’t quite get there.

So I haven’t quite decided whether I’ll keep the prompts the same or mix them up. I’m not sure. Please let me know if you have any feedback about that, whether you want a new set of prompts or whether you’d like to keep them the same, and then you can compare from year to year. I don’t know. We’ll have a think about that, and also if anybody has any feedback, I’ll take that on board as well.

So one of the unofficial themes for me over the past year or two perhaps, is just getting a little bit more organized with my planning of work and life. I think it’s become slightly easier as my kids have got older. I think when I first had the kids and they were little, I was a little bit blindsided by how much things changed all the time, how quickly they grew, how quickly routines change, clothing sizes, keeping up with school, coming around so quickly having to organize childcare and just so much change all the time, really blindsided me. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t realize how much of a organizational, logistical, I wouldn’t say nightmare, but load that would increase in my life. And I went from just planning for myself and my husband a little bit to the two kids. And yeah, it just took me out for a couple of years, maybe four or five years, realistically, possibly even more.

So for the past few years, I’ve found that as they’ve gotten older, that has slowed down a little bit. Of course, we had the move to Australia put in there, which added more planning requirements, and then this year has been just a whole new thing as well. But I do feel like I’m getting a little bit better on the forward planning and I really am enjoying it. I really am enjoying being more organized and better prepared for the things that are coming up.

As I look back, I always did enjoy planning. I absolutely loved my Filofax when I was, I don’t know, at high school maybe and uni. And first few years of working, I had a little, very small… At first, I had a black A5 size, and then I had a red, smaller… What’s the smaller size than A5? A6? Does it go that way? I don’t know. Anyway, you probably don’t even use those measurements wherever you are. I think that’s an English Australian thing. But yeah, so I had a little, small, red one that I had in my handbag when I was working. And I just absolutely loved putting the new pages in every year, writing everybody’s birthdays in there and transferring things over and thinking about the year ahead from always. So I guess it’s no surprise that I still like doing that. And yeah, I guess it was just the years of the babies, that really was the exception to the rule, but that went on for some time.

So now, fast forward, many years, I’m making the transition more to electronic, digital way of planning. And last year I finally managed to get myself onto a electronic or digital diary for appointments and things. So now I use the Google diary and put appointments in there straight away and have that one place for appointments and dates and things. Not a hundred percent perfect. I’m such a Luddite sometimes, but I haven’t worked out how to get birthdays coming up every year. That’s on my to-do list. I’m sure it’s super simple. I just need to figure out how. Anyway I’m embarrassed admitting that to you, but getting there, baby steps.

And so that’s been really helpful, because before I was writing things down on scraps of paper and I just didn’t have a proper system. I hadn’t transitioned from a paper diary to an electronic diary, and so things were just a shambles, somewhere in the middle. But finally, yes, finally, I’ve got that. Really happy about that. But I still love notebooks and planning and writing lists in notebooks and having journals and things. So I think my challenge for this year will be to work out what I keep on paper versus what I have in my digital diary. And I’m thinking about having a bullet journal style notebook, for goals and lists, and perhaps tracking how I’m going with happiness projects and word for the year and things like that, things that are a little bit more goal focused rather than actual appointments, and a place to record ideas of things I hear on podcasts and things like that.

So I think I will crack open a fresh new notebook, which is always very exciting. I just love the feel of notebooks. I really like Moleskin notebooks. I never know how to pronounce that. I really like Moleskin notebooks that just have the beautiful, tactile paper. And so I think that’s my plan, to have my digital Google calendar alongside a notebook for journaling. I guess you’d call it journaling and lists. After investing for a couple of years in planners and not using them, I have given up on that idea, but having said that, I just pulled out a planner from 2019 that I kept just as a reference. And it has an amazing planning your year ahead section at the front of it. So I just thought I would share that with you. It’s called The Maker’s Yearbook and it’s by Nicola Taylor.

And I just looked up her website and she now has a PDF digital download that you can purchase her planner, as well as getting the physical planner. So the physical planner, I think she’s still doing the same size, but it’s quite big. It’s like an A4 size and has a hard cover and a ring binder, which I quite like. And yeah, she just has a really great section at the front for reviewing your year that has just gone, and then some really good questions and prompts for looking at the year ahead. This particular one is really focused on makers. She says on the cover, it’s a goal setting workbook and planner for artists, makers and handmade business owners. So more focused in physical products. So she talks about what markets you might sell at and wholesale, and just the things that you might consider when you have a physical product. So really great for yarn dyers or project bag makers.

I think there would be more in there for people who have physical products. Whereas maybe that’s why I didn’t really get into it, because I thought maybe it’s not so useful for me as a digital product maker. I’m not thinking about what markets I’m going to sell at and things like that so much. But looking at it now, I think most of it is applicable. So she has a space for the past year review and then also the month on a monthly review prompts as well. So I’m going to go through and have a look at that and use that for my planning for next year. See if there’s any prompts that I might consider.

As usual, I overthink everything I do and go down rabbit holes, researching how I’m going to do things. So rather than just planning, I watch videos and all sorts of things and look at past things I’ve done before I plan. So sometimes that means I don’t actually get to doing the thing, which is a bit of a failing that I maybe need to work on. But anyway, I was watching a video about making a five year plan and I didn’t write down the name of the person, so I’m afraid I can’t give you the reference. But she talked about home stretch goals at the end of the year. So it’s like November, December, what are your home stretch goals for just making the most of whatever of this current year you have left. And I really, really like that idea.

At this point, I’m looking forward to thinking about the next year, but then I thought, rather than try and, I don’t know, do everything that I have left to do this year on my list that I haven’t done, just pick one or two things to try and do as home stretch goals before the end of the year. So I’ve chosen for work to do my designs for The Handmade Sock Society that I will be releasing early next year. So I realized that I needed to get cracking on that now, even though it’s next year and seems like quite a long way away, it’s coming out very soon now that we’re in December. So working on those designs and then on my personal projects, I want to finish the top for my 40th birthday houses quilt. So they’re my two main goals. I do have some other things on there, but if I can do those two things in December, I will be considering that huge win.

I would love to clear a bunch of really tedious admin things. I have a long list of admin things, just things like getting bills on automatic payments and figuring out where Sindy’s microchip is registered, and it doesn’t seem to be registered in my name. So figuring out how to get that transferred to me and just really, really tedious admin things that require phone calls or figuring out passwords that you’ve forgotten, things like that. So I would love to get that down to zero and start the new year with a fresh, empty admin list. We will see. I don’t know. If I focus on it, maybe it’s possible. We’ll see.

So that’s just a little bit of a ramble about my planning, thoughts and process. Next year, I will share a review of where I got to on my happiness project, my Knit 20 for 2020, and also my word for the year, which is healing. I was thinking about doing a review at this point, but it’s not the end of the year yet. I still have some time. So I’m giving myself the full year to finish those lists and projects, and then I’ll do an update early next year and share plans for the year ahead then.

So on that note, I will wrap up the episode for today and encourage you to maybe just regroup after this insane year and see if there’s one or two little things that you can achieve in December that will make you feel good, give you a little confidence boost, make you feel like you’ve ticked something important off your list. Just have a little ponder about that. Otherwise, best wishes for preparing for holiday seasons, they’re probably going to be a little bit different from usual this year. So we’re probably all thinking about what that might look like for this year. And yeah, just wishing you all the best for all the December busyness and preparations and hoping that you can enjoy it and enjoy some quiet moments and enjoy creative baking and food preparations, if you’re into that kind of thing or that you’re finding some knitting time or perhaps a little bit of time each day to knit your advent calendars.

I’ll be back for the last episode of the year next week. In the meantime, happy knitting. I’ll talk to you soon.

More To Explore


Learn all the essential skills you need to start knitting stunning handmade shawls with the FREE Spindrift Shawl Pattern and Online Workshop

Magazine Covers with Helen Stewart on it and a knitted shawl wrapped around her neck and shoulders