Month: December 2019

Small Business Homeschool

Small Business Homeschool

Running a small business, homeschooling, and finding balance

Every year, I do this thing that probably seems crazy to anybody paying attention: I reopen my business with a great big event AND I start a new homeschooling year. In January. Yes, both of them, in the same month. Like an absolute crazy person. People ask me all the time how I could possibly teach a full year of school to two kids each year while also staying on top of all the orders, all the writing and publishing of patterns, all the testing and samples, all the package weighing and shipping, and everything else that comes with running a business. Believe it or not, it’s actually not all that hard. The trick is finding balance. This is what small business homeschool looks like for us.

December = Planning

school and work

Let me back up. I have two kids (not counting my 20 year old who lives on his own out of state at the moment.) We are a homeschooling family. Each year, we plan our school year from mid-January to mid-October. Therefore, we school through the summer when all the fun outings and events are taking place (the library puts on summer reading activities, the museums do special summer camps, etc.) and take the winter off for baking and holiday gatherings. We’ve been homeschooling both kids since Kindergarten. This year Rose will be in 5th grade and Isaiah will be in 8th grade, so we’ve been doing this for a while. We tweak things a little every year, but for the most part, this is what works for our family. 

I also own and operate a business out of my home. Rows and Roses, have you heard of it? 😉 December is the month each year that I close up shop so I can focus on stitching up stuff for myself and my family, finish up any patterns I’ve been writing, and start planning for the next year. A whole year’s worth of event and pattern ideas get jotted down, to be fleshed out later. New projects go into the early planning phases. Yarn gets reorganized, as well as all the loose printed patterns that have been junking up the place. The Christmas Crunch is a month long event here in my house.

 So basically, lots of things that have been neglected for too long get taken care of in December. Therefore, it makes sense that having this time off from both work AND school really pays off. I can take it easy from deadlines and social commitments, refocus,  and spend some time deep-thinking and reevaluating where we are and where I’d like us to be. This is also a great time to have conversations with the kids: what they loved, what they didn’t, and what they’d like to try next.

Routines and schedules. Seriously.

The part that I think really has a lot of people scratching their heads is figuring out how to cram everything into the time we have every day. We’ve got 6 subjects and 3 electives per child, as well as field trips and playdates. Plus all the businessy stuff (businessy stuff: it’s not just “yarn.” It’s website maintenance, two groups to moderate, classes to plan, patterns to write, packages to weigh, labels to print…) Add to that three meals a day prepared and cleaned up after, laundry, phone calls and texts, and family time that isn’t school….. how does that even all happen in a day??

lists

Before lunch, homeschool. After lunch, business.

Routines, schedules, and lists, my friend. Erin Condren Life Planners are my everything! Here’s the morning routine that my kids and I drew up for this year. I’m sure we’ll tweak it as we go to figure out what our new normal will be. They grow, we change, and it’s different every year.

  • 7am- Mom wakes up. Coffee, computer stuff, setting intentions for the day.
  • 8am- Wake Isaiah. He showers while I make breakfast.
  • 8:30ish- Isaiah wakes Rose. We eat and enjoy coffee together while discussing plans for the day.
  • 9am- Mom showers while kids do chores and get ready for school.
  • 9:30ish- school til lunch. If this is a morning field trip/class/club day, then that counts as school (we’re about 60% unschooling around here)

Lunch is really laid back around here. We eat whenever we finish school, and then the rest of the day is my work day. A lot of the kids’ school work is self-led, so while they’re doing some of the things they can do by themselves, I wash breakfast dishes or throw in some laundry. After we eat lunch, I put any lunch dishes in the sink to soak. I’ll wash them sometime before supper.

They take our dog out to play if it’s nice outside, and then they have free time for the rest of the day to do whatever they want. This is when I work. I check all of the Rows and Roses groups and pages and accounts, do whatever needs to be done on the website or for the newsletter, and get to work knitting/crocheting/dying/weaving/spinning. I try to keep a few different types of projects going at once so as not to wear out my wrist crocheting, or wear out my back weaving, or wear out my eyes and fingers typing. I’ll crochet for maybe 30 minutes, then go move some laundry over to the dryer. After that I’ll do a little more computer stuff, then spin a little on my current handspun project. Some days I set up Weaverly Marsh, and I’ll go back and forth weaving for half an hour, then knitting for half an hour. Check the mail, plan a blog post, check in on the CAL, call my mom, crochet some more. This is how I keep going until supper.

Flexibility is everything

Of course, some days are different. If we have an afternoon field trip or playdate, I make sure to put my most portable project into a project bag, along with hook/needles, scissors, pattern, etc. and hang it with my purse the night before. These are the days I try to get supper in the crock pot while making breakfast, that way I don’t have to take the time to cook when we get home. Therefore, I plan all breakfasts and suppers a week in advance, always checking my planner to see which nights need to be crock pot nights, or which mornings need to be grab-and-go breakfasts. I don’t want to ever make my kids miss an event or a class or a meeting that they want to attend just because I have to work, so I always make sure to have something that I can take with me. Sometimes it’s yarn, sometimes it’s a notebook and pen for planning a blog post or yarn order or crochet class.

In conclusion, small business homeschool may not always be easy, but it is absolutely doable. This is what has always worked for us so far. I do not think I have all the answers by any means, and every family is different in what they do and how they work best. I hope I’ve been able to at least give you some ideas to help you on your journey. If you’ve found value in this post, please share it. Word of mouth is everything, and I appreciate you all so much ♥

Christmas Crunch

Christmas Crunch

When blessings meet “curses!”

christmas crunch

Welcome to my holiday love affair with insanity, what I like to call the Christmas Crunch. This time of year, I’m reflecting on the year ending and planning the year coming, as well as baking like a madwoman. I’ve got about seven different kinds of cookies to make, a gingerbread cake, a blanket to finish before Santa comes, a pair of socks to knit that I haven’t even started yet….. Pour me a bourbon, okay? I don’t drink anymore, but I’m starting to rethink it.

 Wanna see what the 2019 Christmas Crunch is looking like? Let’s start with the blessings, since it’s so important to remember just how lucky we all are.

A gift from a new friend

wecrochet gift

I might be the luckiest person alive right now. A new friend decided to send me a Christmas present, but when she was asking for my address, she made it sound like it was just a ball of yarn. Therefore, I didn’t think the great big box that arrived yesterday was mine. I had already received all the yarn I had ordered this year, and thought this must be a mistake. Imagine my surprise (and happy tears!)

Inside, I found 4 skeins of the brand new sock yarn from WeCrochet called “Muse,” seven balls of the new Dishie Twist that I have been eyeing enviously since they released it, a bunch of solid Dishie to go with it, and four balls of the super-exclusive Felici colorway “Present.” You can only get Present with a $75 purchase, so this is HUGE! There was also an amazing WeCrochet project bag, a copy of their new magazine (the samples I crocheted for them are in it!) and Sparkles the Unicorn enamel pin. I have never been so overwhelmed with gratitude, and I am so thankful for this chick I can’t even find the words to express myself ♥

Planning a new class

With the new 2020 year on the horizon, there is so much planning to do! One of the more exciting things coming up is thanks to the lovely Melissa at Green Heart Awakening. GHA and R&R have partnered up to offer local crochet classes! These classes are one-on-one, one day available per month, and all materials are included. Each day we do them, there will be 4 slots available on a first come, first served, basis. The class is 90 minutes long, with an optional follow-up and lifetime email support. If you or someone you know is interested in learning to crochet and are local to the Pendleton, SC area, please check out the class listing here.

learn to crochet class

And now, the curse

Well well well, whatdoyaknow? I have a hooking injury, right in the middle of allllllll this yarn I need to work up. This could not have come at a worse time. Two Christmas presents still to do, the Felici On The Double cowl rage going strong, and I’m laid up with a hurt wrist. How will I get all of this stuff accomplished? I wonder if I can learn to hook with my feet… Oh well, what can you do? I guess I’m just going to try to laugh it off as my luck and have faith that it’ll all work out. There may be a couple of New Year’s presents coming up if they don’t get done before Christmas, but that’s okay. It’ll have to be.

Christmas Crunch will pass

Just like it does every year. This is such a fun and exciting time, and never without it’s wrenches thrown into the gears. I should be used to it by now. I’m going to go fix a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows and a candy cane, take a few deep breaths, and remind myself just how fortunate I am to be able to do this at all. Working from home, for myself and not a boss, homeschooling my kids, enjoying my home and pets, and looking forward to emerging from hibernation in about a month to rejoin the world and all of my wonderful friends. Thank you all so much for being here ♥

Spun In The Grease

Spun In The Grease

Prepping Greasy handspun yarn

handspun

Not too long ago, my dearest friend and fellow yarnie Sarah sent me home with some handspun yarn. Wool, for sure, but what kind is anyone’s guess. She had gotten it from a friend who had gotten it from someone else, and apparently nobody knew what to do with it. Therefore, it was passed on down the line, ending with me. This yarn is lovely, spun by someone who clearly knew what they were doing. There was one little problem… It was spun in the grease.

Now that’s not ALWAYS a problem; plenty of spinners choose to spin in the grease. In fact, I’ve done it once myself (and hated every minute, haha.) I knew when she handed it over and I felt it, that I was going to have to do some serious cleaning up of this yarn before I could use it for anything. So now, since I’m in the middle of my annual psycho-creative period,  you get to follow along with me on a mini-adventure where we learn what it means for a yarn to be spun in the grease, how to clean it up, and why. While we’re at it, we’re also going to measure and reskein this lovely sheepy stuff as it came with no tags and I need to know what we’re working with. 

What does it mean to be spun in the grease?

handspun

As we all know, wool comes from sheep. Sheep produce lanolin, a waxy coating that keeps their wool water resistant. This is why wool diaper covers are usually lanolized: lanolin is added to the diaper cover so that it doesn’t leak.

Sometimes, when a sheep is sheered and the fleece is skirted, it is then  spun without being washed first. This is called “spinning in the grease.” I’ve done it one time and one time only, and I hated every minute! My hands felt like they had had a spa treatment, sure, but the experience was a weird mixture of gooey/creamy/crunchy. Not to mention that raw lanolin has a very strong scent. Not bad, exactly, but STRONG!

Let's get this stuff clean!

This yarn is very heavily greasy, so I knew it was going to take more than a quick wash to get all this lanolin out. I filled my plastic tub with hot water and a big squirt of original Palmolive dish soap. I was only able to comfortably fit two skeins at a time, so everything I did, I had to do again. Let me tell you, this was no easy washing. I had to fill the tub with hot water and dish soap TWICE and then rinse in clear hot water for both sets of skeins. 

After the final rinse, I squeezed out as much water as I could, and then took them out onto the deck and gave them a good twirling to spin out the rest of the water. They were then hung on hangers to dry in the laundry room. The yarn still felt a bit waxy, but at this point I’m thinking they should be clean enough to knit or crochet with. I can always wash the finished product really, really well before blocking, and the wool wash I use on finished objects is amazing. It really gets everything super clean! So this will be good enough for now.

washing handspun

And now we have a problem...

After roughly 48 hours, this gorgeous yarn was dry and ready to be measured and reskeined. I got out the swift, ball winder, and my yardage counter so that I could find out how much yarn I’m working with.

OMG

 

damnit

This yarn is so coarse, so thick, and still so loaded with lanolin (after TWO dish soap washes HOW???) that it BROKE MY FREAKING COUNTER! Okay, so it’s a cheap-ass counter anyway and I’ve been telling myself I need to get another one. But I don’t HAVE another one right now. Ugh.

Feeling somewhat disgusted right now. That’s okay, gonna keep going. I finally got all four skeins wound into balls, and decided to just leave them as is to save myself the hassle of reskeining. Furthermore, I can knit or crochet directly from the center-pull balls so reskeining would actually be hurting me anyway. At this point, I’m finished. And I need a new (and better) yarn meter, so off to make a purchase. Now I get to try to figure out what this yarn wants to be. Mitts, maybe? I’m thinking yes because if worn on the hands, the lanolin in this still-greasy yarn will offer a built-in spa treatment, and who wouldn’t want that?

finished winding

Spread the word!

Did you enjoy this post? Did you learn anything new? Got some questions, or maybe feedback. Let’s hear it! You can always get me through the contact form on the website, or through comments here on the post. If you feel so inclined, I’d be eternally grateful for a facebook share, pin, tweet, or IG of this post. Every little action you takes helps R&R to grow ♥

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