Project 333: The Final Selection

Sep 30, 2010
With Project 333 kicking off officially tomorrow, I thought I would share the final choices I’ve made.  Remember, I can only have/wear 33 items of clothing between October 1 and the end of 2010, not including undies, socks, sleepwear, workout gear (haahahah!) and my wedding rings.

When I initially joined on with this challenge, I made quite the perfect little list. Complete with five each of four different types of shirts (tanks, short sleeve, long sleeve, and sweaters), my list fit everything I knew my life would be for the coming months. Taking a nod from Gala Darling and her style direction piece for the fall/winter seasons, I came up with some basic rules – nothing as elaborate as what Gala does, but then I’m not really a fashion maven, so it’s understandable!

It was then that things took a turn. For better or worse, I will most likely need to purchase some new clothes in the coming three months. I know it’s coming, but I don’t have the desire or the money to make the purchases now. So I am changing up the rules a bit.

For the time being, I’m sticking with my list, as written back in early September. My simple shirts, three pair pants, and a few accessories should hold me off for at least the first month of the challenge.

However, I am allowing myself the ability to change up my 33 items if need be. I will not have more than 33 items in my active wardrobe for the next three months, and will only replace items on an as-needed basis, changing out one new item for one from the list. Most likely items to be ditched quickly are the tees, jeans, and work pants.

Here is a list of my 33 items, as it stands today:

1-5: Tank tops. These are for layering in cold weather.
6-10: Tee shirts. Work appropriate, and with varying sleeve lengths.
11-15: Long-sleeve shirts. Work appropriate - this includes cardigans as well, as I wear these more often than long-sleeve shirts.
16-20: Sweaters. Pullovers only here, these are for the coldest days of the year.
21. Winter coat.
22. Black knee-high boots
23. Black flats.
24: Black wedges.
25: Grey bag - for when I need to carry a bit more stuff.
26: White purse - this is for my day to day.
27. Black work pants.
28-29: Jeans, one skinny and the other boot cut.
30. Hand-knit hat, black.
31. Husker shirt, red and short-sleeved.
32. Sunglasses.
33. Tan belt.

The beauty of a project like this is in the tweaking, I believe. I’m so excited to see how Courtney tackles the project she came up with, and can’t wait to join in on the Facebook discussion. I also know that the point of this exercise is to be mindful of what we’re wearing and purchasing, and I am more mindful of my wardrobe choices right now than I ever have been. Because of that, I’m comfortable exchanging a few of the items from this list as needed in the coming weeks.

Now that I’ve shared my wardrobe, this is the plan going forward:

I will update in my monthly with how I’m doing on the challenge – what pieces aren’t working, what I’m not using, what I’m missing, and what I’m loving. I’m going to try to take photos of some of the outfits I come up with, and I’ll share those over at my Flickr account, and I'll also share if I end up swapping anything out.

Much like the Thing A Day Challenge from August I know that this is a side project, and a personal one at that, and there will be many of you who will not be interested. I want to minimize boring and off-topic posts as much as possible, so I’m going to try to keep this stuff to monthly updates and that’s it.

Are you participating in Project 333? How much of this are you interested in hearing about as the project kicks off? Any questions or thoughts, I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Project 333: The Final Selection

With Project 333 kicking off officially tomorrow, I thought I would share the final choices I’ve made.  Remember, I can only have/wear 33 items of clothing between October 1 and the end of 2010, not including undies, socks, sleepwear, workout gear (haahahah!) and my wedding rings.

When I initially joined on with this challenge, I made quite the perfect little list. Complete with five each of four different types of shirts (tanks, short sleeve, long sleeve, and sweaters), my list fit everything I knew my life would be for the coming months. Taking a nod from Gala Darling and her style direction piece for the fall/winter seasons, I came up with some basic rules – nothing as elaborate as what Gala does, but then I’m not really a fashion maven, so it’s understandable!

It was then that things took a turn. For better or worse, I will most likely need to purchase some new clothes in the coming three months. I know it’s coming, but I don’t have the desire or the money to make the purchases now. So I am changing up the rules a bit.

For the time being, I’m sticking with my list, as written back in early September. My simple shirts, three pair pants, and a few accessories should hold me off for at least the first month of the challenge.

However, I am allowing myself the ability to change up my 33 items if need be. I will not have more than 33 items in my active wardrobe for the next three months, and will only replace items on an as-needed basis, changing out one new item for one from the list. Most likely items to be ditched quickly are the tees, jeans, and work pants.

Here is a list of my 33 items, as it stands today:

1-5: Tank tops. These are for layering in cold weather.
6-10: Tee shirts. Work appropriate, and with varying sleeve lengths.
11-15: Long-sleeve shirts. Work appropriate - this includes cardigans as well, as I wear these more often than long-sleeve shirts.
16-20: Sweaters. Pullovers only here, these are for the coldest days of the year.
21. Winter coat.
22. Black knee-high boots
23. Black flats.
24: Black wedges.
25: Grey bag - for when I need to carry a bit more stuff.
26: White purse - this is for my day to day.
27. Black work pants.
28-29: Jeans, one skinny and the other boot cut.
30. Hand-knit hat, black.
31. Husker shirt, red and short-sleeved.
32. Sunglasses.
33. Tan belt.

The beauty of a project like this is in the tweaking, I believe. I’m so excited to see how Courtney tackles the project she came up with, and can’t wait to join in on the Facebook discussion. I also know that the point of this exercise is to be mindful of what we’re wearing and purchasing, and I am more mindful of my wardrobe choices right now than I ever have been. Because of that, I’m comfortable exchanging a few of the items from this list as needed in the coming weeks.

Now that I’ve shared my wardrobe, this is the plan going forward:

I will update in my monthly with how I’m doing on the challenge – what pieces aren’t working, what I’m not using, what I’m missing, and what I’m loving. I’m going to try to take photos of some of the outfits I come up with, and I’ll share those over at my Flickr account, and I'll also share if I end up swapping anything out.

Much like the Thing A Day Challenge from August I know that this is a side project, and a personal one at that, and there will be many of you who will not be interested. I want to minimize boring and off-topic posts as much as possible, so I’m going to try to keep this stuff to monthly updates and that’s it.

Are you participating in Project 333? How much of this are you interested in hearing about as the project kicks off? Any questions or thoughts, I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Minimalism and Passion: Joshua Becker

Sep 29, 2010
As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.

 Almost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.

Today's interview is with Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. For two years now Joshua and his family have been living the minimalist life in Vermont, and sharing their journey towards what he calls "rationalist minimalism" online.

He is also the author of two amazing e-books - Simplify and Inside-Out Simplicity. You can check out my short reviews here.

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

JB: My passions in life have always centered around inspiring others to live their best life possible. I've never chosen a career path for the sake of money, but instead chose a path that would give me opportunity to speak into others' lives on a consistent basis.

I never realized how my possessions were weighing me down and getting in the way of that passion until someone opened my eyes to that fact. Once they did, I quickly moved towards minimalism as a means to lighten my burden and provide myself with even more opportunity to inspire others - especially within my own young family.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

JB: I think the greatest shift in my passion centers around the reality that I have found so much freedom in a minimalist lifestyle. I have enjoyed inspiring others to live more by owning less. And while I wouldn't say "minimalism" is the greatest good or the loftiest goal that one can aspire to, it has become a centerpiece of the inspiration that I seek to become - precisely because it frees us up to pursue the greatest goals of spirituality, love, and relationships.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

JB: I have actually experienced a ton of newfound creativity since adopting the lifestyle of minimalism. In many ways, the things that I owned were slowing me down, keeping me tied to the past. Removing most of them has given me a new freedom to create. In addition to that, I have found my creative juices flow best when running, showering, or waking up in the morning.

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

JB: I rarely shop anymore. Other than a grocery store, I literally have no desire to enter them anymore - it's very liberating. Our biggest trouble spot is stuff that we owned before we became minimalist. And while we have removed roughly 75% of our belongings, there are still a few boxes in the basement that we haven't gotten to yet. (It's just so easy to put the boxes in the basement corner and try to forget about them... but obviously I haven't). Additionally, continuing the theme of "prior ownership," I wish I lived in a smaller home closer to public transportation. But that's got to be a family decision...

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?

JB: First, just jump in - the water's warm. Second, I'd tell them to take their time and find their own personal brand of minimalism. Interestingly, I would tell them to avoid reading too many blogs about minimalism. When we started our journey, I only read these two articles about minimalism: 1) Ehow and 2) Zen Habits. Both gave me just enough principle to get started. From there, I was able to develop my own personal brand of minimalism that would fit my unique lifestyle. Don't get too caught up in what everybody else is writing about their personal minimalism - use it for inspiration, but not necessarily specific direction.

Kanoko Pants For Babes {Simple Knits}

Sep 28, 2010
I have such a soft spot for baby knits - they tend to work up fast, and just about everything looks ridiculously adorable in miniature. The Kanoko Pants are no exception to this rule - perfect in every way!

Kanoko
I've knit this pattern a few times in the past, and this latest pair of Kanoko pants are about to head out to San Fransisco, where they will joyfully wrap up around the legs of a little girl named Lu who was just born!
With the perfect amount of wiggle room for a diapered butt and three sizes to ensure a fit up to a toddler's wandering legs, these pants work up in three days and have just enough patterning to keep your fingers and needles interested while you work these up.

I love the Kanoko Pants pattern so much that I'll be using it in the future as part of my Knit 10,000 goal - I can picture pants like this by the dozens, in wools and wool blends, ready to head off around the world to keep little legs of all nationalities warm and cozy!

For more info on my version of these pants, see my Ravelry page {viewable by all!}. Those interested in knitting their own Kanoko Pants can download the free pattern on the Ymymmytm Blog.

Of Book-Learning, Minimalism, And What I Love To Read

Sep 24, 2010
Earlier today was full of book suggestions, and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve added so many new books to my Amazon wish list, and was pleasantly surprised at the number of them that are available for the Kindle.

In the spirit of that sharing, I wanted to share with you a few books I’ve been loving on in the past few months. Most of these are e-books, which means you can download them straight to your computer and enjoy them at your leisure {or at your work-place, if that’s how you roll}.

Some of these books I’ve shared about in the past – and in those cases, I’ve linked to my reviews so you can see more of what I’ve got to say. Some of them I haven’t shared with you, due more to forgetfulness on my part than their not being amazing – you should check them out for yourself to decide if you’d like them.

Some of these are free – and I’ve noted where they are – and some of these e-books are for sale. Don’t let that little factoid hamper your decision to purchase them, however – it was these very e-books that were the catalyst for my moving towards a more minimalist existence, and each of them offers tremendous value to you!


Sell Your Crap by Adam Baker of ManVsDebt. The newest book added to my minimalist arsenal, Sell Your Crap is the perfect book for those of you who are looking to downsize your lives but don’t know where to begin! Baker takes you through the differences between “stuff” and “crap”, how to make a buck or two off all that stuff you’re downsizing from your life, and how to keep up the momentum after the initial rush.

The extended version comes with guides designed to help you sell more stuff on Amazon, E-Bay, and Craigslist, and points out the one thing I did wrong that burned me out from it, when I could’ve happily sold more stuff a long time ago. If you’re stuck with a lot of stuff, wanting to get rid of it, but not sure where to start, I’ve just handed you the key.

 Minimalist Business and The Art Of Being Minimalist by Everett Bogue. When I was floundering with my own journey, The Art Of Being Minimalist led me towards my specific goals and my minimalist knitter path. When I was trying to figure out if my dream of earning a living while knitting was even possible, Ev’s Minimalist Business reminded me that the gatekeepers have been tossed aside, and I shouldn’t let anything stand in my way!

The Zen Habits Trilogy from Leo Babauta. These books were the initial catalyst for me – reminders of how to simplify my routines, my thoughts, and my life. Leo’s writing is cited by almost every minimalist blogger out there as a huge influence, and I’m not different. He was doing it when no one else was!

 Inside-Out Simplicity and Simplify by Joshua Becker . Passionate about what he calls “rational minimalism”, Joshua lives and works with his wife and two kids, and offers a unique perspective to minimalism. Perfect to challenge me with my husband and our home and our cats, these books reminded me that I could be a minimalist and still have a backyard I loved to walk barefoot in, that I didn’t have to travel to a new city every four months, and that I had a place in this movement.

Consume Less, Create More from step1network. This e-book is by far and away the one that spoke most deeply to my creative spirit. Written with artists in mind, it offered up concrete examples and action steps when I was caught up in my head, in the planning of my minimalist journey.

 Smalltopia by Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens. Tammy rocks a super minimalist lifestyle, and rides around on her bike, totally car-free. While my city isn’t the most car-free-friendly place to live, my husband and I have been taking steps to be ‘car-lite’. What Tammy rocked my world with, however, was her vision of Smalltopia, and the idea that I could create my own little perfect spot on the planet to house my dreams and passions.

279 Days to Overnight Success by Chris Guillebeau. You couldn’t pay me to remember how I came across Chris and his free manifestos, but I promise you that this free e-book has been the catalyst to the majority of my journey towards living my best life. I turn back to it at least twice a year to set me back on my truest path, and thanks to it I’ve killed things that haven’t worked in order to make room for my right path to have room to grow. If you’re at a loss, looking for a good place to start but are unsure of where that place is, this e-book is for you.

Small Ways To Make A Big Difference ed. by Raam Dev.c A compilation of great advice from around the web and the world, Small Ways is full of just that – small ways we can affect big change on the world one day at a time. Features ideas as diverse as “live intentionally” and “under-think your life purpose”!

Super-Charge Your Life and Your Mission

Sep 23, 2010
Six weeks ago, I decided to kill my life list. Since that time I’ve been focusing on my main thing, which is to knit 10,000 items for charity in my lifetime. I’ve also experienced major life upheaval, pared down a thing a day, and started a new Life List.

Wait, what?

As life has moved forward in the past six weeks, I’ve noticed I’ve been unable to focus as clearly as I’d been focusing in the past. And yes, some of that has to do with some of the other stuff that’s been going on, but as I started to dig deeper, I realized that not having a life list was actually doing more harm than good.

It sounds simple to focus on one life mission – for Chris Guillebeau it’s helping people live unconventional lives, for Ev Bogue it’s helping people start minimalist businesses – but as I’ve attempted to focus on knitting 10,000 items for charity and thus inspire others to devote their knitting time to others, I’ve noticed a very important fact.

Simply having a mission isn’t enough.

I had my mission, and I was convinced that’s all it took to get from point A to point B – wrong! Without focus, action steps, and even Life List items, I have been flailing about for the past six weeks, shooting in the dark more or less.

My unreasonable goal to knit 10,000 items for charity needed focus I wasn’t giving it. My old Life List was scattered to be sure, but it gave me something to look at and focus on. Without a list of any kind, I just grabbed yarn and needles and attempted to make something work.

It wasn’t working.

And so a few weeks ago I sat down with a pen and a piece of paper, and started to set actionable items, ways to accomplish my dream of knitting 10,000 items for charity. One large goal quickly became ten smaller steps, each helping me step closer to my unreasonable goal. I was able to see how I could crochet squares, knit sweaters, and add more hats to my original One Hundred, and step ever closer each year to 10,000.

I needed to work out my goal the way I’d tell someone else to. If a friend came to me with a huge life dream, unsure of how to accomplish it, I’d tell them to break it down into smaller steps. I’d suggest writing down these steps in a list, and then breaking the steps down even farther as necessary until you knew exactly what you had to do, and exactly how long each step would take.

I needed to follow my own advice, and live the life I wanted other people to live.

Once I got the smaller goals for my Knit 10,000 dream down, I kept right on writing. I began to add other, supplemental goals to my list. Before I knew what was happening, I had a Life List written again – this time around 60 actionable items, all of which make my heart sing and give me focus.

The problem with my old Life List was that it was meant for someone else – full of borrowed items and visions of someone I never truly wanted to be, it became one more thing I felt I had to do in order to become who I thought I wanted to be, who I thought I should want to be.

That list was not me.

As I thought about what makes me happy, and the things I’m most proud of accomplishing in my life, I began to see gaps – and my new Life List became a way to fill in those gaps. Not with things I thought I should be doing, but with goals and trips and ideas that were secret dreams, stories I knew I’d always wanted to tell.

You can see my Life List here. I’m sharing it not to be accountability-girl, and not to show off the things I want to accomplish with my life. I share it to show what a Life List full of Robyn-centered dreams looks like, and to encourage you to think about writing your own list.

I intend to cross off every one of these items – you’ll notice a few already are, and the list is only a few weeks old. Owning my dreams has encouraged me to start living them, in both big and small ways. It can do the same for you.




For the next 48 hours only, when you buy any one of my patterns, you'll get one free! See my patterns page for more details!

Seven Women’s Sweater Patterns For Fall {Simple Knits}

Sep 21, 2010
Fall is fast approaching, and nothing goes with autumn better than a hand-knit sweater to throw on as the nights get colder. A cardigan is perfect to rock around the campfire, and will keep your arms warm after the warm fall sun goes down!

While most sweater patterns are meant to be knit over time, to show off stitch patterns and design features, my favorite sweaters to knit are the ones that scream minimalism from their very fiber. New sweater patterns crop up every week, but it’s the ones that showcase minimalist design that seem to catch my eye.


These seven sweater patterns are the perfect examples of that minimalist design mentality. Knit with simple techniques, on worsted weight or thicker yarn, and with clear instructions, any of these sweaters should take you less than a month to knit up, leaving you with a warm hand-knit to show off as the weather gets chilly and the leaves fall from the trees!


Minimalist Cardigan {pictured at left}. It’s in the name! Strike against it is the seed stitch pattern throughout – if you love seed stitch you’ll love this! If you’re like me however, you’ll want to knit this one in stockinette


Garter Yoke Cardigan from Knitting School Dropout – clean lines and row after row of stockinette makes this one of my favorites. Strike against it is the waist shaping – leave it out for a slightly looser fit and a quicker knit.


Tea Leaves Cardigan, also from Knitting School Dropout – Ah Melissa, I love your work so much! Tea Leaves picks up where Sweater #22 leaves off – a bit more detail around the neckline, a more luxurious yarn used and you’ve got a wonderfully fancy sweater you can trust to hold up to everyday wear and tear. Bonus points for Melissa’s sweaters being knit in one piece from the top down!


Cardigan Neutral from Vickie Howell – originally written for one of her books, this pattern is now available for free. Thanks Vickie! Plus, it uses Caron yarns, so you can buy what you need for this sweater at your local big box craft store if need be. Just a tiny bit of detail knitting at the bottom will keep you entertained – or leave it out for a super minimalist knit.


Oatmeal Pullover {pictured at right} from Jane Richmond – my love for Jane has extended beyond her hat patterns, and straight into this sweater. I plan to knit one up for at least one family member to give as a holiday gift, and then one for myself for lounging around the house. Jane gets her bonus points from using bulky yarn – this bad boy should whip up in no time at all!


Buttony Sweater from Oh My Stars – I love the side buttons on this bad boy! This sassy sweater is perfect to knit up for the tween or teen in your life to be sure.


Shalom from Meghan McFarlane – this sweater gets super bonus points because I’m pretty sure you could finish it in a week if you tried hard! It’s one downfall? It comes with only one size and no sleeves. However, it’s got a ridiculously huge following on Ravelry, and the notes each knitter adds when they knit it offer up volumes of advice!


Just looking at these sweaters has me excited for brisk fall nights and a new handmade sweater to enjoy them in! I’m hoping to cast on at least one of these in the coming weeks – which one do you think I should make first?

Bittersweet: Review And A Giveaway!

Sep 20, 2010
This morning I'm pleased to bring you not just a review of a great book I've been loving on the last few weeks, but also a super fun giveaway!

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way is the second book by author Shauna Niequist, writer of faith and the intersection between daily life and the divine. Her essays have been read around the globe, and touch on some of the most basic shared human experiences - food, friends, and family.


In Bittersweet, Shauna tackles the idea of change and grace, two things that have been heavy on my mind of late. As I touched on Friday, life has been throwing me too many curve balls of late, and while I'm excited to pursue all these new twists and turns through a minimalist lens, it can be easy to get caught up and forget all the important stuff.


At a place in my life where everything is so acutely colored with both the bitter and the sweet, it was comforting to dig into these essays from Shauna. In truth, our daily lives are always colored with both sides of the coin, but it is often forgotten - and so in a season of life when everything around me so obviously reminds me to be thankful, that there is both positive and negative always, and yes that there is both bitter and sweet in every moment, this book was a God-send. I have turned back to the pages of this book time and again for comfort and peace, a reminder that I am not the only one who has ever felt so lost and so confused, and yet so infused with life and passionate about every single moment.


In celebration of this book, I am offering up a super fun giveaway - one commenter will win both Bittersweet and Shauna's first book, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life! To win both copies, simply leave a comment to this post with a great book you've been reading lately. I will draw a winner on Friday.

Boneyard Shawl {Simple Knits}

Sep 16, 2010
There is something that snaps in me when I hear I have a friend in need. Whether the need is a joyful one such as a blanket for a new babe, or a more somber one, my hands begin to twitch over the keys on the keyboard as I search for the perfect knit. It feels ingrained really - before I know what's happening, the items I had been knitting on have been set aside, yarn from my stash has been found that perfectly matches a pattern, and I have begun to knit.

This is how I cast on for the Boneyard Shawl.


Boneyard1

Unfortunately named for the purpose at hand, I found the Boneyard Shawl the perfect item to knit up for an old friend who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. As she begins chemo treatments, she will be in need of warmth, and this simple and beautiful shawl was the perfect choice.

Knit in Lion Brand Woolease, the shawl will have just enough wool to keep her warm and snuggly, while still making it washable and easy to care for should she need that. Working up quick and easy on size 10 needles, this shawl took me all of four days to finish from cast on to weaving in ends - and that includes a lot of time taken off to knit on other projects, to head to work, and to do other day-to-day stuffs that had to be done.


Boneyard2

I wish I could capture the beauty of the colors in this shawl better - it heathers between royal blue and deep blue, with flecks of purples and gray mixed in that give it a gorgeous texture that I just can't seem to capture. I wish I could be there to wrap my arms around Amy personally while she goes through this. I wish I could re-name the shawl just this one time - Boneyard does not seem like the name I want to pass down in a shawl earmarked for a healing purpose.

I wish a lot as I send this shawl off to be used and loved by my friend and her family, but I am grateful for the pattern that gave me a simple knit I could get ready to go. This is the crux of my love of simple knits, really - something that works up fast and easy, looks gorgeous immediately, and will be loved by anyone who receives it.

Download the Boneyard Shawl pattern for free through Ravelry!

Minimalism and Passion: Andrea Scher

Sep 15, 2010
As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.
Andrea scherAlmost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.

Today's interview is with Andrea Scher. Andrea has spent many years inspiring women around the globe to embrace their inner superhero through her amazing Superhero Designs jewelry and blog.

She has also begun to lead others towards their biggest dreams and most authentic lives via the amazing Mondo Beyondo e-courses.

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

AS: My passion toward minimalism probably began in a really practical way. We have always lived in relatively small homes with minimal storage space. When we were preparing for the arrival of our first child, my nesting instinct kicked in. With it came a strong desire to clear the decks, to simplify my visual landscape. There was something about the chaos of this new adventure of parenthood that I needed to balance against a simple, clutter-free home.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

AS: I discovered that I don't need much stuff! And nearly everything I've given away or sold has been forgotten. There are no regrets. (Except that one pair of red platform sandals. What was I thinking?! ;)

Several years ago, I came across this quote that I love: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." This is the motto I try to live by as much as possible.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

AS: I try to live by the law the buddhists call "The law of least effort." This basically means that more effort does not equal more results, but right effort equals right results.

I don't like to pain over my work... write when it's not coming, sit for many hours at the computer trying to wring something out of myself when I really just need to fill the well and be replenished.

I listen closely to my intuition, live my real life as much as possible, and write in bursts from the richness of my actual life. This is how I nurture my creative spirit. I listen for when there is a story that wants to be told.

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

AS: My desire to shop! and want things! I still want things all the time. I love clothing and fabric, beautiful color and brilliant design. I try to regularly let go of clothing, kid's toys, etc. to keep things in balance, but that desire to want more is still hard wired in me.

I think it's about mindfulness though. I watch myself now and ask questions: Do I need this? or just want it? Sometimes it's okay to just want it, but I want to consciously choose what I am taking in as opposed to being compulsive.

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?

AS: I like the policy of the revolving door. As you acquire something new, let go of something else. Letting go is a spiritual practice... and we can practice in our physical worlds so that when we have to let go of something in the emotional/spiritual realm it's that much easier.

Lessons Learned From My Thing-A-Day Challenge

Towards the end of July I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I still owned. I’d done the hard work of paring down my yarn collection but was amazed as I looked around and saw how much other stuff I owned.

While I’ve no desire to live with fewer than 100 things, the idea of owning less had taken root, and I was ready to take it to the next level. I challenged myself to get rid of at least one thing a day for the duration of August and document the results via my Flickr account.


Now that it’s September, I wanted to take a look back at August and share what all I got rid of and my thoughts on the month.






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Doing one thing each day for even just 30 days can be difficult to accomplish I discovered – while most days I was able to easily find at least one thing to pare out of my life, I also managed to skip several days, having to make them up later or simply count them as a loss. Even with a few missteps, I managed to pare down 171 items from my life – shockingly I still don’t think our house looks much different for the big loss of items!

Now that my Thing-A-Day challenge is over, I feel even more compelled to pare down the stuff of my life. As I look around my house, I notice plenty of items I can use up and then not replace, and items that will soon no longer be necessary. I’ve also got a plethora of things I should easily be able to get rid of, but that are tripping me up for one reason or another.


As I enter into Project 333 in October, I know that I’ll be able to take a much closer look at the clothing I own and make some tough decisions there. I continue to knit through my yarn in the hopes that I will one day see it down to 20 or so skeins. And as I read through the books on my shelves I’m donating them – and thanks to the Kindle app on my phone I’m not replacing them with physical books like I used to.


I had thought this TAD challenge would be easy – I assumed I’d find well over 200 items to get rid of, and imagined myself living in austere surroundings and loving the positive effects of having such a small amount of personal belongings.


In reality, the pare-down process is much harder and more thought-provoking than I’d imagined. I am not under a time limit or space constraints the way so many minimalist bloggers living with less than 100 things seem to be. I hope I never am, actually. I truly don’t want to end up counting every item I own in the hopes I come up with less than 100 – for me, the larger goal is making sure everything I own is used and loved.


And I am still a long way from that goal. Thanks to my TAD Challenge however, I’m much closer than I used to be! I’d like to do this again in January or February – it will be interesting to see the different types of items I pare down when the weather is cold and I’m in hibernation mode to the extreme!


Have you ever performed a version of my TAD Challenge? What were the results? What did you learn?

Donating Acrylic Knits

Sep 13, 2010
{This is part two of my Bad Idea Yarn Skeins series}

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of picking up some yarn donated to me by some lovely nuns in my area. They had read the feature on me in the newspaper and wanted to offer up their support by way of yarn donation. Not one to turn down yarn – EVER – I swung by and picked it up.

They had a bag almost as tall as I am, packed full with a variety of yarns for me to use. All of the yarn is from other people’s stashes, and as such is a bit more “vintage” than most people are used to. Older yarn doesn’t scare me in the least, and I began to sort through it as soon as I got home.
Amidst the few balls of wool that could be found, there was a large amount of acrylic. After having knit almost exclusively with wool for the last year for the One Hundred Hats project, I had to stop and think for a minute before I could come up with some great uses for this acrylic.

Blanket Squares. Much of the acrylic is a bit too scratchy for baby hats {which tend to be my go-to acrylic knit}, so I’m going to knit it up into squares to be added to charity blankets. Because each organization requires a slightly different size square, I’m going to knit diagonal squares so that I can be sure they all match requirements well.

I’m going to divide the yarn up between a few great organizations that accept squares to be sewn into blankets in the easiest way possible – box by box. Because I can print Priority Mail shipping labels at home for flat rate boxes, I’m going to send one out at a time to each of the organizations. As I start a box, I’ll simply grab a skein of yarn and start knitting.

I’ll make each diagonal square the right size and then toss it into the box. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once the box is full, I’ll print up a label and start on the next box, this time to the next organization. I figure these will be great projects to bring along with me to football games this fall.

Where will the squares be going?

I’ve got three great charities picked out for sending all my finished squares:

The Ghana Project. I’m excited to be sending some squares their way once again. The Ghana Project builds blankets that are then sent over to Africa to help comfort children going through surgery.

Warm Up America. This project has served thousands of people across the United States who have been part of natural disasters, house fires, displacement due to flooding, etc. They are amazing, and continue to help people in all 50 states.

Knit-A-Square. While I’ve never sent squares to Knit-A-Square, I’m super excited to start. This amazing organization donates finished blankets to African children, dispelling the myth that there is no need for hand-knit warmth in some African nations. They have an audacious goal that rivals my own, and I’m excited to be part of helping them reach their goal!

What this means for my yarn stash.

By the beginning of August I’d whittled my yarn stash down to under 40 skeins of yarn. I started to get excited at the prospect of knitting through the majority of that yarn for a variety of gift and charity projects, and seeing my yarn stash hit my ideal goal of around 20 skeins at a time.

Now that I’ve added all this amazing donated yarn, my stash is back up closer to 80 or 100 skeins of yarn. I’m not frustrated though – I’m actually more excited! I’m setting myself a goal of having it back down to my one knitting bag by the end of the year – by knitting mainly charity squares between now and December, I think I can do it with ease!

The fall months involve lots of driving to and tailgating at football games, lots of hanging out with friends and family watching football games, and lots of conversations in bars and restaurants about football games. Our family becomes football-based for four months out of the year, giving me lots of time to keep my hands busy on projects that don’t take up a lot of room or use up a lot of brain power! I plan to keep up with other projects while at home, but am going to bring square knitting with me on the road everywhere!

My ultimate goal is to knit 50 squares between now and December 31, 2010 that I can donate to the charities listed above. There are around 100 days between today and the end of the year, so I'll have to knit the equivalent of one square every other day to make my goal.

Want to join in?

Take a look around your knitting stash, and look for stray balls of acrylic. Even the most wool-centric knitter will find a ball or two of acrylic they’ve picked up along the way, and those who knit with acrylic on a regular basis are sure to have a few balls they’ve tired of looking at. Once you’ve figured out what acrylic you’d like to use, let’s all get knitting!

Pick one of the organizations above and just start working through squares – it’s a fast way to pare down your stash, as diagonal squares don’t take much planning or thought to execute properly, and you’ll be doing a world of good with your donations!

Donating Acrylic Knits

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of picking up some yarn donated to me by some lovely nuns in my area. They had read the feature on me in the newspaper and wanted to offer up their support by way of yarn donation. Not one to turn down yarn – EVER – I swung by and picked it up. They had a bag almost as tall as I am, packed full with a variety of yarns for me to use. All of the yarn is from other people’s stashes, and as such is a bit more “vintage” than most people are used to. Older yarn doesn’t scare me in the least, and I began to sort through it as soon as I got home. Amidst the few balls of wool that could be found, there was a large amount of acrylic. After having knit almost exclusively with wool for the last year for the One Hundred Hats project, I had to stop and think for a minute before I could come up with some great uses for this acrylic.  

Blanket Squares.

Much of the acrylic is a bit too scratchy for baby hats {which tend to be my go-to acrylic knit}, so I’m going to knit it up into squares to be added to charity blankets. Because each organization requires a slightly different size square, I’m going to knit diagonal squares so that I can be sure they all match requirements well. I’m going to divide the yarn up between a few great organizations that accept squares to be sewn into blankets in the easiest way possible – box by box.

Because I can print Priority Mail shipping labels at home for flat rate boxes, I’m going to send one out at a time to each of the organizations. As I start a box, I’ll simply grab a skein of yarn and start knitting. I’ll make each diagonal square the right size and then toss it into the box. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once the box is full, I’ll print up a label and start on the next box, this time to the next organization. I figure these will be great projects to bring along with me to football games this fall.  

Where will the squares be going?

I’ve got three great charities picked out for sending all my finished squares:

The Ghana Project. I’m excited to be sending some squares their way once again. The Ghana Project builds blankets that are then sent over to Africa to help comfort children going through surgery.

Warm Up America. This project has served thousands of people across the United States who have been part of natural disasters, house fires, displacement due to flooding, etc. They are amazing, and continue to help people in all 50 states.

Knit-A-Square. While I’ve never sent squares to Knit-A-Square, I’m super excited to start. This amazing organization donates finished blankets to African children, dispelling the myth that there is no need for hand-knit warmth in some African nations. They have an audacious goal that rivals my own, and I’m excited to be part of helping them reach their goal!  

What this means for my yarn stash.

By the beginning of August I’d whittled my yarn stash down to under 40 skeins of yarn. I started to get excited at the prospect of knitting through the majority of that yarn for a variety of gift and charity projects, and seeing my yarn stash hit my ideal goal of around 20 skeins at a time. Now that I’ve added all this amazing donated yarn, my stash is back up closer to 80 or 100 skeins of yarn. I’m not frustrated though – I’m actually more excited! I’m setting myself a goal of having it back down to my one knitting bag by the end of the year – by knitting mainly charity squares between now and December, I think I can do it with ease!

The fall months involve lots of driving to and tailgating at football games, lots of hanging out with friends and family watching football games, and lots of conversations in bars and restaurants about football games. Our family becomes football-based for four months out of the year, giving me lots of time to keep my hands busy on projects that don’t take up a lot of room or use up a lot of brain power! I plan to keep up with other projects while at home, but am going to bring square knitting with me on the road everywhere!  

My ultimate goal is to knit 50 squares between now and December 31, 2010 that I can donate to the charities listed above. There are around 100 days between today and the end of the year, so I'll have to knit the equivalent of one square every other day to make my goal.  

Want to join in?

Take a look around your knitting stash, and look for stray balls of acrylic. Even the most wool-centric knitter will find a ball or two of acrylic they’ve picked up along the way, and those who knit with acrylic on a regular basis are sure to have a few balls they’ve tired of looking at. Once you’ve figured out what acrylic you’d like to use, let’s all get knitting! Pick one of the organizations above and just start working through squares – it’s a fast way to pare down your stash, as diagonal squares don’t take much planning or thought to execute properly, and you’ll be doing a world of good with your donations!

Simple Knits: Idlewood

Sep 9, 2010
A few weeks ago Cecily posted a new pattern to her blog, and I immediately fell in love. Idlewood features a super snug cowl that can be worn as a hood as well, and optional pockets that double as your gauge swatch!



I cast on for this sweater on Friday evening and by Monday I had woven in the ends and was wearing it around the house while the wind blew and the rain fell in fits and spurts, just like the lovely fall Omaha days I love so dearly!

There are so many details to this sweater that I loved - the unique way you perform the raglan increases and the way the waist shaping worked out PERFECTLY for me are but two.

I did make three changes, although one was unintentional. I cast on 104 stitches instead of 114, so I had to do some quick re-configuring when it came time to decrease for the neck, but thanks to my smaller frame the cowl still looks good.



The other change I made involved changing the garter stitch around the edges to ribbing and then making the sleeves a bit longer. I wanted them to hug my elbows {one of my favorite sleeve lengths} so I had to do a bit of decreasing to make them work - I love the way they turned out, and imagine another version in the near future with full-length sleeves for the dead of winter.

The best part about this pattern, though? The fact that I was able to whip it up in three days. The size 10 needles and worsted weight yarn mean the sweater is plenty warm for most fall/winter days, but because the needles were a bit bigger than the yarn called for, I was able to whip through it in record time. Swoon!



Specs: Knit using size 10 and 10.5 circular needles {29" cable} and size 10 DPNs; yarn: Lion Brand Woolease in #107, blue heather You can purchase this pattern for $6 directly from Cecily' website, or from Ravelry as well!

** It's Tell-A-Friend Thursday around here when I gently encourage you to spread the word about Minimalist Knitter. Here's a few ways you can do that: 

-- Forward a link to someone you think would be interested 

-- Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @minimalistrobyn) -- Sign up for my free monthly newsletter {already close to 100 people signed up!}

** [I'm getting ready to publish a bunch of new patterns this fall, and am in need of some test knitters! If you're willing to knit fast, can check charting, and can work cabling and the like on hats, scarves and mittens, sign up for my test knitters list group! I'll be contacting them shortly!]

Minimalism and Passion: Chris Guillebeau

Sep 8, 2010
Almost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.  
As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.
chris+guillebeau.jpg Today's interview is with Chris Guillebeau, blogger behind The Art Of Non-Conformity as well as author of the just-released book The Art Of Non-Conformity.

While Chris does not call himself a minimalist, his belief that we should all live our lives intentionally if we want to accomplish great things lends itself perfectly to my brand of minimalism! Being able to interview him for this series definitely felt like a coup!
 
MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards being more intentional?

CG: I was fortunate to not be very good at either taking orders from someone else or working any kind of regular job. This led to the need to work for myself in whatever way I could find. Over time I found that when I structured my work around what I was passionate about instead of trying to force myself to do something out of obligation, things got a lot easier. 

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your journey?

CG: Yes. I realized that fear and insecurity are much bigger obstacles to self-awareness than anything else. We tend to look at external forces (lack of money, time, etc.) as the roadblocks. Most of the time, the bigger issues are internal. It helped to learn to address that more directly in my own life.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality?

CG: I go for a run; I drink coffee. I try to always work with a bias towards action. I feel antsy if I'm not putting things out there, and I feel better when things are accomplished. It works for me.

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your journey?

CG: I'm easily distracted and have a hard time sustaining projects. Since I've learned that about myself and accepted it instead of trying to change, I try to devote more time to initiating things than maintaining them over long periods of time.

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion or are exploring minimalism?

CG: How about two? First: spend as much time as you need thinking about what's really important to you. Don't skip that part or go too fast in the beginning. Then: leap, net appears.

The Art Of Non-Conformity and World Domination

Sep 7, 2010
Everyone I know needs to know about Chris Guillebeau. He's the author of The Art Of Non-Conformity, which hits bookstores today, and is also the author of Unconventional Guides that help his readers reach their dreams. And he's been known to hang out with tigers.

A few years ago, Chris set himself the audacious goal of traveling to every country in the world, and decided to take the internet along for the ride. He started a blog, The Art Of Non-Conformity, where he chats a few times a week with his thousands of followers about how they can make their own lives extraordinary.

Thanks to Chris I decided to pursue my own audacious goal of knitting 10,000 items for charity in my lifetime, and began this blog to share with the rest of the world my goal of being a minimalist knitter while using hand-knits for good! Along the way, he decided to write a book. It hit bookstores today, and I was lucky enough to be one of a group of people who got their hands on a preview copy.

I'm going to share a more detailed review later on in the month, but for now I wanted to share a few tidbits.



** By itself, money has no value. We can work our entire lives towards the goal of having "enough" money, but unless we have dreams that expand past that starting point, we will never think we have enough.

** Most of us don't actually want to retire to a beach drinking mojitos all day and being fanned by cabana boys. What will you do when that beach-dream gets old?

** It's easier to know what your dream unconventional life will look like when you know what your dreams really are. Write down your Life List, set goals for the next one, two, five and ten years, and then run with it!

** I love Chris' self-directed, alternative graduate program - starting on some of those steps as we speak!

** Declare war on debt not by cutting out all extra spending, but by cutting out those things which do not add value to your life. Does your coffee add value to your life? Then by all means keep it. But figure out what honestly doesn't add value to your life, and then don't feel bad for cutting it out.

** Radical exclusion and the quest for abundance - I could talk for hours about this, and it was the inspiration for me to kill my life list and focus on knitting 10,000 items for charity!

** Figure out what you can offer to the world that no one else can. If we all gave to the world that which we were made to do, and that which no one else could possibly give as well as us, the world would be changed.



Besides his latest foray into more traditional publishing, Chris has also published several Unconventional Guides. In each of these Guides he helps readers achieve a very specific goal: to earn money as a freelance writer, to master the art of frequent flier miles, to use social media as a way to transform their worlds, and even to break out of the 9-5 traditional job.

I've read several of Chris' guides, and each one has made a marked difference in my world-view. Here are a few I'd recommend {you can view all of Chris' products on his Unconventional Guides Product Page}. Working for Yourself Guide

Create Your Own Freedom is a guide aimed at creative types who are looking to break out of the daily grind of a 9-5 job. With this guide you will walk step-by-step through creating your very own small business, aimed at earning you another form of income! Consider this guide a first-step, a primer and 101 style class for anyone looking to enhance their income or break free of traditional work-systems all-together.

Empire Building Kit The Empire Building Kit picks up where Create Your Own Freedom leaves off. Through a series of daily steps, you will learn how to build your very own empire from the ground up!
Included in this kit are case studies of folks who have build successful empires, videos from Chris, and an e-mail a day for an entire year walking you through the process of building your Empire!

Frequent Flyer MasterFor those looking to travel the world, the Frequent Flyer Master is for you! This guide breaks down the ins and outs of the frequent flyer system, and in it Chris shares how he maintains frequent flyer points of up to (and sometimes over!) 100,000 miles!
This e-book helps you figure out how to use your miles on a variety of airlines and in a variety of ways!


This fall, in celebration of his new book coming out, Chris is traveling to 63 different cities across the United States, hosting his very own book tour! While most authors travel to a few key {read: larger, flagship} cities, Chris is heading off to every state in the union on his Unconventional Book Tour.

As he travels, he will be meeting with folks from cities as diverse as Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Memphis, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Boise and Denver. He's also making a stop here in Omaha, and I'm proud to be helping host the event for him!

If you're anywhere near Omaha, head on out the evening of September 24th to meet Chris and learn more about his unconventional journey. There might just be cupcakes! {more information to come, and you can let Chris know you're coming on his Unconventional Book Tour website!}

Knitting Through The Overwhelm

Sep 6, 2010
I was all set to share some more thoughts on handling your bad idea yarn skeins this morning, but I'm caught up in some knitting overwhelm and feel compelled to share that instead.

A friend just had a baby. Two friends are due this fall/spring. I'm halfway through knitting hats for Boystown {more on that later this week/next week}. I'm knitting a sweater for myself. I'm helping host an Unconventional Book Tour event. I was recently gifted with a HUGE bag of yarn I'll be sharing about next week. And I just found out a friend has been diagnosed with cancer.

In the last ten minutes I have paced around the house, attempting to simultaneously knit on two different baby blankets, a baby sweater, a pair of baby pants, a sweater, a square, and a chemo cap. I have pulled yarn out and put it away, unsure of what to knit on first and wanting to knit it all at once.

This is not the first time I've found myself in the midst of knitting overwhelm. And while I know it will not be the last, I also know that in the midst of knitting overwhelm, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All the wandering and binge knitting doesn't seem to get much done besides stress you out, and it feels like you'll never get back to knitting sanity!

Here's what I'm doing today to work through the overwhelm, and hopefully start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel ... today.


One. I'm going to grab the project with the biggest needles and knit on it first. This means either the sweater or one of the blankets. By choosing something with big needles, I'm more likely to get through it faster, and feel a sense of accomplishment sooner.



Two. Once a big-needles project is done, I'm going to knit a few hats. I can knock out a few for Boystown, and in between I can knit up a few baby hats to be sent off to friends. These are quick projects and will help not only work through some of the yarn, but also give me a sense of accomplishment.

 
Three. In the next few days and weeks, anytime I head out of the house I'll bring some of the acrylic for squares. I'll be sharing more about this project next week, but suffice it to say I've found a fun new way to challenge myself to a huge knitting project, and I'm excited to let you all know!



These three steps will not only help me knit through the overwhelm, but will also ensure I get through the plethora of projects I've got on the needles. By setting a simple schedule like this with your very own knitting overwhelm, you can help yourself see the light at the end of the knitting tunnel, and provide simplicity during  a time of turmoil.

I'll share more as I finish the projects in my knitting-filled September for sure, and will hopefully find that by October 1, my knitting overwhelm has turned itself into a pile of finished projects and some peace of mind!

Smalltopia: A Review

Sep 3, 2010
I'm super excited to introduce you to Tammy Strobel today! The author of RowdyKittens, Tammy has been blogging her move towards minimalism for three years, and left her full-time job in February to pursue writing and web/blog design full time. While on her journey she has become a go-to reference for the car-free living community, thanks in part to her first e-book Simply Car Free.

Since its publication Tammy has been featured on the Today Show, on MSNBC.com, and in the New York Times – among countless other spaces both online and off. Earlier this week Tammy shared her latest e-book with the world, Smalltopia.
smalltopia2.jpg

Picking up on the work-for-yourself trend that so many minimalists are attracted to, Tammy shares not only her story, but also some wildly practical advice for those looking to make the leap. For me, the decision to purchase her book was easy. I’ve been quietly dreaming of writing full-time most of my life, but have always been a bit too scared to take the leap.

In the last few months I decided to throw caution to the wind – I started this blog, I began to offer up guest posts to some well-known bloggers – and take the leap towards my dream. Unsure of how to practically pursue my dream without quitting my job before I was ready, I hoped Tammy’s book would offer up some great advice and some practical steps I could take.

Smalltopia delivered on both requirements in spades. Beginning with her personal journey towards financial freedom, Tammy shares some harsh truths – without simplified finances and a more minimalist lifestyle, it can be near impossible in today’s world economy to transition out of a traditional work environment. The exciting part is that it’s not far out of reach once you’ve right-sized your life and figured out what your dreams truly are.

Tammy’s suggestion is to do work that matters and produce content that helps the world become a better place – both things I already knew I wanted to be doing. How to practically get there? That’s where the second section of Smalltopia steps in. By laying a foundation for all the tools and know-how you’ll need, Tammy sets her readers up for success.

I truly believe that as long as you apply the hard work needed {and make no mistake, realizing your dreams can be incredibly hard work at times!}, by simply following Tammy’s advice your dreams will become reality. She boils down seemingly thick topics like business needs, business plans, and marketing strategies into bite-sized pieces I was able to understand and apply almost immediately to my own dreams. I loved her section on cultivating ideas – all creatives feel at some point as though the well has gone dry, and her suggestions were spot-on for re-fueling your creative spirit!

Lest you think this guide has not been tried and tested, Tammy winds up Smalltopia by interviewing over a dozen folks who are already living their very own dreams and running their own small businesses. Each individual brings amazing and practical advice to the table, gleaned from their time living their dreams, and because these folks are all in different stages of realizing their own Smalltopia {from rocking their business for over a year to still in transition phase}, there’s relatable advice for everyone!

Who Should Buy This Guide?

If you’ve ever dreamed of working for yourself, or have a great idea you’d like to put into action, this guide is for you. While the focus sticks with online adventures, the advice is easily applicable to off-line endeavors as well. If you’d like to kick-start a part-time endeavor, get paid for your writing or photography, this guide can lay out the steps you’ll need to take to make your dream a reality.

If you’ve already begun the process of living your dream but need some “next step” advice, this guide may be just the thing you need! However. If you love your job and are happy where you’re at {and I know plenty of people who are}, this guide may not be for you. If you’re not sure if you’re ready to make the purchase leap, Tammy has graciously shared the first 20 pages or so on her blog

Minimalist Knitter ’s Handbook Breaks 1,000 Downloads!

Sep 2, 2010
Late last week an amazing thing happened – my little e-book that could, The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook, broke 1,000 downloads!
 
When I wrote the Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook, I did so with little expectation. While I knew that what I was saying had forever altered the way I knit and bought yarn, I wasn’t sure that there would be a ton of knitters interested. Knitters are, after all, people who love to stash yarn – how would they react to one of their own telling them to de-stash and live with less?

The response has blown me away! I’m so lucky that I’ve gotten to meet so many of you out there who are now following this project, de-stashing some of your yarn, and working with what you have instead of buying new all the time. You’ve been sharing your stories and letting me know how the Handbook has affected you, and I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for this!

Although I had no goals for the Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook, I’d love to see it reach another 1,000 people. Mind you, I’m only tracking the number of people who download the book via this space, so if you’re handing it off to a friend I won’t know it – which is totally fine, and something I encourage!

As I figure out how to reach another 1,000 people with my minimalist ideas, and as I figure out what my next minimalist steps are, I’d love to hear back from you: how did you hear about my little website? What is it that keeps you coming back? What would you like to see more of? Feel free to post your answers in the comments below or e-mail me if you’d prefer.

Minimalism and Passion: Tammy Strobel

Sep 1, 2010
Almost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.  

As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.
Today’s interview is with Tammy Strobel, the force behind RowdyKittens, where she talks about minimalism and shares her passion for car-free living. Tammy just published her latest book Smalltopia, which is an amazing and practical guide to working for yourself!

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

TS: Initially, I didn't chose a simple, minimalist lifestyle because I wanted to follow my "passion." When we first started downshifting it was out of economic necessity. We had a lot of debt and had to make a serious change in our consumption patterns.

After I started doing more reading about simple living and minimalism, I realized I could live the life I wanted and pursue my passion. Without debt holding us back, I was able to leave my day job and start my own little business.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

TS: Once I got started on the journey, I became more and more focused. I slowly eliminated distractions from my life (like the TV and the cars) and started focusing on writing, volunteer work, and spending time with friends and family.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

TS: Living well with less is not about deprivation. Getting rid of my clutter and debt has made my life richer and given me time to focus on important priorities, like nurturing my creative spirit. When I was commuting to work for over two hours everyday and literally "trying to keep up with the Jones's" I didn't have the energy to focus on creative activities.

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

TS: Defining the line between need and want. Advertising is so prevalent in our culture and sometimes it's hard to stay no. So for me that means staying out of stores where I'm tempted to buy stuff and waiting 30 days to purchase anything new.

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?

TS: Most of us have the skills to purchase any kind of consumer product and have it shipped to us within 48 hours. On the flip side, most people don't know where their city council members meet where public meeting take place. Flexing your citizen muscle will foster community connections on many levels. For instance, Richard Layard is an economist and has researched what makes us happy for years. He said "the greatest happiness comes from absorbing yourself in some goal outside yourself." So turn the TV off and invite friends and family over for a scrumptious dinner. Talk about your passions, listen to alternative philosophies, and immerse yourself in helping other people.
 
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