It’s true, it just isn’t about stuff. Having stuff, buying stuff, making stuff, and so on.
I mean, sure, we all have stuff. Some more than others. The places we live are full of our things and those things do have meaning but still, they are only objects. And any meaning they have is from what we put on them ourselves. Take away the object and we still have that meaning.
I have always struggled with my desire to make and my aversion to stuff (which is complicated in and of itself, since by nature I’m inspired by design and interiors…which means I’m inspired by stuff. Things are never just plain black and white!). I have never wanted to make things that have no meaning – that just sit on your shelf and collect dust. So that was why knitting was appealing to me. Finally, a craft where the output was something really useful (most of the time).
But still, I struggle.
I thought if I pared down what I make, that nagging feeling would go away. Or that if I did custom work, something would be different because my customer was telling me what he or she needed. And then I thought if I just made what my own heart desired, maybe that would fill whatever this hole was that I kept feeling.
Nothing worked. Then, yesterday, I had an epiphany.
I love to encourage people. I love listening for what’s not being said, and thinking how can I best help them (if they need it…sometimes all someone needs is to just talk). I try to speak love as often as I can (and I don’t always succeed, so thank goodness for grace), and I’ve dreamed of putting that into my knitting but I have never really thought hard and long about what that would look like.
Until yesterday, when I had that epiphany, and I realized the reason I half-heartedly promote my shop, half-heartedly knit what I plan to knit, is because I can’t promote consumption for the sake of consumption. I just can’t. It has to be functional, it has to be meaningful and, ideally, it has to be encouraging or uplifting in some way.
Do you remember my plan that I wrote about a few months ago? Yeah, I’m tossing that out the window. It was a good plan, but it isn’t quite right for me. I’ve never been one to do things traditionally, so forcing myself into a production schedule that came to feel unnatural and pushy was a bad move.
I can hear that voice in the back of my mind. It says, “Here she goes again. Stopping and starting. Never knowing if she is coming or going. One day, she’s all in in. And the next she isn’t. Unpredictable. Incapable of consistency.”
It’s true, I do change my mind a lot. But I’m cutting myself some slack because the reason things change is I am still learning how this is all going to look – this blog and this shop. Two things are constant – I love writing and I love knitting. The way I engage in those two things is what changes from time to time.
So yes, it’s time for a change again. The change is focusing on encouragement. I’ve realized that the momentum I had at the start of the year with Making Things Happen has fizzled to a certain extent, but the one thing that’s stuck with me is this emphasis I put on serving, simplicity and committing myself to something bigger than my little life. I honestly think that’s where my dissatisfaction is coming from – why just the act of making something to sell isn’t enough for me anymore.
Anyway. What does all of this mean? It means that what I make will be organized by how a person lives their life. And people live their lives in cycles. There are tiny cycles, when you wake up in the morning to when you go to sleep at night. There are medium cycles, that go week-to-week, like your job schedule or your school work. And then there are the big cycles. These are marked by a life event, where you’re either pushed to the bottom or you skyrocket to the top, just before things settle into a new normal. These are the moments where babies are born, where a job promotion happens, or where you find yourself in difficult circumstances. These are the moments when you want comfort – either to help you make it through, or to ground you through the highs of celebration. This is where I want to knit from.
It seems incomprehensible. How to combine a tangible object with an intangible feeling? But we do this every day. We see an object that sparks something and we begin to weave a story around the object that makes it fit into our lives.
I want to create objects that fit into your life, that tell your story and that bring you encouragement in just the way you need it.
The obvious way to do this is to accept custom work again, which I will gladly do but this time around the structure is going to be a little different. I don’t want to knit a knock-off project that you saw on Pinterest for $5.00, because there is no meaning in that. Come to me for that special blanket you’ve dreamed about, that reminds you of quiet evenings spent with your mother. Or a baby hat knit from the softest cotton for your best friend’s newborn. For information about custom work, you can send me an email (amanda [at] charminglymodern.com) and we’ll talk.
Apart from custom work, I’m spending time thinking about these events that mark the bigger life cycles and what we need when those happen. And from there, I will get to the business of knitting for encouragement. With each finished object, or commissioned object, you purchase from me you’ll also get an encouragement card. These are meant to be special surprises, from me to you, as a way to tell you “thank you” not only for connecting with something I’ve made, but for being who you are.
Because I’m still going to be making stuff. This change is a paradigm shift. It’s a different outlook, a different motivator. I’m not motivated by filling your house with things you don’t need. I’m motivated by helping you find that one object that fits into your story and shares a little bit about what makes you so unique. The mindset behind the knitting is what’s making all the difference in this new scenario. This is a matter of lining up my head and my heart.
Does this sound like a plan to you? It sounds like a plan to me. Here’s how I know it has sticking power – I feel a quiet assurance. In the past, my ideas bring on quick, hurried excitement and I blow them up in my imagination to epic proportions that they can’t ever live up to. This time, there’s none of that. I don’t know where this will go, or how long it will last, but I’m okay with that because I never get tired of stories and I never get tired of listening.