Recently in Barn Raising Quilt Category

If not now, when?


I've been absent on the blogging front for some time now, and the truth is that I've been having a sort of knit-design-related identity crisis. It's not that I haven't been knitting: far from it. I've been working steadily on several designs for the past three months or so, but somehow as each sweater or shawl begins to take shape, I find myself unsure of how it's turning out. It's not that the final product isn't matching the picture in my head—I know how to deal with that, which is rip out and revise. No, my problem lately has been that I'm just not sure whether what I'm ending up with IS what I want, or not. Which makes it really hard to get anywhere. Am I done, or just getting started? Is this a success, or a failure?

A little while ago I realized what's behind this lack of confidence: as is so often the case, the culprit is money. Specifically, it's the question of to what extent I want design work to be my "job" (or a job), and to what extent I want it to be an art project that satisfies other, non-financial requirements. Is it okay to have an art project that makes a little bit of money, but is not my main source of support? Do I want to try to expand Family Trunk Project into more of a full-time job— which would mean teaching more classes, getting loans to publish pattern hard copies or books, traveling to trade shows and trunk shows in order to sell said hard copies? And if I don't want to do those things, does that mean I'm not committed to my art form? Does it mean I should be working on pursuing some other career path—going back to school, or searching out a full-time day job?

Questions like these are challenging enough on their own, but they've also been directly affecting my design process because I haven't been sure what my basic goals are. Will a design be a success if I conceive a project in my mind, then realize it in the physical world? Or will it only be a success if it sells a certain number of copies? If the latter, what is the magic number?

What's more, these questions were giving me designer's-block because I've been feeling conflicted about the TYPES of design concepts I should be generating and pursuing. The other day I made a sketch of a design that was very exciting to me—the kind of challenge I'm not entirely sure how to execute, but feel 90% sure I could crack. My brain started humming with all the different approaches. Then I thought about trying to grade it for my normal range of sizes, and got a sinking feeling—the cardigan yoke isn't modular, so while I might be able to figure out two or three sizes, my normal ten or twelve was out of the question. Combine a small number of sizes with a fairly advanced pattern, and would anyone buy it? Did I care? Since I didn't know whether I cared or not, into the hibernation pile it went. Like I often do when stymied in my fiber-related life, I knitted blanket squares instead. Knit, knit, knit on the blanket squares.


The other night, though, a conversation with a friend got me thinking. He has his own creative project in the works, and he's looking for a way to finance it so that he can take his time, not cut any corners, concentrate on doing his project right without worrying about money all the time.

It occurred to me that what he wants is exactly what I already have.

I have a day-job I genuinely enjoy, which pays me enough money to pay my mortgage and all my basic expenses. I'm done by 12:30 every day. Sure, we could all use more money, but basically, anything I make on top of my paycheck is icing on the cake. At the same time, I have my afternoons free to work on whatever art project I want, however I want. If I can't take the time to explore complete artistic freedom now, when I have arranged the time and money to allow myself to do so, when WILL I be able to?

Anything could happen in the future—I might decide to go back to school, or have a baby, or move to another country, or open some kind of shop. Who knows? But for now, I have a precious space to delve into what most interests me about making things with my hands. So, an early New Year's resolution: throughout 2011, I will prioritize experimentation and personal interest level over any concern over a pattern's popularity or financial profit. I will still work with test-knitters and make my patterns the best I can, because that's only fair (and continuing to improve my pattern-writing is a personal goal as well). But if I end up putting out a pattern in only a few sizes, or an idiosyncratic design that is likely only to interest me, so be it. This is my time to explore my own creativity. Hopefully other people will find the process interesting.

Experimentation! If not now, when?


Photos feature squares from my slowly-progressing Barn-Raising Quilt. While cogitating on all these weighty Life Issues, I've been knitting squares and joining them together. I now have 31 total, sixteen of which are crocheted together. I think I'm shooting for a final total of 80 squares, but really—who knows?

Oh cripes!


It's come to my attention that the technogoblins who run this blog have decided to engage in a bit of comment privateering. The goblins have been telling you, dear readers, that the comments are being held "for moderator approval," then turning around and hiding said comments away from my prying eyes, not in my "pending comments" folder, but deep in the bowels of "spam." I have no idea why the pesky devils have suddenly taken this notion; I never changed the comment settings, or told the blog to require approval for comments. Not only that, but this has apparently been going on for most of this MONTH, and comments held in the Spam folder for longer than 14 days are deleted with no mercy. I went through and approved all the languishing comment-prisoners, but the thought of slightly older ones getting the axe kind of makes me want to cry.

So. I'm not sure how to fix this technical glitch, but please know that if you commented in the last few weeks and didn't see your comment appear, I really want to hear what you have to say, and I in no way intended to bar you from the site. I love you guys! Please don't stop commenting. At least now I'll be checking the spam folder on a regular basis. (And a big thanks to Constance and the Lady for alerting me to this issue in the first place.)


So, let's all take a deep breath and relax with some nice blanket-square photos, shall we?


It makes sense to relax with photos of blanket squares, since knitting them has become my standard way to unwind for a day or two between projects, when I've done the edging on my last thing but haven't yet cranked up the spreadsheet for my new thing. They're also great for times when I am sick, exhausted, or otherwise unable to cope.


Like so many knitters, I've got zillion tiny balls of sock yarn leftovers rolling around, and it's soothing to grab a few and have instant mindless knitting. I haven't even been thinking about the eventual blanket that may come of these, so I was surprised the other day to find that I already have thirteen of them.


So, I'm well on my way, although still nowhere near the finish line. I'm thinking of a final number somewhere around 72, as I dearly love a good-sized blanket, and hate having to yank on it to get it to cover my toes. Sometime in the distant future, I believe I'll be quite warm and cozy.