Starting simple

I have a large stash of…well, really, I have large stashes of a lot of stuff.  Food.  Tea.  Books.  Blankets.  Toilet paper.  You know, all the important stuff.

But, the place I was going when I started that sentence was actually yarn.  See, yarn is expensive.  Well, good yarn is, anyway.  If you’ve never priced out good quality yarn, you might be in for a bit of a surprise.  If you have, you’re probably nodding your head right now.  Not that it’s not worth it – it’s just pricey.  Conversely, I am frugal.  And so when good yarn appears at the thrift store for low prices, I tend to buy it.

What this all means is that I have a lot of yarn that I’ve often bought without a project in mind.  It’s also often in limited qualities – in my experience it’s rare to get enough of the same yarn to make a sweater at the thrift store.  So, this means I have a lot of nice stuff just kicking around and no real plan for it.


On top of that, I suffer from the delightful affliction where I know that my skills need more development and I’m concerned that I’m going to either ruin the materials by not doing a good job or that I haven’t simply picked the most perfect project ever.  And so the stash sits, doing nothing at all, while I ponder and rethink my options and ultimately accomplish nothing at all.

At times, I’ve considered donating some of it or even selling some of it off, but I do want to knit with it.  I bought the yarn because I liked it and wanted to use it. I also see it as a way to further develop my skills as part of my reskilling goals.  So, in the interest of actually doing something, I’ve decided to start simple.  Today I have a three and a half hour train ride, which seems like it could be prime knitting time.  I’ve chosen some yarn – some vintage pure wool, which is nice but nothing I’m too wedded to – and I’m going to adapt a few patterns to make a Guernsey-style cowl.


Personal goals for 2016

In thinking about my financial goals for 2016 I’ve also been giving some thought to my personal goals.  I have a lot of interests and a lot of things that I want to work on at any given point in time.  Many of these things are some combination of self-improvement and world-improvement combined with a hefty-dose of self-reliance.

With so many things to do, it’s often a struggle for me to focus.  My tendency is to be a Jill-of-all-trades and to try to do it all.  This doesn’t usually work so well, particularly when I have a busy full-time work schedule and not a lot of energy left at the end of the day.  In fact, if I’m honest, it means that things often don’t get done because I’m so overwhelmed that it’s just easier to turn on Netflix and veg for a bit.

This year, I’m trying to narrow the focus a bit more and to choose the things that are most important to me.  For 2016, it’s looking like that’s going to be a combination of working on my health, getting more involved in my community, producing a few more of the things that I need, and reducing my environmental impact.

Health – After a doozy of a flu, a move to a new city, and the start of a new job, 2015 wasn’t off to the healthiest of starts.  I actually felt the effects through to the summer.  Now that I’m feeling better I’d like to improve on some of the steps that I’ve taken this year.  I plan to continue running three times per week but would like to add in three strength training sessions too.  On top of that, I’m going to start a daily meditation practice and ensure that I make time for reading a book, drinking some tea, doing yoga, or taking a quiet walk at least once weekly.

Community – I’ve done next to nothing community focused since I moved, but recently I’ve been doing some research on community groups that I could become involved with.  Unfortunately, most volunteer opportunities won’t work with my work schedule, but I’m looking into working with Out of the Cold and getting involved with a local environmental group.  Beyond that, I’m hoping to join a sewing or knitting group for some more social interactions.

Production – Last year I was good about cooking almost all of my meals and I grew in the same community garden plot that I have reserved for this year, so those things stay.  On top of that, I’d like to add to my culturing activities and make some yogurt and cheese.  On the non-edible front, I’m going to improve my sewing and knitting skills so I can make more for myself.  The initial plan is to knit a hat, vest, and pair of socks and to sew an apron and a dress.

Environment – I’ve been good about buying only secondhand and using my water bottles, but would like to step things up this year.  I’m going to work my way towards no waste by buying more locally and in bulk, replacing throw-away items, and using my skills to make some reusable items from secondhand materials.  It’s somewhat challenging thanks to the route and no shower facilities at work, but if I can manage a few days of week biking to work I’ll do that too.

It seems like a long list, but it’s nice to have a map of where I want to go this year.  I just need to remember that this doesn’t need to happen all at once and that I can do one thing at a time moving forward.  Up first? Get meditating, start on the hat, contact the volunteer groups, and dig out some hankies.  Let’s get things going…