Before and After: I have a lot of clothes

As promised, I started the Great Purge of ’16 shortly after I published my last post. I spent a good half hour rounding up all my clothes from various corners of the house, emptying all my drawers and piling everything in great drifts on the bed. It looked something like this:

Nate commented, “You have a lot of clothes, sweetie.” Yes. Yes I do. I enjoy fashion, I like to shop, and I think clothes are a really fun way to express myself. So, I have a lot of clothes. The photo above is all the clothing I own, minus socks, undergarments, and accessories (scarves, hats, gloves, etc.). The accessories I piled separately on the ground, as well as my shoes (see below). I did not photograph my skivvies and socks, because I didn’t think you all would want to see them.

It is more than a little imposing to confront your entire wardrobe reincarnated as a mountain in a poorly-lit basement. In fact, it’s a bit terrifying. Not to be discouraged, I checked my manual, Tidying Up. There is a specific order for everything, and I wanted to get this right. Vanquishing a clothes-mountain takes deliberate planning and strategy. Following my tidying guru Marie Kondo’s suggestion, I started with tops, which happened to be the biggest pile, looming a good three feet from mattress to tip. I picked up one top and held it out, and then basically had a staring match with it while I tried to feel the sparkly joyful feelings, or lack thereof. It’s a little weird to have a silent dialogue with your clothes. It took me the greater part of a day to get through the whole massive mound piece by piece, shoes, bags, skivvies and all, but I made it. In all, I cast off 7 very full paper grocery bags full of clothing!

Then came the hard part: folding. Kondo has several chapters on folding. My girl LOVES folding. She suggests folding and stowing everything vertically so when you open your drawers you can see everything. Good ol’ MK even advocates for arranging your folded clothes in a color gradient from front to back, light to dark. I know, sounds like a pain.

As a former retail-slave (I take such pleasure in the fact that I can now say former), I can fold pretty much anything perfectly in seconds flat. Ask me to show you the patented Seaside sweatshirt fold sometime; it’s serious business. Oh, and for the record, folding boards are for chumps. All that folding for (minimal) pay has quite turned me off to the idea of doing it at home, however. Every few weeks I go through and fold everything, but in between I tend to let things pile up. Guru MK says I can’t do that anymore, and since I’m going all out on this, I followed her instructions exactly. It took a while, but check out those sweet gradients! And, my socks are “resting”. 

When I showed Nate my progress he congratulated me and said, “You know, sweetie, you still have a lot of clothes.” Yes. Yes I do. But now, I can say with confidence that every single piece of clothing I own brings me joy.

It’s been two days, and everything still looks nice. Today I tackled books, post and pics coming soon! Stay tuned!


Tidying Up

The other day I read an article by Summer Brennan about how hard it is to get rid of books. It was shared to Facebook by a former teacher of mine, who is now retired. Being retired, she shares a TON of interesting articles and things to her page, but this one caught my eye. I am a reader. I love books. Like many people, I not only enjoy reading books, but I enjoy having books, being surrounded by them, looking at them on the shelf just oozing knowledge and possibility. And, like many people, I find myself constantly pressed for space and books are always the first unfortunate accused of taking up that precious space.

Currently I live in a basement. I share this basement with Nate, and while it is a good and lovely and wonderful basement, it just feels packed full. Nate and I both read a lot, and have acquired many, many books. When I complain of our lack of space, the books are always first on the chopping block. “Get rid of them, you don’t need them!”, they say. Well, technically no, but I want them.

I found Summer Brennan’s article really inspiring. Brennan takes a very down-to-earth perspective on purging her bookshelf, and the reader in me was pleased that she kept so many of her books. She admits that discarding books is hard, in the title she calls it heartbreaking. I thought, if someone else who feels this way can get rid of some books, why not me?

Brennan mentions over and over the KonMari method of organizing and cleaning, detailed in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was after reading this book that Brennan chose to round up all her books and discard those that did not “spark joy” for her. So inspired was I by all this talk of organizing that I went yesterday afternoon and picked up Kondo’s Tidying Up at the library.

I finished reading it in just a few hours last night, and as soon as Nate is out of bed (or I decide that he should be) I’m going to start with my clothes, as the book recommends. Yes, I’m excited! Kondo’s idea of sorting by category seems simple, and I almost feel like I’ve done it before. Still, I don’t know that I have ever rounded up ALL of my clothes in one place, and the criteria of “sparking joy” had never crossed my mind. The criteria of “joy” feels really liberating for me. It allows me to keep my books, just because they make me happy. I won’t need to discard anything that I am not ready to release. Isn’t that a comforting thought?

One of the main tenets of the method is that you must touch and handle every item. Before you discard an item you thank it for its service to you. I also find this comforting. Even if I have to discard a book (it might not happen, right?), it won’t be because the book was a total waste, or that I was never meant to have it. It has simply already served its purpose in my life and is ready to move on. All this anthropomorphism is definitely a little kooky, but I’m ready to give anything a try. I’m ready to make peace with my basement and my books.

Off to go tidy up!

Sarahs Knitting Sweaters: Rick-rack Nightmare

*This post is part of a knit-along series with my dear friend, Sarah. Check out all her posts, plus our previous joint shawl project on her site, One Last Stitch!

After Sarah’s visit earlier this month, I was itching to get our new Amors Arrow sweater project on the needles. It felt like I was on summer break, and there was just so much time spread before me to knit all of the things! Unfortunately, I still had a good chunk of my final teaching portfolio to finish up, and was forced to wait. I am happy to announce that I submitted my portfolio on Friday and have nothing further to distract me from important knitting!

Despite my then-looming portfolio, I actually cast on last Wednesday. I couldn’t resist, plus I had been invited to attend a new knitting group at Starlight Knitting Society with Stephanie, a mutual friend of both Sarahs 🙂 I figured it would be safer if I cast on surrounded by other knitters, this being my first real sweater and all (except a pesky cardigan from college…more on that another time).

While Sarah was in town we went to Yarnia, and I chose one of their house blends for the main body color of the sweater (pictured above). It’s a lovely cinnamon-copper-brown sport weight blend of bamboo, wool, and silk.

I’m knitting the medium size, so after casting on the 216 stitches I joined in the round and started the rick-rack ribbing prescribed in the pattern. Now, as much as I am a huge fan of Yarnia’s unique un-plied custom blends, they can be a serious pain at the beginning of a new project. Catching all the strands with each new stitch can be trying, and if the first knitted row is anything other than basic knit or purl stitches getting all the way around the first row is nothing short of a nightmare. Rick-rack ribbing is NOT basic. Rick-rack ribbing plus multi-stranded yarn equals my knitting nightmare.

In this pic I have knit about 20-30 stitches, in about 2 hours time. It was a bit painful.

After struggling for a while I almost considered ditching the rick-rack in favor of a tried and true basic rib. But I decided I want this thing to be pretty and delicate and lacy and nice, and basic ribbing is not any of those things. So, I soldiered on. With Steph’s encouragement (read: teacher voice) I was able to make it about a third of the way around at knit night. During one of my frequent breaks I picked out this lovely peachy-pink for the lace shoulders.


The first row took me a full three days, but I finally got all the way around! After the first row, things hummed along nicely over the weekend, and I will start the stockinette (most humble and blessed of stitches!) today. So excited to this turns out!

Graduation and Gradients

In the month since I last posted I completed my beautiful Coos Bay Beanie and have taken every opportunity to prance around with it on my head, in flagrant denial of the summery weather.


Most other things knitted ground to a decided halt, with graduation pending and buckets of grading and lesson planning to be done. Between marking scores and streamlining lesson objectives, I did knit steadily on a pair of socks, intended as a gift for my cooperating teacher. When planning the socks I wanted something interesting, and had purchased this really beautiful gradient yarn. I thought it might do a nice bit of self-striping, but as it turned out this was a VERY slow gradient.


About six inches into a ribbed cuff I realized that, while I liked this color scheme and moss rib pattern quite a lot, mis-match gradient socks are not a fashion I can get behind. I dropped the socks and threw myself fully into the pre-graduation push.

I graduated the last Saturday in April, and it was a really lovely day all around. My family and friends gathered, Nate made incredible food, and the sun even came around. I had stopped in at a knitting group earlier in the week, and after a quick consult at the shop about my doomed socks, I found a delightful substitute yarn from Sweet Georgia Yarns.


I started with 64 stitches, knit about 4 inches and frogged, went down to 60 stitches and knit 3 inches before frogging, and finally settled into a groove with 56 stitches around. I’m so pleased with how these socks turned out, the striping is exactly what I wanted and the colors are bright and cheerful (this photo definitely doesn’t do them justice). I’m sure my mentor will love them!

Also, my dear friend Sarah (find her at One Last Stitch, and check out our upcoming Sarahs Knitting Sweaters series) came to visit, and it was really just lovely.