Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I Know to be True: Part One



At the beginning of April, I started in on the #100dayproject with 100 days of writing. Now, full disclaimer: I definitely fell hard off the bandwagon on this one. I wrote daily for about 40 days and now manage something every two-three days. But still- that's much more than I was doing before and there have been some fun things that have come out of doing this project.

One of those has been this new series that I started sharing on Instagram, which I'm calling What I Know to be True. These are basically just thoughts on things I've learned or what I'm currently working through, shared with some sort of photo that I otherwise probably wouldn't post. It's been a fun challenge and though I always feel a little vulnerable before posting one, the response has been so kind and heartwarming. Today I just wanted to share a little round up of these post here, mostly for documentation's sake. 

So here are the first 4 posts in the series:



1. Everything is a season. EVERYTHING. I know it feels like you will never sleep through the night again, but this is just not the case. One day these nights of rocking baby back to sleep will end and your arms, much as they ache now will be empty again. Give yourself fully to this time. Savor what you can. You've got an infant who insists on racing towards toddlerhood and you could never stop him if you tried. This is right and good. The seasons are sweet, swift and at times, devastating. Summer's relentless heat eventually burns off into glorious autumn if you just wait long enough. But there's no need to worry about that in the spring. Let me let you in on a little secret: this season, this one right here and now, is the best one, because it's the only one you've got. So take a deep breath mama. Pour yourself that second cup of coffee and soak up the sweet spring sunlight. I know you're tired, but you're doing just fine.

2. Brave isn't always loud. Sometimes of course, it is. Sometimes it's standing on top of the mountain you've just climbed, arms outstretched, sending your ideas out into the world. But sometimes it's the hard and heavy work of plodding along the trail day after day. Showing up when the summit is far FAR from sight, when there are blisters and hunger and even boredom to contend with. Sometimes it's not getting discouraged when others pass you on the way, though they may have started out on their journey much later than you. Because sometimes brave looks like letting yourself work at your own pace. Sometimes brave can even mean backtracking. A wrong turn here or there, a creative venture that just didn't work out. In these moments brave looks like learning from mistakes, like taking a few steps forward and then a bunch of steps back until you reach a place where you can move forward again. Because behind all those heart-pounding-palm-sweating-adrenaline-pumping moments is a lot of work and (more often than not) one heck of a long journey. And there is bravery in the quiet of placing one foot in front of the other.



3. You cannot do it all. 
Last week someone asked me how I managed to stay on top of everything. My first response was obviously to laugh but honestly...? It felt good that I could be mistaken for someone who manages to do it all. Because the truth of course is so much messier. Most days I feel pulled by both my ideas and my responsibilities in a million different directions and sometimes it feels like I’m not doing a good job of much of anything. Somehow it becomes so much easier to focus on the things that I’m NOT doing (or what others are doing) rather than keeping my eyes on the task at hand. There’s a fine line to walk between inspiration and overwhelm. At times it can feel like my to do list and ideas are literally laughing in my face while I fight against the clock and struggle to do some form of deep work before the baby wakes up.
Yesterday during naptime I gave myself permission to drop a few things from my list. One was a new idea for a project that I came up with last week and literally could not stop thinking about. The other is something I’ve been dragging around since the Fall that I’ve just not had the time to get to. The first one I’ve moved to the backburner and the second I just finally let go of. It’s amazing how much better I feel already. Rather than making elaborate schedules and lists, trying to fit everything in, I now have more time to work on the things that really matter- the things I WANT to pursue. It’s just not possible to do ALL THE THINGS and that is more than okay. So pick a few things and stick with them. Do them well.

4. It's rarely too late.
In the last ten years I’ve done and been many things, reinventing myself and reorganizing my life to fit around what I’m currently pursuing: I’ve been an English tutor and then a language student myself. I’ve been a youth worker on the streets of East Vancouver, a part time student with no finished degree, a barista in a coffee shop. I’ve had a brief stint as a (mostly unsuccessful) fundraiser. I’ve played jazz saxophone. I’ve been a closet poet and then a performance poet. I’ve opened an Etsy shop and then closed it again. I’ve started and written three different blogs. I’ve published knitting patterns and made so SO many projects- some that have worked and some that have not. I’m currently in the process of beginning one of my greatest creative journeys yet which, if I stop and think about too much, completely freaks me out.
On the one hand this is all completely discouraging. I look back over the past ten years and see, for the most part, a bunch of started and then abandoned pursuits. But this has been my journey. It’s been scattered- a bit of a patchwork mix and match of different things, but it’s also been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed every single one of these seasons and I’ve learned so much from each. It would be amazing to be able to say one day that all these things led me to one perfect thing but I don’t know if that will happen.
What I do know is that it’s rarely too late to give something new a try. All you need is a little courage to start and perhaps, the willingness to be a beginner again.



(you can follow along with this project over on Instagram under the tag #whatruthknowstobetrue) 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

swatch diaries: Quince & Co Owl


Things have been pretty quiet in these parts lately. My knitting has recently been filling in the cracks of my days, taking a backseat to a few other big projects, most of which I'm not quite ready to share about yet. That being said I've got a few lovely projects on the go (though it's taken me ages to finish any...) and I've been working with really amazing yarns, some of which I've only recently discovered.

And so I thought it might be fun to start a little log- a diary of sorts, detailing some of the yarns (and stitch patterns!) I'm working with in the form of swatches. 



Up first I'm sharing about one of my very favorite yarns- Quince and Co Owl. I love all the Quince yarns I've tried but this is by far my favorite. It's a dreamy blend of 50% American wool and 50% New Zealand Alpaca, shown above in the Abyssinian colorway (undyed) and in the top photo in Canyon, a lovely soft shade of pink.

I adore wool/alpaca blends, they're one of my favorite fiber blends to work with. Alpaca is just so soft and lovely but I find on it's own, it creates a fabric that's a little to dense and heavy for my taste. Pair it with good wool and it's just the perfect mix. 

The swatch (shown in progress) in the photo above is chevron layette stitch, with a few moderations made by your's truly. It was originally intended to be a new pattern design, but I just haven't been able to get my ideas to translate to the needles as I was hoping. 

So I think I'm going to turn this lovely yarn into a pair of mittens (yes- always mittens). I'm thinking either the Woodland Tales mittens by Melody of Mandarine's or maybe I'll save it for a pair of WOODS mittens come late Fall this year.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June's Quote


"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?"
-CS Lewis

Been thinking lots about this as my baby turns one! Can't even believe it. 

(photo taken on my due date at the beginning of last June)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring is Sock Time!


Every year as spring comes around, I get a serious itching to knit socks. I think this partly has to do with the fact that I first learned to knit socks in the spring (3 years ago now!) but it's also the perfect season to start working on those smaller projects. Plus socks are great for knitting with colorful yarn- something that's also fun to do as the weather warms up. 

Today I basically just want to share some of the sock patterns I'm hoping to get to- mostly so I can organize them for myself. For most of these I've already got yarn ideas, which I've added as well. About a month ago I started watching knitting video podcasts on Youtube again (something I haven't done in ages) and I must say that I've been getting a whole slew of both sock yarn and pattern recommendations that have me itching to cast on! 




Mistletoe socks & Mash Potato socks (the Wool Club)
Sweet Fiber sock & Herbstblatt Regina
Have you guys seen Verena's socks? They are all seriously gorgeous. When I heard that she would be having a Knit-along this month, I knew right away that it was exactly the opportunity I had been waiting for to give toe up socks another try. I've cast on the Mistletoe socks already (in Sweet Fiber yarn I got in Canada back in March) and I've been really enjoying learning the magic loop method. I'm also hoping to knit a pair of Mash Potato socks during the KAL and even ordered some lovely speckled, tweedy yarn from Herbstblatt Regina that I think will work just perfectly with the pattern. Can't wait! 

Morning Light socks (Cabin Four)
Ancient Arts or Quince Chickadee
Okay these next socks have been on my list for ages- ever since I knit up the Irish Oats socks several years ago (also by Cabin Four). I adore this pattern and really the only thing stopping me from casting on is the question of which yarn to use. I do have a skein of Ancient Arts in the sagebrush colorway which would knit up nicely but it's so super tempting to just order the Chickadee, which is what the pattern calls for. 

Pixel Rise socks 
Madeline Tosh // Tosh Light
Okay so this is a bit of a stretch for me- I don't normally go for such colorful mix-matched projects. But after I saw Tammy (from the Hey Sister Podcast) knitting these in such a lovely soft color palate, I got a serious urge to give them a try. I've got some Madeline Tosh that I'm planning to use for a shawl (my summer project) and I know I'll have leftovers- which may just be the perfect thing for this pattern! 

Fine & Dandy socks (The Sweater Collective)
Shilasdair Sock
These socks look so much fun to knit! Jess from the Sweater Collective has really great style and I just adore all her patterns. I'm thinking it would be fun to try this pattern with the sock yarn I bought on the Isle of Skye last fall- it's a lovely mustard yellow (died with Marigold & Onion Skins) and I'm thinking I could do a reverse version of the ones in the Ravelry photo, with white/cream as my contrast color. 

Rye socks (Tin Can Knits)

(Marled Mountain yarn- pictured above)
Okay so I made Caleb a pair of Rye socks last Fall, shortly before we went to Scotland and he has gotten so much wear out of them. I used a lovely marled yarn and I just love how it worked up with the pattern. So I am totally thinking that I'd like to make a pair for myself to match! I'm going to have to get up the courage to finally wind up this yarn though, as it's my most precious skein- it's been in my stash the longest of anything I have! 

I'm sure there will be more added soon to this never ending list and of course, I'm sure I'll sneak in a pair or two of Vanilla socks somewhere in there (I've already started one in Patons Kroy just for some simple evening knitting!). But those are the major patterns currently on my radar. If you're a sock knitter I'd love to hear what you're hoping to make! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

recipe: Herby Spring Pasta Salad


Last Spring I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, in full nesting mode with plenty of time for meal planning and experimenting in the kitchen. I made pancake breakfasts on the weekend, baked scones and muffins and cakes for my baby shower (or just because) and experimented with plenty of fun Spring Salad recipes. I read that eating dates can help speed up labour (who knows..?) and so I made stuffed date appetizers and baked oatmeal date bars and chopped them into salads. I heard it was a good idea to stock your kitchen full of meals & snacks before baby arrives and so I made my favorite granola, hamburger patties to freeze and jar after jar of pesto. I convinced my husband to go with me to the grocery store to stock up on essentials for the postpartum period and just for our house in general. Because who wants to go buy toilet paper with a newborn right? 

In general I would say that all these little preparations were my way of dealing with the anxiety I felt over giving birth and how unprepaired I really was. There are only so many birthing classes and breathing exercises and books you can read before you're left admitting to yourself that you don't actually have any idea just how exactly this baby is going to come out.

Waldi planned to take a full week off of work and school and other outside responsibilities when our baby came and he (bless him) assured me that we would be okay. He'd cook and clean and help me take care of our new arrival and we'd be just fine.

And then Caleb was born. And we were of course completely bowled over by the love and responsibility that he brought with him. I remember bringing C back home on the morning after his birth, my body completely wrecked and broken from what it had endured- what it had acomplished. I remember looking at Waldi and realizing that this was it- we were parents now for the rest of our lives, whether we knew what to do with that or not. 

Needless to say, the newborn phase was all consuming. We embraced our new routine of feeding, changing and sleeping all wrapped into a three-hour cycle that repeated itself around the clock. I couldn't sit up properly that entire week (or really for many weeks after that...ouch) and moved basically from the bed to the couch and then back to the bed again. Caleb depended on us and I depended on Waldi and we all depended on the generous help of our midwife and on takeout- because there was no cooking happening during those first few days.

It took us awhile to get into a new family rhythm but we eventually got there. And as part of that we of course started cooking again. Now, when I think about last summer I remember sneaking welsh cakes from the freezer in the middle of the night and the fresh fruit and lovely meals my visiting aunts brought us that first week. But I also remember grilling in the evenings on the patio. I remember making fresh salads and walking to the bakery for buns to make sandwiches for lunch everyday with my mom, and even (eventually..) eating all that pesto.

Pasta in general was a great meal for us those early days- simple, quick and delicious. And what's even easier is a pasta salad, made ahead of time and served cold if you'd like. This spring I don't quite have the time to experiment in the kitchen that I did last year but I'm somewhere in the middle of the two extremes that marked my third and fourth trimesters- a happy place to be. Pasta salad is a staple around here (we do live in Germany after all...) and this version is light and fresh and perfect for both early postpartum days and for spring. As always, the amounts are a little loose- feel free to play around with it until you get a mix that suits you!



Herby Spring Pasta Salad

you will need:
one package of noodles (I used Fusili but any short noodle works)
soft goat cheese
green asparagus (we grilled ours but panfried is also fine)
toasted pinenuts
chopped sundried tomatoes
fresh basil, oregano & thyme

olive oil
white wine vinegar
fresh lemon juice
salt 
red pepper flakes
1tsp sugar

Cook your noodles as per package instructions and set aside to cool. Toss all your ingredients in a large bowl and combine with the past. Chop up your herbs (I used scissors for this- so easy!) and add them in. Shake up your dressing ingredients until well blended and pour over the salad.

Enjoy! 

also if you stuck with me and read through that incredibly long and rambling post THANK you! Sometimes it just does a world of good to get things typed out. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

May's Quote



"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'"
- Mary Anne Radmacher

(see more of my thoughts on this here)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Caleb's Blanket


Today I’ve got something very special to share with all of you. During the final few months of my pregnancy, I decided to improvise a simple cotton blanket for C, using textured knit stitches and a few basic crochet techniques (for the border). I got a lot of comments on in and even a few questions as to how I made it.

So I've decided to publish the pattern (as a free Ravelry download) in case any of you are interested in knitting it up.

If it's at all possible for a knitting project to accompany one on the journey into motherhood, then this would be the project. It was with me as a WIP in the final few months of pregnancy, it came to the birthing center with us (to use for bringing C home) and it was a constant through those early postpartum days where everything was slightly foggy and I really was just doing my best to grow into a new role that didn't fit quite right yet.

When I look at this blanket I remember all this. We don't use it much anymore, but every once in awhile I pull it out and think about how far we've come in a year. We've watched our baby grow but we've also seen ourselves grow right along with him.

And yes, this is just a blanket- just stitch upon stitch, row after row. But as is so often the case with knitting, I'm finding that these stitches add up to so much more.


You can find the link to the pattern here, if you're inclined to do so.