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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chevron Crochet Tote Bag

Ah, my latest creation is done and posted on my Ravelry page!  The Chevron Crochet Tote Bag is really a fun project and a great way for a beginner to practice the double crochet stitch without getting bored!  And, except for the color changes, it worked all in one piece.

I made this project as a sample for Looped Yarn Works since they stock Berroco's Weekend Chunky yarn, but ended up making one to keep for myself :-)  I also love the handles -- I got them on, but they're made by Cindy's Button Company, a home-grown business in Idaho.

Now, which project idea to get started on next?!?!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Email Lists

On my to-do list forever has been the need to get my email lists organized so that I can stay in contact with my customers, my crochet students, and my blog subscribers.  And, I haven't wanted to say it, but the newsletter has been sitting and gathering dust, and I really want to get that up and running again too.  So, I went in search of a mail list service that will meet my needs and not cost too much (ie nothing!). 

Well, I think Mail Chimp is the winner!  It so far meets my 3 criteria:  cost (it's free up to 2000 addresses and 12,000 emails per month), ease of use, and cuteness.  I really like companies that have a theme and a personality.  They don't take themselves too seriously, but they do provide a serious product and service.  They are user friendly for us non-techies, and they offer lots of options, starting with free but then with reasonable add-ons (hey, I'd be glad to start paying if I end up with more than 2,000 followers!)

So far, I figured out how to import the lists of emails that I had already organized in Outlook.  Oh, I also like the fact that they have a lot of free guides and resources targeted to specific things you want to do, like send out a newsletter.  And, they even have a guide for Etsy sellers.  We'll see if this all actually works, but so far so good!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Have you ever really noticed that things seem to come in threes?!  When something bad happens, I find myself trying to find two other bad things so that the badness is over.  I'm not sure if that carries over to good things, but it's probably a good idea to look for three things to be thankful for as well.  I even remember from 9th grade grammar class that, to write an effective paragraph, you should write a topic sentence then three more supporting sentences. 

So, why am I fixating on threes?  Because I'm also finding that I can only really seem to accomplish three things in a day.  Now, sometimes, each thing has subparts, but the point is that my to-do list for the day can have as many things on it as I want to put, but it seems that only three of them really get done!  So, why fight it, go with it.  Remember my tip for sitting down and listing all of the things you need to get done on one side of a folded (lengthwise) page?  Well, now, pull out a red pen or a highlighter and mark the three things that you are going to accomplish first.  Tomorrow morning, do the same thing.  Before you know it, all of the items on the list will either get done or you'll discover you can do without it!  Ok, get going!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Amazing Tools

Ah, this post is going to combine organizing and crocheting!  First, the organizing.  I'm convinced that my brain is a reflection of my physical world, and frankly neither is looking very pretty these days!  So, of course, I'm always searching for that "perfect" filing system that's going to solve all of my problems for me :-)  I always like to say that I am a responsible person but not necessarily the most self-disciplined.  So, I need a system that doesn't need a lot of daily monitoring.  And I need some catch-all types of folders or boxes or something.

I read an article recently in The Washington Post (I haven't been able to find it online; it's from the Local Living section on February 17, 2011) about how to find a place for every document.  Featured was a filing system by Freedom Filer (  It's a color-coded system that's based on filing by dates and years, and it includes guides for how long certain types of documents need to be retained.  I got it in the mail a week or two ago and finally got to setting it up today (I'd been waiting to finish our taxes in order to take advantage of that portion of the system).  What a great feeling to gather together all my/our tax stuff since 1987 and file and archive it!  It's now in two files boxes in the same place, out of the way but accessible if need be!!

Now, I'm setting up the monthly bills portion of the system.  I really feel it coming together and taking a heavy weight off of my shoulders.  In this supposedly paperless world of ours, I feel snowed under by even more of it!  I'm also really starting to embrace this "let it go" philosophy -- that is one benefit of computerization, you can just about find anything you might need if you happened to throw it away (or you can just scan it in), so it's just getting easier for me to throw things out.  Whew.  More to come as I really solidify the system.

Ok, so now for the crochet part.  I've come up with a really fun summer tote bag, and pictures will be posted as soon as I find the perfect handles for it (I'm really thinking that I need either lucite handles or leather straps to make it sturdier than crocheted handles would be).  I've also been organizing the yarn stash as I plan new projects and found a great app for my new iPad (a birthday gift from the hubby :-).  It's called Ewe Stash, and so far, it's fabulous!  It lets you plug in all the necessary information for a particular ball of yarn and take a picture of it too.  It's going to be so great to have all of that information all in one place (it's got a spot for your own notes as well, so I'm thinking I'll be able to plug in where the yarn is physically located also).

Ah, it was nice to take this break, but the organizing isn't going to do itself unfortunately (wish there were an app for that!!), so back at it I go!