I still spin…

I haven’t talked much about spinning lately. I’ve been updating my teaching samples and just working on super secret stuff so I haven’t been able to talk about a lot of spinning. I did play in the MegaSAL that featured stuff from the Discworld books and 6 different dye artists. I managed to finish a skein from each of the dyers. I figured I’d take you for a walk through what I did for that.

Spunky Eclectic
Wensleydale – Octarine plied with Ginkgo

BFL – Rincewind with a wrap of mylar thread

Fat Cat Knits
SW-Merino with sparkle – Noble Dragon – 2 ply

Hello Yarn
BFL Silk – You Can’t Grow a Good Witch on Chalk plied with SE tarnished (because I wanted to make it stretch for a whole sweater’s worth) I only have 8 ounces done so far (4 oz of Chalk, 4 oz of Tarnished). I really should finish this. I want this sweater now.

Into the Whirled
Merino Silk – Quoth – 2 ply. It’s already becoming a shawl albeit very slowly.

Falkland – Magrat – Novelty singles with crazy lumps of natural spun as I was doing the singles. No plying here.

Southern Cross Fibre
Finn – Nobby – 2 ply. These will be great socks.

I have other spins going on but maybe I’ll keep those for another time as this turned out to be pretty picture heavy. I hope you’re spinning too. There is all kinds of sanity in the spin.

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State of the journal.

Hot on the heels of my last Bullet Journal post, I feel like I need to mention where I am now with this whole journalling and keeping lists thing that I do. Mainly because I’m slightly obsessed at the moment. At the end of the last post I showed a picture of a cute little case that is Field Note size. It was one that my friend Adrian made for me. I’ve been carrying that around with my A5 Rhodia for a while. I take notes, little things I want to remember and I wanted to keep separate. Yet, it hadn’t dawned on me that that size journal could be my one and only.

In walked Beth and all her pins for the Midori journal. The Midori comes in 2 sizes and Beth is all about the regular larger size which she just wrote about HERE. I had this little green leather cover and lots of Field Notes sized things already so I decided to go with the “Passport” size. I didn’t want to have to really buy much. Ok, honesty check in; I wanted to buy a ton of paper things but my budget said I wasn’t allowed to do that. I decided not to have a complete drag out fight with the budget.
Top L to R: Word Notebooks, Moleskine Volant XS, Midori Blank. Bottom L to R: Yellow Paper House, and Field Notes.

I did end up getting a new simple basic cover from ChicSparrow. The little green one just wasn’t big enough (don’t worry, I’m still using it, my farm journal is now in it and it rests at my desk). If you’re curious about exactly what I got, its the Classic Maverick in Brown. It’s just about the most perfect cover. I love it and I’ll go back there if I need another cover.
It’s perfect and as you can see, I loaded it up. However, because of it’s “Passport” size it’s still really manageable. It’s fat and happy but still really easy to hold in my hand.

Do you want to take a tour to see what’s in it? Sure you do.

First and foremost is my planner. I didn’t like the one that I purchased for this task so I printed out some pages, cut up a watercolor I had started and stapled them together into one book. I like how this works (at least for today). The 2nd half of the week – the days of the week are lost in the spine, I will need to put this over to the right in the next printing. I’ll also add a square or circle as a spot to put the date. If these turn out good, I’ll eventually share them.

Then I have my Field Notes books. One has just general notes, typical journal kind of stuff, things I want to remember. The other one has biznessy stuff. This is the one that will take the things (once full) that I will keep at my desk until I have exhausted it. Design ideas, article notes, book stuff… those kinds of things that are important to me to be at hand easily. The biggest reason I’ve felt I needed to change my journal.

The next 2 books are kind of combined on one string. I wanted to use a Moleskine Volant for a daily exercise that I do. I have used Volants for this for quite some time and it’s always been a separate book that I’ve had to carry around. What a revelation if I could have it all in one. If you’re familiar with the Volant books you would know that it’s bound different than all the other books I’m using for this. The Midori system is based on everything being held by the spine elastics. If you don’t know what I mean, there are links below on how the Midori system works. I had to come up with a way to make this work if I wanted to use it. Paper clips are the key here. Or at least it was for me.
I bent the clip up into a large eye hook with about 1.5 inches straight going into the spine of the book. I did 2 clips, one for each end of the book and inserted them.
Then I untied the elastic string that would hold it all together, fed them through the hooks and retied it.
This method and the size of the Volant allows me to still have use of that string with a smaller sized book like the Midori passport. That’s exactly what I did. I inserted a Midori sketch (blank) book in this spot.

The final inserts are my folders.
The clear plastic one is a purchased Midori folder that has a ziploc type bag on one side and a space for business cards on the other. The blue folder is a file folder that I made into a 6 pocket folder using a tutorial to make my own 6 pocket folder. I happen to have a minor love of washi tape. This is why you can see the edges on mine and the one in the video doesn’t show. The video is for the regular size Midori but obviously, I made it work with the smaller size. I just had to cut off a bit more of the folder to make it work.

We’re almost at the end here….I have a binder clip at final edge of the journal cover.
Turns out the ChicSparrow journal is the right size for a regular sheet of paper to be fed through and under the bands at the back spine. This binder clip is also great to clip my pen too. You can see in the closed journal pictures that the outer band also helps hold the pen. The pen itself is not a fountain pen because I don’t have one that fits with the journal as I would like it to. This pen is a refillable one, though. It’s a J. Herbin ball point. It’s less wet than a fountain pen too, which is great if you have cheaper paper that might bleed through. I still often carry a Lamy Safari with me so don’t worry, I’m not without a fountain pen most of the time.

Finally, the last touch I’ve added are the book marks. Some cover systems come with a book mark, this did not. I had some 4 ply silk that I spun so I cut a double long length, attached it to the the bands at the spine, added a few beads and voila, book marks.
I’m not sure how well the silk will wear and I feel its a little thinner than I really wanted. Also, because of that, I didn’t do a great job with the beads. If the silk holds out, I’ll spin some thicker stuff or cable ply 2 of these together. If it doesn’t I’ll spin some linen to go in there. Either way, the book marks will be getting an upgrade.

I’ve been dabbling with this system for a couple of weeks but only serious about it in the past week and I’ve finally set aside my A5 and started to only carry this. Of course, time will tell if this is the system for me. Right now, I’m loving it. I love how it fits in my hand, my bag, and I can still clip it open on my desk so the planner part is visible. It’s all New Relationship infatuation at the moment. I’ll be sure to check back in when the honeymoon is over to let you know what I really think. I’m also pretty sure the books will change so we’ll see how all that goes.

I want to give out one word of caution to anyone getting into the Midori’s and especially this size. Research the books you are using and the size. Not all “Passport” sized books are the same size. The Midori passport is smaller than the field notes, Volant XS, Word Notebooks, etc. If you buy the Midori cover, these things will stick out some, even if you put in only 1 book. Watch the Ink Nouveau video that I’ve linked below so you will have an idea of how that works out. ChicSparrow covers, as you can see above, fit all these sizes perfectly. I know there are others that are making good covers that fit and they aren’t all leather. I’ve not linked to them because I’m not using them personally. I have some in my Pinterest though, and you can find others that talk about other covers. Just be mindful of the size or you might be surprised.

Midori at Jetpens
Midori at Goulet
My Pinterest on Journals
Ink Nouveau’s video on the Midori journal system
Video that convinced me the Passport size would work for me
There’s also a ton of links up there in the writing.

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Bullet Journal 2.0

The Bullet Journal and journaling in general is an ongoing process for me. Back at the beginning of 2014 when I made my First post about the Bullet Journal I wasn’t sure where that would lead. The bullet journal was a revolution for me. It was something that I sorely needed and has helped me a lot. It morphed over the year into being something just about perfect for me. I changed symbols and I changed how it all works. Actually, I started out not even using all their symbols.


Before I had that journal nothing got assigned days. I had post-its and scraps of paper everywhere. As something got done, the paper would get tossed. Or sometimes scraps of paper would get lost before an item was completed. That was ultimately frustrating. Sometimes I’d be out somewhere and think of a list item that needed to be done and I’d have to message myself something and hope that I remembered to make a note for myself later.

Now I carry my journal wherever I go. I’ve told people at shows to hang on, I need to write in my journal. If it goes in here, it will happen; if it doesn’t, it won’t happen. There were things in the original bullet journal (You can see about that in the link above) that ended up not working for me and I’ve changed things to fit my life and what I need. There were several changes along the way and here’s where I am now.

a5-frontFirst, I liked the A5 size (roughly 8×5). I love the Rhodia papers. They work well with the fountain pen ink that I use. Dot grid is my favorite because it’s enough structure for me to be able to make lines and to write clearly but not so much that I can just doodle all over a page. I think one of the nicest things about this size is that a normal sheet of paper, folded in half, almost fits really well. I have rubber bands on either end of my book so that I can hold a5-backthese extra sheets of paper in.  I have coupons and kids things all tucked into the rubber bands. Things that I need right off but sometimes things that don’t need to be more secure. For those things there is the file pocket at the back. Notes that I need to be sure to keep or maybe a business card. When I’m traveling it might hold onto my itinerary until I’m actually in the airport then that goes into a rubber band for easy access. See it all has a way of working out and my system has worked for me so far.

a5-indexI changed up the indexing. It was too jumbled before with months and other things getting lumped in together. Now I have 3 different and easy to figure out (at least easy for me) sections. On this page to the left, you can see that the one on the bottom is strategically put so that it takes up the bottom 13 rows (12 months and 1 title).  This is my planner. If I need to look up a month, I can just go right to this. But if I need to see what designs I’ve sketched/written out while on the road, I have that on another index which is actually the reverse of this page (poor planning). Everything else is at the top of the page you see here. This separating out the index helped me immensely to be able to go back and find what I’m looking for quickly.

a5-monthI stopped setting up my months like they talked about in the bullet journal video. It was really tedious to write things out so much and so often that I just do a short list of the really important things going on chronologically.

I make note of which month you’ll be seeing.

And then at the bottom you can see that my main note of the month is the newsletter. That became just a habit. What did I need to put in the newsletter for the next month?


a5-samplemonthFinally the biggest change happened with the daily/weekly planning pages. I make them a month in advance. I sketch out my squares and I fill them. You can see that I made a dummy week here so you can see what it’s like without giving up any one’s personal info.

All the info you see input there isn’t stuff that I would necessarily put in a month in advance. My weekly August pages have already been built and the only things that are in it are the big events. The lists that need to go up are usually done weekly or day by day. You can see that I have the full week and then at the bottom I have my “things to ignore”. These really aren’t things to ignore. It’s my own little joke with myself. And you can also see that I have a little grid. The grid can be for anything you want to accomplish daily or need to keep track of. I put down vitamins here but I have used it for other things. Drink more water. Don’t eat candy. etc etc.

a5-fillintAs things get done, I make my mark. You can see the only symbols I use when setting up are the dots and the squares. Dots are appointments. things that aren’t really tasks. If one of those gets canceled, I just make a line through it. No biggie. It’s just to keep me on time. The squares are my main task things. If it gets completed, the square is filled in. If it’s only half done, I half fill it in. You see the arrows? That means I’ve moved the task to a different day. I’ve realized that thing isn’t going to happen so instead of stressing over it and leaving it on the list, I move it.

My week looks pretty plain. I don’t get into the stickers and the pretty things just for pretty sake. I don’t have anything against that, it’s just that this is really utilitarian for me and it’s not important to me that it looks pretty. I have carried a separate art journal for a while. I am an artist at heart and sometimes by profession so it’s not that the creativity isn’t there, it just comes out in other ways for me. If there is something that needs priority or I need it to be a color, I’ll highlight or write it in a different color. Most of the time though, just having it on my list is enough for me.

This is what has been working for me. If you need stickers and stamps and colors, do it. If you like all the bullet journal symbols, use them. If you want to do it a different way, do it. These are all just ideas. There’s thousands of other blogs and videos out there talking about journaling and a bunch have different ideas.

Now. I have to mention there was one HUGE drawback to this journal that I have. It has to do with having everything in one book. So this A5 has been my weekly planner, my diary, my note taking, a place where I jot down design ideas, I make up notes for future posts or articles…etc etc. At the end of the year, this book gets set on a shelf and if I want to see those ideas I have to go pull it off the shelf. Not entirely difficult but it felt like a huge drawback. I cut some stuff out and pasted it elsewhere. I bought another journal for a certain Spunky Eclectic thing that I felt needed to kept separate. I copied some of the pages from the old journal into the new one.  Is there a better way?
I think there just might be. I’m looking into alternative journals though I want to keep doing things in the planning/list way that I have been. You can expect that there will be a 3rd posting coming up.


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French Alpine Sweater

A few colorways ago there was one called “French Alpine”. It was part of the series that benefited The Heifer Project. I spun my lot into thick and thin singles and set about to make a chunky funky sweater. I finished it a while ago but left it sitting on the blocking board and forgot about it. The last time I talked about it, it looked like this:


Sad little thing without arms. I couldn’t decide if it needed sleeves and then I decided that indeed it did:


3/4 sleeves are my new favorite. It’s way too hot to wear this sweater right now so it’s sitting with the most recent Less Is More waiting for some love and cooler weather. I’ve started 2 new sweaters in the meantime.

Marnie from Twist Collective in SE yarn Victoria in the colorway Envy

This cute boxy sweater from Tidal Yarns – in their yarn!

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Bizness – Run it like one.

Every so often I get asked for advice on how to run a business or how I get all the things done. I can tell you that I don’t get all the things done. My lists are always at least twice as big as any human can get done but I try. You never know, today might be that day. I’ll talk about lists another day. If you want to get started on lists in the meantime, check out my post on The Bullet Journal. I still use this to make lists but I have changed it so I’ll talk about lists again and you can see why my journal looks like this:

Back to the subject at hand. Run your bizness like it’s a business.
I started my self employment life back in 1998 when I was doing pottery full time. There were things I learned in that business that immediately got implemented in this one. Some things that worked in that one that won’t work for me here. I’m going to make a list of sorts. Some of it might be helpful, some might not. I think one of the biggest, most important, and hardest things to run your business smoothly is to be very conscious of what’s working, what isn’t, and how to make changes. Or in the case of when things are working, how to keep them rolling. But that’s not even really what I’m talking about here.

Run your business like it’s a business.
If you want to have a hobby part time thing, run it like that. If you want to have a business, run it like a business. Hobby businesses are usually more fun that a business business. Also, running loosely might work for you. If it does, stick with it! Stick with what works. I’m only posting here for those that think what they’re currently doing isn’t working. Don’t change the things that work, only change the problem areas.

1. Have a boss. You can be that boss but if you’re the only person in your company, you’re the boss and employee. It can be a hard mix but at least part of the time, you need to be the boss. The one that sets the rules and speaks reason. You’ll see me at times complaining about “my boss”. That’s still me but it’s the inner me that sets the rules. It helps to complain about her sometimes because that’s what an employee does. Allow yourself the space to be both…and a little crazy if you need that.

2. Get dressed. PJs, workout gear, and lounge clothes signaled to me that I could quit whenever. I’m gonna pop into the “workmode” and then I can pop out whenever. Sometimes I would start out answering emails and then PJ town would take over and I’m having a grand ole time windowshopping on the internets. ooops. Maybe you can work just fine in your PJs, I am not one of those people. I have some outfits that are as comfy as PJs but they’re put away in the closet in the work pile and that’s what I wear them for. Silly? Maybe, this was one of the biggest lightbulb momments for me. I can’t stay at work if I’m in my lounge clothes.

3. Schedule your time. You don’t need to be super duper rigid but if you don’t schedule things at least somewhat, how do things happen? Regular businesses have a schedule. It can be flexible but there is a time to work and a time to play. I straddle the world between uber schedule and fly by the seat of my pants. There are things that I hate to schedule yet other things that I HAVE to or they don’t get done. Figure out what those are. Here’s mine:

Days: I have 4 days each week the shop is officially open. I teach private classes and make product on 2 others and I have 1 day off. That one day is a family day and can get bumped (meaning I don’t get a day off at all that week usually) if I’m doing a festival (teaching or vending). That’s right. This can mean there are periods of time that I might not get a day off for a month or more. It’s not my favorite but sometimes these things happen. Occasionally I actually take off one of the days that the shop isn’t open. Or part of it to run errands or do something with the kids. On those days I still have a set list of things that need to be completed before free time can happen. This means there is a little bit of flexibility in my schedule but not much. For me, this is how things get done.

Hours: My day starts at variable times (animals need some treatment, I need to make a grain run) but almost always by 10 and usually lasts at least until 4. Yes, there are times I’m a typical employee and I watch that clock move like molasses around the face until it hits 4 but I try to keep the work day, the work day. Of course, on days we’re open it’s a definite start at 10 and I’m here until 4. I added the qualifiers “almost” and “usually” up there so I’m not lying at any point but I can tell you that 99% of the time if it’s a work day when I’m not “away”, I’m here between 7 and 8 then staying until 4 or 5. And I work those hours. Why? Because I’m not in my PJs. I have times for social media, snacks, lunch etc but I try not to take too many or my day isn’t productive. We all have those days of course but if you have too many in a row when things need to get done….

Time off: I know I mentioned up there that I don’t always get time off. This is true. My vacations are usually 2 or 3 long weekends each year. I try to make sure to get those in. They get scheduled though because it means the shop will be closed and I will need to find someone to farm sit.

Type A: Sometimes, I like to schedule certain days to do things. ie – Monday is billing, Tuesday is dyeing, Wednesday is orders and prep, Thursday is batt day…. etc etc etc. Obviously those things may not fill up a whole day but sometimes it helps to put off an activity but also make sure it gets done by saying “I can put off doing bills this week if I make sure on Monday that I get it all done”. Don’t over schedule, though. I mean, you can schedule out your time really to a pin point if that works for you but be realistic. You know that dyeing is going to take you an hour to do – don’t schedule it for 30 minutes. You know you get into a groove making batts, don’t only give yourself an hour at the carder. Get the idea? Be realistic with yourself. If you’ve never scheduled before and you think it might help you, start out loosely and have “extra” tasks on a side bar that can fill in dead spaces. Write down the times that things take you so you get an idea of what you can reasonably fit in a day.

Yearly: I’ve gotten better at scheduling. It’s not my favorite thing to do but when I’m contracting out to teach and to vend places, I need to do this. I mess up sometimes but I try to keep everything organized to the best of my ability. I’ve been booking contracted dates into 2016. My 2015 has been filled for a bit now. This means my work days are pretty well filled in and also that my days off are pretty well set too. I’ll be hard pressed to find an extra full day off in my schedule. It might happen but there are times that get blocked up with what needs to be done.

I’m sure there are a whole bunch of things that I’m leaving off and my bullet journal is really important to me in getting things done. But remember, if you’re running a business and it’s not broke – don’t fix it! All my ideas that work for me, won’t work for you. It’s one of those things that’s pretty neat about being all different people. Maybe some of my ideas will help you figure out what works.

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Sewing – 15 minutes at a time

It seems like lately I can’t eke out a full hour or 2 to get some sewing done. Then again, even when I manage to find the time, I have a hard time focusing on just one project start to finish. It might have something to do with working in short bursts and having a bunch of stuff started. Or that I allow myself the luxury of flitting around from project to project.

Let me tell you about the past few months of sewing. I have 30 minutes this week. Next week 45 minutes. 3 weeks from now, an hour…. This is how it goes. Bits and pieces of time. What do I do with that time?

15 minutes: I’ll pick up a piece of mending that needs to get done. There is almost always mending that is needed. Maybe I left the last project with a couple of hems that need to be finished or a pocket to be sewn. I can get that done in 15.
30 minutes: I’ll cut out a pattern or maybe piece something today. Maybe I’ll heat up the iron and slap on some interfacing that needs to be done.
45 minutes+: I’ll do all the things I can cram in. Cut, piece, finish…but I probably won’t iron because I’ve found all this time and who wants to waste that on an ironing date?

Last night I had 45 minutes. This morning, I had 15. That’s a whole hour of sewing!!!
I managed to mend a couple of pairs of shorts then I pieced together the bodices on a couple of shirts and capped it all off with finishing the hems. This morning, I managed to finish the hems on a third shirt! I also managed to use up all the serger thread in one bobbin so the next time I get to sew, the first 15 will be spent threading, re-threading, swearing and then re-threading that thing. Still, I managed to get three pieces all done and wearable!!!


First up is the last finished. It’s a Dress no. 2 from 100 Acts of Sewing. I think I mentioned cutting out more of these and also buying the new Dress No 3 pattern. This one, like the last one of these I showed off is made of Linen. Unlike the last one that I knew needed pockets, I am undecided about this one. One pocket or two?

Next is one of my favorite patterns and maybe I’ll talk about that again some other day as I’ve made a bunch of things from this pattern. It’s McCalls 5106 (discontinued). I made it with a particularly lush piece of batik that I’ve had in my stash for a while.

Finally is the one I chose to wear today. New Look pattern 6871. It’s the second one of these I’ve made. The last one was a little short. This one fits nice and I do like it much better. I just wish I had had enough of the fabric to add on pockets.

And we can all thank my teenage daughter for the hilarious photos.

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I neglected to tell you about the last birth on this farm for the year. Or maybe I should last planned birth. You never know when an accident might happen and I don’t want to anger whatever law/rule/god it is that presides over farm woopsies. Buster was the final planned birth on the farm. He’s the son of my favorite goat, Gypsy. He reminds me of his mom as a kid so much. He’ll follow us around and nibble at our legs then run off. He’s also got gorgeous curls and and really just wants to be pet.
It’s hard to tell how wee he is but his mom isn’t a giant either.
His favorite pass time really does seem to be jumping into what ever hay bin he can. Every chance he can get. If he sees edible hay, he is in the feeder. Stinker.

He’s a little bigger now than in the previous photos and his black fluff is being sunbleached a pretty chocolate brown. By this age, Gypsy had started to grey.
He’s gaining on his mom fast. He’ll be two months on Monday. Just look at his sweet face!
We do plan to keep him but because of his relation to all the angoras, he’ll have to have his manhood altered. Monday he gets separated until he’s old enough for the procedure. My inquisitve happy little boy will get all fixed up and then he can be a goober with siblings Misty and Bleu, once again.

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