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Honest Self Appraisal Time: 2015 Goal Recap

Well hello there! It's been a while, eh? 

Happily for me, if not for you, dear reader, my yearly goal posts (not the same as goalposts, because how would you even have those yearly?) are a tradition that I do not intend to give up. Today I'm going to revisit the goals I set for my personal and creative lives last year. I find this sort of public introspection extremely helpful; it lets me crow a bit about my successes and encourages me to face my failures with honesty. Bear with me. I'll post the 2016 goals shortly, starting the whole narcissistic cycle anew.

Life Goals:

  1. Pass my driving test.
    • I did it! And you know what? It was easy. I spent 14 years working that test up in my head, and it morphed into this impossible monster. When the time finally came, I was ready, the supervisor was lovely, and I passed with flying colours. Life lesson: don't make things harder than they already are. 
  2. Get up earlier.
    • This probably would have happened whether I wanted to or not. I have to get up in time to be showered and presentable to walk the kid (and dog) to school every morning at 8:30. Still, a success is a success and I'll take it.
  3. Beautify the house.
    • This could've been better. A lot better. I did make a lovely woven table runner, but other than an increased commitment to cleanliness and some dedicated furniture rearranging, that's about the extent of it. Half marks.
  4. Re-think Christmas Gifting.
    • Success! I put away $50 each month to cover all things holiday related. I still made a fair number of gifts (by financial necessity, as well as preference), but my stress levels were much lower. Much of my extended family enjoys a significantly more lavish approach to gift-giving, and that's still awkward, but at least this year I wasn't secretly weaving in ends while presents were being opened.
  5. Bring the blog back.
    • Not so much. I didn't even really try, and I regret that. 
  6. Improve my grammar.
    • I read "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" by Lynne Truss, which is a fantastic book. I'm still not sure if I am punctuating correctly, but I am more conscious in my attempts. More practical application (aka actually writing once in a while) would have earned full marks. As it is, 50% will have to do.
  7. Save money.
    • Until I looked at the reports in my budget program (I swear by YNAB), I thought maybe this one hadn't gone so well. The hard evidence says otherwise, and it's wonderful to know my diligence has paid off.
  8. Get healthy.
    • This is where my real success lies for 2015, and where an enormous amount of my energy was spent. I lost a lot of weight. I learned a lot about portions, and sometimes I even jog a bit, just for fun. It's been an odd experience, actually, and I don't love talking about it. Too much judgement and shame are tied to whether or not a person has excess body fat. Let's just leave it at this: I'm not at my goal yet and I couldn't have done it at all if I hadn't learned to accept and love myself at my heaviest, but I love almost everything about having 110 pounds less of me to haul around. And the clothes are cool too. This is my celebratory Christmas Day bathroom selfie:

Creative Goals:

  1. Knit Evenstar.
    • I did, and I loved every second of it. I still haven't taken proper photos, but let me assure you, it's truly spectacular. I'll do a blog post. No, seriously. I will. Shut up, you'll see.
  2. Make 50% of my incoming wardrobe.
    • When I committed to this goal I had no idea what extreme weight loss was like. I have had to replace my entire wardrobe three times in the past year. Even my shoes didn't escape the carnage. I sewed all new underwear (not my favourite thing, by the way), and made 15 or so other items. I also used my sewing skills to extend the fit of many ready-to-wear items over several sizes. I didn't achieve the 50% goal, but I'm giving myself a pass due to excellent performance under extreme circumstances.
  3. Knit more patterned socks.
    • I knit one and a half pairs before I realized that I don't really enjoy knitting patterned socks at this point in my life. Fail, but with bonus self awareness.
  4. Work down my stashes.
    • Definite success there. The yarn and fibre are slowly but surely reducing. The fabric would be if I could come to a decision about what to do with leftover yardage. At the moment I'm hoarding it, and my storage drawers ain't pretty.
  5. Buy indie.
    • I did, exclusively even! However, I bought almost nothing all year, so I can't really say I was effective in supporting the indie crafting community.
  6. Knit (and spin) several sweaters.
    • I knit four and spun for two, but alas, none of the sweaters were for me. The above mentioned size changes not only rendered useless the process of knitting sweaters for myself, but also robbed me of all but one of my previous hand knit sweaters. Even that one only remains because I am embracing both the oversized trend and liberal application of a belt. So, success, but also sadness.
  7. Finish the cross stitch Christmas stockings.
    • Surely this goal has become little more than a running joke. Of course I didn't. I worked on one, a bit. Go me.

So, success, in numerical form? I get a 75% score in life goals, but if they were weighted to reflect difficulty it would be more like a 90%. Creative goals get a healthy 71%.

With that, I can see how I closed out this year feeling comfortable with myself and my efforts. It's been a complicated and intense year, but 2015 has been good to me. I'm grateful for every minute of it.



2014 Goal Recap: A Solid C+

It's new years eve and as I write and think back it seems like this year was both the longest and shortest of my life. I spent the entire year wondering how time had passed so quickly. How was it already May, Summer, September, Christmas? How had so much time passed without my noticing it?

And then I read my yearly goals post from last January. A year is a long time, yo. My life has changed, my priorities have changed, I've grown up, I've had fun, I've seen terrible and wonderful moments. So much has happened.

In my usual fashion, I'm going to revisit my life and crafting goals from last year, to see how they measure up. Get ready for some introspection up in here. 

Life goals:

Take my drivers road test: No, no I did not. I did, however, do all the driving for a 700km road trip. I'm good with the driving, I just need to get this test done so I can do it without a supervisor.

Be me: I wanted to embrace my own quirks, faults, and opinions more, especially in my online life. I still find myself censoring my podcast a bit, but I've come a long way.

Pursue personal fashion: I'm happy with my yearly efforts! I still want to put more work into my personal style, but I've learned a lot about how I want to present myself, and enjoyed my clothing so much more because of it.

Pay off all debt and begin to rebuild savings: We paid off the last of our debt this spring! I've been working hard to budget our finances so our savings grows, even if it's just a little bit at a time.

Implement a family chore schedule: I did, and it was great, for a while. The chart needs some tweaking again, but it's a great system. Suddenly my house was clean. It was like magic.

Put child in preschool and use time gained productively: We did! Rei goes to an all-day preschool/daycare twice a week, and she loves it there. She's so much more capable in social situations now, and has gained a lot of confidence. As for using the time, yes, mostly. I had hoped to get more time to work on pattern design, but lately it's all going to a huge volunteer position that's like a combination of running an underfunded non-profit, being a landlord, and herding cats.

Build strength and stamina: This year was a pain in the ass, health-wise. Fail. Try again next time.

Make more food from scratch: Win. Tortillas, granola, sauces, soups, curries, all the things.

Read: Yep, I did a pretty good job, for me. I'd love to read more, but right now I'm at about one real book a month.

Blog more: I was doing great, until the summer of health suckitude, and then I got out of the habit. I shall return.

Crafty Goals

Finish a stocking: No. Stupid things.

More garment sewing for myself and Rei: Lots for me, but not as much for Rei. She grows too fast.

Knit and spin down the yarn stash: It's smaller than it was, I think. The only problem is I can spin up yarn faster than I can knit it, so the stash grows all by itself. Not my fault.

Spin and knit Evenstar: I spun, but the knitting hasn't happened yet.

Spin for a sweater from raw fleece: I did a sweater spin, but not from raw fleece. 

Make a quilt for us: Nope. That would've been cool.

Weave more: Yep! I wove a bunch of Christmas presents!

So there you have it. Life gets about a 75% grade, and crafting gets a 50%. I did a lot of stuff, but very little of it was what I had planned. And you know what? That's ok. I made it through a tough year with my family happy, my sanity (relatively) intact, and my knitting, spinning, and sewing mojo strong. That's good enough for me.



My Mother's Day

I've been making an effort to take more pictures (that aren't selfies or shots of my crafting, I'm good on those), but sometimes I forget to share them in a timely fashion. I know Mother's Day is several days past, but I have pictures of my kid! If you aren't into pictures of my kid, that's ok. She's an acquired taste.

We went to my parents' house bearing cupcakes, and then played in the sun on their gorgeous property. It was a good day.

I'm not really suited to parenthood. I love my daughter more than anything and I desperately want the best for her, but at the same time I am self-aware enough to know that if we hadn't chosen parenthood, our lives would have been equally good. Just as rich and full (with more disposable income and less yelling), but seriously lacking in family group hugs. I didn't need to be a mother, I am not the best at being a mother, I have no desire to be anybody else's mother, and sometimes I wonder if I could've at least waited til my 30's to have a child. And yet... our little family sustains me. Watching my daughter grow and learn is fascinating, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking (apparently horrible social awkwardness is genetic). Knowing the nurturing father Jake can be is inspiring. I've grown immeasurably by being forced to put a little person's needs before my own. Feeling unconditional love is a powerful, beautiful, life changing thing. I wouldn't have my life any other way.


I could handle a little more disposable income and a little less yelling though. Just saying.



Plants Need Mothers Too

Happy Mother's Day to you ladies who nurture children. The world is better for your dedication and effort. You know what else needs nurturing? Plants!

One of my less exciting works in progress is my veggie garden. I don't have a yard, but my sunroom is essentially a greenhouse, so I am trying my best to grow a few food-producing plants. The planning stage was full of wishful thinking and high hopes.


I started the plants from seed (which yielded way fewer sprouts than the germination percentages on the seed packets suggested) and within about three weeks I had wee plants! My attempt at sprouting sweet potato slips failed though - I got impatient and we ate the host potato. One can only be so nurturing.


I have cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Rei is also growing a sunflower, because they pretty much grow themselves. Things are coming along nicely!


I have had a few minor neglect-related setbacks (who knew they needed water on hot days?) and one of the beans is in intensive care because Rei tried to make two plants hug.


Hopefully the plants that survive yield tasty veggies, but for now they make a nice backdrop for my yarn. Let's be honest, it's all about yarn here.


Are you growing anything right now? What are your thoughts on container gardening? Any advice is appreciated!



I'm Even Sewing For The Dog Now

You know, this blog is looking more and more like a sewing blog and less like the yarn-appreciation site it is meant to be. The sewing projects move quickly and get photographed and make my bloggy life easy. I promise there will be yarny goodness soon. Until then (SURPRISE!) more sewing.

I think good crafting ideas absoltely must be shared. Not necessarily ideas so good you could patent them and have yarn money for life, but all the little things we think of that might make someone else's handmaking easier or better. I had one such idea. 

A little backstory...

I have this dog, you see. Loki by name, pain-in-the-ass by game.

This is Loki and his sister as puppies (left). I thought you'd like to see something cute. You're welcome.

This is Loki and his sister as puppies (left). I thought you'd like to see something cute. You're welcome.

His favourite napping spot under the sideboard didn't look particuarly cozy, so I decided to get him a bed. I searched tirelessly, dear readers, for the right dog bed. It needed to fit my budget and fit my small to medium sized dog. It couldn't have stupid paw-print or fire hydrant upholstery. It absolutely was not allowed to look like a tiny couch or armchair. It had to be flat because he sleeps all stretched out. Above all, it had to be washable. Of course, it didn't exist.

How could something so simple not exist?

How could something so simple not exist?

Luckily, I remembered that I am a fair-to-good seamstress, and that I had the perfect fabric. What could I stuff it with that would have lots of volume but could easily be washed? Most stuffings get lumpy and awful if you machine wash them. And then it happened. The Idea. What is soft, cushy, completely washable, and can be easily found at a thrift store? A bed comforter! How had I never thought of this before? $14 later, I had a good sized, quality comforter that had already successfully been washed many times. I folded it into a Loki sized square, took some measurements, cut two pieces of fabric of the same size, and sewed a giant zippered pouch. If I hadn't had a perfectly sized zipper handy I could have put buttons or ties on the open end. It's essentially a giant pillowcase. In went the comforter, on went the dog, and voila! Canine coziness! Even better, he can ooze any kind of liquid he likes on it and I can just pop it apart and wash it.


If you want to make a comforter-stuffed dog bed of your own, I have a few tips for you. 

1. Use a washable decor-weight fabric. I used a cute striped denim from Ikea. I had originally bought it to make a dress, before the early 90's called wanting their tacky denim jumpers back and I thought better of it. Ikea's decor fabrics are fantastically priced and a delight to work with.

2. Once you've sewn the pouch and turned it right side out, topstich around the three closed sides, and on either side of the zipper. It will add strength to your seams and make the whole thing look more professional. 

3. If you're buying a thrifted comforter, choose one you wouldn't mind using as a blanket, because it's always good to have a second use for the things you buy. Choose one with a cottony looking outer fabric (for washablility) and lots of loft. Shake it out outside before bringing it in and wash and dry it on hot right away. You may not live in a city infested with bedbugs and fleas, but I do, and it's worth a litte extra care.

4. If you want to de-stink your dog a bit, throw a lavender sachet in with the comforter, or put a few drops of essential oil in the centre of the folded blanket. Of course, make sure that your dog won't be harmed by your chosen scent, and that he isn't repulsed by it. Go easy on the scent, as his nose is way better than yours, and it's his bed.


There you have it folks! My not-genius-but-still-useful idea is yours to play with. Enjoy!