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Episode 30: Garden update and Space Cadet mini skeins baby sweater

Virtual Design board – My Virtual Quilt

Space Cadet Creations Mini Skeins Club

Check out my Instagram for photos of the jumper project!

Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
Facebook: Quilt Block N Swap
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Episode 25: Quilt and Craft Fair 2015 Special

Quilt and Craft Fair

Wonderfil thread

 

Head to my Instagram for the pics of the quilts I loved

Here is the hexagon one:

 

Quilt and Craft Fair 2015

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
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Episode 24: Wait, more stash acquisition?

Biggan Design

 

White for blanket borders. And Deadlines logo colours for a tea cosy?

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Space Cadet  

Mini skein club from Space Cadet

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One of a kinds from Space Cadet

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
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Champagne and Socks: Episode 23: Glimpsing Old UFOs

 

Current WIPs in focus

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
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Episode 21: Bear’s Rainbow Blanket Update, Yarn Shopping Live and Tea Cosies

Biggan Design

Bear’s Rainbow Blanket

 

Current status. Running out of white

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Join my craft circle:
Email: champagneandsocks@gmail.com
Ravelry: girliejones and Champagne and Socks Craft Circle Group
Twitter: @champagnesocks or @krasnostein
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Episode 19: Lace, knitting needle legacies and Bear’s Rainbow blanket

Bear’s Rainbow blanket from Purl Soho

A couple of the first squares to get sewn up

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Piles of the other squares sorted by colour

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



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Episode 15: Stash acquisitions and tea cosy knitting days

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Fifi’s Fabricology

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Farmer’s Wife Quilt – my Pinterest board

Baby Sweater – Fisherman’s Pullover in 60 Quick Baby Knits by Sixth and Spring Books.

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Loani Prior Tea Cosy books:
How Tea Cosies Changed the World
Pretty Funny Tea Cosies
Wild Tea Cosies
Really Wild Tea Cosies

My finished Tea Cosy:

 

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



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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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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:

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 8.13.34 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 8.14.31 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 8.15.13 PM

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:

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.

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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The latest block in the Jinny Beyer Solstice Quilt kit was a long time in coming. I must admit that I don’t enjoy the circular sewing as much (this does not bode well for my project sitting on the design wall to be finished – the New York Beauty). The other reason it took so long is because I’ve become obsessed sewing the log cabin alternate blocks. I’m driven to do nothing but sew them til they are finished. *shakes fist* The will be finished! I’ve completed 3 of the 12. 9 to go and I don’t seem interested in working on anything else really.

These fabrics photograph so well, I don’t think they look quite as spectacular on the design wall.

Course when I said I’ve been doing nothing else, that wasn’t entirely true.

MINISKEINS! OMG I LOVE miniskeins, I can’t get enough of them. So I’m making this blanket, each miniskein makes just over one of these granny squares. So colourful. At some point, I will have enough squares and I will have to stop collecting miniskeins (though once you get into a collecting jag, it’s so hard to stop – I keep forgetting I’m no longer collecting for my monochrome quilt for example). The rule is that miniskeins must be converted to squares as a top priority so that I DO NOT amass a miniskein stash.

I managed to get a pair of socks for the baby out of the leftover sock yarn from Socks #2. They don’t spend much time on baby’s feet, however.

And there this is this quilt. It’s a scrap quilt and it’s going to be the map of the Tokyo Subway from Oh Fransson. But this first block has such a long story! I thought I would be able to easily sew this without marking the squares, if I cut them all correctly with a quarter inch seam and sewed straight. I took the pieces of the first block with me to Conflux last year and then on to Tehani’s house afterwards, where I stayed for a bit of a rest up. Well, I realised about halfway into this block, at Tehani’s, that I was not in fact sewing straight and that the squares didn’t line up. So it went into the suitcase and then into the back of a cupboard for a while. A long while. Until I was doing some GTD around the house and realising that really the next action was to unpick the sewn block so far and start over. To cut out a proper template, suck it up, mark each square and move on with my life. Which I did. And then voila, block 1 below, I sewed the two halves the wrong way round. Sigh!



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September 8   Finished project!

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PillowAn actual finished object!

Today I uncovered a thing – a thing where I discovered I had screwed something up. For long time readers, it’s no real surprise that I tend to procrastinate on things. I am excellent at distraction productivity to cover up said procrastination but I tend to avoid things that might be unpleasant. Course, that avoidance creates guilt. And the occasional panic sweats and sick feeling when you recall the guilt. But for the most part, avoidance.

The thing is though, avoidance (and guilt) is bullshit. Another one of those white background noise stresses weighing down your psyche. And as I embrace the GTD lifestyle in preparation for baby boot camp (8-9 weeks to go) I’m discovering that there is no room for avoidance in this way of living and in the end, the only way to feel truly free is to face the thing you are avoiding. So, whilst I continue this last gasp of avoidance on today’s discovery, let me write this post as a sermon to myself on avoiding avoidance.

FINISHED OBJECT!

I actually finished this during the recording of the last Galactic Suburbia episode but then had to get the cushion insert from Ikea before it counted as completed. It’s a cushion cover. And it’s a big deal because I bought this pattern kit possibly at the first Quilt and Craft Fair I attended something like 5 or 6 years or more ago. And procrastinated on it. Why? I have a fear of cutting beautiful fabric – what if  I screw it up? And also, the instructions looked hard. And I needed to translate them from sewing machine to hand sewing. And that all seemed too hard and too scary. So it sat there. In my stash pile. Moving house with me however many times. If you don’t actually sew the project, did you waste your money?

Anyway. I finally cut the material when I was doing some cutting of fabrics for a different project. Now that my work desk is always left as a clear space, it makes pulling out my cutting board to cut fabric whenever I feel like it much easier. And when I was trying to work out how to cut strips for my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt (more on that later), I figured I may as well do the same for this one. And then I took the cut pieces with me to Conflux (and then on to Tassie) to sew. I didn’t actually get round to it but it was a major step forward out of avoidance.

Then it sat in the ziplock bag for a couple more months as the instructions for piecing still looked scary.

But as part of getting to cruise control on GTD, I audited my craft room, and every nook and cranny round the house and under the beds (I’m still sorting through random garbage bags from moves of just stuff shoved in) and created a Crafts Project list and a Next Craft Actions list. And this project of course was on the list. With Next Actions, all you have to do is answer the question “What’s next?” You don’t have to know the whole plan of a project of A -> B -> C -> D -> Finished. You just need to know A. And then when you’ve finished A you figure out What’s Next? etc. So in answering that, I only had to understand the very first step of the instructions and execute that. And so on. There was some winging it required. The fabric in the original kit was never straight cut or the right size to start with. But then, when I thought about it, I realised, finished is better than perfect so never started. And it’s a pillow. It’s not the Sistine Chapel. Who is going to come along and measure the finished product and check it’s what the instructions said anyhow?

I worked step by step. The final bit is the back where you end up with a pillow slip by laying two pieces, cut of different sizes, on top of each other and sewing round the four outer edges, ending up with an inside pouch to hold the pillow. That bit was a bit boring but the great thing is, I save that kind of no brain sewing (once you figure out the step) to during things like recording a podcast. I can pick it up and put it down without needing to track anything and I can’t go anywhere for an hour or two so it’s the only thing I can do in that time! And voila! I have a finished project that took me maybe 2 hours to sew by hand after 5 or 6 years of being scared of the project!

Now to protect it from the destructive forces of the puppy! And to remember when tackling other long procrastinated and avoided projects that the most important thing is figuring out what the next step is, not needing to have the entire thing planned before you start thereby never actually starting.



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August 11   Design Wall of Awesome

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Design Wall Aug 11 2013I am really liking my design wall. My charm quilt is almost finished – all the hexagons have been pieced together and now I am sewing the final panels together. I almost think I might miss all those teeny tiny triangles, now that I’m done.

All the while I’ve been working on this quilt, I’ve been looking forward to pulling it down and using the design wall to get a good look at my WiPs. And today was finally the day. I’ve only just begun pulling out everything from my craft cupboard and all the other nooks and crannies I’ve been stashing projects in progress. It would appear that either my design wall is not big enough, or I might have too many projects. My husband and I disagree about which it is :)

As I was pinning up projects, I began to see the real benefit of a permanent design wall. I liked it for the charm quilt to be able to piece it and then rearrange and try out different layouts til I was happy with the overall look. The same will be for each of the quilts shown here but I also like it for being able to find all the bits and pieces of partially cut out and sewn blocks and keeping them in a place where they don’t get lost. It reinforced my long held desire to have my own studio. I really really want a proper workspace where you can keep things up and together and not spread all over the house.

I think one of the reasons why I am so bad at finishing projects is because I lose where I’m up to and it feels too difficult to sit back down and re-figure it out. That was partly why I was excited about bringing my craft into my GTD system. In theory, that shouldn’t happen anymore. And I can see that using a design wall for projects in progress will also help that. And I think both will help me keep my momentum and interest alive enough to focus on finishing projects before moving on. It will be interesting to see whether my overall WiP project count changes over time. I’m thinking of tracking that :)

Currently up on the design wall are 7 quilts. Though the cameo with log cabins (lower right hand corner) was actually going to be 1 of 3 and probably now just needs to be quilted and bound. I also found 1 additonal finished quilt top and another that I’m going to completely pull apart and redo cause I hate it. And I still haven’t finished auditing my craft room yet. (Let’s not even discuss the knitting WiPs!)

I think another reason why I am so bad at finishing projects is because I fear not having anything left to do. I fear final completion. When dissected, it’s really quite ridiculous. Firstly, actually using all your stash and doing all your queued projects gives you permission to buy or start new ones. And WiPs are a debt on future time. Claustrophobic if I think about it too hard. Secondly, my actual list of dream / intended projects is going to be, when I sit down and make it, based on my current stashing alone, already probably another decade’s worth of work. Thirdly, the problem with finishing quilt tops is the having to buy wadding and backing which is expensive and then having to quilt them. I do hate the additional expense that finish garners. And also, I have come to admit, that I don’t actually like quilting. Not by hand anyway. And right now, I don’t have a sewing machine so I don’t have the option to do it that way. I’ve decided to pay someone else to quilt my quilts. And that’s also going to be something I have to balance against the fact that we have a baby coming and I have become a full time student. But … otherwise, what exactly is it that I am doing here? I might have to save up to get them quilted slowly over time. But at least now I have a plan and a way forward, so that feels good.

Next up, after auditing just what exactly all my craft projects are is to make a next actions list. Stay tuned for more finish-it-up-itis around these parts.



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December 12   And we inch ever forward

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Yes, well. I think we’ve all learned something interesting here about me – I’m a nevous crafter. Ok? Can we move on already? I don’t know why you keep bringing it up! Whatev!

*cough* it’s like 11 days til we get married.  *mumble* Tonight we had our final meet which was with the photographer and we went through the whole day details etc. Gettin’ real. Tomorrow I have my final fitting for my dress and then I, like, take it home or something.

I’m really looking forward to our work Christmas do – Friday lunch – cause that will be the end of work for me for the year and the beginning of my holidays plus pamper sessions intermingled with errand running of next week. First I have to finish a bunch of work deadlines (may not finish them all) and finish my job application for my job. Which may end up being my back up plan. We shall see. Yesterday I found out I was awarded scholarships for a Phd I might have applied for in a haze of October midair flying to Canada. Seriously. Was bouncing essays and application forms back and forward during the big flight to Toronto whilst Jonathan drank cocktails, watched all the TV shows on his iPad and generally laughed at me. I haven’t made any decisions or what not yet (hello getting married like in 5 minutes) but I’ve kept my boss in the loop and I’ll figure it all out. Any minute now.

Flamingo Mittens Anyway. There are more serious matters at hand than these pesky life choices. Like confessing all my Black Friday purchases. I’m going to document them here as they arrive so you know, and I know that you know. You see, last night, I was watching backlog Foxtel whilst working on this flamingo mitten – Hoarders Buried Alive. Now, I normally LOVE this show cause it makes me feel better about some of my untidiness or behindedness and it also gets me up out of my couch position and throwing out Things I Do Not Need to Keep. It’s good to have that reminder every now and then. But this episode I was watching came far too close to the home. This one had a woman who *deep breath* “collects fabrics” and other craft supplies. And she didn’t have them in huge mountains of trash with dogs wiping their arse on them or anything. Oh no. Hers were very sensibly and sanely organised in plastic bins and colour coded and stacked. Her collecting was not unsanitary or messy, it was just overwhelming because of its volume. And … sure, she had enough craft supplies to open her own decent sized craft store (her description) but … I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of her reasoning and explanation of how she got there was not unlike my own current stashing. Stashing’s all fun and games, it seems, til someone’s house gets taken over by it.

AndShibui Yarn whilst, she had bigger issues, personally, I worry that my own tendency towards obsession needs to be kept in check. I don’t think I’m that far away from being a hoarder buried alive (other than the ten years or so slippery slope – make sure you do regular house inspections on me, m’kay?). Anyway. It got me thinking. I might have other reasons for needing to rein in the stashing hobby. But … really, it’s all a bit … out of control. I like ordering things online. And I like getting packages in the mail. And that’s all fine. But I’ve noticed recently that a) I’m not really churning out that many finished craft projects lately and b) almost every freaking time you decide to start a new project, you are held up by needing to get some part of the project. Like, no matter what scrap or fat quarter quilt you decide to start, you always end up having to buy background or plain fabrics. The other day I decided to make a mitten pattern (not the one above) and thought surely I had enough yarn stash – but no, I needed to buy half the colours as I didn’t have them. And the cowl pattern I bought with the wool for my honeymoon knitting project, I had to go and get the right knitting needles for it.

So … maybe, you never get to just on a whim decide to start a project and wander down to the stash like it’s a store and pick out all your supplies. And if that’s the case, then what service does the stash supply other than making you feel bad about money spent, and time in advance already booked for projects past you decided future you would do. So I’m kinda toying round with the idea (ooh is this another New Year Resolution coming?) that maybe I should focus on reducing the stashes considerably and then planning projects and buying the supplies and then starting them. And truth be known, I always feel bad about buying supplies for big projects like a jumper so I buy lots of one skeins of things so it doesn’t look as bad. And yet … yeah there is no logic here.

This decision of course comes after the Black Friday craft supply buying frenzy which bought me those gorgeous skeins of sock yarn by Shibui in Orchid. Though, those can be justified as being part of the Knitter’s Bucket List – a yarn that I am yet to venture to try but have always wanted to. And I guess, doesn’t have to be socks. Though wouldn’t putting on a pair of socks in that colourway just make you so happy about the day.

Moda Mini Charm Packs And um. This. I have no excuses for this. I was browsing my fave online fabric store, the Fat Quarter Shop on Black Friday and discovered these Utterly Gorgeous Things – new! – called Mini Charm Packs or, I believe, candy … Anyway. WANT was all that I knew! And well … they’re so little and postage is flat rate and you can’t just buy one. So I thought … hmmm  … what if … what if I concocted a crazy craft project in 2013 (I know! So unlike me!) And what if it was like, buy say 3 packs of these a month and [ok. here is where the rest of this idea about a large, or possible several small, projects went to do with these charm packs] and an incentive that I couldn’t buy the next month’s packs until I had actually sewn that month’s allotment. It was sort of a block a month thing for myself. I think. The thing is, these arrived the other day, and for the life of me I cannot remember what the plan was. I can’t remember if I had a specific quilt pattern/project or if I was going to try something from some scrap quilters’ patterns or what. I have no idea what the idea was. Except. I really really like the incentive of use what comes in before you can buy anymore.

(ok. I’m still kind of having palpitations at the idea of using up and reducing to … none? .. my stash but let’s do this step by step)

So now I have to decide what to do with them. I would like to start this project (so I can order more cute itty bitty squares). Would love to hear any suggestions of charm square patterns. I checked out Oh Franssons’ Tokyo Subway Map but I think my choices won’t be monochromatic to work. I do have a whole heap of gorgeous solids thanks to the huge pack of fat quarters C bought me for Xmas last year which I spose technically according to this rule, I must now use and stop admiring the palette.

The big question is … once I get married next week, will this intense frantic crafting mojo dissipate?

 

 

 



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Saturday was jampacked! After breakfast in the hotel with Terri, Tansy and Finchy and Jonathan and guest appearance Kelly Link and where we invented the drink The Hypocrite, we hightailed it to the panel Masters of Podcasting. It was the only panel I did all weekend and it was such a pleasure – Terry Frost for PaleoCinema, myself for Galactic Suburbia, Jonathan Strahan for Coode St and Kirstyn McDermott for Writer and the Critic who moderated. We had a smallish room and almost all the audience were podcasters too, though I think we had some more nonpodcasters fill the audience after we took the poll. The panel turned into a really relaxed podcasting community discussion where we just kinda shot the breeze and bonded as podcasters and podcast listeners. It was really cool.

I then scooted on to the TPP A Stitch in Time pattern beta testing workshop in the bar. I was sure that noone would turn up. Tansy said she’d come and sew with me as company and then someone wielding a crochet hook accosted me in the hall so we headed over to the bar. I pulled out the pattern we had to test – a little stuffed Roswell grey – and crochet hooks and yarn and everyone dived in. We had I guess 4 or 5 of us trying the pattern and a couple of others who sat with us and did other crafts. And I have to tell you, I had the best time. I was so happy to be crafting in a group with some fellow geeks. There were others who did an awesome job interpreting some of the instructions, working through the pattern and then helping and explaining to others. It was such a fun hour. And I spent it thinking how awesome fandom is. (Photo from Cat Sparks)

There should be more crafting circles at cons. Actually something I really loved was the scattered boxes of craft throughout the con – you were encouraged to pick up works in progress and work on them and if I’d had time I would have. I wonder if that could be something we could carry on through – even something like working on blankets or scarves over the course of a con and then donate the finished ones to a hospital or somewhere?

A photo of how far we managed to get in the hour (photo of our crochet thanks to Tansy and Finchy). But I saw Jo’s later on in the con and she’d managed to make it past the head and body and onto the legs!

I headed off to lunch, which is where I was when Tansy rang me to tell me about the catastrophe that was the printing of Through Splintered Walls. It was at this point that we discovered that there had been a terrible printing error in the book and would need to stop selling it and try and recall all those sold. (If you’re reading this and didn’t know, please contact me to organise an exchange or replacement. The printer is currently reprinting the entire print run and I expect to have those by early next week.)

I then returned just in time for the Galactic Suburbia live recording panel. It’s still weird recording in front of an audience and also where we can actually look at each other whilst we talk. I figured that it wouldn’t be rude to craft on the Galactic Suburbia panel since I do normally do so when recording. Apparently, I’m told, you can tell? Anyway, I was balling up a skein of sock yarn from Blue Moon Fibre Arts during the podcast. This is a photo of the sock I started during the con after balling the yarn and where it got to by the time we landed back in Perth yesterday. I’m just turning the heel.

After the podcast, we headed back to the dealers room and prepped for the Embiggen Books Event. I was very excited about this and not just because I might have been really wanting to find a way to visit this store this time in Melbourne and bring everyone I knew who loved bookstores with me. It’s a truly gorgeous specialist store that’s really really supportive of small press and generally funky and interesting books. We all traipsed down Swanston Street to set up at 4pmish for a 5pm start. The Writer and the Critic were so generous to host, record and produce the podcast. Yes I’ve been dying to be on their podcast for ages! And it was so awesome to watch Kirstyn do her audio technical stuff. Very cool.

First some shots of the bookstore:

Mondy graciously hosted the podcast and interviewed 9 of the Twelve Planets authors and myself. Ian did what he really has a great skill in doing – he asked the exact right questions in the right way, with lots of humour, such that everyone opened up and really said such interesting things. I sat that there listening to everyone talk about their individual collections, their approach to the project and their own style and approach to writing and I realised just how great the sum of these parts this project will be. And what a vibrant, creative and thoughtful group of writers I have been lucky enough to collect. I’m so looking forward to hearing the podcast. And discussing it with others.

Here’s a few action shots from Finchy and Jason Nahrung.

And Jason has a few more shots of the event over on his Flickr stream.  A big thank you to Warren at Embiggen Books for letting us take over his store at 5pm on a Saturday evening. And also thank you to those who helped carry books and food and wine down and to those who came down to watch. Especially those who came down just for the event outside of the con. And also thank you to the TPP authors who came in great spirits and enthusiasm.

After the event we all headed over to a cool little place near the Wheeler Centre for drinks. Check out the beer in beakers!



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A big shoutout to Sim who knows me and how I think. It was her comments on a previous post about this stuff that really helped me move past my paralysis and guilt relating to my crafting/not crafting/stash/huge number of WIPs. She suggested I put away the charm quilt that was squelching my crafting mojo, be cool with the project lying on hold for a while, and then audit my entire WIPs.

So this took me a while, both due to limited time and also having to actually face both the mess and the unfinished objects. But as one of my tasks I have tackled in my 5 day break, I actually spent a good couple of hours on this. I both created order and more serenity with my craft WIPs and space and I also found the spare bedroom bed. (I then was encouraged to sort out all the clean washing in that room the following day and found the bedroom floor for bonus points. A couple more smaller tasks to go in that room and I can sign it off as Completed. It’s funny how once you break through the paralysis, you just keep eating away at the elephant. And it’s all so much less insurmountable).

I took photos of everything. All my knitting works in progress have been uploaded to my Ravelry page. And yeah, I can see how in that form it’s all a lot less scary and horrible and a lot more encouraging to work through. My name over at Ravelry is girliejones if you’re then and want to be friends.

There doesn’t seem to be an equally useful quilting equivalent so I opened a spreadsheet and loaded all my quilt projects before folding them neatly up and putting them away in my craft cupboard. I also put all related bits and pieces for each project in its own labelled box. This killed two birds – 1. everything is neat and grouped and easy to pick up and put down and 2. it put use to all the little boxes I can’t part with.

Here’s an overview of the quilt projects. You’ll be able to see the gradual reduction in mess on the bed underneath as the task progressed.

The only thing I have left is to sort my fabric scraps. I’ve been picking up a few scrap quilt books and it turns out, saving every last morsel of fabric is ok and perfectly normal and you can make really stunning quilts from them. And you don’t have to only have one scrap quilt for all your scraps. Thus my dreaded scrap quilt which was getting me down can be finished off with the blocks made, I can feel good about drawing a line under it and feel excited about looking into other possible quilts. But first I have to sort them. So – more boxes to be put to work as I sort these according to colour. Another ongoing project but easy to go into the room and do a few and then move on.


Now I just have to decide if I feel up to cataloguing the rest of my yarn stash into Ravelry …

But I feel *so* much better now! And everything is far less daunting and confronting and doable again. And I have a few finished pieces to show! I am interested to see if my catalogues will be used by me – it can be really easy to file that stuff away and then it’s out of sight so you don’t feel bad and then you never go looking for it so you can continue to not feel bad. But the interesting thing in all this decluttering has been to let go of the guilt of having to finish something – a book, a project, whatever – just because I bought it or started it. It’s very freeing to say, “actually, I don’t like this” or “I’m not enjoying this” or “it doesn’t work for me” or “it’s not what I thought it would be” and to then act by giving yourself permission to … gift or donate the book or unravel a started project. So much future time freed up for new and other things!



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As I said, still not with the sitting still and doing one thing. I am *supposed* to be finishing my first lot of socks for the Cookie A sock club. Here is how much I have done of the first sock. Nearly the cuff. And I know that the second round has been posted to me so I am knitting against the clock here. I chose the pattern that is going to knit up like fortune cookies but that lace repeat is starting to get to me. Any second now, I get to turn the heel. And yet.

And yet, even with the deadline, I mostly knit on the kimono jacket.

And that has its own story. When I was cataloguing my WIPs, I pulled it out. I guess it was about half done and not touched for a good five years. I realised what was stopping me from finishing was that I had no idea where I was up to on the pattern. I know realise it would have been only a matter of measuring the sleeves and continuing on. However, actually when I measured it, I decided I was knitting it one size too small for me. So I unravelled the whole thing and started from scratch with one size up. But. Either the wool had sat for so long under a window in the sun and perished a little, or a moth or two had gotten to it. Or my knitting was not all that flash hot. Because the yarn is frayed to broken in some places. In more than a few places. So this has been a process of joining broken yarn and so on all along the way.

At first this was really hard and I realised that it was because I want this piece to be perfect. And I also want it to look exactly like the picture in the pattern. Except for two things. 1. Its not the same yarn as in the picture so it’s not going to look like that (why I didn’t buy that yarn when I purchased the it is a mystery for the ages because I no longer remember)  and 2. This is the first sweater, and in fact non accessory sized adult garment, I’ve ever knit. Its probably not going to be perfect.  And I’ve realised I need to give that up and get over myself and knit the damn jumper. It’s just a jumper. So I am nearly back knitted up to where I started when I unravelled it. And miraculously, most of that knitting happened this weekend. It was only just maybe 10 or 20 rows in when I took it to Swancon on Friday. And now I’m halfway through through the sleeves. I’m not sure if it’s going to be long enough but I’ll see.

The exciting bit about this project is that it involves a dropstitch when you get to the end. Yup, you purposely drop a bunch of stitches across it – and that, I reckon probably will make it might lighter and longer. So I’ve been waiting for that moment for about 5 years. I’m all about the delayed satisfaction.

So what with all this excitement and deadlines. Yeah I totally spent yesterday on something completely else. Remember my panic about moving over to knitting and not quilting? Well I’ve been listening to a bunch of podcasts on my drives all last week – both on knitting and on quilting – and following the lead on one of the quilting podcasts led me to a New York Beauty quiltalong. I only first came across the New York Beauty blocks last year but I fell in love with them and I fell hard. I love the art deco feel you can get with them and I love the sharp contrasts of points and circles and I love the amazing effects piecing them can bring. But I’m scared of them cause I’ve never done circular sewing before.

But I stared at this quiltalong all the rest of last week. And even though I’m not going to join and even though I’m *knitting to deadline*, I printed out one or two templates. And then today I went rifling through my stash. I kinda wanted to use the Paris cats fabric for it but I don’t know how much of that is still committed. And then I remembered/found this gorgeous set of fat quarters called something or other Noir. And I had bought it for liking it but with nothing in particular in mind. And it has Eiffel Tower fabric in it and …. and I started another project! Oops!

It feels terrible to be so utterly unfocussed right now. But it also feels fantastic to just follow creative whim. And this turned out so much better than I thought it would. It’s not a great semicircle (it has a bit of lineaity in it) – but first try! And I love how the points came out. I’m so suckered into the New York beauty! There are nine different blocks in this quiltalong.

I think I’m in!



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I can’t believe it’s Friday already. This week has been one of those weeks where work has been full on and then I’ve followed the day of deadlines to a night of working hard or getting home late to only get an hour or two in before bed and all of a sudden it’s freaking Friday. And September.

I don’t have anything interesting to report. I think I recorded about nine billion podcasts this week and wrote and edited and all kinds of being on the grind stuff. This weekend is very jam packed too and then C is off to the east and I will be without him :( I have plans though for that period of time, which I will reveal and track when he has gone.

Meanwhile, tonight I was catching up on some knitting during Galactic Suburbia (in that I unpicked the same row over and over during the 2 hours we recorded. Sigh) and I remembered that I hadn’t posted about my current projects for a while. My goal for knitting whilst on the field trip was to knit myself a pair of socks. I knew we would be doing a lot of driving so I knew at least that time would be available but I forgot how much people faff about (doing what, I do not know. I am actually very speedy and streamlined when not at home).

So … I managed to get this much done whilst I was away. I’d knit the first cuff previously. I got the heel turned before we had left the Perth metro area and cast off the toe before I think we left to come back home at the end of the three days.

I quite liked knitting socks in the car and I’m thinking I might have a project like this on the go for grabbing when we hop in the car, since for us most of our Perth stuff means a two hour commute. And when I say, “have a project like this on the go” I mean, *cough* progressively work through the various sock project I currently have on the needles. Maybe.

I’m a bit excited about these because I bought about three balls of self striping yarn way back when that was all the rage, like 6 or 7 years ago and I only ever got round to knitting myself one of these pairs. It’s a mix of fibres with a bit of nylon through it so, can go in the wash like a normal pair of socks and wears quite well.

The Shawl. I decided in the end to unravel the project I had. I just did not like what it was looking like. And then I cast it back on in this yarn – Latte by Sophie’s Toes. I’ve knit the shawl basically and am now working on the lace border which you can glimpse at the top. I added a repeat to each side of the centre because I knit it up first off with the recommended stitches but thought it was too narrow. So this shawl in the end has been quite a trial to get to the end of. I hope it ends up being pretty.

 

 



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August 22   A Knitting Update Post

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I listened to an old episode of Cast On yesterday which might have clicked something for me. She was talking about the playful side of crafting – that it should be fun and about play. And that when you play, it’s just yarn, you know? The world doesn’t end if your play or experiment doesn’t work out. She was talking about her own holding back but it really struck a chord for me too. I’m currently knitting a shawl with a yarn colourway that I love but I’m not loving the product. It’s really very rare that I will bail out of a project. It’s rare I guess that I push beyond my capabilities, I suppose, so that mostly I’m used to my projects working on first go out. And. When you don’t risk, you don’t get any unexpected payoffs. When you don’t try, you don’t fail but you also don’t have the potential to grow beyond yourself.

So it is with this epiphany that I offer two things. One, I am unpicking this shawl. I love the colourway but I am not in love with the fabric that is being knitted up. From here one border of lace (34 rows) gets knitted. Some other versions of this shawl, with other yarn look lovely. Perhaps this is the wrong yarn for this project? And perhaps this yarn would work better if it was looser, maybe lacier. So. Instead of my normal process which would be to finish it off and hate it. I am unpicking it. I’ll find something else for txhis yarn.

I still like the pattern – Ginkgo Shoulderette Shawl so I’m going to try it with this yarn. I originally bought this for a pair of socks for myself. For ages I had a thing about socks in shades of brown. I don’t even especially like brown but I still have a yen for knitting myself socks in brown. I probably still have skeins around for that but I also think this will knit up as a lovely shawl. The scarf I made over the summer which was really lacey and in “Milk and Honey” by Lisa Souza looks so gorgeous and I love wearing it. I figured I’d give this a go too. Here’s the thing, still kinda really wanted this for socks. But, it’s just yarn. It’s playing with the yarn, the world doesn’t end when the yarn is used. Using up my yarn stash allows and permits me to not feel bad about buying new yarn. Knit the shawl already!

This yarn is called Latte (swoon!) by Sophie’s Toes. I love her yarn – I’ve made a few pairs of socks from her sock yarn. It’s very light and spongy.

I spent this afternoon catching up on This American Life podcast episodes and balled this skein up.

Second epiphany. Crafting is supposed to be fun. It’s the space I specifically put aside to be creative and playful. Artists don’t worry about schedules, or to do lists, or finishing works in progress. It’s all about flow, and going with being in the moment and doing what feels right in that moment. There’s no pressure to succeed or finish or excel, merely the pursuit of the act of creation. And if I want to have even a small amount of that, I can’t also apply guilt or pressure or compare what I do or don’t do to others. That is not part of the play. Or at the least, it detracts from the playfulness. And with that realisation, suddenly I didn’t feel bad about abandoning the shawl as it was, or not finishing my crossstitch before moving on to knitting. If one day I want to work on cutting pieces for a quilt and the next I want to knit and the following day whatever … it’s ok for all that to be part of a bigger process. As long as I finish something once in a while, I guess. As long as I don’t forever start things and don’t look back.

 



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June 8   It’s not all bad

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After my whinge yesterday, I should add that solutions do seem to keep presenting themselves. I realised yesterday morning that if I took the train (and bus) to work, I would find 2 new hours in my day for reading. So yesterday I did just that. I had thought that the paid parking at the train station was hourly but when I actually had the will and interest to investigate it, discovered it was $2 for the day. And realised how silly I was to not have looked before – what was the price of two extra hours of reading a day? I happily read a goodly chunk of Connie Willis’ The Passage yesterday. I don’t love public transport. But I think a couple of times a week would really be great and help me find a way to start eating into the huge pile of books to read.

I didn’t train it in today, though :P

And in all the sorting through craft projects, I found a cross stitch I had been avidly working on like two years ago that I had, for reasons now forgotten, abandoned. I picked it up over the weekend and have been working on it – got my crafting mojo back! It’s not any of the projects I had been working on earlier this year but, I think I’ll take what I can get. It’s a WIP that with a bit of concentration could be easily finished soon. And I think I’m not really into the rest just yet because my craft space hasn’t been set up – still kinda trying to work out where it should be and how I should do it. And I need a tonne of storage which I’m going to think about *later*. I did discover a couple of things about the cross stitch that I think are interesting to observe – I never ever mark up the grid when I sew. Because why? I think because “in case I want to do it again” – as if you ever would!! So. Me two years on is all, “right, let’s get a highlighter and get right in here and see what’s what”. Issue 2, I think I discovered as being maybe a few stray crosses stitched in the wrong place in the background texture. Me two years on is all “it can be finished, or it can be perfect, wing it”. So I’ve been being a bit liberal with which stitches go where and it’s all good. It’s totally fine. And then issue 3 was, I think, that I ran out of one, maybe two of the threads, and/or I used pale grey for pale silver and didn’t know what to do about it. So this one was tricky, for all of an hour or two. Then I remembered I bought in a catalogue on sale once, like 300 different colours of thread. Cause they were cheap. And I’ve been looking at all those shades and rainbow of colours and wondering what in the hell I was going to use them for. Because all my projects (probably 15 years worth) are kits that come with their own colours. Yup. Stashing in the finest of forms. So I wondered if I might be able to match the colour I’d run out of in this 300 options. And you know? Maybe it works, maybe it’s so slightly off you can only tell under brilliant lighting but … it helped me move on from the problem and get the job done.

So at least in two years, I have managed to learn how to maneouver myself out of previous points of project perfection paralysis. And the question now arises – what are the stalling points on the other WIPs? Are they as easily solved? Is it a matter of taking each one and working on it one by one to discover and solve? I guess stay tuned.

As for the book pile. I decided to catalogue in a spreadsheet before they got moved around. And this process highlighted 6 books that didn’t need to be there and so they were removed. Win. And then a few more of the graphic novels that I think I have read (and were there because C was reading them) but I can’t remember,  so they might be quick to get out of the to read pile eventually. And then I sorted the books into variuos categories. Not quite sure what I am going to do with them but I think I’d benefit from mixing up what I read a bit. So I’m reading before bed one short story a night from The Locus Awards Anthology. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. I also want to work through some great collections I have there. Maybe if I read novels on the train, one punch out short a night before bed might be the right balance (assuming I find time for Last Short Story elsewhere). I’m trying to get into a new bed time routine and this has been good so far – I had to take a break from Joanna Russ for a bit. So last night I read Octavia Butler and the night before Connie Willis. Can’t much complain about the standard :)



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Well they say that moving house is on the top 5 most stressful things you can do in life but ah … yeah, I’m finding moving to be deeply stressful, anxiety-filled and so on. A good friend of mine called Bullshit on my blog of late, and he’s right. I’m only talking surface feelings and whilst they are true and honest, they’re not all of it. Not by a long shot. I got a lot going on. And I still feel quite self conscious [1] about expressing that all to the fullness that I used to do.

So moving house is stressful. It’s a hoarder’s nightmare really. And now the truth about why I was mainlining so many episodes of those shows is out! I promised myself after the last time I moved house, which was so deeply traumatic and stressful that I haven’t been able to even contemplate it til now, that I would slowly go through all my possessions and declutter. So that next time I moved, it would be less stressful. And for periods of time, I did do that. But I had the luxury of space and as long as I couldn’t see things cause they were packed away, I was happy.

But now… now I am moving again and I have to look at things. And I am upset as to why I have so much stuff; why I need to hold onto so much stuff; and why I can’t seem to just part with it now. The other thing is, when you’re living in a place, you have the luxury of not having to deal with something if you don’t want to. You can just put it away for later. And later, you know, you’ll look at it and deal with it. When you move, that “later” becomes “right now”, whether you like it or not.

I imagine this experience is on some spectrum of what it would be like to go into a diagnosed hoarder’s house – the degree of hoarding such that they sleep on the floor by the front door because they physically cannot get further inside their house due to “stuff” – and telling them they have to move. Now! How I feel seems somewhat akin to  the anxiety they experienced at having to face up to what is in their home and make decisions about what they can trash, donate or giveaway. But I’m a typical Pisces – always swimming in opposite directions at the same time. I want to both keep things and be ruthless and throw it all away and have clear spaces, no clutter. And so, my “later” is “now”. And if I had less stuff, this moving would be less prolonged.

Two examples of stressful situations for me this weekend.

(more…)



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