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Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category


Of goodbyes. Really. Usually, I’m not. There have been a few times when ‘goodbye’ meant ‘good riddance,’ but those episodes are few and far between.

Sometimes, goodbyes come suddenly; unexpectedly. Sometimes, they come after a long period of languishing; dragging feet to delay the inevitable.

This episode falls into the latter category. *sigh*

I really, really did not want to have to. And I’m sure there’s a part of me that will always remember that sadness lingering, as it does today.

Ya know, another thing in this category is change. Change is not always good. I don’t mind change when I know about it; when I can plan for the variables. Sometimes, though, things change in the blink of an eye and there’s not a darn thing a person can do about it.

This episode falls somewhere in between those two poles. *sigh*

The thing that gets me, though, is when that change means saying goodbye, especially when you’re not ready for it. I’m not a fan of that. At. All.

We’ve been through a lot together in the last 17/18 years. I’ve shown my love; I’ve done my fair share of cursing. I’ve stayed up all night, making things right.

And last week, I had no choice but to sadly, say goodbye. ūüė•

My sewing machine died.¬† ūüė¶ ¬† ūüė•

A few years ago, I began having problems with bird-nesting on light-weight cotton fabrics. I cleaned. I oiled. I changed needles. I diddled with tensions. I read and researched until I was cross-eyed. And then I put it away out of frustration.

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll no doubt remember that I’ve sewed some curtains since we’ve been here, and I thought my sewing issue had pretty much disappeared. So much so that I made plans to make curtains for every window in the house, and got the fabric for the living room.

Well.

Ahem.

Last Saturday, I got my machine out because desperate measures needed to be taken, and in a hurry. You can image my frustration when not only was I bird-nesting again, but then my bobbin casing popped out and refused to stay in once reinserted.

After several hours of cussing and praying, it was apparent the inevitable had arrived. And I was not ready.

Looking at my machine, I remember all the things I’ve made- pillow cases, throw pillows, bed sheets, other bedding, curtains, more curtains, and still more curtains, and baby clothes, etc. *sigh* And I was not ready to let it go. I have plans, after all!

I briefly thought about getting it repaired. As I learned, anything over ten years old is technically considered vintage, and not only are many parts not made anymore, but if replacement are found, they are usually salvages, which means at some point, they are going to wear out because they already have some of the life used.

Plus, I really didn’t have time to wait. No, really. My chickens needed clothes, and they needed them NOW! ūüėÜ

Ok, really, it’s only the girls that needed something.

Ok, well, not really ‘something’ in general- something in particular. My girls needed saddles!

If you’ve ever done an internet search for ‘hen saddles,’ despite the feathery ones, I can tell you, those are not the right ones. Besides being for fly fishing, they are much too small. ūüėÄ

While I personally prefer to call them “aprons” or “capes,” saddles is more appropriate. As in,

“Move ’em out, head ’em up,
Head ’em up, move ’em on.
Move ’em out, head ’em up:
Rawhide.
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in,
Ride ’em in, cut ’em out,
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in:
Rawhide!”

Ya. That kind of saddle. :/

Have I mentioned I have 12 crowing boys? Yep, I do. The suggested ratio is 1¬† male per every 10/12 females. This is not to prevent the boys from fighting. It’s to prevent the girls from getting worn out.

20131214_095840

Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte cockerel

My head roo-in-in-waiting (he’s not quite a year yet, so he’s not “officially” a roo), Jumbo, is a gentleman. He is very gentle with the girls, and they adore him. He does his morning ‘hello,’ his evening ‘goodnight’ and in-between ‘just so you don’t forget me’s.

One of my silkie girls is terribly smitten with him, snuggling with him on the roost when she’s not broody. ūüėÜ And he, bless his heart, tries to be accommodating to satisfy her loving desires. So far, he hasn’t killed her, but it is hilarious to watch, if not a bit concerning. ūüėÜ

Sparkles is another handsome cockerel, but he’s really nice, like Jumbo.

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

They often hang together, and can be found tag-teaming the girls during the day. We have no run, which means unless they are in bed for the night, they are free-ranging.  Together, they take the large groups of the girls out and about, which is fantastic to watch.

I think one of the real culprits, though, is Snowy, our Easter Egger cockerel.

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

You may remember the Mayhem in the Coop many months ago, which left both he and one of my Cuckoo Marans with cross beaks.

While his cross-beak is not as severe as Betty’s, it does interfere with his extracurricular activities, because he can’t hang on with his beak very well. This means he uses his feet *a lot* more, which is rough on the girls. And, he likes loves them allllllllllll. ūüėÜ

In addition to our three large fowl boys, we also have a plethora of bantam boys; 9 more, if we’re counting.¬† The worst culprits are my pair of black Cochin bantams, Bob and Snickers.

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Despite having mostly large fowl girlies, I can say without reservation that these boys are successfully fertilizing the big girls, because my newest hatchlings have feathery feet and 4 toes, which means it’s most likely that one of these boys made it to home base. ūüėÜ And yes, while the mama is a Silver Spangled Hamburg¬† {same breed as Sparkles; aka “The Polka Dotted Chickens”}, she is a large fowl bird, even though she’s the smallest large fowl breed we have. Make sense?

So anyhow.

My girls are getting too much love, and are starting to look a bit rough. The problem is that once those feathers are gone, there is no protection from toenails or spurs, and numerous hens have been laid open by super-duper amorous boys.

The fix is to provide them with some protection, a la hen saddles. I prefer to call them ‘aprons,’ myself. There are gazillions of patterns out there; most of them are free. Of course, there are lots of folks selling completed aprons, too, but because I know how to sew and had all the required materials on hand, I figured I’d give it a shot.

In a pinch, I had tied a scrap of fabric shaped like a bandana around one of my girls, but obviously, that’s not ideal. I wanted to find an easy pattern that wasn’t labor-intensive, because I had a lot to make.

In my wanderings, I found a thread on the BackYard Chickens forum that had a pattern. The poster originally found it on http://www.homesteadingtoday.com, from “Wisconsin Ann”.

It looked easy enough.

Hen apron or saddle pattern

Hen apron or saddle pattern

But when I got started, not only did I start bird-nesting, but then the bobbin case came flying out and refused to let me seat it back in, despite unscrewing the lever to keep it in place and then tightening it down again. The icing on the cake, though, was when my hand wheel got jammed.

Since you know I research everything, I asked on Facebook ūüėÜ , knowing all my sewy friends would help me out. In the meantime, I researched, and narrowed down what features I wanted.

I like a top drop in bobbin as opposed to a front loading bobbin. Computerized machines just leave more for me to break, with my magnetic personality and all. ūüėÜ That meant mechanical for me. I also like stitches, because even though I don’t use many, I like to have the option. It goes without saying I wanted the one-step buttonholing, because I do actually use that.

I found a brand that came highly recommended, but the nearest retailer was 70 some miles away. ūüė¶ Then, because even though we’re in a much more populated area, it seems there are not a lot of sewing/crafty stores here. That left me with big-box stores like Wally World, Target, etc. The following day was Sunday, so I knew Hobby Lobby wouldn’t be open.

And, since I don’t really want to buy a sewing machine from Wal-Mart, despite the large selection (including Singer, Brother, and Janome), JoAnn Fabrics had one of the models I had settled on; at least online.

Thrilled to find it open on Sunday, I did a quick looky-loo at Wal-Mart before heading there. I was surprised to find a single brand in-stock; the others had to be ordered online. The one I wanted was in-stock, and even on sale! So home I went, with more fancy stuff than I really needed, and a DVD to boot.

It took me a few days, and we had some rain, so the chickie kids weren’t as active, which meant I didn’t get to it until yesterday. I made my template from a cereal box, and got to work.

This pattern called for heavier fabric, but I wanted to use cotton. I thought, though, I would try a few other things first before using the pattern. Using the general shape, I did a single layer. I also made the elastic a lot longer, because it just didn’t look like it would fit

FAIL! The general shape was ok, but too short, and a single layer was not going to work because a breeze would flip the fabric right up.

Several other patterns I had seen called for doubling the pattern; folding, and then sewing. I gave that a try and tweaked the elastic length.

In the end, I made another template from the other side of the cereal box, kind of sort of using the original dimensions. I lengthened the end-to-end length by about an inch, and added about 1/2 an inch to the side lengths. I made 4 of those, tweaking it as I went, and adjusting the elastic to fit some of the smaller, large fowl birds, like my Lakenvelders.

The biggest difference was that I doubled the pattern; folding it over on the neck line. This made the fabric heavy enough to defy the wind; but not so heavy as to be hot. We are in the South, after all. ūüėÄ

My total was 16; 15 are on birds now; another we’ll have to do in the morning. Initially, I read it would take about 30 minutes to make one. Yesterday, while I was still diddling with the fit, I was cutting and then sewing each one. This time might be about right.

Today, I¬† traced and cut out all the fabric ahead of time. Once I got to sewing, it took me about 10 minutes per apron. I will say, though- this are not professional grade. ūüėÜ Had this been for people, I would have taken more care to carefully watch my seams, etc. I knew I had to get them done and on my girls, so I was blowing and going. ūüėÄ

The fabric I had on hand was last used making baby dresses for my oldest daughter. ūüôā I knew there was a reason I had saved it all these years!

aprons1

On that neckline, be SURE not to sew the elastic stationary. When you put the wings in, you’ll want to slide the neck piece to the side; particularly on the second wing.

The elastic piece was 10 inches for my big birds; 9 3/4 for the Lakenvelders. I think it probably would have been ok, but I didn’t want it too loose on them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking, “There’s NO WAY that is long enough!” but I promise you, it is. ūüôā

One of the first girls to get one yesterday was one of my Silver Laced Wyandotte ladies. pink1

pink2

Snowy in hot pursuit!

Snowy in hot pursuit!

pinkginham1

flowers1

purple1

yellow1

yellow2

I wasn’t planning on a fashion show, but there you have it. :mrgreen:

While I don’t like saying “goodbye” most of the time and this was no exception, saying “hello” to my new sewing machine got me back on track, and got my girlies covered before they got scabby backs. Totally worth it, in my opinion!

Because life is a soundtrack, I’m going to leave you with two songs that are stuck in my head. {Ya, can you hear that mash-up? ūüėÜ }

Not quite the Frankie Laine original, but I love me some Clint!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShOiHPrwtHk%5D

And, because I can’t part with the old sewing machine….. {don’t laugh, you know you do it too! ūüėÜ } and of course, it goes without saying I love me some Jon BonJovi, too!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifm00JEjSeo%5D

 

:mrgreen:

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Thursday was a mad dash to get ready for chicks, with the expected arrivals coming Thursday evening instead of Friday morning.  They are great fun!

The plan had been: get chicks at 7 am with K; come back here and do apples.¬† The week brought a variety of adaptations to that plan.¬† The apples were left over from the Friday prior, when we ended up looking at the garden and chicken tractor instead of canning. Because the apples had been waiting for a week and were getting eaten, I knew I had to get them done Friday, or there wouldn’t be enough left to justify the effort.

I started working on mine, and was finally able to head over to Ks, chicks in tow, to help her get her apples done. As I’ve been researching and looking for recipes, I’m trying to find some where she can omit the sugar.¬† See my comments below on what I did, vs the recipe.¬† ūüôā

 

Apple Pie Filling in a Jar

4 1/2  c sugar
1  c cornstarch
2  tsp cinnamon               
1/4  tsp nutmeg
1  tsp salt
3  tbsp lemon juice
10  c water
6 lbs tart apples, washed, peeled and thinly sliced

Note: Slice apples into a solution of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 quart of water to avoid discoloration. Drain the fruit well before packing in jars.

In a large pot, blend together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the water and lemon juice with a wire whisk. Cook and stir until bubbly and thick; remove from heat.

Drain the fruit well before packing in jars. Pack apples into clean, hot canning jars leaving an inch from the top of the jar. Fill with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, and apply lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 -30 minutes.

No Sugar:

Omit sugar and adjust:

1 c cornstarch

9 c water

All other ingredients same.

My comments:¬† I used Jona Gold apples; K used Red Delicious.¬† I have found the Red Ds to not be as firm, but I don’t think this is a big deal. I have canned all different kinds of apples, and they are all good.¬†I also didn’t measure the lemon juice into the water since we had several bowls going.

I ended up this time with 19 quarts and 1 1/2 pint (jelly jar)¬†of pie filling along with one 1/2 pint of juice, which I didn’t process this time.

You could, I suppose, use Fruit Fresh¬†on the apples instead of the lemon juice in the water.¬† I don’t, though, because lemon juice is cheaper and I usually have a lot on hand.¬† Plus, lemon juice is a natural product.¬† So, that’s my .o2.¬† ūüėÄ

When I make pie filling,** I’m usually using a box, which is about 40 lbs of apples.¬† I have found that an apple peeler¬†is a “must-have” for me.¬†¬†This makes my time peeling and cutting much easier, since, as you can see from the picture, it spirals the apple.¬† Once the apple is¬†off the peeler, I cut it in half and plop in the jars.

Another thing that is helpful is to fill the jars with a few ladle scoops of filling, then apples, then top off with filling.  It just seems to go by a little bit faster.

When using an apple peeler, be aware that you get a lot of peels. I have mine saved in the freezer waiting for a resolution to my food processor issue.¬† I may decide to go ahead and do the apple (peel) butter in the crockpot and then can. On the other hand, I really need to get a working food processor.¬† ūüėܬ†

** A regular slicer/corer¬†is good for canned apples.¬† I don’t remove the peels in this case, but you certainly could if you wanted to. I have also made apple pie filling using the larger apples that come from the slicer, but it’s my feeling that you can pack more smaller pieces¬†of apples (like what you get you from peeler) into your jars than you can get with the larger, sliced apples. We like more apples to juice, but if you want more juice to apples, the slicer is a good way to go.

You could also just do the liquid and add your apples when you are ready for pie, or you could do a variety of apple piece sizes.  If you find your filling consistency is too thin, you could heat it up and add more corn starch; and/or you can add more apples to your filling.  One of the things I looooooveeeeeee about canning is the variations you can come up with.

My plan for today is to use my apple pie filling to make a cobbler.¬† It’s been a really crazy, busy week (with middle-of-the-night checks on the chicks), and my body is paying for it.¬† My big stuff today is laundry, chick tv, and hopefully finishing up knitting¬†the one remaining sock while I hang out in bed.¬† Once I get that done, I’ll go looking for another sock pattern and get that started.¬† I have yet to use my new set of circular needles, but since I also have a few 5 needle sets, I am going to have to figure out which pattern to do next!¬†

That’s the plan.¬† We’ll see if I can stay awake to get it all done.¬† ūüėÜ

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Well, those¬†are mostly done.¬† I have ties to make and attach to the hat, and then I’ll be able to ship the package off.

Neither turned out quite the way I hoped, but as y’all know, I have pretty low standards.¬† ūüėܬ† If I were to use this pattern again with this yarn, I would definitely use considerably smaller needles.¬† The upside is that she’ll be able to use this blanket the rest of her life, since it should come close to fitting a full size bed.¬†

I would also make the ruffled edge about 1/2 the width if I used it at all. In addition, I wasn’t real happy with that color, and¬†wished that the darker pink would have been an option,¬†which is not.¬† I admit, I got fatigued not with making the ruffle, but with measuring it, since my gauge was off. That¬† resulted in me making the ruffle shorter than it really needed to be (and I don’t need to tell you what that means, lol, because you already know :D)¬†mostly because I had already used¬†4 1/2 skeins of yarn (at 5 ozs each) and I was ready to be done.¬† Yes, you read that right- that was 4 1/2 skeins on *just* the ruffle!

I didn’t follow the directions on the hat brim, which gave me an entirely different looking hat.¬† Since it’s still cute, I didn’t froggy¬†it (as in, “rip it, rip it”)¬†and start all over.¬† I used needles that were *way* smaller than the pattern called for, because I used boucle/chunky yarn, and was really glad I did.¬† Before I was completely finished, I was questioning if that was the right call or not, since¬†the hat ¬†looked like it was going to be really quite small.¬† As it turned out, by the time I was done, it was long enough and should work just fine on a toddler head.¬† I still need straps, though, so that it can be worn on a slightly smaller head and not fly off.

The hat was attempt #3.¬† The first hat was huge, but I’m going to try to shrink¬†it so Mama can have a matching hat.¬† Attempt #2 (pattern #2) I started and ripped out the first round, because my fixed circular needle cable was just too long.¬† I have since remedied that; see my Dilemma post.¬† Once those come, I will probably try that hat again, because it’s a really cute pattern.¬† Anyhow.

Final hat (pattern #3) was the same set as the blanket.¬† What I liked about both patterns was that they both had a crochet edge, although the crochet on the blanket was before the ruffled edge. I haven’t done anything before that combined the two, but found it delightful (as in, “Yes!¬†¬†I still remember how!” ūüėÜ ) to mix it up.¬† I have to confess that I still find crocheting to be easier, and it really was like sliding into a comfortable pair of slippers.¬†

I hope to someday in this lifetime to get to a point where I feel as accomplished as I do with crocheting, but I am awfully doubtful, considering how much knitting stuff I still don’t know how to do.¬† I have to remind myself that I spent 15 years getting to the point I’m at with crochet, and I’m still a newbie with knitting. Even though it’s been about 2 years, I haven’t done anywhere near the same amount of projects with knitting as I had done with crocheting by the same point and time.¬† It is amazing how having children (and homeschooling them) makes a huge dent in the time for crafty stuff.¬†¬† I am looking forward to getting back to the sock making!

My apologies in advance for the poor quality of the pictures.¬† My energy is low today, and since I’m gearing up for 44 lbs of pears on Wednesday, I’m trying to ration myself (well, really it’s 88 lbs, since I’ll be canning with a friend and she also has the same 44 lbs- I’m sure it all works out in the end, lol).

                                                                                                                       

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Yes, it’s a full-fledged dilemma.¬† Oh the drama!!¬† Which knitting needles to buy?¬† ūüėÜ

I was cruising along doing fine yesterday; I got the blanket put together and finished, so it was on to the hat.¬† You may recall that the first hat I made for the new niece turned out to be huge, even though initially it was to gauge (I think it’s because my yarn was not baby sport weight, which I can’t actually find here).¬† Anyhow, new pattern for chunky yarn using circular needles, and off I went.

I did one round and ripped it out.¬† Why? ¬†My cable was too long.¬†I’m not smart enough yet to convert a circular pattern to a straight pattern, so this led me to the logical realization that perhaps it’s time to invest in an interchangeable circular needle kit.¬†

My concern, after researching, is that once I get the kit, the cables will still be too long to do small hats.¬† Since I don’t know if I can find a smaller¬†interchangeable cable for the kit I’m thinking about getting, I think I’m going to have to measure the cable on my fixed circular and make sure that if I need to get a different size that’s not included in the kit, that I order it at the same time if I can.

I’ve spent a good many hours this morning searching for interchangeable needle kits.¬† I saw one kit at Hobby Lobby, which was priced around $75, if I recall.¬† I wanted to see if I could do better online, and have managed to find the same kit more reasonably priced.¬† I have read the reviews and that’s a mixed bag –¬†some love the needles; others hate them.¬† I figure at this point, I am not too terribly picky so it might be worth the investment.¬† It might not be, but at least I’ll learn whether or not an interchangeable system is up my alley or not.

But oooooooo, I did find one set of dpns¬†(double pointed needles) that I think I’ll love from Knit Picks¬†in the Harmony Wood.¬† My next dilemma¬†is which length to get?¬† I measured my dpns, and they are all the longer ones, coming in around 7 inches from tip to tip.¬† When I’m making socks, I’m finding they are full,¬†probably because¬†I’m only using 4.¬† Since these come in sets of 6, I could use them for 4 or 5 needle patterns, which is great!¬† Does that mean that there are fewer stitches on each needle, thus meaning I could get away with a shorter needle (and get a lower price on the set)?¬† That’s my next thing to reasearch, it seems.¬† ūüėÜ

I guess the next step is to compare prices for the kit I’ve settled on; the Boye¬†Needlemaster 200.¬† So far, I’ve narrowed it down to Amazon or Overstock.com, but my searching has just begun.¬† Now that I know what I’m looking for, the chase is on for something that won’t cost an arm and a leg!

If you are experienced with these kinds of items, I would love to have your input!

Update: I found and bought this set new on eBay, and saved about $60 compared to buying it locally.  Even at the least expensive place online, I still saved $24 by using eBay.  

*Disclaimer: I have no financial interest¬†or stake in eBay except I generally check there to get great deals! (DH is chuckling, because he has the account and his history shows totally girly things, like dishes,¬† too.¬† ūüėÜ )

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I have a confession to make.¬† I did something today that I have been trying very hard NOT to do for a considerable amount of time.¬† I can only hope that my transgression today won’t unravel all the good I’ve done while working on this problem for lo these many years. *sigh*

¬†<whisper> I bought yarn.¬†(pause) Yarn that isn’t involved in a working project. </whisper>

Can you see me dancing with delight? ūüėÜ

As you may know, I am in the midst of making baby things for a new niece.¬† While I bought all the yarn they had in the main color I’m using, I have since run out. Since the yarn is the Hobby Lobby¬†brand, there is no where else to get it.¬† And, even if I could, the only other store in my town that sells yarn is Wal-Mart.¬† You can see my limitations.

Two weeks ago, slightly before I ran out of yarn, I went to my local Hobby Lobby to get more.  They were still out.  I filled out the form to special order it, and they were supposed to have it on the following Thursday. They never got any in.  I confirmed that my order on this regularly stocked item was still in the system, and was assured that surely, they would get the yarn the following week.

Yesterday was the day the yarn was supposed to arrive.  They said they would call me one way or another.  Another Thursday passed; another day of silence. Today I went back to the store to see if it had arrived.

It had not. ūüė•

In my desperation, upon arriving home from my weekly shopping, I went online and ordered more yarn. I am annoyed.  Not only was I charged tax (because we have a local store) but I was also charged shipping.

I emailed customer service to express my displeasure.¬† Surely, if I can order the yarn online, why can’t the local store get a shipment? And WHY should *I* have to pay for shipping when I ordered it through the store and it didn’t arrive?¬† Clearly, there is a lack of logic with regard to this situation.

But, this is not the transgression¬†yarn of which I speak. ūüėÄ

Since my baby-things-making has stalled, I shifted gears back to the troubled sock. I am pleased to report that while being¬†very large (I used much larger needles on my first practice sock so I could more easily see what I was supposed to be doing) and not necessarily “pretty” in some spots, it actually looks mostly like a sock.¬† I am starting on the second sock and will try to shrink them to a useable size.¬†

I have to say that I ♥♥♥ self-striping yarn. I picked up some more smaller sized double-pointed needles (dpns), a thin book on sock making for beginners, and a few small skeins of sock yarn for the next socks I plan to tackle. I am planning on sock making for the forseeable future.

This batch of yarn, too, is not the yarn of my transgression. Indeed, that yarn came at the next stop; my local Wal-Mart.

Since being completely remodeled a few months ago, the craft section has gotten considerably smaller.¬† I was happy that they didn’t get totally rid of the fabric and yarn, though.¬† And, they have added beading and jewelry making supplies, which is great, considering I have supplies for that as well. I haven’t gotten into that craft yet, though, since I’m knitting.¬† I also promised my hunny¬†that when I was done with the baby stuff, I would finish his “lap blanket” (which will be a full-sized blanket at the very least, if not a queen size).¬† I cannot, in clear conscience, move on to jewelry making until I get the blanket done.

In a total moment of weakness and¬†while seriously crunched for time (because I spent over an hour in Hobby Lobby looking through pattern books), I sped back to the craft section.¬† And lo and behold, they had nice sock yarn skeins for a buck.¬† Yes, that’s right – 2.47 ozs of bliss for $1.

In solid colors!

Given that I had just come from Hobby Lobby, which didn’t have *any* solid colored sock yarn, and given that I wear socks with pants, mostly in the non-sweltering months here, I tend to primarily wear solid colored socks.¬† While I appreciate and am excited to wear the striped socks that will eventually be made, there is something very utilitarian feeling about having the opportunity to make socks that will be worn perhaps more frequently (than striped).

It was the combination that got me, truly.¬† Finding the elusive solid colored sock yarn for $1¬†–¬†well, I can’t even describe the shivers that overcame me as I stood there in sheer delight.

Now I have another stash of something under my bed. And, unlike stashes of the past, I really feel like this yarn will get used sooner than later.  Socks, while more challenging at this point, seem to be more portable and easier to take places than other, larger projects. I can work on them and not get hot (like making a blanket), and there seem to be infinite patterns to help avoiding boredom. 

BUT.¬†This motion in reverse has me considering another step in the backwards direction: magazines.¬† ūüėܬ† I have years and years of crochet magazines, but not knitting.¬† Since knitting is my new endeavor, I wonder if I would enjoy a knitting magazine¬†like I did with my crochet magazines.

This, in turn, leads me to think about an electronic subscription, but I’m not sure if it would be as enjoyable.¬† I enjoy seeing the glossy pictures and the easily being able to flip through the pattern.¬† Would I miss that experience? Even as I write, that “bad” part of my brain is telling me to give the print issue a try first, and then move onto digital, if it seems like that would work better.

Someone talk me down! ūüėÜ Ah, well.¬†

You know, even if you go in reverse sometimes, every now and then you can still end up where you want to. I’m feeling optimistic that this is what’s happening here.¬† I’ll keep you posted!

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I am hopelessly addicted to yarn.¬† I don’t know which I love more – books or yarn.¬† Like my books, I have yarn coming out of my ears.¬†Unlike the books, most of my yarn is in plastic storage bins.¬†These bins are mostly in the attic, but I confess to having bags under the bed.¬† Mostly the bags are remnants; a skein and a bit left over from a project here and there.¬† I have done much better in the “not buying new yarn” category.¬† Until today. ūüėÜ

I have a new niece.¬† Out of the 22 grandchildren (and one on the way) we now have 8 girls.¬† I have 3 of them.¬† Two more have been born in the last two months, with the newest being born last week.¬† That still leaves 13 boys in the same general location (we don’t live near the rest of the family, so my son isn’t included in the local total).¬† Can you tell there is excitement about the pink? ūüôā

I have done a very good job of restraining myself in the yarn department.¬† I don’t go into the yarn section just to look anymore.¬† I don’t bite when I see yarn on sale anymore.¬† I am really trying to be good and not buy more yarn unless I have a project.

Today, I have a project. ūüėÄ I am going to make my new niece at least a hat and blanket, and then maybe some booties or socks if I have yarn left over.¬† I still have to manage to make socks, though.

While I’ve been an avid crocheter for 15 years or so, about a year and a half ago, I decided to tackle knitting.¬† I’ve knit a bit: several washcloths, a large baby blanket, hat and booties.¬† And I’ve tried to make the same sock at least 4 times now.¬† (I know, I know, I need to break down and just get on You Tube and watch the part I need help with ūüėÜ ) I don’t feel like I have done enough of it yet to know whether or not I actually like it.

Comparatively¬†speaking, I’m finding knitting harder than crochet, mostly because of mistakes.¬† When you mess something up in crochet, you just rip it out and redo it.¬† When you mess something up in knitting (and it seems I only catch these rows past when it was made), the only way I can figure out to fix it¬†is to basically un-knit to the mistake. That takes forever!¬† I am not a fan of spending more time going in reverse than going forward, but alas, this seems to be the only way to effectively make correction and not screw up the pattern.

I am hopeful that if I do enough of it, that I can see the stitches with the same clarity as I do with crochet. Or, maybe, I need to lower my standards. Perhaps I am too hard on myself in expecting the same kind of perfection in my knitting as I do with my crocheting.

Either way, I am on a high, having new yarn to work with.¬† I especially love baby prints; maybe it’s the softness of the yarn; maybe it’s the pastels. For this project, I’m using a base of Baby Bee Angel Fleece Babybelle.¬†

The last blanket I did, I swore I would not use this yarn again, BUT, given the lack of selection and the yummy softness of it, it was too hard to resist.¬† ūüėܬ† I am hopeful that I can squeeze in the knitting in a fashion that I don’t lose count of where I’m at, given the busy-ness that is inherent in my weeks.

Mmmmmmmmmm, yarn!¬† Nothing better! (except maybe books ūüėÜ )

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Fly LadyStuff.  I have it.  Too much of it.  Really, thanks, I have more than enough.  Do you want some?

Here’s the clich√© –¬†cluttered home; cluttered mind.¬† I’d love to test this and see if it’s true.¬† There’s just one problem with it – I have too much stuff. It’s not a matter of cleaning; things here are generally clean.¬† The adults are clean.¬† The children are clean.¬† Shoot, even the dogs are clean, as dogs go.

We’re not hoarders, so don’t think in terms like that.¬† And I’m not one of those people who IS a hoarder but is in denial, just a person saying they are “collectors” of things.¬† Nope, don’t do that, either. Except books, which was largely unavoidable, until my Christmas shopping resulted in a much-loved Kindle so that I don’t continue to add to the¬†boxes¬†but I digress.

We are very good, in general, about throwing broken items away and donating¬†outgrown clothes and whatnot.¬† I regularly purge my closet, although I confess that since I despise shopping, I would rather wear clothes¬†something¬†I’ve had for years as opposed to going and buying something new.¬† I’ll save that for another post.

“So, what’s the problem?” you might be thinking.¬† My conclusion, which remains the same, is the house.¬† We’ve been in this house for over 8 years, and almost immediately, I knew we would have problems.¬† We lost a ton of storage (and a great garage) for a house with more space.¬† Problem is, we lost necessary storage space and gained things like living¬†space –¬†in all of the *right* areas, I might add.¬† It’s not a total bust.¬† I love the spaces we DO have; we just need more of the other kind of spaces.

When we left our other house those eight plus years ago, we were minus a cat, a dog, and a child.¬† While the bedrooms are bigger and have better closets, having three children of the female variety in one room – one of whom is a tween –¬†the medium-sized walk-in-closet has not come close to solving the chronic issues with having three girls in one bedroom. I, in my naivet√©, thought that having another baby that could be a girl would not be too much of a problem, at least until the time came where we sold the house to solve the problem.¬† So here we are, six plus years after said third girl, and having tried to sell the house for nine months in a failing market, feeling a bit at the end of the rope, and up to my ears in stuff.

If anyone is to blame, I blame myself.¬† Not so much for having another baby; or for having “too many children” for this house (I mean, who does that, right?¬† Live your life based on how many you can fit in a car you like or take a chance that you might not fit back into your clothes post pregnancy, requiring more money spent on a new wardrobe?); or even for the amount of stuff this many people require.¬†

Nope, I blame my lack of inner Martha Stewart.

Back in the olden days, when I had just the one and then just the two kids, I was making all kinds of things.¬† I made things for their walls, for their beds, and things for other people.¬†I made wall hangings¬†with cute little decorated frames that were painstakingly hand-decorated; I made bedding, including sheets, bedskirts, pillowcases and curtains.¬† I even made a crib skirt and matching curtains for the nursery.¬† I made clothes; I sewed clothes and crocheted everything you can imagine – and those things are taking up space, too.¬† I thought of myself as being generally “crafty,” and was well pleased, feeling like my life was progressing as planned.

By the time baby number three arrived, kindergarten for the oldest was underway, and everything changed.¬† I didn’t have so much time anymore for making new stuff, so the projects tended to linger for days at a time, on the dining room table, while we moved it aside or ate in the living room. We talked about adding on to our existing house, but decided a different location would probably be better.¬†It wasn’t long¬†until¬†we¬†decided to find a different house, with more space.¬†

I had been looking off and on for several years, but then I found this house.¬† And I knew it was a home run –¬†less the storage issue.¬† I convinced myself (and probably my better half, too) that we would find a way to get through the loss the of storage and everything would work out just fine.

Eight years later, and I am still trying to find a way to fix, treat or solve the storage issue. (Aren’t you proud of me?¬† I’m trying not to habitually use the Oxford Comma, just to shake things up a bit.¬† :D)¬† Yesterday was a day of complete frustration; knowing that not only have I not resolved or adequately treated this issue, but am quickly losing ground.

Yes, this means I –¬†rather,¬†*we* –¬†are trying to put the Christmas things away, including newly added items to the overwhelming stuff problem.¬† And part of this overall problem is that,¬†really, these are things that are needed, like socks and underwear (indeed, I’ll wrap just about anything, so long as it’s not alive). And¬†other clothes.¬† And then the more fun items, like a few toys and books.¬† Did I mention we have a book problem? ūüėܬ† In our defense, we’ve been homeschooling for the last eight years, so that endeavor has justifiably added substantially to our ongoing dilemma.

Yesterday, in an effort to combat my overwhelming stuff problem, I grumbled and griped heavily¬†at the kids – who, being kids, are generally unwilling to put good effort into helping clean things up, like putting clothes away appropriately, i.e, hanging in the closet, when it’s much easier to pitch everything¬†on the floor. Logically, I know griping backfires, as does giving praise ;). We’re still working on the concept of children gaining inner satisfaction for things being put away where they belong, which is still a big part of the overall problem.

I got started cleaning the things I can control, like my file boxes, which are organized.¬† If you know me, you know I am anal when it comes to organization. ūüėĬ† Yep, that’s me, known in my work world as a person who has a gazillion files, but can find anything – unless it doesn’t get filed. I *love*¬†‚ô•‚ô•‚ô• being organized.¬† It helps me feel calm, and feel a sense of “all is right with the world and I don’t have to struggle to find what I need,” which let me tell you, is a HUGE thing for me.¬†

My desk is now mostly free of stuff, and contains my Swiffer, so I can dust my electronics as many times a day as I want.  This will require me to buy another one, but this is a step I am willing to take. If something small like that can help me not to explode while trying to find the one thing on my desk that has sprouted legs and gone wandering off, that is a little bit of progress I am willing to count as a victory.

I go out of my mind – literally – when I can’t find something, particularly when it was *just* right in front of me. In addition to that “Not Me” person who lives in my house, there is also a gremlin¬†that follows people around, snatching up recently set-down items, just for the point of infuriating them. While I know he visits many of you as well, I think he finds my house to be a particularly comfortable environment in which to thrive.

I have a constant battle with stacks. I’ve tried using the Fly Lady¬†method of spending “x amount of time” every day sorting/purging¬†or taking¬† “x number of items” off¬†the pile every day.¬† I’ve even thought about getting my shoes on first thing in the morning. Do slippers count?¬† If they do, then I’m good.¬†¬†

But shoes “to lace up?”¬†Nope.¬† Not for me.¬† One of the things I do the mornings I’m home¬†during the week is run on my¬†treadmill.¬†¬†The shoes go on pretty early – just not when I first get up¬†with hunny before work.¬† I get dressed twice as it is.¬† I don’t think I need lace-up shoes on my feet¬†by 6 am. ūüėܬ†¬†Since I’ve now¬†delegated the dish-doing to the kids, the personally shining of¬†the sink every day is off the list, too, although I do¬†try to nag them to shine the sink every day.¬† That’s not going so well, as you can imagine.¬† ūüėČ

But, I do ok with the stacks, even though they tend to pile up.¬† I have come to¬†realize that my nemesis in this category is not the junk mail, which I am faithful about shredding, but the magazines I don’t have time to read.¬† Yes, I read books.¬† Magazines not so much.¬† I used keep the pile so I could take my own magazines to the doctor’s office, or when getting my hair done.¬† I used to have great enthusiasm for the topics in my magazines, mainly Trailer Life¬†and the Good Sam Club’s¬†¬†Highways.¬† I also enjoyed reading gift subscriptions to Better Homes and Gardens¬†and Reader’s Digest¬†¬†for a while.¬† I think the reading in public while waiting is a task that now goes exclusively to my new Kindle.

What I’ve learned, interestingly, is that because they come, I feel obligated to read them.¬† The RV camping magazines were good when we were new at it all, and it was great to¬†get educated about¬†RV/camping¬†and find suggestions for¬†good places to go.¬†What I came to understand, however, is that many of these¬†places often weren’t set up to accommodate busy children or were too far away to get to and back on a week’s vacation.¬† Plus, through the years, I’ve found my own good ways of searching for campgrounds and destinations that will fit our evolving family,which largely involves using the forum accessed by either Woodall’s ¬†(linked from the Woodall’s site) or RV Net. I’ll share those in another post that is more pertinent to camping.

Back to stuff.¬† Other magazines have involved crafts; crafts¬†which I don’t seem to have time or space for anymore. As a result, reading my magazines no longer has a top spot¬†on my¬†“things I like to do” list, which is getting shorter and shorter these days. Clearly, I resolved a long time ago not to renew these magazines, but one comes as part of a membership (which gives discounts that we regularly use), and one I ordered for several years, several years ago, that I keep hoping “this is the year it expires.” As you can see, the magazines coming into the house will continue to come into the house, and will continue to be a topic taking up gray matter.

The kids’ magazines, on the other hand, like Kids Discover¬†and National Geographic Kids,¬†are considered part of our homeschooling curriculum. This qualifies them as a necessary evils.¬†The kids really¬†like them and get knowledge,¬†so who can argue with that?

The one set of magazines became “bathroom reading” once I was done with them, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I had moved one pile to another pile, and into a place in the house I desperately try (notice I said “try” ūüėČ ) to keep as “stuff-free” and as¬†“serene” as I can.¬† Given the stack of books on the dresser, I know I’m not doing so well in that category, either. At least now I have a¬†Kindle, and therefore¬†some hope for that situation.¬† Moving one pile from one room in the house to another room in the house is not what I would call “solving the problem.”

For years, I have tried not give the kids stuff that has a lot of pieces. Hum. At least most of the incoming items relate to camping, education or have a box to contain the pieces (like puzzle pieces). Progress? The jury is still out on that one.

And I have food stuff, too.¬†While I am lucky to have a large kitchen with more-than-the-average-number-of cabinets, I have learned that once you get hooked on canning your own food, you will never have enough space.¬† And I mean that genuinely, with great love. ūüėÜ ‚ô•‚ô•‚ô•¬† There is nothing more satisfying than filling your cupboards with your own food; food that you know how it was processed and food that isn’t loaded with other stuff.¬† I am unabashedly a canning junkie.¬† The problem here again, is space.¬† I don’t have enough space to contain all the stuff I would like to can; therefore, I don’t can as much as I would like to.

Stuff, stuff, stuff and more stuff.¬† It is oozing out of my ears! I used to keep boxes in the garage, so that I could pack away stuff (like clothes that weren’t ready to be used by the next child) and keep the room organized.¬† When we tried to sell the house, I purged –¬†and¬†used –¬†the boxes I had saved.¬† See the problem?¬† I had a span of nearly a year without new boxes to store stuff in, which meant………stuff piling up the room. Since I can’t justify buying plastics (which my attic is full of –¬†containing mostly yarn and miscellaneous other craft stuff) because eventually the stuff will either be used or donated, I’ve had to wait for the cardboard boxes which usually only come during this time of the year.

Now, unfortunately,¬†I find I am terribly¬†overwhelmed with the task set before me.¬† This is primarily why I am sitting here writing instead of trying to sort through all the stuff.¬† ūüėܬ† My real world consists of a days that are packed full of stuff to do –¬†schooling every day, running every morning I’m home, being someplace where people count on me the morning I’m not home, and¬†least two¬†afternoons a week at the job. This schedule has to work¬†around being chronically ill, which in-of-its-self¬†is a never-ending¬†guessing game of “how much can I get done today?” It is no wonder that, come the weekend, I am not interested in doing much besides kicking back and trying to do something I enjoy and find relaxing.¬† Organizing stuff is not relaxing.¬† ūüėÄ

While I know it needs to get done, and probably will get done someday, I am not in a hurry.¬†Logic dictates that the longer the stuff goes unaddressed, the more it’s going to accumulate.¬†This isn’t an untested theory, either. ūüėÜ I know this to be true, because the stuff is oozing out of my ears. Next week is back to normal, and if I let myself think about it, I could get worked up into a real panic. I try to remind myself that, as the Fly Lady¬†says, “….your home did not get this way overnight and it is not going to get clean in a day.”¬† I have the clean part down ok; it’s the stuff getting organized in a place that it will stay that is the issue here.

What am I going to do today?¬† I am going to doodle online and then tackle the stack on my dresser, which includes movies I haven’t watched yet.¬† This, I am confident, will help my overall goal of finding a home for more stuff, since we actually do have a place to put the movies.¬† Once I’ve worked my way through the pile of “unseen,” I can move them to the “seen” pile, which can then be put away.¬† See how easy that is?!¬† If I apply this thinking to other things, I will surely end up with more books read, jewelry made, and magazines thrown away.

But in the back of mind, I know I’ll be thinking about how to tackle the storage problem in the one bedroom, and¬†thinking about whether or not perhaps a storage cube can be of help.¬† Will it help the containment issue? Do we need to put another bookshelf in there for the growing collection(s) of books? How much will it cost?¬† How will it wear?¬† Will it be durable and look good in a month (a year, two years – dare I ask – five?)?¬† Will it actually get used, or will things still be scattered from one end of the house to the other?

My desk is clean, so I am feeling lighter, at least in this space right here. I’m going to cut myself some slack, and do something more¬†that does not involve tackling the¬†stuff. All the while, though, I’ll be thinking about the stuff, and what to do with it and how to combat and it and wondering if my efforts will make a difference long-term.

Stuff.¬†I’ve got¬†it. And it needs to be organized.¬†Less thinking; more doing.¬† I guess I’m off –¬†to try to tackle one small pile of movie stuff.

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