How to Beat the Overwhelm

Anybody else drinking all of the coffee lately?

I have big dreams.

That’s never been a secret around here.

And making those dreams into a reality takes work. And it’s work I’m excited to get done, even if it’s big and scary, like announcing my debut novel, which comes out in 77 days, btw.

My days and weeks are busy. I get up early. I work until midnight, and most of it has nothing to do with being an author. It’s cooking, it’s cleaning. It’s taking care of kiddos, and during weeks like last week, it’s a whole hell of a lot of taking care of myself.

If a week was ever gonna derail me from accomplishing my goals, it was last week.

I’ve been battling a virus that is mostly an annoying cold, but has really done a number on my appetite. (Read, for a few days I had none.) I slept in everyday. I came home from work early one night and laid on the sofa. I missed emails. There were days that I didn’t write. My to-do lists sat untouched.

I was frustrated. Guilt weighed me down as more and more stuff piled up.

As I’m emerging from the worst of the virus, I’m completely overwhelmed with the volume of things I need to get done over the next few days–stuff I probably won’t get done this week either, because it’s Felix’s birthday on Tuesday, and mom stuff always comes first.

But here’s the thing.

I’m OK with it.

Do I guilt myself? Of course I do.

Do I let it stop me from doing what I can?

Absolutely not.

Sure, I only got a fraction of what I wanted to accomplish done last week, but what I did do was important. Taking care of yourself is important, even if that means sleeping all days and drinking all of the kombucha and reading The Allure of Julian Lefray

Inventorying what I did helps put the overwhelm of what I didn’t into prespective: I finished writing a prequel to The Other Lane (more on that later). I bought ISBNs, because that’s the responsible author thing to do. I posted to Instagram TWICE. All despite feeling like shit.

Badassery achieved.

Giving myself credit for what I did already makes the backlog feel more manageable.

And tomorrow, I’m baking cupcakes to celebrate Felix and not apologizing for only writing 16 words.

 

PS, you should totally follow me on Instagram. I’ve been posting a lot of pretty desk photos, but also some teasers fromĀ The Other Lane. And , as always, there is knitting.

How to Cast On to Double Pointed Needles


Back when I was teaching knitting classes regularly, I had a lot of students who had never knit in the round, and more specifically, had never knit with double pointed needles (DPNs), because they were intimidated by the mechanics of it. So we spent the whole first two hour lesson in any sock or mitten class learning how to cast on and getting to know all those needles.

Today’s video is like a condensed, 10-minute version of that class. It’s got all my tips and tricks, but it doesn’t take long to watch. And even better, you can watch the parts you need over and over again. I am still learning the video editing process, and I still sound like a grade A idiot on film, but my husband said I could tag this video as knitting ASMR, so I’m calling that a win.

If you would like to follow along with the written pattern, check it out here.

Next Monday we’ll increase for the thumb!

How to Spin Thick n Thin Yarn

Lately, I have been spinning a lot of thick n thin yarn for commissions or just for fun. I thought it would be fun to share how I do it.

First, choosing a top is always rough. There are so many good colors and good dyers out there. Lucky for me, I found this little bundle of forgotten Corriedale Cross at the bottom of my spinning fiber bin.

The first thing I like to look for when spinning thick n thin is a top that’s been dyed to have short color repeats.

This isn’t exactly necessary, but I find it more aesthetically pleasing, plus it’s more fun for me to spin.

Then, like with any spinning project, I pull out a little tuft of fiber and measure the staple length.

About five inches. For this sort of project this is particularly important if you don’t want to be fighting while you draft out your thick parts.

Now, for this next step, some folks may call this cheating, but I just call it good sense. I separate the top into 1 ounce bumps and then split each bump lengthwise until I have a pile of skinny strings of roving.

Which I then roll into little nests for the sake of keeping neat and not having a pile of fiber fall into my lap every time I need to choose a new strand.

The point of doing this is to peel the fiber down to size you want the “thick” parts of your yarn to be. I find that a good rule for fitting the the orifice on my Lendrum is to keep things about as thick as a sharpie.

Another advantage to drafting this way: you get a lot of practice joining. By the time you spin 4 oz. of fiber, you’ll be a pro!

Wheel Settings: I turn my wheel to my slowest ratio and have my take up set fairly low. It’s important to get enough twist into the yarn while keeping the thick parts lofty. My best advice is to play around with your wheel to find the best settings for you.

Spinning Thin: When you start spinning, draft as you would normally, choosing a comfortable weight for your “thin” sections. (It’s important not to go too thin, otherwise it’s difficult to get enough twist into it.)

Spinning Thick: Remember your staple length? Jump your drafting hand back that many inches, leaving a thick section, and start drafting for “thin” again behind it. Then just keep going, drafting and jumping as often as you feel you need to. Don’t worry about making it even, because the whole point of this yarn is that it is uneven.

I definitely think this sort of thing works better on fibers with longer staple length, Corriedale, BFL for instance. I’m not saying it can’t be done with merino, I’m just saying you’ll have to work a little bit harder to get enough twist in so that it doesn’t fall apart when you take it off your bobbins. (Yes, this has happened to me.)

I am in love with this Corriedale Cross wool (Crossed with Lincoln I believe, which is also SO FUN to spin.)

I always let my bobbins set overnight before I skein this up. Since it’s a singles, it just makes me feel better about the strength and integrity of the yarn.

After your yarn is skeined and tied up so it won’t tangle set the yarn by soaking it in your favorite wool wash. I do agitate it just a little bit to slightly full the thick parts. Fulling lends some extra integrity to the thick parts, they are less likely to pill or break. After the yarn is done soaking, I also sometime thwack it again the (round) towel bar in my bathroom for a little bit of extra fulling. Then set out to dry and you’re done!


My favorite application for this kind of yarn is a funky cowl or beret.