Monday, January 19, 2015

Week #3, Sort & Organize Fabric Bins...

This week, for me, will be a piece of cake as my fabric stash pales in comparison with my yarn stash.
As of now, I have an 18 gallon tub (stuffed full), a box, & a bag recently gifted to me by a friend...
My goal will be to whittle it down, so that it fits into the one 18 gallon tub.  I am going to use the same mindset that we used with yarn in week #1.  Take each piece, unfold it, feel it, inspect it.  Then ask yourself our same one simple question...  "Do I love this fabric??"  If the answer is no, then it goes into the purge tub/box....
I am keeping a few things in mind though, as I sort, which may be saving graces for some of these pieces.
1) I have a box in the closet of pieces I for a quilt I am making our daughter.  So, if a piece isn't "my style" I will ask myself is she would love it.  These will go into the box of quilting bits (NOT into the "Fabric-I-LOVE Tub")
2) I make eye pillows for my Etsy shop.  So, again, if a piece isn't "my style" would is it both thick & soft enough to use for these pillows??  Is it large enough to get @ least one eye pillow out of??  IF so, then these, again, will NOT go in the "Fabric-I-Love Tub", but rather in some sort of other basket/box, to use solely for these eye pillows.
(Fabrics that lie to see another day by fitting into this category will be given an expiration date.  I tend to make ~20 pillows every couple of months, so perhaps 3 months for the lot??) 

3) Is it worth passing on??  If not, I have a trash bag that I use solely for scraps.  This trash bag bits will eventually become the 'stuffing' for this cool little ottoman from "Made by Rae".
*BUT* other than that, they must be really & truly LOVED by me to stay in the house.
Now, as I said, this will *not* take me a week.  I am thinking two days tops...  So what of the rest of the week?? 
Well, I am going to sort through my WIP's (work-in-progresses)...all of them.  If I am no longer feeling that project, it goes.  If I really, truly think I might finish it, it can stay...for now, *BUT* will get an expiration date.  If it isn't finished before that expiration date, it really must go.  Again, I am not sure about the expiration dates, as I am not entirely sure what sort of WIPs are laying around, but none will be by with more than a year.
What are you working on this week...?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Week #2, Patterns, what to do...?

The thing about crafting, especially with the lovely accessibility of the Internet, is that there are so many amazing patterns out there!  Indeed, so many lovely patterns, so little time....  And that is how *this* begins...

The other side of the story is that we change...our skill level changes, our tastes change, our expectations change, our motivational level changes, as does our confidence level...  That is why we (need to) do things like this periodically, 'cleanse' our stashes...and this week, our patterns. :)

First up, a brief rundown of how I organize my patterns:
My patterns are currently organized into a two part system.  Part one is a "staging area"...this would be the part of my system that needs some serious attention this go round.  I have patterns in piles, on clipboards, bulletin boards, & in ziploc bags...  It is relatively neat & tidy, yes, but not really easy to find a particular pattern that I *know* I have...somewhere.
This week, I am upgrading my system, just a smidge...  I have taken a few manilla folders (as that is what I have on hand) & taped closed the open side & the bottom to create a 'closed' folders.  On the tab, I have labeled the folders 1) "yes!" for projects I definitely want to make, 2) "yes! but need yarn" for projects that I love, but do not currently have yarn in stock for, 3) "maybe"...I'll have to make the final call come next January (if not before).

Any patterns that I am no longer interested in will  get put in a folder/envelope & offered up to fellow crafters.

Let me take a moment to tell you a sweet little secret that may help you decide, if you're on the fence for some of your patterns.  Look them up on Ravelry!  For me, I don't bother with any pattern that receives less that 4 stars.  *Unless* I really, really like it, then I will look through the projects & see why they didn't like it.  Was it really the pattern's fault...?

Part two of my storage is housed in two, 3" binders, one is for "Knitting/Crochet"-ing patterns, the other is for sewing patterns.  These are the final destinations for my patterns, as in once an item has been crafted, I file the pattern (assuming it is one that I can envision myself ever making again ;).
Each binder has dividers, marking off each category...

For the Knitting/Crocheting binder, here are my categories:
*play food
*doll clothes/accessories
*cleaning (towels, washclothes, scrubbies, etc)
*carry-all (bags, totes, cozies, etc)
*home comfort

Sewing categories are pretty similar, but more general (because I do A LOT more knitting/crocheting! ;)  So things likes, toys, accessories, home, baby, etc...  Do what works for you...

Pretty simple, right??

Now for the sorting...I mentioned how I handle copied/printed patterns, but what about books & magazines.  For these, I will take them each, one @ a time & look through the patterns, jotting down page numbers for those I like on a post-it that will get stuck to the cover of the book/magazine.

From there, each pattern will get looked up on Ravelry.  If it meets my 4 star minimum, then I will make a copy of it & file it as above.  I say this because I don't foresee myself keeping many of the books/magazines.  I did a bit of poking around when I was formulating the plan of organizing/destashing patterns & I think I liked three or four patterns tops per source.  I am assuming part of those will get weeded out via Ravelry. As my end goal is space & freedom from 'stuff', it isn't worth it for me to keep an entire book for two patterns.

I am still trying to decide what to do with this guy... It's a super organized, but extremely *overstuffed* file folder of templates...  This may need to move to the one empty drawer in our real, wooden file cabinet.  (Or) maybe I can hunt down another 3" binder & divide my sewing patterns between the two, placing templates in with their patterns??  Well, week two begins on Monday, so I've got a bit of time to figure out the details...

Connecting the dots...

If you were (brutally) honest as you went through your stash, you may notice that both ditching things & being honest with yourself, get easier with practice.

Another perk about going through patterns right after sorting & organizing our yarn is that we now what we have a pretty good mental inventory of what yarn we have in stock.  As we sort through patterns, I am going to guess that we'll know off hand which yarns would be perfect for which patterns.

See, it really is all connected... ;)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Destashing, phase two...the "PURGE" tub.

I don't know about you, but I am LOVING this!!  I feel so much free-er already, and the more I purge, the better I feel & the more strict I find myself becoming.  I am really taking a good look @ anything & everything...

For now though, I am working hard to stay *focused* on this week's mission, destashing my yarn, but my MINIMALIST eyes are *wide open* & totally scoping it all out...

Here is the update from my end...

I am super stoked!!  I went from three *bulging* tubs, that would ONLY close if another heavier something was set on top of them, to three tubs, each with modest quantities of delicious yarns in them (between half and three quarters full) & one *overflowing* "purge" tub!!

Never before has my stash been under such scrutiny as it was this week & never before have I been so brutal.  No, brutal isn't quite the right word...honest, with both these yarns & myself.

At any rate, I am riding high right now & ready to finish line this thang!!  So, let's discuss the handling of our "purge" tub.

Here's my plan (aka what I will be doing tomorrow!).  Dump it all out & investigate what you have.  I am guessing mine is going to be a pretty random mix of acrylics, wools & wool blends; some partial skeins, some whole skeins, some multiple skeins; some with labels & some unknowns.

My first order of business will be to seek out any itchy 100% wool yarns, those will go into a pile & will become dryer balls.  ;)

I may list a few on Etsy/Ravelry...  Perhaps I can make a bit of dough to put towards this sweet needle set I am going to splurge on.  Our family didn't really do "mom/dad" gifts this year, and my husband & I didn't get gifts for each other either, so this will be my 'late-Christmas/awesome-job-destashing' gift. ;)  BUT, as freedom in my end goal, I have put some thought into which yarns would even qualify for this option...

1) It must be quality yarn,
2) It must be 2+ full skeins/a more expensive yarn ($20+) complete with labels
3) Each yarn listed will be stored in a separate "for sale/trade" tub & each have an expiration date of 1 year.  As in if it/they are still around next January, they *must* be gifted/donated.

From there, I am going to see if I can put together any sort of 'sets'...  Perhaps a "pinks" set or maybe "neutrals"....maybe it'll be more by type, "superwash merinos"...?  I honestly have no idea right now, but if anything comes of this part, I really want to do a couple of blog giveaways.  Wouldn't that be fun??  Actually, I am wondering if it would be or not...what if you are all hard core destashing along with me, should I play the part of the 'virtual temptress'??  

Anything that doesn't "fit" anywhere else will be offered up for grabs on our local homesteaders site/donated to a local thrift store.

How is your destashing going??  Remember to rock out @ *YOUR* own pace.  This is YOUR journey, own it!!
photo credits,

PS.  Don't forget to join in on our "*15* in 2015: A Knitting/Crochet Challenge".  We are already up to *15* members on our facebook group, too perfect, right??  ;)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

*15* in 2015, A Knitting/Crochet Project Challenge...

Back @ the end of December, with the New Year so close @ hand, there were all sorts of "challenges" popping up on facebook, pinterest, etc.  A few I am joining in on.  The "52 weeks to an Organized Home Challenge", the "52 Weeks Money Challenge", and the (50 books this year) "Ultimate Reading Challenge". While those are all great & "thing" is crafting.  I did a bit of poking around online to find a cool knitting/crocheting challenge, and while I did see loads of knit-alongs, I didn't find any sort of fun year long challenge.  So, I made one...ha!

*15* in 2015...  Fun, quirky, inspiring, challenging, but I don't think too overwhelming, as *YOU* actually pick the projects, based on where you are.  While I didn't have too much trouble coming up the initial 15, I wanted to include 5 "Bonus" projects, for those who really rock out.  Unfortunately, my brain was done...ideas were getting lame...  If you have any project ideas, please post them!!

You DO NOT have to go in order.  You DO NOT, technically, have to craft 15 *different* projects.  If you can meet two or three of the 'challenges' with one AMAZING amazing project, mad props to you!!

As you work your way through the list, post photos on our facebook group page.  Be sure to let us know which "challenge(s)" they meet.

Without further ado...the magical *15* for 2015!!

1.  Knit/crochet a project for charity.  (There are a lot of *free* patterns online/Ravelry!)

2.  Knit/crochet a *set*.  (This could be coasters, a hat & scarf, nesting bowls, choose!)

3.  Knit/crochet a project that uses more than 500 yds.

4.  Knit/crochet a project using colors you have NEVER combined before.

5.  Knit/crochet a project that is TINY.

6.  Knit/crochet a project that is ridiculous (it can be ridiculously AWESOME!)

7.  Knit/crochet a *pair*.  (This could be socks, mitts, mittens, gloves, slippers, pants, choose!)

8.  Knit/crochet a project that involves learning a new technique.

9.  Knit/crochet a project that scares you, just a little.  (You know what you have been avoiding...a sweater             using fingering weight yarn, fair isle, socks, cables/bobbles...this is the time to go for it!!)

10.  Knit/crochet a project that you have been wanting to make for forever, but haven't.

11.  Knit/crochet a project that uses *1* skein.

12.  Knit/crochet a project that can be part of a costume.  (There are so many fun ones on Ravelry!!)

13.  Knit/crochet a project inspired by a book, tv show, or movie.

14.  Knit/crochet a project using a yarn that has been in your stash for way too long.

15.  Knit/crochet a project that is oversized/GINORMOUS!  (Again, look on Ravely. I have seem patterns                 for giant strawberries, olives, clouds, etc.  (or) go crazy & knit/crochet a blanket!)


Friday, January 2, 2015

Week #1, Mastering our Stashes...

And so it begins...this one to the tune of "The Garden Song", by Arlo Guthrie

"Tub by tub, skein by skein...gonna rein in this yarn thang,
Gonna clear some of it out, 'cause simplifying's what it's about..."
large & in current stash...
a side can see there is little to *no* wasted space...ha!

Yeah...I am so excited about my year of decluttering/organizing/minimalizing that I wrote a few bars.  Maybe you'll catch the bug too, who knows, right?

I figured I would post each week's challenge the Friday before, as I have some friends who want to follow along with me.  (How cool is that?!?)

I will preface this all with a bit of introduction.  My methods are very methodical & detailed, if they don't work for you, that is totally fine, take what bits do feel right, use them & leave the rest.  For this week's focus, destashing/organizing yarn, I cannot recommend Ravelry highly enough.  It is an absolutely amazing site & a godsend for keeping tabs on what you have in your stash.  You upload photos, dates, prices...the database keeps it all organizing by color. *BUT* you can search your stash based on weight (fingering, dk, bulky, etc), on fiber content (100% wool, wool blend, contains wool, etc) & more.  And that is only the beginning...

Ravelry has loads of free patterns for both knitters & crocheters, as well as patterns for purchase.  You can search for patterns by size, gender, type of garment/item, techniques used, etc. Click on any pattern & you can see any projects made from that pattern, see reviews (based on a 5 star rating system), get yarn ideas, and more.  Honestly, I could go on & on about ravelry, I LOVE it!!  However, that is *not* the subject of this post.

Ok...your stash.  Mine was uploaded to Ravelry a few years back.  It does take a bit of time, depending on the size of your stash, but once you get it in there it is magic *AND* once it's in there, you simply add yarn as you go, which is much more manageable.
about 4 years ago when my sister & i created my ravelry stash...not the much smaller scale of overflow in this photo. ;)

As far as physical storage, I have three, 18 gallon tubs, organized by rainbow color order.  The pink one is ROY (red, orange & yellow), the blue-green one is GBV (green, blue, & violet) & the dark blue one has whites, browns, grays, blacks & any multi-colored skeins.  That is how things started, I had to rework it pretty early on as blues & greens are my favorite colors to work with, so that tub rapidly filled up. I moved the violets into the ROY tub (as both yellows & oranges are pretty rare.  I LOVE them.  They just seem to be harder to find in the world of yarn).
You now know the secret to my system.  As far as quantity, my only requirement is that the tubs have to be able to close, which they all can...but you see them ready to bust, yes??  ;)

Here are the details for this week's purge...

MATERIALS you will need, or @ least that I am using:
1) an additional (empty) 18 gallon tub, to be the "purge" tub
2) a postal scale, or scale of some sort to weigh partial skeins
3) a jar/tub for niblets
4) access to a computer/Ipad to input/update your Ravelry cyber stash

As my stash is organized by tub, I will be sorting through each tub, one/day.  Open one tub & dump it into another container or onto your table.

1. Pick up & hold each & every yarn, and ask yourself "Do I love this yarn?".  Be honest with yourself -- 'everything you hold, holds you', and our end goal if freedom.  Only you can make the choice for you, in this moment. If you love the yarn, put it back into your stash tub, it you don't, toss it into the purge tub.  If you're really not sure, keep it/them for now & check back next January.

At this point, I would like to point out the plastic bags.  I have each yarn stored in a plastic ziploc bags.  This is great for a number of reasons.  1) When you have multiple skeins of a yarn, they are all in one (or sometimes two) neat little packages, 2) moths can't get into/out of ziploc bags (and you DO NOT want a moth problem if you work mainly with wool!!), 3) your yarn is safe from moisture, odors, pet hair, etc, which is important is your stash is kept in your basement (like mine is) and if you have tons of both children & animals running around you house. You can rest easy knowing your yarn is safe! :)

2. As you go, you may come across partial skeins, hence the "niblet" tub we have on hand.  Set a minimum weight for your stash, mine is 1 oz.  If a skein weighs less than 1 oz, then it goes straight to the niblet tub. These are great for little projects, wrapping packages, etc.  I don't keep tabs on these little guys, so the children are free to use them in their crafting & projects, I use cotton niblets to hang my chicken feeders or mark garden rows for planting...bits can be cut off to use as "life lines" in your knitting projects, whatever.

Okay, now that we have narrowed things down a bit, let's go back through the "LOVE" tub.  Again, dump it into another container or out onto your table.  Again, pick up & look @ each yarn.

1) Rub the yarn against your face/neck.  Is it itchy??  For me, that means it goes straight to the purge tub. All of our children & my husband all have sensitive skin, so I don't even bother with itchy yarns. If you do a lot of felting projects these might be good to keep on hand.  You choose...

2) Did you buy this yarn for a specific project?  If so, do you still want to make that project?  If so, find the pattern on Ravelry, add it to your queue & tag that yarn.  If not, no worries.  We're just working on getting reacquainted with everyone @ this point.

3) Have you had this yarn for more than two or three years??  If so, decide on an "Expiration Date".  I am still debating mine.  I can't decided between one year or two.  My gut says one year, as I work well with deadlines, but my crafting time is not @ all what it used to be.  At any rate, I'll have that all figured out before Monday.  Choose a date that feels right for you.  I do recommend staying with something smaller, no more than two or three years.  If you have had this yarn for three years already and give it a three year expiration date, that means you will have been holding onto it for a good six me, that says that maybe I don't love this yarn as much as I thought I did.  Feel free to make an exception if you have special circumstances. I know some folks have yarns that have been handed down from their grandmothers/mothers.  This is *your* destash, *you* make the rules.

At this point, since skeins are on a smaller, more manageable level, it might be a good idea to go ahead & update/begin to create your stash database on Ravelry.  Make sure each yarn has a picture (taken in good/outdoor lighting), double check that your quantities & weights are correct.  Depending on where you are with all of this, you may have had you fill for one day & that is *totally* fine.  Baby steps...  Do what you can, a little bit @ a time & you'll get it all done & without the added stress/frustration of having forced things.

My Ravelry stash is pretty much up to date.  I plan on starting @ the top, with the yellows and working my way down.  Any yarns that I tossed into the purge tub will get put into the "will sell/trade" folder for now & any that I cannot seem to locate @ the moment will get put into the "traded/sold/gifted" folder for now.  If they turn up as I work my way through the house, I'll handle them then. ;)  All of this will leave only yarns I LOVE in my 'stash", perfect!!

I also plan to note the "Expiration Dates" in the "notes" portion for each of those skeins that need one.

I just want reiterate one last time that this is what works for me & where I am right now.  Read through it, think on it, take what works for you & leave the rest.  Edit & revise to your heart's content! You are @ the helm of your journey, so do what makes sense to you.  Please share your own thoughts/ideas/links, as I would love to see how your destash takes shape!

And *CHEERS* to us for taking the first step!

My *52* Week Journey to an Organized/Decluttered/Minimalized Home...

If you know me, you know I LOVE organizing & decluttering, and am always going through something.  Actually, I usually start with one room in our house & work my way through.  Then I start over again, completing the cycle probably three or four times per year. that I think about it, that seems a bit insane.   Seems like I should have better things to do with my time, and I do...  We are a homeschooling family of six.  We sort of operate a mini-homestead, complete with large garden, chickens, canning, cooking from scratch, etc.

The thing is, I always feel inspired @ the possibility that comes with the word *new*...a new week, a new month, a new year...what will it hold, only we can decide that!  I also think that no matter where we are, we can always do a little bit more, try a little steps...and that is why this time of year, the new *YEAR*, always gets me really excited!  365 days of possibility lie before each of us...a blank slate so to speak, what will you do with yours??

For this year, 2015, I decided I wanted to focus on decluttering/minimalizing & really kick things up a notch from my usual routine.

I have heard that when you put things out to the "universe", doors open, almost like magic.  It appears to be true, as I have been finding inspiration everywhere!

It started, I think, with this  "52 Weeks to and Organized Home Challenge", put out each year by Taylor Flannery.  I printed out her list and tweaked it to fit our family & our needs.  For example, we have no shed, no attic, no crystal/silver to store, no cosmetics to organize, but we DO have homeschooling books, curriculum & supplies to sort & organize.  Also, I am an avid crafter (knitting, crocheting & sewing), and have a lot of supplies on hand to keep organized.  Anyway, I reworked the list to include all of these items and took out all the irrelevant ones.  I also consolidated some of them, again, because of the needs of our family & because I do A LOT of organizing/decluttering, so there are some tasks I will make quick work of.

I then broke each week's "mission" down into daily 'mini' tasks, one for each day, Monday through Friday because I think we *all* deserve weekends off.  Well, that & the fact that weekends are when we do spend time together as a family & work on a our projects around the house.

(I found out later that Taylor actually does this too, so there you go!  You can sign up for weekly missions sent to you inbox every Monday, as well as 15 min/day 'mini missions' that correspond to her "52 weeks list.  you can use her pre-planned, day to day, to-do list, , or use her model as a base & tweak it to fit your family.  I actually scanned through her monthly calenders & added a few  things to mine. :).

The long & short of this is that my goal this year is to go beyond where I have gone in the past, pace myself & hopefully really make a big difference in both the amount of free space in our home & in our is *all* connected, believe me!

So, that is where my big plans for 2015 began...the seed, so to speak.  Then a friend posted about a blog, "Tico & Tina", that really helped her purge when they moved recently.  One of their segments is "31 Days of exploring Minimalism".  I read a few of the articles last night and stumbled upon these two challenges: "3 Wardrobe Challenges to Help You Create a More Efficient Wardrobe".  LOVE!!

I think the "30 Day Shop Your Wardrobe Challenge" & the "Project 333" both sound really fun & & I think I could learn a few things from them as well.  I got out my handy, dandy "52 Weeks List" & backtracked to see where they would work best.  After reading through the "30 Day Shop Your Wardrobe Challenge", I think it can help each of us to try new things with what we have & look @ our wardrobes differently...mix it up a little & have some fun!  I think I'll end up wearing things I haven't worn & in new combinations that might not have other-wise come to be.  I plan to follow that up with the "Project 333 Challenge", making use of what I learned in the first challenge.   Added those two puppies onto both my "52 Week" list & onto the monthly calendars as well.

Side note:  I keep both the "52 Week" master list & the monthly breakdown in a page protector on a bookshelf in our dining room, with my homeschooling planner, our family calendar, etc.  The "52 weeks" list faces out on one side & the current month faces out on the other.  I think this may be a yearly I plan on saving, making notes, updating it throughout the year so that next December I can just modify the existing plans to fit where we are then...

That brings me to why I am dusting off this blog after an insanely long hiatus.  Two reasons, 1) I am super excited about all of this & thought others might be too...  2) I want to have a record of where we are now & where we end up come December 2015.  the unknown...LOVE it!!