Category Archives: Uncategorized

creative-hours

uh-oh my daddo

Overnight, my baby has become a full-grown kid. His fat belly slimmed down to merely pouchy, his determination in all things is uncompromised (I think I’m putting that nicely). He plows ahead with reckless abandon (straight into the corner of the coffee table, unfortunately) and cackles with achievement when he tops the staircase.

And he has suddenly realized that his Daddo is a very cool guy.

The other day, I was too slow to retrieve Sylvan’s apple from the fridge, so he toppled over backwards in his most dramatic way and wailed uh-oh my Daddo! Apple! Daddo!

Today, he cried for ten straight minutes while Daddo was out planting cantelope in the garden. Tears pooled up under his eyes and coated his eyelashes. Uh-oh my Daddo! Uh-oh!

I made pizza for dinner, and he only tugged on my legs once, because he was busy chasing after Daddo.

I brought out my knitting, and he didn’t try to grab the needles out of my hand. (Maybe that means more knitting-related blog content coming your way soon! Maybe I’ll finally finish that first pattern sitting on my hard drive!)

We’re settling into a whole new phase of life. Mama still has the best cuddles after a hard headbonk, and I’m still the one who will hand out extra snacks and risk a sippy cup of milk in the carpeted living room. But Daddo is already the model, the person to be like, the one with the most fun things going on.

I can’t tell, over the internet, if these incidents sound sad. It is the end of an epoch. But really, I think it’s time to celebrate. Daddo supported me well through a year and a half of baby time, the hard work that is breastfeeding and shepherding a babe through lots of firsts – sitting, standing, walking, ear infection, allergic reaction, and most blessedly of all the first full night’s sleep for all of us. Now it’s my turn to support, to take back some of the mundane house tasks so that I can take pleasure listening to my guys bond over something in the other room (I can tell it’s going well by the crazy giggles).

creative-hours

becoming a writer again

Something about falling in love made writing irrelevant to my life. We exchanged letters, my sweetheart and I, and I did not need to write anything else for any other person on earth.

Now that I’m a mother, I find myself turning to writing again. Maybe because this new love in my life doesn’t read, and maybe because it suddenly feels important to preserve some thoughts to be read someday far in the future.

Not that my son will ever be interested in reading my mostly-knitting blog.

That’s OK. It’s been good to start evaluating sentences again, to start feeling out which words feel authentic, which are overkill, and slowly discover (after a few hundred words) whether or not I have anything important to stay.

In an uncharacteristically bold move, I even volunteered to start blogging for a local organization called Lancaster Transplant. I admire the work they do of connecting people to their place (a place I really like!) – and decided I would like to lend my (tiny) storytelling capabilities to strengthen my community.

And you know what? They actually said yes, please blog for us. 

You can read my first post for them now - on my first time taking Sylvan to the park.

Enjoy! Or not, if you would just like a quick knitting fix. (Lovely yarn below, just for you. )

Yarn Hollow brand yarn in stripey autumn colors
My Yarn Hollow sock yarn has worn really well for me – so I’ve been squishing this skein a lot lately and dreaming of patterns – any recommendations?

 

creative-hours

when your wardrobe staple is the pocket

The Wardrobe Architect series has been super-helpful in my quest to create a tiny, usable wardrobe that fits my needs to a T. In a home with only one closet (true story!), it’s important to prune your stuff on the regular.

photo
Remember when I emptied out all this stuff last week? Me, too. I’m still proud.

Thanks to those probing worksheets, I also now know that my sense of style can be summed up like this: Does it have pockets? I’m in. Presenting to the Board? I need some pockets to keep my pen in, please. A bridesmaid’s dress with pockets? You know we need to keep some tissues on hand, you brilliant designer, youTaking the kids to the park? I sure as heck need some pockets for band-aids, keys, and my phone. I’m not hauling along an extra bag to keep an eye on.

Is there such a thing as professional-yet-casual-pocket-chic?

I’m going to pretend like there is, at least in my house.

pocket_edited

 

 

creative-hours

have you seen my knitting mojo?

It’s about this tall, 8 years old and usually helps me complete those oh-so-useful sweaters? Anyone?

Despite a number of in-theory fascinating & useful knits on the needles, I cannot seem to find my knitting mojo. Is it summer? Is it the crazy-nutso-s*** of a month I’m having? (yes, it gets worse – I can’t shake this cough and my baby had a crazy allergic rash from the medicine he was taking for his double ear infection. I took yesterday off to panic over his every breath. June, are you here yet? Please be kind to me.)

What usually knocks you off stride? Any secrets for digging out of the rut?

So, what is languishing on the needles, you ask?

I did at least manage to finish the sleeve on Sylvan’s sweater. It’s way. big. photo (1)

I guess that’s good. He’ll be able to wear it until he’s 4 – and it might take me that long to finish.

creative-hours

Me-Made May Update

My May Challenge: Clean out my wardrobe so that I’m only left with things I love and will regularly wear. Ideally, this will leave my handmade clothing easier to find and in the rotation more often. As a secondary task, I also intend to identify holes that I’d like to fill, and create a master plan to sew/knit to fill them.

photo

I started the process! This feels like a huge victory, given that the first half of May has been some crazy-nutso-s***.  (And actually, the rest of it will probably continue in the same vein. We kicked off our first craft fair of the year at work, immediately afterwards I got super sick,  and Toddler and I completed the weaning process. Now we’re gearing up for hosting MakersFest, and the very next day I start teaching my first-ever fiber camp for kiddos, together with supervising my first-ever employee!).

In other words, it feels so good to bring a little order and space to my life through my Me-Made May challenge. I’m feeling more ruthless than usual, so this whole box? This whole box is going. I am purging  more than 20 articles of clothing. Some of it doesn’t fit (thanks, motherhood!), and much of it just doesn’t fit my emerging sense of self (thanks, motherhood!). I’m not that college kid who needed a drawer full of witty t-shirts anymore. I’m into the professional-work-blouses and leggings-are-the-best* stage of my life.

It’s a stage I’m loving as much as, if not more than, I enjoyed the t-shirt stage of my life. And do you know what? I have worn something handmade almost every single day this month. I’m kind of basking in the accomplishment of having created a good core of handmade items that genuinely fit my life, my sense of style, and my drawers.

So  we also tackled the task of thinning our book collection, rearranging the living room, and pruning our possessions in every room of the house.

Nothing like a little bit of overkill to keep the momentum rolling, am I right?

*This seems to be a stage with a really broad demographic, actually – teen hipsters & moms alike. For me, the only really practical way to dress up is to make sure that I am ready to hang out on the floor at a moment’s notice. Thanks, leggings!

when you have to say goodbye

One of the most precious resources in my life right now is my mom friends. I’m so new to this Mom Gig, and I would never have made it through this first year without the wisdom, humor, support, and deeply-considered parenting techniques of a few key people (yes, I’ve shamelessly stolen said techniques to keep my head above water).

One of those dear friends is moving soon.

ballew baby hat
I made this hat for their newest Little One. In hindsight, a woolly hat for a baby born in late spring is maybe redundant? Oh, well. My knitting heart triumphed on that one.

I’ve done a lot of moving in my life, and the hard truth about me is that I don’t keep up long-distance friendships. It’s a huge triumph if I get on the phone once a year with my childhood best friend, or every six months with my brothers. And my mom friends? We’re all introverts.

So here’s the question, knitting geniuses. Is there something I can knit in the next, say, two weeks that will say, “I will probably never call you but by golly I will never forget how awesome you are”?

Me-Made May

I’m all abuzz with current events. MadMay (post coming up on that one!)? Me-Made May? I’m about to drop from the excitement of being relevant for once in my life.

But really, Me-Made May is awesome. The 1-2-3s go like this:

1. Create a personal challenge around your handmade clothing items. The most common one is, wear something you made each day in May.

2. Do the challenge, all month long!

3. Participate in the community. There’s a shared Pinterest board, a shared Flickr group, and a hashtag (#mmmay15). Be inspired by lots of other makers.

I am working my way through Colette Patterns’ Wardrobe Architect series (I went through 2014, but am following along more slowly as the 2015 series is released). So I structured my personal challenge around the most difficult task I’m faced with:

Clean out my wardrobe so that I’m only left with things I love and will regularly wear. Ideally, this will leave my handmade clothing easier to find and in the rotation more often. As a secondary task, I also intend to identify holes that I’d like to fill, and create a master plan to sew/knit to fill them.

But let’s not get crazy. This little guy may have something to say about how much time I’ve got to devote this month!

baby plays with yarn winder
Teach ‘em to love the yarn-winder while they’re young! Also, hats. Hats are kind of his jam right now, even though it’s starting to get warm. The hat pattern is the Pebble | Cliff Hat, and the sweater is the Gramps Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.
creative-hours

My Color Cards Arrived

Actually, I have another confession to make. They arrived weeks ago, but the baby garden seedlings took over my photography area. Finally I broke down and photographed them on my extremely messy desk.

DSC_8736
This is the honest photograph. Patterns, half-finished paintings, chopsticks… yes, that’s what my desk looks like.

I figured that a little fancy cropping would fix it, though.

Brooklyn Tweed color card
Brooklyn Tweed color card

DSC_8717

DSC_8738
Quince & Co color cards

DSC_8733You guys… what do I even choose?! I think there are more than enough colors to keep me knitting with American-made yarn for the next five years.

creative-hours

Do you Swatch?

Plymouth Ampato baby alpaca yarn
Plymouth Ampato baby alpaca yarn
Trying brioche! So squishy and delicious.
Trying brioche! So squishy and delicious. I finally get the hullaballoo.

I have to make a confession. I almost never swatch when I’m making clothing for myself. I hate to let anything stand in the way of casting on. When I was learning, I did a lot of stupid things (knitting on needles without knowing their size; buying yarn and starting to knit without checking the pattern to see whether the pattern called for worsted or fingering weight). Not gauge-swatching is the last truly terrible knitting habit I have.

BUT! As I work on my designing skills, I’m trying to be smart and time-savvy. Swatches can be great to test out new yarns, new fiber types, and new stitch patterns in bit-sized bits.

The hardest part of a design swatch (I think) is walking away from a failed swatch – despite how nice the yarn is, or the fact that stitch and yarn may mesh really well, sometimes you just know your baby swatch won’t grow up into anything.

That’s the case with my Ampato swatch above. The brioche is squishy and delicious with the lofty and soft baby alpaca yarn. They marry beautifully. But what I had in mind – a tiny cute vest for a baby – just isn’t in the cards. Baby things really should (in my increasingly-informed opinion) be superwash. And brioche decreases require too many stitches for a vest v-neck to look correctly proportioned in chunky yarn on a small scale.

What do you do with failed swatches, my friends? Lend me your wisdom.

creative-hours

Creativity with Littles 4

Part 4 of a bite-sized series on keeping your creative life alive while you parent a Little (or more than one). Part 1part 2, and part 3

4. Pick projects that you can complete mostly on autopilot. S is just now starting to sleep through the night, at 13 months. I’m sleep-deprived, I’m knitting in tiny chunks, and frankly, I have milk brain. So, for a short season, I gave myself permission to be un-ambitious.

Or rather, I re-defined what ambition looks like for me. I’m holding down a job. I’m learning to parent. I’m making time for my spouse and I to spend together. And I’m defaulting to creative projects that don’t need a lot of thinking. Sweaters with lots of stockinette. Baby hats.

In my last post,  I talked about leaving my sewing project literally in the machine. That project is a blanket that requires sewing in straight lines, and almost nothing else. It’s a tiny adventure for me, because it’s increasing my knowledge of my sewing machine and its even-feed foot, but it is something I can easily drop in the middle of a stitch and not worry about losing my place. It’s perfect for these days, and at the end I have something super adorable that will actually be used by my family.

That’s it – those are my 4 tricks. Did you think it was going to be a long series? Nope! I have too many other good yarn things waiting in the wings!

Give yourself credit for the things you’re doing that are already demanding and difficult, my friends. And if you have tips & tricks you’d like to share, I would love to hear them.