Summer Hibernation

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It’s that time of year where I retreat into hibernation! With very few workshops during the summer months, I make the most of having time at home to get ready for the knitting season ahead.

I’m busy knitting up samples for new patterns which will launch in time for Yarndale. And even more excitingly – I’m preparing a knit-along for 2017, which you will be able to sign up for from late September. I can’t wait to tell you more about that!

And of course I’ve also been making the most of the sunny days and working in the garden (when it’s not been too hot or rainy!).

I love reading whilst knitting in the garden – although it does slow me down a bit. I’ve joined a book group where we’ve read The Girl With All The Gifts which gave me nightmares and The Song of Achilles which I thought had a good beginning and end but a bit boring in the middle! We’re now reading Us by David Nichols which I’ve read before so I’m re-reading for a re-cap. I think I’m enjoying it more this time because I haven’t spent the first half of the book lamenting the fact that it’s not One Day! It’s very different to One Day but still good.

In between book club books I’ve also re-read Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. This is my comfort blanket book that I always go back to if I’m not sure what to read. I think it’s my fourth read and I’m sure it won’t be my last!

I hope you’re enjoying the summer so far, whether you’re hibernating or holidaying or staring dreamily out of the window! x

Mood Scarf – A Happy Ending

I started knitting my mood scarf on the first day of British summertime 2014 – and finally finished last weekend on the last day of British wintertime 2015!

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I initially started planning my mood scarf after seeing the idea on Pinterest. I loved the idea of matching colours to moods and then having a visual diary of how I’ve felt. Lots of other people got excited about it as well! Rebecka and Steph finished their crochet mood scarf and mood cowl long before I finished my scarf.

wpid-img_20150331_162501.jpgThe most difficult thing about knitting this for me was taking the time to knit it everyday. After a while I started making a note of the colour each day and having a catch up knit every Tuesday at knit group.

It surprised me how difficult it was to maintain the dedication to something so simple. I understand why some people have ‘paused’ in their mood scarf knitting. If you want to pick it up and start again – you could knit a row in a random colour to mark the pause and than crack on!

And you can always take a leaf out of Steph’s book and make it into a cowl and therefore shorter. Mine’s huge! but I do like big scarves.

I’ve mentioned in facebook updates about my mood scarf that I was concerned about the amount of yellow in the scarf because it’s a difficult colour to wear. I wasn’t expecting to be as happy as I apparently am! But now it’s finished and I’m wearing it I think it’s fine – the other colours balance it out and I have a hat that matches the teal so that tones it down.

It’s really warm and cosy! And even though it’s starting to feel like Spring – it’s still blooming cold! I’m still wearing my winter coat at the mo, but when it warms up a bit I think a summer jacket and big scarf combo will be perfect.

So here’s a little reminder of what my mood colours meant:

Yellow (Rowan Pure Wool DK– Gold)= Happy, excited, positive.
Greyish (Rowan Felted Tweed– Clay)= Calm, content, okay.
Teal (Rowan Wool Cotton– Ship Shape)= Sad, angry, upset, worried.

I also have a random off white st st stripe which indicates the first day after I gave up the day job! I knitted the whole scarf in garter st (two rows per day), with an inc & dec on each alternate row to make it asymetric. You can find more details on my pattern here.

And here are the results!

I’m very pleased with the sad/happy ratio! When I was choosing my colour for each day I would only choose teal if I felt very sad or really stressed etc. If I just felt a bit ‘meh’ or not too bad then it would be grey. And the same for yellow – I would only choose this if I felt super happy or excited. If I was just content or okay then it would be grey.

And that is why I was 50% grey! This colour was covering so many moods – right from ‘not great’ through to ‘good but not bouncing off the walls happy (ie-content)’.
I chose three colours for practical reasons. I didn’t want a million ends to sew in and wanted to carry the colours up the side when they weren’t being used. If I’d used more than three colours it would’ve been a bit bulky and messy at the edge – but this did limit how many moods I could record!

I think five colours would have been good so that the grey could have been divided into not great, fine/normal and content. And in hindsight a separate colour for ‘poorly’ would have been useful!

I’m not sure that it would be possible to achieve a 100% happy mood scarf – we all have our bad days and just okay days. I think the reason the sad % is so low for me is because if I feel bad I do something to make myself feel better. I eat something nice, go for a walk, talk to someone I love or just mooch with the cats! It’s actually surprisingly easy to bring a sad day up to an okay day just by doing something nice or talking it out.

For me the majority of my bad days this year have been due to illness and frustration at the restricted diet I’ve been on since a stomach infection left me with a traumatised digestive system last July! It’s very difficult to make the day better when I feel bad due to something outside of my control. The fodmap diet has been hugely beneficial as it has helped to ease my symptoms and turn some teal days to grey. And happily I finished the year with a couple of yellow days!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed following the progress of my mood scarf! If you’ve been working on your own or you’re thinking about starting a mood scarf – I would love to hear about it.


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Happy Easter everyone x

Mood Scarf- the challenging months

I’ve reached a point with my mood scarf where it’s long enough to wear – but I want to do it for a full year!

My mood scarf shares have become a bit less frequent and I haven’t written a blog on the subject for a while. I’ve had a challenging few months where my scarf has taught me how closely my mood is linked to my health. I didn’t feel I could share my rather teal/grey scarf without explaining the reasons for my sad days. If you’re only interested in the knitting – stop reading here!

Back in July I contracted some sort of stomach infection and now – over five months later I’m still suffering from the after-effects. Initially my mood scarf stayed pretty happy and yellow. I was embarking on my new adventure in self employment and I was really excited to get started! I was ignoring the odd days where I wasn’t feeling great and rather than letting them bring me down to a teal/sad day- I was just getting on with things and trying not to feel frustrated about illness slowing me down.

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Of course – ignoring things isn’t always the best way to deal with illness (will I never learn?!) and by mid-August I was so poorly I couldn’t even get to the doctors. I won’t go into detail – but this was the beginning of a very grey/teal month.

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Since late Sept I have been gradually improving, but progress is slow and after five months – it’s difficult to imagine getting back to normal. every single teal day and many of the grey days over the last few months have been days when I’ve either been ill – or have just felt so fed up with not being able to eat without feeling or being ill. I know there are worse things – but I really miss eating cake!

Looking at my mood scarf since July – I’m actually surprised how many yellow days there are! I think it’s because I’m really appreciating the simple things – like the fact I’ve discovered I can eat popcorn without triggering illness (unless I eat a huge bag on my own). Often after a bug you tell yourself that you’ll never take good health for granted again – and perhaps the more prolonged the illness- the more prolonged the appreciation of feeling a bit better!

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I’ve been focussing on the positive and have discovered the fodmap diet. I’m sticking to the lists I found here and it’s helped to reduce my symptoms. The diet has made me feel more in control because I’m starting to pinpoint which foods I need to avoid while I’m recovering. You’re meant to do this diet with medical help so consult your doctor if you think it’s for you!

Here are my favourite low fodmap recipes for you to try.

 

Peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies (wheat free/ dairy free/ low fodmap)
Quinoa, sweet potato and feta salad (wheat free/ low fodmap)
Peanut butter granola bars (wheat free/ dairy free/ low fodmap)

The good news is I can eat turkey, potatoes and cranberries- roll on Christmas!

Despite having a few challenging  months – I’m really glad that I kept up with my mood scarf. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to look back at it and see my mood for the year. Hopefully it will remain quite happy and yellow until I finish it in March!

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Steph’s Mood Cowl

We have another completed mood scarf! Well- it’s a cowl- but it’s still moody. Doesn’t it look lovely? Steph has answered a few questions for me below-

wpid-img_20141028_144831.jpgHow did you choose the colours for your mood scarf? For example- did you start with the mood and find a colour to match- or choose the colours you wanted and then choose which mood suited the colour?

I started with a bright colour that I like- Turquoise, for a happy colour, and then picked a neutral colour for in between days, for which I settled on grey. I then found a darker colour that would go with the turquoise and grey to use for my bad/ sad days. I went for a dark pinky/red colour for this.

What pattern did you use for your scarf and why did you choose that pattern?

When I start something simple like a scarf I try to incorporate an element that I’ve never tried or made before. So I decided on a cowl rather than a scarf, something I’ve never made for myself before. I love moss stitch, it also has the advantage of staying flat when you knit and I liked the fact that my stripes wouldn’t end up looking quite so bold as the two colours next to each other would merge slightly.  I started with 77 stitches, DK yarn on 4mm needles. I added a twist in my cowl too.

What was your favourite thing about making your mood scarf?

I enjoyed doing it over the summer while I didn’t have any other major knitting projects on the go and I made myself try something new: I successfully did a provisional cast on into a chain of crochet (first time I’ve done this successfully) I also grafted my cast on and cast off edges together, which I was quite chuffed with.

Did you find reflecting on your mood each day difficult?

I did, well certainly harder than I thought, particularly days where I had a frustrating day at work followed by a fun evening with friends, I could really have done with a mix of colours on those days. Instead when these days occurred I tried to reflect on what had most effect on me over all, but mostly I settled for my in between neutral colour.

Did anything surprise you about your mood scarf? Are you happier than you thought?!

Not particularly, I am pleased to see that there’s a good mix of colours and colour changes as well as not too much of the dark pink which was my sad colour.

Does your scarf feel special because it’s a reflection of your moods or is it just another scarf?

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it once it was finished, to be honest I don’t really have much of an emotional attachment to it, but I do like it, I think for a cowl I may have made it a little too long, but it is cosy.

You can find out a bit more about Steph’s colour choices on her blog here.
It’s never too late to join in! You can find out more about the mood scarf along here.
If you have any questions you would like to ask the mood scarf finishers- just let me know!

Happy mood scarf knitting x

 

 

Rebecka’s Mood Scarf

My good friend Rebecka is one of those rare crafters who finishes things! At sewing group Rebecka normally starts and finishes at least one project- whilst I took me about three years to make my quilt! She sets herself manageable projects and her mood scarf was no different. Rebecka is a crocheter not a knitter, so she knew by doing a couple of rows per day she would finish her scarf much sooner than the rest of us and she wasn’t wrong!

I asked Rebecka a few questions about her mood scarf and here’s what she said-

wpid-img_20140923_130802.jpgHow did you choose the colours for your mood scarf? For example- did you start with the mood and find a colour to match- or choose the colours you wanted and then choose which mood suited the colour?

I had decided that I wanted three colours. One for sad/angry, one for content/normal and one for happy/excited. I picked black for my sad/angry colour, as it is a colour that is often associated with these feelings and because black goes with everything. I picked silvery grey for the content/normal colour, mostly because I like grey and I also felt it matched the mood well. I wanted a contrasting strong colour for my happy colour and chose the pink colour after lots of deliberation and picking up of balls of yarn looking at them and then putting them back on the shelf. I am quite happy with these choices as they as portray my moods nicely as well as going with most of my clothes.

What pattern did you use for your scarf?

I kept it very simple and just crocheted two rows of trebles for each day.

What was your favourite thing about making your mood scarf?

I liked being able to look back over the weeks gone and say ohhh look how happy I have been. It was also fun to do it at the same time as friends, although we all did very different patterns and colours we could speak in terms of colours rather than moods, for example today is a pink day or gosh today was a proper black day!

Did you find reflecting on your mood each day difficult?

I have been doing my reflecting every week rather than every day, so every Tuesday I have sat down and thought of the week gone by. That way I feel I have been able to get the mood of the whole days rather than how I felt just that evening.

Did anything surprise you about your mood scarf? Are you happier than you thought?!

I was happier than I thought which is always good. It also surprised me what caused my bad days. Most of my black days are black because I had a bad headache or because I had slept badly and was cranky all day rather than bad things actually happening to me. A black day could be transformed to a good day just by one nice comment from a friend or a piece of cake (never underestimate the power of cake).

Does your scarf feel special because it’s a reflection of your moods or is it just another scarf?

It does feel special, especially as this period has meant a lot of changes in my life. I have changed jobs and made new friends and it is nice to see how this has effected my mood in a positive way.

Are you still working on a mood scarf? I’d love to see pics and hear your story if you’ve finished already. If you fancy joining in it’s not too late! Find out more here and share pics on my Facebook page. Happy mood knitting!