If I Knew I Could Not Fail, 2.0 – or 10 Goals For 2016

If I Knew I Could Not Fail

In October I wrote a post about the 5 things I’d do if I could not fail.  The end of the year seems like a good time to update and expand that list.

The original list, somewhat condensed, follows.

  1. Revenue of $2,325.00 at the Indiana State Fair.
  2. Have a functional website with a sales page.
  3. Create more patterns for sale.
  4. Dye more yarns in slightly larger groups, instead of so many one off yarns.
  5. Create a well organized dedicated dye studio.

I have created the dye studio, so number 5 can fall off the list.  Hurray!

I did some year end brainstorming and came up with this list for 2016.

  1. Revenue of $2,325.00 at the Indiana State Fair.
  2. Have a functional website with a sales page.
  3. Create more patterns for sale.
  4. Dye more yarns in slightly larger groups, instead of so many one off yarns.
  5. Become a better spinner on my spinning wheel.  I will spin 5 minutes daily.  For me, getting started is the hardest part, if I start I will probably go longer than 5 minutes.  More spinning equals more skill.
  6. Develop skills at creating and spinning batts.  I will attend class at least twice a month.
  7. Go to a spinning retreat.  I have signed up for a retreat in January.
  8. Offer more handspun yarns for sale.
  9. Learn enough about fleeces and processing them to buy a fleece at the state fair.
  10. Change the way I eat and drop eating patterns that are not in line with my health goals.

My experience with this whole exercise has been that writing these down has some kind of magical way of making them happen.  Somehow the scariness drops away and they become achievable, or at least possible.  And the brain turns them over and comes up with ways to make them reality.

Try this for yourself and let me know about your results.  I think you might be surprised!

A fiber picture to close for my friends who love such things.


These gorgeous skeins are the result of a new technique I’ve been trying.    Watch for more info on this soon.


My First Guest Post – Knitting With Hand Spun Yarns

Celebrate with me!  I recently wrote my first guest post for another blog.  This is a big milestone for me.  I hope you’ll read my post.  I wrote about using hand spun yarn.  Check it out here on the Purple Lamb blog.

Carla Hansen owns Purple Lamb.   Her Etsy store is full of beautiful spinning fiber and hand spun yarns to die for.  Here are a few pictures of her creations to lust over.

green batts
Beautiful Batts To Spin


bouquet yarn
Glorious Hand Spun Yarn


Let me know in the comments if you have questions about knitting with hand spun yarns.  I’d love to hear your tips too!

Friday Finds December 18, 2015

Calvin and Hobbes might be my favorite comic of all time.  Love the relationship between them, the exasperation of the parents (I can really relate), and his imaginary adventures.  This absolutely charming image of them in a “real life” quiet moment just makes me smile.  The artist, Isaiah Stephens, is a genius!  Check out a few of his other drawings here.


How about downloading your next new pair of jeans?  I find the idea of downloadable clothes rather mind bending.  Listen to this TED talk for a glimpse of the possible future of fashion retailing.


Hey, knitters who love tea.  Have you been looking at all the amazing tea cozies people have made?  Here’s a fairly simple free pattern to get you started.  This is from Loani Prior, the author of four books on tea cozies, including her new book.  I want!

Pretty Funny Tea Cosies - High res cover

This is the last Friday Finds post of 2015.  Wishing all my readers a very happy holiday season.  Celebrate!


Breaking Bad – The Themes

all bad things
From back-grounds.com

I recently finished watching all five seasons of Breaking Bad.  Can we say “binge watching”?  Start to finish took about three weeks.  It took me a few episodes to get sucked in, but I noticed some very big themes that I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere.  I’ll avoid big spoilers, but if you watch it see if you notice these and other themes.

The first thing that everyone can see is the way substance abuse destroys your life .  Enough said about that.

Second was the exploration of the meaning of “manhood”, and how it can be used to manipulate people and eventually can twist thinking enough to allow actions that would have been incomprehensible in the past.  Gus appealed to Walt’s manhood and convinced him to carry out Gus’ agenda.  “A real man does this” is a powerful statement to many men who feel disempowered in today’s society.  “A real man doesn’t take charity”.  “A real man takes care of his family.”  These are beliefs that can easily be used to justify actions that others see as clearly wrong.

The third was an exploration of relative morality – does the end justify the means?  Is it ok to make meth for a “good reason”, knowing the effect it has on users?

Fourth, an indictment of the whole U.S. health care system.  If Walt, and later Hank, hadn’t needed unfunded and life saving health care, none of this would have been necessary.  Given Walt’s admission in the final episode about his motives for everything he did, he may have done something similar eventually anyway.  It was interesting that the writers made it happen to two of the main characters.  I found it pretty clear that they think the health care system needs reform.

Number five was the tremendous sacrifices people make for family.  Skyler discarded her moral objections when the money was needed for health care for someone other than Walt, and became involved with the whole operation in surprising ways.

Sixth, the way anger and rage can be carried through life and raise their ugly heads decades later to cause craziness.  Walt was clearly eaten alive by his resentment of Gretchen and Elliot and what he saw as their cutting him out of the success of Gray Matter.  This poisoned his relationship with them and was probably the starting point of his twisted thinking and his need to build an empire.

I really liked this show, even though the plot holes were numerous and sometimes laughable.  The acting was superb (kudos to Aaron Paul especially), sets were great, and lots of plot twists made binge watching very attractive.  I loved the way the setting of Albuquerque was used almost as a character in the show.  Shows that can happen anywhere and have no sense of place have something missing for me.

Saul got his own spin-off show, “Better Call Saul”.  This is a prequel, set six years prior to meeting Walter.  We’ll be able to watch that character develop into the shyster we meet early in “Breaking Bad”.  Fascinating stuff.

For those who miss Breaking Bad as much as I do, here is a little collection of the 11 most badass dialogues from the show.

I’d love to hear about themes others have noticed in this show.  Please comment to let me know your thoughts.


Friday Finds, December 11, 2015

coming soon

What’s your first response?  Frazzled, jolly, overwhelmed?  Mine is annoyed.  I find myself grouchy about all the shopping, cooking, wrapping, etc.  That stuff just doesn’t feel all that good to me.  It’s not a holiday to me if I have more work than on a normal day.

I struggle with enjoying any holiday, and this post from Anna at declare dominion.com really hit home.  I’m going to pay a lot more attention to what feels right to me as I make my holiday plans this year, rather than just go along with “tradition”.  I love flowers, music and candlelight so I’m going to incorporate more of those to make my holidays special.  Big fancy meals, towers of beautifully wrapped presents and long car trips add stress to my holidays so I am throwing those plans to the side of the road.

Anna’s website is full of information on living a beautiful life – a life that is beautiful to you.  Check her out if you are finding things just a bit dull.

My kids are growing up quickly, and I find myself daydreaming a lot about the next phase of life.  One of our biggest decisions will be staying in Indianapolis or going somewhere more retiree friendly.  I think about Arizona or New Mexico, but people tell me there are a lot of yucky critters there.  I do know we will not stay in our two story house.  One thing I never thought about is renting vs. buying.   This fascinating post made me add this question to the list of things to consider.  I am one of those people who automatically assumed it’s always better to own, provided you can afford the payment for the foreseeable future.  I never believed in being house poor as so many people seem to.  After reading this post, I find Indianapolis is a place to own rather than rent.  But some of the places I dream of going might be different.  We are spoiled here by low house prices in general.  Moving might be a shock to the system!

I’m a big fan of books (you probably noticed).  I really love cozies and murder mysteries.  I also love food!  Would you believe there is a website that combines both?  I must try the recipe for Creole Eggplant on this page.  Mmmm, eggplant…


The weekly fiber pic is for sock knitters.  I am slowly moving along with these socks.  Lots of other interesting things to knit, so I’m making little progress right now.  They are fun and an easy knit.


See my Ravelry project page for details about the pattern and changes I’ve made.


How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big – Book Review

how to fail

Scott Adams is the very successful creator of Dilbert.  He is also a very intelligent guy and sincerely interested in making the world a better place. In this book he gives advice on optimizing your chances for luck and success.  I found this book fascinating because I love learning from smart people who have figured out something I haven’t.

My top five most important take aways from this book were:

  1. Personal energy is your most important resource and the most important metric to track.  Ways to maximize your energy include diet, exercise, sleep, and having a flexible schedule.
  2. Goals Vs. Systems – Adams says goals are for losers.  Harsh words, but he goes on to say that you spend every moment before you reach your goal (if you reach it at all) feeling as if you are short of your goal.  In other words you exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that you hope will be temporary.  The smarter choice is to have a system for continuous improvement.  You succeed every time you apply your system, and this maintains your personal energy in the right direction.  There is a lot of discussion on how to create systems.
  3. Simplifing vs. Optimizing.  An optimizer looks for the very best solution even if extra complexity increases the odds of unexpected problems.  A simplifier looks for the simplest solution with the least chance of complexity complicating things.  Optimizers make elaborate plans that can collapse if one variable is not perfect – think traffic, road construction, an unexpected wait somewhere.  Simplifiers look for simple solutions that might take a bit of extra effort but have a good chance of working out.  Think of a dinner and movie night with friends.  You allow plenty of travel time, make a reservation at the restaurant, meet friends there rather than make elaborate plans to meet somewhere else and travel together.  You don’t tack on other errands or stops on the way.  Chances are you’ll be on time for your movie.  If you optimize the trip you might drop off the dry cleaning on the way, but find a big line waiting to pick up and have your time table go straight to hell.  Sometimes optimizing works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I tend to optimize – I combine all my errands in one big trip with an elaborate itinerary.  Somtimes this is great, sometimes not so much.  Nothing causes me stress like being late, and optimizing can cause the whole house of cards to collapse if one little thing goes wrong.  Simplifying sometimes makes more sense, especially when timing is critical or others are involved.
  4. Knowing when to quit.  No one wants to be a quitter, right? Persistence is a virtue and all.  He posits that things that will work out start out well.  So, if you have a great idea that you just can’t any traction with, maybe it isn’t such a wonderful idea after all, or the timing just isn’t right.  He cites examples like cell phones, the first clunky ones were eagerly purchased even though they were terribly flawed.
  5. Every skill you acquire doubles your chances of success.  Some skills, like business writing and a working understanding of psychology are more important than others.  I agree!  He gives a list of skills he recommends.

Adams invites us to think of ourselves as moist robots, rather than “skin bags of magic and mystery”.  Robots are programmable and we can program ourselves for success and happiness.   I do think we are also magical and mysterious, but I don’t find these two ideas so incompatible that I can’t accept both.

I found this book easy to read and did so quickly, since it was full of good ideas and well written to keep the reader interested in moving forward.

A big thumbs up to How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big, it’s definitely worth a read.

I’m going to create a morning system designed to get me off to a good start every day.  Right now my morning consists of lying around sipping coffee and goofing around on my Ipad for a couple of hours.  I can probably improve that!



Friday Finds, December 4, 2015

The things that made me go “hmmm” this week:

As an amateur Egyptologist I am fascinated by King Tut.

king tut

There is evidence his tomb contains hidden chambers.  Will this reignite King Tut fever and bring tourists back to Egypt?  Read about it here.

In other spooky desert news, scientists have discovered that tarantulas have evolved the exact shade of blue at least 8 times.  Why?  That’s a mystery.   They theorize that there is a “receiver” of the color who is not another tarantula.  I wonder who/what it is?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Showing my science geekiness now.

For knitters who have a hole in your project due to a broken yarn (and hasn’t that happened to all of us?) here is a fix using duplicate stitch.

My first handspun yarn was knit into a cowl and after I wore it a few times the yarn broke.  I have been wondering how to repair it without ripping the whole thing out.  I’m going to try this method!

If you have a better way to repair holes in hand knits, I’d love to know about it!

As is my traditional closing on Friday posts, here is a picture of juicy fiber goodness.  This one is for spinners looking for eye candy.