Detonating the Yarn Bomb

I know I’m over a month late with this, but better late than never, right? I have a ton of yarnbombing photos to share!

For my contribution I made sure to do much of the work ahead of time so that the actual installation would be as quick and painless as possible. It only took me about 10 minutes to get this up! I just pinned the top middle and bottom together on the light post with safety pins to hold it in place and then I climbed up onto the railing and quickly whip stitched the seam together.

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I was going for a vague Welcome to Night Vale theme, so I included the purple eye logo on the front.

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I made a tentacle too. There aren’t really any tentacles in Welcome to Night Vale that I can recall, but it seems to be the universal symbol for “creepy and/or weird” so it seemed appropriate. I also included a handful of red dots for Dot Day. I thought about including a few blue dots as well, but I don’t really know what the consequences might be for such a subversive action. I figured the yarnbombing organizers might be upset if it resulted in an explosion or a black hole or something, so I decided against it.

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That pale yellowish pink thing is my pathetic attempt at a Glow Cloud. There’s silver thread woven through it and I used lots of bobbles to make it look cloud-like. It didn’t turn out as glowy or cloudy as I had hoped. Oh well. I tried.

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The whole time I was making this and thinking up ways to incorporate the Night Vale fandom I was pretty much resigned to the fact that no one would get it. I mean, I know the fandom seems to have completely taken over the internet and any pictures I might post on the internet would probably get some love (and there was indeed a huge spike in views on my Tumblr page), but I wasn’t making this for the internet I was making it for a bridge. Well, someone DID get it! There was a poster board set up to allow people to leave comments about the project and it appears a city council representative stopped by to inspect the yarn bomb.

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I was able to help put together a second lamp post cover on installation day. There was a really cool looking panel of black knitting with a gold spikey detail, but it was just a small section and needed a lot more added to it to fit around a post. I crocheted enough extra black fabric onto it to wrap around the post and added a small panel of knitted black eyelash yarn and gold-ish stuff at the bottom. Then I sewed on a woven piece that was donated and some black feather boas and tied it all onto a post in the dead of night. The next time I saw it someone had added a spiderweb to it which I think really ties the whole thing together.

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Since mine was so quick to go up I was able to help install some of the other pieces. I helped out a woman named Amber with a few of hers.

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There was a person stationed at the bridge most of the day to help out and give directions, but most of the time everyone was too busy to sit down.

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Someone from the local TV station came by to check things out.

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It was amazing how quickly we were able to fill the bridge.

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After all was said and done Spectral Spiders managed to cover every single lamp post on the bridge – 30 in all! I’ve already shown you a few, but here are the rest:

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Apparently we couldn’t stop at just the lamp posts. A few other yarn bombs were found at the bridge.

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It was all up in time for Arts Walk! Unfortunately some of the pieces didn’t last beyond that night. Vandalism is something that happens frequently with yarn bombings, and this time was no exception. By the next day several of the pieces were gone, including Yoda which was a beloved traveling yarn bomb that had graced the streets outside the creator’s house for years.

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The giant octopus was cut down as well, and was doubly painful due the fact that it was made by the same artist who made Yoda.

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It sucks to have art vandalized like that, but that’s a risk one takes when making street art. There was one uninvited guest I found who seemed to really understand what we were trying to do. A tiny spider showed up on one of the spider-themed pieces in honor of the Spectral Spiders.

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All in all it was a great experience! I’m definitely going to participate in more yarn bombings in the future!

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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!

How Yarnologist Got Her Groove Back

Yesterday my mother finally got sick of seeing me moping around the house and randomly bursting into tears and took me to the Apple store to see if we could get me a new computer. I had an estimated cost in mind based on poking around the Apple site and guesstimating what I would need in a laptop. That estimated cost was almost $5,000 after I configured the laptop to what I thoughtmight need.

Now, I know very little about Macs. I’ve been a PC user all my life, but my life has changed quite a bit. I was once on a science career track and now most of my activities are more artsy. Supposedly Macs are better for creative pursuits than PCs. I’ve also heard rumors that the displays are more true to color than most PCs, which is something I was constantly struggling with on my previous laptop (and don’t even get me started on my sister’s computer – trying to color correct photos on her display was an exercise in futility). Many of the creative professionals I know are Mac users. Everyone I’ve ever known who has owned a Mac has LOVED it. I also know from personal experience that PCs, especially laptops, tend to only last 3 years or so before they start getting so buggy they’re unusable (see my sister’s computer) or just crash, while I’ve heard Macs tend to last much longer. When I got an iPod this summer and saw the way Apple products work first-hand that sealed the deal for me – my next computer would be a Mac. It would HAVE to be. To get another PC knowing I’d have to struggle with displays and using more visually based programs, not be able to sync anything from my iPod (or future iPhone?) with my computer, and that it would only be a few years before I had to get buy a brand new one would just be stupid.

Of course when I made this decision I was counting on my PC sticking around for another year or so. I was NOT counting on it being stolen, leaving me in a technological bind.

So back to my mom being awesome, she suggested that since I really was just guessing at what I would need for a Mac we should just go to the Apple store and get a professional to help us figure it out. THEN we would know exactly how much it would cost and can plan accordingly.

So we did. A very nice man named Chad helped us out and listened to all of my inane questions about computers and a detailed accounting of precisely what I need a computer to do for me. It turns out I really don’t need a lot of the add-ons I originally thought and the actual cost was more like $1,400. Mom had already set aside some money to loan me after everything was taken and was able to buy it right then and there!

Here comes my PSA for the day…one thing I learned from having to file a police report for stolen property is that serial numbers are very useful. You know where you can find those? On the things that were stolen. So, the first thing I did with my new computer is write down the serial number and all of the specs and file them away, just in case. If you have any technology that could potentially go missing – laptops, phones, MP3 players, etc. – I would encourage you all to find those serial numbers and write them down! If they ever turn up that’s the only way the police will be able to tell they’re yours.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t need help raising money anymore. Actually it means I need even more help, because now I have to pay back my mom. So please, if you have anything to spare, donate to my Knotty Narwhal campaign on Indiegogo. Even if you can’t contribute you can still help by telling others about my plight. I have a computer and can move on with my life, but now I’m in debt. To my own mother. I also would like to get some applications to make this computer work smoothly for me, like Pages, a task management program, photo editing software, antivirus, and definitely LoJack.

The Case of the Stolen Blog Post

I had a lot to blog about. I had notes typed up, outlines made, pictures saved and the whole bit. I was going to tell you all about how I rearranged my room and about how awesome Knit City was. I was going to show you loads of pictures from Vancouver, BC and tell you all about this cool new knitting technique I learned. Then my laptop was stolen.

All of the notes and outlines I had saved, and all of the pictures I took in Vancouver were on that laptop, and it’s all gone now.

We were all packed up and on our way out of town when we stopped to get something to eat. While we were gone someone broke into our car and stole my laptop bag. That bag contained:

  • my laptop
  • my iPod, which I bought 3 months ago and was right in the middle of a good audio book
  • all of my DPNs from size #1-#6 including 4 sets of Signatures (knitters will know what this is and scream in horror)
  • ALL of my knitting notions, including the 100+ unique stitch markers I got in the stitch marker swap at the Sock Summit
  • Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns (the first book in a series of THE BEST stitch dictionaries out there – a must-have for designers)
  • my graphing calculator – granted I don’t really use it for graphing these days, but it was really nice to see everything I was typing in long calculations and to be able to go back and edit if there was an error instead of having to type the whole damn thing over again.
  • Small Time Operator – the book I was reading to get a sense of what all I needed to do to set up my business (I went out and got a new copy of that IMMEDIATELY)
  • and the real kick to the gut…my blue ribbon winning fingerless gloves, Barmaids Are Tasty

RIP – I really hope someone found you and you aren’t lying in a dumpster somewhere

I’ve ordered yarn from indigodragonfly to make another pair, but it still won’t be the gloves that earned a blue ribbon.

Aside from that sadness, I am now missing a computer and a crapload of my knitting tools. This makes starting an online knitting business…tricky. I’m limping along on my sister’s computer, but it’s so old and buggy it’s practically impossible to use. Some interesting things I’ve learned about my sister’s computer in the last week:

  • YouTube videos are a no-go. They just won’t play. Weird.
  • PDF files are also a no-go. It simply refuses to open them. This means I can’t look at any knitting patterns or online forms for business applications, or ANYTHING.
  • Sometimes (frequently, really) the keyboard likes to lag, making typing extremely painful. It’s doing it right now. If there are typos in this post, I’m not backing up to fix them. It’s just not worth it.
  • If you want to save anything, like a document or a picture, you HAVE to save it to the desktop first. The computer will not file it anywhere else until it has been stored on the desktop. Guess how many things are on the desktop?

I need a new computer NAO. Basically every asset I had to start this business with was in that bag, so I’m desperate. I have spent the last week scrambling to get a business plan together ASAP.

I now have a name! Knotty Narwhal

My sister designed a logo! Here it is:

That’s as far as I can get right now without your help!

I have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to replace my stolen computer and tools and start my business. There are many amazing perks for you to claim in return for your contributions. You could get cute kitty thank-you emails, or buttons, stickers and t-shirts with the Knotty Narwhal logo! I could needlefelt you anything you would like, and since I am a Brony (I refuse to be called a Pegasister, that’s just silly), that thing could totally be a pony – any pony at all! You could get an exclusive color copy of the concept sketch of my first design, and a free copy of the pattern! If you’re extremely awesome and donate a lot of money, I’ll even knit for you! More perks may appear if I reach certain milestones in my funding too, so keep spreading the word!

You can contribute to the Indiegogo campaign here: Knotty Narwhal needs YOU!

You can “like” Knotty Narwhal on Facebook here: Knotty Narwhal has a cute face

You can follow Knotty Narwhal on Twitter here: Betcha didn’t know a narwhal could tweet

Please help me spread the word! I will try to recreate some of the lost blog posts in the following weeks, so stay tuned!