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Natalie 2015: Simplify and Streamline (revisited)Open in a New Window

It's that time of year to revisit the Natalie 2015 theme and see what has been accomplished and what I can focus on for the rest of the year.  Each year, I like to post my goals on the blog(2008, 2013, 2014, 2015) but often times I don't revisit them until the new year comes around again...not this year!  Let's do this now so I still have time to focus on my theme and see what needs to be adjusted.  So no it's not halfway through the year but you know the start of the new school year always feels like some kind of start so we'll go with that. The original goals posted at the beginning of the year will be in italics...my response and updates will be next to them.

Crafting:
1. Organize my stash so that it's visually pleasing and not just stored away. I am currently in the process of culling my stash.  Instead of just making it pleasing to look at, I decided I wanted it stored in safe place but organized.  I also wanted to rid my stash of the filler yarn/fiber and only have stuff I love or plan to use.
2. SPIN MORE!  This is big.  I really want to give Pilar some love this year and spin spin spin!  It's been a while since I spun and I just need to get back to it. Major fail on this one...but I did just started spinning again and really am enjoying it like I always do.  It just goes back to having to store my wheel out of the way from little hands...and so it's out of sight and sometimes just feels like it would be too much effort to set up.  Planning a spinning OWL for the next term of the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup so that might help keep things going.
3. Take more classes. This coming year, I hope to take more workshops and crafting classes.  I want to learn more techniques but mostly I want to learn from those teaching. I haven't managed to take more classes yet....
4. Teach more classes. This got put on hold because of my surgery and life.  I am planning another class in Oct though at Stash - a place for yarn.
5. Travel to a fiber festival!!  This is huge!  I REALLY REALLY want to make it to a festival this year.  We have plans in the works but hope it works out as well as we are planning. A fiber festival isn't working out but I did sign up to attend my first ever knitting retreat Into the Wool Retreat at the beginning of next month in Tennessee!  I'm SO EXCITED!! I am working on a way to attend the Florida Fiber-in with my local knitting guild but as of right now I might only make it out to one day...which is totally better than no days.

Personal:
1. I'd like to simplify our home by purging all the things that are not used/played with or don't have a place in our home.  This especially goes for clothes that don't fit and trinkets that don't hold emotional attachments or have a place to live. This has been a big win so far. I still have a lot to do but I've also accomplished a ton!  I've already purged a LOT of just stuff from my bookshelves, kitchen, and new office area.  As I said, I'm still working on my stash and need to do another pass through my clothes and the girls clothes but I've done a lot already!  It feels great to have less stuff!  It's also much easier to keep things clean when everything has a place to go.  The kitchen is doing amazing because I visited the Homer Laughlin China Company factory store on our trip to OH and I got some amazing steals on a bunch of new stuff for my fiestaware stash!  I love this stuff and want more but have to purge if I bring stuff in.
2. I'd like to purge my wardrobe into a smaller one that only has clothes that I love and make me feel good. Sadly, I still have "maternity" clothes that get worn here and there.  They must all GO! Doing this and it feels good! I have purged my clothes down to only stuff I love.  I bought new clothes and got rid of everything that was maternity or didn't make me feel amazing when I put it on.
3. Make it through the construction that is about to begin on our home and really decorate our living room and rest of the house with pictures and more. Construction on the bathroom and roof are complete!  YAY and boy was that an experience.  I haven't tackled the living room or putting up many pictures yet but I'm getting there.  I have gotten some frames but need to print more pictures and buy more frames soon.


Parental:
1. Focus less on bedtime routine and more on enjoying the time with my girls.  NOT saying I'm going to get rid of bedtime routine but often at night I feel like it's this race to get them to bed before it becomes a meltdown battle of over tired girls.  This stresses me out and I end up not enjoying the time we have together as much.  I really would like to focus more on enjoying the time and less on racing through the time.  This has been an ongoing focus.  When my workday is stressful, I have to focus harder on giving myself and my girls grace but I've been doing good with being mindful of this time.
2. Start having dates with each of my children.  My girls love to be together but I also feel they need some alone time with me.  I would like to start having fun outings with just one of them at a time.  We'll see how this goes.   We have not been good about this because we don't get a lot of time together as a family due to our work schedules.  We tend to focus on family time together on weekend.  It's funny though because this weekend Special K and CGR are going to the Rays game with others and I'm getting to spend the afternoon with just Ria.

Relationships:
1. Schedule monthly date nights with my husband.  We are good about doing date nights but we often realize we haven't had one in a while and then plan one.  I would love to do this monthly in the new year. This has not been nearly consistent enough but we have managed to get some dates in there.
2. Focus more on what I'm bringing to my marriage than what I'm getting.  I feel this is such a better way to love and helps to curb the tit for tat mentality that can often cause grief.  Still focusing on this and it's been great!  Sometimes I get caught up but I refocus and it changes how I react to things.
3. Plan more time with my sisters.  We always love going to brunch together but do not do it often enough.  Downton Abbey is starting soon and we always watch that together on Sunday nights and it's nice to be with them.  Need to work on this for the rest of the year...we haven't been intentional enough with this.

And to finish off I would like to cut out the excess in our life and focus on the good and what truly matters.  Focus on our family and our home.  Give our journey to God and know that he has big plans for us and enjoy the ride that he takes us on.  All I can say to this is Amen!

How are you doing with your theme/resolutions you set for yourself this year?  Are you struggling with any and need to refocus?  Have any made a big impact in your life?

 

Our 4th of July trip to Ohio in pictures.Open in a New Window

Last month we were able to take a week off and make the 16+ hour road trip up to visit our family in Ohio!  We had a wonderful time with lots of memories made.  Some of the highlights were meeting the girl's new twin boy cousins, spending the day fishin on the lake, and getting to spend an afternoon at our Aunt's house for 4th of July celebration.  We all enjoyed the trip and were so thankful we were able to make the drive up to be with our family up there for a whole week in the summer!

Let's first start with this word summer...now FL had been having a very hot summer but I had not realized that Ohio had been having a very wet and chilly one.  Not sure what I was thinking but I didn't pack a single pair of pants for the girls and I.  Thankfully I did grab some pullovers for the three of us and those came in VERY handy the first couple days when it was quite chilly for us FL folks.  The girls did look very cute in their Wonderful Wallaby pullovers I had knit them late winter so they had not been able to wear them yet. 
We had so much fun on Austin lake!  We originally went for a short time on Monday and rented paddle boat and just went around the lake but then Special K got the idea we should take the girls fishing.  We got a great deal on a pontoon boat and spent 4 hours on the boat with these silly girls!
 The girls did so good and really enjoyed watching the worms try to escape from the little container.
 And learned how to fish from their daddy!
 And fishing with their new frozen fishing poles.  We have some for them here but since we didn't think to bring them we did a quick trip to the store and bought some.
  
And those Frozen fishing poles caught lots of fish!  The girls themselves did not catch fish but daddy and I did!  The girls just wanted to touch them before we threw them back in.
 Daddy's catch! 
 
 Mommy's catch!
Happy girls in our Happy place!
 Daddy's Happy Place!
 And that was our boating trip!  We are already planning another trip!  We may not make it up again next year but we plan to take the girls again!

Here are some cute pictures of the girls...one at our 4th of July celebration and their Graunt's house.
 And here they are riding the cart when we were checking out from our hotel room on our way home.
 
As I said, we are so thankful we were able to make the trip happen and were so glad to spend this time with family and friends.  Here's to next time!

Happy Traveling!

Have you done any traveling this summer?  Do you have any end of summer travel plans? 

 

Currently...Open in a New Window

Currently....

- taking it easy on my body and letting it heal.  Five and a half week's ago I had surgery on my stomach to add mesh to help prevent future hernias.  My doctor had told me this was going to be a major surgery and would take a min of 6 weeks of recovery...I'm closing in on six week's and while I feel better...I still don't feel healed.  I need to let myself heal.
- taking the 30 day push challenge by Chalene Johnson.  If you haven't heard of this before, check it out here.  I came across this challenge through one of the blogs I read...sadly I can't remember which one.  I'm only on day 3 but I am excited to focus my goals and todo list to help balance my life.

- enjoying summer!  Summer weather is in full effect and while our air conditioner is running constantly and hating life, the rest of us our enjoying the activities summer brings.  The best is spending time at our neighbor's pool enjoying the water and having a blast!

- gearing up for a long road trip with our girls to visit family!  We've got a house and pet sitter all lined up and just have to get all our bags packed to spend time with my in-law family.  So excited!

-focusing on savoring the moments...with my girls, with my husband, with my friends, with my family, and with myself.  Really focus on just enjoying and being in that moment.  As a planner, this if often hard for me but it's one of my focuses.

- searching for my knitting mojo...it has disappeared and I can't seem to locate it.  The cure is often to find a new irresistible project to work on but don't even have the brain power for that yet.  Need to make a list...and then go from there.

This list could go on and on but we'll stop there. 

What are you currently *?

 

This moment- sisters!Open in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see. 


 

I've been a bit quiet on this blog lately as I just keep going back and forth on where I want to go with it.  I've been blogging in this space for almost 9 years!  I love it and don't want to stop but not sure where I want to go with it.  I think I might do a rebranding...but we'll see.  I have some ideas. 

 

This moment - Grandpa Love!Open in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

 

5 common sayings that apply to both knitting and lifeOpen in a New Window

 1 - One Stitch at a time or One Day at a time

When you are knitting, it's often helpful to focus on one stitch/row/project at a time.  You can easily get overwhelmed by a project when you look at the whole sweater of thousands of stitches or when you are faced with an "area 51" full of unfinished projects...but if you take each stitch or row or project at a time, you can easily see how you will end up with this beautiful finished object.  This is similar to life in that when you look at all that you need to get done or all the plates you are trying to keep in the air, it's often easy to get overwhelmed and think it will all come crashing down.  However, if you simply look at each task individually and focus on what you can do now and not worry about the long list of todos but just the one, you feel like it can be accomplished.

2 - Focus on the bigger picture or Focus on the whole project

This is the very opposite of the first one but this often helps keep things into perspective.  Sometimes we get so focused on the one stitch we can't figure out or the one issue in our life that is stressing us out the most that we often forget to focus on the big picture.  In knitting, when we only look at one line in a pattern or one stitch, we can't see how it works with the others. We sometimes have to stop and look at how it will flow into the rest of the stitches so that we can see how it will effect the next stitch or row, which would help us figure out how to do the individual stitch causing us the trouble.  This can benefit us in life by reminding us that life is so much more than dishes, laundry, traffic...our relationships with others are so much more than one interaction. It also can help us when we are faced with something that didn't go the way we had planned.  I often talk about God's big plan for our life.  While I can't see that big plan or know what it entails, all the little things that I do or things that happen to me all are part of it.  I don't know what God has planned but I do know that it's wonderful and so much bigger than I can even dream.  Just like all those little stitches add up to a sock or cardigan.
3 - Trust the Pattern or Trust God/Your Gut/Your Heart

Many times patterns can be confusing when we read through them.  There is a new technique or we just can't visualize what they are trying to have you do...this is when you have to just break it down and do one action at a time and trust that the designer knew what they were doing.  Don't get me wrong, designers can make mistakes so trusting them might cause you to make a mistake but to start you just need to go through the motions and trust it will work.  This goes for life to.  Sometimes we worry too must or over think situations but sometimes you just have to trust it will all be okay.  You just have to blindly go forward and trust your gut or your heart.  Sometimes you just have to say God this is in your hands and go forward.  Just like the pattern will, your life will all work out just fine.  Side note...don't get me wrong...both life and the pattern will need some work for it to magically work out but you have to have faith and trust that it will and let that trust guide your actions.
4 - Practice makes perfect

Now this is a no-brainer!  It goes with pretty much everything in life and knitting.  Unless you practice something, you will never get better.  And yes...I know sometimes you never will get perfect at somethings but unless you practice you will never get any better.   When I'm teaching new students to knit, I often tell them knitting is about muscle memory.  It takes 5-10 minutes a day to teach your hands what to do.  If you want to accomplish something in life, you need to dedicate some man power or brain power to that thing.  If you want to be a better mom, you have to think about what you envision a better mom to look like.  Then focus on doing that 5-10 mins a day and then it will become second nature.
 5 - You are not in this alone

I'm not sure what I would do without my knitting friends or mommy friends or our family.  Having someone to encourage you through a project or help you decipher what that designer was trying to say when they said whatever it is in the pattern is a huge help.  Knit-A-longs are so popular because it helps when you are knitting the same pattern at the same time as someone else or in many cases a group.  You may have that same issues come up and can support each other through. It's also helpful to have people around to see what they are knitting and enable you.  In life, having a support system is vital!  I don't know what I would do without my family and friends.  They have stepped in to help in so many ways I don't even know where to start.  Even right now, we have friends and my FIL helping my husband replace our roof.  Literally they are helping put a new roof over our heads!   
Something I've come to realize lately is that I need to foster my relationship with my mommy friends.  Just as Knit-A-Longs are great for support, so are having friends who are going through the same stage as you are.  Especially because sometimes parenting feels very lonely.  Having someone say "me too!" is something that everyone needs sometimes.  Especially when we are all in the thick of it.

Happy Knitting and Living!

What sayings do you think apply to both?

 

Masterpiece and a new design: Diamond Transitions HatOpen in a New Window

As I've mentioned before, I have started teaching classes at my local yarn store Stash - A place for yarn.  I began with teaching a toe-up afterthought heel sock class, which inspired publishing a sock pattern for my students.  Next request for a class topic was a color work class.  Color work is one of those techniques that often scares people because it looks so difficult but in reality it's not.  When planning for the class, I decided that I wanted to design my own hat pattern to teach from.  I had never designed a chart or a hat pattern but I'm very excited about what came of it.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Diamond Transitions Hat

My finished Project details
Pattern: Diamond Transitions Hatby Natalie Martinez Rush
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight in Currant and Callalilly
Cast on date: Jan 22nd, 2015
Finished date: Jan 27th, 2015
Notes: Ever since I knit the stockings for my family, I have come to love knitting colorwork and how it looks.  I was asked to teach a class and I figured this was the best time to try my hand at designing a hat to teach colorwork with.  I had so much fun playing with this chart!  I really wanted it to transition into another color as I love how that effect looks.  Once the pattern was set in my head and the chart on paper, this hat knit up quickly!  Of course, now little Miss Carmen requested a pink one so while the pattern currently only has a size medium, I will be adding to the pattern as more sizes are fleshed out.  If you buy it now, ravelry will alert you when the pattern is updated!  So excited about how this came out and hope you enjoy knitting it if you choose to!
This pattern can be purchased via Ravelry by visiting this page here or the link below.

The pattern can also be purchased as part of a kit from my local yarn store Stash - a place for yarn.  The kit comes with a copy of the pattern and 2 skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight yarn in the colors of your choice. Special price of $20, plus shipping, US only.  She has a lot of options so please call the shop for further details.
http://stashstpete.com/

Happy Knitting!

 

This moment - A little one turns 2!Open in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.


Last night we celebrated with my family at their weekly trivia night.  We had a great time and daddy even surprised us by leaving work early and joining us!  We are holding off on her birthday party until Easter Sunday because my dad, who lives in Panama, and my sister and her family, who live in California are all coming to town next week!  We wanted to wait to celebrate with them!  I can't wait to celebrate this girl some more!  My mini me.


Happy Friday!

 

This moment: StrawberriesOpen in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see. 

 

Masterpiece: CGR's Wonderful WallabyOpen in a New Window


Sometimes a project just is so addictive that it is off the needles as soon as it's been cast on...or at least that's how it feels...



Project details
Ravelry Project link
Pattern: Wonderful Wallabyby Carol A. Anderson
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Carnation
Cast on: March 1st, 2015
Finished: March 13th, 2015
Notes: I was wearing my Corona pullover the other day and Carmen quickly asked if I would make her a matching one.  I of course said yes since I already had the yarn to make her this sweater!  She had helped me pick it out back in November but I got distracted by other projects and never started it.  So, March 1st came...super close to FL summer and the need for sweaters quickly fading..and I cast this on.

The pattern is pretty well written and comes in a little booklet, which I bought from Paradisefibers.net.  The size range is amazing...2T-2XL adult!  I measured the girls and since Carmen is pretty petite, I opted to make her the 4T even though she is already 4 and she will still have room to grow in it.  I followed the pattern pretty closely, however, I added length to all measurements.

I did pick up for the pouch before it said to.  Jasmin from the Knitmoregirls podcast had recommended to do this as she said it would make it easier.  It did seem easy. 
I'm so happy with how it came out and most of all Carmen is very excited about her new hoodie!  She immediately put it on and wore it out in the FL heat!  It was 83 that day!  She is definitely knit worthy!  Now I'm planning to make her sister a matching one that is purple.

I have already cast it on but have been a bit distracted with working on some other things.  Her sister just had to get involved in the picture taking though.  And I'm glad she did...because they are cute together.


Here's hoping I can finish up her sister's quickly! I'm only about an inch into the bottom ribbing...

Happy Knitting!!

What are you working on or finished lately?

 

This moment - sunsetsOpen in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.
Seems to be the only posts I can get to this last couple weeks...but finished projects and some more posts are coming.

 

This moment - a house full of silly!Open in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.


 

This moment - cards and water playOpen in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.



With an extra video:

 

Masterpieces: My deer for Valentine's DayOpen in a New Window

More than a month has past with no posts...  Last post was a bit intense and wasn't sure how to follow it up...but thankfully I finished some knitting so let's start there! 

Project details
Ravelry Project link
Pattern: my dear - a deer trophyby Claire Garland
Yarn: Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool in Natural
Cast on: February 3rd, 2015
Finished: February 13th, 2015
Notes: When I saw this pattern, I simply knew I had to knit it for my hubby!  He's a hunter and has been hoping to get a buck so he could get it mounted.  His grandfather has one that is named Buckey and I know it's always been special to my husband.  I figured while he's waiting for his, I would make him this one.  I wasn't sure if he would like it but he loved it!  I was so happy with his reaction and it put him back on the knit list. .He had been put on the no-knit list because of an incident with a hat from Target.  I'm not going to run out and start knitting him a bunch of stuff but he's knit worthy again.
I haven't talked too much about this on the blog but I swear I'm NOT a toy knitter!  I keep repeating this to myself as I seam things together.  I want to love it because they are so cute but I struggle with the stuffing and seaming.  My Christmas secret knitting for the girls is still...well not done!
I had an issue with this one because I overstuffed the head...which I had understuffed the last toy I knit and struggled so I was thinking I was learning from my mistake by making another one.  The head after you knit it on a loose gauge is supposed to shrink down. BUT if you over stuff it...it won't shrink and hence will be slightly too big.  After throwing a small temper tantrum, I'm really happy with how it came out and SO excited that my husband actually hung it on his wall with his other prized stuff.

Hope you like it!

Happy Knitting!

Did you knit your significant other a Valentine's Day gift?

 

A Series of Thoughts: Growing upOpen in a New Window

This is very random but it's my current series of thoughts.  Enjoy and be kind.

I am 34...34 and in a couple months I'll be 35 but most the time when I visualize myself I still feel like the scared motherless child, who was fighting to find herself in this world.  Then one day I looked up and here I find myself a married woman and mother of 2 little girls. How did that happen?

It's amazing how time and growing up works.  Internally, I feel like I'm a child raising children but I know that I'm not a child.  Did my parent feel like this when they had 5 girls and a boy to raise?  Did they look around them and think that they were children just like those they were raising?  My mother started having kids in her mid 20s...I didn't have my first daughter until I was 30 and yet I don't feel grow up yet.  Will I ever feel grown up? Now the big question...do I want to feel grown up?

Life has a funny way of just moving forward whether you are ready or not.  Thankfully, God knows what he's doing and what you can do with his help because sometimes I look at what I've been through and what I have accomplished and wonder...how did I make it and what was I thinking?  We often move through life from one event to the next but when you are living your day to day life, it feels like you are just passing the time.  How does all this life happen when you are just passing the time?
My mother passed away 28 year ago today and I miss her every day.  It's strange to think that I have lived on this earth 22 years longer without her than with her.  I know she is with me everyday and I'm reminded of her through my sisters and my daughters.  God knew what he was doing when he gave my parents 5 girls.  He knew what he was doing when he gave me daughters.  He knows what we need more than we do because he sees the bigger picture that we do not.

I often struggle with my longing for my mother.  I'm the person I am today because I lost her when I did.  I had to grow up without her and I gained her influences through the lessons and influences she left in those that knew her.  I know her through pictures and stories that others tell me.  I was the youngest of many and I was spoiled rotten before she passed.  After she passed, people came into my life that changed that.

I often wonder if my sisters and I would be so close if we had not lost her when we did.  Would we need each other as much as we do now?  I can't imagine my life without each of my sisters.  We are all so different yet we are all so similar.  We fight like all siblings but there is something different about how we relate.  It's like there is this magnet that pulls us to each other and you can't see it but it's there.  Is that magnet our mother's spirit?  Will my girls have that magnet too?

My husband and I in the last year have talked several times about moving to live near his family up north.  I want to say I could do it because despite how I see myself, I'm not a child and I would pull on my big girl boots and find a new path but when I think about not living near 4 of my 5 sisters...it makes me crumble.  I just can't imagine not being able to see them all the time.  I know that he is close to his mother and sister that live up north too and I know it's hard for them to live apart but I just don't know if I am ready to spread my wings again.

I grew up with my sisters out of the house.  By the time my mother passed away, the youngest of the older sisters was a senior in high school and soon left the nest.  That left my brother and soon my step-sister and step-brother.  I love them and need them but it's different...that magnet isn't there.  When I left home to go to college, the first 2 years I spent in Tampa and spent almost every weekend with my sisters and their families in St. Pete. Then I needed to find myself...so I went off to college in San Fransisco.  I knew nobody and I wasn't were I didn't want to be.  It was 4 and a half years of incredible growth personally.  Then I just missed having family around so much I made my way back here.  It's sort of a long story so we'll just say it took about 9 months for me to finally make my way back to living by my sisters here.

Since then I have been happy living near them.  My pups found me, my husband found me, and we had 2 amazing little girls.  Through it all, my sisters were my rock.  They were my constant.  I know wherever I go they will always be my rock but it's not the same when they are a walk or very short car ride away.  They have helped me in so many ways become the mother I am and are constantly helping me be the person I am whether they know it or not.

I know this has been random but to sum it up.  I feel like a child.  I miss my mother.  My sisters are my rock and I will keep trusting God knows what he's doing and his big plan for us is bigger than I can ever dream of.

Hope you enjoyed this series of thoughts.

Do you feel "grown" up?

 

Masterpiece: My Hitofude CardiganOpen in a New Window

One of my goals this year, as you may have read from yesterday's post is to love my wardrobe. Part of that is to increase the lightweight handknit work appropriate cardigans. My work is pretty loose with what we can wear but I'd like to put more effort into looking nice. Don't get me wrong...there will be days I will still go to work in jeans, flip-flops, and a t-shirt but you get the idea. The first one of these cardigans I already had been knitting...and now it's complete! yay!! 
Project details
Ravelry Project link
Pattern: Hitofude Cardiganby Hiroko Fukatsu
Yarn: The Fiber Seed Sprout Solids in Elephant
Cast on: September 13th, 2014
Finished: January 4th, 2015
Notes: When I first saw this cardigan, I wasn't sure how it would look on my body frame.  I loved it but just couldn't visualize it.  A friend in my knit group happened to finish hers so I asked if I could try it on and instantly fell in love with it!  It fit nicely and I thought would be a great addition to my wardrobe.
The pattern is all knit in one stroke or strand of yarn...so essentially no seaming.  I liked that idea.  The cast on is a bit confusing but you really just have to trust the pattern and it works out.  Same goes for when you are doing the sleeve join.  I read through the pattern completely but I just couldn't see what I was expected to do until I was actually doing that step.  In the end it worked and I'm so happy I knit this up!  I might make another one but using a yarn that has silk in it as I think this will drape nicely!

Happy Knitting!

 

Natalie 2015: Simplify and StreamlineOpen in a New Window

I love the idea of having a theme to focus on each year.  I am not sure I really follow it throughout the whole year but it's always fun to start of the year with a focus.  I'm also a big fan of lists...so I'm going to combine these for this year's resolutions post.

This year my theme is going to be: Simplify and Streamline.

Not all of my goals below fit nicely into this theme but that's ok with me...
Crafting:
1. Organize my stash so that it's visually pleasing and not just stored away.
2. SPIN MORE!  This is big.  I really want to give Pilar some love this year and spin spin spin!  It's been a while since I spun and I just need to get back to it.
3. Take more classes. This coming year, I hope to take more workshops and crafting classes.  I want to learn more techniques but mostly I want to learn from those teaching.
4. Teach more classes.
5. Travel to a fiber festival!!  This is huge!  I REALLY REALLY want to make it to a festival this year.  We have plans in the works but hope it works out as well as we are planning.

Personal:
1. I'd like to simplify our home by purging all the things that are not used/played with or don't have a place in our home.  This especially goes for clothes that don't fit and trinkets that don't hold emotional attachments or have a place to live.
2. I'd like to purge my wardrobe into a smaller one that only has clothes that I love and make me feel good. Sadly, I still have "maternity" clothes that get worn here and there.  They must all GO!
3. Make it through the construction that is about to begin on our home and really decorate our living room and rest of the house with pictures and more.

Parental:
1. Focus less on bedtime routine and more on enjoying the time with my girls.  NOT saying I'm going to get rid of bedtime routine but often at night I feel like it's this race to get them to bed before it becomes a meltdown battle of over tired girls.  This stresses me out and I end up not enjoying the time we have together as much.  I really would like to focus more on enjoying the time and less on racing through the time.
2. Start having dates with each of my children.  My girls love to be together but I also feel they need some alone time with me.  I would like to start having fun outings with just one of them at a time.  We'll see how this goes.

Relationships:
1. Schedule monthly date nights with my husband.  We are good about doing date nights but we often realize we haven't had one in a while and then plan one.  I would love to do this monthly in the new year.
2. Focus more on what I'm bringing to my marriage than what I'm getting.  I feel this is such a better way to love and helps to curb the tit for tat mentality that can often cause grief.
3. Plan more time with my sisters.  We always love going to brunch together but do not do it often enough.  Downton Abbey is starting soon and we always watch that together on Sunday nights and it's nice to be with them.

And to finish off I would like to cut out the excess in our life and focus on the good and what truly matters.  Focus on our family and our home.  Give our journey to God and know that he has big plans for us and enjoy the ride that he takes us on.

Wishing your family a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Love the Barknknit family!

What are your resolutions/themes for the new year?

 

Masterpiece: My stocking completed!Open in a New Window

So much has happened in the last almost month since I posted!  The girls had their first trip to Disney, they had their Christmas concert, we celebrated Christmas with family, and packed up our minivan and drove the 16 hrs to visit family!  I have lots of pictures to share but first I wanted to share this VERY special finished project!  Enjoy!

My stocking was completed in time for Christmas!!!!!!  I seriously wanted to shout this from the rooftops!  I already knew that I would be knitting it on the drive up to OH and I was right!  I managed to get all the colorwork done before it got dark and I spent most the overnight drive, that I was awake and not attending to the needs of the others in the car, knitting the stockinette flap.  I knit the icord up quickly before meeting Alicia at a knit group on Saturday morning!  I was so excited to show it off and to be done with it!  It came out lovely!  Still needs to be blocked but am too excited not to share it with you all.

Project details
Ravelry Project link
Pattern: A NEW Family Portrait - A Collection of Three Christmas Stockingsby Dorene Delaney Giordano
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Cascade 220® Sport in white and burgundy
Cast on: July 20th, 2014
Finished: December 20th, 2014
Notes:  I am so excited to be done with these stockings! I really enjoyed knitting them and so glad I have learned colorwork.  I still have some technique refining to do but I will have plenty of practice next year.  The yarn worked up nicely for these stockings and I really like the pattern.  She does a great job with giving you plenty of details to help you along.  This was knit relatively quickly but I took a break from it for a while to finish up other stuff so that is why it looks like I took a LONG time to knit this one.

Here are all the stockings laid out at my husband's grandma's house ready for Santa to fill them!
Love these!!

Happy Color-work Knitting!!

 

Birthday girl and her new Frozen bikeOpen in a New Window

This past Saturday we celebrated my big girl turning 4 with family and friends.  It was of course Frozen themed and we all had a blast!!  I thought I would take more pictures but honestly I was too distracted and had a bad blogger moment and forgot to take pics for the blog.  I also don't like to post picture of other people's kids on my blog so you'll have to do with this cute picture of the birthday girl with her new bike!

This awesome Frozen bike was sent to us by Kohl's as part of their promotion!  I had not realized until they contacted me how much Frozen stuff they were carrying.  I have to admit I fell down a rabbit hole when I started looking at the items and trying to select which one I wanted.  Click here to check out all their Frozen merchandise.  There are so many things I knew my girls would love but when I saw the bike it was just too perfect. 
Carmen was so excited about her new bike. It's a great next bike for her and one that she will be able to grow with for a bit. My husband put it together easily and it was all set and ready to go on her birthday.  The cute little pouch on the front is perfect for her to put her doll of choice for the trip or to pick up little treasures on the way.  Thank you again Kohl's!

The helmet was a separate gift from her grandpa to go with her new bike.  This girl is now set for some serious bike rides!

Happy Bike riding and Birthday Celebrating!

 

This moment - A birthday girl and her daddyOpen in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.

 

Masterpiece: Alicia's Wedding ShawlOpen in a New Window

When my friend and podcasting co-host announced that she was engaged, I immediately told her I was knitting her wedding shawl.  We worked together over the course of a couple months to figure out what yarn and pattern she wanted. Originally we picked a different pattern but it just wasn't working out so we went back to the drawing board and I could not be happier with how this turned out! 
Project details
Ravelry Project link
Pattern: Aphroditeby Sivia Harding
Yarn: Juniper Moon Farm Findley
Cast on: February 8th, 2014
Finished: April 26th, 2014
Notes: This is one of those projects that is so special!  I really wanted it to be perfect!  I took my time with figuring out the pattern and once it clicked I was able to knit this relatively quickly.  There are beads in the edging that you can't really tell are there but add to the weight and helps with the drape.  So glad I was able to knit this for such a very special day!

Alicia surprised me by actually walking down the isle in the shawl!  I freaked out because I had been following the wedding through her instagram tag and I saw her walking down the isle in the shawl and was just floored!  It was so awesome and made me feel like I was there. 

For her bridesmaids, Alicia knit them beautiful Traveling Woman shawls.  This is my favorite picture of all the shawls because you can tell a Knitter was getting married!  Love this so much!
Hope you enjoyed these pictures!  Alicia was such a beautiful bride and I'm so thankful to be her friend.

Happy Knitting!

 

Happy 4th Birthday to my big girl!Open in a New Window

My big girl turns 4 today!  This precious blessing made us parents 4 years ago today at 6:36 in the afternoon.  So glad she chose us to be her parents!!   Her birthday party is this weekend so I'll share more about it after it happens.
This Halloween...
3rd Birthday girl...
2nd birthday tinkerbell girl
1st Birthday girl...
When she came home from hospital...  
We are so blessed with this smart, kind, silly, loving girl!  So thankful she chose us to be her parents.

Happy Birthday sweet Carmen!


 

Masterpieces: Her first sewn pillowOpen in a New Window

As many of you with small children know, they want to do everything you do normally!  I was recently handed down a sewing machine and I couldn't be more excited about it...and now so is Miss Carmen.  With my sister's help, I was able to figure out the new machine as well as teach Carmen how to sew. 

The first night we just let her sew on some scraps of yarn but she wanted to make something.  We decided that a small pillow would be a good way to start.  The first step was to shop for the fabric and she of course picked princess themed fabric.  Then I washed the fabric and my sister came over and taught her what to do.

She seemed to have a good time with sewing the pillow.  Our table is a counter height table so we had to get creative with how to set her up to sew but it worked out.  She is never left alone with the sewing machine on and I think I might get her some gloves so that she doesn't get poked by the needle.  I'm so glad she likes to craft and looking forward to teaching her how to make lots more things!
And another fun part...the stuffing!

Some day we'll tackle knitting but for now she's just happy with her pillow!  Her Aunt G also sewed one for Ria so they both have matching little pillows.

Happy Sewing!

What age did you learn to sew or knit?  Have you taught your children how?  What trick do you have to teach a 4 year old how to knit?

 

Embracing the Christmas season early!Open in a New Window

As I mentioned before, my favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I know most people think that Christmas season shouldn't start until the day after Thanksgiving but I don't quite follow that.  I listen to Christmas music all year long if I'm doing something like dishes or cleaning where I need a pick me up.  It's my happy place music!  And this year for the first time, I have put up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving and I am very happy about it.  It might just be a new tradition in our house. 

Saturday during Ria's nap, Carmen and I decorated the bigger tree!  She was so excited about the lights and checked out every ornament!  It was so much fun to tell her about each one and show her the ones she made last year for our tree.
After Ria woke up from her nap, I had wrapped two new ornaments for them to open and put on the tree. I don't have close ups but Carmen got Elsa and Ria got Anna from Frozen. Yes, if you notice my stocking is not completed yet!  It's in a project bag and about 2/3rds done.  I actually decided last night that I was going to put away the hitofude cardigan I've been working on and finish up the stocking first before I go back to knitting on the cardigan.  I also have a secret project I'm knitting for the girls that I'm very excited about and will share with you as soon as I'm done!  I'm almost 50% done with it.
My step-sister came over after we were done with the tree and helped me and Carmen with some crafts during Ria's nap!  I found two pins on pinterest that I wanted to do this year.  First was the ornament wreath seen below and pin found here.  To make this, we took all the ornaments that I bought at the dollar tree and hot glued the tops to them.  Then we strung them on a wire hanger and closed up the wire hanger and hung it up.  The burlap garland I made using this pin and hot glued the ornaments on to it.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE how this came out and it makes me so happy to see it!
I love how it looks from my kitchen too!  I was cooking dinner and was just so happy to see it!  I also hung up some new pictures in the corner there too!  We are repainting the living room and changing out those curtains in the new year but I couldn't wait any longer to put some stuff up.  You can also see my small nativity scene in this picture.  I still haven't found a safe place for my willow tree nativity scene but some day it will come back out.

One of the crafts I did last year was this nativity scene that my sister printed and laminated for me!  I put magnets on the back and Carmen loved playing with it last year.  This year it's been a bit hit too!  The pin for that can be found here so you can print your own.

After a busy day of crafting, cleaning, and toddler/child wrangling, I was so happy to sit with some hot cocoa, my knitting, and Love Actually with all the Christmas decorations up!  It was so nice to get some time to enjoy it at the end of a busy day!
I hope you enjoyed my Christmas decorations!  I have some more ideas but most are going to have to wait until next year.  There is one more decoration I have left to finish that is already half way completed and then I'm getting back to knitting and baking!

Happy Christmas Decorating!!!

When do you plan to put up your decorations?  Have you already?  Any new decorations you have for this year?

 

This moment - teach them young.Open in a New Window

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama.  A single photo(or several) – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.
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