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Episode 124 Crafting in the time of corona; how’s that going for you?

Knitted rainbow made from the I can Knit a Rainbow pattern from Natty Knits

Hello pals! I’m a wee bit exhausted today, but also I really wanted a quick check in with you

Also available on Spotify, iTunes and wherever you find your podcasts!


I just really wanted to say hello and hold a little bit of space to say, here we still are and this still really sucks. Take a few deep breaths with me and just a moment to acknowledge that this is tough. I really feel its important to our mental wellbeing to do that.

Are  able to craft just now? I’m trying to find small pockets of creative focus, mostly swatching but I just don’t have the bandwidth to start the garment I’m swatching for – The Northdale sweater, from Gudrun Johnston.

Whilst a jumperweight Fair Isle jumper is not in my immediate future and certainly not before lockdown ends, I have been thinking about Aran weight PLUS garments. Quick, satisfying and pleasing in so many ways. The three that have become more distinct possibilities are below.

(images are from Ravelry and links in title lead to Ravlery)

The Ramona Sweater by Elizabeth Smith

Image Copyright Elizabeth Smith


The Waves of Change Jacket by Denise Bayron

Image copyright Denise Bayron


Ursa Sweater by Jacqueline Cieslak

Image Copyright Jacqueline Cieslak

Let me know how you are finding crafting during Coronavirus – are you struggling to do a little, like me, or are you ramping off with lots of FOs? All of these are valid, by the way. Whether you can do some, lots or none – that’s all ok!

I often paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver and say knitting is my life raft. Mine is tied up close to the pier just now, but I know it is always there and always near. I end today by reading a few paragraphs from that great essay of Kingsolver’s called Where it Begins. You will have heard me read bits before and, with apologies to Barbara, I read a few of my favourite parts to round out the episode. You can read the whole thing here – Orion magazine

Take good care, pals. This really is a shitty time – but we will stand on the other side of this one day soon.



  1. Carole says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Louise for taking time to podcast. It’s a little piece of ‘normal’ for me today. I sometimes think that I’m going to wake up from a bad dream and I’m still trying to make sense of how this has happened.
    I go to work every day as normal, but it’s not normal. I’m doing my job as usual, but it’s not as usual. I drive to and from work through empty streets and past shut shops, I can hear silence, I can smell fresh air, I can hear birds sing. This new ‘normal’ is beautiful but horrible.
    Thank you mam and mam-mam for teaching me how to knit and auntie Betty for encouraging me to purl. My knitting is my safe place, my sane place, my ‘normal’ place.
    My warmest wishes to you Louise and everyone else coping in these strangest of times.

    • louise says

      you are so welcome!! thank you for listening!
      It’s weird the things you notice now. I hear our resident blackbird so loud now, there is no traffic to dull him out!

  2. Jane says

    Hello Louise, I am a fellow scot but living in Australia. I have just discovered your podcasts and have really enjoyed binge listening. I loved the visit to Shetland ep and I love listening to the super long wool explorations. What a great way to experiment. Today’s episode was awesome – particularly the Barbara kingsolver essay. I’m always walking the dog when I listen – almost uninterrupted time. I hope you are going ok – I am lucky in the most isolated major city on earth – who knew?? People call it Dullsville but that was before corona!😂take care Louise and just know lots of people are enjoying your chats and observations. I appreciate you heaps! Ps I agree re new normal’ and ‘frontline’ – I’m a nurse but just doing my normal job! Also I have anxiety about choosing colours – the more colours the higher anxiety! I spent 3 hours in tribe yarns london last November looking to choose a blue and came out with Norwegian Red🙄🙄

    • louise says

      Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to put colours together sometimes! I’ve signed up to do a swatching for colour class with Terri Laura Malcolmson next week so i’m hoping that will give me a boost!

  3. I was inspired to tidy up my wool room to make room for a largish fibre order just at the beginning of the lockdown, and in doing so ,not only found fibre I had forgotten about – some of which I have now sold, but also a number of ‘orphan’ balls,which I have been turning into new hat designs, These designs (which now need written up!) have in turn sparked ideas for new sweater/jacket designs. Along with all that, I’m still spinning busily and plan to try some new dyes I got soon. I’m very lucky to be able to continue doing what I do,even though it gets tough at times to keep one’s spirits up and stay positive. The ‘deigners block’ which I’d been suffering from earlier in the year appears to have ‘unblocked’ with a vengeance and I think it’s because the reduction in pressure to ‘get it done’ has allowed a mental breathing space. Best wishes to everyone. Stay safe

    • louise says

      oh! how cheering! More power to your unblocked-designer elbow!!

      • Thank you. I really ought to try and resurrect my own blog,but find when I sit down to write something – the brain goes blank (unless it’s poetry,which I find a lot easier!) and I end up sounding very pompous!

        • louise says

          Maybe you could start with putting poetry on the blog, that might get the creative juices flowing. I was starting to journal again but was finding it hard to start. I started by giving myself one side of a page as maximum space abs after a while i realised I was writing more and more

  4. Alison Keys says

    I made an Ursa never having brioched before, and can confirm it was very straightforward.

    Also, BBC4 are re-showing THAT version of Pride & Prejudice right now. It started Thursday 7th May, so a bit to go before Colin gets wet.

    • louise says

      oh i watch it all or parts of that version about 3 times per year! It’s legitimately my happy viewing place!

      Thanks so much for the Ursa advice – am definitely going to make it at some point!

  5. NicolaB says

    Hello! I’ve recently started listening to your podcast and will be working my way through the back catalogue.

    When lockdown started, I was actually quite excited about ‘all the free time’ I was going to have, and therefore all of the long-neglected jobs I could get done. I’d not really factored in the fact that I was going to be working at home full time and that, actually, I’d not have as much free time as I thought. Then the reality of the situation hit me, and the first working at home week was pretty tough and worrying (I think it was actually the week before the wider lockdown, but frankly I’ve lost track). At some point during the second or third week I got into the swing of video conference meetings and FaceTiming my friends to catch up with them, and it all felt a bit more…well, not normal, but routine and ok.
    I’ve actually done quite a lot of knitting, as although I don’t have the vast swathes if free time I once imagined, I do have more than when I was driving to work and doing lots of other activities in the evenings and weekends.
    It’s probably for the best that I don’t have completely free time, as I find that when I do I struggle to get anything done at all, as I think I can just do it the next day…and then I am annoyed with myself for ‘wasting’ the free time.
    So I am adapting to the slower pace of life and not feeling like I have to be busy ALL THE TIME. I am enjoying having (much) less in the diary and gradually feeling like dealing with stuff I have had on my mental to do list for a while. Perhaps what I am discovering is that I am usually ‘overscheduled’, and need to cut back on some commitments.
    I feel like I am very lucky to be doing well in lockdown- I can work from home easily, and as long as I can go out for a walk with the dogs each day, my mental and physical health seems to be ok. I just need to get better at setting realistic expectations for myself!

    I’ve not made any of the sweaters you are contemplating, though I really like the look of Waves of Change.

    • NicolaB says

      I forgot to add in my long comment that the essay was beautiful- thank you for reading it out.

    • louise says

      it’s been a very steep, very fast learning curve, hasn’t it? It is really valuable that you’re learning stuff about yourself too.
      Thank you for responding!

  6. Georgie Kuna says

    I have landed here by way of searching for how to join the corners of a ‘hap’, which has become my lockdown knitting project. I knit the middle garter square years ago (about 8 or 9 years!) and over the years have periodically tried and failed to add a border, but have ripped it back countless times (at some point I forgot the original needle size). I tried several times to add an Old Shale border all the way round, but failed miserably. So many stitches, plus mitring corners, it was never going to work. Lockdown has seen me trying again to add an Old Shale border, but in four separate sections to each side, and once again needle size took a bit of figuring out. But it seemed to distort the centre square so much I’m afraid I lost my nerve. Now I finally have some simple garter bands, which fit without distorting the centre square, but also I have four corners that need to be seamed and I can’t find a how-to for the herringbone seam technique anywhere! The mission continues – I don’t know why I have persisted over such a long time with this particular bit of knitting but I have…the process more meaningful to me than the product perhaps? This is a lovely blog x

    • louise says

      Persistence and perseverance! there are some projects we just don’t know why we keeping going, but we do! That’s wonderful, good for you. In terms of advice there are SO many hap knitters in the woolwork ravelry group. We’ve done 2 hap KALS over the years and I know others will have struggled with this method. You could search the discussion in the group but those hap chat threads are very long, so please feel free to create a new chat thread about the issue you are having. I am sure someone there will be able to help

    • louise says

      also i’ve just had a vague recollection that some hap knitters refered to this as fagot stitch seaming…. could that be similar?

  7. Jacqui Fear says

    Very best wishes, only just found you… something good has come out of this mess. There is a Martin Storey ‘Bronte’ which has finally made progress. Loving the pattern suggestions. Take care of yourself,

  8. susan gilbert says

    Thank you so much, Louise, for podcasting and ‘reaching out’. Here, in England, I’ve been struggling with fury at the ineptitude of government, with sadness for old and young and irritation with myself for not settling to anything. I have been knitting long sock-like tubes of single stripes, which I’ve grafted into infinity cowls when they reach 5 feet long. What I really want to make is a colourwork jumper, but haven’t the bandwidth to follow charts.
    What really prompted me to write here is to thank you especially for your reading of the Barbara Kingsolver piece. Both her writing and your reading of it have bowled me over and as I walk by fields full of lambs in these Derbyshire hills, I’ll listen again.
    Be well.

  9. Carol says

    Thank you so much for your podcast…I pace myself with podcasts to eek them out so am a bit behind with this comment,
    Weirdly when this started I thought I would be fine…I had knitting,spinning,quilting and a myriad of other things to keep me going but it didn’t work out that way. Yep…couldn’t concentrate on anything annoyingly. But I hit on the whole turning a negative to a positive and have been digging deep and finishing off lots of UFO’s. Quilts with bindings needing handsewing that had been lurking. 2 knitted shawls that needed ends finishing all sorts of projects that I can’t understand why they became abandoned for soooo long. I am on my 2nd pair of queuing outside the supermarket socks …think I have become known as the weird woman who knits outside Waitrose!
    My daughter who crochets however has done nothing…she has switched to baking frantically. Apparently she does snot want to crochet anything that will be a reminder of this time.,,,.different takes on the same situation.
    Take care..keep safe.

  10. Bernadette says

    Hi Louise, thanks so much for your words, your soft, calm voice. A word we use here in NZ is ‘rāhui’, it means an embargo, a time when we don’t use something as in fishing after a drowning. So some here have been using this term.
    I have been doing simple knitting during this time, very slow, simple knitting. I’m now quite content with this. It took a while to figure out that the news, the updates, the videos made it feel like I was walking through mud.

    I needed to know what was happening so spending some time with news was important (my choice in the end, The Guardian). The other importany things of life: sleeping, eating, washing, sorting and walking a vigorous Cairn Terrier had to continue so knitting became a momentary part of life. So good to know that I am not alone in this.

  11. Susan Hobkirk says

    I am late to the party Louise but today I listened to Ep. 124
    I was sitting in my little “den”, my haven of calmness where I can craft to my heart’s content and pretend that the big shitty world is not just outside the window. I have struggled with the last few weeks. I don’t know why. I’ve no right. I live in idyllic countryside where one can walk for miles and never meet a soul at the best of times. Today the sky has been an uninterrupted Cerulean blue and yet…….
    I have the wool/patterns for 3 new sweaters. A Jarrad Flood Timberline for the hubby, and Emily Greene Aquatint for me, and a KDD Yorlin for me too. Can’t get started on any of them. Unheard of for me. I have been stitching instead and am working on a reproduction of an Elizabethan Sweete Bag in miniature needlepoint. I have to have something that I can say afterwards when this is all over, THIS was my lockdown. Excuse my ramblings.Weird, weird times. Thank you for the Kingsolver. It was so beautiful it caused my eyes to leak a wee bitty. Stay safe and thank you for all you’re doing.

  12. Chris Smith says

    Thank you so much Louise, for this podcast episode. I caught up with it today, while I was out walking and it was such a comfort to me. To hear some validation and solidarity about how shitty it all is, was somehow very soothing (and refreshing). I’ve been struggling with anxiety and irritability for the past few days and craving peace and quiet, just when it it getting noisier and busier just outside my home. Like you, I have only managed simple sock knitting and not that often. I have lots of jumpers in my Ravelry favourites, including the two you are thinking about doing, but I get no further than browsing patterns. I hope you are ok. I have been trying to calm and comfort myself with little things. Today it was The Guardian Codeword puzzle, a packet of Walkers cheese and onion crisps and dragging myself out for a walk. Thank you for all you do for us – I have loved your podcasts from the start.

  13. Cat says

    Hi again Louise,

    I hope you didn’t take my post on Ep. 123 as suggesting that you *shouldn’t* mention the global situation. I was trying to express my gratitude for a space that wasn’t completely dominated by C-19, when it felt like everywhere else was. (Of course, things have moved on a bit since then.) Also, I completely support you in claiming your podcast as your space where you can talk about whatever you choose.

    WRT crafting atm, I have been intermittent. I’ve managed to get a fair amount done on a project I’ve been working on since before Christmas, but that has been in two or three focussed sessions, rather than a bit every day. I usually took my knitting round when visiting friends, so the lockdown has removed those opportunities for crafting and I haven’t been very good at replacing them in my schedule even though obviously that time is still available. (It’s far too easy to fall down an internet-hole!)

    Thank you for sharing Barbara Kingsolver’s essay, it is beautiful.

    I hope you and yours are okay, and look forward to hearing from you when you’re feeling up to it.

    All good wishes!

  14. Julie says

    I’ve just found your podcast, I have knitted for years and more recently my tarn taste is changing so I’m looking where and how yarn is produced. I feel like a lonely knitter as I don’t have a friendship group or anyone to share my knitting journey with, I think it’s extremely difficult to make friends and find people to talk to 😊 thankyou for your knowledge and time to chat to us

    • Susan Hobkirk says

      Hello Julie. Where in the world are you based? Louise’s podcasts are wonderful. Very informative and it made me realise that there’s a great big world of people out there who are just as geeky about all things woolly as I am! I’m sorry you don’t have the personal camaraderie of a group of knitters as there are so many groups out there. In my experience, knitters tend to be a very friendly bunch. Enjoy the back catalogue of podcasts in the meantime x

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