Episode 348: Finding calm in chaos, and planning a photo shoot

How do you find the time and mental space for creativity when life feels chaotic? Today on the podcast I’m talking a little about how I’ve been managing the messiness of everyday life and the concept of “life admin.” I also have some exciting things on the horizon: a big photoshoot, yarn hints for the final design of the Shawl Society season, and of course, Knitvent, which is inching nearer every day.

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:

Muchelleb on YouTube

Clockwork: Design Your Business Itself Book

Run Like Clockwork – coaching course

The Yarn Retreat at O’Reilly’s

Yarn Creative

Miss Click Clack 

Louie & Lola 

Curious Handmade YouTube Channel (I’ve just uploaded a new video where I look at some WIPs and gift-knitting planning – check it out here and you can find a blog post with links to the patterns and yarns mentioned here)

The Shawl Society 5

5 of the 6 shawls in The Shawl Society 5 are out now;  The Curling Mist Shawl , The Silver River Shawl,   The Wild Bees Wrap , The Lavender Fields Shawl  and now The Veranda Shade Shawl. Just one more mystery shawl patterns to follow in October 

The Shawl Society 5 on Gumroad 

The Shawl Society 5 on Ravelry  

#tss5  and theshawlsociety5 on Instagram 

Wild Bees Wrap FO Thread on Ravelry will run until October 1st, 2021

The Lavender Fields Shawl  FO Thread on Ravelry will run until October 7th, 2021

The Veranda Shade Shawl FO Thread on Ravelry will run until November 1st, 2021

The Knit 20 for 2021 KAL

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

You can also enter on Instagram with the hashtag #knit20for2021 on Instagram 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 on the Curious Handmade website for all the details.

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:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 348. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host, Helen. 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, A Yarn Story. 

Hi, knitters, how are you? I hope you’re well. I have been a little bit sketchy on creating episodes here lately, and I don’t really know what’s happened this past term. It has left me feeling a little bit stunned and fuzzy-headed. And, yes, we’re on school holidays here again and having a very, very quiet time.

Last holidays, we had several plans cancelled with lockdowns and so forth and so on. And so this time I said, “I am not planning anything except sleep-ins, doing a bit of yoga, and walking puppy.

And so that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s been great. I’ve had a little bit of time to decompress. Still probably got a little way to go on that, but, yeah, it’s been really good to just take a breath, have a bit of space, and have a chance to settle my mind and emotions and nervous system down a little bit. There was just so much going on in the world and in our family last term, so it’s not really surprising, looking back, that I’m feeling a bit disconcerted.

So it’s definitely a good idea for me to take this opportunity of the school holidays where I don’t have to get up in the morning to get kids to school and lots of activities, to have a bit of a rest myself. And the kids need a rest as well.

While I’ve been walking Cindy, I’ve had a chance to sort of just ponder life a little bit and think, okay, so the last quarter of the year is coming up, starting pretty soon. We’re at the end of September already. And so how do I want to feel for this last quarter?

And I always would like to feel peaceful, calm and energised. That’s kind of always my touch points that I go back to when I think about these things. And that’s not the way I’ve been feeling recently, maybe most of the year, I don’t know, but definitely recently. And so I thought I would take some steps to help me get into that mindset and vibe, because looking ahead, this last quarter of the year can be quite the opposite, kind of. With lots of holidays like Halloween, we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving here, but I know that’s a big holiday in the US and Canada. And then of course, the holiday season in December, which I do love, I look forward to it and I really enjoy that time of year.

So I thought if I can have a little bit of a think now about what could make that even more enjoyable and plan ahead a little bit, which is really a new skill for me, this planning business. I have had years in the past where I’ve just felt actually incapable of planning ahead. And I’ve just gradually been getting a little bit better each year over the last few years. I think I reached a stage in my life where things were so chaotic and so pressurised all the time, I guess I hit a kind of burnout or, I don’t know, level of stress that I just couldn’t sustain. And it’s been a very higgledy-piggledy process of getting a bit better.

But I just started trying to get a little bit longer view on things than like the next day over the next week, which is kind of how I was operating for many years, especially in my business. In my personal life, it was okay because my husband’s a very long-range planner so he would tend to get things in the diary like holidays and things like that. If it was left up to me, those kind of things would’ve still been the week or two before.

But so, yeah. So for my business, that’s how I kind of operated for a long time. But as I grew and started having some team members, that really stopped working because I couldn’t delegate effectively if I was doing everything so last minute. So I felt like it was one thing to do that to myself, but I felt really bad for doing it to my team members. And they put up with it or worked in that way with me for a really long time. But yeah, it got to the point where it was just getting embarrassing. So I started getting a bit better.

And so now I’m just taking a moment to think about this last quarter and do a little bit of a plan. So I just thought I would share my process. It’s not rocket science, it’s a very standard way of doing things, I think. But I just thought I would just have a little bit of a behind the scenes sharing of what’s going on.

So I started this morning with just doing a big brain dump and looking at what’s on my plate, what’s on my to-do list? Lots of things have been on my to-do list since the beginning of the year. I did this at the beginning of the year, did a big brain dump of all the things I wanted to get organised in my life, home life and work life, certain systems and just smaller tasks, one-off tasks that needed to be sorted. Yeah, what my upcoming commitments are, what big commitments, what my goals are, things that are weighing on my mind. I read a productivity book that I was… Well, I didn’t read it, I was reading it in the queue at the post office. And the post office here has loads and loads of merch, like books and stationary and and all sorts of..tatt [giggles] all sorts of stuff It’s almost like a, I don’t know, like a dollar store. It’s got just anything that you might think of. They try and sell it at the post office, I guess they try and make some money.

So anyway, so I picked up this book, it was all about getting organised. And one of the things that jumped out at me that I really liked, was in doing things that are like a stone in your shoe. So you can like, if it’s not a really big stone, if it’s like a tiny little just annoyance of something in your shoe that’s annoying you, you can go along for quite some time putting up with it. But then it’s so easy to just take your shoe off and shake out the stone and then you’re just so comfortable. So I really liked that little analogy or metaphor or whatever it is.

And so I think I will go through my to-do list thinking about, like, what are these little stones in my shoes that I could just deal with? She gave an example in the book of a drawer that was too full to easily pull out, and so you just keep kind of shoving it in each time. Whereas if you just took a few things out of the drawer, it would be smooth. So just little things like that, that make your life so much easier and smoother, and don’t take a big effort to really fix.

So, yeah. So I’m going to have a big review. I’ve gone through my list and just had a bit of a brain dump, put a few more things on it. And then after I finish chatting with you, I will go through and do a little bit of a prioritisation. And so I want to look at, can I just not do any of these things? I want to reduce the amount of things on my plate, and I want to do that quickly. So I’m going to look at the whole list and think, is there anything here that I don’t really need to do? Is there anything here that I can just deal with really quickly?

So sometimes things build up in your mind and you think, well, I, I should say I think it’s going to take all this… If I’m going to… it’s really difficult. But then you sit down and actually do it and it takes like five minutes. There’s so many things like that. So I think what I might do is try and schedule a life admin day. I watched a YouTube she’s an Aussie person, Aussie woman, and her YouTube name is Muchell B. I don’t really know where it comes from. I think her name’s Michelle, but it’s M-U-C-H-E-L-L-B. Anyway, so she does these regular vlogs that are life admin days where she just does errands and does stone in your shoe type tasks. And I love them. I love watching these videos.

So I think I’ll have a life admin day to just try and zap a lot of these pesky little things. And then see if I can delegate anything, and then look at if I need like a big block of time to do a bigger project. So then I’m going to have a look at them. And I’ve been doing a, kind of a course, kind of a coaching program this year called Clockwork. It’s to clockwork your business, so streamline your business.

I was listening to that podcast for a while, and there is a book that you can read called Clockwork Your Business, I think it is. And I was doing all that. And then I decided earlier in the year that I could do with a bit more support with this project. So then I signed up to the coaching course. And one of the first things they do is get you to do a big list and then trash, trim, transfer and treasure.

So can you just not do the thing? Can you trim it down to a smaller amount of time? Can you transfer it? I delegate it. Or where you treasure it? And I keep that task. So I’m going to go through and do that process, and then attempt time-blocking some time to do these things in the next quarter. So, that’s my plan.

I have some big hard deadlines coming up. So next week I’m doing a photo shoot, and it’s with the same photographer I did the shoot for all the Shawl Society patterns. So you will have seen almost all of those photos now. We just have one more coming up in a few weeks. I’ll talk a little bit about that at the end.

And yeah, so I’ve got the photo shoot, which is going to require quite a bit of preparation because I want to get a lot of photos in the bank for some new designs, upcoming designs, as well as just some nice photos for social media, so that I have them to hand, and some photos for my YouTube videos that I’m getting into now, because I’ve been finding that that’s always a bit of a barrier and a stumbling block.

I record the video and then I have to find a cover photo. And I think people do them in different ways. People just take them from the video, or take a specific photo for them. But I thought if I can get some really nice professional photos, if I can plan ahead for what videos I’m doing and then think about what photos I need, that would be really cool. I don’t know if I’ll be able to plan that far ahead. But, yeah. So anyway, wanting to get lots of photos taken. So we need to plan a little bit for that, and gather together all the things I want photographed. Think about clothes to wear, always the bane of my life.

And then the week after that, I’m teaching at The Yarn Retreat at O’Reilly’s. We had the first retreat last year, it’s organised by Kylie Kenny of Yarn Creative. And so I’ll be teaching a sock workshop and a shawl workshop at that retreat. So I need to do some preparation for that. Really looking forward to that, hoping it won’t get cancelled due to lockdowns. Last year, it was very touch and go. And this year it is also a little bit touch and go. Unfortunately, interstate participants had to cancel a few weeks ago because not allowed into Queensland. So I really feel for Kylie trying to organise retreats in these circumstances, but we should have a lovely time.

And I have a little bit of an idea of taking the workshops and then maybe creating something online in some format, whether that’s maybe a YouTube video or some other type of talk or course so that maybe I can share some of that more broadly as well. I haven’t really thought that through very much, but that’s just a little idea I had.

So then after The Yarn Retreat, basically we’ll be preparing for the start of Knitvent this year. So that will be happening next month. You’ll start hearing a lot more about that from me in October, and the first pattern will be coming out early November. So that’s coming up very quickly, and I will start hanging up the twinkle lights and baking some gingerbread and getting in the holiday mood.

So thanks for letting me chat through my plans with you. I’m already feeling calmer. And if anyone wants to do a little bit of planning with me, feel free to pop a comment on Instagram or shoot me an email. And I’m always happy to talk about these things. And of course, there’s always planning for our gift knitting, speaking of Knitvent. I have a really cute holiday knitting planner that I’ll be sending out to my email subscribers. So if you’re not on my email list, please do join. You can find a link to sign up on Instagram, or in the show notes on my website at curioushandmade.com.

I’ll also be sharing some more details about the yarn for the sixth and final shawl in the Shawl Society season five. We are just a couple of weeks away from that shawl being released. And I used two different Australian indie dyers for the samples for this shawl. We have Miss Click Clack, her singles, and Louie & Lola fingering weight yarn. So you will need three skeins. And I would recommend a light, medium and dark in colours that are contrasting, or they can be coordinating as well. But you want a bit of contrast between them either in a shade, lightness and darkness, or colours, so the pattern will stand out. And it’s a really great opportunity to use some single skeins from your stash.

I think that will be a great chance. They don’t have to be from the same dyer even. And really any fingering weight yarn will be suitable. One of them I used singles, and the other is more of a plied yarn twist. So either is absolutely fine. Whatever your preferred shawl yarn is will be lovely. So if you’re participating in the Shawl Society, you can find all those details on my blog or on the Ravelry thread.

So I hope you’re feeling well and optimistic for the last quarter of the year. It’s been a really tough year, but I guess we just have to keep going and finding moments of joy, especially in our creativity and thinking about making lovely things and escaping a little bit into a beautiful knitting project or stitching. So I hope you can find that as well.

Just before I sign off, I would like to thank my lovely sponsor Meadow Yarn. Anj is the heart, mind, and hands behind Meadow Yarn. 

Happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you soon.

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