Yarn Along: I’m Baaack!

Well hello again, friends!  It’s good to be back.  So sorry to disappear on you like that, without any notice or explanation.  All I can say by way of excuse is that I was going through a hard time personally, felt stuck creatively, and couldn’t muster up the motivation to try to force it.

But that’s over now.

I’m going to ease back into the blogging with one of my favorite weekly traditions, Ginny’s Yarn Along.  During my hiatus, I thought about Yarn Along nearly every week.  And I read some of the other posts, and always gleaned a few new ideas for things to knit and books to read.  I’m almost always doing both, so this is the perfect platform for a little sharing.

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My blogging friend Katie Gibson is a formidable reader, moving along at an enviable pace. She posts regular updates and reviews on what she’s been reading, and I’ve often taken her lists along to the bookstore or library.  You can see her 2014 book list here.

She recently recommended a book by Jojo Moyes.  After looking through all of her titles, I decided to start with Me Before You.  When I picked it up at the library, I was a bit embarrassed to see that it had a romance sticker on the spine.  Not my typical genre, but I do enjoy a good love story.  So far, it’s not romancey in the heaving bosom sort of way at all.  It didn’t take long to get hooked, and now I can’t wait to read her other books!  Don’t you love it when that happens?

There have been a lot of baby knits on the needles the past couple of months.  Not only am I pregnant (yay!  more on that another time), but so are a couple of my friends.  After a first trimester with my head stuck in the toilet and zero knitting mojo, it’s a relief to be back with my wool and needles.  Here are two finished Puerperium cardigans awaiting buttons.  Both are knit in Madelinetosh, one in DK the other in Vintage for two different sizes.  This is a  fun, free pattern that takes just one skein of DK weight yarn. Win!

It’s good to be back, friends.  Thanks for stopping by!

Making & Mothering: My Podcast Interview + 10 Tips for Simplifying Motherhood

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers and internet friends in real life.  It was sort of surreal looking at one another in the flesh after years of reading her blog!  We got to spend some time fondling a gorilla, slurping lattes, and talking about our respective mama-hoods and business lives.  And amid all of that, Kathy mentioned that she had recently started a podcast and would be interested in interviewing me.

Say whaaaat?!

I love podcasts.  Knitting and parenting podcasts are my jam.  They have kept me company while cleaning, painting, nursing, cooking, driving, exercising, and knitting.  I look up to the women I listen to every week, for their bravery at pulling up the mic and sharing themselves.

When faced with the opportunity to be on a podcast myself, I was simultaneously excited and terrified.  It turns out I was in good hands.  Talking with Kathy is easy and fun, and it really felt like a phone call with a good friend.

We talked about my new passion, exploring making and mothering.  It’s a topic we’ve been exploring over on the Stash blog with interviews and guest posts with some pretty amazing women (click here to see them all in one place).  To get to speak about this subject from a personal standpoint had me feeling vulnerable and empowered at the same time.  I’m no expert on parenting, and I certainly don’t do things the way I want to 100% of the time.  But I do the best I can, and I am constantly learning and evolving.

If you’re so inclined, head on over to Kathy’s blog Bliss Beyond Naptime and listen to my interview!  The time flew by so quickly that we didn’t get a chance to delve into all the things I was ready to talk about.  Kathy asked me two big questions that we could have kept talking about for hours.  Below I’ve shared more of my answers that we didn’t necessarily get to in the interview.  I hope you enjoy!

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For me, I’m never more connected to my creative spirit than when I am creating.  Knitting is the main way I feel that connection, but there are infinite ways.  Find yours and give it everything you have.  Some other sources of bliss that rejuvenate and nourish my soul:

Baking—did you know I went to school to be a pastry chef?

Being out in nature—gardening, walking/hiking, the beach. Being near water. Love living in the PNW!

Reading–love to bliss out on an amazing story (fiction or otherwise). I make time for reading by enforcing and early bedtime for myself. 

Travel—doesn’t have to be big, but I find that about every 2 months or so I need a change of scenery and routine.  We also take a lot of daytrips as a family, and our staff at Stash try to take a field trip every couple of months.

Grooming!—long baths & self-manicure sessions help me clear my head and invite in all sorts of amazing ideas. Maybe it’s the polish fumes, but it works!

Friends—a good long talk with a girlfriend is so important.  My social life has been one of the things to take a hit since starting my business, and this makes me very sad.  Whenever possible, I try to reach out to my friends and touch base.

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How have you simplified motherhood so you can carve out the time and energy to follow your bliss?

  1. Changing expectations of self.  I don’t have to do it all, nor do I want to.  And I don’t have to do it like She does.  We’re all different and doing the best we can as women and moms. This was a hard transition to make when I became a mother, and again when I started running Stash.  I’m learning to put my energy into the activities that make me feel most myself, as well as a loving mother, creative business owner, fun and supportive spouse.  It’s like my biz mentor Marie Forleo says, “if isn’t a hell yes, it’s a hell no!”  Letting go of other people’s expectations.  This is hard—I tend to take things personally and am very sensitive.
  2. Routine: Getting rid of what doesn’t work, add in more of what does & repeat. Children love repetition and routine.  And guess what? Busy adults do, too!  We have a family rhythm that works really well for us right now.  My daughter eats the same thing (with minor variations) every day for breakfast and lunch. I used to worry about her becoming a picky eater, but I’ve let that go in favor of knowing she always has healthy choices I don’t have to think so much about.  We save new foods for our nightly family dinners and when we’re out of the house. 
  3. Present moment.  When I’m at work I’m 100% focused on Stash.  When I’m at home, I attempt to be 100% focused on my family.  I don’t work from home when my daughter is here.  This is a big challenge, but one that has enabled me to notice, appreciate, and soak up the special moments in my everyday life.  It also helps me feel a bigger sense of gratitude for the little things: friendly customers, soft yarn, belly laughs, silly faces, and a thousand other things.
  4. By encouraging solo play.  Kathy was the first person who I ever heard lay it out so clearly, bluntly, yet lovingly: I don’t play with my kids.  I felt that this was the way for me intuitively, but I felt a lot of guilt around it.  For my daughter and I, our play is reading, cooking, or creating together.  We have a craft room where we’re free to get messy and have fun, and we read together every single day. We also have a lot of family dance parties to blow off steam and reconnect at the end of a busy day!
  5. House cleaner!  I used to have a weekly cleaning schedule.  It helped me feel productive and like I was contributing to the household when I wasn’t working full time.  When my daughter was born I gave myself the gift of letting go of the deep cleanings.  Once a month someone comes in and cleans the house top to bottom.  It’s amazing what happened when I let go of worrying about scrubbing the tub or mopping the floors!  We still clean, but our standards have changed and it’s very liberating!
  6. Free days and family dinners.  No matter how busy the week is, we know that we will be having dinner together every night.  This is a huge priority for all of us, as it is often the only time we’re all sitting down in the same place at the same time.  We also do our best to not schedule more than one outside activity on the weekends so we have time together and each parent can be free to pursue passion projects. All that routine does get a little monotonous! Keeping weekends free allows for more spontaneity and fun.
  7. Bedtime and quiet time Ever since my daughter was an infant, we have held bedtime and naptimes sacred.  Not only does this mean we’re all better rested, it means we all get our own downtime, too.  When I stayed at home, I would only let myself do housework type things for a few minutes, the rest was for soul-filling activities.
  8. Less work I’ve also slowly simplified my work schedule so I have more room to dream and hunt inspiration for my life and my business.  There is this antiquated notion that entrepreneurs have to work 24/7 in order to be successful.  I regularly only work 24 hours a week  As much as possible I separate my two jobs as entrepreneur and mama so that each can have my full attention.
  9. Bonus Day My daughter goes to preschool on one of my days off! I usually do a little bit of work to keep things running smoothly, then I take care of what need to in order to fill my bliss cup back up.  It usually involves not getting dressed, writing a blog post or two, reading, knitting, and cooking up something yummy.

What are your sources of joy and rejuvenation, dear mama?  How do you take care of your creative self while also being the mama of your dreams?  Do share~I’d love to hear from you!

Yarn Along:: Road Trip Wips

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From Small Things ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

We took a family road trips last weekend.  This meant lots of knitting time in the car and short bursts of it in many places along our way.  I knit by a pool, in a restaurant, in our hotel(s), and by the ocean.  This pile of green knitting you see is destined to be the Sweet Bunting cardigan. I’m knitting it out of Acadia, and I have to say it is lovely stuff.  It feels luxurious yet rustic with the bobs of silk that come along every so often.  Yes, I’m knitting another baby sweater out of really nice yarn.  Why not?

I also started a new book on the trip, Jamrach’s Menagerie.  It’s set in 19th century London and is told from the perspective of a young boy who first finds himself in the jaws of a tiger and then working for the man who deals in exotic animals.  I’m only in the first third of the book, and it’s already captured my interest and I’m curious to see where the adventure goes.

So what’s in your project basket and on your nightstand this week?

FO:: Little Oak

A sweet knit for an even sweeter baby, Little Oak was the perfect project for an autumn baby boy.  I really enjoyed knitting this cardigan, and tried to infuse good thoughts and hopes of restful nights for my friend  and her new baby as I knit each stitch.  This baby will be swathed not only in good vibes, but good yarn, too!  I’m pretty set on the idea that cashmere yarns knit up faster than those without, and so far my theory stands unthwarted.

“Cashmere?!” you gasp.  “For a baby?!”  Yes, for a baby.  But not just any baby.  The baby of a mama whose own mama is a prolific knitter.  This woman knows how to clothe her little ones in the woolens, and I am sure this wee sweater will fare just fine.  And if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. I had a lot of fun knitting it, and seeing the look on my firend’s face when she unwrapped it was priceless.  I don’t ever even need to see it on the baby.

Okay, that’s a lie.  Maybe just once.

Welcome to the world, bhaiya!

Yarn Along :: On + Off the Needles

From Ginny~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. 

I may be reading the same book this week (and still very much enjoying it, I might add), but I have cast on a new knitting project!  This is some delicious yarn in a shade somewhat risky for a baby knit.  But it’s sophisticated and mysterious and beautiful, just right for the intended family.  I’m quite excited to be knitting the baby version of an adult sweater I have long admired.  How fun to get to try out the techniques on a small-scale before committing to an adult size?  The perfect strategy for a newbie sweater knitter, I daresay.

That coral pile in the background is my finished Tidal cardigan.  It’s all over except for the matter of buttons, which I hope to find this week.  My button collection is still packed up from the move, and besides I don’t think I have enough of any one kind for this sweater.  And the baby cardigan will also need buttons, so I suppose a-button shopping I must go!

What is on your nightstand and in your project bag this week?

Sidenote: We’re gearing up for a fall sweater knit-along over at Stash, and Liz has cooked up a great series of blog posts to help get ready.  Check it out, subscribe if you like, and say hello if you’d like to join in; all are welcome!.  We’re having a nice discussion over in the Stash Ravelry group, too.

Baby Hat/Scrapdown

Recently I’ve turned to my bag of sock yarn leftovers for instant gratification knitting. I tend to have a lot of yarn leftover after knititng a pair of socks or a shawl, and I’ve found it’s enough to make a baby hat. This go-round I didn’t even have to use stripes, which means there was a lot of yarn leftover. You may recognize the hat on the left from these socks and the hat on the right from this shawl.  It was a lot of fun to play with these yarns again in a completely new way.

I improvised both these hats, with no set recipients in mind (though there are a few friends with babies coming soon).  Random yarn, random pattern…it all added up to some seriously relaxing knitting!  And it feels really good to use up those 1/4 skeins of yarn.

How do you like to use your leftover bits of yarn?  Let us know in the comments!

Two

They say that the days pass slowly, but the years pass quickly. How true that feels today, on Peaceful Baby’s second birthday! I suppose she is officially  Peaceful Toddler now, what with her walking, jumping, climbing, talking, singing, and having definite ideas about the way things should go.

It has been such an adventure and a privilege parenting this magical little one. From those first uncertain days and sleepless nights to now, where we know just a little bit more of what we’re doing.  There’s still plenty of uncertainty, but each day that we get to see more of who she is, the more certain I become that I love being her mama.  And I am most certainly looking forward to the coming year and all its joys and challenges.

Happy Birthday!

Family Rhythms

They say that life with a small child means constant change.  That once you get comfortable with the way things are, they go and stop taking a morning nap, forgoe eating a favorite food, or just start talking up a storm.  Some changes are delightful, others are a little bit less so.

These days, our rhytyms as a family are taking on an entirely new tone.  Where once I was a stay at home mama an felt no sense of rush at the beginning of a new day, now I am a working mom and wife with a lot going on outside the home for the first time in years.  Sweetie is returning to work full time this week after having a few good stretches of time off over the summer.  And next week, PB goes from stay at home toddler to an enrolee at a Montessori morning program for toddlers.

Folks, this is a lot of change.  It keeps me up at night, worrying about what I’ve done to all of us by decided to open my own business.  In my heart, I know it is right, that to pursue one’s dream is a brave and life-affirming thing.

In the pit of my stomach, especially late at night, I worry that this is all one huge mistake that could irrevocably damage our little family.  When I’m at work, I worry about what I’m missing in PB’s day, and when I’m home, I can’t stop thinking about the shop.  Being present in the moment is taking a little bit more effort on my part. I have got to get that into check.

Working parents, how do you do it?  Knitting does help, that’s for sure!

The Book Nook

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been inspired to cut out some of the toy clutter in our home, fine tuning some play areas for Peaceful Baby (Toddler!).  There’s the kitchen play area, a box of musical instruments, baby care, and a small table for coloring and puzzles.  The most magical transformation, however, has to be the new Book Nook.

For a while now, I’ve had a few pillows on the floor, with a basket of books nearby.  This is where I would put our weekly booty of library books in an attempt to keep them from getting mixed in with our book collection.  Several times a day PB would sit there and flip through books on her own, or pull one of us over and pat the pillows, asking for a story.

One day, as I was rearranging things aiming for a more efficient and pleasant arrangement of toys and furniture in our living room, I gave an underutilized corner some attention.  There was already a light tube and a large eye hook above, and plenty of floor space below.  Not really room for furniture, but perfect for a cozy reading and resting spot. One store-bought canopy and a junk-drawer carabiner later, we had this:

This has turned out to be a very special, almost magical corner, where once there was nothing.  PB gravitates toward it not just for reading, but for playing with her babies and other toys.  And I find myself offering to read PB even more than before, because it’s just such a peaceful, happy spot!

Someone else likes it, too.

Oh, cats…

Happy July, friends!  I hope everyone has a restful and yarn-filled weekend.  And if you’re in the US, have a safe and happy Independence Day, too!