Bullet Journal · Craft

Beating perfectionism with a bullet journal

If you’re a perfectionist, you know what it’s like. You start a new project, you’re all excited, then three minutes in you make a mistake. What then?

For me, that often involved rage-quitting, though my rage is a quiet one. I have, for example, left many knitted items to languish for months or even years because of a mistake I cannot see by the time I pick it up again. This is a thing I do regularly.

However, it’s a thing I’m trying to avoid. I’m also doing my best to improve my productivity and time management, especially since I’m starting a Master of Education course in September, gulp. When I heard about bullet journaling I didn’t realise it would be for me, but I’m really glad I picked it up.

You can read a little about my bullet journal in my epic post from a while back. I talk about the fact it is for flexibility instead of perfection, and that’s exactly why I do it.

In a bullet journal, it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. You either fix it or you move on. If you do something that doesn’t work for you for that month, you can switch it up next month, or right now (as I did!). It’s an unplanned space for your own brain to process, and it’s very freeing.

Oddly, the bullet journal method – or how I use it, anyway – has made my creativity spike. It’s not that I have more ideas; it’s that I’m not afraid to try any of them now. When I realised I had an old leather journal with no space left in it, I decided to cut out the binding and re-bind it myself with my own paper. THEN I ACTUALLY DID THE THING.

Knitter Nerd: Leather journal
See? DID. THE. THING.

Here is the difference: bullet journaling is helping me try new things with less panic about it going wrong.

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good or useful.

I know this isn’t the only way to avoid perfectionism; there’s a lot of methods out there. The way I see it is anything that lets you rewrite that narrative on the importance of ‘perfect’ is great. Perfect might exist, but I sure as hell doubt many people will ever reach it.

Bullet journaling has helped me enjoy the process and witness my own growth as I move from month to month and spread to spread. It’s not perfect and never will be, but I’m getting much better at accepting that and being proud of myself despite it.

Since the bullet journal world has changed mine, I’ll be sharing some of my favourite YouTube videos and channels over the next few weeks to hopefully bring a few of you the kind of inspiration I feel from the whole method.

If you have any thoughts on either bullet journals or other ways out of perfectionism, I’d love to hear it!

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Craft · Knitting

Suddenly, a cardigan appears

Over the last week I have finished a few projects  (on their way to the blocking mat) and frogged one fairly major project (story coming later this week). Since everything on the needles is giving me attitude, I decided to start a project I’ve been excited about for a while.

Plus it was my birthday Sunday. What better excuse to cast on a cardigan?

20160912_152050.jpg

I only started this yesterday and it’s already ten inches deep. It’s a welcome break from troublesome projects!

Craft · Knitting

I didn’t set it on fire

…And that’s about as much as I can say about my recent knitting incident. I’m proud that the matches remain in the junk drawer, because it was a close thing.

I’m knitting a thing for someone (shhh) and it’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty, it’s beaded, it’s geeky. It’s something that one day I’ll be very proud I knitted, and I’m sure a lot of you are going to appreciate it when I can share pictures. For now let’s just call it THE THING OF DOOM, because it suits the damn situation.

So. THE THING OF DOOM has been on the needles for about two or three weeks and I’ve been knitting it a lot, mostly at home because I’m in a new position at work and can’t concentrate on fancy lace and such things. If THE THING OF DOOM has those attributes, of course. Which it might not. (It does.)

I’m about halfway through the last half of THE THING OF DOOM when I look at it, really look at it, and realise it’s wrong. Not just ‘I have a yarn over in the wrong place’ wrong, but ‘did you even read the pattern you big old fluff-for-brains’ wrong. Irredeemably wrong. Now, I checked a few times and inspected project photos over and over because I’ve been known to frog things only to realise it was fine the first time, but no. THE THING OF DOOM had to be ripped back about halfway.

Maybe I should be pleased I didn’t have to rip back to the beginning but that is not much of a consolation right now, shut up.

It’s really hard not to think about how many stitches I had to rip out last night. With over three hundred per row and about three inches of knitting, that’s… that’s a lot. That’s thousands. That’s… ugh.

Thankfully it was not the fancy lace part so it was easy to frog. I sat at knitting night and glowered at the world as I ripped it back, then picked up the stitches without incident and began knitting again, pleased that I only put it on down-time for four days or so.

Then I realised I hadn’t restrung the beads.

THE THING OF DOOM is back in its bag and though I need to finish it soon, right now I’m just trying to keep the matches out of sight.

Why do I think knitting is fun again?

Craft

My first crochet projects

Once I figured out how easy crochet was I got a bit excited by it all. I began crocheting All The Things. At the time I was working in a large complex of stores all owned by the same people, and when I was in one of the two stores I worked in most often, I had ample time to crochet under the counter.

Yes, the place closed down around the beginning of 2011 due to how quiet it had become. It was my first full-time job and I enjoyed it well enough, but it was mostly sad to see it go because it had been there my whole life.

Anyway. I had plenty of time to crochet secretly at work and to crochet more as soon as I got home. Not to mention the fortnightly Stitch ‘n’ Bitch where I could take a wild break in routine to, you guessed it, crochet some more. I really enjoyed crocheting and I understood it much better than I understood knitting, so it was my default.

Here are a few of my proudest creations.

blanket

The star blanket for my nephew. That baby is not my nephew, but a small child who passed out at my nephew’s first birthday. I had permission to post it back then, so I assume it stands.

This was my second attempt at the blanket and I was super proud of the results. It’s very simple to do and looks amazing in variegated yarn, and seeing my small baby nephew in it gave me the warm fuzzies.

bloodyhell_medium

Heavily filtered through the glorious iPhone 3g that I loved at the time. You can hardly see the project, what was I thinking? Anyway, this is probably the best thing I made when I was just starting out.

It’s a blood choker. I took the inspiration from a pattern but didn’t like the execution, so I designed it to differ a lot. It was the first time I’d made something that looked exactly how I planned it without following a pattern. Yes, it’s a tad gory, but it made me happy and my Halloween costume for work was badass. (At the time I had shoulder-length hair, and I used most of a can of hairspray to make it stand out in a huge bird’s nest of a mess. I wish I had photos of that.)

choker1

Another moment of pride for me. At the time it felt like I had been crocheting forever, but in fact it had only been about four months. Making this little lacy motif made me super happy even if I never got around to finishing the pattern (a choker called Asphyxiation).

It was crocheted with some thread I bought on a trip to Newcastle upon Tyne to visit a friend. Little did I know that a few short years later I would live there for eighteen months while I waited to get my permanent residency in Canada. Funny how life takes us on such wayward routes.

I don’t crochet much any more, but looking back at my Crafter Origin Story has made me wish I did. I’m in the middle of a complicated knitted shawl right now, but once that’s done I think it’s time to crack out the hooks.

Craft · Crocheting

Chaos in learning to crochet

If there is one thing that craft has taught me, it’s that I’m a pain in the butt to teach. I listen to instructions well and I absorb information like a sponge (which comes in handy at my day job), but given the chance to figure out something for myself, it’s chaos.

The thing is, I’m impatient. I want to know how to do all the things all at once. I’m intellectually aware that this is impossible but that does not stop me jumping headfirst into things without stopping to figure out how it works or what I should do to make it functional.

Case in point: my early posts on crochet.

This was my first attempt at crochet, posted on August 12th 2010, just weeks after I learned how to knit:

crochet

From the colour of the background I can tell I was sitting on my rickety old bed at home when I was living with my Dad. (Side note: my Dad recently got rid of that bed and was absolutely shocked that I was using a pile of books to hold it up where the edge had cracked. When he asked why I hadn’t just asked for a new bed frame, I admitted that it hadn’t occurred to me. I’ll leave you to decide whether that says anything about me as a logical human being.)

My first attempt was messy and hilarious, but that was probably because I watched a five minute video on YouTube then decided I knew how to do it, I was basically a pro.

Then that wonky scrap happened and I had to revise the theory of my awesomeness.

About a week later I posted a picture of my second attempt at crocheting which was a small snake out of bamboo cotton. It might look like I learn quickly if you compare the two samples less than a week apart: that’s true in a sense, but it’s mostly due to the fact that when I’m fixated on something I do little else and get in way more hours of practice in a short time than any reasonable person would.

snake

A snippet from the post about the snake which shows how little I change:

You know when you try for ages and ages to do something without reading more than one tutorial and completely fail? Just me, huh? Well, I’ve been teaching myself to crochet with very little prior reading and it hasn’t been going well. I’ve produced a few scraps of rubbish fabric but I was determined to get it right so I kept on going.

Tonight was Stitch and Bitch at the Old Town Hall. I love it so; within half an hour of getting there I not only had a fabulous cup of tea, but I was well on my way to starting my first actual crochet project without failing miserably.

With the help of Sophie and a very talented lady whose name I cannot remember, I began crocheting in a circle instead of in rows and it is SO MUCH EASIER you have no idea! (Except that anyone reading this probably would have an idea…)

Despite the epiphany I had about how much easier learning is when you take instruction from something such as a video or a knowledgeable friend, I still continued about my chaotic way of teaching myself.

From this post:

So while watching Psych on my laptop – which I bought a while ago but never got around to watching – I had my crochet hook and my bamboo cotton in hand. I made a circle and then thought, hey! Why not see if I can make a simple flower without actually looking up how to make one?

It worked, unlike my first attempt at baking (see the post to understand), and somehow I ended up with a lopsided bracelet with a bamboo cotton flower in lime green. You better bet that I wore that crap with pride, people.

bracelet

That’s the reason I try things out this way. It’s so much fun working out how to do things without reading instructions; it’s not immediately productive, but it forces you to get a handle on the concepts behind the craft in order to guess how to do something new. Besides, once I fail miserably proudly, I spend the next god knows how many hours reading up on how to actually do the thing.

I’m sure it’s fun to be able to learn things in a methodical, logical way, but my mind isn’t built like that. Is yours? How do you learn this stuff?

Bookbinding · Craft · Inspiration

Book-Binding: My First Attempt

It occurred to me when trying to find a post on here for my recent obsession that I never shared my foray into book-binding. Shame on me. Shame.

 

Let me tell you about my morning at the Oshawa LivingRoom Community Arts Studio. This magical place is a ten-minute walk from my house and is filled with creative types and, even better, with all sorts of ways to express your creativity for free. You can of course donate, but there are plenty of resources even if you can’t afford it.

I’d walked past it a hundred times but never got up the nerve to go inside until one day I got a newsletter update from them telling me all about an upcoming Book-Binding class. It was even run by someone I knew (but had not seen for about three years). I emailed back to announce my intention to be there with bells on and three weeks later turned up and sat down.

The process is fiddly but fun. We picked all sorts of paper and cut it to size, arranged it into sections (I forget the technical word), then used stiff cardboard to make the covers. Coptic stitch gives the book a cute look and makes it sit flat when you open it which is my favourite style of notebook.

IPoon 279

It was amazing to see all the ways people made their notebooks unique to them, and it blew my mind how many possibilities there are. I thought about making felted covers which is something I’m still considering. For now, I pasted on a cut-out from a calendar filled with art, and lined the insides with paper that reminds me of BBC’s Sherlock.

The stitching took a while but I can imagine it being extremely quick when you’re used to it. You can do so many different varieties, too, as I’ve discovered on Pinterest. Coptic stitch is simple and effective and full of possibilities.

It took me a while to work out what to use the book for since it’s so fun to have something I made myself. I’m a total addict to notebooks and have many (man, so many), so it was a difficult decision. In the end I took it to England with my on my recent trip and began filling it with the very strange emotions I felt upon returning to my home-town after emigrating to an entirely new country.

The fact I had created the notebook made it all the more special, though I’m going to have to figure out how to make the covers more stable. I’ve already ripped part of the cover off and had to stick it back together. That won’t be a problem with felted covers, at least.

Have you ever tried book-binding? Would you?

 

 

Craft · Dorset Buttons

First attempt at Dorset Buttons

When I started knitting and crocheting I was fascinated by the link to history the craft provided. So many women and men through the centuries sat down and enjoyed (or tolerated!) the same craft that I had discovered. Some of their work is even around today.

If you’re careful, you can even follow the patterns from decades ago, or even more in the case of my talented friend Lisa.

The more I look, the more there is to see. A while ago I heard about Dorset buttons and was instantly intrigued. Though I live in Ontario now, I was born in Dorset and spent a large chunk of my life gazing at those rolling hills. I visited my hometown for a week this month (pictures coming later) and until then I had forgotten how it felt to be surrounded by and steeped in history, so it was appropriate that my friend Maureen gave me the instructions on how to make my own Dorset buttons.

Want to learn how to make Dorset buttons? Here’s the tutorial I used.

Dorset buttons were a huge part of the Dorset cottage industry during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Imagine all those men, women, and even children hunched around making intricate and beautiful buttons. One quarter of my ancestors were very old Dorset folk; my legal name is even tied to the general area. I can easily imagine my own distant relatives making these.

Of course I had to try it.

It’s easy, though not as quick as it looks. You need plastic bone rings, a yarn needle, and some yarn or tapestry thread. I used some fingering weight yarn when I sat down to try it out when recovering from a migraine (possibly not the best idea I’ve ever had). It took me about forty minutes total, and I was going slowly. My hand cramped afterward so I wouldn’t be able to do a lot in a row, but there’s no way I’m not making more.

Knitter Nerd: Dorset Button

 

Though it’s wonky and one of the spokes is doing its own thing, I’ll be making a lot more of these.

Craft · Knitting · Needles · Nerdery · Yarn

Come Along, Pond.

I’m knitting socks.

Okay, okay, try not to faint in shock. I know this is unusual and a little bit baffling. Polo, knit socks? Never! Except for those dozens of times, and all those socks I have planned for the future and all the skeins of pretty sock yarn and all the pairs suffering from Second Sock Syndrome…

These ones are made from glorious Manos del Uruguay. If you haven’t knitted with it before you need to head to your local yarn store and get some as soon as possible. It’s luscious.

The pattern is Business Casual and I’ve kind of stopped looking at it because it’s very intuitive, though considering my recent track record of messing up things when I glance away from the pattern for three stitches, maybe I should reconsider this. (You will be hearing more about that later, since I did the dumb thing and gifted the resultant mittens without getting photos.)

I’ve named them Come Along, Pond. Why? Well. Because they’re ginger, of course.

Come along, Pond!
Come along, Pond!

That’s what they look like inside but in natural light they’re far more red than it seems there. It’s orangey-red rather than just plain orange. This is a closer match to the colour:

image1 (1)

Can’t you feel how soft and smooth and fluffy that yarn is through the screen? You know you can. And isn’t it pleasing that the two-stitch cable pattern splits from the 2×2 rib of the cuff? Yes, yes it is. These socks are a dream to knit and my saviour in between fun but difficult patterns.

As an aside: I’m knitting them on my only pair of cubics and they’re great. No better than ordinary DPNs for me, though some people swear by them. The best thing is how they line up so neatly when you lay them down on the table. No more abrupt squats to pick up escaping needles!

Though squats do give you a fabulous derriere.

Amy Pond is one of my favourite characters in Doctor Who because she gets to live out such a huge part of her life and, more than most companions, she has the control. She says when she’ll go with the Doctor and when she won’t. She manages a life with her husband and the rest of their family and yet still gets to go off on adventures with her alien friend. She’s also totally hilarious and a bit mental, so I dig her.

These socks are in her honour as I come to the end of Eleven’s time in the show in my binge-rewatch.

 

Craft · Geeky Patterns · Knitting · Nerdery · Patterns

Timey Wimey Knits: Part Two

Onwards I go through my Doctor Who binge, the first I have done since I started watching it. It’s fun to view them all in order and refresh my memory on so many characters and episodes that I had forgotten.

I just watched the Wedding of River Song and oh, how I love her. She’s smart, she’s capable, she’s brutal. She parades into the Doctor’s life and doesn’t apologise for it. Though morally she’s not a particularly good person she does her best for the people she loves and boy, does she have good hair.

Sometimes Doctor Who can be a cheesefest (which is why I can’t convince my girlfriend to watch it) but on the whole it’s full of complex characters and big emotions. It’s easy to cry when watching Doctor Who but it’s just as easy to laugh.

Since I shared some of my favourite Doctor Who socks last week, here are a few more to warm you – this time with some variety. Tune in on Friday to see my completely-not-themed-but-still-counts ‘Come Along, Pond’ socks (you’ll see).

I’m in love with the Companions today so you’re getting ones themed around them, the constant complement to our favourite erratic Time Lord.

Let’s start with the biggest (on the inside).

And yes, the TARDIS counts as a companion, even if it was only for one episode. Oh, Idris. (Perhaps it’s the Doctor who is the Companion there…)

The Doctor’s Wife

by Corrine Walcher

Timey Wimey Knits - The Doctor's Wife

Oi! Watch it Spaceman! Socks

by C.C. Almon

Oi, Watch It Spaceman! - Timey Wimey Knits

River Song’s Diary

by hells456

River Song's Diary - Timey Wimey Knits

Hello, I’m Captain Jack

by C.C. Almon

Hello, I'm Captain Jack - Timey Wimey Knits

Come Along, Pond

by Teri B.

Come Along, Pond! - Timey Wimey Knits

 That’s it for this week. Next week we’re looking at some rather terrifying villains, though why you’d want to put anything reminding you of the Weeping Angels anywhere near your body I’m stumped.

Craft

Nalbinding

Yesterday I forgot all of my current projects and had some hours to kill. Since I had a darning needle and a few stretches of thread I decided to try nalbinding (or nålebinding or naalbinding or needle binding etc).

The results were entertaining to say the least.

I got photographs that unfortunately I cannot yet share as my iPod is playing silly buggers, but for now I’ll ask has anyone ever tried this? Did you manage to make anything?

If you don’t know what nalbinding is, it’s an ancient way of creating fabric that some say was the precursor to knitting. If you see an item made this way you might even think it was knitted, albeit in a strange stitch. It’s made with a needle (I used a darning needle but there are special ones you should use) and is made with strips of cut yarn instead of a continuous thread.

800px-Handschuhe_Nadelbindung
By own work (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
It’s fiddly and fun. I haven’t worked out how to do more than a quick stretch of the Oslo stitch, and I’m too busy with important knitting/crochet projects to learn any more for now.

So again: have you tried nalbinding? Would you like to try it?