Review and reflect

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There’s definitely something about this time of year that encourages review and reflection - although in my case this has been rather enforced by a week in bed with flu - I didn’t have the energy to do much else. And even thinking felt like too much effort at times.

I really love this time of year - seasonal craziness notwithstanding - not least because I get to indulge my love of planning with a brand new planner and lots of big ideas for the coming year. But, as much as it is helpful to dive headlong into a new year it’s also nice to look back at what we’ve achieved this year. To stop a minute and take stock of all those small wins. It’s all to easy to focus on the things we didn’t do and the resolutions that went unmet, when in actual fact we probably achieved a heck of a lot more than we think we did.

According to this fun #topnine app apparently in 2018 I mostly knit stripy socks. I love how the snazzy Must Stash Yarn stripy socks account for my top 3 Instagram posts (in terms of likes) in 2018.

Once I’ve shaken off this lingering bug and had a serious amount of coffee I’m planning on a serious bit of 2018 reflection before I get too carried away with 2019 plans. I recently discovered Susuannah Conway through her #decemberreflections2018 project on Instagram and she also has a brilliant (and free) workbook - Unravel Your Year - which I can’t wait to dive into.

But for now, I’m going to take it easy with my knitting - in fact I might even cast on another pair of stripy socks to see me through into the New Year.

A more minimal knitters Christmas

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Please don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love the warmth, the fairy lights, the candles (and yes - a bit of mulled wine). What I increasingly struggle with is the excess and the intensity of it all. Each year seems to bring a mounting sense of urgency, of the endless pursuit of seasonal perfection and a constant comparison between myself and others.

I know that the last point - the comparison - is entirely on me. It’s the way that I can respond to external pressures when I’m feeling less than positive about my own circumstances and that’s something that I am working on.

But, that minor personality foible aside I do feel as though every year brings with an onslaught of more - more Christmas “stuff”. There are some beautiful yarn advent calendars out there and some really lovely KALs and projects but sometimes it all just feels a little bit too much.

I’m really glad that I decided not to buy a yarn advent calendar this year. I was sorely tempted back in the summer when my favourite dyers were busy plotting and planning. But in the end I decided that I would rather not put that pressure on myself to keep up. I would inevitably feel that I had to keep up with the daily knitting (again - that’s entirely my own neuroses talking) and that it would just add to the general feeling of overwhelm that often threatens to overtake me at this time of year.

So instead, rather than wallowing in my own self-analysis I’ve decided to adopt a few principles for a more minimalist knitty Christmas.

  • I am packing away my WIPs (and a sizeable chunk of my stash) - all of them - into the loft when I get the Christmas decorations down. Instead I am just going to have the 3 or 4 that I’m actively working on instead of the huge WIP basket that stares balefully at me every time I pass it.

  • I will pick out a few suitably seasonal skeins of yarn to decide on a relaxing “Twixtmas” project - the lovely period between Christmas and New Year when nothing ever happens.

  • I am doing absolutely no gift knitting, other than things I want to do (read: none)

  • I have asked for no yarny gifts (or indeed any gifts) this Christmas. Both my husband and I have agreed that we have enough “stuff” and we would rather folks donate to Crisis or some other charity on our behalf.

  • Rather than doing an advent knit I am going to use up some of my sock yarn stash and make a series of hats for a homeless shelter, ready for donation in the New Year.

    I am really sorry if this post comes across as “holier than thou” or in any way miserable. I promise you that isn’t my intention at all. But I’ve been writing this blog long enough now to realise that if I’m feeling a certain way there are bound to be others who are feeling just the same.

    I love seeing all the advent and festive posts on my social media feed but for this year I am giving myself permission not to get caught up in the seasonal knitting. But instead to relax, light some scented candles and just do some nice plain hat knitting with no pressure or expectations.

It's Indie Gift-along time

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I’m really pleased to be able to announce that I’m taking part in the Indie Gift-along 2018 sale over on Ravelry. If you are new to the GAL you are in for a treat.

There are hundreds of participating indie designers who team up for a few days at the end of November each year to offer a 25% discount on a selected range of their patterns. But then the fun really starts. There is a knitalong which follows on from this and runs along until the end of December. There is a whole group devoted to chat, competitions, prizes and lots more over on Ravelry and it’s always great fun to be involved in it, both as a knitter and as a participating designer.

You can join the Ravelry group here and when the full list of participating designers goes live you’ll be able to see, browse and buy patterns using the special “giftalong2018” coupon code. The sale goes live on November 23rd, 2018 at 8:00 pm US EST which is 1 am on Friday for us UK folk, so you’ll have plenty of patterns to browse over your coffee on Friday morning.

If you want to see the patterns I’ll be offering in the sale you can see my GAL Bundle here but please note that the “giftalong2018” code won’t work until the full GAL kicks off.

Christmas Knitting...or not

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The above photo neatly encapsulates the sum total of my planned Christmas knitting - and yes - it’s all for me. The West Yorkshire Spinners Fairy Lights yarn will be my festive socks for the season (and beyond) and the sparkly delights of this smashing Lay Family Yarn will be my relaxing knitting project for December (pattern to be decided).

I do plenty of deadline knitting throughout the year for commissions and designs of my own and so for a few years now I have made the conscious decision not to knit for others at Christmas. The exception being stripy socks for my boys - but they have recently had new pairs of socks from me and at the rate their feet are growing they will just have to wait for their next pair.

Knitting to any kind of deadline is enough to systematically remove all the joy I might feel about making something for others, no matter how knitworthy the recipient. So instead I’ve adopted the rule that if I see a pattern or yarn that I think someone might like I knit it, when I feel like it and give it to them. If it happens to coincide with a birthday or important life event then so much the better. But sometimes, those spontaneous gifts are so much more memorable just for that very fact of spontaneity. “I knit this for you, just because…”

I loathe the term “selfish knitting” with a passion and refuse to apply it to my own knitting. The day I hear someone refer to the term “selfish reading” or “selfish running” I might reconsider.

Knitting for me is an essential part of who I am and time spent knitting is time I’m investing in myself. Investing in both my physical and mental health.

Knitting is my daily act of self care and adding labels or time pressures to it is not an option.

Don’t get me wrong. I am totally in awe of those dedicated souls who churn out hats, mitts and scarves for their loved ones at Christmas. And if that act of knitting and giving motivates them and gives them joy, then all power to their needles. But, it’s not for me.

I firmly ascribe to the view that knitting (gifts) isn’t just for Christmas - it’s for life!

On Wool - and other thoughts

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Last week I announced that I was going to run a small knit-along - the #winterwoolkal - aimed at carrying on, in some small way, the fabulous Wovember love from previous years. You can read the original blog post here.

I had planned to do a slightly bigger event but my enforced wi-fi break the week before during our family holiday meant that it was all a bit rushed. Still, I was very pleased with the enthusiastic response. Lots of knitters gleefully rootled through their stash or took the opportunity to buy a skein from a new-to-them producer or dyer.

So far so good. It was a bit of a surprise then to be greeted with, what a friend laughingly termed a ‘wool backlash’. I received a steady stream of emails, PMs and messages suggesting that my focus on 100% wool (the original Wovember principles) was somehow elitist and risked alienating a large number of knitters.

Quite apart from the hysterical thought of a bunch of grown adults being scared off by 50g of Blue Faced Leicester DK, my grandma (who always knit with with wool) would have been tickled pink to be called elitist.

Seriously! How can the choice of wool over other fibres be controversial. It has been such a staple of textile production for 100s of years. I think many of the comments stem from the misconception that wool is somehow expensive and that certainly seemed to be a recurring theme in my emails. This is an excellent article by Louise of KnitBritish which most excellently debunks that myth.

I have always maintained that there is a valid place for acrylic yarn. But that place is not in a KAL aimed at promoting wool and the British wool industry. Including acrylic and other fibres in the KAL would detract from the whole message in the same way that calling a £1 ball of acrylic yarn from Aldi “wool”, detracts from the value of wool as a living, breathing, essential resource for knitters.

In addition, just because a group of people have chosen to apply the term “wool” to anything you can knit with (as opposed to calling it yarn) it doesn’t mean you can use it in a wool KAL. If it didn’t come from a sheep then it isn’t wool.

Wool has so many wondrous qualities, which others have expressed far more eloquently than I can - just browse the Wovember back catalogue of articles for inspiration. Acrylic yarn and other fibres obviously have their place but can never replace wool in my opinion

Nothing beats the the feel, the squish and the smell of real wool. No one - to my knowledge - has ever ripped open a bag of petroleum based yarn product and gleefully inhaled the aroma within. And for that reason, I am and will remain a wool enthusiast to my very core.

Winter Wool KAL

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As we all know, sadly Wovember isn't happening in its original form this year but I'd love to keep the Woolly Love going and do something to celebrate 100% wool this November.

So I thought I'd host a #winterwoolkal running for the month of November.

Just pick something 100% wool from your stash and grab your needles. I'm honouring the original intention of #wovember with this one and being strict on the 100% sheep's wool. As beautiful as alpaca, mohair etc is - this is all about the Wool.

You can either join in over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group, or jump in on Instagram with your woolly project. Look for the #winterwoolkal #wovember and #britishwool hashtags. That will help you to find other folks are who participating.

We cast on, on 1 Nov and will cast off on 30 Nov.

I'm offering a 25% discount off all of my self published patterns and I know that some other indie designers are doing the same. So grab a yarn - 100% wool - pick a pattern and let’s share the woolly love this November.

Pure Luck socks

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Pure Luck socks

It seems that new designs are like buses - you wait for ages and then a few come along at once.

Today is October 1st - the start of Socktober and what better way to celebrate than with a new sock pattern.

These are toe-up socks with a little difference in the toe detail. Perfect if you want to try something different for your next toe-up pair.

You can find all the details over on Ravelry - and if you use the code SOCKTOBER at checkout you’ll get a 25% discount with my compliments.

There will be a few more Socktober happenings as well during the month so be sure to check in for news - or sign up to my newsletter so you don’t miss out.

Click here to jump to the pattern

Self Care Cowl

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Well, this is a surprise. Last time I checked my publishing schedule for the last 4 months of the year definitely didn’t include a cowl. Socks - yes, a shawl - yes. But definitely not a cowl.

This skein of Malabrigo Chunky had other ideas though and was originally a plain knit cowl that I never wore. I had knit it in the round at a slightly too-tight gauge and it always gave me the feel of wearing a neck brace.

So I ripped the yarn back and decided to see what would happen if I knit the cowl flat with a textured slip stitch pattern. As it turns out, it makes all the difference and creates a wonderful warm, smooshy texture and 1 skein is enough for a not-too-snug cowl, perfect for chilly autumn mornings.

If you subscribe to my newsletter please check your inbox for a special discount code. For those that don’t (please do think about it - I promise not to spam you) there is an early bird 25% discount until 1st October. Please just use code SELF-CARE at the Ravelry checkout.

You can buy the pattern here.

Chunky yarn and large needles make for a super quick knit and it’s no exaggeration to say that I knit this cowl, the whole thing, in an afternoon. It’s the perfect knitting project for when you need some self care time. Turn your phone off, stick Netflix on and spend a few hours treating yourself to a fun, luxurious knit.

PIN FOR LATER:

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Socks - do you block yours?

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It’s always a bit of a tricky one and something that people can have strong opinions, on but I love the process of blocking in general and blocking socks in particular. There’s something very pleasing about seeing two weirdly shaped tubes suddenly and magically become sock-shaped on the blockers. And yes, I know that you can just block them on your feet (and I certainly do this with my kids socks) but it is much easier to take a photograph of your finished sock masterpieces when they are on blockers as opposed to when they are on your feet - ask me how I know?

For me, its part of the whole closure that comes at the end of a project. In the same way as you come to the end of a good book and you are reluctant to move on to the next one whilst the characters are still alive and kicking in your mind. Coming to the end of a much loved sock project is much the same. These socks in the photo - knit with yarn from London House Yarns - accompanies me on most of my summer journeys and our happy family memories (and a bit of sand) are knit into each stitch of these socks.

I like to take my time, tidying up the loose ends and emptying out the project bag of assorted bits and pieces. In an ideal world I’ll also put my needles neatly away but I know in practice they often end up randomly in a drawer waiting for me to rifle through them in a desperate search for elusive 2.5mm needles.

Do you have any “end of project” rituals or things that you like to do at the end of a project - or is it just me?

Knits - how do you wear yours?

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Scrolling through my Instagram feed recently it suddenly struck me that something was missing. I share a lot of photos of knits in progress (also coffee and cats) but hardly any photos of the finished pieces being used or actually worn. There are the occasional glimpses of socks or things in the background but very rarely do I actually take a photo of the finished knit "in the wild", as it were.

Once I noticed this I started to notice it in general, in other people's feeds as well. Of course it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Not all of us are particularly comfortable in front of a camera (I know that I'm not) and we don't always have a willing photographer to hand. And no matter how hard I try and how many lessons I have from my 15 year old niece - I'm still to master the art of the selfie that doesn't make me look slightly deranged.

So, I thought I would come at the problem from a different angle and use the type of shot beloved by Instagram users - of the flatlay - only with knitwear. The idea was to show my outfit for the day and to show how I pair something I've knit - in this case my Worth The Fuss shawl - with my everyday wardrobe. The yarn is Titus 4ply from Eden Cottage Yarns just in case you were wondering. The colourway is a beautiful one called Starling and just like the feathers of it's namesake there are tiny flashes of bright greenish-yellow within the grey which my photos really don't do justice to.

I'm pleased to say that even though I was worried folks might think me a little strange, the post has done really well on Instagram this morning, with lots of people commenting on how they like to wear their knits and also talking about how they might incoporate this into their future posts.

Apart from shows and yarn festivals I don't often get to see many knitters in my day to day life and yet I love to see how people wear their finished items and how they combine them with other pieces in their wardrobe to come up with finished outfits.

I've yet to think up a cunning hashtag for this yet - watch this space - but I'd love to know what you think of this idea and whether you think it's something you think would be fun/useful/inspirational. 

You can either head over to the the Instagram post to join in the conversation or leave a comment here.

Blanket conumdrums

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It's not often that I'm seized with a sudden need to finish up a project (as my current WIP pile will attest to) but this weekend I found myself gripped by a sudden notion that my sock yarn blanket needed to be finished. Ravelry tells me that it has been on the needles for over 4 years now and even though I knew at the outset that it was a long term project I think it's fair to say that my progress on it has been sporadic to say the least.

To square it off I only needed to add 12 more squares so I set about it with a zeal - only slightly hindered by the fact that I could only find part of my sock yarn scraps. As I was knitting on the squares I found myself pondering the reasons the project had taken so long and I found myself coming up with a pros/cons list of working such a blanket:

Knit as you go - the appeal of "no sewing up" at the end is a big one, I'll admit. I've tried projects like this before - the Beekeeper Quilt is one that springs to mind - and my initial enthusiasm soon wanes in the face of all those teeny tiny squares waiting to be joined. Balanced against this however is the fact that the blanket soon loses any hint of portability. A lot of my down-time is either when travelling or on holiday and this blanket soon became too large to take anywhere with me.

It also means that you need to pay particular attention to colour placement if, like me, you don't want a completely random effect. I was really keen to create a blanket with a cohesive balanced look and that meant being a little bit careful with my colour choices. I have a few key colours and yarns which I wanted to space out throughout the blanket and I didn't want to risk running out whilst only half way through. When you are joining squares at the end you have a lot more freedom in colour placement and can move squares about to your hearts content until you find an effect you like.

Anyway, back to my progress. I finished just 1 square short of the blanket - it will be done tonight though. But in spreading it out on my bed I had to face an uncomfortable truth. I had succeeded in making it wide enough - which was very pleasing. I am though quite a few strips short of having it be long enough to pass itself off as anything more than an oversized lap blanket.

I have decided though for the good of my sanity that's it's necessary to mark it in Ravelry as finished, to deal with the ends and to actually use it as a finished "Thing".

Part of the nature and the eternal appeal of these blankets is that you can go back and add to them over time and that's exactly what I plan to do with this. For that reason I'm not going to add a border right now. I'm just going to use it and enjoy it, and who knows, whilst I'm snuggled up under it during the coming winter months I might just add to it a little here and there.

The challenge of course will be not to put all my yarn scraps in a "safe place" but to keep them where I can find them.

 

Combining my twin loves

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Somewhat appropriately after my last post, it's been a while since I've put pen to paper but I've had a wonderful holiday and break with my family and am now back at my desk. As usual after a bit of a break all those creative ideas and projects that I've been mulling over forever all seem to be clamouring for attention at the same time and it's difficult to force myself to sit down and focus - never my forte at the best of times.

For today I've decided to go with my heart and set up something I've been meaning to do for ages. As you know I love to combine my twin loves of knitting and reading and I'm often seen with my Kindle or a book in hand. Since becoming a parent and a knitter however the amount of free time I have to read has dwindled sadly and I can only look back with fondness on those days when I could sit and read a book in a single sitting.

My recent holiday though did give me the opportunity to sit and read for whole blocks of time which felt like a lovely self-indulgent treat and one which I want to carry on doing now that I'm home. Nothing major and no huge goals, just the gentle commitment to try and fit more reading time into my everyday - spending less time on Twitter might also help.

With that in mind I was looking on Instagram for good hashtags which celebrate my twin loves of knitting and reading and found very little. There are some great #bookstagram accounts which I love - those like @bookishbronte and @julybookshelf are really inspirational and have some great recommendations - but I couldn't find many which were specifically for knitters who love to read.

So - we now have #bookishknitter as a hashtag and I also took the opportunity to dust off my long-dormant Goodreads account. It has been neglected for ages so I had a bit of a spring (autumn) clean, added a few new books and away I went.

I also set up a Bookish Knitters Group on Goodreads too - because - well, why not? Please do connect to me over there and let me know what your reading plans are. And if you'd like to join the group - or use the #bookishknitter hashtag on Instagram that would be fabulous too.

And if you are interested in more community (and bot free) hashtags please do think about signing up for my monthly Instagram newsletter. The first one will be hitting inboxes next week and will contains some great ideas for livening up your Instagram, making new connections  and avoiding the bot-ridden bigger knitting hashtags.

Apologies for absence

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I'm seeing a lot of posts over on Instagram and Facebook recently which, much like any formal British meeting, start with "Apologies for Absence". I know that I have certainly been guilty of this in the past and this was indeed the starting sentence to this draft - when I noticed that my last post was nearly 2 weeks ago.

Real life is just that, it can be messy, busy and for a lot of the time, pretty unphotogenic and yet we put this pressure on ourselves and feel bad when somehow things slip and we miss a few days/weeks posting.

I've had conversations with a few fellow Instagramers recently where they have taken a few days off and actually been contacted by followers asking why they hadn't posted. Seriously? Don't get me wrong - we all check in with people from time to time and that natural concern is a brilliant part of the online community we inhabit. But one person actually said words to the effect that "if you can't be bothered to post, I'll unfollow you".

Let's be honest, no one pays to use these sites - whether they are consuming content or creating it. No one has a right to expect a post from you - you share when you want to share. And not before.

If you are busy making memories with the family, if you are busy with work/life or frankly just not in the mood there's no pressure at all to show up and do something you don't want to do.

Sorry - rant over now. I think I'll just sit down and knit with my coffee for a bit and knit on this sock. And yes - if you are wondering I totally did match my nails to my knitting. Sometimes it's the little things that make me happy

Summer Knit School - now full

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My word! That escalated quickly.

We now have over 500 very eager and enthusiastic participants to my first seasonal creative course. With that in mind and to ensure that I have sufficient time to chat to folks and follow along with their creative exploits I have had to close the course to new sign ups.

But never fear, this is definitely something I will be running again in the near future. So, if you aren't already signed up to my email list please do and you'll be the first to know of new courses and events.

For now, why not follow along with us on the #summerknitschool hashtag on Instagram - you don't need to be signed up to enjoy being a bit more creative with your knitting this summer.

 

Maybe the Instagram bots have the right idea

No pretty photo here today but a bit of warning - this is a bit off the cuff and a bit longer than usual but I hope you will stick with me.

The past weekend saw a lot of activity surrounding the anti-Trump demonstrations in the UK and I was thrilled to see so many handknit items on parade. I love to see our craft used for the purpose of self expression, so photos of Pussy Hats and knitted protest banners - especially the #ballstotrump one knitted by the East London Knitters.

There were however the sadly predictable comments from those who firmly believe that "politics have no place in knitting" and that knitters on social media should just "stick to the knitting". They might as well as "Women - know your place" and have done with it.

I am firmly of the opinion that politics has a place in every aspect of our lives and that to try and compartmentalise it is artificial and ignores the fact that not only are we knitters but we are also humans.

On social media as much as in real life we crave connection and interaction. The recent world events however have meant that people seem increasingly unwilling to see anything that contradicts their world view.

Yes, I'm a knitter and my social media reflects that but I'm also interested in a wide variety of other topics - cooking, parenting, politics, feminism, literature, bullet journaling, slow living. I could go on but you take my point. The knitting (and the politics) are a small but important part of who I am as a person.

Ask folks what they want to see on social media and the answer is immediate with words like "authenticity" "real life" and "reality" frequently heard. We decry people for being "less than authentic" and we criticise the over-styled flatlay.

But, here's the thing, if you want the reality and you want the knitting then you have to accept that other aspects - like the politics - will also come along for the ride.

Every so often I'll share a post about bullet journaling. It never does as well on Instagram as my yarny posts but that's totally fine. But I share a photo of a knitted protest banner or comment on someone else's photo of a Pussy Hat and I receive vitriolic messages and hateful comments. And yes, I'm fully aware that in writing this I will receive more of the same but that's fine.

One message that really struck home was this. "I really hate it when people I follow for their knitting suddenly see fit to air their views on other subjects". But yet, if you can't share your views and your life on your own social media feed then where can you?

If we take that to it's logical conclusion that leaves us with a series of pretty, perfect images of knitting. Devoid of personality, devoid of humour, warmth and that personal connection we so crave. Like a glossy magazine you can flick through but not engage with.

Almost exactly like those recent bot accounts that have swept through Instagram. Beautiful images to be sure but meaningless when taken out of context. Maybe some people really would rather follow an Instagram robot than a real person!

Now that's a thought - and not a happy one.

As for me - I'd rather have real life and the knitted banner complete with "Protesticals" every day of the week.

Summer Knit School is open.

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The school holidays are looming large on the horizon and I'm trying to make plans - both knitting and otherwise for the summer.

Somewhere between the change in routines, the warm weather and the holidays I often find that I go through something of a creative slump.

In previous years I used to really worry about this but now I've accepted that some seasons are just a bit more productive than others and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

What I am planning though is a bit of a creative summer challenge - both for myself and also for you if you'd like to join me. You can click the link to sign up to receive a weekly prompt from me and I'll be running it mainly over on Instagram with the hashtag #summerknitschool.

Nothing too taxing, nothing stressful - just some thoughts and ideas you might want to try to give your creativity a gentle nudge. It's all totally free and hopefully stress-free too. And this way, who knows, by the time the cooler weather and sweater season is upon us you might be raring to go and fizzing with new ideas. Oh - you might want to buy a new notebook too!

Sign ups are open now and the first challenge starts on Monday 23rd Jul.

Using my Bullet Journal as a Knitter

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge lover of notebooks in general and bullet journaling in particular. In my opinion there is no problem so insurmountable that a good detailed list and some highlighters can’t fix.

As I know that fellow BuJo fans can never resist a peek into a fellow journaling layout I thought I would share my July planning pages with you and talk a little more in detail about how I combine my twin loves of knitting and bullet journaling.

First of all, if you are new to the idea of bullet journaling you can read more about it at these fabulous resources

Bullet Journaling - by Ryder Carroll

Boho Berry

Tiny Ray of Sunshine

Monthly Spread

My usual bullet journal spread is plain and functional  - no washi tape for me - and at the start of each month I have my calendar/advance planning and then on the double page directly after that I have my monthly knitting plans.

This varies from month to month according to my mood and what I’m working on but at the moment it takes the form of a basic tracker where I list all the projects I want to make progress on this month. I don’t religiously track everything but it helps me to focus on where I want to direct my efforts.

I also keep a note of projects in the pipeline and things that I want to follow up on. And I keep a separate section for monthly challenges or particular hashtags that I want to use or follow. So for July for example - #stashdash is an obvious one that I want to use and engage with.

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New projects

When I start a new project it gets a fresh double page in my journal and I make a note of it in the index too so I don’t forget. I use this page to keep a note of any pattern adjustments I might make, what needles I'm using and where any particular supplies are kept. Reading this it sounds as though I'm so organised but I think it's fair to say that this section often ends up with a lot of bits of scrap paper jammed in there too.

Other ideas

This is just the basics as I try to keep most of my notes organised electronically these days. But nothing beats the trusty pen and paper especially when you are out and about or your phone battery is flat. I know that other BuJo fans use theirs to keep a track of what they want to buy at yarn festivals for example, or to keep track of their purchasing or stash (scary thought).

But that's the joy of the bullet journal - endlessly adaptable and flexible. It can the knitting planner you've always dreamed of. You just need to use it and make it work for you.

If you don't mind I'd love to see how you use yours - just tag me on Instagram or leave a comment below.

 

 

The power of positivity

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I've said before that if knitters ruled the world we would have the whole world peace thing sorted out before tea time. And the events of yesterday I think have proved me right - at least in part.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to take part in a collective launch of an online initiative which was the brainchild of the Countess Ablaze. You can read the whole back story here but basically she issued a challenge to indie dyers, designers and other online creatives to come up with a design or yarn based on her iconic colourway "If I Want Exposure I'll Get My Tit's Out". And at 12 noon yesterday over 250 folks did just that - launching their #titsoutcollective products upon the internet.

I was hopping backwards and forwards between Facebook and Instagram and even managed to snag a skein of yarn for myself as well as launching my own design - the Erika Cowl. It was a busy, exciting and uplifting way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Each participant had to choose a charity to donate a proportion of their proceeds to and I can't wait until the end of the month when we all submit our sales totals. The original yarn from the Countess raised over £3000 for a charity and I can't wait to see what our collective efforts will unleash this month.

As with anything online these days there were a number of negative comments too, which was a shame but ultimately did not detract in any way from the huge wave of knitterly positivity that swept through the internet yesterday. People discovered different indie dyers, new dyers sold out of yarn faster than hot cakes and the whole thing was just so inspirational that I was hugely proud to have taken part in it.

If you haven't already done so, please do check out the #titsoutcollective hashtag on Instagram. And if you are a member of the Everyday Knitter Facebook group do keep your eyes out for a cheeky little group project later in the month. It will be a chance to show off your "Tit's Out" purchases in a fun show of support for the Countess and the fabulous project she has pulled off in just 2 weeks.

 

 

I never met a grey I didn't like

This blog post could also be subtitled “An ode to grey yarn”.

Anyone who even casually glances at my IG feed or other social media won’t get far without encountering a photo or three of grey yarn in some form or another.

I love colour in so many areas of my life - Leuchtturm notebooks, nail varnish and pens spring to mind but when it comes to yarn choices (for garments especially) I instinctively reach for the grey.

Now you might think that grey yarn is dull and indeed if you are looking at a commercial ball of sock yarn in a shade reminiscent of school skirts then you might be right. But let me introduce you to the wonderful world of hand dyed grey yarn and you might just see things differently.

“Grey skies over Manchester” - dyed by the Countess Ablaze is a work of art and manages to capture exactly all the nuances of the grey, cloudy skies so often seen over my favourite city (seen here in the striped version of my Fuss Free Festival Shawl)

“Baby Elephant” is the wonderfully named grey from The Uncommon Thread which also features heavily in my “perfect grey” list. Seen here in combination with a .

For me, the beauty of grey yarn lies in it’s ability to pair so well with other shades. Nothing makes my heart sing quite so much as seeing a grey shawl or sweater with a pop of bright yellow. Yellow and grey is a fabulous colour combination - just check out the hashtag #grellowlove on Instagram if you don’t believe me. Grey has a miraculous ability to tone down even those most vibrant colours and turn them into something that even the most colour phobic person would happily wear.

So, what do you think. Are you a paid up member of TeamGrey or is it colour all the way?

 

Instagram likes are your currency - spend them wisely

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A great idea came to me late last night, as all the best ideas do. I’d been speaking to my boys about pocket money and the importance of spending it on things that are important to you and then as I was scrolling through Instagram later on I found myself thinking of the system of ‘likes’ and how we use them.

I know we all like to think of Instagram as a non-commercial platform, even though we know that deep down that we are either there to sell or to be sold to. But the sense of community and of belonging in some part at least, overrides this and keeps us going back day after day.

More than anything we crave connections to fellow humans and crafters and Instagram gives us that ability to connect, to chat and to build real meaningful relationships both online and in person.

The way we do that and the way that our social currency works is through the system of ‘likes’. In a way, ‘likes’ are the currency of Instagram and they are what keeps the whole system oiled and moving.

We judge how good a particular photo is based on the number of likes (I know we shouldn’t, but we do). In a way the number of ‘likes’ tells how good/useful/important something is in the same way that we perceive a more expensive lipstick to be somehow better quality than something we paid £2 for.

This is one of the things which has really riled me about the recent wave of spam IG accounts. These automated accounts run by bots are nothing more than machines built to gather likes. They don’t add or create anything but they harvest carefully selected, popular images in order to induce people to hit that ‘like’ button. And of course, people do hit the ‘like’ button - as that’s what made the images popular in the first place. It’s a carefully calculated and manipulated strategy designed to build the ‘worth’ of spam accounts. The more people that they can persuade to ‘hit like’ then the more their account is seen and then ultimately they can sell off that account to a business and make money from it.

As these spam accounts get ever more sophisticated it can be hard to spot them from genuine ones, especially now with the recent trend of using actual people’s names. But reporting and blocking remains the way forward. Ultimately if few people engage with the posts then these accounts will simply be seen less and they will drop further down the grid that Instagram choses to show you.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of the relentless proliferation of these accounts but small things really can and do make a difference. Choose where you spend your ‘likes’ wisely and let’s help add value to the real, hardworking crafters of Instagram.

PIN FOR LATER

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