A year from now …

… You’ll wish you had started today.

 

And in that spirit I present my new running shoes.  Aren’t they delightfully ugly.  However, as a fan of all things green, they make me happy.

Fancy shoes make you go faster, right?

Fancy shoes make you go faster, right?

So for the month of March I’m trying to start doing all the things that in a year from now I will have wished I had started this month.

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Trying to fix those “Broken Windows”

Broken and Not Broken Windows

A few of my broken windows on display

During work this week I ran across this blog post by Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project about “Broken Windows”.  I’ll let her explain:

The “broken windows theory” of policing holds that when a community tolerates minor examples of disorder and petty crime, such as broken windows, graffiti, turnstile-jumping, or drinking in public, people are more likely to commit more serious crimes.

As a law-enforcement theory, it’s controversial, but whether or not it’s true on a city-wide level, I think it’s true on a personal level.

My “broken windows” are the particular signs of disorder that make me feel out of control and overwhelmed.  – Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Looking around my apartment, and my mind, I recognized a whole pile of “broken windows” staring me right in the face and I have a feeling like I’m a slob who can’t get her shit together.  Not at all a woman who is closer to 30 than 20 and wants to feel like a real grownup.

My broken windows seem to include:

  • Dirty dishes beside and in the sink
  • Random bits of garbage sitting on my desk and coffee table
  • The box for my new electric toothbrush under my desk
  • The blocking mats on my floor, the blocking pins in my window sill (both of which have been there since I unpinned a shawl on Feb 14th)
  • The amigurumi in need of repairs sitting on the floor where they got tossed when Carla visited 4 weeks ago.
  • My notoriously unmade bed
  • The laundry drying rack with a few items left on it from doing my laundry, also a month ago (I have done laundry since then, but that pile is also unsorted, unfolded and half on my floor)
  • And about a half dozen things I’m not quite as keen to make public

However, it is not hopeless.  Gretchen herself mentions how spending little seconds to prevent the window from getting broken, in my case, spending the 10 minutes to put away my clean laundry, or to wash out my two or three dishes and wipe down the counter, can make a big difference in your mental health.

I think this is the other half of what I was thinking about when I talked about letting go of my FIFO knitting mentality.  I think I need to let go to the idea of a system in my crafting life, letting go of “have to” and “must” when it comes to yarn and fluff, knitting and crochet, spinning and weaving, and apply some of that mental energy to dish doing and bed making.

Despite the fact that it will take me a half second to pick up the box of tissues that fell on the floor 2 weeks ago, I have managed to pretend it’s not there and kick it around my living room several times. And when there is a box of tissues on the floor, why does it matter if I just leave that mug there on the coffee table, oh and that tupperware bowl that used to have leftovers in it, it can just stay at my desk for a week.

While I’m feeling this surge of ” have to ” and “must” I’m going to spend the better part of the weekend putting away my clutter and getting my apartment set up in such a way that I have a much tougher time “breaking the windows”.  However, this is an on going process.  I’m putting this here as a way of being accountable to myself, by telling you about the work I need to do I feel more obligated to myself to actually do the work.

So what are the “broken windows” in your life?  Do you have any in need of fixing?  What tricks do you use on yourself to stay on top of your clutter?

FIFO, FIFO, it’s off to knit we go

IMG_0694

So, if someone were to look at my workspace, kitchen, dresser, car, hard drive you would make an educated (and accurate) guess that I’m not an overly orderly person.  On the whole whole, my life has taken the “long way ’round”, totally without order or plan.  Which is why my obsession with FIFO (First In, First Out) is so deeply odd.  Although, I do eat the frosting (my favorite part) last when I get cake, so maybe not that odd.

For some reason when I get a new awesome yarn, I can’t just ball it and knit it, I feel the need to keep going with the oldest yarns in my stash.  I’ve been working on this issue, I managed to knit some TFA Red Label in Dove within 2 months of getting it, and it didn’t kill me.

So I’m stating it here, I’m not throwing away my goals for the year, but I’m taking them with a grain of salt.  My tendency would be to attack the list in order (and use the oldest yarns in my stash) and then see what I get to do for fun after the “work” is done.

I have finished, or released myself from, all my obligation crafting (knitting/crochet mostly) and I’m going to do what I want, when I want to.  For the rest of tonight, I think I’m going to sit down at my wheel for the first time in months, and maybe do some reading in my new copy of The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Design. Maybe later this week I will re-warp my loom, or not.  I’m going off script, and the adventure awaits.

Sister Stay-cation

This weekend I had a real treat, my sister Carla showed up and we had an awesome sister-staycation at my apartment.  We watched my selection of animated Disney-ish movies (Brother Bear, Anastasia, Lilo and Stitch), worked on our knitting, made my first batch of truffles, went shopping for Martha Stewart Office Supplies at Staples.

We also ate out at the Griffin Gastropub (an amazing 20 seat pub in Bracebridge) where I had an awesome lentil burger and Carla had some really excellent looking beef stew.

Not only was it a fun weekend it was a productive weekend. Carla finished a sweater and a pair of mittens, and I managed to get all my mystery leftover skeins tagged and niddy-noddied some of the yarns I won’t be knitting anytime soon (RIP Color Affection, the yarns are nice but after two months I have to admit I’m not all that interested in knitting it).  I also finished and blocked the two baby sweaters, finished an illusion knit dishcloth that I started at the Huntsville Spinners and Weavers guild last Thursday, and also finished crocheting and stuffing an amigurumi Raccoon for Toshie, started a pair of socks on my new 9in circulars (still figuring out whether I like it or not), and planned out two shawlettes for the moms of the two babies getting sweaters, and made plans to participate in the Slug-A-Long at Fresh Stitches.

So, overall a very fun, productive weekend, hopefully Carla will be able to come back again soon.

2013 and Looking Forward

Not actually today but a close likeness

So, here we are at the end of the the first day of the year and I guess it is time to let all of you know what to expect from me this year, although if last year is any indication my results and my goals bear very little resemblance to one another.

This year instead of classifying by craft, I have set my goals by type.

In 2013, I want to …

Quantities

  • Spin 5lbs of fluff
  • Use up 10 miles of yarn
  • Create 40 items (knit, crocheted or woven)
  • Knit 15 pairs of socks
  • Knit an adult sweater for myself

Techniques

  • Complete a project in Tunisian Crochet
  • Learn and complete a project that uses Broomstick Lace
  • Learn and complete a project in Brioche Stitch
  • Learn and complete a project in double knitting
  • Complete a tatting project
  • Give stranded colorwork another try
  • Complete the sampler in The Weavers Idea Book by Jane Patrick
  • Complete a weaving project using overshot techniques
  • Compete a weaving project for something OTHER than a scarf or cowl
  • Spin a semi-woolen yarn (long draw from a combed top)
  • Spin an “art yarn”
  • Spin a laceweight yarn
  • Give needle felting another try
  • Give DPNs another try

Yarn and Stash

  • Use my handspun yarns in knitting, crochet and weaving projects
  • Use more yarn than I stash — More specifically get my stash ratio to less than 1.0 for 2013 and try to get my lifetime ratio to less than 2.0 by the end of the year (as the end of 2012 it was 2.43)
  • Destash yarns I don’t absolutely love and probably won’t ever use

So, it looks like I have a few awesomely cool challenges ahead of me this year, and I’m sure I will dream up a few more in the next 12 months.

2012 and Looking Back

2012 Knitting

For the last two years I have been doing retrospective and looking forward posts as the years end and begin, and this year is no different. I am using December 30th, as the cut off day for finishing projects in 2012.  Unlike last year I have some projects carrying forward into 2013 and I’m okay with that.

So 2012 in numbers looks something like this, 2011 and 2010 numbers are in brackets. Note, that this year I added a loom so these number include woven projects as well.

2012 by the Numbers:

  • 20.56 (14, 23) miles of yarn acquired during the year
  • 33 (22, 18) miles of yarn currently in my stash
  • 8.7 (6.2, 4.5) miles of yarn knit/crocheted/woven into projects
  • 1.82 (2.15, 3.93) Ratio of yarn acquired to used
  •  1,092 (2,771, 426) yards of handspun yarn
  •  2.5 (6, 5.7) pounds of spinning fiber acquired
  • 12.7 (12, 5) pounds of spinning fiber in stash
  • 1.37 (2.85, 4.68) ratio of stashed fluff to spun yarn
  • 1 (6, 7) pairs of mittens
  • 4 (5, 14) hats
  • 7 (3, 6) shawls or stoles
  • 10 (0, 3) scarves
  • 0 (2, 2) bags
  • 0 (2, 0) blankets
  • 8 (6, 1) cowls
  • 13 (3, 1) pairs of socks
  • 1 (10, 0) dishclothes
  • 2 (0,1) baby sweaters
  • 3 (0,0) toys

The big difference this year was the addition of socks, in a big way, to my repertoire.  Ultimately, I acquired more yarn this year than almost any other but I also used much more than any year.  I also had the smallest fluff acquisition ever, but I did hardly any spinning. I found that with my crazy work schedule I never was all that compelled to sit at my wheel, I’m hoping to change that in 2013.

So to see how I did on the goals I set for myself in January 2012.  I didn’t often look at this list when making decisions about what to make this year so, I think I didn’t do very well meeting my own expectations, but I had a great year in knitting, crocheting, weaving (and an okay year in spinning) so this is just an exercise in curiosity at this stage.

In 2012, I:  (goals I have met are struck through)

– Spinning –

  • Participate in the Tour de Fleece in July – NOPE didn’t even try
  • Spin a truly woolen-spun yarn – Not this year but I will try again next year
  • Spin a useable sock yarn – Didn’t even attempt this one, but I have some ideas on how to accomplish it.
  • Spin a 2-ply laceweight of at least 800 yds from 100g of fluff – Nope, another one for 2013
  • Spin at least 3lbs of fluff – I did 1.8 lbs, so more than halfway, which is good for not really spinning
  • Tailspin some locks – Nope, but didn’t get my hands on any locks so that was extra challenging
  • Spin hand carded fleece Yep, but I hated the yarn I was making so I just tossed it, but I do want to get a drumcarder one day because I do prefer spinning carded batts to combed top.

– Knitting –

  • Knit 12 pairs of socks during the year – I have all the yarn in my stash – YES, and you can read about all my socks HERE.
  • Finish one large shawl/stole, more than 1000yds of laceweight – Nope, I had nobel ideas, but none came to fruition, I am going to relist this goal for 2013 as I have a crocheted stole lined up to use about 1,200 yards of laceweight I hope to have done before summer.
  • Design a pattern that is appropriate for submission to an online knitting magazine – Nope, but again, I have some ideas that are at least suitable for self-publishing, something I want to set as a goal for 2013.
  • Participate in at least one Knitalong – This goal was kind of a gimmie, because I was already planning on participating in the January TFA KAL and then I went on to do several more through the year, one of which actually won me a prize.
  • Knit more than 10 miles of yarn – With 8.7 miles of yarn used, I am short of my 10 mi goal, but I think I still want to aim for it, because I have big plans for 2013.

– Crochet –

  • Start a sock-yarn Babette Blanket from my scraps – Nope, but I got a RH loom which I have been using to use up scraps and I LOVE it.
  • Crochet a shaped item (mittens, hats, shrug, etc) – AMIGURUMI are fun!  I had no idea that might be what I made in shaped crochet, but I have more yarn and patterns on the way to make many, many more.

– Fiber/Yarn –

  • Take undyed fluff and turn it into a finished object, which will included dyeing, spinning and knitting.
  • Process some raw fleece, preferably from a local producer.
  • Knit down my stash
  • FAILED on all these counts, however, a chaotic summer (with a daily 2hr, 100mile round-trip commute) killed some of my inertia to accomplish these during the summer.  

Looking at it I didn’t really accomplish many of my goals for 2012, however I don’t see this as a failure, but a representation of how hard it is to see into the future, when I was sitting at my desk in January, I had no idea that I would be where I am today.   So I will set goals for 2013 and post them here tomorrow, January 1st, but here are some of the things I accomplished this year which were not on my list for 2012.

Also in 2012, I:

I still have a few 2012 FO posts to share in the next few days as I get better pictures (or in one case block and take pictures, its a lace shawl so it really needs blocking), but I am ready to dive into a new year of fiber fun!

Why did no one wake me up when November ended?

So, someone asked me for the date and I realized that it was December 5th and I had managed to go a month without looking at my blog.  Woah, I just don’t know where that month went.  However, it was a good month, lots of knitting and cooking.

First off, I managed to get through all my KAL chaos projects, but not much else.

Winter Bloom Shawl

 

I finished my Winter Bloom shawl, in Tanis Fiber Arts’s Orange Label (worsted weight merino/cashmere/silk) in Frost.  Not only did I get a totally awesome, amazing shawl, but I also won 3 skeins of Sweet Fiber Yarn’s Haven yarn (a new merino/silk aran-weight single) in Spanish Coin a gorgeous gold color.

Also I finished my Mooncrest Shawl in Tanis Red Label, another great base and awesome pattern. I wore it today and got lots of compliments.

Mooncrest Shawl

 

Oh and I finished a third item for the Tanis KAL, but it is a gift and the recepient is just too web savvy for me to share the pictures up here.  I will, after they are gifted for Christmas.

Also, I cooked up a storm from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook a few weeks ago making the Apple Cider Salted Caramels.

Smitten Kitchen Carmels

 

I need to make a few mods when I make them again for Christmas.

Also, I made a batch of what I’m calling Slow Cooker Apple Sauce, or, Christina hates chopping apples Sauce. Where I stew apples in my slow cooker and then blend them with an immersion blender to make them into sauce. It means you get to keep all the nutrients of the skins and all you have to do is core and quarter the apples.

Apples before SauceSlow Cooker Apple Sauce

Of course November wasn’t all rainbows, apple sauce and pretty shawls, I also changed my first tire.

I woke up on a Monday morning, with an hour’s drive to work and I found this…

Flat Tire

 

Turns out I ran over a nail but I managed to get the tire changed all by myself, and end up only 2.5 hrs behind schedule.

So that was November, well plus all the work, and assorted chaos that make up my life.  I’m back into my knitting, although I did take last weekend off from knitting to try out a few different things I have let fall by the wayside, like Tunisian crochet, shuttle tatting, weaving and spinning. But if December even goes half as fast as November did, then I expect to resurface in January unsure of where December went.

WIP Wednesday: October 31st

20121031-081612.jpg

 

Sorry about the poor quality of WIP Wednesday photos, it is really dark here in the morning.

Last week, I had a few more projects on the needles, but I finished the Pomatomus socks and I decided to hibernate my crocheted stole in preparation for KAL Chaos.

This leaves (from left to right):

  •  Thyme – I have made it through the main body and first lace repeat, just three more and a knitted on edge
  • Hello Sweetie – This is going to be my purse project for the next little while, these should be quick but they just haven’t been at the top of the to do list.
  • Too Cool for My Socks – Finally got the toes knit on these, but they are going into hibernation until I finish my TFA KAL socks and Hello Sweetie.  I would like to have them finished by the end of the year.
  • Rockberry Triangle – Through the 3 charts, but really only one section (stitch pattern). As a worsted weight shawl, it really shouldn’t be that much longer. I’m not hibernating it, but maybe lowering it down the list.

So, tomorrow I will be casting on for the TFA KAL projects and then not long after I will be starting the other KAL projects.