Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I'm NOT adding to Stash

Ok. So the February challenge is to not buy anything to add to your stash. How's it going so far? Yeah?

If you need a little help accomplishing this challenge, I have some tips for you. I've done  these when I've done spending freezes before. (100 days is usually what I go for.)

Break it Down

A month seems so long right? You really struggle with this, I mean, you've tried it before and it didn't work.

Just break it down. Set the goal to go a day. Then make it a week. Then keep going. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

If you are a visual person, make a special mark on each day you don't buy. Make a chain of days with the mark on them, and DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN! This is something that totally works for me. When I did the 100 day challenge, I actually wrote the number of the day I was on.

Focus on Finishing

You know all those WIPs and PHDs? (Works In Progress and Projects Half Done.) Finish them. It feels great to finish. You can check them off your list. Bonus, if you get them all done, you can start out March with a clean slate.


Ok, this one is one I have not actually done, but have thought about it and may try it this go-around. Every time you are tempted to add to your stash, write down the price of the items, and then walk away. DO NOT buy it, just take note of how much it would cost you if you were to buy it.

From here you have two options.

 At the end of the month add it all up and be excited/surprised/flabbergasted at how much money you did not spend on supplies. What could you do with that money instead? Emergency savings? An extra payment on the car/house/credit card?

Or, each time you are tempted to buy, instead of buying move that money from your checking to your savings account. Do it as you are in the store if you have a fancy phone that allows you to do that. Again, at the end of the month look at the total amount of money you saved by not buying for your stash.

Those are my top  tips to help you accomplish this month's goal. What are your strategies for not buying?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stash Along February: Freeze

Here we are.  February, the time of year where some people fall off their New Years high and start abandoning resolutions. If you resolved to use your stash, stick with us! We will help you all year long. If you are just joining us, we started out the year with the challenge of Inventory in January. Go ahead and catch up, since that challenge was meant to help you know exactly what you have so you can have a successful year using it up. You're really going to need it this month.

Freeze is the theme for February.

As in freeze your stash. Do not add to it. No buying. No trading. Nothing. This is one month where I am being explicit with the challenge. Most of them will be left open to interpretation, but not this month.

WHY? Because February is the shortest month. It's only 4 weeks long. 28 days. I know how hard it can be to not buy something just for the sake of buying it. It's cute, it would make a good such and such, or you love it and know you can find something to do with it. Resist. Just for this month. You can do it.

Taking a month and not buying will force you to start actually using your stash. This is going to help get you into the habit of shopping your stash first, so the rest of the year of stashbusting will go more smoothly (in theory).

Stay tuned for a post on how to help yourself accomplish this month's goal.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Tips to Help Your Academic Writing Flow

As a tutor and academic editor, I have edited and proofread dozens (possibly hundreds at this point…) of papers that people are getting ready to submit to their teachers and professors to grade. A lot of folks have the mechanics of writing down, they can write coherent sentences and follow a line of thought, and quite a few use the APA guide well and don’t need much help with formatting.
However, I have noticed that some seem to struggle with getting their paper to “flow”. Their writing seems too mechanical, too technical, and too impersonal. It seems that they are trying too hard to sound academic, and end up sounding like a robot.

As I communicated with several of the people I edited for, I have been able to identify some practical tips for helping your writing “flow”. I received positive feedback on these tips and have even seen my return customers improve their writing, which has led their papers to need less editing and rewriting to occur. 

After you write your paper, go through it yourself using the following tips:
  1.    Read it out loud. Yes, I know it sounds a little weird and that you will feel weird doing this, but it works. This was advice that was given to me by one of my undergrad professors, and it has been the most useful skill I acquired as an undergrad.  Why?  You will hear issues in the text that you don’t see. These can include things like proper use of was/were, tense agreement, run-on sentences, and half -finished thoughts.
  2.  If you are using the semi-colon, make sure you actually need it. A semi-colon is used if you can end a sentence but choose not to. This does not, however, give you permission to write run on sentences. In my experience, you shouldn’t use it if you can just as easily create two sentences. I don’t want to be that person, but I will say it: Don’t use the semicolon. At. All. It’s too easy to mis-use.
  3.   Are you sure about your commas? Comma usage is another common issue I see in manuscripts. Either people are overusing them, misplacing them, or not using them at all. Comma usage is an area where reading out loud will really help you out. Don’t take a breath or pause unless you see a comma (or a period), if you find yourself pausing or needing to breath mid-sentence, double check to see if it makes sense for a comma to be inserted where you had to pause. If not, then  you have a run on sentence, and need to split the big, long sentence into two or three smaller ones.
  4.  Write with your own, original voice. Don’t try to be someone, or something that you are not. As you read out loud, ask yourself: If I was having a conversation with my best friend/professor/mom/a real live person, would I say it like that? If not, rewrite.Write it like you would say it!
  5. My final piece of advice is this: Get someone to proofread and edit it that is invested in helping you succeed, even if that means correcting you. Your family and friends will want you to feel good, be successful, and be happy. Be sure that they are aware that you want constructive criticism, not a cheerleader.

Good luck in your writing! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I'm going to Try

So, this is not a craft or stash related post, like I usually do on a Tuesday, but hang in there, I think it will lead to a lot more great Tuesday posts. You see, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and read a couple of blogs. I noticed that some folks seem to get paid to review things...

I'm not looking to get paid to review things (yet), but I do think it might be interesting to try it out. I have a few items on their way to me, as well as a shelf full of lovely knitting and sewing books, that I'm going to try out doing reviews on. Just to see how it goes, ya know.

At least one of them will be a "live reveal", where I plan on videoing when I open the box on Instagram so be sure to follow me over there.

And let me know how this reviewing thing is working out, so I will know if I should keep doing it or not. I mean, I think I can find some other stuff to blog about too. ;)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Hot Pink Sweater

Once we knew that Monkey was a girl, I was excited to make her all sorts of clothes. Not that I wouldn't have been excited for a boy, but for some reason boy clothes are a lot harder to find good patterns for whether you are sewing or knitting.

I found some great, hot pink yarn from an indie dyer on Instagram. And I got it. Just enough for a wee little sweater and a matching hat (or two). My husband has a thing for neon so I was sure this hot pink yarn would be a winner all around.

It sort of is.

You see, I finished the sweater the other night and immediately put it on Monkey. We were having a Ladies Night with her Aunt Mabels (my sister). Monkey wore the sweater about two hours, maybe three.

It's important to note now, that Monkey is three months old and has entered the drooly stage of life. (Also the blurry stage.) So there was some minor drooling going on during the course of the night.

When we got home and took the sweater off, there was a pink crescent shaped stain on her white onesie where her drool had soaked through at the neck of the sweater.

Fortunately, I remembered that there is a way to re-set dye in yarn using citric acid. I happen to have a bottle of citric acid on hand thanks to a failed bath bomb experiment last year, so I set out to fix this cute little sweater that I was so excited about.

First I had to look up the exact instructions. The lovely Knitmore Girls had posted a tutorial several years ago that I used. I came upon it by googling 'citric acid soak', which took me to Knitting Daddy who linked directly to the instructions in the post on the Knitmore blog. Convenient for a new momma trying to fit this project in around naps, feeding, and general cuddles.

I'm not going to go into details here, but here are some pictures of the process:
Here it is in the soak, round one. 

After coming out of the microwave. It was super hot so be careful when you take yours out and unwrap it! 

If you look very closely, you can see the steam coming off the sweater. I had just taken the plastic wrap off of it.

So, if you actually read the captions you will notice that the first picture says "Round One". Yep. The water was still super pink after doing the entire process once. So I did it again. By the time I was through attempt number two, Monkey was ready for her dinner so I decided twice was good enough even if the water was still a little pink. It was much lighter pink the second round, so improvement was made!

After the whole treatment, I let the sweater block and dry. We had family in town and took Monkey along for our touristy excursion we take everyone on when they first visit. She of course wore the sweater so I didn't have to mess with a jacket and the car seat. She wore the sweater all day, through drool and spit ups galore. At the end of the day, the sweater came off and the onesie underneath.... was pink again. Just where she drooled around the neck and her wrists (she likes chewing her fingers, it's the stage she's at). I'm on the fence about doing another soak for it or not, though. I figure if I put a pink or gray or black onesie on underneath it won't be that big of a deal. Plus pink onesie number one came out of the wash all white again....

Now, I have some yarn that I made socks out of and am currently making leggings for Monkey with the rest of it. This particular yarn is notorious for bleeding and fading so I will be repeating this process with those when they are completed. If I remember to, I will do another picture along of the process for you all!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

De-Cluttering the Yarn Stash

Last week I wrote about de-cluttering your fabric stash. A few weeks after my most recent fabric de-stash, I decided to do a yarn one as well. Only this time I approached it a bit differently than I usually do. Usually I just look through the yarn and say, "Yeah, I can get rid of that."

But since we really, truly need to make room in our house (that baby needs a room!), I decided to be a bit more...ruthless. I came up with a new system that worked really well. As in over 20 skeins gone.

The Method

Much like the fabric method, the yarn will be sorted into different piles. Only three piles, and a garbage can. The piles are Give Away, Keep-Project assigned, and Keep-Souvenir Yarn. For yarn, I have to go through the piles in a different order, just because it makes more sense to me this way. I mean, how do you know what yarn is going to be Give Away yarn if you don't know the rules for the Keep yarns?

Throw Away

While this didn't become a pile of it's own, it is an essential part to de-cluttering. Any ball of yarn too small to make a project, like a hat, went straight into the garbage can. Because if you are anything like me with yarn, those little balls in a pile will end up back in the stash box.

Keep- Project Assigned

This yarn is the yarn that you bought with a specific project in mind. Not the "I'll buy it and figure out a pattern later" yarn. This is yarn that came into your stash because you saw a pattern that you have to make, and went out and bought yarn for it. As with the fabric, be honest with yourself about whether the project will actually be made.
For me, I feel like once I got rid of all the yarn I did that I have a higher chance of making those projects because I'm not being bogged down by all the other yarn. I will have no choice but to make those projects because it's the only yarn I have to work with.
I also recently resolved to no longer make items for others. No more custom orders. No more "it might sell in the shop" making. Again, this gives me pretty much no choice about using the yarn that is left in my stash. Those sweaters are for me and my family!

Keep- Souvenir Yarn

Ok. This is the pile that you cannot make exceptions for because I can see a lot of folks trying to talk themselves into keeping yarn that they shouldn't while adding to this pile.
First, what is Souvenir Yarn? It is yarn that you bought while on vacation. It is yarn that is unique to the area and shop that you bought it in. It is not the same Cascade 220 that you can get at your LYS.
The Souvenir Yarn in my stash was bought when we were in Sarasota a year ago. I asked the shop owner what they had that was unique and local to them. I was pointed toward a wall of indie dyed yarn from a local dyer in colors inspired by pictures taken by a local photographer. That is Souvenir Yarn.
Souvenir Yarn that is kept does not need an assigned project. However, you again need to be realistic about whether the yarn will be used or not. If you haven't noticed yet, I am not a believer in 'treasure' yarns. Those ones that people buy and put in their stash, and then it spends the rest of it's existence being admired and not used. This does not go down with me. If yarn is in my stash, it will be used. If it won't be used, out it goes.

Give Away

Anything that has not made it into the Project Assigned or Souvenir Yarn pile goes here. Everything. (Side note: WIP yarn should be off somewhere with the WIP.) Again, how you get rid of it is up to you. I have had success posting on Craigslist and Facebook to find good homes for my yarn. Post pictures, announce it's up for grabs, and get it to the first person who wants it. The sooner you can meet up with them and hand it over, the better. Do not post the yarn as "For Sale" with prices, the point of de-cluttering is to get this yarn gone. If you try to sell, you won't de-clutter. People like free stuff more than stuff they have to pay for.

Also, last week our reader Lynn suggested finding local charities that could use the stash you are giving away. I know where I live there is at least one charity that accepts yarn because they teach refugees to knit. Thanks for the great suggestion Lynn!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book List 2016

  Book List for 2016
For those of you who are new to the blog, each year I keep track of the books I read. Back in the day I would set goals for amounts to read, but abandoned that concept when grad school rolled around. Now as a new mother, I'm just going with the flow to see how it all works out for 2017.

Books: 45 
Pages: 14,504

  1. Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman (224) 
  2. Cold Wind by CJ Box (388)
  3. The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz (344) Recommended Series
  4. The Yard by Alex Grecian (422)
  5. The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood (384)
  6. The Translator by Nina Schuyler (303)
  7. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer (276)
  8. Force of Nature by CJ Box (385)
  9. Landline by Rainbow Rowley (310)
  10. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (303)
  11. Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer (504)
  12. CrissCross by F. Paul Wilson (415)
  13. Jackaby by William Ritter (299)
  14. Breaking Point by CJ Box (367)
  15. The Black Country by Alex Grecian (384)
  16. Any Other Name by Craig Johnson (317)
  17. Elske by Cynthia Voigt (320)
  18. Chalk Lines and Lipstick by Maren Colpepper (203)
  19. Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (403)
  20. Stone Cold by CJ Box (370)
  21. Endangered by CJ Box (369)
  22. Matched by Ally Condie (369)
  23. Disappearing Girls by * This has become a mystery. I don't remember the author and cannot find the book again in the library catalog. I did read it though, and I remember the plot.
  24. The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko (258)
  25. Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Purl-McPhee (219)
  26. Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn (256)
  27. On Writing by Stephen King (284)
  28. Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata (277)
  29. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (436)
  30. One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (256)
  31. Birthmarked by Caragh M O'Brien (361)
  32. Mister Max: Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt (367)
  33. Prized by Caragh M O'Brien (356)
  34. Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper (277)
  35. Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman (184)
  36. Promised by Caragh M O'Brien (293)
  37. Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (388)
  38. Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough (295)
  39. Hush by Eishes Chayil (359) I highly recommend this. While it does deal with sexual abuse, it is a great insight into a community that I hadn't known a whole lot about prior to reading: Goodreads Page
  40. Dry Bones by Craig Johnson (306)
  41. An Unmarked Grave by Kent Conwell (265)
  42. Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher (343)
  43. Infernal: A Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson (351)
  44. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (378)
  45. Harbingers (A Repairman Jack Novel) by F. Paul Wilson (336)

And edited 1,129 pages. (as of 12/7)
[For informational purposes: 2013= 64 books; 2014= 55 books, 24,439 pages, 2015= 41 books, 12,924 pages] 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

De-Cluttering the Fabric Stash

I recently have been working on simplifying my life and de-cluttering our house. I mean, the baby doesn't have her own room for heaven's sake. The most recent de-clutter that happened was the fabric and yarn stash. I came up with a method that I felt worked really well and thought I would share it with you all.

Fabric Method

I have a lot of fabric. Well, not as much as I could, but still it felt a bit overwhelming. My method for going through the fabric was this:

 Make four piles: Scraps, Give Away, Keep, and Re-visit. As you go through fabrics, you have to move quickly. After the initial go through, you can do a second, slower, and more thoughtful one if needed.


If they are small they go straight into the garbage. I know, you could use it for something, but will you? No. Toss it. It will feel good.
My scraps are now in a basket. I am currently working on a quilt that uses a lot of scraps, and I have plans for a second scrap quilt. After those two are completed, the remaining scraps will be processed. They will be tossed or made into layer cakes or charm squares.

Give Away

Of course, this is the pile of fabric that you are going to give away. It's fabric that you won't use, or isn't your taste anymore. It's also big enough to be usable by another person. It is NOT scraps.


As you are rushing through the fabrics, you will happen on some pieces that you put in the Give Away pile and then pull out again, or in the Keep pile and then pull out again. These are fabrics that you can't really decide on in a split second. You set them aside for the second round of sorting when you can take more time to think about them.


I have rules for my keep pile. They have to have a designated project, I have to be realistic about whether I really will make that project in the next six months or less. If not, it needs to go. There are a few fabrics that were kept because I love them. They don't have a specific project, but since I will be using all the other fabrics in the next few months, I will see them a lot and be able to come up with a project for them.

If not, I will be going through the fabric again in a few months anyway.

Throughout this whole process you have to be honest, and a little ruthless. Otherwise you won't be de-stashing. You will just be sorting.

After the initial sort, I take a little more time and go through the Re-Visit pile, and the Keep pile again. This way I'm already on a roll of getting things out, and I can ride that wave and get rid of even more fabrics.

What to do with the Give Away Pile

I take my Give Away pile and photograph every fabric, or in groups depending on size. A group of fat quarters in one picture, for example. I then post these pictures on Facebook and ask for any takers. I usually am able to get rid of all my fabric this way.
Instagram is another option. I know people who de-stash by posting fabric there, usually with a price. However, if I were to post I would not ask people to buy it. The point of de-stashing is to get rid of the fabric and move it out of my house.
After posting, I wait about a week. Any remaining, unclaimed fabric heads off to Goodwill.

If you are feeling awesome about all this de-stashing, and having all that space uncluttered, go ahead and set yourself a goal. Maybe it's to complete a certain number of projects in a month. Or to not buy any new fabric for a specific amount of time (100 days anyone?).

Then pat yourself on the back, and sit back and relax at your sewing machine to use up your newly found favorite fabric that you bought five years ago.