The Mood Scarf – One Year On

On the first day of British summertime 2014 I embarked on a year long project of tracking my moods via the medium of knitting.

I’ve been reflecting on the project a lot recently as it’s almost a year since I cast off, and people all over the world are still starting mood scarves inspired by my blog! One of my Facebook followers even made it into the news.

2014 was an interesting year for me. I gave up the day job in the July to focus on teaching knitting workshops and designing. This was such a huge life change for me and I love the fact that I can now look back and see a lovely chunk of happy/excited yellow in July!

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Shortly after becoming self employed I became quite ill with a stomach infection which led to a year of tests and a restricted diet. If I wasn’t knitting my mood scarf at the time, I think I would look back at that period of time and remember that I was miserable for months. But my scarf is evidence that I was actually okay most of the time despite not being able to get out much.

Seeing how illness affected my mood and how knitting my mood scarf improved my attitude towards illness, was for me the most interesting part of the project. 18 months on – I’m still being careful with my diet, but you’ll be pleased to hear that I can now eat cake (in moderation) without being ill!

I was really pleased with my mood scarf results! Although I can see why some people chose to use more than three colours. For me – the grey was covering too many moods. Anything from content/okay but not super happy right through to not great/a bit meh but not miserable. But I wanted to carry the yarn up the side and I think that would have been far too bulky with more than three.

I think that being aware of your mood and feelings is vastly under-rated. We’re often too busy to take the time to stop and think about how we feel, but looking after our minds is as important as looking after our bodies. For me – knitting the mood scarf made me a lot more aware of what I needed to keep my mind healthy. If I feel sad, I know that a walk, some sunshine, a cuddle or knitting can quite quickly lift me to content!

I hope you’re enjoying your mood scarf if you’re working on one now and if you want to follow the pattern I used you can find it in my blog here.

Happy knitting everyone! 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

The year of the mood scarf

mood scarfIn a few weeks time I will be casting off my mood scarf after a full year of knitting!

The main surprise for me has been how incredibly difficult it is to do something every day for a whole year. I  previously wrote a blog about the challenging months of my mood scarf where I learnt how closely my mood was linked to my health. Although I’m not fully recovered, I’m still seeing very gradual improvement so if I have a bad day health wise it doesn’t necessarily bring my mood down to a teal day. I think it’ll be a long time before I can eat completely normally without being ill – but I’m hoping reintroduce wheat and milk soon. Pancake day was a bit of a fail with soy milk and rice flour pancakes! They had a rather rubbery texture.

I thought I’d come through the most challenging months of my mood scarf, but then something unexpected happened. I hate to say this – but I got bored of knitting it!

For the last couple of months it’s been quite consistently grey with the odd teal (sad/stressed) or yellow (happy!). This is good because I’ve been okay/content. The main problem has been a lack of time! I’ve been really busy working away on secret projects, which means I’ve not had much time off to do selfish knitting. My allocated night for selfish knitting is Tues at knit group and as I’ve not had time to do my mood scarf every day – I’ve been noting down my colours and catching up on a Tues night. But because this is the only time I get for selfish knitting, the scarf has started to feel like a bit of a chore. I really want to finish my Captivate cardie! And I really want to cast on Kaneshon In the beautiful cornflower shade of Rowan Cotton Lustre!

Someone told me once that if something is easy – it’s not worth doing. I don’t entirely agree with that! But I do agree that there is often more satisfaction in achieving something that was hard work. Although there have been challenging months and the last few months have felt like hard work – I’m really glad that I’ve stuck with my mood scarf. I have an excellent visual diary of my moods – and it’s been so interesting to do this in a year of many changes.

I would like to do another mood scarf, but I think I’ll have a little rest first! I will take a leaf out of Steph’s book and just do a mood cowl for six months! At the six month point I was still enjoying it and managing to keep up with doing two rows a day – so perhaps that’s a more realistic plan.

Did you stick with your mood scarf for a full year? I’d love to see pics if you have!

I started my mood scarf on the first day of British summer time 2014 and I’m looking forward to finishing it on the last day of British winter time 2015. I can’t wait to wear it and I think I’ll get some use out of it before Spring warms up!

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

 

 

Making Diary

A couple of weeks ago I decided to keep a visual diary of my ‘makes’ over on Instagram. I often reach the end of the week and feel like I’ve not achieved much. This diary has taught me that my expectations are maybe a bit high- I make a lot!

Monday

I spent most of the day doing some secret work knitting- sorry! I’d love to show you, but I need to maintain an air of mystery. I then spent the evening working on Kim Hargreaves Captivate from her new book North. It’s all a bit grey!

Tuesday

More secret work knitting and making up during the day. Tuesday is knit group night, so I did a bit more of Captivate and then caught up on my mood scarf when I got home.

Wednesday

Final touches on my secret work knitting during the day, followed by a bit of Captivate knitting in the evening whilst watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is getting a bit repetitive isn’t it?

Thursday

After finally finishing my secret knitting, I had a bit of an admin day on Thursday, which included making some buttonhole samples in preparation for a workshop. Being the first Thursday of the month, it was pub-knits in the evening, so I did a bit of Captivate and a mood scarf catch up in the Roundhouse.

Friday

Friday was supposedly my day off- but I spent all day knitting my new workshop mascot ‘Ted Bear’. And watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Saturday

I hosted the monthly Rowan coffee morning at John Lewis Nottingham and then spent the afternoon merchandising their Rowan wall. After a hard day of playing with yarn (!)- I spent the evening working on my rag rug and watching  The Muppets (excellent film!)

Sunday

As well as a mood scarf catch up, I did a bit of Captivate and also decided to make some lampshades with old yarn. I might add more yarn before popping the balloons so I can’t show you the results yet. Blog to follow!

If you decide to keep your own making diary please share it with me! 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!

Mood Scarf- the story so far

We’re now four months into making mood scarves and I feel it’s time to stand back and take a look!

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I took mine to the pub the other night and my friends were marvelling at all the yellow (happy days). There has been a distinct lack of teal (sad days), since I gave up the day job! This is great – and certainly makes me feel that I’ve made the right decision in taking the leap. Although a few grey days (okay days) have started to creep in.

When I first started my mood scarf, I loved the way it forced me to stop,  assess the day and really think about how I feel. The longer I do it for, the quicker I get with making my colour choices. Unfortunately this isn’t because I’m becoming more aware of how I feel, but because I’m just not taking the time.

It shouldn’t be a chore to take a few minutes at the end of the day to think about how I feel. But sometimes it is! It requires a lot of dedication to do something every day and I guess this is why I forget to floss!

I know that grey days are creeping into my scarf because I’ve made a huge life changing decision and whether it’s good or bad it’s bound to be scary and unsettling. I’m also doing what I promised myself I wouldn’t do and I’m putting far too much pressure on myself. There are so many things I want to do and I want to do them all NOW!

My mood scarf has made me think about this and my mission is to relax a bit more and really take the time to think about my mood of the day rather than making a snap decision on the colour.

I know that a few people have stopped their mood scarves for various reasons. Maybe because of the time it takes, because they weren’t happy with their colour choices or perhaps because they’re having a truly rubbish time and don’t want to dwell on how they’re feeling. I completely understand this. If everyday is a sad colour then the mood scarf might make it difficult to focus on the positive things.

I won’t lie -it’s a challange! But I’m really glad I’ve kept it up and want to offer some encouragement and advice to those who’ve put the needles down:

  • Some of my friends have been listing their colours for each day and then catching up on the knitting when they get a chance. This is a great way to do it if you don’t have much free time!
  • If you started a scarf but have stopped for whatever reason – you don’t need to feel bad about missing a bit. Just pick it up again! We don’t all have to be at the same point so just do whatever suits you. You could do a random colour stripe to represent the patch where you stopped and then carry on from now.
  • If things are really rubbish and you can’t face thinking about your mood, then maybe you could start a positivity scarf instead? You could have a bad colour for days when you’ve done nothing positive, a colour for when you have and then your favourite colour which you can knit when you’ve done more than one positive thing. This might encourage you to do lots of positive things! Lynsey inspired me to think about this with her lovely new positive blog!
  • If you just stopped because you weren’t happy with the colours or pattern you chose then simply start again! (an excuse to buy more yarn I think?)

There are no rules and I can see from how different all the scarves are that they’re very personal to each of us. So if you haven’t joined in already -get started! And if you’re wavering – get stuck in again or start something new! It really is rewarding. I’m really loving seeing other people’s mood scarves so please keep sharing your pics with me.

Happy mood scarf knitting everyone x

Giving up the day job

Tues 1st July called for a different stitch and a brand new colour on my mood scarf.  I chose white to signify a fresh start and the beginning of a new adventure. Self-employment!

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I have worked for Coats for just over six years- firstly as Rowan Design Consultant Manager and then as Coats Territory Manager. I have had so many good times, met lots lovely people and been given some fantastic opportunities. The decision to leave was not an easy one to make.

There are so many things I will miss about my job: The friendly and talented Coats crafts family, getting boxes full of beautiful samples delivered to my door, and my lovely customers who share my excitement and passion for yarn, fabric and all things crafty.

I’m not venturing far though, and later this year I will be launching my career as a Rowan workshop tutor- so please look out for details and dates coming soon! This means I will still get to see my colleagues from Coats and the lovely Rowan retailers who I have worked with over the last six years. Yay!

My final decision was made after seeing this on pinterest….

make stuff and sleepSince writing Cute Little Knits in 2012 I have had lots of ideas for creative projects I want to work on, including more knitting patterns, knitting workshops and setting up a small business with a good friend. But I have known that pursuing these ideas alongside a demanding full time job would result in not much sleep, lots of unhealthy fast meals and generally not taking care of myself!

When I saw this pin it made me realise that if I don’t have time to do the two things that make me happiest (ie, make nice things and sleep!), then I need to address my work/ life balance and something needs to change. It’s a risk- but I feel it’s one I have to take and I’ve prepared myself for the worse case scenario!

Becoming self-employed and pursuing my creative  urges, is something I have been considering for a long time. Part of my inspiration to make the jump came from my friend Martin, who has taken a career break to follow his dreams and have lots of adventures! After suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2009, Martin has made a full recovery and decided to stop making excuses and just do stuff! You can read about Martin’s experience and follow his adventures here.

I’ve been absolutely blown away by the support and encouragement I have been given by friends, family and colleagues since making the decision earlier this year. It’s really given me confidence that I have made the right choice and I’m so grateful to have such lovely people in my life.

I’m really excited and raring to go with all my ideas, but before getting started- I needed a rest! I’ve spent a couple of weeks catching up on sleep in the sunshine and it’s been the perfect full stop to a wonderful six years, before I embark on a new chapter of my life. Wish me luck!

I would love to hear your stories about changing direction and what inspired you? x