A Little Studio Reorganization

 I reorganized my studio with the help of some stacking shelves. | withwool.com

I’ve been feeling the itch to reorganize my studio space for months. I stared at it all for a bit before moving on to measuring and mentally rearranging all the furniture. Unfortunately, nothing drastic was going to happen without moving furniture to a different room which just wasn’t an option. But, I wasn't completely out of luck because I was able to stack a second shelf on top of one I already had. That little bit of extra storage space has made all the difference.

I’m not done rearranging, clearing out the clutter, and moving stuff around, by my studio feels so much cleaner and better organized. No more random piles of stuff shoved into corners. Yarn Fort can actually be Yarn Fort instead of a stack of all the things. The tip top shelf is the new spot for all my WIP’s and in-progress designs. My craft supplies, sketchbooks, and art supplies have a designated space that I can get to without moving other stuff out of the way first. And I have some extra shelf space to work with too. It’s great. The only downside of this new setup is that I haven’t figured out where to put the drum carder. It can’t chill on the couch for much longer.

It’s been awhile since Yarn Fort made an appearance, so here’s the stash in all it’s 5’ 7” glory. That’s 1.7 meters for my metric friends. While Yarn Fort hasn’t gotten noticeably smaller since 2016, it is better organized at least.

 I reorganized my studio with the help of some stacking shelves. | withwool.com

Good Bye 2016, Hello 2017

  A recap of With Wool’s 2016, and what to expect in 2017. | withwool.com #2016bestnine

In the last week of 2016, I read the Aroha Knits blog and Frenchie talked about acknowledging and celebrating her 2016 achievements. After reading her list (and everyone else’s 2016 wrap up posts) I wanted to tally up my own. Then I couldn’t think of a single thing! I knew wasn’t true. I just hadn't really kept track. So I went through a year’s worth of blog posts, my Ravelry designer profile, and random notes to figure out what I'd accomplished. 

 The Show-Off Boomerang by April Klich | withwool.com

1. I published 3 knitting patterns - The Odd Couple Shawl, The Show Off Boomerang, and The Waffle Time Washcloth - in 2016 and did the ground work to release at least 3 more in 2017. 2015 was a pretty empty year with just 1 pattern release and I’m glad 2016 was more active. 

 The Odd Couple Shawl by April Klich | withwool.com

2. While we’re on the topic of patterns, I’m also incredibly happy with the release of the Odd Couple shawl. After months of fiddling with the details and worrying if anyone would actually like it, Odd Couple received the best response of any pattern I’ve published! So, thank you!

3. I made a real effort to be consistent with this blog and my newsletter, With Wool Weekly, you can subscribe here. There were a few stumbles along the way, but I’m proud that I wrote, photographed, or filmed something for almost every week of the year. 

 Swamp Thing Handspun - Superwash BFL | withwool.com

4. I spun this amazing skein of handspun, and it’s my favorite skein that I’ve spun so far. I’ve picked up a few more fibers in the same vein to keep experimenting and spinning what I love. It’s a great motivation to keep learning and sharing that process with you.

5. Growth. With Wool has grown by a third (basing this math off page view and daily user analytics) during the past year. The With Wool Weekly newsletter has grown to triple digit subscribers! I’m thrilled you’re all here and I’m going to keep working hard to bring you knitting, spinning, and wooly goodness.

 

All in all, I’m proud of what I accomplished and am buckling down to keep the momentum going in 2017. My word for the year is “Focus”. Focus on big, long-term projects. Focus on community. Focus on work. Focus on progress made through small daily steps. So what am I planning for 2017, besides from keeping better track of my achievements? 

  1. More knitting patterns. Like I said above, I’ve got 3 knitting patterns in the works right now and that’s not counting all the sketches and swatches ready for the next step. I also want to reach out and submit designs to magazines. I’ve gotten plenty of “no’s” on that front. Maybe this year I’ll get a “yes”.
  2. New tutorials for knitting, spinning, and whatever else I want to share. I’m trying to branch out with more video tutorials too.
  3. Grow and engage more with the With Wool community. Overall, I want to talk knitting and spinning, share fiber arts goodness, and be more active socially. I have a few ideas about how to do this which I'll be sharing soon.   

Now that I’ve pulled together my 2016 achievements and 2017 goals, I’m curious about your achievements and plans. What are you proud of or looking forward too? What’s your one word for 2017?

With Wool Winter Sale!

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Clockwise: Odd Couple Shawl, Mosaic Sisters, Sapling, and Diagonal Socks

Working through your holiday gift knitting? Just getting started? Or knitting something for yourself? All With Wool patterns are on sale! $2 off all patterns, no coupon code required. Add the patterns to your Ravelry cart (no account required) and the discount will be applied automatically. Happy Knitting and Happy Holidays! 

The sale runs through Tuesday, November 22 to Wednesday, November 30 midnight MST.  

Looking Back At 2015

I’m usually not sentimental about the start of a new year, and the beginning of 2016 is no different. But I do like look back over the past year to see what I've accomplished, what to do in the new year, and what to be grateful for. 

 With Wool

I’ve kept a fairly consistent schedule writing, photographing, and designing for With Wool, but I wasn’t very dedicated. I frequently waited until the last minute or just hoped that an idea for something to write about would just fall into my lap - didn’t happen often. It was until October that I finally got serious and made the work a regular part of my routine. My goal was to spend 2 hours a day working on With Wool - be it designing patterns, writing tutorials, editing photos, putting together the newsletter, brainstorming, or learning about social media. Those 2 hours were occasionally hard to fill though they could expand to take up an entire day, like when I was releasing the Mosaic Sisters.

What about the numbers? In 2015, I self-published 2 patterns: The Cuddly Chevron Blanket in January and The Mosaic Sisters in December. Not a bad pair of end caps for this year. Behind the scenes, I also worked on a few others patterns that I’m looking forward to showing you in 2016. Hats! Socks! Color work! Oh my!

I wrote 51 blog posts, including this one. My favorite is How To Knit And Block A Giant Blanket In 47 Easy Steps. 19 posts were tutorials for knitting or spinning. I'm proudest of Mosaic Knitting 101 and of the long-tail cast on video tutorial. In total, I’m only 1 post short of managing 1 blog post for every week this year which sounds like an awesome goal to aim for next year.

2015 was also the year I got serious about sending out the With Wool Weekly newsletter every week. I’ve really come to enjoy putting it together and seeing it grow as the year progressed. Tomorrow, I’m sending out the 50th newsletter of the year, but it’s also the 54th newsletter since I started sending them out. Looking forward to seeing how to grows and changes. You can sign up here or through the sidebar to the right. 

#YearOfMaking

 #yearofmaking was success! I made something on 352 days of 2015. Looking Back At 2015 - withwool.com

#yearofmaking was success! I made something on 352 days of 2015. Looking Back At 2015 - withwool.com

#YearOfMaking was my other major project this year. My only intention was to make something everyday, and post a photo of my progress to Instagram. I haven’t kept up with the photos lately, but I have kept making for the entire year. Some days, the only thing I made was dinner, but dinner still counts. There were times when I was sick, tired, or stuck on planes all day. I am proud to write that I only skipped 13 days. If I finish the year strong and I intend to, I’ll have made something 352 days this year which is nothing to sneeze at. 

 After years of being a WIP, I finished my extra large Norma Blanket! Looking Back At 2015 - withwool.com

During those 352 days, I’ve done more and learned more than I would have otherwise. I finished knitting my first sweater and finished my extra large Norma Blanket. I spun yarn for Tour de Fleece and Spinzilla. I spun my first sock yarn and gained the confidence attempt spinning cashmereI spent a month drawing. I built cairns in the Arizona desert. I’ve hauled my camera all over San Francisco to practice photography. 

 I finished my first sweater for myself, Amiga, thanks to #yearofmaking. Looking Back At 2015 - withwool.com

Deciding to do a #yearofmaking was a great last minute decision which is why I’m doing it again. While I’m glad I did a lot over the past year, I have one complaint. A lot of the time I felt like I was just going through the motions. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to spend this year learning and improving my skills. That’s why, I’m picking one thing focus on this time around.  2016 is about making art - not with yarn or fiber, but with pencils, ink, and markers. Maybe I’ll even learn to paint. There’s still going to plenty of yarn, but the urge to draw and make art everyday is something I can’t deny any longer.  

Looking back, 2015 has been a great year on all fronts. Here’s hoping that 2016 is even better! What are your plans for the new year? 

Backup All The Things!

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Today’s Public Service Announcement: Regularly back up your computer. I repeat, regularly back up your computer, because it is just that important. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got most of your life on your computer. There are photos, journals, half-written books, music, finances, game saves, random spreadsheets, knitting patterns, portfolios, videos, and contacts. There are the things I use everyday, archive for later, or forget about until I need them. With enough time, I could recreate a few of this items but most of the files would be lost for good.

A few days ago, my laptop battery politely told me it needed service. I say politely because the warning gave me the opportunity to do full backups and my laptop didn’t catch fire on the kitchen table. Both very helpful things. Tomorrow, my technological baby goes to the shop for repairs and all my files will be ready and waiting for it’s return. 

So, how do you backup your files? Depends on your operating system but, regardless, you will need a separate hard drive to store your data. If you’re running a Mac, Time Machine will be your best friend and does all the work for you once it’s set up. It has saved my butt several times and made transferring to a new computer exceedingly simple. Windows has a similar feature. Whatever your operating system, regular backups are your friend and help keep your data at your fingertips.

Time To Replace Google Reader

Google Reader officially bites the dust on July 1st. When I first heard the news it was shutting down, I felt betrayed. The good news is that I’ve found a great replacement that I enjoy using much more than Reader. I hope you do too and keep all of your much loved RSS feeds to boot. 

There are several different options for feed readers and more appearing every week. The top 3 options right now are Bloglovin, Feedly, and Newsblur. I’ve seen multiple bloggers going for each of these services. Personally, I went with Newsblur. It’s easy to migrate your feeds from Reader, easy to add new feeds, easy to navigate on a laptop and and iPhone, and easy to organize. It’s also a stable, dependable platform. The other great thing about Newsblur is that you can train it through Intelligence to know what you like. Love every post a blogger publishes or want to know when knitting/gardening/recipes/kitties/etc show in your feeds? Tell Newsblur you like something and it’ll tag those posts with a little green box and make it easy for you to find and read them. Trust me, that one feature is worth paying $24 a year for.

 

Relaunch!

Over the past two months and especially during the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of work on something not strictly related to yarn - this site, studiostrategos.com. The name and the address will stay the same but there’s a whole new look and layout. I could not be more thrilled and I’m excited to finally be able to share this with you. Please take a look around and let me know what you think.

Along with the site’s brand new look is a brand new RSS feed (though it looks like the old one will still work)- click here for the link. The link, along with a few other ways to stay connected, are also located in the “Follow” tab up top.

Oh, and just because today is “I Love Yarn Day,” here’s some cushy yarn goodness. I’ll be back next week with talk of 5K training, knitting, and lots more yarn.
 Araucania Coliumo Multy - 23

Araucania Coliumo Multy - 23

3 Years

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Doesn’t seem like it to me but today is this blog’s 3rd anniversary! It’s also my birthday and I have yarn waiting for me at ye olde local yarn shop. Today is just plain awesome for so many reasons.

Have I really been keeping a blog for 3 years? Yes. Some of those early posts are a bit cringe worthy now but they’re all still there for your reading pleasure. Just don’t have too much of a laugh at my expense. Many things have changed for the better over the years and I’ve got more bits of goodness coming down the pipe soon. 

I’ve had a great time keeping this blog over the years and have really enjoyed “meeting” and making digital friends. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourselves! And while we’re at it, is there anything you’d like to see here in the future? Or how did you find StudioStrategos in the first place? Thanks!

I’m off to spend the day with tasty food, great yarn, and even better company. Maybe I’ll even get a little work done too. 

Pro Tips

Good natural light can be hard to catch at Chez Strategos. So, I usually chasing it down in the yard with my camera and a handy sheet of foam board in tow. Sometimes I’m on the front porch. Sometimes the driveway. Never in the grass though since all the bugs have to have their 15 minutes of fame. These are all my fallback options though since the best light is usually on the far corner of the back porch. The foam board goes catty-corner on the railing and I get to shooting.  This generally goes off without a hitch. Until today.    

Today, I was plying some yarn and documenting the process. I had my ball of singles, a bowl to hold said ball, my spindle, a sheet of foam board, and the camera. Everything is going well. My spindle is filling up with luscious, freshly plied yarn and I was getting photos of the entire process. I took a photo and put down the camera on some freed singles. Then I start plying again. Ever so briefly I wondered what the singles were caught on before I looked down to see them helping the camera over the edge. 

I dropped the spindle to grab the camera.

Saved the camera but bumped into the board. 

The board and everything starts going over the side.

Grabbed the bowl.

Grabbed the board.

Grabbed the camera again. 

Lost the singles over the 10’ side.

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Learn from my mistakes people. Wear the blasted camera from a strap around your neck. Also, photograph on the edge only as a last resort. These are your Pro Tips for the day.

Ahem...

Would anyone like to join me in giving September a swift kick out the door? I know it’s October 2nd already but I can still feel last month loitering about Chez Strategos. Sure, September had its high points but there was this overwhelming ennui and stagnancy that I would much rather leave behind.

So, you with me? On 3 then. 

1...2...3!

Now that that’s taken care of, I aiming to make October as amazing as possible on all fronts. I’ve got some vague ideas, some concrete plans, and a bunch of lists. It’s a good start. To a happy, busy, and productive October!

Back to the Beginning

For the longest time, I resisted reading Harry Potter. I was in high school and it was a kid’s book after all. It wasn’t until I spent the night at a friend’s house that I finally relented since Jess had the first few books sitting out. I grabbed the Sorcerer’s Stone and decided to read a few chapters just to see what the big deal was. A few chapters in and I was hooked. Before the night was out, I’d read the entire book and was ready for the next one. I bought them one by one over the next few weeks until I was eagerly waiting for the next book along with everyone else. 

Yesterday, I saw Deathly Hallows part 2. It’s probably the best of the series though I’m annoyed about how much was changed and cut out. Granted, that’s been my chief complaint about every Harry Potter movie. Still, I really enjoyed it. I also really enjoyed Neville being a total badass. That’s just how he rolls. 

Everything I’ve read so far about the Deathly Hallows, is that people are sad it’s over. Why? The story might have ended but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. It just means you start from the beginning and enjoy it all over again. I fully intend to just as soon as I dig them out of box number 6 in the office closet. Blast the lack of shelving around here. When I finally do crack open the Sorcerer's Stone once again, I’ll remember that room and my friends and that one point in my life when I went to Hogwarts for the first time. 

Thanks, Jess.

Itchy

At first, I thought the red, itchy bumps covering my skin was an annoying case of poison ivy. This was bit odd since I hadn’t pulled any from the flower beds. What I did pull was up a lot of was Sumac. I can very distinctly remember thinking, “I have no idea what this is but what pretty flowers. Shame I have to pull it.” 5 days worth of insane itching later, I no longer agree with that statement. Just in case you don’t know what Sumac looks like either: photos and info. End PSA.

When the bumps were poison ivy, I tried cortisone cream and a flour paste. Both of these things helped but the itching persisted. When the bumps were upgraded to Sumac, I caved in and went to the doctor for a cortisone shot. Should have done that 5 days ago. It’s barely been a day and the itching is almost gone. I also came home with oatmeal soap and oatmeal bath soak. Just in case.

During those 5 itchy days I did everything I could to keep my mind occupied and my hands busy: playing Hoard, knitting secret things, deciding which book to read, even folding laundry. Anything to keep myself from scratching. So, I decided to work on one of my goals for this year explore different crafts. On that list is Kumihimo, or japanese braiding. It’s perfect since it keeps my hands occupied without being too complicated. Like knitting, it’s a simple set of movements that are easy to memorize and allows for great variety with a little practice. There’s also a meditative quality I rather like. Kind of like garter stitch. Also, I can watch Netflix at the same time.

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So, this is Kumihimo and what I’ve been staring at since early June: a loom, 4 skeins of embroidery floss, and bobbins. When the mood struck or it was too hot to knit, I’d pick this up and add an inch or two. 45” later I was ready to tie it off.

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When I bought the floss, I just liked the color combination and wanted to braid until I used it all up. After a few inches I liked it enough to wear. I ended up back at the store for crimps and a barrel clasp. The finished piece has become a necklace, a choker, a bracelet, and an anklet. Since it’s braided so densely, it has a nice structural quality and it seems like there’s a thin piece of wire inside. I am utterly smitten.

My photography assistant. I think he tries to look evil in every photo I take.

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Eventually, he got bored. You know, when I stopped petting him. 

You’re still here?

Is it really July?

July had a fun time sneaking up on me. I kept thinking it was June right up until I was prepping for our second annual 4th of July party. The party went off without a hitch and then the Bearded One and I spent the rest of the weekend doing as little as possible. Also, fireworks. And food. Lots of tasty food. All told, it was an enjoyable weekend and I hope your 4th was just as nice. 

*

Now that the weekend is over and July is officially in full swing, I’m trying to find my rhythm and get stuff done. The house got a thorough cleaning today so that’s a start. Plus, I’ve got big plans for the blog - starting with regular posting. Still trying to figure out the rest of my goals though. Any suggestions?

*

Just so this isn’t all text, here’s a photo of the cat doing what he does best: looking sullen. You’d think he never purred at all. Don’t believe him. He’s the noisiest cat I know.

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Aftermath

The massive storms and tornados that came with them on April 27th are several days passed but still visible. My neighborhood is filled with downed trees, downed power lines, and the ever present hum of generators. They make for a very loud background noise that I’ve mostly gotten used to.

Since the power company keeps pushing back the time when power will be restored (first Friday night, then Saturday night, and now Monday night which will be day 6 without electricity), I’m staying with my parents for a few days since they have power, hot water, and - yay! - high-speed internet.

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It looks like a tree feel on the car port but it’s really just a branch. A large one. I do love having something to park my car under.

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That grill was pushed all the way up against the railing before the storms went over. The deck was a lot cleaner too.

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The downed limbs didn’t take out anything except the hammock which was easily righted.

Things being what they are, we came out pretty lucky. No one, including the cat, was hurt. The damage was minimal and the biggest part of the clean up is already done. If only everyone affected were as lucky as us.

Nice Weather We're Having

Earlier this week, everything on my to-do list seemed to be coming up all at once. So, I did what any sensible person would do and completely ignored everything for the next hour and a half. I grabbed a book and headed outside to enjoy weather and last weekend’s handiwork. After all, who wants to be stuck inside when it’s a sunny, breezy 70 degree day?

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Last Sunday involved lots of putting plants into dirt. The Bearded One and I planted herbs, flowers, and vegetables. I can’t wait for the first crop of cucumbers and bell peppers. Right now though, I love dragging my fingers through the chocolate mint. Just can’t resist.

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Also planted was a rose bush given to us by a friend who moved north. It only has a few blossoms on it so far but they’re so pretty.

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Eventually, I ended up on the newly hung swing and finished my current read. The Codex turned out to be a pretty fun book and Shadow proved himself to be good company. Taking an hour and a half off turned out to be the best decision of the day. 

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In other news, I’m going to Stitches South on April 15th. It’s my first time going and I’m so excited. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Spring

I am forced - quite happily, by the way - to admit that Spring has finally arrived. The first clue was the appearance of newly hatched rubber duckies in my house. They’ve been cheery company and like sunbathing. Soon, it’ll be time to introduce them to the rest of the flock.

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The second sign was that the leaves have started returning to my plants. I’m especially pleased that all of the Japanese Maples survived the winter. When I got them, they were wee little saplings from my parents’ tree. Now they’re almost 2’ tall and a beautiful red. I wonder how tall they’ll be next year.

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Those 2 signals aside, the most conclusive sign of Spring is all the pollen. Everything has a yellow tint. The Maples already have a good covering and so does my fluffy, black cat. Sometimes, he looks more like a giant bumblebee than the fluff ball he is. Other times, he’s wearing yellow “socks”. It’s definitely bath time* for Shadow.

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Of course, Spring also brings rain, hail, and tornados. At the moment, I’m hunkered down on the couch with the Bearded One and a cat waiting for all three to pass overhead. It’s been uneventful so far and, hopefully, it’ll stay that way. Maybe Sunday will be sunny.

*He is definitely getting a “bath” by which I mean getting wiped down with a damp towel. He gets cleaned up and I get to keep my fingers. It’s a win-win.

Mara, Music

Copycat, copycat. That’s me. 

Since I’m on my sock knitting sabbatical till the end of the month, I needed something else to haul around with me. Instead of a hat or a pair of mitts, I chose a shawl. My only defense was that 3 skeins of Araucania Nature Wool were calling my name.  I settled on Mara mainly because Brokeknits made one from 3 skeins of Nature Wool and it looked wonderful. Plus, garter stitch is easy knitting when out and about. 

Yep, total copycat. At least it's a different color.

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Saturday Morning

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Tuesday Morning

I’ve gotten a bit further since Tuesday and am a few rows into the second skein. It doesn’t particularly fit in my purse anymore but I stuff it in all the same. It would probably help if I could stop knitting on this when I get home. No luck there since I can’t seem to put it down. Ah well, might just have to switch to a bigger purse.

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I go through music phases every couple of days/weeks. This year has already seen marathon listening sessions of Daft Punk, Nine Inch Nails, KT Tunstall, and Fleet Foxes. The latest marathon started out innocently enough by watching The Local Natives on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts podcast. The video wasn’t even over and I was perusing Amazon for their music. In the end, I ended up with a copy of the FrenchKiss Records Super Sampler. It starts off with Local Natives’ “Sun Hands” and showcases 7 other bands. Definitely good listening. Good knitting music too. And free. I’m currently on day 3.

I think my next music marathon will involve and Yoko Kanno and all of the Cowboy Bebop soundtracks. Tank! will kick everything off. Then the Ghost In The Shell soundtracks, then Wolf’s Rain, and Escaflowne. Sounds like a plan to me.