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Spruce Knits Stash Project.


Spruce Knits Stash Project.

Apparently I have a lot of yarn. 

Apparently I have so much that I could probably knit an entire year's worth of garments without looking up and buying anything. 

Apparently I should use this as an opportunity to do good in the world. 

So I am launching my Stash Project, apparently. 

Here are my rules: 
*Knit Stash Only yarn from June 17th 2018 to June 17th 2019
*Write about my struggles (because they're going to be real) 
*Write up stash busting patterns for those of you who also want to quell your stash. 
*Donate my yarn budget to charity- especially since the world needs me to spend more doing good than it does me acquiring more yarn. 
*Read more books that help me check my privilege. 

I would love it if you could join me. The last few days/ weeks/ months/ years, I've been feeling incredibly useless to change the current wrong that's happening in the world. I write to help, but I often feel like a non-contributor. I am angry. Something has to be done. This is one small way I can make myself feel like I am doing SOMETHING. Jesus, anything. So I am sitting here, reading good books that allow me to check my privilege, and understanding that I have so much I can do. I can write, I can read, I can knit, I can give. I have a voice. I have talent. 

Right now I don't have the lifestyle that allows me to give the way I want and acquire yarn the way I want. If you do have the freedom in your life, please please do both- and buy from independent dyers. My patterns are both yarn buying enabling and stash busting. 

Now you might wonder why reading is a part of this project. Well, it wouldn't be worth it to me if I didn't learn something else in the process. Simply, I love reading, but it's more than that. I want to make sure that I am learning how to be a better human to other humans. The only way to do that is to study the voices in the margins. My book choices will be from diverse voices in order for me to understand a perspective that is not mine. This is the whole point of the project; to move out of my comfort zone in order to give others some comfort. We do these things to learn how to be human. 

If you're interested, follow me by using the hashtag #SpruceKnitsStashProject. 

The rules for you: 
*Use your stash (all yarn you buy is your stash, so the parameters are pretty large) 
*Knit for yourself or others
*Give something of yourself. Whether you donate, volunteer or just generally be a decent human being to those around you. Be a good neighbor. 
*Show me what you're reading. Show me you're learning. 

I hope that you join me. 

Lets do better. 



Cultivating a Summer Reading List

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Cultivating a Summer Reading List

Summer is here, my friends, wether we like it or not. I'm not a fan, but I know that a lot of my friends are. I also know that a lot of them ask me for reading recommendations for the summer. I haven't been able to use my brain for Literature in about 3 years, so it feels good to go through the stacks and shuffle books around looking for that one (or twelve) to collect and read. 

I don't get a lot of down time these days (I didn't back then either, but it was basically my job to read in a library and write about it). My babies are getting old enough where they are able to fend for themselves for a few minutes so I can sit down and take a gander at what the world outside my little bubble is doing. My brain is in dire need of nutrition in the form of words. Talking to people above the age of 2 has been a chore lately, and I can't seem to form normal human sentences in the spoken form. Sure, I can translate 2 year old gibberish to you, but can I translate my own? 

Anyway, that's why it's important to me to be able to read this summer. I've become practically giddy with excitement to be able to pick a stack of books out of a bookstore and dive in. I'm hungry for reading. When we're hungry for reading it's easy to make the stack bigger than we can handle. I know that I need to pace myself and categorize what I want to read, so I'll share with you how I am cultivating my summer reading list this year. 

What kind of books do I want to read? When you're out there trying to decide what to read, really think about how you want to interact with the book this summer. Do you want an escapist beach read? (Hey! They're important!) Or do you want something a little meatier, something more meaningful, something you can learn from? (To be honest, all reads can be beach reads) How much reading do you want to try to get done? Do you have the time to hang out alone in a beer garden with a cold one and your book? (If only) Or are you going on vacation and have literally all day between snorkeling and drinks by the pool and dinner to read? Sometimes the best (and my favorite) way to pick out books is to just be set free in a bookstore for a few hours. (But I am trying to be intentional here) There are definitely a lot of different kind of books out there. And one book usually leads me to another, so my list might look different at the end of the summer than it does now. Here 4 genres that I am planning to read: (Links provided on the pictures)

Personal Development~ I think it's important to never stop growing and learning. Here are some of my picks for this: 

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.  Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein show that no choice is ever presented to us in a neutral way, and that we are all susceptible to biases that can lead us to make bad decisions. But by knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice. (Source: Goodreads

I heard about this book on the TED Radio Hour on NPR (Waves hi to Guy Ras) because that's the nerd I am. Then we saw it at the Coop bookstore when we were in Cambridge last week. It felt like a sign, so we bought it and this is a book Dan and I are going to read and compare notes. I'm kind of excited. 

The Art of Mindful Birdwatching: Reflections on Freedom and Being by Claire Thompson, reveals how the practice of mindfulness enriches our birdwatching experiences - and explores how birds are, in turn, the ideal inspiration for the practice of mindfulness. To Claire, bird flight is a symbol of freedom to soar through life without constraint, and mindfulness similarly enables us to invite freedom and happiness into our own lives. (Source: Goodreads) 

I am a fan of Terry Tempest Williams and this seems to be somewhat similar. As a person who loves to connect with nature wherever I am, I am looking forward to this book as a resource. 

Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner. We live in one of the most connected times on earth but never before have we been so lonely and alienated from each other, from ourselves, and from the natural world. Whether this manifests as having difficulty finding community, feeling anxiety about our worthiness and place in the world, or simply feeling disconnected, the absence of belonging is the great silent wound of our times. (Source: Goodreads) 

I've picked up a bunch of books on the idea of belonging recently. I don't know if its because we move around a lot and I'm having an existential crisis, if I don't feel like I fit into any kind of faith community and I am having an existential crisis, or if I am just being existentialist. What I do know is that I have been feeling rather alone lately and this book has been a balm on my weathered soul. 

Professional Development~ I am far from a pro at anything, (Except Literature- I earned that title) It's important for me to remain motivated in my life as a freelance designer and writer. These books help me maintain that motivation. 

Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman by George Steiner

This is an important text on how to interpret your writing in a political style. As a writer who is becoming more and more political, its important for me to be able to learn to read between the lines of others' work and my own. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont

This is a re-read. I seriously love Anne Lamont (even with her problematic dreadlocked hair). This book is about writing, live, and letting go of perfectionism. Letting go of things that stop us from writing, wether the object is the mountain of work that it seems to be, or the fear that no one will like what we have to say. I am addicted to acceptance, (see above "Belonging") so, one of my biggest blocks to writing is that no one will read me. This book is a good reminder to breathe and let the story come out. 

A Knitters Home Companion: A Heartwarming Collection of Stories, Patterns, and Recipes by Michelle Edwards

Knitting is a large part of my personal and professional life. I love these kinds of books that bring the craft to the home. I also love bringing it outside of the home into the light of story. I am looking forward to the patterns and recipes too. 


Fiction (Literature)~ Fiction opens doors to new experiences that we would have otherwise not had. I know that it's a cliche statement, but it's true. It helps us understand others. Here are some exciting stories I am reading this summer. 

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page. (Source: Goodreads) 

This is from the author of Happiness for Beginners which was a lovely story that I read in New Jersey after I had graduated with my B.A. I am excited for this because it seems to be even more... emotional? This is a story about love and resilience. Personal resilience. I love a good "walk away stronger" book. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak. (Source: Goodreads) 

I've been wanting to read Celeste Ng for a long time. I haven't been able to get my hands on Everything I Never Told You, but I did finally buy this one. I have to say, so far, it's pretty incredible. 


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward: Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. It is a majestic new work from an extraordinary and singular author. (Source: Goodreads) 

You guys, you guys. This book. I couldn't wait for summer to start it. I read half in one night. I will probably read the other half tonight. It's part Beloved part As I Lay Dying in some sense. About a family that needs to come to terms with their own past, their extraordinary gifts, and each other.  I am in love with this book. Jesmyn Ward is probably the Toni Morrison of the 21st century. I don't say that lightly. (Also, has the potential to be a snot bomb, keep the tissues close) 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is about an older childless couple who move away from family to avoid those nagging "why can't you have a baby" looks and accusations. One day, a child shows up in front of them and their lives are turned upside down. 

This could very well be a 5 alarm snot bomb. An old couple drifting away from each other until a child comes into their lives. How will it end? I am almost afraid to find out. Since becoming a mother, I can't handle things where bad things happen to children. I am hopeful since the ratings are favorable. 

Activism~ I mean--- if you know me you know that this is where my passion is. This summer I am listening to the voices in the margins and learning where I can do better as a person in the world. I want books that speak truth to power and point out the blind spots that I've built up in my life. 

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. 
For readers who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness--if we let it--can save us all. (Source: Goodreads) 

So... This should probably be at the tippy top of the list. This is the book I should be shouting from the rooftops that everyone should read. I am about to start it and I know I am going to be humbled and shaken. It's time. 

All the Women in My Family Sing: An Anthology by Women of Color edited by Deborah Santana is a vital collection of prose and poetry whose topics range from the pressures of being the vice-president of a Fortune 500 Company, to escaping the killing fields of Cambodia, to the struggles inside immigration, identity, romance, and self-worth. These brief, trenchant essays capture the aspirations and wisdom of women of color as they exercise autonomy, creativity, and dignity and build bridges to heal the brokenness in today’s turbulent world. (Source: Goodreads) 

This will probably belong in my wheelhouse as a foundational book. I love women's voices. I love voices of those we tend to look over or ignore. I love the purpose of this work, to make space for voices of color in publishing. I'm excited to read these. As a motherless daughter, I am always searching for that feminine voice. 

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World by Jennifer Palmieri. Framed as an empowering letter from former Hillary Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri to the first woman president, and by extension, to all women working to succeed in any field, Dear Madam President is filled with forward-thinking, practical advice for all women who are determined to seize control of their lives-from boardroom to living room. (Source: Goodreads) 

I've been holding onto this one. The election in 2016 took a lot out of me. My own mother died the day after the election, right after Hilary Clinton conceded defeat, right after I told her that a woman was going to be president soon. The disappointment and grief was real. The fact that I, again let my mom down (a fiery feminist who would have hated the current white house resident) and the grief that I had to live through this while she got the sweet escape of non-existence. There was so much grief. I'm ready now to embrace my power and make this world a place that my mother would want to live in. Make this place habitable for my sons, and everyone they see. 

What are you reading this summer? What has you excited? 

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2018 Intentional Word: Practice.


2018 Intentional Word: Practice.

2018 is going to be the year of Practice. 

I have plenty of goals, enough to drag me down into an existential panic. I think, however, these goals are going to be good for me. There will need to be a large amount of self control practiced this year, which is why I have chosen this word for my intention. 

Practice in reading: If I am going to hit my book goal and finish the Read Harder Challenge, like I want to, but fail desperately every year, then I need to keep it in my practice. 

Practice in writing: The only way to become a better writer is to keep writing. The only way to get my words out is to stretch my horizons and do things I have only dreamt of. 

Practice in knitting: I am already a pretty prolific knitter, but that doesn't mean I can't get better. 

Practice in health: My entire health life needs a jumpstart. This will help me do more yoga and less binge drinking. Drink more tea and do more meditating. 

Practice in activism: This is where "Practice what you preach" comes in handy. This year I am going to be more involved in my local community. 

Practice in love: My family needs me to be there for them, and that means allowing myself to love fiercely and completely. This one actually scares me, I know what it's like to hurt; I want to protect myself. 

2018 is going to have many things, I am sure. It should be really interesting to see how this ends up happening. I am hopeful for this year. 


Holiday Gift Ideas for the Craftivist in Your Life


Holiday Gift Ideas for the Craftivist in Your Life

The tradition of gift giving is probably my favorite part of the holiday season. I love browsing the stores thinking about the people I love and sending them something that I think they might like. I try to add meaning by making them something-it's a great time to think about them and send them positive thoughts and prayers. It's one of the ways I love to show my love. 

This year, the idea of the craftivist has come into focus with the Pussy Hat movement, and the Women's March on Washington. As a knitting activist, I especially love the challenge of giving something with meaning to my fellow freedom fighters. Here are some gift ideas for the craftivist in your life. 

1.) A donation in their name to a cause they care about: 
You probably know what they support if you follow them on social media. They've been advocating for this particular cause all year. They work hard to get the word out about what's important to them (doesn't everybody?). By giving to an organization that they love, it shows them that you're paying attention. Bonus points: if they tend to be minimalist and don't need anything, and the cause is something that you wouldn't normally send money to (actually extra bonus points to that since it really shows that you truly love them). A little tip for donating to a cause you can't stand: Ask yourself how this cause will hurt other people? What good is it doing for others? Focus on the good. Research it, and if you find it has more pros than cons, (objective pros... not your opinion) then donate. 

2.) Items from independent distributors:
We L-O-V-E small businesses. We have a love-hate relationship with Amazon (I mean, they donate money to our causes, but big business!!!). A great gift to the craftivist in your life could be a craft item from a local craft store. In my case, a skein of independently dyed yarn from a Local Yarn Store would be the best thing. If you buy me a sweater quantity in that yarn, you have my pure devotion forever and have officially become knit worthy. Whatever the craft is be it, carpentry, quilting, crochet, or basket weaving a little internet search should bring you to a small shop that works hard and is a jewel in the community. Local independent bookstores are also a huge yes for us. 

3.) Support businesses run by minorities: 
Much in the same way we love indie stores, we really love and fully support stores run by minorities. The Black vote in Alabama just saved us from another horrible person in the Senate, the least we could do is support them with our patronage. I mean, thats the bottom of the barrel least we can do. 

4.) Buy us a year of Audible: 
Again with that love-hate of Amazon, Audible is a great way for us to get our reading time in--but it can be any audiobook app or feature you can find. Craftivists are readers. We read everything we can get our hands on. A lot of us have an Audible subscription so we can listen while we work. By taking that financial burden off of us for a year, you're allowing us to continue our work and continue our learning. In a way, its an investment in our ability to put our money where our mouths are. 

5.) Support other Activists: 
A lot of us have something for sale on our websites to help us live our lives. We love to share what we have with the world and would love to offer our goods for free, but we also know we are worth our hard work. IF you're really on the fence about what to get your outspoken-pussy hat wearing-cat lady-sister, you're probably not paying close enough attention. A pattern from an independent designer, with the right amount of supplies for the pattern, and a small donation to a cause she loves will go a long way with her. 

It's not important if you agree with your craftivist or not. Just the fact that you're listening to them and supporting them goes a long way. It allows for honest dialogue and heart to heart conversation. We really need more of that this year. 


The Intentional Weekend


The Intentional Weekend

How do you slow down when life feels so quick? Join me in taking some time over the weekend to fully appreciate life, and allow ourselves to just be for a little while.