KonMari and No Knitting

Happy Friday, y’all!

This week I start another Flatiron Shawl, talk about needlepoint, link some amazing Instagram tips, discuss a hot religious topic, reveal my kitchen mess-up, and dive deep into the philosophy of tidying. Surprisingly there’s not a stitch of knitting in sight this week. I still knit, I promise. Enjoy!

Finished Objects

None this week! I’ve got quite a few long-term projects on-the-go.

WIP’s- Focus Projects

Rainbow colors for my second “Flatiron Shawl”

I’ve started a second Flatiron Shawl by Toni of TL Yarn Crafts. I loved my first one so much that I’d picked out this yarn before I even finished it. This time I’ll be following the pattern more accurately- all design features implemented. I have three colors that I will fade and might choose a fourth color for the border. This will be the perfect simple project to bring with my on my trip to Las Vegas and California next week. Yarn and project details here.

The start of my “Flatiron Shawl” by Toni Lipsey.

I’ve also been making myself stitch on my dad’s Georgia belt for one hour each day. Although I do love needlepoint, I find myself drawn towards my Steamer Train stocking when I want to craft with a bit of concentration.  However, I’m always happy while I spend the hour methodically stitching on the belt. My dad is going to love it!

Beginnings of the University of Georgia belt I will gift to my dad for Christmas.

Something New

When I started my Instagram account last August, it was really because I wanted to start this blog. Opening the account was going to break my two-year hiatus from social media, and I didn’t take that lightly. I really wanted more people to talk to and share my knitting with- and to start building an audience for this blog.

Until this last month, I was approaching Instagram all wrong. I wanted knitting to be the focus, so I never shared my face or personal details. I didn’t even have my name attached to my account. {The first few months I even tried to remain anonymous… and wouldn’t you know that Instagram helped my friends find me- ah!}

I decided I would put more effort into helping my Instagram account grow (and hopefully my blog in turn) and THE PERFECT DISCOVERY CAME ABOUT! I had just started following Toni Lipsey {the maker behind TL Yarn Crafts and designer of the “Flatiron Shawl“} when she began her Instagram live series about Instagram itself! She puts all of her live videos on YouTube so I will link them below.

  1. “5 Steps to a Killer Instagram Profile” – Video here.
  2. “7 Steps to Master Instagram Hashtags”- Video here.
  3. Week 3 Toni talked about what to post when you don’t know what to post- not yet uploaded.
  4. Week 4 Toni talked to Lee of Coco Crochet Lee- not yet uploaded.

If you’d like to increase your reach, these videos are MUST WATCH! In the last two weeks, Toni’s tips have helped me grow my followers by 40%. I’m still small potatoes (like itsy, bitsy fingerling ones), but I’m shocked by the impact her simple tips have made. Give them a watch! You won’t regret it.

What God’s Teaching Me

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a heated discussion about heaven and hell. Yup, we don’t agree on this subject. In fact, there are several hot topics that we have differing opinions about. We talk about them though. We were raised in different churches and bring our unique upbringings into the mix. It can be upsetting, but also informative. We challenge each other with our knowledge of the Bible and beliefs about God. These debates usually end with some scripture-searching.

But, for some reason God brought this discussion about heaven and hell back on my heart this week. How does one “get” into heaven? {Should I be capitalizing Heaven?!}

My current belief* is that only one thing separates saved people (going to heaven) from those who are not saved (going to hell)- the belief that Jesus Christ saved you from your sins. (See John 3:18)

When I voiced this to my husband he said something along the lines of… “So that means that if a serial murderer believes in God that he will go to heaven over someone who volunteers every Saturday at the animal shelter, but doesn’t believe?” Yup, I think so.

Ouch. This is really too much for our human hearts to comprehend. How can someone so “bad” get accepted somewhere so “good”? And what about all the people who are really, truly, genuinely good?

This is why we are human and God is God. I know that I couldn’t make decisions like that… “Well you did cheat on your wife, but you asked for forgiveness and you believe in me. You’re in!” But wait, I’m not God!

Sometimes I wish that the Bible was more clear on what is acceptable and what is not. I often desire for God to send down another Ten Commandments, and then, BOOM- cut and dry. But God is God.

If it was actions that got people into heaven then the “bad” people would not have a chance. Not even the “sort of okay” people. Only the really, really good people that probably died of a plague at two months old {therefore having minimal time in which to sin} could uphold the values of our Lord.**

See, grace is not black and white. Mercy is not straightforward. Forgiveness is a jagged line.

Thank God {literally} that he sent his son to save us from our sins. He created a pathway to him that IS achievable even by the most mediocre among us. Even by the ones who have strayed. Especially by the souls who have been hurt.

I think God wanted me to recall this conversation with my husband so that I could remember the great mercy that I operate under each day. Last week, when I was beating myself up for not going to church, my gentle Father was saying to me, “Church is not a direct solution. I’ve given you the path to me, now take it.”

This is a touchy subject. We want to believe that we are righteous enough for the good place. No matter how many days a week we go to church, how many prayers we say before meals, or how many highlights we put in our Bibles can amount to a number that will atone our sins. I wish I knew the magic “get into heaven” formula, but for now the best I know is to believe.

*I say “current belief” because this was not always how I felt; and it may not always be how I feel. My knowledge about God is constantly evolving as I study, meet new people, listen and have discussions about hot topics.

**Sidenote- has anyone watched The Good Place with Kristen Bell? It’s a hilarious show with a comedic depiction of heaven. You should totally watch it right now!

What We’re Cooking

Turkey Black Bean Chili bubbling in the crockpot.

Sunday I made the second meal of my big freezer meal prep- Turkey and Black Bean Chili. I was worried about the taste because the first chili recipe I made from New Leaf was extremely bland. This one was incredible! The fact that the meat was turkey didn’t take away any flavor at all. We enjoyed ours with Frito’s and cheddar cheese.

Frito’s and cheddar are always a good thing.

On Tuesday we had Tuscan Garlic Chicken– one of my favorite and easiest chicken recipes. It’s essentially a dump meal. You just prep the chicken with garlic, salt, and pepper and then dump the other ingredients on top. I just make sure to buy sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes quartered.

Tuscan Chicken before cooking… before it all went wrong.

Something happened with the chicken this time. I took one bite and spit it immediately out {attractive, I know}. The chicken was so chewy and rubbery that I worried it was under-cooked. I looked at the chicken and it wasn’t pink. I’d also checked the internal temperature with a thermometer and it was 164 degrees Fahrenheit, even after sitting out of the oven for a few minutes {recommended temp. is 165}. I turned to a Google search and it appears that I may have over-cooked the chicken, oops!

That has never happened to me with this recipe before. I’m not sure what I did differently and wonder if it’s the quality of chicken that I purchased. After one weird bite of meat, I can’t stand to finish my food, so I ate all the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes on top- yum! Kent ate all of his chicken though, and just said it was a bit rubbery- he’s too kind. Have you ever had a chewy chicken incident?

What I’m Reading

I read a book from start to finish this week- are you impressed? I was!


The book is The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It’s a pretty short book and quick to read. It’s packed with tips on changing your lifestyle to decrease the volume of your stuff so that you have more things you truly enjoy. Kondo insists that you must declutter your house in one fell swoop, but I have to take this advice with a grain of salt. I need breaks when I clean and organize.

Yet, I decided to go ahead with the KonMari method of tidying with my clothes. I hope you will allow me to take over this reading section with some pictures and reflection on tidying.

The first step to tidying clothes is to take all of your tops (ALL. OF. THEM) and put them on the floor. Luckily I have a large bed to put them on.

All my tops (t-shirts, tanks, hang-up tops, sweaters) spread across my bed.

Then you glance at the sheer volume of shirts that you own and try not to panic at the task ahead- pick up each and every item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” I’ve done a decent amount of paring down in the last year, but “JOY” was never a parameter I used to declutter. This time, instead of looking at what I wanted to get rid of, I was looking for what I wanted to keep. This was a surprisingly quick process, although not particularly easy.

The beginning of the discard pile- all the tops that don’t spark joy.

It was hard not to feel wasteful looking at the large pile of tops I was going to give away. “I wish I hadn’t bought these in the first place,” I found myself thinking. But Kondo warns not to think this way. “There is a reason why each of your belongings came to you… send it (your clothes) off joyfully with words like, ‘Thank you for finding me…'” {from the chapter titled Your possessions want to help you}.

I repeated the process in the recommended order- tops first, then bottoms, hung-up clothes (dresses and jackets mostly), socks, underwear, bags, accessories (mostly scarves for me!), clothes for specific events (I had swimwear and dance clothes), and shoes. I stopped taking pictures after I got to socks because I got so wrapped up in the process- I was having fun! Pulling everything out and sort it into piles of “sparks joy” and “doesn’t spark joy” only took about an hour and a half. That’s when I took a break to force myself to eat lunch {I really wanted to keep going}.

When I went through my possessions I really didn’t have trouble decided if something sparked joy. I looked at the top or dress or shoe in question and thought, “How do I feel?” If I felt things like “Ooh, that’s so comfy.” or “Those heels make me feel beautiful.”- I tossed it into the KEEP pile. If I had to wonder a bit longer… “Every time I want to wear this dress I have to make sure I don’t eat a heavy meal.” or “These shoes are too painful now to even walk to the car.”- it became one with the giveaway pile.

My completed piles- KEEP on the left and GIVEAWAY on the right.

Tidying didn’t become uncomfortable until my husband walked in and saw my two giant piles. “Which one are you keeping?” he asked. KonMari warns that it’s more respectful to your family and friends if you complete the process without them seeing what you’re getting rid of- she’s right. Kent laid on our bed as I started bagging up the giveaway pile in trash bags. “Oh I loved that dress on you!” he’d say. Or, “You’re getting rid of things I bought you,” he’d whine. Talk about emotional stress. 

I made myself stand my ground. “I’m not changing my mind about anything in this pile.” I declared while pointing to the giveaway pile. The truth is that only you know how your clothes feel on you. I wasn’t wearing any of the clothes, shoes, and accessories in my giveaway pile anymore. At some point they’d made me feel incredible- that’s why I bought them! Every season we grow and change. When we bring in new stuff that is more “us,” we’ve got to let go of the old.

Still, I felt a twinge of guilt in my heart as I drove a trunk-full of things to Goodwill the next day. What if I’m getting rid of something I need? HA! I remembered that in those bags were a blazer, five pairs of dress pants and four pencil skirts “just in case I have an interview.” What?!! I’m a teacher… I do not need these clothes. I’m not planning to change fields anytime soon, but if I do I’m going out to buy myself a brand-new outfit that makes me feel confident now; I’m sure not wearing the dreary brown dress pants I bought five years ago.

When I go look in my closet and drawers now, do you know what I see? I see space. I see symmetry. I see a line-up of items that I could close my eyes and pull something off the hanger and know that I would totally wear that- right now! Do you know what this feeling is? It’s magic. It’s the magic of tidying {as KonMari has coined}. All those items that I was no longer using were noisy and burdensome. They called out to me with Catholic-mom-guilt, “Why don’t you use me, Natalie?!” Now my items are quiet and orderly. They are happy to be mine just as I am happy to wear them.

Needless to say, I think you should read this book. At the very least, it’s changed my relationship with my clothing. I wonder what it can do for you.

Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

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