Make it a Mindful Monday: 3 Tips to Energize Your Day

Sometimes we need just a little comfort on a Monday morning, so instead of doing the usual and opening the inbox first thing, why not start things off by easing into your day and sit quietly at your desk for just a few minutes? I know this can be tough. Give it a try– I dare you!

Make a habit of setting your intention and visualizing your ideal day.

Make a habit of setting your intention and visualizing your ideal day.

Next, spend the first ten to fifteen minutes setting your intention and planning for the day ahead. What does your ideal day look like? Imagine it in detail. Do you wish to be more focused? Then imagine yourself working on a specific project through completion. Feel free to also add in something that will make you happy like treating yourself to a chocolate mocha after lunch, or spend your lunch hour taking a nice brisk walk.

It’s so easy to get caught up with “catching up” from the weekend, but remember that Monday is just like any other day of the week and if you feel stressed, it may just be your mindset. This is a habit you can change. It’s really up to you!

Today's a great day to take some chances and experiment with a yarn you've been wanting to try!

Today’s a great day to take some chances and experiment with a yarn you’ve been wanting to try!

Here are a few ways that you can energize your Monday and get out of your funk. These are just few techniques that I personally use to get myself motivated at the beginning of  the work week.

My Top 3 Monday Motivators:

1. Visit Pandora.com and find a soothing station that you can play softly on your computer. You can sign up for free, and then set up a music feed with your own assortment of stations.

2. Practice simple breathing techniques — some in and out breaths can work wonders to settle you down if you feel scattered.

3. Get away from your desk at least once per hour and walk around your office space. If you have stairs, walk up and down non-stop and time yourself for 3-5 minutes. This creates a little heat in the body and gets things flowing.

Have a magnificent Monday!

 

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Overcoming Knitter’s Block

By Carri Hammett

I bet everyone reading this post has done the same thing. You go into your local yarn shop and fall in love with some gorgeous yarn. Deciding you can’t live without it, you buy the yarn on the spot having no idea what you will do with it. When reason kicks in the next day (or year or decade), you realize that you have no idea what you will do with the object of your instant attraction. What caused your heart to beat faster at the LYS is now creating a knot in your stomach as you admit you’re stuck in Knitter’s Block.

OK, maybe I’m being a little overly dramatic, but as a designer knitter’s block can be a big problem. How do I get my creative juices flowing? By using a stitch guide, which is a special kind of knitter’s reference book or online resource. Stitch guides are basically a pattern library giving instructions on how to make a wide variety of stitches. They are usually organized in sections for similar types of stitches, like texture (knit and purl), cable, lace, rib, color, slip stitch, etc. I have a bunch of different stitch guides in my personal knitting library, and for me they are an indispensible tool. For an example of any online stitch guide, click here.

About three years ago I bought two hanks of a gorgeous, hand-dyed Merino yarn (Madeline Tosh, Tosh DK). It was yarn love at first sight. When Kara asked me to write a guest blog, I decided it would be a perfect excuse to convert my yarn from shelf adornment into something I could wear — a generous-size scarf.

For me, the process of deciding what stitch to use in a project always involves making a swatch, oftentimes a large one. I normally begin by casting on enough stitches to make a 4-inch swatch. I’m guided by the stitch gauge and needle recommendation shown on the ball band. In this case the gauge is 20 to 22 stitches and the needle size is a U.S.  Size 6 (4mm). For this project I used two different guides, A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker and The Harmony Guides: Lace & Eyelets edited by Erika Knight.

I don’t usually have a solid game plan when I make a design swatch like this. I like to set aside a few hours and just explore, trying one stitch pattern after another. I began my swatch by making a sample of Seeded Rib Check (page 7 in A Second Treasury).

When you use a stitch guide, the first thing you’ll notice is that the pattern for each stitch starts with something that looks like this:

Multiple of 4 sts plus 3

This means that the pattern is composed of 4 stitches that are repeated over and over as well as 3 edge stitches. Row 1 of the Seeded Rib Check is the following:

K3, *p1, k3; rep from * to end.

You can see that the 3 extra stitches begin the row, and that p1, k3 (the multiple of 4 stitches) is repeated over and over across the row to the end. I want my swatch to be 20 to 22 stitches wide (from the ball band) so I cast on 23 stitches (4 x 5 + 3).

I liked the way my first stitch accentuated the light and dark areas of the yarn but it produced a rather stiff fabric which would have been great for a sweater or vest but not drapey enough for a scarf. So, on to a different stitch. Depending on the multiple required I might need to add or subtract a few stitches before beginning the next stitch. As you can see from the swatch, I tried several different kinds of stitches: a slip stitch, another texture stitch and two different kinds of lace.

When I’m experimenting I keep in mind the following:

  • Will the fabric lay flat? (Since I’m making a scarf I don’t want it to curl the way stockinette stitch would.)
  • If the yarn is variegated, does the color change work well with the stitch?
  • Does it look and feel like it will drape the way I want?
  • Is it important for the fabric to look the same on both sides?
  • How easy is the pattern? This is an important consideration for me since I plan to make this project strictly for pleasure and relaxation. Chances are I’ll be knitting in the evening, possibly with a glass of wine, and I need a simple pattern that I can remember easily from day to day.

After experimenting I decided to use a simple lace pattern call Little Shell Pattern (page 76 in Lace & Eyelets). For me, I like to go a step further and make a swatch of just the pattern I’ve chosen. I use this swatch to work out edge treatments, and I also block it to see what the finished measurement might be. My 23-stitch swatch (multiple of 7 sts + 2) is 5 inches wide and the 7-stitch repeat is about 1 1/2 inches wide. I want my scarf to be wide, so I’m going to add three more repeats for a total 44 stitches (6 x 7 + 2).

I’ll let you know in a few months what my finished scarf looks like. How about you? What is your favorite stitch for making a scarf?

Carri Hammett

Carri Hammett

Carri Hammett is a popular contributor to Annie’s. She is the author of More Than a Dozen Hats & Beanies available on AnniesCatalog.com. Carri is also the instructor of Knit Finishing Techniques, available on AnniesOnlineClasses.com, and has written several books which are available at your local yarn shop. Carri welcomes emails from her readers at carri@coldwateryarn.com.

 

 

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Make It a Mindful Monday: Knitting & Mindfulness–Perfect Companions

Make it a Mindful Monday!

Let’s make Mondays a little more magnificent and add the practice of mindfulness into the mix.  Let’s be honest, sometimes the top of the week can be a downer, especially when the weekend flies by and then all of a sudden you’re back to the daily grind. The good new is– this feeling that you have is just a habit and a mindset that you can change. If you feel overwhelmed or blue at the beginning of your work week, you CAN do something about it!

5 Ways to Change Your Mindset Right Now:

#1 Breathe– just some simple inhaling and exhaling can be energizing.

#2 Move It!– lace up those sneakers and get moving! Don’t think about it too much, or you might bail. As soon as your blood starts pumping, it sends “happy juice” to your brain! Don’t talk yourself out of it because you think you don’t have enough time. Just 10-20 minutes will set you up for a fulfilling day ahead.

Move it!

Move it!

 

#3 Comfort Knitting– make yourself a cozy new cowl in the round. There’s something about circular knitting and small circumference projects that is so soothing.  I personally find that the motion of knitting in a circle continuously is like a form of meditation because you’re not interrupted by having to turn your work.

#4 Create Positive Affirmations–  make a list of quotes or thoughts that immediately inspire you. Write them on index cards so you can read them whenever you need a motivational boost. You may also find these Elizabeth Zimmermann quotes inspiring, and check out these top 100 motivational quotes of all-time.

Finding inspiration at every turn is easy if you look for it!

Finding inspiration at every turn is easy if you look for it!

 

#5 Practice Gratitude– Make a list of everything you’re grateful for. As soon as you do this, I guarantee you’ll begin to realize how much abundance you have in your life!

Wishing you a marvelously mindful Monday!

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The Editor Wants to Know: Are You an English or Contintal Knitter? The Conversation Continues!

I find the differences in knitting styles to be such a lively topic of discussion, so I wanted to keep the conversation going. I first opened up the subject of knitting styles in this post. I asked: Do you knit English or Continental, and when was the first time you heard that there were even other styles “out there” other than the one you use?

I was taught to knit Continental. I get that the mainstream way to learn is English-style, or in other words the “throwing” method. Knitters who use this version, hold the working yarn with their right hand and “throw it” instead of tensioning it in the left hand the way Continental knitters do.

The “controversy” exists over which method is right for a newbie knitter. I can of course only speak from my own experience as a Continental knitter, or as a “picker.” Like all new knitters, I found knitting awkward and unfamiliar at first, but once I got the hang of it, knitting became second nature. I also think that no matter what knitting style you use, it was because you simply learned what was handed down to you or what you were taught in your local yarn shop. Either way, we all get to the same exciting place!

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Creative Knitting, Winter 2013: Taste of Tangerine

Creative Knitting, Winter 2013

Creative Knitting, Winter 2013

The striking design, featured on the Winter 2013 issue of Creative Knitting, was designed by Andi Javori and was made with Alpaca Dance from the Deborah Norville Collection by Premier Yarns. This cowl can be worn two ways– it’s totally reversible, and even has different buttons on the flip-side. Pretty cool stuff.

In this issue, we’re also spicing things up with a short rows tutorial from expert designer and teacher Lily Chin. In her tutorial, Shaping Up With Short Rows, Lily shows you the basic concept of the short row “wedge.” Later this month, Lily’s Short Row Workshop will be available on AnniesOnlineClasses.com.

If knitting in circles is your cup of tea, then you’re in for a treat! Nicky Epstein designed a pullover exclusively for Creative Knitting magazine, made by joining a series of  her “Corona” cabled-circles, from her book Knitting in Circles, available soon on Annie’s Catalog.

To get a glimpse of all 37 heavenly designs, check out more here.

Also, don’t miss our featured Knitalong for the Multidirectional Curved Scarf, also in this issue, and available for free for a limited time only. Get your free pattern here. Then, hop on the Ravelry Creative Knitting Fans page to meet our fans and let them know what you’re up to. See you there!

Multidirectional Curved Scarf, designed by  Iris Schreier courtesy of TSC Artyarns

Multidirectional Curved Scarf, designed by Iris Schreier courtesy of TSC Artyarns

 

 

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