Time Well Spent

I’ve been blogging less and less – I think it’s a combination of 3 things:

1. Summer. I’m enjoying it altogether too much!
2. Twitter. I’m tweeting and that can take the edge of my blogging hunger.
3. Uncertainty. I’m struggling with the loving what I do / am I earning enough dilemma.

This has been a good one – and it’s not over! We’ve not done anything terribly special, just local stuff, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it!

I’ve been working outdoors a lot, but taking time to do stuff with Gerry and the kids – mostly biking and gardening, mostly with Max

(Here’s Max and his friend Charlie. Or, as I like to think of them, Huck & Finn. This was after we biked to the Mississippi, before they discovered the “Hidden Falls”)

I think that although Gerry’s doing amazingly well, we will never escape our newfound realization that life is SO very finite – more finite for some – and we need to enjoy as much of it as we can while we’re able!

This week I plan to take Hannah and a friend to the Science Museum to FINALLY see the Titanic Exhibit. We’ll go again with Max, but it’s important that while he’s visiting friends in NJ this week, I do something special with Hannah – just for her!

This past week Hannah and a friend took some classes at The Textile Center and LOVED them!

I think her friend may actually be moving toward a fashion career – or at least moving toward a lifelong appreciation of good clothing, fiber and color. Yay!

And we’ve been taking advantage of our garden bounty – which is actually pretty scarce, but we’re proud of it…

Some beans, some peas, and a couple of tomatoes are growing. The crab apples are actually redening, so I will be making jelly this year.

If you’re not tweeting, if you’re part of the “What the heck good is THAT?” crowd, let me tell you that I was once in your ranks!

I used to think, “What a ridiculous thing to do – why would anyone want to know what I had for breakfast?” But it’s much more than that.

Now I tweet. You can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/modeknit

I’m unique – I work alone in my home, so I don’t see anyone but my family for days at a time. Twitter allows me to connect with other designers and writers who are friends (and who have become friends through Twitter & Facebook) so Twitter is the cyber water cooler where I can share jokes or a current problem with “co-workers” and get some immediate support or a reality check.

Because my twitter is linked to my facebook (who knew I’d have one of those… I’m also Modeknit at Facebook) all of my tweets show up immediately, and THAT’S allowed me to link up with a whole NEW variety of friends and fans who I hadn’t realized were out there. It’s been great as far as renewing old college and grad school friendships – very cool!

Perhaps it’s that lull period when the work on a book seems absolutely overwhelming, perhaps it’s tiredness, perhaps it’s that 99% of MY professional world is at Sock Summit right now and I’m not, but once again I struggle with the big question.

Should I be doing this? Or, more specifically, is there a better paying job I should be doing that would satisfy me and help make my family more secure. Would trading some peace and happiness for some bucks make sense – and is it even possible?

It’s something I struggle with constantly. The pay scale for freelance designers has to be among the lowest (right down there with actors & artists) and the amount of work is absolutely daunting. And once the work is done, it’s never done.

Mistakes are discovered in patterns (sometimes my fault, sometimes part of the editing process) and even with no mistakes, a good deal of time goes into answering emails from folks who need a point clarified, or want to know of a good substitution yarn (seriously folks, when you write to me for a good yarn substitute I just google it like you would…)

And yet I LOVE what I do. I love the designing, love the writing, love the teaching, love the interaction with the knitters.

However, I don’t love the fact that on average I spend about 70 hours a week on my designing, knitting and math. I can’t really afford to have anyone else knit up my samples, not right now…

The rewards are great, but there’s so much effort for a very tenuous return.

Turning things inside out five ways from Sunday, it’s hard to see how – as long as the industry pays such low amounts for designs and teacher travel & accommodation rates are so low – anyone can do this professionally and also support a family.

This is why I diversify – teach AND design AND write – and why I self publish many of my books and patterns. But without industry backing in terms of financial support, it’s a very hard and lonely road.

I know some folks who read this may be thinking, “Well, who in the world do you think you are, doing something you love and then complaining it doesn’t pay well enough…” That’s a voice in my head I hear constantly.

Who in the world DO I think I am?

I’m taking a risk by not pursuing designing gigs and teaching engagements which I feel offer unfair compensation, and the groundswell of knitters, crocheters and other teachers who are beginning to follow my lead is gratifying. But will it be enough – will it be SOON enough? Can I hold out long enough, or do I cave and crawl back to the larger entities that balance their budgets by unfairly compensating their contributors.

I’ve said it before, it’s an odd world where the designer of a sweater – 3 weeks of work in knitting and pattern writing – gets paid a third of what the photographer earns for the 3 hours of shooting. (Not to mention the stylists and models)

I’m obviously thinking hard about this. Your input is welcome.

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