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.

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!

Spin In Day 1

Good Morning, I’m posting this well before the Spin In Begins. Today the spin in starts at noon, I will be home at 2:30pm until about 5pm. I hope to spin my first project today, which is my wild skein. For this skein I purchased two ounces of curls, the vendor had some emergency vet bills I wanted to help with, and will use these couple of ounces in addition to the other fiber I had already prepped.

For my first regular spin I plan on using my two bags/baskets of fiber bits to spin up randomly on two bobbins.

Various bits of fibers with a green bobbin in an African Bolga Basket.

I think right now, except for the art yarn, I hope to do all of my spinning beforehand and plying on the last day (Maybe Friday just to ensure everything is counted.) For my second spin I hope to spin up my pound of Unicorn in the Library from HipStrings.

Purple, pink, black, grey, white mixed roving labelled The Unicorn in the Library.

If I get around to a fourth spin, third for credit, I have two batts I would love to see spun up and center plied. One is mostly purple while the other is mostly black and sparkly. The sparkly one has been split into three parts, and both have been kept in plastic boxes.

Next would be a winter gradient set I obtained from paradise fibers fiber of the month club some time back, I’m not sure if I would split each section in half to spin them onto separate bobbins, or just spin and do a center pull ball in the end.

Four balls of roving clockwise from top right: Black and purple; white and light blue; light blue and gray; medium blue and black.

If I finish spinning that up then I can work on the highland package I received from Paradise Fibers not too long ago.

Roving balls from left to right; Dusty blue; Green above beige; Red; White on a piece of cloth.

Should I manage to finish all six of these spins, including the wild skein, then I still have a variety of fibers to choose from. 3-4 sock packs that I can later dye, several exotic fibers, still a few more Paradise Fibers Boxes that I have not managed yet. I hope to get through at least three of my spins, especially since I loaded up long spins in the first three (well really the two that count for yardage) allowing myself some freedom within the last three.

I am very excited to get started, I’m not sure how I am going to last through work today! I might have to see if I can sneak one of my drop spindles in with me so I can spin a bit during my lunch break. Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Slow Fashion in the Midst

Thanks to a plethora of circumstances, I am finally close to being financially on track again. In October I will be able to pay my school taxes on the house and start saving for my January slump. Given these circumstances I am beginning to focus once more on finding eco-friendly clothing in my size. I would say at a decent price, however the prices for something vaguely eco-friendly start around $60 and usually hit $100-$300 very quickly. I am starting with socks, I tend to need them since I am on my feet quite a bit. I have 2 pair of alpaca, 1 of buffalo, and 1 wool from Ireland that I was gifted last Christmas. I enjoy all of the socks, however I love the wool ones since they remind me that I am loved. I noticed last week that I was getting a tiny hole in the toe of one of my Irish socks. Surprisingly, coincidences are really spooky sometimes, Jimmy Beans Wool then sent an advertisement about their new sock repair loom. To be forthright, I had not even done a google search on darning yet so this was complete coincidence. Needless to say I ordered the repair kit, then took a closer look at my socks. Yes, there is a tiny hole starting in the toe.

Tiny hole starting the the upper left part of the sock, looks like a bit of fraying from this photo.

However, when I looked at the socks closer something else became apparent.

Both of the heels had blown out of my, not even a year old, socks. Okay, the socks themselves never fit quite right, always really loose and slippery. I can see how this would contribute to a blow out of the heels. I will take my new darning kit when I get it and repair the holes, probably reinforcing the heels and toes at the same time. Yay for trying to extend the life.

On another front I have been spinning off the singles I had spun on various weaving bobbins in the hopes of freeing them up to ply from during the spin in. I love some of the yarns I have made, though this also reinforced the knowledge that I cannot spin silk from a center pull ball…all that silk wasted. Oh well.

Yarns of various weights, colors, and skein sizes.

MEDICAL TALK, VERY QUICK. SKIP TO AFTER *** IF IT MAKES YOU SQUEAMISH. The pin that was stabilizing my wrist was taken out last Thursday. I started with exercises designed to help me regain mobility on Friday. I am already seeing minor improvements, and hope to see another physical therapist soon to keep regaining mobility!***

There have been a lot of posts on Facebook of people discussing their fiber preparation for the upcoming spin along, someone was talking about the 16 pounds of fiber they have to spin, yeesh. I was happy with my couple of pounds and wild skein. Now I think I’m going to have to try and prep another few packets from Paradise fibers as well as choosing which braids I’m going to spin for the class I signed up for during Vogue Knitting Online October 8-11. These are going to be a busy couple of weeks. I am not happy that the spin in starts at noon on Saturday October 3 since I will be at work. Perhaps instead of taking a nap between shifts I’ll try and get started with some spinning.

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

Preparing for the Spin Together October 3-10th

I decided to join team Paradise Fibers, as I mentioned last post. Due to this, I have spend the past weekend preparing my fibers to start spinning on the 3rd.

I spent September 20th preparing the locks, flicking open ends, carding a few rolags, creating some cloud fiber. The spin should be tons of fun, I even found some white and black mohair locks to add even more texture. I’m debating if I want to ply this with a sequined thread I have or just leave it as a wild singles. I’ll see how it looks on the 3rd after I spin it. Right now I plan on spinning this on the 3rd so that I have the rest of the week to get as much mileage as I can.

I also took each piece of roving that I planned on using for this spin and split them in half so that I could have an approximately equal spin on two different bobbins. Using a basket and a bag I kept the two halves of the spin separated, but I also pulled off pieces of each main roving into 4-10 inch segments. After I had the fiber divided, I also added in some different colors that went with the theme, I rolled each section of roving into a little nugget. This will make it easier for me to pick out a random nugget of fiber to spin from. I also put a bobbin in each container, these combined with the one on the wheel give me two to ply from and one to ply onto.

I am super excited for this spin, it has actually given me to motivation to ply up some singles I have had resting on my weaving bobbins, but that is a spin for a different post.

Until next time remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Busy Week

Not really crafty until after second *. *This was my first week back to all three jobs, it has actually gone well. I am under some financial strain since the government did not extend the federal unemployment payments and I wanted to continue to work a couple of days a week. The beginning of this month is going to be short and I wound up applying for an Amazon Credit card. I did not really want to, however this will enable me to invest in my skill-set and make myself more marketable.*

I ordered a 3-d printer with heated plate and filament for under $200, on credit through Amazon. I have already created two original drawings in TinkerCad, a free online 3-d creation tool. My sibling recommended the slicer software that they use, and I plan on doing some experimenting once I have my set-up at home. The two drawings I made are below, the first is supposed to be a stone-like set of stairs while the second is supposed to be a dice tower.

I am very excited to begin learning the ins and outs of 3-d printing. I have not had a good technological challenge in a while and I look forward to exercising those muscles again. A colleague and I were asked to put together easy craft ideas so that another colleague can keep them occupied after school.

We were given about two weeks to come up with ideas, samples, and teach the other person. Fortunately we had about two weeks worth of dead simple crafts that I could whip out right away. We are asking the person in the room to have the teens, and now pre-teens, to brainstorm as many ideas as they can come up with, we can figure out a way to have them learn almost anything. I already obtained some feedback from a teen that worked with the children’s department over the summer, and he suggested Clay as a medium he enjoyed. We received the e-mail the same day I was going up to Buffalo for my third cast change (one more to go then the pin comes out in October), so I swung by Michael’s Craft Store to get some supplies and ideas.

From left to right, black clay teardrop pendant, jack-o-lantern made from pony beads, wooden owl face (upside down) colored with brown, white orange, and pink paint pens, leather bracelet half colored with blue leather marker, half colored with green. Tiny star imprinted on leather and colored yellow.

I am also planning on having a demonstration piece of Kumihimo cord, lucet cord, and a knitted fingerless glove. Two of my colleagues have teen/pre-teen children so I hope to ask them if needle felting would be too dangerous.

I find that during zoom meetings that I can take at home is when I get around to spinning on my black skein. If I am home and not on my computer then I tend to mess around with the Kumihimo and Lucet work, though not for very long stretches of time, since they involve pinching the work with my left hand. The pinching problem is also why I do not have the top hem of my skirt finished yet either.

I did finish plying the 716 batt, and I discovered why it is best to make sure you have 4 ties in your skeins of yarn. I tried to get away with just 2, one snapped, which left me with a yarn barf to sort out.

Brightly colored yarn tangled up, whites, blues, pinks, greens, and more. This close you can see where there are thinner spots and puffier spots.

Fortunately there was not a ton of yarn in the skein, though I am still not sure how much, so I was able to wind it into a ball in about an hour or so.

Ball of yarn, pink, green, blue, purple, whites showing through.

I cannot wait to be finished with these sample pieces so that I can work up a couple of test swatches with this yarn.

Until next time, remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Organizing My Self and Stash

Two weeks ago I thought that I would be able to pass along two of the dressers left in my home.  My sibling and I inherited my home from my parents along with the 30+ years of accumulated stuff that goes with a family of 4.  My sibling is uninterested in much of this and I have realized that it is way too much stuff for me alone.  Truthfully we have a chest of drawers, what I think is called an armoire, and three dressers.  Out of these five pieces I only want to keep one of the dressers so the other 4 need to be re-homed.  All of this is just to say that I had plans for what I call the computer room, which is where I am doing my work from home work.  I planned on streamlining my work space, bill paying station, and adding in craft storage.  Even though I have not gotten rid of the dressers yet, I have prospects, I have moved forward on the craft storage part.  Right now everything is boxed up…randomly..in my living room.  I have no idea how I thought that was organizing anything.  Instead I purchased a 12 cubby system.  I love it, however when I was putting it together many parts were held together by little wooden dowels….that I managed to snap every single one (it really was my fault but shoot).

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I did manage to get this put together, however at this point it is not very sturdy.  I have t-brackets coming that I will install on the back to stabilize the entire structure.  Honestly this might be for the best, the metal pieces should stabilize things better than the wooden dowels.  I also purchased black fabric bins to hold my yarn and fiber.  I think I’m going to start with my fiber and see how much I can store.  You see a mostly empty bookshelf to the right, those are my comic books on top, I hope to greatly curate my book collection as well.  The bookshelf there will hold my treasured favorites, there is another to the right of the shown shelf that holds my crafting books.

This deliberate organization of my stash has allowed me an opportunity to actually look at the kits that I own, stash them in a single space, and eventually plan on which ones I can work on when I get my hand fixed.

With trying to get organized, and spring break being finished with at one of my libraries, I have not gotten a lot of crafting done.  I’ll post next week with how my storage and crafting are doing.  Until then remember to live life A Little More Abstract and if you are an introvert please check on your extrovert!

Dyeing to be Crafting Again

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Not even torn ligaments are going to keep me from my crafting.  To be honest, I’ve had fun exploring the different crafts that I can accomplish with just one hand.  Another fun discovery is that I can still dye up some tapestry wool I purchased from Purl Soho last year.  I had pre-mordanted the fiber using alum and let it thoroughly dry.  To reactive the mordant I wet the fiber, and added a touch of vinegar for good luck.  The fibers pictured above are dyed with some food coloring, 30 seconds in the microwave to set.  I’m planning on having some fun simmering fibers on the stove over the next week.  Hopefully I will have results to post next weekend.

I have also discovered that I can do some little bits of weaving on my Mirrix with just one hand, I’m using a paperclip as a shuttle since I want to use several small colors at a time.  I really would like to get a few tapestry bobbins, however they are about $20 for 3.  I’m still trying to keep within my budget, so it is going to depend on my next couple of pay periods.  (I had to buy a new pair of shoes, my last ones were good for about 9 months, so if I can get that out of these I will be pleased).

In my week, I have a lead on a potential full-time job relatively locally.  I hope to hear back from them this week for an interview.  Should this job pan out I will be able to make a big difference in a nearby community, live in Pennsylvania (be closer to my sibling), and purchase a house to set up just the way I want it to be.  I am very excited for this opportunity to make a fresh start and concentrate my attention on the intricacies of a single job rather than juggling three.

Have a great week and Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Planning for Spring

The beginning of this year has afforded me a lot of opportunity to think about my future, both immediate and long term.  What I want out of my life immediately, in the near future, and in the distant future.  There are some things that are abstract, and others that are concrete.  I am not going to detail these things here, however one aspect is organization.  Right now I am working on sorting and organizing all of my craft supplies.  The current job, since yarn, periodicals/patterns, and fiber are finished, is my weaving supplies.  I have a great rolling laundry basket I had purchased last year, and it occurred to me that the 8/2 cotton I have for weaving towels would do great in cloth boxes in the bottom of the laundry hamper, then if I put another cloth box on top I can put reeds, shuttles, etc, in that box.  I believe some of my supplies like the sticks to hold crosses and rag shuttles are going to have to be stored upright beside or behind the boxes.  I will get photographs to show you how well this does/does not work out. I have a plastic box I am using for bobbins, spare parts, oils, etc. for my Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel.  I am not sure if I want to find something different or not.  My Spinolution Firefly is a little more difficult to store as I have two flyer heads for it (one quite large).  I had hoped to be able to at least continue my gigantic plying project, however upon further reflection there is no need to risk further damage to my wrist.

In the midst of all of this organizing I was thinking about my home.  When I get a full-time job I fully intend to move to where I will be working and purchase a house.  If it is possible for me to commute for a few years that would be ideal, I can save up to put a good down-payment on a house, find the precise property I want, and organize everything for moving.  It has also become apparent that the large pieces of furniture in my home might become refreshed with a simple change in color scheme.  Right now everything is either stark white or very dark.  I am planning on getting some paint chips to change this.

This week, in addition to my usual workload, I intend to corral my weaving supplies as well as my spinning supplies.   My final crafty home related task is to pick up some paint chips to tape to my furniture.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Organizing Fiber

Since I have been unable to craft I have decided to go on an organizing spree.  I’ve also had an amazing amount of energy these past three weeks, since reading the book “Do Less” by Kate Northrup, I wonder if it is tied in with the moon cycles or my personal cycle.  I’ll try to keep track and figure this out.  On to organization, below see the two metal laundry baskets I picked up to fit my fiber and yar…okay.  I have more fiber than I thought, I filled both of these.

Yes, I know my carpet is ugly.  Okay so I filled up these two Laundry baskets….and most of a third smaller laundry basket…

While I do still intend to retain my subscription to Paradise Fibers, I also plan on creating projects so that I can spin more intentionally and spin down some of this stash…in July…when I can craft again.  *sigh*.

I have not been entirely idle on the crafting front, in addition to finding out that I absolutely cannot knit, I cannot sew a needle minder, and I cannot wire wrap bookmarks (that really has more to do with me not understanding types of wire and how to harden them than anything else).

I can still needle felt, and do Bullet Journal Activities, so not all is lost.  This is going to be for the best, I hope to have all of my crafts in easily transportable boxes by the end of February.  My ‘reach’ goal, that will happen if I get everything packed away in time, is to be able to take down my modular shelving as well.

Adversity exists to prove to ourselves how strong we can be.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!  (Normal is so boring).