Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lunchtime goodness

I had a very productive (but still relaxing!) weekend. I spent a lot of time with my sewing machine. This is what I made on Saturday:

It's a lunchbox! I have a really great lunch container that is perfect for salad and a couple of small sides--like sliced cucumbers and cottage cheese. But it's quite a big container and doesn't fit in any lunchboxes/bags I've ever seen at Walmart or Target or TJ Maxx. So, I figured I'd make my own!

I made it up as I went along. I mean, I measured my lunch container and used that as a starting point, but otherwise, I just flew by the seat of my pants. And I couldn't be happier! I used a great cotton home decor fabric, insulated it with InsulBright, and lined it with ripstop nylon. If ripstop nylon sounds like a weird choice, consider this: it's water resistant, easily wipes clean, and is machine washable.

On Sunday, I made some coordinating accessories. I made two snack bags, following Mauby's Ultimate Reusable Snack Bag instructions.

Mauby used PUL fabric to line hers, but I went with ripstop nylon again. I don't plan on putting wet things in these bags, so I didn't need mine to be really really waterproof. I'm thinking crackers, pretzels, grapes, carrots. Easy stuff. I also made a reusable sandwich wrapper (using ripstop nylon instead of fused plastic bags), but didn't use it today so didn't have it with me for pictures. I'm not really a sandwich person, but I like to bake bread, so I can see myself using it to transport a couple slices of homemade bread to accompany my salad and soup.

Here's what it all looks like put together:

What isn't in the picture is my cup of soup (Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili, which is a HUGE hit at my house) because it was in the microwave at the time.

I'm so pleased with these projects! I don't have to use a plastic shopping bag as a lunch bag anymore. I love the reusable snack bags because not only will I save money not having to buy plastic baggies, but I can't even imagine how many baggies it will save from the landfills!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Digital Hoarding

I'm not afraid to get rid of stuff. I watch Hoarders and can't even begin to understand why they do what they do. (Yes, I realize that in most cases it's a mental illness.) I'm happy to throw things away, send stuff to Goodwill, whatever. In general, I honestly do not develop emotional attachments to Stuff. Do I have my hangups? Sure. I like yarn. I like having a lot of yarn. But, it's organized, inventoried, and frequently used. It isn't taking over the house or preventing me from living a good life.

Another, maybe more serious, hangup for me is information. I love information. When I was a teenager, I had a few magazine subscriptions (anyone remember YM?), and I would tear out the articles and keep them in file folders by subject, in case I ever needed to reference them again (I never needed to reference them again.). As I grew up, I did the same with other magazines. I even created an accordion file of home decor and craft ideas. Needless to say, I no longer have the articles I painstakingly curated when I was a teenager. However, I do still have a milk crate full of hanging files with those home decor and craft ideas. I think I'm about ready to let most of those go and just need to make the time to sort through them.

Then I learned how to knit and discovered knitting magazines. At one point, I had literally hundreds of knitting magazines on my bookshelf. I also had hundreds of knitting patterns in binders--some printed from online sources, and other purchased at yarn shops. A couple of years ago, the idea hit me to "destructively digitize" my knitting magazines. At work, I have access to a top-feed scanner that will automatically scan both sides at a fairly high resolution. I used a paper cutter to remove the bindings and used personal time (not work time) to scan in all of my magazines. I have a redundant storage system in place--all digital copies are on Box.com, on my hard drive at home, and on discs (though I will admit that the discs haven't been updated in some time). I keep all current issues in paper, and when a new issue comes out, the old one gets scanned and recycled. It's a beautiful system that allows me to keep all my "information" without taking up physical space in my environment. I've filled nearly 22GB of virtual space on Box.com with knitting magazines and patterns.

There are two more sources of information that I can't resist. Ravelry and Pinterest. Let's talk about Ravelry first. It allows me to keep track of all of my projects, inventory my yarn, enter my magazines, books and patterns in the library, AND purchase additional patterns and ebooks to add to my library. It is a knitting information-lover's paradise! I can see what patterns have been knit with particular yarns. I can see what yarns were used in a particular pattern. I can read about another knitter's experience with both yarns and patterns. Everything is cross-referenced and beautifully organized. If you are a knitter (or crocheter!) and you aren't on Ravelry, go now. Join. Seriously. Now. Do it. (My username is gaeacreations, if you want to check out what I've been up to on Ravelry.) Where I get in trouble is with the ability to Queue and Favorite various things. I currently have a very reasonable 41 projects in my Queue. That means I want to knit them soon-ish. I say this is reasonable because at one point, I had nearly 200 things in my Queue. That was just crazy. That's when I decided that anything I liked but wasn't sure I'd ever actually knit would go in my Favorites. There are 840 things in my favorites, all tagged, so I can sort by yarn weight, type of project, etc. 

Now let's talk about Pinterest. When I joined Pinterest, I knew no one else who was on it. There were a few people I followed, but for the most part, I used it to Pin things I found on other websites. Then Pinterest exploded in popularity, and a whole world of Information became available--mostly because it was stuff I wouldn't have thought to search for on the internet. When I look at my boards on Pinterest, I start to wonder if maybe I have a little problem with Digital Hoarding. I have 58 boards and more than 3,600 pins. Pinterest has totally taken the place of my files of magazine articles and pictures. Do I ever go back and look at those Pins? Actually, yes. I have them sorted in a way that makes lots of sense to me, and when I need a piece of information or inspiration, I know right where to look.

I don't feel bad or guilty about my hoarding. All of the information I hoard is well-organized and referenced fairly frequently. But I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if it's psychologically related in any way to the hoarding of physical stuff, and it's just more acceptable because no one can see it. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Knitting and When there's no place to go but up!

So, my big plans for 2013 have not come to fruition yet. I've been doing a lot of knitting, but not much else. Between a couple of weeks of feeling very run down by a cold that lasted too long (but never run down enough to call in sick to work) and sort of unexpected time-consuming things, I just haven't felt well enough or been home long enough to tackle any of my big projects. Crossing my fingers that it will change this weekend! It's supposed to be a cold, snowy weekend, so it should be perfect for staying in and getting stuff done!

What I have done so far this year is Knit. A lot.
On Saturday, I finished a small shawl (really a scarf) I started in January (Pattern: Rondelay; Yarn: Dream in Color yarn club October 2012):

On Sunday, I finished a shawl I started in October (Pattern: Fragile Heart; Yarn: Dream in Color Smoshy with Cashmere):

Also on Sunday, I finished a pair of socks I started at Christmas time (Yarn: Plymouth Sakkie, which just might be my new favorite sock yarn)

I made a two-layer hat that still needs to be blocked (my own design; Yarns: Classic Elite Lush and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino). (no picture yet....mostly because it still needs to be blocked....)

I have two nearly-completed sleeves for my Wonderful Wallaby. (Yarn: Classic Elite Waterspun, which is long discontinued)

I started a pair of socks for Victoria (Yarn: Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock).

And, I'm looking forward to starting another sweater project SOON using yarn I purchased at River Knits last week. (Yarn: Classic Elite Soft Linen; Pattern: Linen and Lace Cardigan) The second picture better represents the actual color of the yarn. It's a wonderful blue-green that's really hard to photograph well.

I think one reason I've knit so much over the past month or so is that it eases stress. At least for me it does. (So does shopping. See yarn purchase mentioned in previous paragraph.) We had a crazy four or five weeks during which a lot of people I love were going through some really tough times--either family difficulties, mental/emotional issues, or physical health concerns. In most cases, there was nothing I could do but worry and send my love and let them know I was thinking of them all the time. To keep the worry to a minimum, I focus on something I can control: Knitting. For me, knitting is very meditative, and I feel that if I'm thinking about these people and their problems while I'm knitting, it's sort of like prayer. Like each stitch is a bead in a Rosary. (I don't mean to make light of the Rosary; so if you are Catholic, please don't take offense at that statement. I mean it in a very respectful way.)  There are thousands of stitches in a sweater. Heck, the socks I finished Sunday have 5,760 stitches JUST IN THE LEG! Not even including the foot. That's a lot of opportunity for prayer or meditation. I'm not a very religion-y person--I don't go to church (anymore), and I'm not really sure what I believe. I might even describe myself as agnostic. However, I know there's something to be said for the energy we put out into the universe, whether it's through prayer or meditation or just how we think. When you think positive thoughts and look at things in a positive way, positive things happen. Now, I know that my knitting and thinking about the folks I love can't make their problems go away. It's not a magic wand. But, with each stitch, I'm sending a little bit of that positive energy their way. With each stitch, I'm saying, "I've been thinking about you. I hope you find peace. I love you."