It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m blowing my nose. I have the rare gift of a bit of time to work while it’s still light out. The sky is hovering between pastels and that dark periwinkle I’ve come to love. A new year is coming.
One of my Wool n’ Spinning compadres, Becca, inspired me to take a little time to reflect on a couple of questions. Mine are: What have I learned about my crafts this year? What have I accomplished? And what do I hope for the next year?
At this point, I have four crafts: Knitting, Spinning, Sewing with skins, and Writing/Vlogging.
This year, all of my crafts have taught me:
* There is great reward in being slow and attentive, in ripping and redoing, in sampling before starting. There is a trade off between speed and excellence. It’s OK to choose speed, but really, I’d prefer excellence most of the time.
* My time is precious. These are the best years of my life. I don’t have a lot of crafting time, because I am with small children, at a unique stage of their lives to be loved. I look at hundreds and hundreds of patterns and projects per year, but no matter how I deceive myself, I will only complete a few. When I start a new project, I need to always be asking myself: How do I want to have spent these years? What do I want to make this year, in which many big things will happen in our family? Which leads to:
*It’s OK not to finish. A couple times this year I have started things that I realized were just not good fits for this time in my life. I have just left them on the needles/on the wheel/in a draft/in the freezer. I’ve never intentionally hibernated anything before, but now that I’m understanding the real life/real people reasons why I am hibernating a thing, there’s no threat of guilt. There’s no reason I ought to finish my Fantoosh. There’s a very good set of reasons why I want to sew my husband new boots.
*I work in seasons. There is a time for sewing and a time for spinning, a time for stockinette and a time for fair isle, a time for vlogging and a time for banging out a post on my phone. This is not a hindrance; it’s an invitation to be creative with what is possible.
I broke my plan down like this. Totally copied what Becca did last year, btw.
Sewing with Skins
I put this first because it’s going to be a top priority for the first part of the year.
This year I accomplished:
- Two pairs of kamiik: One for Naomi (finished) and one for myself (still needing to be fixed).
- A pair of sealskin mittens for Naomi, including my first time piecing
- A beaver and rabbit hat for Jared (more on that another day; fingers crossed that I finish it tonight.)
This year I learned:
- I tend to rush. In knitting, and even somewhat in spinning, I can get away with it. In sewing I can’t. That way lieth only regret. Also, even though I can get away with rushing in other crafts, I get so much more out of them when I don’t.
- To be mindful of the sourcing of my materials and the lives of humans, animals, and the land bound up therein. That’s a long post in itself, but the short version is: watch Angry Inuk. Please please please.
- Some things have to be learned from a person, in person. This slows down the process for me, as I’m such a homebody. This makes sewing frustrating for me, because it pulls me out of my comfort zone. But that also makes it the thing that has reminded me why I live here, that has forced me to keep up some very special relationships, and has repeatedly reminded me of the precious uniqueness and resourcefulness of the people whose land I have the privilege of living on.
This year I wish to accomplish:
- Finish Jared’s hat (ok, IRL I’m hoping that happens tonight)
- Fix my kamiik (this will take like a week)
- THE ONE BIG THING: make kamiik for Jared. If I accomplish nothing else during the first half of this year, this is the one thing I want to do. I am deadly serious about that.
This year I accomplished:
- My first sweater spin (well, my first intentional one).
- I finished a really massive lace spin, which I was able to complete after a long hiatus because of effective sampling.
- A few smaller, delightful spins.
- Two breed and color studies, which turned into finished objects, with some worthwhile reflections.
- I spun nearly every day for the first four months of the year.
According to my Rav notes, I finished 3,850 yards of yarn this year. This is more than I have spun any year to date, even though that was heavily weighted to the first half of the year. I learned so much:
- Spinning 15 minutes a day is amazing. It’s a great time of meditation for me that I have never gotten out of knitting, and it’s very motivating to see progress in it.
- I enjoy spinning the most when I can dedicate myself to it. I’m not in a place that I can spin 15 minutes a day right now, because baby. It doesn’t fit into the corners of my life, because that baby’s about to become a toddler. That is really OK. It means that when I spin, I’m going to reserve a pocket of time that I’m not doing any other intense crafting projects. If I want to spin (and it’s so OK if, for a season, I don’t), I have to find a creative way to fit it in.
- Don’t ever skip sampling. Not even for snack spins, unless they’re superbulky. If I don’t sample, I not only risk getting a yarn that is not what I was shooting for; I risk accidentally spinning too fine, and spending way more time on a project than I intended. That happened twice this year!
What I hope to accomplish in 2019:
- I am going to join the Wool n’ Spinning community in their two-year-long spin-through of 51 Yarns by Jacey Boggs Faulkner. I’ll have to do a whole post about my plans for this, but suffice it to say, making this spinning my main project for the next two years is exactly how I plan to keep spinning and learning in a way that fits in the corners of my life, and a blast through a big chunk of my stash while I do it.
- I would love to do one sweater spin in the fall. As my friend Kelly brilliantly said, a sweater spin is a state of mind. It could be a Lopi spin or a woolen spin if I want it to be faster. But I think this is quite reasonable to hope for.
- Wool n’ Spinning color & breed studies: I think I’d like to do one of these this year, but I’m not committing to it. They’ve been awesome learning experiences, but they’ve taken a big chunk of my spinning time, so unless something changes (or Jared’s kamiik get done in, like, March), I definitely won’t do the spring one, and I’ll wait to see on the fall one. They’re really awesome community projects, but I’ll also be scratching that itch via the 51 yarns spin.
This year, according to my Ravelry page, I have accomplished:
- Five sweaters: one for each member of my family:
- The Noro Cabled Coat for Jared
- My Zimmerzog-Rohan fusion cardigan, which was also my first yoke sweater in like nine years, and which taught me so much
- Three unique Tomten sweaters from stash for my three unique kiddos
- Two projects from Color study / breed study handspun that I had just finished
- A pair of socks, and a small collection of accessories, mostly donated to my Monday night group
This year I learned:
- Quite possibly for the first time, all the sweaters I knit this year turned out really well. I still did a little more corner-cutting than I would like, but I did more swatching and ripping and redoing than I’ve ever done before. More than anything else, I learned what I still need to learn. I’m awfully good at executing knitting techniques, and I’m pretty good at communicating what I do, but I have a lot to learn about consistently producing really great knits.
- I have a tendency to get really obsessed with one designer, or spinner or writer or what have you, and want to do everything they’ve done, or everything just like them. But eventually what I clued into this winter, reading lots of Kate Davies and other northerners on the other side of the pond, is that what makes them really special is that they have dug deeply into their own sense of place. If I want to create pieces that are meaningful to me, and if I want to have a process that is more deeply rooted in my real life, I have to learn how to draw inspiration from my place. I have an incredible privilege in living here; rather than drawing me away from it, my crafts can draw me into it.
With that in mind, this is what I would like to accomplish this year:
- I want to dip my toe into the design world again this year. I am declaring that intention here. The future is out of my control, but there are a few things I can do to take that path well if it opens up.
- The biggest one? Learn to love the swatch. I want to knit really big swatches. I make no promises for hats and socks, but for sweaters especially, it’s time to stop cutting corners. Being a designer who doesn’t like swatching is like being a historian who doesn’t like old books. Might want to switch majors.
- Just like a sweater spin is a state of mind, so is a sweater knit. I often cast on little projects just to “tide me over,” since I don’t really have to swatch for them or think them through too hard. But those little projects take time too. Then before I know it, I’ve knit six hats in a year and two sweaters. This year I declare to be the year of the sweater. If I want to one day design garments again, I need to knit more of them. I’ve picked nine adult sweaters and three little sweaters, strategically including different constructions, but lots of plain stockinette (because my life). If I finish half of them, I’ll be over the moon.
- My Big Christmas Present from my mom (and my dad’s parents) is Kate Davies new club. I’m hoping one of my sweaters from the year is from this club.
Writing & Vlogging
This year has been so nuts! This year I have:
- Published 42 blog posts
- Published 2 vlogs
Leading to a few learnings:
- That’s less than I have in previous years. In the day-to-day I’ve been participating more in online communities like Ravelry, Slack, and Instagram. When I do post, I often put a lot of work into it – if someone’s going to bother clicking through to here from Facebook or IG, I want it to be worth their time. I’d rather post inconsistently and make posts that I care about. (Even if I have to settle for phone photos in the interest of just getting a thing done… sigh. You’ll notice that photography is not on my goals list. Another year.)
- That said, writing is really a part of the creative process for me. I’ve realized that until I post about a project, it doesn’t feel finished.
- Vlogging is a lot of work!!! I have so much more respect now than ever before for those who produce video podcasts regularly. That said, I really do enjoy it.
Which leads into my goals:
- I’m going to state an intention to vlog every month in 2019. I haven’t done any vlogs since the summer because I’ve needed to invest in a microphone to go with my new DSLR, and that new mic is at present in an amazon box that is within my field of vision. I find it a really challenging and fun way to communicate, so I’m going to lean toward investing a bit more in this media this year.
- As to blogging, I’m not going to make any specific goals except to get it out. Like a journal, this blog is a place for process, not perfection.
- On the analog side, I’ve got a bullet journal now especially for creative ideas. Kate Davies did a great post on the essential provisionality of journals, and that’s so true. I want to give myself the gift of jotting down all my incomplete ideas, good, bad, and ugly. If I have a season with lots of ideas and not a lot of crafting time, I’m not losing those ideas: I’m creating a storehouse for a different season.