WAHM: Alexis Hamann-Nazaroff
Hi, my name is Alexis and I am the owner of Yarn Birdy a company that shares and sells patterns for knit toys and whimsical treasures. I’m also a grateful mother of one toddler son (16 months) with a second baby coming in May. Originally from California, I currently live in northern Germany with my (German) husband and family.
Yarn Birdy started a couple of years ago as a company that sold finished knit toys. After a couple years of this, I realized that what I wanted to share was the joy of making toys, not just the finished product, and I transitioned to writing and selling/sharing the patterns. I’m really happy with the decision to shift the direction of my business; it’s also been incredibly challenging. I found that communicating a pattern is a whole different process than just scribbling notes and knitting it up yourself. I started working on this shift when my first son was 2 months old, so I’ve been teaching myself this new skill in rare spare moments -at first while my son nursed, or napped on my chest, and as he grows older, during his mid-day naps or once he’s tucked in bed.
What are your best times of the day to get work done?
Sometimes I wish I could work while my son is awake and playing. I envision that I would set him up with his blocks, his books, or his dolls and sit beside him peacefully with my knitting and my notes, designing productively. Of course, this never works! The minute I pull out something to work on, it’s loads more interesting to him than whatever he’s playing with and he crawls onto my lap, desperate to try it out. It’s both frustrating and wonderfully sweet. (I’m sure he’s developing quite an appreciation for knitting and making.) I’ll keep trying. He’s 16 months old now, and every month brings such huge changes in development, so who knows if he’ll be content to let me work in a month, or two or ten. Pregnant with baby #2 right now, I have high hopes that in a couple of years, the kids will enjoy playing with each other so much I’ll be able to work and supervise simultaneously. (Mom’s of more than one, please don’t disillusion me of my crazy dream quite yet!)
For now though, I work intensely during naptime. (11:15 to 1-ish each day) and if I have the energy, for another hour or two after bedtime. I do think it’s important to spend a couple evenings per week relaxing and bonding with my husband rather than working; I’m still working on perfecting this particular balance.
Care to share some thoughts on Identity and Motherhood?
Kids take up more time and energy than I could have ever imagined. But at the same time, they are my inspiration and motivation to create, design and knit. I started my business before having kids, juggling it with first with school, then with a 9-5 job, then with freelance, part-time teaching work, and it never grew as fast as it does now that I’m a mom. I believe that it’s because, although I have less time now than ever, I’m obsessed with working on it! While actively mothering, I yearn for Yarn Birdy. I love being a mom; being able to watch my kids grow up day by day is the greatest treasure of my life. But each time I read Goodnight Moon yet again, or jump up to keep my curious toddler from flushing a toy down the toilet for the umpteenth time, I look forward to the moment I can sneak away to my “studio” (tiny corner of my bedroom) and work. My business is essential to feeling balanced, feeling accomplished, feeling self-confident.
Alexis is currently working on designing a line of small storybook dolls: Pippi Longstocking, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, which will be released at the end of April. If you want to stay up-to-date with her pattern releases, or get access to the over a dozen free toy knitting patterns, visit her website at www.yarnbirdy.com, or follow her on instagram: @yarnbirdy.
Is there a work at home mom in the fiber arts you would like to hear from? Leave a comment below and I will do my best to represent them on the series!