It’s January. The holidays are over and the weather is terrible; aka a perfect time to put on some sweatpants, sit cross-legged on the bed and try out some new knitting ideas.

I am really looking forward to this year of knitting. Last year was a wonderful one. Even though Yarn Birdy stalled a bit (I had a few good reasons for that, with marriage, pregnancy and new baby topping the list), and I wasn’t able to fill up every day with knittingknittingknitting, I actually learned and developed a lot. In no particular order, here are three of the ways in which I think I took steps in the right direction.

– I improved my photography. I bought myself my first ever camera just over a year ago (instead of relying on family hand-me-downs. It’s not an SLR -I’m not that impressive yet- but it has some good capabilities. And the biggest plus: as I continue to experiment and improve, photography has started to become fun in and of itself. Which is why I was so excited to receive the book Stunning Digital Photography, from my sister for Christmas this year. With the help of this book, and lots of chance to practice (a new baby is the best possible photography muse I can think of) I plan on another year of leaps and bounds of photographic progress.

– I started focusing on new-to-me knitting techniques that really help simplify my patterns. When I first started Yarn Birdy and developing new patterns, I really just tossed together whatever stitches I could think of to get a toy to look like I wanted it to. I ended up with some cute toys, but they required a lot of round-about extra stitching and awkward add-ons. In the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to edit my own patterns, and develop new patterns, with attention to elegance and simplicity. I’ve spent a lot of time studying and learning from the patterns of designers I admire. As I improve, I’m getting a thrill of pride and satisfaction from both the end result toy and the written pattern.

– Knitting things for my very own baby has given my knitting and designing another whole level of depth. Although I was serious about making designs I liked and was proud of before, now I have a tiny person, whom I love more than anything, using the things I knit. They have to be perfect: beautiful, practical, and fun. This lion baby blanket that I finished days before my son was born is one of my favorite things I’ve ever designed and knitted. As he continues to grow older and inspire me to knit more for him, I know my designs will only continue to get better.