Challenges Knit and Small

Life is lifey right now and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be. We are renovating a 1940 minimal traditional style house while renting another. This means that I’m primary caregiver while Calvin works at the house and his daytime job. I love having the privilege and opportunity to be with the boys, however it’s been pretty intense these past months.

My mother in law, Cathy, recently asked if I could go anywhere given a weekend by myself, where would that be? I told her a fiber festival. Whether here in the States or across the pond to Shetland Wool Week, the idea of staying at a quaint cabin at night and diving into yarn by day sounds divine. A gal can dream.

How do I take care of myself with limited alone time? With lots of lavender oil and yarn. Right now I’m soaking in as much as I can to further my yarn and knit education. I mentioned a branding and shawl challenge a couple of posts ago. This week I participated in the Initiate Knit Design challenge with Aroha Knits.

I usually modify the patterns I use, some turn out successfully and others not so much (my two sized fingerless-mitts come to mind). This challenge helped me understand how to design patterns from inspiration to written pattern. It helped me get outside my comfort zone and be vulnerable by posting these steps on social media.

I still need to flesh it out and finish writing the pattern, but I’m really excited that I did this challenge and saw something through. My personal challenge through this is having to reach deadlines while parenting. There’s always a part of me that feels like I’m neglecting the kids while I’m tossing Cheerios at them so that I can work on the project.

My Initiate Knit Design draft and swatch.My Initiate Knit Design swatch and pattern math.

This is the aftermath of one of the craziest days. Don’t judge, I’m keeping it real here. Finis is getting into EVERYTHING. If it’s in a box or cabinet it must come out, usually on the floor.

How do entrepreneurs do this? Especially “Mompreneurs” who have littles at home and deadlines to meet? If you are one of these, please comment with any tips or resources. I try to work during nap-time and bedtime, but an 18 month old and four year old still require so much.

Completed Projects

I recently competed a lacy spring kerchief for my shop, Grassroots Yarn. The pattern is by the Mouse Army Mitten Co. I used Cascade Yarns Venezia Sport merino silk. It’s wonderfully soft, light, and has the perfect drape. You can also see my new fabric labels! I bought these for accessories that can’t handle a heavy wood label, which I have arriving soon.

Labels by Mommie Made It Etsy shop. Feels great to support a mom run business.

Wood laser engraved product tags by Etsy shop Tree Town Paper.

I Bought a Pattern

It’s only mid-February and it appears that spring has arrived here in Wetumpka, Alabama. I went on a walk with the boys and I looked up (a practice I encourage everyone to do from time to time) and saw the tulip trees (Japanese Magnolias?) were in full bloom. From the looks of things it’s going to be a gorgeous first Alabama spring for us.

I’m slowly working on this Leaf Cowl with Buttons pattern by Michele C. Meadows. It’s the first time I’ve knit anything like this. It’s easy, but has enough stitch variation to keep it interesting. Good thing since I easily become bored with long projects. I have 1 1/3 rounds left of the stitch pattern before I bind off.

I’ve recently joined a Facebook group called The Fiber Muse Circle. It has been a great source of inspiration and knowledge. I participated in the 5 Days 5 Shawls Challenge by Aroha Knits. Though I was familiar with many of the techniques, there were moments that I wanted to toss my DPNs aside. I stuck it out and put together some pretty cool little shawl samples. My son loved to see what I had completed that evening and gave them his own interpretation. You can follow the progress on my Instagram account.

Triangular Shawl.Crescent Shawl, aka mustache.Asymmetrical Shawl, aka check mark.3/4 Shawl aka castle shawl.Pi Shawl aka spider web.

I had some blocking issues, and the 3/4 shawl was supposed to be a square shawl, but I had the hardest time fumbling with fingering weight yarn on size three needles. Joining just four stitches is not easy, let me say.

I’ve also found that knitting while parenting has proven to be difficult. My mind wants to knit, but I have littles tugging at my pants leg, or grabbing my yarn balls. I get the most I can out of my evenings, but even those are cut short because I need to sleep, imagine that. Being well rested is crucial to being a good parent, or at least a parent that isn’t a grump.

In addition to mini knitting challenges, another benefit of joining knitting and design groups is that I see a bunch of very talented fiber artists releasing their latest designs on Ravelry. It’s so hard not to buy every one I see. This one caught my eye though.

This is the Laced Tipped Shawl by Jill Fink of Finknits. It’s probably only the second pattern I’ve ever purchased (I plan to support designers more. They are an important part of the fiber industry). What drew me to this pattern was the color choices and the variation of angles juxtaposed with the variety of knitting stitches. It creates wonderful texture and dimension. I look forward to knitting this up sometime after I’ve finished my smaller projects.

I’m doing a thing

We’ve been in our new town for five months. It’s been a great transition for us, but not without its challenges. This has all been an adjustment with a new state, city, home, schedule, and two littles ’round the clock.

Lately I’ve been revisiting my purpose here, you know, who and what I am outside of mom and wife. I’ve gone from running a nonprofit at a historic site to planning activities for a four year old and trying to keep the one year old from putting toys in the toilet. Really, it is so much more than that, though. I love this time with them.

My mind is again wandering to the yummy, soothing goodness…yarn. I’m reevaluating Grassroots Yarn, it’s branding, name, and even mission. I’m considering putting the yarn shop dream on hold and focusing my time on selling hand knit accessories locally and online. I even have a local gift shop interested in selling them on consignment. No need for a monthly vendor fee, just a percentage taken off the top. Simple, which is what I need now.

I started taking marketing webinar classes and recently completed a branding challenge, which was so good for me. It really helped me hone in on my message, but it also opened up more ides for me in regard to collaborating with other fiber artists and makers to help promote their products, help drive traffic my way ( and theirs), and help to foster an inspiration for learning fiber arts. It also brought me back to the idea of a small yarn shop here in Wetumpka, but I need to see if it would be supported here. Turns out I will be meeting with a local knitting/crochet group to discuss the idea. I have no idea where it will lead, but I’m following the doors that are opening to me.

Just this evening I posted my call to action, the culmination of seven days of work on the Brand Story Challenge developed by Jennifer Kem. I feel like I need to work on it more, but it’s not bad for seven days of pondering and typed out in 30 minutes.

Here it is:

When I realized I needed to make a significant change in my professional life, I stopped wringing my hands and jumped in to start a new business. I live to work in what I love, not work to live in a passionless existence. That was my story, and it sounds a little like your story, too. That’s why I’d like for you to follow my journey on my blog.

What I believe about my work above all else is that yarn and fiber art connect people, create a more comfortable world, and serves as a catalyst for beauty and self-care. I love helping other fiber artists become more visible by promoting their work through my knitted items. I showcase the indy-dyer, the hand spinner, and the notions maker in my blog and online store. So if you are interested in collaborating with me please email me and we can see what we can do for each other.

I’m Anna, a knitter and a dreamer. If I’m not putting my hands in yarn, I’m thinking about the next project, the next fiber craft I want to learn. I want to give people the gift of hand knit accessories so that they too can experience an appreciation for and love of all things yarn. If you need more cozy in your life, if you would like to learn more about what I can do for you, please stop by my website. #brandstorychallenge #day7 #mamaknitlove #grassrootsyarn

So here I threw this out into the world and I realized I haven’t written any content here or fully updated my Grassroots Yarn website. Work in progress and all that…

If you found yourself here and you are a fiber artist, leave a comment and tell me a little about yourself. What’s your passion? What’s your art? What’s your “why”? Let’s talk about how we can work together.

Under the Pecan Tree

We walk every morning in our new town.

One of the delights about our neighborhood are the abundant pecan trees,

Which Quinn requests every time we go.

We scour the ground on Tuskeena Street, under the shade of the pecan trees.

We look for the lightest colored shells, they usually give us the sweetest nuts.

We smash them under our shoe. Quinn brings his heel down, shoes flashing green.

The nut rolls, I bring it back to him.

He tries again, it’s almost pulverized. We check to see if it’s a good nut.

My little boy, so young, has already learned about bitterness.

“This looks like a good nut, Mommy.”

It was, plump, sweet, giving.

We stand there, sharing the moment.

I see the early Autumn sun shining on him, his brother. There’s a cool breeze.

I am reminded of these moments with the women in my life.

My memory is of picking black berries with my grandmother,

Watching her tat with strings pulled from grain bags.

Walking out to the field so that she can dig up thistles. She had her own personal vendetta against them.

They were as prickly as she was.

My mom gave me an appreciation of old things, antiques, historic sites, experiences.

We gardened together.

I remember her diligently taking care of me while I was sick.

She showed me what love is.


I look at my son’s darkening hair in the sun, his blond locks long cut off.

I have a thought that I am creating a memory for my children. For Quinn.

He, too, will look back on this with fondness.

He, too, will say my mother loved me.


New Life

I’m writing this new entry in the rocking chair while Finis is asleep on me…from Wetumpka, Alabama. We said goodby to our sweet home in Knoxville on September 1st and made it here after closing on our house. It took us one day with two kids and a huge moving truck.

Why would we move to this small town just north of Montgomery? Opportunity and a chance for a better life.

Calvin and I both worked for non-profit organizations with a collective experience of twenty years. As rewarding as the work was to help preserve our local history at Mabry-Hazen House and Marble Springs State Historic site, the reality was that our path there wasn’t sustainable. Calvin worked a second position with the local tourism bureau as a contract employee. Things became tenuous with that position, so the search began for a new career path. We were heading in this direction for other reasons, namely the uncertainly over insurance. Then, Calvin was approached by a colleague in the Alabama Historical Commission who is ready to retire and he wanted Calvin to take his position at Confederate Memorial Park. This was going to be a state job with benefits and resources we never had in Knoxville. After much discussion and additional interviews, we knew this was the best fit for our family.

We’ve been here for almost two months and now that we’ve settled into Alabama life, and I’m a part-time work out of the home mom, I can finally say that it’s been a long time since I’ve been happy. I’m feeling it in my heart that this is the best place for us.

Our life was stressful, uncertain, and we were stretched thin. The kids noticed this, too. I felt that Quinn and I had a disconnect in our relationship and this transition has allowed us to bond. It’s been delightful to see the boys fall in love, and to see them grow and develop. Today my days are filled with activities, long walks, home care responsibilities that Quinn participates in, art, reading, and whatever else we decide to do with the day. We have our challenges, of course, but we work through them.

I’m returning back to my yarn, too. After I complete a WIP (work in progress for my non-knitting friends) that’s been ongoing for two years, I’ll start making inventory to sell locally and online. I’m so excited to do something I love as my creative outlet.

I’ll have more updates, but wanted to check in and say howdy. It’s been rather hectic, but I hope to be more present here in the future.

August, Remembered

There are two dates that I alone remember outside of the boys birthdays and our anniversary.

They are the dates of the one I lost.

It was barely a whisper of time.

A faint heartbeat.


And then such immeasurable loss.

I woke up on that August 22nd morning, knowing.

Feeling the weight, the sadness envelop.

Unable to control my body.


What is happening?

Nature, but…

Please, don’t go…

March 30, 2016 was supposed to be a day of joy.

Now it is of rememberance.

I feel this one was a boy.

August, potentially.

This is the one whose name I have written on my heart.

June 2015

Urban Garden

The five month old decided it was time to get up at 5:00 am. Usually I’ll put the stars and moon projector on to entertain him while I get the coffee percolating. We lay in bed together till the coffee is ready, just about the time the lucious aroma reaches the bedroom I know it’s time to get up. 

I love these mornings, when the house is still, the birds morning song is serenading us, and Finis is happily bouncing in his saucer, or quietly daydreaming. I take this time to knit or crochet, sipping guzzling my coffee in my favorite Sally mug. This self care fills me up.  

Two of these, please

I grew up on a farm during my formative years, it was a wonderful experience. After taking Quinn to the local fruit and berry patch, I knew I wanted him to have some kind of experience that resulted in outdoor life and developing an appreciation for fresh grown food and caring for our environment. The garden started when Quinn was two years old and quite the connoisseur of blueberries. Our purchase of two bushes happened just at the time that Calvin was over mowing the yard. So began our foray into urban gardening yardening. It seems like every time Calvin mows what’s left of the yard he comes in sweaty, sneezing, and covered in grass clippings with a new idea on how to get rid of landscape the yard.

My husband has created a little oasis in our back yard. 

Planting potatoes

This morning we met our neighbor and a photographer for a photo shoot. We will be featured  in a book of neighborhood garden stories. It’s so exciting to be part of this project. (Thanks, Terry!)

Our busy day ended with a neighborhood yarn bomb project for the marathon water stop. More on that in an upcoming post. But for now…

One is not like the other

I found this pattern on Ravelry for honeycomb wrist warmers, or maybe it was a blog that linked to Ravelry. I can never keep up with it all.

I decided to use the squishy Cestari Sheep & Wool Company merino wool yarn that I sold in my Grassroots Yarn booth. This honeycomb pattern was new to me, which means there was going to be trouble ahead.

And there was.

I didn’t fully research the stitch, it’s a use it or lose it scenario. I did the slip one (Sl1) with the needle in the back instead of slipping knit wise, it still looked okay, the honeycomb wasn’t as defined, so I decided to keep going and just copy the stitch I used on the other warmer.

The first one turned out nicely:

I also decided to add a couple more rows, I like my lower arms to be covered and the cuffs to reach up to my knuckles. To accomplish the counting I used my notes app to tick off the rows and to keep track of any adjustments I made to the pattern.

I’m going to confess that I don’t swatch either, unless I ever make something fitted, like a sweater or socks, I won’t swatch. Any sentence that begins with that information is a foreshadowing of things to come.

I ended up putting down the project so I could work on an order of Pussyhats for a friend, and then got back to work.

I bound off the project, anticipating the feeling of my knit-for-me wrist warmers and discovered this:

There the were, mocking me. My anticipation was deflated. I tried them on, feeling my disappointment as one was wrapped loosely on my wrist, while the other fit perfectly. What happened?!

Either my gauge was off or I added more rows, I’m betting on the former, but it could be both. I tried blocking the smaller one in the hopes that would rectify my shame, but they have already sprung back to the original shape.

The lesson? Follow the pattern, do a test gauge, don’t put down a project because you never know how tense or relaxed you will be when you get back to the WIP. I truly believe that your knitting/crochet changes over time. Will I ever follow my own advice? Probably not. I feel like I learn other skills when I do all the above things. Though I still think testing your gauge with a swatch is important, otherwise it can become a waste of your time. Maybe I’ll learn that lesson one day.

It’s all good though, I still wear them, and I might  knit the larger one again.

I also reconciled myself when I made a lovely pair of Maize fingerless mitts for my husband that turned out well:

Recent News about the website

I have amazing friends. They are skilled, generous, and helpful. After my impatience over the website development, I contacted a friend in my working moms group who has a background in web development. She fixed everything for me and imported all the information from the Knitting Whovie to Mama-Knit-Love site. Yay! Thank you, Leigh!

Facebook Fasting

I decided to give up Facebook for Lent this year. It was a particularly difficult decision because my other choice was sweets. The way I’ve been scarfing down chocolate chips whilst hiding in the pantry from my three year old indicates a true need to do something about my lack of coping skills. 

What was the deciding factor? Toxicity. The book of faces is a nasty place right now. It got worse after the election and I’ll admit to my own lapse in judgement before hitting the post button. I realized after I stepped back and took a deep breath that I had to walk away from Facebook. I was checking in too frequently, this was pulling me away from my family, creating more division with people I love, and it was very difficult to be present when all I could do was think about what to post, who responded/liked/laughed/gave me angry face/etc. It was also a matter of feeling like I needed to be informed, but do I really need to be that informed? I think checking in with the Nightly News is one thing, but when I’m receiving updates every hour or more, I get a little nutty. I can’t sustain that level of awareness and be a pleasant person. From what I’m witnessing, it’s the same for other people, too.

At first it was a big adjustment. I never realized how much time and energy I spend coming up with something to say or how much of a compulsion it is to post about the littlest thing. Then there’s the act of asking myself what my motives are in posting or responding. Am I letting off steam? Looking for sympathy? Do people really care that I couldn’t find the applesauce in the grocery aisle I expected it to be in? Probably not.

Here I am, 12 days away from Easter and with the exception of posting from my pages app for work and the Grassroots Yarn page; and following some important groups from my groups app, I’ve noticed that my world has been a considerably more peaceful place. I’ve been able to get more accomplished at work, as a parent, and wife. I’ve revived the blog, knitted more, and read more than I have in recent years. As a result I’m more calm and centered.

Will I go back? In moderation. I do miss hearing big announcements, keeping up with loved ones, and seeing the beautiful side of Facebook. I found that I get a lot more out of living my life and sticking with my interests. Also, I found renewed joy hanging out on Instagram and Pinterest.  There are a lot of beautiful images there.

All in all, this was one of the best Lenten journeys I’ve walked. It invoked a great deal of restraint and self reflection–appropriate for this liturgical season.