Friday, December 30

Tough decisions... a tough day...

My project plans for the next year have been first and foremost on my mind the last few days. More than anything, it's been to keep my mind occupied for many reasons. Derek and I have been on eggshells for the last week as we await word for when he embarks on his new job. Everything is in a perpetual holding pattern until we know when he's leaving, and all the other details that go along with that. As if that edginess in the house wasn't enough, we've been dealing with a very ill child. Our youngest has been sick since Christmas night/ Boxing Day. She's usually very cheerful, vibrant, and full of energy, so it takes a lot of wind out of your sails to see her so lethargic. I won't get into the details of how sick she has been.

Last, but not least, is the illness, and death today, of our beloved dog, Taz... better known to all that loved him as "Dipshit". Yes... that is what we called him most of the time, and what he answered to better than his given name. We knew when he was given to us nearly 3½ years ago that we wouldn't have him all that long. He was already at least 8 years old, prone to many health problems as a Lhasa Apso (not Shih Tsu like I said in a previous post), and had survived being hit by a car, abuse and a laundry list of other things prior to coming to live with us. His last few months I could tell he was declining. There were days when the 4 steps to the door were just too many for his old body to be able to manage without a big struggle. He also refused to get along with our new kitten that we rescued in October. This may not seem unusual to most people, but Taz was a dog that refused to believe he was anything other than a cat. He even purred when you scratched him behind the ears. Our guests would laugh uproariously when we explained that he wasn't growling at them... he was doing his version of purring! Towards the end, even the few things he still enjoyed, he didn't seem to be as excited about. Our daily walks were about the only time I would see him show any enthusiasm, and he was a very social dog... ask anyone in our village... he would visit them all on his "daily rounds"! All of us in our family have accepted that this is the best for him, and that he's no longer suffering. We are glad that he didn't suffer long. His last day(s) was(were) rough on us all, as about all he could manage to do was get up long enough to stumble, and bark occasionally from pain. He has earned his place over the "Rainbow Bridge"... with all the squeaky toys he can ever hope to break, and all the tires he could ever want to pee on. RIP our beloved Taz...

Thursday, December 29

Decisions need to be made.

I'm sitting here looking at my Ravelry entries -- projects (WIPs and hibernating) as well as my queue. To add to that, a new Mary Maxim catalogue came in the mail yesterday with a ton of new kits for once, and many of them are quite tempting. In my last post, I talked about my resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. Now comes the time where I need to face those goals and decide what I will be focusing my energy on next.

I have way too many things on the go right now to be very productive at any of them, so the first order of business is to address the number of WIPs I have, plus what I have lined up to work on next. My WIP listing on Rav shows (in current order): Raith's Wild Socks; Nearly Instant Gratification Socks; Denise Shawl; Texaco; Neecie's Monster Ghan; and Melissa's Afghan. My hibernating listing on Rav shows 14 projects, but the 2 afghans I found in the yarn bombing last month aren't even there, and Wayne's Afghan is still in my queue! The ones I want to complete the most, plus are relatively easy to locate are: My Prize Cardi; Alex's Scarf; the rose-coloured afghan; Derek's Popcorn MAM; and Wayne's afghan. My queue listing on Rav is now at 41, and that means it's on 2 pages (30 per page in thumbnail view). I prefer that view because I can easily adjust the order of my projects, however the two pages makes it more difficult, and a little overwhelming for me. There is a wide variety of projects listed, some are commissioned, some are kits, some are WIMs with all supplies available, some are WIMs where I still need to purchase or assign yarn, and yet others are patterns that I would really like to make.

Addressing my priorities:

  • Neecie's Monsterghan - This project is actually finished, but still needs to be laundered and have final photography done. That is mostly incidental, and can be done a day or so before delivery with the other commissioned items.
  • Raith's Wild Socks - I am on the foot of the first one, and since these are commissioned, they have to be done in a timely manner. I would have to say that this project is my first priority.
  • 2 pairs of slippers - These are in my queue, and are commissioned projects; this makes them a high priority as well. Luckily I can crochet a pair in about an evening, and the only thing that will really take any time is the  stash diving for acrylic yarn.
My commissioned items have to come before anything else. I have had these orders since September and they need to be filled. They are all going to the same customer, and I have been communicating with them on the progress, so the time it's taking isn't an issue at all. It's simply that I want to be working on other items, so I want to have these out of the way.

Addressing my goals:

Even though my list seems overwhelming, I do have a lot I'd like to accomplish each month. If I take it step-by-step, especially with how many things I already have in progress, I think a great deal of it is doable, for 6 months at least.

  • Pattern release - The Gumdrop Placemat and Coaster Set, and 2 sock patterns are nearly ready for release. I have been procrastinating heavily on the finishing touches, and really need to get these out of the way. This can clear my slate somewhat for other patterns that need more than a spit and polish.
  • Sweater or shawl - As much as I'd love to finish one of each, I can't honestly see that happening until I get some of my "backlog" (particularly 50%+ finished afghans) out of the way. I'm leaning towards the Tweed Cardigan kit for January's potential FO. It's a fairly simple pattern, and I could really use a nice, casual cardigan. I have the Denise shawl to work on if I have a craving for lace during the month, and can finish it in February.

The rest of the goals I listed previously are all on-going things... mainly keeping up with what I'm already addressing, and not really a goal-of-the-month. I want/ need to clear out several of my UFOs, and the first one I want to finish is the Popcorn MAM for Derek. I also have several socks on the go, and more I need to make (especially work socks for Derek). Right now I'm thinking that finishing an afghan and a pair of socks per month is possible, as strange as it sounds. I have so many afghans on the go, that picking one to concentrate on won't be difficult at all.

Nicole =o)

Wednesday, December 28

The end is near...

the end of the year that is!

I'm doing much better now than I was previously this month. I'm even knitting a bit again, although Farmville is sucking a whopping amount of my time. As much as that game is driving me to the brink, I have nearly a year invested in it, and haven't quite built up the courage to let it go. I will end up letting it go eventually, I'm just not quite ready yet.

A new year means new beginnings and such. Thanks to a ton of prayers and support from all our friends and family, Derek and I will be starting this new year completely fresh in a ton of ways. We can't begin to thank everyone that helped us out in some way, shape, or form over the last month. All I can say is to never doubt the power of prayer! Even our agnostic/ athiest friends were putting their hands together and looking skyward in our name.

This is the traditional time of year when people often start thinking of New Year's Resolutions. I am no different, although I don't do them every year, and am more likely to make resolutions when the opportunity presents itself, rather than a specific time of year. I have been very active on a few boards at Ravelry these past few months, in particular, the Knit Picks Lovers group. In November, the topic of 2012 resolutions came up, and got me thinking (realistically) what I'd like to accomplish this coming year. Without further ado, here's my list for the coming year (as posted in KPL):

  1. Release at least one pattern a month.
  2. Continue with listing everything on Rav. Most of what’s “missing” is hidden stash and UFOs! 
  3. Finish a sweater or shawl a month (knit or crochet; for me or others; OPPs or original).
  4. Learn/ practice knit colourwork. (This scares the beejeebers out of me more than cables did!)
  5. Work on promoting myself more. (Rav group, Facebook page, advertising, etc.)
  6. Reorganize my yarn stash, and get my craft room into a usable state.

Some of these I had already been working on, and some I have made a great deal of progress on since I originally posted this list in November. I have a few other additions to make, namely:

  • Tweet (link on sidebar), update Facebook status more for self-promotion. Even if it's not directly related to my designs, even mentioning what I'm working on etc. can build up a following... something that has been missing since the heydays of Nicole's Crochet Bistro in the mid-00's.
  • Improve my state of health. It had improved somewhat overall when I quit working outside the home nearly a year ago, but a wake-up call from my doctor earlier this month has brought many concerns to the forefront. Drastic changes are necessary, and necessary now.

I have a bit of a plan in mind for working towards all of these goals. I don't think any of them are un-realistic, and all of them will make me feel better physically, spiritually, or both.

  • Releasing a pattern every month will make me strive to actually finish up the designs and patterns I have in progress already. I have several that simply need tech editing, formatting, and/ or photography. These are details that *must* be done, but I put off indefinitely. I have at least a half-dozen I can think of off the top of my head that fit into this category. While new designs are so much more interesting to me to work on, there isn't a point to calling myself a designer if I don't publish as well.
  • Listing everything on Ravelry has several benefits to me. First and foremost, I am forced to face what I actually have on hand, and not focus so much on what I want to have. I have more acrylic in varying amounts than I could ever use in hats, mitts, scarves, slippers, and the like. This is what I tend to use it for mostly. I have to find projects that will quickly consume large amounts of this, without requiring large amounts of any particular colour. I often will reference many of my personal databases while out shopping, and this saves me time and money. While I have been diligent this past year about listing purchases of yarn, magazines, etc., it's my older stuff that needs to be listed. I got a huge chunk of it done in November, and was even sorting it into labelled bins, with those labels included on the listing for the yarn on Rav. The only listing that still needs major work is my needle database, and I want/ need to get that set up for mainly my Knit Picks needles. I also purchased bins today for lace-weight yarns and Derek's sock wool. Even though those yarns are all already listed in my stash, I will need to do the updates to indicate their locations.
  • I have joined several KAL/ CAL groups with the goal of "12 in 2012". While I may not actually participate in them, and in fact with all the kits and such I have on hand, there is no way I could, I'm hoping for the inspiration to actually complete projects from start to finish in a more timely manner. I want to spend a little bit of time going through my shawls and my sweaters, and make a kind of "to-do" list for each month. This list would also have which design pattern I will focus on completing for release.
  • Learning and practicing colourwork is something I've wanted to do for some time. I have recently purchased a few books on it, and have plans for acquiring a few more. I have one small kit purchased to try this out on a small scale. There are a couple more that are in my wish list at the Knit Picks web site.
  • Self-promotion is something I have never been good at. I simply don't have the salesman gene. I started the ball rolling recently by creating a Facebook page for my designs. A very small sampling of my patterns are currently listed, and I need to force myself to add more... not "time permitting", but actually "making the time" to do it. I want to start a Ravelry group as well, but for now I can allow myself to procrastinate a bit on that while I work on the Facebook side of it. I have many friends on Facebook all over the world, and I have my fingers crossed that they can be a springboard to opening up new markets for myself.
  • Reorganizing is a constant battle for me. For the first time ever in December, I can still access anything in my craft room with a relative minimum of fuss. Labelling my stash bins has already proven very valuable, as it cuts down the "diving" time drastically. I want to start sewing again, and doing some quilting this year, so that room has to be put into a state of usability rather than just storage. The biggest task was getting the yarns bins into better order, and while my living room had several days of looking like a yarn factory had thrown up all over it, it was all worth it. 
  • Tweeting (link on sidebar) and Facebook-ing are two ways I can "get my name out there" with a relative minimum of effort. I don't have many followers, but the more I "contact the universe", the more "the universe can contact me". I don't expect, and I don't think I'd even want, to be as well known as Yarn Harlot, however it would be nice to know that more people I don't know "read" me, than ones I do know!
  • Improving my state of health is gonna be a toughie. I finally have the life overall that I want, so the last thing I want now is for that life to be cut short. A discussion I had with my doctor recently has made me face all that head-on. Serious and drastic changes have to be made to my lifestyle and habits, and much sooner rather than later.
Stay tuned for my January task list... 
Nicole =o)

Tuesday, December 13

You were doing so well...

and then December hit.

My closest friends know and understand how and why I hate December. The Reader's Digest version of it is that nearly everything bad that has happened to me, or to our family in the last 10-15 years has happened in December.

This year we were hoping to change that pattern. The signs were all there that this year *would* be different. The month started off fine, but less than a week into it, "The December Curse" struck again.

I'm dealing with much more crap right now than any person should have to... at any time of year. It takes every bit of energy I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even knitting and crocheting have been put aside until I can *deal* again.

Nicole =o(

Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

Sunday, December 4

Peace and quiet.

Last night was just as I had expected -- the "baby" was "up" every hour pretty much. I think I was nearly as happy as my daughter when the "baby" finally turned off after supper tonight.

Today hasn't been an easy one for me, so I haven't been able to concentrate on anything. I was able to get a couple rows of my shawl design done this morning before we left for town, but afterwards even my Felici sock was taxing. My games on Facebook aren't even appealing as a diversion.

I think I'm going to take advantage of the peace and quiet and call it a night early for once.

Saturday, December 3

A baby in the house?

Yes, we have a "baby" in the house this weekend. I howled with laughter when my middle daughter arrived home from school on Friday lugging a car seat, diaper bag, and her school work! Seeing her struggle through the door was good for more than a few chuckles. Before you ask, the "baby" is a robo-baby provided from the school to teach teenagers just how hard it is to take care of a baby. Now, all of my older kids understand how much work a baby can be. They all helped with taking care of the youngest two. Especially the youngest, as she was very fussy, and my stress levels kept me from producing enough milk, which made her more fussy, which made me more stressed... ad nauseum. You get the idea. Let the fun begin...

She arrived home around 4:45, and the baby was scheduled to "turn on" at 5. It wasn't long before this strange little doll began making noises. This is all for school, and the information from the baby is downloaded by her teacher, so she is graded on how good of a "mom" she is. There are all kinds of sensors, and a "time limit" on soothing the baby. Of course we all had a blast teasing her about everything, especially since she has been saying for a while now that she does not want kids of her own. It sure didn't take much for her to start feeling frustrated when trying to figure out what the baby wanted. At least she was lucky that night... the baby "slept" from about 11 pm to 5 am.

We shall see how well this continues!!!

Nicole =o)

Friday, December 2


That's about all I seemed to be doing today, making considerations about my future. Nothing life-changing or profound, but still deciding what to do. This is something we all do, every day, without even realizing it.

Some of it was simple, like what project to grab as I was running out the door this morning -- Felici socks.
Some of it was harder, like what to order for lunch at a new-to-me restaurant that hubby took me to -- Denver with oven-roasted potatoes and side Caesar salad.
Some of it I was out practice with, like making meal and grocery shopping decisions for the next two weeks -- not Ramen noodles.
Some of it felt really unusual but something I'd like to get more comfortable with, choosing $50 worth of wool for a sweater KAL in January -- Swish worsted in either Lemongrass Heather or Indigo Heather for the February Lady Sweater.

The next few weeks shall prove to be interesting to say the least... if nothing else, Christmas and the whole holiday season will be different from previous years!

Nicole =o)

Thursday, December 1

A new beginning... well sorta!

Even though December is the end of the year, this time around it is filled with a bunch of new beginnings for me and my family. This is the first time since 2002 that I haven't worked through the holiday season. My last 7 Christmases were tainted by having to go in to work for 10:30pm on Christmas night for Boxing Day sale set-up. I am so fortunate that Derek is so thoughtful, understanding, and an excellent cook!

I have finished the Monsterghan, which means that I can finally start something new... although my "Nearly Instant Gratification Socks" in Knit Picks Felici qualifies since I'm only a few inches into the first sock. It's not a pattern stitch of any kind, so it will be a welcome break from "thinking", plus the yarn feels wonderful in my hands. I have several ancient UFOs that are nearly finished, and since I haven't touched 2 of them in over a decade, it will be like a whole new project to me! The pattern has been found for the newer one, and a similar pattern has been found for the older one (although I will be reverse engineering it more than anything else). The shawl design would also qualify since I'm only a few inches into that one as well, and like the Felici, it also feels wonderful in my hands. Hmmm... maybe the something new is me actually getting projects completely finished! LOL

We are also beginning the other family life adjustments... Derek travelling for work for long periods, and my no longer depending on my mobile for home internet. At least for my routines, it seems that my crafting is the one that's suffering, and not my housework... which is good in some ways, but not so good in others. More than anything, I'm looking forward to having better contact with people than I did with just my phone. Better contact seems to translate into better inspiration and motivation for me... which is good no matter what!

Nicole =o)

P.S.: The final measurement on the Monsterghan? 65 inches by 73 inches... it's a monster all right!