Sunday, January 12, 2020

Decluttering at the Speed of Life (Part 2)...

First a note:  If you're here for just my YOP update, you might want to scroll on down the page to, I don't know...  I suppose the picture of my cross stitch project.   If you're game for reading about some yarn organization and encouragement to check out the book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life, just start with the next paragraph.

Yesterday was something of a book review and an introduction to Dana White's "container concept".  Today is Part 2: making the concept work for me in my craft room.

I won't repeat the basic container concept, so if you didn't read yesterday's post (and want to), here it is, or better yet... get your hands on White's book.  So that this post makes sense though, I'll repeat something I wrote yesterday:  For the container concept to work, the limits of the container must be respected.  In other words, you only keep what fits inside the container.  In making a decision of what to keep when you have too much, you choose what you want to keep most.

Before this weekend, my yarn storage issue had been pretty much under control, but in reorganizing some things that had gotten moved around during the holidays I found a cardboard box of crochet thread I needed to move back into the craft room.  Ugh! 

I'm well and truly done with random cardboard boxes as serious storage containers for my yarn so I looked at my closet storage situation and decided I needed to make a couple of decisions.  

Decision 1:  I am resolved to bringing no more yarn into my home than can fit into the craft room closet in a designated container.

Decision (or realization) 2:  I have no more space (or didn't want to make more space) inside my closet for another container for the crochet thread I still wanted to keep.

So...  studying the situation I realized I had a container of purple yarns I've been feeling pretty ambivalent about.  I've used lots of purple yarn over the years, but a dozen or so skeins have been hanging on - either not inspiring me, or just defying fitting a project I want to make with them.  

With Dana White's "container concept" in mind, it occurred to me that the box that contained the purple yarn skeins would hold the crochet cotton I wanted to keep (for the time being, anyway).

So...  I dumped out the purple yarn and quickly packaged some up for donating; some got put into a bag I'm collecting random yarn for a scrap granny blanket someday, and I made a decision to use a few skeins of the purple yarn in specific projects (more on that later).

And now I have the perfect size box for these threads I want to keep:

Yesterday I also mentioned that my storage of WIPs is inadequate and not inspiring me to work on them.   So I set to work on that situation, too:


got put into proper containers, and now looks like this:

And I placed it under a narrow table in plain sight so I'm reminded and inspired to work on my Sacred Space Blanket:

I was inspired to work on Part 2 this weekend, in fact! 😀

Buying one more storage container, this somewhat awkward storage of what I'm calling my Flower Garden Blanket:

Became all neatly contained in one box:   

And this WIP (a blanket I've never been completely sure of) got the plug pulled on it:  

For now, I bagged up the finished squares and set free the unused skeins of yarn for other projects (i.e.  they went back into storage in their appropriate boxes in the closet).  Truth be told, I think I may end up frogging the squares and setting even more yarn free.   I just need to come to terms with the time I spent crocheting the squares pictured.

The basket below got cleaned up from everything that had landed in it over the last few months and now I hope to be inspired to finish the pillow project it contains:

Here are two of the projects mentioned above stored where I can easily see them, 
and hopefully will continue to be inspired to work on them.

And wanting to use up some of my over abundance of purple yarn and use up some other colors too, I gathered coordinating yarns into this (freed-up) basket to await a blanket project that will be perfect for it:

The yarn that looks black above (on my screen) is actually dark purple. I'm giving myself until the first day of spring (it will be here before we know it) to settle on the project for the above yarn.  If I've made no progress in that direction by spring, the yarn will either be returned to the closet where there is a designated container with room for it, or it will be donated - or maybe put in the granny scrap blanket bag.  

I've also collected some pretty purple (and white) yarns in a large bag for starting another Leaping Stripes and Blocks Blanket:
I can't wait to start it!

And that's it today for reorganizing and regrouping my WIPs!  I feel like fresh air has blown into my craft room and I'm once again inspired to start working with yarn.


And finally, this Year of Project post would not be complete without an update of the stitching I've completed on my Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher:
Can you see the bird taking shape?

The frame holding the fabric is a 14-inch EZ Stitch scroll frame that I recently ordered from   I'm really enjoying using it.

And I think that's finally all there is from my place!  

Oh, okay...  here's something else worth pondering while deciding what to keep and what to let go:

“If I feel like my head is going to explode over a decision that isn’t life changing, but feels totally life changing, I choose to declutter the item. Because no item is worth my head exploding.”
       ― Dana K. White, Decluttering at the Speed of Life

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Decluttering at the Speed of Life (book recommendation)

I want to share a book recommendation today.  Sometime last year I was perusing audio books on Hoopla and I discovered Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White.  

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by [White, Dana K.]

I dived in, a tad skeptical that there could be anything new this 60-year-old hadn't already read about in her attempt at getting the stuff of life (ahem, clutter) under control.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised that Dana White did actually have a pretty transforming idea that I had never contemplated before - at least not with the same clarity and direction that she writes about.  

The book begins with White's explanation of the concept of containers.  And not just containers as holders and organizers of stuff, but my mind was truly expanded as she explained how containers, when used properly, will actually limit the amount of stuff we let come into our homes.

For containers to limit stuff we own, though, we have to accept that every container holds a finite amount of stuff.  And once the designated container is full (or as full as you want it to be) a decision has to be made about the stuff that doesn't fit in the container.  I feel embarrassed to admit it, but this idea was kind of mind-blowing for me.  That was not how I viewed containers.  In my mind, if something didn't fit, one just needed more or larger containers, right?  No!  The container isn't (necessarily) the problem.  The problem is too much stuff!

Once you get it, it's so obvious it might just make you giddy.  Especially if your goal really is to own less stuff.  First you have to identify the container, decide what you want the container to hold, then you simply respect the limits of the container.

While that sounds easy enough, of course it isn't.  There will still be some emotional juggling as you decide what goes in the container and what doesn't, but White helps you in that process, too.  

Once the author's container concept is understood and embraced, she introduces the reader to her methodology of dealing with clutter as life is being lived.  After these things are explained, the reader is taken on a tour of his/her house to dejunk all the stuff that needs to go, and contain all the stuff that needs to be contained.  This is where "the speed of life" part comes in.  This part of the book may or may not resonate with everyone, but there's some really helpful stuff in this part of the book.  It has helped me even though my life is less "speedy" than it was when I had three children at home with all their stuff and activities that often kept us running and/or distracted.

Back to containers, though.  White explains (better than I will here) that containers are anything that holds other things.  A table is a container for whatever sits on top of it.  Same as a shelf, or desk, or even the floor.  A closet is a container; your car is a container; rooms are containers.  Your house is a container.  Get the idea?  

And of course drawers, baskets and boxes are containers, too. That much, I already understood - even if I didn't understand the power containers hold in the task of  dejunking.  It took Decluttering at the Speed of Life to help me understand the true purpose and powers containers can have for us.

Okay, sooo...  Remember now, I had read this book earlier last year and was understanding the power that containers held when, in October, I bought a whole slew of containers to store my yarn in and neatly filled the whole closet in my craft room with yarn and embroidery/cross stitch materials).   You can see the pictures again here if you're interested - though I want to say I bought just a few more containers and now the contents of the closet are well and truly "contained".   

That's all well and good, but a little over two months later, I'm seeing that I still have a problem.  The problem, of course, being that I still have too much craft stuff (in this case, yarn).  For my liking, anyway.  I'm not at all regretting buying all the plastic containers and going through the work of sorting and reorganizing my yarn.  But it didn't solve the ultimate problem - which is too much yarn.  Containers, in and of themselves never solve the problem of too much stuff.  I knew that then, but I didn't let myself dwell on it. 

Now I think I'm ready to deal with that reality, and as I'm  refreshing myself in listening to this audio book again, the power of "the container concept" is going to help me.

This bears repeating:  Containers themselves are never the solution to too much stuff.  And a gal like me should not buy containers until she knows what she wants to contain and has a good idea of her ultimate goal (and ability) for setting up the storage. 

So, to be clear... those criteria were established when I bought the containers.  While previously, I couldn't see my yarn as well as I can now in these see-through boxes, my yarn was well inventoried and organized, and with the help of Ravelry's database system, I knew exactly how many skeins I had, as well as what brands, what fiber contents, and what colors I owned, and because my yarns were sorted into groupings that made sense even with the inadequate storage I had (basically an odd-ball collection of cardboard boxes) I could put my hands on any skein of yarn within minutes. 

Because of all my previous organization and knowing what I had, when I bought the new see-through containers, it was with the (almost realistic) and ultimate goal of being able to store all of my yarn inside the closet of my craft room.  While I took measurements and did some online research to determine the sizes and brands of boxes that would work best for my closet's design, I also had in mind that if we moved into a new place that didn't provide me with such an ample closet, my new storage boxes would either make storing yarn in a new place at least more efficient, but if necessary, the see-through aspect of the boxes would make whittling down my yarn easier.  This is important, because ultimately, I do want to own less yarn.  

For the sake of transparency, at the moment, in addition to all the yarn in my closet, I also still have yarn stored in these zippered canvas bags that are currently taking up residence under my desk:

It's not ideal, but it's neat.   And for now it's staying. 

And then some aran-weight wool is stored in this suitcase that sits behind my rocking chair:
This, I'm not crazy about.  I'd like to make a decision about the wool in this suitcase.  I'm not sure I want to get rid of it, but I'm also not sure I want to keep it.  The thing is... since this suitcase is sitting in a space that's not readily seen, and nothing else can fit in the space, I'm decided for now to not be bothered by it.  Too much.


While my yarn storage appears to be under control (for the moment),  a different (but related) issue I have is WIPs taking up space in ways that aren't serving me well - for example, this long-term "Flower Garden Squares blanket" deserves a better system for storage so that as I work on it, it's all neatly contained:

I know... It looks neat enough, but the fact is, I'm bothered seeing all the yarn that's stored in the plastic crate because it's not being kept dust-free.  Also, having three containers (two for containing skeins of yarn and one for storing finished squares) makes this a difficult project to take to another room to work on it if I want to.  As I analyzed what's going on with this languishing project, I'm thinking that my annoyance over the inadequate storage is probably one of the big reasons I keep ignoring the project as a whole.  Which just makes me feel bad about it languishing there collecting dust. And round and round we go...  Regardless of the future of this project, I'm ready to stop the ridiculous cycle of indecision and inactivity.  

A few other WIPs I have are also problematic in that they aren't being stored in ways that make working on them easy.  So I've set to work changing that this weekend.

Tomorrow I'll show you some more progress I'm making on getting my yarn issue under control.  Having proper containers is only part of the solution.  Using the containers properly is where the power lies.  😉

“Accept the limitations of the space you have, and declutter enough that your stuff fits comfortably in that space.”
               ― Dana K. White, Decluttering at the Speed of Life

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Birds of a feather...

Putting up a new calendar this past week, and getting my craft room straightened after pulling stuff out the week before, I was finally inspired  start on a new cross stitch project I'd been wanting to begin.

After seeing a beautiful Mocking Bird  cross stitched by Sandy (at Home Ec Major) I went looking for the pattern and found Crossed Wing Collection - and their ooh, so many lovely bird designs. Thinking at first that the website might be old, I did a search on Ebay for the patterns and found an amazing deal for a whole slew of bird patterns and didn't waste any time bidding on them.   

BUT, let it be known...  the designers did quickly contact me to tell me their website is indeed current and they suggested if I wanted to place an order it actually works really well to call them.  I'm offering that as a bit of an advertisement for them.  The patterns I bought are very nicely done.   On heavy paper (some are on cardstock), and most of the patterns don't appear to be nearly as difficult as the pictures of their lovely designs might lead one to believe they are.  And on top of all that, they're very reasonably priced!  Between $5 and $7 dollars for beautifully detailed patterns.  Most come in sets with several bird designs.

Okay, so now you've got the information you need for making your own if you're so inclined.  

Here is the start on my first one (the background looks white in the picture, but it's actually Confederate Gray Aida cloth - purchased from 123 Stitch):

I know... I've only just begun and it doesn't look like much, but I thought it would be fun to show its progress as I work on it.  

While I'm not going to show the finished picture (that comes with the pattern) I will tell you this is a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher.  Are you familiar with that bird?  I'm truly curious because I'd never heard of it.  But it looked like a fairly simple pattern to start with, so I'm getting to know this  feathered creature.  Those are tail feathers sticking up and the blue stitches are the beginning of the body.  Stay tuned!  More to come.

I thought I'd also mention... before starting the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, I finished stitching a small Christmas ornament I'd started working on in the recent past:  

This is one of three Prairie Schooler Christmas ornament patterns from vintage (1980's) Just CrossStitch magazines.

I've also got a colonial house ornament pattern kitted up to go with the three of these I've already now made.  I may work on that soon, too.


Something else I thought might be interesting to show today...

Last summer I finished some embroidered and crochet-trimmed pillowcases.  I was asked if they were for show, and I said no - that they were for my everyday use.  Well, it's right around the 6-month mark of when I made the pair and I have used the same pillowcase in all this time, washing it with the other bed linens at least weekly (sometimes more often - when hubs or I are sick I often wash the linens every day until the sicky starts to get better).  I wash my sheets and pillowcases on a super hot sanitizing cycle in my front loading washing machine, and have machine or line-dried them at least weekly over the last 6 months.  

Just so you can see how well the embroidery and edging hold up, here is a picture of an unused one (on top) and the heavily used one (on bottom):

Right next to each other one can tell there has been some fading on the bottom one, but seriously...  using them every night I couldn't tell it had faded at all - until I put the unused one next to it.  Considering the heavy use it's gotten (including over 30 washings in super hot water) I'm really pleased at how well the edging and embroidery have held up.

To give a thorough review...  the pillowcase itself is starting to thin,  Again, I couldn't tell that when only looking at just the one.  But side-by-side I can see that the one I've been using is thinning.  It's a polyester/cotton blend pillowcase from a kit - I know it wasn't as sturdy as some of our other pillowcases bought in sheet sets.   I plan to keep on using this until it shows some obvious wear.   I may give another report at that time.  

I'm so glad I did this little experiment.  I knew that the ones I received as a newlywed held up a nice long time, but they weren't abused like I'm (sort of) abusing this one.  Seeing how well the embroidery and edging hold up, I'm looking forward to making some more someday.  I also look forward to trying out a stabilizer on the back of the next ones I make - just to see what difference that might make.  That may be my next experiment.  😉

To see what other YOPpers are up to, 
visit their blogs in my sidebar. 👉

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Happy 2020, everyone!

First up, I want to share a link to a cyber friend who's doing a January downsizing project.  Mary Anne at Magpie's Mumblings has challenged herself to get rid of at least 5 things for each day of the month.  You can read about her start here, and join her if you like!  I know I'll be following along with great interest.  

As for my own start to downsizing in 2020, I'm starting with something relatively small (for me), but oh so easy to lose control of if one isn't careful.  Magazines!   In general, magazines are not things I keep or even really like subscribing to anymore.  My MIL likes to give me an inexpensive magazine subscription every year or so and each month I quickly look through it and usually recycle it before the month is over.  But there are some genres that, for me, are just plain hard to get rid of.

Back in November, when I was getting rid of some old homeschooling magazines I no longer wanted, Mrs. T shared in a comment on that post that she likes to swap out her saved Taste of Home magazines every season.  She keeps them visible and I assume because they're handy she looks through them throughout the season looking for ideas.

I thought that was a great idea!  Magazines that I have too many of, but rarely go through are Taste of Home magazines and various crafting magazines.   While I thoroughly enjoyed looking through these magazines when I received them, they don't see the light of day very often, and they are doing no good at all stored neatly away in a cabinet or on a bookshelf.  I need to either put them to use, or re-home them.

So... yesterday I pulled out all the early spring crafting magazines I own, and will keep them stacked on a table in my craft den - close to the rocker, within easy reach.  

This little pile doesn't look like much, but I have about 10 times this many covering the other seasons, so I'm setting a loose goal of getting rid of one or two magazines each month.  That should whittle them down a bit.  I'm actually expecting that as I look through them, I'll pretty quickly decide I don't want to keep all of them.  

Same with my Taste of Home magazines.  Today I'm pulling out all the February/March issues I own.  Going to do that now...

I'm back.  And Oh Wow!  I had no idea I had so many!  Keep in mind, these are just the February/March magazines I've collected over the years!  And I haven't subscribed to this magazine in about 10 years!  There are at least 8, maybe 10 times this many still in my cookbook cabinet.  😧 And I just looked and counted 7 annual TOH cookbooks.  Books that include many of the recipes found in the magazines I own!!!

Oh boy...  this may not be as easy as I imagined.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I'm going to take a deep breath before diving in...   Though, I can't help but wonder if maybe I should have started with only half of them...  😟 

Another thought is that I may quickly get some clarity here. That kind of thing happens when you start getting serious about downsizing and decluttering.   I'll give it this month, and then maybe report what happens on the "saved magazines" front.

As I get ready to hit "publish" on this post, these seem like good words to start the year off with:

Like what I've been blessed with.  
Use what I have.
Share my surplus with others.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye 2019! Goodbye Stuff!

As 2019 comes to a close, I can't help but be a bit reflective as I anticipate a new year starting tomorrow.  In November of last year I took on the challenge to complete the 30-Day Minimalism Game.  Below is a video explaining how it's played: 

It was a success - not just in getting rid of at least 500 things, but in getting me freer about letting go of even more stuff.  I now know I want less.  

Well, that's all well and good to say, but culling through a lifetime of stuff isn't exactly easy. And unless a person is willing to be ruthless, I'm presently of the opinion that it's best to be a tad measured and methodical about it.   It took us 39+ years to accumulate all our stuff.  So what if it takes three or four, or more years to clear our home and lives of so much of it?  Don't tell hubs I said that.  Hopefully he's not reading this.

Here's the thing (and it's a big thing), one of our goals is to move into a one-story home - hopefully sooner rather than later.  We're fine with waiting until the right home presents itself, but in the meantime we're trying to be focused on getting this house ready to put on the market.  That means painting and recarpeting where needed, but cosmetically, that's about it.  Our kitchen needs a serious overhaul, but we ain't doin' it.  'nuff said on that.  The main thing we truly need to do to be ready to move is to get rid of stuff.  Not only to make this home look better to potential buyers, but so that we can fit what we're keeping inside that (probably smaller) next home we hope to move into.

Sure, it would be great if we didn't have to downsize our square footage, but that probably isn't realistic considering a one story home of the square footage we're accustomed to would have a significantly larger footprint on the landscape than our present tri-level home does. And truthfully...  while two full baths and two half baths were great while raising three boys, I'm ready to move into something that doesn't need as much upkeep.  So...  as we think about the future, stuff just needs to go.  And you know what?  Even if we didn't need to downsize, I now know I want less stuff.  But I said that already, didn't I?

Here's the rub...   I'm very much a process person.  I'm all about process.  In just about every area in my life.  I want to know how things work, why they work, how someone thought of a thing in the first place.  I want to know why people do the things they do.  Even if understanding these things is beyond me, I'm curious enough to slow down and ponder something for a bit.  So, you can imagine, as I sort through things, I want to recall memories, I want to consider why I kept a thing in the first place.  And inevitably, I get distracted.

Hubs, on the other hand, isn't what I'd call a process person.  About much, anyway...  And, as you can possibly imagine, being on opposite ends of the process/product continuum, can cause a lot of conflict.  In retirement, there seems to be a little more patience on both our parts toward the other, but our general personalities haven't (and won't) change.

That said, the 30-Day Minimalism Game actually helped me in my processing.  It didn't change me into being less about the process, but it helped me get through some of my processing more quickly.  It made me more efficient.  And I experienced the euphoria of letting go and getting free.  I like to think I got some clarity that will carry me forward.

I'm hoping to move forward here - writing and sharing about downsizing, minimalizing, getting clarity about stuff, getting clarity about letting go of stuff.   I'm not sure what that will look like.  I don't know if I'll post once a week, or once a month about it, but I do know I want to share what I'm learning and experiencing.  So stay tuned!  😉

Sunday posts (for the time being, at least) will continue to be Year of Project posts - where I share what I'm creating and anything related to that part of my life.  And scattered throughout a month I may randomly write posts about the process (and, hopefully, results) of downsizing.  Or I may find a rhythm to regularly sharing about it.  We'll see.  

Either way, I plan to share what I come across that is helpful to me in downsizing and minimalizing this year.  Tips and inspiration for working through getting rid of stuff, and figuring out what motivates me.  I expect to link to others' blog posts, books, articles  - anything that helps me and inspires me.  I already know of one person who's using January to downsize. 😃  I'll link to her blog tomorrow and I look forward to finding inspiration from her in the next month.

If you're downsizing or decluttering too, it would be great to hear from you.  If you're a blogger and downsizing, I'd very much like to follow your journey.   

Come join me, or just follow along.  I'll take the company and encouragement any way it comes!