Learning Plan 2023

I wasn’t planning on doing a big planning post for next year. Last year’s was a bit of a farce, and while I didn’t take it too seriously, I also don’t want to look back at the end of next year and find a list of things I didn’t do.

As part of my self-study to prepare for some future Wool Circle content, I signed up for the School of Sweet Georgia.* In the forums there, Felicia Lo (founder of the school) encourages us to make learning plans. I read some other folks’ plans, and was inspired by the idea. Not to make a sort of manifesto for everything I want to get done this year, but some clear expression of the path I will take to reach some specific goals.

I’ve had a couple drafts of this so far. In the last one, I realized that the items of highest priority had ended up at the bottom of the list, just because they are items I don’t usually address here. But if I’m really to learn and grow this year, my crafts have to be integrated with the self-care that will give me the creative energy to stay on the rails. So let’s try a different structure: 1) I Need, 2) I Will, and 3) I Want.

I Need

These are items which I am not naturally inclined to do, and which have suffered particularly in the last seven months, but which are very important to me finding the balance and energy to get up and do what has to be done. These are the items on which I need action steps and accountability, and where I need to do some questioning and reflection to make sure things are working for me.

  • What
    1. Exercise, especially walking the dogs.
    2. Eating healthy food in appropriate amounts
    3. Making time to be with Jesus
    4. Positive time with our family
    5. Basic level of house cleaning
  • How
    1. Working on a morning and evening routine (#3 and #5 above especially, #1 when it’s warmer)
      • How can I encourage myself to get to bed earlier? What is in the way?
    2. Keep in mind that we are constantly adapting to the seasons – living in the arctic isn’t always about the cold, it’s about extreme change
      • Shifting habits around vacation, summer, weather
      • Staying limber, aware of the basic needs, but moving where they fall
      • Having enough flexibility to accommodate sickness, busy seasons
    3. Become more alert to my eating patterns, especially emotional eating
    4. Work towards more sustainable meal planning
      • Difference between ideals and goals
    5. Prioritize going to the cabin
    6. Teach kids to help more with tidying and cleaning
      • Growth area: practice picking up after myself right away
      • What tools will help with this?
      • Vacuuming every day?
  • Overall values:
    • Being aware when unhealthy patterns creep up.
    • Being alert to when my energy is being drained by workaholic tendencies or coping mechanisms.
    • Putting a hard stop on when necessary to avoid burnout.
    • Being open to new directions.
    • Being aware of manic energy spikes.
    • Practicing patience, fighting idleness with real rest

I Will

These are areas in which others are depending on me, where I’m generating something that benefits others. Action plans are helpful to keep me connected to reality, being aware of when I might get overcommitted.

Ministry

Staying the same: I’m going to keep preaching and helping lead the service, and providing for children’s activities on Sundays.

  • Organize the childrens’ craft materials in the new cabinets
  • Find some good series of Kids talks and crafts (this was effective in the fall)
  • Meet w/ Jared to discuss sermon series

I’m praying about the next stage of Family Discipleship Night. Or what we might change to “Community Discipleship Night.” Action plan:

  • Make an action plan in my journal, and meet with the interested parties.

Knitting

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a little more than halfway through my secret project knitting. I would like to finish the knitting and design parts of the process, and have all patterns to test knitters by the end of the year. Action plan:

  • Finish last three pairs of handspun socks from last year, and start wear-testing
  • Finish big project #4 before summer
  • Work big project #5 during summer
  • Design and order yarn for small projects

Sewing

I would like Dooner’s quilt to get finished this year. Whether that happens because I make the time to do it, or because I bring the quilt top south and hire someone to do it for me, I would like her to have her quilt. Action plan:

  • Contact MIL for advice about outsourcing the quilting
  • Failing that, acquire new-to-me-sewing machine from Lorraine

Spinning

My big focus is on the Wool n’ Spinning Year of Colour. In roughly chronological order, here are the items under this heading:

  • Continue to learn and grow in making better video content (see below)
  • Grow existing skills on handcards, hand combs, drum carding, and combo drafting
  • Explore the “base ingredients” of colour by working, recording, and leading a selection of exercises from Color in Spinning by Deb Menz
  • Spin lots of tiny samples to that end – probably 10-20/month, but all very small, mostly fatty singles taht will take about 15 minutes
  • Watch Debbie Held’s blending board class on SOS and practice making and sampling lots of fiber on the blending board by the end of Q2
  • Evaluate with Rachel after Q1 and Q2 to finalize plans for the rest of the year

Writing/Teaching/Vlogging

Staying the same: Blogging! Monthly roundup posts, annual reflections, big project reflections, and whatever random essays make me happy. A huge thank you to all who read and comment! Writing here has become an integral part of my creative process, and gives me the practice and reflection I need to do that more outward-facing work.

Main growth area: working for Wool n’ Spinning! A few subheads here:

  • Spinning staples zoom group
    • Come alongside members in their explorations of colour
    • Practice as a coach and zoom leader
  • Technical aspects
    • Assemble pieces of a more advanced setup (ongoing)
    • Live streaming on a trial basis only – evaluate for future
    • Stay alert to new learnings that will continue to improve the quality of the podcast
  • Exploring Color in Spinning
    • Focus on how-to demos
    • Curate a collection of exercises from the book to demo
    • Communicate with members so those who want to can participate
    • As others explore, spend more time sharing what community is working on
  • Wool n’ Spinning Radio – monthly audio podcast with Rachel

Most of that content will not be available publicly. But, for you non-spinners who are curious about what I’m working on, there will be the occasional bonus episode that we can make public, and Rachel’s got plans for more trailers that will give you a great visual sampling of what I’m working on.

I’m going to put cake under this category as well. Here’s my current action plan:

  • Start using a spots system to take a limited number of orders when time and safety allows (Jan, Feb, then probably not much ’till the fall)
  • Write content to empower other bakers locally
  • Investigate teaching a decorating class locally

Dyeing

Here is where my crazy side is coming out right now. I’m going to try my hand at some acid dyeing. I’ve got two pounds of corriedale top in hand, and a package of Dharma acid dyes is on its way. Here is my plan:

  • Safely mix a small amount of dye stock and do Depth of Shade tests with the dyes I ordered
  • Watch Felicia’s “Dyeing Complex Colour” class, and reread her book (I already watched the Dyeing Intentional Colour class)
  • Develop 48 shades (4 for each of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colours), using the recipes in Color in Spinning as a starting point
  • Handpaint 1 oz samples following the exercises in Color in Spinning, to the end of learning a whole lot about combo drafting
  • Make video content from the same, not to teach per se, but to share the learning journey, and to keep me accountable to organization and safety practices.

I’ve already started making calculations so I can easily print labels for my dye samples, because spreadsheets are my jam. Look for this in the early summer!

I Want

These are areas in which I am doing things for myself. No action plans are needed because nothing is on a deadline, everything is from stash, and it’s OK to just work as my fancy takes me.

Knitting

I’d like to knit for myself, from stash. No need to reiterate those plans. I have a queue. It starts with powering through Weel Riggit. It will likely continue in the form of more handspun socks. Maybe another sweater or three.

Spinning

It will be interesting to see how the Wn’S work balances with my own spinning projects. I have both of my wheels out now. My small antique castle wheel which has one ratio of 6:1, is great for making those fatty singles I’ll be doing for colour samples, so I could theoretically be sampling on that castlewheel while using my Ashford Traditional for other projects. My wish list of those projects of mine is:

  • The 12 oz of superfine merino which I sampled extensively for in Nov 2022
  • Blends of qiviut with different wools which I have been carding together – also can be done on the castle wheel
  • After a year of exploring analogous and semi-analogous colourways, I’d like to continue spinning for socks in some complementary colourways. I have a bin of Sweet Georgia and Crafty JAKs braids waiting for such treatment.

Weaving

I still have that slew of warps that I wound up from stash at the end of 2021. I want to weave them up, not to be overly married to how they turn out, but because I planned those weaves specifically as learning experiences. Having moved the loom into the playroom, I’m hoping my kids will keep me motivated to work on it, and that since I’m not too attached to how they turn out, they can help me.

I also went ahead with a long-held dream of mine and ordered a third 12-dent heddle for my loom. Whether or not I get through those warps, I want to play with some four-shaft weaving. I have a plan for how to modify my loom to accommodate three heddles. I’ll pick that heddle up in the summer. It would be lovely if I get to that by the end of the year. I’ve got some cones of destashed machine-knitting yarn that I can play with, no strings attached, so to speak.

Other

  • Mending: pick away at the basket when it gets too full.
  • Garden (outdoor):
    • Repair frame and add windows to the north-facing flap
    • Plant cold-weather things in June
    • Find a house-sitter who will water it
  • Aerogarden: keep filled with basil and kale

And I’ll stop there. Other things will come up, but I have no way of knowing which things will actually be important! I think I need to transcribe this into my journal and pray about it. It probably wasn’t very interesting for you, but it felt like a more rational look at my year.

What sort of reflection, looking back and looking forward, are you finding helpful this year?

*This an affiliate link for signing up for the School of Sweet Georgia. If you decide to sign up, please use this link to support Rachel, as she’s one of the teachers!


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