Knitter's Pride: Our Hands That Stitch

Knitter's Pride: Our Hands That Stitch

I look at the beautiful humans who attended Stitch Up Chicago and I see such diversity and representation in age, gender, heritage, skin color and stitch discipline. One of the attendees said to me; “This is the most diverse and inclusive event I have ever been to”. I cried. Because that is my commuKnitty.

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Everyone Gets Tacos. Everyone Gets Kits. A KnitCrate Fiesta!

Everyone Gets Tacos. Everyone Gets Kits. A KnitCrate Fiesta!

Celebrate Stitch Up Chicago the KnitC rate Way. Everyone gets tacos. Everyone gets a KnitCrate Kit. And everyone has a good time! Toss in a little impromptu birthday celebration and you have the makings of a fabulous Saturday night! This post includes affiliate links. Read full blog disclosure here.

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Universal Yarn: Oh So Gradient!

Universal Yarn: Oh So Gradient!

Universal Yarn has been a supporter and sponsor of Stitch Up Chicago for 3 years now. Since the very first event, the Universal team has seen the vision and supported this community. Kicking off Stitch Up Chicago with Universal Yarn Stitch Night was just perfect. The smiles & stitches tell the story!

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Say Hello To Free Pattern Mondays!

Say Hello To Free Pattern Mondays!

We all know Mondays can lag and drag ... so why not make sure to start the week right? My gift to you and help spread the fiber love. So Check back to the Free Patterns Section every Monday morning to start your week with a fresh new pattern to create and make the week FIBER FABULOUS!

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Mama Makers Are a Special Type of Maker

I don't have kids. I have poodles. Just how God designed my life. And knowing how busy my days are, I am constantly amazed at the Maker mama's I meet who seem to have super powers to do it all. 

My friend Stephanie of Triple Knot Studio constantly impresses me.  She is the dynamo of Mama Makers. She has 3 tiny humans, who I love and adore, a job as a scientist and still manages to make beautiful things, run her small business and be an amazing friend. It is why on the Mother's Day I am extremely excited that we have launched Stephanie's Summer Vest Kit.

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Another Mama Maker I adore is Kathryn of The Stitch & Hook. I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Kathryn and teaching her how to knit when she came to Stitch Up Chicago this year.

Getting to know Kathryn has been fabulous and feeding into her creative journey is such a gift for me. But the real gift is her Maker mama story. I invited Kathryn to share with us, to celebrate Mother's Day. And here's to all you Maker Mama's out there. You are so special!!!


The day begins at 6 am. As the alarm buzzes, and I open my groggy eyes, I spy the growing pile of crochet and knit projects that need to be worked on.

I need to get that sweater finished before the baby wakes up. And this blanket needs to go out by the end of the week. I’m already behind on that pattern deadline. And don’t forget this dress that needs to be completed by next week…

Coffee in hand, I make my way to my craft space and begin working on the last sleeve of the sweater that was supposed to have been finished two days ago. I am determined to at least finish this project before my toddler wakes up.

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I settle in, take a few sips of coffee, and get started.

Suddenly, as if on cue, a howl rises from the next room. “Mamaaaaa!” My heart stops. My eyes widen. “What?! NO!” I silently scream to myself. “He’s not supposed to be up for another hour! I only got 3 rows done! I need more time! Whyyy?!”

“Mamaaaaa….” The wail continues in the next room. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, say a prayer for patience, and put down the unfinished sleeve. I take off my Maker Hat and replace it with my Mama Hat, and head into the next room to start the day with my toddler, hoping that today he might take an afternoon nap, and praying that I might be able to finish that sweater before dinner time… but knowing full well that I’ll probably just be up until after midnight again, trying to play catch-up.

Welcome to the life of this Maker Mama.

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Life is full of tightropes we have to walk – at work, at home, in relationships. And perhaps no one knows this better than Mamas.

A Mama’s job is a full-time, nights-and-weekends, always-on-call kind of job. Mamas don’t usually {ever?} get to call in sick. You won’t find these synonyms in the thesaurus, but any Mama can tell you that other job titles that can be used in place of “Mama” include:

- “cafeteria lady”

- “janitor”

- “mediator”

- “professional cheerleader”

- “event coordinator”

- “caterer”

- “chief inspector”

- “head chef”

- “nurse”

- “pharmacist”

… You get the point …

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So when a Mama adds a side hustle to her plate, like a little maker business, it really is a “hustle”. It means less sleep and more juggling; less down-time and more tight-rope walking. It means having more ideas than time allows. It means almost never being “all caught up”. And it means working double-time just to stay in the game.

So Mamas, how do we to try to stay sane when we are feeling overwhelmed by being a Mama and a Maker? Here are a few things I try to remember to do:

1. Stay in Community

It is so important to be surrounded by people who are like you – who struggle with the same things you do. Nothing helps that crippling burden of loneliness like hearing someone else talking about the exact.same.struggle. When you find out that you are not alone in whatever it is that you may be struggling with, you can learn to laugh about the struggle instead of feeling overwhelmed by it.

 

2. Stay away from Social media when it gets too overwhelming

I love how huge the maker community is online. I love that there are a million people out there doing the same nerdy thing that I am doing, and that we get to share our creations with each other. But sometimes I just have to put the blinders on. Sometimes I have to just focus on myself, my capabilities, and my little successes. I have to stop comparing my feed to other amazing Instagram or Facebook feeds. I have to see myself for what I am worth, and not in comparison to anyone else.

3. Be Fully Present

Sometimes I can wear all the hats all at once. I can be a totally awesome mama and a super productive maker at the same time. But most of the time, I can only do one thing at a time. And that means putting away the hooks and the needles and the yarn and being completely present with my 2 year old as he uses his newest toy to destroy my flowers beds. Then, when I get to return to my craft after my child is in bed (or at least contained in his jail cell of a crib), I can return 100% with a renewed purpose and energy and be totally present with my craft.

Whatever you are doing to make it all work, know that you are doing your best, and that your best is all you can do in this season of life right now. Know that behind many of those gorgeously curated Instagram pages you admire is another mama who has also been pulling her hair out trying to simultaneously take the photo AND keep grubby hands from messing up that perfectly posed set-up.

As one of my favorite crochet/knitwear designers and mamas, Justyna from @ladyjaycrochet, posted a few months ago: “No matter what stage of life you are in, give yourself grace. It’s called #slowfashion for a reason.”

So here’s to all the Maker Mama’s out there, hustling and walking tight-ropes. You’ve got this. We’ve got you. And you are not alone in the struggle.

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I’ll leave you with one last quote that my own mama told me constantly while growing up:

“Do your best,

And leave the rest,

It will all come right,

Some day or night”

-Black Beauty

What's A Maker? I AM!

What's A Maker? I AM!

What defines being a Maker? How do we define ourselves? These are simple yet not so simple questions. For over a year or two since I first started hearing about the "Maker Community" shortly after joining Instagram, I was just so uncomfortable with it. I am not even sure why. Maybe because it felt exclusive rather than inclusive. Maybe because it felt limiting. But I AM A MAKER and you are too!

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Replenish. Recharge. Restore. Because Self Care Matters

I am so incredibly humbled and grateful and blown away by 2018 already. It has been non stop since day ONE and every minute has been more than I could have imagined. Opportunities I had only dreamed about coming my way. Collaborations. Travel. Relationships. It is all so fantastic and yes, a little overwhelming. And a LOT humbling. It is not lost on me that I get to do what I love every single day. I get to truly CREATE and live an inspired creative life.

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But... in such awesomeness of my passion becoming my paycheck, it is quite easy to forget to take care of myself. I am sure you know what I mean. We get so excited over a new design that we stay up until 3am, or all night at times working on it because we have that creative buzz. Going from one event to the next and non stop energy abound. For me, it is even more taxing because events take all I have to give. being an introvert by nature and completely socially awkward, when I go to events I need a few recovery days after.

This year, last week, I did something I have never ever done: I went on vacation!

What? You have never been on vacation?, you say. Nope! NEVER!

I have traveled for work and since I love my job and loved my old job it felt like fun, it was not vacation. I have added an extra "fun day" to work trips to great places, but not taken that time off to be on vacation or replenish. Last week, I did just that. I went on VACATION!

I went to the beautiful Fontainebleua Resort in Miami and can I tell you that it was just what I needed. In fact, I did not know how much I needed it until I got there. I had, being who I am, packed a few projects and planned to write some pattern notes and emails while resting on the beach. But when we got there, my husband and I looked at each other and almost simultaneously we each said: what if we do NOTHING for the week. It was GENIUS!

And so that is what we did: NOTHING for 6 glorious days.

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We took our cue from the sign at the Lapis Spa: no cameras. no cell phones and for most of the time that was our mantra. When we went to dinner we did not take our phones out. When we went to the beach we did not always take our phones with us at all. I popped on social for a few minutes to share the good vibes but the truth is I mostly disconnected. We made NO PLANS. We had no rules.

We ate when we wanted to eat and not to fit into our schedule. We lounged when we wanted to lounge and one day even slept until 10 AM! It was fantastic!

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We had deep belly laughs, Goofy moments and the truth is that the few times we tried to capture it on camera it was blurry because we were laughing so much. And we did not care. no need to "pose" and "recreate" for the camera. Blurry was perfect in that moment.

There was a freedom in each moment. We decided one night at 10 pm to go for a walk to get gelato. None of the "oh it's too late" or "that is too sweet for this hour". Nope. We just got up and went for gelato! And it was in fact the best dang gelato I have ever had!

Sure we captured a few moments here and there but it was not the focus. And it was not a task. We snapped a pic and laughed and moved on. No filters. No checking the light. No "retouching" to share. Just a few memories for us to have.

And yes, while I left the work I planned on doing in our suite, I did have one project with me that I took to the beach or the pool to work on. But it was different. It felt different. I wasn't pressured by design deadline. I had no pace to keep and just stitched for the joy of stitching. I crocheted for the joy of making. And I put it down when I want to just rest on the sand or swim in the pool.

And upon return home it did not feel like it flew by. It felt just perfect. I am so grateful that God allowed me to be present and shut out the world and truly recharge.

It occurred to me after we got home that I did not feel guilty once on this trip. Not one moment of "I should be doing this" or "I should check my email" or "I need to finish this class outline". Nope. None of the "I gotta post on social media to be relevant" or I need to keep the machine going" or "what if I miss this or that". Nope. Nary a care of any of it.

None of that guilt of what I should be doing and all of the living present in what we were doing at that moment. I also did not "dread" the stack of work when I came home.

It was as if the week of magic served its purpose to remind me to stop down, replenish and reconnect with gratitude for the work we do.

This was in fact my first ever vacation but won't be my last. My husband and I have made an agreement to do this more. How often? Who knows. Where will we go? Nope, dont know that either. Maybe back to the place that gave us the gift of replenishing. Maybe a new place. But the point is that now that I / we know the importance of this act and this time to restore we will not let it go so long before doing it again.

In the dictionary; "Replenish" is a verb and means to fill up again. To re-fill. How can we go through life always giving of ourselves and even in our work if we do not stop down and take time to RE-FILL! If you need a refill or a recharge - I encourage you to step back and take it. That business idea, that design, that yarn, that thing whatever it is will be there when you get back. And you will be better ready and able to thrive when you get back to it!

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