Yarn Cravings and Amazon Adventures

Happy January…I’ve been battling an illness for the past month, and am still not well. The bugs swirling around in winter at schools finally caught up to me. The past 2 weeks it’s getting progressively worse. You know I’m sick when I miss my precious ski days! It’s depressing. On the bright side, I have had extra time for net-surfing, reading, writing, and knitting. Surfing for patterns and yarn, of course. Here are some of the goodies I found and the adventures along the way.

Since finishing the Baby Surprise Jacket (see last post), I started an adult-sized version for one of my daughters. It is progressing nicely. Here’s a photo of the work in progress. The yarn is Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal in Oatmeal and blue, with bits of Patons Classic Wool in blush, and a Caron Cake in Rainbow Sherbet.

While knitting I was also surfing, planning out the next jacket, and browsing through more garter stitch patterns. Here’s one I absolutely drooled over: the Hue Shift Afghan from KnitPicks. Wow, it’s stunning, and it’s offered as a kit and a pattern. Although the kit is low-priced, it’s from the USA and I would have to pay exchange and duty. I may just get the pattern and shop for yarn in my stash or LYS.

Shop local is my mantra (I love my LYS), but I just couldn’t help myself with this one. There is a yarn supplier & pattern designer I’ve been a fan of for years, Elann, based in Vancouver. (So, they’re kind of local.) Elann now outsources their shipping to Amazon.ca. Anyway, I ordered a 5-pack of the Meander wool in the Bohemian colourway. It arrived last Friday as promised, but when I opened the box, my order was sprinkled with, of all things, SOY SAUCE. It was actually spilled inside the box. I guess the Amazon warehouse order-picker-packer was eating his lunch while he packed my box. Thankfully the yarn was packaged in a plastic bag, so it was not damaged, but it stunk like soy sauce. Awful, except, Elann’s customer service was fast and amazing. They replied to my complaint within a couple of hours, and offered to replace the yarn and give me a free pattern. I decided to keep the yarn (the smell will easily air/wash out), and chose the Pinwheel Sweater pattern. You can find Elann on Ravelry, and on Amazon. Check them out. I am still a loyal customer thanks to their fabulous customer service. The Meander yarn is delicious and is destined for my next project, probably another Surprise Jacket, or a cozy “swoncho” (poncho-sweater-thing, thanks Knitting Daily emails for the name).

What are you working on? Feel free to post links in the comments here.

I hope you are all healthy and well. Happy knitting and crocheting!

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4 ways to get organized and clear your mind

It’s spring, and even though it’s raining in Castlegar, I’m still excited about all the new ideas for 2013. Is your craft room a mess? Have you been putting off new projects? Here are four ideas for you to get a fresh start with your crafting without the stress.

Clear the Clutter

With two kids, school, work, and hobbies, my family is constantly fighting clutter. My goal is to not to bring in new supplies into a cluttered, messy craft room. I know, it’s hard to keep things organized, especially with crafting. At least it is for me! Get some boxes or a bookshelf and organize your supplies by type and by colour. This could be as simple as having a labelled bin for each of your stamps, inks, pens, punches, dies, paper, and embellishments. You don’t have to go all Martha Stewart, but it helps. (Martha’s a genius and I wish I could be half as good!)

This video from ChicnScratch gives excellent tips on how to organize your desk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6Z0uoxz1fw

Make a List

You probably have a whole list of to-do’s and half-finished projects floating around in your head. (Or maybe you don’t, maybe that’s just me.) Stop wasting your brain power trying to remember everything. Do a “brain dump” and write all those things down on a list. Pick the top three and save the rest for another day. Try the Epic Day This-n-That bundle from Stampin’ Up! – it’s a fully customizable, colourful journal for notebook-lovers. Or, try the Up to Date Planner digital kit if you prefer to type out a list.

One Thing at a Time

It’s way more effective to work on just one thing at a time. Turn off your iPad and focus on the scrapbook page in front of you. Or load the dishwasher without watching television. If you’re a mom focusing on just one thing will be difficult – try it anyway, maybe after the kids go to bed. Tune out the world by putting on your headphones and cranking up the music while you work. File away all the other projects so you can work on a clean desk. Multi-tasking is not worth the stress.

Sketch it Out

My absolute must-have is the big pad of grid paper from Stampin’ Up! I use it to sketch out craft projects, test colour combos, and even for analyzing data and outlining reports and flowcharts for work. Being able to see how everything fits together makes a project clear and easy to tackle. It also helps you to organize your approach for big, multi-step projects.

Happy spring, and happy crafting!