2017: A Moody Year

After 48 weeks of knitting…I completed the final square of my Moody Blanket last Sunday!

A huge well done to everyone who stuck with it throughout the year – even if you just kept up with the colouring in. It’s been a long project and I hope you’ve found it as beneficial as I have.

The idea behind the Moody Blanket is to give yourself a bit of time to reflect each day on how you’ve felt, put your moods into the knitting and create a lovely cosy visual diary of your feelings. But it’s been so much more than that for me, and my blanket has inspired some big life changes.

Early on in the Moody Blanket knitting process I needed to add in a couple of moods to my list…and both were related to being busy. The first was “productive” which I added to the content/calm/satisfied list for those days when I’d been super busy but felt good because I’d achieved a lot.

The second mood was less positive – “overwhelmed” got added to my meh list for those days where I just couldn’t see the wood for the trees. The majority of my “meh” days were the result of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I also felt this way on many of my “fine” days – but managed to lift it to fine by reflecting on the day, putting things in perspective and eating lots of chocolate. Below is an overview of my year of moody knitting…

The number of days I felt overwhelmed was significantly higher during busy periods. 18% of my days in January through to April were teal and 21% in September through to December – compared to just 8% from May to August. I also had 24% happy days in May to August compared to 14% in January through to April and just 8% from September to December.

Weeks 1 to 16 (2nd January to 23rd April)

Weeks 17 to 32 (24th April to 13th Aug)

Weeks 33 to 48 (14th Aug to 3rd Dec)

I love stats!

Reflecting on your mood everyday for a year means you really get to know what affects your mood and you can take action to improve it. Between May and August I had a holiday and my workload lessened, giving me free weekends. It’s really noticeable when looking at my planner that I have a brighter band of colour running through the middle for this period of time and I knew I needed to make some changes in my life to be less busy and create more yellow days.

I read something this week over on The Minimalists website about scaling back and the fact that when you say yes to something you’re inadvertently saying no to something else. I’ve always found it difficult to say no to things and I’ve had so many fantastic opportunities over the last couple of years that I’m glad I’ve said yes to everything!

But however much I love everything I do – saying yes to every single work opportunity that comes my way means that I’m saying no to free time at weekends, no to seeing my friends and family, no to going for hikes in the country, no to lazy Sundays on the sofa and no to looking after myself. Eventually being too busy takes it’s toll.

So I’ve already started making some changes and have said “not now” to a few opportunities that have popped up (I still want to do everything…just not all at the same time!).

The biggest change that I have made is the decision to step down from my day-job with Rowan. I love working for Rowan – I love the yarns, the patterns, the lovely independent retailers I work with and my Rowan family, but I know this decision will give me the freedom to focus on my freelance work and free up my time outside of work.

I’m so excited about 2018! I’m not going to rush into things – I’m going to take the time to plan and make sure I don’t over-commit so that I can really enjoy exhibiting at yarn shows, teaching workshops and designing new patterns. It’s going to be great!

If you’ve been taking part in the Moody Blanket Knit-along I would love to see pics of your planners and of your finished blankets when they’re sewn up. I will be sharing a pattern for a knitted border early next year – or you could pick up and crochet or edge it with ribbon or fabric… I’d love to see what you do!

And just in case you missed the important news re the yarn:

*UPDATE* Rooster have now discontinued Almerino DK (November 2017) and the top-up packs are available while stocks last – so please ensure you have enough yarn to complete your blanket.

MOODY BLANKET TOP-UP PACK (5 BALLS): £30 – SHOP NOW

MOODY BLANKET TOP-UP PACK (10 BALLS): £59 – SHOP NOW

If you would like to knit yourself a Moody Blanket in 2018 – you can buy the pattern & planner and use a DK weight yarn of your choice.

MOODY BLANKET – PATTERN & PLANNER: £4 – BUY NOW

Happy knitting everyone x

Moody Blanket – the final countdown!

At the beginning of this year some of us embarked on a year long project – knitting the Moody Blanket.

I’ve had such a great response to the knit-along and have had lots of messages from people saying that taking that little bit of time out each day to reflect on their mood has had a positive effect on their well-being.

The large Moody Blanket is knitted across 48 weeks. So anyone who joined in on January 2nd will be finishing the knitting (or colouring in) on Sunday 3rd December – giving you a few weeks to get it sewn up before the end of the year. It’s so exciting piecing it together and seeing patterns emerging…it’s going to be so lovely and cosy!

I know that a lot of you have found the planner really helpful and are just taking your time with the knitting part. Taking on a 48 week project is huge so I’m really proud of all of us who have kept it up! Even if you’ve just kept up with the mood planner and the knitting is work in progress – well done 🙂

I’m looking forward to finishing and have decided to do a simple knitted border. I will share the pattern for the border with everyone who’s bought the pattern at the beginning of next year so look out for that!

If you didn’t join in with the Moody Blanket knit-along this year – it’s the perfect time to start thinking about it for next year! You can start whenever really – but I think it’s a nice project to start in January to beat the post-Christmas blues and look after yourself with some me-time.

Top-up packs of the yarn will be available for a while longer for those already working on the blanket.

Moody Blanket Top-up Pack (5 balls): £30 – shop now

Moody Blanket Top-up Pack (10 balls): £59 – shop now

When these run out – I will share a link to another stockist of the Almerino DK on my Moody Blanket page so that anyone who joined later or wants to start next year can get their yarn fix!

You can buy a downloadble PDF version of the pattern and planner individually by clicking the link below.

Moody Blanket Pattern & Planner: £4 – Buy now

Happy Knitting x

Moody Blanket…the story so far

We’re almost at the halfway point of the Moody Blanket Knit-along and for those knitting the smaller version it’s almost the end!

It would also be the perfect time to think about joining in and knitting along with the small version for the second half of the year.

The Moody Blanket palette has five colours, with each one relating to a mood – ranging from sad/angry/depressed (dark grey) through to happy/upbeat/excited (yellow or pink depending on your chosen colourway).

I’m happy to say that the most popular re-ordered shades in the top-up packs are those relating to fine, content and happy. I hope that reflecting on your mood and knitting the blanket is helping on the darker days…and perhaps, like me, you’re realising that you’re more fine/happy than you realised!

I’ve sewn up and blocked the first two rows of my blanket and I’m loving seeing patterns starting to form. I added two new moods to my list – both based on how busy I was up until April.

Firstly I added “productive” to my aqua moods. Sometimes I have a super busy day and feel really good about it because I feel satisfied that I’ve achieved a lot. I think this fits in with the content colour because I’m generally not super happy yellow when I’ve been busy – but often feel good, satisfied and productive.

Secondly I added “overwhelmed” to my teal moods. Because busy days don’t always feel productive! I often get a lot done but I’m maybe doing lots of bits and bobs and not completing a whole project. Sometimes I have lots to do and I don’t know where to start so I struggle to focus. Often I have so much to do that I just want to switch off my phone and go and live in a yurt! These are the “overwhelmed” teal days which definitely sit on a level with “a bit meh”.

I love the way that my overwhelmed weeks have collided in the centre of the blanket creating an abstract teal diamond. And most of all I’m enjoying seeing how quickly my mood lifted after we finished the photo shoot for my book and life became less hectic.

Seeing this visual diary of my moods is really making me address what makes me happy and how can I get more of that?!

Pretty much all of the teal days in my blanket so far are the result of feeling overwhelmed. This was mostly due to me over-committing myself and my time…but I’ve also started to realise how much I feel overwhelmed by “stuff”.

This is something I might not have reflected on if I wasn’t knitting the Moody Blanket, but I think that embracing Minimalism and living with less “stuff” will give me more time for the things I enjoy and improve my happiness long term. We’ll soon find out when I play the Minimalism Game in June!

If you fancy joining in with the Moody Blanket knit-along you can find out more here.

Team Moody – part one

I’m so happy with the response I’ve had to the Moody Blanket Knit-along! Lots of you bought starter packs at the end of last year and I’ve received lots of orders for top-up packs with messages saying you’re enjoying the project – and so am I!

I’m personally finding the self reflection at the end of each day really beneficial and even though I’ve had some tough weeks – it’s really soothing to reflect on my mood of the day, allocate a colour and knit.

I asked a few fellow Moody Blanket knitters how they’re feeling about the project and this is what they said…


What appealed to you about the project?

Lesley: “As a relatively new knitter I wanted to do something beautiful but simple. I liked the idea of a mood stripe per day.”

Toni: “I think the first thing to appeal to me about the project was the fact that it’s a Jem Weston project. I’ve always loved not only Jem’s patterns in the past, but also the choice of colour combinations and yarn, so all of this amalgamated into a knit along was a very attractive idea to me. I’d never done a knit along before and the sense of community and longevity it promised fascinated me.”

Claire: “I liked the idea of the project as I live with a long term mental health condition and am interested in ways of managing my condition differently.”

Lesley’s Moody Blanket

What are you enjoying about knitting your Moody Blanket?

Lesley: “I like sitting after work and relaxing whilst knitting my stripe for the day, it’s very therapeutic!”

Toni: “I am really enjoying seeing each week knit up and become something completely unique.  And perhaps more than that I really love seeing everyone else’s squares and the way everyone sends kind wishes when a fellow participator has had a difficult time. Or how everyone celebrates a happy day!

Setting time aside each evening to reflect on my mood and do a bit of simple knitting has really improved my mental health. I know that a lot of people find such reflection difficult, I’ve even had a friend tell me they couldn’t see themselves enjoying it at all, but the way I see it: if you’ve had a terrible day, I mean a really rotten day, the day will have been that bad whether or not you think about it. Only this way you might be able to find some little pockets of happiness, or even okay-ness, that’s gotten lost in the storm of the day. And create something beautiful from it at that!”

Claire: “I am most enjoying being able to have a positive way to look at my feelings, rather than reverting to other coping mechanisms. So even though I’ve had a tough day, there is a positive way of communicating that, through craft.

Toni’s Moody Blanket – 48 week layout.

Is there anything you’re finding challenging?

Lesley: “When I’ve been busy during the week I’ve had to leave catching up to the weekend and sometimes it’s hard to get up to date before the next week begins.”

Toni: “I am finding some of the lower mood days to be challenging to knit. I’m always glad when I’ve done it in the end, but gosh it feels like a real slog.”

Claire: “I sometimes find time constraints difficult, but then I find the sheet where I can colour in my days helps to be able to recall my feelings on a particular day.

Lesley’s Moody Blanket & planner

Is it becoming easier to reflect on your mood/choose your colour…or more difficult?

Lesley: “It is getting easier as I can compare to previous days and make a judgement about what colour a day should be.”

Toni: “Overall I think I’m finding it much easier to reflect on my mood and choose a colour. For example, I find I’m much more accepting of making a day yellow now. For some reason at the beginning of the project I felt I could only pick yellow if that day had been oh-so-amazingly-wow from the word go. I may have had a very black or white approach to moods… but now I’m much more appreciative of the little joys throughout a day whilst being able to accept, or even put a positive spin on, the disasters.”

Claire: “Over the last week particularly, due to lots of change,I have found it difficult to choose just one colour, but I tend to go with the predominant emotion of the day.

Toni’s Moody Blanket – 24 week layout

It’s brilliant seeing the blankets starting to come together and the patterns forming as everyone starts to sew up their squares!

Thank you so much to the Moody knitters above for sharing. If you’re taking part in the KAL and want to share your thoughts and images here on my blog, please feel free to contact me – I’d love to hear how your getting on.

The Moody Blanket pattern has options for a large blanket knitted over 48 weeks or a small blanket knitted over 24 weeks – so if you’re thinking about joining the KAL part way through, you could knit the small blanket and still be finished this year. Starter packs including one ball each of your chosen colourway, the pattern and planner (for colouring in) are still available here or you can buy the pattern & planner individually here.

Happy knitting and Happy Easter everyone!

Moody Reading 

Beardie’s guest blog got me thinking about self reflection and how and when I reflect.

Knitting the Moody Blanket means that I’m taking a bit of time at the end of each day to reflect and think about what my mood has been throughout the day. But I’m also finding myself reflecting whenever I have some quiet time…perhaps whilst driving or brushing my teeth!

I often find I need a nudge to give myself some quiet time and stop my mind racing around. I recently started using head-space and I find the guided meditation a really effective way to clear my head and get a good night’s sleep – particularly when I’m away with work.

I tend to use reading as a way to quiet my mind and I’m currently enjoying escaping to Hogwarts each night! I also enjoy reading books which are not an escape as such – but have made me reflect, altered the way I view the world and in some way ‘changed’ me.

Yes ManOne of these books was Yes Man by Danny Wallace. I haven’t seen the film because it sounds pretty awful and nothing like the book! And when I re-read the book a few years back it was nice to read but not as amazing as I remembered. But it had such an impact on my life at the time and continues to do so.

I think the effect this book had on my life was a lot to do with timing. Yes Man begins with Danny Wallace sitting around playing computer games and making excuses not to go out. Then, after being told by a stranger to ‘say yes more’, he decides to say yes to everything for a year…and much hilarity ensues! At the time I was not long out of uni, feeling rather negative, a bit overwhelmed by life and could very much relate to the finding excuses not to go out part of the book. I didn’t take things to the extreme of saying yes to everything, but after reading Yes Man, I started to say yes more, go with the flow more and go out more. This influenced a lot of big decisions I needed to take at that point in my life ultimately shaped my life as it is now.

Recently in our book group – it was my turn to choose, and I went for The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and with the Moody Blanket Knit-along approaching I was interested to know why and if there was anything I could take on board to make my year more yellow.

the-year-of-living-danishly

The most interesting thing for me was hearing the response from the other book group members. The general consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t a book they would have chosen to read but they enjoyed it. Whilst reading the book we had all reflected on our own lives, happiness and work/life balance, and as well as our normal rating of the book out of ten – we also decided to rate our own happiness out of ten!

This book reminded me a little of Yes Man in the sense that it was a true story of a year long challenge. Both books are wrapped up in witty anecdotes but ultimately have a vibe of positivity and the message that we have the power to make ourselves happy.

After reading The Year of Living Danishly – one of my friends really took on board some of the things which supposedly make the Danes happy, such as trusting people and having lots of candles! I love our little book group and the fact that my choice of book may have had the positive impact on others that Yes Man had on me is a lovely thought.

Have you ever read something which has made you look at the world differently without expecting it?

Beardie’s Guest Blog: Self-reflection

My significant other, Andrew, and I have always shared an interest in psycology and wellbeing. It’s a lovely common interest to have and leads to many interesting conversations!

Andrew recently completed an MSc in Psychological Wellbeing and Mental Health at Nottingham Trent University where he works in student support. I was very interested to hear his musings on the Moody Blanket Knit-along and how it could improve our wellbeing. Over to Beardie…

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When Jem asked me to write a guest blog about the Moody Blanket Knit-Along it took me a good while to work out what I actually wanted to write about. There’s plenty of interesting stuff to talk about when it comes to knitting and psychology, whether that’s knitting as a therapeutic practice, the positive relationships that the social aspect of knitting can cultivate, or the feeling of accomplishment and subsequent boost to wellbeing that comes with completing a project.

I could probably spend quite a lot of time babbling on about each of those topics, but instead I wanted to share a revelation that I had very recently, in the past few days in fact.

So you know those days where you wake up and everything just feels sort of… wrong? I’m sure we’ve all had them. It was a weekend and Jem was away with work – I had no pressing commitments or things to do, just the odd bit of housework and then a meal with friends in the evening. Sounds like a good day, right?

Well this particular day ended up not so great, for no reason other than it all just felt a bit ‘off’. I struggled to find anything to occupy myself with and the things I did do just didn’t go very well. By the time I met with friends in the evening I was feeling pretty rotten, and even though I had a nice time I ended the day feeling quite low.

As I was relaying the story of my bad day to Jem, I suddenly thought about what colour the day would have been…and it would’ve been a grey day. Almost instantly I began to look at my bad day in a whole new light – picking through the wreckage of the previous 16 hours or so, trying to figure out where it all went wrong and what I could have done differently, or in what circumstances my day might have been less miserable. I could have gone for a walk in the park instead of bouncing around empty rooms at home. I could have remembered about the delivery we were expecting and not felt so annoyed when I missed it. I could have gone out and done something productive instead of meekly retreating back to bed in the early afternoon for a nap, desperately trying to press the reset button on the day.

I only spent a few minutes of time on this reflection, but thinking about it and mapping out the different parts of my day helped me to see things a lot more clearly, and I felt much better for doing so. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t change how awful the day was as a whole, but even just being able to say ‘This was a grey day’ felt good. It almost gave me licence to sit down at the end of the day to tell myself ‘Yep, today was rubbish, but it’s done now and I can move on’.

Hopefully all of you who are in the midst of Moody Blanket knitting are feeling similarly good about taking regular time to reflect on the days you’ve been having. And I hope you’re not only finding it useful on bad days – maybe you’re having lots of good days and are enjoying looking back and pinpointing the things that made them so good.

There’s lots of psychological literature about the benefits of self-reflection – it helps us to understand our place in the world, how we connect with others and how we find ourselves reacting to certain situations. In essence it helps teach us more about ourselves which, without taking the time to reflect, is something we could easily miss out on with so many external distractions vying for our attention at any moment.

Self-reflection can also be very important for personal growth and self-improvement, so if you’re finding the knit-along challenging due to the reflective side of things, then maybe the challenge exists because you’re working towards something positive. Not just a lovely blanket, but perhaps a deeper understanding of yourself as a person along the way.

So, to all of you who are knitting through the good days and bad, make sure to keep going and keep sharing how your squares are looking – it’s fascinating to keep track of, even for a
non-knitter like me!

Choosing Moods

Now that we’re a few weeks into the Moody Blanket Knit-along, you might be finding that some days it’s easy to choose your colour, and other days it’s a bit trickier.

I find the most difficult choice comes when I’ve had very mixed feelings throughout the day. Perhaps I’ve spent some of the day feeling irritable and frustrated but also had moments of feeling very happy and upbeat. So at the end of the day I ask myself – what was the overwhelming feeling? Was I more irritable than happy? More happy than irritable? Or did it all balance out somewhere in the middle as ‘fine’?

When I’ve had a mixed day – I’m finding it helpful to sit and read the mood list to try and pinpoint the overall mood of the day. And if you have a mood that isn’t on the list…just add it! I had a day where I felt utterly overwhelmed by the volume of work I had to do. I also had happy moments – but the overall mood of the day was definitely ‘overwhelmed’ and I have now added that to my teal moods. So if you have a day where you’re struggling to settle on a colour – just think about how you would describe your mood of the day and then decide where that would sit on the scale…feel free to add as many new moods as you need to the lists and make it your own!

I also find it hard to settle on my colour for the day when I feel like I ‘should’ feel a certain way. ‘Should’ing is horrible but we all do it! I had a Saturday where I had a nice lie-in, did a little bit of work, went out for lunch, had a lovely walk in the sunshine, bought some plants and then watched a good film and did some knitting in the evening. Sounds like a pretty perfect Saturday to me so surely I ‘should’ be yellow?! But I was teal. I couldn’t switch off from work mode which left me feeling generally unsettled and unable to relax all day.

So when choosing my colour – I’m trying to think about how I have actually felt rather than whether it’s been a good/bad day where good/bad things happened. Of course external factors effect our mood, but it’s perfectly possible to have bad things happen and still be happy or to be in a paradise location and feel miserable. Sometimes it’s easier said than done to separate the external factors from the internal mood…but I think I’m feeling the benefit of taking the time to reflect.

Hop over to my Ravelry group if you fancy more Moody chat! And thank you for sharing over on Instagram using #moodykal. I’m loving seeing everyone’s squares and hope you’re enjoying knitting along! X

Moody Blanket Knit-along…getting started!

kal-squares

Thank you to everyone who ordered their Moody Blanket starter pack – I enjoyed seeing them pop-up on Instagram as you received them! The Knit-along starts tomorrow on 2nd January 2017…needles ready!

You can now purchase top-up packs from my shop and choose which colours you need more of. If your mood is consistent and you’re using a lot of one colour you may need to top-up quite quickly! But if you don’t order in time before running out – just make sure you keep a log of your mood/colour for the day on your planner.

Small Top-up Pack (5 balls): £28 – shop now
Large Top-up Pack (10 balls): £55 – shop now

If you would like to join in the knit-along using your own yarn – you can now buy the pattern as a pdf download via my Ravelry store.

Moody Blanket pattern & planner: £4 – buy now

I’ve made a couple of video’s to help you along the way! The following video will guide you through the simple techniques used in the squares…

You can use your prefered method for blocking and sewing up your squares – but I made this vlog to show you how I’m planning to do mine!

And a few other tips and reminders before you get started…

  • Choose your mood for the day in the evening so that you can pick an overall mood of the day.
  • Don’t break off the yarn at the end of each day – you might be in the same mood the next day and don’t want to create unnecessary ends for sewing in! So wait to check whether you’ll be using the same colour the following day before picking up the scissors.
  • Don’t forget to use your planner to keep track if you don’t have time to knit every evening. This will also help when it comes to sewing up as you’ll be able to easily see which square is which week.
  • use #moodykal when sharing on Instagram and Twitter so that we can follow each others progress.
  • Join me for Moody Blanket chat over on my Ravelry group. I’m planning to pop in on Sundays to share my progress and would love to see yours!

And finally…don’t worry if you’re late to the party and are reading this after 2nd January 2017. The knit-along will run throughout 2017 – but the pattern will remain available in my Ravelry store indefinitely and if you start your Moody Blanket later you can simply finish later!

Happy Knitting everyone! x

Moody Blanket Plan

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Thank you to everyone who has bought their Starter Pack for the Moody Blanket Knit-along! I’m really looking forward to getting started.

As I mentioned in my blog last weekend – 2016 has been somewhat draining due to a lack of ‘me-time’. One of the reasons I’m really looking forward to 2017 is that I know working on my Moody Blanket throughout the year will give me a reason to stop, think and look after myself each day. However… I’m sure there will be days where I simply don’t have time to do the knitting – so I thought I would get prepared in advance for those days!

I have made a ‘Moody Blanket Plan’ which I will keep next to my bed so that I can decide on my mood for the day and colour it in accordingly. This way – even if I don’t have time for the knitting, I can take a little time to think about my mood and keep track of it on the plan. Then I can catch up on knitting my square the next night… or at the weekend if it’s a particularly busy week!

If you have ordered a starter pack you will receive a printed copy of the plan with your pattern and yarn soon! As well as a good way of keeping track when you’re busy, The plan will also help you to see patterns starting to emerge and how your finished blanket will look.

If you haven’t ordered your Moody Blanket starter pack yet you can find out more here. Happy Knitting!