Weekends Unplugged

I hit a little bit of a breaking point yesterday.  Unfortunately, when I get stuck in a weather cycle that includes days of rain and thunderstorms I’ll inevitably develop a migraine and end up way more agitated over the smallest things than any human should be.  That was yesterday for me.  I skipped out on an event I had full intentions of going to, told everyone I was turning off my phone and hiding out until Monday.

I’m at the house, still in my PJs fresh from a long nap, uninterrupted by a house filled with bleeps and bloops. I spent the morning knitting and watching a couple of movies, dived into a book for a while, you know, the stuff introverty type people enjoy when they’ve finally hit their wall.

Silence is never an option in our lives, but it’s almost jarring when you notice just how often some bit of technology is making sounds and demanding your attention so often.

As much as I love technology’s ability to keep us all connected there are times I wish it wasn’t so simple.  There are days that a text message notification makes me want to throw my phone across the room.  It’s usually someone just typing the word “hi” as an opener to pry into the rest of my day, and at times that feels so intrusive it will make me angry. Then god forbid you don’t reply fast enough, there are people that insist on continuing the intrusion again by either texting again or calling with ‘is everything okay you didn’t answer?’ causing further annoyance.  It’s probably just a quirky introvert issue, but it’s still an issue.  It also is likely a failure on my part to place boundaries on the repeat offenders.  I felt it a little sad that I had to announce on a certain social media page that I need a quiet day, and even then, that isn’t fully respected by some.  I’ve picked up my phone twice today to see a handful of messages from people that obviously didn’t see or willfully ignored my request for a quiet day, and a few that were legitimately passing along info that I needed for the week that knew I wouldn’t be responding.

So yes, I’m bitching a bit, so on to other things.

An unplugged weekend may turn into a permanent affair.  When I see that usage stats notification come through on my phone, my skin crawls and I feel utterly disappointed with myself.  Despite feeling like I don’t waste a great deal of time dicking around on my phone, the actual numbers say otherwise.  I waste 15-20 hours a week on a tiny screen that does nothing to improve my life.  I should be wasting that time reading, crafting, sleeping (poking at a screen until the wee hours happens more than I like), learning something new, actually going out and doing something, on and on and on.  I’ve also been struggling with feeling like the weekends are stolen by chores and errands.  Maybe reclaiming some of those 15-20 hours a week and actually taking care of things would give me the weekends back.

rs_560x415-150107143918-1024.Oregon-Trail-Game-MS-Dos.jl.010715I’m feeling a little nostalgic of my early adulthood years. I’m an Xennial, the Oregon Trail generation, that odd little age group that doesn’t quite fit Gen X or the Millennials. In fact, being called a millennial at times feels like an insult.  I remember the dark ages before the internet and before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket. At 18 there was access to the internet, cell phones were finally getting to pocket sized, texting was an option for those of us that didn’t feel the need to get drawn into a phone conversation, and those were brief (T9 was a bitch), and social media wouldn’t begin to become a factor in our lives until 2003.  I’m not going to lie, there’s been a few times today when I’ve fought the urge to check the social media networks to see what’s going on.  It’s not a secret that I’ve felt social media holds too much real estate in our minds, and I’ve struggled with the idea of disconnecting from it entirely.  I haven’t because I feel like there is actually risk that I would lose contact with people I care about because they are so entrenched, that contacting others outside FB, twitter, instagram and the myriad of others is no longer on their radar.

So if I feel forced to participate I can at least have better control of it.  I’m going to experiment for a bit, beginning Friday nights after I get in for the evening I’ll log out of the whole mess until Monday morning.  But that all comes down to one thing, do I have the self control to keep it up, or am I too sucked into this mess to do it on a routine basis. This is were it all wraps up today.  I’m going to go cook a nice dinner, and go back to the book I’m reading.  What do you guys think? Am I alone in feeling this way, or is this a problem for you too?

 

 

Nerdy Knitting Tools: Knit Companion

All of us crafty folk have had it happen, we’ve printed our patterns, broke out our favorite methods of keeping track of rows such as highlighters and post-it notes and have gotten to work.  Days, weeks, maybe months into the project something happens to that piece of paper, the pattern itself disappears, or the post-it you’ve been using as a tracker falls off.  You’re lost!

Okay, maybe it’s not the end of the world, you figure it out and keep going but managing piles of paper can be a real pain in the ass, especially if you’re as guilty as I am for working multiple projects at the same time. I teach, make shop samples for my LYS and make stuff for myself completely unrelated to the first two types of projects, it’s not unusual for me to have 4-8 projects going at once.  I’m trying to reign that in a bit, 8 is a bit much right now but I’ve gotten behind on things. 

Recently, I found myself able to replace my ancient iPad with the latest and greatest (Verizon has some awesome deals once in a while) and rediscovered Knit Companion.

Knit Companion is a pattern management app that has come a long way since I tried it out several years ago when it was in its infancy.  So what does this thing do? Knit Companion (KC) allows you to import patterns from both Ravelry, KC Designs (they have partnered with several designers) and your own PDF patterns from a personal Dropbox into the app.  From there KC gives you a ton of options as to how you’re going to manage that pattern.

img_0041-1At the simplest of set ups you import a pattern, select the pages you need, and it goes straight into the user interface.  From there you can flip between pages through a drop down option at the top of the app, have a moving marker bar to keep track of your place on the page, and have several counters available at the right side of the app.
Then you can get into beefier features with a bit of work on your end to set up the pattern as you like.  KC is an extremely powerful tool if you take the time to work with it.  It’s not entirely intuitive but KC has quite a few tutorials and a user guide available on their website.

img_0040-1If you have a love for complex patterns that include a bajillion charts and page after page of instruction you’ll appreciate the advanced features.  KC can be programmed to track charts with the press of a button. The example here is just a quick one I set up for a shawl I’m designing (much more on that little project later).  I have yet to unlock all the features for myself, there is a feature called Magic Markers that will read your charts and highlight special/repeated switches for you when you set up.

Ultimately you can take a pattern, load it in so that you have access to flip through pages using the top drop down bar.  Counters can be renamed on the right hand side to track repeats, stitches, whatever else that may need counting.  The pull up from the bottom can be programmed to include keys or special instructions for charts.  Then there are options to add notes, highlight specific places within the pattern, and the best part is, once you set up the project it will auto save your every move until you delete it from the app. Switching between multiple projects doesn’t phase it.  My knitting bag has lost what feels like 15 pounds of paper, post-it notes, highlighter tape, and markers.

Since my introduction to KC as a iOS only app, they now have an Android version too.  The app itself is free, but it will limit you to KC only patterns and tie your hands on a lot of awesome features.  A 1 year subscription that unlocks all features is $12.99.  Yeah, yeah, I hear some of you groaning, but with the abilities of this app it’s worth it for an avid knitter or crocheter. If you are doing a project or two a year I could understand passing on it.

Give it a shot!  Look at the tutorials and the user guide, you’ll be amazed at what this little thing can do, and keep an eye out on the class schedules at your local yarn shop, there are a few out there that will offer classes on how to use all the features of this app to your advantage.