The Needle Bee



2018 the year to FOCUS

Lifestyle, ProductivityBrenda Reynoso PenaComment

In the last few years I have been setting goals and resolutions but everyone knows resolutions only work for a few days or weeks. 

This year, my word of the year is FOCUS. It took me a while to think about what I really want to accomplish this year but I also realized I needed to slow down and focus on one thing at a time instead of multitasking all the time. 


I am not going to talk about how many projects I want to knit or how many times a week I will exercise. Instead, I will check my planner every day and focus on small things one at a time.

This past year has been very busy for the  Needle Bee Shop and I am very grateful for that. This also meant less knitting time for me. When I look back and see Ravelry projects page, I realized I didn't get a lot of knitting done. It's Ok. There is never going to be enough hours in a day to knit all the things we want. 

So what do I want to focus on? I want to focus on my health and exercise routine  (I have been going to Zumba classes and I love it!). I also want to focus on sewing this year. I want to sew a simple dress or blouse.  I am not going to focus on knitting or crochet because those are not only hobbies, they are  already part of my daily routine.

Having something to look forward to, a goal or hobby is a great thing. I hope this helps you decide what you want to accomplish this year and stay focus on whatever you choose to do so that you can get the results you want.


Finding time for your passions

Books, Lifestyle, ProductivityBrenda Reynoso PenaComment

31 days of knitting find time for your passionsA few years ago, one of my friends asked me: how do you it all? how do you find time to take care of a house, husband, work full time, and raise 4 kids. She even asked me if I had a cleaning service (I wished I had one I thought)! So, I genuinely answered her, “no I don’t do it all”, I just prioritize, organize, plan and with time everything becomes a habit.

Most working women feel exhausted at times (me included) due to busy schedules and piles of daily laundry that seem to take over our lives leaving zero time for ourselves because by the time we get to our free time, we are probably just too tired and exhausted to do anything.

Now lets face it, finding some "ME" time is difficult. So whenever I find those pockets of time, I really enjoy them and try to make the most of it.

I recently read a wonderful book that explains very well how to make time for you. The book is by Jessica N, Turner, The Fringe Hours-making time for you, and I agree with the author, when you make time to fulfill your passions, you become a better mother, wife, friend. One of my favorite quotes from this book is:

Balance isn’t easy, but fighting for it is always worth it. While life is busy, it shouldn’t get to the point of being overwhelming. Make balance a priority in your life. By doing so, you are saying that your time is valuable and that you are in control.

In my opinion, balance is always out of reach if you are not careful, you have to prioritize in life and say no to things that are not essential if you want to be successful in finding balance. Yes there may be times when life happens and things don’t go as planned. But sometimes doesn't mean all the time. So whenever things don't go as planned, take a deep breath and keep going. Your daily habits like organizing, planning and carefully selecting what you want to be part of- will make you a disciplined person. Eventually with time, those habits will be part of your life to the point where you won’t feel as if you were trying to make it a habit anymore. It all comes down to practice. A habit is a skill that gets better with practice. The more you practice a skill the better you become at it.

If you like painting or like to play an instrument, you don't need 5 hours everyday just a few times a week to paint or play that instrument. The same goes for sewing or knitting, reading or writing. You don't have to have 3 hours a day of ME time, just a few minutes a day will do the job. It doesn't matter if your free time is early in the morning before the kids are awake, or late at night, a little time to have tea or coffee and read or knit will make you feel you got some part of the day for you and more relaxed. So go and get some more ME time and do more of what you love!

How many ufo's or wip's do you have?

Knitting, ProductivityBrenda Reynoso PenaComment

Day-1 How many UFO’s and WIP’s do you have?knit-869221_1280 Today is the first day of the 31 Days writing challenge and I am excited about today’s topic because my goal is not only write for 31 days but to also finish at least one of the projects that I have one my needles.

If you talk to a knitter, crocheter or quilter, one of main topics to discuss will probably be related to the number of WIPs (work in progress) or UFO’s (unfinished objects) waiting in their project bags. Notice these are not the same thing! A work in progress is something that you are currently working on and an unfinished object is obviously just something that never got finished. In fact, if you search on Ravelry or Google the above acronyms, you will find thousands and thousands of articles on this subject. As a knitter, it is extremely difficult to say no to beautiful yarn or keep your hands away from casting on a new pattern or even trying a new stitch. I know I can relate to that!

In the book “the One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, the word Multitasking is considered a lie. The book also explains how multitasking may be possible when you are using different parts of the brain (for example listening to music and cleaning). In my world, that translates to knitting and listening to music or drinking coffee.

So to make this challenge a success, I decided to work on one project at a time for next 30 days. I currently have 4 WIP's and 2 patterns that I can't wait to cast on. Here are 5 things you can consider if you want to follow along: 1- Take inventory of your UFO’s or WIP’ 2- Be realistic with your time and start with a small project. 3- Set up a stopwatch and find out how many rows or inches you can knit in 30 mins increments. This will give you an idea of how many hours or days you need per project. 4- set up an alarm or reminder and commit to knitting every day for 15 or 30 min or more if you can. 5- Grab some coffee and maybe listen to music to help you stay focused All hobbies require time and dedication if you want to learn and master your skills. Come back tomorrow where I will share the Tools of the Trade I use and the wants I don't! Happy Knitting!

My Favorite Apps

Knitting, Lifestyle, ProductivityBrenda Reynoso PenaComment

My Favorite Apps

photo courtesy of boss-fight

I believe I am addicted to apps. I mean I love technology and anything that will help me be more productive as long as it doesn’t cause distractions. In addition to my weekly paper planner (yes I am a strong believer of writing things down on paper) lately I have been trying new calendars and productivity apps.

Here are my favorites which are free and available in iPhone and Android phones.

Productivity Apps:

Evernote  this is an amazing tool for knitters also. You can stack notes inside a notebook and keep important documents on the go.

Google Calendar- In my opinion, this is the best calendar out there. It is not perfect for it works great. Here I have my monthly appts and important events only. this is not a to-do list.

Sunrise Calendar App - this will sync your icloud calendar, google calendars, ical, social media like facebook, Evernote, etc… It will also display the weather during the day, afternoon and evening. What I like is the view- much easier than icloud calendar.

This is the app that I use to view all of my calendars because Icloud calendar doesn’t offer these views. So adding an event to Sunrise app will also be added to the Google Calendar.

Pocket- this is available in google chrome and your mobile devices. You can send an article from the web and add it to Pocket to read later when you are offline, Great for travel or when there is no wi-fi. I also try to keep no more than 5 articles here. As soon as I read I decide to either delete it or to file it in Evernote.

Todoist- this is a task app- not a calendar app. I only have been using this for a few a month and I am not sure of I will keep using it or not. I currently write  my to do list for that day when I am not taking my planner with me. Since I don’t use it everyday, the free version is perfect for me.

 Knitting Apps:

Stash 2 go- If you are a knitter, you might be already using this app. I have it because I like to see what I have in my Ravelry queue when I am at a yarn store. This app is great but not perfect. It is so far working well keeping the same data I have in my Ravelry account updated but sometimes I feel it takes too long to open or it will go to the main page when all I want to do is look at my stash or patterns. This is why I use Evernote to take quick notes of my current projects. I can always go to my computer later and paste those notes in my projects page in my Ravelry account.

Craftsy app for Ipad. I love Craftsy and have downloaded several classes. The beauty of this app is that you can download your classes to view later when you are offline.

GoodReader for ipad. This is a paid app (it cost about $4.99) but is worth it. I believe is the only app I have paid for! This app will make you life easier when it comes to reading your PDF patterns. It will open any PDF (ebooks, docs) and it allows you to edit, highlight, write notes, etc and give you the option of saving an annotated copy of your original file.

Kindle I couldn’t leave this one! I have many knitting books in my Kindle. I have the Kindle app in my Ipad and Iphone and I absolutely love it!

In summary, apps are great if you manage them wisely. Too many apps will cause confusion and actually slow you down. My advice, try a few for a month and see what works for you. When you have too many apps taking space in your mobile device, you tend to get distracted and not use them at all. After all, the purpose of technology is to make your life easier and give you more time for your favorite hobby right?

I will love to hear what apps you are using.

My Favorite Podcasts

Knitting, Lifestyle, Podcasts, ProductivityBrenda Reynoso PenaComment have become very popular in the knitting world. I discovered them a few years ago but never had the interest or time to listen to them until I realized there were knitting and arts and crafts Podcasts! Recently, I have been listening to several categories which include knitting, personal finance, life, inspirational, blogging and marketing, etc.

So here are the ones I currently subscribe to, you can find them in itunes or stitcher. Some of them are monthly or weekly which means I always have an episode to listen while I am knitting, driving to work or folding laundry.

KNITTING PODCASTS: Actually Knitting Knitmoregirls's Podcast Commuter Knitter Subway Knits Down Cellar Studio Teach your Brain to knit the Yarniacs Two Knit Lit Chicks Bookish Stitcher (this is a video podcast) Knit Fm Cast On Curious Handmade Craft Sanity Never Not Knitting Prairie Girls Knit and Spin Mastering the knits Podcast TwinSet Designs Imake Knotty Girls Knitcast

PERSONAL FINANCE: Money Girl The Simpler Life


This is your Life by Michael Hyatt What’s your story The Art of Simply The Beyond to do list Power of Moms Radio The Inspired to Action Podcast

So go ahead, take a ride and listen to a few of these podcasts. I am sure you will learn something new every day you tune in.

How knitting has helped my time management skills

Knitting, Lifestyle, ProductivityBrenda Reynoso PenaComment Not too long ago when I started knitting at a more serious level, I realized that my days got more productive. I started doing something that made me concentrate and also use my hands. All of a sudden I found more hours during the day to spend in one of my favorite hobbies even if it was just 30 minutes a day.

I also have been reading more using audiobooks. This explains why knitters love audiobooks, it is sort of multitasking. In fact, when you have a hobby you manage your time better to make time for that hobby. Let me explain, by blocking time during the day for your hobby, you actually finish other projects around your house a bit faster. I am not referring only to knitting, this will apply to any hobby really photography, writing, sewing, etc....

Here are a few things I recommend that have worked for me and hopefully will work for you:

1. Find a hobby that you like (if you don't have one, try different things like Painting, sewing, scrap booking, quilting and of course knitting, until you find your true passion. Try as many as you can, it is ok to have a few hobbies!

2. Use your TV time to knit.

3. Join online communities or groups in your area. Your local library might be able to help you with this.

4. Read and research about your hobby. The more you know about what you like the easier it gets to understand and finish a project.

5. Get created with your weekly calendar. Start by blocking that one hour every other week or weekly depending on your work schedule and increase as desired. Don't forget to use a timer!

And finally, remember it just takes one stitch at a time to finish any project. Happy knitting!