Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year in Review

2015 was a fantastic year for me, both personally and business-wise.  I was really productive as far as pattern writing goes, and not only were there no personal disasters, but I got to do some things that made me happy in my personal life, too.  So I thought I'd start a new tradition on this (almost) New Year's Eve that I hope to keep up: My year in review and goals for the New Year!

First a little look back.

Some designs from the Color Packs
& Stash Scraps Collection
Three things I'm proud of business-wise:

1) I published my first collection (and it was a pretty big one at that!)

2) I kept my goal of reaching out more to yarn dyes & distributers.  Out of the 22 designs I published in 2016, the yarn for 13 of the sample projects was supported by the yarn company.

3) I far exceeded my publishing goal (which was 12 patterns in the year), and I haven't done the math yet, but I have no doubt that this has been my best year of sales yet.

Three Things I'm proud of personally:

1) I stayed healthy all year.  I don't know if I've mentioned this on the blog, but I have Crohn's Colitis, and a couple years ago, I was not in good shape.  I've been on a drug called Remicade for 2 years now, and my health is better now than it has been in the past 10 years.

2) I took up the cello.  I have played the violin since I was 10, but after giving birth to a baby that was terrified of violin sounds, and now having a cat in the house that bites my ankles and climbs on things so he can bite the violin while I's kind of hard to keep that up.  I've always been interested in the cello, so when the opportunity came along this fall to rent one and see if I liked it, I jumped on it.  I've had it in the house for 9 weeks now and I just began the level 3 Suzuki book.  I'd like to say that it's similar to playing the violin, and there certainly are techniques that I know from violin that translate to the cello, but it's a different notation (bass instead of treble clef), the fingering is different (you either skip playing with your 2nd or 3rd finger on each string, depending on the key signature), and the bow hold is completely different.  So it's been a lot to take on, but I practice every single day and I love it.
That's my husband and I, right before we
left the hotel to see Phantom

3) I was able to take my husband on a trip to San Francisco for his 40th birthday.  I would have loved to have been able to pull a "pack your bags, honey, we're leaving in the morning!" but I knew he would want time to get things organized at work before taking off.  Plus, I thought he'd pick San Francisco as his preferred destination, but I wasn't 100% sure, so I gave him 3 choices: San Francisco (with the highlight being a performance of "Phantom of the Opera", LA (where we could attend tapings of podcasts he listens to), or Disneyworld (because last time we were there with our kids who don't love rides, we talked about how fun it would be to just go without them!)  Anyway, he did indeed pick San Francisco and we took off on the 3rd vacation we've ever taken, just the two of us, in our 17 years of marriage.

My three favorite patterns from 2016:
It's kind of like having to choose which of your kids you like the best, but these three definitely have a special place in my heart:

1) Ziggy Pop (That's the hat on the right in this photo) - I love the bright pops of contrasting colors against the darker solid main color.  I enjoy simple colorwork, and I was absolutely thrilled that I figured out a way to carry the zig-zags right up through the crown of the hat to create a star-like pattern.  This might be my favorite hat that I've designed so far.

2) Borderline - It's such a simple shawl, but the Miss Babs gradient set that I used is so lovely that it doesn't need any fancy stitches to make it look good.  And the crochet border gives the shawl a lot of personality, while still being simple enough that a crochet novice (like me!) would have no trouble completing it.

3) Wavelength Tee - It's just super comfortable, easy care (I was Hempathy in the washer - in a garment bag - then dry it on a hanger).  I love that I can wear it with shorts or jeans, or with nicer pants & jewelry if I need to dress it up.

My favorite photo shoot of 2015:

Obviously, RollerGirl Raglan.  How could anything compete with this?

Three favorite projects I made from other people's patterns:

1) Passerine Hat  by Erica Heusser- I like the hat a lot, but it was more than that.  I also used this pattern to practice my "Invisible knitting", which I learned from the "It's Not About the Hat" pattern by Susan Rainey.

 2) Sun Powder by Elena Fedotova - This one was kind of a dare to myself.  I had just started playing with crochet around Christmas of was kind of my "Christmas vacation project".  By Christmas of 2014 I was thinking to myself "I should try to make something more challenging than baby booties from crochet just to see how difficult it really is."  So I decided on a shirt.  And, of course, I couldn't make it simple and do the pattern as written, I had to choose a heavier yarn and rejigger the whole thing so it would come out the right size.  And in the end, I didn't love how it looked as a cardigan, so I made some adjustments and turned it into a pullover top.  But now I think it's great, and fun to wear over a sleeveless tank top!

3) I called this one "Sperry at the Opera" because it mixes two patterns: the basic shape comes from "Sperry" by Amy Miller and the color changes are modeled after "Opera" by Elise DuPont.  This is a comfortable everyday pullover, and I made it from Fat Squirrel Fibers yarn that I bought at the Knitting Pipeline retreat a few years back and held on to forever because I couldn't find a pattern worthy of it!

Favorite Knitting Thing Learned in 2015:

Invisible Stranding.  Check it out - it's a cross between double knitting and stranded knitting.  It is amazing for when you want to have long floats in a colorwork pattern.  The first project I made with this technique was my "It's All About the Invisible Stranding" hat.    The design on the front, in case you were wondering, is the symbol for "Cancer", my zodiac sign.  It is not, as my various family members suggested, a picture of sperm, numbers, or a yin-yang symbol.

After that hefty year-in-review run down, my goal for this year might not surprise you.  My number one goal for 2016 is: Balance.

2015 was busy.  And I actually like staying busy.  But I know that constant busyness is not always a good thing.  My kids are in 7th and 10th grade, so I'm looking at only having another year and a half with my oldest in the house, and that has made me more conscious of having time with my kids.  I also know that when creativity is an important part of what I'm doing, I have to be careful to not let it start feeling like a chore, because, for me, that's when my creativity falters.  Producing 22 patterns this year was a joy in many ways, but it has exhausted me.  In fact, I currently have 4 other patterns in various stages of being knit & written, but you'll probably only see one of those designs published this winter.  The other 3 are just going to hang out until I get my mojo back.  Meanwhile, I'll be knitting for pleasure, reading lots of books, playing my cello, and maybe sewing or drawing a little - both hobbies I have enjoyed in the past, but have not given any time to for the past few years.

For the past few years I've set a goal for myself of publishing 12 new knitting patterns.  This year, I'm not going to set a publication goal.  Instead, my goal is to get back to wanting to write new patterns.  (It is one thing to want to create new patterns - and I am still very motivated to do that for myself.  But it's a whole other thing to go through the steps to write, grade, edit, photograph, and test a new pattern so it's ready to share with others....that's the part I'm burnt out on at the moment.)

But I won't be disappearing completely.  Since I'll still be knitting, I'll still be blogging and I'll still be around on social media & Ravelry.  In fact, I'll be hosting a knit-along in January & Feb (more on that on Friday!)  But don't be surprised if you don't see a new pattern from me for a pattern-writing days are not over, but I am taking a little time to regroup and remember the joy in creating!

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