Thursday, 31 January 2013

Stashdown2013 #1

Good news! I've started off positively on my 2013 stash down!

I had to buy one skein of yarn, to be sure of having enough for this term's largest project - a laceweight sweater. I bought the first two skeins last year, but I might need a third... it is hand painted yarn, so I will be alternating the skeins, and this means the dye lots are slightly less important. I added 470 yards of Malabrigo lace to my stash. (But I did cast on this project during the month.)

I'm recording yarn out slightly differently this year, in that I count it out only when I have actually finished a project. In January I knitted up:
  • 172 yards on a pair of socks in Adriafil knitcol
  • 98 yards on a pair of toddler legwarmers in Adriafil knitcol
  • 50 yards dishcloth cotton on a crocheted washcloth
  • 50 yards assorted dk on a little owl toy. Here's my little owl, keeping an eye on me!

I have 373 yards in FOs. On paper I am up by 100 yards. But I also cast on and made good progress on a laceweight sweater.

I have knitted more than 100 yards on that, and with a bit of luck, I'll be reporting 900+ yards out on that late in March. But for the time being, my stash tally to date this year is +100.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

More reductions

De-cluttering at home is going fabulously well. Now at 157 items out of the house; I'm increasing my target to 180. This weekend, I tackled the cupboard under the stairs, which is where we keep cleaning and some DIY items. I threw away a lot of things, and it really was throwing away, I'm afraid. I'm ashamed to report I found various attachments for our ancient Hoover, that was replaced with a different brand of vacuum cleaner well before our son arrived - and that was over ten years ago.

I think the success of this year's declutter efforts is down to identifying and working on just one area of the house at a time. In fact, I feel like passing on some of my handy tips:

  • tackle a small area at a time. The understairs cupboard in one go, or a single chest of drawers. If you have more energy when you finish, tackle another small-ish area. 
  • anything broken or damaged should go in the discard pile
  • for everything else, ask yourself whether you will use the item again. If not, there is a case for discarding it. But you don't have to get rid of everything. I find it is perfectly OK to have stuff in the cupboards that is used only occasionally. Just like boxes of Christmas decorations, ice-cream makers that come out once or twice a year may be stored on the same principle. 
  • clear plastic storage boxes are exceptionally useful. The see-through sides have an important psychological effect, in my opinion, as it is not possible to stash things away completely out of sight. 
  • organisation is the key to future reduction. In much the same way that planning meals can result in less money spent on food, organising your wardrobe can lead to less expenditure on clothes, as it becomes astoundingly obvious that you have more than enough pairs of black work trousers, and a dearth of shoes to go with them, in my case ;-) Save money, buy only what you need, lead a more sustainable life. Win-win-win.

If you want more advice, try the organized home. That's by far the best declutter site I found on the web, and I vastly prefer it to Flylady's continual exhortations to shine your sink (talk about email clutter...!!)

Monday, 21 January 2013

Home Comforts

We were confined to the house by snow and ice over the weekend. On Saturday we spent a cosy afternoon with the fire lit

playing ds's London Olympics Monopoly. I was bankrupted!

I took advantage of my time at home to do more decluttering, which is really going very well! I have dispatched 127 things already, and still got more to do. Maybe I'll get to 150 by end Jan? I found a lot of unused kitchenalia to get rid of this weekend. But I put some of it in a box for dd, as it seems she may be going to University later this year - all being well. Got the mountain of A Level examinations to surmount first. I've also been collecting potential Ebay sales stock. I'm thinking I may tackle that in February.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Frozen North Will Be Very Cold

I'm well aware I live in a temperate zone, so I probably don't know what real cold is (although, I did go to Leningrad, as it was then, in February 1990. That was pretty cold - even the sea was frozen over in places). However, we do have snow and temperatures below freezing here in the Trent Valley right now. Here's a photo I took this morning:

The slope of our road makes it suitable for sledging. We might go out a bit later, although currently ds thinks it might be too chilly. 

If I have to stay in, I shall be knitting while wearing my new, warm socks:

I knitted them using some of the Adriafil knitcol I bought in Bath last October, so this is stash down. I used a pattern from p/hop. P/hop is a knitting fundraising project for Medecins sans frontieres. You can choose from a range of patterns, and make a donation online. These socks are a pattern by Erssie called Easy Ribbed DK socks. They are very cosy. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Chocolate cake

Since I'm knitting a bit less frantically this term, I'm finding more time for other things. The ironing was done before it became a vast mountain; I'm living in a moderately tidy house. Yesterday, I even made a cake. A quarter of it was gone before I even photographed it:

This recipe makes a very rich cake by the addition of grated chocolate to the mix, along with some milk, at the final mixing stage. The icing is melted chocolate and a bit of butter, which is no doubt very bad for you. I scattered chopped hazelnuts on top. It might be nice with whole hazelnuts too.

In the making of this cake, my hand mixer gave up. I think it may possibly have been damaged by dd pulling out the beaters with brute force instead of pressing the release button.  However, it pre-dates my marriage so it's had a very good spell, and I have used it right to the bitter end. It's a pity I went to the recycling centre with the electricals already, but I guess this provides incentive for another visit.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

January reductions

Hello! Happy New Year! I decided not to set any craft-based goals this year, apart from the stashdown one, but I am hoping to lead a more sustainable life in 2013.

Since Christmas, I've been working on a January de-clutter and house clean-up. My goal is to reduce my stuff by at least 100 things during January.

I took stock of my wardrobe, donated some clothes to goodwill, and threw some other torn and damaged clothes away. At the same time, I made a list of clothes I actually need, which I hope will have a positive financial effect in 2013 and prevent unnecessary purchases. I still have to look at my shoes, but I plan the same approach. I don't have many shoes, anyway. You'll probably find this hard to believe, but I only have two pairs of shoes I can wear for work! I really need some more.

I erased all the data on an ancient and damaged laptop that used to belong to dd (this has been sitting in the bottom of my wardrobe for nearly two years, so it's beyond time). I collected some other broken electricals from around the house, and they are all in the boot of my car ready to be dropped off at the recycling centre this week. (I could alternatively try and sell them for spare parts on ebay, but don't think I want the hassle.)

For Christmas I had some DVD versions of videos I already owned. I plan to offer the old videos on freecycle, as the charity shops round here don't accept videotapes any more. And if there are no takers, they will have to go to landfill :-(

I already sorted out my yarn baskets in December and made up a bag of donated yarn for the church knitting group. Last week, I reviewed my books and saved magazines and reduced them (all of them, not just the crafting part) by about 10%. I will take the books to the charity shop, but the magazines I'll probably offer for sale on Ravelry. I still haven't tackled my children's book collection in the loft, but I do think it time I got rid of some, as I will probably never read some again.

I also cleared the kitchen cupboards of out-of date-food and stashed some of the dried goods in previously unused storage jars. I think this counts as making the most use of what I have.

It's a pity other members of my family don't share my de-clutter zeal, as then I really would have a chance to live in a clutter-free house. But I'd rather have them (and their stuff!) around than live tidily by myself.