Episode 331: “Make a Living Living” — inspiration, dreams and plans

GROW Embroidery with scissors & plant (pattern by Brynn and Co, embroidary by Helen Steward Curious Handmade)

Have you ever daydreamed about making a career out of your creative projects? Today on the podcast I have a bit of an unexpected book review; as I’ve been planning for the future of Curious Handmade, I read something very inspiring, and I wanted to share that with you. I’ve also got a brand new finished object to share and some crafty and gardeny news. So grab your current WIP and settle in to join me for an uplifting, cheerful episode.

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The Handmade Sock Society 4

The Handmade Sock Society 4 has begun; the first two patterns, The Curling Mist Socks and The Picnic Blanket Socks, are available now with 4 more mystery sock patterns to follow each month until July! 

The Handmade Sock Society 4 on Ravelry

The Handmade Sock Society 4 on Gumroad 

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The Curling Mist Socks FO Thread

The Picnic Blanket Socks FO Thread

Free Curious Handmade Workshops

Simply Curious Socks: Free Beginner Sock Knitting Pattern & Workshop 

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Knit 20 for 2021

Knit20for2021 Challenge Details

Knit20for2021 Printable PDF

March #knit20for2021 FO Thread

#knit20for2021 on Instagram


Brynn and Co Shop

GROW embroidery by Brynn and Co

LOVE embroidery by Brynn and Co

Brynn and Co on Instagram

Make a Living Living: Be Successful Doing What You Love book by Nina Karnikowski

Go Lightly, How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet book by Nina Karnikowski

@travelswithnina on Instagram

@theknitter on Instagram

‘The Knitter’ Shop 

Buderim Craft Cottage

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Show transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 331. 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 CuriousHandmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at curioushandmade.com.

I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsor, Meadow Yarn.

Hello, and welcome to the show today. I hope you’re having a good week. I’ve just raising my head from my desk because I’m just really engrossed in some planning work at the moment. I’m just having a bit of a dream about Curious Handmade, and what that’s going to look like in the future. And it’s been a very, I don’t know, just very creative and lovely morning.

Sometimes planning stresses me out a little bit, but this morning I didn’t have too many meetings or appointments today. So I felt like I had a nice stretch of time to just have a bit of a daydream, which was really wonderful. And I just picked up a book out of my bookshelf. I had skimmed through it before, but hadn’t really read it properly. And it was really inspiring, so I’ll share a little bit about that as well when I tell you a bit more about my musings.

This week on the crafty side of things, I have a finished object to share. I have finished my Grow Embroidery by Brynn and Co, which was a kit I purchased online several years ago. And it’s sort of come full circle; because I was living in London and I think just came across her Instagram. It was one of those Instagram-inspired purchases. And bought two kits, one that says love, and one that says grow. And when they arrived, I could see that they were sent from the Sunshine Coast.

So now I can visit Brynn and Co at the Sunshine Coast markets. And yeah, it’s just nice for it to have come back home, I suppose. And it’s very nice for it to be finished. So it took, I don’t know, I’ve been working on it for about four weeks, I guess. And in the end, it took me a lot less time than I thought it would. I felt like, maybe when I was starting out, I was quite slow. But once I picked it back up again a few weeks ago, I really got into it, and thought, well, I’m going to finish this, rather than put it back away again for another couple of years. So that was quite exciting.

I recently joined a craft group that my mum has been going to for several years. There’s a venue here in my town called the Buderim Craft Cottage, and it hosts lots of different groups of different types of crafts. There’s a pottery group, photography. There’s sort of a fine stitching group, which I think is kind of for embroidery. And then there’s a quilt group. So that’s the group that I’ve joined on a Thursday night. And I have been going along with my mom, and it’s been delightful to meet local crafters.

And as the name of the group would indicate, most people are mostly into quilting as their primary craft. But like most of us crafters, they are also into lots of other things as well. There’s one lady there that does a lot of knitting, and a lot of the women do embroidery as well. So I was able to pick up some really excellent embroidery tips, just a few little tips, but that made a big difference to the look of my work.

So I found out a beginning knot and an ending knot, and also the tip that you need to separate each strand of the embroidery, and then put them back together again to get a more even look with your thread. So if you’re using three strands, for example, then to separate each of those three strands completely and then put them back together again. And I also got told off for having too long a thread as well. I apparently had about double the thread I should. So that was great. And yeah, I was really happy to learn those tips.

And so now I think I will pull out my Love embroidery so that I have a little set. But my Grow one will go up on the wall, probably in my studio. And it’s slowly becoming more and more covered. Each surface is becoming more covered with plants. My little houseplant family is growing. So it’s kind of quite appropriate, I think, to have that on the wall in here.

Speaking of growing more plants, I sat down, I don’t know if I mentioned this last week. But a couple of weeks ago I sat down with Lexi, and we made lots of cuttings to propagate lots more plants. I think maybe I did mention it. But they’re growing really well, putting out roots. And so this weekend we might pot some of them or all of them, maybe even, if I can find some pot.

I’ve been collecting coffee tins, I get my coffee in tins. And they were able to be refilled, which was great. But since COVID, they haven’t been refilling anymore. So I’ve been collecting these tins, and I thought they would look really cool with plants growing out of them. And I guess I’ll just nail holes in the bottom for drainage. I’m not quite sure what to do about that for these upcycled coffee tins. But yes, I’m sure that I’ll be able to find some advice on trusty YouTube, for how to upcycle coffee tins into plant containers.

So I’ve been enjoying thinking about what plans I’m going to make happen for Curious Handmade for the next couple of years. I’m focusing on this year and the next two years, so basically three years, although this year is racing away at a very alarming speed. After thinking about lots of different ideas, and maybe thinking I should be doing more exciting things, or different things, I’ve come back to thinking That mainly I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing for this period of time, at least.

I can’t really think too far into the future. The thought of a five-year or 10-year plan just makes my head explode. But I think for the next couple of years, I’ve sort of come to the realization that I’m really happy doing exactly what I’m doing. And so I’ve just been thinking about what collections I’m going to create, in next year and this year, having gotten a little bit ahead this year. So that’s very exciting, that I can have this year’s collections under control, and not so last minute. And actually be able to plan a little bit ahead for once.

Which, I don’t want to lay too much pressure on myself, but it really will make life a lot easier to be in that position. Yeah, I’ve just been having a lot of fun thinking about what that might look like, and getting some creative ideas. And as I said, I just saw this book on my shelf. I have a little bookshelf beside my desk where I have mostly stitch dictionaries, as well as some other knitting books that I refer to a lot for inspiration, and some other sort of lifestyley books.

And this book is called Make a Living, Living. And the tagline is, ‘be successful doing what you love’ by Nina Karnikowski. So Nina is a travel writer, and is interested in making a living doing her creative passion. And in her travels, I think she’s met lots of other creatives. And yeah, just wanted to share some of their stories.

So in this book she’s talked to 26 creatives from around the world about how they achieved their ideal existence. And she’s talked to a great variety of people. So that was really interesting, just to read all those different stories. So she has a chocolatier, a tiny-house builder from Japan, a photographer, a Moroccan Riad owners (a couple), florist, painter and musician, natural wine maker and a knitter who calls herself The Knitter on Instagram, and her called Nicole Leybourne. She’s from New Zealand. I’m not sure if she’s based in New Zealand, but I think she was from New Zealand.

And yeah, that was a really interesting story, of course. She designs garments, and has them knit by a team in Peru, rather than designing patterns for hand-knitters. And yeah she has it, each person is beautifully photographed doing their craft. And she has their story, as well as website and Instagram links, and tips from each person. Their top three tips to living a creative life, and making a living from living a creative life.

A lot of the comments, a lot of the tips included things like looking after your health, which I thought was quite interesting. As well as just different tips or different takes on following your instincts, listening to your gut, following your emotions. Trust your instincts, don’t overthink projects, make sure to carve out time for yourself. And a lot of comments on being very patient.

One of them commented that they had a mentor who said that 10 years is a perfectly normal time to make a living from your creativity. So some of the tips were around, don’t be too proud or embarrassed to have a side hustle, or a second job to support your creative endeavors. So I found that quite reassuring, because I’d say it’s taken me about 10 years to be making a living, a full-time living from what I’m doing.

But yeah, it’s just an absolutely delightful book. The photography is beautiful. And yeah, just the people are so interesting. So yeah, really enjoyed the book. And then I thought, oh, I want to know more about the author. And so I look up her Instagram account, and it turns out that she is Australian, and is based in Byron Bay, which is maybe about three hours drive away from where I am, which is another beach-side town that’s quite a famous-beach side town here in Australia. If you have ever backpacked in Australia, you would know about it. And now it’s a real center, from what I gather for, I don’t know how you’d describe it, but lifestyle businesses and creative businesses. It’s a bit of a creative hub, I think.

It just so happens that she’s releasing her second book this month called, Go Lightly, How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet. So she’s very interested in sustainability, particularly relating to travel. So I’ll definitely be looking out for that one as well.

I have missed travel terribly for the past 18 months, I guess. It’s been about 18 months since we’ve been anywhere. But I’ve also felt quite good about it at the same time because of the sustainability aspect of flying and traveling. It’s, yeah. So very interested to read this book.

So I guess that’s just a little behind the scenes into what I’ve been up to this week. I mentioned last week that I was making little Easter baskets of yarn, and I guess scrappy kits production is a little bit slower than I hoped. So I think I will … I was trying to have some available before Easter, but I think I’m just going to relax and accept that that’s too tight a deadline. This is kind of just a side project, so I don’t want to make it stressful.

And I think that I will have some available for a little, teeny mini update, but it will probably be mid-April, let’s say. Mid-to-late April, even. And while I think while my concept was around Easter, it’s also around spring. And it will still be spring then, so that’s okay.

The other main announcement is just a reminder to post your entries. If you want to participate in Knit 20 for 2021. I think the prizes are pretty good, because you are in with a chance to win a voucher from an indie dyer or yarn shop of your choice, which we arrange for you. And so all you need to do is post a finished object on Instagram with the hashtag, #knit20for2021, or in the Ravelry thread as well. And if you can nominate your preferred yarn shop, I think that’s nice, to tag them and give them a bit of recognition as well and share your love.

It’s as simple as that. There’s a list of prompts, and that is available on my website at curioushandmade.com. It’s on the menu bar, you can just go there and download the PDF or the set of prompts. And it’s pretty easy to join in, especially if you’ve finished something in the month. I think you could probably find a category that it will match.

Just before I sign off, I would like to thank my sponsor. A Yarn Story.

I hope you have a wonderful, creative, happy week. Happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you soon.

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