Sunday, October 21, 2007

Crossroads

It can't have escaped anyone's notice that I have not had a brilliant year, healthwise.

It has taken me nearly a year to design and produce a set of three plus-size garments for Simply Knitting (although I did use the time when I was waiting for yarn to knock out a baby cardigan for Knit Today, too). My blogging has been sporadic, and I have yet to provide the Beamish Boy with any content for the wonderful website he has designed for me - it's all already written, but I want to rewrite bits of it before it goes live, and I rarely have the mental stamina to face doing it.

I don't want to give up designing - I still have a headful of unused ideas! - but I find myself at a crossroads. On the one hand I have the option of employing outworkers to knit the actual garments, so that I can concentrate on designing, swatching, submitting ideas and so on. This would be OK up to a point, but I find a lot of my designs evolve as I knit them. It would also be difficult to pay people the minimum wage, as I don't even get that for the entire garment :)

I also have several people urging me to submit book outlines to publishers and, while I have plenty of material, I would need a co-author to do the actual work of putting the thing together - writing a book, especially a non-fiction, 'how to' book, with lots of pictures, is unbelievably complicated and very hard work. I learned that back in my old days of freelance copy editing, when one of my clients was a firm producing art books.

So I have quite a clear decision before me - do I expand my output by bringing in other people, or do I pull back a little and do what I can with my own resources?

I didn't begin designing to become a brand. I have huge respect for people like Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Erika Knight - I have no idea how they achieve so much great work when there are only 24 hours in the day, but I suspect they survive on little sleep :) Even if I wanted to emulate them, I don't have the physical or mental stamina to allow me to do so, and that is something I have to keep learning over and over again. You'd think, after ten years of illness, that I'd know this, but it doesn't stop me overdoing things....

I started designing because that's the way my brain works, sick or well. I love seeing an idea evolve as I create it. I didn't want a job. I can't really cope with a job :) So these are the decisions I've come to:
  • I'm no longer designing things just because they're trendy. Anything I make will be something I love for itself. If I don't have much energy, I want to use it on designs I will enjoy making.
  • The design process carries on right through the garment, so - no outworkers. I'd be missing out on a vital part of the project.
  • I'm not going to be simply creating things to sell, one after another. I need socks. And I want to try the Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket, just because.
  • No book projects.
  • I want to take a little time out soon to do my part of the website, so that the Beamish Boy can finish it and it can start earning me money (by selling my patterns, although there will be free stuff too).
  • Must blog more!!
  • NO MOHAIR!!1!!!!! Ahem. Sorry. But no mohair. It makes me wheeze :(
I know it's not the obvious way forward for a designer, but I've always hankered for 'the road less travelled'. Let's hope that, for me, it will prove to make all the difference.

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Tigger says, "Do what you like. Just take time to tickle my belly."

6 comments:

Tracey said...

I would say you have come to exactly the right decision, considering your own needs,both as a designer and for your health level. Keep up the good work, I love reading your blog!

Vicki said...

Sensible you! Health first, then you can do what you can do. Hope the big green V neck is turning out ok.

Mary Anne said...

Heather,
it sounds like you've thought this through and come to some good decisions. I'm glad to hear you will only work on projects that appeal to you. As for a book project, that is something you can always keep in mind for the future when your health improves. Reading this past year's post, I can see you have been having some major health issues. For now you need to take care of yourself.

crafty wee midden said...

I'm a new blogger, and finding lots of help and information from other bloggers.....have 'blogrolled' you: sending gentle hugs for you and tummy tickles for that gorgeous cat(and t'other one...mustn't make 'em jealous!)

littlelixie said...

That all sounds very sensible. Am looking forward to the website (expect lots of podcast coverage!) but there's no point stressing about things that are supposed to be fun. Like other commenters I love reading your blog too. You do whatever makes you happy and yes, the baby surprise is worth doing just 'because' because it is such a surprise when it actually works!

emmaclairecat said...

It's such a terrible shame that you aren't able to do the books and things but as previous posters have said, you have to take care of your health and prioritise what you do, it sounds as though you have made the best possible decision in your situation, and at least you are able to carry on doing what you love this way. Looking forward to seeing your site with the patterns etc.