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New Year, New Skills – Why learning a new skill is so good for you.

New Year, New Skills

It’s the beginning of a brand new year and many of us will be setting goals for 2019.  Things like no more chocolate until next Christmas,  20-minutes only on devices a day and go for a 10-mile hike a day. Like everyone else, I’ve set myself these sort of goals each year and then felt dispirited or that I’ve have failed as they are unreasonable challenges and impossible to fulfil. So this year I’m trying a different type of goal to achieve.

My goal this year is to try new things and start learning some new skills! This type of goal isn’t about denying myself of feeling a failure if I don’t do amazingly on my first try. It is about stretching myself, trying things I’ve always wanted to have a go at and knowing that not getting it right only means I am practising to succeed later. I’ve also decided to plan my day to make sure I have time to just enjoy the little things in life such as enjoying a walk and setting aside a little time in the day to just do something creative that isn’t to do with work.

Therefore my New Year Goals list looks a little different to previous years:

  • Finally learn to crochet! I would love to be able to make one of the gorgeous Toft animals we have so this is the year.
  • Learn a few chords on the Ukelele so I can start to join in with one of the wonderful pub and play Ukelele sessions around where I live.
  • Set aside a time each day where I get to just be creative and experiment with techniques or materials without any pressure for it to be for anyone but me to enjoy.
  • Start to practice Yoga, I must be the only one left who isn’t enjoying some form of Yoga but I am a bit terrified as I am seriously unflexible and worry about getting stuck in a pose!

 

 

These New Year goals feel pretty good to me – there is no pressure, just a chance to do some fun stretching of the mind (and body) and the results should be pretty exciting, no matter if it takes me the rest of 2019 to manage some of them, I will still have started something I have never done before and be on my way to achieving a new skill.

The benefits of learning a new skill are pretty impressive:

I’m actually really looking forward to reaping all these benefits and having some fun in the process. It also feels a much more positive way to start planning a year than denying yourself or trying to make a new “you” out of a “you” that has travelled through good and bad stuff in 2018 and has proved a pretty good companion.

So let’s make 2019 a year to discover new skills we love and fill it with all our favourite things, both old and new!

 

If you too are looking to learn a new crafty skill in 2019 then these kits are perfect for beginners, from cross stitch to quilling.

Cross stitch – Cross stitch is the perfect new skill to relax with on the sofa! These counted cross stitch kits made by Mouseloft are perfect for beginner stitchers as they are very small and have simple but very cute designs.

 

Needle Felting – This is such a relaxing craft form to try and these gorgeous kits by Alula’s Garden are perfect for beginners. There are 6 kits in this range from penguins to rabbits.

 

 

Paper quilling –  This Complete Beginners Workbox by Past Times Quilling is designed for beginners and it contains everything you need to start, including a book with full instructions.

Wooden Automata Kits – If you want to start to learn how to make wooden moving models then why not start with this beginner level kit by Timberkits. It contains everything you need to make your model – a flying butterfly and a wriggling caterpillar.

 

If you enjoyed reading this article then you might like our article on how crafting makes our life better. Or to read more of our blog posts click here.

5 Reasons We Love Kits

Some of the very first things I made (after the obligatory and beloved wiggly eye and pom-pom monster) were made using a kit. They were a cross stitch unicorn and a cartoon drawing set. The unicorn turned out with huge hooves and a very wonky horn and the less said about my attempts at  cartoons the better but they set me on a journey I am still travelling and enjoying today – the ability to make and create.
The use of a collected set of materials boxed together to make something specific is hardly new with model planes and cars regularly being made as kits but the proliferation of kits today means that you can find a kit in almost any craft form you want. This choice vibrancy is one of the reasons I love kits, you can make anything from a sock elephant to a pair of knickers! In case you are still un-convinced here are 5 more reasons!

 

  1. They are perfect as an introduction to a craft form.

    Kits usually come complete with instructions and everything you need to make your project. This means you can just focus on learning the techniques and enjoying the process. Once you have mastered the basics you can then go on to create your own projects or move on to a more challenging kit.

  2. They save you time.

    Rather than having to collect all the materials together and formulating the best method and then finding you have run out of time, you can just start! Everything is included so all you have to do is open the box and begin.

  3. You have a much better chance of it turning out how you intended.

    Someone will have carefully worked out how best to put the project together, worked out just how much wool you need and can tell you just when you might need that essential dab of glue. This means you are left with a thing of beauty rather than a nightmare creation! Again this is a perfect base from which to progress in a craft form.

  4. They span generations.

    You can get kits perfect for any age so however old you are you can find something to make. They are also lovely as activities to get everyone together by having a making session with children creating with their parents and grandparents.

  5. You can take them anywhere.

    Compact and portable, kits are perfect for taking with you to do some on the hoof creating! Long train/car journeys are perfect times to make or design something as your mind is free to design and build and you are given an enforced break from having to rush somewhere.

So whatever your favourite reason for using a kit we are sure you will agree they are pretty brilliant.

You can read our other blog posts on wellbeing, creativity and crafting here 

Or have a browse through our kits here

Green – Reasons to love and hate the marmite colour

For 2017 a green shade is Pantone colour of the year, appropriately called Greenery; fresh and vibrant it truly makes you think of freshly uncurled leaves.

“There’s an understanding now, that you can use green as a neutral colour, just as Mother Nature does. With any flower that pops out of the Earth, you never say, ‘oh, that can’t go against green’.” Leatrice EisemanExecutive Director of the Pantone Color Institute

The colour green is everywhere, we see it everyday whether we work or live rurally or in urban settings. From sumptuously filled gardens to the weeds in between the paving slabs on our way to work, it is ever present. Despite this the colour green is often portrayed as an afterthought, much less popular than its “shade cousin” blue and also associated with unluckiness in some countries and jobs.

As it is green’s year, I thought it was the perfect moment to look at this colour in more detail and find out why and where we should and conversely shouldn’t, be including green in our lives.

What is Green?Hand drawn leaf Becky Woolley

Green is perched between blue and yellow on the visible light section of the electromagnetic spectrum and has a wavelength of around 510nm. Things, such as for example vegetation, appear green because all the other colours in the visible part of the spectrum are absorbed into the leaves but green is reflected.

Green Colour Associations around the World

In many languages, including English, green is irrevocably intertwined with growth in nature but culturally green has a myriad of different meanings across the world. In Europe and the USA green denotes Spring, a sign of rebirth and environmental knowledge. However in China green means exorcism and in hats, that someone’s wife is cheating. Green in Japan means life and in Islam green shows hope and virtue. In Feng Shui green means Yin and a refreshing, nurturing, calming and healing energy.

green scooterUnlucky?

Widely thought of as an unlucky colour for a vehicle, many people would rather have any other colour paintwork rather than go for green. Interestingly dark green was a very popular colour for early automobiles but now only 6% of cars (from a 2013 survey) are this colour and this figure is still dropping.

But can the colour of your car really be linked to higher crash rates?

A Monash University Accident Research Centre study in Australia found a clear statistical link between car colour and risk of crash. This showed that cars that might be more difficult to see clearly, such as darker cars like black, brown and green, were more likely to have more severe crashes than lighter or white cars. However green, although high up, was not at the top of the list of most crashes so why do we have such a specific view that green cars are unlucky when it comes to crashes?

One possible link is that in 1910 a car being driven in a race in Syracuse lost control and killed several watching members of the public – it was green. Then again in 1920 Gaston Chevrolet was killed in his green car during a race. These two events seem to have had a big impact on the racing car scene with this superstition being at its highest between the 20’s and the 50’s. This feeling is only now starting to ebb because corporate sponsors want their logos on cars and if the sponsor’s logo happens to be green, drivers on that sponsors team have to put aside the superstition in order to drive.

And Now the Positives

There is mounting research both being undertaken and already completed that colour can affect your mood and enhance your memory and creativity.

A study from the University of Essex assessed mood and tiredness in a group of 14 men. The group rode an exercise bike for 5 minutes while watching a simulated cycle through natural surroundings with either a green, red or monochrome filter applied. The participants reported feeling less tired and had steadier mood fluctuations when the green filter was applied than when the other two filters were used.

The same research team also undertook a previous study which found that even a tiny amount of exercise outside provided very positive improvements in mood and self-esteem.

Green surroundingThey theorised that these positive effects traced back to when lush greenery to our early ancestors indicated plentiful food and water and would presumably provide calmer and happier feelings as a result.

Another study, on the relationship between colour and emotion completed by Naz Kaya PH.D. and Helen Epps PH.D. from the University of Georgia used 98 college students as the participants. They used a computer screen to separately show each participant a series of ten colours – red, yellow, green, blue, purple, yellow-red, green-yellow, blue-green, purple-blue and red-purple. They were then asked to report their emotional response to the colour on the screen and how it made them feel. Out of all the colours, green was mentioned most positively with 95% of responses being positive. The words and emotions people associated with green were relaxation, calmness, happiness, comfort, peace, hope and excitement. The participants said that they associated green with nature and plants which made them feel more soothed.

Increased Concentration and Creativity?

A slightly different slant on green’s positive impact is that research by Dr. Kate Lee found that it can also boost concentration and help you make less errors in your work. A group of students were given a boring computer based task to do but which involved concentration not to press the wrong button at certain times. When the students had a mini break half of them viewed a green roof and the other half a concrete roof. Those who had viewed the green roof made less mistakes and concentrated more than those who didn’t in the second half of the boring task completed after the break. She put forward the theory that the green view had given the students a mental boost and also a mind relax.

Links between green and enhanced creativity was made in a study by Lichtenfeld, Elliot, Maier and Pekrun where a very quick glimpse of green before doing a creative task boosted participant’s creative performance as opposed to when other colours were viewed.

So where or how is the best way to welcome green into your life?

Given that green seems to be beneficial for mood, concentration and creativity; it sounds like offices and educational establishments would benefit from a bit of greening here and there. In the home, green could be beneficial in home offices and also in rooms where you want to relax and recuperate. As with everything, use with moderation as too much green could also be overwhelming. Elle Décor suggests using some paler greens as neutrals and adding feature colours to imitate flower colours.

When it comes to transport it appears it is darker cars in general that are more likely to have crashes than lighter cars due to heightened visibility and not than green is particularly unlucky. However if safety is your primary concern when buying a car you may want to consider the colour and go for lighter rather than darker colour car shades.

 So Love it or hate it, green does have some very good points, just perhaps not when it comes to cars! How will you be using green this year?

For more of our blog posts please have a browse here

Information sources and links to further information:

https://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/EDDOCS/Wavelengths_for_Colors.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC300804/

http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=532

http://www.deborahswallow.com/2010/02/20/meaning-of-colours-across-cultures/

http://www.sensationalcolor.com/color-meaning/color-meaning-symbolism-psychology/all-about-the-color-green-4309#.WOwWEhEizIU

http://www.theaa.com/newsroom/news-2013/aacars-most-popular-car-colours.html

http://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/216475/muarc263.pdf

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-racing/nascar/history/green-cars-unlucky-in-nascar.htm

https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing/colour-personality.htm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/10767459/Seeing-red-The-mind-bending-power-of-colour.html

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es301685g

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es305019p

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027249440290232X

http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/greengood.aspx

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9450.2004.00419.x/full

https://adobe99u.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/2012_lichtenfeldetal_pspb.pdf

http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/how-do-colors-influence-learning

http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC3743993

http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/color/news/a9392/pantone-color-of-the-year/

http://www.livescience.com/36735-does-the-color-green-boost-exercise-s-effects.html

http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/38646306/colorassociation-students.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1492521099&Signature=WSQk7oGC%2Bx3EXuh10Kq9silRNig%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DRELATIONSHIP_BETWEEN_COLOR_AND_EMOTION_A.pdf

http://freshome.com/2010/09/08/20-ways-to-use-color-psychology-in-your-home/

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