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(Mom) Bloggers Get Real: Four Short Interviews

Children are pretty rad I think, don’t you? But if you think about it, they wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for the awesome women who carry them around, bring them into this world and mother them. So when ever I meet an amazing child (and there are a lot of them out there!), I’m always in awe of the mother.

Parenting is a very personal thing, and everyone has their own style. And it seems that more than one definitely works. How else do you explain the number of special little humans running around on our planet? In order to tip our hats to the women who do this phenomenol work, we talked to a few different women we’ve had the pleasure to work with in the past.

These women write. They knit and crochet, sew and more. They photograph. And along with that (and so many other things) they mother. Wonder what the secret weapon is? Turns out they aren’t so secret, because they’re willing to share.

So check out our short interviews below with Shannon Cook from luvinthemommyhood, Kim Werker of Mighty Ugly, Julie Crawford of Knitted Bliss and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot.

Shannon Cook

very shannon

How many kids do you have?

I have 2 daughters, soon to be 6 and 3.

What kind of crafts do you do with your kids? What types of things are “mom only?”

I try to do a bit of everything with my girls. I grew up with a strong influence of handmade in my home. My mom and both of my grandmothers all sewed, knit, crocheted and did many other handicrafts. I really want my girls to have the same type of upbringing and to also realize how amazing and special it is to dream of a project and then make it become reality.

It can instill a strong sense of confidence and creative belief in oneself. Both of my girls love to help me out when it comes to sewing and knitting and they really enjoy picking out fabrics and designing the garments they would like for me to make. We all also love to color and draw. Needless to say there are always markers, crayons and paper everywhere and our fridge is never. ever. bare.

What kinds of things do you do to create time for your crafting? Blogging?

I’m a strong believer in time blocking. I like to schedule my time efficiently because let’s face it – there is never enough of it. I use my microwave timer to set an alarm for when it’s time to move on to the next block of time.

It helps me not to lose track of time sewing or working on the computer and helps my kids to know when mommy is all theirs and when it’s independent play time. It also allows me to feel like my girls and I get some creative time each day and that’s very important in our household.

Tell me about a time that made you laugh at how much you manage. 

Some days I feel like I have it all under control and give myself a little pat for being so on top of things but the reality of most of my days are more chaos like. One day after picking up my oldest from school, I was loading a temper-tantruming, five-year-old in the car, in the rain, along with my tired, two-year-old and daydreaming about what I was going to sew that night. A day or so later I went into the trunk of my car to find out I had left my stroller on the sidewalk in front of my daughters school that day.

The worst part was that I had to ask at the school office if they had seen it or if someone had turned it in and relaying the story was just mortifying. I mean really, it’s pretty hard to forget a stroller right? Never mind one that wasn’t cheap. Hurts. Icing on the cake was I did the same thing one week later. I know …. I’m hanging my head in shame.

Luckily at least this time I realized about 10 minutes later when I needed said stroller and found it missing again only to race back and thankfully find the stroller waiting for me. My daughter wisely suggested we drive home and I drink some more coffee. Great advice from a five year old.

What are the top five things you can’t do without as a mom, blogger and artist?

I would feel lost without my journals, yarn & needles, my sewing machine (Pfaff Ambition 1.0), my camera (Canon Rebel T1I) to take pics of my girls and my computer to document it so all of the special memories and daydreams will always be with our family.

Kim Werker

kim werkerHow many kids do you have?

We have one son, Owen, who’s two.

What kind of crafts do you do with your kids? What types of things are “mom only?”

He doesn’t have a very long attention span, so we do quick crafts like coloring with crayons or markers, or anything to do with stickers. We leave messy crafts for preschool – painting, white glue projects, glitter, etc.

But he’s getting really interested in making stuff now, so I also involve him more in stuff I make. Like last week I sewed him a couple of tote bags, at his request. He chose the fabric, helped me iron it, watched me measure and cut it, etc. Knitting and crocheting are still just for me until he’s a little older, but with his growing independence, I do them around him more and more.

What kinds of things do you do to create time for your crafting? Blogging?

I no longer wait until he’s asleep! I used to only craft or work when he was asleep or with a babysitter, but now that he’s able to play more by himself, and able to be involved, I craft and work with him and around him. We both have way more fun.

Tell me about a time that made you laugh at how much you manage. 

We adopted Owen with less than 24 hours’ notice, and we didn’t melt down, gouge each others eyes out, or pass out. We figure if we got through that unscathed, we can do anything. So, work stresses us out, and childcare can sometimes stress us out, but we’re generally inclined to figure that kids have been raised since the dawn of humanity, so it must be pretty normal to juggle it all.

What are the top five things you can’t do without as a mom, blogger and artist?

1. Time to myself.

2. Friends.

3. The right size and length of circular knitting needle.

4. My phone.

5. My laptop.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten? 

To be the parent my kid needs, to avoid reading parenting books and online forums, to write whether I feel like it or not and to always have my knitting with me.

Julie Crawford

julie-crawfordHow many kids do you have? 

I have one kid so far: my one-year-old daughter, Lila. She is a little young to do crafts, but I’m looking forward to including her more as she grows. She does enjoy playing with balls of yarn, though!

What kinds of things do you do to create time for your crafting? Blogging?

I use pretty much any down time I have to knit. With a very busy one year old who is not big on playing independently, there is practically no knitting time while she’s awake, so I have to make the most of my time once Lila is tucked into her crib for the night.

When I have down time during the course of my day- such as taking transit to and from work (I have a full time desk job), I try to brainstorm ideas for blog posts, problem solve on knitting patterns that I’m designing, or mentally match up yarn in my stash with potential future projects.

I’d like to say I get a chance to knit while on my way to work, but it’s very rare that I get a seat, and I’m on it for only 15 minutes before then dodging and weaving my way across a maze of streets to get into my office building. Good for cardio, not so good for knitting! I think it’s easy to get into crafting and blogging ruts, and using this time to really think about what I could do that might be a little new or fresh feels really good.

What are the top five things you can’t do without as a mom, blogger and artist?

1. My blackberry. It’s not the brand that I’m loyal to, but the smartphone aspect. I love being able to Tweet or Facebook or check on Ravelry while I’m on the go. It allows me to stay connected during those found minutes through the day. And I know lots of people love their iPhones, but I just can’t seem to get on with a phone that doesn’t have actual buttons for the qwerty keyboard. I write some epic emails on that thing!

2. Ravelry. it totally transformed the way I knit, the way I think about knitting, and the way I interact with other crafters. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, Ravelry changed the face of knitting!

3. My camera. Currently I use a Nikon D40, and I love it. I know that DSLR cameras are expensive and often priced out of most people’s budgets, but it’s amazing the difference in quality of photos you can take, and I truly think it’s worth it. There is something about looking at a photograph of an item you’ve made, or a project you’ve been working on that allows you to see it with fresh eyes.

4. Bedtimes. For me and for my baby. I know that sleep training is a bit of a contentious issue amoungst parents, but it has worked really well for us in terms of getting a good night’s sleep for everyone, which means that not only does it give me an evening with a structured amount of time to accomplish things like knitting and blogging (and eating dinner and doing laundry and eight million other things), but then I go to bed at ten every night, as well. Having a good night’s sleep means I’m more patient, more creative, and just a better version of myself (my little one wakes up at 5:20 every morning on the dot, btw). And I disagree with the notion that having a child is the end of a good night’s sleep.

5. My husband. I don’t know how single parents do it, because no matter how much you love your little ones, you sometimes need a break, or someone to distract the baby while you take photos. My husband supports my passions, is a great dad, and brings home cadbury mini eggs for me to snack on at night. He’s a keeper!

What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten? 

One of my guilty pleasures is reading productivity books (I don’t count the massive amounts of chocolate I eat as a guilty pleasure, I don’t feel guilty at all!), and most of the time there is one or two things that I can apply to my life that really do help.

My most recent read is 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It is really transforming the way I think about my time, and how much I get done. The basic premise is that each week has 168 hours, and that even if you sleep 8 hours a night, and work 40 hours a week, that’s still 72 hours in your week left over for other things. The chapters are arranged so that you have ideas on how to trim the wasted time from different aspects of your life, such as work,’leisure’, housework, and still make time to focus on your family, business, passions, and friendships.

It’s amazing how much time we fritter away watching TV or just surfing the Internet. I feel a lot more in control of my days after reading this book, and I feel like I’m doing more of the things that I truly want to do with my day. It’s helped me focus my time on the things that really matter to me.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

stephanie pearl mcpheeHow many kids do you have? 

I am almost out the other side of intensive mothering (although how much parenting teenagers needed came as a serious shock to me.) My three daughters are now 23, 21 and 19.

What kind of crafts do you do with your kids? What types of things are “mom only?”

There was nothing that was “mom only” in our house. We did sewing, paper-craft, painting, and of course, anything to do with knitting, including spinning. My kids were game for it all, although often activities had to be adapted to suit them.

The “mom only” part came in when I thought about expectations, and how interested they would be for how long, or what their skill level would be. I can be super “type A,” so it was important for me to learn to lower my expectations around perfection, or my interpretation of beauty. I learned to love a lot of crafts that were executed with charm, rather than skill. The skill came later.

What kinds of things do you do to create time for your crafting? Blogging?

It’s easier now that my youngest is 19. She’s the only one at home now, but I follow the same schedule I used too when they were little – doing anything that took concentration or focus during times when they were focused on other things, like school, lessons or sleep. (I did a lot while they were sleeping.)

Even now, the time that my kids are home is (mostly) time for them, and I make the most of my “alone time.” When they were little I got a lot done while we were in the park and a lot of knitting during bath time. My kids took really long baths.

What are the top five things you can’t do without as a mom, blogger and artist?

Coffee. Yarn. Coffee. My laptop. Coffee.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

For a long time – still actually, I struggled with resentment. I know that’ s a terrible thing to say, that you could resent your kids, but we’re all adults and let’s be honest, we have goals, ideas, and things we want to do, and as much as we want to do it all, I think we can admit that it’s really not possible if you’re sworn to put other people first, like parents are.

I was committed to being a good mum, but I also longed to write, and make things, and still live in the most beautiful house and bake my own bread, while weaving my own napkins out of organic hemp. I resented that I wanted to do it all for these kids, and for myself, and that ironically, the kids were what made it impossible.

It was a profound moment for me when my own mother told me that the secret to it all was knowing that you have to choose. The idea of women doing it all is a terrible idea we perpetrate on each other. Show me a woman with three kids who’s cloth diapering, writing a book a year, keeping a blog alive, taking all the photos for it, baking her own bread while weaving placemats in her spare time, and I’ll show you a woman with a dirty bathroom. I’m not judging the dirty bathroom either, I’m just saying that it’s impossible to do it all.

Something has to give, and you need to choose what it is that really, really resonates for your family and your heart, and put your energy there, and that you do other mothers a real service when you’re honest about that. I used to clean up before my friends came over, until my mum pointed out that all I was doing was making them feel bad that they couldn’t do what I apparently could. I let it go now.

Women don’t really do it all. They do what’s important, to them individually. It’s enough.

Thank you so much to all of our fine mothers for taking time out of their days to answer our questions. And thanks to all the mothers out there who raise spectacular children and make beautiful things for themselves and others.

Your turn, mothers! What is some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?