The Importance of Being Needed

The end of the year always marks a time of reflection for me.  While I may not necessarily come up with resolutions for the coming year, I do re-evaluate what I have accomplished in the previous one.

2010 is nearly over and it has been an amazing year for me as I have moved from working part-time to full-time in my efforts as a crochet designer.

I have sold 10 designs this year to various magazines and yarn companies.  Some that will not be published until 2011 and others that are currently available to crocheters.

I have spent countless hours swatching and sketching design ideas for submissions to magazines and yarn companies. As well as working on designs for publishing in my independent line of patterns.

I have discovered that I was actually doing much more work in my life before going back to “work” than I realized or credited myself with.  The fact that my time is taken up with “work” work instead of those other tasks has made that abundantly clear.

I love to design.  I love to teach about crochet and healthy crafting.  I love to crochet for myself, gifting  and charity.  But I am also realizing the limits on my time and energy as well as the importance of being needed.

My sons are quite young still.  They have made it rather clear in the past few months that they still need me and my attention.  The last 8 years have gone by in a flash and soon enough, they will be far too independent.  So I am looking at how to find balance between what they need from me and what I need to do as a designer.

The next 4 months will be about finding greater balance with my work and home life.  That may mean focusing more on my blogging and Independent Pattern line.  Possibly the opening of my Etsy shop.  All things that allow me flexibility with my deadlines.

As much as I enjoy working with editors and creative directors in the Magazine and Yarn business the deadlines are often quite tight.  If one of my children becomes sick or my husband has to travel for business it can really make it challenging to meet those deadlines.

Being a re-covering Perfectionist I get very stressed if I can’t meet a deadline.  I hate to let down editors or others that are counting on my project to be in on time. 

The interesting thing is, slowing things down is in many ways an act of faith.  Faith that my skills will continue to grow and that I will find the opportunities that I need at the right time.  I hope you, my friends and readers will join me in this journey of faith.

The importance of being needed is key, especially what we need from ourselves.

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Ooooo Sparkly!

This past weekend included another Saturday night spent (or is that mis-spent?) at the LambShoppe with my stitching friends.  Admittedly the amount of actual stitching I got done was minimal.  But I did do some damage shopping for yarn and consuming yummy food.

Yummy Yarn

Everyone brings a dish or nibbles to share.  My contribution was a Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese ball.  Even me, with my severe culinary challenges, can manage to mash up smoked salmon with cream cheese and shape it into a ball.  I also provided gluten-free crackers to eat with it.

When I wasn’t being a social butterfly visiting with the friends there I was having fun cruising about petting yarn and filling a shopping basket with balls that needed a home.  Some of this yarn is destined to be sent away as gifts to stitching pals further afield.  Much of it is for me to play with though.

In particular is this gorgeous stuff. Lang Yarns’ LanaLux (40% Merino, 28% Polyamide/Nylon, 32% Polyster).  Anita, one of the owners of the LambShoppe actually helped me find this yarn at the last PJ Jam. I was on the hunt for seriously sparkly yarns.  You have to admit, this is seriously sparkly.

It is also really fun to stitch with.  I made up a couple of my Little Christmas Wreaths in it and was quite pleased with the way the yarn performed as well as the beauty of the finished wreaths.  I may have to come up with some other fun designs using this yarn.

I keep visualizing an open work FreeForm Lace style capelet.  Worn over a black shirt it could make for a wonderful bit of dazzle and warmth for New Year’s Eve. The more sedate version would be to use one color.  But the wild woman in me is seeing something using every color.

So on this jaunt I was determined to acquire every shade they had available to experiment with.  There will also be a few more wreaths made as gifts for family and friends this holiday season.

Twas the Week before Christmas

7 days and Counting

I hear you all out there scrambling to finish gift projects.  You are crocheting (or knitting) like mad fiends in every spare moment you can find.  Meetings at work are viewed as an opportunity to get a few rows done.  And that long train/bus or subway commute isn’t too bad if you can find a stable spot to sit or stand and stitch.

You are staying up late. You’re stitching for hours on end.  And very likely you are ignoring those twinges and aches in your shoulders, neck, arms and hands.

I know I’m not going to persuade you that you should stop tormenting yourself.  Heck! I’m in a similar boat.  But I’m doing okay because I’m adding in a few ways of taking care of myself.

I like to listen to music or watch movies when I am working.  Sometimes my TV shows are on.  I make sure to set some sort of interval that I am going to stop for a moment and do something else.  Every time the commericials start or at the end of a certain song or scene. 

Yes, that is a sneaky way of saying I take a break.  Remember the rule with breaks is, you don’t have to go do yoga in the corner.  Get up and move! That’s it.

Go switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  Get a drink of water. Run to the loo.  Just move your body in a way that is different from crouching over your crafting.

Of course, I’m also reminding myself regularly not to “crouch” over my project. Keeping my shoulders and neck relaxed really gives me more energy and efficiency when stitching.  So between my “Get up and Move” breaks I take little mini-breaks.

Mini-breaks are just a quick moment to take a deep breath, relax my shoulders, maybe look up at the ceiling or gently twist my neck from side to side.  Anymore these are such a habit that I do them without thinking.  I can even keep stitching often times.

I know it seems counter-intuitive that taking time for a break of any sort will speed up the progress of your project, but it really works.  Those little breaks add to your overall energy level and improve your chances of working “smarter” instead of “harder”.

Also a reminder. If you are still looking for some quick gifts for some of the folks on your list my first pattern “Little Christmas Wreath” is very speedy.  You can make it as a brooch or a fun little ornament for the tree.  Even makes a great Fridge magnet.

Take a look over at my Happy Holidays post to get the coupon code for a complimentary copy.

The Gift of Crochet

 

Giving crochet as a gift is something that has brought a great deal of joy into my life.  I’ve crocheted many gifts for friends and family over the years, as well as loads of projects for charitable efforts.

Thinking about making gifts reminded me of a discussion on Ravelry in the CLF Group.  The original poster had discovered a handmade gift she had given someone in a thrift store.  The conversation was interesting, and really made me think about why I make a gift or even give a gift.

Sometimes it is a matter of concern or worry for someone in my life.  I love to make gifts for those I care about, especially when they may be going thru a troubling time in their lives.  I like the feeling that the effort I’ve put into the gift will translate to the giftee as love. 

Sometimes it is a matter of expediency too.  I have made many a quick gift either by crochet, sewing, beading, paper-crafting or one of my myriad artsy/crafty pursuits to fulfill the need for a last-minute gift.  In particular are the times I’ve whipped up a cute little toy for a child’s birthday present.  Being we live on a mountain a good 40 minute drive (one direction) from the nearest shopping options, having those skills is very helpful.

With Christmas time almost here many of us will be burning the midnight oil attempting to finish crocheted or other handcrafted gifts in time for our various holiday get-togethers.  Some of us will be lucky enough to receive handcrafted gifts from other people in our lives.

No matter if we are giftee or gifter, it is good to remember what my paternal grandmother always said. “It’s the thought that counts.”  I would add to that “Once it is given, let it go.”

If your gift ends up in a thrift store somewhere trust that it will eventually find its way to someone who will treasure it.  Even if it is you purchasing it at the Thrift store to bring home or to wear to the next get-together with the original giftee.

Maybe the most important “gift” of crochet, is the gift we give ourselves. Challenging ourselves to make something using the magic of hook and yarn, whether for ourselves or to give to others, the joy of the crocheting and the sense of accomplishment when a project is done is tremendous.

Better yet, give someone the gift of teaching them to crochet.

Wishing all of you great joy in this season of giving.

Happy Holidays

Here on the Mountain the days are getting shorter and colder and 2010 is nearly over.  It’s that time of year when I run thru my list of folks that I’m giving gifts to.  In just 2 short weeks my family will be celebrating Christmas with each other.

M2H Designs - Little Christmas Wreath

I’m also celebrating the launch of M2H Designs with my first independantly published pattern, Little Christmas Wreath, now available in my Ravelry Shop.  As a special thank you and gift to all my supporters I’m going to offer a complimentary copy of this pattern to everyone thru January 7th.

I created this fun little wreath to celebrate the holiday season.  The pattern is a PDF that includes stitch diagrams and photo tutorials along with written instructions (US terminology).

These are fun festive touches to add to gift packages and greeting cards or to make into a brooch to wear on a jacket or as a shawl pin. Quick to crochet up and ideal for using up leftover bits of yarn from other projects. 

To get your copy go to Ravelry and use the “Buy Now” button to purchase the pattern, when you get to the cart enter the coupon code LCW2010G  where you see the “use a coupon code” option.   The code will only be good until midnight Mountain Time on January 7th, 2011.

I hope you enjoy making your own little wreaths and look forward to seeing project photos on Ravelry to see what everyone did with this idea.

Happy Holidays from M2H Designs.

Gift for a Thanksgiving Baby

Some neighbors just had a baby girl, so I decided she needed some crochet style to see her thru our mountain winter.  She is a petite one, beginning her life journey weighing in at only 6.6 pounds.

Baby Hat and Car Blanket

The car blanket is just a quick 23″ x 23″  V-stitch granny square with an opening for a car-seat buckle to fit thru.  I used my Little Noggins Cap pattern with a worsted weight yarn, which resulted in a slightly larger hat than the gauge on the pattern (perfect for a slightly larger than premie baby). 

The yarn is Premier Yarns’ Deborah Norville Collection EveryDay Soft Worsted.  This is the first time I’ve used this yarn and I am really loving the feel and resulting finished project. I won a bag of 3 balls in the “American Hero” colorway at the CLF Retreat in October.  I used every bit of the 3 balls for this hat and blanket.

I liked the colors because there was some pinkish tones in this yarn without it being too “girlie”.  I’m one of those people who gets very tired of pastel baby yarns and I knew my friends would also prefer something not too frou-frou.

The EveryDay Soft Worsted is named aptly. It is super soft even before being washed.  I machine washed and dried the finished hat and blanket to be sure they wouldn’t be a pain for my friends to launder.  Hopefully these will be well used by them, as this new baby and their 4 year old son keep them on their toes.

Welcome baby K.