Books & Blocks

September turned into a sprint with lots of mum stuff going on and suddenly in the blink of an eye it’s October! I’m all for the slow life but there are limits to how slow one can in reality go with two boisterous little girls and a husband that works long hours – especially in the school holidays! It would be so nice to lie on the veranda appreciating the birdsong all day every day but people will need clean knickers and feeding (three times daily no less, how very dare they?! ๐Ÿ˜)

Not of course that I’m complaining – as they say, no mess would mean no precious family, always worth reminding oneself of that, particularly in my darker moments haha – but I am always mindful of monitoring my mental health and ‘self care’ needs. It’s very easy for me to allow things to get frantic in my head, fuel with coffee and neglect to eat well enough – which is of course a recipe for burnout. 

While keeping an eye on these things, in the spirit of ‘slow’ I also stopped creating crochet deadlines for myself and only hooked when the mood took me, otherwise reading fiction in my down times – a great way to calm my often anxious brain. Crochet has its (vital!) place in my mental health toolkit, but I am prone to ruminating and catastrophising and sometimes recently I’ve needed a bigger distraction than the block patterns I’ve been working on, relatively complex though some of them are. 

I’ve devoured several novels in recent weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed them:

The Captain’s Daughter by Leah Flemming

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A Pure Clear Light by Madeleine St John

I’m currently reading Freya by Anthony Quinn and loving it. I’ve been reading mainly non-fiction for ages and am truly delighting in getting back into fiction. Always interested in discovering new fiction authors – who are your favourites??

I guess it’s a measure of my usual hooky ‘output’ that although I’ve been crocheting a lot less, I’ve still done a lot more than I thought – 10 x 8.5 inch blocks! Here are 9 of them (you can find links to all the patterns in this blanket cal here)

Wishing happy hooking – and reading – to all ๐Ÿ˜Š Here’s to a fabulous month ahead!

Pam x

Gifts to Selfย 

I believe it’s very important to take care of oneself in form of gifts, both tangible and otherwise. Today one gift arrived in the mail, and I’ve added another for good measure ๐Ÿ™‚

The first is a delivery from KnitPicks.com, hurrah! Once again, speedy and well-packed all the way from the US. So chuffed! Practical items: a retractable Clover tape measure and a new pair of thread scissors. Yarn: 8 balls of CotLin which I’ve wanted to try for ages. Patterns: Interweave Crochet Home Special Issue 2015 (clearance) PLUS there was free book coupon on my order day so I also have a copy of The Well-Made Home {Crochet} by Knit Picks! 

My favourite apart from the yarn is my new mug – I love it! Bigger than I expected which is perfect for my morning coffee (my other addiction), and excellent for my afternoon green tea. And emblazoned with very important words of Crochet Wisdom โค ๐Ÿ˜

My second gift today is time. Time just for me. Sometimes life speeds up and it’s good to take a moment to just STOP. I am now well on top of my iron deficiency but the related forced stop of my running routine really impacted my mental health. Five weeks without my run therapy left me slipping into depression again, with increased symptoms of anxiety, too. So frustrating and disapointing, as I’m now more than 8 months off my meds and had been going so great. 

I am now thankfully in a position where I recognise the signs early and I can see it coming, but nevertheless I was really clawing my way back for a week or so there. However, I’m running again now and have reimplemented my yoga routine, plus I’m swimming once a week while my girls have their lessons. Within a week of running slow interval 5ks every morning with 2 rest days, I stopped waking up under a cloud of inexplicable dread. So grateful! And taking extra good care of myself. 

Taking good care of myself doesn’t mean lavish spending or elaborate outings and plans. Today, it simply means a few balls of yarn for my stash, a new mug that makes me smile, and an afternoon off my chore list to sit on the veranda and listen to the birds. It means crochet, and a good book, and a big comfy, striped sofa dragged outside to its new Spring/Summer home – my peaceful perch for a few hours before I’m back on Mum mode. Bliss!

It’s the little things โค

Happy hooking, all ๐Ÿ™‚

Time Management and the Crochet Obsessive

My ideal would be a parallel universe – one world in which I can crochet all hours of the day, and another running simultaneously where I meet all my other-world commitments, and of course enjoy all the precious, lovely non-crochet elements of my life! Such a universe, alas, does not exist and therefore, I find I must prioritise (sucks!).

But. How much dust is too much? I know I will never regret not having dusted more when I die haha but at the same time, one cannot run a family in chaos (well I can’t anyway). My girls are almost five and almost seven and I am a full time stay at home mum who is suddenly feeling the currents of change and finding just a little more time on her hands. My youngest will be starting school in January and I am now well out of the survival mode of the early years (which included severe depression and anxiety) and moving into a new phase.

This is very exciting but also rather daunting! My youngest is currently only at preschool three days a week during school hours so I have her with me lots still, plus of course there are a lot of hours before 9 and after 3.30! However, suddenly both girls seem to be growing less needful of me with every passing week. The demands on my time are no longer so great and there are finally more hours in my day in which I have CHOICES!? This is most novel! I am no longer fire-fighting, as we used to say in my previous life as a corporate finance analyst – rushing to put out one fire after another and barely pausing for breath. It’s fabulous! But I do find myself…drifting a little. I think, yay! I can crochet now, nobody is here wanting stuff! So I do (sometimes rather a lot), and then I do a little bit of cleaning or ironing and then I get distracted, have a quick look at gorgeous lovely crochet things on Instagram and oops it’s 3pm where did that go and OMG what have I achieved?!

Believe me I am NOT complaining – I know how blessed I am. The things is, after almost seven years of being “on” pretty much 24/7 as a full time stay at home mum of very young children with no family support network and a husband who is AWESOME but who also works long hours, I am just not used to this level of freedom. I’ve reached a point where I need to start thinking about how to structure my days, and what I want them to look like. I’ve been crocheting a LOT , particularly since I started this blog a few months ago, and it has been awesome but that parallel universe I yearn for does not exist and the time has come to plan and prioritise. I don’t want to feel guilty when I crochet. I don’t think I need to work harder – I do work very hard for my family – but I need, as they say, to work SMARTER, so that I have done all the things I need to do before I sit down with my hooks and yarn, guilt free and hooker-happy! Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that better time management will ultimately result in more hooking time for this crochet obsessive. YES!!!

So.

  • A little less blogging , and more defined times for doing so and for addressing correspondence related to Hooks and Hills (I’ve taken the email apps off my phone so I don’t get distracted by the ‘ping’ any more – such a time monster!).
  • Flexible but clear forward schedule in terms of crochet skills I want to learn – I am an ambitious and adventurous crocheter! – book reviews I want to write and patterns of my own that I want to work on.
  • Fixed hours on preschool days for family / family business interests paperwork.
  • Fixed hours on preschool days for home duties, and clear schedule of tasks (thank you Motivated Moms app!)
  • Fixed hours for exercise – vital and sliding a little recently  (run/walking and yoga now replace antidepressents for me).

How do you make sure you get your crochet fix? If you’re a stay at home mum, what are your best tips for managing your time? And how did you go when your youngest started school? For so long I felt like the day would never come and now it seems to be racing at me full speed and it’s a bit…confronting! ๐Ÿ™‚