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When a plan comes together

You know what makes me happy? When I come up with an idea and people seem genuinely interested in it, not from a selfish point of view, but from a social point of view, if that makes sense.

On Wednesday I mentioned that I was creating a knitting club at work (the Knit Squad). For over a week, I’ve been knitting like crazy to have samples ready, working on a slide to promote it, and a poster/email to launch it. I’ve been looking at yarns and needles to order for the people joining in.

I’ve also been working on some handouts so people can practise their knitting at home, following easy instructions. I’ve been refreshing my memory watching some useful tutorials (cable stitch, anyone?) and I’m pretty much focusing a lot of my free time on this project. Yes, that is correct, I’m working on it on my spare time!

Only last night, I couldn’t sleep and I decided to work on the handouts, from bed, at 1am. Talk about obsession dedication.

Today, I finally launched the knitting club, and sent the first email to announce it. I wasn’t expecting any attention, so I walked to the kitchen to get some water. On my way there, I could see my design in lots of screens, which always makes me sort of nervous (that, and sending emails to the whole office, that always terrifies me!).

When I got back to my desk, my inbox was filled with emails about the knitting club. A bunch of people wanted to sign up, and others simply wanted to let me know how cool they thought it was, even if they couldn’t make it.

Being a bit vain, I’m quite happy people are keen to take part, since I’m dedicating a lot of time to this, but it’s not only that. As I’ve said before, I like teaching and sharing my knowledge, even when I’m no expert on the topic. The fact that a bunch of people are interested in learning something I can help them with, makes me very happy.

I am looking forward to Tuesday now, I really want the Knit Squad to be a cool, creative gang. To be honest, I don’t have high expectations of this, I actually expect people will drop off and return to their normal lives once the club is not shiny any more. We will probably end up being just a couple of people, but that’s also cool, I can work with that!

Now, there’s a problem. My fear of rejection combined with my stage fright and fear of disappointing others, combined with my “impostor syndrome” are making me nervous about this. There is quite a few people that can be disappointed. What if I can’t teach them? What if my skills are not enough?

One way of improving something you’re learning is to teach it to others, as it helps you look into it in more detail and makes you understand it better and study it more. This is me, levelling up my life and trying to get better at this (both knitting and life), so I’m hoping it will work.

I want them to enjoy at least the first session and think it’s cool, if only so that they come back! I’m also hoping they will soon feel confident enough to want to share photos of their projects, to knit for charity, and maybe even to move to a different venue, like a pub, where people will see them in action, and they will still feel comfortable knitting.

On another hand, somewhat deep down, I know I can totally pull this off, and be awesome at it (here’s the vanity, after all). I’m feeling that sort of fear that only comes from thrill and anticipation, like before you go on a roller-coaster or a haunted mansion attraction. I’m hoping to run this knitting club as some sort of test, to see if I can do it as well as I think I can (vanity again), or if I have a really wild imagination. The next step would be to broaden the scope, either by changing the target group, or by changing the topic. Let’s see how it goes, but it really can only go great, right?

I did make them a promise I will need to keep… I did tell them they will become a knitting ninja, so maybe our first project should be black balaclavas and a sword holder?

Creating a knitting club

As you know from my previous post, I’m learning Swedish (and you might also know I’m refreshing my French too), but that’s not the only thing I’m doing at the moment.

As part of that levelling up my life thing I’m doing, I want to learn new languages, exercise more, and focus on the things that matter to me, at least outside of work. There’s no reason why I can’t find time to do everything (or many things) I like doing. I just need to be smarter.

Funnily enough, the question I get asked the most when I tell people I’m learning Swedish is why. With about 10 million native speakers, people find it weird that I’ve decided to learn this language. It sounds weird, it’s not very common and you know, it’s not the usual language people would want to learn. I explained some of my reasons in my previous post, but the main reason would be because it appeals to me. Is there a better reason to do anything than because you like it? I think not!

Over the years I’ve realised that I like doing stuff in groups, and I like teaching others. I don’t mean in a classroom, but I like explaining what I do and how, and try to win people over and show them how to do things. The best example is when I started my photography series of posts (weirdly enough, one of those posts has been viewed recently, which surprised me). Since I started doing crafts, I walk around shops, looking at price tags and thinking I can do that myself, even if I know the end quality won’t be the same, as I’m no expert. At least, I would love to try!

Recently, I’ve got back into knitting. It’s one of those things I pick up from time to time, do a couple of projects (or half finish ones) and then leave it again. I mentioned it to a colleague at work and she said she would like to knit more and then it hit me, I would create a knitting club at work.

I’m already part of the book club (we meet once a month), but I thought there might be more people who want to learn how to knit, but don’t know where to start.

Once I get excited about something, I find it difficult to focus on anything else, and I might go a bit overboard…

This past weekend I had an idea for an email/poster/slide to promote the club at work, I already mentioned it to some colleagues (our first knitting club member is actually a guy, so I’m quite proud of my selling skills!) and I decided to knit a bunch of samples so people can see and feel the difference between different knitting stitches. I also want to prepare some quick handouts to give participants so they can practise casting on and basic stitches while they’re at home.

I am very excited about this club, which I hope will work out. I think I would be happy if four people signed up. Of course, I’d be happier if more people wanted to take part in it, but I know how these things go.

The idea is to meet once a week after work, which I know is a bit of a commitment, but I don’t expect everyone to stick to the schedule all the time. I will probably be at the meeting place every week, working on my projects and in case someone wants to drop in.

Hopefully, this will help me work towards my goals (more on that soon!) and help me get better at teaching and organising events. Ah, yes, I am going to actually teach people how to knit. How about that? Again, I’m no expert, but I can do basic stitches, cables, ribbing; I’ve knitted a hat, a jumper, a scarf… My biggest worry is if people drop their stitches and need help with that. I can get there in the end, but I will need some help from the internet (as whenever I drop a stitch at home, I can never remember the exact way of fixing it). Good thing is that I’ve tried (and failed!) quite a few times, I’ve followed written and video tutorials and patterns, and the terms are not strange to me, so at least I can be a bridge between new knitters and the resources available if needed.

I’ll be updating you on more goals and projects in the coming weeks, and I’ll share my broader plan with all of you very soon, I’m just finalising the details.

In the meantime, what are you up to these days?

Trevligt att träffas

You know me, I’m always embarking on crazy adventures and challenges, and many times I just think why not?

This time, I’ve decided I want to learn Swedish. Yup, that’s right, Swedish, even though I know it’s not a widely spoken language, and it’s probably not going to open a million doors for me. I’ve wanted to try since I visited Stockholm years ago with my friend Aissa.

I remember walking around the city and trying to understand the words on the different signs. Not only reading the English translations, but actually trying to understand how the language is constructed (for example, figuring out that gata meant street after seeing it as a suffix in a lot of signs). I only managed a few words, of course, and everyone speaks English over there (dom pratar engelska dår), but it made me feel like I do have a knack for languages!

As part of an epic quest to live my life the best I can (more on that soon), I’ve decided to learn more languages.

Recently, I bought a book, Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb, of Nerd Fitness. I’ve been following that site for a while, and I love it. I love the nerd references and that the photos are made with Lego figures! It makes fitness a lot of fun. When I read the book was being published, I decided to pre-order it. Once it was delivered to my Kindle, I read it in three days.

I’m not going to write about the book here a lot, not on this post anyway, but if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, like your life is not going anywhere; if you feel like you were destined for more, and something is missing, I recommend you buy it. At the very least, it will give you some inspiration, at the very best, it will get you pumped and be the push you need to change your life.

When reading the book, I checked different resources Steve mentions and came across Fluent in 3 Months, in which a guy explains how he became fluent in a bunch of languages and explains how we can too. I thought that was my chance to finally learn Swedish. My goal is to have a 30 minute conversation in Swedish with a native speaker by the end of March.

So far, I can only say basic words and sentences, like the title of this post says, nice to meet you and other basic stuff, but little by little, I’m starting to see trends in the words and sentences, and starting to understand how the language is constructed.

Are you trying to learn a new language as well? Which one? Are you a native Swedish speaker? Would you like to speak in Swedish with me? The conversation might be pretty short and basic at the moment, but I’m game if you are!

In the meantime, ha det så bra!

The long month

The problem with spending the weekend resting and trying to get better is that when Monday comes, it feels like a complete waste of time.

It has been 12 days since I got the flu, and I’m still feeling meh. My fever and overall sickness is gone, but I still have a nasty cough and I’m getting pain in my ear. Yay, me.

Being sick for about 10 days has resulted in me neglecting my Granny Workout, like a lot. I’ve tried some stretching a couple of days, and that’s about it. I have my next appointment on Wednesday, and I’m going to disappoint Ian, but what can I do? Maybe if I work out three times a day it’ll make a difference, but chances are I’ll only make it worse, so I’ll come clean on Wednesday and accept the judgement.

This week, and all the way through January, I need to be on saving mode. Between the trips to Paris and and having been paid one week earlier, January is painful. No wonder everyone gets depressed this month! Since this is a long month, I’m already struggling a bit (and I still have the rent to pay on the 17th!), so I’m trying to come up with ways of saving some money.

For example, I’ve decided to only buy a train ticket for the whole month, which is significantly cheaper than a travelcard, but that means I am not able to use bus or Tube this month. I guess I’ll be walking to and from the station, and avoid any travelling around London. I don’t mind at all, only today I’ve already walked a lot (weirdly enough, at the time of writing this, I’ve still haven’t reached my daily goal of 10,000 steps, which I normally reach on my way back home). I walked this morning to Lewisham centre and to the Royal Mail delivery centre, so I could collect a parcel, and then to the station. From Blackfriars, I went to Costa and back to the office. On my way back home, I walked to Waterloo and then from Lewisham home. If I do something like this everyday, I should be increasing my steps considerably (if I get moving in the office too). The only thing is I will need to be careful with travelling everywhere else in London.

Only tomorrow I’m going to Sadler’s Wells to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty with Su and Mel (another friend from work), which is a bit farther North from the office. I hope they don’t mind walking, or taking a bus in worst case scenario. I thought the ballet was at the Royal Opera House, which would have been a breeze for coming back home, but it’s not. There goes my saving, since I will probably need to take additional transport for the way back!

As I said, on the pros column, I’m going to save some money and I’ll get more steps on mt Fitbit. On the cons column, I already feel the pain, since I already want to go to places outside my travel zone (like Clapham!).

The main problem when you don’t have enough money is what to do with your free time. Sure, there are plenty of things that don’t require spending any extra money, but they all involve becoming a bit of a recluse and not socialising with people, since normally people just want to spend money on food and drinks.

Just before the holidays, and as my Christmas present to myself, I did my first purchase at Wool and the Gang. I’ve been receiving their newsletter for ages, but I’ve always thought their products were a bit expensive, even though I think their business model is great (when they had shares to buy, I pretty much jumped into it!). I think I’m just cheap when it comes to buying knitted products and supplies… I understand something handmade and of good quality, made with wool is going to be expensive, I just can’t justify it myself. On their sale, I saw this carrie on tote bag, and I fell in love with it. It’s still on sale as of today! I quickly bought the pattern and yarn, and waited for the delivery (that’s the parcel I picked up today at the post office). The only problem is that I don’t have a crochet hook big enough for this project, so I can’t start on it yet. I don’t know why I didn’t buy one when I bought the pattern, I thought about it and then I didn’t, and now I want to start crocheting, but I can’t. It serves me well!

In the meantime, I can work on other projects that I still have pending, like finishing the scarf I’ve been knitting for over a year, fixing my beanie (which is too wide), and crocheting a couple of amigurumi items I have in the queue. As usual, I have some projects that are meant to be presents (like the Yoda hat I’m supposed to knit for Sam).

Thanks to the Book Club at work, I’ve been reading quite a lot lately. We’re currently reading Catch-22, and previously read Before I Go To Sleep (for which I never wrote a review here, by the way). We’re trying to find the next book to read, even though I haven’t even finished Catch-22 yet (more on that on the review, if I write it!). I have Felicia Day’s book also in the queue, and I’m looking into reading some books about fashion and blogging, but those will have to wait until payday!

Another thing I can do is to make the most of my Unlimited Card. Last film I watched was Star Wars, which I loved by the way! There are a bunch of films I want to watch at the moment, and it would cost me only a couple of bus rides to the cinema, so not a massive problem, I guess.

Finally, I should work out again. Going to the gym at work would make it easy and cheap, and even if I’m there just doing my Granny Workout, at least it would keep me entertained for a bit.

These past few days I’ve been mostly sleeping, and weirdly enough, I could fall asleep right now if I closed my eyes. I’ve been going to bed before 10.30pm, which is very rare for me, and I’ve been waking up at 5.30am. Now I’m not crazy enough to get up that early, but I’m thinking maybe I could just get up, have breakfast, and then make my way to the gym so I could get it out of the way. Maybe if I slept in my workout clothes I wouldn’t feel so lazy about getting changed in the morning, or so cold and stiff.

It’s only day 11, and I’m already going crazy. The temperatures have dropped a lot as well this past week, which is making me want to hibernate even more, but if I want to keep active and work on my goals this year, I can’t feel lethargic.

How else can I spend my time and be entertained that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Any ideas?