stories from a library knitter


At the halfway mark.

With my first assignment completed and submitted to the MLIS universe, I’ve had a day or two to catch my breath before starting in on the next onslaught of projects and readings and feeling like I’m on an intellectual treadmill. It’s not that the content is all that difficult to comprehend, it’s my ability to focus.

When the semester started I thought I would be able to manage two courses and work full-time hours at the library. Many of my colleagues were doing the same thing so surely if they could do it, then I could too. Well. That didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. Within the first two weeks I was completely overwhelmed because there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I needed and wanted to do. So, I would schedule myself down to the hour just to have some semblance of control over how stressed out my life was becoming.

5:30 AM to 6:30 AM – Wake up. Wash the dishes from the night before. Drink coffee and eat breakfast. Shower. Read while blow-drying my hair. Pack lunch and snacks for the day. Get dressed. Feed the cat.

7:00 AM to 8:45 AM – Arrive at the coffee shop. Drink more coffee. Read, write and study while listening to the same classical music playlist again and again. Drink more coffee.

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM – Arrive at work. Deliver early literacy program, cover the information desk, respond to e-mails, prepare for upcoming programs. Engage with the public. Drink more coffee.

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM – Eat lunch while reading and listening to a white noise playlist in the staff workroom. Drink more coffee. Try not to fall asleep.

1:00 PM to 5:00 PM – Work the information desk, check e-mails, prepare for more programs, attend a meeting, rove around the library and constantly engage with the public. Drink more coffee.

5:30 PM to 6:30 PM – Get home and make supper. Try not to fall asleep. Drink tea.

7:00 PM to 10:00 PM – Drink tea while attempting to study. Inevitably loose focus and fall asleep from a long day of dealing with the public and trying to concentrate on readings during the downtime.

This was not a sustainable schedule because by the time I came home at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was sleep. As much as I love engaging with the public, it takes a lot out of me. And what’s worse is that I would start resenting the seven hours I would spend there doing my job when I could be using it to read and research for my classes. It’s not like my job really gives me the ability to schoolwork on the sly because I’m always actively engaged in whatever I’m doing. I barely have enough time to respond to work e-mails at the information desk, leave alone read an article assigned for school. The juggling act was just too much.

So, I dropped a course and things became a little easier but I still feel like I don’t have enough time. I kept comparing myself to my colleagues who all seem like hyper-efficient robots in their ability to do everything simultaneously while still managing to shower and not fall asleep on their feet. How can you work full time, do school and still maintain a quality of life that is fulfilling? Yeah. Some people can pull it off but me? I can’t. If the past two months have shown me anything it’s that I need time to focus, time to work, time to play and time to take care of myself. If I don’t get all of that, I render myself useless. Or I get sick. (I’ve had a cold for three weeks already)

I’ve had a major priority shift since the MLIS started. I dropped a course in an attempt to have a more manageable workload but that’s not enough. After a lot of thought and internal debate, I made the decision to go part-time and applied for a position that became available in a smaller community library. It was a big decision to even apply because leaving a permanent, pension-paying full-time job is kind of crazy in today’s economic climate but I knew that in the long run I’d be happier and healthier. Thankfully, by the grace of the Library Gods, I got the position! My days feel lighter because I know in just two weeks I’ll have the flexibility to do all the things I need to do, while still maintaining the creative and social side of my life that keeps me from falling apart. In the meantime, I just have to keep my head above water for just a little while longer and then I can breathe.

So that brings me to now. After spending an hour writing and drinking coffee on this quiet Sunday morning, it’s time to buckle back down and read. I have what can only be described as a butt-load of articles to read and understand by the end of the day so I can set myself up for writing about it tomorrow. I hope the rest of you are doing something a little more relaxing than that 🙂


Knitting in fog city.

Driving is spooky in the fog. Like they disappear to nothing. 🌫🌫🌫 #fogcity

A video posted by suzen (@knitlib) on

It’s been a grey weekend here in Calgary. I know from my social media feeds that I’m probably in the minority when I say how much I love this weather, but that’s not going to stop me from gushing about it. Dreary days feel like rarity here as I strongly associate this city with big sky, dramatic clouds and a high noon sun. This weekend has been everything but that. Snow on Friday, heavy fog on Saturday, snow again on Sunday and today? Well, today is cold and wet with even more snow on the ground. This is the kind of weather that makes me homesick because St. John’s is basically like this more than half of the year. Some of my most magical memories from my childhood include walking to school in fog so thick that I couldn’t make 10 feet in front of me. Like being on a movie set.

So, while it appears that autumn abruptly left us this weekend to be replaced by the sneakiness of winter, all I can think about is knitting. Not school. Not work. Not The Voice. Just knitting. And what’s another knitting project, anyhow?


Bring on the sock classic: Monkey by Cookie A. Originally published back in 2006 on Knitty, this sock pattern has to be the most addictive thing to knit. The pattern is very predictable, making each 11 row repeat go very quickly. I cast on this Saturday night after an exhausting walk and afternoon spent doing homework, drank an entire bottle of wine and had half of the leg complete before I managed to go to sleep shortly after midnight. By the time I had digested the turkey dinner at my in-laws last night and saw the Blue Jays win, I had the heel turned and gusset read to be picked up. Now I’m about halfway through the gusset decreases and I have to force myself to put my knitting down so other things can get done (like homework!). It’s like eating SmartFood cheddar popcorn – I just can’t stop until I have eaten the entire bag, ruining my supper. Monkey, you are a tricky temptress!


The yarn I’m using is a skein I picked up ages ago. It’s a self-striping sock yarn from Lang Yarns that featuring a long striping repeat in a beautiful (and unusual) colour palette. Normally I wouldn’t use a self-striping yarn for a pattern like Monkey but I felt like the stripes were short and varied enough that the lace pattern could carry through. I’m working the sock up on 2.00mm circulars in the Magic Loop method because, yes, my gauge is still that freaking loose. The needles I’m using are the super sharp interchangeables from ChiaoGoo, the only company I’ve seen that’s producing interchangeable needles smaller than a 3.25mm. I absolutely love these needles. The cables are flexible, the join to the needle is smooth and the points are so sharp that I’ve actually punctured my index finger and drawn blood while knitting. Crafty weapons, those.

The biggest challenge I face right now is keeping the momentum up so I can stave off the Second Sock Syndrome that will inevitably cause me to put these socks down for yet another knitting project. I must persevere!

In other news, I am furiously trying to finish my first assignment in the MLIS while simultaneously trying very hard not to give into procrastination. A while ago, I downloaded an app called Be Focused for my computer and iPhone in effort to force myself to work. The app is basically a timer set to 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between. After for sets of 25 minute intervals, there’s a longer 15 minute break. To some this may seem kind of stupid but to those of us who are anxiously scatter-brained, having that timer really does help. In a weird way it’s kind of like relinquishing my power to make any decisions outside of the task at hand. Like going to a yoga class and focusing on the instructions the teacher is giving and nothing else. There’s a mindfulness there that I don’t often allow myself to experience. So, if you’re like me and find yourself anxiously rolling around your head all the time, this app has the power to help you! Or, y’know, train your cat to yell at you every 20 minutes – same thing. 🙂



Welcome to!

For my inaugural post here at, allow me to introduce myself…

My name is Suzen and this is one of many, many blogs that I have started over the years. What makes this one different? Well, I like to think that my intent is a little different this time around. Rather than struggle with what to write about every week, I am using as my informal writing space to share my thoughts, insights, opinions and rants that are spurred by the online MLIS program I am currently enrolled in.

See, the trickiest thing about online school is that you don’t have a community of peers physically around you: there are no impromptu discussions in the common area over coffee or boisterous rants in the pub after class. It all takes place online and that’s not quite enough for me. So, bring on! My hope is that this space will fill the gap for informal discussion that online school creates (and it will hopefully make my husband and friends happy because I know they’re a little tired of me blabbing about library stuff constantly). Yay for outlets!

As of right now, it’s nearing midnight and I’ve spent most of the evening reading and writing notes about leadership and management roles in public libraries. My reward for all that hard work is writing this blog post, followed by going to bed. Expect more from me soon <3



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