Productivity hacks

I was out for a walk today when it occurred to me to write about how I’m getting some things done lately. I really have no idea what I was thinking about right before that idea.

Earlier this year I needed to add to my home office, a whole lot of stuff from the office of my part-time job. This is no doubt familiar to many of you. When I’m not making stuff out of yarn I’m a bookkeeper. So I moved equipment, paper files, hanging files cart, more paper and supplies into a corner of my fiber studio. I didn’t have the furniture to replicate my office and as I started getting into the rhythm of doing that work from home I realized that I relied an awful lot on visual prompts. The pile of invoices was a filing prompt. The pile of statements was a check printing prompt. And so on.

But I also didn’t want all that stuff out and in view, taking up space, when I wasn’t doing that job. I’ve figured out a system for stacking things in a small space that keeps them in order and still lets me see what work needs to be done.

Meanwhile, I’m managing production queues for hand knitting commissions, sock cranking, and weaving, along with a deep personal knitting queue.

When, you might wonder will she mention hacks? The key for me was realizing that I manage my work with visual cues. I’m a long time list-maker. If there’s a problem to solve or a situation to manage I will always say “we need a list”. I’ve tried the bullet journal. I want to love it, but it isn’t my best solution. What I do make liberal use of is:

  • Sticky notes
  • Reminders app
  • Colored pens, markers, & pencils (not productive, just because they’re fun)

Here’s some visuals

These are above my laptop, a quick reminder of things I need or want to do.

It’s pretty low-tech. But it works. That big sheet of paper is the back side of a wall calendar..

I used to worry that I wouldn’t remember to do the work if I couldn’t see it, but that was a lot of yarn that had to be out in the open. Now, new projects get a sticky note. I can easily rearrange them if I want to prioritize the queue

If there’s a hard deadline, especially if it’s a recurring task, I’ll set up a reminder. The. I don’t have to worry that if the thing isn’t right in my path on the day I’ll forget to do it.

If I have really big projects they might get sketched out in my journal, I do use it somewhat, but you can bet there will be a sticky note somewhere pointing me back at the journal page 🙂

Welcome to my Etsy Shop

What do you do on a Thanksgiving morning while waiting for the turkey to roast? In my case, open an Etsy shop.

This was a move I’d been contemplating and researching, but had thought to defer it until early next year when life was a bit slower. The Square store had worked adequately as a storefront to which I could point customers, but didn’t have any marketing reach outside of what I could do myself. I have no illusions that being on Etsy will suddenly result in tons of orders. I think those magical discovery days are over given the vast number of sellers there. But getting my work in front of browsing shoppers and into the Etsy search results surely wouldn’t hurt.

But I had some time to kill so, armed with my trust iPad, I set out to see how much I could accomplish. The configuration went swimmingly. Nobody owned my store name yet so I snapped it up and set up the bits and pieces: description, location, bank account (for the sales revenue deposits) and most important: scarves!. By the time the turkey was ready I had a store with two listings.

I spent the next few days taking pictures, adding stock, and getting the store ready for a soft launch. The final step was to point heronponddesigns.com/shop to Etsy and start marketing. I’ve had a good response to my instagram feed and my shop already has some likes and favorite items.

So, pour a cup of your favorite hot beverage, get cozy on the couch and come browse the store for socks and scarves at heronponddesigns.etsy.com. I still do custom orders, so if you don’t see what you want, don’t hesitate to ask.

Needle quest

I was sure there had to be a 32″ size 5 needle. I’m afraid to count, but conservatively there’s got to be at least 50 circular needles in this house, so I was hoping not to have to purchase one. I finally tracked it down, attached to a long-dormant project. Not only long-dormant, but nowhere near completion. So this happened.


This is the painstaking transfer of over 200 stitches from needle to holding thread so I can use the needle for the current project, a sweater I’m knitting for a client.

The dormant project is a sweater that I was designing based on having swatched, and liked, Fuchsia from the first Barbara Walker treasury. Now having removed it from being scrunched on the needle I see that it may be a tad (um, maybe 3-4″) wider than I need. So, plus side? I’ve saved myself the anguish of getting much farther along and having to rip back. On the minus side, of course, I’ve got to rip out the whole thing and start over anyway.

Maybe someday. For now though, I’m cooking along on the other sweater and I didn’t have to buy another needle!

Beautiful and useful

I didn’t set out to make a scissors collection, but I realized I’ve got the start of one. I have quite a few pair (why are they called “a pair of scissors” anyway?) I have them stashed in all the places I work. A pair for each loom, even though the looms are set up a mere 18″ apart. One for the sock machine station, one for the yarn winding station. One each for couch knitting, travel knitting bag, and comfy chair knitting.

Singer embroidery
Singer embroidery. I’ve had these since I was a child.
Long shears, for fabric and cutting warps off the loom
Long shears, for fabric and cutting warps off the loom

They are all utilitarian, but I tend to acquire the pretty ones.

image
Pretty bird, I have a two or maybe three of this style
This style is named Jennifer!
This style is named Jennifer!
My mother brought me these from Ireland
My mother brought these from Ireland for me

This pair is tied to my loom for quick access.  I think the cord is meant to let it hang around my neck, but that drove me crazy!

Turned wood magnetized holder
Turned wood magnetized holder

I have some other types of cutters too.

This one is good when precision isn't an issue
This one is good when precision isn’t an issue
Turned wood handle seam ripper
Turned wood handle seam ripper
Love this cutter and a straight edge for trimming scarf fringe
Love this cutter and a straight edge for trimming scarf fringe

I just love them all. And it is such a pleasure to work with beautiful, and useful, objects.

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