when everything around is brown.
As soon as I finished that purple sweater, I started knitting a new one! I even knit part of the new one while wearing the old one. And with the snow we’ve been having, I’ve been able to wear the purple sweater a few times too.
The new sweater is Slope by Cookie A, and is not constructed like a normal sweater. It is basically a giant rectangle that goes up your front, has a split for your head, then down the back. It is flying along because there is no shaping to worry about, just a rectangle.
It is going to end up being an asymmetrical sweater, the sleeves are two different styles, and the action of one pulling more than the other means that the hem ends up on an angle. I’ve shied away from asymmetrical sweaters before this, because I’ve always worried about people saying ‘shouldn’t the buttons be in the middle?’ ‘That sleeve is different than the other one…’ but I’ve finally decided to try it, mainly because I couldn’t get this sweater out of my mind.
I finished my Katie/Gradient sweater! It fits perfectly, it is cozy and comfy and has just the right amount of ease so it feels like a comfy sweatshirt, but is so much nicer.
I’m loving the big contrast between the two colours, too. Deep purple and creamy white, yum. Both colours are by Cascade 220.
I’m glad P likes playing with the camera, because I keep making him do sweater photoshoots. We took these just as the sun was going down, which I think worked out quite well. He kept posing me, tucking in the tank top straps that kept peeking out. I just wish I was a more patient model! I was getting a little chilly outside, yes, even in my wool sweater.
I love that this sweater has thumbholes. They keep my hands so cozy! I think I may go put it on again to hang around the house in.
Carin inspired me to think about cross-stitching again a few months ago, and then at the beginning of the year I heard about Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery‘s Woodland Sampler. Every month they send you the pattern for a cute little woodland scene to add to your sampler. At the end of the year, you can frame the cuteness!
January was a deer couple… the eventually got more snowflakes, I wasn’t done with them when I took this photo. I actually joined in after January had been released, and these deer sold me on it.
February was a solid raccoon block. He’s so cute, and the stars are done with sparkly thread. I’ve never used sparkle thread before!
March was a toadstool in a terrarium. It did have ‘kawaii’ little eyes and a smiling mouth, but I decided to omit those, to keep it a bit more traditionally woodland-y.
I haven’t cross stitched regularly since I was about 12, but it was pretty easy to pick back up. This is my first time using linen, I’m loving the finished look it has! My only problem so far has been with the plastic bobbins I bought a Michaels. No pen I own will write on them and not rub off. Even Sharpie fades every time you touch it. Cut-down address labels don’t stick to them either! I’ve got a system down now that involves tape, labels, and wrapping the thread on over the tape/label combo to keep it on, but this can’t be how they’re meant to be used. Is there a magic proprietary cross stitch pen? Are the bobbins mad because I bought DMC bobbins but I’m winding Cosmo thread?
So many people I know have been having babies lately, and of course, I feel compelled to knit them things. A couple years ago, I knit everyone booties. This time around, I decided to go with sweaters!
This one was for a baby boy named Simon, born in August. I think the sweater is still a bit too big for him – it turned out bigger than I thought, and he’s a fairly small little dude. I got to hang out with him last night, which is what reminded me that I haven’t posted any of these. The yarn is some random stuff mum sent me after cleaning out her craft closet. Ravelry page for this one. I mixed and matched the buttons from my button jar.
This one was for a little girl named Ida, born in January. I love this little tiny pattern! I think I’d actually make this one again, despite my loathing of the seed stitch on the front. The little bumpy sleeves are so cute! This one was a super-quick knit on a deadline – I wove the ends in about an hour before I gave it away! Again, buttons from the button jar, but at least I had 4 matching ones! They were cute when I gave it to them – I gave it a couple months before the birth, and the dad said ‘THANK YOU for CLOTHING our CHILD!’ they didn’t have any clothes yet. Ravelry page. I got this yarn in a swap.
This one’s wearer isn’t born yet. He or she is due in May I think, but because the last two were on such quick deadlines, I thought I’d get ahead of myself. This sweater will be too big for a newborn, but a baby born in summer won’t need a sweater for a little while, so I made it in the 6-month size. Buttons from the button jar, more yarn from mum’s clearout. Ravelry page.
So way, way, waaaaay back in the day, I decided I was going to knit my husband socks for our wedding. I ran in to a few roadblocks (I needed to get him to try them on more, not knit a whole sock then find it doesn’t fit) so I didn’t end up finishing them. They sat in a bag, taunting me for a long time. Every now and then, P would mention his ‘wedding’ socks.
This Christmas, I decided to do something about it. This plan was also partly because of his new student status, and our lack of funds to actually buy each other things for Christmas.
They were still a wee bit big on him – I usually like my socks smaller than my feet, so the stretch and hug a little. These I think were the same dimensions as his feet, so he wore them around the house as slipper socks.
Sadly, a week ago, he brought them to me with a GIANT hole in the foot. “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what I did, I just wear them around the house, never in shoes!” Of course, not his fault at all, but I’m a little puzzled about how quickly they wore out. I’m going to knit him a pair of plain ribbed socks next, and see how those wear. He did love his skull-gyle.
I’m in this photo! Christmas by the fire at my parents’ house.
As I’ve been spending more time on other parts of my life (a lot of it work, for reasons that will become apparent) rather than blogging, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my husband has gone back to school. In September he started the first of 3 years at university to earn his BFA. This means we’ve gone from living on two artist’s salaries (getting along fairly well, no debt, but we weren’t going to be buying a house any time soon) to my artist’s salary + temping as much as possible (not seriously worried about paying rent+bills+food, but not paying anything else, including school fees).
We’ve had a necessary lifestyle adjustment which is slowly getting easier. We were both lucky enough to have our first (in my case, only) rounds of post-secondary education paid for by amazing parents. This time, we’re on our own, and we have the line of credit to prove it. We did pay off the first semester before Christmas, but 2013 started out in the hole because I went on an almost month-long trip of a lifetime with my mum. He doesn’t begrudge me that, and I’m so happy I went, but we’re only just starting to dig out of the hole that that created.
Talking about our finances in front of the entire interwebs wasn’t the purpose of this post though. I’ve noticed, after almost 9 months of being married to a student (he did a training program this summer as well), that I feel like I need less, and not just in the ‘buying less’ sense. I’m looking critically at my closet/cabinets/bookcases and weeding things out. Pulling out the high heels that I wear twice a year that my feet need 2 weeks to recover from. Sure, I may try to find a consignment store to take the nicer things to, rather than just dumping it all at Value Village, but buying less has turned in to wanting (slightly) less.
It is also encouraging me to use what is already in the house. Rather have black beans in the chili we’re making? Well, we only have kidney beans, so deal. I’m almost out of my bottle of body wash. I prefer gel to soap, but we have soap in the cupboard, so when the bottle is gone, I’ll use bar soap. When the bar is used up, of course I’ll buy more gel, so really I’m just postponing that expense, but it helps. And someone might buy me another gift basket with a bar of soap in it between now and then, so I can save that $7 for another month.
Now if I can just train P out of his Tim Horton’s habit, I might be able to buy myself a skein of yarn for a treat.
And I was all like:
For the non-knitters out there, steeking is when you take a pair of scissors to your knitted project, on purpose. Why would you do that? Well, take for example a colourwork (not striped) cardigan. It is much easier to knit colourwork as a tube of knitting. The thing is, cardigans are flat, pullovers are tubes. So some knitter, somewhere, rather than face purling with two colours, decided to just chop up their knitting. And it worked.
It is plenty stressful, bu rewarding when it works. The scary thing (for me) was that I couldn’t try the sweater on as I went, because it has a deep V-neck. Imagine sewing the two sides of the neck of your deepest V sweater together. You couldn’t fit your body in there now. I was just doing it backwards. Luckily, it worked out.
I started this sweater (Little Birds by Ysolda Teague) in September, ran out of grey in November, put it in time out for most of December, then rushed through the first week of January to finish it before my trip with mum.
I really like it, and it fits well, although I do feel I could space the buttons out a little more to get it the tiniest bit tighter in that area. But still, a very successful knit, that I’ve already worn to work (the office, not the theatre) once.
Pinterest was supposed to make it easier to see things that we’ve bookmarked, a giant, uninterrupted digital pinboard so we can see everything at a glance. That only works when you categorize things well.
When I started this project I had almost 900 pins and 300+ likes. Now I’m at 859 pins and 21 likes. I’ve also pinned a lot more things since clearing out.
I didn’t want to end up with too many boards, because then you have the scrolling through of that list and trying to figure out what you put where. Everything I’ve pinned is divided up between 23 boards, none of which seem overwhelming. I’ve also tried to name the boards so there isn’t any easy overlap, taking out the guesswork of what to file things under.
I found, immersing myself in my pins for a few days, that I’d pinned the same images multiple different times, sometimes to the same board, sometimes to different ones. Those got deleted. So did projects I’ve completed. I created a new board for pinned recipes that I’ve actually made and liked.
I’ve been questioning the purpose of ‘likes’ vs. ‘pins’. Anyone have any light to shed on that? People’s likes don’t show up in my feed, just the pins, so it isn’t for sharing. I can’t categorize my likes, so it isn’t for ease of finding things. I decided to use ‘likes’ very sparingly, and spent most of my time either deleting them, or pinning them to appropriate boards. I’m also trying to have my Pinterest account be things that are useful to me. Pictures of pretty interiors or kitchens, recipes, craft projects, style I want to emulate, these are all useful to me. Quotes in fancy fonts? Not so useful. I do have a couple frivolous boards: “Book It” is where a lot of my ‘likes’ went – pretty bookcases, things made out of books; “Shelf of Geekery” is mostly captioned pictures of geeky things that make me smile; but both of these boards only have 30 pins.
Since organizing, I find myself actually using recipes I’ve pinned (I created a few boards for food, instead of one giant one: general food, desserts, slow-cooker food, food I’ve made, cute food that I don’t necessarily want to eat), and referencing style photos I’ve pinned because I want to be that girl. I have a peplum top I wanted to wear to work, but couldn’t figure out how to style it. Check out my board, why yes, I did pin a photo of a woman wearing a peplum top with pants, that must be ok! I don’t need to buy a pencil skirt! (Pencil skirts and I are not friends.) I’ve started knotting my belt. I feel cooler and more organized.
PS: My email inbox is now at 306!
In my digital clearout, I started with the email. After all, it was ‘Inbox 0′ that inspired me to give the whole thing a go. I started with 1800+ emails in my inbox. Currently, I’m down to 447.
Now, it isn’t that I don’t want to keep anything, I want to keep emails! It isn’t like P and I write each other physical love letters, there will never be a shoebox full of those. But there are sweet emails, and the nostalgic part of me wants to keep those – our generation’s version of a dusty box full of airmail envelopes. I didn’t delete those, but I moved them to an appropriate folder. All the emails mum sent me when we were planning our trip went into the ‘Burma’ folder. I’ve got 25 folders apart from Inbox/Sent/Deleted. So, some of those 1400 lost emails aren’t gone-gone, they’ve just been rehoused somewhere more appropriate. That’s fine, they’re off of the page I see daily, I can reread them when I want to re-live those moments.
I did really delete a lot though. I found the easiest thing to do first was to sort by sender, and scroll through to see who I still had big chunks of mail from. Banana Republic sales? Gone. Daily work schedules from all my past shows? Gone. Grouping by sender like that really helped me clear out the chaff in big sweeps. After a first go-through like that, I put it back to being sorted by date, and went through from the oldest emails. I didn’t do that all in one day, I’d do little bits at a time, sometimes even sitting down and scrolling to somewhere random and deleting/filing from there. Things from P are safe, so are most emails from my parents. I tended to delete the ones that were just a link and nothing else, and kept the ones where we were actually talking to each other. Sometimes though, figuring out the conversation isn’t easy. For some unknown reason, my mum never replies to an email, she writes a new one, which leads to emails along the lines of: “I love the second one, but the third link is a little too bright.” So some of those went as well.
There are some emails causing me grief though. There are ones where mum and I have been fighting (most of them in the months leading up to the wedding, fancy that). I don’t like reading them, they make me feel sad, and we’ve moved on. But, for some reason I don’t want to delete them. Although I try not to remember those times in my head, I for some reason don’t want to delete all evidence of them. Most of those I’ve put in the wedding folder, so whatever alien anthropologist unearths and decodes my computer hundreds of years from now will understand how stressful primitive human weddings could be.
Even though I’m at 447 now, and not 0, I feel good. Every time I sit down to check my email (which I’m also trying to do less) I scroll down and delete/move a few. I try to get to a round number each time. I also don’t want to add hundreds of folders, I’m trying to keep them general enough that lots of things can go in one. For instance, there is just the one folder relating to the wedding, although the ‘Travel’ folder has subfolders for different trips. Those are other emails I deleted, flight notifications for flights I’ve already gone on. I don’t need a record of every flight I’ve ever taken to visit my parents!
I also found that I’d kept every email Etsy had ever sent to me from my store, which I’m currently taking a break from. Each time something sold, I’d get a notification from Etsy, and one from Paypal. I can also look up my entire history on both of those websites. If all that history is there once I sign in, why do I need to keep the emails? For now they’re in an ‘Etsy – Selling’ folder, but I’m starting to think that I can completely can that one. The shop has also been closed for a few months , so none of them are terribly recent. Maybe if I started up again, I could keep the Etsy notification only, and only until I knew it had arrived. But when I think hard about it, even that seems unnecessary.
So, so far, Operation: Email Clear-out is going quite well, even if those last 400 are the hardest to get through.
So apparently another Alt Summit happened. I stopped following them a while ago, when I realized I didn’t want my blog to be a brand or a business, but just me. I only noticed because there were all sorts of new info graphics on Pinterest the other day. While scrolling quickly through all the Pins I’d missed (have I mentioned I was on vacation and mostly internetless for most of January?) one thing jumped out at me.
That one thing was the concept of ‘Inbox 0′, and the phrase really resonated with me. Apparently Inbox 0 is a whole movement, there’s websites devoted to it, steps to take, processes to implement… that’s about where I stopped reading. Does it sound like I don’t read anything through to the end any more? Because that’s certainly how I feel, and after having the phase ‘Inbox 0′ bounce through my cranium for a while, I feel like I have an idea of why.
I don’t have a work email*, just my personal email. My personal email has 1800+ emails in the inbox (not to mention the 400+ that I arrived back home to after 3 weeks away). These aren’t 1800 unread emails, I can’t stand to see that little red number staring at me. They’re all there because I rarely do anything with emails after I’ve read them. That’s a lot of clutter, most of it useless.
Then I thought about Pinterest, and looked at my numbers 880+ pins, 330 likes. I had no idea I’d pinned that much, but that explains not being able to find things when I looked for them again… and wasn’t that the point of Pinterest?
I logged in to Ravelry and looked at my 12-page queue, and my favourites tab and wondered again what the difference is between the two.
And (confession time) I’ve been too scared to look in my bookmarks folder in Firefox. I don’t even know how many bookmarks I have.
This, all this, is clutter. Baggage. Why do I need an email copy of an Etsy receipt of something I bought 2 years ago? It arrived, I left feedback, I’ve been using it for 2 years. If I want to look up how much it cost or who I bought it from, I can log on to Etsy for that info. I don’t care what was on sale at Banana Republic in May of last year, why haven’t I deleted that? Why am I letting it clutter up my inbox, and make myself scroll past it and all its cousins the few times I ever do need to search for something old?
And so, slowly, I’m going through all these digital repositories and weeding ruthlessly. Or at least doing a gentle first pass to make myself feel good, and then going back and being ruthless.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to 0 in my inbox. And 0 certainly isn’t the point of Pinterest, but I don’t feel I need all 1200+ of my combined pins and likes. (How are pins and likes different? How should we use these two tools?)
Here is where I could put in a lovely designer quote-graphic-thing, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – William Morris. But I’m going to refrain, so it doesn’t get pinned and forgotten. Such a rule to live life by needs to be internalized, digested, not stuck through like a butterfly in a box. And I know dear Mr Morris couldn’t have imagined the digital clutter the world would gather, but I think it applies just as well to my inbox as to my kitchen cupboards.
As I go through all this, with no set goal time of ‘Inbox 0 by March 12 or bust!’, I’m going to keep writing here about it.
*Well, when I’m on contract, there’s a general one we the SM team use, but that’s just for 8 weeks at a time, and I’m not usually the one that does the most of the emailing. Besides the point.
I felt proud of myself for mixing things up in different ways – this is a black jersey dress with that yellow lace shirt over it, and the yellow shirt normally comes down to my low hip. You can’t see the black-on-black, but I’m wearing a wide elastic belt on my natural waist, and I managed to tuck all the extra shirt into the belt so it didn’t stick out below. And I paired it with matching mustard yellow tights.
…the line down the middle of the road… If I’d been walking to work with someone, instead of on my own, I really wanted to take a photo of me standing on the line in first position, so the line would be flowing out of my feet in both directions, but I was on my own.
I also wished I’d asked those school bus drivers waiting outside the museum if they’d take my picture with a bus. I also really wanted to stand on the hood of a yellow taxi or something, but apparently I’d rather stand in the middle of a road in my stocking feet than ask a stranger to take my photo.
I had a day off today, and spent an hour giving myself an ombre manicure! I feel it is appropriate for the time of year, as it is all the colours of the trees right now. I used a yellow polish on my thumb, dark green on the pinkie, and medium green on my Finger-finger. The index and the ring finger each got a 50-50 mix of the polishes on either side.
I did 2 coats of polish, but because I didn’t want to mix up lots and hope it didn’t dry before I got to coat #2, nor did I want to try to mix the same colour again, my first coat went (from thumb to pinkie) yellow, yellow, pale green, pale green, dark green. I think the index finger needed more like a 70-30 mix, as the 50-50 is only just different enough that it shows in some lights.
The lighter colours look better in this photo, but you can see where I haven’t finished tidying up stray polish. I usually do that after a shower when my skin is nice and soft, so not till tomorrow morning.
The dark green is Sephora by OPI ‘I Come in Peas’, the light green is Sephora by OPI ‘Read My Palm’ and the yellow was a gift in a swap package, Circus, by Andrea’s Choice in ‘Somersault’. It was really hard to get a nice coating of that yellow, it kept streaking and blobbing, but I love the colour. I’m in love with the apple green on my index finger, and I adore ‘Read My Palm’. I think that’s been in most of my manicures this summer!