“I said ‘allo!’ but that’s close enough.”

So now that I finally gave my gift to my friend, I can show it off!  Here’s the worm from Labyrinth.  I made it with felt and doll eyes.  I didn’t have a pattern and didn’t think to create one to share, I apologize.  I used three colors, beige, red and blue.  The hardest part was trying to make a fluffy fringe.  This was regular sheet felt, and if you tug on it too hard it just pulls right off.  Teasing it with a needle works better.

If you look up felt sewing you will discover there are actually three crafts.  One craft sews together felt cloth to make objects like I did here, one craft takes raw wool and jabs it with a needle to create objects (I’m going to look into that more) and the last one knits with wool and then shrinks the objects down by “felting” them in the wash.

 

Here are a couple other things I made:

I painted wooden teapot ornaments, using white paint and markers.  I used sharpie markers for everything but the tie-dye one, where I used washable markers and then watered them down to run into each other.

I made comfort bunnies for two friends who are ill.  I used this pattern from Jo So and So.

 

 

Right now I’m knitting  a cowl to give to someone as part of a library lobby day.  I’m working on the second draft of a mystery novel, trying to straighten out the sequence of events and researching hurricanes.

“Cor!  If she kept on going that way, she’d have gone straight to the castle!”

Goal setting

  1. By the end of March I will finish my second draft of my novel.

Flipping through my notebooks I find goals like these plastered everywhere.  Goals are not dreams or wishes, they are targets for action plans. If you’ve read any literature at all on the subject, you know that writing down goals makes it more likely you will succeed, and that goals should follow the “S.M.A.R.T.” strategy- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and on a Timeline.  The other commonly described goal is the stretch goal, which is described as a goal that seems out of reach but isn’t completely impossible.

“Yeah, yeah yeah, Jane,” you say.  “Goals.  I had goals, but I didn’t achieve them, life got in the way.”

Ok, go look at those goals now.  Evaluate them.

Ask yourself a few questions.
  • Did you make any progress toward your goal?
  • Did you encourage or reward yourself for taking action on this goal?
  • Was this goal given to you from the outside world?
  • Are you still the same person who wanted these goals?
  • What will happen if you let go of this goal?  Any negative consequences?
  • Do you want to make a whole-hearted commitment to trying again?
  • Do you want to make a different goal instead?
  • What tripped you up the most in trying to achieve the goal- scheduling, motivation, fear, other people, unfortunate events?
  • Is there anything you can change to make this goal easier?
  • Did you break it down into smaller chunks?

Ok, now make some new goals.  Here are the rules- the goals must be something you are willing to commit to, that you have reasonable amount of time to complete, that don’t involve other people giving you approval or permission, and that will give you satisfaction and enjoyment in working towards them (not just achieving them).

Now, think about how to achieve those goals.  What are the obstacles- do you have solutions to overcome them, a “plan b” when things go wrong?  What are you going to do to encourage yourself?  How can you get support from loved ones?  Do you have the tools and space you need to start?

Share your goals with people you trust to encourage you.  Get to it!

“I need a better tool for keeping track of all my to-do lists,” I said to my husband, explaining I had tried out two apps.
“Oh, you mean project management?” he said.
I guess I did mean project management.  At work, I’m keeping track of everyday tasks, long-range projects, event planning, reoccurring monthly or quarterly duties, and overall goals.  At home I’m tracking chores, family appointments, health goals, a construction project, writing goals, craft projects and fun plans. Having all of this in one app would be great.  So far I’ve haven’t found the perfect solution, but I’m still looking.

I thought about what I wanted in my App before searching.  I discovered that’s like deciding what kind of boyfriend you want before dating.  It can cause unrealistic expectations.

What I was looking for:

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Quick access
  • Create to do lists with deadlines
  • Make sub-tasks under main tasks, with separate deadlines
  • Both web and mobile interface
  • See full list in one place, expand or contract
  • be able to share list or export

The Apps I tested:

Remember the good old days, when you bought software and then you used it indefinitely?  Now you rent it, per month or per year.  Basic services are free, sometimes with a free trial of the expanded services to get you dependent on them.  Expanded services add features.  Some of these added features are frivolous, some are fundamental.

I glanced at Smartsheets– it looks very useful, but the $168 a year for individuals (after a trial period) is out of my planned price range for basic to-do list management.  If you work provides it (or other software like it), check it out. Trello also got my attention, but it looks like it has a learning curve, and I don’t know how robust the free service is.

Reminder is the basic thing that comes with Apple devices.  This means it’s on my computer, cell-phone and tablet already, and is already set up to share on iCloud.  You can create multiple lists with deadlines, but each list is its own, without sub-tasks.  I like the checkboxes, that is satisfying.  You can share your list with family sharing (but that only helps if they are using reminders too).

In Todoist, deadlines are a premium feature.  It pesters you with emails of the things you haven’t completed.  It already has project categories to get you started.  I didn’t like the interface or the nagging, so dropped this one.

Wunderlist is very handy to make a grocery list, or a daily to-do list.  You can make a pretty background (some free, most not).  You can add subtasks to projects, but you only see them for one project at a time. Premium service allows for assigning lists to others, attaching files and other pluses.

I am actually thinking of paying the premium ($25/yr)for G-queues so I can get it on my phone.  I’m finding it very useful, since I’m already using  other Apps from the Google overlords that it integrates with, such as g-mail and calendar.

I could make my own system using a basic document that I share in my own cloud. Then of course, I could use a notebook and pen.

How do you organize your projects for home and work?

I am part of a creativity group called Inspirators (by the way, friends, we need to meet again soon! Contact me!) and one of the main things we talk about is getting our act together to be more productive.  Creatives who are selling their art need to keep track of projects, clients and money.  Creatives who are making art for the enjoyment of it need to manage their free time effectively.

I’ve read a lot of books and been to lectures about being organized and productive.  I know two big things.  First, everyone has a different style that works best for them, and a lot of creative types would go nuts trying to follow a style that works perfectly for someone with a more linear, analytical mind.  Second, you can have the best system in the world, but if you don’t know what you really want to accomplish, what’s most important, you’ll drown in the sea of everyday inconsequentials and never get the big picture stuff even started.

I’ll talk about goals in another blog.  I am also checking out some productivity apps- G-queues, Reminder, Wunderlist, and RemembertheMilk.

Books I recommend about time management and organization:

My Goodreads list keeps growing, too- good thing one of the things I have decided to do is set limits on my internet time so I can read more!

 

 

 

December 26, 2016

I can’t show everything I’ve made yet, since I’m giving some gifts at New Years, but I thought I’d do a quick post about some of the things I made recently.

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Shawl

I knitted this shawl from the pattern “Escape” on Ravelry.  I didn’t realize that the pattern had an increase, and I kept wondering why it seemed to take longer and longer to finish a row. (Oh!)  It wasn’t as lacy looking as I thought it would be, as I used fluffy yarn.  For lace work it is better to use thin yarn.

Pie

I made pecan pie and need to remember that the recipe in my Family Fun cookbook is tasty but doesn’t give long enough cooking  time and the pie is very runny/soupy (really good as an ice cream topping!)

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Bath Bombs

My son loves bath bombs, but since one alone can cost between 3-6 dollars, we decided to make our own.  The hardest ingredient to get is citric acid, we had to order that online.  Plain epsom salts are sometimes kept behind the pharmacy counter, if that is the ingredient you are searching for. If you are sensitive to essential oils, choose what you use wisely.  We used peppermint extract and it was fine.  We got the recipe from DIY Projects for Teens, but my 7 year old was able to follow along and assemble them easily, thanks to the clear instructions.  We considered giving them as gifts, but he wanted them all! It was pretty easy, so I will probably make more.  The one that looks like a stick of butter was made from a bit of packaging from one of his toys.  The trick is compressing the mixture enough for it to hold its shape, so anything that can close will work better (like a plastic  egg or a snap-together ball ornament.)

 

This week I need to finish a lot of projects before our annual friends get-together on New Years!  I’ve got quite a list!  What are you working on?

November 8, 2016

Westdragon's NaNoWriMon

NaNoWriMon– a pokemon that evolves with your word count!

 

This one’s from the official page.

Now I have to keep going to make this look good at the end of the month!

October 30, 2016

img_7236Here’s my latest finished project, a knit hat.  I was going to link to the pattern, then realized it was from a magazine, Knit Today.  The magazine just ceased production this June, and I feel guilty now, because it is hard to maintain a knitting magazine when you can search Ravelry for thousands of free patterns, find still more on blogs like mine, and then have a pattern without paying a cent.  The problem with losing another source for designers to get paid is obvious- another place lost that vetted its projects.  Of the thousands of patterns out there,  how do I know which ones have major mistakes? I am relying on other hobbyists testing and commenting when something goes wrong.

So the pattern is Lace Beanie, page 43 of Knit Today May 2106 issue.

https://www.facebook.com/KnitToday/app/208195102528120/

 

 

Sewing a Katara Costume

I created a costume without using a pattern.  This is akin to driving without a map in a foreign country, or performing a musical after seeing a movie.

It’s always best to have something to go by.  Either a pattern or a piece of clothing that you know fits your subject.  Since this was unique, I used measurements instead.  My original idea was that the dress would be slipped on over her head, but it became clear that img_6624it would be extremely difficult to do that.  So I went to plan “B” and made it a wrap-around dress with two overlapping panels, attaching at the waist with snaps.  I finished off the edges with a strip of white fabric.

The panel sides had a simple rolled  hem, and at the bottom I appliquéd a white piece ( A simple rectangle in the back, a wave in the front).img_6623img_6626

The next difficulty was I had made the shoulders too tight.  This is a problem I keep running into when improvising or changing patterns- sleeves and pant inseams need to be bigger than basic measurements to ensure motion and comfort.  IMG_6687If possible, find a pattern for the sleeves, even if it is for a completely different shirt, it will help you see how it is supposed to fit in.  I eventually used a sleeve pattern from a dress.

I 3-D printed her necklace (but you can purchase one from crafters). I made her arm-bands using this tutorial.  She wore leggings and a tank top underneath, and sandals.

We went to Dragoncon!  I had so many costumes I wanted to make, but I’m glad I at least finished this one.  My daughter wore it to the Aquarium night and pretended to water-bend.  .  She was so happy!

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August 14, 2016

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A-Mazing  Mazes

Mazes are good for a STEAM program because they teach spacial relations and problem solving while being fun.

For our maker lab, which this time had a large amount of seven-year-olds, I kept it simple.  We made marble mazes, then used the Sphero with a drawing attachment to make our own trails.IMG_6034

Marble mazes use straws.  I only had regular drinking straws, but I recommend that you use thicker shake straws.  You can get a bag of marbles from the dollar store (from their floral section!).  The other materials are sheets of paper, tape and small boxes.  Gift boxes or shoe boxes would work, but boxes for holding paper are just right.   IMG_6044Have the children plot our their maze with a pencil.  Talk to them about making enough space for a marble to roll through.  They then tape the straws down to the paper, trimming when necessary.  Put the paper in the box, add a marble, and test!

The Sphero part of the program requires more prep.  For older kids, they can have a complete program in itself coding the robot to navigate around a maze that fills the room.  It also works as a remote-control device using the iPad app.  Don’t have a Sphero?  In this class, an RC car would have worked as well.

sphero carriageI found a file for a carriage for the Sphero on Thingiverse, and printed it out on the library’s 3-D printer.  Then I covered a table in paper, taped pool noodles to the edges, and there was our contained environment.

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My plan was to draw a maze with a marker, then have the kids use the robot with the drawing attachment to try to navigate.  However, control of the sphero by this crowd was not that delicate.  It went wildly around the paper like a drunken gerbil ball.  sphero in drawing carriage

This was only an hour program.  If I was doing a day program or a series, I think making a life-sized maze from boxes would have been a lot of fun.

 

Sew a Sock Monkey Hat

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One of the challenges on the G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. list this year was: “Make a sock monkey hat from orphaned socks.  So I rounded up a pile of likely victims and started sewing.  This…interesting hat was the result.  I used the sock ends for ears, opened up two socks for the front and back, and used a larger sock end with a extra triangle of fabric for the top.  I added the face using a piece of purple sock with another white sock and a part of a red sock for the lips.  I used embroidery floss for the nose and scraps for the eyes.

I’m not sure I could convince anyone to wear this.

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