New Year, New Challenges

*This post is not going to be very crafting heavy, though I do have a crafting section, if you are only here for crafting please skip to the line of asterisks.**

2021 is going to be my year! I am looking forward to the new challenges that I will face this year as well as the changes I am choosing to make. Do I think everything is going to be smooth sailing, no of course not, however I am going to control what I can and leave the rest up to fate.

From the late 90s to the early 00s Mom and I collected Beanie Babies. We had a lot of fun and I have some amazing memories of the times we spent looking for certain beanies. The prices of these toys have not help up to the times so I found myself with literally hundreds of beanies sitting in tubs in the back hallway of my childhood home. In theory I could create sets, set up sales on ebay and see what I could get for them. I put up three posts of some beanies that had sold for huge amounts in the week I put the posts up. Two weeks later, I have not received a single offer. Oh well, to the donation box the rest of the beanies are going to go. I kept a few for myself that I have very fond memories of, okay so I kept a small tub for myself (I cleared out three huge tubs so this is still a lot of progress), and sent some to my sister that she would like. I made the conscious decision that I was not going to take these tubs of toys into my new life, and eventually new home. I did ensure that some of my friends and colleagues with children wound up with some, okay a lot, and I feel good about these decisions. I still have four huge tubs I need to put into garbage bags to donate, however I have made significant progress.

Along those lines later today I am going to be clearing out my car of junk so that I can start fresh for my new job. Theoretically I should be vacuuming and getting things detailed, that is not going to happen so I will focus on what I can do. I have also cleaned out my fridge of all of the items I have not eaten the past two years (condiments included) and need to wipe that out later. I know, some people are able to do these tasks on a regular basis and so accomplishing them is no big deal. I am not one of those people, I have been listening to decluttering books, organizing books, and minimalism books in the hopes of gaining control over my ‘stuff’. These changes are not just for today, this week, or this year, these changes are how I am going to be able to maintain these changes long term. They will take time and effort, however I will be rewarded in the end by only being surrounded with a functional, aesthetically pleasing, home that I enjoy being in.

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith allowed me to understand what I need to do in order to craft my new home to work with my aesthetic as well as my needs. As much as mom used to make fun of my Grandmother’s bill paying desk, I am going to buy a little desk with cubbies right on top so I can organize and pay my bills in one cleared off space. Right now I am doing that on my computer desk with my supplies in a little metal drawer underneath my computer monitor. I hate having to move my keyboard out of the way, or going to a separate table to write out my Thank You notes as well as greeting cards. I have also made up some pinterest boards that are going to help me with my decorating choices when the time comes.

The Clutter Connection and Real Life Organizing by Cassandra Aarssen have both helped me to understand that I need my items to be visually available. Aarssen also runs an organization that talks about clutterbugs and she frames all of her information in that terminology, this is well worth a look. She also helped me to understand that I am not ‘lazy’, ‘naturally messy’ or any of those other self-defeating terms. I simply organize in a visual way because if I try to do the ‘everything put away’ thing I lose stuff or forget I own it. Since I have started trying this method I can find things when I look for them. This means that in my new home I am going to go for bookcases with baskets for my crafting supplies as well as two glass cabinets. I already have one that I am going to store Mom’s Hummels in, the other is going to be for the beanie babies I choose to keep. That way things are not tucked away but displayed with pride for me to enjoy.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K White has allowed me to embrace ‘the container concept’. This is simply coming to accept that the size of the container designated for something is the size that it is. That means if something has to be eliminated because it does not fit in the container and is not loved as much as something else then that is it. You cannot keep more than a container holds. This is going to be very helpful to me when it comes to Mom’s collections. One cabinet for her Hummels, one for the Beanies. If there are items that do not fit in the container, then what gets taken out.

I am cringing even as I write this next part, I am going to apply these concepts to my craft collections. I know, it hurts to think about it. I do plan on setting up book cases for each of my major hobbies, knitting/crochet, weaving, spinning, papercrafts, and dioramas. I also intend to have two bookcases for books, one crafting books and the other fiction/DVDs. This does seem like a lot of bookcases yet for me this is the perfect balance of organized and visual. If the items are in baskets while on bookcases they are contained, organized, and visual enough for me to see.

I realize that for some people these concepts are completely ‘duh’ yet for plenty of other people like me these books will make you sit up and take notice. The best advice I received from these organizing and decluttering books, I am not alone. There are other people quietly suffering with the same problems that I have and grew up with. Mom did not know that she was a non-visual organizer compared to my visual organizer so things were a constant misery of lost items and accusations of slovenly behavior. I cannot tell you the number of times mom ‘knew’ that someone came in and stole something because she could not put her hands on it. Dana had the same story to tell.

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Onto the crafting! Purl Together has come up with a ‘Finish it or Frog It’ challenge that they have started for 2021. The first step is to gather all of your WIPs or Works In Progress and take a photo. Having some people talk about their 15-50 unfinished items makes me feel better about my nine. Six of these were put on hold while I had surgery and recovered from my surgery, and at least two are probably going to be frogged.

Nine unfinished knitting and crochet projects in various stages of completion.

The forest green piece on the bottom right side of the photo is a baby cardigan I waned to have finished by today, as you can see that did not happen. I have finished 2″ out of the 6″ I need on the first sleeve then I need to pick up the second sleeve, seam the sides, hide the ends and sew on buttons. The buttons are supposed to arrive on Monday or Tuesday so if I finish then I will be very happy. The 8×8 cabled cowl on the bottom far left of the photo is something that I am capable of, however the tight, huge, cable makes the width of the cowl much too small for my tastes. Since it is a bulky Knitpicks yarn I can easily find another pattern. I was very happy to find the cardigan that I started with a Jimmy Beans Wool Kit almost half done, I hope to finish that. There are a couple of mindless projects I can take with me, the half-granny triangle shawl out of lace weight yarn will take forever to crochet up, yet I love how it is turning out.

Between the New Job, Organizing, De-Cluttering, and a New House, 2021 is certainly going to be A Little More Abstract.

Learning, Living and Good News

Every day is a new adventure and brings some kind of change. Over the past week I have had a lot of changes brought into my life, the biggest of which has to be my new Full-Time Job. I will be starting January 4th, 2021 as a full-time librarian in a public library. I am really looking forward to the new challenges and adventures this will bring! I have also started Nutrisystem and in 4 weeks I am down about 12 pounds, so I hope these trends continuse.

Okay, back to crafting. I discovered that I really enjoy double sided knitting, the rhythm and challenge is fascinating, I also discovered that the double sided shawl I want to knit involves me casting on about 300 pairs of stitches…that might wait until the new year. I did finish my sheep sampler from the class, and I hope to make a pouch using the double sided techniques in the near future.

I have finished my knitted wrist cuff and added it to the finished object thread for GAL2020. This little lacy cuff turned out very well, I added sheep buttons. I am using it on my left wrist partially because I like to keep the joint warm to increase flexibility, partially because I like to cover up the scar a little bit, and partially because I hope to remember to charge my apple watch so that I can start wearing it on my left wrist again.

Black and grey knitted piece with a scalloped edge.

I did manage to add another cable to my knitted cowl as well as a few more rows onto my skirt. The photos for these projects are below. For my kids knits I have started the mitered square pullover in an infant size, finger’s crossed I can get most of it done this weekend.

Since I do not have any family coming into town, COVID among other reasons, and all of my holiday shopping is done, I am ready to spend the next two weeks finishing up my work and knitting. Hopefully I will get some spinning and weaving done as well. I cannot believe that I am starting a whole new chapter in my life in 2021, wish me luck!

Eliminate those straight lines and Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

December Has Been Busy

If I keep this up I am going to have to start calling this a bi-weekly blog, oh no! December has been very busy with my crafting as well as my work. I did manage to finish the two projects from last post, I love how the headband looks although it is a bit tall for my head and the Dumpster fire ornament has been such a huge hit among my colleagues.

I have also started another three projects for the Independent Designers Gift Along 2020, a cowl, a wrist cuff, as well as a knitted skirt. Okay, so I do not really believe I am going to Finish the skirt in the next three weeks, however I really enjoy it as a semi mindless knitting pattern and look forward to wearing it when I am done.

In theory I am also going to knit a pair of baby socks, a baby cardigan and a shawl. Do You think I can do it??? Yeah, I don’t either. However I do think I am going to get the cowl, wrist warmer, and Either socks or tiny cardi done before the end of the year. This has been a difficult year for everyone, there has been much death and destruction. I hope that we have learned lessons as well as new skills through this terror. I will have a much more philosophical post closer to the end of the year, I promise, along with what I hope will be good news. Today for Vogue Knitting Live I am going to be attending a class on how to learn Double Knitting, there are several shawl patterns with reversible Celtic patterns on them that I would love to create. Keep your fingers crossed for me and Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

November and Crafting Slump

I’m sorry about not posting for a few weeks, November came on like a storm bringing with it quite a bit of uncertainty regarding college/university closings in New York. Between the stress of figuring out plans and back up plans the month simply slipped away from me.

I Hope that, if you celebrate, you had an amazing Thanksgiving or Indigenous Peoples Day or Friendsgiving (even if you could only see your family/friends through zoom). I had a great weekend, which means I was able to finally get back into the groove of crafting.

I did manage to finish weaving my four handspun panels a few weeks ago, now I am debating if they are going to be scarves for my cousins kids, panels for a piece of clothing, or pieces of a bag. I am leaning toward the idea of a bag, maybe bags, since the yarn is a bit rough for next to the skin.

Four multi-colored pieces of woven cloth lying next to each other, the loose threads still need clipped.

I have started another weaving project with yarn from HipStrings out of Pittsburgh, PA. When I ordered some mini’s they were kind enough to send whole skeins, which left me with more than enough to weave the scarf I was thinking of. The colors are supposed to be Steeler’s colors, I think they come close.

Weaving is not all that I have been doing. I recently found out about an event on Ravelry called the Independent Designers Gift Along, or GAL2020. For this you simply have to knit or crochet a single gift. They do have categories and if you do one project in each category then you have achieved a special level that they call Oopadoo (or something like that). To start this off I have cast on a “Dumpster Fire Ornament”; a Headband; as well as a Skirt.

Before I started these projects, which I am supposed to have finished by December 31 to take a photo of all of them….if I were to give one as a present then I would not have it for the group photo…I’m not sure what I am supposed to do about that. Sorry for the digression, as I was saying: Before I started these projects I managed to unearth what I was working on prior to my wrist surgery, I am healing well and still gaining strength in my wrist. I decided to do some work on a slipper that I had gotten almost half way through before my surgery, there is a lot of progress. I am past the heel portion and working my way up the left side, once that is finished I do have a second sole so I can begin the second slipper right away.

Orange and blue slipper-ish thing.

Regarding another craft altogether, I have decided that I am going to spin for colorwork socks. I spun up the bumps of fiber left over from the month when Paradise Fibers sent us Scottish themed items, as well as a bump of the sari/tweed fibers we received. Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the colorful portions, so here is a bobbin of mostly white singles from one of the bags of fiber I purchased specifically for socks. Once I have the singles spun up I plan on transferring them to weaving bobbins so that I can mix them up and create 3 ply yarns of each color.

Yellow bobbin on a Schacht Ladybug with a Woolee Winder. The bobbin is filled with white singles, some pink is peeking through.

Those are my crafting adventures for November. With COVID Still going strong, and let’s be realistic it is going to get worse before it gets better, I plan on doing plenty of crafting over the course of December. Without any immediate family in the area I will send presents to my extended family and lose myself in the rhythms of creation.

Happy Crafting, stay healthy, and remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Unfortunately Correct

I was unfortunately correct in saying that I was being overly optimistic thinking that I would get my wheel varnished on Thursday.

Unfortuntaely, that seems to be theme here, I do not have any photos of my current projects, though I do have a photo of the Chenille Stem (Pipe Cleaner) holiday tree I made for a December Project at my public library.

Pipe Cleaner Christimas Tree, tiny. The branches stick out in all directions, with two round pieces as a base and a paperclip attached to make sure it actually stays upright.

In addition to my holiday crafting I have been working on weaving up the yarn I spun for the Spin Together 2020 contest. I am using my rigid heddle loom, which is 10″ across and weaving 2 yard increments. So far I am on my second panel, I hope to have enough yarn to weave off 4 panels for a 40″ across piece. That should be sufficient to make a nice looking poncho, admittedly I would prefer about 60″. I love how the colors are working together to create something bright and cheerful with a bit of sparkle here and there. I hope to be able to sew the panels together before winter break.

The second project, that I am kicking myself for forgetting in the car, is a knitted shawl from the 716 batt I managed to spin up. I love how the knitting is going, however I can see where I plied loosely and the yarn is splitting with my maneuvering. I believe that this will wind up being a very colorful shawl, it is also a great platform for my experimenting with yarnovers and double decreases. The results are neat, though not what I thought.

I do have a third project in mind. Once I have the red that I am spinning fairly fine finished I hope to spin up another wild batt (maybe I can do this on my new wheel instead of waiting for the ladybug to be free), to create a match to my Blue Moon Halloween 2020 skein. Once I have them both spun I hope to use some wool yarn to weave up a shawl collar/cowl to wear as a decorative piece. I might even hold off on seaming up my panels to see if I can turn them into some sort of shirt…the possibilities are endless!

Okay, so I also have a fourth project I’m actively working on..I know it is a bit much. The Discover Color event is ongoing and I still have not threaded my heddles. I found the perfect excuse to delay until Thursday, the Winter Weavealong will start pretty soon. This is run by Two Ewes Fiber Adventures podcast, and I hope to participate this year.

I was reminded that we only have about 4 more paychecks until Christmas, so that is frightening. I’d better get my presents purchased and shipped before it is too late!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Finishing Projects and Starting Anew

Colorful towels in pastels with various weaving patterns across them. Sort of random with dark stripes of other colors running vertically and horizontally.

I managed to finish weaving off some towels that I have had on my loom for over a year. They have been washed and cut apart, now I need to get the courage to pull out my sewing machine and seam them. I am hoping to do a slightly rolled hem, however it is going to depend on how reckless I am feeling when the machine comes out.

I have also been working on the shawl that has been on my tri-loom for a couple of months. This is what it looked like last week, as of the writing of this post the entire shawl is finished and washed (putting it through the dryer for 20 minutes gave it an amazing halo and felted it just right). however I have not had the opportunity to get a good photo of it.

Brown and white strands of yarn on a 7 foot triangle peg loom. There is about 15 inches in the middle with just horizontal strands while the rest is tightly woven in triangles going toward the left and right points.

Fortunately for me, with all of this finishing going on, I have had the opportunity to start a few things. There is a new class available for free from Tien Chiu https://classes.warpandweave.com/collections called the Discover Color Weavealong. I have started warping my loom, I really have to cut apart my texsolv heddles before I thread the pattern threads, however I do have everything through my reed. I hope to get the heddles threaded Thursday.

16 shaft table loom with junk underneath and green threads being held in a cross formation with leases sticks.

Finally I had the opportunity to get my hands on a Kromski Fantasia Spinning wheel unfinished. I decided to go all in and varnish the wheel using a cherry stain and a topcoat to seal things in. I managed to get the first coat of cherry on all of the pieces, and everything sanded. The next step is to put the top coat on all sides of the pieces. Again, I hope to get this done on Thursday, however I am not holding my breath.

That is all she wrote for now. Until next time remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

One Week Later

It has been a week since the end of Spin-Together, while I had a lot of fun I am pleased to note that despite there being no deadline my spinning is still progressing. Thanks to Long Thread Media allowing the older editions of their three publications, Spin-Off, Piecework, and Handwoven to be available to all subscribers using their app I have been enjoying looking through old issues. While my current obsession is spinning, I am also planning on warping my loom for a Weave Along. Warp and Weave is having a Discover Color weave along where we are weaving Mug Rugs. I purchased the kit they recommended from Lunatic Fringe using the money I saved with the Ibotta app.

* I never advertise for things here, however through this app I have tried new foods (have not hated many yet) and gotten money back for my purchases. Most of these things are huge scams unless you spend hours on them, for me Ibotta is just convenient. I purchased this kit, my month of Sling that I watched while spinning and 2/3rds of the bags I just bought some of which I’m going to use as holiday presents. Done advertising, I have an affiliate link if you want to sign up.*

Back to spinning. Since this is my current obsession I’ve spent some time going back through past issues of Spin-off magazine and one article from Spring 2002 “Weaving with Singles” By Holly Schaltz inspired me to take the sparkly yarn I was spinning as a single to ply and turn it into a singles that I can weave with. The sparkle is such that I felt it would be fighting with another ply for color attention. I hope to weave it on a loom so that I can make a bag or pouch from it. I have also been doing alternative crafts.

This is a red pet bed with a wide opening at the front. Lying on top of the pet bed are scissors and red thread on a bobbin. The bed is on top of a blue blanket.

I managed to upcycle a pet bed from two old shirts and some foam. This project cost me $5 and two hours. When compared to the price of similar pet beds, this is well worth the effort. I have also been decorating my public library with spider webs made from corriedale wool. I intend to gather the wool and spin a yarn when the season is over, until then they are eco friendly especially compared to the synthetic webs my boss was going to buy.

Wool Spider web with a white spider on top holding a keychain library card. These are on top of an acrylic shield with a bookcase in the background and ‘library cards here’ sign at the upper left hand of the photo.

I love how crafting tends to insert itself into every facet of my life. There is always something useful I can create. While I have given in a little bit and wound up creating some of what I call “Garbage Crafts”, I am also ensuring that there are creative projects for people of all skill/creativity levels. I also throw them out the moment I am done with them ensuring that they are not hanging around my house.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

The Finish Line

Vogue Knitting sponsored Virtual Knitting October 2020 where I was able to take a class from Jillian Moreno. The class was focused on all of the different ways you can spin and ply a braid of colorful roving. This included different ways you can get your precious fiber to stretch and how plying colors can effect eachother. I loved this class. As she was talking I was recalling that I had read quite a bit of what she was discussing when I read her book “Yarnitecture” which I cannot recommend enough. During and after the class, 2 hours long, I spun up samples based on roving I had purchased years ago and that I had fallen out of love with. The samples certainly reinvigorated my interest, and I look forward to playing with my Allegheny Fiber Arts batt in Mango in the near future. All of my playing around managed to net me about 344 yards credit for Spin Together 2020.

I had finished the first half of my big spin about Wednesday, which yes was a little late but as I told the captain of my team I lost about 15 hours spinning time between physical therapy and filling in for a colleague that had surgery. If I had the option I think I would take this week as vacation…if only I were full-time. Anyway. I actually got quite a bit of spinning done between Wednesday night and before my class on Thursday morning, that is the blue bobbin. Then I took everything off of my wheel to spin up my samples, they were so much fun. I thought about spinning more on the blue bobbin, however I decided to just start a new bobbin, this is the yellow bobbin. I finished spinning the singles late Thursday night and started plying with my first two bobbins immediately afterwards.

Before work on Friday I had managed to ply up one bobbin full, and knew that I would have to split the skein. Next year I am going to have to ply on my 64oz Firefly bobbin. Enchanted Mountain Weaver’s Guild had a meeting Friday night, the first I have been able to attend in months. I spent this time getting some plying done so that by Saturday morning I had managed to ply up all three bobbins of yarn, the first skein I measured off as 300 yards. This is 900 credit yards for spin together (2 plies and the act of plying). During the zoom meeting with the Paradise Fibers Team I managed to get all of my samples organized onto their pages (I’m still using the organization method I learned at EGLFC from Kate Larson).

In the end my Total Mileage was 1.66 Miles. This does not include my first day making an art skein. This is probably one of the lowest totals, however I did manage to spin over a mile of yarn, so I am pretty happy. Reading over the documentation we were sent at the beginning of things, oops, I realized that Paradise Fibers will be sending everyone that participated a ‘little something’ exciting. According to Tamara, our team leader, one of the other participants has sheep and will be providing everyone with a little gift. In addition to the ‘big prizes’ paid for by everyone’s entrance fee, Paradise Fibers is sponsoring prizes within our teams. First and second place prizes for: Most beautiful skein, art yarn, and mileage spun. Perhaps my art yarn skein will get something? No matter really, I am just happy to have participated and spun up some of my stash.

Actually that reminds me, I took this opportunity to spin 2 and 3 ply samples of my Unicorn in the Library by Hipstrings as well as my October box by Paradise Fibers. Now I have to remember that Cleaning Your House is also on the list of things I need to do, not just spinning more yarn.

Until next time, remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Days 3-4 Progress

Okay so it turns out I probably did not need to have 6+ projects prepared. Admittedly without physical therapy and a minor emergency at work I probably would have had another 6 hours to spin, alas, that did not happen. Physical therapy and work emergency’s trumped spinning, oh well.

I have managed to get almost half-way through my first spin, I keep having to remind myself that these are jumbo bobbins and they take a while to fill up.

You can see the progress I made over 2 days, surprisingly the fiber for my first half of the spin should run out just when the bobbin is full. Then I get to take this off and start on the second half. Since I will get home about 10:30pm I might take my hour winding down time to see if I can finish this. Then I’m up in the morning for physical therapy before work. Perhaps I can get an hour in then. I have just decided, I’m not going to worry too much about it. I’ll get through today and tomorrow, spend whatever time I can spinning tomorrow between meetings, and have a ton of fun with it. Hopefully I win a prize for my art skein, but even if I do not I will have had a ton of fun!

Happy Spinning and remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Results from day 1 into day 2

Don’t judge me. I spin the most when I can watch something on television and not have to pay close attention to it, when I don’t really care if I miss something or not. Listening to audiobooks, I just want to concentrate on the story, if I miss a plot point because I’m adjusting the tension on my wheel or choosing the next pit of fiber I’m going to spin, then I feel like I am not doing either properly. Because of this, and a desire to just take some time to chill and spin this month, I have restarted my Sling subscription. Cable is so much more difficult to get up and running again whereas with Sling I can just cancel or pause when I need to. I had such an absolute blast watching a couple of episodes of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (I missed that show) and spinning along. This is an added expense that I did not necessarily need this month, however I used some of the money that I have received from clipping coupons using the Ibotta app to pay for this. While this has put me a bit back on my ‘buy another wheel’ idea it is well worth it for me.

Saturday night I managed to get my art yarn skein wound off onto a niddy noddy, skeined up, and photographed in various Poses.

My art yarn spin that I am calling “Blue Moon Halloween 2020” took me 2.5 hours to spin and ply. The yarn is all sorts of various locks spun in a wide variety of methods. I also added in gemstone like charms in the shape of moons….not too many of those survived on the bobbin. Then I thread plied with a commercial cotton tatting thread size 3 I think, that thread had various charms on it. Some of the charms were too large to go through even my extremely large orifice, so next time I will use my electric wheel with a hook orifice to ply. I actually have a lot of prepared fiber since my bobbin could not hold quite what I thought it could which means that after this contest spinning is done, and my wrist is a bit better, I’m going to do another lock spun yarn. Perhaps between the two I will have enough to weave myself something vest-like.

I had 2.5 hours this morning to do a bit of spinning and managed to get this far. I’m off of work at 6pm and hope to restart spinning about 6:30 until 10-11 tonight. Hopefully I can get through quite a bit of this first half of my spin!

Remember to live life A Little More Abstract.