Reflecting on Me Made May 2017

Me Made May 2017 is drawing to a close, and I’ve been reflecting on how it’s been.  It’s the second year I’ve taken part.  At the start of May I pledged to wear me-made clothing as often as I could during the month, and to share photos to document it when I did.  I also wanted to add some sewn items to my handmade wardrobe, and to finish at least one of the garments I had on my knitting needles.

So how did I get on?

I managed to wear and share a photo of something handmade every day during May.  There was plenty of repetition of favourite items, but I think that’s pretty normal.  There are always certain garments that I reach for most often, and I also realised that I don’t have as many handmade items to wear in warmer weather, so I had to repeat items in order to stay cool when summer finally hit the UK towards the end of the month!

In terms of making, I didn’t manage to finish a knitted garment.  I did some work on my Izumi sweater, by Natalie Selles, from Pom Pom Quarterly magazine, but I still have a sleeve and a bit, plus the neckband, to go before it’s finished.


Izumi in progress

Izumi sweater work in progress


I was, however, really pleased with how much sewing I managed to do this month.  It helped that I was able to keep my sewing machine out for the whole month.  This made it much easier for me to do a short sewing session after work in the evening sometimes.  During May, I managed to make two tops adapted from 100 Acts of Sewing’s Dress No 2 pattern (made into an A-line top), plus a 100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No 1 which I made after getting my sewing machine out on 30 April for Me Made May, a Merchant and Mills Camber Dress, and a toile of another dress.

That’s more sewn pieces in one month than I had in my handmade wardrobe in total before I started!  I’m also really happy that I love the things I made, and all of the patterns are items I can see myself making again.

I’ve also found Me Made May to be incredibly inspiring.  I have loved following the #mmmay17 hashtag and admiring the skill, taste, colour choices and outfits of others who are taking part.  I’ve found some really interesting makers and designers to follow and I’ve also found new patterns that I want to make.  I love how generous and encouraging the community around this event is, and have had some really great conversations with people on Instagram about our makes.

I’ve identified some gaps in my wardrobe.  I have fewer cardigans than pullovers.  I also need to build up my summer wardrobe and make items that I can wear for work.  I want to continue building my sewn wardrobe, which is in its infancy, and I definitely need some handmade garments for my bottom half!  I have realised that I am aiming, ultimately, over the next few years, to get to the point where my default practice is making my clothes, rather than buying them.

Taking part in Me Made May this year has given me a bit of a confidence boost.  I have been slowly trying to build up my handmade wardrobe, and seeing all my makes photographed across the month has shown me that I’ve actually made a lot of progress, and I have some handmade garments that I really love.

On a more general note, I think that it’s been good for me to photograph myself every day.  I avoid having my photo taken and don’t tend to share photos of myself.  Being able to share a daily photo (even if it’s essentially of my left shoulder) is quite a big thing for me, and it’s been a really supportive place in which to do it, as the feedback has been about what I’m wearing, rather than how I look.  I love the way that Me Made May floods social media with photos of people of all shapes, sizes and styles, who are proud to show what they have made.  The images are diverse and joyous, and I love looking at them.

 I’m already looking forward to taking part next year, and I hope to have made further progress on my handmade wardrobe over the next 11 months.  I’m really grateful to Zoe at the So, Zo What Do You Know? blog for coming up with this amazing idea eight years ago, and building such a great community around it, and to everyone who has been part of the sharing and conversation.  See you next year!


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Getting started in natural dyeing: daffodil yarn!

As a keen gardener as well as a knitter, I am fascinated by the potential in plants to create colour in yarn and fabric.  Last year, I attended a one-day class on natural dyeing with plant based dyes, given by Julia Billings of Woollenflower.  The class covered the range of plant materials which can be used for dyeing, how to prepare yarn, how to prepare dye stuffs, and techniques for modifying colours, amongst many other things.  I travelled up from London to Glasgow Botanic Gardens, where the class was held, and I thought it was well worth the journey.  Jules is a generous and knowledgeable teacher, the venue (this amazing glasshouse) was excellent, and my fellow classmates were a lovely group of people.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Life then got quite hectic for several months, and it was only this spring that I decided to pick up my notes from the class and put into practice some of what I had learned.  After planting lots of bulbs in the garden last autumn, I had a plenty of daffodils.  I knew that daffodils could be used for dyeing, and as I would have to deadhead the flowers anyway, I decided to keep all my deadheads.  I stored them between sheets of paper to dry out.

I also looked around for a big pot in which to dye, as dyeing pots should be kept separate from pots in which food is prepared.  Luckily for me, my mum had recently replaced her hob and couldn’t use some of her old saucepans on the new hob, so I inherited her old stockpot!

Over the recent Easter weekend I decided that I had enough daffodil flowers.  I was planning to dye a skein of dk weight superwash merino that I had got from Jules after my class.  In order to help the yarn take the dye colour, you can mordant it, which basically means treating it with a chemical.  This can be a metal (such as alum, which Jules had used).  It’s also possible to mordant yarn and fabric with soya milk, and I’m interested in reading more about this in Rebecca Desnos’s book on natural dyeing, Botanical Colour at \your Fingertips.

Deadheads and yarn soaking

I began by putting my yarn in water to soak, and then made up my dye bath by steeping my daffodils in boiling water.  I used a mixture of different daffodils.  The weight of flowerheads was about 110% of the yarn I was planning to dye.  (I’m going by fresh weight, but about half of them had been gathered earlier and dried.)

Within an hour or so, the dye bath had a strong yellow colour.  I left the dye bath to steep in a warm sunny place for about 12 hours (by which time it had gone the colour of strong, cold tea) before straining the plant material out of it and then putting my yarn into the cold dye bath.

Yarn into dye bath

I then brought it to a simmer for about an hour before leaving it to cool overnight.  In the morning, I took it out carefully and squeezed out some of the water before letting it dry.

This is how it looks now it’s dry…

Daffodil yarn.JPG

I’m really pleased with the colour of the finished yarn.  It was fascinating to see how the colour of the dye bath developed, and how the yarn took the colour.  It also smells of honey, which I really wasn’t expecting!

I’m definitely going to have a go at natural dyeing with some other plants.  I’m tempted to try alder cones, as there’s an alder tree on the road outside, and also avocado stones, as I like the idea of using things which would otherwise be thrown away.

If you’re tempted to try natural dyeing, I’d recommend doing a bit of research (or maybe taking a class) and having a go!  I really enjoyed the whole process, and it’s satisfying having a skein of hand-dyed yarn at the end of it!

If you’re an experienced dyer, I’d be interested to know any plant materials which are favourites of yours or resources you recommend.

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I want my hat back: a knitter’s tale of love and loss

It’s been a chilly January in the UK, and on colder days I’ve felt a nagging sense of loss for my alpaca handknit hat.

I made it in January 2016.  It was the Chester Basin hat, designed by Fiona Alice.  I saw a sample at the launch of her pattern collection, Take Heart, and I fell in love with the stitch pattern and the way it felt.  I bought the yarn that very evening to knit my own: two skeins of soft, tweedy alpaca yarn spun by The Border Mill, in a perfect deep pink and pale grey.

Chester Basin.JPG

Here’s a picture of the hat while I was making it.

The pattern has a folded brim to keep your ears warm, and the slipped stitch pattern of the lofty alpaca fabric created a wonderful hat for the coldest of days.  I wore it with a glee bordering on smugness, and felt a deep satisfaction every time I pulled it on.  That is the joy of making something yourself.  It was completely and utterly fit for purpose.  I had adapted the largest size to fit my enormous head.  I had chosen colours I love.  Wearing that hat was one of life’s disproportionately great pleasures, considering it was just a hat.

Then one day, just after Christmas, I came home late from work.  I stepped off the train onto the dark platform.  I reached inside my bag as the train pulled away, only to find that my hat was not there.  It must have been on my lap, and fallen as I got up from my seat.

There is probably a German compound noun for the feeling of having just realised that you’ve left a well-loved hat on a train. If not, then there should be a word to describe that particular combination of panic and loss, with a heavy helping of reproachfulness for having not realised a few seconds earlier, and dashes of both hope that you might find it and irritation that your ears are cold.

I’m sure that the feeling was intensified by the fact that I’d made the hat myself.  I think that the loss of something handmade is more deeply felt, because of the time and care which has been put into the fabrication of something which is so fit for purpose.  It becomes more than just a thing.  I felt that I’d let that hat down, to lose it.  Yet it was still just a hat, and as easily lost as any other.

I worked out that the train would turn around and come back through my station half an hour later.  I searched that return train, but the hat was not there.  It hadn’t been handed in at lost property either.

I’m a huge fan of Jon Klassen’s trilogy of hat books for children.  I’ve basically spent the last few weeks looking for the mischievous rabbit from his first hat book, I Want My Hat Back.  That rabbit has my hat.  I’m sure of it.

I have another hat and I’m sure I will eventually get over this, but for now, I find myself looking round the train carriage from time to time, to see if anyone on that route is wearing my hat.  (I have no idea what I’d do if I did see someone wearing it though, and slightly dread the awkwardness of the conversation that might ensue!)  If I can’t have it, I hope it’s being loved and keeping someone warm somewhere.

I still want my hat back.


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What you write when your brain can’t handle a review of the year

2016 has  been a strange year.  That’s putting it mildly, with global events that many of us thought “could never happen” turning out to be the things we hadn’t realised that many of our neighbours actually wanted.

There have been good things too, but for me, the year has felt like a bit of a slog.  Events in the last six months have meant that my life may never be quite the same again and my sense of safety has been pulled out from under me.  My resilience has been tested by events beyond my control and I haven’t always felt that it’s passed that test.


After Christmas, I found myself with a few quiet days for the first time in months.  My habits kicked in, and even though I was almost on my knees with tiredness, I started to make long lists of things I needed to do or wanted to achieve while I had the time.  It was only after some exhausted tears that I realised that what I needed more than anything was to stop.  The only thing on my “to do” list should be to ensure that basic survival needs were met!  48 hours later, I have regained some of my sense of self, but I’ve realised that in 2017 I may need to let the zealous list maker inside me take a little holiday.  She needs to learn to relax, and I need to continue to build up my reserves.

Instead of a review of the year, I’ve started to reflect on some of the things that the last twelve months have taught me:

  • I may never fully know what is going on in someone else’s life and even when I do, I can’t presume to understand.  My experience is not the same as theirs.
  • I don’t necessarily need to understand to help others.  Sometimes the smallest kindness or making time to listen if someone has something to say can make a huge difference.
  • I have often underrated kindness.  It matters.  Especially when things are tough.
  • It’s not always possible to tell when someone is having a hard time.  They may be good at hiding it.  That is why kindness is even more important.  I might not know that I just helped someone.
  • When things are tough I tend not to look after myself.  Things unravel when I don’t try to eat, sleep and give my brain some rest.  I need to be aware of this and allow for that tendency.
  • Sometimes “good enough” is best.

Reading this back, so much of it seems like common sense, but there have been times this year when I’ve struggled to keep hold of these values, and many times when I’ve been grateful that someone else has acted by them.  I wanted to capture them here so that I can remind myself of them when I need to – a sort of touchstone for 2017.

I hope that 2017 brings you peace.


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Yarn in the City Pop-Up Marketplace tomorrow in London!

If you are out and about in London tomorrow (Saturday 5 September 2015), beware the knitters!  120 knitters and crocheters will be out and about around the city on the Great London Yarn Crawl.  This will be my third time on the yarn crawl, which is held in aid of Refuge.  You can read here about what a great time I had last year.


(Just some of the yarn I squished on the Great London Yarn Crawl last year.)

For those of you who have tickets for the yarn crawl, I’m looking forward to meeting some of you, and for those of you who are reading this and wishing you had tickets, there may still be some solace to be had if you can get to London, as there’s another fantastic event happening alongside the yarn crawl, organised by Yarn in the City (who organise the Great London Yarn Crawl).

They are putting on a Pop-Up Marketplace for one day only.  It’s taking place from 12-7 on Saturday 5 September 2015 at the Chelsea Old Town Hall and tickets will be available on the door (for £10 – children under 16 go free if accompanied by an adult).  The marketplace will showcase not only some of London’s wonderful yarn shops and independent yarn businesses, but also a range of fantastic sellers from all over the UK.  It should be well worth a visit to admire some wonderful supplies, experience an indie designer showcase, take part in a knitting-relating art project A Memorable Yarn with Brenda Dayne and possibly do some shopping!  If you have any knitted items you have made which you would like to donate to charity, Yarn in the City will also be collecting those at the marketplace for Knit for Peace.

So, empty your piggy bank and come along if you’re able to get to London tomorrow.  For more details, visit the Yarn in the City website.  Perhaps I’ll see you there?

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Rest and be thankful: gratitude


(Mosaic floor at the National Gallery, London.)

A few years ago I started keeping a very informal gratitude journal.  Life was feeling a bit tough, and I’d read that making time to be aware of things you are grateful for could increase wellbeing.  So I started to take a few minutes each evening to write down three things I’d been grateful for during the day.

I was curious to see whether making a conscious effort to notice small moments of gratitude on a daily basis would make any difference to the way I felt.  I actually noticed a difference quite quickly.  It wasn’t dramatic, but I soon realised that even on bad days I usually had something to be grateful for, and I started to take pleasure in noticing these moments in each day and remembering them later on.  I find it an enjoyable habit and I’ve kept it up for the last few years like a mini-journal.

I also find Instagram a great way to capture positive moments.  I find that my Instagram feed is usually full of very positive and inspiring images, and I like to keep mine for sharing things that have lifted my spirits:

11186887_846340188736480_44106241_n 11186907_480075735477907_1731271282_n 11123745_664590863644832_1346162113_n 11116686_975458462467065_1233345255_n

10956766_338058513069955_1939615701_n 11049127_810732172344570_937133762_n 10955320_897996996910001_1244427095_n 11008250_631150776990762_1291430188_n

(Some recent pictures from my Instagram feed: top row –  first blossom on my baby cherry tree, lichen on a walk with my mum, daffodil shadows, swatching for my Japan Sleeves sweater; second row – finished Palmyre shawl, home-grown veg from the garden, leaf embroidery on the sky and Norwegian mittens at Unravel 2015.)

Slowing down to notice small pleasures and be grateful can be very powerful.

This month, one of the things I’ve been grateful for has been the A Playful Day Love Your Blog Challenge, and this post on the theme of “gratitude” is my last in that challenge. Taking part has been a great way of discovering lots of inspiring bloggers and trying out a different way of blogging (as I’d never used prompts before), and I’ve really enjoyed it.  Thank you to Kate for hosting the challenge and introducing me to so many interesting people, and thanks to everyone who has taken part and shared their ideas – I’ve loved reading your posts and discovering a new community. x

A Playful Day
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Beyond ducklings and pantomime sisters: the risks of ugly

In April,  I’ve been taking part in the Love Your Blog Challenge, hosted by A Playful Day, which has seen me taking a weekly theme as the prompt for a blog post.  I’m really enjoying taking part, and particularly reading all other participants’ posts.  It’s been a great way to discover many interesting blogs and voices.

This week’s prompt for the Love Your Blog Challenge has, for me, been more “challenge” and a bit less “love your blog”!  The topic to explore was “Ugly”, and I have to admit that I’ve really struggled with it.

When I saw what the topic was, I felt almost immediate strong resistance, without really knowing why.

Beyond ducklings and pantomime sisters, the ideas refused to flow.  Ugly is not a word I use particularly often.  Seeking inspiration,  I looked up the definition.  The Oxford English Dictionary says that ugly means either:

1.  unpleasant or repulsive in appearance; or

2. hostile or threatening; likely to involve unpleasantness.

There are certain things which I definitely consider fall into the second part of the definition, for example, violence, cruelty, exploitation and persecution.  The news has instances of ugliness on it virtually every day.  However, I don’t want to write about those things here and now.  They are too important.  They deserve to be covered by someone who has something to say.  I feel that I would be writing just because I have a prescribed blog topic to explore without any particular message to communicate.  So I’m not going to write about them.  (Gosh, I sound fairly petulant there – I promise I’m not stamping my feet and frowning as I type!)

Which leaves me with the other meaning:  unpleasant or repulsive in appearance.  I think that’s a pretty strong and damning verdict on anything.  I tried to think of the last time I used the word ugly in the context of appearance in a conversation.  These shoes came to mind:


They are well-worn and well-loved shoes of mine, which I’ve had for years.  A friend  described them as “ugly in a good way”!  I admit that they are in a very scruffy state now, but I love their utilitarian, snub-nosed plainness.  (They are also incredibly comfortable.)  You may love them or hate them and I suppose some people might consider them ugly.

The daisies at my toes may also be seen as undesirable weeds which must be eliminated from any lawn.  Ugly maybe to some?  Yet to other people, these same daisies enhance a lawn, and represent individual jewels waiting to be made into stunning necklaces, or the crown of a great queen.

Having spent a week thinking about “ugly”, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really believe in it (in the sense of the first limb of the definition).  It’s incredibly subjective, but because it’s also a very harsh criticism, it can have a powerful impact.  While beauty might be said to be just as subjective as ugliness, the label “beautiful” implies worth and is likely to make us look more closely, whereas the label “ugly” implies the opposite.  It’s likely to make us look the other way.

Beauty and perfection are becoming the norm in so many of the images and objects we are presented with.  There is a risk that our perception of ugliness is also shifting to mean anything which does not meet these “norms”.  Judging a book by its cover and finding it “ugly” means that we may not take the opportunity to look any further.  Even on a simple and harmless level, we may miss out on delicious misshapen vegetables at a farmer’s market or fail to see the inspiration hiding within the myriad colours and textures of the cracked tarmac pavement beneath our feet.  (KNITSONIK has woken many knitters from their slumber of not seeing the beauty of tarmac.  Read her blog post about Tarmac Tuesday here.)  I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, “ugly” is a set of blinkers, to be treated with extreme caution.

I don’t think I would have written this post, had it not been for the Love Your Blog Challenge.  I’ve felt very stuck at times while writing it, and although I’m not altogether sure that I got unstuck in the end, it’s been an interesting experience.  Thank you for the challenge!

A Playful Day
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How does a knitter begin? False starts and true beginnings.

This post is my interpretation of the theme for week two of the A Playful Day Love Your Blog Challenge, which is “Beginnings”.  You can find out more about the challenge here.

A Playful Day

How to begin, when pondering beginnings?  One of my favourite beginnings is, ‘Once upon a time…’  So I’ll start with that.  Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time, there was a small girl.  Each day she grew a little and she learned a lot about the world around her.  She loved to ask questions and one day she asked her mother, ‘How did I begin?’

‘Now, there’s a question,’ her mother thought, searching for an answer which would be right for such a small person.  And she said to her daughter, ‘I made you.  I knitted you, stitch by stitch, over many months until you were ready to be born.’

Somehow this answer made sense to the small girl until such time as she was ready for a more scientific answer, and she felt very loved that her mother had made her with so much care.

Despite the story of her knitted beginnings, the small girl did not pick up knitting needles herself  for a few years, until, one long summer day, a neighbour taught her how to knit.  The girl learned to form the ‘knit’ stitch, and knitted an irregular square of mustard-coloured yarn.  Her neighbour cast off the square and the girl sewed it up into an envelope with a button to fasten it – a purse!  She proudly filled the purse with coins, which immediately fell through the gaping holes between her rather loose stitches!

At that point, the girl looked at her work and decided that she must be very bad at knitting.  She was clearly not a knitter and she did not try to knit again.

The end.

I’m sorry.  There is no ‘happily ever after’ here.  The girl did not follow her apparent knitterly destiny, growing up with needles in her hands and quickly becoming an amazing knitter of immense skill and prowess.  Instead, this is a true story, and true stories are often less tidy than made-up ones.

The girl in the story was me.  My mum used to tell me that I’d been knitted.  I loved that explanation of my beginning, but I look back slightly regretfully at the fact that I didn’t persist with my first childhood knitting experience.  I sometimes wish I had been that happily-ever-after, amazing knitter-girl.  Maybe I could have been like Annabelle in Mac Barnett’s book Extra Yarn (which is a brilliant story, with beautiful illustrations by Jon Klassen, of a little girl who learns to knit from an ever-replenishing box of yarn).

In real life, by the time I picked up needles for the first time, I had already developed the early stages of a perfectionist streak which I hadn’t yet learned to handle.  The disappointment of toiling to create a completely useless purse put me off trying to learn any more.  In later years, stubbornness, persistence, and eventually a little more patience with myself would kick in to support that perfectionism, and actually help me to learn when I found things difficult.  It was just a shame that THE MUSTARD PURSE OF DOOM happened before that.

Of course, in real life, stories don’t have to have a neat ending, as they often do in made-up story land.  That mustard garter-stitch square wasn’t the end of my knitting life, but only a false start.  I found my way back to knitting as an adult, and this time I fell under its spell and became an everyday knitter.  You can read the story of the true beginning of my knitting life here.

That’s the exciting thing about beginnings: they don’t always have to happen at the beginning and sometimes we get more than one chance.  As a late learner, I am not the knitter I would have been if I’d knitted all my life.  However, I have had the pleasure of being fully aware of my learning experience and the satisfaction of each new skill.  I still have so much to learn and I’m looking forward to each step of the journey.

Arrow (3)

Knitted arrow from Unravel 2015

How did your knitting journey begin?

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Finding my feet and reaching out: new blogging challenges

“Sing like there’s nobody listening”

This quote (variously attributed to Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh, William Purkey, Mark Twain and Satchel Paige) hangs on my friend’s kitchen wall.  I love the sentiment behind it, of committing to a whole-hearted performance, uninhibited by fear of criticism or judgement.  I also know that I find that far easier said than done.  (I’m a classically trained singer, but even in the practice room, at times I’ve found it hard not to be singing to my inner critic.)

A year ago this week, I finally pressed publish on my first blog post here on  I’d been toying with the idea of writing a blog for a while.  I loved the idea of having an expressive space online where I could write about things that inspire me (mainly yarns of all kinds, both textiles and tales), but although I bought a domain name and thought about it a lot, it remained just an idea.

That was until, as part of an online course on ideas generation, I had to carry out a project which took one idea and during the course of a week, turned it into something real.  I mulled over whether this was the right time to start my blog and nearly didn’t do it.

Someone else on the course made a comment that helped me to take the plunge.  They said (generally, not specifically to me) that, “Most new blogs aren’t read by anyone anyway!”  Fears of public failure were put into perspective by the thought that my blog probably wouldn’t be seen anyway, so what on earth was I worrying about?  I could “blog as if there’s nobody reading” and it would almost certainly be true (and risk-free).  So I wrote my first post, spent an afternoon playing with paint and scraps of yarn and fabric to create the image at the top of this page (below is an unedited shot of what I got up to) and then I pressed that slightly terrifying “publish” button at the bottom of the screen…


And nothing happened, because nobody was reading what I’d written. But then I had to “hand in” my course homework online, and my fellow course-mates became my first readers.  Their feedback was overwhelmingly constructive and I found that it was actually quite exciting that someone was reading my words.

So I kept at it, and I’ve published fairly regularly over the last 12 months.  It’s definitely true that new blogs don’t get many readers at first, but gradually my number of “views” has increased and my confidence to share this blog has grown.  It’s also been hugely encouraging to get feedback on posts, whether it’s from friends, strangers who have come across it by chance, or other knitters I have connected with in some way.

Singing as if there is no-one listening can provide a useful safety net, but the best performances happen when you are completely present with the audience and communicating your song to them.  I think that blogging is much the same.

As I go into a second year of writing this blog, I’m hoping to build more connections and be braver about interacting with others.  I also want to make more time to read and support other blogs by engaging more actively with the blogging community.  So I am really excited to be taking part in A Playful Day’s Love Your Blog Challenge, which will be running throughout the month of April.  A Playful Day is a blog that inspires me, and through a series of weekly blogging challenges, she’s hoping to inspire bloggers to “fall back in love” with their blog.  This post is my interpretation of the first week’s challenge topic: interactions and community.

I hope that this will be a year when, instead of blogging like there’s nobody reading, I blog like my story is worth telling.

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Fear of missing out (and how even the knitting events you can’t attend might still bring you joy)

Fear of missing out (“FoMO”) is the fear that you’re missing out on fun and rewarding interactions and experiences that other people are having.  Apparently we all have different factors which might cause us to experience FoMO to varying degrees (including the levels of autonomy, competence and connectedness we feel in our daily lives), but a study by the University of Essex found that people with high levels of FoMO are more likely to use social media, and that social media may itself exacerbate the fear, as it makes it easier to see the experiences you are missing.

With such an active online international knitting and yarn community, there is always plenty of news on social media about different knitting events taking place.  It is impossible to go to everything.  This month there were two events in the UK that I was unable to attend in spite of really wanting to go.  I had kept my disappointment in check when I decided not to go, but wondered how regretful I’d feel when I saw all the social media coverage.  Would I be afflicted with FoMO?

The first event was the very first gathering of The Muse Connection, which was hosted by two of my favourite podcasters, A Playful Day and Curious Handmade, in my home city of London.  Centred around the themes of colour and community, with tea, cake, and plenty of time to knit and chat with like-minded people, it sounded like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

The second event was Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which took place the following weekend in Edinburgh.  Edinburgh is a five-hour train journey from London, but the amazing classes and marketplace, events such as the podcast lounge (hosted by another of my favourite podcasters, Knit British) and even a Ca-baa-ret made this a tempting prospect for a weekend away.

As the anticipation began to build for both events on Ravelry, Instagram and through various podcasts and blogs, I kicked myself a few times during February that I would be missing out.  As they got closer, however, I realised that my feelings started to change.

I noticed it first with The Muse Connection.  I began to enjoy the little snippets of news about the event.  Rather than making me feel worse about not going, sharing in details of the build-up, such as the excitement over the sponsors (and amazing goodie bags) and venue, was fun.  Seeing photos of the event taking place, and reading/listening about it on the A Playful Day and Curious Handmade blogs and podcasts enabled me to gain a flavour of the atmosphere and the themes that they had explored.

The themes for the event were partly what inspired me to make a visit to Columbia Road Flower Market in east London on the Sunday that The Muse Connection was taking place, so that at least I could get my own fix of colour and community.

CM8  CM5

CM1  CM4

CM2  CM6

CM3   CM7  CM9

(As you can see, I had a great time basking in the sights, sounds and smells of the market.  It didn’t have yarn, but it was a great morning out indulging my senses in a riot of colour.)

The run-up to Edinburgh Yarn Festival was similar.  It was fascinating watching various dyers preparing for the show.  (For a brilliant insight into an indie dyer’s business, follow Eden Cottage Yarns on Instagram.  Not only does the owner, Victoria, have an amazing talent as a dyer, but she’s really, really good at showing the inside of her business.)  I loved watching the different stalls take shape and people travelling to Edinburgh.  I began to look forward to another weekend as an inspired observer of Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  When it began, I really enjoyed seeing glimpses of the weekend, discovering vendors who were new to me through pictures on social media, and even seeing clips of the Ca-baa-ret festivities.

There was also a bonus surprise that weekend, as I discovered Edinburgh wasn’t the only yarn festival taking place.  Early on the Saturday morning, I spotted #bedinburghyarnfest in my Instagram feed.  Created by UK-based knitters, Anna Maltz and Rachel Atkinson, #bedinburghyarnfest was the ultimate “stay at home yarn festival”, taking place through Instagram and Twitter over the whole weekend.  Rachel writes more about it here.  From the first picture on Saturday morning, the momentum gathered quickly, and soon lots of us were taking part.  Attendees shared not only pictures of current projects but also their surroundings, food, festival drinks, fellow attendees and much more.  There were even workshops on yarn-dyeing and steeking hosted on Twitter.  I kicked off my #bedinburghyarnfest experience with a lovely Saturday morning reading an article on Shetland yokes by Kate Davies in the latest edition of the Shetland magazine 60 North, with socks in hand and tea in my favourite knitting mug.


(Yes, the rabbits on the mug have rather an unusual knitting technique.)

On Sunday, I did some guilt-free yarn shopping from my stash, to choose yarn for an Ocean Blossom shawl.  Two friends helped me to choose colours via Instagram: Jenny, who lives about half an hour from me in South London and Zoe, who lives on the other side of the world in Australia.


#bedinburghyarnfest was a blast of unexpected magic which united lots of us who weren’t able to share in Edinburgh in person.  Taking part in it, I admired lots of projects, had some lovely conversations, and found plenty to inspire me for the future.

The yarn community is a tight-knit (badum-tish!) one.  If you run a yarn-related event, it’s possible that there are people you have never met, possibly living far away, who would love to attend if only they could.  A good event gives its attendees a good experience, but some events also have a positive impact on people who aren’t even there.  They create ripples beyond the group of ticketholders and build a wider community.  I believe that this doesn’t happen by accident, but by the will of individuals to share generously, to interact and to make connections with each other.  These values were at the heart of The Muse Connection, Edinburgh Yarn Festival and #bedinburghyarnfest.

I’ve realised that I don’t necessarily have to be at an event in order to gain from it taking place.  It’s all about engaging in a positive way.  I’ve also realised that by sharing my experiences at the events I am lucky enough to attend, I might be able to help someone else conquer their FoMO.  Here’s to sharing!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be taking place again in 2016 (dates to be confirmed).  Sign up to their visitor mailing list here for more details when they are announced.

Volume 2 of The Muse Connection is taking place in London on 21 June 2015, but is already sold out!  Look out for Volume 3.  You can sign up to their mailing list here.

#bedinburghyarnfest has not announced future dates, but I believe that plans may be in the pipeline! 

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