Happenings

March Round Up

March Round Up

Spring Crocheting at it’s finest

I’m not even friends with March anymore. What a month and a half! Perhaps one day I’ll forgive her, but not any time soon. This has been the most stressful, terrifying, saddest, “holy shit!” of a month I’ve had in a long time. I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way, either.

At least the yarn was good. Yarn tends to make the bad not quite as bad as it could be. Allow me to try to brighten your day a little with these lovely pictures for our March Round Up. Keep your chin up. We’re not finished yet.

This Dazzle Hat really, well, dazzled me. I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off; I’m not half the knitter I am crocheter and I had never done German short rows before. But behold! It worked. Awesome 🙂

Sweet Batilda is the second bat I’ve crocheted from this pattern, and I love her. So does everyone else, it seems. I highly recommend this pattern!

The Prismatic Hat has been in my favorites for a good long time. I do have a weakness for Chroma, especially in fingering weight. See those colors? Crocheting this hat was so soothing, like crocheting little pieces of the ocean, which is fitting as the colorway is called “Fathoms.”

I updated both Leyla’s Hat and Leyla’s Mitts. The patterns have the new stylesheet, better pictures, more info, and are easier to read and follow. If you grab yourself a copy, tell me what you think!

Y’all. I crocheted bunnies for Easter and then turned right around and crocheted some dicks. I’m not even sorry.

Becoming an independent contractor for WeCrochet has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. They send me FREE YARN!! And I write patterns, and test patterns, which is like a dream come true. Every time I open a box, it’s the best day ever 

I finished this set of Maracas Bowls for the CAL in the Ravelry group, and have another almost finished. I will never ever ever get tired of playing with Dishie and making new bowls in new styles.

I sent out all the St. Patrick’s Day stuff earlier this month. This was before we all knew March 2020 was going to crash and burn. They were well received though, and I sure had a great time making them. Maybe next year we’ll all be able to congregate again and have a St. Pat’s party!

Besides all this...

I guess it’s been okay, really. Social distancing means we actually DON’T have somewhere to rush off to each day, so that’s really nice. The kids are staying in touch with their friends through Messenger for Kids, Zoom rooms, and Minecraft. I’m drinking a lot of coffee and playing with a LOT of yarn! I put up a blog post on blocking, we’ve got a CAL for Maracas Bowls on Ravelry that’s closing up and new CAL about to begin, and I released a new FREE pattern, SUNday.

If you’re crafty, I’d love to see what you’re doing! Are you crocheting, knitting, dyeing, spinning, weaving, painting, beading, sewing? How are you handling staying in for the time being? Comment and let us know! You can even link us to your blog or social media so we can all support each other. As always, if you’ve found value in this post, please tweet, pin, share. Every little action from you helps me out tremendously ♥

SUNday FREE PATTERN!

SUNday FREE PATTERN!

FREE crochet pattern

Sunday Collage

SUNday is a cheerful sunny scarf, and just what we all need to hurry Spring on her way. Crocheted lace is one of my favorite springtime indulgences. This stitch pattern, worked on the bias, offers interest during crocheting and produces a naturally scalloped edge. Worked in WeCrochet’s Upcycle Alpaca, a drapey DK weight, the alpaca makes it nice and soft, while the silk and Tencel give it a gorgeous sheen. This one-skein scarf is a quick project, so why not make two and gift the second to a very special person in your life!

You can get a .pdf version of this pattern for just $1.99 on Ravelry. This makes it easily printable so you can take it with you, and it helps support me in the writing of even more patterns. Even if you don’t purchase the .pdf, please go rate it for me!

If you love this pattern, check out some of my other FREE patterns, as well as my Ravelry shop.

A little info

Stitches:  Ch, sl st, beg V-st (ch 4, DC) V-st (DC, ch 1, DC) W-st (DC, ch 1, DC ch 1, DC)

Yarn:  200 yards DK (WeCrochet’s Upcycle Alpaca, alpaca/silk/Tencel, 1 skein)

Hook:  H

Sizes:  Approx. 5” wide x 62” long, unblocked (if you use a whole skein of Upcycle Aplaca)

 

Gauge:  3 V-sts x 3 rows = 2” approx.

 

Notes:  Ch 4 in beg V-st counts as (DC, ch1) and ch 3 at the beginning for row 3 counts as a DC.

Let's get hookin'!

Pattern:

Ch 32

Row 1) V-st in 5th ch from hook, *sk 2 chs, V-st in next ch* eight times, sk 2 chs, W-st in last ch. Ch 1. Turn.   = 9 V-sts

Row 2) Sl in 1st ch-1 sp, beg V-st in same ch-1 sp, V-st in each ch-1 sp to end. Ch 1. Turn.  = 11 V-sts

Row 3) Sl in 1st ch-1 sp, ch 3, *V-st in next ch-1 sp* to last ch-1 sp, W-st in last ch-1 sp. Ch 1. Turn.  = 9 V-sts

Repeat rows 2-3 until desired length or until you run out of yarn. Finish off. Weave in ends.

Yup, that’s literally the whole entire thing. Wasn’t that the most enjoyable and stress-free little piece of crochet you’ve ever done? Now you’re ready to spring in style! I hope you’ve enjoyed this pattern. I’d love to see your finished scarf! Share your project on social media with the hashtag #RowsAndRosesSUNday so we can all see how you’ve made it your own! As always, if you have any questions, just ask. I’m easy to find 🙂

Blocking Finished Items

Blocking Finished Items

The whys and the hows

I’m sure that we’ve all seen some handmade items that, well… left much to be desired. It’s not the yarn. The yarn is gorgeous! And it’s not the pattern. We can see pictures of other items made by different people using the same pattern, and they are remarkable. However,  perhaps the one in front of us just doesn’t seem right. Sloppy? Is that the right word? Could it be that the gauge is off? Or maybe it looks more like what you would consider a “rough draft” would look like. 

I bet I know why this beautiful item, knitted or crocheted by a talented fiberartist who knows what they’re doing, in the most scrumptious yarn, fails to impress. I bet it’s due to a shoddy blocking job, or perhaps it hasn’t been blocked at all! So we’re going to talk about blocking today. See that picture above, with the colorful top next to the black top? That is the exact same top. Same yarn, same size. The colorful one has been blocked, and the black one has not (yet.)

A Big Difference

Take a look at the picture on the left. This gorgeous doily was crocheted by a very talented fiber artist on Ravelry (click the pic to see her project.) She did an amazing job crocheting it, and then lovingly and painstakingly blocked it, pinning all the little points and scallops. Isn’t it amazing?!

But look at the difference between the top slice and the bottom slice. See how the top slice looks bunched up? That’s before blocking. And the lacy and open bottom slice is after.

Just imagine if they had left this gorgeous doily unblocked. Would it ever have laid flat? Could you even see all the special stitches and lacy spaces there toward the center? The points and loops on the outer edge wouldn’t even be noticeable! The stitches for them are, but you can’t see them. THIS is why we block. Maybe not so much for things like dish cloths or mittens, but for anything with a stitch pattern, yes, you really should block it.

Getting your Block On

Just so that you are aware, blocking is not a difficult thing to do. It does, however, take some supplies, and usually a good bit of time if you’re going to do it right. See these three pictures on the right? They show the transition from a bunched up swatch of yarn, to the blocking mat, and finally to the absolutely stunning shawl that this artist knew they were making all along. I’m sure it took a lot of faith in the magic of blocking to continue on knitting this lace shawl when the whole time it was looking like the top picture!

So let’s get ready to do some blocking! 

Then first thing you’ll need is something to block your item on. Some people, like me, have special blocking mats we like to use. They are made of dense foam, and they interlock to form a surface as big as you need. The middle picture here shows interlocking blocking mats. The ones I have are smaller, and I have two sets so that I can put together a mat for unusual designs, such as crescent or asymmetrical shawls

You’ll also need some rust-resistant pins, and if you’re blocking lace, some blocking wires. I just use guitar strings.

You’re going to soak your item in a warm bath for a little while, then squeeze or spin as much of the water out of it as you can. Block damp, not saturated! Lay your item out on the blocking mat in the form it should be when it dries. Pin it liberally, taking care to get all the little points. There are never too many pins when you’re blocking a piece! Once you’ve pulled it out into the correct shape and pinned it, let it dry and you’re good to go!

It's Not Just for Lace!

While blocking is, of course, necessary for lace projects in order to open them up, I am a firm believer that a good blocking equals a better finished, more polished piece of knitting or crochet. This before/after of a sweater shows how even cables can benefit from a good blocking. 

Blocking helps any item go from “homemade” to “handmade” and is the final touch that I would encourage you to add to all of your projects.

Are you first time blocker, looking to give it a try? Show us! I’m dying to see how it goes for you. I bet you’ll love it, and will block from now on. Share your before/after pics on social media and hashtag them #RowsAndRosesBlocking so we can all see your masterpiece! And as always, if you have found value in anything set forth in this blog post, please consider sharing, pinning, tweeting, or otherwise helping to get it out there for others to use ♥

February RoundUp

February RoundUp

FOs, Patterns, and other news

Well February came in like a storm here at R&R, and left almost the same. It has been one thing after another, with every single one of us getting sick at one point. We all got some much-needed haircuts by the fabulous Brittni at Holmes Hair Studio (if you’re in the area, go to her and tell her I sent you!) and I discovered that Ulta is both my new favorite store and my wallet’s worst enemy.  Meanwhile, the weather lost its mind in SC, and decided to go from 70°F to FREAKING SNOW overnight. I just can’t figure out what to wear, but it’ll be okay. Spring is marching in! ( <– See what I did there? Marching? I’m hilarious.)

What have we got to show for the shortest month of the year? More than we bargained for, I can tell you that. Allow me to share this February RoundUp with you….

Finished Objects

Pattern

This month I released a new crocheted hat pattern called Flatter. This springtime hat is made using only ONE BALL of WeCrochet’s Cotlin, a DK weight cotton/linen blend. I have long loved this yarn for things like kitchen towels and market bags, but it makes excellent warm weather garments and accessories, too!

I designed this hat as a base for your own artistic inspiration. Wanna cover it in flowers? Or maybe weave a ribbon through it? Perhaps you’d like to add some beads or feathers or something super unique. DO IT! And tag your hat #RowsAndRosesFlatter to inspire the rest of us.

Wrappin' it up

All in all, I’d say it’s been a pretty stellar month, wouldn’t you? We’re wrapping up a Headband With A Twist KAL and a Felici On The Double Hat CAL in the Ravelry group in order to make way for the March -alongs. Maracas Bowls and “something knitted with cables” are both coming up on March 1st so please come join us! And if you haven’t checked out the latest info post on the blog about spinning yarn, be sure to give it a lookover, too.

We’ve got a St. Pat’s FLASH opening in the facebook group tomorrow, and the Spring/Easter Specials & Customs opening on March 5th. I’ve got three new patterns mostly written and another half dozen in various stages of completion, so be sure to keep an eye out for those. If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, please do. I have so much fun putting this together every month, and sometimes I even include a fun surprise gift.

Thanks for hanging with me. Your friendship makes me feel cool and loved and included ♥  If you’ve enjoyed this February RoundUp, please consider tweeting, pinning, commenting, or otherwise sharing. Every little action you take helps my little business to grow!

Flatter

Flatter

FREE Crochet Pattern!

Flatter Collage

The free Felici on the Double cowl pattern was such a big hit! So how about a new free crochet pattern to welcome in the Spring that surely MUST be coming! Free is good, yeah? Yeah.

This youth summer hat is the perfect canvas to show off your style! Gorgeous left as-is, it can also hold all the flowers, feathers, ribbons, and accoutrements you want. The sky’s the limit! I’ve been able to wear this hat myself, no problem, but I realize that not everyone has the same sized head. Therefore, I have named it a youth hat. Should you choose to add more increases, I fully support you! 

If you love this pattern- or even just kinda like it- you can get a printable .pdf here

If you want to check out my other patterns, I think you’ll like them!

Flatter: free crochet pattern for you!

Free crochet pattern

Stitches:  ch, sl, SC, SCblo, DC

Yarn:  DK weight, 100 yards (I used one ball of WeCrochet’s Cotlin, and had some left over)

Hook:  I/9, or size needed to obtain gauge

Sizes:  Youth 18”

Gauge: After round 2, your circle should be 2.5” across

Brigit Flatter

**NOTES: Always start your round in the very first stitch, which is the same stitch you joined in. Also, I always use a Standing DC as my first stitch, but you can use a ch 3 or  whatever you prefer.**

Here we go!

Pattern:

Start with a magic ring, or ch 4 and sl st in first ch to join into a ring.

Round 1) 12 DC in ring. Join.  = 12 DC

Round 2) 2 DC in each st around. Join.  = 24 DC

Round 3) *DC in next st, 2DC in next st* around. Join.  = 36 DC

Round 4) *DC in next 2 sts, 2DC in next st* around. Join.  = 48 DC

Round 5) *DC in next 3 sts, 2DC in next st* around. Join.  = 60 DC

Round 6) *DC in next 5 sts, ch 1, sk 1* around. Join.  = 50 DC, 10 ch-1 sps

Round 7) *DC in next 4 sts, ch 1, sk 1 st, DC in ch-1 sp* around. Join. 

Round 8) *DC in next 3 sts, ch 1, sk 1 st, DC in ch-1 sp, DC in next st* around. Join.

Round 9) *DC in next 2 sts, ch 1, sk 1 st, DC in ch-1 sp, DC in next 2 sts* around. Join.

Round 10) *DC in next st, ch 1, sk 1 st, DC in ch-1 sp, DC in next 3 sts* around. Join. 

Round 11) Sl into ch-1 sp, *DC in ch-1 sp, DC into next 4 sts, ch 1, sk 1 st* around.

Round 12) Repeat round 7

Round 13) Repeat round 8

Round 14) SC in each st and ch-1 sp around. Join.  = 60 SC

Round 15) *SCblo in next 3 sts, 2 SCblo in next st* around. Join. = 75 SC

Round 16) SC around. Join.  = 75 SC

Rounds 17-20) Repeat Round 16

Cut yarn. Weave in ends. Embellish as you wish, or leave as is. Enjoy your hat!

Brigit Flatter Profile
Gayl Flatter

Sati Glenn, owner and operator of Rows and Roses Fiberworks. 

Email: sati@rowsandroses.com

Website: www.rowsandroses.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/rowsandrosescrochet

Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/stores/rows-and-roses

Spinning Yarn

Spinning Yarn

Taking a Braid for a Spin

Spinning

Spinning yarn is one of those things that so many people find to be amazing. Myself included! Lots of people who are into other fiber arts, such as knitting and crocheting, seem to believe that spinning yarn is beyond the realm of reasonable activities to take up. Spinning is something from the olden days, right? Why would I spend time spinning yarn when I can order thousands of different types of yarn, and get whatever I want already made? 

Well, let me tell you, spinning is a glorious adventure if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy your fiber arts! While there is certainly a learning curve, it isn’t actually “hard” to do. You can find prepared fiber in all kinds of braids or batts, you can purchase different types of fibers and blend your own mix, or you can even take the wool right off a sheep or alpaca and spin it in the grease!

Different put-ups for different spins

My favorite way to spin is from a braid of fiber already prepared for me. Sometimes I purchase a bare braid and dye it myself, and sometimes I get it already dyed by a favorite dyer, such as Kim Russo of Kim Dyes Yarn. When you’re spinning yarn from a braid, you will undo part of the braid and pull off a section, usually splitting the section into two or three narrow strands.

You can find prepared braids in all different types of fibers! My favorite is merino/silk, with pure Polwarth being a close second. I also enjoy alpaca blends (such as alpaca/silk, or alpaca/bamboo.) While I have certainly spun pure Merino before, I don’t enjoy it as much as when it is blended with another fiber, due to Merino’s short staple length. Getting to play with different types of fibers is so much fun!

Braid of Merino

Batts are another fun option for spinning yarn. Batts are made by carding different fibers together into a fluffy blend, kinda like a “cloud” of fiber. You can then take chunks off the batt and spin them however you wish. I’ve had batts before that were alpaca, mulberry silk, mohair locks, Angora, and stellina (sparkle strands) all mixed together to make an absolutely stunning blend of color and texture. While I have more trouble getting a uniform yarn from batts, I do so enjoy the fun of them! They always make for an interesting spin. As do rolags and p-rolags, but perhaps those are a post for another day…

Braid of Merino/Bamboo/Silk

Wheel vs. Spindle

spinning wheel
My sweet little baby wheel <3

Honestly, I kinda feel like the wheel vs. spindle is a whole other post by itself, too, so I’m only going to touch on a couple of things here.

First, a spindle (also called a drop-spindle) is basically a dowel threaded through a center hole in a round weight. Like a pencil through a donut, only tightly anchored. The round weight can be wood, stone, Fimo clay, or just about anything else you can think of. You hook your fiber around a hook in the top of the dowel, and you spin the whole thing either between your fingers or by running it down the side of your leg. When you get a long length of yarn spun, you wind it around the shaft. This is my prefered method of spinning, as spindles are inexpensive and easily portable.

I am not quite familiar enough with spinning wheels to talk much about them. I have a small one that doesn’t work, and intend to get a larger one that does sometime in the future. The reason I haven’t made the plunge yet is because A) they’re expensive (the cheapest being at least a few hundred bucks, and I’ve seen some go for upwards of $5,000) and B) they take up a good bit of space. For years, my spindles have served me well, so I’m in no rush. Eventually it’ll happen, when I have the money to spend and can make room in our small home.

Try it, you'll love it!

current spin
My current spin, dyed by me!

In summary, if you haven’t yet tried to spin your own yarn, you really should give it a go! There are lots of places online where you can find high-quality hand-dyed spinning fibers, as well as handmade spindles. There are books on spinning, videos to get you started, and I’m always just an email away.

Spinning is relaxing (once you get the hang of it) and it really is so much fun to be able to play with all different types and blends of fibers.

If this post inspires you to try your hand at spinning, I’d love to see your pics! Post in the facebook group, or on instagram, and hashtag them RowsAndRosesSpin so I can see what you’ve got going on!

January RoundUp

January RoundUp

FOs, Patterns, and Other News

Here at Rows and Roses, I always have so much stuff going on. I want to start doing a roundup post near the end of each month showing finished objects, newly published patterns, and sneak peeks to look forward to in the coming months.

How about let’s start with a bunch of FOs? Here are a bunch of items I finished this month. Some are for me, some are for customers, and some are for a couple of Ravelry challenges I joined this year. They are by no means ALL of the things, but they’re a great little bundle of yarn joy, aren’t they?

Pattern Release: FOTD Hat

The Felici On The Double cowl pattern has done SO WELL! In fact, it surprised me- and surprises me, still- how much everyone seems to love it. The CAL is still going strong, with so many different color combos and creative yarn subs. I just knew we needed more FOTD patterns.

I give you Felici On The Double hat! This hat is worked just like the cowl, except it’s in the round, and includes some decreases. The decreases took me a while to get perfect in order to retain the chevron striping (a plain round crown would have been way easier, but who wants that??) 

We are currently voting on the February CAL and KAL in the Ravelry group, and so far, this hat is winning the CAL votes. Come join us!

Never a dull moment

Besides this new pattern release, I’ve also sent in pattern proposals to WeCrochet and Knit Picks. Seven, to be exact. I’ve got proposals in for hats, tops, cowls, and a super cute garland. If even half of these patterns are accepted, I’m gonna be one busy yarny for a while (like I’m not already?? Haha!) 

You can keep up with all the goings-on in the facebook group, and don’t forget that the blog is updated fairly regularly, as well. Check out the new posts from this month on the importance of craft-alongs, and different sheep breeds and the types of wool we get from them. The Rows and Roses Calendar stays up to date at least two months out at all times, so you’ll never miss an event if you remember to check it on occasion.

Types of Wool

Types of Wool

Different breeds for different types of wool

I want to tell you something you may not know. You ready? Okay: not all wool is created equal. Did you know that? Think about it… there are so many different kinds of sheep out there. Not just pure breeds, either, but all kinds of crosses, too! From Dorsets to Corriedale, and everything in between, there are so many kinds of sheep that give us wool. This means, of course, that different breeds give us different types of wool. Some is rugged and best suited to outerwear, while others are soft and delicate, and perfect for wearing against your skin. The old wool sweaters you were forced to wear as a child? Yeah, that’s not what I mean when I talk about wool. If you want to know about a few of my favorite types of wool, read on!

(If you are interested in checking out some other blog posts of mine about wool/fiber, you can find them here and here.)

Blue-faced Leicester (BFL)

The Blue-faced Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) has, you guessed it, a blue face! Well, they’re blue all over really, underneath their fleece. 

The BFL is a breed of longwool sheep, with a soft white fleece that is excellent for wearing next to skin. The wool has a sheen to it reminiscent to silk, and is very strong. It is a popular choice for cloth diaper covers, and makes an excellent sweater.

Merino

Merino Collage

Merino sheep can be found all over the world. From Spain to Russia to Australia, and even here in the US.

Merino is considered the creme de la creme of wool, with the softest fibers you can find anywhere among sheep. Merino is the number one wool for wearing against the bare skin, as it has zero itch factor.

 

The short staple length makes merino difficult to spin on it’s own, but certainly not impossible. It felts and dyes exceptionally well, and can be used for garments and accessories. It is hands-down the most popular wool used for baby and child items as it is buttery soft and smooth.

Corriedale

Corriedale sheep originally hail from the Australia/New Zealand region, but have been shown to adapt to all kinds of climates.

They produce a very long stapled wool. The fleece is heavy and hearty, very thick and with moderate bounce and “fluff.”

Corriedale wool is considered next-to-skin soft. It’s great for spinning and felting, as well as dying as it readily soaks up color.

CorriedaleCollage

Dorset

Dorset collage

Dorset sheep are an interesting breed. Apparently Dorsets came about due to the cross-breeding of the Merino with the Horned Sheep of Wales.

Dorsets are, in fact, meat sheep. However, they produce an excellent wool. This short-staple and springy wool, while some find it acceptable for next-to-skin wear, is a strong and thick fiber. This makes Dorset perfect for rugged outerwear.

Peruvian Highland

Peruvian Highland wool is one of my all-time favorite wools! These sheep are an interesting crossbreed of Corriedale and Merino.

The wool sports the strength of Corriedale, offering resilience and bullet-proof wear perfect for outer garments, such as jackets. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a rough wool. The Merino shines through in it’s softness, making it a popular wool to be worn next to the skin in cowls, mitts, and sweaters.

Due to the Corriedale, Peruvian Highland wool also has a longer staple fiber length, making it much easier to spin than pure Merino. This wool is really an all-star pick for just about anything!

peruvian highland sheep

Just the tip of the iceburg

Be assured that these are certainly not all, but just a few of the breeds that really speak to me. I have been in love with wool for as long as I’ve been crafting with yarn. Different types of wool are suited to different purposes, but they are all remarkable. From being anti-microbial, to absorbent, to feltable, to insulating, wool is really a miracle fiber and I long to learn more and more as I go. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and gained a better understanding of different types of wool. If you know of someone who might find value in it, please share ♥

Craft-alongs

Craft-alongs

Why community is so important

I’ve always been quick and easy to make friends. All my life, I’ve enjoyed getting to meet up with other humans and hang out and chat. I love getting to know people: their interests, their stories, what makes them tick. Sharing my thoughts and ideas, and interests and plans, is very important to me when connecting with people. If I’m currently feeling the urge to get creative in the kitchen, I seek out others who love to cook. When we’re struggling through a difficult time in our homeschool, I reach out to homeschool communities locally and on facebook to share my frustrations and get new ideas, as well as gain a new perspective. Human beings connecting with other human beings- REALLY connecting and not just smiling and sipping coffee and remarking on the weather- is the single most important thing in life that I can think of. It’s no wonder then that craft-alongs are one of my very favorite things to do.

What are craft-alongs?

When I think of craft-alongs, I think specifically of crochet-alongs (CALs,) knit-alongs (KALs,) spin-alongs (SALs,) and weave-alongs (WALs.) I’m sure there are other craft-alongs out there, but these are what I’m into since I’m a yarny. 

In a CAL, for instance, a group of us get together and pick a crochet pattern- or pattern type- and then we all crochet it at the same time. We share our yarn choices, our pictures of our works in progress (WIPs,) and we ask questions and encourage each other. It’s a great way for crocheters to connect with each other and gain inspiration and offer help. Furthermore, it gives us the sense of community and  camaraderie that many of us so crave. We laugh and cut up, and just have an all around great time. There is really something to be said for doing the same thing with a bunch of other people, all over the world, at the same time.

Craft-alongs for motivation

Sometimes I just want to make something different. Or sometimes I need to make something custom ordered and just really don’t know about this pattern or design. Possibly, I’m scared of messing it up. Then again, I could just be in a creative rut. 

Craft-alongs to the rescue! I love joining into a community of other makers who are making the same thing. I’ve found it especially helpful during a daunting project to be able to chat about our experiences with the pattern. If anyone has questions, they ask in the group and everyone else chimes in with their helpful answers. Errors happen in patterns sometimes, and when someone catches it, posting in the -along helps everyone else who hasn’t made it that far yet.

Rockstar Ravelry

If you’re looking to join a craft-along or two, my advice to you is the check out Ravelry. This website is FULL of everything yarn. From their massive database of knitting and crochet patterns, to their forums full of groups of every kind of yarn crafting imaginable, Ravelry has it all. I have a group there for Rows and Roses, and we actually have a CAL for my Felici on the Double cowl going on right now! Pictures are being shared and encouragement is being given as we speak. Please come join us, we are having so much fun! It’s free to join, and only takes a second (username and password. Done!) You can create project pages for everything you knit or crochet, find groups of people for just about anything you can think of, and I’ve never seen so many patterns in my life. Many of them are free! Come join our community, cast your voice with the rest, and show us what you’re working with!

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 ♥

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