Boost your Productivity with an Audiobook (by Stephen King)

I’m not sure when I discovered audiobooks. I remember a radio serial that KCJB radio used to play in Minot North Dakota back in the 1990’s. Yep, I’m feeling old now.  This was just before podcasts and just after cassette players. Each week a mini drama broadcast far and wide on the mighty am waves. I didn’t have to go far to hear it though – I was working as a radio announcer through college and these radio dramas and Paul Harvey were tied for my favorite part of my work day.

Reading has always been hit or miss in my life. I’m either indulging in book after book insatiably or without one for months on end. I guess the busy life of a Mom can do that to you. But when I started walking and working out (the first time around) I realized I didn’t care to listen to music. I wanted an audiobook. I would leave in the morning with “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games” playing on my iPod and after finishing my walk I’d spend an hour (or two) weeding the yard just so I could keep listening.

Soon I had devoured anything written by Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult and John Grisham – all while walking, shopping, cleaning or just puttering around the house. That’s when I rediscovered Stephen King. I had forgotten that he wasn’t just a ghoul writer. Some of my favorite movies like: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Stand by Me, Hearts in Atlantis, and Delores Claiborne were all based on SK books. They are great stories and so are many of his other works.

Now I was able to discover his new works: Duma Key, 11/22/63, Under the Dome, and Mr. Mercedes are now my new favorites. I have recently been trying to listen to ALL his books.

I had never read Carrie or Christine and was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. While tales of psycho-kinetic girls and psycho cars were playing in my ears, I happened to be working on solving a puzzle that had plagued me for about a year. I wanted to make an entrelac shawlette. Not just a shawl but a long and narrow obtuse triangle. Wanting and doing were two different things however and I could not get the shape of the shawl quite right.

Over the course of about 2 months and right about the time that Christine and Carrie were queued in my iPod, I had a breakthrough. First developing a scarf that starts narrow and grows into a long 90 degree triangle and then my obtuse triangle shawlette that I had been striving for. I named them: Christine and Carrie.

Christine
Carrie
Christine
Carrie
It took me another 2-3 months to write all the instructions, photograph the steps and create illustrations to explain my vision. All the while – I was listening to even more Stephen King. I now have both patterns published and have been astonished at the interest in them. I love sharing the things I love with others and I’m hoping that any other Stephen King fans who knit (yes, I know I’m narrowing the field a bit) will appreciate the theme I decided to use to name my shawls. 
If you are interested in picking up a copy of Christine you can visit my Ravelry store by clicking the buy now link below. 
 
Carrie is also available at my Ravelry store and no account is required to purchase. 

If you are feeling particularly generous – give this a look too:

It is a flowchart detailing how Stephen’s Kings characters pop up in his other works. Only a genius could keep this all straight. 


Don’t click the photo – click here to purchase.

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Stitch by Stitch 2

4 weeks in, 13 lbs down and loving the changes I am seeing…

The other day I felt my knee. The actual bone. I think it has been over a year since I could actually see it protruding from my jeans. The jacket I got for Christmas is getting a bit baggy. I’ve sinched up 2 belt notches and I have actually been enjoying morning runs (downhill to the next town – but we’ll work on getting up the hill next month). My swim workouts have expanded from what was an exhausting 500m with pauses every 25m to 1000m with some sprints worked in between and pauses every 100m (to start but again will work on that next month). 
I still can’t break my knitting habit but then again I’m not really trying. Instead I figured out a way to make it a little healthier. Yes – they look at me funny and No – I don’t care. I spent an hour on the seated bike the other day and came home with fewer fat cells and a few more rows finished. LOVE IT!

I am very proud of myself for the major dietary changes I have made. I used to drink more Diet Coke in a day than water and it has now a month since I’ve had one. I have been allowing myself to indulge in one meal a week and I try to choose a food I’ve been craving all week. First it was Tex-Mex, then it was German Breakfast, last week it was Sushi. This week I haven’t had a craving strong enough to splurge on. 
I used to stay up until the wee hours of the morning and snacking all the while. Now I go to bed early with plenty of energy in the morning and there is absolutely NO snacking after supper. 
My skin is clearer than it has been in years. All the water I’ve been drinking? 
With all these changes – I am still falling behind in the competition I entered. Another lady has taken a ridiculous lead in the local Lose2Win contest and has pretty much guaranteed that she’ll be riding “my”  sweet BMW bike come March. 
In the next 6 weeks I may not be able to catch up but I am so excited about this new lifestyle that I have given myself. I have the money to buy my own bike but what I didn’t have was the motivation to make the changes I knew I needed to make. 

Homework Therapy

This month I am taking a course from a fellow MilSpouse (Military Spouse) called, “Kitchen Table Marketing – 4 weeks to a stronger small business.” Would you believe that this marketing consultant had the nerve to give us homework on the first week? What kind of a course have I signed up for??

I did my homework and I actually found it therapeutic. I was asked to brainstorm every last thing I can think of that is true about my brand. Since I kind of am my brand – it became a brainstorm about who I am as a knitter/designer. After I was done I thought it was so interesting that I decided it would make a good blog. So here it is. Bad punctuation and all. And like my favorite Stephen King novel – it is just one big long rambling chapter from a singular viewpoint. Enjoy!

Brand Basics: Facts of the Matter. What is TRUE about Yellow Ribbon Knits? 
I knit, I crochet, I like to teach others to knit/crochet, I made lots of mistakes when I started, I like things to be right, I work from my home, I started knitting when I was a kid but never liked it. I tried again in college but tried to make a sweater and stopped half way. Both my grandmothers knit, my mom knows how to knit but doesn’t, my Aunt used to knit during my cousin’s skating practices and everyone got a sweater from 1993-1996, my cousins knit, I love the blankets my grandmothers made for me and my son. I like to make patterns out of pixelated photos using Excel, I am a military spouse, I have taught people to knit at almost every location I’ve been at, I am a patient knitting instructor, I have a yellow ribbon logo, I made some patterns when I first started that are kind of embarrassing now. I love Stephen King books and named my most recent patterns after his characters, I am from Canada and have lived in: Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, South Korea and Germany. My husband is in the Army. My boy swims and loves Lego, I have a BA in Broadcast Production/Public Relations and Advertising and a BS in Geosciences – Broadcast Meteorology. I am working on a certification in Financial Counseling. I cannot spin yarn but I’d love to learn. I used to be a Realtor, I used to be a weather anchor/feature reporter and won awards, I used to be the Assistant Manager of a NFCU branch. I have one child and he keeps me BUSY. I have a Facebook page. I have a Pinterest account but don’t understand how Pinterest works. I have Twitter but I never tweet. I have a blog. I own a website name but don’t use it. I own real estate website names too (but don’t use them either) I have an Etsy store but need help marketing on this site. I have a Ravelry account but don’t like to post my experiments there. I want to make videos to explain some of the techniques in my patterns but don’t know how to videotape myself. I don’t like needing help from anybody else. I am independent, I think best in the shower, I don’t have very good punctuation. I took photography classes in college and loved black room work but barely know what a pixel is. I am 36 years old. I love Entrelac because I can knit forwards and backwards. I use the continental method because it is so much faster but most use the English method. My purl stitches are always seated backwards. I just adjust as I knit. Continental Method makes me knit very loosely. I have trouble knitting very small items as my hands give me trouble. I love ribbon yarns. I love yarns that change color very slowly over time. I made a sweater once but I can’t fit into it so It sits on a dress form and I can’t enjoy it. I like to make things I (and others) can wear no matter what size they are (or will be). I have a problem with sizes and I think it is psychological because I don’t feel comfortable with my own size. I collect yarn like some ladies collect purses. II keep buying more yarn and I can’t knit fast enough to keep up. At Christmas – I use my money to buy display pieces for my someday store. Yellow Ribbon Knits has this name because I started knitting when my husband was deployed and when he got back I had a new obsession. My son is sick of hearing, “one more row” but when he started knitting he said the same thing and I laughed. I cannot sell my pieces on Etsy because of SOFA regulations. I can only sell items 2x/year at HCSC craft fairs. I do not like taking orders. I want to WANT to knit. I don’t want to dread knitting something that has been ordered. When someone asks me to make something for them – I offer to teach them how instead. I have so many techniques I want to try and projects I want to tackle – I don’t have time in my knitting-time-budget for mermaid blankets (sorry friends) but I’ll teach you how to make it! I am a very fast learner. I can become frustrated with others who don’t learn as fast but I’m surprisingly patient with knitters. I have problems with my neck and can’t lean over someone to teach them. They have to sit beside me so I can only really teach 2 at a time unless I have a way to rotate around. Sometimes kids learn faster than adults and I think it is because they are not afraid to fail. I love batik and I think it would be fun to apply that to yarn some day. Some days I think I want to have a sheep farm and then I remind myself how much work it would be. Unwashed sheep’s wool is disgusting. I have some. I love Martina Behm’s designs because they are COOL, EASY and DIFFERENT. I want mine to be the same but mine aren’t so easy. I love knitting patterns that explore a DIFFERENT way to make something like knitty.com’s Helix Heel socks. I have a Pinterest board called: Wow Who Thinks of These Things and it is full of innovative ideas. I would hope that someday someone would pin one of my designs on a page like that. I am an only child. I am ego driven. On personality tests I come out equal between data/organizationally oriented and creativity/ingenuity. I think that bodes well to knitting and knit design. I can follow a pattern but I can also create my own and I’m organized enough to make directions for others to follow. I an nervous to spend money on my business because I don’t want to be wasteful and I’ve wasted money on 2 degrees I’m not using right now. As a military spouse, sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up because the military is so limiting on a spouse’s career aspirations. I want my family to be proud of my knitting. I want to make a business of knitting so I can do what I love and feel economically productive when I do it. People that have an employer and a W-2 think that I don’t have a “job”. Ha Ha – I don’t. I have a passion and I’m figuring out a way to do what I love and report only to myself.
Sounds like a great exercise right? Melissa Shaw will soon offer the same course online so visit her at http://www.MelissaGilliamShaw.com to see how you can sign up. 

Inspiration Hits Anywhere – just be glad it does.

When I first moved to Germany a year and a half ago I pictured a small fiber industry with agri-tourism opportunities. What I have found instead is a thriving fiber industry with high-quality and amazingly innovative yarn brands on a much larger scale.

My most recent discovery is the Zauberball by Schoppel Yarns. I LOVE this yarn. It was sitting (with a few of its friends) on a table at a local craft fair and I had to have it. Like most yarn in my stash, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it but I HAD to have it. 
It sat in my corner hutch where I stared at it for months. Then inspiration hit and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. 
I had been inspired by the long, narrow shawlettes that are becoming popular on sites like Revelry and I wanted to create a version in Entrelac that had the same shape. My first attempt years ago resulted in a shawl. Still beautiful and stunning but NOT what I was trying to accomplish. 
I looked back on that “failed” shawl and dug out my old notes. I picked up a grid notepad and tried again, mapping out how I would move from one square to the next and I developed Christine. 

Christine was my happy accident, she isn’t what I originally intended but after she was “born” I fell in love. You could say I was obsessed. She starts out pointed at one end and grows thicker (and more intense) as you get to the end of your yarn. An 100g Zauberball is the perfect length and I used 2204 – Grüne Woche (Green Week) Zauberball from Schoppel yarns. I excitedly posted her to Revelry and was overwhelmed with the response. 

But I still wasn’t satisfied. I hit the notepad once more and tried to figure out a way that I could gain two squares on one end and lose one square on the other. I wanted there to be a point in the middle like a shawl but have a thin piece that you can wear like a scarf instead. These little arrows made sense to my brain so I gave it a shot. Take a wild guess which yarn I decided to use for my test-knit? You bet! Another Zauberball. 

Finally – I had my Carrie. By now you may have figured out my naming scheme. Most of the time I was working on these projects I was also listening to audiobooks and Stephen King has always been my favorite. I’ve heard a story (probably from one of his prologues or author’s notes before an audio book) that when he wrote Carrie – he threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, came along and fished it out to take a peek. After reading what he had thrown away – she urged him to keep going. She felt he really had something special. 

Carrie is my something special. She is light enough to wear year round – but with her thick pointed middle she can keep you snuggly in the chilly Bavarian winters. For her, I used a Zauberball in Monochrome Color#2263
I am so thankful that I picked up my Zauberball at that little craft market last year. It was my Tabitha and it sparked intrigue and inspiration enough to pick up my discarded notes and try again. Carrie was finished a month ago and I quickly added her to my Ravelry Shop as well. 

If you are interested in either of these patterns you can find them here: 
If you would like more information about the Schoppel Products, You can see all their colors and yarn brands on their website: https://www.schoppel-wolle.de/en

First Projects are NEVER Perfect: It’s not their fault (or yours)

First Projects are NEVER Perfect: 
It’s not their fault (or yours)

It has taken me 6 years to amass a collection of finished products and last spring I had a chance to sell some at the Hohenfels Community Spouses’ Club Spring Craft Fair. The day was a blast and it was a real learning experience to host my first booth for Yellow Ribbon Crafts. 

I couldn’t believe how many people were interested in my dishcloths. I tried to have a selection of items that could fit any budget and my dishcloths were one of the lower-priced items so it was nice that so many people could take home a piece of Yellow Ribbon Knits! 
What was baffling to me was how simple and quick a dishcloth is to knit. Why would all these shoppers be enthralled with an item that is usually the first item that new knitters master??
I think it is because many times a facecloth is the first project someone will tackle when learning to knit and it doesn’t always go well. I don’t know why one student will thrive and another will flounder
but typically there is a facecloth test for many new knitters. If they like the finished results – they continue. If they don’t – they stop. Perhaps those that have tried and failed in the past see these simple cloths with appreciation that others don’t have.

But to all those out there who knit an ugly facecloth the first time around – KEEP GOING! I spoke to a gal I’m helping the other day who was frustrated by her cloth progress.

And it is true. My first wash cloth was horrid. Twisted stitches, dropped stitches, uneven edges, curling ends, It was a real disaster. But I noticed that the top of it looked much better than the bottom. Instead of stopping, I tried again. I probably even ripped it out so I could use the yarn again because I’m thrifty that way 😉 The good news is that the entire second cloth looked a lot like the last half of the first – much better. 
But I really wished I had kept my first cloth. I wish I could show anyone who is struggling that NOBODY knits a perfect first project. Martha Stewart would probably never want anyone to see her less than perfect first attempt but I guarantee that it was a disaster. Guar-an-tee!! 
On a side-note – I’m trying to tell myself that this fits Yoga class all too well. Nope – I can’t do all the moves or hold all the positions the full time – YET. But my next class will be a little bit better than my last. So although it may be embarrassing and everybody gets to see my “Martha’s first cloth” moments during class. It is OK. Because each class there is someone else new who is in the same position I was and I can appreciate my progress and myself for not giving up. They might not know they are inspiring me but they are. We all inspire each other.