Setting Goals

The combination of an energising family holiday and the annual 'back to school' enthusiasm for new routines and new habits has lead me to thinking and planning for the next few months.

I have always tended to focus on a monthly planning system - my Bullet Journal but invariably some tasks take longer than a month to achieve, or (all too often) they fail to progress at all leading to a vague sense of dissatisfaction.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about developing habits over 100 days rather than the more conventional 21 or 28 days and much has been written about why cognitively, this may prove to be more effective than traditional monthly goal setting Read here and here if you are interested more in this - it makes for fascinating reading.

Also, as I increasingly work with commissions and other folk within the fibre industry I am coming to realise that my work and knitting time needs to be planned much more in advance in order to avoid the dreaded deadline overwhelm.

With this in mind a bunch of my Ravelry group members have come together to form a chat thread over on my board. Some are using the 100 day approach and some are using monthly goals but all are offering friendly support and (gentle) accountability. There are no firm objectives and no pressure to achieve anything, it is just a helpful way for us all to stay on track and get some FOs off those needles over the coming months.

I get the feeling that I'm going to need an incentive to keep working on this:

Cosy Stripe blanket in Stylecraft Acrylic


Why not pop over and join us. We may even inspire you to set a few goals of your own - some of the group members have some great ideas. Likewise, if you have any tips or tricks for goal setting do please let me know. I'm always keen to hear what works for other people.

Love your blog: Week 4 - Gratitude

Unlike last weeks prompt for the #loveyourblog challenge, this weeks prompt of Gratitude left me with so many ideas that I didn't know where to start.

Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful for my knitting, my craft and my community.

Amongst other things, I am grateful:

  • That I have my health and my eyesight.
  • That I have the ability to 'make stuff' out of thin air with just yarn and needles.
  • That I can share this with other people who 'get it'.
  • That these people form a wonderful vibrant community, of which I am part and my tiny portion of it on my Ravelry group is simply wonderful.
  • That we can all support and learn from each other.
  • That Ravelry exists.
  • That my family have a never ending need for socks.
  • That I have time and energy to do what makes me happy, every single day.
  • That yarn squishes down really small for the purposes of stash concealment. 

My family being grateful for our fabulous local market..and  oysters

A new challenge: Me Made May

I have really enjoyed and been inspired by the #loveyourblog series running this month. Kate (of A Playful Day fame) has done a wonderful job of bringing together quite a diverse community of crafters and for me, it has brought back a love of blog reading and of blog writing that I thought I had lost.

It turns out that it wasn't lost at all, it was just having a little sleep and needed a kick of inspirational caffeine to get it moving again.

With that in mind, it was very timely for me to happen across the 'Me Made May' challenge. See - the inspirational snippets that pop into your life when you read other blogs!

Hosted by the very talented Zoe over at the So, Zo What do you Know blog this challenge has been running for several years now is both a personal and a community based one. The premise is simple - to celebrate the handmade and to both show and share our love for our craft.
The decision of how much and when to participate is a personal one. Some opt for the challenge of a daily 'me made' outfit - complete with photographs whilst others go for a more pared down approach. I can't help thinking that for us knitters, the daily outfit might be a bit of a challenge. As much as I love my Icon dress in Purl Alpaca yarn I'm not sure I want to wear it too much as the weather warms up here in the UK.
Getting into the swing of things this week though I have been enjoying my very seasonally coloured Knit Night shawl, in club yarn from Ginger twist Studios - in the Muddy Daffodils colourway.

Knit Night by Louise Zass-Bangham

But, the whole point of the challenge is that anything handmade counts and it doesn't have to be everyday. It is a celebration of the handmade and a culture that values the time, effort and skill of making wearable items.

There is a Flickr group, for sharing all those lovely photos and the hashtag #mmmay15 for following along on the various social media channels.

Even if you're not planning to take part there is bound to be lots of inspirational eye candy, so why not take a look?

Are you planning to take part? If so, be sure to let me know so I can check out your progress and we can cheer each other on.

Love your Blog Week 3: Social media - the good, the bad and the ugly

In the creative industry as in all walks of life, there is a tendency to focus overwhelmingly on the positive and to ignore or minimise the negative, the less-than-perfect or the ugly.
In general this is usually the best policy - as my mother used to say "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". However this can lead to what is known in the scientific community as publication bias. Results of pharmaceutical clinical trials which show a positive outcome are far more likely to be published than those which don't.

In the same way, we are all far more likely to document our successful projects on Ravelry and show them on Instagram, than we are to show photos of that sweater with the wonky sleeve that was relegated to the back of the cupboard.

In general, we are far more likely to show only the good, the beautiful and the perfect. Recently a well known Instagrammer made this point and published a series of photos showing her 'everyday' after someone made the comment that she had a 'beautiful life' Her thoughtful response was that, of her normal day the part she shared via social media comprised  approximately 2% - and that was on a good day.

Whilst entirely understandable, this type of self-censorship has the potential to cause anxiety or negative thinking amongst users of social media. Any feelings of self-doubt or tendency to over-critical thinking can be made worse by an endless parade of 'lovely' photographs. As a new parent I remember distinctly feeling overwhelmed by seeing a good friend post pictures she took of baking cookies with her toddler - all happy smiles and clean faces. When I tried the same it ended in tears, tantrums and flour-covered cat.

Now, I'm not for one minute suggesting that we all start to broadcast our 'Ugly' but when using social media it is well worth bearing in mind that you are seeing carefully editing highlights of someones life, or work or craft. And, as beautiful and inspirational as it is, it is part of a bigger, messier, imperfect whole.

And for the record, and in the spirit of scientific interest - this is the product of a week's worth of data gathered on my 'normal' day.


 For lots more thoughts on Ugly and it's meaning in our creative context, please see the fabulous A Playful Day, whose brainchild this 'Love Your Blog' series is. Her post on this weeks theme is fabulous and well worth a read.

Love Your Blog: Week 2 - Beginnings

Somewhat ironically, this blog post has been the hardest one to start. Typically for me I have no problem diving headfirst into any number of crafty projects. KALs, events, the year of making challenge, you name it. I'm there. Stoically ignoring my mountain of other WIPs and deadlines I can never resist rushing headlong into another project. And if it doesn't work out - well, there is always frogging and a fresh pile of yarn to play with.

Starting a blog post however is a totally different experience. Numerous false starts, over-analysis and eventual collapse are the normal turn of events when I sit down to type. I am known to be a bit of a perfectionist and something about committing my words to print is enough to paralyse me with indecision.

Is this post good enough? Does it say what I want it to say? Could I phrase it better?

When I have news such as a new pattern release to communicate, then I'm all business-like and can bang out a blog update relatively quickly. But if I am wanting to write a more reflective or analytical piece then the self-doubt kicks in and leads to the eventual fail-safe response of 'write nothing'

Not ideal, I think you'll agree.

So I am using this wonderful challenge by A Playful Day to visit lots of other crafty blogs, to chat, to get inspired and most of all to realise that not every post I put out there has to be 'perfect'. It's about reaching out to fellow crafters, starting a conversation and interacting about our favourite subject in the whole world.#

It's just people chatting about yarn - there's nothing to be scared of

Sock Design Challenge: A final vote

Apologies for the delay but I am pleased to be able to show you the sample for this challenge sock and also to ask you to vote one final time on a name for the pattern.

The names currently up for debate are:

1. Copper Mine
2. Bracken Wood
3. Rosthwaite
4. An other?

As you can tell, my name choices are skewed by my recent trip to the Lake District. The yarn colour really reminds me of barley sugar sweets but that name is already used :)

Seriously, please do vote and let me know what you think or feel free to suggest one of your own - in the true spirit of this challenge.

Sock Design Challenge: Work begins

Thank you all so much for your votes and participation over the last month. It's been really great to get so much feedback and I'm very much hoping that I can take all that valuable feedback and use it to create a sock pattern that you will really like and that you will want to knit.

I've cleared the needles, browsed my stitch dictionaries and chosen the yarn. So, this afternoon I sit down with a pencil and chart paper to get cracking. favourite :)

Back soon

Sock design challenge: Week 4

So, it looks as though you would like a little bit more adventure in the heel department. The 'something different' option won by quite a margin.

We are looking at a unisex sock with a simple, easy to memorise cable repeat and something a little out of the ordinary for the heel. It's a good job I have been doing my homework and have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I have left the most difficult question until last.

Most of my designs I like to offer in both toe-up and cuff down formats but due to the time constraints of this project only one option will be on offer.

So, over to you...

1. Toe-up

2. Cuff down.

Leave a comment below or head on over to the Ravelry group to cast your vote.

Sock design challenge: Week 3


A technical hitch meant that this didn't go out on Monday as expected.

We are on to Week 3 and having determined that you fancy working on a simple cable repeat we are now thinking about heel options.

Would you prefer:

1. Standard heel flap and gusset

2. Short row heel

3. Something different that you might not have tried before

Leave a comment here on over on the ravelry group to have your say.


Sock design challenge: Week 2

Just an idea - not giving anything away here :)

The winner of last weeks vote was Cables by quite a margin so I'm guessing that you are up for a bit of workout with these socks.

The next question then is to try and determine how adventurous you are feeling:

Do you prefer your cables:
1. Simple, with a nice, easy to memorise pattern repeat

2. Complex - hit me with the charts - I want a challenge

3. A mixture - a more complex panel with simpler background.

You have until September 15th to decide.

Please either vote here by leaving a comment or over on the Ravelry thread here.

Thank you

Sock Design Challenge: Week 1

Welcome to Week 1 of my Sock Design Challenge.

Once a week for four weeks I'll be posting a question about an element of sock design for you to vote on.

At the end of the month I will use your answers to come up with a unique sock design - hopefully one which will be ideal for gift giving - enabling us to have a knit-a-long and produce a fabulous sock gift for someone in the run up to Christmas.

Once we get going we can use the hashtag: #sockdc2014 to keep track of our sockie goings-on on various social media platforms and I dare say there may be the odd prize or two for those who fancy joining in.

You can either vote in my Ravelry group: HERE

Or you can leave a comment below giving your answer as either 1 or 2.

So, for Week 1 a nice easy question...

Would you prefer the main design element of the sock to feature

1. Lace

2. Cables

I'll post the next question on September 7th, so you have a week to ponder.


Knitting and Minimalism: Part Two

So, last week I was all fired up with enthusiasm for some selective pruning of my stash and I happily set about reviewing my yarn stash (yes, all of it) and ensuring that it met one of 3 criteria:
a) beautiful
b) useful
c) intended for a purpose

So, how did I do?

Well, I'm pleased to report that my stash has now shrunk in size from 4 large storage crates and an under-bed drawer to 2.5 crates and the aftermentioned drawer. The latter holds my prized sock yarn and whilst none of it will be leaving my possession anytime soon it does need a tidy up and organisation - so that is my job for this week.

Overall I have sent 2 larger carrier bags to the charity shop and the kids play club - mainly acrylic and leftover skeins or part skeins from projects. It really helped to think of yarn in terms of 'Is this something I will enjoy using?' when deciding which category it fell into.

For some reason I had accummulated quite an array of aran weight yarn in shades of brown and grey. Not the most inspiring thing to look at - I must have been having a throwback to my 1970s childhood at some point. So, out it goes - and my stash is a happier, brighter place for it.

The yarn pictured is my 'good' unwanted yarn and so this is waiting to be photographed (if it isn't already) and listed on my Ravelry destash page.

I am undecided but I'm thinking that I might offer it up to anyone willing to make a contribution to my Just Giving fundraising page in aid of Bliss. I would have to make this available to UK people only, regretably, due to postage charges but I'm thinking that it would be a good way to put my unwanted stash to good use and raise some money into the bargain.

Next up, the book collection as my bookcase is officially FULL.

Tour de Sock

I must be mad, I have no idea why on earth I get myself into these things.

I signed up to this years Tour de Sock 2014 challenge. A sort of speed-knitting event which raises money for Doctors without Borders.

You pay your entrance fee, find a few like-minded sould to join you in a team (or go solo) and you're off.

There are 6 stages and each pair of socks must be completed by the time the next stage starts in order for you to progress. If you don't manage to complete, you still get access to the patterns - you are just out of the race.

I love events like this as it allows people to take part at whatever level they are comfortable with. Some just like the fun of a good old-fashioned KAL. Some like to sharpen their competitive edge a little or to challenge themselves to achieve a target. And some like to go all out, in a no holds barred race to the finish.

For the record I probably fall into the middle category - if only because I know I am in no way speedy enough to race to the finish.

The first pattern is the Wye Socks. Now these are relatively complex socks with twisty cables and (what seems to me) an unfeasibly long leg, but some amazing knitters were posting finished pairs within 24hrs of the pattern being published: here and here.

I have no idea how our speedy Finnish cousins knit so quickly but I am in awe of such speed and accomplishment.

As for me, after some determined hard-core knitting time and extensive use of saved freezer meals I have completed 1 sock and have just turned the heel of the next. the French would say!