Craft Philosophy

Episode 104: Your Permission Is Not Required

Permission. You don’t need it from anyone to enjoy your hobbies, especially and most particularly if that hobby is knitting.

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Episode 90: Curious Handmade- An interview with Helen Stewart

ep90 promo

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Intro

So first things first, my mental and yet fabulous (obviously) assistant LJ is running the London marathon this weekend. She has broken her arse as a result of yarn fumes, sort of, so listen in for the full comedy breakdown of the incident. If you should take pity on the poor maniac then you can sponsor her here. As promised here is a little snap of her and what she will look like on the day in case you happen to be around and want to cheer her on in her sorry state! Good luck LJ!

ep90 me

I feel sorry for her already…

Interview

The lovely Helen had a very crafty upbringing in Queensland, complete with Macrame and all. How could she not grow up to be a creative soul? At the age of 25 she upped sticks after catching the travel bug and ended up here in the UK. She began knitting again as she was living in London (and it’s cold innit?) The growth of her hobby began as her friend asked her for a contribution to her pattern book, though it was after the publication of her Afternoon Tea Shawl pattern in Knitty magazine that she began to feel more recognition and believe that this may be something she would like to focus on. After having her second child she wasn’t loving corporate work the same way and wanted something flexible to fit around the children and having them gave her the push she needed to start her own business, something she never dreamt she would do. One of the least likely elements of her business is her podcast, given that she is quite shy. Her husband says it works for her as it creates a community and allows her to talk with people without actually having to meet them. Helen feels it is an excellent springboard into friendships and makes things easier when you do meet face to face. Clearly it is a good thing she took that leap – Helen’s career high is winning the UK Podcast Awards ‘Best Hobby Podcast’ last year.

Afternoon Tea Shawl c) Helen Stewart

Afternoon Tea Shawl c) Helen Stewart

There is no fixed pattern to Helen’s day, other than the drop off, work for 6 manic hours and then pick up – familiar to all us working mums. Given that her business is so varied, with many elements, her days are never the same, though having a podcast to do gives her some structure each week. Posh coffees also have a pivotal role. Another varies aspect of Helen’s life is her creative process. It will often begin with a colourful yarn she finds that sparks her interest and then she will look for a theme, however vague, that she can use to try and tie different pieces together. She likes a good swatch and some designs are quick and easy but some take an entire shawl’s worth of swatching. It can be a time consuming process but, thankfully, one that she greatly enjoys.

With the words ‘no journey is a smooth one’ ringing in her ears Helen gives a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t allow yourself the time you need. Early in her career she submitted an idea to a magazine with a very tight deadline. It didn’t work as she was inexperienced and ambitious but had a trip planned and due to unforeseen circumstances got held up on the other side of the world. She submitted work that she wasn’t happy with and ended up with it not being published. The message Helen hopes we all get from this is to be patient, respect yourself and your process and give yourself the time you need. An excellent learning experience for all of us, thank you for sharing Helen.

Pebble Beach Shawl c) Helen Stewart

Pebble Beach Shawl c) Helen Stewart

If Helen could go back and talk to her pre-yarny self she would stress the importance of unpicking and fixing your mistakes immediately. It won’t magically disappear by itself and it’s easier to only unpick one row. You also need to get straight back on it, don’t throw it to one side in a hissy fit like I do, basically. One big message from this interview is to be patient. That is the main bit of advice Helen would give someone looking to enter this business world as it takes years to become a success. Since we’re an impatient bunch (sorry, Helen) I asked what’s next for Curious Handmade and was thrilled to hear that there is a new shawl collection in the pipeline that may even become a club. You can find Helen at www.curioushandmade.com and all the wonderful links from there. The podcast is available at Stitcher and Itunes.

Wrap Up

That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!

Episode 75: Joyeux Noel

Ep75 Promo

Image Details: ‘Esprit de Noël’ by Christophe Pinard, via Flickr.

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Intro

This week it’s a fairly pensive and reflective mini-essay to start the podcast, prompted by an email from Marguerite in Australia (who drives the biggest trains in the world – amazing!) who reminded me about the time in Africa when the power went down and my friends had an entire dead animal in their freezer, which was slowly defrosting! Sometimes at this time of year, it’s all about looking forward and rushing on to the next thing, without fully appreciating exactly how far we have come.

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY7): Back to the Future.

Delorean

Image Details: ‘Delorean’ by The Plate Market, via Flickr.

Day Seven (Sunday April 28th): Looking Forward
One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

Last year I set myself several things I would like to learn in the coming year, as part of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012. I decided, whilst writing this post, that it would be fun to look back and see if I had managed to achieve any of them. I do feel like I have progressed in my knitting ability during the past year and have attempted projects with wild abandon, without any regard to how difficult they were going to be. I must also confess though, that I have not looked back at those goals set last year until now. So, what did I plan to learn?

1) Fair Isle
2) Adult size jumper, for me
3) Dye some yarn
4) Handspin yarn for a project
5) Learn to do TAAT socks

How did I do?

1) Fair Isle: Epic fail. Didn’t even try any.

2) Adult size jumper, for me: Cast on Owls by Kate Davies, decided that expanding pregnant frame not suited to form fitting jumper of previous size and elected to leave it until after eviction of the little squatter. Left the project in the UK after Christmas as I needed the luggage space for baby paraphernalia.

3) Dye some yarn: Thought about it, read about it, didn’t do it. I planned to attend a yarn dyeing course with Carlé from Nurturing Fibres, however the course unfortunately did not run in the end.

4) Handspin yarn for a project: I haven’t touched the wheel in a while. I really need to start using it as I can’t really justify it’s current existence as a rather beautiful ornament. I think possibly aiming for 10 minutes a day might be the way forward for this.

5) Learn to do Two At A Time socks: Epic fail. Didn’t even try it. Did do a couple more pairs on the old DPNs though.

I found that in typical Bee-like fashion, I got distracted by other projects, such as doing a podcast! I also found that, by having such a wide scope on the goals, I didn’t actually get there because they weren’t broken down into small enough, specific steps. I have therefore decided to slim down this year’s goals to just one and I have already chosen which project I am going to do and when I will start it. If it is finished in time, I may then move on to the other two reserve projects. This way, I have a much more specific path in mind, so it is harder to become distracted from the goal. I am also going to blog about these projects once per week such that you can all keep me on track.

White and Colourful by Suuf.  Image used with kind permission of Suuf, All Rights Reserved.

White and Colourful by Suuf. Image used with kind permission of Suuf, All Rights Reserved.

1) Fair Isle. I am going to complete the White and Colourful hat and mittens project, written by Suuf on Ravelry. She kindly sent me the charts for her self-designed/adapted project, and I intend to start this in August when we return to the UK and finish it by Christmas. This will give me time to clear down my ongoing wips in order to concentrate better on this project.

2) Adult size jumper for me. I am going to get the Owls out of hibernation when I return in August and work on this when I am not in the right frame of mind for Fair Isle! The plan is to finish this before next year’s KCBW.

Box of Chocolates

Box of Chocolates

3) Two At A Time socks. I have the Box of Chocolates yarn and I am going to do Carlé’s Vanilla Sock pattern on Ravelry. As I have it with me now, so should I finish my ongoing wips, I will allow myself to cast them on.

What are your crafty goals for the coming year?

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4KCBWDAY7

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY5): Rhyme Time

Robert Burns

Image Details: ‘Robert Burns’ by Theen …, via Flickr.

Day Five (Friday April 26th): Something A Bit Different
It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse. You’ve already stretched your wings with an infographic, now it’s time to freestyle. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There’s not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be. Bonus points if you manage to work your house animal in somehow.

The task for today calls for something a little different. Last year, my ‘something different‘ post ended up turning into a knitting and crafting podcast about my adventures as an expat in South Africa. You can forgive me then, for worrying about this post and what highly enjoyable yet extremely time-consuming pursuits it may lead me to. I shall not be wimping out, you may be pleased to hear. Depends on how you like the offering. Unlike Rabbie Burns, I am neither a drunk nor a womaniser. Neither do I sport such prolific sideburns. I am partial to the odd bit of haggis though. Here goes…

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY4): A Skein of Many Colours

boxofchocolates

It was red and yellow and pink and green and, well, mostly red, right?

Day Four (Thursday April 25th): Colour Review
What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Now think back to your house animal – do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway – if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?

What seemed, at first, to be a straightforward topic for today’s post, quickly led me down a rabbit warren of yarn-based navel gazing. As those of you who know me well or have followed this week’s posts so far will have no doubt ascertained, I am more of a ‘use The Force’ kind of girl as opposed to strategic planner when it comes to both yarn acquisition and project selection. It would seem, therefore, sensible to break it down into smaller, bite sized chunks under the headings of, “what I think I like” versus “the cold, hard reality.” Now, I am aware that cold, hard reality is not something we often like to bring into our crafting, but sometimes we need the truth, even if we can’t handle the truth!

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (4KCBWDAY1): Be Never too Busy to Bee Shiny

bee

Image Details: “Bee” by BaileyWho?, via Flickr.

So, the first day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is upon us, and I have sorted myself into the House of Bee. Not only because it has my entire blog and podcast name in the description, but also because it totally describes my attitude to crafting and projects in general.

The description is as follows, “The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.”

House of Bee

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Project paralysis

Tied to a Chair

Image Details: ‘Tied to a Chair’ by Hanna-, via Flickr.

Twitter keeps happily reminding me how many days/hours it is until Christmas. As I have mentioned countless times on here, I love Christmas. Nothing pleases me more than rebelliously putting the Christmas tree up in the last couple of days of November. Any excuse to adorn the house with tinsel and yet more fairy lights is a good one, in my book. Unfortunately, all this talk of festive cheer and my very exciting but imminent return to the UK for a Costa minty hot chocolate and a decent curry is getting a bit stressful. How so? I hear you cry. Well, because I am suffering from another craft-related phenomena. One I shall call ‘Project Paralysis’.

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Knitting Perfectionists Anonymous

The t-shirt

Image Details: The T-shirt, by pladys, via Flickr

CAVEAT: Not my T-Shirt/assets!

Ok, so it doesn’t quite have the same ring as Alcoholics Anonymous, but I think there are other people out there (yes, you, I’m talking to you, don’t look at the floor feeling a bit uncomfortable, you know who you are) who are tormented by this most terrible affliction: Knitting Perfectionism. I have had my own battles with this crippling condition recently and, rather pleasingly, I made a breakthrough with it last night – more on that later.

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