06 March 2015

Update on what's been leaving

I meant to post an update on the Minimalism Game every week, and of course that didn't happen.  I did keep going strongly after the first week.  I need to finish totaling up everything, but so far recorded:
  • 278 items to the thrift stores
  • 35 lbs of fabric sold on Craigslist
  • Three household items on Craigslist that will go to the thrift store if they do not sell
  • Three soap kits that I'll donate to some homeschooling friends if they don't sell on Craigslist (and which I count as one item because they are listed together)
  • Six bags of paper and non-redistributable magazines (mostly old, boring professional ones) to recycling
  • Three bags of magazines offered on Freecycle (and which will be recycled if they don't find a new home soon!)
  • Four items rehomed to others (a huge ball of cotton yarn to a friend who makes facecloths for the New Start Washcloth Project; a wooden box of soaps from England to another friend; a Scottish wool sweater to a male friend who fits it better than I do - it's a bigger medium than I apparently need; and a can of Tazo "Calm" tea to the dance mistress of a show I did at the beginning of the month, that I'd been given but I cannot tolerate chamomile)
  • A Lantern Moon tote bag to the raffles at DFW Fiber Fest
  • Two cartons of paper items to be shredded (one box was 13" high and I forgot to measure the other - the friends who inspired that decided each inch of paper counts as a "thing")
  • 37 items into the trash
If you are counting, that's only 381 items and not 406, because I didn't count the magazines separately and only have one measurement of inches of paper being shredded, and I didn't count the extras that I put into the lot of soap kits.  Plus, I think I have not finished counting items because there's a pile on the guest room bed......

Now some people are doing a "one bag for every day of Lent" thing, and I'm not ready to enter into that, but will keep it in mind.  I suppose you can always pick a month to do "a bag a day" and see what you can discard.

In other news - I've made a couple-three scarves to take to my friend whose church gives them to The Samaritan Inn.  Some people have talked about attaching scarves and hats and such to fences or trees in low-income neighborhoods and near shelters for people who need them, but it hasn't happened in Hartford to my knowledge.  I've also done four pink-and-purple cat hats for a friend's daughters and nieces (a commission project!) and a hat for her SIL (that I promised to make less pointy on top), al in reflective yarn because the SIL thinks they need to wear lots of reflective gear when walking home from services at night.  My friend thinks these are a bit more chic than the construction workers' vests her SIL distributes.

07 February 2015

28 Items Ready to Go

The first week of the Minimalism Game is done, and although I got busy and didn't pick out item for the last couple of days, I caught up this morning.  This means that in addition to the items I had already packed up to go to a thrift store, twenty-eight more items are heading out the door.  I calculated that by the end of the month, I need to have gotten rid of over four hundred items!  To be precise, Σ28 = 406.

In some cases, the item was a thing I had thought about sending away, but hadn't made up my mind.  The challenge helped me make up my mind.  In others, it was something I had gotten thinking I would use it and have not, or had gotten for gifting and that never happened either.  Sometimes it's a child's item and the children I know are older now.

So hopefully on Sunday I'll take this week's collection to the thrift store, and get some boxes and things to start the next week's collection.

I did add some rules of my own, at least for this week:

  • Items already packed up for the thrift store - I had 21 of them - did not count.
  • Items I have set aside to send to Mittens for Akkol for their current grads collection also do not count.
  • The boxes and things that I am using to take the items to the thrift store of course do not count.
  • Items for my Etsy shop also don't count, since I keep hoping to dispose of them by having someone buy one.  Or several.
So far, everything I packed up on a day had a single ending, mostly the thrift store, with one exception.  I think that may change later in the month, but we shall see.  I know I have plenty of magazines for some of the larger-numbered days.

In other news, this also left the house this week.  Given that it is a commissioned item, I don't really count that as something that should leave.  I was working on a scarf for a friend, and our stage manager saw me, and asked if I would make a scarf for her.  In discussing colour options she mentioned grey, and when I asked what shade she wanted, her eyes lit up.  "You know, there's that movie coming out....."

I told her that there was no way I would try to find, or work with, fifty shades of a colour, but I'd see what I can do.  This is five shades worked in single crochet entrelac.  Washable acrylics because she has three large dogs; the outermost one has a touch of sparkle.  She's not a big "bling" person, but was thrilled to see a bit of it in the yarn.  And she loves the end result, which is the best part.

Next up are to finish my friend's scarf, and make five hats of reflective yarn that a friend commissioned for her sister-in-law, nieces, and daughters.  And I want to get a couple of boxes of craft supplies organized and photographed to post on Craigslist to see if anybody wants them.  I'm sure they will go quickly on Freecycle, which will be the next stop for them.

02 February 2015

The Minimalism Challenge

A friend's boyfriend challenged her to do this, and some of us think it's a good idea.  I am going to challenge my parents, because my mother is always trying to get my dad to throw things away.

The idea of this game is that you must get rid of as many things as the number of the day of the month.  So one thing on the first day of the month, two things on the second day, and so on. The original challenge says that "each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day", which really doesn't work in the middle of a blizzard.  So we've adapted it to you have to put the item in a box, and not take it out again, and on the weekend donate it someplace - Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, local charity shops/thrift stores, a shelter. 

One of the people in my friend's feed suggested: 

If you have anything you think a teacher might use, contact one you know or a local school. Art supplies, old shirts for paint smocks, magazines, even old stickers that come with address labels and envelopes to return bills you pay online can be useful in elementary schools. High school teachers use all kinds of used stuff as well. 

Some after school programs could use art supplies, too.

If you decide to do this, follow the standard rule for donations: Make sure the item is in good, usable condition.  If it's not, throw it away!  Nobody can wear falling-apart shoes, or would want a torn and stained shirt or pants.  Dried out paint and glue will not benefit a crafts program.  Expired personal care products or food.  If you cannot use it, why give it to someone else?

Because I already had a box going, I wrestled with whether to count it or not.  For now, I will, but this weekend I may get caught up on items.  I am going to keep a list so that I can see how much goes out the door.   Magazines will definitely be included in a later week when I have to get rid of a lot of things per day.  There's a debate about getting rid of old papers, and we seem to be agreeing that one inch of paper would count as one thing for the day.  Too much?  Too little?

29 January 2015

I went to Dallas - crocheted flowers, Mutant Leeches, and Cupcakes!

OK, until the last few days we haven't had much snow around here, but it seemed as good an excuse as any to explain why I haven't updated the blog all month.  Best-laid plans, and all that, as Robert Burns (whose birthday was celebrated last Sunday) would say.

In the meantime, I finished the hat I was knitting at the turn of the year:

Sadly, it is too big for me.  I do have quite a bit of yarn left, hopefully enough to make the mittens and a new hat.  A friend tried it on and said it fits her so she wants it, but I don't know if she will buy it or just wants it gifted.  The hat might go into my Etsy shop.

I donated a reflective yarn hat to the silent auction at a friend's weeklong storytelling and arts event. As you can see, it's neon yellow and has threads that reflect.  The hat can be less pointy if pulled down, and the bottom edge can roll up into double thickness if wanted.

I went to Dallas to see "The Cupcake Conspiracy" and "The Attack of the Killer Mutant Leeches" (one of the Pocket Sandwich Theater's infamous popcorn-tossing melodramas), and while there stopped by the Crochet Texas! monthly meeting and learned how to make flowers from buttons.  These are the ones from the class; the two circled ones are mine:

We got to eat cupcakes of course!  Local bakers provided them at every performance of Rover Dramawerks' "The Cupcake Conspiracy."  My friend Kim made these, and the Cherry Cheesecake ones were very yummy:

So yummy, we said, that people come from Connecticut to eat them!

02 January 2015

Resolutions for 2015

I've been thinking about whether to post them, and why not?  I did last year, and it's not as if I have thousands of people reading the blog and keeping me accountable, so there's less pressure to actually DO them.  And it's fun to keep track, sometimes, and figure out where I am in terms of what I think I could accomplish this year.

So for this year, the three resolutions I am making are:

  1. To keep the blog more up-to-date, posting at least once a month.  I know, it didn't happen last year, but that's a good reason to re-use it, to see if I can make the goal this year.  Once a month isn't horrendous.  I know where I fall down is because I want to use pictures, and that means resizing them and sometimes other adjustments to get Blogger to like the arrangement I want to show.
  2. Keeping a record of everything I knit, crochet, etc.  I've done that sometimes in the past, and there are usually partial records as I blog, or post on Facebook, or keep records for my taxes, or get pictures of people wearing what I have sent.  It's interesting sometimes to keep a real record and look back to see how many of what I have made, or even just finished, in the year.
  3. Put together the standing computer desk I bought, when I hurt my hip and then annoyed a back muscle and sitting was painful.  I've used a kluge when I needed to stand and work, in part because I have to clear and partially re-arrange my office area to put the desk where it will work with the rest of the items I have.  I'm well and have this enforced vacation from work, may as well put it to use!

So far this year, I spent yesterday organizing things in my crawlspace, and the extra area I use for yarn storage overflow.  I am trying to get the overflow to fit into the crawlspace, and might succeed, in part because I pulled out a lot of yarn to donate to my father's church, where a group of ladies knits and crochets items for shelters, the kids who come to the afterschool tutoring program, and so on.  A great place for odd balls of yarn to end up, or yarn from projects that never quite got started.

I also started a hat for me.  I decided that I want my first new project of the new year to be something for me, and special, and the hat I planned to wear this winter came out a bit big on me so I put it into my Etsy shop instead.  Since I've gotten into entrelac in the round over the holiday, beginning with this mitt:
Not quite one ball makes one mitt.  Yes, I will finish the other!

I decided to find a hat pattern and use some yarn I have in the stash.  In part it is because I found the yarn in my cleaning, and decided to use it for a hat and mittens for me.  I noticed that the yarn ("mystery bump" from Tidal Yarns) has very long colour changes and I thought that instead of making plain items, it would be fun to take advantage of that and make them in entrelac.  Here's what I have so far:
Not much done because I was busy organizing on January 1st.

The second hank, at the top, and whatever is left over from the hat-ball will become mittens.  The yarn is soft and squishy and I am enjoying knitting it.

My cordless drill needs charging, so I guess it's back to knitting.  Or maybe I'll replace the bulb in the entryway ceiling light.  And there might be a couple upstairs.  I like quick-to-finish chores!  Then I'll get back to knitting.

31 December 2014

Reviewing the resolutions

It's the last day of 2014, and a good time to review how I did with this year's resolutions:
  • Each month I will try doing one new thing.  And it cannot be a variation on something I have done before - snorkeling in new waters, or going for brunch to a restaurant where I've been only for supper, or sorting food donations at the food pantry at whose mobile distribution trucks I've volunteered for several years.  This might take some real thought.
  • I will try to keep this blog more up-to-date, hopefully blogging at least once per month.
  • I am going to update either my kitchen or my upstairs bathroom.

In order:
  • Kinda OK.  Look at the blog posts through August as I kept track, somewhat.  I think I fell off in the later parts of the year, for the same reason as:
  • OK until August, and then crickets.  I know what stalled me: I needed to organize the pictures for the last post.  And life got busy - I stage-managed a local community theatre's production of "The Producers", and traveled, and got involved with fiber things, and traveled, and was busier at MakeHartford, and ......  You get the idea.
  • Nope.  Got busy.  And decided to spend money on a certification course for information security systems professional, which my job promised to pay me back for and then didn't.  So I am saving up the money again.  And this summer, when it would have made sense to do painting because I could leave the windows open - I was outside.  A lot.  Hiking some, riding a bike some, enjoying a good summer.

So I will probably re-run at least one of the above for 2015.  I could probably re-run all of them and see how I do in the new year, but it's more fun to mix things up, at least officially.  I'll think while I am working at First Night Hartford (Wadsworth Atheneum, and then I think City Hall unless I am needed elsewhere) and then friends' party (parties?) and so on which one will be the choice to officially repeat, and which other things I might do in 2015.

How did your year end?

06 August 2014

Smoking Ice (for MakeHartford makerspace)

I am a member of the MakeHartford makerspace, and on the first Wednesday of every month we do a Show-and-Tell event.  This month's started when I posted a link on the MH Facebook page showing how to make a carbonation rig.  Our newsletter editor was very interested and declared the theme for August, and said he would create the rig.

What could I do that would be cool and demonstrable for a crowd without actual onsite cooking?  Lacto-fermention is one thing, at least the setup with a tasting of finished products, then I saw an article about making smoked ice for mixed drinks.  Really??!  Yes, really, and I knew that this would intrigue people.

When talking to people about my intention, the reactions were great.  Once they realized that I was not talking about

  • Dry ice (which does smoke nicely on its own)
  • Consuming street drugs
  • Some slang for excellence at winter sports

they became genuinely puzzled because of course smoking involves HOT while ice needs COLD, and the two seem completely incompatible.

NOTE - this is a holding article so I can put the link into my handout for Show-and-Tell.  Stay tuned for the full post with photos of my process, and some reaction shots.