Life Lately: Chasing the Dream

knittedbliss.com

Tuesday was supposed to be my first day back at work. Last year, sitting in my boss’s office while he and I looked at a calendar, I was so sure I was definitely going to come back. I even went so far as to confirm a date for my return. We settled on November 1st, 2016.

I loved that job. Not every day was great, of course. Like all jobs, some days you want to storm out and forget it all, some days you fall short and feel disappointed in yourself, some days you are in meeting after meeting after meeting and the work just piles up and you feel frazzled. But most of the time, it was good, and I could do the things that I thought I always wanted from my day job. I wanted a job where I would get to travel, and I did. I wanted a job where I could put my nonprofit skills and passions to work, and I did. I wanted to get a promotion by working hard and proving there was a need for a new role, and I did. I worked hard, I kept trying to do more,  and I loved it.

Except.

Did you catch the part up there where I called it my day job? Because I’ve had a side hustle since before anyone called it a side hustle. What I have always wanted to do is write.

I’ve written poetry and stories since I was a kid. I would stop now and then, sometimes as much as a year went by and I didn’t write a thing – particularly in my twenties when I was still figuring out a lot of things for myself. I’d publish in literary journals here and there, my track record was spotty. My first book of poetry was published in 2013, with much of the editing process and revising done while I was on maternity leave with Lila. I remember having my laptop on a folding tv tray table that I set up beside her crib, so I could write while she would pacify until she fell asleep, or while nursing.

Lila and me | knittedbliss.com

Tangle | knittedbliss.com

I went back to my day job, and tried to write on the side – managing to write some poems here and there, evenings, weekends. Sometimes they worked out and sometimes they didn’t; sometimes the revising would go on forever and they would take hours and hours only to eventually be scrapped. I got a contract for my second poetry collection, and worked towards it. I love a good deadline – my day job trained me well for working to deadlines. Stories and writing ideas would come to me all the time, and I’d write them down (or not, and sometimes forget), and tell myself I was going to work on that someday. And somehow over the last ten years that someday has resulted in my brain being stuffed up with stories and ideas for about 4 novels, and another poetry collection concept.

The final poems and editing work on my second book of poetry took place while I was maternity leave with James. It was easy to see a theme- I could finish a book, but only if I wasn’t at work.

baby James | knittedbliss.com

Lady Crawford | knittedbliss.com

Guy and I have talked about it as long as we’ve been together. One day, I was going to quite my job and write. In this future dream, the plan was for me to have some freelance part time work that I also loved to do, so that I could still have my own income, but have more time to write. Ideally, half the day, every day. Factoring in weekends off due to small children.  I wanted it to be something knitting related -because you a know how crazy I am about this craft.

One night, I was out for coffee with a friend, moaning about how I felt like it was time to make the change but how could I, when I should really keep my job so I could afford a bigger house? Currently we live in a 2-bedroom townhouse. We love it, but with two kids, two cats, and ourselves…. it’s cozy, to say the least. But my friend looked at me in that slightly exasperated way friends do when they’ve heard you go round this little chestnut too many times before and asked, “Well, which do you want? Do you want to write, or do you want a bigger house?”

Ideally, both. But if I had to choose, there was no hesitation. “I want to write,” I said.

“So figure out a way to make it work.”

I hardly slept the first few nights after I decided. This was a crazy idea, right? Totally nuts to give up a good job, a stable job with benefits. Especially when statistically speaking, the odds are not in my favour – there are over 200,000 books published every year and most of them never make even a second printing, much less the bestseller list. It’s nuts to do this. On an intellectual, rational level, I know this. But in my heart…. it’s what I’ve always wanted. Just to try. To really put it all out there and try.

No one has told me I’m crazy to do this. I kept waiting as I slowly, one by one, began to tell the people close to me that I was going to quit my job and write, and no one suggested that this was a bad idea. Even my mom, who has always stressed the importance of a stable income and having your financial ducks in a row, was completely behind the decision. To be fair, my mom has always believed in me, but this is a big leap of faith. Most moms would wisely advise their daughters to work on their passion projects on the weekends and think about getting a bigger house.

An unexpected benefit of this transition is that I found the absolute perfect part time job! I freelance for Stitchcraft Marketing, a company that specializes in marketing and PR specifically for craft businesses, big and small. It’s amazing- it’s a buffet of all the things I’ve loved best about the knitting world, and I get to help clients with their social media, blogging, strategy planning … all the things that people who create product don’t have time to do.

And when I’m not blogging and social media-ing for Stitchcraft and my awesome clients, I write. I know that it’s going to take a while. That there is loads of hard work ahead, and that there are going to be times (probably years) where I’ll be toiling away and people will shake their heads and think that I’m not doing anything at all.

But I’ll know. And now, you’ll know, too.

you-are-here | knittedbliss.com

 

 

Modification Monday: North Shore R&R

Modification Monday: North Shore R&R | knittedbliss.com

Original Patterns: R&R Hoodie and North Shore

Knitter Extraordinaire: Laura (Ravelry ID) Who is such a wizard with modifying knits for colourwork that she has been featured here 4 previous times- all incredible! Check out Freakin’ Foxtastic, Cloudy with a Chance of Sunrise, Merry Stella, and Ends Baby Cardi.

Mods: Starting with the hoodie pattern, Laura switched to the colourwork yoke pattern when she got tot he yoke, and then back to the hoodie pattern after the yoke. Details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: I’ve seen some amazing finished knits from this pattern, but this is a beautiful marriage between two patterns. The R&R Hoodie is a raglan, but North Shore is a round yoke (which makes sense for colourwork). Changing up the yoke like this required Laura to do some fudging with the stitch numbers, but she was able to make it work- and to such stunning effect! Laura has a real knack for combining colours, don’t you think?

Modification Monday: North Shore R&R | knittedbliss.com

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

I loved these fake excuses that have been redone as movie trailer plots. Hilarious!

Have you taken the personality quiz at 16personalities.com? It really is accurate.

If your posture is looking super slouchy these days (and having 2 kids under 5, I’m perpetually hunched), try these stretches to get your posture back on track.

This is pretty epic career advice. Or just life advice in general.

I forgot to share this last week! The lovely ladies of Yarn in the City had me on their most recent podcast to talk about #baablegate, since I see a lot of modifications from my years of doing Modification Mondays. If you aren’t familiar with the controversy, have a listen – the controversy conversation starts around the 27 min mark.

My Favourite Pins This Week

Modification Monday: Baked Apple Pies | knittedbliss.com

Baked apples, turned into little apple pies!! A much healthier take on dessert, and such a special looking treat. I haven’t tried this yet, but I do love baked apples. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Modification Monday: Ghost Pizza | knittedbliss.com

I’m not a huge Halloween person (although this year we decided to get costumes and try to get into the spirit!), but I love this adorable round up of Halloween themed dinner ideas. The ghost pizza is my favourite, although the soup with the rice ‘eyeballs’ is pretty fun too! Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Modification Monday: Cinnamon Sore Throat Tea | knittedbliss.com

Cold season is here, people! Not fun. I’ve had one, and almost everyone I know has had one. If you are feeling that telltale tickle, try this cinnamon sore throat tea.  Milk (your choice of alternative if you are dairy free), cinnamon, ginger, and honey will make you feel a bit better. or at least for as long as you are sipping it. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe is here.

Modification Monday: Marley Blanket | knittedbliss.com

I am crazy in love with big, gorgeous hue shift blanket -‘Marley’ from Tin Can Knits (I’ve been meaning to do a review of their gorgeous Mad Colour Collection for ages!). This blanket….. swoon. Pinterest link is here, and the original Ravelry link is here.

Modification Monday: No Sew Felt Masks | knittedbliss.com

How cute are these masks?! For Halloween or for kids dress up, these pretty felt masks are no-sew and can be whipped up quickly. You have time to make these over the weekend if you need to! Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! We have all sorts of  kiddie Halloween events on the go this weekend, and of course I’ll be on Instagram checking and liking everyone’s #CraftyBlissChallenge photos! Even if you are joining in (although I hope you do!) feel free to check in on the hashtag and see what is posting. Wishing you all a great weekend. Stay warm!

 

 

 

The #CraftyBlissChallenge Is Back!!

Melissa (of Miso Crafty Knits) are hosting our 10-day Instagram challenge again, because it’s always so much fun!!!

Starting this Friday, October 28th, we will be hosting a fun and easy-to-do 10 day Instagram challenge that will get you looking at your day in a new way.

 An Instagram Challenge is a series of daily photo prompts for a set number of days. The prompts are meant to inspire you to engage in the world around you a little differently, and take a photo to share on your Instagram account. There is no ‘right’ way to interpret a prompt, they are meant to be a little bit vague so that you can interpret them any way you like! Even if you don’t have an idea for one of the prompts, sometimes I wait until a few others have posted, and it sparks my creativity, as well.

You should come join us! It’s addictive and really fun to see all the different ways people can translate the same word or phrase with a photograph. when you click on the  #CraftyBlissChallenge  hashtag, you automatically go to a feed that shows all the photos tagged with that special hashtag- so you’ll be able to check out all kinds of interesting and awesome photos from other knitters and crafters. You will probably even find some new people to follow who regularly post photos that you really enjoy.

How to participate: You’ll need an Instagram account (which is free). Then for 10 days (from from Friday October 28th to Sunday Nov. 6th) you just take a photo or share one via your Instagram account and tag it with our special hashtag- #CraftyBlissChallenge.  Don’t forget- if your account s set to private, we can’t see your images! So if you normally have your account set to private and want to participate, you will need to adjust them to public for just the duration of the challenge- then we can heart your beautiful photos, make comments, all kinds of fun!

Here are the prompts we came up with:

#craftblisschallenge Fall 2016 | knittedbliss.com

 

And prizes!!!!

We will have prizes like last time, too! For those of you who post for all 10 days, two lucky (and randomly selected) participants will win some knitterly goodies! As if sharing all the pretty wasn’t enough motivation, right?

I hope some of them already have your mind buzzing, thinking up things that you could share and tag. Don’t forget, you don’t have to be literal about any of this. Melissa and I will be on it every day, checking out all the photos with the hashtag, and sharing our own. If you haven’t participated in an Instagram challenge before, this is a great group to start with, very friendly and lots of fun. And if you are joining, help us get the word out- feel free to tweet or repost the prompts to your Instagram feed. If you want to get a jump on things, you can check out my instagram feed here, and Melissa’s instagram feed here. I hope you will join us!

How to Reuse Yarn – Full Tutorial

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

I don’t often do tutorials, but I have recently learned SO MUCH about how to reuse yarn from a knit that I had to share it with you guys. In particular because I’ve finally decided to turn my Delineate Tank into a Manzanilla Sweater, using the Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarn that I loved so much the first time around. I had almost two full skeins leftover from the original project, so this sweater will be a mix of unused yarn AND recycled yarn, which will have its own considerations. First, let’s recycle the yarn.

Types of yarn- the ‘stickier’ a yarn is, the harder it is to rip back. if there is any mohair or angora in it, it will be cling to the stitches, and not want to be easily undone. It can still be done, but you’ll need to go more slowly.

You will need:

  • the knit
  • wool wash (my favourite is Eucalan)
  • a crochet hook or blunt tapestry needle
  • some waste yarn
  •  a sink
  • a towel

A note about the wool wash, in case you are wondering why I’m declaring Eucalan as my fave: I’ve tried other kinds, but I always come back to Eucalan because I get a lot of product for the price, which means more washes. It’s totally biodegradable and made with natural ingredients, and I also really like that the cap and top of bottle seem to magically stay clean and never get gummed up or sticky. My favourite scents are Pink Grapefruit and Jasmine Wrapture, but I’m using classic Eucalyptus scent for this tutorial.

Step 1

If you look closely at your hems and where you bound off, and pull a bit at the fabric, you will be able to see the tiny tail of where the ends were woven in. You can use a crochet hook or a blunt tapestry needle to begin pulling it loose, until you can then undo the cast off. If at any point prior to this you can’t find the end or the knot you pulled when you cast off was so tight there’s no way you’ll undo it, then you can always get some scissors and snip out the cast on edge.

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

Step 2

Start pulling. You may need to pause now and then, especially with flat knitting, as the sides tend to be a bit stickier.

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

As the yarn comes away, you will need to wrap it into a ball. If you have a yarn swift you can attach the loose end to the swift and unwind the sweater that way. But you can also just use your hand, like this:

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

You will need to make a new ball for each section of yarn that you have. So, as you are winding and come to the end of the skein in the knit, put that ball aside and start a new one with the new end that you find.

Step 3:

Once you have unwound and have all the balls of crinkly, ramen-noodle style yarn, you will need to get it ready for a bath. You can use a swift if you have one, but I used the backs of two chairs, one of which had the high chair on it. And it had so much crusted baby food and weird stains that I couldn’t bear to snap a photo. So, it should look like the photo in this link, where the chairs are clean. Then, using the waste yarn, loosely tie 2-3 sections of it to keep all the strand of yarn corralled together. This will be very important for keeping the yarn from becoming a snarled mess later on. It will look like this:

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

Step 4:

Bath time! Pour a capful of Eucalan into a sink filled with warm (not hot) water. Immerse the yarn.

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

You want to ensure that the yarn is fully saturated, and not floating on the surface. Push it down until it’s absorbed a fair quantity of water, and let it sit for about half an hour to help the fibers get fully relaxed. After 20 minutes, take a look at the yarn – is it still a bit crinkly? Then it needs more time. Continue soaking. If it’s relaxed, then drain the water (no need to rinse), squeeze out the excess water gently, and roll in a towel to remove more of the water. Hang to dry away from heat or light, a shower is a good place for this.

Step 5:

You can then wind your yarn into a ball, or into a hank, both are shown below. Here is a 1 min video showing how to wind your yarn into a hank (the long one that looks like a pastry), which is ideal if you aren’t going to be using it right away.

How to Reuse Yarn | knittedbliss.com

Hedgehog is just for visual interest. I was trying to get one of the cats to lay beside it, but when was the last time a cat did anything you wanted it to do?

Now, before you dive into your knit, if you have a mix of yarn you have recycled AND yarn that hasn’t been used (like me!), then you want to keep the following in mind. I would like to give a big shout out of thanks to Celeste, a previous commentor who emailed with me about this, and had wonderful tips to share.

  1. Cotton and acrylic might not change a lot in the process above, but wool, wool blends (and alpaca) can stretch a little or a lot.
  2. It could also have stretched a bit, if you hung your washed yarn up to dry, rather than laid it flat.
  3. Once a yarn is washed, it plumps up, filling in the space between fibers. Unwashed yarn won’t have done this yet. So you know that this will affect your….
  4. Gauge!! You will need to do a gauge swatch in both your washed yarn AND your unwashed yarn to compare, and see if there is any difference. There could be a very big difference, and you want to know before investing a sweater’s worth of time into a knit.

Then Celeste also suggested this brilliant step:

“Another way to do a quick check is to lay the two yarns parallel to each other. You likely won’t see a difference in thickness. If you do, then it’s a sure sign. What you’d want to look for is the twist of plies of the yarn. If you lay a ruler next to them count the times the plies curve over the yarn in 4″/10cm segment (like a swatch the larger the measurement the greater accuracy). Then do the same for the second yarn. If they match up perfectly you can choose where to go from there.”

Genius, right? So if your yarn is showing a difference, then simplest solution is to wash all of it, both the used and unused yarn. If it is treated the same way and more likely to behave the same from one skein to the next.

There you have it! How to reuse your wonderful, precious yarn. If you’ve invested all that time into creating a knitted piece, it should be something you love to wear. If it isn’t (once you have completed the 6 emotional stages of frogging a project) and you love the yarn, why not give it a new lease on life? You might knit something you can’t live without this time!

If you liked this tutorial and thought it was useful, Pin it!