Friday, February 19, 2016

Blogging Vaca and My Next Knitting Project!

Hey y'all! I had to take an unexpected vacation from my blog and actually most of life.. I had a bad reaction to a medication early last week that basically left me on the couch until this Tuesday. I've been so busy playing catch up with all the things that don't get done when I'm out of commission so blogging has just now made it to the top of my list.

I am about to start a knitting project that is going to be amazing if I can pull it off. I'm going to learn how to do color work AND short rows. Both of these have terrified me in the past. Like, put down the needles and back away from the yarn, terrified. But I have this friend, Alisha. She's pretty much like a sister, she's my own personal motivational speaker, sharer of inappropriate memes, and just a ton of fun to talk to. I'm so lucky to have her in my life that I will never tell her no when she asks me to knit something for her. *Side note: I have sent the knitting bug to bite her butt and it's all gonna be downhill from here. I kidnap added her to my favorite yarny facebook page and now she's ordering needles and yarn. Mwahahahaha.

What IS this scary and amazing pattern? Why, I'm so glad you asked! It's the Dreambird Shawl by Nadita Swings. . I actually might have bought yarn to make one for myself once I'm done with hers. *whistles innocently*

I am so excited to get started, the background will be amazingly soft and squishy Valley Yarns Charlemont in black. It's a Merino, Silk, Nylon blend that I just know is going to knit up beautifully. For the feathers, I worked with Kim from Kim Dyes Yarn to create a custom colorway in a Merino, Cashmere, Nylon blend. It is literally face smooshingly soft.  It starts out with a bright grassy green, moving to a kelly green, then to a light turquoise, then a royal blue, finishing up with a jewel tone purple. 

Kim was an absolute dream to work with. She was extremely communicative, we talked back and forth over a couple of days about what I was looking for, and her turnaround time was fantastic. I will definitely be ordering more from her. You should stop by her shop. Like, now. Well, after you finish reading.. ha!

I love when Alisha requests something knitted. I tend to stick to what I know when it comes to projects for myself. I really grow as a knitter when I'm knitting for her or my family because I'm less afraid to take on more challenging projects. Backward thinking, huh? 

The project was initially written for lace weight yarn. I have very few rules for myself when it comes to knitting. One is no lace weight. It's like knitting with hair. So, I'm going to use fingering weight and start out with size 2 needles. I'm using my Knitter's Pride Dreamz needles. Birch is a great wood for needles because it's slick enough that the yarn can flow well but not so slick that I'm going to lose all my stitches. I really dislike losing stitches, especially on a big project. It makes me say grown up words. Loudly.

Anyone taking any fiber chances out there? New fibers? New techniques? New patterns? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My New Travelers Notebook and How I Organize My Knitting

Okay, so I'm so freaking excited I can barely stand it. My bestie over at Lucky Clover Leather worked with me to custom create the most amazing FauxDori Travelers Notebook. It is a thing of beauty and sass. It fits me perfectly. I am shamelessly plugging all of Alisha's everything today because y'all NEED to get some Lishy in your life. Here is a quick pic I snapped yesterday between squealing fits.

Everything fits inside perfectly. She left the elastics untied so that I could make sure both of my Moleskines fit perfectly. It has a cute pen holder inside and it feels like heaven to touch. I might have rubbed on my face.... that's not weird, right? RIGHT?

Oh.... okay....

Soooo, if I haven't totally lost you, I want to talk about how I organize my knitting in my Bullet Journal and Book of Lists. I keep 2 books, it's easier for me to keep my lists separate from my daily and monthly spreads. Otherwise, I would lose all my lists between my dailies and my other notes.

In my book of lists, I have 2 pages devoted to knitting goals I want to accomplish this year. Things like learning to read charts (*dies*) and knitting a sweater for MYSELF. Whaaaa? Right, I've knitted 3 sweaters now and nary a one for myself. I want to learn how to knit short rows. This one is super important because I'm knitting a shawl for Alisha that is all short rows... I better get cracking on that one!

I have a list of WIPs, or works in progress, it shows how far along I've gotten. I started with Xs and realized I liked coloring in with brush markers. I might actually have more in progress but these are the ones I'm trying to finish up most quickly. There are always cast on projects lurking about trying to make it into my knitting rotation. I ignore those bad kids. I won't let myself start a new project until I get the two closest to completion finished. That's what I'm trying to do. You know, best laid plans and all.

Below, I try to make space for myself to knit into my dailies. Most times, I knit at night while we're watching whatever on Netflix. Right now we're watching Z Nation. It is probably the worst zombie show ever but we're anxiously awaiting the return of Walking Dead and Scandal so it'll do.

I've also changed up how I use my bujo. I used to just make a list and mark them off. It felt boring and really utilitarian. I'm a horrible artist/doodler/letterer so I'm filling in the empty space with thoughts about the day and things to get my mind and heart back on track. It feels more like ME. I know that the purpose of bullet journaling is to be clean and easy to read but I'm messy and emotive so this feels juuuuuuussssst right.

Share your blogs about layouts and knitting! And go talk to Alisha about your very own beauty!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Yarny Fun!

I've been an avid knitter for about 4 and a half years. There's just something magical to me about sticks and string becoming art. It's so good for anxiety. And then you have fun stuff to wear!

About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at dyeing my own yarn. I started with kool aid, it creates bright colors and is colorfast so it won't bleed. It will lose color over time if it's stored somewhere sunny but it's a great place to start. Food coloring works also but you have to add acid (white vinegar) to get the color to set. Here is a great tutorial for creating gradient dyed yarn. This is the tutorial I used to learn how to dye my own yarn!

There are a few rules. And I mean just a few. First, you must use 100% animal fibers, wool is the easiest and most cost effective when you are just starting out. There are ways to dye cottons and other fibers, I just don't do it. Second, you have to use the powdered mix, the squirty bottle kind has sugar in it and you don't want sticky yarn. Third, you have to have fun! Here are a couple of my first kool aid dyeing attempts!

After I became comfortable using kool aid, I invested a bit in some acid dyes. The brand of dye I use utilizes white vinegar as the acid that sets the colors. There are other brands of dye that use other sources of acid, I'm just most comfortable with the Jacquard dyes.

My recent dye job was a first for me, I used a sock blank. Basically, it's a pre-knitted piece that you dye and unravel to knit with. It's great for stripes and handpainting designs into the yarn. It starts out looking like the pic to the right. This yarn is going to be a yummy pair of socks!
Once you've dyed the blank, you unravel it and wind it into a hank or a ball. There is something insanely fun about unraveling a blank. I hate having to unravel (or, frog) my knitting though. The yarn is pretty kinked up when you unravel it so it's a good idea to wet it and let some of the kinks relax. I put a plastic coat hanger on the bottom of the hank to add a bit of extra weight.

I love the way the dye didn't completely take so that I have speckles of white in the purple. I haven't picked out the pattern to use yet but I can't wait to see how it knits up with the speckles and solid sections! I have a few (read: a bunch) of projects that need finishing first though. Sigh. There are simply too many awesome things that need to be knitted!

A little note for my local readers! We meet to knit and crochet at Shineworthy Tea the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month from noon to 2pm. The tea and company is fantastic so be sure to pop out and join us.

Don't know how to knit? No problem, we've got you covered. I was gifted some knitting needles and I have plenty of spare yarn to share!

Everyone go out and have some yarny fun today!! Do you knit or crochet? Dye your own yarn? Spin? All of it? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bullet Journaling = Productive Days! And Snowmageddon.

I'm almost a month in using a bullet journal to organize my days and let me tell you, I am getting SO much more done. We recently had everyone else's equivalent of a dusting (8 inches of snow) but here in Nashville, it was basically a blizzard. The Mayor shut down the city. The husband still had to work, however, because people have to eat. For some perspective, the last time we got this much snow was 2003. Yep. We have this awesome bubble over the city that makes it either rain or sleet, which turns to ice overnight. I'm using my sarcasm font there, can you hear it? It rarely ever actually snows much here though, an inch here and there but that's it really.

This was my bujo entry for those days.... Pardon the *adult* world, I don't get to say them out loud often because having a 7 year old and a 4 year old with super sensitive grown up word hearing, sometimes I just gotta write them.. We had been trapped inside for far too long. As you can see on Sunday, my mother quite possibly saved the boys' lives.

Things were much better this week, obviously. I am trying to add doodles to my bujo. I consider myself possibly the worst doodler ever. Which is moderately hilarious because for 3 summers as a teen, I made those parasols with flowers or hearts or whatever and your name on them. I'm trying to let go of the anger I have at my lack of hand/eye coordination and doodle in the empty spaces in my bujo. I pulled out my staedtler's and tried to remember flower art. It's not perfect but it's fun to fill in the spaces. One of my big ideas for this year is to learn how to hand letter a little more and doodle a bit more adequately. Baby steps, right?

Anyhow, I'm filling in more and more tasks as finished every day. Actually, after I hit publish here, I'm done for the day!! Whatever will I do with my free time?!

I'm going to plan my day tomorrow and knit some more. I'm reading Stephen Covey's book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" right now and didn't know if I was going to have time for reading today so maybe I'll knock out a chapter or two there... I am finding so much more time in my days now that I'm bullet journaling.

I've always liked to do lists but I'm an incredible procrastinator. There's something about sitting down the night before and really thinking about what needs done and what my schedule will allow and merging those two together. I also think having a nice book and pretty pens to write with helps. The list doesn't seem arbitrary. As I'm making my daily, I'm really seeing if I'm living in balance. I no longer feel like all that motherhood has to offer is endless laundry and dishes. And if I'm housework heavy one day, I can adjust my plans for the next day so that I have some self-care and fun built in.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I'm Doing It!!! Keeping My Goals! Or, my new favorite thing to do!

I have recently discovered bullet journaling. It's sort of like a planner but not quite. I always got off track when I tried to use a whole planner, I needed something more specific to each day. And something I could customize to fit my life exactly. Enter the BuJo. Favorite brands are Moleskine (which is what I own) and Leuchtturm. You can choose from lined, blank, dotted grid, or solid grid. There are no rules on how to create your BuJo! None! You design monthly spreads, daily lists, and trackers to fit your life. You can be as detailed or as plain as you want. is the original system. It is quite plain in comparison to mine. I'm not a doodler, but I do like color coding and using a different bullet system than the most simple. Below are a few pages of my bujo.

My legend is pretty straightforward, everything has a specific bullet, a mark if it needs, and a color. If I've started something for work but not finished, I use a green slash to show that it's not quite finished. If I've completed the task, its box gets colored in completely. Not everyone color codes but it makes me easy to see if my days are balanced or if there's something that I'm not working on enough.

I can tell you that I don't enjoy housework so I try to plan it in the middle of days that awesome things are happening. Because, laundry. Housework gets migrated pretty regularly.

That's another awesome thing about my bujo, I have factored in that I am not going to have time or want to finish every single task, every day. I love being able to migrate a task to another day. I don't feel anywhere as lazy if I migrate rather than if I just don't mark a task completed.

Here is a sample of my daily layout. The small print at the bottom of each day are a couple of things I like to track daily. I'm doing the 30 Day Yoga Camp with Yoga with Adriene, so I mark each day if I've done it or not. I also like to track my water, I am able to see how I'm doing each day. I think next month I might draw little cups instead of boxes. And the last thing there is a writing prompt. I like to take a few seconds and track my mood each evening. That way I can adjust my daily task list if I'm feeling overwhelmed or I can add things if I'm feeling bored or particularly energetic!

I love inspirational quotes, this is on the page opposite my legend. It reminds me every single day that I can do what I put my mind to. And it reminds me to be myself, I tend to water myself down at times. I shouldn't do that! I need to let my ME flag fly! :)

Below is a day in my bujo. I chose a word for this year and it's "Push". I need to push myself in all areas of my life so I write it each day in my bujo. It would be really easy to just write it in when I do my monthly layout but that would defeat the purpose. I like to consider the word each day for a few minutes while I write it out. To think about what area in my life I need to push myself in that day.

So, that's my bujo in one post. I am finding it incredibly useful and I am getting so much more accomplished each day rather than waiting for everything to pile up on me and rushing at the last minute to get clothes washed, Thrive business attended to, the house cleaned, etc. When I was doing that I found that I had very little time to focus on self care and doing things I enjoyed. Or, I would goof around doing things I wanted to do while ignoring things I didn't. Ha!

There are some amazing blogs out there about bullet journaling. One that comes to mind immediately is Boho Berry, she has BEAUTIFUL layouts and her lettering is incredible. I'm not much of a doodler so mine is pretty straightforward. My best friend, Alisha, has an amazing bujo. I'm going to make her blog about hers, y'all need to SEE her awesomeness.

That's it for today! Do you use a planner or bujo?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Resolutions, shmezolutions...

I am the worst at New Year's resolutions. The literal worst. I some half-hearted statement about "this year is THE year". But, the year for what? And whatever it was is usually forgotten by the end of the first week. For me resolutions=magically attaining whatever I only sort of want.

This year, I threw out the idea of a resolution. This year, I have GOALS. Goals have a start point, a list of steps, and an end result. There's no magic in that. Only hard work and determination. I don't feel like halfway doing things in my life anymore. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to DO it.

Here are my list of goals and a few of the steps I'm going to take to reach them.

  • Better Self Care
    • I'm going to stop feeding myself junk food. My body is a dang temple that deserves healthy food.
    • I'm going to push myself physically and then I'm going to rest when I need it.
    • I am going to set myself up for success with meals by buying healthy foods.
    • I am going to have days where I just veg and read, sometimes I need to just go inside my head and that's okay. It is NOT selfish.
    • I am going to practice affirmations.

  • Moving Up Ranks in My Thrive Business
    • I'm going to build new relationships.
    • I am going to help people improve their lives by taking control of their wellness
    • I am going to help my team in any way I can
    • I am reading books on Network Marketing

  • Move My Body
    • I am going to do some sort of physical activity every day. My preferred mode is yoga but if it ends up a dance party in the kitchen while I cook dinner, I'm going to be happy for the movement.
    • I am going to hit 10k steps 4x a week. I have a feeling I'll be doing lots of laps around the house! HA!

  • Keep Up with My Bujo
    • Oh my gosh, this one is easy because I love doing it. Checking off color coded boxes just makes my heart happy. 
    • I will set up my day the night before so that I know what is coming up and what needs to be done. I'm thinking that this will make more effective use of my time.

  • Knit More!
    • I have so many knitting projects that I want to make this year. My plan is to finish at least one a month!
Do you make resolutions or goals? Do you keep them? Do you have a plan? Share with me in the comments!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Work in Progress: Trillian Shawl

I've been knitting for about 4 years now. I picked up needles and yarn when I was going through some tough times. I had a colicky infant, I had just had major abdominal surgery to attempt to put back to rights my busted up abdominal muscles (sidenote: it didn't work), the huz was working INSANE hours. By insane I mean, a 70 hour work week was standard. My mom came to stay with me every day, from morning to night. I was bored and depressed and anxious. I had briefly attempted to learn how to knit when I was in my late teens but I lost interest.

Sitting on the couch, day in and day out, got boring really quickly. In desperation, I asked my mom to  take me to the craft store and teach me to knit. That day, a monster was created. Now, I have yarn stashed all over the house, I have projects in various stages of completion in a basket, overflowing, beside the couch. Most knitters will tell you it's almost impossible to only knit one thing at a time. Maybe in a time before the Internet, people could work on one project from start to finish. 

There's this evil amazing website called Ravelry. It has patterns for everything you could think of to knit and some you'd rather not have seen. Through the wonder of Ravelry, I have 9 pages of patterns (or 445 individual patterns). I will never be able to knit them all, if I gave up eating, sleeping, bathing, and tending children, I would still not have enough time to knit them all. If you happen to be a "hooker", there's also a wealth of for you as well.

One of my projects that is currently unfinished is the Trillian Shawl from Martina Behm. It is my lazy day knitting project. It's not terribly difficult so I can watch TV or keep an eye on the kids if they're having a rowdy day. It creates a beautiful, light shawl that you can wear in all seasons. Or so I've heard. Mine is about a third of the way finished. 

I have fallen into another crafting abyss... hand dyeing yarn. I love it. I love being able to control the colors and create custom yarns for projects I want to make. Because there's nothing worse than going to the yarn store to not be able to find the exact right color for your project and still leaving $100 lighter. I started with kool aid. It is insanely easy to dye yarn with kool aid. If you follow me on Pinterest, I have some neat pins on kool aid dyeing to get you started. I dyed the yarn for this shawl. I love the soft teal and the variegation came out perfectly!

I've since moved on to acid dyes, which sound hard and scary but aren't. The acid is usually vinegar. The color combinations you can create are amazing and you have a bit more control than with kool aid. I tend to stick to grays, blues, purples, and teals. They're my favorite. I've dyed a few skeins of yarn red but I haven't found THE red for me yet. I'm not quitting though. 

Do you knit? Crochet? Dye? What is your favorite craft or creative outlet?