Episode 358: A slow new year, and what’s next

A picture of 6 women wearing a range of different shawl and scarf patterns

After a long break, the podcast returns with a big chatty update about where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, and what’s coming next. Things will be looking a little different for Curious Handmade in 2022, but that’s a good thing! I also have a big batch of giveaway and knitalong knitters to announce! So grab your knitting and let’s catch up. 

Show Links:

Buy One Get One Free on ALL my patterns and collection until the end of Monday 21st of February

Add any two of my patterns or collections to your Ravelry cart until Monday the 21st of February and use the code SHAWLLOVE . This is to celebrate the release of The Shawl Society 5 as single patterns

Some Instagram accounts I found encouraging in my alcohol free journey

Decidedly Dry

Reframe App

1000 Hours Dry Parents

Sober Mom Squad

Last year’s Word of the Year Podcast CH 322

Knitalong Winners

Knit20for2021 December:

Ravelry winner is Post 61 by Maryanndionne who ticked off gift with an adorable hat, the pattern she used is Blueberries in Winter by Alice Dunn Smith and Maryann nominated Lucky Cat Yarns for her prize

The Instagram winner is @layingcable with a colourful Christmas sock gift and nominating Spun Ann Arbor

Knitvent FO Winners

From Ravelry

Post 116 by louiseat32

Post 17 by audioann

Post 55 by NanasHouse15

From Instagram




Shawl Society 5 Grand Prize winners

Post 13 by ILoveSpring

Post 2 by riverbeauty3

Post 19 by thisWend

Winners can contact me via email (support@curioushandmade.com) or on Ravelry

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 358. 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 social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at curioushandmade.com.

Hello Knitter! Happy New Year!! February is the new January right?! Or maybe its March…. The jury’s still out on that!

Welcome to the first Curious Handmade podcast of 2022!! I have missed you!

I have a chatty episode today as I have quite a lot, I’ve been saving up to share with you. So you might like to grab some knitting and a warming, or refreshing beverage – or perhaps pop on your trainers and come for a walk with me.

I’ll be sharing a bit a of a personal update today – including revealing my word for the year.

I also want to give you an update about my design plans as far as I’ve worked them out at this point, and lots of knit along winners to announce as well!

Just before we jump into the episode, I wanted to let you know that I have a promotion happening at the moment. I have just released The Shawl Society Season 5 patterns available as single patterns, single shawl patterns; they were just available as the whole collection until now, and to celebrate that I have a Buy One Get One Free promotion happening over the weekend. It’s Buy One Get One Free on any of my patterns, or collections in my Ravelry store and that is available until the end of Monday, the 21st of February, so just this weekend. And you can get that with the code SHAWLLOVE (it’s a bit of a tongue-twister SHAWLLOVE – you need to put at least two (2) items in your Ravelry cart and use the coupon SHAWLLOVE when you check out to get that discount. So yes just a little Valentines/Galentines gift of love from me to you, and if you’ve been wanting one or two of the shawl society patterns, but not the whole collection, now is the time to grab them.

So to jump into the main part of the podcast now, I’m planning on approaching 2022 a little bit differently than I have done for the last few years.

My goal for the year is to keep things simple and light – both for work and home life.

After several years of working really hard and a couple of years of pandemic life I’m giving myself a year of taking as much pressure off as I can.

I feel like my plate has been getting piled up so high that a lot of it is slipping off most of the time and it’s not a good feeling. It’s been pretty overwhelming and stressful! Too much guilt and not enough joy!

Last year I felt like I was starting to manage the overwhelm a little bit better, I was starting to get a little bit on top of things and getting organised but over the last couple of months I realised that I really just need to take a more radical approach for this season of life that I’m in right now with family commitments, my health and the state of the world!

I am not sure my body and mind are giving me a choice in this decision actually! I sat down a few weeks ago and attempted to do some design work but I didn’t have any ability to do it at all. In the past I have followed the advice of Henri Matisse with his quote “Don’t wait for inspiration, it comes while one is working”

I usually sit down and have a long scroll through Pinterest or flick through an inspiring book or magazine and then I grab my stitch dictionaries and some beautiful yarn and start swatching.

But when I tried to do this recently, I just felt really dry and uninspired and critical of myself instead of sparky and excited like I usually do!

In the past couple of years we moved from the UK to Australia which has meant a lot of extra work – admin and building new relationships, parenting is a constant steep learning curve and I have also had some health issues to work on.  And of course I don’t even have to mention the pandemic and world politics because we’ve all had to deal with those.

If I’m honest with myself, I’m probably somewhere on the path to burn out and I’m conscious that I want to step off that path and onto a trail that is much more nurturing for my creativity and soul. That’s what this podcast is about after all!!

So now I’m looking at how to find more space and flexibility to allow for more spontaneity and flow in my work and life. I love my work and I can get into a real flow state when I’m knitting and stitching – but it’s been quite elusive the last couple of years.

I’m paring things back, layer by layer, asking how can it be easy? Aiming for simplicity over productivity. My personality is always to put a lot of pressure on myself so I have to fight that tendency a bit…. but having a break has helped me get a bit of perspective and see that the last few years has been a LOT and I haven’t really adjusted my levels of work to make space for that.

And that leads me to my word of the year for 2022!

This year I have chosen the word “Release” …. Well it kind of chose me I think…. It popped into my head during a weekend yoga retreat I went to in December. I was journaling about it in the morning… well my type of journaling which is more like writing lists and scattered notes.. and then at breakfast the retreat leader announced we would be going for a gentle walk and a release ceremony…. So I decided that was definitely a sign that “release” is meant to be my word for the year!!

For me “Release” means releasing all sorts of things like

–       Physical stuff (so I’ll be continuing my usual decluttering, I have to bring that in there somewhere)

–       Tension and stress

–       Habits and thoughts that aren’t healthy for me

–       Perhaps some unreasonable expectations of myself

So I’m curious to see how that word will work its magic during the year.

I’ve been setting a word for the year since 2014 now and I love having a single intention for the year.  Some words have been better than others. I think I’m getting better at recognising what I need more of now after a few years of practice!

Last year my word was Connect and it was quite good word looking back over 2021.

It didn’t really work how I imagined – I wanted to be more intentional and regular about getting in touch with friends – text and call more often and send birthday cards and maybe actually go out and socialise a bit….

Well I think the continuing pandemic situation wasn’t very conducive to that BUT I did do some things that were very “connecty”

At the beginning of 2021 – which kind of feels like 3 years ago not 1…. I joined the Buderim Concert Band – we practice every Monday evening and have small community concerts throughout the year. My Dad had been playing in the band for a few years and had been encouraging me to join since we moved back. I finally felt ready to give it a try in January and found it really fun from the first practice night. The music is fun and light – lots of melodies from movies and musicals and light “band type music” – there’s no real pressure and the atmosphere is friendly and lots of (quite bad) jokes. The age ranges from early twenties, I think the youngest member is about 22, through to early eighties. So it’s wonderful having that really big age range of people to get together with, it’s just something quiet special about that, that we all get together regardless of age to play music together, it’s quiet wonderful.

Then I joined the Patchwork group at the Buderim craft cottage that my Mum had been going to for a few years…. My attendance was a bit more patchy with that group (‘scuse the pun) but it was lovely to connect with other stitchers. It definitely reignited my enthusiasm for quilting and I ended up making 6 quilts last year with quite a bit of help from Mum. And again a huge age range, of all women, attending that group so that’s really lovely, to join with crafters of … I don’t know, I’d be one of the youngest, but ranging up to women in their eighties so it’s quite lovely

Joining both those groups has been really great to feel more connected with the community here and also with Mum and Dad. After living in London for so long it’s so lovely to be able to see them regularly and do “activities” with them that we are both interested in. It’s pretty cool.

And having that word in mind has helped me be mindful of being in touch with friends a bit more than I might have in a year where I felt quite disconnected and stuck at home and not able to travel and see people. I still haven’t been able to see my best friend who lives in New South Wales – hopefully we’ll catch up soon. We could have seen each other since January relatively easily but we just have managed it yet. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen some very close friends.

So, I feel like connect was a good choice last year. I was also continuing my word from the year before as well which was “healing”. That was transformational in 2020 and continued to be in 2021 as well. I talked about that this time last year in episode 322.  I’ll just give you a brief update on that word too as it continued to be a big theme last year.

Just a little background – the reason I chose that word 2 years ago – I’ve been struggling with lack of energy and fatigue for several years…. Definitely since having kids which is over 13 years ago now. And for most of that time I put lack of energy down to lack of sleep – which was probably the main problem for a lot of that time.

But then I developed a condition called adenomyosis which results in extremely heavy periods and bad period pain. It’s a little like endometriosis but it’s a bit different as well, and not as well known. After a few years of going through trying less invasive treatments I ended up having to have a hysterectomy late 2020. So that was really good, it made a huge improvement, previously I’d been having to have iron transfusions and was struggling to keep iron levels in the range. So that was really helpful and I kind of wished I’d had it done sooner, but anyway these things take the time that they take. So I also really focused on improving my sleep then and most of last year I’d say I was working on getting more sleep one as of my main goals and in August 2020 I stopped drinking alcohol completely.

With all of that effort and attention on my part, I really expected to feel much better than I did by the end of last year. I was feeling a lot better but still not super energetic! Then when I went for a routine blood test just before Christmas last year my Dr told me I had developed Hashimotos which is an autoimmune condition that attacks the thyroid and means that the thyroid is underactive and therefore not producing hormones that are critical for functions that impact energy levels.

So that was a bit of a shock, I was just going along expecting to be testing my iron levels from previous issues and had a whole new diagnosis. So I’m now taking a hormone replacement and trying to focus even more on lifestyle and diet, trying to reduce the caffeine and sugar and increase the veggies – which is a bit of an ongoing battle really, I feel like it’s more of a battle than a joy but probably not the right attitude but anyway.   I’m feeling a bit better now I’m on the medication but I still have a way to go with that now!!

I have stuck with being alcohol free since then so that’s been 1 ½ years now since I’ve had any alcohol at all, perhaps a little bit on food but nothing to drink. I still find it funny or interesting how I just don’t miss it at all. I think it has really helped that the pandemic really interrupted my usual socialising situations, so I haven’t really been tested with any big nights out with friends or things like that. The things that I expected to experience from stopping – like having more energy, maybe losing a bit of weight and having better skin haven’t really happened. But things I didn’t expect have been really huge – like much less anxiety, I’ve had a big confidence boost from knowing I just don’t need alcohol to socialise – I have done some socialising where I would normally have had several drinks and just haven’t felt like I missed it and I didn’t need to have a couple of drinks to relax and socialise which, I don’t know, that was a bit of a revelation (which is a bit embarrassing to admit but there you go.. I don’t think I’m alone). And also a really big increase in connection with my kids. I’m a lot more present with them now and it’s been one of my favourite benefits. I probably should have expected that one but didn’t really see that one coming, I guess I really didn’t realise how much the amount of alcohol I was drinking was effecting things.

I guess before I stopped drinking I wouldn’t have called myself a super heavy drinker but it had definitely crept up to the point where I was drinking a glass or two or three of wine every day, probably a bottle on weekend-days and I felt like it was on the increase and I didn’t like the feeling of starting to be a bit out of control with it. So that’s why I stopped and when I stopped I didn’t really have any time frame in mind; I was sort of doing Dry October or something, Sober October or something, and I didn’t really… no, if I stopped in August that doesn’t really make sense but anyway. I was just doing it for a short break really but then I just really liked it so I kept going. Yeah, so I don’t what the future holds for that.. I won’t say I will ever have a drink again and I certainly have no judgement at all for people who enjoy a glass of wine or have a drink, you know, it’s a pretty normal part of our society. But for me it’s really working well to be alcohol free and I’m really finding it freeing. I really love not having to think about it at all; I don’t have to think about buying a bottle of wine or consider whether I’ll wake up with a hangover or anything like that. It’s really great so I’ll keep going with it for now.

I still get a lot of encouragement and support from some Instagram accounts on that topic for that if anyone is interested in those. Here are a couple of my favourites – and like many things – once you look at a couple of feeds on a topic you quickly find others that you like and you find the ones that suit you. But the ones that I like, or some of the ones I like are

Decidedly Dry

Reframe App

and then there’s for parents 1000 Hours Dry Parents and Sober Mom Squad, which are two quite encouraging ones, a bit more targeted to parents

They really focus on the positives and make me feel a bit of a rebel about not drinking rather than antisocial and a little bit weird!!

So that’s my little word for the year update for 2022 and I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds this year.

And so now I’ll share about what that all means for my design plans this year.

I realised that in order to be able to truly take the pressure off – I need to make some space and significantly reduce my workload. So I’ve decided to have a break from publishing The Shawl Society and The Handmade Sock Society collections this year. This is a bit radical and I thought long and hard about it but I really do need the break this year and I plan to come back with new collections next year feeling much more refreshed and creative.

I’m not going to host a #knit20for2022 challenge this year but there are so many other challenges and knitalongs and sewalongs and crochetalongs happening on various platforms with other designers and crafters that I’m sure you will find something that is fun and fits with your goals. I really enjoyed the connection that the challenge brought last year, I loved seeing what people were up to and it definitely fit with my word for the year so thank you to everyone who participated in knit20 challenge over the last couple of years

I’m not stopping everything though. I’m looking towards the end of the year already and I have Knitvent firmly in the calendar…. It will be the TENTH Knitvent collection and I’m looking forward to having an extra special collection for that milestone.

I also have some other design releases in mind for throughout this year but they will be more spontaneous and more along the lines of single patterns.

I’m also looking forward to podcasting and sharing what I’m up here and to over on YouTube but they will be less regular episodes and more just when the inspiration strikes. I don’t want to completely disappear but I also want to take away the pressure of a regular schedule for awhile, maybe.. I don’t want to say how long for…maybe 3 to 6 months, maybe for the first half of the year, maybe for longer, I’m not sure. I’m sure all the algorithms of various platforms will not like that at all, hopefully I won’t completely disappear from your feeds but I’m a tired human and I’m pretty sure all of you will understand and can probably relate which is the most important thing!

So just before I sign off I have a whole bunch of knitalong winners to announce, over the past few months I’ve had some knitalongs finish

So for Knit20for2021 December, the Ravelry winner is Post 61 by Maryanndionne who ticked off gift with an adorable hat, the pattern she used is Blueberries in Winter by Alice Dunn Smith and Maryann nominated Lucky Cat Yarns for her prize

And then on Instagram the December Knit20for2021 we have the winner @layingcable with a colourful Christmas sock gift and she nominated  Spun Ann Arbor

So congratulations to our last Knit20for2021 winners for the year and thanks again to everyone who participated in that challenge.

Then we have our Knitvent winners from last year, we drew three winners from Ravelry and three from Instagram for people who’d finished a finished object from last year’s Knitvent collection.

So from Ravelry we have

Post 116 by louiseat32

Post 17 by audioann

Post 55 by NanasHouse15

And then on Instagram we have




So congratualtions to our Knitvent Winners!

Finally for Shawl Society Season Five we had a grand prize for people who’d finished 5 or 6 of the shawls from the collection and had quite a few entries into this. So the winners are

Post 13 by ILoveSpring

Post 2 by riverbeauty3

Post 19 by thisWend

So to all the winners, you can get in touch with us if you have heard your name you can email me on support@curioushandmade.com) or we will get in touch with you and arrange your prize. All the prizes are 50 USD gift voucher for yarn stores or indies dyers of your choice.

And just a little reminder, speaking of The Shawl Society that the single patterns are now available on Ravelry and Gumroad and we’re having our Buy One Get One Free sale over on my Ravelry store with the code SHAWLLOVE (all one word)

So thanks so much for joining me today! It’s been so lovely to catch up – it’s been a bit of a longer episode than usual but wonderful to have a chat and Happy Knitting and I’ll talk to you again soon!

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