Join Me in Year of Making 2018!

When I embarked upon my first Year of Making on New Year’s Day in 2014, I had no idea that my commitment to daily creativity would lead to some profound changes in my life.

Though I haven’t publicly documented my daily makes since the end of that year, I’ve continued to practice the habit I formed. Every day, even for just a couple of minutes, I make something. Some days it’s a few stitches on a knitting project, others it’s several rows on a crocheted blanket. Over the years, in part motivated by my decision to prioritize creating on a daily basis, I’ve learned how to bake bread, how to make soap and lotion from scratch, how to carve stamps. I’ve sewn blankets and curtains and pouches and bags. I’ve made some clothes, some gifts and lots of (admittedly mediocre) food.

But more important than any project finished or skill honed, through Year of Making I’ve put creative adventuring at the centre of my daily life. By chronicling my efforts in 2014, and using that public accountability to help me stick to my commitment, I went from having to work hard to find time and space for creative projects to having that time and space simply be a part of how I approach my every day.

As I tried to find space to wind down 2017 by looking back and peeking ahead, I realized that I’ve started taking my creative habit for granted. It’s become such a normal part of my life that I’m no longer using it as a way to seek out adventure, but rather as a way to continue with a status quo. I could use some more adventuring, though.

So in 2018, I’m going to again try to document my making every day.

The big difference this time around is that I already have the habit, but I’m also now working a day job. So though creating daily has become as routine as showering and eating, my ability to create adventure is affected by my being outside of my house for nearly nine hours every day. Which means the nature of my making may change, and the kind of adventures I find exciting may be affected, too.

In any case, I think sharing my daily efforts will help me keep this priority front and centre in my life. And, obviously, this will be way more fun if we do it together.

Join Me in a Year of Making in 2018!

Create a stress-free creative habit! #yearofmaking2018 – http://www.kimwerker.com/blog

If you’ve done a daily making project at some point – or ongoing – over the years, please join me again!

If you’ve never done something like this, then consider this your friendly invitation to create a stress-free daily creative habit.

The stress-free part comes because there are no rules other than to spend at least a minute or two every day making something. You don’t need to finish anything (though of course you’re welcome to), you don’t need to declare major goals to reach. In other words, there’s very little room for failure here. If you find yourself bed-ridden with a terrible flu, skip that day. It’s okay! There’s no judgment here, and there’s especially no pressure to declare a year-long project a failure because of one or two missed days. What a shame that would be!

To sum up, here’s what a Year of Making entails:

  1. Commit to making something – anything – even just for a few minutes, every single day for a year. (You get to decide what “making” is. Does mac and cheese from a box count? Up to you!) (If you aren’t reading this on January 1st, who cares? A year is a year no matter when you begin – so just begin!)
  2. That’s it 👆.

#yearofmaking2018

Use the hashtag #yearofmaking2018 when you post about your progress. Especially if you’re just starting out, I encourage you to post every single day – even if your photo is blurry or poorly lit or your cat photobombs it. This is key to participating with everyone else – this is where you’ll find your cheering section, your gentle nudging, your partners in creative adventuring.

If you share on Instagram – which, in my opinion, is a fabulous place to share a daily photo – you can now follow hashtags in addition to people. When you open this link in the app on your phone, you’ll see an option to follow the hashtag (this doesn’t seem to appear as an option yet if you open the link in a browser). (I’m on there, too, obviously!)

Join the Group

Though I’m a huge fan of publicly chronicling creative experiments, I also know that it can be incredibly liberating to share only in small places where I know I can feel safe and confident that people will be above-and-beyond supportive.

A grand gathering of fellow adventurers has formed over in my Facebook group, and I hope you’ll join us there for sharing, for asking, for musing aloud, for celebrating and, when needed, for commiserating.

Just click the button to join and I’ll approve your request ASAP.

Grab the Ebook

At the end of my first year of making, I wrote up a lot of what I’d made and learned and I created a bunch of worksheets to help new adventurers get going. I updated the ebook last year, and it’s on sale through January 9, 2018 (for 2018 divided by 2: $10.09).

Year of Making ebook: Tips & Worksheets for a Stress-free Creative Habit

Or the Daily Making Jumpstart

If you think a more directed approach will help you get going, the Daily Making Jumpstart will nudge you through a couple of weeks of daily activities to get your creative juices flowing. (The Jumpstart includes the Year of Making ebook, too, so you’ll get both the nudging and the worksheets.) Sign up here!

The Point Is Zero Stress

Daily projects are a huge commitment, and it’s really easy for them to feel like an exercise in failure rather than an adventure of growth and exploration.

The thing that makes a Year of Making so amazing is that even though it’s a pretty daunting commitment – to do something every day for a year – the bar is set really low, and you (not me! not anyone else!) are in charge of what counts.

I can tell you for certain, after completing four Years of Making, that if you’re kind to yourself, if you set yourself up to succeed and let yourself off the hook when you need to, the reward will be the deep and lasting satisfaction of looking back at the end of the year and seeing how much you can accomplish in teeny tiny steps. Better yet if you’ve made friends in the process.

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Favourite Reads in 2017 (for Adults & Kids!)

Favourite Books I Read in 2017 – http://www.kimwerker.com/blog

I have a weird love of year-end lists. I don’t know what it is about them that makes me so happy, but they’re just so desperately satisfying. Mmm.

This list isn’t of books that came out this year (with one or two exceptions), but rather of books I loved reading in 2017. I had a pretty odd year, and lost my reading mojo for a fair chunk of it, so the vast majority of books I loved were ones I read aloud with my six-year-old (he loved these, too). And now that he’s reading on his own, I’ve included some that he loved reading solo as well.

Adult Books I Loved

Cookbooks I Came Back to Again and Again

Kids’ Books We Loved Reading Aloud Together

  • The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. Hands down our favourite this year (amongst many strong contenders). Even if you don’t have kids, read this one. It’s touching and thought-provoking, and expertly crafted.
  • Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome. It took us around two months to read this tome aloud, and though the sailboat terminology can be tedious to non-sailors, it was a true delight.
  • The Sisters Grimm, by Michael Buckley. The kid picked this one off a shelf at the bookstore based on its cover, and we loved it. We just found the next two books in the series at his school’s used book sale, and I’m excited to read them with him in the coming year.
  • The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall. I didn’t know this was the first in a series when we picked this book up. It was so thoroughly enjoyable, and so cozy to read curled up together, that I’ll insist we read another one next summer (summer, it must be!).
  • Ollie’s Odyssey, by William Joyce. An utterly delightful tale of a little boy and his best friend-slash-stuffie.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. A classic for good reason. And yes, we skipped The Magician’s Nephew. After this we read Prince Caspian, followed by The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’.
  • The Contract, by Derek Jeter. My baseball-obsessed kid has demanded we read many a mediocre baseball novel, and I admit I was not very confident about this one, about Jeter, the former Yankees captain, when he was a kid. I’m pleased to say I was not only pleasantly surprised, I absolutely loved this book (and the others in the series so far), and of course the kid did, too. They’re full of Grand Life Lessons but aren’t at all preachy. And since we already know that as an adult, Jeter does indeed fulfill his childhood dream of playing for the Yankees and indeed becomes one of the most celebrated short stops in baseball history, those lessons seem even more impactful.
  • The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events), by Lemony Snicket. We’ve been babysitting a dear friend’s hardcover collection of this series, and though I’ve never read it, I started to suspect the kid would be ready for it. Ready is an understatement. He’s absolutely riveted by the literal series of unfortunate events the three Baudelaire children endure. I admit I’m quite pleased to see he shares his mother’s appreciation for dark stories. (Next year, look for some Neil Gaiman on this list…)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling and artist Jim Kay. We continued the tradition we began on the kid’s fifth birthday, giving him the newest illustrated Harry Potter book (this year the second book for his sixth birthday; and yes, we have the third book wrapped to give him on his seventh at the very end of the year). Not only does this schedule allow us to progress through the books slowly, which I’m keen to do because they start to get more intense after the third, it also forces us to enjoy the series over years and years. Not that we wouldn’t anyway; I’ve no doubt he’ll read these books over and over throughout his life, as I have (well, throughout my adult life, that is).

Books the Kid Loved Reading on His Own

  • Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey. Indeed, the kid has read all three books that are out so far in this series. He finds them hilarious, and they totally are.
  • The Notebook of Doom #1: Rise of the Balloon Goons, by Troy Cummings. Scholastic’s Branches imprint publishes series of books aimed at emerging readers, and I’ve yet to find any that are terrible. The kid definitely wants to read more in this particular series, which engaged him thoroughly and creeped him out mildly.
  • Jim Nasium is a Strikeout King, by Marty McKnight. This one was a gift from my in-laws, and the kid was delighted by it. Interestingly, he had his first experience putting down a book when he just couldn’t get into Jim Nasium Is a Soccer Goofball. I had to assure him it’s okay to put down a book unfinished (see the section of books I loved, above, for an idea of how many books I started this year but didn’t get through – this is my shortest-ever list of loved books.)

 

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What I’m Making: A Homespun Ombre Shawl

A few months ago, I picked up two rovings that were dyed in a white-to-black ombre. I fell immediately in love with them, and bought two specifically so I could spin enough yarn to knit a shawl.

Knitted Ombre Shawl from Handspun Yarn – http://kimwerker.com/blog

My original idea was to work in garter stitch, but I quickly realized I wouldn’t quite have enough yarn to make it work, garter stitch being the yarn hog that it is.

So I decided to follow the Maxima Shawl pattern, which is super simple lace based in garter stitch.

I used a 6mm needle for my mostly worsted weight yarn, and knitted the shawl in fits and starts over about a month. I had more than enough yarn to work the called-for number of repeats for the pattern, so I kept going, and then I worked a larger-than-called for garter edging before working the picot bind-off.

Knitted Ombre Shawl from Handspun Yarn – http://kimwerker.com/blog

Of course, I managed to work one too many rows of garter stitch before binding off, and it became clear to me before I was halfway through the picots that there was no way I’d have enough yarn to keep those going. Rather than undoing the bind-off, I just… stopped making the picots. And managed to get to the end with about 5″ of yarn to spare. The shawl’s for me, so who cares if it has only almost half the picots it should have?

When I laid the shawl out to block, I discovered another shining error that I quickly embraced: Somewhere along the line, I misplaced the centre stitch, so the spine of increases veers off to one side after a few repeats. Ah well. You totally can’t tell when I’m wearing it.

So… The shawl is fairly dramatically more imperfect than the imperfection I usually embrace in projects like these, but I love it anyway, and have worn it every day since it dried.

Here’s the project on Ravelry.

Two Most Popular Books ON SALE!

Since it’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all that, I’ve put my two most popular books on sale!

Books

Now’s a great time to snag yourself (or someone you love) a signed copy of Make It Mighty Ugly. I’ll send all purchased books out next week so they should arrive by Christmas, anywhere in the world.

The Year of Making ebook is also on sale. Who needs New Year’s resolutions? There’s no time like today to work on establishing a stress-free creative habit.

Also Classes

Craftsy is also having a huge saleAll classes, including mine, are on sale for less than $18 each.

Huge Black Friday sale on craft classes (and books)!

A Walk Every Day

I’m in the midst of a few months of restricted activity due to some medical shenanigans, and my first question I asked after my doctor told me I need to avoid cardio exercise and lifting more than a grocery bag was, “Can I go for walks? Like, for an hour? Or more?”

Thankfully, his answer was yes. I can walk for as long as I’d like.

Since I got into the habit of running this fall, training for a 5k, one of the things I knew might happen but still delighted me when it did was that I’d come to rely on my runs for my mental health. That hour spent purely in pursuit of a made-up goal became an unexpected highlight of my day. Three or four times a week, I got up and out, and it made everything better. My mind felt clearer, my body felt stronger.

Being forced to take it easy is frustrating and disappointing, especially because I was this close to being ready for the 5k.

But at least I can take long walks. And so I have been, every day.

I walk by myself, but I see these walks as being as important to my general life as artist Austin Kleon describes the walks he takes with his family every morning. (I also can’t make it to Creative Mornings – the talks happen too early to accommodate dropping my kid off at school.)

Not only will my body heal while I stroll around the woods and my neighbourhood, my mind will stay healthy, too.