Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of the Game, Part II

Okay, this is where I'm supposed to catch you up on everything.  I'll try, but I make no promises. Stitches East at  the end of October was amazing again. I took The Sweater Map and Aspiring Designer Bootcamp  with Shannon Okey and Stashology 201 with Christine Bylsma.  I took the Aspiring Designer Bootcamp class to see if I wanted to make independent knitting pattern designing and possibly submitting to knitting magazines a priority in 2012.  I found the class really interesting and I learned a lot about resources and services available for independents, but I'm not ready to put that level of dedication into my designing yet.  But it was fascinating and it was worth every penny.  I also found the Sweater Map class really interesting.

 The Stashology Class was fairly simple, but I liked the idea of it. You took 10-12 different stash yarns, and used them to make about 14 inch strips which you selected at random to knit a swatch. It was interesting as to what you got. She also showed us a method to make your own fun fur. I might not use it for an actual project, because I'm not a big fun fur person. But it might make a nice algae or sea anemone for the knitted aquarium diorama I'm planning.

I'm not sure I'd make a sweater out of it, but I think it'd make some fabulous throw pillows out of my odds and ends.  It was fun class after all the hard thinking classes I took.

Yarn I won, Malabrigo, woo hoo!
 This year we also went to the student fashion show.  There were some really fabulous things, and some that were not so fabulous.  The dinner was not great allergy wise, I could only eat the appetizer, prosciutto wrapped melon and the piece of prime rib.  But it was fascinating and I won a prize, and it was yarn.
Socks that Rock

Steampunkery Sock kit
Bashful Sparkle Lace
Madeline Tosh
It seemed like there were less vendors at the market this year, but given my stash reduction plan, that was probably better.  I bought little yarn, which was good, but the stuff I got was good yarn, and I got a sock kit for the Steampunkery Socks in pale purple instead of white. I got some Madeline Tosh in a single ply which is luscious in person.  The Socks that Rock I got to make another scarf.  The colors are muted for me, but I can get away with them at work.  The Bashful Sparkle Lace has a bit of bling in it that you can't really see, but I like it.
I also got a beaded purse kit with a really cool hardware for the handle.

At Webs I also purchased some of their new interchangeables.  I got a set of their Cubix tips and the new nickle plated starter kit.  I know they are produced by the same people as Knitpicks, but I just like the cables better for some reason.  I think I'm going to get the tips to make 16" cables when I'm not broke. I didn't like knitting with the square Cubix tips, which is just as well because I stepped on one during the Halloween power outage and snapped it in half. 

Since I was restrained in buying yarn, I picked up some books.  I stopped by to see Allison Sarnoff and pick up the next Knit Princess comic book.  She cracks me up.  I also got the Knitwear Design Workshop book.  Even just paging through it, it appears to be very complete and a great resource.  If you want to design, this is a very good book to have.

I also got the Custom Fit Knit Jackets by Jean Frost.  Heather took her lining class and I think I'll find it really useful.  There's a couple of jackets in the book that I could actually wear to work.

I also got a new little tool that's to help you fix dropped stitches in garter more easily.  It's cute.  Probably not necessary but certainly faster than flipping the fabric a million times.

We went to Feng's again this year for dinner and it was fabulous.  I had a really great time with Roberta and Heather, and I'm looking forward to next year too.

 After I got back from Stitches, it was a crazy race to get a group blanket project done, which is part of the reason why I didn't post in November. The Concord Knitting Group and the Manchvegas knitters decided that we needed to do a group project for our friend Mary T who is having a bit a health battle right now. I had ordered the yarn, but it didn't show up until the night before I left for Stitches, so I couldn't get it divided and out to people. Upon my return, I divided it and got it out to everyone who was participating. Here's my square. We managed to get it together in record time, and I finished it the Saturday before I left for the cruise.  You will note that I choose another overly complicated edging.  Mary really appreciated the blanket and I want to thank everyone again, even though I've emailed you all :)

 Thanks to the Halloween power outage (4 freaking days...lost 90% of my fridge and chest freezer again...why can't we trim the freaking trees around power lines??), and having to replace some of contents of my fridge and freezer, I wasn't able to spend the money to go to the Manchvegas Retreat, especially with the cruise in December.  I'm still ticked off about that, and it was almost two months ago. 

In mid November, a long awaited event occurred.  I got to go a book signing of my friend Sally Hirsh-Dickinson's book, Dirty Whites and Dark Secrets.  Sally has been working on this book in some capacity, either as part of her thesis or getting it ready in this form for as long as I've known her. Which is really a long time now that I think about it, that I've known her, I mean. :)  She gave a really fabulous talk, and the book is really interesting.

Mary Kate and I have been working on an allergy free cookbook.  One of the things we've been working on is a dairy free fried mozzarella replacement.  I still have dreams about fried mozzarella sticks almost two and half years after been dairy free.  They're pretty good.  And I learned to fry without a deep fryer, so that's cool.

For Thanksgiving in Maine this year, I had to bring my own food due to the whole allergy thing.  One thing I made was vegan whoopie pies from My Sweet Vegan.  They were much, much better than Cafe Indigo's but they still need work.  I'm going to experiment with them a bit to see if I can get them a little closer to the real deal.  My cousin Andrew and his wife Katie were in Maine this year, and I got to meet their son, Nolan.  Nolan is really interested in my sister Debra in this picture.

In December we went on a cruise with my mom, and one of my BFF's, Laura V.  We went to Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan and Grand Cayman.  We had a great time.  In Cozumel, we took a ferry to the mainland, I drove a jeep in a convoy of other jeeps to a cenote, and we went cave snorkeling and then to the beach.  In Belize we did a tour of the city, and then went to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins.  In Isla Roatan, we went to Gumbalimba Park, went clear kayaking, snorkeling, and got a tour of the park including holding a macaw and Shawn got to hold a monkey. In Grand Cayman, we did a Sea Trek walk/thing under the ocean.  There are just too many pictures.  I can't cope.  So here are some public links to my facebook albums.  The first is here and the second is here.

Christmas was at the LaRoches this year and they were very kind to us as always.  I got a purple personal blender from Corey and Cole and we got a electric wine opener.  I will be testing that later today.  We also got a Le Creuset dutch oven which was very appreciated and unexpected.  I just wanted a cheapo one from Walmart, but I love the Le Creuset. It'll last forever. I also got the neatest wine stopper. It has a rock on top of it, and it's just my kind of thing.  I brought a lot of my own food again because of the allergy thing, and I made vegan sticky buns, from the Lusty Vegan's blog,  which were awesome, and vegan pecan pralines from Sweet Utopia, which were also pretty good.

 In knitting news, I finished the cowl I was making for Mary T and she seems happy with it. It's Jade Sapphire cashmere and silk and it's very, very soft.

On the cruise, I brought some Berroco Mini Mochi and did a little shawlette with that.  If you see the green safety pin, it's a place where I dropped a stitch and didn't notice it until I was blocking it.  I'll have to go back and fasten it down and duplicate stitch over it to hide it.

I'm now working on a secret baby project for Kate S, using some coned cotton softball from Webs from a hundred years ago.  It's a little girl and she requested fuchsia so this should do it.

And I think that's it.  I'll try to be more regular in blog posting in 2012.  Stay tuned for further updates as they are broadcast.

The End of the Game

Well, it's that time of year people.  Time to look back on the various plans in effect for 2011, and implement the new ones for 2012.  But just to back up, and get this out of the way first, sorry for the radio silence since October.  It's been a crazy-busy couple of months.  But I'll try to catch up today, in subsequent blog posts.

First things first, the 2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan review. To refresh your memory, I'll list out the original plan provisions and put the results after each item:

1. No yarn purchases during 2011 with two exceptions (there have to be some exceptions or I'd go off my head):
  • The Webs May Tent Sale - However, all yarn purchased must be at least 60% off retail.
  • Stitches East - However, only yarn that is not available locally or cannot be easily purchased on the web may be purchased.
Okay, well, I did pretty well. Only two minor failings.  First, the Webs Tent Sale in May did not have any yarn that was at least 60% off retail, so I kept it as close of a margin as I could. I did buy some yarn at N.H. Sheep and Wool, but only two skeins.  At Stitches East, I followed the rules for the most part, which the notable exception of some Madeline Tosh from Webs.  However, I would like to note how much not buying yarn that was for me.  To purchase yarn at only three events over a whole year?  That's a freaking victory for me.  So, as far as I'm concerned, yeah, technical fail, but I'm cool with that.  Progress is progress.

2. Books, patterns, and needles may be purchased, but with the purpose of using yarn already contained in the stash.

Okay, so this is a gimme. Yep, I complied with this. Kinda hard not to, when you're not allowed to use any yarn but stash yarn anyway.

3. All projects shall be knit with stash yarn with the exception of any group baby blanket projects (said hoping that no one in my knitting group reproduces in the coming year).
Yep, I did complied with this too, except for some of the complicated justifications surrounding the Kyoto jacket and trades that occurred, but we decided those didn't count, remember?
4. Projects shall be chosen with the aim of reducing overall space amounts (i.e. 600 yards of worsted takes up more space than 600 yards of fine laceweight).
Well, I didn't quite do so well at this.  I did have quite a few projects on small yarn this year.  Oh well, something to work on for next year.

5. At least one project shall utilize my handspun yarn, which had already been spun as of 12/31/2010.

Done!  Shawn's hat, here.

6. At least one project shall utilize a kit which had been purchased prior to 12/31/2010.

Done, the Vintage Sock kit, here. This would be one of the projects that was on small yarn, and also took boatloads of time, which may have contributed to other goals not being reached, not that I'm trying to make excuses or anything.

7. At least two projects shall be self-designed and the pattern shall be suitable for posting to Ravelry for sale. At least one of these projects shall be a design for a women's sweater with a wide range of plus sizes.

Yeah, well, this is again an area that I didn't do so well.  I designed three projects, Mary T's afghan square, my Evening bag for the cruise, and a hat for Kate S's kiddo that I've not posted up on Ravelry yet, but I didn't write any of them up for sale.  If I were to be so insane as to write up the Evening bag pattern which is very complicated with linings, hardware, reverse i-cord cording, and the beaded strap, I'd have to knit a whole new one because I pretty much made it up as I went along and didn't keep directions.  I also meant to do a plus size sweater before the end of the year and even started designing it at Stitches due to Shannon Okey's Sweater Map class, but Mary T's group afghan project came up and I ran out of time.  Next year.

8. At least one project shall be for Shawn.

I cheated and combined provisions 5 and 8 with one project.  Ha.  Shawn's hat, here.
9. With respect to the roving, top, and fleece in the stash, at least 4 ounces of fiber shall be spun each month. (Although this adds to the yarn, yarn takes up less space than roving, top and fleece.)

I didn't make it.  4 ounces a month is 48 over the course of the year and I only managed 36.62.  But you know what?  That's 36.62 ounces I might not have spun without the plan in effect.  And I've noticed a sizable difference in what's in my closet.  So again, as far as I'm concerned, that's another freaking victory, even though it's a technical failure. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the progress that was made.  The plan was implemented because I had 337 different kinds of yarn in Ravelry.  Despite purchases at Webs, NH Sheep and Wool, and Stitches East, and the amount of spinning that I did (which also added yarns to Ravelry), the total yarns in Ravelry only went up to 347.  That's pretty damn good.  I also knit 3.82 miles this year. I'm happy enough that another version of this plan will be implemented.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I also had a 2011 Novel Completion Plan.  This was the plan:

1. At least once a month, I will participate in a Challenge Writing Weekend, whether anyone participates with me or not, in which the goal is to write 5,000 words over the course of a weekend. (Linda D and I occasionally do these challenges.)

2. In addition to the Challenge Written Weekends, I will average a 1,000 a week during the non-Challenge Writing Weekend weeks during the each month.

3. This schedule shall continue until the novel is complete.

What this really boiled down to was that I had to write 8,000 words a month for the year or until the damn novel was finished.  Well, that means I had to write a total of 96,000 words or finish.  I'm not finished.  While I didn't make 96,000 words because November and December were near total losses with everything going on, I managed to write 80,174 words this past year.  I know that people think I'm a nut cake with the plans and the calendars and yada-yada, but you know what?  I'm pretty damn sure that I wouldn't have written even close to what I did, if I didn't have some crazy goals written down. I think the crazy goal makes me work harder than I would have without it, and even if I don't make the crazy goal, I'm okay with that, because I got a hell of a lot further than I thought I would. So I think this one is a win too.

So this is the point that I want to get across in all this.  I don't make a crazy goal, and then feel bad that I didn't get everything done.  I'm not a perfectionist martyr.  That is not the point of the crazy goal.  The point of the crazy goal is that you know at the outset you are never going to get all of it done.  But by trying for that crazy goal, you're going to get a whole lot more done than you ever thought, and isn't that the point?  So even though I didn't make my crazy goals, so freaking what?  Look what I did manage to do!  Yay!!

And on that note, let's discuss the 2012 crazy goals and the 2012 Purple Calendar of Doom. 

The 2012 Yarn & Fiber Stash Reduction Plan Rules, which I have modified somewhat from last year's plan:
1. No yarn purchases during 2012 with two exceptions: (a) The Webs May Tent Sale - however, I may not spend more than $100.00 on yarn; and (b) Stitches East - however, I may only purchase yarn that is not available locally or cannot be easily purchased on the web.

2. Books, patterns, and needles may be purchased, but with the purpose of using yarn already contained in the stash.

3. All projects shall be knit with stash yarn with the exception of any group blanket projects (hoping that none are needed for any reason in the coming year).

4. Projects shall be chosen with the aim of reducing overall space amounts (i.e. 600 yards of worsted takes up more space than 600 yards of fine laceweight).

5. At least one project shall utilize my handspun yarn, which had already been spun as of 12/31/2011.

6. At least one project shall utilize a kit which had been purchased prior to 12/31/2011.

7. At least one project shall be my own design for a women's sweater with a wide range of plus sizes, and shall be suitable for posting to Ravelry for sale. 
8. At least one project shall be my own design for a decorative item (either my fish tank diorama idea or my dragon head taxidermy idea).

9. With respect to the roving, top, and fleece in the stash, at least 4 ounces of fiber shall be spun each month. (Although this adds to the yarn, yarn takes up less space than roving, top and fleece.)

And now for the 2012 Writing Plan.  I'm calling it a writing plan because I think I'll complete the novel this year, I'll need to plan revisions when I rewrite the novel, and I'm working on a new project with Mary Kate.

1. Write 8,000 words a month until the Yet Untitled Novel is done.

2. Find a title for the novel.

3. When the novel is complete, divide into chapters.  Revise one chapter a week until the first major revision is complete. Aim to complete revisions in three months after novel is finished.

4. Once revisions are complete, recruit three new people to read it and critique.

5. Research and develop a submission plan.

6.  On the cookbook project, spend at least one hour a week researching recipes for list, and cook one thing per week, posting research and results to Google Docs.
7. Work out a schedule with Mary Kate for testing recipes on unsuspecting individuals.

Ambitious, isn't it?  Remember, it's supposed to be a crazy goal. :)

And now for that whole healthy thing.  Well, in the past year, I've determined the whole (said hoping no more develop) list of food allergies that I have.  I've cut these things out of my diet.  I also joined a gym in August.  I did pretty well for the first 4 months, meaning that I went enough times for my health insurance to pay for it, but December was a bust with the cruise and Christmas, and the million other things I had going on.  So this year, the 2012 Health Plan is really simple. 

1.  Go to the gym 8 times a month or more so that I don't have to pay for it.

2.  Be careful and don't eat anything I'm allergic to.  Try to avoid any accidental exposures.

And that's it for the plans.  I think that's quite enough, don't you?

I'll be posting further updates on all kinds of stuff that went on during the last months of the year, since I completely failed at updating the blog during November and December.   Have a Happy New Year everyone!  Hope you all have a crazy goal in the coming year that you mostly complete :)