Category Archives: organizing

Creating a craft supplies nook (and generally getting settled into my new apartment)

Lately, I’ve been working to settle in to my new apartment. I moved in last month. I managed to fit all of my belongings (less the things that were at the Gentleman’s apartment from his amazingly generously letting me stay at his place while I got moved to the Cities) into a 10′ U-Haul truck. No kidding. That’s everything.

2013-12-01-moving_truck_full

My lovely friend and her boyfriend helped with everything from driving the truck to loading and unloading; there were an absurd number of freight elevator trips in both the storage unit building and the new apartment building. We were incredibly graceful throughout the whole process. This is how ballet dancers move things, people. I should start a moving company and charge for the show as well.

2013-12-01-moving_truck_with_rach

Of course, this was in the middle of Nutcracker season, and I quickly found out that I would be performing in The Nutcracker with my new studio, despite the fact that I am “retired.” (Query: Is a professional ballet dancer ever truly retired?) My parents were in town for Nutcracker and Christmas, and being onstage with the Gentleman again was lots of fun.

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I had the rest of winter break to recover, and then the insanity started.

I am one of a handful of teachers at the studio where I am teaching now, and one of only three who are there 6 days per week. One of us three had a baby two weeks ago, and is now on maternity leave. The second (my boss) went on a surprise “babymoon” that her husband planned so they would have one last hurrah before she gives birth in April. In these past two weeks, we’ve had three snow days on top of the crazy sub situation created by maternity leave and vacation time. It has been nuts. And on top of it all, I’m still putting together my new apartment.

It’s a great place. It has some crazy columns (stay tuned for colorful plans for those), lots of kitchen storage and counter space (more than twice what I had in my old place), a huge living room, and it’s generally awesome. Here’s that amazing kitchen before I moved all my stuff in and it got all messy:

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The Gentleman helped me unpack. He was thrilled to take bubble wrap off the myriad dishes, glasses, etc. that I have.

2013-12-02-kitchen_unpacking

Now that I’m finally all moved in, my head is full of projects to make my space work. First of all, I need a dedicated craft space. I haven’t had one since I moved out of my parents’ house and had essentially a whole room in the finished basement. Obviously, that’s not happening, even in a large one bedroom apartment. My plans involve curtaining off the far wall of my living room and setting up shelving so I can pull back the curtains and have access to all of my craft supplies, or close them and have a neat and tidy space.

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Obviously, this plan does not account for the massive amount of mess that I always have everywhere (hello, dirty dishes on the kitchen island, I’m looking at you), but I’m thinking that having an epic amount of storage that I can just close the curtains on should help with that too. (I promise I won’t put dirty dishes on the storage shelves and close the curtain on them. I just may have more kitchen counter space if I’m able to dump all my sketches, paperwork, magazines, etc. somewhere else.)

In case you can’t tell, this is a HUGE wall. It’s 11′ wide, 12′ tall. For my shelving unit, I wanted something simple, sturdy, tall, and able to fill as much of the space as possible in one unit. I was originally thinking of using the wire shelves I have on hand, but they’re nowhere near big enough for this job. They’re loaded up with paper crafting supplies and sewing notions, but I still have bins stacked up in my bedroom.

On top of wanting large shelves, I quickly decided that, since I’m renting and not allowed to screw anything into the walls, it would be easiest to use the shelves to help support the curtains that will cover them. I’d originally thought to create a steel pipe curtain rod and support, but that would be ridiculously expensive. So I started looking at wire shelves that I could possibly hook a curtain rod onto. Those were just as ridiculously expensive, and none were quite the right height.

Luckily I live in a city that has an IKEA store. This configuration of Ivar shelves looked perfect. After a few weeks trying to figure out how to fit a 132 1/4″ shelving unit into a 132″ space, I remeasured and determined that the space is actually 132 3/8″ wide. Let’s hope IKEA’s listed measurements are precise!

Ivar comes up to about 8″ below the top of the cabinet over the fridge, so I’ll use a couple of extra wood uprights to help lift the curtain rod (probably a piece of electrical conduit) up to the ceiling. I’ll be making back-tab curtains that reach from ceiling to floor. For this space, that’s a lot of fabric (27 yards if it’s 54″ wide), so if anyone wants to suggest a good place to find cheap taffeta in a light teal-ish color, I’d be grateful. Current top picks are from JoAnn (although I’m not thrilled with the color choices in my favorite fabric of theirs, the Party Taffeta), Fabric.com (Softline Netherwood Taffeta, Crestmont Lustra Sateen Twill in Sky (too light?) and Teal (too dark?), Two-Tone Taffeta in Dark Teal (too bright?), and Microfiber Twill in light blue), and Mood (Bluestone Silk Taffeta which is way too expensive but my absolute favorite, and this cotton twill shirting which is likely too matte).

And, of course, as soon as I’m done with this massive storage wall and curtains thing, I’m thinking of building a bed frame. Stay tuned to see if I ever get around to that. I have sketches, so it’s promising. (Disclaimer: The previous statement was written by a perpetual dreamer who is far too in love with the planning process of any project and rarely actually finishes things.)

2014-01-28-bedframe_sketch

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Hello, again, blog. How are you?

Things that have happened since I last wrote:

  • I found a new apartment
  • End-of-year dance performances happened, and went fairly well
  • I bought new living room furniture that is new and mine and isn’t handed down from my ex-boyfriend
  • My mom came in to town to help me move all of my stuff into storage and get rid of my old, second-hand furniture and lots of the other random stuff that I had accumulated
  • I spent a month in Michigan teaching at the youth performing company where I grew up
  • I moved into a new, much nicer, apartment, where I had my new furniture delivered
  • I started my new teaching schedule

The nicest thing is that I have room for my great grandmother’s sewing machine in my new apartment, so I now have the little White serger, my new Brother, and Granny’s old machine (a Kenmore, not a Singer, as I believe I posted earlier).  I also have a washer and dryer in my apartment so I don’t have to deal with my crazy neighbor and her (mis)use of the laundry facilities, a little patio out back, and a full kitchen with a fridge that actually works and doesn’t routinely allow ice cream to melt all down the front (the novelty!), a full size stove (4 burners!) that maintains correct temperature in the oven, a double basin sink with garbage disposal, a dishwasher, and some actual counter space.

The past few months have been incredibly eventful.  Highlights (if they can be called that) are my friend’s baby being born and then immediately spending time in the NICU for life-threatening meconium aspiration (he’s fine now, no long-term damage, but that was a nerve-wracking couple of weeks), my parents’ dog and rabbit both dying, a falling-out with my grandmother, a 16-year-old student’s suicide, a student’s friend’s suicide, one of my closest friends breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, and not knitting or sewing a single stitch during the entire month of August.  With the start of the new school year, I’m looking forward to some positive changes.  Namely, I’m hoping that no one dies.  That would be nice.

I’ll update with some photos of things like my new furniture and Granny’s sewing machine as soon as I figure out where my camera is in the pile of boxes currently occupying my garage.  (Did I mention that I have a garage at my new apartment?!)

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Accomplishments

The nupp count on my lace scarf is up to 100.

My apartment is clean enough that I think my parents will have enough room when they arrive tomorrow.

Hazel is still moving very slow because I can’t bring her to the
studio to work on (that would ruin the surprise) but I have her color fully charted.

Now I’m off to a photoshoot where I get to wear a pretty, hooped platter tutu, then teaching, then knitting club at the studio.

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Sabbatical?

I can’t claim to have been ridiculously busy since I last wrote, but I have done some things. The lack of writing is more due to the spotty internet at my apartment and my still-unhappy laptop keyboard that makes bringing my laptop elsewhere to write uncomfortable since it necessitates not only my laptop but also that pesky (i.e. huge) USB keyboard.

Things that happened:

  • My grandmother turned 80 and went down to Mexico to celebrate. That’s an interesting story all on its own, which I may put in another post. Don’t worry, though, she’s safely back home now.
  • We had the first real snow storm of the year, and then an almost-blizzard. We only got 6 inches of snow each time, and never got real blizzard conditions, but just south of town the roads were awful and they had to close the highway for a full 12 hours. I love living on the great plains.
  • The almost-blizzard meant that we had a snow day, so I didn’t have to substitute in a 3-year-old class. I really don’t like teaching 3-year-old classes.
  • I did teach many more private lessons than usual, which is good for my finances, but bad for my free time.
  • I had a master class with James Sewell through my company, which was wonderful.
  • I started on The Great Apartment Re-Organization of 2012. I’ve been doing a little every day, and things are slowly starting to take shape. My biggest accomplishment is that my dance shoes and accessories are all organized, and so are my tights. Everything was in there before, but now it’s in order.
  • I continued with progress on my various projects.

First up is my awesome dance stuff organiation:

My Blackberry Bramble Beret is coming along, with just the very top to complete. I got a lot done on it during full-cast rehearsals, and I’m now in the final stretches. Of course, this means that the pattern is no longer totally predictable with the way that the cables and decreases come together, so it’s gotten harder to bring it to rehearsals.

To that end, I started Queen Silvia from Nancy Bush’s “Knitted Lace of Estonia”. I’m using my 2-ply superfine alpaca laceweight from Dharma Trading Company. I can’t even begin to express how soft this yarn is. I thought that the ball of yarn was soft, but it’s so much better knitted up! It has just the right amount of halo to make it a bit fluffy without distracting from the lace pattern.

I also picked up several more books from Knit Picks during their sale:
200 Fair Isle Motifs” by Mary Jane Mucklestone
100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet” by Lesley Stanfield
75 Birds Butterflies & little beasts to knit and crochet” by Lesley Stanfield

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Modern Technology Has Ruined My Life

Right now, I don’t have internet at my apartment, my laptop keyboard is broken, and my phone isn’t playing nice with WordPress. I’m typing this on a USB keyboard hooked up to my laptop, and I’ll post it later this afternoon when I’m at the studio. I’m hoping that it’s just the keyboard, because that’s a relatively cheap fix, but it could very well be something more expensive. In other news, I’m tired of Hazel already, to the point of giving up on my fuzzy pants, and thinking that my pointe covers are silly and pointless.

Hazel is awkward with the double knitting and all of the stockinette, simple ribbing, and increases. It just doesn’t have an interesting, predictable pattern to it. Figuring out the progression of the stitches and being able to predict what comes next is one of the better parts of knitting for me. I’ll go so far as to alter patterns so that they have a more logical progression, but I can’t do that with Hazel. The pattern is pretty well put together (there are a couple of unusual typos/errors in the pattern that haven’t been resolved in the errata yet) and I don’t want to mess with it. She’s a very good facsimile of a living creature, and any changes to make her more logical or interesting to me would change that.

I’ve set Hazel aside for a little while now, so that I can come back to it with a fresh perspective in a couple of weeks. As for the fuzzy pants, I tried picking them up again, but I’m so used to my new style of knitting that going back to my old throwing technique seems way too slow. I’m afraid that switching to my new method will change my gauge, so I’m just putting it off. The pointe covers are just making me grumpy for unknown reasons. It might have to do with the repetitive mock-cable pattern, or the fact that I’m scared of turning a sock heel, but whatever it is, I’m giving them a rest until we head into full cast run-throughs of Coppelia. Full-cast means that there will be many small children running around, and I don’t have a huge amount of actual stage time. The corps dancers have to stand onstage for pretty much the entire production, but I have a solid chunk of dancing and then I get to hang out in the wings or backstage waiting for my next entrance. During the run-throughs where everyone is getting used to the show order and talking through the blocking (i.e. herding small children), I’ll have some time to knit.

In the meantime, I cast on for Courtney Kelley’s Bramble Beret from “Vintage Modern Knits.” It’s the perfect cure for my Hazel-and-the-pointe-covers-are-boring ailment, since the cables, moss stitch, and bobbles all come together in a very nice, logical, and mildly complicated way. Also, it means that I’m finally knitting my beret.

As far as apartment organization goes, I now have a bookcase ready for assembly and bookends with which to organize my books on my new bookcase. The problem is that I need floorspace to assemble the bookcase, and I need the bookcase to clear the floor of books. I’ll probably resort to stacking the books precariously on my desk chair, but you have to admit that this is a funny little catch-22. I do have some over-the-door organizers that are currently holding dance tights and various pairs of dance shoes and shoe accessories. I also found several pairs of nasty old ballet shoes and toe pads that I ended up throwing out, and the total effect is that my bins of dance stuff are much easier to deal with now. On top of this, by organizing my tights, I spend much less time finding the right pair, and I was finally able to spread my leotards out enough that I can see them all in the drawer. It’s a miracle!

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Getting Things Done

Today I did dishes, paid rent, met with my boss/artistic director (and brought Hazel along, which made him laugh, because his girlfriend is a knitter, too), got a load of laundry in the washer, measured my space to plan my apartment organization, read a chapter in the book that’s due at the library next week, and took a picture of Hazel with her color pattern started.

For my next trick, I’ll take out the garbage and get some more choreography done before teaching beginning pointe.

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Organize All the Things

My apartment is a wreck.  First up, the books.  There just isn’t enough space for all of them.  There are books on the shelves of the bookcase, books stacked on top of the bookcase, and books stacked in front of the bookcase.  There are also books sitting on my desk, books sitting on the sewing table, books next to my bed, and books all over the living room.  If I didn’t agonize over the purchase of each and every one, or keep perfect track of the books from the library, I’d swear they spawn.  The shelves are literally bowing under the weight.

The next issue is the knitting stash. It used to fit in two small under-bed storage bins, which don’t actually fit under my bed, but lived in the front closet. It spilled over into another, larger bin, which is really supposed to be for extra bedding. (In my defense, I didn’t actually buy that much more yarn.  The majority of the Great Stash Expansion of 2006 was just my liberating some of my high school era stash and Granny’s stash from my parents’ house.)

Then I got a large photo backdrop that didn’t have anywhere logical to go, so it joined the yarn and bedding. There wasn’t room for any more yarn, so my most recent additions are stacked on my desk. The extra bedding got shoved (semi-neatly) into the upper part of my bedroom closet, which meant that a large part of the fabric stash had to get removed to the living room to make room. As I got more fabric, it got stacked next to the existing pile, making an ever bigger pile in one corner of my living room. It’s also mixed in with supplies for a dress form that I haven’t gotten around to making yet; I need an assistant.

I also ran into problems when I bought my sewing machine and accessories this summer. For one thing, I drastically increased the amount of fabric that I have (see fabric pile above), and for another, the thread, seam rippers, machine needles, presser feet, bobbins, zippers, bias tape makers, pin cushions, and cutting tools exploded out from the small shelf that had previously held them. They’re currently stacked on top of the shelves in some nice boxes, and some flimsy plastic bins originally used to hold salad. A large faction have taken up residence on the sewing machine table, and don’t have anywhere else to go.

My dance clothing has always been an organizational hurdle. I have tens of leotards and pairs of tights, because I wear them in mass quantities. Then I have the wrap skirts, pants, fuzzy pants, shoes, more shoes, legwarmers, sweaters, and even more shoes. To go with these, I have a foam roller, back roller, foot roller, massage balls of varying size and density, Band-Aids, extra deodorant, industrial strength toenail clippers, baby powder, shoe deodorizers, extra pointe shoe ribbons and elastic, special needles and thread, assorted Thera-Bands, Icy-Hot, Badger Balm, ice/heat packs, and the list goes on. They currently reside in cloth bins next to the front closet, but these bins constantly get mixed up when I go digging for the particular warm-ups or shoes that I want.  They’re full to overflowing right now, even with many of the warm-ups in the laundry or in my bag at the studio.

(Yes, there is a bottle of dish soap sitting next to the dance clothing.  No, it doesn’t belong there.  It’s just taking a rest on its stressful trip home from the grocery store.  I wouldn’t want to traumatize the poor thing by forcing it out too soon.)

It’s gotten to the point that this requires action. My plan:

  1. Get under-bed bins to hold all of the yarn.  You heard me, yarn.  I said, “all.”
  2. Organize the bedding into the bins freed up by the above yarn organization.
  3. Get some wire shelves to hold the fabric stash, and a sheet or a simple cover to protect against dust.
  4. Get an over-the-door shoe organizer to hold the dance shoes and small accessories so they don’t end up falling to the bottom of the bins.  Hang it over either the front door or the closet door.  Then, spread out the large accessories and warm-ups into the bins so that I can actually find things.
  5. Get another small bookcase to hold all of the knitting/sewing/craft books to free up space on the original bookcase.
  6. Get actual bins (not flimsy, easily crushable, salad containers) to hold all of the sewing business.

Target had better get ready, because I’m a woman on a mission.  Tomorrow.  Or maybe this weekend.  But definitely before Coppélia opens.

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