Monthly Archives: August 2013

What to do about emails

On Friday, I spent a day sewing with Julie (more on this in another post) and I left my computer turned off and my phone was dead, so I had no electronic interference for about 10 hours, which is enormous when you’re as addicted to the internet as I am.

But as I drove back home I felt the weight of email and possible phone calls descend upon me. So by the time I arrive home, although I was really proud of what I had accomplished, I was also feeling dread at turning on my phone and computer. I tackled the computer first. I had a bunch of new email, although a lot of it was spam. Mostly, I read and flagged things without actually DOING anything besides checking to see that I had email. The phone was easier to handle – two voice mails and two texts from my mother who was worrying since my phone is never off, even when I’m sleeping. (Sorry, Mom! I’m okay. I didn’t get into a car accident.) I called her back right away so that she wouldn’t be up half the night. (Turns out that she was out with a friend and they were having a GRAND old time, so I guess she wasn’t losing any sleep even though I might have been in a hospital, for all she knew!)

It felt good that nothing crucial had come up, but as I looked in my inbox, I was still feeling completely overwhelmed. But it was 9:30p on a Friday night and I’ve been telling myself and Susie that I would step away from the work so that I didn’t get burnt out. But when I woke up, I still felt my email looming over my head.

When I took this job, I knew that there would be an enormous amount of email. I had once borrowed Susie’s laptop to work on something and saw something like 87 emails come in in the span of a half hour. I work from home, so email comes with the territory. I’m no stranger to emails. At my last job I had a lot of email coming in as well. But it was all easily categorized. I filtered it into folders automatically and dealt with it as I needed to.

But here many emails might touch on a number of categories. I might be speaking with the graphic designer about one project, but also talk about another project. And emails between Susie and myself might have one subject header that quickly devolves into any number of things, usually entirely unrelated as we bop back and forth between topics and task items.

And with shipping things, I have tons of notifications coming. Which I do actually want. I need to know that the sample knitter’s yarn arrived where it was supposed to. And I have a spreadsheet to keep track of that, so I need to transfer the information into an easily digestible form. So all those emails have tasks related to them.

Right now, even though I have a number of folders, almost all my emails in my inbox are flagged. How do I tell what’s important? Where’s the priority? There are so many deadlines that overlap and I always need to work on multiple projects in a day. How do I manage my time?

I happened to stumble across the other day and this morning I sat down to watch his video presentation to find out how I could better organize my email because my tried-and-true email system was not cutting it in this new job. And about when I realized that it was going to be an hour long, I grabbed my knitting. And now? Well, by the end of the video, I already archived everything in my inbox that was more than two weeks old. I felt much more on top of my inbox around then, so anything older than that probably doesn’t need a response. And I got rid of most of my folders.

I’ve been processing my inbox with my five verbs: Delete anything I no longer need (archive it if I fret I might someday need it), Respond to any of the quick stuff, Defer anything that needs more work than I can/want to do at this moment, and Do anything that I can.

After an hour, I’ve processed through Tuesday. I’ve got a lot of work to do still, and there’s a lot in my “defer” folder, but I’m getting toward Zero Inbox and that makes me feel much more empowered about the situation.

Now, though, it’s time to find something else to do. It is the weekend after all and I’ve worked more than a full-time week as it is. Time to find a little balance and rejuvenation. (That’s another uphill battle!) How do you deal with emails?

Colorful Heirlooms …


My first loaf: Whole Wheat Bread

Well, I don't know how many of you have ever baked your own sandwich bread, but I have way more respect for bakers now.  This loaf of bread took three days to make... mostly because I started too late at night twice in a row.

The most difficult part was making the most efficient time of the process, but the recipe from Cook's Illustrated March-April 2011 Issue is really enjoyable to follow.

Here's the ingredients list, but what really makes it is the process...
2 Cs bread flour
1 Cs warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

3 Cs (16 1/2 ounces) whole-whet flour plus extra kneading
1/2 C wheat germ
2 Cs (16 ounces ) whole milk

1/4 C honey
4 tsps table salt
6 tblsps unsalted butter, softened
2 tblsps vegetable oil

It's too long to explain here (and you can find the whole process online here), but in short there are independent rising times, dough flattening, folding, rolling, more rising time, pizza stones, and finally water in the oven so the crust browns, but doesn't burn.  The bread is delicious.  For me, it was absolutely worth the trouble, and I'm enjoying every bite!

Furry Friday

The lambs we’ve been bottle feeding are (FINALLY!) becoming less and less interested in finishing their bottles, which make Cini a very happy dog.

Cini at Juniper Moon Farm

Cini at Juniper Moon Farm

Cini at Juniper Moon Farm

Cini at Juniper Moon Farm

Cini at Juniper Moon Farm

Cini seems to prefer this direct method of obtaining milk replacer even better than his usual one– lick the lambs faces as the drink their bottles.

Get It …

If you don’t HAVE IT apparently you can GET IT :)



- by Joan -

Behind the Yarn: Sample Knitting

When last I left you in this series, we had started to receive the yarn for sample knitting and I was mulling over color names. Well, I’ve been so busy I haven’t really mulled. But Susan said that I could show you pictures of colors so long as I didn’t give away which yarn it is. So if you have any brilliant ideas, let me know! Some of these are lab dips, meaning that they’re the right colors, although the might not be on the correct yarn base. So you shouldn’t assume that it’s one kind of yarn! It might very well be another!

Mystery Yarn A

Mystery Yarn A

Mystery Yarn B (Looking for super summery names)

Mystery Yarn B

Mystery Yarn C (Food names – spices and ingredients rather than things like Marshmallow Fluff)

Mystery Yarn C

I have wrapped up assigning sample knits (I think. I got an email today and I might look for a couple more knitters) and almost all the sample knitter yarn is out for delivery. One yarn is still on its way from the manufacturer (what, you didn’t think I was spinning it in my living room, did you?)

I’m going to hand deliver some yarn to one of our regular sample knitters, Krysta. We meet at the Frozen Yogurt place in the next town over because it’s super convenient for her to stop there on her way home. Certainly we don’t sit and chat and eat frozen yogurt. But that would be a business expense, right? Tomorrow I might be delivering some yarn to another sample knitter. We might be planning on sewing a photo shoot apron and making dryer balls while we’re there. That’s all going down on my time sheet because I’ll be taking photos and sharing the progress at some point in time. Oh, and we’ll be having waffles for lunch and homemade pizza for supper. I have SUCH a hard job, right?

PS – A reminder that tomorrow is the last day to buy your blanket! We cannot extend because the mill MUST have our order so we can get the blankets to everyone in time for Christmas giving.

PPS – If you’ve pre-ordered The Shepherd and The Shearer, I sent you an email ages ago asking for your sizing. I’ll follow up with those who haven’t given it to me, but I asked for a deadline of September 2nd. So check your old emails for that so I have less people to email, please! (If you’re still waiting to buy, no worries, I’ll get your sizing info after you purchase.)


Consider this a Public Service Announcement

Amy and I are back at work packing up the rest of my stuff at the farm today, so no time for a real blog post. Instead, enjoy these pictures of a giant bunny  snorgling with some tiny piglets.

Full story at The Huffington Post.

Rabbit and mini pig piglets at Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh, Devon, Britain - 22 Aug 2013

Rabbit and mini pig piglets at Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh, Devon, Britain - 22 Aug 2013

Quantity or Quality?


btt button

Which is more important? Quality for your reading? Or quantity?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Yarned by You: Findley Edition

I’ve been thinking a lot about what you wrote in the comments of Susan’s more think-y posts lately. Many of you missed that style of blogging and were feeling like things were getting too commercial and less personal. I feel like Yarned by You feels more commercial than I ever intended it to be. I was super excited to start this project because I wanted to share other people’s awesome knitted, crocheted, woven, macramed (!) work with the rest of you. But as each week has gone on, it feels like a slog to looking up details to make sure I tell you exactly what yarn it is and which color the knitter used. It takes a lot of time and effort and I miss this weekly feature being fun. So I’m going to mix it up and see what I can do make this more fun for me AND you.

This week, I’m going to show you some Findley and Findley dappled projects. Mostly lace shawls because people like to make lace shawls! If you want more information about the project or yarn used, please click through the picture to be taken to the ravelry project page.

SallyFromIdaho made this gorgeous vest. It only took her ten days, can you believe it?

SallyFromIdaho's whispering leaves lace top down cardigan

rainykay knit this Skywalker, which is loosely uses Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawl recipe (mmm a recipe for pie) for the increases. If you haven’t read A Knitter’s Almanac, you should definitely pick it up. It’s more like a conversation than a book pf patterns and harkens back to a time when knitters had a vast knowledge of knitting items – if not their own knowledge then their mother’s and grandmother’s and neighbor’s.

rainkay's Skywalker

I love this Lyra shawl that passionateknitter made. I love the flower amidst the mesh background. They really pop. You can see how she used a blocking needle to hold one of the straight sides in place and how much more rigidly than the side that she pinned. Did she run out of pins? Did she only have one blocking wire? The world may never know.

passionateknittr's triangular shawl - lyra

kmhar made this shawl to wear at her sister’s wedding. It seems perfect for a statement piece at a wedding or other big event. I like the unusual construction as well. My guess is that it’s worked in the round until the bottom rounds are completed and then worked back in forth in two sections for the long drape-y bits. Agree? Disagree? I love figuring out pattern construction from photographs.

kmhar's madrona

isisonearth knit this shawl. I think that this is one of those patterns that looks more difficult than it actually is. The pattern page says, “Invisible forces create rippling waves in a simple pattern of yarnovers.” That cracks me up, but it’s probably to prevent people like me from figuring out how it’s constructed, since really the stitch pattern is quite simple. When I can’t figure out how something is constructed, it’s worth it for me to pay for a pattern to learn a new technique.

isisoneather's sounds of waves

Ingenieurin knit Haruni. I’m kind of obsessed with this pattern and I’m sure I’ll make one sometime <del>soon</del>. Let’s be honest. I’ve got my knitting figured out for the next year and I’m sure things will pop up. It’ll be awhile before this makes it onto the list.

Ingenieurin's Haruni

Cheetah2011 made this shawl. She designed the Bonsai shawl that folks in our ravelry group liked. This is a personal pattern, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she came out with the pattern soon. I love how amazingly delicate the lace looks, and that it’s not a flower or recognizable motif.

Cheethas2011's longsuffering

This is an advent stole. You knit a few rows of pattern each day leading up to Christmas. Dkfmom knit this one for 2012. I have a feeling that I would quickly fall behind and most certainly not have a stole to wear on Christmas. How many times have we wrapped up a project that was on the needles?

Advent Calender Scarf - 2012

Are you working on anything with Findley right now?

Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Autumn Colors

Today, I'm showing a double wedding ring quilt I made for a friend who was married earlier in August.  I was stumped as to what to make for this sewing buddy and when the double wedding ring quilt challenge came along I thought it was kismet.  I rolled with it.

the pieced top, not yet quilted
She tends to like colors found in fall leaves: coppers, golds, and rich, warm reds, so I dug into my stash and came up with silk fabric I had been holding onto until a special project came along.  I have to admit I was daunted by the curved piecing and the multiple seams.  And the plaid silk, while being lovely to touch, feels like paper to sew, and it shows every mistake you make.  I tried to match the plaid too!  That was a fun challenge since I was using leftover fabric, but I think it worked reasonably well considering!

I am not actually sure how I completed the piecing for this quilt, but somehow I did it.  I should read up on how others have completed the task so I can get a bit better at it for next time.  ((This is really the year of the wedding in my world!! Six weddings?!  And I'm just counting the ones I'm attending.))

I was really proud of  how nice the binding came out!  Hurray! For successful research and applying skills learned from YouTube!

Pattern (free!): Double Wedding Ring From the Girlfriends collection by Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom for FreeSpirit
Fabric: silks from stash, quilting cotton from stash, orange bias binding from Stoff & Co.