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Episode 10: Meditation, positive outlook and baby up the garden path

 

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Episode 9: An angsty meander through knitted shawl patterns of future past

Downton Abbey shawl is the MKAL by Jimmy Beans Wool hosted through Ravelry

Mini sweater pattern from greensandjeans.blogspot.com

Artisan Corner: Peppermint Bay shawl by Mitenae at knitty.com

Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones, Champagne and Socks Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
www.champagneandsocks.com



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Episode 8: Frogs, birds and new growth

 

The Silver Princess

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Finally the first new growth

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The paperbark regreening

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones, Champagne and Socks Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
www.champagneandsocks.com

 



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Episode 7: Unboxed Yarnbox and the Edith’s Secret Shawl

Yarnbox Luxe

 

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Edith’s Secret Lorna Laces YarnJimmy Beans Wool

My version on Ravelry

Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
www.champagneandsocks.com

 

 

 

 



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Episode 6: And there was lawn

 

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
www.champagneandsocks.com

 



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Episode 5: Just Your Average Mini Skein Obsession

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Bears Rainbow Blanket

KnitCrate Mini Skeins

Space Cadet Mini Skeins Suggestions Pinterest Board

Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
Subscribe through iTunes – leave a review!
www.champagneandsocks.com



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Feedback Friday episode:

Champagne and Socks Group on Ravelry

Building Blocks Project

Heidi’s Currently Creating

Space Cadet Creations – sign up for the newsletter on the front page (lower right hand corner)

Yarnbox

JAM – Just Add Moonshine – justaddmoonshine@gmail.com and @justaddmoon on Twitter

Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
www.champagneandsocks.com

 

 



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Episode 4: Up the Garden Path

No lawn installation but a completed garden path!

 

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and the Group: Champagne and Socks
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
www.champagneandsocks.com

 

 



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The Solstice Quilt, Part 1

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Jinny Beyer’s Solstice Quilt Kit
Subscribe to her newsletter here – she often has sales, subscriber only offers and free patterns.
Jinny Beyer’s Block of the Month has moved to Craftsy in 2015.

You can view my finished blocks of the quilt on my Pinterest page.
Here’s the Beyer video of how to cut the mitre border strips without using maths!

And here is how I accidentally cut the outer border strip – yes, I was being careless and was cutting a fabric without completely unfolded it first.

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Champagne and Socks Podcast is a twice weekly podcast of all things craft – dropping Tuesdays and Thursdays. Join the craft circle and tell us what you’re working on this week.
Email me at champagneandsocks@gmail.com or find me on Twitter as @champagnesocks and find me on Ravelry as girliejones.

Finally, photos and links for this episode can be found in the shownotes at champagneandsocks.com



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One of the first projects I had to finish off when I started working though my knitting WIPs were these mug hugs. I’d had the idea to make them for the end of year Galactic Suburbia Papyrus readers soon after we started our Patreon.

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Listeners to Galactic Suburbia Podcast can support us through our Patreon page which we started late in 2014. The podcast is free to download for everyone but those who choose to can nominate a per podcast amount they’d like to contribute through Patreon. Basically offering a tip jar for those who wish we had one. We have several levels of perks and all the contributions go towards covering our running costs. We have some milestones which would enable us to grow the podcast (making regular spoilerific episodes a thing, voting on what those episodes will be about, maybe one day doing more live recordings) and the top level supporters get an actual paper fanzine – Galactic Suburbia Papyrus – in which we each write stuff and publish irregularly.

I knew I wanted to include something handmade for our end of year/new year packet. Just to show how much I appreciate the support for what we do. It blows my mind that people are willing to pay for each podcast – thank you to all our amazing patrons, at every level!

I made two separate patterns of mug hugs. And used very cherished leftovers from (mostly) my mini skeins I’ve been collecting all year. I didn’t really know what to do with the extra length after crocheting one granny square out of each mini skein but the yarn is too lovely to not save for something special. And I worked out, by the end of knitting these, how much fun it is to make a completely new colour way by mixing a bunch of colours. The ones with buttons ended up being knit double stranded with three stripes (of the double strands) at a time til I ran out of yarn and then subbed in a new double strand. That made the edges a bit rough, so I knit I-cord edging (I free formed that myself). And the buttons are from my precious button stash. The other three mug hugs were knit in the round. The patterns are in my Ravelry if you’re after those. I modified the striped ones knit in the round for the yarn I was using.

When I started, I only had to make 5 but by the time the end of the year came round that ballooned out to a wow of 8! And I’d like to think that they might be wrapped and keeping warm a nice cuppa, sitting next to some GS inspired cake, out there in the galactic suburbs during 2015.
Alex puts together the mail outs and she used her discretion for the colours and owners. It was lovely to see the pics on Instagram and Twitter this week as they finally got to where they were going.

 

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Homemade flat white latte dot art

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Today’s drink: Latte dot art!
Today’s total word count: 1068
Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 25 579
Progress on: Year’s Best YA 2013, Garden Project (Operation Cobra) has commenced!!! backyard has been stripped off weed grass and is prepped for patio construction next week, bathroom cabinet culled and organised, pantry culled and tidied, handbag cleaned out. Baby meals and snacks cooked and baked and frozen in the oven.

Related blog posts:

Craft Space Organised
First Finished Object
Finished Object Scarf Gift
Finished Object Hoek Shawl



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Here is a recently finished object. It wasn’t the next thing finished in order for my Resolutions list because the next one cannot be spoken about yet!

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Finished Hoek shawl

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The Hoek Shawl. Sigh. The Hoek Shawl. This is actually my second knitted Hoek Shawl – pattern by Stephen West. The pattern is a lovely one, complicated enough to keep you interested but straightforward enough so that you can relax and do something else at the same time. I actually cast on two at once, one for me using All for the Love of Yarn Luminosity in Fingering which came in a KnitCrate last year, and one for my sister in law in 4 colours of Blue Moon Fibre Arts sock yarn from a Winter Wonder grab bag I grabbed in Plum during some random sale.

Different yarns, different stickiness. The BMFA knitted up a dream and was a very quick knit. The All for Love Yarn was slippery on my wooden needles which made knitting fast a problem – every now and then I’d push the stitches up the needle and they’d slide off the end. Sometimes I could pick them up. Sometimes not. I ended up ripping or carefully tinking back several times before I ended up having to start over again because I lost my place or stitch count. I finished the second Hoek easily and sent it off to my SIL for her birthday. And then I just couldn’t face fighting with the slippery All for Love Yarn so it sat, WIP ing, in my stash for a while.

And then I was looking for something completely selfish to knit at Christmas. I’d been working to finish off all kinds of commitments and things in time for Christmas and wanted to spend Christmas Eve on the couch, with a nice hot chocolate, something nice on the TV and just knit quietly on something for me. And when Christmas Eve came around, I pulled out a project and it was a scarf! After I’d just finished that black scarf. And I thought, “Come on! MORE plain knitting? Hell no!” and pulled out the lace knitting to be a bit more complicated for a cozy night in. And then I just knit on it til it was done. And it took maybe a fortnight of solid knitting and it was done.

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Shawl pics

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If I were to ever run into this problem again, I would switch to a different kind of needle that would play more nicely with the yarn (though you’d have to think wood would be the best option, which was what I was using).

I hate the colour. But after fighting so hard with this yarn, and the pattern, I feel like I conquered and tamed this beast of a project and I intend to wear it on my back as though I hunted and slayed the dragon. I’d mount its head on my wall if I could.

Here are some pics of it, anyhow.

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Date night with my new wine delivery

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Today’s drink: Pinot Grigio – Boy Meets Girl
Today’s total word count: 3115
Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 25 511
Progress on: Garden project, shawl knitting, Phd writing, Phd data collation, work planning, email organisation, reading.

Related posts:

Craft Space Organised
First Finished Object
Finished Object Scarf Gift



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January 6   An unexpected lesson

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Over the weekend I was gifted the task to build Alex’s yarn stash. Apparently this is a very real problem for some people – no stash – and it turns out, this is in fact my dream job. I’m seriously thinking of starting a freelance business for it. Well, not that seriously. Anyway, Alex is bad at yarn stashing. She is also bad at buying books at a faster rate than she can read – but you know that if you listen to Galactic Suburbia. I was given a budget and free range by basically the best husband in the entire world. Saturday night, I poured over online yarn stores, browsed through yarn company catalogues, debriefed with Deb, discussed the limiting factors of postage and conversion fees with Chris. And basically had a mini freak out.

My mini freak out basically was – look how big *my* stash is, look how much money I must have invested in it over the last ten years, *what* am I going to be get for Alex? But beyond that, it finally dawned on my that a yarn stash (any stash) requires time, curating and investment. If you only buy craft supplies for the project at hand, you’re subject to the price of the product on the day you need it. When you curate a stash (ok, fine, collection) you take the opportunity to buy things when they are on sale, or in bulk, or when there is free postage. You grab limited editions and one of a kind supplies that may never be available again (I have a thing for indie hand dyed sock yarn, you might have noticed). And if you decide on a whim on a rainy Sunday that you want to take part in a KnitALong that’s starting that day or the next, you can stash dive and find something that will work – or you can play around with various choices, even cast on and unpick, before committing to your colour or yarn weight choice. And truthfully, I’m mostly a spontaneous crafter.

These thoughts made me second guess my 2015 Resolutions list – why was I aiming to Reduce This Stash then as though it was a bad thing to have? And what would happen when I did start working through the stash and ran out of things – like, mostly recently, anything neutral grey? Would buying yarn unattached to a specific project be bad? Be undoing the goal? Was I saying I’d never buy yarn without an already specified purpose? What was my intended outcome?

And, in a similar, but not immediately obvious, story, yesterday I procrastinating an hour and half by organising my tea stash. As you do. I went looking for a different tea for my tea pic of the day and discovered I had a bunch of really interesting and different teas that I’d completely forgotten about and therefore, was not drinking. Cue impromtu tea organisation which even involved David Allen style labelling, and decluttering of Other Alisa’s tea stash (She drinks chai. I can’t stand it. She bought like 5 different kinds). Now I can see what I have and am excited to try a few of these too:

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This is my tea chest wedding gift from Helen and Stewart (I left her really cute post it note on it). All kinds of interesting teas had been neatly filed away by Past!Me.

I realised whilst labelling and decluttering my teas that I’m actually a tea drinker. Or, that I am a tea drinker  (again) *now* after spending the last month or so getting back into the habit of drinking tea everyday (and cutting back on instant coffee). At one point in the tidying, I accidentally upended one canister of loose leaf tea and spilled it on the floor (my hands still not fully recovered post pregnancy *glares at the liars*) and C said, “Well that’s one way to use up the tea stash faster”, and that comment made me a bit annoyed. I realised I didn’t want to “use up the stash” ie to get rid of it so we didn’t have it anymore. I realised that I didn’t want to then feel bad about buying more tea when I empty out of some of those drawers. I didn’t want the idea of “stash” to constantly have a negative implication; I wanted to continue being a tea drinker with a nice range of teas in the cupboard (or in pretty canisters across my kitchen bench *pokes out tongue*).

Both these incidents reminded me of a thought I’d started in a comment on Ben’s blog last week about how New Years Resolutions shouldn’t feel, or be about, a goal that only when you reach it you will be happy. That if you want them to stick, they should be about the journey and that the taking of this journey is what will make you happy. And less focus on the destination. You know, habit changes, where the goal/destination redirects the journey but otherwise is more or less irrelevant by the time you get there. The resolution should be about helping get you to that change in lifestyle, not about some thing that you can only tick off at the end of the year.

But where does this leave me????

“Reducing my tea stash” was about drinking a cup of tea every day to get me back into enjoying tea drinking again. Taking a photo every day of the cup was to make that goal accountable, and it’s helped me learn a bit about taking photos.

“Reducing my yarn stash/WIPs” was about kickstarting me back into loving knitting again, finishing off stale projects so I had things to enjoy from what I’d spent my time working on made. And to reduce guilt about buying more yarn – if the stash turns over (even on a 5 year turnaround), then I’m a knitter and have supplies. If it just continues to grow over time (as it has done in the last year to 3), then I have a yarn shopping addiction problem. But at the same time, I should not feel like I’m eyeing off a mountain of already assigned future time and project debt aka burden. My yarn stash is not a To Do List I am a behind on.

So much food for thought. I’m going to look at reworking/redefining/repositioning my 2015 list.

Thanks James for the new perspective!

Note: For those wondering BUT WHAT ABOUT ALEX’S STASH? On the Sunday, I got an email about a closeout yarn sale at a discount supplier and I managed to get her a pretty good start on a few of her colours and some neutrals in fingering weight. I also managed to save her some postage by getting myself some of that neutral greys I was needing (I got it on sale for me, and also reduced postage as I shared it with her stash) – total WIN WIN and the trigger for the above blog post. Now the Aussie dollar is at an all time low so I am going to need to be smart and stealthy with how I spend the rest. And whether I post it to her one skein at a time (fun, but obviously $$) or give it to her as one big bulk stash (would her brain explode?).

Today’s drink: Black tea (pic here using a Noir filter because pretending you are a private detective in a noir novel is more fun that first Monday back at work at your regular day job)

Today’s total word count: 3535

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 22 396

Progress on: Wrote 2000 word piece for the Galactic Suburbia Papyrus fanzine, signed off on final edits for Years Best YA 2013 proofs, quote sorted for Garden Project, recast on Catkin shawl, knit the first clue on Edith’s Secret, cast on for Quicksilver shawl.

 

 

 



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January 3   S’more cups!

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Some time in the middle of working on Kaleidoscope, Julia and I started discussing and then exchanging chocolates and biscuits. We call it our cultural exchange and through it I’ve got to try all kinds of goodies that I’ve only read about in American books. Junior minds, candy corn, Pepperidge farm cookies, even girls scouts cookies! I’ve sent Julia a few of our much loved goodies (Tim Tams, Kingstons) and some things that are disgusting too (what the hell is Cadbury doing to chocolates? Seriously.), so she can try em out.

At Worldcon, when we met up in London, we did an exchange in person. I believe my stash accompanied them across Scotland. My stash came back home with me. And here, conveniently for this photo, is what I still had left from the ingredients for S’mores. Yes, that’s right. She gave me the ingredients to make my very own, genuine, s’mores. So exciting! And we did make them. And can tell you, with the backing of science, that they are OMG sweet! We could each only eat one and then … did not manage to ever get a hankering for a second one. (She did especially give me HUGE American size marshmallows, mostly for amusement)

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And so. Now I am at home a lot, and have a baby, I have become that stereotype and hang out a lot on Pinterest. Whereupon the other day I came across this recipe for S’more cups. Since I had all the ingredients …

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Obviously, less tidy and need than the recipe photos – I suspect our mini muffin tins are more mini in Oz. The ones that worked the best were from my friands tin instead. But the marshmallows are still jumbo, even when cut in thirds.

Report card: very delicious. Much smaller S’mores, much less sugar (though, still 100 calories a serve)

 

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Today’s drink: Grand Yunnan black tea from T2

Today’s total word count: 341

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 18 861

Progress on: Yoga practise, baking, project planning/beginning of weekly review



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photo 2

 

When we were in Sydney last June, I spotted a ball of yarn in Morris & Sons that I thought looked exactly like my brother-in-law and grabbed it to make him a scarf for Christmas. See that? That’s a 6 month lead time. Guess when I cast on for it? I really need to get better at pacing gift knitting.

I cast on at the beginning of December and managed to finish it a day or two in time for Christmas lunch. It’s a Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball – this yarn is so interesting. It’s balled in a way that you can see when the next colour change is coming. And none of the patterns were repeated so you didn’t quite know how it was going to knit up. It made for an interesting knit. This is a sock yarn and I knit it on 3.5mm needles. And my BIL was pleased with it, even if it came a year after he was in Paris (this would totally suit him in Paris).

I had a lot of fun taking pictures of this finished project – how do you make a scarf look interesting? I’m subscribed to a bunch of knitting/yarn related newsletters a) because, hello! and b) I think there are some really creatively presented newsletters and I’m always keen to learn stuff about marketing and promotion. One that I’m finding especially interesting is Space Cadet Creations – her yarn is just gorgeous. She has a very active and appealling Pinterest page where she pairs up patterns with her yarn. Additionally, she’s been doing a series of articles in her newsletter about how to take better photos for your Ravelry projects page. I’ve been trying out some of her ideas … :)

 

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Today’s drink: Mango and chilli black tea from Pine Tea and Coffee by way of Monstrositea (pic here)

Today’s total word count: 346

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 18 520

Progress on: Completed and passed mandatory uni online course by deadline, cast on Catkin, blocked finished shawl. Read Sex Criminals Vol 1

 

Yarn Stash Reduction related posts:

Craft Space Organised
First Finished Object



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December 31   Adventures in Caffeine

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Today's coffee cup from Five Senses

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In a very odd turn of events, I gave up instant coffee in December. It wasn’t really planned in advance. I think I might have thought about it fleetingly when I ran out of instant coffee the jar before and replaced it but this time round, I didn’t mention to C when the jar was close to empty (he does the grocery shopping) and I just put it in the bin when it was.

I made the decision to only drink fresh espressos because I’d noticed on days where I made espresso coffee at home, I enjoyed the cup more and I drank less coffee in the day overall. And I slept better at night.

Not an overly earth shattering discovery. One year after World Fantasy Convention (was it Ohio?), I gave up coffee for a year – Crohn’s flare up while away meant I drank none in the US so I came home detoxxed – and it was probably one of the most energising years in recent history for me. I felt great, I slept great and I woke up refreshed. I felt like a freaking Special K ad.
So, I know that caffeine doesn’t give you energy. It’s like any drug. You need to come back to it to make you feel half as good as you do without it but twice as bad as you would detoxxed from it.

But I *like* coffee. I love it. And I enjoy really good cups of coffee. In the last year, I’ve found that I’d rather come home and drink one of my own cups made from good beans and in the way I know I like it, than pay $4 for a dreadful one in a not great cafe somewhere. I’m coffee snubbing it up by buying better and better beans, upgraded my grinder, learning better techniques to draw the shot and heat the milk. And finding I can stand mediocre cups less and less. Life’s too short for bad coffee. Especially if I’m trying to stick to two cups a day.

Since I’m at home most days, I found myself mainlining instant coffee and not even noticing it. With a newborn, I was constantly making cups but not getting to finish them and I got used to just making new cups and having no idea how many I was drinking in a day. As I got to finish my hot cups more often, I just kept making cups, now in the habit, and when bored and so on. And I’d be wide awake til 2am and later every night. And feeling brain foggy for most of it.

Instant coffee is not a great thing to drink with Crohn’s disease. And it’s also not the best beverage in the world. I can’t say I even really notice it now it’s gone. I’m going to bed earlier at night and hopefully getting better sleep. And most importantly, I’m enjoying the cups of coffee that I am drinking in the day – only 2 (double shots) a day. And when I’m bored, I’m drinking the odd cup of tea. Which should help me to reduce my very large tea stash!

 

Today’s drink: Single Origin by Five Senses (pic above)

Today’s total word count: 580

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 18 174

Progress on: Took half of the uni online course I have to finish by 31st, completed Day 2 of the 20 Days to Organise your House.



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December 30   First Finished Object!

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I’m going to track all the things I complete this year (did you notice yet that I’m cheating and making 2015 13 months?) for easy reference. It’ll serve as a contradiction to the “I never get anything done/finished” mantra. Feeling productive, and being productive, it seems, are two different things.

Here is the very first finished knitted object – Izzie Cloche hat in Zen Gardens Serenity which was the first project for my KnitCrate subscription.

cloche

KnitCrate is a very cool knitting/crochet subscription service. You can sign up for about 6 or 7 different options. They used to have a baby crate when I signed up so I initially subscribed to the indie crate with add ons of the baby crate and the mini skeins (add ons allowed you to get the yarn and pattern for a second or third crate for a lower additional cost to your main subscription). Earlier this year they dropped the baby crate and I moved to an int/advanced crate but I hear they’ve since dropped the option of add ons (except maybe sock and mini skein). As well as the yarn and pattern, you also get a cool knitting extra (like a stitch counter or needles holder) and a sweets extra (cool things like hot chocolate or biscuits etc).

My deal with myself was that KnitCrate was not going to be a stashing exercise. I had to knit the projects as they came in and in that way, I would be knitting along with Deb, whom I’d coordinated to subscribe on the same bimonthly schedule.

I knitted this cloche at the same time as Deb and um, I totally just never actually sewed the button on so it could be considered “finished”, and, you know, worn. I’m not a hat person so after this photo, it went on the hat rack but hey, I might get to a World Fantasy Con again and need a hat. If you care about pattern details, I’m attempting to be better at keeping my Ravelry projects current – come find me there as “girliejones”.

It was a quick and easy knit. And I like the yarn and the finished project. I think I ended up with close to one full ball of yarn leftover that did get added to my stash.

And that’s one knitting WIP done and finished. May the tally roll.

Related posts: Craft Space Organised

Today’s drink: Santo Antonio Estates – Brazil by Five Senses

Today’s total word count: 0

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 17 594

Progress on: Completed knitting of Hoek Shawl, Entourage S5



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December 28   Craft Space Organised!

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Open doors

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In a nice case of multitasking I finally got round to organising my craft space.

In order to be able to do an inventory of what projects I have in progress (aka WIPs) and what projects I would like to get to or am excited about starting or having invested money in and completely forgotten about, I had to pull everything out and look at it.

GTD requires you to figure out the next action for every project you have on your radar. Without a next action you can’t actually progress something. And most of the time, when you don’t have a next action, it’s because you need to do some thinking around it, or some emotional development in relation to it. If you don’t have a next action and you aren’t planning on figuring out one, that project should not really be on your current projects list – you aren’t working on it, and you’re overloading your lists by having it there.

Getting reinvigorated with my GTD systems from the ground up, I decided to start with my craft projects (at some point I’ll move onto scarier things like thesis, and publishing). I started a new section in Omnifocus that is my current working space (at some point I’ll deal with all the other abandoned bits in that program) and I took inventory of everything in my craft life. I pulled out everything in my craft room, I fossicked for all the other stashed WIPs all round the house. Everything was accounted for and logged. And everything got a next action. If I didn’t want a next action for the project, I queried if I was really wanting to finish it. Sometimes the next action was – toss out, frog or unpick, – and those ones I did on the spot. A bunch of knitting projects that were stalled cause I hated how they were going got unpicked, the yarn restashed. Every other project got it’s own project bag and prepped to be grabbed to be worked on next.

And then I prioritised all my WIPs into what I will currently work on, what I will work on next (in an On Hold folder) and then Someday Maybe has projects I would like to start or would like to do. And the idea is, things On Hold get to be brought into WIPs one at a time as I finish one of the current active projects. Some of the current projects just needed buttons sewn on or ends finished up. Those went to the top of the pile and I already have some finished objects to blog about later. Here’s a screenshot of what the projects look like in Omnifocus:

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A couple of shots of what some of these folders break down into:

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Everything is dated 2014 for when it entered the system. New things that come in will get dated 2015 so that I can assess progress at the end of the year, assuming their is a constant number of projects but some turnover.

I really really enjoyed the process of GTDing the WIPs (ooh look at all those fancy abbreviations!). It helped me to see that putting something in On Hold is about being honest with myself about what I can realistically work on at the same time and what is splintering my attention too much. And that putting something On Hold til I have space is not forgetting about it, or not being committed to it, it’s time management. And I get to be excited about having space/time freed up by finishing something to grab a project from On Hold to work on. That excitement turns into a positive energy injection into finishing things that have become boring or tedious. I’m hoping this will help me when I face my scary study and work projects and next actions.

For my sewing projects, I located a bunch that just require me to buy batting so that I can baste and quilt the quilts. And a few that haven’t worked that I need to admit and just unpick. I also found that a few project kits I’d bought and put away as being too complicated for my skill level are now not so. I queued up a few and did things like cut templates and cut out all the pieces and pinned ready for sewing etc. And I located supplies that needed to be bought before I could proceed. And then I reorganised all my fun fat quarters and other fabric stash and put away all the rest of my supplies into a space that has already been proven to be much more fun to approach and work out of. It replaces a space that always required sorting through mess to find things, so progress was put off when locating the next supply was needed. The space was stressful because approaching it always called out it needed to be tidied or decisions made on abandoned things. I now have a craft cupboard that looks like this:

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Top shelves – fat quarters on shelf 1 and WIPs on shelf 2

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On the top shelf, my most prized part of my fabric stash. I stood and ironed all my fat quarters, and other pieces, and then made mini bolts to wrap them (see tutorial here). So much nicer to look at and also to take out and then put back on the shelf. The second shelf has quilt WIPs. Those on the left are finished tops with their paired backing just waiting for batting etc. (Underneath them is another Jinny Beyer kit project waiting to be started.) The middle has current piecing quilt WIPs. And the jars are my sorted scraps.

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Shelves 3 and 4

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More jars of my scraps sorted by colour. Ages ago I bought some books on scrap projects and sorted all my piles (bags) of random scraps from other projects in preparation for some scrap quilts I want to make (like Sunday Morning Quilts). I’ve since realised these scraps are likely best for string scrap quilts and the fabric that is the rest of my stash (which is elsewhere to this cupboard) might actually be considered scrap. Knitting supplies to the right on that shelf. And below more quilt WIPs, jars of scrap fabric, and supplies in the boxes.

Not shown is the bottom shelf which has a basket with a whole bunch of knitting WIPs in bags ready to go.

This means that now my craft space is a place I can work out of rather than avoid. C is always annoyed because I leave craft all over the place and it’s usually because I’ve got nowhere to base myself for crafting. I also leave everything out in order, as I was working on it, to be able to pick it up and work on it again later. That is turning out to be a fallacy. I’ve discovered that packing away my current project at the end of the day doesn’t mean I will forget I was working on it the next day. It does though mean that my living spaces are clear and uplifting, and that all the things I need are always back where I expect them when I go looking for them. And if the “away” place is organised, I can actually work out of that organised storage space rather than co opt another one. So I can put the next stage of say a quilting project (the next pieces after the ones I am piecing) away and then go and get them when I’m up to them. It’s life changing! So much so that this one small act has flowed over for me to the rest of my life where I’m trying to put things back where they belong as soon as I’m done with them. Turns out maintenance is much easier than tidying up from first principles. (Honestly, I used to be a very neat and organised person. I think you never notice the habits of that kind of a life til you end up in the other extreme and have no idea how to get back.)

Today’s drink: La Pastora, Natural Catuai by Five Senses

Today’s total word count: 1596

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 17 594

Progress on: More end of the year relaxing and knitting. Writing.



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December 27   The List 2015

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Posting around here has stalled because of a particular post I’m writing. If you can’t go through, go around, yeah? So instead, here is the list of 2013 Resolutions that I’m going to be working off in 2015 (and 2015 started Dec 2014…)

Here’s the list I wrote in 2013:

  1. Learn to focus on the positive not the negative
  2. Lose 5-8kg
  3. Develop daily regimen
  4. Commence PhD
  5. Be regimented/routine for studying from home
  6. Get back into running
  7. Publish at least 3 12Ps
  8. Publish 2 novels and anthology
  9. Apply for every arts grant eligible for
  10. Do TSW Arts Project
  11. Grow TPP 20% on 2012
  12. Win at LSS 2013
  13. Read 20 books for fun
  14. Blog every day
  15. Get house to enjoyable living state
  16. Start greening backyard
  17. Cook more
  18. Reduce yarn stash
    1. Create my own sock of the month club
    2. Challenge myself as a knitter
    3. Knit a new jumper
  19. Reduce fabric stash
  20. Learn to use a sewing machine
  21. Reduce TBR queue
  22. Spend more time with those I love
  23. Get GTD to cruise control

 

I’m going to put 20 on hold to a Someday Maybe list.

Number 10 we did in 2013. And 7 and 8 I think we’ve kinda done in the last 2 years – I have the final Twelve Planet to deliver in 2015 and the bonus Thirteenth.

I’m actually kinda done with number 9. I’ve applied for a bunch of grants and I’m at a point where I believe that arts grants panels don’t want to fund SF/crime and I don’t think applications are a good use of my time, to be honest. I learned a lot in the process – we got incorporated and got our accounts audited. I have an accountant now who does our books and taxes each fin year. And we have budgets and marketing plans now for new books. But justifying why TPP is a press worthy of investing in? And writing 10 page reports on this and being told in the feedback at the end of the round that we needed to further justify that we are a press publishing titles of “literary worth” (direct quote)? It’s soul destroying.

2013 we did in fact grow sales by 20% – 28.12% actually. (Most of that came from ebooks – because backers of Kaleidoscope mostly backed at the ebook level, which was our strategy for that project. Larger print sales for Kaleidoscope came into the following year’s figures where print books sales outstripped ebooks, back to where our normal figures are.). The last several years our sales have grown around the 20-30% mark so setting that as a goal for 2015 seems quite reasonable.

So here’s how my to do list looks for 2015 aka New Years Resolutions.

  1. Focus on the positive not the negative
  2. Lose 5 kg
  3. Develop daily regimen
  4. Progress PhD
  5. Develop a weekly work/study routine
  6. Get back into running
  7. Practice yoga daily
  8. Deliver the final Twelve Planets! Woot!
  9. Deliver 2015 publishing schedule and develop 2016 schedule
  10. Run a successful crowdfunding campaign
  11. Grow TPP 20% on 2014
  12. Win at LSS 2015
  13. Blog every day
  14. Get house to enjoyable living state
  15. Complete backyard project
  16. Cook more
  17. Reduce yarn stash
    1. Create my own sock of the month club
    2. Challenge myself as a knitter
    3. Knit a new jumper
  18. Reduce fabric stash
  19. Reduce TBR queue
  20. Spend more time with those I love
  21. Get GTD to cruise control
  22. Reduce my tea stash!

These aren’t really auditable. How will I know if I’ve met them or not? Some I’ve rolled into each other and I’ve already started. With mt TBR queue, I have taken pics of the first wave (aka the post Wall of Shame Part 1) and am working on reading through all my nongenre books in the TBR first. This way I am demarcating work and leisure time. Once upon a time I used to read SF novels for fun. I want to get back to that place. So far, I’m back to reading a novel a week and I’m pretty happy with that. If I read 50 books in the next year I would be pleased with that. I’m also hoping I will knock out books I’m not enjoying so that I weed out the queue as well as work through it.

I’ve set up a section in OmniFocus for my sewing and my knitting projects. I might be more nerdy about the GTD side of that elsewhere but here I’ll say that I’m tracking what I actually finish and I’m only allowing a certain number of project to be “active” and worked on at anyone time. I’m also trying to finish off WIPs before starting new ones. If I can keep control of buying new yarn and fabrics in the year ahead and continue to stay the course on WIPs, I should meet the reduce stash goals, which will also meet the unstated “finish things I’ve started” one. I’ll post finished pieces as I go and do some kind of reconciling post at the end of 2015. Same goes for the house and the garden projects. These as well as a couple of others, fold into 20, Get GTD to cruise control. And some others require buy in from both me and C – eg the lose weight goal, we already follow the 12WBT program but I need to buy in properly to eating the meals each day. And the running goal will fold into that and the 12wbt whilst also picking up something I genuinely love at the same time.

The goals above are some of the things I want to do and are an attempt to capture something to tick off for a feeling or direction about the kind of life I want to live. They aren’t all, I guess, is what I mean. And they don’t fully capture it either. For example, reducing my stash is really about feeling like I am an active crafter who crafts with purpose and finishes projects. Reducing my TBR is about saying I’m not a book collector but a reader and finding a way to bring being a reader back into my daily life practice.

I’m going to think about what these goals really represent and what they should have been written as over the year and tinker with them for 2016. But they will do, for now.

hoek and coffee
Today’s drink: La Pastora, Natural Catuai by Five Senses

Today’s total word count: 1599

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 15 998

Progress on: Relaxing end of year down time (knitting Hoek shawl and watching Entourage Box Set)



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The book wall of shame, part 1

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Behold my Book Wall of Shame, part 1. First, I should apologise if you can see your book or a book you gifted or loaned me in this pile – I really like it, I do! I just actually haven’t finished a book in a very long time. Well, I read Landline a couple of months ago. And one or two other novels in the last year or more but otherwise, I’m not very good at finishing anything. But I’m getting better at saying that I’m not reading because that’s actually incorrect. I’ve read hundreds of short stories this year and a couple extra novels that I published, and I read those at least 3 but probably closer to 5 times each. And I read a lot of non fiction every day. But reading for leisure? That’s long since become a thing of the past. And that kinda makes me sad. That my “job” has made what used to be a hobby no longer fun, or possible.

It will not surprise you that one of the items on that heinous 2013 Resolutions list was something a) ridiculous and b) vague like Reduce my TBR queue. What does that mean? Does that mean a net reduction? Or a title reduction so that if new books in = books read, it’s still achieved? Truthfully, I want it to be both reduce the backlog of books I would like to have already read aka all the books that had buzz last year etc as well as stay on top of all the books that will have buzz or that I want to read. Be a reader! in other words. Which I realised the other day, is fine, as long as I don’t also want to be a quilter, a gardener, a knitter, and tidy my house and achieve the other 22 items on the resolutions list. I’ve been avoiding this item on my To Do List and possibly attacking the rest of the items on it because I just didn’t know how to work this one. My TBR is high, and deep, and filled with deep personal *feelings*. I’ve been stalling.

However! It came to me! The idea came to me after I was killing time on Friday waiting for C to get his haircut. I’d wandered to Big W (we now have Big W and 28 Specialty Shops! down our way, it’s a *big* deal) and ended up in the books section. Whereupon I found about 8 books I needed. I mean, wanted. I ended up buying two – The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project, which I loved, and a book about two women who comb England for the best high tea (yes, it’s a book with a whole heap of high tea menus and frivolity, I expect, and some kind of a love story, probably). I took these books home, felt slightly bad about adding to the TBR and then promptly started The Rosie Effect. And I’m enjoying it – it’s a quick read.

So this had me thinking, I have so much less expectation with non genre (SFF) books. I feel less judgement from others because I don’t really discuss the books I read and like outside of genre. I’m probably a very mainstream reader in other genres, and I don’t really care. I read those books for leisure and fun. And I tend to find myself wanting to come back and read another chapter. And if I don’t, I figure I’m not enjoying the book, it owes me nothing, and I ditch it. Noone judges you if you didn’t like a chick lit book. So. I have decided to rekindle the joy of reading books for fun. And I pulled out all the books from my TBR bookcase that are not SFF or horror  (but crime is okay). My dear husband wandered in in the middle of this and got excited cause he thought I was culling a whole heap of books. I also pulled out the YA – SFF or no – as a second wave. And the picture about is the books that I’m going to read over summer. Hahaha. Well maybe not. But they are books I am going to start and if I’m not enjoying I’m going to ditch so I expect to finish many of them in only a couple of days of reading or else move them along. The hope is that by the time I get to the end of this wall of books, I’ve retrained myself to read for fun again. And then I will look at the remainder of the TBR and the wishlist.  

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Today’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses – weak because I scared the machine by running out of water

Today’s total word count: 604

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 14 399

Progress on: Thesis data sets, scarf for xmas gift, filling book orders, emails, Garden Project commenced



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December 13   Black Friday Sales

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Well, I tried to be somewhat restrained during the sales at the end of November. I can’t say that I feel bad (that I wasn’t) now that all my loot is arriving.

Fabric:

My favourite fabric store is the Fat Quarter Shop. I get their daily newsletter. That’s not always a healthy life choice. From their Black Friday sales, I grabbed these:

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The fabrics on the left are a fat quarter bundle called Sewing Studio. They will go into my Farmers’ Wife quilt which I think I’m probably still collecting fabrics for, maybe. The ones on the right are just a grab of stuff I liked. The hot air balloons print is for the baby’s room, Paris map!! (I am collecting fabric maps of Paris for some reason – oh yeah, PARIS), tea cups, coat hangers and lingerie for the Farmers’ Wife quilt, coffee for a coffee themed quilt I’ll make Someday Maybe, flamingos for whimsy and more bras on the far end.

Just exciting enough to make me want to start a new project RIGHT NOW.

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I also grabbed some fabrics from Jinny Beyer from her sale. My mum and I went halvesies on postage and ended up picking the same yards for 3 out of 4 of our choices (8 yards to the flat rate postage). The two prints on the end on the right are the ones we differed on. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the fussy cutting techniques I learned this year from Beyer’s Solstice quilt and so I bought more of her mirror image fabrics and some border pieces. Not quite sure but I might try some of her other stars in her big book of patterns with fussy cut piecing. The thing that makes the Solstice Quilt work, though, is the accompanying fabrics she ties in to the fussy cut pieces. Shall be intriguing!

Yarn:

I actually ended up being rather restrained on the yarn front this year.

  • Firstly, we all know I don’t need any more yarn.
  • Secondly, I don’t need any more yarn.
  • Thirdly, Deb and I have plans for our own knit along thing next year with a whole heap of indie yarn companies we want to try so I maturely decided not to add more stash to the pile when I already feel yarn overload.

Yeah, I dunno, weirdly I was in some kind of ruthlessly realistic mode that Friday. Also, I screwed up one of the sales pretty early on and decided that was it from me for the buying. And, that’s the third year in a row with that particular store that my Black Friday experience has been less than awesome so … I might sit next year’s out. HOWEVER, look at the most gorgeous yarn I bought from them … so …

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The middle skein is Tough Love Sock yarn in Snapdragon from SweetGeorgia Yarns and I’ve been eying off that colourway for YEARS. It’s just divine! I kinda feel like it should become socks for me but then I’ve been disappointed with the socks I’ve been making of late. Maybe a shawl? (How many shawls does one person need, do you think? Is it more or less than 26?)

The two skeins on the outside are a whim that I bought, to try something new (I’m in a yarn rut, have I mentioned this previously?). The yarn is by Yarn Love in Elizabeth Bennett (Merino/Silk/Bamboo blend) in the colourway … wait for it … Fairy Tale. TELL ME how you don’t buy that??? Again, socks?? Meh. I’m in a knitting rut too.

I think I’m only waiting for one more parcel of yarn.

Artisan Jam

And not yarn, not bought on sale or on Black Friday, but that finally arrived – OMG artisan jam!!! OMG.

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This is by Just Add Moonshine and OMG. Deserves a post of its own. With tasting comments.

 

Today’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses (no photo!)

Today’s total word count: 408

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 13 795

Progress on: TV watching (Doctor Who, Jane The Virgin), Dream in Color Shrug, decluttering the dining room



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