Finding a Rhythm

20140328-IMG_1877 When I first started working with (almost) full-time childcare, I felt a certain sense of obligation to work 9-5, sat at my desk, getting shit done. I felt like it was irresponsible to do anything else because I paid for childcare and  that is what I would have done if I was employed by an employer. Slowly, I realised 2 things a) I don’t work in an office with a boss breathing down my neck and b) I am not particularly suited  to that kind of structure. My work and my life call for a more fluid approach to time. Sometimes, through the night work is called for, at others, a day off nursing little sickies is my occupation. Once I realised that it wasn’t about the time I worked, but what I got done that was important, a new, more natural rhythm arrived. 20140328-IMG_1889 With 3 small people around, there is no question that things change quickly, but on the whole I follow the same sort of pattern each day. Always having been an early riser, its not uncommon for me to be at my desk from 4 or 5am – it gets earlier as the days get lighter. I spend the few precious hours (if I am lucky) before the kids wake up answering emails and doing any writing I need. From about 7am until Ellis catches the bus at 8:30 – its a mad race of endless rounds of toast, finding socks, wrangling the smallest one into any clothes at all, walking the dog, letting the chickens out and general craziness. Once the house is quiet – either the little ones at nursery or in the care of Dalia, the German student who has been living with us since September, I head over to the studio for a morning of work. This is my most productive time of day and I use it for working on my top priorities – grading patterns, writing blog posts, editing and working on Blogtacular. Our rural internet is on the slow side, but its best in the morning, so I try to keep this for computer time. I work until lunch, when I head back over to the house for a bit to do laundry, eat and take the dog for a walk down the road. 20140328-IMG_1883 I tend to keep the time after lunch for creative work.  Even now, in my deadline free days, I ensure that I always have something to make. At the moment, I have prioritised knitting things from other designer’s patterns – both to give myself a much needed rest and to learn from others. Not having made many garments before writing Crochet at Play and then having to design them was a challenge. So far, its been a good learning experience, as well as an eye opening one (if I ever write “Work to correspond to left front, reversing all shaping and placement of pattern stitches” in a pattern, you have permission to kick me). It all has the added bonus of watching some good telly while I am legitimately working. Late afternoons and evenings are for the kids and after the walks and dinner and homework, I tend to edit and upload photos, so they can go into client dropboxes over night. 20140328-IMG_1879

And while this is the rough schedule, I also am trying to be gentle with myself after the stress of the last few months. If words aren’t flowing (and there isn’t something I HAVE to do that day), I don’t push it. I know that things will get done and I will be working over time again soon (with the final manuscript proof for book 2 arriving to coincide with the Easter Holidays and exactly 1 month before Blogtacular, for example).

(photo is of the puerperium cardigan. Made in Bowland Dk in Damselfly by Eden Cottage Yarns.  Photographed on the piece of rotten roof that was leaking water into the kitchen and causing everyone to get a shock when they turned on the light. It is pretty though, hey?)


Comfort Knitting

The last few weeks have been awful. Plagued by illness, upset and downright meanness, I have spent most of our time since arriving back from London in a bit of a state. There is very little in the way of contingency plans when you work for yourself and as I was called to deal, either practically or emotionally, with the crappy stuff, work began to slip. Then came the full on panic attacks – you know that horrible feeling when your blood rushes away from your limbs and you can’t think or breathe? That. Unsurprisingly illness hit and stayed. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of picking up of pieces by my beloved  (he is great at talking me down from the state of chaos I manage to get myself in and making endless cups of tea).

And, as much as I would like to unleash a Dooce-style rant about what has been happening behind the scenes, by now you should know its not my style. I much prefer to crack a joke and in absence of that, I make stuff.

So when the final piece of bad news hit on Friday, crochet hook and partially made sock* flew across the room (there may or may not have also been a loud ARRRGGHH!, I can’t remember, but its a safe bet). And then the torrential rain started, ruining my planned shoot. That was it. There was no other choices that remained.

Knitting.

 

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Without deadlines crushing down, my choices were limited to chunky wool and an accessory. I needed quick fix knitting, nothing that required brainpower or much time. I had seen the Quickie Slouchie Beanie on Rebekka Seale’s blog and decided it was the right choice for the ball of Texere Chunky Wool in Mustard I had left over from a book project*. 

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It was EXACTLY what I needed. It was like a good book – the kind that starts easily and grips you from the beginning, by the middle you simply can’t put down, and then finish all too quickly. The best thing is that it is lovely on (No photos other than those on IG here and here.) I haven’t even blocked it yet as it is currently hiding a rather bad self-induced hair cut.

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I have written about the yarn before, but let me wax lyrical again.  I love Texere Chunky Wool. I love the colours. I love the folks at the mill. I love how its is 100% wool, with a great twist. I made the hat with less than 1x 100g ball.

 

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Making a hat isn’t going to solve my problems, its not going to write my book, get ready for Country Living Fair or pack for an upcoming move :( but at least I can hide my bad haircut in style, hey? Small comforts are often all you need.

*spot the sneak peak book pattern references.


Getting Things Done (a Kat Guide)

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Over the weekend, Kat and I were following on avidly with the World Domination Summit. One of the things I love most about Kat is that we get excited by the same geeky things – we can talk inspiration and motivation and business, without the eye rolling or blank stares that so often accompany these conversations in real life.

One of the things that stuck with me as we were following along with the tweets a quote from Darren Rowse:

Inspiration without implementation is empty.

Heck yeah! It struck a particular code, as I had a bit of week of dropping the balls last week – moving from new idea to new idea and not finishing anything. I am generally good at keeping myself in line, but when I lose it – it is chaos. Absolute. Utter. Chaos. (plus it usually costs me money).

Like you, I am busy. My todo lists are eye wateringly ambitious on a daily basis. I bet yours are too. We pack so much in to every single day. Kids, house, friends, family, work, bills.  It really never ends.

Here are my tips (that I usually, but not always) follow for getting things done:

1. Start with the end in mind. Be really clear about what you need to get done and work back from there. If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t figure out how to get there. E.g. I knew I wanted to write a blog post with some bullet points.

2. Have a time limit. I know I have 25 minutes to write this blog post. I will get it done in that time. If I had hours, it would take hours. That is how tasks and time work.

3. Have a system. Now, I am not a very organised person, but its something that I am working on. I have written before about my system of postit notes and highlighters, which really helps me visualise what I need to do. However, for most things, I use Evernote. Its a new addition to my life, but already invaluable. I keep a folder that has my actions for the day, a set of folders for all of the different areas of my businesses and a folder for all of the ideas I want to do something with but can’t – my Back Burner. I really like Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky.  His book is really helping me think through the systems I use.  Kat M has been reading his other book (a free Kindle library book) and says its great as well.

4. Avoid distractions. I use Self Control on my Mac to stop emails from popping up or twitter from distracting me when I have a task to finish. Its not fool proof, but it stops the temptation.  I also block a couple of notoriously distracting websites when I am working.

5. Plan your time. Looking ahead, I know that I struggle to write when children are in the house, so I plan my work accordingly. I try to have a couple of easier tasks to do if I am having to work with the kids around. Usually, this is my latest deadline crochet project. Or I rope kids in to help.

6. Eat Your Frogs for Breakfast. I can’t remember where I heard this first, but I love it. I always start my day with the thing I want to do least (emails), but then, they are done. I don’t let it over take my day though.  I am at my best in the morning, so do try to do most of my writing then.

7. Show up and do the work. This is directly lifted from Liz Gilbert, but from the moment I watched her TED talk, it has been the single thing that has grounded me to my work. Sometimes, there is a whole bunch of stuff I really do not want to do.Sometimes, I am stuck on a design and it will not come, but I have to at least turn up. I have to sit and work at it and that totally sucks. But, I have to. It is my job to show up and do it (this also applies to laundry)

 

***my developer has fixed the problems with my original website template crashing certain browsers.  However, if you have problems in ANY way, can you let me know?  Thanks!***

 

***Material list for Crochet Camp will be out tomorrow. Sorry for the delay, I need one more thing to fall into place! There are still a few kits left, but we are getting close to them running out.**