November 2022 Round-Up: Work, Work, Work, and Play

Today’s monthly round-up is brought to you by exhaustion, distraction, overwhelm, phone pictures, and the manifest prognostications of burnout. In other words, I’m going to be complaining today. I have a sermon and an article to write this afternoon, but I find my writing gets a lot better if I can work out my grumpiness on this blog. I hope, rather than causing you to worry about me, this gives you permission to be grumpy sometimes. So, without further ado, my month.

Ministry

You know what? Sometimes success is way scarier than failure.

At the end of October, we started something that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time: a family discipleship night. God answered my prayers for a helper who is experienced, honest, and on fire for Jesus, and she helped me take a program that would have been mediocre and turn it into something that the kids looked forward to every week.

To be perfectly honest, ministry programs stress me out. Event planning generally stresses me out, and if I had known that being a priest was about 30% event planning, I would have run away screaming. But here we are. My motivation? Selfishly, I want my kids to be discipled. I want them to be brought up in the faith, and I can’t do it alone. I’m just not a good enough parent. If I as a priest feel that way, I know I’m not the only one. Absent initiative from any other quarter, I decided to put together classes from a Godly-Play-Style program from down south, and a Baptism preparation course from our diocese.

Being me, of course, I had to make everything as difficult and complex as possible. Ugh.

It went really really well. Like I said, the kids loved it. There was something new and exciting for them to do every week. They liked being able to look at and play with the Bible story. Parents told me their kids really enjoyed it, and wanted to come again.

The Egyptian army drowning in the Red Sea…. this was their favourite part of their favourite lesson… I really don’t know how to feel about that.

The downsides: Because we were building these lessons from scratch, I had to produce a lot of props, and often do two or three times the work every week to get it up to snuff. Also, the time we picked was just not a great time. Add to that the spiritual attack that seems to come along with actually connecting with people.

We don’t have a colour printer, so I’ve been printing the pictures that came with the curriculum and watercolor painting them myself.

Of course, we ended on a lesson that was really hard for me to plan. In a way, it was almost a mercy that I came down with a nasty tummy bug on the last day, and my helper had to lead it – she did a great job. I was sorry to miss it.

The long and the short? We connected with several families, and planted a seed of church being “fun” for lots of kids, not just mine. I learned a ton about my limitations. But we want to iterate this program in the spring, and we need to (a) find a better time, and (b) alter our workflow to be more sustainable for me.

Going into December, we get a break from the program, and we go into the Christmas routine, which we at least know how to do. It says something about my stress level that I’m looking forward to Christmas as being relatively easy.

Knitting

I haven’t worked on my secret projects this month, alas. But I have puttered away on some beautiful handspun socks.

This pair I had to knit a couple of times. My sock yarn has gradually gotten finer and finer without me noticing. I can still get away with a 64-stitch sock, as a snug fit is a good thing, but I’ve had to increase the number of gusset stitches to fit over my heel without stretching dramatically. So I had to knit the top half of the chain-plied sock twice. And of course I haven’t had a chance to photograph them properly and reflect on them. I’ll get there. I kind of want to finish the red socks first.

The fractal sock is coming along nicely. I just finished turning the heel. It’s just so nice to work away on a sock when one is feeling ill in bed, or snuggling with a child, or watching someone play Stardew Valley, or catching a quick episode of something. Even when I don’t feel up to spinning or what have you, I can manage a bit of knitting on a sock.

Indeed, when I can’t knit anymore, that’s when I know I’m really getting sick.

…and Other Things

A wild thing happened in the middle of November. Alide gave me this book, thinking my kids might enjoy it:

And I found myself gripped with a sudden need to crochet flowers. Between Google translate, Craftsy, and my crocheting friend Christine P., I think I rather got the hang.

It doesn’t hurt that we’ve been using my bag of leftover bits of handspun, which make our blooms exciting and unique.

I was teaching Stringbean to crochet at the same time. This proved a challenge, because of course the only thing she wanted to crochet was flowers, which are not the easiest thing to learn on. She had no interest whatever in crocheting swatches, even after we watched a Craftsy class together. I was making them alongside her, and of course finishing them much more quickly and better than she was, because although I am an inexpert and tentative crocheter, I do at least have twenty-five years of experience in trying to crochet, and it’s not so different from knitting that there’s no skill crossover. She got pretty annoyed at me for “stealing her thunder,” so I promised to work through my repair basket before I made any more flowers.

Unfortunately for her, a couple of things at the top of my repair basket just demanded embellishment with a crochet flower.

But after that I applied myself to patching some jeans.

All of my jeans officially have patches now. I am getting pretty frustrated with jeans generally. If anyone has a good recommendation for high-waisted jeans that are Actually Kind of Comfortable, I’m in the market.

Stringbean did manage some adorable flowers, which she’ll be selling at our table at the craft market next week. Since I won’t be selling cupcakes. On that topic:

Cake

I am actively looking to get out of the cake business. But I can’t seem to pull the trigger and actually do it. I managed a couple of cute cakes this month:

And a couple more that were admittedly lackluster.

I’ve found a vanilla cake recipe that isn’t constantly failing me. I have raised my prices to better reflect my time and the increasing cost of ingredients. And I had fewer orders than usual in November. But I’m just not enjoying it, you guys.

The trouble comes when someone puts in an order. I have such a hard time saying no. I’ve learned to say “I’m booked up for that week” when I’ve got two orders. But I need to practice the words “I’m not taking new orders right now.” It was a phrase that flitted through my mind on Tuesday night, when I was terribly nauseous for hours, dreading the cake I would have to bake the next day to stay on target. How lovely it would be to just say, “I’m not taking new orders right now.” But then someone sweetly texted me this morning with a glowing recommendation and a request for Jan 3rd, and I couldn’t say it.

Someone slap me, please.

I just need to make the facebook post. Then I’ll feel better.

There. I did it. I feel better. It won’t stop the private messages, but at least I’ve said something.

Grogu, though. He’s almost enough to make me want to keep going.

Spinning

Spinning continues to be the most life-giving part of my working day.

This is all the spinning I can show right now; I’m a little over three-quarters through the qiviut sock spin. But there was a bit more spinning that happened in November.

I had a big learning curve this month with The Wool Circle podcast. I ended up spinning over three ounces of samples for one episode, which took about sixteen hours before I even started recording me actually talking. Rachel is an awesome partner and does not want to let me do that! So I took that content and spread it out over two episodes, the second of which will air early next week. Rachel is really encouraging me to work smarter not harder, to borrow a cliche, because efficiency is the only way to have it be sustainable to make anything as a career. I have a much better idea now on how to plan my content, and next year’s topics will be much more conducive to that.

One of the kids must have taken this picture of me when I wasn’t looking. Thanks, kid! Good thing my nose was clean.

This whole unit on sampling is nearly done. I have learned so much! Rachel is working a sort of trailer that gives you bits and pieces of all the episodes I’ve made since September. I’ll post that here when it’s up, and you will see throughout how the quality slowly gets better and better. I’m still working on basics like balancing the color on my camera and making sure my microphone is in the right place, but I’m gaining confidence. I just really like doing it. We’ll get started soon as well on some radio podcast episodes that should be lots of fun.

I really want to get done this qiviut spin before I get started on next year’s content for our YEAR OF COLOUR! So if I’m going to make time for anything extra in my life, it should be spinning. Because it actually calms me down and feeds my soul.

Colour and Play

Speaking of feeding my soul, the month ended yesterday on this odd note that seemed to both sum everything up and be an anecdote to it. I used to suffer from migraines quite often; mercifully it’s been a long time since they recurred very regularly. But I noticed, when they did, that those headaches were the only time that I slowed down enough to really let myself think.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the first time for a very long time that I’ve been hit with a genuine stomach ailment. I’m still not quite myself – as evidenced by the fact that I almost put a cake in the oven today having forgotten to put in THE SUGAR – but at least I’m dressed and on my feet. Last night, rather than just play endless Stardew Valley while the family was off enjoying the last evening of family discipleship night, I opened a little gift from Kate Davies and Felicity Ford. Ms. Ford, a.k.a. Felix, a.k.a. Knitsonik, does amazing stuff with stranded colorwork interpretations of everyday life. Especially for members of Kate Davies’ current Allover Club, Felix put together a free online course on using colouring (or as they call it in the UK, “colouring-in”) to design colorways. I watched the whole thing yesterday, and when it was done, I copied out the Starkin pattern chart in Felix’s style and did my own recoloring experiment.

I chose as my limitations the colourways of Milarrochy Tweed, and that I had to choose something for inspiration that was in reach from my bed. I chose my Kindle cover, which I love very much. Despite the very bad lighting, I was surprised to pick out some spots of burgundy in the little leaflets along the twigs, very Backen-coloured, and the greenish-yellow of Stockiemuir inside the wee flowers. Ardlui seemed the perfect shade to match the background of the Kindle cover design, and I added some lighter blue Smirr so the mid-to-dark colours wouldn’t be muddied. I had great fun swatching with my pencil crayons to get just the right match to the yarn, and accepted the terrible lighting of my bedside lamp for what it was.

That was just the right way to spend the evening. Why, I asked myself, does it take confinement to bed to give myself permission to do what I actually like? I have fallen into that stereotype of the over-busy parent, caught in the hamster wheel of obligations I have set up for myself. I would like off, please. I would like to make time to spin, make healthy food, walk my dogs, and vacuum my stupid carpets.

Ah well. That griping is out of my system, and I feel a bit better now. Thanks for reading. I hope your holiday season is off to a better start, and that you don’t feel obligated to either do too many things, or to be happy about it. (The only thing worse than being over-busy is being obliged to cheerfulness). I would like to say something sage and generally positive to bring this post to a close, but that would be disingenuous. Suffice it to say, Easter happened. That means everything will be all right, and no matter how grumpy I get, that is enough for me. Have a blessed Advent, friends.


4 thoughts on “November 2022 Round-Up: Work, Work, Work, and Play

  1. Thank you for sharing, Rebecca. I’m a 72 year old grandmother, so my life is quieter than yours, but I always find inspiration in your posts. I enjoy your blog because I’m a knitter, enjoy baking, and hearing about life in our Far North. I like that you are honest about yourself and your life, and that yours is not a blog where everything is glossed over and perfect. I always look forward to reading your posts.

    Like

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