My Craft Journal
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Escape to Yarny Goodness

Code Pink: Definitely more enjoyable than reading about Bernie MadoffBankruptcy. Foreclosure. Downturn. In my day job, I use those words daily in the stories I write, covering the difficult economic reality facing so many people and companies these days. And, to be honest, it is sometimes incredibly disheartening. There is no joy in reporting the death of a family-owned firm, discovering a new set of statistics even grimmer than last month’s, or in asking a longtime source what exactly—beyond the obvious—brought his company to bankruptcy court. All you can do is find as many facts as you can and try your best to explain what is happening, in the hopes of giving your readers the information they need to know—no matter how depressing—so that they can survive these challenging times.


(And as a writer covering the housing industry, I find it mighty hard not to fret about my own financial future between all the recent newspaper cutbacks and home builder bankruptcies. Like most people, I’d prefer to stay gainfully employed in a career of my choosing. I graduated from college in 1993: I know what it’s like to look for a job. And look. And look. And look....)


Given such worries, I don’t think any crafter would be surprised to learn that I felt the need to escape into yarny goodness this week. After months of being surrounded by economic gloom, I wanted needed to experience the crazy colorful riot that is my favored yarn shop. In this crowded and friendly place, unruly oversize skeins tumble from bins at your touch, twists of bulky wool perch just an arm’s reach away from stacks of well-behaved DK-weight cashmere, and novelty yarns’ eyelashes begin batting at you as soon as you enter the door.


I bounced from the book section to the baby knits area to the sale nook, toying with yarns in shades of peony, cranberry, blue hyacinth, leaf green, tangerine, and cherry. Forget the practical worsted-weight super-wash wool in heather grey: I wanted materials that would inspire me to new projects, rejuvenate my mind, and yes, make me smile.


No wonder I left with four skeins of yarn named Squiggle.

PS: The colorways I chose turned out to be Code Pink and Firecracker. How excellent are those names?


Babies: Necessary Objects

Baby Genius Burp Cloths

Anyone who's held an infant knows how important it is to protect one's shoulder from the inevitable drool and, um, other things. But in this age of Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs, it's impossible to find the basic cloth diapers that used to be perfect for such drooly work. Mason-Dixon Knitting has the answer: the baby genius burp cloths, which are basic garter-stitch squares done in colorful cotton yarn. This batch (done in Pink Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, and Daisy Ombre colorways from Peaches 'N' Creme) is for a friend who recently had a baby girl.


Toddle Goes to Vegas

Quick! What’s the most unlikely American city in which to be knitting?

If you answered “Las Vegas,” I highly suspect you would be right. I have gone on many, many, many trips to Vegas (always for work—alas!), and never once have I seen anyone sporting a pair of knitting needles and a work-in-progress.

Toddle scarf in progress

I plan to change that this week, as the Toddle scarf and I pack up for my nearly-annual trip to a home building industry trade show. It’s been shockingly cold here in Virginia lately, and the Little Supervisor needs a scarf. “Mommy, it cold,” she told me the other day. “I need to keep my face warm.” She was right, as the Little Supervisor often is; the thermometer read 12 degrees that morning.

So my needles and yarn are coming to Vegas, along with my laptop, two suits, and boring sensible shoes for the show floor. It will be a week to be Career Girl again, a role that I have always loved. But I also know that as I twist and turn the yarn to create this tiny scarf’s cables in my nonexistent free time, those stitches will remind me of those whom I love more at home.



"It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit."--Anna Quindlen

I always admired Anna Quindlen (what woman journalist does not?), but I didn't appreciate her until recently. I remember her high-profile resignation from the New York Times with incredulity. "What in the world was she thinking?" I thought. "I would never do that."


Fast-forward more years than I'd care to share, and I understand her decision completely. In today's world, it is far easier to build a career than it is to maintain, much less create, a happy life, and after the birth of my daughter, I rejiggered the first to improve my chances of having the second.

It has resulted in an unexpected side effect: I have become perhaps the world's most unlikely-to-become-crafty crafty person, as the excess hours and energy I used to devote to my former job have redirected themselves into knitting, paper crafting, and other creative pursuits. (I almost asked Santa to bring me a sewing machine this year, which I found shocking even to myself.)

Along the way, I have discovered the amazing and inspiring online world of women who craft. I read their blogs regularly, finding inspiration and encouragement in their creative projects, the stories of their families, and yes, their careers, as they embark on book tours and more. Forget the magazine articles fretting about that always-elusive "balance" between two impossible ideals; these women have established a new place entirely for themselves, where stitch by stitch, they craft a new vision of what it means to be a working mom.

I owe much of my current happiness--and collection of handknit mittens--to them. Ladies, thanks for letting me join the club.

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