it's what i do

Knitting patterns and blog ramblings about knitting and sewing. ... and gardening, and cooking. Basically all the makes. There's a lot of strange knowledge in my brain that I'm hoping can do some good out in the world.

 

Unpatterns are available on Patternfish!

on the needles

• Big Grey Thing

• Lots of Turkish Bed Socks in BMFA Socks that Rock

in my ears
  • The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
    The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
    by Louise Penny
under my nose
  • Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being
    Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being
    by Christiane Northrup M.D.
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Tuesday
Jun282016

this organized life: balancing digital with analogue

In this day and age, it's easy to be spoiled for choice - if you're a tech junkie, there's always an app for that (or everything!), and the quality and variety of analogue planners, datebooks, calendar systems, journals is limited only by your patience for internet searches.

A person can spend a lot of time and money trying out this and that, and I've done my fair share. But ultimately, it comes down to what helps you keep track of your thoughts and plans effectively - without becoming a time-sink in its own right.

I had to do some soul-searching to figure out not just what worked, and why some things I tried weren't working. In looking at my past (failed) systems for tracking my stuff (to-dos, appointments, ideas, lists), I came face to face with the following quirks about myself:

1) I always want to accomplish WAY more in a day than any middle-aged human could reasonably expect, and yet I still think my lists are reasonable. Boy will sometimes ask me "what's up for your day?", and then chuckle at the litany.

What does this mean? If I let myself write down everything I WANT to accomplish in a day, I'll inevitably be disappointed at the end of the day, looking at the list.

Takeaway: be careful what you write down on paper!

2) If left to my own devices, I'll assume that a project can be completed in one fell swoop - it took a good thorough reading of Getting Things Done to understand that most things we consider 'projects' require more than one step, and one step on a project may be all we can work into a busy day. But a whole series of 'next little steps' is hard to keep track of - and hard to plan sequentially into a planner.

What does this mean? I need a flexible, fluid system for thinking through steps of projects. For me, this meant a digital helper for my larger projects and goals.

Takeaway: be aware of the size of the projects you take on, and don't expect them to get done in a day!

What does all this mean? I'm happiest when I balance digital and analogue. I love my smartphone, love the capacity it has to remind me of things I scheduled or wanted to do at a certain time; and yet if you get me near a stationery store I start to quiver. Fountain pens and little notebooks are in my blood.

In the end, I've come to an arsenal of digital and analogue devices to help me manage my projects and ideas and lists - I'll be talking about all of them here in the coming days. But here's a brief overview of what's working for me on the digital side, given what I've learned about how I need to organize myself.

Digital Tools:

1) "Things" app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
I'll admit - when I first read through Getting Things Done, it didn't click for me. I couldn't figure out the difference between an 'area of responsibility' and a project. It took a couple of years in a full-time job in a dynamic company to help me see the value of his system, and figure out how it can work for just about anyone. I use "Things" on all my devices to get my to-dos, large and small, out of my head and into something that can keep things organized as well as remind me when they need to be done.

2) "Reminders" app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
I owe my brother a huge favor for pointing out some features of this app that now make it a lifesaver for me. If I have a small thing that I need to remember to do or get at a particular time or place, I can pop it into Reminders (because I've always got my phone on me) - the feature that Bro pointed out is the little 'i' (information) icon at the right of your new entry - click on it, and you get a list of features like "Remind me at a place (arriving or leaving!)" or "Remind me at a time". Genius! Now, if I need to pick up a book at the library, I can set a reminder for Thursday afternoon, or for 'when I leave home,' headed in the direction of the library!

I also use the Calendar app on my Mac and Google Calendars to keep track of appointments - they have 'remind me the day before' functionalities to ping me ahead of time in case I need to prepare something or be prompted to leave the house.

3) "Strides" app for iPhone
This is a recent addition that helps me with habits. I know that many analogue planners/Bullet Journalists like to incorporate habit trackers into their planners, but I find that I do better if my phone dings at me at a particular time to do something. I like the nudge - it works better for me than a page in a planner, which I might forget to look at until the next day. I'm currently using it to build in a few new healthy habits: taking my vitamins, going for a certain # of runs a week, going for my morning walk. It even has a 'negative habit' tracker, which I might start using to encourage me to lay off the evening glass of wine!

 

That's the digital arsenal of helpers in my toolbox right now - next time, I'll share what goes in my paper planner, my move from the Passion Planner to the Get to Work Book, and you'll be able to fully appreciate my love of orange! (My analogue life is a serious reflection of this orange tic I have.)

Tuesday
Jun282016

Let the Light In - new pattern!

Here's the other new pattern I've been cooking up with the help of some lovely yarn from Blue Moon:

Let the Light In is a slightly boxy pullover in an all-over mesh lace stitch that's easy to learn and memorize. I love the texture it creates on the purl side - it reminds me of those woven cane chair seats!

Just 1 skein for the Small size (to fit up to 36" bust), or 2 skeins for the Medium and Large sizes of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silky Laci or Laci. At 900 yards apiece of hand-painted glory, there's so much joy to be had in these bountiful skeins!

We're starting a KAL (Knit-a-long) over in my new group on Ravelry, akabini & friends. We won't be casting on 'officially' until Tuesday evening July 19 (chill down those cocktail shakers!), so that should give everyone plenty of time to order and receive their yarn, wind that first big-ass skein, and swatch, swatch, swatch!

Best of all, when you purchase your pattern, you'll get a PDF with ordering instructions from Blue Moon that includes a 15% off coupon code off your purchase of Silky Laci or Laci! So if you can't decide which luscious semi-solid colorway to knit first, get several - the code is good through July!

Sure hope you can join us and let a little light in on 2016. It's had its dark moments, hasn't it?

Friday
Jun242016

Keystone Socks - new pattern!

A big part of my design life has been spent in the excellent company of Tina, the color maven behind Blue Moon Fiber Arts. We've conspired with sweaters and socks and cowls and all sorts of knitted goodies over the years.

Her Rockin' Sock Club is a big whirlwind of sockstravaganza craziness, with hundreds of knitters looking forward to packages of yarn and patterns hitting their mailboxes every other month. Back in 2014, I contributed a sock pattern to the Club that's hands-down my favorite one to knit and wear.

I named them 'Keystone' partly because of the way the shaping cradles the arch of the foot on the sole, and partly after the Port Townsend-to-Keystone ferry run that's a part of life here in my little hometown.

Today, Keystone Socks are available on Ravelry for your downloading and knitting pleasure!

Hope you enjoy them - they're a great way to feature fabulous hand-dyed yarns like Blue Moon's Socks that Rock™!

Thursday
Jun232016

something's coming

I've been quietly working away behind the scenes this year, getting ready to launch something new!

I'm thrilled to be working with Tina and her gorgeous range of yarns over at Blue Moon Fiber Arts again - and I have two surprises in store for you later this week.

Yarn is BMFA Laci in colorway "Debra's Magic Blue"Can't wait to show them to you!

Tuesday
Jun212016

this organized life

I'd better admit it right up front - organizing is one of my hobbies. With a free evening on my hands, the thought of pulling things out of cupboards, sorting and then re-organizing them actually sounds like a lot of fun.

Realizing that this isn't everyone's cup of meat, perhaps my enjoyment in how I organize things might lead to some insights for folks who like it a bit less...

So expect a regular thread on organizing and managing your to-do lists, your creative supplies, your wardrobe, your... you name it!

Top of the list for me right now is my digital vs. analogue life: I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about journaling, to-do lists, and generallly managing all the ideas and to-do lists that stream out of my brain every day. (Trust me, it's a lot, and unmanaged it would be pretty scary.)

(The mild irony of that sticker is not lost on me.)Like a lot of 21st-century creative professionals, I've spent the last ten years or so, since the advent of smartphones and tablets, thinking that I should go completely digital with my to-do lists and grocery lists and lists of all the things. As soon as I'd jotted down a note on paper, I tried to convert it to an item in an app somewhere. This had its advantages - timed reminders to do things, no bits of paper to fly around (or forget at home when running errands), but there was a whole side of my brain that wasn't ... satisfied with the digital capture.

I'm a child of the European school system - the fountain pens for schoolwork, the paper notebooks handed in for homework, the leather cases with slots for pens and pencils... The stuff of an analogue life is close to my heart.

So last year, when a colleague discovered the Passion Planner, I dove in and never looked back. Analogue was back in my life! (It didn't hurt that at about the same time, a wee shop opened down the street selling fine fountain pens and inks. We were doomed.) Suddenly, I was carrying a pouch full of pens and pencils to meetings, loving the feeling of writing things down again.

I've loved getting back to the literal - being able to pick up a pen and just write something down has an immediacy to it that typing into my phone or tablet can't match. Plus, the potential for visual creativity is such a joy on its own: which pen to use? which ink color do I want for that little list?

As with all obsessions of mine, this one swung to the extreme - I was barely using my digital reminder systems at all anymore... and after a few missed appointments and scrambles for information, it became clear that I could do with a balanced set of analogue and digital tools.

It's taken me a while to figure out which things I like to keep in which format, and my planner system is morphing into a new shape now that I'm back to freelance work from home, but I've enjoyed the process of considering what works for me and building my little set of tools - which I'll start to share with you over the coming weeks.

Go dust off those fountain pens, if you've got 'em! We're about to go play.

[My stack of toys, bottom to top:]
Passion Planner for 2016 (16-17 editions now available!)
Roterfaden cover and notebooks, available from Baumkuchen in LA
• Leuchtturm 1917 notebook (mine from Goulet Pens)
• "Things" app for iPad
• Vintage Parker fountain pen