Archive for category Daily Life

A Bit of a Mental Health Break

This is slated to be one of my busiest months all year.  Which is something I have not entirely wrapped my head around.  I’m traveling for work, then going to Rhinebeck.  There’s M’s birthday and Halloween.  Then some more work travel.  As mentioned in my last post, I admit that I had moved past stressed into a state of overwhelm.  With the new school year, I was determined to take back my life, say “No” much more often and schedule time for myself.

So when staring down this jam-packed month – how am I going to keep my sanity?  By making sure I keep up with my planning.  I don’t like to admit it – but I tend to be unorganized.  I can usually be super and sometime overly organized for work.  It’s the rest of my life where it tends to fall apart.  It’s like I only have so much organization within me that I use it all up for work and then there’s nothing left.

This year, though, M and I have been setting up systems and really holding each other accountable. Things as simple as picking out our clothes for the week and packing all the things at night for the following day have made a huge difference for both of us.  In the past, I have implemented these systems and even stuck to them for a few weeks… However, this year, I’m determined.

Several times in my adult life, I’ve caught myself saying things like “I can’t keep living like this”.  In my current state of self-awareness, I’ve instead asked myself “Then how do I want to be living?”

I know that to slow down and enjoy the time I have with my daughter, I need to refocus on the systems that remove stress and almost magically give me more time.  Spending an hour every weekend to prep outfits for the week alone saves both of us so much time every morning.  When I’m not rushing around in the morning finding clothing that fits (for both of us), getting our lunches together and packing our bags – I’m sitting down, having a cup of coffee or tea with breakfast and talking to M – really setting our up our day to be more intentional. It’s fantastic.

Does every day look like that?  Goodness no.  But more of them are every week.

This isn’t a mental-health blog by any means.  However, I know that a lot of the reasons why I knit and spin are for my mental health and that’s great.  Now, I’m making sure that I’m also showing my daughter how to slow down and enjoy the time we’re given with the people around us.  She may not realize the benefits I get from crafting – but we both feel the benefits from spending quality time together every day, instead of rushing around trying to find her sneakers while I desperately throw an “almost completely healthy” lunch together.

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Back Again – Maybe?

I could make a lot of excuses for my absence, tell my life story or give a laundry list of accomplishments.  But I won’t.  Honestly, you don’t want/need to know, and I don’t want to waste time thinking or writing about it.

In a society where being busy is praised, but showing that you are stressed is looked down upon – I’ve finally thrown in the towel.  I’m at the point where I am openly saying no and admitting that I have reached a state of overwhelm.  Admitting it to others, really, because I had been trying so hard to not admit it to myself for months. It was somehow easier to allow myself to accept that I have limits if I told others that I did.

All that being said – I’ve mentioned time and time again that Fall is my favorite season.  Apple picking, sipping wine outside at my favorite vineyard while M runs around, watching football with my parents on a Sunday afternoon, Halloween.  Fiber Festival Season.  Every part of it makes me happy.  But honestly, it also adds to the stress.  Needing to make all the apple things before the apples rot, driving two hours each way to get far enough out into the country to feel like I’m really appreciating Fall, and traveling to and from festivals.

This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  When M woke up this morning (after actually sleeping in!), she was on me about leaving the house and doing something.  Meanwhile, I was sitting on my craft room floor soaking in the fact we had NOTHING scheduled for this weekend.  Planning to savor every unplanned moment of the day.  And I felt guilty about it.  I hadn’t told her that there was a festival this weekend because I knew she would want to go. She loves festivals and she’s already “mad” at me about going to Rhinebeck without her again…

I slowly weighed my options. It’s not like I wouldn’t enjoy the festival – I enjoy most of them and this one is pleasantly small and much less crowded.  But it’s over an hour away, with traffic likely two.  It was late morning and (we’re being real here) I hadn’t even showered.  The idea of rushing around to get ready so we could get there at a reasonable time was stressful.  I carefully chose my words and told her about the festival.  She asked if there would only be fiber there.  I honestly relayed the details.  She thankfully declined once I told her the distance and the length of the drive.

Instead, she asked for me to get her “Box of Projects” out of the craft room closet and she disappeared for another hour working on her own crafts.  We’ve since spent a lovely day crafting, making waffles together, butterfly watching (our three butterfly bushes out our front window are still blooming), and just breathing.  One of the many benefits to parenting – having a child who can read you and your needs sometimes, and understanding that sometimes, even moms need a break!

I hope you all are having an amazing start to your Fall!  But I also hope you are finding ways to slow down and take some time for yourself, too!

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All of a Sudden

Here we are.  It’s fall again after a whirlwind of a summer.  Though it was an amazing summer, it was full of M (for the first time) having summer activities that our lives revolved around and me straddling two positions at work, just trying to stay afloat.  But now, school is in full swing and we’re starting to get back to a normal rhythm in our lives.

It’s no secret that fall is probably my favorite season.  Between finally breaking out the hand knits to apple picking and Halloween festivities – there’s really nothing that beats it!  Except maybe winter, with my love of layering and snow…

Regardless, M and I have already started our apple adventures and by picking four pecks of delicious, early-season apples.  We even made our first batch of apple sauce a few weeks ago.  Now we’re in prep-mode for M’s birthday and Halloween. But first:  New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka – the beloved Rhinebeck).

I am glad to say that, though I didn’t manage to knit a new sweater for Rhinebeck this year, I have completed an epically large shawl and a poncho and I’m almost all packed and ready to go!  This is the first year that I’ll be heading up to Rhinebeck without M, staying in a house with friends and attending the festival both Saturday and Sunday.  So it was crucial (really just to me) that I had two major new pieces to wear.

First, I spent most of the summer, including hot Saturday mornings at swim meets, knitting up the Sixpence Shawl by Kristen Rengren.  I couldn’t be happier with this epically large piece!  There are different sizes in the pattern, and I definitely could have stopped sooner, but I basically wanted a blanket to curl up in.  I knit it up in my handspun from Gourmet Stash Tribbles (combining colorways Shrewd Slytherin and Screenager) with a “boarder” (because that’s probably the largest boarder I’ve ever knit…) out of Knit Picks Capretta in the Hunter colorway.  That’s right – this shawl is a Merino, Nylon, Cashmere and more blanket of heavenly cloud warmth.  I even enjoyed how light-weight, yet warm it was to the extent that I wore it multiple times at work – before weaving in the ends and blocking it.  It was the perfect layering piece over summer outfits in my freezing office – how could I resist?!

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

Once the shawl was done, and I finished the knitting aspect of my mother’s long-overdue sweater, I knew I needed to crank out another substantial piece before Rhinebeck.  Otherwise, I mean really – how could I show my face at the festival for day two? 😉

The problem was, what could I possible knit quickly enough that would make me feel super comfortable and confident?  Of course – the Rodeo Drive Poncho by Stacy Perry!  Even better – I had the perfect yarn already in stash from Aylin’s Woolgatherer’s massive store-closing sale this past summer: Filatura Di Crosa Zara in the beautiful 1962 colorway.  I love creative yarn companies and their love of yarn names 😉

I promise, it's a medium teal color....

I promise, it’s a medium teal color….

Now that all the knitting is done, both pieces have been blocked and most of my packing is done – I’m on to the next crazy struggle – what projects do I bring to work on while at Rhinebeck!? Do I bring my spinning wheel?!  Is that completely insane?! Then of course there’s making the “What to Purchase and Not Purchase” at the festival.  Yes – this year, I am telling myself there are actually things I have too much of (ex: Jacob fleeces, and really all fiber) and giving myself a real shopping list of the yarns I need to knit projects on my To Knit List for 2017.  More information on that list to come! 🙂

Tell me – what are your favorites about/for fall? Knitting/crafting musts?  Items you knew you needed to have done by fall so you could enjoy them? Favorite beverages? Foods?  Whatever it is – let me know – I should probably add it to my fall must-have list as well!

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Falling in Progress

Apples are currently in the crock pot, the smell of cinnamon is wafting through the air.  I have a new project on the needles and there is a crispness to the air.  It is the perfect first day of Fall.  Of course, the change in seasons brings some unpleasant things as well… such as seasonal allergies and the cold which our house has already been overtaken with.  But I refuse to let that bring me down.  This is my favorite time of year and I won’t let anything get in my way.  We have apple picking and American Football.  Then there’s pumpkin patches and fall vegetables.  To top it all off: we’re attending the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this weekend to kick off the start of sheep & wool festival season.  There is just too much to look forward to!

With that said, Fall also brings the want… no, the NEED to cast on nearly everything in sight.  All I long to do is sit in a big pile of all of my yarn and decide what to do with it all.  And then do it.  I cast on a cowl last night out of some handspun that would have been a crime to have stored away another Fall and Winter.  I plan to cast on another cardigan in the next few days for my mom (that’s right, I said ANOTHER).  I’ve already planned enough knitting and spinning to last me all the way through to next Spring and I just can’t stop.  The only trouble is, I would need to seriously tap into my mythical free time to actually get it all done.  Clearly, the cinnamon fumes are getting to me.

Coming back to reality, I realize that I need to first finish a lot of projects.  Sure, the knitting is complete.  But I have a sweater for M, a cardigan for me (more to come in another post), two cowls and two wraps that need ends woven in, to be blocked and buttons sewn on so they can all be worn and enjoyed this Fall.  To accomplish this, I have at least gathered them all into a bag and placed it next to my favorite chair in the living room.  I’ve even conveniently left a sewing needle next to said chair to facilitate weaving in all the ends.  Plus, I’m convinced I will block at least one piece each night for the next week.  Because, really, who knows how many knit pieces I will want to wear this weekend!

It’s time to go stir the apples and breathe in some more energizing Fall fumes.  Tell me, what are your lofty Autumn plans and goals?

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Summer Crafting, Preschool Style

I have an amazing sister.  I know, this is not a blog where I brag about my family too often.  But no joke, she’s awesome.  When it comes to being the fun aunt, she’s even better.  Our vacation this summer mainly involved staying at my sister’s place where we went on loads of fun adventures to the beach and Coney Island and more.  Back to my sister, though.  She anticipated nearly all of my daughter’s wants and needs… before M even knew she had them.  She even had her willingly eating multiple helpings of salad… my daughter likes her veggies, but baby spinach?  This was new for us…

I brought some toys my daughter hadn’t played with in a while hoping to fill some of the odd hours where we didn’t have something planned and we needed her to be able to play quietly so the adults could rest from all the traveling and excitement.  But it was my sister who brought some real child-entertaining game.

We arrived to find a well-thought-out list of activities she had planned to keep M busy.  There was dress-up, slinky racing (which M and my brother-in-law took off running with), and more drawing than I thought could be humanly possible, especially that done by the adults at the direction of my daughter.

However, the most impressive activity my sister came up with and the one that seems to keep on giving is the one involving thin cut-out wooden bears. Think paper dolls, but made from wood liken to a tongue depressor.  My daughter helped direct how she wanted the faces drawn on… I snuck off for a nap… and when I awoke – all three bears had paper outfits cut out of fancy card stock.  I don’t just mean dresses.. There are shoes, a hat and a purse.

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Plus, these outfits aren’t glued on.  There is the potential for more outfits to be created.  That’s because my sister thought to also get that weird blue wall putty stuff that you can hang pictures on your walls without messing up the paint.  The stuff that will now always be referred to as the amazing putty that allows my child to make her own bear dolls’ clothing that will stay on when we want it to but be so easily changed to a new outfit on a whim.  No silly fold-over paper tabs where the clothing inevitably falls off in less than five seconds like normal paper dolls.

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Since we’ve been home, I’ve been incredibly inspired to come up with more fun crafting/play time for my daughter and me.  Last summer we had dabbled in some art journaling.  This summer, M is going at it full force.  We pulled out the paints, stencils, glitter glue, crafting tape and craft paper and she has been adding to her pages pretty consistently.

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We also pulled out some other projects I had planned on us completing together…. years ago.  We finally painted and decorated the wooden letters for her name and hung them on the wall of her room by stringing them on decorative ribbon (less nail holes).

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I’ve also been struggling to find ways to better display all of the artwork she creates both at school and at home, so we hung a couple more lines of ribbon in her room and are hanging each piece with clothes pins.  Now she has her own little art exhibit that she gets to curate.

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For our next project, we will be revisiting the bears by making them homes.  Shoe box homes.  I told her we could paint them to look like rooms and paint furniture and rugs and such.  She turns to me and says “and we can cut out a door and make windows too!”.  I hear we will also be gluing the shoe boxes together to make a little bear mansion…. It will likely take up the rest of our summer!

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Getting Back on Track

Summer seems to have spiraled out of control this year.  Many plans and goals came and went unfulfilled.  Many posts were planned and never written.  This week, I hope to change some of that.  After unexpectedly being laid up on the couch recovering from a (minor-ish) surgery, I think now is the time to catch up on everything and fill in all the blanks.

Some things to look forward to this week:

– Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece Wrap-up

– Summer Crafting with M

– Crafting on the Go

– Getting Reacquainted with the Wheel

– Looking ahead to Fall

Look forward to a busier-than-usual week!

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Summer Project Planning

With hot weather looming outside everyday and the prospect of having any and all wool stick to me upon contact, my summer crafting usually has to be pretty thought out.  Between taking M to the pool and actually letting her play outside in the disgusting heat (I’m clearly not a big fan of being hot), I have found that small portable knitting projects get the most attention.  That being said, two of my favorite events happen every summer – Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece – both of which require serious planning.

Stash Dash, hosted by TheKnitGirllls, is running from May 23rd to August 7th this year and the goal is to knit/spin/use 5K of yarn.  If I only work on small projects all summer, I would not only go out of my mind, but I would likely never reach this goal.  I would waste so much time in between projects deciding what I felt like working on next.  I very easily get analysis paralysis…

In order to minimize the time wasted in this manner, I’ve lined up some of the larger projects I would like to accomplish this year that would seriously help reach the 5K goal.  Since I won’t likely bring these projects on our outdoor “adventures”, I will be certain to have a smaller project on the needles at all time.

  1. Viajante by Martina Behm (this has been on the needles since July 2013 and seriously needs to be finished)
  2. Anna Maria Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio (the sweater I was knitting for my mother until I realized it was large enough to fit three of her and needs to be re-cast on)
  3. Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits (hopefully to be my Rhinebeck Sweater)

It is also unlikely that I will be able to knit quickly enough to accomplish this entire goal.  Luckily, spinning also counts – and that’s where Tour de Fleece comes in.  Running from July 5th to July 27th, Tour de Fleece is the perfect motivation to spend some serious time spinning in the comfort of my air conditioning.  I don’t ask for much, but I do require it to be 80 degrees or cooler in order to spin without feeling like I’m felting the fiber before it even reaches the orifice of my wheel…

This year, however, Tour de Fleece seemed to sneak up on me – as did the month of July in general.  I originally intended on spinning my Jacob fleece batts and having it either all ready to ply or completely finished by the end of the Tour.  Since it began on July 5th and I realized the day of that I had projects going on nearly all of my bobbins and both of my drop spindles, I decided to change things up a bit.

I would like to be able to clean and condition my wheel before spinning my Jacob fleece, so I’ll need all of the bobbins cleared to do that properly.  So…. you guessed it – my goal is now to finish all of the spinning projects I have in the works… or at least the ones not on storage bobbins.  The current hope – and by that I clearly mean plan – is to clear these off my wheel and my spindles:

Loop Bullseye Bump - Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

Loop Bullseye Bump – Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

KnittyAndColor - Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

KnittyAndColor – Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

FiberFancy - Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

FiberFancy – Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns - BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns – BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co - Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co – Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

This is also a much better goal as I will be doing a bit of traveling and it is much more reasonable to bring along a drop spindle or two than to bring my wheel along for the ride.  Not to mention a lot less annoying for those I’ll be traveling with!

What are your crafting goals for the summer?  Planning any Christmas in July crafting to get a head start on your gifts basket? Please share to keep me… inspired? …paralyzed by all the possibilities?

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