On Taking a Social Media Sabbatical

create

create

Toward the end of 2015, I was feeling a little on edge.  My mind was unsettled, anxious even. It felt like there were so many things pulling at my attention; from the important to the mundane to the downright egocentric.

Fear of missing out and comparing myself to others are two strong feelings that come up for me regularly when I’m in the throes of a good binge on Instagram.  I often find my mind swirling with thoughts like “I wish my house were that tidy and white and stylish” or “I wish all my kids wore adorable handmade bonnets all the time” or “I wish my business had 50,000 followers” or “Why doesn’t my creative space look like that”, “wait, do I have a creative space?!”, and on and on and on.

Often times I’m scrolling in the dark, my face and mind aglow with so many of these depleting thoughts.

All while I’m nursing my beautiful, healthy baby boy. Who’s wearing a hand knit sweater. In the home we own. After a fulfilling day at work in the business that I built from the ground up.  I mean, get a grip lady!

So I quit and took a social media sabbatical for 14 days.

My specific problem was this: I was distracted by what everyone else was doing on social media.  Constantly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I was repeatedly bombarding myself with beautiful images of what other people were doing.  I love a lot of things about social media: the connection to others, the inspiring imagery, the access to new information.

But in spending too much time on social, I was letting feelings of envy, self-doubt and FOMO creep in.  Worst still,  I wasn’t making anything myself.  For all that time spent consuming other people’s content was time NOT spent with my own creativity.

Specifically, it was time NOT spent reading, writing, baking, sewing, knitting, staring at my nursing baby, or simply being alone and quiet with my thoughts.

I was checking Instagram almost reflexively throughout my day.  First thing when I woke up. While I waited for the coffee to brew.  While I brushed my teeth. At stoplights.  In line.  While I ate my lunch.  While I nursed my son.

This last one was the kicker.

One night, as I was nursing him before bed and mindlessly scrolling though those beautiful little squares on Instagram, I had a moment.  He had stopped nursing, and who knows how long it was before I noticed. When I did eventually look down at him, he was smiling up at me with those big, beautiful eyes of his.  And I nearly missed it.  Missed it because I was looking at someone else’s perfectly curated pictures of motherhood.

To call this a wakeup moment is an understatement.

Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to quit social media for a bit.  A social media sabbatical, I called it.

For two whole weeks, I stayed off all my personal social media accounts.*  

I was expecting this to be a difficult time.  Seriously, so many points in my day were marked by checking in on Instagram and Facebook, that I didn’t know how I would feel without them there as crutches.

That’s what social media had become for me: a crutch. A way to decompress and be distracted from my own thoughts.  A way to not be alone when I was feeling lonely.  And instead of taking notice of those feelings and doing something about them, I was distracting myself from them.

Now this isn’t always a bad thing.  We need a break from ourselves sometimes, for sure!  But when it becomes a mindless, habitual, mind-numbing thing, it’s time to take a look at what’s really going on.

So, what happened during my 2 week Social Media Sabbatical.

Nothing.

I didn’t miss a thing.

But I did learn a few valuable things about myself.  The big thing is this:

I enjoy creating content to share with others.  I enjoy consuming the content made by others.

But one has to happen more than the other.  In other words:

In order to feel grounded and connected with my best creative self, I need to be creating more than I’m consuming.

In order to help set myself up for success, I’ve placed some boundaries around my social media consumption and sharing.  I developed some new boundaries around my personal & business accounts, and have a new strategy for what I will (or will not) post.

Some of the habits I developed during my social media sabbatical:

  • Leaving my phone in another room
  • Reading an actual book, from start to finish, while nursing and before bed.
  • Logging out of Facebook and deleting the app from my phone.
  • No longer taking my phone into my baby’s room at night.
  • Not checking Instagram first thing in the morning.

Two weeks went by really fast, and for the most part I didn’t miss social.

I had to stretch outside my comfort zone a bit in those moments when I would normally be scrolling.  Oftentimes I would challenge myself to settle in and let my mind wander; this is something I had no problem enjoying before social media!  Other times, I would simply choose a different activity.  I got so much knitting and reading done in those two weeks!

My mind felt clearer, and I was less distracted.  I felt more grounded, present.

When the two weeks were up, I was a bit reluctant to log back into my social media accounts.

Ultimately I did check in on what a handful of friends had posted on Instagram, but for the most part I hadn’t missed anything earth-shattering.

And because people knew I wasn’t on social, they told me about their stuff in person.  Amazing!  In this age of social media. it’s all too easy to assume that everyone knows (or cares) about what you’re posting, tweeting, sharing, and gramming.

Now it’s been a few weeks since I’ve returned, and I can already feel myself slipping. Checking my phone idly while I have 2 minutes to wait for something.  Feeling like I “need” to post something.  Wanting to feel distracted for a moment.

And that’s okay.  The point is, I got some clarity and know what it feels like to be creatively grounded. And I can return to my mantra again and again when things feel shaky.

Create more than you consume.  Create more than you consume.

How about you?  Have you ever taken a social media sabbatical?  Have thoughts about creativity and consumption of other people’s work?  I’d love to continue the discussion with you in the comments!

*I did have to log in to my business accounts, but I would post or check for questions, and then back out quietly.  No scrolling.  No distractions.

Tales of a Neutral Rainbow


  
  
Are you as obsessed with Instagram as I am?

As a maker and all around visual person, I find endless inspiration on Instagram.  From knitting and sewing to cooking and home decor, it’s easy to find lots to love.  Sometimes all that inspiration can become overwhelming and noisy.  But when it’s good, it’s really good.

A couple of months ago, many of the knitters I follow started making the same shawl.  I watched these shawls take shape and grow, lumpy masses of wooly lace on the needles.  And as more and more friends finished their shawls, my desire to knit one of my own grew stronger.

The pattern was in the back of my mind as I set off to Black Sheep Gathering in June.  If I find just the right yarn for this shawl, I will make it!  I thought to myself.

You can imagine what happened when I visited Brooke in her booth, Sincere Sheep.  This bouncy, earthy Rambouillet jumped into my hands, and before I knew it there was a neutral rainbow of wool laid out on the table.  In that instant the idea for a shawl knit up in a natural gradient was born.

I stumbled a bit through the first clue of this shawl (it was originally a mystery knit-along).  Its rhythm didn’t come naturally to me, and I had to pay close attention to the pattern.  Soon enough it all clicked, and I was off!

And just as I was once obsessed with looking at other people’s shawls on Instagram, I became obsessed with knitting my own.  Other projects sat untouched over the last couple of weeks as I embarked on a mission to finish this.

I’m so glad I let the inspiration I found online follow me into real life.  I’m happy I took action and made something my own.  It was a joy to knit, and I can just imagine it will be very cozy to wear as soon as the weather starts to cool.


Pattern: Tales from the Isle of Purbeck – MKAL by Annie Rowden (@byannieclaire on Instagram)  Yarn: Equity Sport from Sincere Sheep.  Ravelry notes here.

On Knitting the Wrong Size.

DSC_0462 DSC_0463 DSC_0466 DSC_0468 I’m disappointed with Togue Pond.

Actually, I’m disappointed with myself.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a fantastic pattern.  The yarn is lovely, and I enjoyed knitting it.  But it was the wrong pattern choice for my body right now.

The thing is, I’m just 4 months postpartum, and my body is not the shape it used to be.  And after years of knitting sweaters and tops for one size, I just automatically knit that size.  I knew that some things are a little bigger right now (hello, double D’s), but I nonchalantly figured it would all come out in the wash, so to speak.  Linen is supposed to be drapey and grow, right?!

Well, it is, and it does, but not enough.

I’m fighting the urge to rip this out and re-knit the yarn into a more flattering piece.  I won’t though, because I know that things are still changing.  I need to be gentle and patient with myself.  This extends beyond my knits into my regular wardrobe.  Precious few things fit well, and the rest are too big or too small.  Chances are, if I am patient, this top will fit me soon.  And that will be just fine.

In the meantime, I’m going to spend my time knitting socks and shawls and things that don’t need to fit my torso!  I will also think about knitting things with positive ease and a flattering silhouette for my more shapely shape.  And I will definitely take my new measurements before picking a size!

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you tackle dressing a changing shape post-baby?

Pattern: Togue Pond by Pam Allen  Yarn: Quince & Co Kestrel in Porpoise {Ravelry notes here}

 Just Because

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   I love it when I get an idea for something and I have no idea where the inspiration came from.  The elements of this project came together organically, and I just went with it, not overthinking it.  Knitting doesn’t always have to play by the rules!  I wanted a project where I could improvise, be free to play and experiment.  Black, white, and neon all over seemed like a good idea.  And mixing up the heels, cuffs and toes?  Well, that just felt whimsical and sometimes that’s just the thing.

These socks were my purse and on-the-go knitting for the past couple of months.  They came together bit by bit in cars, restaurants, shops, and at home when anything else seemed like too much trouble.  Stitch by stitch, row by row they grew without me really even trying.  The yarn was just such a pleasure to work with, and I was so amused with thinking about what color to use next.

Both of these yarns are from Knitted Wit, a dyer whose color sense is rich, multifaceted, and a bit whimsical.  You can get more details over on my Ravelry page.

That’s two pairs of socks this year!  I’m tempted to cast on another pair to have as my portable knitting. What are your go-to simple sock patterns?

Yarn Along :: Love & Linen


I raced through Eleanor & Park and loved it! Needing to stay in the vein of keeping my reading simple and not too dark, I checked the library for a book I keep hearing great things about. Imagine my delight when I found a copy of The Rosie Project straight away! Bonus: it came up as a 14-day checkout, but wasn’t marked as such. So the librarian gave it to me as a regular check out. It’s these simple, nerdy things that can really make my day!

My knitting has been cruising right along. I’ve mainly been working on True Friend, and and about to start the ribbing at the hem.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can check out how it looked a couple days ago!  My socks have also seen some love and aren’t far from being finished.

So with two project close to the end, it’s time to start something new, right?  A fresh project is on the needles for the Stash Spring KAL.   I cast on Togue Pond (twice, actually. Pro tip: read the pattern before you cast on!).  The linen is lovely to work with.  It’s smooth and a bit silky while still being crisp.  I’m looking forward to wearing this top!

Knitting: Togue Pond by Pam Allen in Quince & Co. Kestrel {Ravelry notes here}

Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

So what’s on your nightstand and needles this week?

On the needles : Spring update

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It’s full on Spring in Oregon now.  The crocus and daffodils have come and gone, the tulips have peaked, and now we’re eagerly anticipating the first unfurling of a peony bud.  With the help of a friend, I’ve recently prepared our raised garden beds for planting.  We’ve already got broccoli starts happily nestled in their new homes, and the pea seeds G planted last month are rapidly growing.

My knitting has also been growing quite quickly.  I’ve kept it to two projects for the past month or so, and it’s remarkable to see them grow at a steady pace.  Especially since they’re both in fingering weight yarn!

I’ve always loved color and pattern, and am not one to shy away from either in my knitting.  And yet this year something has inspired me to work a bit more in neutrals, especially when it comes to garments.  This will give me some new pieces that I can mix and match with all the store bought color and pattern in my wardrobe.

IMG_1447IMG_1314So when perusing the stash for options for True Friend, a newish sweater pattern by Veera Välimäki, I was drawn to the many shades of grey I’ve been stashing.  These hand-dyed yarns have so many lovely transitions between light and dark, I think they work really well together. {Ravelry notes here}

This pattern has a bit of an unusual construction, but it’s simple at the same time.  Which makes this the perfect knit for my still slightly baby-fogged brain!  The stripes make up the body and sleeves at the same time, with every other row adding stitches.  I’m well over 600 stitches per round now!  The end of this section is in sight, which is thrilling.

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That is my at-home knitting.  When I’m out and about, I have this pair of socks tucked into my bag.  Neutral black and white that I’m popping with neon accents on the cuff, heel and toe.  I’m loving knitting with the Victory Sock by Knitted Wit. It’s soft and sturdy, with just the right amount of sproing! for socks.  I’m about halfway down the foot of the second sock, so these will be off the needles very soon.  Time to start thinking about my next on-the-go project!

{as much as I’m absolutely loving knitting with all this grey and black, I think it’s time to cast on a new project with some color…}

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Speaking of next projects, I just cast on for the Stash Spring Linen knit along.  In the spirit of working with neutrals, I chose this sumptuous silver grey linen by Quince & Co (colorway Porpoise).  Togue Pond is a sleeveless top with a high-low hem and some subtle shaping details that make it very special.  I’m looking forward to working with a new to me yarn on huge needles (10.5, whoa)!

What’s on your needles this Spring?

Also, I can’t seem to stop taking pictures of my knitting with cups of coffee and tea. If you’re often stitching with a cup of something nearby, consider sharing over on Instagram with the hashtag #knitsandsips.  I’d love to see what you’re making and drinking!

Yarn Along :: Easy is Good

Leisure time is pretty unpredictable with a newborn around the house. Some days he sleeps the day away and not only do I enjoy luxuries like a shower and taking my time to eat, I get to knit.

You know me: I need to knit like I need to sleep in order to feel somewhat balanced. Right now the time and my mental energy are such that simple, easy projects are perfection.

Stockinette and garter stitch are the daily specials. Projects thatI can pick up and work on for a stitch, a row, or an inch at a time and toss in the knitting basket in a hurry. To that end I have some simple socks and a top that needs 12 inches of stockinette stitch on the needles. Easy, simple, knitting perfection for this season in my life.

Same goes for reading! What’s the equivalent of a stockinette sock? How about a space adventure? This is the story of Mark Watney and what happens when he’s mistaken for dead and left behind on Mars by his crew. He’s a funny & persistent protagonist, and there are some interesting moral issues to contemplate. But mostly it’s an easy, adventurous read. Again, perfect for right now.

How about you? What are you knitting & reading this week?

Knitting: A Nice Ribbed Sock in Victory Sock by Knitted Wit and True Friend by Veera Valimaki in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Sock.  You can view my project details on Ravelry where I can be found as PeacefulKnitter. 

Reading: The Martian by Andy Weir