Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

It’s About Time

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 5:45 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2005

As of tomorrow, this blog and four others will be retired. They will be replaced with my new blog, I Knit Around, to which I have been cross-posting this week.

The blogs that are retiring are:

I have found that under my current reality, I want a single blog that presents an integrated view of these aspects of my life, since any given day may see several of these subjects mixed together.

If you are a regular reader of any of these five blogs, please join me at the new site. It will contain all the topics you’ve been reading about until now, only they will be presented in context as a part of my whole life, not just one aspect. The URL to bookmark is:

http://www.folkcatart.com/knitaround

Three other blogs will remain separate. They are:

The first of these is my beading blog, and that subject still has enough life of its own to merit a dedicated blog. The last two aren’t entirely used as blogs – they are more like project-specific databases. And so they stay as well.

At some point, I’ll be changing my homepage as well. It has served as a central hub for all my blogs, and obviously that purpose changes somewhat now. I will likely be using a blog format there, with links on the sidebar and current news and updates listed in the posts.

My thanks to all of you (it’s what, at least three, right?) who have been reading my oft-times odd posts. I enjoy what blogging does as it helps me examine my life and strive to find better focus and understanding.

Half-Vest Project

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 3:21 pm on Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I’ve been knitting away at Gryphon’s Sweater Vest, and have reached a critical juncture. The body is long enough, now it’s time for the armhole shaping.

Sweater Vest for Gryphon - Ready for Armhole Shaping
Half a Vest is Better Than No Vest
I’m pleased with the progress on this. It’s been a fast knit, and the material is coming out very even and professional looking. Say what you will, sometimes a cheap yarn like Red Heart Supersaver is just the ticket, depending on the project.

Once this is finished, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the vest comes through the wash. I’m not certain, but this may be asking a lot. We ran a load of clothes today, and heard an alarming high-pitched whining while the machine ran. This was clearly a new noise, or we wouldn’t have been disturbed by it.

Gryphon, handy beast that he is, opened the washing machine up, did a little research on the Internet, and has come up with two likely candidates for the problem. I won’t get into what they are – it’s his job to know about these things and take care of them. At any rate, it looks like with a little time and effort on his part, and maybe a couple of parts from an appliance store, he’ll have the machine in shipshape this weekend.

Which is good, because I have about enough clean clothes to last me until Sunday.

Administrative Note: This week, all posts are being cross-posted to my new blog, I Knit Around. Sometime this weekend, I’ll be retiring Folkcat’s Fiber Crafts (and four other blogs). Those five blogs will be kept as archives, and they’ll be replaced with I Knit Around as my single all-purpose blog. For a summary of the changes to the blog roster, please read this.

Technorati : , , , ,

And Another Thing…

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 4:51 pm on Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I’m still deep in the process of evaluating most everything I do. The work of consolidating the majority of my blogs is well underway. For the rest of the week, we’ll be in a transitional phase as everything I post to the five blogs that will retire will be cross-posted to I Knit Around, the new blog.

Having to re-think my approach to my crafts – and make decisions about where I really want to put my crafting energy – I’ve also talked at length with Gryphon about both the Cafe Press shop and my newer Etsy store. Both require a certain amount of effort above and beyond the mere crafting of items or creation of images.

Since I began the Cafe Press store a few months ago, I’ve hardly ever managed to get in to monitor the shop, create new products, or think about new images to offer. And let’s not even talk about the fact that for it to work, I really should be spending time marketing the store. It seems clear that running a Cafe Press shop requires me to do things that I really don’t want to get involved in.

Same thing with the Etsy store – or with my efforts to sell on eBay. It would be one matter if you could just throw the things out there and forget about them until someone buys something. But listings cost money, and the Cafe Press shop has a monthly fee. Gryphon and I are having a hard time justifying spending any money on something where I just can’t manage to follow through with marketing and product development.

The decision we’ve mutually come to – I’ll be closing both shops within two weeks. This gives you one last chance to pop in and pick something up if you want it.

Gotta run now – it’s craft circle night, and I want to eat some dinner before folks get here. Take care!

Technorati : , ,

I’m back – sort of

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 7:39 pm on Monday, September 19, 2005

I spent a large part of last week sick, and not feeling up to anything, including blogging. I felt better over the weekend, but I’m feeling a bit of a relapse today. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine, it’s just one of those things that needs time, patience, ibuprofen, and a caring husband to get through. I have all of those at hand.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on the concept of consolidating many of my blogs. I have a strong sense that the current tangle of blogs I have “just grew”, like Topsy. I’m looking forward to the next phase of my blogging, which will hopefully be a more carefully thought through matter.

Of the eight public blogs on the current roster, only three will remain as separate entities. I’m choosing to deal with the consolidation by creating a new blog, which will start fresh. Probably later this week. Meanwhile, here’s a look at the list of blogs that will be staying, and why:

Staying

  • Confessions of a Chantraphile. My beading is enough of a separate category to warrant a place of its own, though I’m going to be watching to see if it would be better served by folding it into the new core blog some day.
  • Folkcat’s Craft Library. This blog is used as a database for indexing my craft books. That will be best served by keeping it as a one-function blog.
  • The Milford Memory Box. This one hasn’t reached its full purpose yet, but ultimately, it’s intended to serve as an online scrapbook displaying contributions made by geocachers to the Milford Memory Box. Since that’s a project-specific purpose, it’s staying as is.

My other public blogs will all be consolidated into one, and I will use that blog as more of a general life journal than any of them have been so far. At one time, it made sense to me to keep cooking, knitting, geocaching, and other subjects as separate blogs. But life changes, and the more I blog, the better I understand what I’m doing and how it’s all integrated into my life.

The subjects that remain, while no less important than my beading, are all matters that my life revolves around. I can’t sit still without picking up my knitting. Gryphon and I love geocaching, but only get to do it irregularly in the current gas crunch – however, we still work on planning outings, and we maintain our own geocache hide with frequent visits. Creative cooking is a delight, and while I don’t do it every day, I at least think about it. And I’ve been much more active taking photographs since I began blogging, so that no longer feels like an oddity in my life – it’s just something else I do.

These, then, are the subjects that will be gathered under one new blog – and thus, the existing blogs that will be replaced. I’ll keep them around as archives, so if there was a favorite post, don’t worry – I won’t be sending it away any time soon.

Retiring:

The new blog will have a large knitting focus, but anything else could come into play as well. I’ve taken the inspiration for the title from my latest adventures in Extreme Knitting. No, I’m not knitting while skydiving or anything that extreme. My Extreme Knitting is more a matter of finding unusual places to knit in. Last week, as I was waiting out my health issues, the perfect phrase to describe what I do popped into my head – “I Knit Around”.

A quick search on the web, and I found I was clear to use it. I’ve spent part of the last day working on finding a blog template I liked, and establishing the basic elements. As I post this week, I’ll probably cross-post to I Knit Around. Then, sometime later in the week (or early next week), I’ll officially retire the five blogs listed, and I Knit Around will officially be my primary blog.

If you’d like to see what the new site will look like, the url is:

http://www.folkcatart.com/knitaround

It’s been really interesting to watch the place that blogging has taken in my life, and how that has evolved in the few short months I’ve been doing this. Someday, you know, someone’s going to write a social history of blogging, and hopefully they’ll give case studies of how it started and grew in peoples’ lives.

Meanwhile, thanks for being along for the ride – and I’m looking forward to the new paradigm. I hope you’ll watch the changes with me.

Technorati : , ,

Uncle!

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 3:38 pm on Thursday, September 15, 2005

Okay, okay – I had to break down and ask Gryphon to collect my bedroom A/C from the storage locker and re-install it today. The weather had been uncomfortably warm, and the window fan was proving inadequate to cool the room at night.

Since my primary blogging computer is located in that room as well, my blogging has been suffering. It’s hard to think coherently when you feel like you’re sitting in a sauna.

I also think I was starting to be too much affected by allergies again. And I’ve been starting to come down with something – I had a cough yesterday, and have been running a low-grade fever.

So rather than continue to stress my body by insisting that I could get along without the A/C, I give in.

I’m still giving thought to combining my blogs down. One of the reasons I haven’t done that is that Blogger, unlike some of the blogging systems you pay a fee for, doesn’t have the ability to categorize posts. Which is why, when a subject seemed to take over, I tended to give it a blog of its own.

I’m exploring Technorati, however, which seems to offer the ability to give keywords – and, therefore, categories – to posts no matter where you’re blogging.

If this proves itself as a concept, we may see a severe collapsing of the Folkcat Blog Tree down to fewer branches. Stay tuned.

*snort* – I Always Knew I Was Above Average

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 11:16 am on Thursday, September 15, 2005
Tri-Lamb Material
60 % Nerd, 43% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Dork, earning you the coveted title of: Tri-Lamb Material.

The classic, “80’s” nerd, you are what most people think of when they
think “nerd,” largely due to 80’s movies like Revenge of the Nerds and
TV shows like Head of the Class. You’re exceptionally bright and smart,
and partly because of that have never quite fit in with your peers or
social groups. Perhaps you’re realized, or will someday, that it is
possible to retain all of the things that you like about being
brilliant and still make peace with the social cliques around you. Or
maybe you won’t–it’s really not necessary. As the brothers of Lambda
Lambda Lambda discovered, you’re fine just the way you are and can take
pride in that. I mean, who wants to be like Ogre, right!?

Congratulations!

Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you’re interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality

America/Politics

Thanks Again! — THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 55% on nerdiness
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 73% on geekosity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 89% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

No, Really, I’m Feeling Better

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 4:22 pm on Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My one known faithful reader (other than my husband), leesepea, said:

One of my favorite movies is an independent film called “Kicking and Screaming.” In it, Eric Stoltz, who I’ve always felt is quite dreamy, plays a bartender who has been in college for something like eight years (changing his major several times and not once earnind a degree), and he tells a recent graduate the following joke:

Q: How do you make God laugh?
A: Make a plan.

Now, I’m saying I’m of a religious mind, but it did make me laugh.

My point? Just breathe.

If you’re not enjoying your crafting, it’s time to work on something else. If it’s causing you stress and physical pain, divert your attention for awhile.

Things will work out for themselves.

Very good point about the “making a plan” and “making God laugh” thing. I’m not religious, not in any conventional sense, anyway, but I’ve always assumed that plans were made to change, because no matter what you plan, reality changes on you. That’s why it doesn’t actually bother me that I had to change the plan. It only bothered me that what seemed like a good plan didn’t work at all.

As to “work on something else” and “divert your attention”. Not an option. Not crafting would actually be more painful to me. Crafting is that necessary to my being. If I’m not crafting, bury me, because I’ve surely died.

Keep in mind, I’m a woman who’s living room is completely converted to a crafting studio. The only time we entertain is when my crafting friends come over to join me for our weekly craft circle, so it didn’t make any sense to do this any other way in our small apartment. We don’t have friends that we hang out and listen to music with while we drink wine and each cheese – that’s not what we enjoy.

Five years ago, we had a car accident. My main injury was a crack in my right hip socket that left me in a wheelchair for a month, walking with a walker for another month, and with a cane for a while after that. But I could deal with that.

What I had the most trouble coping with was that my left thumb was dislocated, and took several weeks to recover well enough for me to do any crafting. I hate crocheting, but at some point I discovered that I could grip the work just well enough with my left hand to crochet, so I began working on crocheted squares for Warm Up America. It felt like heaven, even though I was working in a technique I don’t like.

Imagine how it felt when I could hold knitting needles again. Or a piece of beadwork.

No, I got it all worked out – for now, at least. I have to have reasonable expectations for my crafting, that’s all. Our mistake with the expectation that I would turn my crafting into a money-making endeavour is that we didn’t set reasonable definitions of “success”, “failure”, or even “making good enough progress.” Which left me uncertain that the way I was working on my crafts was achieving desirable results.

Crafting is something that will never, ever be out of my life. What I can change is what I expect from my crafting, and how we arrange our lives to let it happen. The good news is, I was self-aware enough to realize (finally) what was troubling me – and we’re changing that.

Thanks for reading, leesepea. We’re from very different walks of life, but your support means a lot. 8^)

Plans Were Made to Change – Right?

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 5:20 pm on Monday, September 12, 2005

After all my fuss last week about discipline and having a plan, I have to say that this weekend, I concluded that the plan wasn’t working.

You know how when you put too much food on your plate at a buffet, and you can’t eat it all, people say your “eyes were too big for your stomach”? I find myself wondering if there’s any way to say the same thing about having ideas too big for your ability to see them through.

I made a good run at the plan to blog daily and focus intensively on given subjects each day. But this weekend, I have been so very, very tired and irritable. I finally sat down with Gryphon to talk about it, and I think I came to at least some inkling of what’s wrong.

Ever since we closed the bead store at Easter, we’ve talked about my “job” being to find a way to make money with my crafting. Since then, I’ve been going whichever way my crafting urges took me, while keeping my eyes open for opportunity to earn something at it.

In the meantime, though, our financial situation got difficult. Money has at times been tight enough we didn’t know if we’d have any for groceries or gasoline. (Things are getting better rapidly, and we’ve had some help from friends and family, so don’t worry – it’s going to work out. I’m just touching wood and hoping that we don’t get any more surprises to throw things off again.)

Every now and then, we’ve been able to slide a little money towards crafting supplies. Usually, it’s been either money that I actually did earn by selling something – either finished objects, or supplies still remaining from the bead store. On rare occasion, it’s been money that came in somehow from outside our budget. Like our tax refund, which we decided to put partly towards household, but which each of us got a small portion of to spend as we wish.

Mind you, we have never put money to such non-essentials at a time when we were strapped for grocery and gas money. The help we’ve received from family and friends was honestly needed, much appreciated, and made a serious difference in our reality. It’s a wonderment to me that so many have come forward to help us, completely unasked. Thank you.

Here’s the deal, though, the thing that’s given me troublesome thoughts. Even when the money can honestly be said to be available and okay for me to spend on craft supplies, I’ve been feeling guilty about it. Theoretically, I had a goal – an obligation, even – to make the crafting pay for itself, and not be a burden on the household budget.

What we never did was establish failure/success criteria for that obligation. Every time I asked for a little for crafting supplies, I was starting to feel like I was probably one step closer to a decision that we’d have to say “no”. Every day that went by without finding a way to sell something else, I was a little more afraid that crafting was going to have to be cut off for not supporting itself.

Typically, I didn’t realize that was the source of my angst, upset, and sleeplessness until I began talking with Gryphon about what was going on with me. But it had that “aha!” factor to it when it came out – that sense that you’ve hit the right thing.

I’ve been upset because I was afraid I wasn’t making good enough progress, fast enough, with making my crafting a paying concern. Never mind that we never established that certain conditions meant “failure”. That just meant that, instead of knowing that I was this far from the cliff’s edge for certain, I was actually walking towards the cliff in a fog and having to panic that any step might be the one to send me plunging over the edge.

The strenous plan I came up with last week was an attempt to discipline myself towards working consistent, regular, work-a-day hours towards the “crafting as paying job” goal. And already, it was starting to kill me. I’ve been tossing and turning at night. My hands have been hurting from such long hours of knitting and beading. I’ve had to struggle some days to find something to say on some of the blogs that I said I’d update daily, while others that I promised daily have been suffering because I didn’t have the time to do justice to the longer posts I wanted to make.

Gryphon was concerned about what I’ve been going through, and agreed that we needed to modify my expectations – as well as spell them out better. So, we’ve lifted the concern that I have to make the crafting pay for itself by any given date. It’s still a desirable goal, and I’ll be watching for opportunity where it happens, but it’s no longer meant to feel like a requirement – or, if it doesn’t happen, a failure.

My crafting is still considered a valuable contribution to our household. I can make a certain amount of garments for us to use, and household items such as dishcloths and rugs (which we actually need). And I can make better quality, more personal gifts for family and friends than we could ever afford otherwise. As we improve the budget, we’ll try to create a consistent, predictable allowance for me to use for these purposes.

As to my blogging – I may eventually re-consider the full list of blogs I’m maintaining, but not right now. I will be lifting the obligation to update any blog daily. Fiber Crafts still stands a good chance of daily updates, since knitting is the dominant craft at the moment. But others among my blogs, I probably can’t promise more than once a week. With an understanding, of course, that that’s a minimum – not a limit.

I hope that this will help me to be more relaxed and able to focus on what I do. I sincerely hope that it helps me to write better, more interesting to read blogs.

I do know that I feel relieved to have taken the pressure off.

Thanks, as always, for being here to listen.

Good Thing the Plan is Flexible

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 9:38 pm on Friday, September 9, 2005

See, I knew this was likely to happen. That’s why I’m glad I assumed that my daily plan needed to be flexible to accommodate changes on a moment-to-moment basis.

Today, Friday, was supposed to be a CafePress Focus day. Instead, Gryphon and I wound up going out doing grocery shopping, taking up a large portion of the time before he left for work. Then, after he left, I got together with a friend who sometimes comes for an informal knitting session on Fridays. We had a good knitting visit for several hours, and I’m glad I remembered to call her and suggest she come over.

But it did eat up the time I would have spent on CafePress. No biggie – I’ll just do that another day.

In other news, I’m having a hard time dealing with the indecisive New England weather this week. Several days ago, I had Gryphon take the air conditioner out of my bedroom window. The night was cool enough that the AC thermostat wouldn’t kick in the cooling feature.

Our bedrooms are directly over the basement for the apartment building, and in that basement is the boiler – the big, mucking boiler – for the hot-water. Which both provides hot water to the taps, and heats the apartment building in the winter.

It also heats our apartment, just by virtue of operating so close to us, all year ’round. Add in the fact that our apartment is situated such that we have windows on all four sides of the building – East, West, North, and South – and there is nothing providing shade for those windows. Even on a cool night, our apartment gets hot enough to want the AC.

But if the thermostat on the AC won’t let it cool, what to do? On the night in question, I decided the best course of action was to take the unit out of the window, and substitute one of our two-fan window fans. You know the kind, with settings for Intake, Exhaust, and Exchange so you can get the best air-flow.

The fan did the job of cooling my room so well that night, I figured, “heck, it’s into September, we’re likely to continue seeing really cool nights like this – might as well put the AC in storage.”

So what happens? We have a few of really, really hot days, and nights no cooler than 60 degrees or so. The AC would have handled that well.

We’ve left the AC in the living room, which has Southern and Western exposures and is one of the hottest rooms in the house. And Gryphon has his unit still in his bedroom, with Eastern and Southern windows. My bedroom, with Northern and Eastern exposures, gets the worst of it in the morning, but starts to cool down the rest of the day. Which makes it easier for me to not ask for the AC to come back from the storage locker.

The sort of low-cost AC unit we have cools well, but I was reminded when I went back to depending on natural, unaltered air – AC has an artificial feeling that can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially if you have to use it for too long. I’m not an outdoor person, but there’s been something refreshing about the natural air coming into the house again, even if it’s too warm.

In the end, I have to accept that I need the AC for a large part of the year. I have allergies that it filters, and I don’t tolerate extremes of temperature or humidity well. So without the AC, most of the summer would be intolerable for me.

It’s nice to be able to get away from it sometimes, though.

Day Two

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 7:25 pm on Thursday, September 8, 2005

Day Two of my new attempt to make what I do as regular as any paying job would be, that is.

I worked hard yesterday. It was my “eBay/Etsy” focus day, and I spent a lot of time getting pictures taken and re-sized, then putting up six listings on Etsy. That took me several hours, since I was also learning Etsy’s system for the first time and establishing my shop there.

But it’s done, and I have items up for sale. This is a good thing. I just hope that Etsy, which is still in beta, lives up to its promise.

Today, I’m feeling the physical toll that yesterday – and the last several days, I think – took. I was up and down a lot, putting beaded stitch markers on a display stand and snapping photos of them. And I have spent so much time knitting the last few days, my hands are aching. Not a good thing.

Thursday is supposed to be my knitting focus day, and it’s looking a little uncertain right now how much knitting I’ll actually wind up doing. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’m not letting today’s lack of energy disturb me. This is a new program I’m on, after all, and I can’t expect it to work perfectly every day right from the starting gate.

I’ll be back tomorrow – hope to see you here!

Next Page »