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Progress Report: Tinking Turtle Post Baby

32195098356_fa3b4980bf_bI was once told by a friend that was proficient in email market that you should never acknowledge when you’ve been away from your blog for a while… merely you should continue as you mean to go on, and pick up blogging/tweeting/social networking as if you’d never been away.  But in this case, I think it’s worth a little note.

First a quick general life update: the Turtle household has been moving along at a fairly good clip.  We’ve managed to keep ourselves and our new child fed and alive, and got through the holidays with a minimum of drama.  But everything non-essential has been shunted to the side.

The state of things now looks like this: I’ve been wrapping up the last of my designs that I’ve had under contract, and contemplating how my business is going to pivot with Little Turtle’s needs growing and changing.  I knew, conceptually, that this business was going to change after a child, but the plan was rather vague.  We kept the plan vague on purpose.  I didn’t know what parts of the business I’d be able to work in and which parts I wouldn’t be able to.  Now, with nearly 8 months under our belts, I’ve come to some conclusions.

  1. I want to keep teaching. I love teaching students, and it is much more manageable to work teaching into post-baby life.  I can plan to have a weekend where I teach and Mr. Turtle takes Little Turtle.  I can plan to have every Wednesday night off so I can teach at local venues.  I can plan for fiber festivals and retreats and traveling to other locations.  I have a repertoire of classes, samples and worksheets, and can lean on all the work I’ve done the last couple of years to deliver classes that are great.
  2. I’ll keep up the repair and finishing. I like the challenge of working on different projects, and the repair and finishing provides a steady income, which helps.  I can also work on these projects around Little Turtle.
  3. I’ll be dialing back designing for magazines. I’m discovering that designing, for me, is really really difficult around Little Turtle.  Designing was always one of the things I did better when I had long stretches of times to work – to think out the math of a piece, to draw and sketch out proposals.  I need time to dream and think ahead, and that’s really really difficult to do these days.  My last two designs that I had due after Rebecca were born were really stressful, and I don’t think it’s the best return on investment right now.
  4. Instead, I’ll be working on some designs to support my teaching. I’ve found there are techniques I want to teach where I’ve had a hard time finding a design to teach off of that meets my needs.  Instead of making things work, I’m going to be working on self-publishing some pieces that will support the classes I want to teach.

… And meanwhile, Mr. Turtle will be making sure I blog more.

Tink recognized as a word by the Oxford Online Dictionary

to undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time

to undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time

Particularly relevant to my business name comes a little bit of news: The Oxford Online Dictionary has added the word Tink.  Cited as a verb describing the action of “Undo[ing] a row of knitting one stitch at a time, in order to correct a mistake,” most knitters will be familiar with the word.

Tinking Turtle, my own business name, came about as Mr. Turtle and I were having fun with puns at a restaurant years before I was thinking of a business name.

It’s nice to see a knitting term make it into common usage!

Unwind Recap

This past weekend a number of wonderful coincidences coalesced into the amazing experience of teaching at Unwind Retreat, 20160430_7695in Blowing Rock, NC.  Friday morning Mr. Turtle and I packed up the car and made our way (leisurely) to Blowing Rock.  We took back roads, ate at a hole-in-the-wall barbeque place (much to Michael’s delight), and pulled into the hotel around 4 in the afternoon.

The trip was not made without nervousness.  I had scheduled the retreat long before we knew that Little Turtle was coming.  One of my first questions to my Midwife was her feeling about us traveling 4-ish weeks before due date: was it feasible, smart, and physically okay?  About a month later I contacted the organizers of Unwind, asking if it’d be OK if I brought Michael with me, and informing them about the situation.  But really, there wasn’t much that we could do – as first-time parents, we had no clue how I’d handle the ending of pregnancy – if I’d have the energy or ability.  But I SO wanted to teach at Unwind – the retreat had an excellent reputation, the location was supposed to be amazing, and I love working with students.

So we made it work.  I prepped as much as I could beforehand.  Michael was coming to take many of the stressors off of me – I could focus on teaching, and not worrying about getting my materials from car to hotel room to classroom.  Having him drive would take much of the physical pressure off.

The weekend itself was amazing.  There’s that moment when you enter a large group of people you don’t know, where you get nervous.  But then I remembered why I love events like this – I may not know every person there, but we had something in common: a deep and abiding love of yarn.  Where the question “What are you working on?” always has an interesting answer.  Where everyone had a “knitting story.”

Nancy and Sue, the organizers of Unwind do an amazing job making the weekend feel intimate and open.  Events are booked with room to “breathe.”  There’s a two-hour break for lunch, another break after the last classes before dinner.  Everyone, even the instructors, have one period where they aren’t teaching/taking a class.  It allows people the time and space to truly Unwind – be that hanging out on the porch knitting, going shopping in town, or taking a nap.

While there are many highlights from the weekend, I thought I’d share just one:

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On Saturday night, Michael and I got to set up a table after dinner to show off projects being done at the classes, sell kits, and give people a sneak peek at some upcoming patterns.  I got to show off a giant replica of my logo that my mother and sister sewed for Little Turtle.

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

Parental Leave, Repair and Finishing

Sweater repair with guidelines.

Sweater repair with guidelines.

If you’ve been following the blog in the last few weeks, you’ll have noticed Michael is writing a series on Maternity and Parental leave.  You can read Parts 1 & 2, and there’ll be a third part coming out next week.  I’ve been enjoying reading about his perspective as Mr. Turtle.  While Michael and I came to deciding on Tinking Turtle’s policy together, our thought processes in some ways were very different.  I struggled with the day-to-day operations: how is this going to affect myself and the customers?  He thought more about the big picture: how are we going to match our leave policy to our values?  How have others handled parental leave in the industry?

One of the things we were both on the same page about was being transparent to our customers – I want to be clear about why we’re making the choices and decisions we are, with plenty of lead-time to accommodate changes.

As of yesterday, I made the decision to stop accepting submissions for Repair and Finishing until after Little Turtle arrives.  Over the weekend we took a hard look at my workload, due dates, obligations and commitments.  We came to the conclusion that I’m nearly at max capacity for designing, teaching and finishing/repair.

If I’ve accepted your piece and you’ve made arrangements to pick it up with me, you will not be affected.  If I have your piece already, you’ll be getting it back well before the baby comes.  But chances are, anything new that comes my way will have to be tabled until the end of June or the beginning of July.

If you are still interested in finishing or repair, you have a few options.  Right now, I have a signup list to be notified when I begin accepting repair work again (note: if you are on my mailing list, this list is completely separate).  If it is a true knitting or crochet emergency, drop me a note, as I have a very tiny bit of wiggle room for small and contained projects.  And for some types of finishing or repairs, I may have another resource to point you towards.

Got questions about what’s going on?  As always, ask away in the comments or drop me an email.  I always love hearing from customers!

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?

Padded Crochet Tutorial

Padded Crochet Tutorial

In honor of Rag-ety Rug coming out this week from Crochet World, and my recent post about it coming out, I thought it was appropriate to finally post this tutorial, which I’ve been saving for quite a while.

What you’ll need:

  • A crochet hook
  • Some scrap yarn
  • Rags, upholstery cord, or something else nice and thick but flexible to crochet over.  Bulky yarn would work too.

A bit about padded crochet: this technique originally was used to crochet around thicker yarn to create different motifs.  It gives you a lot of flexibility because you don’t have to crochet into the previous row, you can also just crochet around your material.  You see this technique often used in  Irish Crochet.

To begin, work a foundation chain, and work single crochets into the chain.  This can be any width, as we’re working a practice swatch.  After you’ve finished those two rows, you begin by adding in your cord/rag/yarn.  You’ll be crocheting around it much like you do when you’re burying an end into your crochet work, except this will be much larger.

Adding in your cord/rag/yarn

Adding in your cord/rag/yarn

Begin by holding your cord/rag/yarn above the last row you worked.

Joining Yarn around padded crochet

Joining Yarn around padded crochet

In this case, I’m also joining the yarn for this row.  Insert your hook into the last stitch of the previous row, and draw up your yarn.

Attaching yarn, Padded Crochet, Step 2

Chain one, securing yarn around the cord/rag/yarn.  I like to hold my tail together with my working yarn for this first stitch, or no other reason than it makes me feel better, and makes me feel like things are more secure.  I’ve got no proof, though.

Begin working Single Crochets around cord/rag/yarn

Begin working Single Crochets around cord/rag/yarn

Now, begin working your crochet stitches into the stitch of the previous row, working the yarn around the cord/rag/yarn.  In this case, I’m working a variant of the v-stitch.

Some tips:

  • Make sure you’re letting your stitches lie flat.  If you make them tight, they’ll bunch up your cord/rag/yarn.
  • Every once and a while check to make sure that your piece is laying flat.  Because the cord/rag/yarn that you’re working over has a tendency to shift around, it can make things pucker, draw tighter or looser.  I like to measure ever few rows.
  • When you have to add more cord, there’s a few ways you can do it.  In my case, I sewed on my rags together, because it was a bit more tidy.  You can also just hold the end of one rag and the beginning of another together.
  • Make sure if you’re using rags they’re the same width, so your rug doesn’t have a lumpy look, or have irregular rows (unless that’s the effect you’re going for)!
Measure, measure, measure!

Measure, measure, measure!

Have you every worked padded crochet?  How’d it turn out?  What was the project?