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.

I’m Back

I am sorry that I have gone over a month without updating this blog.  The time off began with my ligament repair surgery, this surgery was successful however it did take almost a week for me to get back to normal.  Immediately after that my public library began to open back up to the public, changing my work environment radically. I have still been able to post my crafting videos, fortunately I had recorded all of the spinning and plying videos before my surgery. Since the surgery I have gained some more mobility, along with a better understanding of how badly my range of motion had gotten. I am still two weeks away from my first of three cast changes, I will have some questions for the doctor about the sharp pains as well as some of the warmth I feel running up and down my hand and arm at times. This has caused me to slow down my crafting, a row on my sock is a big accomplishment. My amazing sibling helped me by putting together a couple of bookcases so that I could work on my organization.

This image shows a five shelf bookshelf with a rigid heddle loom on the top, a mirrix tapestry loom on the next shelf down with a box containing the tapestry loom supplies. The next shelf down holds spinning supplies, several bobbins are showing. The next shelf down contains two bags of purple spinning fiber, a mini cowl kit, a box containing an afghan kit. The last two shelves contain fabric boxes with fiber and yarn in them. In front of that shelf are weaving tools, heddles, bobbins, shuttles, etc. The three shelf bookcase on the right side of the photo contains two shelves of spinning fiber, with two empty fabric boxes on the bottom shelf. The top shelf contains six plastic boxes with spinning fiber and a magazine holder.

Along with my organization I have been working on discovering something called book nooks. These are amazing mini diorama’s that take up about the space of a hardcover book. This is taking me many places, from looking at painting miniatures, some woodworking, clay work, paper work and so much more. I am also working on learning to paint scenery. This has, of course, led me to a desire for a resin 3d printer (I hope I can save up for that). The 3d printer will be a great addition to my resume and skillset.

Okay, I’m going to keep this post just this short, however I wanted to share photos of a visitor I had while feeling down.

A red or brown fox sitting in a clear patch of grass looking over their right shoulder.

Remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Memories in Crafts

Yes, right now my room still looks like an absolute mess.  However, I can see what this room will be once I get these large pieces of furniture out of the way.  Right now I have the cabinet I showed you last posted filled an organized, I am amazed how much fits in there.  The cardboard tube organizer that I used in a maker video for my public library turned out really well so I am using it on top to keep supplies visible.

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I did have to buy a second cubby in a different size and configuration that you can see next to the original.  I put a storage rack that was mostly empty into the corner to hold a combination of mom’s kits and some of my kits.  I am using the open blocking mats as shelf liners.  You can see part of one of the dressers I need to destash in the near future, with a lamp and a sock project on it.

I am not completely finished getting everything sorted and organized, however I have made a ton of progress.  There is still a bin I need to sort through, however I have also started displaying some yarn for inspiration.  I believe that this is the first time ever that a large majority of my crafts have been entirely in one place that I am likely to frequent.  I still have items downstairs however it is cold, and since I live right by the woods I am concerned I might have another dang mouse.  Most of mom’s acrylic yarn is down there also.

During all of this frenzy of organization I have found many things that I forgot were around, or simply did not know where they were.  There is a pair of Christmas stockings that I need to sew the trim on, Mom made the stockings and never finished them.  Mom had a ton of plastic canvas kits that she wanted to make, when I feel up to it I am going to have to sort through those.  The one that brought a tear to my eye, though I’m telling myself it might have been dust, is the alpaca yarn squares that I wove and mom edged for me.  We were going to make a vest out of them, however the project was abandoned well before finishing them.  I am going to make a table runner out of them to remember her by, I just need to find the right yarn to use to attach them together.

*whisper* I also found the organizer in which I stashed all of my DPNs, I knew I had DPNs!*whisper*

I have also found out that I can do more crafting than I thought I could if I hold my wrist carefully.  I’ll make a post about progress in crafts later.  Until then!

Remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract, and if you are an introvert please check on your extroverts!  Stay safe!

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!

Getting Down To It

I have been able to do a little bit of weaving, after a short amount of time my wrist begins to hurt.  Not too bad, but enough that I do not want to risk my surgery going well.  Even with that I have managed to accomplish about a quarter inch of weaving, as well as drawing part of the outline onto my warps (the ink is on the threads not the paper separator).

This has been a very busy 10 days since my last post, I started writing this post last week, however the panic/closures/uncertainty started so I had to put a pause on this post.  My needle felting class for the public library that kick started my career went well, we wound up with some very lovely critters and a class of 15 students.  I also had a needle felting class for the public library I currently work at, there were 3 students however they created lovely little landscapes, hearts, and flowers.  I have also had another critter class with 12 students that went extremely well at the first library.  One student’s creature went from a turtle, to an owl, and somehow ended up a snail.  It was a very cute snail, so I think the entire class was a success over all.

As some of you might know if you follow my book reading blog, AYearofBooksInReview.wordpress.com I have been reading a lot of materials about organization, decluttering, and making my home my own again.  Even some empowering books on feminism.  I’ve been on a read non-fiction rampage this winter.  All of these books advocate decluttering through a method of “Have I used this in X number of years?”  Usually around 5.  For most things this is working amazingly well.  Except for craft books I have not read a print fiction book in over 5 years (I’m still keeping some absolute favorites) since kindle is my favored reading method.  I have not opened the dressers in the bedrooms I am not using in over 5 years, so I can downsize to just one dresser, etc.  However I find that there is one significant exception to this rule that non-crafty organizers (or even monogamous crafty organizers) cannot comprehend.  This exception is crafty tools and complete kits.  I am NOT in any way advocating that you save every scrap of cloth/yarn/etc.  I am talking about those tools that you bought for a craft, then another craft overtook your attention, so the tools got stored away.

These tools often represent a bit of an investment, maybe not much however it might be relatively significant.  The organization/decluttering experts will tell you “Thank the item for the joy it brought, and let it go.”  I will give you two examples of why I do not often let larger tools go, one is immediately relevant the other will be in the future.  As you might know if you have been following this blog, I have a snapped ligament in my wrist, I am waiting for surgery (less than 2 weeks now) and there will be a 3 month period where my wrist is in a cast. This has severely limited my crafting options.  While doing my organization thing I came across my crewel embroidery that I started at Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Fest last year.  Then I remembered, I have an embroidery hoop thing that I can put under my leg that holds the hoop up for me, this makes stitching a one-handed craft!  I have not used that since my days of interest in embroidery, probably 2009 or so, but I knew where it was (approximately since I had been pushing it around) so now when I do not have a ton of expendable income I did not have to go hunting for it.

I have made quite a bit of progress on this little piece, I am quite proud.  In a very similar circumstance, when I was making a latch hook rug for my cousin I purchased a latch hook frame.  My cousin’s daughter, for whom the rug was intended, is now about 6.  I have not touched the frame since I finished off the rug, however I also have 3-5 other kits that I fully intend to hook someday.  The thing is, I really will hook those rugs some day.  Just like I pulled out my embroidery frame because I needed it (I do have a piece of linen that will fill the frame that I intend to use as soon as this piece is done).

What I am trying to say is, only you know yourself.  If you are a single craft type person, amazing!  You do you, stick with the craft you are best at.  Don’t be afraid to try new things if you want, but do not feel pressured either.  If you just knit there is so much to explore, lace, socks, sweaters, cables, double knit, steeking, colorwork, intarsia, etc.  If you just crochet, granny squares, those complicated granny squares, tunisian, colorwork, lace crochet, doilies, etc.  If you like needlework, I love the Fiber Talk podcast, there are so many types of needlework, cross stitch, blackwork, whitework, samplers, hand painted canvas, etc.  There is nothing wrong with that type of crafter, if you then picked up a needle tatting set and know that you will not pick it up again, then get rid of it.

If you are like me and you fully intend to try every craft that catches your interest and at least get decent at it, then do not worry about your supplies. (Unless we are talking hoarder where you do not have room to move in your house).  I’ve picked up a couple of crafts I did not have time for previously, I’m also working on more paper based projects.  This works for me, I go in bursts, do whatever works for you.  Do NOT Allow Anyone to Stash Shame You! Especially if they do not craft themselves.  Admittedly if you have two huge rooms of sock yarn and you only knit using worsted, then you might have to rethink a few things.

Remember to 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).

The Mice Are Dead!

Christmas Eve I wound up setting four snap traps with peanut butter around my kitchen and going out to see the New Mary Poppins movie.  It turns out that this is not a great movie for someone recovering from a recent loss, though in all other respects it will certainly become a new classic in short order.  When I came home the traps were untouched.  I went to bed that night, sort of.  I was up and about, I believe I caught about 3 hours of sleep between midnight and 3 am.  When I got up at 3 all four of the traps had been emptied of their peanut butter, but not set off.

I was furious.  I decided that I would reset the traps, Christmas Day, go to Mass and head to the local casino where I knew they were having a buffet.  I did so, the food was good, and came home to untouched traps again.  I spoke to the carpenter who is acting as an exterminator for me, and he said that he set the traps a bit differently so he would be up the next day to do so and hopefully that would help.  I, for the life of me, could not figure out how you could set a snap trap differently, so I decided to experiment.  Since I was essentially feeding the mice at this point, I smeared the peanut butter further up the triggering mechanism to try and force them to knock against the pin to get the peanut butter.  This worked, and I had to have someone get rid of the mouse that day.  The traps were reset, and my home organizers were due the next day, so I did not get much sleep that night either.  So out of the six days I had off I did not sleep much for four of them.  I did get two mice killed and I have had three days without any detritus anywhere else so I believe that they are all dead.  Now I just have to run everything I own through the dishwasher and scrub the entire kitchen before I cook in it.

On the other hand the home organization went extremely well.  I cannot believe how much they managed to get done in the 8 hours they were in my home.  No other animal byproducts were found anywhere in the house, not even flies.  I know that there are some people thinking that because I had a couple of mice, I live in the country, I have a dirty household.  Now that I am finished with my major destash I can finally focus on what I need and love in the house and making sure that I am surrounded by what I need and love.  The final note for 2018 is that I went to a buffet for New Year’s Eve Dinner and must have gotten food poisoning.  I will have to get the car detailed within a week so that I can comfortably drive it.  Needless to say I have not gotten much crafting done in the past 2 weeks, so sad.  What a way to end 2018, hopefully 2019 will be better.

Happy New Year!

A Good Idea in Progress

I now have two pages completed for my new fiber artist journal.  Grey Norwegian Wool Top and White Charollas Wool Top.  They are both spun, knit in lace & cable, then crocheted.  Mom suggested putting them in sleeves, which is where the glare came from, so that they will stay cleaner for longer.  It was a fascinating experience working with these two fibers and then yarns.  I can certainly see why a lot of people are hesitant to take the time to sample.  There were seven fibers in the Paradise Fibers Sample Box from January, I managed to spin five up quite quickly.  The sixth is spun, but the seventh is going to take a bit of time (I don’t feel too well so I don’t want to spin sick, knitting seems fine though).  Since spinning, plying, setting the ply, drying, balling up the yarn, it has taken quite a bit of time for me to knit up a lace and cable sample then crochet the left overs using single, double, half double crochets.  Once the samples are knit and crocheted they get another wash, then they are blocked and left to dry for a couple of days.  That is what is happening with the Black Welsh Fiber, once it is dry I will get started on the Mixed Blue Faced Leicester (I have the lace knit, I’m working on the cable next then crocheting the rest.)

In addition to creating a new, healthy, useful, practice, I am learning a lot about my spinning.  Mostly I am learning that I am not spinning nearly as thin as I thought I was, but that isn’t a bad thing really.  I don’t like working with the very fine yarns, okay I do want to make a very light fine shawl some day, for the most part I like having a sturdy yarn in my hand.  My knitting has gotten a lot better, I am not really afraid of ‘knit two together, yarn over, repeat 3’.  I am starting to understand what the lace looks like, I know I’m not doing it really ‘correctly’ yet, but I enjoy it.  My cables are getting better too, talk about something else I was afraid of, and I am starting to understand how many rows should be between cables to create certain effects.  The entire process is enlightening.  I am beginning to, sort of, see what knitters are talking about when they say that a two ply is better for lace than shawls, but I like how my cables are popping…I think that has more to do with using needles too small for the cables.

This is really a learning experience all around, and I hope to be able to instill some of these practices into my students…LOL.  I still have to figure out how to sample my yarns as weaving also.  Fortunately I have the backs of these samplers to put any weaving samples I can manage.

Happy Crafting!