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Friday, February 26, 2016

3 Action Steps to Take Today on the Road to Being Organized AND Creative

Sometimes it just feels like these two concepts can't possibly coexist!  I mean, to be organized means to be rigid, habitual, set in one's ways; whereas, to be creative means to be spontaneous, carefree, not tied down to a system.  Right?!

Well, I refuse to believe that!  I have to believe that the two can be compatible. And I don't think I'm the only one.  But, as I struggle to do well at my "real" job, take care of my mom and husband (and don't think I'm being a 50s wife here, he does a lot for me too, just not in the cleaning, organizing department ;-), and be creative, I don't have a lot of time to really do things the way I would like to do them.

And, of course, it's almost March, and I still haven't fulfilled my New Year's resolution of getting my planner set up and my workspace/creative space organized!  So, in the spirit of holding myself accountable and taking action, I'm writing about it here hopefully to help all of us who are similarly struggling.

I just came across some wonderful inspiration also.  Just take a look at Andrea's Notebook and her creative home office reveal!  I'm seriously thinking about setting up a pegboard because going vertical is a better option than going horizontal -- I really need the desk space to have room to create and not feel cluttered (by the way, like Andrea, I am NOT posting any "before" photos because it's just too embarrassing, no one needs to see this!)

So, since I'm blogging and taking action in real time on this project (and am encouraging you to do the same as well), let's start with STEP 1 -- figuring out exactly what needs to be organized.  Think about what YOU need and want, not what the organizing gurus tell you you should need and want.  For example, even though it would be great to have all of my craft stuff all in one place, I don't think it's feasible and necessarily desirable for me.  I like to crochet in the living room, so having my yarns and tools in cabinets in the hallway and dining room (yes, you read that right!) works for me.  The bedroom, where my first organization project is taking place, is where I like to do my computer work, for both personal and business purposes.  Having said that, I can see how the pegboard system on the wall above my desk would help in having some of my crochet yarns and tools right on hand that I need when doing some computer work in writing up the patterns, etc.

My biggest challenge in this space is managing paper.  Although I've been trying hard to go electronic (and organizing electronic files is a topic all on its own!), there are some things that I just feel the need to have on paper.  But managing all the junk mail and "stuff" is challenging for me; I'm getting better about sorting (and throwing away) mail and papers in the hallway or living room when it first comes in the apartment so that what gets carried into the bedroom office area is just the important paper.  But, what then?!

Ok, so here is our assignment for today:

1) Make a list of the items that give you the hardest time with organization.  For me, it's bills and other important paperwork that needs to get done by a certain date, articles and stuff that I want to read later, business cards that I pick up along the way, coupons I know I should be using, crochet magazines that I can't bring myself to throw out, and half-written crochet patterns and notes that I take about projects I've started or plan on undertaking someday.

2) Think about what helps you stay organized.  Do you like using folders?  Maybe binders.  How about boxes and/or shelving?   Your iPhone?  I really like all of it but for different things -- folders for particular topics, but I'm thinking about using a binder for my planner this year.  I'm such a creature of habit, so I need to incorporate the spiral notebooks and other things that I've already created into my new system.

3) Start gathering what you already own and figuring out what you need to buy.  I've already got a ton of file boxes and folders, but I really need to get that pegboard for the wall.  Thankfully, I've got a Staples coupon, so I'm going to start there first (I've been looking online as well and have an idea of what I want and how much it's going to cost).  And, as I look around in this space, just like Andrea said, it might be worth the investment to buy some coordinating furniture rather than cobbling things together.

Come on, not such a hard assignment to get started!  My next installment will be about getting into the nitty-gritty details.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kristin Omdahl Bamboo Yarns

Kristin Omdahl has created her own line of yarns!  As you crocheters know, Kristin is a talented designer of both crochet and knitwear, and now she's taking it to the next level by offering brilliant hand dyed bamboo yarns (disclosure:  Kristin is offering her yarns at a discount to pattern designers to give them the opportunity to experience and utilize this beautiful yarn in our own designs).

So, I had the hardest time deciding which yarns to order!  I went with Be So Bold and Be So Sporty.
It came in a flash, and how wonderfully packaged.  Kristin really pays attention to detail but still manages to give that personal touch.
Here is the Be So Bold (100% bamboo, 165 yds/594m per 4 oz/113g for $30) in Sophia's Serengeti Sunset.  It's a worsted weight yarn, and I'm using my G hook for the swatch (see below).  I think it's a single ply and looks almost weaved.  It's soooo easy to crochet with, no splits!

My swatch has 2 rows of single crochet, followed by 2 rows of double crochet.  I'm getting 8 stitches per inch, and 2 rows of single is about a half inch and 2 rows of double is a little more than an inch.

Ok, so now that my swatch is made, let's go wash it! I was a little worried at first because, even though bamboo has some amazing properties (it’s naturally antibacterial and gives ultraviolet protection, with good drape and breath-ability), it can be a bit challenging to maintain (it needs to be hand washed and loses strength and swells in water).  But, I have to say, the swatch isn't shrinking or growing in size (hey, I'm doing this in real time!).  Whew, well, I'll post after drying pix, but so far, so good.  So, now on to the designing!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Seamed Socks, Part 2

Well, they are done!!  The first post about these seamed socks is here.

I love them, and they were quite easy to make, but a few things I learned in the process:

1)  I should have done the ribbing for the ankle part with a smaller needle so that it would have been a little tighter and more rib-y looking.

2)  I did "two at a time" by using 2 of the 4 needles that came in the set for each sock.  I would follow an instruction for one sock, then go and follow the same instruction for the other sock, before moving on to another instruction.  There was a time when I needed 3 needles for one sock, so I finished up that part for one sock using the spare needle from the other sock, then went to the other sock and did that part with the third needle.  I'm so glad I alternated between making both socks at the same time because I was able to have the pair finished together, and I think it helped me ensure that both socks were getting made in the same way.

3)  The mattress stitch is challenging!  Thankfully, Purl Soho has a link to instructions built in to the pattern.  I had to fuss with lining up the two pieces to seam a few times, but it did actually work!  Oh, and thanks to YouTube and Purl Soho, everything I needed to learn to make the socks was pretty easy to find and follow.

4)  I want to learn how to do a short-row heel.  The heel for these socks wasn't that hard, but I don't think I like the look as much as a short-row heel.  I think I got a preview of what short rows will be like as part of decreasing the heel on this project, so I'm looking forward to giving it a try.  One thing I've heard many knitters say about short rows is "just follow the instructions, don't think, don't question, just follow the instructions, and you'll get it done."  Sounds interesting...

5)  There are more socks in my future, and I think I'm going to try from the toe up in a tube.  Let the adventure continue!