WIP-Cracking Wednesday: The Black Hole

Ok, so I admit to procrastinating on the blog a bit lately. I had good intentions, honest! I kept telling myself “Hey wouldn’t it be great if I typed up my next WIP post early so I don’t end up forgetting about it when Wednesday rolls around?” So I would try to think of what WIPs I have going at the moment that might be blog-worthy. Then I realize that the only WIPs I haven’t covered yet are in THE BIN. IMG_0081

This is THE BIN. It’s my WIPs bin. It lives next to my chair in front of the TV which is where I do the majority of my knitting. Perfectly logical, right? Well, it would  be except that not all of the projects in there are at the knitting stage of development. In fact, many of the things in there are no longer projects at all, but the last remnants of projects past that I have failed to clean up. THE BIN has become a black hole of sorts into which all manner of craft-related things might end up if I’m too busy/lazy/tired to put it in its proper place. It’s really full of things that aren’t WIPs at all, and every time I try to find a WIP in there I’m reminded that I really should clean this thing out instead of work on another WIP that will only end up contributing to the chaos that is THE BIN. Then I end up NOT working on my WIPs because I really should be cleaning, but I don’t want to clean right now, so I just avoid the whole thing until the next time I happen to encounter THE BIN.

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So, this week instead of digging through THE BIN to try to find a WIP to blog about, I figured I’d just clean out THE BIN so I can work on my WIPs in peace.

First I emptied it.

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Once empty, I noticed it had a fair amount of cat hair and glitter in the bottom. The cat hair was obvious – with four cats in the house it’s bound to get everywhere – but the glitter? Seriously? My mom is a belly dancer, so she has glittery crap on her all the time, but I had no idea it had infiltrated my WIPs bin. It’s probably coating our lungs too for all I know.

I vacuumed the inside, which got rid of most of the glitter but didn’t seem to make a dent in the cat hair. I got out one of those sticky roller things to try to get the cat hair off, but it still wouldn’t budge. The cat hair seemed to have woven its way into the fabric. I went to fetch a more heavy-duty cat hair removal implement, but when I returned I found this:

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Right. Never mind then. Moving on.

Here is all the stuff I had crammed into THE BIN.

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A good portion of the contents were the remains of past projects.

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Some of them were truly WIPs, though not all were at the knitting stage.

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Then there was the random assortment of tools, books, swatches, etc. that managed to get sucked into the black hole.

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First, I put away the obvious outliers in the bin. The books were re-shelved, the extra fiberfill was stored in my bedroom, and the bag of scrap yarn went back into the other black hole in my bedroom. We’re ignoring that black hole for now.

Then I started to tackle the ghosts of projects past. I emptied out each project bag and updated my project notes on Ravelry based on whatever jogged my memory.

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I weighed the remaining yarn so I could update my stash. Some of the bags were pretty ripped up so I had to re-bag some of the yarn before I put it back into my yarn bins.

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Here are all of the yarn remnants I had floating around in that bin:

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I took all of the pattern print-outs from the old projects and put them in my pattern notebook. I take a lot of notes on the pattern pages as I work, so I always like to keep the working copies of the patterns in case I need to refer to my notes.

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After going through all of the old project bags and pulling out all the needles, I gave them a quick wash before putting them away – I always try to wash my needles after finishing a project to get rid of any built-up residue that might make it harder for the yarn to slide across the needle.

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I also liberated quite the pile of notions!

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I came across some scraps in the old projects bags of varying lengths.

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Instead of throwing them away, I donated them to my sister’s Never-Ending Frankenscarf. They should fit right in.

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There were lots of swatches floating around in the bin – some associated with past projects, and some for future projects. I’m still not quite sure what to do with swatches…I feel like I want to keep them, but I haven’t figured out an orderly way to store them yet…for now they’re going into the other black hole.

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Next I turned my attention to the actual WIPs, and I found this:

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One of the cats had gotten into the bin and managed to snag a shawl through the bag. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Upon closer examination it appears that a single ply of the yarn was snagged and snapped in two. Naturally, it’s on the front of the shawl, though it is near the bind-off edge. I could unravel the edge, cut out the damaged piece and re-knit it, but it’s a very looooong edge and that would be a LOT of re-knitting to do. Does anyone have any idea how to fix this without ripping back?

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I set aside any projects that were past the knitting stage and was left with a much more manageable pile of WIPs. I put all of my Beekeeper’s Quilt stuff in the fabric project bag, there’s a single sock that will need to have some swatches frogged in order to produce a mate, the felted baby booties are going to be cut up into fun shapes when the mood hits me, my long-abandoned cross-stitching project is going to make a valiant attempt to compete with the knitting projects, and there’s a cowl, pair of mittens, and a pair of gloves in progress.

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See? Now it’s not a black hole anymore! I can actually find things!

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To prevent any future snagging incidents I put a folded rug over top of the projects in the bin.

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The rug was supposed to go out in the blocking house so I could wipe my feet when I came in the door, but the second it entered the house one of the cats claimed it as a kitty bed.

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She swears she didn’t have anything to do with the snagged shawl.

Now I can get back to knitting.

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Progress!

I’ve been quiet lately, which means I’ve been busy. Unfortunately the things I’ve been busy doing aren’t very interesting so I’ll spare you the details. Lots of the doing has involved things I’ve already blogged about, and much progress has been made.

  1. The iPhone is now my bitch. It has been replaced, wi-fi is working, and Siri and I seem to be on the same page.
  2. There is an end in sight for the Endless Ends. I only have 8 more yarn tails to weave in! Then I need to block it…
  3. I am nearly done figuring out how to use all the programs on my MacBook. I have an iTunes lesson on Friday, and then I can finally leave the poor Apple employees alone for a while.
  4. I cleaned my room and have my light box set up again, which means I can slowly start working through my backlog of yarn and project photography.
  5. All of my needle felting supplies have finally arrived, so now I can start felting all of the fun toys my Indiegogo contributors have requested!
  6. I exercised! Twice! OK, that’s really pathetic, I’ll try harder.
  7. After digging through my external hard drive for what felt like an eternity, I have located the vast majority of my knitting patterns and all of my knitting ebooks! I even found a bunch of missing yarn photos! They weren’t in my latest back-up AT ALL. They were hiding in a previous back-up, which means any brand-spanking-new patterns I might have had are gone. Luckily I think the only things I might be missing are a few club patterns, which I can easily get new copies of from the club distributors. Now I just need to figure out what’s missing…

Scatterbrained

I’ve been having a lot of trouble keeping track of everything I need to do in order to keep my life from falling apart. I mean, I have no idea when I did laundry last, I think it’s been over a month since I’ve vacuumed my room (and my allergies are starting to show it), and I’m sort of blundering about the “learning how to use my new computer” process without any sort of plan. I’m usually very good at these things. I’m a list-maker. I have systems so that things don’t go unnoticed or forgotten and my lists stay useful and up-to-date. Mostly that system follows the Getting Things Done philosophy (GTD for short).

pic from Wikipedia

The problem with my system right now is that my interface is gone. All of my lists – not only their content, but their organization – were on my iPod. Which was stolen. I know I keep bringing up the theft thing, but seriously, with all the things that were taken my life came to a screeching halt and it will be quite some time before everything is back to normal.

Sadly, this is not the first time this (the list system failure, not the theft) has happened. When I first started using GTD I was low-tech and managed it by manually typing out lists on the computer and printing them out to stick in my planner (I still get catalogs from DayTimer…at first it was funny, now it’s just sad.) The printing process quickly became tedious and wasteful though so I slowly started migrating everything to the computer. I used OneNote to organize my lists at that point. There were lots of internal links to other pages for project notes and what not, and it was a little complicated to set up, but it worked pretty smoothly once it was. As long as I kept up with it, that is. If things started to get out of date and links weren’t updated properly it would quickly spiral out of control and I would have a godawful mess to untangle before the lists would be remotely functional again.

OneNote – the first in a long line of applications I fell in love with
pic from jackcola.org

See, the brilliant thing about GTD is that if you do it well then you will have a detailed to-do list for EVERYTHING you could possibly want/need to do at any given moment, but only have to look at a small portion of that list based on whatever was actually feasible for you to do at the time. That way you wouldn’t have to remember anything, EVER. You’d just look at a list and get to it. The problem with GTD is that if you do it well, you have a massive amount of things in those lists, and if you do it REALLY well, once those things are on the lists, they exit your brain. 

So, when my computer had a problem and needed to be restored to a previous backup, erasing at least a month of changes to my lists, the whole system collapsed. The lists were polluted with things that were already completed, nothing that I had added to the lists were there and I had a hard time remembering what all was supposed to be there, all of the links to other pages were messed up and out of date, and IT WAS AWFUL. To make matters worse, somehow in the restore process the folder organization I had been working on for all of my documents and pictures and such during the missing month were fine. They didn’t get wiped out at all. The problem is, the OLD mess of folders that I had had BEFORE I organized them all got restored on top of the new organization in a weird tangled mess. I had duplicates everywhere and it would be quite a lot of time and effort before I could track them all down and sort out the proper organization again. I still don’t understand how this happened.

NextAction – mobile lists are great, but not on such a tiny screen…
pic from s4bb.com

At that point I sort of gave up on the whole OneNote organization and started fresh with Next Action! on my BlackBerry. I really wanted something more mobile anyway. For a while it was perfect! All of my lists were nice and tidy and with me at all times. I was a bit nervous about what I would do if my BlackBerry went belly up since I really didn’t trust that the backups you do on those things would actually back up any of the list contents – especially after seeing how well the backups on my computer had gone. As I fleshed out the lists more and more though I started to have problems navigating through them. One important component of the GTD system is being able to review your lists regularly and with the length of some of these lists I was really having trouble getting through it all on that tiny screen with half of the names cut off. For many of the actions I would have to click on each item individually in order to see the full text and know what in god’s names I was supposed to do.

As time went on and more things were added I noticed a new problem – there seemed to be a limit to how many things you could have on the lists and still have the program function efficiently. To be fair, I’m a bit taxing on these lists. I keep track of a lot of stuff. On page 41 of the book David Allen writes that most people are likely to have fifty to 150 actionable items on their to-do lists at any given time. I laughed so hard at that, and still do every time I think about it! Who ARE these people who lead such uncomplicated lives?! Seriously, at any given time I’m likely to have HUNDREDS of actionable items. I mean just the chores alone could top 100 actionable tasks I could be doing right now. So the fact that the program was starting to slow down under the weight of my own ambition wasn’t surprising, but it was disappointing.

I started to ease off on the list managing and stopped keeping track of certain categories of things, like my crafting. It made me uncomfortable, but at least I was less likely to forget what needed to be done craft-wise out of apathy.

The slickest app I’ve used yet! RIP iPod.
pic from itunes.apple.com

Then I got my iPod. My blessed iPod. And I found a new program called Action Lists which synced with an online program called Toodledo. Any lists you made on the iPod with Action List would be backed up online on Toodledo, so you could access it even without the iPod and if something happened you’d still have your lists! Action Lists was SO SLICK. It was so much easier to navigate than anything on the BlackBerry (part of that has to do with the whole Apple interface being easier to interact with) and it even had the ability to do REPEATING TASKS!! Holy efficiency, Batman! Instead of having to re-enter “vacuum my bedroom” every week after I finished it, all I had to do was set the task up as a repeating event, and every week the task would end up in my inbox again reminding me “hey, it’s been a week since you vacuumed, perhaps you should wage war on those dust mites once again so you can continue to breathe.”

I had two wonderful months with that program before it was ripped away from me. It wasn’t enough time to fully test out whether the system could withstand the sheer volume of tasks I wanted to throw at it, but at that point it functioned so much better than anything I could ever get on the BlackBerry I didn’t care. If I really needed to I could probably set up a separate list on the computer for the crafting so I didn’t tax the iPod too much. I also hadn’t had time to check out Toodledo and learn their system AT ALL. I was too distracted by the shiny new iPod.

Everything I had in the Action Lists program is safely backed up on my Toodledo account, I checked. However, at first glance their set-up is confusing and I really didn’t want to spend hours in my sister’s never-been-dusted-or-vacuumed-death-trap bedroom on her slower-than-molasses-and-buggier-than-the-Amazon computer figuring it out. Also, it felt too much like the OneNote fiasco all over again and I Just. Couldn’t. Handle. It.

Now that I have the MacBook Pro to work with, and my brain is starting to fall apart under the weight of all the things I’m trying to remember to do, I think I’m ready to find a new interface for my to-do lists. Sadly the Action Lists program for the iPod does not have a Mac equivalent, so I can’t just go back to that. So, I made a list of things I need from my list interface based on my past experiences:

  • ability to do repeating tasks (this was such a great feature I’m afraid it’s going to be a deal-breaker for any programs without it)
  • need to be able to sort tasks by context (at home, errands, etc.)
  • ability to add due dates for tasks
  • ability to attach tasks to a project – bonus points if that project can have future tasks that are triggered by a particular date or by a previous task being completed
  • be able to add notes to a task or project
  • lists should be internet accessible and automatically backed up or synced in case of technology failure
  • bonus points if it can sync with other devices like an iPhone or iPad (which I don’t have yet, but someday…)
  • bonus points if tasks that are due to start will show up in the Notifications on the MacBook

With this list in mind I started to do some research to find a suitable successor to Action Lists. So far I’ve come up with a few possibilities.

Door #1 – OmniFoucs
pic from macworld.com

OmniFocus

Pros:

  • It’s one of the programs recommended by the GTD people – they even have a GTD set-up guide for OmniFocus
  • Has an inbox feature for general brain dumps when you don’t have the time or energy to figure out what is actionable and what isn’t and where it should go (nothing I’ve used so far has had a good way of dealing with this)
  • Will sync with other devices
  • Said to be very customizable for however YOU work best
  • There are all sorts of resources for figuring out how to optimize your workflow with this program – there is a rabid fan base and even a whole book on the subject – Creating Flow with OmniFocus
  • I’ve heard of it before, and only heard good things about it until I started looking at reviews for 2Do comparing it to OmniFocus.
  • Has ability to attach tasks to projects, and have tasks with due dates.
  • Can sort tasks into contexts.
  • Says you can set task recurrence schedules, though I would like to know more about how it works
  • Offers a 14 day trial – though I’m not sure that’s enough time for me to properly vet it.

Cons:

  • It’s pricey – $79.99
  • It won’t sync with Toodledo and I didn’t find any other info on how to back up the system. There may be a way, but it wasn’t obviously advertised.
  • Some people complain that the program is too “bloated” to be efficient. Interface may be overly complicated.
  • Some complain that there is a serious learning curve, and considering there are set-up guides and books on the subject, I believe it.

Door #2 – 2Do
pic from itunes.apple.com

2Do

Pros:

  • Syncs with Toodledo, so all of my previous lists will be saved! Also future lists will be backed up safely online.
  • Will sync with other devices
  • Has repeating tasks
  • Has nested tasks for projects – now I’m not sure exactly how that would work – would it automatically add the next task after the previous one is completed? – but it sounds promising
  • Will show up in the Notifications center
  • Can sort tasks into contexts
  • Can add due dates to tasks
  • Offers a 14 day trial – though I’m not sure that’s enough time for me to properly vet it.

Cons:

  • This is the first I’ve ever heard of this program, so I’m nervous about shelling out $30 for a product I’m not sure will work for me. It’s way less than $80, but still…
  • Doesn’t seem to have an inbox feature like OmniFocus
  • Claims to have a simple interface, which always worries me because lists like mine can suffer from being too simplified
  • There is a way to organize tasks into projects, but it looks a bit clunky.

Aaaaand that’s as far as I got before my brain started to shut down. I turned the TV on to watch some curling and fell asleep to sounds of rapid ice-sweeping and dudes screaming “HARD! HARDER!!” in delightful Canadian accents. Seriously, it’s the funniest sport ever.

Epic pants.

So I haven’t made a decision yet. Should I go with the more expensive and more complex system that may take a while for me to figure out, but will almost certainly meet most of my needs? Or should I go with the much cheaper, much easier to learn, but possibly over-simplified system that also sounds like it will meet most of my needs? Or should I keep looking for more and more obscure programs (these were the most popular options) and hope my brain doesn’t explode? Also, exactly how comfortable with using my Mac should I be before I bother downloading the free trials? I don’t want to waste precious vetting time figure out how to use basic Mac functions on top of trying to figuring out a new application…

My brain can’t do this anymore, HALP!

Bigger on the Inside

I turned my bedroom into the friggin’ TARDIS. Somehow with all of this rearranging and shelf-installing, I now have loads of extra space. I made my room bigger on the inside! Let me take you on the grand tour. First stop: my photo studio.

Ragdoll-free zone.

I have the table all set up and ready to go! All of the clamps are in place, the PVC pipe frame is nearby ready to be assembled, the sheet and spare extension cords are stored in the flat bin under the table (the one that used to block my dresser) and I even found room for Sven! All I need to do is move the table out of the way and stick Sven against the wall, open the curtains and it’s photo time! Granted I haven’t actually tried it yet, so I really don’t know HOW I would move the table, but theoretically it’s possible (I really wish I could find a folding table that would work with the lights, but so far no luck).

My dehumidifier has plenty of room around the vents both under the table and in front of the closet so it won’t catch things on fire, AND it doubles as a platform for my one non-clamping lamp.

Look what else I managed to fit in here – my spinning wheel! Maybe I’ll actually get to spin on it someday now that it’s not exiled in the garage where I’m too afraid to touch it because of all the spiders that live out there.

Surprisingly, I have only been creeped out by having a mannequin in my bedroom once, and that was after watching “The Angels Take Manhattan,” so as long as I don’t watch too many weeping angel episodes of Doctor Who I should be able to sleep peacefully.

In front of the photo studio area is the majority of my crafting storage.

I can actually find everything!

See that shelf way up near the ceiling that only has a yellow ball on it? I don’t have anything to put there! That’s EXTRA space!! There are not enough exclamation marks in the world to express how happy this makes me!!! It means I can get MORE YARN.

The shelves that actually do have things on them contain my blocking and sewing supplies, photo props, extra light bulbs and what not. The poster board I use for backgrounds in the light box are tucked away neatly behind the giant cedar chest. The cube drawers are all full of yarn.

There is still no elegant way to store a stability ball, but at least it’s really easy to move when I need to get into the chest, and my cat no longer thinks it’s going to swoop down on her from above and carry her off to its nest to feast on her entrails.

I tried my best to accommodate my cat in my new room.

The cat walk may still need some work.

I basically tried to make stairs for her, because she’s getting old. It’s hard to see from this angle, but the white plastic drawers where I keep my nightly reading is meant to be the first step. This leads to the narrow shelf with her food on it, which leads to the top of the yarn storage with her bed. Originally the shelf above all of that had her bed, but she didn’t seem to be a fan of turning around and jumping onto that shelf, so I moved some more yarn cubes there instead. She still seems to prefer to sleep on MY bed no matter where I stick hers. I guess I’ll just have to get used to washing my comforter more frequently.

Beneath the cat walk is a lot more craft supply storage.

There’s still a shelf looming over my head while I’m in bed, but the shelf is full of nice squishy yarn contained in nice squishy bins, so if there’s an earthquake I’m a lot less likely to die!

LOOK AT ALL THE YARN!!

This angle displays the WALL OF YARN very nicely. Almost all of those cubes are full of yarn! And I can reach all of it SO EASILY! I even have it sorted by name and each bin labeled so I can find things!

My air purifier/fan is located precisely where I need it to prevent me from melting at night, and it’s on a rolling cart of drawers, so it’s easily movable AND provides extra storage space.

More drawers!

You can also see half of the result of my Tetris breakthrough in this photo. There are drawers under my bed! In fact, that’s the only thing under my bed, there’s more room on top of those drawers and between them if I ever need extra space to stash things. It’s also a nice hangout for my cat after a nice long scratching session on her scratching slope. Both the slope and the rolling cart of drawers are easily moved when I need to get to that second drawer under the bed.

The door area stayed mostly the same except I have all my knits stored in the cedar chest now and my earring holder got moved behind the door where it’s more accessible.

I can put on earrings AFTER I get out of bed now. Weird.

The bookshelf is tucked neatly in a corner and has all of my necessary books on it.

Those books are all MINE.

I do still keep some books in the garage, but only the ones I don’t need frequent access to, like all those non-fiction accounts of epidemics that are really interesting and I’m not ready to let go of yet, but have nothing to do with yarn. That left enough space on the shelves to store some of my spinning and needle felting supplies (which could easily be moved to an empty shelf or drawer if I get more books.

The last of my cat accommodations fit nicely underneath the wall of yarn.

Why must you lock yourself in my room Annabelle? I thought you liked going outside…

There’s still plenty of room for me to walk to get to the yarn, books, and my bed, and the litter box and water fountain are totally accessible for the cat.

Oh look, it’s the second half of my Tetris breakthrough. There are two more drawers under my bed!

There are no more shawls hanging on my necklace rack, only necklaces.

It’s almost like I treasure my handknits.

Now here’s the real surprise. There is no more mess in the closet!

No monsters here.

I thoroughly cleared out my clothing. Anything I didn’t like anymore or was too worn out was donated. Anything that was even marginally too small, but something I still wanted was put into a bin in the garage (on the off-chance I lose weight and they fit me again/all my other clothes are too big and I can’t afford to get new ones). Any clothes that were out of season were put in storage as well, to be rotated back in as the seasons change. After all of that I was left with a pitiful amount of clothing I can wear, but I’m unemployed now so WHO CARES. Besides, look at all that space! My laundry basket even fits in there!

My folded t-shirts fit nicely on the shelf underneath my shorter tops, and my folded pants fit on the bottom shelf.

Drawer organizers are magical.

My socks, underwear, bras and various accessories all fit in the drawer organizers on the middle shelves, and my shoes have been pared down to a manageable stack of boxes. There was even room for my winter clothes bin on the top shelf.

Aside from all of the yarn storage, my second favorite thing in my new room is that huge cedar chest.

Give me a few years and this thing will be full.

Thanks to more drawer organizers all of my handknits can be arranged neatly within the mildly moth-repellent cedar walls. I still keep the larger things inside a plastic bin within the chest though, just to be safe. There is so much room for more knits in here it makes me giddy! I plan to FILL this chest one day, and it will be glorious.

Last but not least, is my new office.

See? There’s no way this could have fit in that room. It had to move.

It’s still a bit cramped, but it’s no worse than it was in my bedroom and at least now it’s not competing for space with my crafts. The filing cabinet has SO much more room to grow! I completely cleared out the little filing cabinet I had, but it’s still hanging out by the kitchen (just out of frame) if I need more room again.

The cats have really been enjoying the new office though. You’ll notice I left the top shelves of the desk completely empty except for the printer. The cats love to walk from the top of their cat tower, along the top of the desk, behind the plastic drawers on top of the filing cabinet, to the top of the bookshelf. They want to know why we didn’t do this sooner. I’m honestly shocked there isn’t a cat in this shot, someone must have been sleeping on the job.

You know one of the greatest things about my new room? It actually looks nice. And my office isn’t half bad either.

My Room Wasn’t Built in a Day

As usual when starting a huge project, I had delusions of efficiency and expected it to only take a few days. It took closer to 2 weeks to get my bedroom and office space modified and rearranged. It also took approximately $400, though I can’t tell you the exact breakdown of how much things cost – you’ll have to ask the thieves in Vancouver who stole my notebook. Smegheads.

Anyway, I seem to have a tradition of doing a massive rearranging of my room every other year or so dating all the way back to middle school, so this is not my first rodeo. I had already drawn a to-scale room layout with cut-outs for each piece of furniture filed away, all I had to do was pull it out and update it.

Somehow all that crap has to fit in that tiny box…

I know there are programs online that supposedly help with planning room arrangements, but honestly I haven’t found one that is easy enough to customize to your furniture sizes to justify using it. Besides, they never really seem to account for everything that might take up floor space, like litter boxes, air purifiers, trash cans, etc. which may be small, but in a cramped room all those inches add up. A ruler, pencil and scissors tends to be way more efficient.

Before I started trying to cram ALL of that back in my bedroom I had to make some important decisions about how my bedroom was going to be used. I made a list of what I needed from my bedroom. That list is in the stolen notebook, but the main points I remember from it were:

  • I have to be able to sleep in the room.
  • My cat has to be able to be locked in the room for days on end because sometimes she’s a freak and refuses to leave.
  • It needs to function as a photo studio so I don’t have to wrestle Ragdolls for photo time.
  • All of my yarn and crafting materials need to be stored in my room and easily accessible.
  • I need to be able to get dressed in the room.
  • Not a need, but I would like to have my spinning wheel in my room instead of the garage.

Notice what’s not on that list? Office space. I wanted to make my room into a craft studio which I happen to sleep in, and I don’t think it’s physically possible to cram 3 rooms into a 9×13′ space. The office had to go.

Once my priorities were set, I did all kinds of shuffling and ended up with a potential arrangement to aim for.

I think we can work with this.

Every time I play with the paper-doll version of my room I end up being surprised by some ingenious Tetris move that I never would have thought of if I had attempted it in real life first. My biggest breakthrough this time was realizing that all those plastic drawers I had stacked up step-wise on my dresser fit PERFECTLY back-to-back underneath my bed!

Since I would be stealing the dining room table for photography I could stick my office in the underutilized dining room (all of this was cleared with mom first, of course). I really wouldn’t have room for the dresser anymore, so I would have to do a serious downsizing of my wardrobe (overdue for that anyway) and fit all of my clothes in the closet. I also made the decision that anything that wasn’t mine would have to leave my room. Except my sister’s bookshelf. I have all sorts of rationalizations for why I kept her bookshelf, but it really boils down to my burgeoning craft business and related book storage needs trumps her random book collection (which she never reads…strange girl) and I just straight up stole her bookshelf. She’s a little butt-hurt about it and that’s fair, but I can’t afford to buy another bookshelf (I already bought one and had to get rid of it, remember?), so tough.

Even with all of this downsizing and rearranging I knew storage space – specifically yarn storage – was severely lacking. Somehow I had to increase the square footage of the room, and that could only mean one thing: shelves.

With lots of help from my dad, I plotted to have shelves EVERYWHERE.

Look at all those shelves!

Seriously, EVERYWHERE.

More shelves! I left in the hooks that were used to hang the super klassy beer sign because hooks could be useful?

I actually had a whole wall of shelves, because square footage is important! Though this wall of shelves was not easy to install.

The shelves that almost weren’t.

Take note of how close the shelf edges are to the end of the tracks. Home Depot almost screwed us over. Normally, shelves come in standard widths corresponding to the standard width between studs in houses. Those shelves are only 1/4 inch shy of the standard width of three studs. That 1/4 inch almost made this installation impossible. Dad had to screw those tracks onto the wall at the very edge of the studs and then angle the brackets inward in order to get them screwed onto the shelves. There had been a few problems with the installation of the other shelves due to the studs not being exactly standard widths apart (there are so many weird quirks in this house I swear it was built by drunken chimpanzees), but on THIS wall they were absolutely perfect. It was the shelves. They were just too short, and there really isn’t any explanation we could think of for it. Whatever Home Depot, we were not thwarted by your illogically sized shelves, your plan for world domination failed. The shelving materials alone cost about $250, but man was it worth it.

Next I needed things to store my yarn in, since the shelves were not wide enough for the large plastic bins I had been using. I could have gone more utilitarian (and cheaper?) by using smaller plastic bins, but since this was going to be my craft studio and supposed to be the space in which inspiration happens I really didn’t want it to be ugly. I already had a sort of theme going with my cube storage, so I ran with that and got a bazillion more cubes in blues, teals and neutrals.

I bought ALL THE CUBES.

Since I was getting rid of my dresser I needed some way to store my dresser clothes in the closet. The best way I could think of doing that was to populate my closet shelves with drawer organizers to hold my socks, underwear, bras, and such.

Drawer organizers are not just for drawers.

I also got a belt hanger to tame the accessories mess in the closet, a couple of nice looking Command hooks to use for holding back the curtains when more light is needed, and an iPod speaker so I could listen to music unimpeded while spending time in the studio (now a useless lump on my desk without my iPod thanks to those smeghead thieves).

Look at that sad useless speaker.

For the office the only addition needed was more file space. I went to the state surplus store and bought one of their reject filing cabinets for $20, got a key made for it, and voila! More file space than I know what to do with. It’s not pretty, but it works. I could have spent $150 more to get one in black. I’ll take the utilitarian tan, thanks.

Let’s play spot-the-cat again! This time she decided to be more subtle.

Then I just had to put it all together…

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Room

In pursuit of a more yarn-centric life I knew space would be an issue. I live in a very small bedroom, contained within a very small house, which I share with my mother, sister, and four cats. I had been trying to keep all of my possessions contained within my own room as much as possible, but as more and more yarn entered the house this was becoming problematic. Let me show you what I mean.

What a cramped mess

This was my bedroom. I did what I could to keep it clean and maximize storage space, honest! I had my bed on risers so I could store more things under it. Unfortunately many of those things were NOT MINE. See, I moved back into my mother’s house several years ago in somewhat of a hurry. My previous living situation had rapidly become intolerable and my mother kindly took me in. My bedroom had been used as a storage area since I left for college and not everything could be moved out when I returned. It was supposed to be temporary until I found a place of my own, but we didn’t know at the time that this would be financially impossible on my salary. So here I stayed…with other peoples’ things in my room.

Welcome to my non-functional office.

I bought a desk so I could manage my grown-up life as best as possible. I had a filing cabinet to keep all my grown-up paperwork in, but it got too full and files started piling up on the desk. Once a pile starts it tends to consume everything around it, like books, games, knitting projects (both finished and in progress) and even clothes. Those plastic drawers next to the desk were primarily for knitting supply storage, but those drawers were overflowing too.

Nice, cozy death-trap

Of course, once the desk went in, things had to be rearranged for it to fit, so my bed ended up underneath a shelf. There wasn’t anywhere else to put my reading lamp besides right above my head, which is a totally logical thing to do in earthquake-prone areas. While you’re at it, how about storing a ton of magazines above the bed too? Due to a distinct lack of wall-space my earring storage ended up on the wall above my bed, which is super easy to get to if I’m in bed, not so much if I’m already dressed and ready to head out the door. I had some super klassy decorations thanks to my sister, who enjoys collecting alcohol paraphernalia for unknown reasons (she’s not old enough to drink, nor does she have any interest in doing so…strange girl). The dresser was stuffed so full of clothes that the drawers were hard to open. I had extra plastic drawers for more knitting storage that I arranged in a step-like fashion for my cat to access her bed and food. At least she enjoyed this set-up.

Floor space is overrated.

After my cat had an injury she decided she’d rather spend most of her time in my room than outside, so I had to add a scratching slope and litter box to my already crowded floor. This meant I had to get rid of the extra bookshelf I bought to make room for the litter box. The scratching slope ended up in front of my dresser, blocking the bottom drawer. I figured it couldn’t hurt since my bin full of photo equipment was already blocking it (you can only see the edge of the bin past the corner of my bed in this picture). Also, there was a giant red stability ball looming over the room. There really isn’t an elegant way to store a stability ball I’m afraid.

Seriously, how many things can I put on the floor?

I have an air purifier/fan thingy that I like to have pointed at my bed because I get really overheated at night. It had to be elevated in order to reach me since my bed was on risers, so I put it on top of haphazardly stacked bins full of yarn. This was always a pain to move out of the way when I needed to vacuum or, you know, access my yarn. My laundry basket didn’t have any place to go really, so I ended up just sticking it wherever I wasn’t walking at the time. My sister’s bookshelf (yes that’s right, my sister’s, since MINE had to go to make room for the cat) contained mostly my sister’s books, but she was able to make room on two shelves for some of my books. The rest of my books had to be stored in the garage. My knitted shawls didn’t really have anywhere to go, so I just hung them up on my door with my purses out where any moth could get at them.

Don’t go in the closet. There are monsters.

I also would hang shawls on my necklace rack for lack of anywhere better to put them. “Why not put them in the closet?”, you say. Because there wasn’t any room. I didn’t photograph the inside of the closet, but trust me, it was a mess. I did have a closet organizer installed back in high school, but you can only do so much with such a tiny space. Just imagine the racks so stuffed with clothes that you can’t move the hangers, the shelves full of haphazardly placed belts, hats, and other accessories, hidden under the hanging clothes, along with all of the other crafting supplies I had nowhere else to put. In fact, I’d say at least 50% of the shelves in the closet were taken up by random crafting supplies that didn’t have a home and were difficult for me to get to (or find).

My bedroom was not the only non-functioning space in the house though. There was also the dining room.

Stella firmly believes she is the Queen of the Universe and all cameras should be pointing at her.

The dining room table really didn’t get used for dining. Mostly it was a catch-all for whatever mail/random crap we’d bring in with us when we got home and whatever flotsam and jetsam we might churn up in our daily lives within the house. Several times a month though, it would all be cleared off and turned into my photo studio! This table has the distinction of being The Only Table in the house that my lights are able to clamp to. We have several folding shop tables in the garage, but the sides are too thick for the clamps. I bought a folding card table in hopes of using that, but the frame is made of rounded metal that the clamps will not cling to without the use of shims, and it’s too shallow to hold the frame of the light box. So, with this being The Only Table that will work for my photography, I have had to set everything up in the dining room. With the cats. Three of our four cats – all of the Ragdolls – are not allowed in my room unsupervised because they mess with everything. As you can see (that’s Stella in the picture), they like to be all up in your business whenever you’re doing ANYTHING in the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom….anywhere really. Usually it’s adorable, but not when I’m trying to do photography. I have had cats leap from their cat tower on top of the light box. I have had cats leap into the light box on top of whatever I’m taking pictures of and scratching up the poster board background. I have had cats knock over lamps and break my not-cheap light bulbs. I have had cats try to electrocute themselves by trying to chew on the extension cords I use to plug in the lights. Usually when I needed to take pictures I would just lock the cats in a room and listen to them cry for the 3+ hours it took to get through my photo sessions (which I would procrastinate on and let my photo list build up because it was such a pain to get it set up and manage kitties). Aside from the dining room table, that area was basically a storage area. Drinks that we didn’t have room for in the fridge yet would go in the corner. My sister’s guitar (which she doesn’t know how to play and has no intention of learning…strange girl) lived in the corner. The giant turtle shell (don’t ask) lived in the corner. The cats’ basket of toys and smaller scratching post were stored next to the table. Then there was my sister’s second bookshelf, full of her books and her My Little Pony figurines, which housed some of my overflow yarn.

Stella strikes again.

My boyfriend recently found me this GIANT cedar chest to keep my knitting in, but as you could see from the previous pictures there was nowhere to put it! It lived in the living room for a bit until I made room for it elsewhere.

Obviously it was time for a massive rearranging. More on that tomorrow.

Announcements!

First off, thank you so much to those who have contributed to the Indiegogo campaign to Save The Knotty Narwhal. So far $190 have been raised! I’m still quite a ways away from being able to replace my stolen computer though, so keep spreading the word!

Secondly, you will all be hearing much more from me in the future. I am participating in National Blog Post Month and will be posting EVERY DAY in November no matter how painful my sister’s computer makes it. (Seriously this typing lag is driving me nuts, and her photo editing software does in 5 clicks what mine did in one. Argh.) This probably means some posts will be short, some might have crappy pictures, and some may not have pictures at all, but you’ll forgive me right? Wish me luck!