I am a planner.
I'm not one of those people that just goes with the flow entirely, and I'm definitely not one that is afraid to put something down on paper, but I wouldn't consider myself a control freak either. Just a planner. I like planning, I love researching, and I really enjoy making lists and checking off items as each task is accomplished. I think this quote says it best: "Good luck is a result of good planning." I'm not sure who originally said this, maybe it was off of a fortune cookie (???) but at any rate, I intend to improve my luck this year through better planning, or shall I say "good planning." Well... at least the luck that I can control which is in regards to my hobbies. Everything else? Well... we'll just leave that to the maker. Another quote I really love, again from who knows where *sigh* is "When humans plan, God laughs"... think about that one ;)

So, I didn't go all hog wild on my personal resolutions list this year - I kept that list short, sweet and attainable. Emphasis on attainable, because I know you know what I'm talking about. All that "make a million dollars this year" and "purchase my own private island" stuff... well, I decided to leave that off the list this year ;) I did however make myself two separate lists. One for personal goals, the other for projects I'd like to complete before the year was out broken down according to the particular hobby - sewing, knitting, spinning. Each hobby has about 5 items which I'd like to focus on, anywhere from a specific project I'd like to finish, to learning a technique or just spending more time doing it, but realistic. No more of this knit 4 sweaters talk. Being unrealistic sets you up to fail every time.

In regards to the project list, I told myself as long as I was able to check off one or two projects from each section before the year was out, then I'd consider that successful. Any thing in addition to that would be a welcomed bonus. There are no gold stars, patches, tubs of ice cream or anything like that for me completing projects... just the reward and sense of accomplishment I get from knowing that I kept my promise is enough for me. I really, really loathe empty promises. I am a person of my word... what's that saying, "word is bond" or "my word is my bond" which means, my word is good, 100% valid and backed up, all the time. If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it, and lists help me keep my word. They are visual reminders of what I said I would do. On top of that lists = accountability!

In addition to list-making, I also really enjoy organizing. This is the left side of my brain which strives for order. My first task of the year was to begin getting all my knitting "stuff" in order because it is seriously all over the place for lack of proper (and attractive) storage. I'm talking critical mass over here. Hence...

 DPN (double point needle) Case

 The outside of the case

I finished this bad boy yesterday (the 6th), and here we are on the 2nd week of the new year, and I've already managed to check off one item from my craft "to do" list.  :)  Yay me! Here is a link to a page I used for inspiration/ideas on construction: here. These cases are super basic and totally customizable... you don't need to be a master seamstress. Just requires a little patience and planning (yup... planning). I tweaked a few things size-wise (not intentional... just had to improvise), added a couple of details that I like (bias tape, covered button and an elastic closure), and used interface for stiffer/sturdier fabric. Overall I'm very happy with my case... so happy in fact that I didn't put it through the wash to remove all my chalk and pencil markings on the fabric. I just tossed all the needles inside! :D If you want me to do a tutorial, let me know. I did document my steps, but I'm sure you'll be fine... ;) Please be fine.

Back to organization...
Organization is definitely something I've been striving for for the past couple of years since I finished my Bachelor's in '08. My (now) husband and I had been living in our current house (prior to graduating) for just shy of a year and because we both had hectic school and work schedules, we left most of our lives in boxes. After I graduated and found myself out of work (hell, I'm still out of consistent work, ugh!) my first task was to get to cracking open all those boxes. Now, keep in mind, this is the 2nd home I've lived in since I moved out of my parents house, so I carried my entire life with me when I moved out. I had stuff from elementary school, high school, you name it. Boxes I had of clothing and shoes I haven't worn for years. That stuff all went into the trash/recycle bin! Hey... I'm not one for the sentimental. It's all just stuff anyway. I tossed like crazy, recycled, donated... but finally I was free. Visual clutter is the worst to me. I feel like it really has a way of stifling creativity. If you subscribe to ideas of energy and how it flows and all that good stuff... clutter is the ultimate blocker of energy. If there are too many obstacles for energy to get around then it will get the hell out of Dodge and pass you on the way out!

Sometime around the end of Summer (last year) I was fed up with clutter again (maybe it's seasonal), and I decided to go through all "stuff" that was hobby related, organize it and de-stash, because apparently throwing out all my clothing wasn't enough?! And I did. I didn't just focus on my knitting stuff... I went through my sewing stuff as well and got rid of fabric I would never use (anything that was not black lol, kidding?) and ultimately separated my fabrics into 2 large see-through plastic bins: Apparel and Crafts. I then organized all my sewing notions, patterns, etc. and cleaned up my "to do" sewing bin, tossing out/donating what I knew I was never going to get around to finishing (or starting for that matter), pulling out all the "to be hemmed" pants and placing them in a separate labeled box that says "hem me" and placing the "to finish" items in my line of sight, right next to my main sewing machine so it was at arm's reach. I figure if it stares at me enough, I'll eventually get sick of looking at it and just finish the darn thing already!

I've been using an over-the-door shoe holder for several years now to store my large cones of sewing thread, but I have also recently started placing other sewing items in the shoe holder like jars of buttons, safety pins, wooden spools, stuff like that. My holder is ultra low-tech, I think I got it from Target ages ago for like 5 bucks, it's really pitiful and cheap looking - just clear vinyl with bias tape around its 20 shoe slots and around the entire edge of the holder and it has 3 little hooks on the top where you insert the metal hangers, but I swear, it is one of my most useful organizational tools I own, and it's practical as hell. I don't see why you can't make one of these yourself (new project!) and use the label maker to label each slot to your hearts desire! Love labels!!! Anyway, I save glass jars (of all sizes) from pasta sauce and garlic usually ;), clean them up really well, remove the labels, and use them to store all kinds of small items. These jars are also really great for gift items like pre-made cookie mix recipes, pre-made drink recipes, etc. and even craft swap gifts. Sure the Ball jars are more attractive, but these are already paid for! All you have to do is fancy it up a bit by covering the lid with fabric or craft paper, add a cute little hang tag onto the neck of the jar and you are done! I've even made a few pin cushions out of the small garlic jars.


They are the perfect size for almost anything really, and the bonus is that they are in "see through" containers which helps me (and you!) to quickly identify what I have on hand and what I need more of. I'm emphasizing "see through" here... it's a little contradictory because if you can still see all this stuff, then it can still be considered visual clutter, even if it is organized in a very clean, tidy way, but see-through for a crafter/hobbyist, I feel is essential. It really helps to remedy that "oh crap, I don't have [fill in the blank item that you are always out of right at the end of a project] and now I need to run out and get it" thing. A lot of the times, I find that I have the item on hand, I just don't know where the hell it is! You know what I'm talking about. It also curbs the need to stockpile as if you are waiting for the apocalypse! I know those JoAnn Fabric sales are tempting! Keep that money in your pockets folks. You will thank yourself one day :)

Last note on the over-the-door shoe holder... (because you haven't heard enough about it!)
In the past, I have also started storing random skeins of yarn in the holder as well. The slots are just the perfect size for those small skeins of Lily "Sugar 'n Cream" and the like (stuff that isn't as attractive to fiber-loving insects). If you are needing an organizational tip (a free one at that!), the over-the-door shoe holder would be a great way to organize your knitting projects (if they are small projects). You could easily print out your pattern and tuck it into a slot with the respective yarn and grab a project as needed! Socks, anyone? You can also put small wip's (works-in-progress) or ufo's (unfinished objects) here in an effort to finally finish up old projects.

Ok, well, as usual, I've forgotten the main purpose of this post, but I do hope that I've helped you with maybe starting to not to think so negatively about planning and organizing! I hate to say it, but especially in this type of economy, it is helpful to be a little more practical, a lot more frugal, and really try to use what we have, and buy when you need. I am no different than any other hobbyist out there... I've stock piled in the past out of lack of experience (boy is being a rookie expensive!) as well as being a sucker for a good sale or a beautiful, soft skein of yarn or a fantastic patterned fabric, and I have my own set of regrets regarding that. But there is no time to feel bad about past decisions. Only time to learn from them and make better future decisions!

Now onto my next project... organizing this monstrosity of interchangeable and fixed circular knitting needles that has been sitting inside of 2 old wooden cigar boxes for the past few months! The vinyl pouch that my interchangeable set came in didn't hold up at all (no surprise here) and unfortunately my needles have suffered and have been left without a home... plus... it's just looks sloppy as hell! How's that for visual clutter :P

Until next time...

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