My rope baskets in Parade

I don’t know if any of you still get a print newspaper, but you probably remember the Parade magazine insert on Sundays. This Sunday they are doing a big story on the handmade movement, and they were nice enough to mention my rope baskets!

Go here for the full story. 

Go here for the slide show that includes my basket. 

I still sell my baskets on Etsy: Small / Large / Set of two

Or, if you’d like to make your own, I sell the pattern on Etsy and Ravelry

Of course the handmade movement is nothing new to me, but it’s nice to see it get some attention. 

Re:Make this weekend

Tomorrow is my first show of the year and the first one I’ve done since Harper was born. It’s called Re:Make and it’s hosted by the cool DIY site Brit + Co

I’ll have all the usual goodies for fall:

Hats in a reversible knit style,

fingerless gloves,

chunky cowls,

and baby legwarmers in a bunch of sizes and colors.

I was hoping to have some of these cute elephants made, but I ran out of time!

I have quite a few poufs this time, too.

It looks like there are going to be a ton of cool vendors there, so if you’re in the area I hope you can make it. It’s a good chance to shop for handmade goods before holiday shopping goes totally nuts!

On being a work-at-home mom

I think I knew going in that being a work-at-home mom was going to be more “mom” than “work.” But seven months in, I can totally confirm that it is a really tough thing to combine the two and feel good about both of them. 

Initially I was in survival mode, just trying to get through each day’s parenting challenges with a few orders thrown in here and there. After three months I had added most of my products back to my shop and had started contributing occasional posts to Goodsmiths, and it felt good to work again. Now Harper is able to occupy herself more during the day, so I’m able to squeeze in more orders and more writing while watching her, in addition to those night and weekend hours (and Fridays when Mike’s home too). 

Now work feels vital. And it’s getting harder to view the days as mom first, work second. Eventually she will need more socialization, and hopefully I’ll have enough demand for my work that I can justify sending her to some daycare/preschool for a few hours a week. Having totally uninterrupted work time seems absolutely blissful at this point. She is a sweet and happy baby most of the time, but her naps never last more than 1/2 an hour, and she can pitch one heck of a fit during teething days. So it is hard to find a good balance when you never know what each day will bring.

I’m finding certain routines to be really helpful in this lifestyle. Morning is the best time for me to work out — Mike’s around to watch Harper and then I get that off my list for the day. Harper is usually awake for 2 hours at a time, then takes a nap. That gives me some idea when I’ll have a little free time throughout the day. She gets jammies at 8, her last meal at 8:30 and then down for bed at 9. That consistency really seems to help her sleep routine. 

Though it seems like a baby’s life is pretty simple, they do get bored pretty easily. So I find the best days are when Harper gets out of the house for some stimulation. Even just a trip to Target is better than nothing. I’m getting more relaxed about taking her various places. It’s so nice to have her able to sit up in a cart without dragging in all these contraptions!

It’s funny, I think I used to have some unfair judgment about people who went straight back to full-time work after having a baby. Sort of a – why have kids if you are just going to have someone else raise them? type of attitude. But now that I’m here, I can totally see why staying home isn’t for everyone. There’s no one else in my life that I would spend that much time with without it affecting our relationship. It’s intense sometimes. Especially since this little person is also whining, crying, peeing, pooping, and spitting up on you with regularity. I’ve never had a job this hard. It challenges me at every level. I think that’s part of why I want to do it. I live for challenges. Like say, starting a handmade business with no actual business experience…

What I love about this arrangement is that even on the hardest days I get to do what I love AND watch my baby grow up. She sees that her mom got to live her passion and be there for her at the same time. It certainly saves us money on childcare. In the bay area childcare is so expensive it would almost not be worth it for me to work a 9-5 job. I have the freedom to take trips and spend time with people who come to visit. I can take advantage of business opportunities in this area that I definitely didn’t have before. 

As with any job, you get better over time. I’m still new at this. I’m not always good at it and I don’t always enjoy it. But I think it was the right choice for our family. As our family grows I may want to make some changes, but for now we’re in a good place. We’ll see how it goes once the holiday shopping season heats up!

I’ve read so many articles lately about women struggling to find work/life balance with a family, and it seems like SO many people are grappling with this issue. There just aren’t a lot of easy answers. I think families need more support generally — more paid leave, more affordable daycare, more vacation days, better healthcare — so that both moms and dads wouldn’t have to feel like they had to make such hard choices. I also read a ton of articles kind of making light of parenthood, basically saying “hey, let yourself off the hook for feeling this way.” It seems we are carrying around a lot of guilt and we need to give ourselves a break sometimes. You can’t try every idea on Pinterest and make dinner and clean the house and stay sane. Sometimes you just have to put your feet up and laugh at how the day went.

Shiny new web site

I’m so excited to share that my business has a new web site. It was one of my goals this year to have a more professional looking web presence and I actually made it happen! I built it with Virb, which I found to be incredibly well-designed and easy to use. Thanks, Sarah, for the tip. 

You can check it out by going to marymarieknits.com.

New knits for fall

Even though the seasons don’t change much around here, I am finding myself so ready for fall. Bring on the sweaters and football!

I have just added some new products to my Etsy shop that will be perfect come colder weather.

Super chunky knit cowls

Reversible slouch hats

Lightweight fingerless gloves

I’ve also started offering my most popular sized pouf, the extra large (approximately 18×13 inches), in a thicker knit that resembles my rope poufs.

It comes stuffed with foam, but if you go with the stuff-it-yourself option, it looks like this.

I also have been at work for a long time on a homemade yarn that resembles the rope. I love the look of the rope, but need a more consistent, higher-quality product. I think I have finally figured out how to do it, and hopefully soon I will be able to start replacing some items with that yarn.

So my shop is kind of in transition right now, but I’m really excited for new products and what’s yet to come.

Miss Harper has been helping model my baby legwarmers.

It’s fun to watch her keep growing into the next size. And thanks to my lovely sister Megan for modeling my other knit products. She sure makes them look good!

Renegade recap and cookies

I just wanted to point you to a couple of posts I did over on the Goodsmiths blog. I posted a bunch of photos of my favorite vendors at Renegade in a little recap of the show, which was amazing.


Mike mans the booth.

Both days were extremely busy, and since I had more stock this year I was able to sell quite a bit more than last year.

I also posted about some shortbread cookies I made last week that turned out really well.

I actually can’t remember a time when I’ve made shortbread before, so I was pretty happy with my first try. I dipped the cookies in chocolate, which makes them extra indulgent, although they are buttery and delicious by themselves.

I have a few more orders to make this week, but then I am ready to relax. And bake! We might even take some kind of mini babymoon while Mike has time off.

Renegade!

It’s finally time for my biggest show of the year, the Renegade Craft Fair holiday market in San Francisco. Lots of my favorite vendors are going to be there this weekend (250+ total), and I can’t wait to shop as well as sell. I’ll have every single thing I make — hats, fingerless gloves, cowls, nesting bowls, owls, poufs and rope baskets. Come check it out!

Pumpkin House pop-up shop

Earlier this spring I did a really fun craft show at the Pumpkin House in Oakland, and I’m happy to announce that I will be doing their holiday show this weekend.

Here are the details:

In addition to my usual goodies (poufs, cowls, fingerless gloves, cable berets, owls), I’ll have lots and lots of little crocheted bowls.

The weather is supposed to be crappy, but we’ll have plenty of snacks plus hot coffee and tea. And I’ll find something cozy for you to wear home. 🙂