Lace, Bacon & Apples

It’s another purge and scrub day at the house, and I’m playing the procrastination game a bit while coffee brews, the bacon sizzles away in the cast iron on the stove top, and an episode of Orange is the New Black is on the tube.  I’ve never been great at taking the time to actually cook breakfast, call it a side effect of not being a morning person, but when I do cook something up it’s usually on Sunday mornings.  If I get moving fast enough I should be able to do what I need to do to the kitchen and go to an open mic night later today.  The kitchen is probably going to be the easiest of the rooms to go through this purge process on, it stays pretty clean for obvious reasons, but I am guilty of accumulating too many free pint glasses and coffee mugs, have gadgets I haven’t used in ages, and need to dump a few doubles.

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Knit-wise, I’m still exclusively working on The Philosopher’s Stone shawl.  It’s been a while since I jumped into an intricate pattern.  This one is beads (a real pain in the ass), lace and cables.  It’s been noticed by at least two other knitting friends that this has been the case and another pattern was discovered. The only times I really dive into complex lace projects is when there is stress kicked off by a significant life change.  It’s not often I talk about work here, but this time it’s a work thing. My boss has the opportunity to cut back to an as needed status and spend more time with her young child.  As a friend, I’m thrilled for her, as a co-worker, I want to bang my head into the wall until I pass out. As far as management types go, she’s a huge loss. Big changes in the working life pushes my anxiety levels through the roof.  I only have my income and a very meager savings account, so I’ll admit, I panic, and always default to “is the end nigh” thinking. That thinking really isn’t justified at this point, but it still happens. Anyway, the shawl is about two-thirds of the way complete, and after that I’ll dive back into the sweaters I need to finish.  Fall is going to run up on me fast if I don’t pay attention.

Despite all the fussing, I did have a cool beans situation come up that allowed for me to upgrade my old iPad, and just in time too, it’ll be falling off the iOS update list this year.  I now have my hands a nice shiny iPad.  So what does that have to do with knitting…a lot actually.  Big screen means I can actually see Knit Companion.  I’m looking into what it would take to become a certified teacher for the program.  I had kinda halfway looked into it a few years ago, but wasn’t really at the point I would have been comfortable teaching it despite knowing the ins and out of the program.  Even if I don’t become a teacher for it, it’s still nice to have something that I can use it comfortably on again.  The mini iPad I used had its benefits, but there was the squint factor on charts.  I’ve also made a bold move for me, I’m going further in limiting my social media time.  Facebook is still a consistent time suck for me despite turning off notifications, and alerts months ago.  The facebook app, messenger, and the page manager for the Coffee and Wool facebook site have all been deleted from every one of my mobile devices.  Unfortunately, I’m still loosing the battle with disconnecting from it entirely, but I’m more than comfortable saying I’m not only going to check it a couple of times a day when I’m doing something on the actual computer.  Now the folks that keep insisting on sending messages through that infernal messenger app may finally understand it’s just easier to text me if they actually need to talk to me.

In the time I’ve taken to blab away, the bacon has been consumed, the coffee is nearly finished, and this episode of Orange is nearly over.  So time to suck it up and get to work on the house so I can escape this afternoon.

Fictional Characters – Fictional Knitting

As you delve deeper and deeper into the yarn life, you begin to notice other devotes to knitting and crochet, especially when you’re participating in one of the greatest of crafting rituals; crafting and binge watching.

A couple of weeks ago I dived beck into The Golden Girls. I remember a few episodes from my childhood when it was still in production, and more so once I hit the college years and syndicated episodes always seemed to be playing on one of the 10ish cable channels available in the dorms. Despite the passage of time, the series is still topically relevant.

Through this trip through the late 80’s I notice Sophia was a crocheter and has never finished what looks like a scarf with a bright orange border. I’ve giggled a few times, that someone thought enough to actually put together a decent prop but never had it progress, but then there are continuity errors left and right through the series. The idea of someone streaming an entire TV series from first episode until last and someone catching those errors had to be fairly foreign. I don’t remember the first box sets of TV series popping up until DVDs became easily accessible in the mid-90s.

Besides Sophia Patrillo, who else has busted out yarn on screen?

Molly Weasley – Harry Potter
Her monogrammed sweaters were pretty infamous. One day I need to get around to making on of them for myself.

Morticia Addams – The Addams Family
From TV series to movies, both Carolyn Jones and Angelica Houston can be seen with knitting needles in hand.

Izzie Stevens – Grey’s Anatomy
Izzie may have been the most noticeable character playing with yarn in the series, but there have been a lot of background characters through the seasons that have been working on projects.

Hawkeye Pierce – M*A*S*H
Yep, probably one of the few male characters that I can think of.

Old Nan – Game of Thrones
She gets the award for giant sized double points for what I think may be giant sized socks for Hodor.

I’m certain there are dozens more that just haven’t popped into my mind.

Slowly but surely, yarn crafting my be getting a little more screen time as it’s popularity continues to grow….but there’s a catch….as you see character’s working, are they doing it correctly? See how often you can catch an actor, well, acting how to knit or crochet.

Who else can ya’ll think of?

The Balancing Act Continues

I spent 5 hours today purging crap out of my home office, cleaning it from top to bottom, and rearranging it.  That should give you an idea about how keeping the weekends free to do with as I please plan I talked about last week is going. After nearly a week to think about and revise my plan of action on trying to get my home life and my work life on more even footing, I think I’ve formulated a plan that will still work it’ll just take a few weeks to finish Phase 1.

I decided it was easier to work from a cleaner slate before really keeping weekends to myself.  Each weekend, I’m taking one of the days to reset a room, and catch up on the chores that didn’t get handled during the week.  I may have moved here a little less than a year ago, but have found there was stuff I should have purged before I moved, accumulated stuff I don’t need, and have really figured out what should go where.  After a few weeks, I realistically should be able to begin the keeping up with most tasks on the weekdays.

My house isn’t a complete mess by any means, but I really struggle with things feeling like they are cluttered and disorganized, and it’s something that seems to bother me more and more as I get older.  To be blunt, there are hoarding tendencies that run in the family, and I saw how my Grandmother lived.  She wasn’t one of those people you would have seen on the show Hoarders with the rotting garbage and a blessing that smell-o-vision doesn’t exist, it was a clean hoard, well if you could call a hoard clean.  It was mostly boxes on top of boxes of paperwork associated with her running her own tax services for decades, magazines, and just odd ball stuff she couldn’t part with.  It grew until she had only little pathways to walk through.  If you’ve not had to deal directly with trying to clean up a hoard, you have no idea how not only physical it is, but how emotionally charged it can be.  The emotional charge behind all of that is probably a big part of the reason I’ve grown to really hate clutter and struggle with feeling closed in.

The office really needed to be first on deck.  I have a hard time focusing in a space that feels disorganized, and over the past few months, my office had begun to look more than a little disheveled.  Workload is at a place right now where I can’t afford to be unfocused.  It’s been reclaimed, and I even moved my reading chair into one of the corners.  The office is actually one of the quietest rooms in the house, the fur kids only drop in here periodically, and my small collection of house plants are there, so it made sense to move the reading chair in there, instead of continuing to let it live next to the front door and be a catch-all for dog leashes, bags, and an ambush point for the Severus to to taunt Sandor.

That’s the boring part of my weekend.  I did keep yesterday to my own shenanigans.  It’s been hotter than Hell’s front porch lately, opting to stay inside streaming The Golden Girls and throwing row after row into a richly textured shawl project was just what I needed.  My mind is still recovering from my mini-meltdown last week, and that happens sometimes, so I didn’t feel like working on an easier project leaving my mind with time to over-think all the other things going on around me.

192F318D-1CA9-4CE0-B8F9-9A227D49D68BI’m working on a pattern called The Philosopher’s Stone, and I’ve been really impressed with how well it’s been written and charted.  Even though it’s on the complicated side, it’s a good project for an intermediate knitter.  There are cables, beadwork, lace, and textures galore so there’s not much opportunity to start predicting how the next row is going to work.

This is being worked up on a yarn I was introduced  to in a LYS I found just outside of Orlando after a short work trip a couple of weeks ago.  There’s more coming on that shop in a later post.  The yarn is Illimani Sabri, and is a cotton and alpaca blend.  It’s lending itself to this type of project with the cotton capable of holding amazing stitch definition and the alpaca softening up the feel of fabric.  The Sabri was also amazingly priced at approximately $15 a skein at 400+ yards.  I’m heading back to that project in a little bit, after I fold a couple of baskets of laundry and take care of the kitchen.

Things are better since my last post, but feeling out of your element all the time for months on end really wears on you, all it took was one particularly shitty day and hell finally broke loose.  I appreciate the people that were kind enough to reach out and offer to help me handle a few project, offer to kidnap me and ransom me back to get me out of work for a while, and those that just responded that they understood and have been there too.  The things that have been bothering me lately are all things we struggle with at one point or another.

Adventures in Adulting: In Search of Balance

It’s time for one of those non-craft related posts.

I’ve never been great at balancing my work life and home life, especially since a very large percentage of my work life happens in a small room in my house.  Life tends to be a little heavy on the work and chores, what doesn’t happen during the week bleeds into the weekends and I don’t really get a break unless something gets neglected.  Knitting has even taken a bit of a trip to the back burner.  It still happens, but only because I consider it the keystone to my personal mental health plan.  All work and no knitting makes Candy a dull girl. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, crafting keeps me sane. It’s been the greatest form of stress relief and meditation I’ve experienced and I usually end up with something nifty at the end of a project.

Long story short, last week sucked, and it triggered a lot of anger, anxiety, and defeat. Those are the big three of things I don’t deal with well.

F0356D11-7D09-4773-AFAC-57B2BFB06B6COver the weekend,  I pretty much shut down on the couch with a ball of yarn and a complicated lace/cable/beaded pattern (one so complicated that I had no option but to focus entirely on my hands, no brain function left to think of anything else) I declared – I can’t keep doing this to myself.

Everyone has their own struggles with finding balance, and everyone has different feelings about it, but as a single woman, that has the tendency to work very long hours some weeks, I have no option but to do it all on my own.  No, do not take that as any sort of hint that I’m dipping my toe back into the dating pool.  I have no interest (or time) to start looking for a relationship just because I need help with the house and yard work.  Seriously, I do know people that dip in and out of the dating pool just for those purposes. I’m not a fan. Digression over.

So what’s a girl to do?

Schedule, prioritize, have some damned self-control.

When I feel burned out, I get lazy.  I’ll hit a drive through or nuke a frozen something-or-another for meals.  I’ll mow at the yard instead of really doing the job that it deserves – but at the same time it’s been 90+ degrees with what feels like 90+% humidity in the evenings after I get off work, most Georgians aren’t keeping up with those conditions.  Laundry stacks higher and deeper.  It may be getting washed but it isn’t getting put away.  I think I’ve been rotating the same three pairs of paints, and week’s worth of shirts and underwear for a couple of months.  Bottom line: I’m in a rut and I gotta fix it.

So what’s on the agenda?

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Shrimp Corn Chowder – Instant Pot For the Win!

I’ve got to start cooking real food again.  I’ve always enjoyed it, but I’ve been lying to myself thinking I’m saving time by hitting up the drive through, or nuking something in the microwave.  Realistically, it’s a 30-45 minute round trip to pick something up and bring it home.  In that same amount of time, or very close to it, I can actually cook real food and eat it as a hot meal, instead of the lukewarm, often soggy crap that comes in the door in a paper bag. We won’t discuss all the other things that are wrong with take out.  I’ve started hunting down crockpot and Instant Pot recipes to add to the arsenal of an already expansive list of the tried and true meals.  If the meal pretty much can cook itself, that’s more time I can use to wrap up my work day, or complete some other house chore.  I’m also not going to hide the fact that the near constant news of someone tampering with food, restaurants notifying diners that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A, or someone neglecting some part of their job triggering recalls has bothered more more lately than it has in the past.

I’m experimenting with the 1-minute rule.  The short version of that idea, if it will only take a minute or two do complete, just complete the task when you see it.  Dishwasher needs unloaded when you pass by, just do it.  Trash needs to go out, just do it.  Toilet bowl needs cleaned, just do it.  On and on.

I actually need to schedule time to complete certain tasks during the week and adjust my work schedule around those needs, not the other way around, especially when work is busy.  I can work all day, but I can’t mow the grass in the dark or when it is at its absolute hottest and muggiest out.  I may actually melt.   I am fortunate that I do have enough flexibility with my schedule that I can step away for short amounts of time to handle tasks as long as key people know I’m stepping away. I don’t think anyone will be upset with an email saying hey, I’m taking an early lunch and I’ll be back in an hour and a half once or twice a week.

I need to schedule time to keep this blog and all the other little things that fall under the Coffee and Wool umbrella alive.  I’ve recently announced I’m willing to take on Saturday individual lessons again. I have a list of informative posts and reviews to write. I have patterns that I need to proofread and have people test. Other than the occasional post and my evening and weekend knitting, a lot of those aspirations just sit in the corner collecting dust.

Weekends are the prize.  I need to push myself enough that 5pm Friday through 8am Monday are my hours to do with what I want without feeling obligated to complete something – with the exception of teaching a lesson or two here or there.  I need to be able to get the social interaction I need, I don’t require much being introverty, crash into the couch and binge watch an entire season of a series, or load up the dog and hike the woods for hours without feeling like I’m ignoring responsibilities. Unplugged Sundays may evolve into unplugged weekends too.

There’s a bit more rambling here than I intended but there are times you just need to see thoughts in words, and put them out there.

Have any of you worked a similar plan to get back in order? Feel free to share any tips, successes, failures, or recipes.