Curious Handmade with Helen Stewart

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As I get closer and closer to finishing the Knitvent 2020 collection designs, I’ve hit a procrastination snag. I know by now that it’s just part of the creative process, and a sign that I probably need to let things simmer a little longer. But these days I’m trying to choose more productive ways of procrastinating, and my favourite procrastination method is decluttering. So a warning: there’s not a whole lot of crafty content in today’s show, but there is a fun decluttering game that I’m going to do to hopefully clear a little brain space for more design work. Care to join me?

Show Links:

The 30 Day Minimalism Game


The Minimal Mom

The Strawberry Thief


Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to episode 306. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host, Helen, and you can find me on Ravelry as HellsBells and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at

Hello, and welcome to the show. Welcome to another week in this strange new world that we find ourselves in. I’ve been having a pretty good week. Kids are back at school this week, so that’s been good, after a whole week off last week, and we’re still recovering energy levels a little bit but feeling pretty good and much better. I’ve been attempting a sprint on my Knitvent designs for this year, and that is going a bit up and down. It was going really well I think maybe up until about halfway through last week when I finished one design and then started another one, and then by about this Monday I hit a bit of a wall and it wasn’t really going as well as I wanted and it slowed right down.

Then I got really frustrated and I started feeling that feeling of really intense procrastination that I used to feel when I had big university exams coming up where you would clean the whole house, binge watch TV, read. Just find absolutely anything to do except study, and that’s a little bit what I’ve been like this week. I just haven’t been able to make myself get back into it, so that’s resulted in me watching a lot of decluttering videos. I think it’s a weird thing that I tend to do when I’m stressed is watch like KonMari videos, people decluttering 90% of their wardrobe, or clean the whole house and this kind of thing, and then that makes me want to do it myself even more.

So I thought, okay, I am going to run with this feeling of doing an epic declutter, because one of my happiness projects for the year, I had written down KonMari sort of like, and I don’t really know exactly what I meant, but I think I meant like, get to the point where it really clicks and I feel like I have completed the KonMari of everything in my house bringing joy.

So I have been talking about decluttering and KonMari-ing for years on the podcast now. Never managed to attain that mystical state of being fully KonMari-ed, and I think I sort of made pretty good progress before we moved. I had quite a good filter of, do I want to carry this item around the world? We got rid of, donated, sold a lot, a lot of stuff. Big items of furniture and everything down to pens and you know, all the whole range across the whole house.

But I did hold on to quite a bit of just-in-case stuff because I was sort of thinking, well, it’s going to be a different environment and a different lifestyle, and I’m just not quite sure what things I’ll want to hang on to and what things I won’t need, so I brought a little bit of extra stuff and also things that sentimentally I couldn’t quite let go of, but probably should have or could have if I’d been a little bit less sentimental about it.

But so now, I feel like we’ve been here nearly a year, which is quite unbelievable. I think we arrived late August and moved into the house in about October. So I feel like, well, I think that’s a good amount of time to kind of know what I need now here in this new place. We’ve gone through all the seasons, which is really just various levels of hot, so I feel like I know what activities we mostly do, what sports the kids are mostly doing, and while we’re still settling into that I have a pretty good idea of some of the things that I thought we might need that we don’t. So some of the YouTube videos I’ve been watching have been people doing the minimalist’s 30-day challenge, which is decluttering or throwing out the number of items that is the number, the day of the challenge, if that makes any sense. So day one, you throw out one item, day two, two items and so on. Or donate, or sell, or whatever.

Then at the end of the 30 days you end up with 465 items, and I watched one video where a husband and wife were doing it and they both did it and then she said, “I calculated that if we added on 31 days, day 31, and then added on a few more, it would take them up to 1,000 items,” and that number just stuck in my head. I was like, “Ooh, that sounds like a good number of items to declutter,” and I really have no idea what that would look like. I can’t really imagine. I mean, I can imagine to a point because I’ve been watching so many of these videos where they show you what 465 items looks like, and in some ways it’s a lot and in other ways, it’s not that much.

So I think I am going to go for it and I am going to set myself the challenge of decluttering 1,000 items, and I will be in this by myself pretty much because my husband is more of a consumer and purchaser than a declutterer, and Lexi cannot bear to throw away anything, even like rubbish, and Sophie is my shining light and example of a natural minimalist and she is already so minimalist that I don’t think I can ask her to declutter anything else. Although she did bring out a box of stuff, old clothes that she’s grown out of and things she doesn’t want anymore, and I’m going to count those things. I’m going to include those things in that box as part of my thousand items.

So she’s actually to be fair got me off to quite a good start, but yeah, she’s amazing. She’s so inspirational. She’s always been like that since she was born. She’s never wanted stuff. Whenever I’ve asked her what she’d like for her birthday, she’s just been like, “Nothing. I don’t want anything particularly,” and she wrote a letter to Santa saying, “I don’t really want anything, but thanks very much for visiting.” She just liked the idea of the surprise, but she couldn’t think of anything she actually wanted. And yeah, every now and then she’ll just go through her room and come up with just old things that she doesn’t want anymore.

It’s quite incredible, and yeah, I wish I was like that, but I’m not. I’m very much a sentimental and I really, really don’t like throwing things out for the waste, but I’ve been watching a lot of videos about decluttering and my favorite is The Minimal Mom, and she’s a busy mom and she just has the best sort of tips and tricks to do this kind of decluttering work, simplification work, really quickly and quite easily and she just has lots of different tricks of helping yourself mentally deal with it.

For example, when she was looking at a kitchen, she said, “Okay, pretend your kitchen is a holiday house, and just have enough stuff for a holiday house kind of situation.” And I just thought, I love that. Because it then makes you simplify what you cook, and simplify what you buy, and so it has this trickle down effect to your lifestyle that if you don’t have a lot of sporting equipment, then you just do simple things like walking or jogging. And I know that doesn’t work across all areas or for everybody because some people might have a passion for golf or cycling, or things like that. I’m looking at my husband there, whereas I have a passion for craft and so I have a lot, a lot of craft stuff, and that is really going to be my challenging area to work on I think.

So, I think I am going to come up with some rules for me to deal with my craft stuff because while I have collected, have a beautiful yarn collection and fabric collection, it’s not necessarily bringing me joy because it’s too overwhelming, so I’m going to get that all out and do a proper KonMari process of having a cold, hard look at that, and I don’t know how I’m quite going to handle it in terms of tricks or rules because I’ve been through my stash many, many times, and I still have just an overwhelming amount too much. For me with my yarn, and also with things generally, I just want it to not be wasted, and yeah, and just not throw things out. Like I want it to be able to be used, but what I’m coming to realize very, very slowly is that it’s a sunk cost. It’s already wasted as such if I’m not using it, or yeah, especially if it’s stressing me out. It’s a negative. It’s becoming a negative, so I have to try to get myself to look at things differently than what I have done in the past.

One thing that’s been really good is that it has really, really, really slowed down my consumption since I started seriously trying to KonMari or declutter and become a minimalist, and I guess it’s been, I don’t know, maybe, I really don’t know. Four or five years I’d say. It was after Lexi was born, which was nine years ago, and a few years of not really being able to deal with things, and I think I got to a point at some stage maybe when she was going to school around age four that I started thinking I needed to get my life back and under control again.

So yeah, so I’ve been doing it for a long time and since I started taking things to charity shops and selling them, it has made me really slow down on buying things because then I’ve realized how difficult it is for me to get rid of it again if I don’t need it. So I think for the past year, I haven’t really, is this true or not? I haven’t really bought any yarn just for the sake of it. I’ve bought some yarn for very specific design projects, and sometimes I end up with a bit extra in that situation where I don’t quite know what color it’s going to be or if I’m definitely going to use it. I’ve bought maybe a few extras to have options, but that’s only been for work purposes I think that I’ve bought yarn.

And if I’m in a situation like a yarn festival or a beautiful yarn shop, I will definitely be triggered to just buy things because they’re beautiful. But that situation hasn’t really arisen much in the last year or so. I’ve been too busy, either moving or being locked down. I think there’s one yarn shop in Brisbane and there’s one a bit north of me here, but I haven’t visited either of them yet. Yeah, so I haven’t really been in a situation where I’ve been super tempted.

I have however been tempted by the hexie-along from The Strawberry Thief online shop, so that’s my craft indulgence, but it’s kind of under control because I’ve been not keeping up with it, but just dipping into that project, and so that’s being used as it comes in, which is really nice. Other than that I don’t think I’ve been too bad, but it’s taken me to getting to a point of overwhelm with the amount of stuff I have to get to that point, which is not really a good thing.

I think I will feel fantastic if I really get to that clicking point of the full KonMari, and I am going to maybe give myself til the end of August. I’m not going to do it as a 30-day challenge. I’m too impatient. I’m just going to do it as a real procrastination activity burst mostly this week. Maybe it might take me a bit longer to tackle some things or if I’m selling some things. I’ll try and document it. I don’t know how I’m going to go with documenting it. I don’t really want anything to slow me down. I mean, while it would be sort of fun to document it and be able to look back on where I was at a particular point in time and share it, because I find other people’s stories and efforts so inspiring, I’m not sure. I’ll have to see how I go with that.

But yes, so my plan is to basically pile everything up on the dining table and places around the house and then count it and get rid of it all at once, but I might have to do phases of doing that depending on how bulky things are and so on. So I already got some things collected on the table. I’ve made a bit of a start, and I counted them and it’s about a hundred things and so I have no idea if I’ll be able to get to a thousand. Because a hundred things is actually quite a lot of stuff. Anyway, it’s going to be interesting and I will give you an update in about two weeks’ time on that project.

So, thanks for bearing with me as I chat about that, if you have. If this is topic doesn’t interest you, I probably should have put a warning at the beginning that I was just going to be rambling about that, but I don’t know. If you’re interested, I’m going to link how to do the 30-day minimalist’s challenge and I’ll put a link to The Minimal Mom podcast because I just think she’s so excellent, and if anyone wants to join in with me, that would be fab. There’s a hashtag for the minimalist challenge, which is Mins, M-I-N-S, Game. MinsGame is the hashtag for the minimalist challenge, and I will try and have more knitting and crafting chat for you next week.

So, I hope you have a fantastic week. I hope you’re all well. Happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you again soon.