Back to Biz Not Back to School

It’s back to school season here. I’m not planning a return to school but I am returning to working in and on Bridgwater Crafts!

I didn’t officially leave but I’ve been inactive for far too long! So much of my life changed a few years ago and in some ways, I never recovered. I finally feel like I have both my creativity and my energy back. I want to create again. I need to create again.

My life will never return to what it was but it can still be wonderful. It can still include old goals and dreams but some may need adjustments.

I’m working on getting back into the habit of thinking and working as a biz owner not just as a crafter. I’m trying to figure out where I want to go from here and how to get there. So much has changed since the last time I figured out goals and plans.

I have a lot to work through. I have a few small goals and plans in mind to start. Now it’s just to recreate habits and gain momentum!

It’s Been a Long Time 09/07/2017

Hi!

I know, it’s been a long time since my last post. I wasn’t as far out of my anxiety/depression/fibromyalgia flare episode as I thought. I backslid. It feels like I’ve been in a fibro flare since September. I usually have a flare when the seasons change and when there are weather disturbances. Winter was so weird this year I didn’t stop flaring.

I’ve decided to concentrate on the blog and a few farmer’s markets/craft markets for the rest of the year. I’m also going to practice extreme self-care in an attempt to not have a repeat eight-month episode. As I feel better I can write up my designs and go through that process. My hope is to blog five or more times per week and participate in at least two markets. I’ll add anything I make to the shop and just close it on market days so the same thing doesn’t sell twice.

I have a pile of different things I’ve made during the past six months that just need the ends woven in, to be washed, photographed and added to the shop. I’m going to work on those this week. Weather permitting I will even be able to use sunlight rather than artificial lights!

Blog-wise I plan to continue Simply Sunday and Tuesday Quotation posts. The rest will be updates on what I’m doing and book or product reviews.

One big life change is that my pension plan (from my last employer) sent me an exit package with four options:

1-leave my locked-in pension money with then until I can begin accessing it as a retiree at 55.
2-transfer it into another HOOPP (Hospitals Of Ontario Pension Plan) employer if I was working at another hospital.
3-transfer it to another employer pension.
4-transfer it to a financial institution in a LIRA (Locked-In Retirement Account) or transfer the above locked-in portion to a LIRA and take a cash amount to keep or put into an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

I chose option 4 and to keep the cash. I received it a few weeks ago. I plan to live off that cash as long as possible. It was $89 355.00 locked-in and $92 238.12 cash (in a cheque) and allows me to get off social assistance. It feels like a weight of stress is off my back! It’s so nice to not have to worry too much about money! I kept a few thousand in my regular savings account and put the rest in a higher interest savings account. I want to see just how much or little I need before I start removing money out of the higher interest savings account monthly.

When I checked on health insurance to cover what I’m losing by going off assistance I found the monthly fees would be more than my monthly prescriptions cost due to all my health issues. It’s going to be cheaper to just pay for what OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) doesn’t cover. I will basically have to pay for prescription drugs, glasses, dental care, massages, chiropractic visits, physiotherapy visits and a semi-private or private hospital room should I be admitted to a hospital.

I admit I have made a few large purchases since receiving that cheque. I went from depositing it at the Credit Union directly across the street to the electronics store. I purchased a MacBook Air and an iPad Pro, both in the smaller size. I’ve since had to purchase a few Mac programs I use on my iPhone 6SE and iPad; I wish third party apps could be used across all Apple products, not just the Apple apps! I’m still learning the intricacies of the differences between Mac and PC computers. This is my first Mac.

I’ve bought some e-books-ok, lots of e-books.

I plan on replacing my FitBit One; its button is taped on and half of the neoprene cover has fallen off or is close to falling off. It’s lasted at least five years though-probably more-I’d have to look up when I first joined the FitBit website community.

I joined DoTerra an essential oil provider, as a wellness consultant. As a consultant I can sell to others, sign up other consultants and receive discounts on the oils and other products I purchase. I’m still learning about all that this can entail. My first shipment has been shipped but hasn’t yet arrived.

I rejoined the Yarn Love Yarn Club for six months. I love Katie’s yarns and her colour sense! I’m so glad I am now financially able to rejoin. I missed receiving those wonderful monthly yarns! Katie also sells jewellery now, I bought a few bracelets from her too. The bracelets are on their way too.

Q1 2017 Review

These first three months of 2017 did not go anything like I had planned. I signed up for many online courses and had tonnes of ebooks to read and review.

I’ve been in a major depressive episode with anxiety and overwhelm since mid-January. I realized what was going on mid-February and started trying to climb out. Things were improving. I had an eye appointment and learned I needed new glasses and should get bifocals. My optometrist was willing to hold off on the bifocals for another year since I couldn’t afford bifocals but I still had enough of a prescription change to require new glasses anyway. (I picked up my new glasses last week.) 

I learned about a craft/small business market to be held quarterly in town and obtained the registration forms planning to register for all four. I planned to register after returning from my oncology appointment the next week. 

While in the city the morning of my appt my sister called. Her eldest, my 23 yo nephew had died. That was Feb.21. CancerCare was great and expidited my appointment getting me in right away. My mother and I hit the highway immediately for the five hour drive home.

The autopsy on my nephew was inconclusive and we haven’t heard back on the lab test results. We still don’t know what happened to Mike. He just didn’t wake up that morning.

Needless to say I slid back into my depression with grief added to the mix. I’ve done little business-wise since mid-January until recently. I can’t concentrate but I can still crochet my old standby washcloth! I posted to my blog twice. All my pre-scheduled posts have been used. I didn’t register for the markets yet. I knew I wasn’t emotionally ready for the March 11th one but I still plan to register for the remaining ones.

I’m slowly trying to get to a new normal and get back on track with my business but I gave myself this month to recovery and self-care and what business I can do easily.

I can concentrate better now but any attempts to read nonfiction fail. I have the attention span of my five year old nephew! I have been able to read fiction so watch for reviews in the next few weeks. I’m slowly starting to knit more than just washcloths. I can still access some of those courses and still plan of starting and completing them. But, I’m still recovering and plan on a slow start to Q2.

How is it January 20th Already?

2017 has arrived and I’m already behind on my posts. I want to do at least one per week. I’ll work on that going forward.

So far, January has been a painful month. I’ve been having a lot of lower back and hip pain. I’m still learning the current limit of my arthritis in my left shoulder. I keep forgetting and moving it past it’s limits causing extra pain. We’ve had strange highs and lows in temperature which is causing a fibro flare. As a result the month is flying by. I had an appointment booked with a rheumatologist for January 10 in a city 3 hours away but we had a snowstorm going through the region that day. The road conditions were so bad we turned around three communities over and came back. I called and left a voice mail cancelling due to the weather.

I have not made any concrete business or life plans for 2017. I have however done a few things towards the future. I know my North Star of the year is truth-I want to be more me this year and bring more of me into the business. My quarter one (January-March) goal is consistency and my 2017 goal is sustainability.

I’m adding book reviews to the mix of blog topics and I want to read more this year. I’ve joined NetGalley and LibraryThing to access books authors and publishers want reviewed. I’ve also joined the InstaFreebie newsletter. They coordinate free book giveaways and provide a platform for authors to give their books away. I also joined Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 reading challenge.

To grow my designing and knitting skills I joined Aroha Knits 5 shawls in 5 days challenge. You make five mini shawls learning the different shapes of shawls and how to achieve them.

I had sales in the shop over Christmas. They were in person sales but sales nonetheless. I’m working on a new design and on a commission knit.

To grow my business skills and plan 2017, I’m working through Tara Swiger’s new book Map Your Business. I’m also taking her and Joeli of JoeliCreates Elevate Your Instagram challenge and their Elevate Your Business course later this month.

Since starting to obtain books to review I have become part of three authors’ launch teams (one for a series, one for a book, and the other for all her books) and applied to join another’s. Watch for more on those in the near future!

Works In Progress Thursday 28/07/2016

This week’s WIP post is the first that will include more than just my fibre-work. I’m adding in other areas of my life.

Knitting
I’m working on a few things this week.

My Amulet Shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade
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Arielle on Newport Bridge (a design sample)
www.BridgwaterCrafts.com
Bettina at the Beach (a design sample)
ww.BridgwaterCrafts.com
But I’ve also dug into my WIP basket to see what was really inside. I found four sets of partial socks, two for me, one for my eldest nephew and one for my great-nephew; a knit spa cloth sample; a crochet shawl sample;  two headband samples; a bag of yarn for a hat for my great-nephew to match a colour work sweater I knit him; a bag of squares for a sock blanket sample; and a bag of leftover Aran yarn, needles and hook from the Damia Hat and Cowl-did I plan to make matching mittens? And this doesn’t include three sample blankets and a shell stored elsewhere or my UFOs (unfinished objects) that are probably still packed from my move last year.

Reading
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
Spirituality Without Structure by Nimue Brown
The Bee Cottage Story by Frances Schultz

I also have book WIPs:

The Mindfulness Solution to Pain by Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix
The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
Manage Your Day-To-Day by 99U
Put Your Budget On A Diet by Kimberly Eddy
Plan It, Don’t Panic by Stephanie Langford
Pack Lightly Stylishly by Amanda Jimenez
The Art of Minimalist Organization by Ben Night
Seeking the Mystery by Christine Hoff Kraemer
The Scent of Magic by Andre Norton
Scarcity by Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan
Hedgewitch Book of Days by Mandy Mitchell
The Woman’s Fibromyalgia Toolkit by Drs Atul Deodhar and Dawn Marcus
Knitter’s Almanac, Commemorative Edition by Elizabeth Zimmermann
One Magic Square by Lola Houbein
DIY Chick Lit by Alicia de los Reyes
The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente
Market Yourself by Tara Swiger
Enough Already by Alan Cohen

I have lots of book WIPs! I didn’t realize how many books I had partly read. I wasn’t so bad with these until I started getting idevices. Now I not only have my Kobo Glo but also the Kobo app, the Kindle app, PDF Expert app and iBooks app. It’s too easy to have books started on all my devices!

Have you noticed a theme?

Books and yarn are a major part of my life!

FO Friday 24/06/2016

Happy Friday! I have many FOs to show you but not many patterns were involved.
I crocheted some slippers for an ex-co-worker. She and her husband have worn through the last pairs to the point of being past repair. She asked for two more sets each. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the last set before giving them to her! They are kind of a hodgepodge of components from different patterns.
www.BridgwaterCrafts.com
FOs galore!
I’ve also made a bunch of cloths. Some as design samples and some as spare Alys Cloths as that ex-co-worker mentioned referring people to me who had asked about dishcloths. No one has approached me yet but I’m getting prepared. I can always sell them via the community Facebook Storage Wars Group.
I’m going to warn you now there may not be an FO next week. The Talisman Shawl has taken over all my crafting time. It’s a very addictive knit!

WIP Wednesday 22/06/2016

I’ve been working on quite a few different projects. I’ve worked on my own designs and on another person’s design. As a result I have lots of WIPs to show you today.

Here’s my knit blanket sample:

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It’s longer than when you last saw it. It may be going on hiatus for the summer. A blanket on your lap during the hot months is not ideal.

I worked on my Snips and Snails socks. The first sock is finished except for weaving in ends and I’m heading down the leg of the other!

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I pulled my Rona Socks out of the WIP basket when I needed a mindless knit project. The ribbing and about 5 cm of leg was completed before. I’m at the point of starting the heel now.

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I’ve been working on a design. It will either be a shrug or a shell. Right now I’m leaning towards a shell.

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The main thing I am working on however is a shawl from another designer’s pattern. I joined Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade’s The Shawl Society. It’s a mystery knit-a-long with a twist. There are six shawl patterns being published one per month starting June 9. Each is published in its entirety but we only get hints about it beforehand. I joined in to expand my knitting skills and because I love shawls! There are mini-KALs for each shawl and an overarching KAL for the six. Prizes are involved. So is a great knitting community. The forum thread on Ravelry for this first shawl, Talisman Shawl, grows by leaps and bounds. I’m pages behind on the thread-I think there are over eighty pages now! I love the pattern and Helen’s design layout. It’s almost addictive to work on the shawl.

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Crochet Testers Wanted 04/06/2016

Bridgwater Crafts
Kaylin Spa Cloth

I’m almost finished my crochet design, Kaylin Spa Cloth. I just need to add some photos and do some formatting. So, it’s time to start looking for testers. If you are interested in becoming one of my testers please notify me by leaving a comment here, emailing me or pm me on Ravelry.

Kaylin is one of six designs in my upcoming Hooks, Needles and Spoons ebook. The ebook consists of three crochet and three knit patterns that are simple basics; simple enough you can work on them with little brainpower required and finish with a usable product.

Here’s the info again-I know it’s pretty small in the photo!
Necessary Skills (American Crochet Terms)
Slip Knot
Chain
Single Crochet
Weaving In Of Ends

Materials
Worsted Weight Cotton (50 g)
6 mm/J/10 hook
Tapestry Needle

Tester Requirements
Crochet washcloth by June 20.
Testers are required to provide feedback on clarity of instructions, errors found and any suggestions.
Complete a project page on Ravelry.
Link project page to pattern page upon publication.

Tester Compensation
In appreciation of their time and work, testers will be gifted the published pattern in their Ravelry libraries and a coupon code for 20% off any existing and new patterns in my Ravelry store valid until December 31, 2016.

FO Friday 18/03/2016

Happy Birthday Mackenzie! I can’t believe you’re 16 already!

My first finished object this week is a baby hat I made my friend in case she has a girl. Since they chose to not know the sex of the baby I made unisex hats for the baby shower but I want to have at least two girl hats too. This hat like the others I made is improvised so there’s no pattern to link. It’s just my standard hat with some lace on the brim.

A baby hat by www.BridgwaterCrafts.com
A hat for Baby Girl

The rest of my finished objects are lots of headbands. I made another for me and a bunch for Mackenzie’s birthday gift. I really like how these headbands fit and how they use up scraps. I am now leaning towards releasing the design.

Tanis Headband on www.BridgwaterCrafts.com
A gathering of headbands!

I didn’t get as much completed as I’d hoped this week but more than I usually do during a flare so I’m happy.

FO Friday…umm… FO Monday?

It has been a busy few days. That’s why Friday’s post is going up today with a few adjustments. I have quite a few finished objects to show off today. All are fairly small projects, I didn’t work as actively on the afghans this past week.
I spent last weekend whipping up these headbands. I needed fingering weight FOs for the Smitten Yarns February Stashdown on Ravelry . January was worsted, February was fingering, and March is sport weight. I didn’t use a pattern; I made one up but I may publish it in the future.
I also worked on baby hats for a friend’s baby shower this weekend. Again there was no pattern, just the standard crochet hat I devised over the years. They chose not to know the sex of the baby so I tried to use colours both parents like and could be considered unisex. I am making one or two girly hats too. Just in case, I can bring those over to her after the baby is born.
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But, my biggest FO of last week is the design I published on Saturday! This design began last year but I finally finished getting the pattern ready this past week. So please help me in welcoming Elspeth!
Elspeth Envelope holds your business or debit/credit cards for you safely even if they fall to the bottom of your bag, purse or tote bag. She can hold thirty business cards comfortably and even better, no more bent corners!