5 on Friday: Ending a Knitting Funk

Happy Friday! I’ve been silent for a while over here. I have been busy planning a birthday party for Elliot, spending as much time as possible outside, and pouting about my knitting funk.

What’s a knitting funk? It is when you are depressed about what you are knitting. I’ve been working on the same projects for months and it’s bringing me down. Logically I know that things are moving slowly because I’m knitting so many dishcloths. That project is important to me, but it is tying up my precious knitting time on boring cotton squares. It’s just knitting the same dishcloth over and over again. I’m living Groundhog Day in knitting form.

So I’ve decided to shake off that funk and get back to enjoying knitting. I’ve come up with 5 things that will help me do that.

  1. Limit my dishcloth knitting. I will stick to making 5 a week instead of knitting more because I worry we will never finish the project. As of our meeting last Sunday we had knit 89 of 140 dishcloths. We’re making good progress. I don’t need to freak out about never finishing the project.
  2. Focus on finishing a pair of socks. I have two pairs of socks on the needles, one of which is slow going. I’m going to focus on the faster pair so I actually finish something. I finished the first sock yesterday and it felt wonderful to cast on something other than a dishcloth.
  3. Really focus on working on my cardigan. I am getting so close to finishing it. I just need to finish the second sleeve (I just started it), block it, and then pick up and knit the ribbing for the collar and bottom.
  4. Start daydreaming about what I’m going to knit next. I’m pretty sure it’s a sweater for Audrey, but it might be a cardigan for Elliot. If I daydream about future knitting enough it will almost feel like I’m actually starting a new project.
  5. Wind some yarn. I have several projects I want to knit this year, so I might as well get the yarn ready. I can pull out my ball winder and swift and wind up some yarn cakes. If I’m really motivated I might even start project bags for the yarn, I can include a copy of the pattern I intend to use as well as the needles. I will just need to stop myself from casting on a new project before I finish at least one of the projects already in progress.

Have you ever been in a craft funk? How did you get out of it?

Five on Friday: Giving the Pacifier Back

A few blog posts ago I mentioned that Audrey was giving up her pacifier. At her last dentist appointment they pointed out that it was changing her bite and said it would be best to give up the pacifier by 3. She’s almost 2 1/2, so we decided now was a good time.

The first few days were filled with screams and tears and pleads for a pacifier. Then she was fine. She wasn’t upset that she didn’t have a pacifier. She didn’t ask for one. There was only one problem. She didn’t sleep. She stopped napping and was not sleeping well at night. She was a wreck.

I caved. I gave it back to her even though she wasn’t asking for it. It is working for us. I’m very happy I gave it back to her, and today I’m going to share 5 reasons I’m glad I gave her the pacifier back.

NAPS – this one is huge. Audrey needs a lot of sleep, so going from a 3 hour nap to not sleeping at nap time meant that she was exhausted, confused, and constantly threw tantrums. I get it, she’s 2, she’s going to have tantrums, but this was a complete change in her personality. The first day with the pacifier back she was so tired she couldn’t sleep. The second day she slept for 90 minutes. Today she slept for 3.5 hours. She’s starting to act like herself again.

Bedtime for Audrey – without a pacifier she played and sang to herself for about two hours before she would fall asleep. With a pacifier she falls asleep quickly.

Elliot’s Sleep – Audrey not having a pacifier at bed time meant that she was making a lot of noise. That kept Elliot up (they share a room). He started crying when we put him down at night. Now that she is quiet when we put her to bed he is quiet too (OK, he always cries for about 2 minutes, and he’s back to that).

Mornings – without a pacifier Audrey woke up when Elliot woke up (about 6:30). With a pacifier she sleeps until 8 or 9. She really needs a lot of sleep, and getting up early was making it even harder for her to sleep.

My stress level – without pacifiers I had a toddler getting about six fewer hours of sleep than she needs. She became, understandably, very difficult to take anywhere. She screamed and cried. She looked like she had been on a four-day bender. I started spending every waking hour worried about her lack of sleeping. Her nap time was so stressful I had a stomach-ache every day when she should have been sleeping. I was too stressed to be a good mom and she was too tired to be a good kid. Poor Elliot and John were stuck dealing with both of us.

So I gave it back. It’s wonderful. I should not have waited over a week to give it back. So many articles I read said to stay strong and not give it back, but had I not given it back I don’t think she would have ever napped again. She’s 2. She needs naps.

I’m not sure if we will try to take it away again or if she will grow out of it. The only thing I am sure of is that giving back her pacifier was the right thing to do.

5 on Friday – Downtown Cedar Falls

I travel to Cedar Falls once a month. The kids and I (and John, if it’s a weekend) visit my parents. I love catching up with them, but also enjoy it when they babysit and I get to head downtown to enjoy the town. I don’t get a lot of time alone during the day, so handing off the kids to my parents for a few hours is really wonderful.

I love checking out the different spots downtown, but there are five places I adore.

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Vintage Iron Co. has all sorts of things for when you need to buy someone a gift but you aren’t entirely sure what they would like…fancy candles…decorative items….jewelry….this place has a lot of variety. I always go and look at their greeting cards. It’s hard to find good cards, so I stock up when I find them. I bought 10 cards the last time I was in. If I have ever given you a funny card, chances are I got it here.

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Do you find yourself watching the Pioneer Woman and thinking you wish you could dress like her without looking funny? If yes, Little Prairie Girl is the store for you. They have cute, flowing tops that don’t look dumb. Their prices are reasonable. and they have a wide (XS-3X) size selection. I have purchased a few items from the store and every time I wear one of them I get complements.20170304_135658.jpg

SingleSpeed Brewing is fun to visit if I’m hanging out downtown with John. They have decent beer, a cozy space, and bike art on the walls. I loved a poster there so much I tracked down the artist to buy a copy for John for Father’s Day.20170304_135055.jpgMontage is my favorite restaurant in Cedar Falls. Their Asian slaw is delicious and I would love to have their recipe. Ditto on their spicy whipped sweet potatoes. John and I went there for dinner the last time we were in Cedar Falls. We discussed just getting one of every side and skipping the entrees, not because they aren’t good (they are delicious), but because the sides are delectable.
image-20161108_133131-COLLAGEIf you follow me on Instagram you already know of my love of Cup of Joe. It is my #1 absolutely must visit place. It opened my senior year of high school, so it has been around for a long freaking time. I studied there in college. I caught up with friends when I visited town in my 20s and 30s. Now I visit to knit by myself for an hour or two before exploring town. I love it there. If I lived in Cedar Falls I would be there every day.

There are many more wonderful spots in downtown Cedar Falls to visit. It would be a great spot for a weekend girls trip. Start your morning at Cup of Joe, shop, have beer at Single Speed, then head to dinner at Montage in your new shirt from Prairie Girl.

What are your must visit spots in Cedar Falls?

5 on Friday: Spring

5-on-fridayHappy Friday! This week, when I haven’t been knitting socks or taking care of a sick kid I have been daydreaming about spring. We have spent a lot of time outside this winter, and I anticipate being outside even more once it is warmer. There are so many things to look forward to about spring. Here are five things I’m looking forward to.

Long Walks

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably noticed that we are out walking a lot. Both kids love going for long walks, which can be hard in the winter because it is so cold. I love our stroller, and I can’t wait to hit the pavement even more when spring gets here.

We have the rain cover for the single Indie, and I am contemplating buying the double rain cover. There are so many times I want to go for a walk but it looks like rain so we stay in, only to have it not rain. Curses! If I had the rain cover we would just go. I don’t care if I get wet.

Bike Rides

Elliot turns one in April. At that point we will start using the bike trailer to do short family bike rides. I’m probably not going to ride far with them (that’s a lot of weight to pull when you haven’t been on a bike in two years), but I plan to bike to the library all summer.

Picnics

Audrey is obsessed with tea parties and picnics. She thinks one of the coolest things ever is sitting at a picnic table. I hope to eat outside as often as possible starting this spring. It could be tough with Elliot, but bringing our travel high chair will help.

Baseball 

Last spring my life was too crazy to pay attention to baseball. I’m looking forward to watching games this summer. We are going to take the kids to Sec Taylor to see the I Cubs play at least once this season.

More Light

Once we spring forward I will be relishing all of the light in the evening. More light leads to grilling and patio time at our house. John and I will sit by the fire after the kids go to bed and catch up on our days. It’s always a good time.

What are you looking forward to about spring?

5 on Friday: Spots to Crafternoon in Des Moines

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but I want a drink after this week. I was puked on by both of my kids this week. They are fine now, but I am still recovering from the grossness.

Luckily tomorrow is Saturday, so I’m going to get out of the house to knit with a friend. We’re meeting at a coffee shop tomorrow, but we have been known to head to the bar instead. We call it Crafternooning, and we have a group that gets together about once a quarter to have a drink and get some crafting* done. We’ve found some great spots around the city to have a drink and knit it up. Today I’m going to share five of the best spots with you.

The Library

This place is busy at breakfast, but we’ve had success at about 11. We all order brunch (they have breakfast nachos, which should be a thing at more places), and by the time we are done eating it has cleared out enough we can knit and drink without feeling bad about taking up a table.

Confluence Brewing Company

Lots of space. Great light for difficult projects. Really good beer. Often a food truck in front. Craft beer for crafting.

The Iowa Taproom

This is the newest bar on the list and is very popular at night. However, it has been my experience that The Taproom is pretty empty in the afternoon (apparently loads of people don’t want to drink craft beer at 2 PM. Go figure). They have really good food and an incredible selection of Iowa beers.

El Bait Shop

This is my favorite bar for afternoon drinks, craft or not. If you don’t go before a baseball game there is usually lots of room. They have lots of beer on tap (the world’s largest selection of American craft beers), and some solid fish tacos.

Saints Pub & Patio

If you want margaritas and queso in a sports bar while knitting, this is your spot. They recently stopped offering margaritas by the pitcher, which is a real shame. Until that happened our regular order was the Jess Special** – a pitcher of margaritas and cheese dip. Like the Taproom, it is pretty dark, so I would suggest bigger needled projects here.

Do you ever Crafternoon? Do you have another name for it? What is your favorite crafting drink?

* Crafting is optional. It’s OK just to have a drink and hang.

**Named after my friend Jess.

 

5 on Friday: What’s on my Needles

I like to have several options when I want to pick up my knitting. I want my knitting to fit my mood. If all I had was a sweater on the needles, what would I do when I didn’t want to work on that sweater? I usually have only 3 active projects at a time, but conveniently for me I currently have 5 kitting projects on the needles.

Scrap Yarn Blanket

I’m using the Knitted Patchwork Recipe by Martine Ellis (iMake). I’m using sock yarn and size 2 needles. Each square is about 2 inches. I make one square each day, usually in the morning. For special events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) I use the same yarn three days in a row – the day before the special day, the special day, and the day after the special day. That way when we look at the blanket we can see where we were. I love being able to see Audrey’s birthday, or our anniversary when I look at the blanket. There is also a large chunk of the same yarn for when Elliot was born.

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There aren’t many projects that allow to knit in hope and memories the way this one does.

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Elliot insisted on helping.

Socks

I’m still working on my Up All Night Socks by Lisa Beth Houchins. I’ve already told you how much I love these socks. If you are a sock knitter, I strongly suggest you give them a try. dsc_0011

A Slouchy Cardigan

Pattern is Cocoon Cardigan Sweater by Yarnspirations. Sigh. This cardigan should be easy and fast. I suppose it would be if I could bring myself to pick it up more often. Moss stitch is just so boring. I’m still on the back, which needs to be 28 inches long. So far I’m at 20 inches and I keep reaching for socks instead of this. Maybe if the yarn were smooshy I’d reach for it more? Please give me advice on how to get myself to knit this.

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Retirement Cardigan

Pattern is Turkana by Anne Kuo Lukito knit in Manos del Uruguay FINO. I call this my retirement cardigan because I’ll be retired by the time I finish it. It is gorgeous yarn, a lovely green that is so soft (70% extrafine merino wool, 30% silk) and wonderful to work with.

Why the slow progress? It is hard to pick up because each row takes 15 minutes. It’s a lot of work to pull it out, figure out where I was, and get a row knit. Once I get it out I remember how much I love it. It’s like going to the gym – when you are in a regular routine you know how great it feels to work out and you wan to keep at it, but when you miss a few days you get lazy and fall out of routine. Even though I don’t knit on it enough, it is my second favorite project. It is so honored it is stored in my Loop knitting bag Ivy brought be back from London.

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Dishcloth

I just noticed we were running out of dishcloths, so I started my favorite pattern, Garterlac Dishcloth by Criminy Jickets. This is a fun knit, but after I cast on I remembered it involves thought, so I’m not going to be able to work on it when the kids are awake.

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Elliot tried to eat this pattern.

With any luck I’ll be down to 4 projects again soon. I need to designate some sweater time to get back on track with my cocoon sweater.

Every Friday I share 5 things I think you should know about. Let me know if you have anything you would like to hear about. I would also love to hear it if you have any motivational advice about finishing cardigans.

Is there anything I should have on my needles? What should I pick up next?

 

5 on Friday: Costco

We buy a lot at Costco, so 5 items barely scratches the surface of the great things you can buy there. There are some things I immediately took out of the list, because formula and diapers aren’t something that most people are looking to try from Costco.  I haven’t included the black bean burgers we can’t get enough of, the cheap beer, the agave syrup, the maple syrup (we are a syrup loving family), or even the V8 we buy by the case.

This list is 5 great things at Costco that we buy at least monthly that I wanted to share with you. Maybe you buy them too.

Eggo Waffles. We have big breakfasts every day. Often Audrey naps trough lunch and only has two meals. Mornings for her start with fruit, eggs, and a peanut butter waffle. John will eat them with butter and syrup. Elliot likes anything on them. I have been known to use them for the bread in egg in the hole when we are out of bread. Are they great? No. Are they good? Yeah. Do I like not having to buy boxes of waffles at the store every week? Yes.

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Half and Half. We have a 2 year old and a 9 month old. We drink a lot of coffee.

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Tillamook Cheese. This is our house cheddar. We use it in eggs at breakfast, on sandwiches at lunch, and in casseroles at dinner. We will eat it as a snack too. It’s good cheese. Good enough to buy by the brick. dsc_0037

Berries (you know what they look like): Costco has good berries at a decent price year round. We buy them every trip. I often lie to Audrey and tell her we are out of raspberries because I want to eat them.

Toilet Paper. We buy Kirkland toilet paper. It’s fine. I think it is no better and no worse than average toilet paper. It’s cheap, I’m cheap, it works. I should clarify that the other items on this list we buy at least monthly, but toilet paper is more of a once every six months or a year item.

What do you buy at Costco? Are there any gems that I’m missing?

Every Friday I share 5 things I think you should know about. Are there any 5 on Friday topics you would like to hear about? Comment to share your ideas.