december fifth


Do you know what I find fascinating? I find it utterly fascinating that the posts people respond to most are ones I have the most trouble writing (or, to be more accurate: posting!). Just like the post I wrote on the winter hobgoblins, or the Knitting Daily post I wrote about losing weight and not being able to wear my handknits anymore, yesterday’s post seemed to touch a nerve. I found your comments very encouraging in a world where many folks act as if money IS our report card. It’s really tough going when one tries to fashion a life based on something else other than money, and the hobgoblins jump into the act, getting all rowdy, trying to convince one to Get Back In Line.

But, like this guy, most of my life I’ve marched to another drummer:

Chris Colfer as "Kurt," from Glee; image from postsecret.com

I think of the hobgoblins as bullies, like the sort who toss slurpies in Kurt’s face. The Money-is-Our-Report-Card hobgoblins are very vocal in this culture–not just on Wall Street, but even within the colourful halls of our craft communities. I do think the reasons why money is valued in these two subcultures are quite different. I think on Wall Street, money transmutes into power, the power to make decisions for communities, the power to fund this and not that, the power to back one candidate and not another.

photographer unknown

from etsy.com

In the yarn communities (and perhaps other craft communities as well), money doesn’t represent power so much as it represents another high-value commodity: Time. If you have enough money, then you don’t have to work full-time, and you can spend more time on your craft. If your significant other has enough money, then you might not have to work a day job at all, and you can explore the corners of your craft with all your heart.

Except…I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. Time is like that beautiful skein of oh-so-precious yarn you’ve been saving for something special: When it comes time to use it, unless you plan very carefully, there will never be enough to do all that you’d like to do with what you have.

This brings me to Piece #2 of the Problem Puzzle: Time. I do have the time, it’s true. I am my own boss; I assign myself tasks, do the scheduling, set the deadlines…

And yet, I am not churning out a dozen designs a month, like some designers I know. I have not written a book a year, like some writers I know. I feel as though I am the tortoise, plodding along, watching all the hares zip-zip past me, each of them with a calendar chock-full of teaching, writing, designing…

Of course, when I worked at Interweave, oh my gosh. Managing editor of Knits AND Crochet AND Knitscene magazines? All at the same time? Heck yeah, I had a schedule. I was writing articles, and designing staff projects, and editing patterns, and coordinating this and helping to plan that. And then, as Knitting Daily gal, I was writing three to four posts a week, plus articles, plus a knitting pattern now and then, plus copy for this book jacket and that event description. I used to joke that I was writing so much that I couldn’t talk without miming typing motions with my hands.

But you know what? You can write about knitting without actually knitting anything, as I discovered during one particularly intense stretch at Interweave when I was so busy editing magazines about knitting that I had no time to DO knitting.

handmade by Pragmatic Effects

Sooner or later, though, the well runs dry. I feel as though that’s partly what happened: My well ran dry, and I’ve spent the past year or so tapping into this river or that stream, trying to find the source again.

Trying to find MY source again.

And then, once the mojo starts coming back, it’s hard to LET it come back. That’s where I am now. Mojo is a hungry beastie; it requires not only time, but a weird combination of discipline and freedom, a combination that I find particularly difficult to wrangle. Creativity requires some sit-and-stare-out-the-window time, it truly does. The analogy I’ve used before is: You have to go off and do other things while the bread rises and the cake bakes. A creator has to wander off and let the creating bubble and simmer in the lizard brain-pot; a writer has to have enough quiet to let the story speak and be heard.

I’ve tried to do all that, let the cake bake and the bread rise and the story speak. I think it’s the other seat on the teeter-totter that has gone untended: I don’t have a Plan. (Also, apparently I don’t have a consistent overarching metaphor to save my life.) I have projects; I have deadlines; I get things done when they need to be done–but crafting time, creating time per se isn’t included in my schedule.

In other words: If it’s work, a planned project, then I am allowed to spend time on it. If it isn’t Crafting For A Reason, then…it has to take a back seat.

Forcing myself to write daily blog entries again was, I think, my way of trying to allow time for my creative life. I’m the sort of person who is MUCH healthier if, on a regular basis, I am left alone to write.

I am also a person who is much healthier if I spin on a regular basis. And knit. And bead, weave, sew, play with yarn and fibre and stuff.

However: That’s the sort of time I have not truly allowed myself, the time to play at my crafts, the structured time to listen to the muses and create.

The astute amongst you have already noted the parallels: Ah, yes. She does not allot time for her crafting, in the same way as she does not allot space for her crafting.

I think…I think I feel guilty letting myself create, letting myself craft-for-craft’s sake…because it’s so much fun. It doesn’t feel like work. Well, it is and it isn’t work. It is, because if I don’t craft, then I can’t build my skills, and I won’t have anything to write about. It isn’t work because…it’s play. I love it. I crave it. It’s a BLAST.

So that’s Problem #2: I feel guilty making time or space for something that really isn’t work, something that I enjoy so much.

Girlfriend writes a TON!

Yes, she does. And this wasn’t the best-edited, nor most tightly-structured, blog post ever.

So, as your reward for slogging through it with me, I give you: A Puppy Fix.

Gringo, the Australian cattle puppy

Need more puppy fixes? Maybe more photos of Gringo? Sure you do.

Because a life without time for puppy fixes really isn’t much of a life, now is it?

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About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Almost 2-yr-old 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.
This entry was posted in Animals, Knitting, Studio, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to december fifth

  1. kiwiyarns says:

    You go Sandi! Don’t feel guilty – therein lies the issue that blocks your creativity. Enjoy, and the world will enjoy with you. 🙂

  2. FaithEllen says:

    Sandi, I love getting to know you here! I am struggling with similar issues…my husband has expressed that he feels I’m not paying attention to him while I’m knitting. Which — thanks.

    And dood — is Gringo yours? I want to nom him right up!

  3. You just wrote exactly how I feel about crafting. Guilt of taking time to be creative vs. Creativity itself

    PS Love Gringo!

  4. Lab Cat says:

    I am a scientific researcher and luckily my PhD advisor understood about needing time to think about your research. He would set goals but they did not necessarily have a time limit. I even call it “playing” when I work in the lab

    Give yourself time to play.

  5. cocokat says:

    Obviously, you are an artist or you wouldn’t be questioning everything about your art.

    Do art for arts sake. Money isn’t everything. Most of the artists I know don’t make enough money to put dinner on the table more or less anything else that requires $$$.

    And yes, Gringo, or in my case, Annie (cat found us on her ninth life just a month and a half ago) make a house a home!

    I love your blog!! And miss you at Knitting Daily.

    Make your space and enjoy your art-craft.

  6. kat says:

    Money matters to a certain point and art is an historically poor way to make money. ANY art at all. Lots of people like to romanticize the starving artist thing as just part of the territory but tons of artists die broken, broke and alone. I sort of compartmentalize knitting from art because what little money I have actually made in making anything has mostly been being paid to make clothing and you can’t wear an oil painting. Or more likely, someone else has bought supplies for me so that I could make something for them, being unable to buy supplies to make something for myself.

    From an outside (of your life) perspective, discussing a significant other or having a job so well paying that you don’t even need to work full time and then not using your spare time to do what you say you really love is kind of painful to read. I don’t have someone else to pay bills for or with me. I don’t have a well (or even reasonably) paying job that allows me to purchase supplies that just need time to be found to be made into something. I’ve basically become other people’s machine. They give me yarn, I make them things. It means I get to make things, but it means I do not get to explore creativity much past an imagination stage.

    That said… you have the money to make the time and get the supplies and explore your creativity. Do so. No one is required to be able to support themselves on doing things they love. If you feel like you need to earn money doing it and it is possible, then do that too. You recognize it is a luxury but in your life at the moment a job of ANY sort is also a luxury not a necessity. Talent and making a living have nothing to do with each other.. You have talent, you don’t need to make a living, talent needs space. Set up your damn studio and let me live vicariously through you. My vicarious joy is now your report card. 🙂

    (That is said all with with love)

  7. georg says:

    I think the biggest joy of my new job come January is that it will have a structure to it. There will be Work Hours, and then I can definitively be Not Working and craft guilt free then.

    If I were you, and we’re happy I’m not, I’d look at what hours do I write best? I have a block in the afternoon and a block in the evening where I think best for working. So I should schedule an hour or three of Play time in a block of time when that best working time is Not. Schedule it in, so it has to be part of your day. You can’t work all of your waking hours because you know that isn’t healthy. So schedule your play. And schedule some play that isn’t Nicholas time. (I get a lot of knitting done during Sweetie Time, but there’s play I need to do away from him too). I hope this is coherent. /hugs/

  8. Astrid says:

    Great, thought-provoking posts. Thank you, Sandi!

  9. Patricia says:

    The dictionary definition of work is exerting mental or physical effort to achieve something. Nowhere does it say that work cannot be fun or play! Change your thought of what work is; create your own definition of the work you do; that can erase the guilt. Enjoy your work. Why do we think the only work that is of value is that which we do NOT enjoy? Why spend 1/3 of our lives doing something we do not like just so we can feel worthy of being paid for that time? Time to change the current definition of work and take the guilt out of our lives.

  10. Tamara says:

    Here I am chiming in again a year late, but I hear you saying that you tend to react better to deadlines that others place on you, but that you have a more difficult time structuring your own time. That makes a lot of sense to me–when the urge is coming from outside, it’s easier to react to it, especially if we don’t place the priority on our own work, but on other’s work. I know both men and women who are able to put the priority on their own work, but the women are far fewer than the men, and they are very strong personalities to boot. One in particular was practically raised to be an artist, and so she finds it very normal to make time for her art. For most of us, however, that time slips away. I do think the one thing you can try for the discipline part is to set a time–even set an alarm or something–and at that time, go do that thing you allot for that time. Two hours minimum. Allow yourself to get lost in whatever it is you’re doing.

    I’ve found that mid-afternoon at work my mind is pretty dead. However, if I sit and ignore email, and allow myself to do only one thing (edit this one paper), I’m actually better able to lose myself in it than at any other time. Close my door, have my coffee to hand, and be present to the single task. I don’t do it often enough, but when I do, it really works.

    Good luck to you, Sandi-of-the-past! 🙂

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