Rambling in the New Year...

Truth be told, I'm not much for New Years resolutions or even much for reflecting on the past year. I do, however, enjoy looking forward and I feel like rambling a bit today, so you may want to grab a cup of tea (or whiskey or wine, if that's your preference) as I share some of what's on my mind... 

This time of year is especially busy at the shop, so taking a moment to slow down can be challenging, but with encouragement from Mr. Yarnista, I'm on day 2 of a 9 day Winter Break that is very much needed. With our brick-and-mortar shop closed for a few days, this time is for me to slow down a wee bit, get caught up on a few things that have been looming over me, take some time to really focus on some work stuff that needs undivided attention, but (under strict orders from Hubby) I will be taking a fair amount of time just for myself to re-energize. I have plans for knitting and binge tv watching and I can't wait! Yay me!

The last year has been amazing, humbling, and more than I could ever have hoped for professionally. It's been an awesome experience to see Firefly Fibers grow over the last 6+ years and I hope to continue enjoying this for many years to come - many thanks to all of you that have supported me and our shop over the years. We're also into the second year of the Alisa the Yarnista Podcast and I've really enjoyed this endeavor that once seemed so terrifying to me.

Personally, I know I've neglected myself with my focus on work and all 3 of my boys have been neglected. I'm always looking to improve and challenge myself and a few months ago I started the huge undertaking of implementing a new point-of-sale and I'm currently in the process of building a new website - alone, these are both huge projects, but I'm doing both at the same time *and* during the busiest time of year. I'll try not to bore you with the technical details, but basically... when completed, our brick-and-mortar and online shops will be integrated and that means some time will be freed up for me, along with relieving a lot of stress as I say "goodbye" to the current (very) manual processes. I'm so very thankful that I have a supportive partner that understands the end goal of working smarter, not harder and why I've been absent for many weeks. It's nearing the end, but WOW, this is a big project!

Owning and operating a yarn shop is about the knitting (that's why I chose the business of a yarn shop), but it's definitely not about knitting all day. I wish that were the case. Most of my days are spent doing bookkeeping, ordering, correcting incorrect orders (always a not-so-fun task), maintaining the website (I do geek out over this a bit), packing online orders, checking in orders, doing inventory, researching new vendors and products, planning classes, teaching classes, sorting through emails, marketing (facebook, instagram, ravelry...), and this is just some of what I do. And, all that is in addition to working with the lovely knitters and chatting with my awesome vendorsReally, if something needs to be done, I do it. Mr. Yarnista helps out when he can, but he already has a full time job, so he can only do so much. To be clear and very honest, these aren't complaints, this is just what I do and I absolutely LOVE everything (well... maybe not needle ordering, because that really just sucks). This is the best job that I've ever had and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do something I love. Again, thank YOU for being part of this success.

As I look forward, I see the day where I've achieved balance between professional and "me" time (again, I'm taking steps so I can work smarter, not harder going forward). I'll be sharing (in detail) some of what I've been doing to maintain the crazy (and my sanity) in upcoming posts right here and I hope that at least some of it will be inspiring for you. I'm focused on continuing what's been working well for me and cutting out the excess "noise" and having a few days off to focus is going to be absolutely wonderful. It's only day 2 and I feel more like myself already and I hope that just improves over the next week.

I hope you're finding time to slow down and work on you, because we all deserve it.



SIMPLY HANDMADE-Along | Wrapping Up

With only 2 weeks left in the year and a week and a half until Christmas, the pressure is on. I'm feeling it and I'm sure you are, too. So, to wrap things up with the Simply Handmade-along, I'm focusing on 2 quick and simple projects that are fun to make and perfect for gifting. 


The first project is one of our newest additions at the shop, the popular Katrinkles Sweater Ornaments:

I adore these wee ornaments and, in addition to looking adorable hanging on a Christmas tree, they're also fabulous for dressing up gift packaging. With the hustle and bustle this time of year, I appreciate these quick projects because 1) they're pretty awesome, 2) I'm sure at least one can be completed in an evening (really, several could be stitched up if I can take a deep breath and not overthink it), and 3) they're handmade by Katy at Katrinkles and when they're stitched up with love (and some pretty floss or yarn), I'm sure they'll be well-received. 

We're stocked at Firefly Fibers here as the blank only or as a kit with a variety of 6 colors of floss and a size 24 tapestry needle (both include the cord for hanging). There have been some super fun versions posted on Instagram and one of my favorites used variegated sock yarn, so you can even stash dive for some fun bits of fingering weight yarn for stitching. Fun, right?!

I did say I had 2 projects this month, so we also have one of my all-time favorite projects from one of my all-time favorite designers... Marian by Jane Richmond:

I've knit several of these cowls over the years and several have made the rotation as a shop sample. When the new Sugar Bush Chill arrived a few weeks back, I had grand dreams of knitting Jane's new Entwine Scarf (you know, in all the free time I have), but reality set in with looming deadlines, so 2 balls of Chill and some big ol' needles seem to be just perfect for an "instant-gratification" project. 

I've got 2 balls of Chill in Grey River stashed in my knitting bag with a set of needles. Maybe I'll cast on tonight?

So... what do you think? Do you need to whip up a couple last-minute projects for gifts or do you just want to knit up a cozy, squishy, soft cowl for yourself? After all, it's cold outside now and we're expecting a BIG storm this weekend.

We love seeing your projects (and they get you chances to win), so be sure to share on social media with #HandmadeAlong and also here on Ravelry in the Firefly Fibers group. We'll have a final giveaway to officially wrap up this year's Simply Handmade-along, so be sure you're signed up here, share photos, and stay tuned for details... 

psst... you can use any yarn for Marian, but if you want to try Chill and order from the Firefly Fibers online shop on or before Sunday, December 18th, we're working hard to ship ASAP, so your order will be shipped out no later than Monday, December 19th. 


24 Hours #ForTheKids

Hello, Knitters!  It's Mike here & I'm going to write a blog post.  I read through a lot of Alisa's before she posts them, and I did actually write one other post a couple of years ago, but it's still kinda weird.  I don't want to intrude on Alisa's site so I make sure to only ask to contribute a story for something really important like beer, or helping kids.  This post is not about beer.

For the last few years I've watched from the sidelines as other individuals and groups have participated in the annual event called Extra Life.  Instead of trying to use my brain to make up words to describe Extra Life, I'm going to copy/paste the blurb from their website that says, "Extra Life unites thousands of players around the world in a 24 hour gaming marathon to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $22 million for local CMN Hospitals."

That's right, a gaming marathon.  Some people raise money for causes by running in actual marathons, but I really dislike running.  On the other hand, I really like games...video games especially.

This is the part where I hope to tap into your generosity.  All Extra Life donations go to Children's Miracle Network affiliated hospitals and each participant gets to choose the hospital their raised funds go to.  If you donate through me, 100% of your tax-deductible donation will go to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.  Every penny you donate goes to the hospital, nothing you give will be spent on administrative costs or overhead by Extra Life.

I've set a pretty aggressive goal of $750 for my first year & I'm really happy with the progress toward that goal.  Here's where we are so far:

To make this entertaining for you as well, I'l be live streaming the entire 24-hour event over on my Twitch channel.  My plan is to start the marathon at 10am on Saturday, November 12th.  Feel free to stop by on Twitch to keep me company in the chat, or just hang out to see how things are going.

I appreciate any amount you can give.  I also totally understand if you aren't able to contribute financially right now.  In either case, it would also be helpful if you could share my effort with your friends and family.  Please consider sharing my donation page by email, or through your social media sites.

If you have any questions (or game suggestions), you can comment through my donation page using Facebook comments.  I'm really looking forward to this event.  Let's do this #ForTheKids