Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A day in the life

In my quest to regain control over the workday, I decided to figure out how I spend the time. I find making a weekly schedule is helpful. I used to draw them out on legal pads, but it’s easier to make them in Excel so my inner nerd can play with the stats.

I made this at the end of summer and gave a copy to each member of the family. The goal was to illustrate when I was working, and implied they should not call or drop in during those hours unless there was a fire or someone was bleeding. It was a clear enough schedule and everyone but the dog should have been able to follow it. It worked for a few weeks and then it was back to the old habits-- all except the dog, who has stayed on her schedule and allows me to work without interruption. She’s earned a raise.
And what would a spreadsheet be without a pie chart?

Looks quite reasonable and productive. If only we could stick to it. 

Since this chart is now mostly fantasy, I’ve made a new, realistic, version:
And pie chart:

In an effort to present a more professional face, I've renamed the remaining categories: Looking for Shit becomes Organization; Wasting time is now Project Planning; Work will be called Production; Nagging is Family coaching. 

Since I’m not planning to cut back on sleep or taking care of my family, I've removed personal time from the equation, and this is how the remaining time is dispersed:

It is clear that I spend too much time organizing and not enough in production. The solution is to clean and rearrange the workspace so I can find things easily, and I have already drawn up the floor plan for the new space. It will take some time to put the pieces together, but I’ll try to document the process as I go.

Hello Sexy!

This is my favorite sewing machine, but sadly, we have lived apart for many years. She belongs to my mother, who brought her home back in 1977. This is the machine I learned to sew on, and like a first love, I will forever compare all other machines to her. She sews like butter. Anyway, my mother has taken pity on my lack of a machine that zig-zags or winds bobbins, and offered to let me borrow the Pfaff. I love this machine so much, I may have to name her. Maybe.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The last post sort of ends without a conclusion which I’ll post as soon as I figure out what point I am trying to make. In the meantime, here is an in-progress look at the current home decor project I’m working on:
I have two very old and ugly apartment size sofas and last summer I splurged on Pottery Barn natural canvas slipcovers. Between the dog, the Kid, and our barbaric habit of taking meals in the living room, these are in the wash almost weekly (and need it more frequently). The slipcovers are the “tuck to fit” kind, and frankly, tucking and fitting them is too tiring to tackle more than once a month. I’ve resorted to putting quilts and blankets over the slipcovers to help keep them clean, but have tired of the ‘dorm room chic’ look this creates. I had planned to sew fitted slipcovers, and have already bought the fabric, but have procrastinated because the fabric is also a natural color, and will need to be laundered as frequently the current set. Instead, I’ve decided to make coordinating patchwork sofa covers for the slip covers using left over fabric. Sort of like grandma’s plastic couch covers, but not plastic. The top has been pieced and I kind of like the way it looks a bit modern (even Bauhaus?)  and a bit Navaho at the same time. I chose the color scheme carefully to coordinate with the surroundings:

I purposely avoided using a complicated design as I want this to be an easy project. The layers are currently pin basted together (top, low loft batting, backing) waiting to be machine quilted. I’m pretty sure the quilting is going to ruin the whole thing because I've never machine quilted before, am using a crappy machine (the one called the drunken tailor), the angles are wonky, and I can’t find the quilting foot. In fact, if it gets finished without catching fire or being eaten by the dog, it will turn out better than expected.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

how not to work from home

I’m not someone who makes yearly resolutions. Instead, I try to identify one habit or trait that I need to learn. Two years ago the idea was learning about rest and recuperation. Last year it was learning to say NO to others, and learning that sometimes it's OK to be selfish. I didn’t do very well with last year’s lesson, so this year will be a continuation of that process. The major part of this year's theme will be taking back control of my time.

Everything I've read about working from home says that stay at home/work from home parents are perceived to have unlimited free time by family members, and people who work outside the home. This is absolutely true! Plus, I have difficulty saying no and love feeling needed. This means that I end up in the middle of every activity the Kid is involved in. For example, during the three years the Kid was in Jr. high I made costumes for a school play (8), costumes for three conventions (8), sat on two volunteer boards, became a NCAA certified sports official, started and coordinated a group of a volunteers, was a non certified stats and score keeper, became a certified lifeguard, was the daily carpool driver for school and sports, as well as a Scout leader of 20+  teen age girls (and 6 moms) white water rafting, and for several other miscellaneous overnight trips. At the same time I was raising a teenager alone, finishing a college degree, trying to renovate a 165 year old house, and trying to start a business. Just reading that list is a bit overwhelming. These years were also filled with fatigue, chest pain and difficulty breathing as my immune system went insane and attacked my lungs and heart. After I found a doctor who didn’t roll his eyes and make snide comments about having “just another virus, no big deal”, I learned I had been operating with 36% lung function, so yeah, I wasn’t getting as much done as expected.

Guess what my priorities were during those years?
Other Family
Extracurricular activities for Kid

This year, I'm changing the order to this:
Other family

The Kid has been instructed not to volunteer me for anything. Period. And should anyone worry about her suffering neglect; she turns 18 soon and should be learning to cook and clean so she can be the live-in housekeeper we’ve always dreamed of. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book of Paul Poiret fashions, illustrated by Paul Iribe 1908

Scan of all pages, in order, minus the blanks.

A little gem I found on Archive.org.


photo by Jacques Henri Lartigue  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/3809707.stm

2011 in Review: 

I started this blog, and opened the Etsy shop. The blog was intended to be strictly for business, but personal events directly impact my work decisions, and by not addressing these, there’s not much to post. I’m not someone who can keep their life neatly compartmentalized, so maybe it’s time to let it all run together.

Consider yourself warned.

First, though not foremost, I’m developing new “products” for MS&R. Geographically, this is a tough location for hunting vintage clothes and I’m loath to build a new business based on the whims of serendipity, so I need to branch out. I have tons of ideas and have been steadily making prototypes and patterns which always take more time than allotted. I’ve finally learned not to crow about my dreams until they can actually  work, so that’s all I’m prepared to say about the new products for now.

Second, and more importantly, The Kid and I have been eating healthier. We cut out gluten at the end of July and I immediately felt more energetic and a near cessation of the morning “feels like a 10 margarita hangover” headache. Within a few weeks I had lost 15 lbs. 

In the "stupid is as stupid does" category, I spent way too much time with someone who demanded most of my energy and attention. Sadly, it took a while to realize they were unworthy, and put an end to the fiasco. Still, it was a good reminder that a person’s behavior is a better gauge of  character than words. It’s easy to understand this in theory, but not so easy to recognize the conflict between words and actions in practice.

I began sewing again. I used to be an avid sewer, but stopped several years ago because it was no longer enjoyable.  Now that I am (mostly) mended, I am again finding pleasure in joining thread and cloth.

For the first time in many years, this New Year promises to bring new beginnings, joys and adventures. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

a little side project

I've been looking for something to make from a pile of old cashmere and wool sweaters and last night I made a very long striped scarf. But when I woke under the full moon this morning I took it apart and started over, this time using a chevron pattern. I like chevron even though it's wildly trendy right now which virtually guarantees it will be "out" by the end of the season. But I don't love it enough to paint the wall, or slipcover my sofa-- or offer it any other long term commitment.  It looks very nice, considering. Considering the colors are random, I'm using oddly colored left over serger thread (bright purple & black), and the pieces are smaller than I would have used, had I not already cut everything into 3" strips. I don't have the patience for a large, tedious piecing project right now, but can see making a scarflette, or perhaps, a cowl.

early morning under the full moon

this woke me at 4 am...