fourth of december

All right, so if my troubles organizing my studio aren’t really about my studio at all, but about my own life as a person-who-needs-a-studio, then perhaps I ought to have a little bloggy chat with myself (and a few hundred of my closest internet friends) about that crafting life.

on a shelf in my studio space

I mean: What exactly is my PROBLEM? Why is it that I have so much difficulty allowing myself to set up a workable, organized, inspiring studio space?

Fact: I have the luxury of being able to devote myself full-time to my writing-about-craft. It really is a luxury, let’s be clear: I’m able to do this because my husband believes in me, and because his job pays the big bills. My job pays…

OH WAIT. Stop Right There.

I think I’ve found Piece #1 of the Problem Puzzle. I’m struggling with the notion of myself as a “serious” crafter because I am not the breadwinner in our family, because my job is “not as important” to the financial stability and well-being of my household as that of my husband.

I used to be the breadwinner. There was a time, early in our marriage, when I made a good deal more green stuff than N., and my job paid the bills. Then, when I worked at Interweave, things shifted, and N. and I were co-breadwinners, our earnings being more-or-less equal. Now, he’s a tenured professor, and I’m a full-time writer/editor/speaker/teacher/crafter.

Notice what I unconsciously put last: Crafter. Uh-huh. Veddy Interesting.

I think of people like Ysolda and Casey and Jess and Abby, and I realize that in my head, I consider them SERIOUS craftfolks, because they actually make a living (more-or-less, no one gets rich being a craftsperson) doing this stuff; it is how they support themselves. If I didn’t have N. to help with the bills, I doubt that I could support myself on what I make as a writer/speaker/whatever.

So not only do I think I’m Less of a Serious Crafter because of the money thing: I don’t even know that I believe in my ability, in my being-good-enough-at-what-I-do, to support myself doing what I do. (Of course, I am conveniently forgetting the entire Interweave job thing. Yeah. I wasn’t good enough, and that’s why they made me managing editor of Knits, and asked me to be founding editor of Knitting Daily, and put designs of mine on the covers of magazines. Right.)

I did this: On the cover of Interweave Crochet Spring 2006

Look at that. I’m judging my worth as a craft writer/designer/maker on the basis of The Money I Make. (Or don’t make, as the case may be.)

In the words of a business man I know: “Money is my report card.” I don’t make a lot of money doing this, therefore, I am not Good Enough to call myself a writer/crafter. Those who are financially successful doing this have a good report card, and thus have earned the right to call themselves craftspeople…and to put energy and money towards setting up a nice studio for their Serious Money-Making Craft Work.

Apparently, my report card is mocking me, and I, as a craftsperson, do not deserve a nice studio environment.


Dude, that’s harsh.

And it’s so unlike me. In fact, I like to think of myself as someone whose report card is based on anything BUT money.

However, it was the first argument that leapt out through my fingers when I sat down to write about why I have trouble setting up a studio: I don’t make a REAL living at this, so therefore, ergo, and there-you-have-it.

Totally harsh.

That reasoning is so unexpected that I don’t even know if I ought to post this. I didn’t know I felt this way. I was ready to write about how tough it is to unpack boxes, or how cold it is in the room that we’ve set aside for my studio…anything but money.

But the point of Advent is to clean out the corners, to open up those closed-off rooms, clean the dusty linens, and get some fresh air into spaces that don’t normally get fresh air, so that there’s less dirt, and more room.

More room for Good Things. (Like a workable, and beautiful, studio.)

Alllll-righty then. So the first big dust-monster to tackle is: “Money is my report card.”

N O T.

On the other hand…

Small Things Are Important

As an example, I present to you: Wee Knitted Gnomes.

mimknits (Miriam Felton) made these

from twitpics

See? Isn’t the world just a better place because mimknits spent time making those?


And those little guys don’t think money is ANYBODY’s report card…

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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18 Responses to fourth of december

  1. Ginger says:

    you are definitely in my book just underestimating yourself!!! you need to believe and the rest will come as you are amazing at blogging, crafting, and making money doing what you love!!! I missed you so much after leaving knitting daily blog i looked you up! so there! So glad you are daily advent posting…gives me something to look forward to daily again! 🙂

  2. Carole says:

    Well and good. That may also be why you were willing to do your KAL for a mere $13 per person. Think about it – do you really think that what you are making off of that exercise is only worth that? I don’t really want people on my back about this, but I also think that us women tend to sell ourselves short in terms of our own worth. And, if you consider yourself more of an artist-type instead of a professor-type, then your earnings might fall more in line with what makes sense. For that reason and several others, you totally have earned the right to a real studio. And you may then charge more than $13 for your KALs. Or you will have secondary products (like a book) that will spur off of your KALs. That will kick the income up a bit.

  3. Lynn says:

    I am LOVING your daily posting! And dear, I do not make ANY money at crafting, but there are essentially two rooms in my house devoted to fiber, plus the living room (5 wheels, 1 inkle loom at the moment) and my bedroom (fiber). What the hell does money have to do with having a nice room in which to do what you love?

    (Oh, and the fleeces are in the basement closet. Most of them, anyway.)

  4. Are you in my head? Oh,boy. I mentioned back in August that MY room was almost complete. How many projects have I worked on In there? Granted I have many excuses, but that is what they are, excuses.
    Sandi, you have inspired me and kicked me in the butt. Now I have to go blog about what I have learned and start doing things in my crafts room.

  5. naomi says:

    Okay, aside from my agreement with everyone else that you’re selling yourself short, and that money is not the right measure, I have a suggestion that you can use on the part of your mind that *does* think money is your report card: a decent studio will help you be more productive and thus probably earn more.

    (And I love that your blog has snow.)

  6. Rachel says:

    so… because I left the (highly paid) world of computers and went to the (barely make a living) world of being a veterinary technician what I do is not worth anything?

    sorry my love, but the quality of what you do, the LOVE you put into what you do is what makes the value.

    you are MORE than good enough

  7. Pat says:

    I appreciate your honesty. The funny thing is that many people envy your ability to be creative, have creative thoughts and the ability to bring them to completion, to an audience that values them. I would love to be able to more than hope to be a writer, to actually speak it aloud. Speak the nice affirming words to your self that you would speak to a friend. Part of Advent is allowing the light to dispel the darkness, the truth to begin to purge the lie.

  8. Lab Cat says:

    Perhaps now you have spoken the words and shared them with us, you can stop judging yourself on what you earn. At least recognize that society does not pay in proportion to your worth. Artists are traditionally badly paid as are women and “women’s work”.

    Also read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Even though is was written over 80 years ago, it is still relevant today. Even if you were earning nothing, you should have a room of your own.

  9. Rachel says:

    I second what Lab Cat said: whether or not you are earning money, let alone how much you are earning, is irrelevant. You love to craft; therefore, you should have a lovely space in which to do it! 🙂 Plus, the way I see it, craft is intrinsically valuable; especially as an expression of self.

  10. Chelsea says:

    I am having issues with a very similar situation. I sewed drapes for a living (if that’s what you can call it), I was never the bread winner – hubby always was, but at least I was contributing something… Until I discovered that I couldn’t sew professionally and take care of my new son. I felt guilty for not contributing to the family finances, especially with how much I spend on my hobbies (hubby even was ok with me getting my first spinning wheel this year).
    I think that there is a problem with society suggesting that if a woman isn’t the bread winner or at least keeping pace, she doesn’t deserve to spend time / money / space (insert wish) on herself.
    We as women do a lot (hubby is always telling me he can’t pay me what I am worth) and we deserve to use some of the family finances on ourselves – that was the way it was in history past, why not now?

  11. Linda says:

    Thanks for verbalizing (write-izing) my current angst. Very well done.
    Now, I’m off to finish my “studio” in the basement.

  12. georg says:

    Stereotypically, a woman’s self esteem is tied to either Raising the Children, or her earned income. I always feel when I do neither that I am *bleep*. My ego likes it best when I am the breadwinner (which I was a long time ago). Not having kids, it’s impossible for me to have a positive self esteem without being a breadwinner. I think that’s why I get caught up in wanting to help others, because at least I can do *that* even when I can’t help Me by my standards.

  13. Mardi says:

    Hooooooooooo boy. I live in this very same country. I do not make much money as a musician, therefore I am not much of a musician. It is a very, very tough nut to crack. I’ll try to follow in your footsteps and make the journey to a better place with you. Deal??

    But…in one thing we differ. I am an only child, and always had my own room, until I got married, Ooops. I felt the loss keenly. I have claimed #1 Son’s room as the FIbertorium (there is still a bed in there for the rare occasions it is needed), but what does it mean that my practice area is out in the open loft space, in a corner of the “office corner?”

  14. Patricia says:

    Perhaps it is time women start claiming their space and what to fill that space with, just as men do. Men do not ask permission to have their “toys” or the time to play with those toys. When did women give up their power to express themselves by whatever means fills their hearts and souls with joy? And when did this expression of self become attached to the amount of money it brought with it? Declare your dreams, your wishes, your creativity. Then watch the blessings come to you in whatever form you desire, be it money, fame, contentment, etc.

    And, Sandi, I agree with those who feel your KAL is worth so much more than $13. Declare your worth by charging what your classes are worth. Those who agree will pay your fee and look joyfully forward to learning from you.

    • Tamara says:

      Huh, I think this is the second time in a row I’m “Hear! Hear!”-ing Patricia’s words. I too have noticed that men are not hung up in the same way we are about money. Though perhaps historically it’s because the money has always been theirs to use, and to dole out as they saw fit.

  15. TurquoizBlue says:

    You were speaking directly to me. At least it felt that way.

    First item on my list for 2011 is a door (WITH A LOCK) for my office/studio.

  16. Tamara says:

    I appreciate this post perhaps the most of any I’ve read so far. It’s vulnerable–it wasn’t necessarily a revelation you wanted to share, this working out in public of how much money may actually mean to you. You seem surprised and perhaps a little embarrassed that money might be that large a force for you. But we’re surrounded by examples in our lives where money equals security. If one makes enough to live on for oneself (and perhaps for others like children and/or spouses), then destiny is in one’s own hands. It’s very frightening to give up that security, that power, to someone else, even someone as wonderful and trustworthy as N. clearly is. It strikes at one’s faith in the universe to struggle with this question, too. Advent is the perfect time and metaphor for you. I’m sure you’ve worked through a lot of this in the nearly two years since this post. I’m looking forward to witnessing your journey.

  17. Tamara says:

    I forgot to say that the wee knitted gnomes were soooo worth their wee weight in gold. What a charming group!

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