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Tuesday, January 9, 2018


So, as part of my "new" approach to things, I'm also trying new things.  I've never been much of a journal-er (well, except for this blog), so I decided that maybe that was something I needed to try in this new year.  But, I feel like I need some guidance and structure in giving this a try.  As it so happens, I was looking through my iBooks for something else and came across "Unravel Your Year," a download from Susannah Conway that I must have saved somehow and guides you through the process of unraveling the year you left behind and preparing for the year ahead.  What I really like about this download is that it's a workbook with specific step-by-step instructions on how to work through the process.

I flipped through it to get a sense of what kind of time commitment I was going to need to make (I'd say a couple of hours at least), and one thing that caught my eye was the statement that awareness + intention make for a powerful combination.  There was also the direction to choose a guiding word for the upcoming year.  My chosen word is the title of this blog post:  Discovery.  I want to approach this exercise as a discovery of what 2017 was all about (or as much of that as is possible), but, more importantly, what 2018 will intentionally be about.

I want to discover lots of new things in this new year, though this blog will be about crochet (and probably some knit and maybe even some other crafty) discoveries.  In the fall of 2017, as part of my "letting go" episode, I began an obsession with the construction of raglan-style baby sweaters!  I found it easier to knit from the neck down to the waist (while inserting the arms as well along the way), then crocheting the bottom half of the sweater.   In keeping with my distaste for weaving in yarn tails, the sweater is pretty much done by the time you're at the bottom (except for having to sew up the arms).  I was just experimenting and enjoying the creative process, but I think I'm ready to be more methodical about it and write down my process so that I'll remember and you'll benefit too!

Thus, one of my goals for this year is to discover and memorialize my crochet and knitting journey!  If there are any crafty detours you want me to take, please connect with me on social media!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy 2018!

A new year, a new start.  It's been quite a while since I've written a blog post.  My apologies, but something had to give, and, unfortunately, it was the blog.  I really needed a break from self-imposed deadlines and expectations.  I needed to be free from things hanging over my head, even things that I enjoy.

There's a lesson here I'm sure.  I'm still working it out, but I'm going with "don't pressure yourself to the point that you begin to dread things that you used to love."

So, I haven't been setting project deadlines.  Heck, I haven't even been dictating what the next projects should be!  I've let myself take whatever time it's taken to experiment with a project or even just stitch and color combinations to see what project they steer me towards.  I hope you follow me on Facebook or Instagram because I have been better about posting photos (but, even there, I haven't stressed about perfect pictures and posting schedules).

I have given myself permission to sit on the couch after work and do nothing, to make a mess (and not clean it up!) at my home work station, and to not make plans.

But, all good things must come to an end!  I think I'm getting my groove back, and maybe it's time for me to give myself permission to get back on the gerbil wheel!  This time, though, I'm not going to (try to) go from zero to 60; I'm going to try to be more freewheeling, but a bit more organized about it (if that makes any sense).  Well, dear crocheters and readers of this blog, I hope we get to explore this adventure together and see exactly what 2018 has in store for us!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Week 1 - Recap

Well, amazing how things never go as planned!  Week 1 turned into a two-week whirlwind of cleaning, organizing, and finishing up some of my many half-done projects.  I found at least 10 projects that are all at the 80-90 percent done phase.  What is that about??  As a result, instead of sitting around dreaming up new projects (though I did jot down a few new ideas like the original plan called for), I've been trying to assess what gets finished, what gets put aside again, and what gets pitched.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself - a good portion of my time during this phase of things has been spent organizing, maybe not my thoughts as this blog post is demonstrating, but at least my physical arts and crafts supplies.  I'm truly committed to figuring out the hopefully finite universe of "stuff" that I've already got and getting it all organized in a manner that makes it easy for me to access and actually do something with.  I got a bunch of nice boxes and labeled them:  "needles and notions," "pompom makers" (yes, I actually have enough of them at this point to warrant a separate box!), "buttons," etc.  That way, as I plow through all the bags and piles of the craft supplies that I have, I can immediately "file" them away in their new homes.  For example, I discovered that I have a total of 14 yarn needles, and, now, I know where they all are :-).  I still have five more project bags to go through and assess, but I feel like I've made progress in getting a handle on what I've got and what I want to do with it.  I will post photos and give more specifics about the tools and tricks I've used to make this a fun and inexpensive endeavor, but here's one quick hint:  Michael's sells packs of photo boxes that are perfect for organizing all the little things that easily get lost and disorganized.

In addition to the physical reorganizing I've been doing, I've been trying to get my digital world in order too.  I've joined the legions of people who can't live without their iPhones!  But, what can I do, between some great apps and the ability to sync with my phone and real computer, I'm finding ways to be more efficient and organized in the virtual world too.  For example, one of the main themes that emerged these past two weeks is that my "branding" needs some freshening up.  So, one of the first steps I took was to revamp my crochet pattern template.  Now that more functionality has been added to Word (or maybe my knowledge of that functionality has increased), I was able to set up a template that I like as much as the one I had on InDesign.  I also discovered that my hastily created system of 1) typing a pattern into SnapWriter, a notetaking app that works with Evernote (because, of course, my phone is right next to me while I crochet), 2) later accessing Evernote while sitting at my real computer and copying and pasting the crochet pattern instructions into my new Word template, and 3) then being able to convert the Word doc into a PDF and list on Ravelry is actually working out pretty well (though I have not made it yet to the third step because I need to re-test the pattern and finalize the instructions, and, oh, take a few more photos too!).

I'm also in the process of testing out Trello and Milanote, but I need to work with them both a bit more and gather my thoughts before posting about them.

And, ha, I haven't even told you yet about the cookbook that I just self-published -- You'll have to visit my new website and Facebook page to learn more!

Now, off to figuring out what Week 2 is going to be about!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 1 - Organization and Ideas

Hard to believe summer is over, and I've got a lot of blogging to catch up on (my trip to London and some projects and partnerships that have been in the works!).  But, first, I feel the need to do some "spring cleaning" that never happened during the actual season :-).  That spring cleaning is taking place both literally and figuratively.

I've written before on this blog about the many challenges of running a small business, especially on a part time basis. And, lately, I'm finding myself yet again pulled in many directions.  And there's a lot of materials and "gurus" out there offering direction.  It's hard not to get caught up in those free ebooks that promise to give you all the inside secrets about how to do whatever you've chosen to do successfully.  But, of course, to get more than just generalities like "create it, post it, and watch the revenue stream in," you've got to spend at least $97 for the full program (it always seems to be $97, discounted from thousands!).  I'm not knocking these offerings; I'm sure that many of them are quite worth it, but, even having explored some of these tantalizers, I'm not sure that I've found the one perfect program that's going to be right for me; I'm finding the need to cobble together bits and pieces from many different sources.

So, I'm challenging myself to find/create my own path, and I'm going to share my journey with you, frankly as a way to hold myself accountable (and, who knows, maybe I can charge $97 for it someday too ;-).  Over the next several weeks, I'm going to try to methodically go through the general steps that many programs suggest and adapt them to my particular situation.  I want to combine some resources and pick the best high and low tech tools for getting things done.  I tend to be a paper and pen kind of gal, but I have a feeling that there are apps and software out there that might actually make my life easier in the long run.  I want to explore how I can, wisely, make use of virtual assistants and gig providers on Fiverr, for example, to free up my time to do what I do best and what I most enjoy doing -- crochet (plus a couple of other areas of interest I hope to be exploring more ...).

Since it's Sunday, it seems like a good time to start Week 1: Organization and Ideas.  This week, I'm going to concentrate on just organizing my creative resources and supplies and brainstorming about the content that I want to create.  I've always just started crocheting when an idea pops into my mind because I really can't draw (or, more accurately, I've never taken the time to learn some fundamentals of drawing), and I'm not suggesting that I'm going to abandon this approach.  Instead, I want to harness it a bit better.  I've got a bowl of yarn and some hooks sitting on the coffee table so that, when an idea strikes, I can actually start playing around with it.  But, ideas don't always strike when it's convenient, and, to me, it's hard to be inspired when I don't even know all the supplies I already have.  I've kept all sorts of inspiration boards on Pinterest about how to organize a work station and my craft supplies, but it's time really to start implementing some of those ideas.  I can't keep running out and buying stuff when I can't find stuff that I know I already have!

So,  I want to use this week to just take the pressure off (hey, that's what August is for, right?!), look around my world and see what inspires me and what needs to find a new home, organize the remaining stuff and write down some ideas about what to do with it all, and then be able to look at the big picture to prioritize the projects I want to pursue.  For example, this week, instead of thinking of a potentially great idea and then promptly forgetting it, I'm literally going to carry around pen and paper to scribble down whatever pops into my head.  Then, later in the week, I will go back through my notes and see if any of it still makes sense!  There are a couple of apps that are supposed to help you virtually/electronically create project boards and organize files and resources, so I want to experiment with some of them to see if I can combine physical and electronic methods for getting projects launched and finished efficiently and cost effectively (I'm sure you're sensing another theme here too about maximizing already existing resources so as to achieve cost savings :-).

I hope my musings (not sure I can really call this a "plan" just yet...) about Week 1 are inspiring you to undertake your own journey as well.  I'll be posting each week about what I've learned the previous one as well as where I'm intending to go the next week.  I'll be posting on Facebook and Instagram as well about the progress that I've made, so please come follow me there!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Metro Yarn Crawl 2017

I can't believe another Metro Yarn Crawl has come and gone!  We actually made it to 8 stores this year, but we still didn't make it to the store in Occoquan.

Nina, Mary, and I did the Maryland stores on the first Friday of the crawl, visiting Second Story Knits to pick up our totes (and some yarn of course).

We headed to Knit Locally's new location in Gaithersburg, where I scored some beautiful red yarn and a shawl pin.  They have such luxurious yarns there, this is definitely for a project for ME!

Our last stop was at Woolwinders on the way home.  Just like last year, it was a rainy, cold day, so what better to do than visit yarn shops and buy yarn!  Actually, this year, even though it may not seem like it, I tried to concentrate on getting new gadgets that would help in using up my yarn.  I will let this one speak for itself :-)

On the second Friday of the crawl (rainy and cold again!), Mary and I headed to Virginia.  It was a real adventure out to Leesburg to visit Finch Knitting and Sewing Studio.  It was worth the trip!  Such a great store, and you'll be seeing my new gadget from there in another post.  But here's a taste of the amazing vibe and decor.

Then off to Red Fox Yarns, where Uniquities used to be.  The new shop is delightful, with an emphasis on baby yarns and reasonable prices!  And you can't help but stumble upon a cute little stuffed fox everywhere you turn :-)

Our last stop was Nature's Yarns, where I scored a Della Q organizer for my knitting needles (haven't actually organized those needles yet, so no pix).  Love that store; it's definitely a place where you could sit and spend an afternoon so comfortably...

On Saturday, I bribed the hubby to driving me to Old Town Alexandria for a quick stop at fibre space, and I walked on Sunday to Looped Yarn Works (for the locals, that's about 3 miles!).  Another awesome Metro Yarn Crawl!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Last Days for #NatCroMo GIveaway!

Hope everyone's been having a wonderful National Crochet Month!  Amy and Donna of Crochetville have outdone themselves once again with the Designers' Blog all month, and here's my original post on the 9th.

I've been hinting all month on FaceBook about our NatCroMo giveaway, and you have only until midnight EDT on March 31st to enter on our FaceBook page (just "like" and follow the page!).  Last hint: it's a fun amigurumi project. 

Spread the word, we'd really love to hit 500 likes!  And we'll be posting complete photos of the giveaway and announcing the winner next week.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

NatCroMo 2017

It's really hard to believe that another National Crochet Month has rolled around!  I'm so honored to be part of the Crochetville Designer Blog Tour again this year in celebration of the enduring life skill and art that we all love so much. 

In anticipation of NatCroMo, I started offering my Pollie the Octopus pattern for free, hoping that each reader will feel inspired to make at least one to give to her local hospital to help premature babies!  More details on why octopuses are so comforting are in this post.

Also, I'm going to be having a little crochet mystery giveaway near the end of March through my Facebook page, but you have to "like" and follow my page to be in on it (a winner will be chosen from among the page's likes and privately messaged for shipping information).  I'm closing in on 500 likes, so please help me get over the top!  I'll be dropping hints about the goodies included, so check back here on the blog and on Facebook often!

This year's blog tour theme is Glamping.  Now, I am not at all the camping type, but I'm really enjoying the virtual trips we're taking this month through Crochetville's NatCroMo Facebook page, and be sure to click on Vedetta Lodges in Tuscany, Italy -- bellissima!

But still, my post is indirectly related to the theme of loving crochet and being inspired by exotic getaways and everyday locations.  This month (and throughout the year), we are going to be motivated to visit some of these amazing yarn stores that are participating in the tour and start a number of the beautiful patterns that this month's featured designers generously have posted.  But, March has 31 days in it, and, at some point, the abundant offerings of NatCroMo are going to be overwhelming -- I'm here to say that it's ok to give yourself permission to NOT crochet (only you can let yourself off the hook so to speak). 

Treasonous talk for the month in which we celebrate all things crochet?!  Hear me out.  I'm not advocating giving it up totally or taking a break if you don't feel like it; but, there are times when NOT crocheting will actually deepen your love and appreciation of crochet and help you see it all with fresh eyes (and hands!).  Frankly, I've gone through a few periods like this recently and wanted to share my experiences:

1.  Do NOT crochet when doing so gives you more angst and stress than it takes away.  Whether it's a project that's on a very tight deadline (real or imagined) or a new technique that's giving you fits, if crocheting is causing stress, you need to step away.  Life is already full of enough stress, something you love should not be adding to it.  Sometimes just a few hours away will do the trick; sometimes you'll need more time to decompress and center again.  The point is, trying to power through is going to set you back more than stepping away for the time you need to love crocheting again.

2.  Do NOT crochet when it's adversely affecting your physical health.  Whether it's the fact that you've been sitting on the couch not moving (except for your hands) for hours or that you're giving yourself carpal tunnel, it's time to put down the hook and get active!  Sometimes I try to justify watching TV by telling myself that, hey, I'm also crocheting, I'm doing something productive and meaningful.  That's true, but when hours have gone by, I realize that I feel stiff and sluggish, my eyes and neck hurt, and that I should have been pacing myself.  As they say, moderation is key.  Now, I keep an eye on the clock; I don't crochet for more than an hour at a time -- once I get to a natural stopping point, I put my project down and go for a walk.  Even if it's only for 10 minutes and just around the apartment, I get up and move!  It's usually all I need to feel better, plus this approach makes for a better crochet project in the end because I then take the time to look over the crocheting I've done and assess.

3.  Do NOT crochet when it feels like a burden.  Usually, I love making all different types of crocheted gifts for relatives and friends, and I love designing and posting new patterns, but sometimes the whole process just feels like one more thing that you have to do rather than something that you love to do.  Now, for my sister designers who are thinking to themselves, well, I'm not going to be able to make a living if I don't stay on top of all my projects, I'm especially going to encourage you to take a break.  Stepping away, even for just a day, to regroup, rethink, RELAX, can make all the difference in approaching your work with a fresh eye and renewed spirit.  Inspiration for a new crochet project is all around us, but we won't see it if we don't stop to take it all in.

So, to end on a high note, it's amazing how the love of crochet is spreading far and wide, with such variety in techniques and designs.  It's obvious that the fiber arts for many is not a short-lived fad but a lasting lifetime endeavor.  Enjoy the journey and please stop by to visit me on my blog or Facebook page during your travels.  Here's to many, many more NatCroMos!