Episode 335: Sleep, systems, shawls and sleeves

pencils, a book and some sewing notions; planning by Curious Handmade

We think of creativity as this wild, unbridled thing that thrives on spontaneity and novelty. That can be true, but sometimes, staying creative (and productive!) means we need to build structures and systems. Today on the podcast, I’m chatting a little bit about what that looks like for me right now. I’ve also got updates on some projects I’ve got going on, and the next big thing on the way for the Curious Crew.

Show Sponsors

Meadow Yarn; Anj is the heart, mind, and hand behind Meadow Yarn. She spends her days dying yarn and telling stories in the Suffolk countryside. The regular hand dyed shades you’ll find in their online shop are influenced by the surrounding landscape, the north sea coast, and the big skies overhead. For an extra dose of imagination with your knitting, Anj also releases her limited edition yarn fictions from time to time. These capsule yarn collections are inspired by her original short stories. You can download them and read along as you knit. As well as their own label, Hand Dyed Yarn, Meadow Yarn also stocks some of Anj’s personal favorite wools and supplies, Icelandic Lopi, Hazel Knits, KnitPro needles and notions, Eucalan wool wash, and arrange of inspirational journals and magazines. You can find them at meadowyarn.co.uk.

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 www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Show Links:

The Shawl Society 5

The Shawl Society 5 Yarn Teaser 1 featuring Skein Yarn

The Shawl Society 5 Yarn Teaser 2 featuring Happy Hank

Yarn Spoiler Thread on Ravelry 

The Shawl Society 5 Gumroad Presale (1st pattern arrives on the 20th of May, 2021) 

The Shawl Society 5 Ravelry Presale  (1st pattern arrives on the 20th of May, 2021) 

#tss5  and theshawlsociety5 on Instagram 

The Knit 20 for 2021 KAL

Join in with the Knit 20 for 2021 KAL by sharing your finished object photos here in the May FO Thread on Ravelry 

You can also enter on Instagram with the hashtag #knit20for2021 and don’t forget to nominate a local yarn shop or indie dyer in case you win!

For more information on how the monthly knitalong works and how to enter, visit this page for all the details.

The Handmade Sock Society 4

The Handmade Sock Society 4 is over halfway; the first 4 patterns,  The Curling Mist Socks, The Picnic Blanket Socks , The Wild Bees Socks and The Spinifex Socks are available now with 2 more mystery sock patterns to follow each month until July! Don’t worry if you’ve not signed up yet, you can join in anytime!

The Handmade Sock Society 4 on Ravelry

The Handmade Sock Society 4 on Gumroad 

#thehandmadesocksociety on Instagram

#thss4 on Instagram

#thehandmadesocksociety4 on Instagram

The Handmade Sock Society 4 KALs 

The Wild Bees Socks FO Thread this KAL will run until June 1st, 2021

The Spinifex Socks FO Thread this KAL will run until July 1st,2021

Sleep Is Non-Negotiable: Dr. Matthew Walker  from the Rich Roll Podcast on YouTube 

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Dr. Matthew Walker

Liberty Fabrics 

The Strawberry Thief

The Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft

#thehappinessproject on Instagram

#happierpodcast on Instagram

Píosa Cardigan by Renée Callahan

Sweet Fiber Yarns

Free Curious Handmade Workshops

Simply Curious Socks: Free Beginner Sock Knitting Pattern & Workshop The Spindrift Shawl: Free Beginner Shawl Knitting Pattern & Workshop

Join the Curious Handmade Group on Ravelry for  new pattern announcements, KALs, support and questions for patterns and any other fun things that come up, and join our Curious Crew Newsletter at the link below

Show transcript:

Hello and welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 335. 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 curioushandmade.com. I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsor, Meadow Yarn.

Hello and thanks for joining me today on the podcast, for a chat about knitting and other things that are happening around here. I’ve had a super busy April, and that seems to have rolled right into a fairly busy May, but without as much motivation. I have been struggling a little bit to find a good rhythm and routine for the last few weeks and it’s a pretty frequent struggle, I have to say. So I sat down this week and made a really high-level plan, sketched out what needs to happen for the rest of the year, basically, and that has helped quite a bit. I have a better feel for what I need to be doing each month now.

And now, I am just wanting to get myself into some kind of regular daily routine, and I obviously have a rough routine, but I find that my waking up time and bedtime still varies quite a bit, so I’d like to get that a little bit more regular, both just for my sense of what I can get done in a day, and apparently, that’s much better for sleep, to have a regular sleep schedule. I’ve been working on improving my sleep most of this year, I think, and I’ve really doubled down on my efforts for the last couple of months, and I’m really, really trying very hard to get eight hours sleep a night. And finally, after a long time of trying, I have been getting eight hours reasonably regularly, according to my Fitbit. And I just never know with my Fitbit whether it under or overestimates or whether it’s actually quite accurate. I’m not really sure. Sometimes I think it doesn’t really tally with how I feel in the morning.

I just watched a video on a YouTube channel called Rich Roll, and he interviewed Dr. Matthew Walker, who is the author of the book Why We Sleep, and is a neuroscientist. And this interview went for three hours, I’m only up to about two hours 12 minutes, at the moment. I’ve been watching it in stages, but they talk about so many aspects of sleep. I don’t know, you think sleep is something that’s quite simple; you go to bed and sleep, but so many things impact it. So now, I kind of feel like I’m almost fairly regularly getting eight hours sleep a night. I now want to see if I can get the quality of it better, because I’m not waking up feeling super refreshed yet, I’m feeling a lot better than I was, but I’m not waking up feeling full of energy.

So I will continue working on some things, and the big thing after watching this interview, in particular, that I’m thinking about is reducing my caffeine intake. And my caffeine intake is not too bad, but I do have two very strong cups of coffee in the morning, and then one or two cups of tea, as well. But having listened to how coffee caffeine breaks down very slowly by your body, depending on your genes a little bit, and the impact that that can have on your sleep, I’m thinking maybe that’s my next tactic to trying to get better sleep. I love my coffee though so much, so that’s going to be a bit more of a sacrifice to make, but if it’s my goal, then it’s worth it, I guess, to feel good. I mean, I think I’m probably mostly drinking coffee because I’m not feeling good, but they did say in this interview that it was a very, very difficult cycle to break, so I’m bracing myself for battling with myself on that one.

I might try and reduce one cup of tea and one cup of coffee and just still have one cup of coffee, but probably one cup of coffee will be significantly better than two. Yes, these are the things that have been in my brain on a daily basis, these little thoughts and arguments with myself. A little project that I’ve been happily working away on, and it’s not exactly a habit, but a little something that I’m doing in my daily routine, is my hexie flower a day in May. And I’m very pleased to report that I’ve been pretty much keeping up with that. I got a little bit ahead last weekend and then this week’s been a bit busy. I’ve had sick kiddos and I think I might be coming down with a bit of a cold myself, which I’m desperately trying to fight off.

Yeah, so I missed a couple of days this week, but I had enough built up to… I’m still slightly ahead of the day that I’m on, if that makes sense. And maybe I’ll get a bit ahead again this weekend, and maybe do more than one flower a day on the weekends, and then have a little bit of leeway during the week, but I’ve been really, really enjoying it. I’ve been finding it very, very relaxing to do a little bit of hand sewing and we’ll see how I go, but I think I will try to continue this habit past May, even if I don’t manage to do a whole flower each day, it would be nice to just carve a little bit of time out each day for some hand sewing. I usually find a few minutes every day for some knitting, and that is usually work related, but sometimes personal knitting related.

And on the weekend I also pulled out a work in progress, which is on my happiness projects. I put three works in progress on my happiness projects for the year, and it also ticks the cardigan checkbox for the Knit 20 for 2021 challenge. And that is my Píosa Cardigan by Renée Callahan. And I had knit the body, I think, last year. Yes, last year, and not picked it up all year. And I can’t believe it’s the fifth month already. Anyway, it is what it is, isn’t it? So I picked it up and I was stalled out on the sleeves, because I have to pick up stitches for the sleeves. And, I don’t know, even just the simple task of counting, picking up stitches and having them nicely arranged, because you have to pick up three stitches for every four, even something like that stresses me out a little bit.

I guess it’s my perfectionist tendencies. I’m trying to work on my perfectionist tendencies and reduce and to stop them being a barrier to progress in my life, but it does get me every now and then. I guess this was one of those times, but I’m pleased to say that I managed to pick up one sleeve and start on a sleeve, so that’s exciting that that project is back in action. And I also remembered the other stalling point was the fact that I’m using absolutely stunning yarn by Sweet Fiber in the rose gold color weight. It’s so, so gorgeous, but I also have a mental block against alternating yarn. And so, I had the problem of trying to work out how I would manage my yarn for the sleeves, because I didn’t want to alternate it. I didn’t alternate it in the body, and the skeins are a little bit different. I can notice the difference.

And so, I decided that I needed to, maybe, color block the top of the sleeves. I think what I’ll do is I’ll do half the skein to start one sleeve, and then I’ll use the second half of that same skein to do the top of the other sleeve, and then I’ll split another skein across the second half of the sleeves, so that at least any color difference will be symmetrical across the two sleeves. Is that crazy? I think it’s a little bit crazy, but these are the lengths that I will go to to avoid having to alternate skeins. I’m sure that’s absolutely ridiculous, but anyway, that’s what I’m working with at the moment.

And maybe it’s becoming a bit clearer to me why I haven’t designed any sweaters, because I have these crazy mental issues. Anyway, so I’m super excited to be working on that project again anyway, so in my mind it’s all positive and it’s all good, and I think I’ll be quite happy with the results, using my unique system working with hand-dyed yarn. I kind of hope Melissa’s not listening to this and hearing me sacrilegious about hand-dyed yarn. I’m sure she probably doesn’t care.

Anyway, in Curious Handmade design news, we have a very exciting event happening at the moment, which is the launch of The Shawl Society season five. I didn’t publish a Shawl Society last year, and so it’s been a little while since we have had a season. I’m really excited about this season. The theme is basically escape to the country and is inspired by the Australian countryside and relaxing, being out in nature, being out in the bush. And yeah, just a slower, more relaxed pace of life. If you’re new to the podcast or to my designs, The Shawl Society is a subscription and it includes six beautiful shawl designs that are published one a month over six months, and this season the first shawl will be published on the 20th of May, so quite soon. Next week, in fact. And pre-orders of the collection are open now at an early bird price of £10.95, and that will go up to £15 when the first shawl is published, at the regular price.

You can get a great offer now, which I think is over 25% off the full price, and it’s a huge discount from each pattern, and it’s also a huge discount from buying each pattern individually, more than 50% off. I’ve already announced the yarn that I’ve used for the first two shawls in the collection, and the first one is Skein Yarn merino silk sport, which is a beautiful blend of 50% silk, 50% merino. And I used three 100 gram skeins for that. You could use either fingering weight or DK weight yarn, and adjust the needle size and yardage, if you wanted to use something other than sport weight, it would be fine in going up or down a weight. And I used four millimeter needles for the sample, and I usually use four millimeter needles for fingering weight, as well. And I probably go up to 4.5 or even five millimeter for DK weight, depending on the yarn and the gauge you like.

And for the second shawl, I’ve used some stunning yarn by Happy Hank Co., who is an Australian yarn indie dyer, called Sai. And I used two skeins of the Happy Hank Co. light fingering, which is a single ply. And it’s 100% Superwash merino. I used two 100 gram skeins, one in each color. You could do it as one color, but I would recommend having two colors for the second shawl. So if you do enjoy knitting shawls and would like to join us for the fifth season of The Shawl Society, be sure to sign up before the 20th of May, to take advantage of that early bird offer. That’s all the news I have for you this week.

Just before I sign off, I’d like to thank my sponsor A Yarn Story. I hope you’re having a wonderful week. Happy knitting and I’ll talk to you again 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