The Only Way Out Is Through

As the parade of year-end wrap-ups has streamed through my feed this week, I’ve felt a mounting pressure to sit down and compose my own thoughts. This pressure stems not from a desire to emulate or perform for others, but from a very real need to confront my own experiences and realizations from the last 12 months. I have a much different perspective than I’d hoped to have, and I want to acknowledge and explore the gap between expectations and reality.

That I’m able to write at all is due in no small part to my thoughtful husband, who gifted me with a tablet this year for Christmas. My desktop computer suffered a motherboard failure just after Thanksgiving, and in the flurry of end-of-year work deadlines, Christmas hosting preparations, and holiday spending, I had neither the time to research nor the ready funds to purchase a replacement board. All of my recent outfit photos had been transferred from phone to hard drive just before the failure, so they have been held hostage by the broken component.

I’m thankful that a new motherboard is, as of today, on its way to me, but the delay means that there’s no chance at all of posting our Halloween costumes or the dress I made for my work Christmas party before the year is out. I haven’t decided yet whether it’s worthwhile to post them so long after the fact, or if I’d rather move on to new projects and new topics. Only the new year will tell, I suppose.

Those three missing posts mean that there is very little in the way of finished garments to recap. But even if I’d been able to include them, I’m well aware that my output this year has been disappointing. While others can count their successes in the dozens or scores, I have fewer than ten, and the amount of wear that any of them have gotten is extremely limited. In fact, shortly after finishing all of the athletic wear, I stopped going to the gym completely and haven’t been back since. I wish I could say that this is the result of an unfortunate injury that needed recovery or a positive lifestyle change that eliminated the need for scheduled exercise, but the fact is it’s all down to a short period of stress followed by laziness and finally inertia.

Knitting has not escaped this stagnation, either. This has been my least productive year in the short time since I started knitting. The striped sweater I started a year ago remains unfinished, awaiting a time when I have the mental fortitude to rip out and re-knit both sleeve caps, then finally sew the thing up, knit on the neckband, and weave in the ends. A scarf that I allowed myself to start to alleviate the tedium of the sweater and to provide a bit of mindless, portable knitting needs no more than a bind off and a few ends woven in, and yet it languishes in a bag. I even permitted myself to buy two skeins of yarn for easy hats in a desperate bid to kickstart my knitting enthusiasm, but I never made it further than winding them into cakes.

Needless to say, I did not sew or knit more this year. While I did read through all of The Modern Natural Dyer, the only dyeing I actually did involved a bottle of RIT. We made a tiny bit of headway on fixing up our guest room, but nothing worth writing about or photographing. As for a dedicated sewing space, I consolidated all of my fabrics, tools, and notions in a corner of the living room, which was hardly the plan, but is an acceptable temporary arrangement while I continue to use the dining room table to cut and sew on.

In short, I did not reach any of my goals for 2016. Not even close.

I’m hardly the only one, of course. But I seem unable to brush it off, like Kat, who doesn’t believe in failure as a concept; or even take pride in how I’ve flouted my goals, like Tassadit, who clearly knows how to prioritize joy over success. It’s not in my nature to pretend that I believe that it’s all been “a learning experience,” because in truth my first reaction to defeat is not optimism, it’s disappointment and sadness. So instead of putting on a falsely brave front, I’m going to take a cue from a recent post by Klara from A Robot Heart—who feels like a kindred spirit, half a world away—and delve into why it’s been so difficult to reflect on my year and shine a light in places that often remain dark.

It’s about more than completed and incomplete tasks.

On the surface of it, I love making lists, and I find satisfaction in checking things off. An unfinished to-do list would obviously be a source of dissatisfaction. But if it were truly that simple, if all that mattered was getting things done eventually, then all I’d need to do is deem all of those 2016 goals ongoing, and carry on into 2017 striving toward the same things. No reason to set an arbitrary deadline—or even an arbitrary check-in point—if all it does is cause unhappiness, right?

The trouble is, I crave organization because I need it to think clearly, act confidently, and feel at peace. Because despite being the kind of person who loathes idleness, when I’m presented with a variety of activities to choose from, I don’t tend to feel excitement at the many possibilities, I tend to feel anxiety. I’m liable to become overwhelmed and shut down completely, because I a) want to do everything at once, b) know that that’s impossible, and c) no longer have a reliable sense of what will make me happy in the moment.

So I make lists, because it allows me to prepare, to plan in advance, when emotions aren’t high and I can be more certain of knowing my own mind. Then I not only get the satisfaction of the thing itself, but also the reassurance that I’m doing something I know is important to me in some way.

Looking back, each unaccomplished goal represents hours spent agonizing over what to do in the evening or on a weekend. Too often, instead of working toward the things I had determined were important to me, I retreated into reading forum discussions, or distracted myself with some insignificant task, or sat paralyzed until Justin proposed some other thing to do. How many Friday nights did I fret about spending my weekend wisely? How many Sunday nights did I despair about going back to work, feeling like I’d squandered my time and would have to slog through five more days to try again? Far too many, I’m afraid.

The experience of correcting mistakes is a poor teacher for coping with failures.

Like many makers, I turn to the creative community when I need guidance—not just for sewing or knitting techniques, but for conscious consumerism, for body positivity and self-love, and for any number of other topics. Makers are no strangers to adversity, and it’s cheering to read about others’ struggles and how they’ve overcome them.

But as I’ve been thinking about my failed goals, I can think of many bloggers who have shared their mistakes, but I’m struggling to bring to mind bloggers who have shared their failures. What I mean is, I can think of countless posts describing a project that disappointed due to a mismatch of pattern to material, or an outfit that was never worn because of unacceptable fit, and even garments that were thrown away—all things I would consider mistakes, things where you think “That was a shame; I’ll try to do better next time.” But failures, like investing a lot of time, money, and effort into a hobby that you ultimately abandon? Or committing to a project for someone else, as a gift or perhaps as a commission, and then being unable to see it through to the end? Or chasing a creative dream that doesn’t pan out and having to give it up? Basically, anything where there may not be a “next time”? Not so much.

Now, I understand that no one likes to dwell on these embarrassing and costly experiences, let alone broadcast them to others, so I’m not really faulting anyone for not posting about them excruciating detail. And I certainly don’t want to equate my own shortcomings with more serious troubles.

But I fear what gets lost is an honest look at the invisible costs of these failures. It’s more than just a wadder, a project that you looked forward to that you don’t get to enjoy. There’s lost money, sure, and there’s lost time. Deeper still, there’s a loss of confidence, a reluctance to try again, a fear of failure. Why set a new goal? You failed at the last one—what makes you think you’ll succeed at this new one? You start to wonder if maybe you’re not cut out for these goals, if they’re really worth it, if working toward them even makes you happy. That’s a lot of baggage to carry forward. It doesn’t necessarily vanish with the next success. I’d dearly love to know how others manage it.

There is an even greater enemy than envy.

What’s thrown all of these feelings into sharp relief is seeing other bloggers reach for and achieve success this year. Reading about Helen’s journey as she blogged one make a week, designed two patterns, and grew her following to the hundreds in just one year, following along as Madalynne has teamed up with Urban Outfitters, Simplicity, and Pfaff to live her lingerie dreams, and watching as Allie has written tutorials, filmed a class, and garnered sponsorships, have been hard. I don’t resent their successes—far from it! I think that they’re amazing women who have worked hard and earned every good thing that has come their way. We’re so fortunate to have them in our community, and I admire each of them for their discipline, tenacity, and generosity of spirit.

When I look at these women, what I feel isn’t envy. It’s regret. They set goals for themselves; they worked hard; they succeeded. They achieved goals that I had for myself (whether I’d publicly stated them or not), and goals that I’d hoped to work toward in subsequent years, building on the foundation of this one. They didn’t fall into these successes by hazard or happenstance; they are not possessed of fabulous wealth, unlimited free time, or preternatural abilities.They earned these successes. And I could have earned them too, had I really tried.

The hardest thing to face is the realization that I did not become a better version of myself.

I have not achieved the goals that I identified as important to me. I have not been making choices to shape my life according to my own self-professed values. These were not mere mistakes, things that I can easily learn from and apply to future situations. These were failures. This is time that I cannot get back, and I regret that I used it so poorly.

That’s rather a grim place to end, I know, but there’s nothing to be gained by dishonesty, and nothing to say at all if I can only talk about what’s happy, easy, neat. Maybe I can open up the conversation about failure and disappointment. Or maybe mine is just another sad closing chapter for the year, and that like so many others I’ll be glad to put 2016 behind me and never look back.

In any case, may we all find the strength, wisdom, and grace to grow in 2017.

Lately

With the month of October completely taken up by Halloween preparations—I finally got decently lit photos of our costumes, which I’ll share in the next few days—I endeavored to spend November on more practical sewing. But, as is often the case, the moment I decided that I’d spend my free time making was precisely the moment that work ramped up and my free time evaporated. I had three deadlines last week alone, and a new employee to train on top of it, which has meant many late evenings and little to no energy to do basic maintenance tasks like cooking and laundry, to say nothing of crafting.

But I did manage to set aside a little time last weekend to celebrate my birthday, and I thought I’d share a glimpse of that, because while I’d like every post to have a new garment or a new project—I very much wanted to have completed a new skirt to wear on my birthday—I don’t want my lack of tangible accomplishments to weigh me down. I want to cherish the small moments. I hope you’ll indulge me.

Justin took me to visit the historic Oak View County Park, a former cotton plantation in Raleigh that’s free to visit (but donations are welcome, of course). We’ve visited before to explore the farm history building, main house, detached kitchen, and cotton gin barn, and to view the livestock barn, carriage house, and tenant house. The main house remains unfurnished and the tenant house is undergoing renovation, so on this visit we decided to enjoy the grounds instead. November is pecan season, and Wake County Parks & Rec lets visitors gather pecans for free; they only ask that you limit yourself to one brown paper lunch bag, so that others get a chance to collect them, too.

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The property is about 3 acres, and the pecan grove is spread over at least half of it. We were advised to pick from the ground rather than directly from the trees, since the unfallen nuts are usually underripe. The areas nearest the main house and paths were picked over already, so we had to go further afield.

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We quickly discovered that we weren’t the only ones with a taste for pecans: we found many that had a tiny, circular hole bored into the shell, which is a sign that a worm has gotten inside and, often, eaten the meat already. We had the most success picking ones that still had the husk on. Removing the husks caused a few bent and dirty fingernails, but the reward was this:

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The weather was brisk, but pleasant—perfectly autumnal. We spent somewhere between an hour and two hours foraging, and came away with about two cups of nuts. After we brought them home, boiled them to make cracking the shells easier, and discarded the rotten ones, we were left with maybe a handful of edible nuts. I see now why they’re so expensive at the store!

We supplemented our little trove with purchased pecans and made a pecan pie, my first time making AND eating one. The verdict? I think a plain pecan pie is a little too sweet and one-note for me, but I’m keen to try a recipe that incorporates other flavors or textures. (Wouldn’t a cheesecake with a pecan-pie-filling-like crust be amazing?)

But I don’t think I’ll be foraging the ingredients for each and every attempt, otherwise I might never find enough good nuts to try again! Unless this find brings me a little extra luck next time:

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A Day Late and a Dollar Short

On July 16, Justin and I made tacos for dinner and then hunkered down to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey. Our roommate had moved out the day before after leasing our third room for three months (and occupying it as a guest for about two weeks before that), and it was our first full day without having to jockey schedules, keep the noise down, or worry about whether we grabbed bathrobes on the way into the shower.

“We’re finally getting our life back,” I said as I spooned sour cream on to a taco and glanced out the window at the rain pooling in the front yard. A thunderstorm had rolled in while we were cooking, and the low spots in the lawn were collecting water like they usually did. I thought about how we’d have to grade the yard eventually, and wondered how much dirt it would take. I sighed, knowing that it would probably be twice as much as thought it would be, then turned back to the TV to watch the opening credits roll for the last time.

The storm also settled in, and our viewing was punctuated with repeated house-shaking booms and lightning so bright we were sure it must have struck a neighbor’s house. We didn’t lose power though, which came as a surprise considering how easily it’s gone out in the past.

Then, about halfway through the 90-minute episode, there was a crash followed by the sound of rushing water. Justin and I stood up from the couch and immediately headed toward the basement door. A couple of months ago we’d had an issue with the washing machine drainage hose disconnecting from the house’s wastewater pipe, causing it to dump an entire drum of water on the floor. We’d fixed the problem ourselves, and we both assumed that our fix hadn’t held and it had happened again.

Thing is, the washing machine wasn’t running. I hadn’t started a single load all day.

Instead, when we opened the basement door, we were confronted by knee-deep murky water at the bottom of the stairs. It was swirling counterclockwise at a steady clip, cardboard boxes and plastic tubs bobbing in the current. The water was also rising—visibly.

We turned to each other and asked in the same stupefied tone, “Who do you call when your house is flooding?”

We went with 911.

While we waited for a firetruck to arrive, we started gathering supplies to evacuate. As we paced back and forth through the house gathering clothes, food and water, and important documents, we had time to assess the situation in more detail, which revealed that our driveway, sitting largely below street-level, was completely filled with water; my car, which I typically parked at the bottom of the driveway, was almost fully submerged. Luckily, Justin’s car was parked was parked on higher ground, but was still surrounded by a calf-deep stream of swiftly flowing water.

When the fire department appeared on the scene, there was nothing they could do for us (and, truthfully, very little they could have done even if the circumstances had been more favorable). Because the circuit breaker is in the basement, they were not able to throw the master on the breaker and the power remained on. They asked about the locations of the electrical meter and the master shut-off for the gas, because they have the tools to access both, but in the moment neither Justin nor I could remember where exactly they were located, and with the rain blowing sideways at this point the firefighters couldn’t see them. In the end, we had to trust to emergency auto-off features and just leave while we still had one salvageable vehicle.

We ended up spending the night in a hotel, and then returned the next morning to survey the damage and try to determine what had happened. The water had completely receded in the seven hours since the storm had stopped, leaving almost no sign of its passing beyond a high water mark around four feet high and a layer of sludge coating the floor (and, by extension, anything touching the floor).

The vortex that we had witnessed the night before had torn the hot water heater partially free of its connections and laid it out on its side—which is really something else, when you consider that it weighs 500 pounds when full. It had also submerged the furnace and part of the AC unit, and knocked the washer and dryer off their plywood plinth.

You’ve no doubt deduced that this was no ordinary thunderstorm. Depending on which stormwater engineer you ask—and we spoke to several—it was a 100-, 200-, or even 1,000-year flood. I’m told at its peak it rained 6 inches in 45 minutes. Fortunately, the car was completely covered under our vehicle insurance; unfortunately, none of the damage to the basement was covered, not even the garage door, because our homeowner’s insurance policy specifically excludes flooding. Fortunately again, our basement is unfinished, and beyond the appliances, the only things we were storing there were tools and DIY supplies, Christmas decorations, and a pile of miscellaneous items bound for donation, and of these things, nearly all of the Christmas decorations and about half of the tools/supplies survived. We didn’t lose anything of exceptional monetary or sentimental value, which was a huge relief.

Most fortunately of all, we have incredibly supportive family and friends, who descended upon us from points across North Carolina and Virginia the following weekend to help us shovel out and dispose of the debris, power wash and sanitize the basement, and reorganize those items that could be saved. With their help, we also got a new hot water heater installed, replaced/relocated two electrical outlets that had been submerged, rehabilitated the washer and dryer, unbent the garage door as much as possible, and set up a window AC unit to tide us over until the furnace and AC could be fixed a few days later. Their generous donations of time, expertise, labor, and materials saved us at least $6,500 in repair and cleanup costs. They also sustained unshakably positive attitudes in the face of triple-digit heat indexes with just a few box fans for respite, which was tremendously helpful whenever the situation threatened to overwhelm us.

Six weeks later, I finally feel as though we’ve gotten back to normal life. I’ve been itching to blog, and it was important to me share this significant event before trying to get into a regular groove. While I know it would have been my prerogative to leave things at “life happens,” that just didn’t feel sufficient, you know?

With that—with the last several weeks and months behind me—I’m finally ready to move forward. I just hope I remember how to use my sewing machine…

On Me-Made-May 2016

Do you remember when you first heard about Me-Made-May? Do you remember what you thought, how you felt about the idea?

I can’t recall which year it was, exactly, that I first stumbled across this month-long making-and-wearing challenge. I don’t remember which blog I saw it on first, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Zoe’s. It may have been a daily or weekly check-in post, or an end-of-month wrap-up. I don’t think the event was actively running at the time. In fact, come to think of it, it may not have been a Me-Made-May event at all—it may have been Me-Made-March or Self-Stitched September, two forerunners of the annual tradition we know and love today.

It’s strange to me that I can’t remember it, because I do remember how intrigued I was by the whole affair, how readily I soaked up page after page of outfit photos and introspections. I loved seeing the real clothes that real people wore to their real jobs, real family dinners, real vacations—clothes that they had made themselves. I deeply admired their commitment: commitment to finishing what they started even when they had to rip out the same seam three times; commitment to sitting in meetings next to coworkers wearing luxury labels and not feeling faintly embarrassed; commitment to exposing the fact that they “cheated” on their pledge or that they will never, ever sew their own tights, even if they could, because they just don’t to want to.

When I discovered Me-Made-May, I hadn’t sewn any garments for daily wear, just costumes and props for various dress-up holidays, parties, and events. (Truth be told, I’ve sewn very few garments since then, and that weighs on me. But we’ll come to that in a minute.) I knew you could, of course, and it was a thing that I wanted to do, but I hadn’t really seen anyone do it in a way that was meaningful to me. I understood that buying something off a rack in a store was a relatively recent development in the history of human fashion, was aware of the decades of where even the less-well-off might have clothing made-to-measure by a tailor or dressmaker, had heard stories of people’s grandmothers and mothers making their own or their children’s clothing, but I hadn’t seen anyone of my own age, of my own lifestyle, make more than the occasional garment. I’d never seen anyone attempt to systematically build a wardrobe.

And I wanted very desperately to be that person. While I’ve had my share of ill-fitting and poorly made garments that made me crave a custom fit, what really drove me was the desire to be able to say “I made this,” not just about an apron or a taken-in dress, but about the trousers I wear to work and the t-shirts I wear to the grocery store. And I wanted very, very much to participate in a community that challenged—and rewarded—this. I wanted to be able to post daily outfit photos, each with the implicit caption “I attempted this and succeeded. I didn’t just dress myself today—I crafted my image with my own two hands.” I wanted to be embraced, and celebrated, along with the other Me-Made-Mayers. I wanted to belong to a group of people who seemed so very, very cool.

Each year since, I’ve thought about participating, but lamented the fact that I have nowhere near enough things to wear, even if I committed to just one piece a few times a week and wore the same pieces multiple times. Whenever I thought about remedying this problem, I quickly succumbed to what I perceived as a lack of necessary skills, then a lack of appropriate patterns, then a lack of suitable fabric. Now I have a fair amount of all three, and it’s clear that the only thing I truly lacked was the sense to make good decisions, and the nerve to follow-through and just do the thing already.

This, then, was going to be my year. In my mind, I quietly committed to spending March and April steadily sewing up a few versatile pieces so that this year I could get in the game. I resolved not to do any frantic, last-minute sewing, but to try to make sewing each week a habit. I acquired a few more patterns, treated myself to some fabrics that I was really excited about, and set up a queue of projects in Trello (thanks for the idea, Camille!). The only thing stopping me this year was me.

And then life went sideways. At the end of March, Justin’s best friend fell into dire straits and very much needed an opportunity for a fresh start, so we invited him to live with us for a couple of months while he reestablishes himself. Suddenly everything stalled or had to be put on hold. Our plans to paint and furnish our guest room were suspended because it was abruptly occupied. Our desire to seek out and adopt a dog was deferred, because our new resident has a small dog of his own that’s living with us, and we didn’t want to bring a new pet into the mix. My hope of creating a dedicated sewing space was stifled, because the guest room is currently off the table and our office is too crowded with displaced items from the guest room to admit more furniture.

To add hardship on top of difficulty, tax season was not particularly kind to us. Purchasing a house, which we’d been told many times was a huge boon from a tax standpoint, turned out to be a burden this past year. We don’t regret becoming homeowners—not by a long shot—but we definitely felt an unexpected pinch this April, which further prevented any new home or craft supply purchases while we bounced back.

And, because I have an amazing ability to kick myself when I’m down, I recently resolved to go back to working out at the gym. It’s a positive change that I can absolutely see the physical and emotional benefits of, but it’s eating into my free time, especially since the gym is in the opposite direction of my house. Taken all together, I started to feel as though I had neither time nor resources to do anything at all that I really want.

If this all sounds like a lot of whining to you, you’re absolutely right (and I appreciate you sticking around this long in spite of it). The realization that, once again, I can’t participate in Me-Made-May the way I want made me rather miserable, and, quite frankly, miserable to be around. But after a good, long wallow, I’ve finally realized that I can still make a pledge. It’s not an official one—I want to save that until I can do it properly—but it’s what I can manage this time. I credit it in no small part to Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow, who with her own pledge managed to penetrate my thick skull with the radical notion that the most important aspect of Me-Made-May is thinking critically about wearing clothes, and that if circumstances don’t encourage a lot of wearing, there’s still a great deal of value in thinking about handmade. With that in mind, I’ve figured out what I need most right now, and what I can reasonably do, and what I want to say:

I, Caitlyn of Practice Makes Pretty, sign up as a follower of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavor to revisit my Wardrobe Architect journey, revise my ideal palette and silhouettes, and develop a sewing plan that more accurately reflects my sartorial aspirations. I further endeavor to put this plan into action during the month of May by sewing, mending, or knitting at least three days each week.

Now, I’m not the best with intentions. (Hello, passel of New Year’s resolutions that I’ve made no progress on to date!) But if there’s one thing that motivates me, it’s a deadline, and May won’t last forever. Peer pressure is also hugely underrated for its ability to effect positive change, and I cannot thank the sewing community enough for how much it inspires and drives me to become the person I admire in others. I’m not sure I can (or ever will) contribute anything meaningful to this amazing online community, but you all have given so much to me, and I appreciate it. Thank you, every one of you.

Old Year, New Year

Yikes, where did the first day of the new year go? Justin and I were having so much fun visiting with family that we lost track of time. No matter—it’s never too late for a recap and a look forward!

I launched this blog almost a year ago, after a feverish four-day weekend spent customizing my site. In my time online, I’ve made 64 posts and garnered 8 comments. While I’d hoped to connect with more people, I’m proud that I’ve averaged just over a post a week. I know that these posts have been concentrated in the beginning and end of the year, so I’d like to work on increasing both my frequency and regularity of posting. I really do enjoy the writing, even if I’m excruciatingly slow at it.

A long car ride on New Year’s Eve gave me plenty of time to mull over my goals for 2016, and I feel confident that these are the things I want to focus on, and that they’re all achievable. In no particular order:

  • Set up a permanent sewing space. In our last apartment, I had plenty of space to create a dedicated sewing area, but I never bought or built the furniture I needed to make the space work, so it mostly served as a dumping ground. In the new house, we have an office and a guest room, both of which provide a place to put a sewing table and possibly a cutting table. Having my machines, tools, and supplies ready to go at all times will enable me to spend less of my time preparing to sew and more of my time actually sewing.
  • Stop feeling constrained by my fabric stash and sew the garments I need and want. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a small bin of fabric that consists mostly of quilting project leftovers and de-stash pieces from my mom. Not wanting any of this material to go to waste, I’ve often looked for projects to use it up. The problem is that these projects are not themselves necessarily things that I need or want, which means even when they’re successful they’re not particularly useful. If I want to make T-shirts, I need to buy fabric suitable for T-shirts. I don’t have to use up the scraps first; they won’t go bad. If I need them for a project down the road, they’ll be right where I left them; if I don’t think I’ll ever use them, I don’t need to contrive a purpose for them—I can just give to someone who will use them.
  • Be a more productive knitter. I completed only 6 knitting projects in 2015, including one I started in 2014. This is roughly on par with previous years’ output, but I know that I’m capable of more. I’m a largely monogamous knitter, and I don’t suffer from startitis. Quite the opposite—I usually struggle to decide what to cast on, which means I can go days or weeks between finishing one project and starting the next. I don’t enjoy these long breaks, and become anxious and dissatisfied until I get a new project on the needles. To combat this, I’m going to be more mindful of queuing projects so that I have time to purchase patterns or choose yarn before I finish my current knit. That way, I’m not trying to decide on a new project while feeling agitated that I haven’t started something yet. I may even try out casting on before my current project is complete so I never have a time when there isn’t something on the needles.
  • Learn how to dye fiber with natural ingredients. Dyeing, particularly natural dyeing, is an art I’ve wanted to research since I visited Old Salem for my birthday in 2014. Justin gifted me The Modern Natural Dyer for Christmas, and I’m eager to start learning and experimenting.
  • Transform one area of our new house. It doesn’t matter to me what room, or part of a room, we change. It doesn’t matter if we accomplish the transformation with paint, furniture, art, textiles, or a little bit of everything. I just know that after living in our last apartment for two years, you could count on one hand the number of differences between the way it looked on the day we moved in and the day we moved out. I don’t want that to be true of our house. I don’t expect to “finish” the house in a year, but I want to be able to look back at the before photos and say, “Wow, can you believe how far we’ve come?”

On the whole 2015 was a good year for us, which makes me even more excited for the possibilities of 2016.

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If this is any indication, things are off to a great start. 🙂