New-normal

My friend recently shared this video on Instagram and I think it’s a great break down of what might be happening internally and why we may be feeling “all over the place”!

I personally found it comforting to watch and to know that I’m not the only one whose been struggling with motivation and focus (resulting in a frightening loss of knitting mojo).

Now that restrictions have been relaxed, we’re all getting used to a new-normal. I’m personally settling into a new routine, which is helping me to regain focus and get excited about work again.

But returning to “normal” looks different for everyone – some people have been desperate to go to the pub and get a hair cut whilst others really don’t feel ready to mix with others indoors. We’ll all move at different paces and that’s fine.

I think that those of us who aren’t feeling ready to do certain things might feel under pressure to justify why. But maybe part of our new normal should be to always check in with friends and family to find out what they’re comfortable with and ensure they know what we’re happy with. Having that conversation in advance creates the opportunity to change plans/venues if necessary.

The other day at the park, one of my friends was showing another friend a photo and asked if they were okay with holding his phone. It gave them the opportunity to say no if they were worried about touching it and then not being able to wash their hands. It was a small thing – but really respectful and excellent post-lockdown etiquette in my opinion!

I hope you’re all doing okay in your new normals. And if, like me, you’ve been struggling with motivation and knitting mojo… I’m sending positive creative vibes!

Wellbeing Check-in

We’ve been living under varying levels of lockdown for over three months now and (although everyone’s situations are different) I think it’s fair to say that all our lives have changed.

So I thought it might be a good time for us to do a wellbeing check-in!

Of the things that I’m grateful for during lockdown – my top three (in no particular order) would be: my garden, being able to work from home and living with a wellbeing advisor! Mostly because he’s lovely… but the wellbeing advice is always a bonus!

One of the things that Beardie often refers to as a good way to check-in with how we’re feeling is the “five ways to wellbeing”.

Research has shown that we need to fulfil certain needs in order to maintain good wellbeing: Connecting to others, being active, taking notice, learning and giving. You can find more details over on the Mind website here.

Connecting to others has definitely been difficult for all of us during lockdown… video chats just aren’t the same but they’re better than nothing.

So maybe do a check-in with how you’re feeling now and think about how that compares to the before-times. Maybe there’s one of these five needs that you’ve been fulfilling more during lockdown and you want to carry that through to the after-times?

I’ve personally been a lot more active and have really been enjoying running (still can’t believe that…) so I want to make time for that on the other side.

I’ve also realised how much I value seeing my friends face-to-face and being able to hug them! I’m definitely going to be a hugger when we have a vaccine!

Hope you’re all staying safe and mentally and physically well x

Facemasks

Last week in the UK we were advised to wear a face covering when in enclosed places like shops. I’d already been thinking about making one – but this announcement spurred me on to make a big batch of masks for myself, family, friends and neighbours.

I’m really happy with the finished masks – so I thought I’d share the resources I used. Please feel free to share what’s worked for you in the comments!

I started by making one of the simple pleated masks from The Big Community Sew, but it turned out really bulky at the sides and wasn’t a good fit. I think that style would work better with a dress weight fabric and I was using quilting cotton.

Also – as I couldn’t see everyone in person to fit their masks, I wanted the ties/elastic to be in a channel rather than fixed to give the wearer more flexibility. Fixed elastic/ties would probably have helped to avoid some of the bulk on that particular style.

My final masks were made from Juliet Uzor’s tutorial and everyone seems happy with the fit!

The fabric Juliet used looks the same on both sides so if you find that confusing have a look at the video below. It’s pretty much made in the same way but the right/wrong side of fabric is a bit clearer.

I only had a small amount of elastic so I used that on mine and then used gros-grain ribbon on the others in the same was Juliet did. The ribbon ties are pretty good if you’re making masks for people you don’t live with as they make the fit more flexible.

I made mine slightly differently because I was using the machine. I cut out my circles using pinking sheers to avoid fraying and allowed a little extra for seam allowance. I also top stitched along the top and bottom edges which makes them a bit stronger and helps with keeping the shape/structure after washing.

I wore mine to do the shopping on Monday and was worried it might make breathing difficult- but it was fine!

An elderly gentleman dropped some shopping – I was within two metres of him to pick things up and was really glad that we were both wearing masks. Of course the masks don’t completely protect us – but I felt like it reduced the risk for both of us in that situation and perhaps he felt more comfortable asking me for help because I was wearing mine.

Does anyone have thoughts on gloves? Have you been wearing gloves to do the shopping? If so – what kind? I’m thinking about making some cotton gloves that I can wash with my mask, but I don’t know how effective they would be… and I might start to look like a walking patchwork quilt (which would be totally fine)!

Stay safe and well x

At Home Spa Day

A lot of people are now working from home during lockdown… and discovering that it can be difficult to “switch off” at the end of the work day when you’re still in the same space.

I always find switching off most difficult when I have time off work planned… with no holiday booked. I normally like to do something away from the house for the first day off to reset my mind into holiday mode – such as driving to the country for a long walk and a meal out. Of course that’s not possible right now!

So with Beardie and I in the same position of working from home and having a week off for Easter… we decided to kick it off with a relaxing spa day! We really enjoyed it and it would be the perfect way to switch off on a weekend if you’re finding that your days are blending into one.

All you really need for your at-home-spa is hot water and an internet connection – anything else is a bonus! Here are a few ideas for you…

Creating your spa ambience…

As soon as we woke up we found some “spa music” and had it on in the background all day. We also found ourselves talking in hushed tones so as not to disturb the spa vibes! We played this video for a while which is rather nice to stare at in a trace-like state.

Something all spas seem to have in common is that they’re unnecessarily warm! So we treated ourselves to an afternoon with the heating on (our house is old and cold), but snuggling up in blankets, an electric blanket or with a hot water bottle would do the trick.

Treating yourself to a bath or an extra long hot shower in the afternoon feels like a luxury and also doubles up as a steam room if you keep the windows shut! Keep the relaxing music going and light a scented candle to make it feel even more spa-like.

Lovely scents are another thing spas share. We were down to our last cheap vanilla candle but it was better than nothing… and I also chopped up some lavender and rosemary from the garden to create a “smelly bowl”!

Treatments…

So now that you’ve got your spa vibes – what treatments can you do?!

My pilates instructor is really keen on looking after feet and every week we do foot massages with a tennis ball. If you don’t have a tennis ball you might have something similar – maybe a pet’s ball? Stand on one foot and roll the ball around on the sole of your other foot, focusing on the arch and pressing and holding on tender areas (carefully!). The harder the ball the more careful you need to be when pressing.

A tennis ball foot massage followed by soaking your feet in a bowl of hot water feels lovely.

You might feel in need of a hand massage to ease your aches and pains from all the lockdown crafting! You could do this self-massage while your feet are soaking…

And if you have what you need for a manicure/pedicure then go for it! I’m enjoying having summer-ready toes even if no one else sees them.

A full back massage might be a bit more difficult if you’re on your own for lockdown… but an online yoga or pilates class might help relieve some shoulder tension from hunching over a laptop.

Or you could try a guided meditation. Headspace have added more free meditations – including some walking meditations. Your at-home-spa would be a great time to practice some mindfulness!

We incorporated a mini facial into our spa day – cleansing, exfoliating and sharing a tiny sample pot of a Lush face-mask! If you haven’t got a face-mask or exfoliator you might be able to make your own. Search Pinterest for ideas of what you could make from kitchen cupboard basics. And maybe steam your face… because spa days are all about the steam!

And finally… one of my favourite parts of a spa day is the lunch! So if you don’t want to spend your at-home-spa day cooking, make sure you plan something simple the day before. We had gnocchi with roast veg and a honey & lemon dressing – quick and easy but felt a bit fancy for lunchtime. We’d also saved some vegan brownies from our friends’ virtual birthday party… got to have a treat on a spa day!

Take care everyone x

 

 

 

 

Working From Home

There’s an overwhelming amount of advice online at the moment about how to work from home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been falling into the comparison trap of feeling like I’m not doing things “right” or not being productive enough… so it was time to have a stern word with myself!

I’ve been working from home for years. Some days/weeks are better/more productive than others. I’ve learnt to remind myself regularly that I’m not a robot and that it’s important to take down-time to process things and reflect on how I’m feeling

If (like me) you’re struggling to focus at the moment or you’re not feeling as energised and productive as usual… don’t beat yourself up! At the moment there is so much information to process that we need to allow ourselves the head-space to do so, and some extra time to feel all the feelings.¬†

This does mean that I’m running behind on the new patterns I was planning to launch in April… sorry about that! But don’t forget that there’s still 50% off all of my existing Ravelry patterns at the moment to help you keep you’re hands busy (no code required).

One of the things that’s really helping me to clear my head and maintain a routine at the moment is jogging. Of course I’m doing this on quiet roads and keeping my distance if I see anyone. I’ve never been a natural runner and can’t quite believe how much I’m enjoying it… but I think Couch to 5k is genius. I’ve just completed week 5 of 9… wish me luck!

I thought I’d share my jogging playlist with you. It’s approx half an hour of uplifting bouncy tunes with nice gentle warm-up and cool-down tracks. It would also definitely be suitable for a kitchen disco!

Stay home and stay well please x

Finishitus

For anyone who missed my social media update this week – my online shop is temporarily closed. For more details please read this post. Thank you for understanding x
All I want to do at the moment is tackle WIPs! I can’t seem to focus on anything big or new. So this week I finished a couple of cushions that I’ve been planning/working on for a while.

Many moons ago I knitted Anastasiya from Rowan Magazine 48. When I saw it in the mag I loved everything about it. Unfortunately¬† the finished tunic was super unflattering and I just didn’t wear it. But I still loved it and wanted to get it out of the wardrobe… so I decided to make it into a cushion!

I planned to do this a few years back, but I think I procrastinated because I was nervous that I would regret cutting it up. But after a few more years without wearing it was definitely for the chop Рand I love it as a cushion! 

I’ve also finished my mustard Alpaca Classic cushion. I cast this on just before the shoot for Cosy Alpaca Knits so that I had something simple to work on after all the pattern writing and knitting for the book! It also came it handy as a shoot prop.

I knitted it from corner to corner in the same way as the squares for the Moody Blanket and adorned it with poms made from oddments.

I’m planning to redecorate our living room this year so I’m going to save these cushions until it’s all new and lovely! I’ve also got a crochet cushion and a hexi patchwork cushion on the go… it’s gonna be so cosy!

So how’s your lockdown-making going? Have you got finishitus too?!

Yarn provided by Rowan

Strange Times

This is a very strange blog to be writing… I have so much to say about everything that is happening, but at the same time I have no idea what to say. So first of all – I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and well x

To anyone reading this who works for the NHS, in the food industry, in schools or any other essential services that are working so hard to keep us safe and well – thank-you thank-you thank-you x

Like many of you – we’re holed up at home, but we’re okay. Beardie has an underlying health condition so we’re very grateful that we’re in a position to be able to follow the guidelines of social distancing in order to protect ourselves and others.

If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands than usual and you’re looking for new projects – I have quite a few free patterns available on my Ravelry and Love Knitting pattern shops. I have added a 50% discount to ALL of my paid-for patterns on Ravelry (no code needed). Please note – this is on Ravelry only so if you prefer to pay full price you can hop over to my Love Knitting shop.

There are quite a few small projects on there which would be perfect for stash-busting, or if you have the financial means to buy new yarn – I encourage you to buy it from your local independent yarn shop. A lot of them also have online shops or are developing creative ways to get yarn to your doorstep (whilst maintaining a safe distance!).

Look after yourselves x