Curious Handmade with Helen Stewart

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Keeping this little fluff busy is a big job.

In this week’s short and sweet episode, I have puppy stories: we’re learning to train our little rascal and keep her entertained (and out of my stash!) I also have some WIP reports and a gift for anyone who might be suffering with Yarn Advent Calendar FOMO right now. Finally, as we enter the last quarter of the year, I’m taking stock of the Knit 20 for 2020 projects and seeing what’s left to check off my list.

Show Links:

Kong dog toys

Sign up to the Curious Handmade Newsletter and Get the Make Your Own Yarn Calendar ebook

(If you’re already on the mailing list, I’ll be sending out a copy in the next newsletter, so you don’t need to sign up again!)

Hermione Jean Granger Shawl by Tyne Swedish


Píosa by Renée Callahan

The Knit 20 for 2020 KAL instructions

Knit 20 for 2020 Ravelry FO Thread

Barrett Wool Co.

Show Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 310. 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 curious

Hello, and welcome. How are you this week? I’m having a great week. My tactics that I talked about on the show to reduce anxiety are definitely helping. It’s still there, but I seem to be keeping it at reasonably manageable levels this week, and I hope you are too. If you can hear a little bit of background noise, that’s puppy playing with her new toy, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. This week is the first of two weeks school holidays here, and we’re not doing too many activities, but I’m aiming for some fun gentle moments with the kids throughout the two weeks. It was the spring equinox here for us in the Southern hemisphere this week on Tuesday, and here in Queensland, it felt like we were going straight into summer some days. It was 28 degrees Celsius. I don’t have a conversion for that off the top of my head, but it was quite warm. And also quite humid.

The kids had first swim in the pool for the season this week, Lexi had her cast taken off on Friday before the holidays, much to her delight. And my delight as well. What else have we been up to? Oh yes, yesterday we had a puppy training session for Sindy, which was really fun and I learned a lot, and then as soon as the puppy trainer left, I couldn’t really remember exactly what he did and how he managed to do things. So I think I need to spend some time just focusing on that with her. It’s a little bit difficult to do that sometimes. But I just thought I’d mention a really interesting tip that he gave us. He introduced us to a toy called a Kong, which is K-O-N-G as in King Kong. I’m not sure what the name means, if anything. It’s the name of the company. It’s a cone-shaped thing that you can… It’s hollow, so you can put food into it or just the puppy can just chew on it.

I’ve seen them around, but what he said was quite interesting, was that… He said we could put all her meals in it, and then she eats the meals from that all the time. And he said he has a client who has six of them, and they hide them around the garden for their German shepherd throughout the day. It gives them an activity as well as their food. So he said you could get good value out of meals by making them into drawn out activities for the puppy, and that keeps them quite occupied and happy throughout the day. So I thought that was pretty interesting, and I’d never really heard of that as an idea before. I always thought you just put food in the bowl for them. So, yeah. I just thought I’d share that for you, and I’ll put a link to the company in the show notes. I’m sure there’s other companies that do this kind of thing as well, but this is what I’ve seen around here and what he recommended.

On the Curious Handmade work front, I have been doing a little bit of work this week. Not as much as the last couple of weeks where I was quite productive, but still managed to get a little bit of work on Knitvent done, and I’m so working away on the collection and putting final touches to it. Inevitably I decide to do an extra sample of something just to have a bit more variety in the photographs and things like that. So even after eight years, it still takes me a lot longer than I anticipate to get everything together. I’m doing some photographs on the weekend, so I’m looking forward to that. As I mentioned last week, the past few years, I have included a pattern designed especially for the Advent Yarn Kits and this year I’m continuing that tradition.

I remember that last year we created a little make your own yarn advent calendar ebook, with some tips and ideas for creating your own yarn advent calendar, because I’ve had a lot of comments from knitters asking where they can get hold of yarn advent calendars. Some people are always sad because they do get sold out quite quickly, and a lot of the dyers put them on sale very early in the year because they’re so time-intensive to make, so they sell them and get them ready quite early for four people. So if you’ve missed out or it’s outside your budget, then it’s a great way to use up scraps if you’ve been knitting for a little while. Most of us have a lot of leftovers in the stash already and if we tend to stick to a particular color palette, they probably coordinate quite well. I have quite a few friends now who established an annual tradition to swap with their knitting BFF or in their knitting group where everybody makes up a yarn advent calendar from their stash and then they swap.

If you don’t have lots of leftovers, but still want to make your own, you can use full skeins of yarn and then either divide it up so that some of the colors are repeated or dip into some skeins to top up a set of minis or something like that. So you can be quite creative with it, and I think now is a really good time to think about this. So I have a revived the ebooklet, and I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can get hold of that if you would like to get a copy and make your own yarn advent calendar. I think I’m going to make one or two this year for some friends. I really enjoyed putting together the minis for the prize.

I put together basically a yarn advent calendar for the prize for the habitation throw knit along, and I used a nostepinne, which is a little wooden stick for want of a better word. It’s a bit nicer than a stick, but it’s just a shaped wooden turned knitting tool to hand wind yarn around. So I did that with 24 minis, and it was a very relaxing activity while I watched some YouTube videos and knitting podcasts and things like that. It was very enjoyable. So I think I’ll make another couple of those with some of my many leftovers.

Apart from working away on Knitvent samples this week, I have been knitting on my Hermione Jean Granger by The Cleverest Stitch, who’s Tyne Swedish, and I’m just kind of making that a little bit bigger than the pattern calls for, because I have some of the gorgeous La Bien Aimée yarn to use, and the pattern doesn’t use all of the… It’s a three skein, three color pattern, but it’s not using up much of some colors, so I’m going to extend it and add in a few more stripes. So that’s been a super relaxing knit. It’s garter stitch and just fun stripes, perfect TV relaxing knitting, so I’ve been working on that and highly recommend Cleverest Stitch’s patterns. She has some gorgeous patterns available in her collections and they all look very fun, so I’m going to probably do another one after this.

I’ve been having a little look at my Knit 20 for 2020 list, and this will cover a new to me designer. I haven’t knit any of her designs before. And also a shawl. And it’s just reminded me to let you know that this is the last week for September if you’d like to enter into the Knit 20 for 20 knit along. The prizes are a 50 US dollar gift voucher from your yarn shop or indie dyer of choice. And there is a prize drawn from the Ravelry thread in my curious handmade group on Ravelry. And I also draw a prize from Instagram with projects tagged Knit 20 for 2020. So please do go ahead and post your projects in either place, and I draw two winners, one from each. And if you’d like to know more about it, you can find out more on my website,, or in the rivalry thread in the group.

I’m not sure that I’m going to manage to tick off all 20 prompts myself before the end of the year, but I think I’m going to do reasonably well. I have my kit from Barrett Wool Company for the really cute panda and I don’t know if I’ll finish that before the end of the year. I’d like to try. I definitely want to finish my Piosa cardigan to tick off the cardigan category, and I haven’t yet attempted brioche. So I definitely really want to try to do some brioche knitting for the end of the year. Otherwise I probably can make the other categories work with the projects that I am knitting or have finished. But yes, definitely brioche and knitting a toy are ones that I would definitely have to start new projects for to be able to fulfill those.

Anyway, it’s been a fun challenge so far, and while we still have a quarter left, October, November, December. Yeah, just quarter. Yeah, went very, very slowly at the beginning and has now speeded up quite disconcertingly. I’m not sure if you’re with me on that, but for everybody playing along, just know that there’s one week left for September and then three months left for the year. I think it’s going to be a really short and sweet episode this week. There probably a bit of background noise. Hopefully my podcast editor isn’t too frustrated, but my children are kind of rampaging. The dog’s passed out out of tiredness from today, but they seem to be ramping up activities so I better go and sort that out.

So I do hope you’re well and going okay, wherever you are in the world. Have a good week. I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.