There is a maker challenge hashtag on Instagram called #2018makenine, started by Home Row Fiber Co. I have been obsessing over what to put on it and how to show it on Instagram for over a month. To the point where I haven’t done anything at all about it. There are only nine things on the list and it is intended to be a low-key Instagram challenge. I know I make more than nine things in a year. But, I shut down my creative mind in the face of the pressure of “showcasing” just nine of the best things or most important things. I got caught up in wanting to display some kind of perfection in pictures.
After a few weeks of this, I finally concluded that really it’s just about getting myself to focus on the things I most want to accomplish with my making this year and share that with people. It doesn’t have to be my best work, and I don’t have to share it with glossy photos and perfect stories. So, today I’m going to share my list of personal maker goals with you and give you a little information on why I chose them, why they’re special to me, and whether I’ve made any progress. With real photos (including the non-perfect stuff). Because, we’re all real people, and really, I find all the perfect websites and Instagram accounts intimidating. Yes photos sell and win people over, but sometimes, we need real stuff to let us know we’re normal and special even if we aren’t photographers.
White Pine Sweater by Andrea MowryAndrea Mowry’s designs all look so fun and comfortable, and she is one of my Indie designer heroes (I hope to meet her eventually, and dream of dreams, have her teach a class at the studio someday). Anyway, this sweater meets my desire for a less fitted shape, enough texture to keep it interesting. Plus, it includes a sweater construction method I’ve been wanting to learn - contiguous set-in sleeves. And, to make it even more special, I’m using the first sweater quantity of good yarn I ever purchased (three years ago). I’ve been saving it waiting for the perfect project. I have printed a copy of the pattern to write my notes, wound all my yarn cakes, cast on (I even tried a new provisional cast-on method without a crochet hook), and am currently working on the top of the back.
Timberline Sweater by Jared FloodMy husband chose this pattern at least a year ago. It’s heavy on the cables. And because he’s a tall dude, this thing will take a LOT of yarn. And TIME. But, it’s a challenge I’ve been looking forward to. I cast on the cuffs so far. Then I got confused on the first chart. I’ve worked with charts several times, but never one with increases included. I had a few mix-ups on my math, set the project aside for a few weeks. Finally last week I got help from a very helpful knitter in my knitting group who solved my math and chart confusion and now I just need to rip out a few rows and I’ll be back in business! This project will be on the back burner once I get a little further since I know there’s no way I can focus long enough to finish it before this winter is over.
Complete 2-3 pairs of socksI have made 4 pairs of socks so far in my knitting life. Two long normal socks, and two short pairs (used more as little slippers). The second short pair I actually made first thing this year (for my grandma). I’ve cast on for another long pair already and am approaching the heel. None of the socks I’ve made are for me. The men in my life seem to really want hand knit socks, and my grandma was so tickled when she saw the slipper socks, how could I not give them to her? I’m getting faster and the process is growing on me. I make them two at a time toe up so far because I just really love the seamless cast on of the toe and two at a time keeps me from having two vastly different socks. It also helps make sure I will actually complete a pair because I force myself to do them at the same time.
Learn to work with leatherWhat? Don’t I teach classes on leather? So far my husband has taught these classes and I just knew all the info except the actual working steps. He has a new job that will be taking him away from helping me so much at the studio going forward, so this will be for me to learn and teach now. I took my first official class from him this weekend and was pleased at how much easier it was than I expected. Why I expected it to be hard, I don’t know. I’ve seen so many students come and take classes with him and leave happy with beautiful projects. I guess we all have mental blocks about our creativity and skills.
5. Sew a slipcover for my favorite knitting chair
I have a rocking recliner made of what turned out to be cheap fake leather fabric that has started peeling and making a mess in my cozy attic studio at home. I tried putting blankets over it, then duct taped it (classy, I know). Now I’ve decided I need to take the time to make a nice slipcover for it so I can stop going insane over it’s flaking and still sit in the chair I love. This is not a new skill (I slipcovered a couch and chair when we lived on the farm), but it’s also not as easy for me as whipping up a little tote or quilt. Maybe I’ll post some pictures and notes on the process when I tackle it finally. Oh, and I may just happen to have three bolts of “remnants” that I’ve had for six years just waiting for me to use them on this chair. I am a collector.
I wanted a lightweight cardigan in grey that I could layer for the between seasons so I started this pattern by Hannah Fettig in January 2016. Or maybe that’s when I stopped. Anyway, it was one of my first fingering weight yarn projects and I was not a fan of it at first. It felt like I would knit for hours and see no progress. Fast forward two years and I am much more comfortable with it, so I hope to pick this back up and have a new favorite staple in my wardrobe. Hope it still fits.
7. Purbeck Deux Sweater
I love the simple shaping, fit and casual appearance of this sweater by Beatrice Perron Dahlen. I imagine wearing it everyday (but hope no one will notice) and feeling perfect and cozy. It will be a nice mindless knit for large sections because it’s stockinette mostly, and I’ll be doing a solid color. I look forward to the relaxing knitting on this project.
8. Make an Improv Sweater
I will be following the instructions for the Improv sweater on the fringe association blog. There was a knit along for this in 2016, but I wasn’t ready to commit and try this yet. It’s been on my list for a long time. I hope to play with the collar, edges, and maybe some shaping. The process will help me learn more about sweater construction and fitting it specifically to me, as well as forcing me to really pay attention to my gauge, yarn choice, and needles. I picture the freedom this project will open for me and all the wild new ideas I can implement from what I learn.
9. Keep practicing and improving my watercolors
I’ve been painting with watercolors for 3 or 4 years, off and on. Sometimes more often and more dedicated than others. I want to keep improving to the point where I feel I consistently like the results. To measure this one, I think I’ll just see if I can complete a few paintings or exercises in my watercolor journal each week. I’ll post updates in my Instagram stories if you want to follow along.
Ok, phew, done. That was very therapeutic for me. I have now put down on “paper” a coherent list of goals for my personal making and done the scariest part - shared it with the world. Now to get started, or finish as the case may be. Maybe it will inspire you to make a list and commit to new maker goals for yourself. And of course, follow along and share with the #2018makenine hashtag on instagram.