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All the Handknits!

I’ve had a number of people asking me if I’ve knit a lot of things for Little Turtle, or if I was planning to.  Truth is, other than my Shamrock Dress, there hasn’t been much knitting on my behalf for the baby.

I’m fortunate, though, in that I have a community around me of crafty people who do knit and crochet, and have made our future child some lovely gifts.  I thought I’d share a few of them!

The first one has a bit of a story – I’m part of a stitching group that meets in Ashland every Monday night.  They’re a great group of ladies, and it’s always one of the highlights of my week getting to meet and catch up with them.  On Monday evening I walked into the room, running slightly late, to a big surprise.

There was cake and decorations, and , much to my unexpected joy, was a gift beyond words.  The ladies of the group had made Little Turtle a blanket – squares filled with elephants and bunnies, trains and boats, flowers and butterflies.  It was an amazing show of joy and anticipation and love.

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I’m finding that it is more than a little humbling to have someone craft for you.  When someone makes you a blanket or a community makes you an object, I know how much it means.  I know how much time goes into working on something, I know how much thought and work goes into each motion.  The person carries that item around with them for weeks, snatching time between other tasks, in the evening before bed or while waiting in the car.  There’s a message that you’re worth that time to them – you’re worth the effort of setting aside those minutes to make something for you.

I have another friend, who’ll I just call L (since I don’t have permission to use her full name), who I’ve known for the last 5 years.  We struggle with some of the same faults in our personalities – we can both sometimes have trouble with boundaries and we’ve struggled with our weight.  She’s a big spinner and knitter, and when we get together it’s like we’re both 5 years old again.  She also knit a blanket for Little Turtle.

Her blanket is different than the first blanket as night and day.  For one, this is made by one knitter’s hands.  It’s a wool and cashmere blend, as light as a feather and softer than my cats.  I’ve picked it up and held it to my face multiple times.  It’s knit in fine, fine yarn.  It’s also one of the reasons I tell people not to discount garter as being elegant.  Many people associate garter stitch as being more rustic, and perhaps even a little basic.  I can understand why as it’s often used in sturdy garments and in baby wear.

But here the lace is as fine as the yarn, subtle and stunning.  The yarn actually shares a name with L’s dog, Gracie.  The colors are subtle and more mature.  This blanket isn’t in a yarn that’s superwash, that’s meant to be thrown in the laundry when it has spit-up on it.  This is a christening blanket, that then becomes the nursing blanket you bring to church or synagog.  Later it may become a shawl or a treasured heirloom for the child.  Still, the message is the same: I thought of you and your child.  Here are my prayers and well wishes, my hope for the new life to come.

Again, so humbling.

The next two blankets are also from close friends.

This blanket was made by my workout buddy and altogether closest friend in the Richmond area, Krista.  It’s made as a nod to Little Turtle’s nickname before we decided on her real name.  Mr. Turtle and I called the babe Kiwi, after one of the fruits she was the size of in the first trimester, and somehow it stuck. (It may well also be because of how many kiwi’s I’ve eaten over the course of this pregnancy).  This is a rough-and-tumble blanket, made from a sturdy knit stitch with a fun little border.  It’s cotton, easily washable and it holds up to wear and tear.  This is the blanket for taking outside (grass stains will blend in!) and throwing into the car.  Krista, working with kids, knows the type of blanket needed for an active child, which is what I’m sure Little Turtle will be!

The last one is from my high-school friend Jess, who is also expecting a baby.  Her knit ripple blanket seems like the end of a perfect quintet – this is a blanket meant for snuggling under on cold winter day, the ripples and texture providing extra warmth.  Almost the same size as the blanket from my knitting group, it’s knitted in a worsted yarn, so is a little thicker and sturdier – the difference between spring and true winter.  I love the vibrant purples!

 

Unwind in Blowing Rock, NC

A little later this morning Mr. Turtle and I are jumping into the Subaru and heading to his birth state, North Carolina.  There we’ll be turning and heading west, across the state to the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina.  There, a number of other knitters will converge for Unwind Getaway, run by the amazing Nancy Schroyer.  I’m one of four instructors who will be running a stellar lineup of classes, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’ve spent the last two days unpacking and re-packing my teaching supplies.  Unpacking, because my office has been one of the last bastions of the move, and there were a bunch of boxes I hadn’t even opened yet.  Repacking, as I pulled together my supplies, materials, swatches and samples for the classes.

There was a run to the library to print off copies of patterns and worksheets, since our printer is only printing black ink, and then only badly.  There was the evening scramble and I tripled-checked: yes I really do have everything. Sleeping the night before I travel for classes is always interesting!

Peake decided we really, really didn’t need to leave. And if we insisted, then he was coming with us.

I’m so excited to head out!

Life Updates

 

Feeling Unwell

Feeling Unwell

This last month has been a slew of busy – Mr. Turtle and I moved into the new house, and immediately launched into a countdown culminating with this weekend.

 

Three weekends ago we were in Cleveland visiting good friends for a last hello/hurrah before Tiny Turtle arrives.

Two weekends ago we had a full house – 7 adults and one infant over for my baby shower.  It was a lovely, wonderful, fun filled time, and I have pictures to share!

And this last weekend was my birthday weekend, where we planned on heading to the farm to go strawberry picking and have a relaxing weekend.  Instead, Mr. Turtle and I contracted a plague and spent the entire weekend prostrate and miserable.  It was the type of the miserable where reading was too much effort, and the only thing to do was drink apple-juice and hover between dozing and sleep.

Today I’m thankful to be among the living.  I’m working my way through a mountain of laundry, dishes, and detritus that accumulated over the weekend.  I’m looking at my schedule for this week to choose what can wait and what really must be put first.  I’m allowing myself to take things a little gingerly, and reminding myself it’s perfectly

okay to do so.

After the Move

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This last weekend Michael and I finally, finally got to move into our new home!  Thanks to the Venture Brothers, we successfully transported Chez Turtle seven miles down the road to our new residence – the first house we’ve ever owned!

Everything, absolutely everything, is in boxes.  (Isn’t that always how a move goes?)

The shot above (and the shot below) is my business, packed up in boxes and waiting to be sorted out.

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Meanwhile, I’m “commuting” every day to the old house, where the internet is still running.  It’s a little interesting!

Still, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’ve already got a great space to knit, with windows opening up to the forest around us.

More details to come!20160314_7510

Maternity and Parental Leave and Small Businesses

Little Turtle with balloon

Little Turtle!

Ah, Babies.  What greater topic can evoke such an array of emotions from new parents and family & friends alike.  In the business world however, babies and pregnancy are often met with a quiet sense of trepidation; just how will having a child affect an employee and their family?  What does maternity or parental leave even mean?

As Jennifer mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we are blessed to be expecting a daughter of our own.  This is an exciting time of change and discovery for us, as we start evaluating how having a child will affect both our personal lives as well as that of this business that we run, Tinking Turtle.  A wide variety of opinions and ideas exist on how Silicon Valley tech-startups consider pregnancy and childbirth, however this culture significantly differs from the fiber-arts world.  I figured I’d take a stab at documenting some of the items we are considering as we go throughout this process.  This will be a journey of exciting new learning for all of us, so please join me as we work our way through the process of putting all of the pieces together to ensure we can have a warm and happy welcome for Little Turtle.

Maternity leave means time to spend with your new additionUnder the defining legislation currently applied towards pregnancy and birth in the workplace, the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, business with less than 50 employees are exempt from any requirements to provide maternity or parental leave, either paid or unpaid.  Just because it’s not required, however, doesn’t mean that there are not benefits both to the business as well as the new mother.  In a small one or two person shop, this is a difficult decision to make; it would involve essentially cutting back or shutting down operations for a period of time.  With a large majority of LYS’s and other related businesses being owned and staffed by women, this is a doubly difficult consideration given the potential amount of time away to be considered.

Here at Tinking Turtle, we’ve begun exploring just how to balance these two competing factors: providing the time through maternity leave to nurture and welcome a Little Turtle into the family, while still being cognizant of the business landscape and relationships to maintain.

Check out our next installment, where I’ll drill down into some of the specifics on how we hope to accomplish this, and our thought process behind some of these decisions.

~ Mr. Turtle

On the other Side of the Snowstorm: Repairing Broken Things

fixing the toaster

Mr. Turtle fixing the toaster

One of the things I love about snowstorms is how they can sometimes function like a home-vacation: a chance to tackle all the things you haven’t quite gotten to yet.  I talked about my plan on Friday of things I wanted to tackle: darning, personal projects, starting the Piecework lace project I’ve got to get off by the end of the week.  And in that regard, it was a lovely weekend.  Little did I realize it at the time, but the theme of the weekend became repairing things: Mr. Turtle and I took turns solving problems and mending what’s broken.  There’s a lovely sort of satisfaction in that.

Saturday morning with the snow still coming down, Mr. Turtle and I got up earlier than expected.  After breakfast (and happy we hadn’t lost power during the night), Mr. Turtle tackled repairing the toaster, which had been failing to latch when you put the lever down.

Darning Socks

Mending socks with a darning needle and yarn.

It was one of those moments that made me glad that Mr. Turtle and I have different interests and things we’re good at: when a small electrical appliance breaks, it’s “broken” to me, beyond repairing.  Similarly, when Mr. Turtle’s got a hole in his socks or some textile wears out, he wouldn’t have a clue about how to fix it.

But to Mr. Turtle, the toaster was (nearly) an open book.  Meanwhile, I was busy tackling a pile of darned socks that had been building (and building and building).  Many of them didn’t need much repairing – we’ve both gotten better about “watching” our handknits for thin spots.  Much of the work was just working duplicate stitch over areas worn thin.

So while Michael tackled the toaster, I tackled the socks.  Then, it was out to do the first of two shovel efforts, a quick walk, and then a retreat indoors as the storm picked up again.

hat, mittens, gloves and scarf hanging from an unused shovel in a pile of snow.

Loosing the hats and mittens as we warm up

Sunday dawned with the news that church was canceled (not surprising), and nearly another 8″ of snow spread over our cars, yard, driveway and sidewalks.  It was not going to be a fun job to shovel – our one real snow-shovel (with a metal edge along the blade!) was out of commision.  The day before I’d bent the handle – a combination of it being an “ergonomic” handle and me being a mite bit too enthusiastic.  I was not looking forward to shoveling the driveway, sidewalks and other areas with a garden shovel.  Not only are the blades on these shovels small (so small!), but it just hurt my New England pride.

This is, again, where Mr. Turtle comes to the rescue – off he vanishes with the broken shovel, to return with the blade on a new wooden handle.  Our yard edge-trimmer (which we never use), valiantly gave up its handle to be installed on the snow shovel.  Soon we were warming up, the hats and mittens, jackets and scarves coming off as we polished off the driveway.

And because it hurt my pride not to do it, we are the sole people on the street that also cleared off our sidewalks and storm drain.  Again, raised in New England (and later upstate New York), I’m fairly certain it’s a law that you have to shovel off your portion of the sidewalks and clear out storm drains in your yard.  If it isn’t a law, then it was at least a family law in our household: you dug out the mailbox, you dug out the storm drain, and, gosh darnit, you dug out the sidewalks to ensure safe passage from the house in case of a fire.

So even as we’re living in Ashland, we did the same.

Then, it was time for another walk, this one along some of the more parklike areas of Ashland, to take pretty, artsy snow photography and enjoy the evening sun.

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Exciting News for Tinking Turtle

Balloon LogoI’ve started this blog post more times than I can count.  I’ve tried for profound, silly, and serious.  I’ve tried imitating other people who have come before, and nothing quite has hit the mark.  So I’m just going to share.

Coming in May 2016, Mr. Turtle and I will be expecting a little turtle.  Yesterday, Michael and I headed to have our first ultrasound, where we found out we’re having a baby girl.  I haven’t even quite wrapped my mind around the gender yet!  Needless to say, Michael, myself, and both sides of our family our terribly excited.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been calling the baby “the Kiwi.”  While we’re in the final rounds of picking out a name, we probably won’t be sharing it until the baby’s born.  We like to keep some things a surprise!  So until then, feel free to call the baby the Kiwi with me.  Who knows, stranger nicknames have happened.

Come May there’ll be a bunch of new changes as we adjust to having a new member of the family.  On Saturday I’ll explain what that’ll mean for Tinking Turtle as a business, and how that will affect you, the customer!

I’m also now accepting suggestions for baby clothes and accessories to knit or crochet.  Priority being things that are practical, and that the baby will be able to wear more than three times.  Is there a particular pattern you love?  Share it with me in the comments!

 

Goals and Resolutions: Tinking Turtle 2015

Now that Christmas has finished, my eye is starting to turn towards the New Year.  While I don’t normally participate in New Year’s resolutions, I do use this time to put together some constructive goals – some for the business, and some personally.

What are some of the things I’m looking to change for the new year?  Well, this last year had a bunch of designing, and a number of tight deadlines.  On the plus side it brought designs such as Boston Ivy, Mercury, Electrostatic Lines, Riverbend and Lucky Hearts, and Stained Glass Rug to name a few.  On the downside, I’m not sure that pace is sustainable.  I’m going to be taking a good look at managing time and making sustainable decisions. On the plus side, I’ve now got over two years of data on how long a design takes me.  On the minus side, I need to figure out how to leverage that data more.

What did I do well in 2015?  Well, I made it to my second TNNA!  I reached 50 patterns published – a major milestone both personally, and on Ravelry!

50 Patterns Published!

50 Patterns Published!

I got to teach several video classes with Interweave, which I’m still super proud and excited about.

As Mr. Turtle and I meet to have our yearly planning meeting, I’m sure we’ll come up with more concrete milestones we want to hit in the next year, and taylor the long-term goals we have already set.  I think it’s important to keep evaluating your goals to make sure they’re attainable and still relevant.  As life, jobs, and careers take us in different directions, the things we strived for at one point may not be the things we’re striving for at another point.

Do you make crafting, crocheting, knitting or other goals for the new year?  How do you make them?  I’d love to hear!

Happy Holidays from Tinking Turtle

Happy Holidays from Tinking Turtle

Happy Holidays from Tinking Turtle

As I’m sure everyone is feeling, the next couple of weeks are going to be busy and hopping!  The Turtle Household is hosting two parties back to back (Saturday night’s has nearly 12 houseguests!), then I’m traveling for a graduation.  Then there’s family coming to visit, a trip to the doctor’s (before the new year!), and then traveling for the final festivities.  Another jaunt home, then away again for the New Year.

So in light of that, I wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday and new year!

Happy Holiday snowflake

Crochet Christmas Tree Snowflake

Mr. Turtle and I finished decorating the tree last night.  Pictured here is one of my favorite ornaments, a simple crocheted snowflake, starched to within an inch of it’s life, that I’ve been putting on the tree since I was a child.  I love how it looks against the tree!

I actually don’t know who made it, or how long it’s been in the family, although I do suspect it was from my mother’s side of the family.  We have a few other older ornaments that were always stored with it – so perhaps from about the same time period?  It’s a question I’ll have to ask my mother!

Do you have a favorite ornament?  If so, what is it?