Thursday, January 18, 2018

Another Bullet Journal Convert

In the past, I had tried to be a journaler, which I abandoned when I went through a dry spell, got too busy or bored myself with 'more of the same' entries when I made myself write every day.  I had a foray into being a Highly Effective Person complete with the planner than weighed more than a newborn, filled with preprinted pages that were largely not right for my life/career at the time.  I had had a Blackberry (which the IT guy said would interface with my school Outlook when show choir ruled my life) but when Outlook wouldn't sync (because we didn't have the license to do that, apparently - discovered AFTER I bought the Blackberry), I still ended up entering everything in 2 places anyway...  Nothing was a great fit for me (if any of these work for you, huzzah!!). 

Eventually, I was using Google calendar. The hubs & I have ours set so we can both see what the other is up to, appointment-wise.  We don't put work details in there every day: my day is pretty standard and his is too unpredictable, so neither would be a good use of time. Google calendar is great, but it's simply that:  A calendar.  I wasn't tracking any kind of productivity, beyond Post-it to do lists that got thrown out when finished.  And I wasn't doing any kind of reflection writing anymore.

I had started keeping some lists, goals, etc. in separate notebooks based on subject.  That kind of worked, but I often found that I was always needing something in a different notebook (and never the one(s) I had with me, naturally).  Soon, I was drowning in little notebooks that were maybe 15-20% used and I just wasn't keeping up with them anymore either. But I needed to be doing SOMETHING to keep things on track.  Brain fog makes all the days/hours/thoughts run together to the point I know I thought about doing something... but did I actually do it?  Did I talk to the hubs about doing it? Did I actually talk to the hubs about doing it, or just think I should talk to the hubs?  and on and on...  The brain fog is the worst.  And the more you have running around in your brain, the worse it gets.  Somehow, you gotta get that stuff out and the most effective way I've found is to write it down.

Enter the bullet journal.  I had heard a few podcasters talking about them and initially, I was skeptical.  These women talked about their bullet journals (some call them 'bujo's for short) with the same gusto and enthusiasm as the Covey devotees had 15 years ago and the Crackberry addicts 10 years ago.  I knew that I needed to get back into some kind of practice, to feel more organized and less like I was forgetting everything all the time.  And hearing most of my English/composition teaching former colleagues' words in my ears, I knew something written was where it's at.  (P.S. Those English teachers were right, science says. Also, here.)

If you do a Google search, you'll find ALL KINDS of things about bullet journals: articles, links, shopping suggestions for pricey European brand notebooks, calligraphy pens, stencils, rulers, art pens, markers, stamps, tape (WASHI TAPE ALL THE THINGS, Y'ALL!!), covers, custom printed layouts,.... I could go on all day.

If you go to Pinterest, it's even worse!! From the undoubtedly beautiful and aesthetically pleasing images there, one might think they needed to learn 12 types of hand lettering, be an artist, have a full compliment of art supplies and maybe a minor in graphic design to do this bullet journal thing.  Also, you quickly think you need to track EVERYTHING in your life.  There are literally spreads online for any topic you could possibly want to track.

And Instagram.  Some of the kids on IG are not only making beautiful spreads in their journals, but also nailing the #bujolifestyle to the hilt. Intimidating, but you can see that this is a thing that has caught on and hooked people!
(I recommend looking at all these links LATER - or now, if you wanna be inundated with feelings of artistic inadequacy. haha)

Let me be clear:  That is all well and good.  The people who make every page into a masterpiece are just fine.  I love to look at them sometimes and relish in how gorgeous they all are.  The people who are using this practice as 'me time' or self-care: rock on with your talented selves!  But none of that is required to have and use a bullet journal.

After struggling with the nagging feeling that I knew how this would go, again, or that I didn't want another expensive hobby, I decided to go to the source and see what the hype was about.   This is what you see:

looks around, mumbles to self, 'I have a notebook and a pen...' 

After a quick scan of their site, I decided to take a few minutes and watch their video on YouTube.  If you're interested, you should, too.  I'll be right here when you get back.

Then I found 2 articles that solidified that this was worth a shot: this one from Buzzfeed and this one from Lifehacker. I looked at those and thought, I already have the bare minimum to get started - may as well.  I grabbed the most recent of my partially-full notebooks (which I had been keeping notes from my nutritional therapist coaching calls and my therapy sessions), grabbed that roll of washi tape, marked off a new section of the notebook and dove in.

After several months of my style of bullet journaling consistently, I can say that this is scratching my itch and making me feel more together!  More on what I do coming soon!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Donita2018 - Sustain

My word for 2018 is 'sustain'.  If you're thinking that 'sustain' and 'maintain' are very similar words, you'd be right.  I like the direction we've both been moving and the direction things have taken for us (it's not without setbacks or disappointments, but you'll have that...).  When I was looking for verbs that I could focus on, I wanted something similar to 'maintain' but deeper.  This is what I found.

Sustain, verb
  1. to strengthen or support physically or mentally
  2. to cause to continue or be prolonged for an extended period or without interruption
  3. to bear (weight) without breaking or falling
  4. to uphold, affirm or confirm the justice or validity of
  5. to give support or relief to; to supply with sustenance: nourish; keep up
  6. to uphold as valid, just or correct
Sustaining is exactly what I need to do.  And so I hope to just that.

After years of chaos, unhealthy situations, and constant stress, my soul is still so hungry for sustenance.  Every time that I feel like I'm almost back to where I was made to be, it seems another layer is rolled back and I have more to unpack and heal.  It's a process and it takes time, energy, resources and intention to sustain this progress and continue working toward the me I was created to be.

I hope to read new books, both fiction and non-fiction.
I hope to see new movies & TV shows and not just rely on re-watching things that I'm comfortable with (but don't think this means I won't binge The Office or Dawson's Creek again - because that is ALWAYS an option).
I hope to continue to grow my yoga practice.
I hope to find new ways to bond with Karma since it's just us two most afternoons now.
I hope to continue journaling and using my version of the bullet journal system.
I hope to continue to be a maker.

My making goals this year are simple:

  • 20K yards in FOs again
  • Knit/weave/spin from :
    • stash
    • library
    • queue
    • handspun
  • Spin for large projects (fleeces!)
  • Continue to sew
  • Finish a blanket (or 2)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Donita2017 Reflection

My theme for 2017 was to "Maintain My Groovy Self".  Maintaining what we've been working towards the last few years proved more challenging than we anticipated when I chose this focus.  But I'm so glad that we did.  Because we didn't have crazy ambitious goals and timelines in our minds, we were better able to respond and adjust when stuff went sideways.  There were financial set-backs, we lost my Ellie dog, personal set-backs, more unexpected home-related issues... But we're okay and we are managing all of it as well as I think we can.  You know, as well as we can without winning the lottery, obviously.

As for my hope of ending 2017 healthier and happier, I think I can say that happened.  Not as healthy as I would have hoped, but certainly still moving in the right direction, even if it feels like a snail's pace sometimes.  As for happier, I think I am moving in that direction as well.  <schmoop> And the hubs and I continue to grow together and love each other more through each trial. </schmoop>

A big part of my personal wellness and happiness is creating, so let's talk about that!

Crafting goals for this year were:

  • Spin for more large projects
    Enjoy the fleeces currently insulating the guest room closet!
  • Sew
    Enjoy the fabric stash and machine!
  • Knit more sweaters & socks
    Wearing these on the daily makes me happy & keeps me warm.  And I have plenty of yarn to do both in my house right now!
  • Knit an afghan or 2
    We love piling under all the blankets and the love will be only increased by handknit blankets!
  • Learn brioche knitting
  • Knit from:
  • 20K in finished projects again!

How did I stack up?

Spinning:  I spun for 2 sweaters this year!  Woohoo!
I have started sampling for my first fleece from the closet, but there are some challenges.  More on that later.

Sewing: I sewed 5 dresses, 2 pair of leggings and a tunic.

Knitting: I knit 4 adult sweaters, 5 baby sweaters, 2 summer tops, 9 pairs of socks and 19 accessories (mainly hats & cowls).

Afghans: I started one... but didn't get very far.  Plans for more to come!

Learn brioche: Nope.  But I did learn to weave!!

Weaving: 5 towels, 4 placemats, 2 table runner type things, and 4 scarves.  It's addicting!  Thanks for being my hook-up, Purling Dervish!

Knit from stash: 27 projects from stash!
Knit from queue: 11 projects from queue!
Knit from handspun: only 2 projects from handspun - but one was a sweater! And I have two more handspun sweaters on the needles.

Knitted & woven FOs can be seen on Ravelry hereHandspun can be seen on Ravelry here.


Knitting - 16,800
Spinning - 7,054
Weaving - 2,314

That comes to a grand total of 26,168 yards!  That's more than I expected to accomplish - and really good, considering I ended the year with another sweater about 98% done!

I'd call my goals met and my crafting year...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Donita2017 Q4 - The Home stretch

Well, it's time to shut 2017 down.  You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

I knit up a cowl for the hubs, to match a hat he made himself a few years ago.  This was my first time knitting with Briar Rose Fibers yarn and this base was SO squishy and delicious!

While it doesn't seem like much, I finally finished handsewing the grosgrain ribbon into the button bands on my Lauriel cardigan.  Hopefully, I will wear it more now!

I also sewed some things!!  This is the Laundry Day Tee/Dress from Love Notions Patterns.  I used the short sleeve/original neckline/dress length/high-low option.  The fabric is from Joann Fabrics and has little bats all over it! There were also dresses with spiders & webs and black cats.  Yay for Halloween crafting!

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I finally found a great pattern for a beautiful skein of blue merino/yak/nylon blend yarn and knit it up into a Copilot cowl.

And I dyed my hair!
My mom fell in love my weaving and asked for some towels.  And it's hard to say no to the woman who gave you life.


One set turned out more like placemats because I can't decipher my own notes... But it was a happy accident!

Since there was a math error, I had nearly a full cone of each color yarn left, so she got some more. 

Again, I can't decipher my own notes... These are more like wee table runners for her round table.  One of these days...!! shakes fist at universe 

I realized it had been a hot minute since I'd spun anything, so I randomly grabbed a braid from my stash & started spinning!

This fall, I participated in the Joji (Locatelli) Fall Knit-Along.  For that, I knitted her Lines and Corners cowl out of some leftovers from the Marvel blankie I double-knit the ginger nephew a few years ago.

I used some Cascade 220 that was leftover from a knitting friend's Touchdown KAL that never ended a few years ago to make a houndstooth scarf.  I said years ago that, if I ever decided to weave, it would be only until I got good enough to weave houndstooth.  Here we are!  But I'm not giving it up any time soon!

That scarf only took 2 balls of worsted weight! I am thinking about unknotting and twisting this fringe now... we'll see.

And I had plenty left over, so I whipped up a hat! This went to a SIL during our annual gift exchange.

I had the jonesing to spin again, so I grabbed a braid & DVD combo I grabbed on a crazy sale months ago from Interweave.  Jillian was delightful on the DVD and I learned a few new tricks for those lovely handpainted braids I can't say no to.

I split this braid from Sweet Georgia in half and spun the first half top to bottom and the second half the exact opposite.  This braid was a good choice for this approach, as it drafted equally easily from both ends (I've had braids which definitely had a choice of direction - I would recommend trying both ends of your braid before you decide to take this approach!).  The end result was a crazy beautiful barberpole!

I have no plan for this skein - I spun it just for the joy of spinning it!  And I'm content with it just existing to make me happy for now!

I had given my mom a skein of Mountain Colors for her birthday back in August and she told me later that she would really love it woven up as a scarf! (Do we see a theme here?! LOL) She asked if one skein was enough (nope...), but left it with me to see if I could find something that would coordinate.  A few weeks later, I found a perfect skein at 614 Knit Studio!

Birthday skein on the left, additional skein on the right
The birthday skein was called 'Gold Rush' and the new skein was called 'Copper'.  There are bits of the copper color in the first skein, so I decided it would compliment nicely.

The solid really toned down the wild bits of the multi, but I'm happy with the result.

The color in this pic isn't true - more like the one above, but it's the best I could get with the whole scarf in the frame!

Hopefully, Mom will be, too!

I also sewed up some clothes for Christmas! Using the Love Notions Laundry Day Tee pattern again, I whipped up another dress for my company holiday party.  Again, this is from Doodles fabric from Joann's (if it ain't broke... haha)

It looked great and was super comfy! I wore it again to my family's Christmas lunch.

I also used the Laundry Day Tee pattern to make a v-neck, long sleeved tunic.  It is perfect!

I also attempted my first Peg Legs from Patterns for Pirates.

Yes, those are snowflakes and hedgehogs!! squeeeee

They sewed up easily enough and I was so excited... until I put them on.  When I was buying fabric for these, I missed the memo about 4-way stretch versus 2-way stretch.  2-way stretch is fine for tops, actually I prefer it so they don't grow under their own weight.  However, for leggings, 4-way stretch is kinda key.  And that oversight is totally my fault.

First, I had to rip the waistband out completely and take a few inches off and sew it back in.  Have I ever mentioned that I love how quickly sewing a garment is?  Have I ever mentioned how slow and cranky-making seam ripping is? (Funny, how knitting is exactly the opposite?)  The revised waistbands were better, but still too large, so I'm gonna add some elastic to them next.  They will be fine for lounging around the house, PJs, going to reiki, etc.  All in all, a good learning experience.  I am SUPER glad I didn't cut ALL the leggings before I learned my lesson. Bullet dodged!

I have more winter themed fabric & I plan to sew that up in the coming months! And branching out into other patterns, too, promise!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

So I bought some Halloween fabric...

Joann's, oh Joann's, you get me every time.

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Joann's has this cute line of knit fabric called 'Doodles'.  Apparently, you love it or hate it.  Apparently, it washes up fine or it shrinks indefinitely... I made the mistake of posting some recent acquisitions on a sewing group on Facebook and got comments that looked like Yelp! reviews.  Feast or famine.  And that's how the fight started...

Totally kidding!

But I did get stern warnings, so I decided to pre-wash my fabric and hope for the best, since I'd already bought a slew of it.  I pre-washed my fabric warm and dried on delicate (extra low), like 95% of my laundry is done.  No problems!

Next up - t-shirt dress time.

There's a popular online women's clothing company that launched a t-shirt dress with a high-low hem.  They are so comfy and just what I need on rough flare days!! But the seasonal ones are a mad dash to get in your size and in a print you love.  When I saw these fabrics, I knew that I could probably sew one (or all of them) up in the time it would take to hunt one down.  And then I saw the fabric was on sale.  Done deal.

I found a cute, easy, FREE pattern online from Love Notions - the Laundry Day Tee.  The name being such that it's quicker to sew up one of these tees than to wash a load of laundry. I used the dress length with the high-low hem option, and 2/3 had short sleeves, while the 3rd had elbow length sleeves. They all came out great & I loved making them!

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Short sleeves - and warm enough to wear them the weekend before Halloween!  Ok, Ohio...
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Elbow sleeves

I have one more to make in the spiderweb pattern for my friend Clementine, but she'll wear spiders and webs year-round, so I'm not as rushed on that one.

I had 2 random strangers compliment me on this dress when I wore it ON Halloween.  I was totally surprised!
Of course, about the time I finished these, the Christmas fabrics came out... and we all know what that means...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Donita2017 Q3

Summer has gone and fall has come.  It's finally sweater weather and I couldn't be more happy about it!

First up in July, I finished a top (that I started in May), because I finally found a pattern that I could use this yarn for! And I used EVERY. LAST. BIT.

July is Tour de Fleece month, so naturally, there was spinning!  This year, I finished a sweater quantity of DK weight yarn in a bevy of blues. Details of how I spun this yarn are all spelled out here.

After all that spinning was concluded, I got back to these socks that I couldn't resist casting on before the tour started.  More timey-wimey knitting!

With the sad death of my nook's power supply, I also resigned myself to reading on my iPad (I really don't like to stare at the backlit screen if I can help it... but...).  I decided to make another reading rest for me.  This was the perfect project for that yarn that bled like a Tim Burton movie because it shouldn't ever get wet!  And it was the right weight for the pattern.  So I made one.

My mom recently got Netflix on her iPad, and proceeded to binge-watch The Office, so she needed this one.  So, I made another one.

Then I decided I wanted one upstairs and down.  So, I made another one.

And then I had to cut myself off.  For now. I make no promises for the future.

The Never-Ending Behmalong is, obviously, still going.  And with a cute new pattern in Knitty, I couldn't resist casting on!  This yarn from See Jayne Knit is SO soft and will be perfect to cuddle up in.

Because one Martina Behm pattern on the needles is never enough, I cast on a Trillian as well in a delicious MCN from Invictus Yarns.  I even listened to a bit of Douglas Adams while I was knitting it!

I finally got the loom warped again!  Just a plain weave scarf, but the handpainted yarn sings.  It turned out LOVELY and soft!

I cranked out another Hitchhiker, for a friend who needed some wooly TLC.  I sent it to her with some sugar skull candy, too, because they're fun and she's Latina and I can.

We learned that some friends of ours were expecting TWINS.  Time for more baby gifts! Two Flax Light sweaters by Tin Can Knits, and two modified Barley hats, also by TCK.  One leaning a bit toward Slytherin colors, like daddy, and one leaning a bit toward Ravenclaw colors, like mommy.

A pair of socks from deep stash (the LYS where I purchased this yarn doesn't exist anymore!).

I pulled out a WIP I started last winter: an Antler hat by Tin Can Knits from some of my handspun, intended for the hubs.  Sadly, the yarn just wasn't meant to be that hat.  Happily, there was some lovely handspun from our Auntie Moo that fit the bill perfectly!

I realized that I was a total slacker and didn't get a baby gift to one of my oldest friends before the baby was born and I had knit for their first 3, so I had to fix that.  Another Flax Light & Barley Light were the solution to that problem.  I love those patterns for baby knits - quick, cute & cozy!

Also this summer, I participated in The Knit Girllls annual Stash Dash - a knit-along to encourage you to finish projects & WIPS & use stash!  I decided to aim for the 15K goal (meaning 15,000 yards of finished projects or finished handspun yarn) this year.  I smashed that goal with an awesome 19,393.6 yards of finished items (link to my FO post with pics and yardage breakdown).  Admittedly, they changed the way you count handspun yardage this year and that really helped my total. I finished a sweater, a short-sleeved top, 5 pairs of socks, two scarves, 3 iPad rests, 2 sweater-quantities of handspun yarn, a cowl & a shawl between Memorial Day and mid-August. I didn't win a prize, but I am declaring myself a winner anyway!

Here's how the year is going:
  • Spin for more large projects
    • 2 sweaters spun for!
  • Sew
    • not yet, but fabric and patterns acquired! (You know, because I didn't have any fabric before... ::shifty eyes::
  • Knit more sweaters & socks
    • 4 me-sized sweaters
    • 4 baby sweaters
  • Knit an afghan or 2 ::more shifty eyes::
  • Learn brioche knitting  Learning Weaving Instead.  Brioche may happen later.
    • Weaving is continuing to happen!
  • Knit from:
    • stash - check!
    • queue - check!
    • handspun - does someone else's handspun count?
  • 20K in finished projects - Smashed it already!
    • Knitting: 15K+
    • Spinning: 6K+
    • Weaving: 1K+

Monday, September 25, 2017

For my white folks

This is for my fellow white folks. I'm speaking to you because I'm one of you, and while no two life experiences are the same, we likely have a lot more in common than we have with people of color.
First of all, we need to stop telling people there's only one right way to be angry. As a woman, I've had lots of other people tell me that I'm doing angry wrong - especially by men, right ladies? Having my feelings mansplained to me gets stuck in my craw like none other. There is one surefire way to make someone who is already angry completely livid and that's to tell them their feelings are wrong or invalid. So, please let's stop white-splaining emotions to others. It's not a good look and it's seriously not helping anyone or anything.
Second, can we give it a rest with the uproar about people taking a knee? After every riot and every demonstration that turns violent, we love to say that violence de-legitimizes your cause and people would better take notice and respond if it had just been a peaceful protest. It is true; riots devolve into violence and looting by people who don't necessarily care about the cause and they rarely bring about positive change. The situation in the NFL with players taking a knee during the national anthem is the very definition of peaceful protest. And yet, you still scream that they are doing it wrong. If peaceful protest is acceptable, then people peacefully protesting something you don't agree with should STILL be acceptable.
Third, we've all seen the flag code posted recently. It is true that those taking a knee are in violation of the flag code. But if you're going to boycott the NFL, you need to boycott everyone who is violating the flag code. So please, be looking very seriously at your home, your belongings, your t shirt collection and those same items belonging to every team you support, every NASCAR driver you cheer for, every entertainer/artist/musician you support, and make sure they aren't violating the flag code either. If they are, you should boycott them and share that on social media just as frequently as you share your boycott for the NFL. Fair is fair.
The flag code is a thing that was written to ensure proper treatment of the flag. The flag is just a thing, a symbol. While it is a powerful and important symbol of many wonderful things about our history as a country, it is NOT America itself. More American than the flag are the ideals this country is founded on.
The first freedom that individuals were guaranteed by our founders was freedom of speech. It was that important that our country not dictate beliefs to its citizens. Most people don't even know where to find the flag code (I wouldn't have known what document it was published in without Google), but we all know that the Bill of Rights followed the Constitution. We have the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776, the Constitution signed in 1787, the Bill of Rights added to the constitution in 1791.
Amendment ICongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.(all caps mine)
The flag code didn't exist until 1923 and wasn't adopted by Congress until 1942. Originally, the flag code was created for the military; it wasn't adopted for civilian use until 19 years later. It took us over 150 years to get around to legislating how to treat the flag, while it only took us 5 years to confirm free speech (while fighting an unprecedented war between a colony and their parent nation). Think on that for a minute.
If you listen, the people taking knees have grievances, grievances with the government, local, state and federal. This is the very essence of what this amendment protects.
Citizenship in this country is NOT contingent on patriotism in any form, y'all. We would all like to think that everyone living here is proud to do so. But it is not illegal to be upset with the state of things in your country. How many of us are, in one way or another, concerned or angry about the state of our nation?
And finally, those who are calling for the suspension or firing of any NFL player who does not stand for the national anthem (including our President), y'all need to hush. These players are not refusing to play. Playing is their job and they are fulfilling their job requirements to the best of their abilities. For those who like to be realistic about the legal side of things, any NFL owner firing players over this issue is likely to be sued and lose. If multiple owners would follow all the ranting and all fire players who were protesting the national anthem, there would likely be a suit filed by the NFLPA against the league itself. And the league would lose. This exact scenario is addressed in the link above and there is plenty of legal precedent to support that decision.
So if you're a white person like me and you have strong feelings on this issue, that is fine. Your strong feelings are just as protected as those NFL players'. But if you want to be sure you're not coming off as a racist, a bigot, a hypocrite or a mindless follower of the things our Commander in Chief says to rile a crowd that aren't necessarily based in our country's principles, here's the short list of things you can do:
  • Stop white-splaining.
  • Recognize the rightful peaceful protests of others, even if you don't agree.
  • Realize that the Bill of Rights trumps the Flag Code.
  • If you don't want to bring attention to the way these players are protesting, you are free not to watch the NFL and free not to give them more attention by posting all over your social media about how you are boycotting.   
Maybe if we all stop yelling about how others are doing it wrong, we could listen to what these athletes are saying and better see how to fix their grievance, rather than threaten them for non-compliance.


If you choose to comment, please keep your comments respectful.  I will not hesitate to delete anything I deem hateful.