I sometimes think you could track my life by the crafts I have picked up, learned, practised for a season and put down again. As a teenager, I learned knitting (only so I could make a complete set of Christmas decorations from Woman’s Weekly) and spent hours making gloves, scarfs and jumpers that I was rarely ever able to wear inside, let alone out.
During my college years I moved on to cross stitch: it was absorbing, required concentration and meant I could create beautiful pictures (I still have them up at home) I also loved tapestry, which is, I suppose, the needlework equivalent of painting by numbers. The ready-printed canvas, the colours in skeins and the up-down-up-down repetition meant that, unlike cross stitch, this was a mindless activity which in a contrary way made it good for mindfulness. Empty your brain? Yes, easy enough when the hands are occupied and sitting still for hours is required.
Once I was a mother I needed something pick up and put down. Enter crochet, and the one hook-one stitch-no-need-for-a-pattern. My blanket pile grows and grows: I can see I’ll have to start giving them away soon, or at least storing them ready to pass on to my babies as they flee the nest.
My big issue is getting halfway through a project and losing interest, though. Especially in bigger projects (a fancy cricket cross stitch on fine linen that did my head in springs to mind) or when the passion for the craft departs and I’m left with a pile of felt, a collection of metalwork implements or beads from earrings that I wanted to make three years ago and just haven’t got around to. I cannot quite bring myself to pass on the items, but I don’t like them acting as a reminder of something I should do but won’t yet. That’s why currently I like projects where it’s a simple matter of attack: get what you need, get it done, get out and no wastage. Case in point: seasonal tree window decorations.
Truthfully, these were inspired by my daughter who wanted to do some crafting during the holidays. Enter Pinterest, and an idea by How Wee Learn. That the project only needed embroidery hoops, wire and beads seemed like a genius idea to me.
They were really simple, but I hope you agree look very effective when the sun hits them.
I think my favourite in the setting sun last night was this, the Winter tree. Ignore the windows that need washing again, and look at the light sparkling in the crystals. I (almost) can’t wait for the depths of winter when the low solstice sun hits them full on in my South facing living room and, hopefully, we have hundreds of little rainbow lights flashing across the ceiling.
I hung them in the door panels of my french windows, using adhesive hooks and simple white thread. Sarah made hers and took them to her new flat in Nottingham. It makes me feel happy to know that we both have something that we made together to look at and feel connected, even though we’re apart. She’s also into cross stitch at the moment, because it takes counting and concentration and is a great escape from the pressures of work…. history repeats itself, just with variations.
I’ve decided to have one header for the whole season of small things: it’s one of my favourite pictures by Alex Geerts on Unsplash. I love the whole colour scheme, which just makes me feel so autumnal. I love the socks, the book, the blanket, the tea, the leaves and pumpkin. There are so many small pleasures in the picture, it’s like my ambition for this whole series in one simple shot.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well, and read the other posts in the series, too.
My September of Small Things:
Day Three: Plants, Naturally
Day Four: A New Magazine that Really Suits Me
Day Five: Autumnal Decor Ready for the Harvest
Day Eight: Life Lessons From the Roadside
Day 11: Autumning Up My Planner
Day 12: A Brief Pause in a Very Busy Day
Day 18: The Return of an Old and well-Loved Friend
Day 19: Late Autumn Colour on the Tree I Love
Day 23: When a Project is Completely Finished and Works Out Just As You Imagined It