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Monday December 03, 2018

Creativity KAL ~ Week 6

posted by: Amy Small

Hi friends! I'm so sad the KAL is coming to an end. This is my last creativity blog post but I'll definitely be around until every person is finished and happy with their project, so just holler as always if you need a hand. I plan to do a big round up post in the coming weeks as well, as soon as we feel like a bunch of us have finished or are nearing the end. 


Today's blog is a short and sweet one all about gratitude. I thought this would be a nice way to wrap up this side of the KAL. People all the time say it's important to feel grateful for what we have and to spend time each day writing these things down. I think until you really start doing it, it's hard to see the benefit. I am a big fan. I find that it helps to put things in perspective when I'm feeling overwhelmed or upset about something that happened. My old practice was to wake up and write down just a few things I was grateful for every morning but this was too few. I just sort of glossed over it and went on with my day, something that I just had to check off the list. Then I went through this phase last winter and spring where I would sit and write about the things I was grateful for for about 20-25 minutes each morning before the kids woke up. There's no better way to start the day, well at least it's my vote. It definitely put me into such a good place. Since we moved and because the kids wake up so early to get to school by 7:30, it's been harder to implement this routine into my new daily life. Truthfully, I'm struggling to figure out my new routine (still!!!) at our new house. I take it with me in different ways now. In the same way I cope with failure, when something comes up that I'm not happy about, I try to see the good in it, what I'm grateful for. 


I have a funny example of how embracing gratitude has helped my family too. Just the other night, Trammel and I were getting ready for bed and he was telling me a little bit about how stressed he feels at work, how he feels like he has a pattern of getting himself into tricky situations. I tried to get him to focus on all of the good things this job provides him and our family. For example there's a lot of freedom and the potential for even more. That's so exciting to think about since both of us want to take the kids to India and travel a ton with them.  In this small way I think it helped.


I also make a special attempt on the weekends to take my time with the family and just be in the moment and appreciate it. It's simple. This weekend I wanted to put lights on the xmas tree but the boys wanted me to draw them paw patrol puppies for an hour so that they could color them in. That's just what we did and it was fun. I started to think about how grateful I am to have the time with them with no big plans or things to do. We get to just be together. So I'd still love to work the writing back into my routine but for now the little mind shift change all that writing did is staying with me. Family and 2 sweet boys aside, I'm so grateful for this community and for you being up for doing this KAL with me. It's an honor and I know this time around there have been errors - your yarn was late etc. I apologize heartily for that. I bit off a little more than I could chew, as a frequently do. Thank you for bearing with us. We'll keep improving and getting better, I can promise that. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!

Let me know if you have a gratitude practice. I'd love to hear all about it!

Thank you so much for joining me here! Lots of love, Amy

Monday November 26, 2018

Creativity KAL ~ Week 5

posted by: Amy Small


Wow, we are already at week 5 of the knitalong and some of you have already completed your projects. Amazing! I'm so looking forward to seeing more of them come to life as we keep going here. Today I want to talk about a topic so dear to my heart - why creativity and making are so important. This is one that I would love your help to weigh in on. I find this a very personal topic- everyone has their own opinion and feeling about how making helps them day to day. Here are my top reasons - add yours in the comments below or in one of our groups.


The biggest reason I like to knit, spin yarn and make so many things with my hands is that is a huge form of self expression for me. In previous posts, I spoke a little about my intuition and how I'm tapping more and more into that gut feeling all the time. My creativity is linked to my intuition (at least this is how I see it!). I think of making or designing as a way of expressing my true self in whatever creative pursuit I'm doing. So many of my designs come from this place. I'm not sure why I chose certain colors for yarns designs or sweaters I knit, but I think it comes from this place within. I had an impulse about what to put next and how to make the project come together. I love that making is a way for me to express different sides of myself and that by utilizing it, I get to know myself better as well. It's this idea that nobody can make it just like you, even if you're following a pattern, it's the color you picked and the way that no 2 projects will ever look exactly the same. I love that!


Ok the next thing for me is that mastering knitting has given me the confidence to feel like I can do so many other challenging things. I'll never forget the first pattern I completed. It was a set of crochet placemats, a Purl Soho pattern. It took me a long while to complete them and after I did, I was SO proud. It led to me trying more challenging patterns and gave me confidence to try cooking, something I'd never gotten into. After I started taking on ore complicated patterns, I transferred this confidence to my work and started to feel like I can figure anything out. I mastered Quickbooks among other essential (but so tedious!) business programs. That one crochet pattern started this chain of events for me. I'm curious if you had the same experience. AND is there anything better than finishing a project and thinking to yourself, YUP I MADE THAT?!!! I love that feeling :) Jessica Carey, of the Hook Nook, also spoke about this extensively in her podcast episode. If you're interested listen here!


Making, specifically knitting has taught me more patience. Anytime I rush, I mess up. The best way to knit is in a relaxed way. When I rush, my stitches are too tight and I, without fail, I make a mistake that needs to be ripped out, costing me more time. I used to be and still am a pretty impatient person but knitting has helped a ton with this. I admit I still have some work to do here.


Next up, making is always there for me. I use it as a home to come back to when I'm having a bad day or need to process something not so great. The repetitive motion calms and destresses me, it's like a best friend I can come back to when I need it. It helps me unwind and relax at the end of the day. In a way it feels like meditation. I notice when I don't knit for a while, I get pretty cranky too!


Handmade gifts mean so much more - can I get an amen to that?! It's so special to give a handmade gift and see the expression on the face of the person you gave it to. It just means so much more. It's such an amazing way to show the people in our lives how much they mean to us. 


Lastly, making is an amazing way to connect with others that share a love for this creative pursuit. This KAL has been wonderful evidence of that! I adore our facebook group community and the way everyone cheers each other on so heartily. It's been awesome to see. Keep on going! And please share why you love making so much. I'd love to hear. I'm not sure there is one reason NOT to embrace making. I don't think so!

Have a great week friends! XOXO ~ Amy

Monday November 19, 2018

Creativity KAL ~ Week 4

posted by: Amy Small

Hi everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! We had a busy one here with birthday parties, friendsgiving and night out with a few new friends where we live. It was so much fun but not enough time knitting! I need to catch up a little on the Cozy Thoughts sweater to stay on schedule.


On to this week's topic - getting through failure. I veered away from talking about this in our Spring KAL but this fall I want to come back to it. It may not seem relevant to what we're doing with our knitting but I've found through my own experience and from podcast gusts that making and knitting helps them cope.


Each week on the podcast, I ask my guest how they get through failure and hardship. It's so interesting to hear people open up about tough times and how they managed. I think about this a lot, as a parent - how do I teach my boys to cope with this well and also as a business owner - I'm constantly dealing with failures or putting out fires - I think that just comes with the territory. So here is what I've learned on my own and through my guests. 


For about a long time now, I've shifted the way I think about hardships and failures from 'this is happening TO me' to 'this is happening FOR me'. I'm not sure where I picked this one up but it's had an effect.  I used to just repeat my failures over and over again in my mind - beating myself up and replaying it all daily. I would say to myself, how could I be so dumb and naive. I can't change the past though, whatever mistake it was happened and I messed up big time. Now I choose to look at those mistakes as my best teacher. They taught me to be crazy careful about my finances and to focus and not to try too many things at once. I'm positive that that experience makes me a better parent too. I recently listened to an interesting podcast (but warning, a little out there!). The podcast was the Lively Show, episode 242 with Jacob Lieberman. In that episode he said something along the lines of, "Life provides us with what we need in our to experience to live our maximum potential – this is not always obvious to us." I think that's something I believe deep down and it has helped me get through tough work things - there's always a silver lining, even if that is just an opportunity to learn. 


There is one book that I talk about a lot on the podcast called The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. It's had a profound effect on how I think about hardships as well. This quote is my favorite: “Everything that happens is a chance to move forward, even if it is on a bearing that you did not anticipate. We must try to be objective, to control your emotions and keep an even keel, to choose to see the good in a situation, to steady your nerves, to place things in perspective, to revert to the present moment, to focus on what you can control. This is how you see the opportunity within the obstacle” I don't think I could say it any more eloquently than that. The idea of keeping things in perspective and controlling your emotions is so good. Can we keep the broader perspective and realize that even within a week, definitely within a year, this pain will fade. Sometimes in my own life when something particularly bad happens, I let myself have a 'mourning' period. I allow myself to be upset, cry etc but the next morning (or whenever all the bad emotions have passed) I pick myself back up and try to follow this, seeing the best in the situation and focusing on what I can control to make it better. Usually the thing I turn to that helps me stay calm again is my knitting too. It soothes me and I think there's some magic in the repetitiveness of it to stop my monkey brain from going in crazy thought loops. It helps me get back to a place where I'm able to see the good, think about what I've learned and start planning next steps. 


Alright lastly there's a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that I want to add to. She says, "Failure has a function. It asks you if you want to go on making things." It's so good! If you're anything like me, making things is just part of who I am. I would still do it if I failed forever at it because I can't not do it. I love creating kooky yarns, knitting, and running a small business. Most of all I love feeling like I am creating the life I want, exactly as I want it to be. Sure, I have a seriously long way to go but I love feeling that I'm on the right path. Does that idea resonate with you? Does this post help you cope at all? How do you normally think about and cope with failure? AND especially do you also use knitting/making to move through it. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Big Hugs ~ Amy

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