I filmed this tutorial well over a year ago but forgot to put it here on my site! 🙄
Beginning a crochet project in the round with an adjustable ring means there won’t be a hole in the very centre of your project. (Sometimes you want that hole, but sometimes you really don’t.)
It’s a very useful technique to master, and it’s super simple. If you crochet amigurumi or other kinds of toys in the round, if you make non-lacy hats, or anything else where you want to eliminate the hole in the centre, the adjustable ring will be your best friend.
Last year, my kid’s school district decided to shift their two-week winter break by a week. Instead of it starting the third week of December and ending just after New Year’s, it now starts as close to Christmas Day as possible and goes through the first week in January.
It is the worst.
I’ve decided my 2019 Year of Making (it’s my sixth YoM, and I’m kind of incapable of even making sense of that) will be dedicated to putting in the time to learn new things. Not just to try out things I’ve never done, but to put in the time to really learn.
Of course, my kid’s stupid winter break has eaten up the first week of the month in a mess of playdates, errands, work, and many children coming in and out of my house.
Alas, my fantasy plan to dive into learning a new skill on January 1st was sacrificed for making whatever it was I was making, without a plan. (Which didn’t totally suck, because what I made was gingerbread cookies with the kid, everything bagels, some knitting, some doodles.)
The first thing I want to spend time learning: Hand lettering. After following along as lovely newsletter reader Kat worked through lettering drills last year, I had signed up for the Show Me Your Drills program, then never did it. But I have all the lessons so I’m all set to go.
Only thing is, the daily exercises are organized by day of the week, starting on a Monday. Obviously, this is hardly something that needs to be stuck to – who cares if I start on a Wednesday and cross out all the days of the week on the exercises? But it did take me a couple of days after New Year’s to make it to the art supply store to get the right kind of paper. And then I was excited about a new knitting project, so…
This is to say, it’s January 6th and I haven’t started my drills yet.
There was a time when I would have tossed my whole plan out the window because of this. I would have thought, “Well, I missed January 1st, and the 2nd and 3rd-6th for that matter, so I should just call it quits now and wait for another right time to start. Maybe February 1st, or maybe New Year’s Day 2020.”
That time, though, has passed. Because waiting is no way to start something, and dates are arbitrary.
I’ve decided I don’t want to rewrite the days of the week on my drills, so I’ll be starting my hand-lettering practice on Monday. Good old January 7th. Twenty-eight days of drills don’t care when they’re done. I do care that I do them at all. So I’m going to do them.
For years, I’ve talked to people who struggle like I do with schedules and time management and failing before we start. I didn’t set out to have a part of my work be a focus on habits and habit formation, but it’s become one of my favourite topics. Probably because when I finally figured out what I needed to do to make a habit for myself, I realized it’s more about what I didn’t need to do, and sharing that with others is deeply satisfying.
Here’s what you don’t need to do to make yourself a creative habit:
You do not need to start on January 1st, or the first of any month, or on a Monday or on your birthday. You may start any time.
You do not stop if you miss a day. Everybody misses a day. We are human, and a huge part of being human involves unexpected things derailing our well laid plans. Being human is not about keeping every single juggling ball in the air at all times. Being human means letting some non-fatal balls drop when needed, and not throwing those balls away once they’ve touched the floor, but just picking them up and dusting them off and tossing them into the air again.
You do not need to follow anyone else’s rules. You are your own emcee at this party. If there are certain constraints that have tripped you up in the past, toss ’em. If you need a different kind of structure than what anyone else has provided you, set yourself the rules you need.
You do not require talent, skill, the divine touch of the art gods. Just make stuff, who cares.
You do not need to finish what you start if you hate making it. You are free to toss things aside and move on to something else that actually makes you happy.
You deserve to feel happy about what you make. You deserve to let yourself off the hook and not hold yourself to an impossible standard. You deserve to decide that success is most certainly something to strive for, and that success can still be messy, ugly, or profoundly imperfect.
In other words, success should not, under any circumstance, equal perfect. Perfect is dumb, and perfect is uninteresting. Be smart, be interesting. Be rough around the edges, be grateful for the messes you make.
January 1st, 2019, has come and gone. If you started on a Year of Making already, good for you. If you haven’t started yet, who cares. Start today. Start right now.
Get Some Help Committing to a Daily Creative Practice
The Daily Making Jumpstart LIVE begins on Tuesday, January 8th, and registration closes on Monday! Join me and a lovely group of fellow adventurers in a two-week workshop to get your habit going. (Spoiler: There will be a lot of messiness, and a lot of perfection-is-dumb, and a lot of fun.) We’ll use Zoom to hang out by video ten times throughout the fourteen-day Jumpstart (and videos will be recorded, because who can manage to attend ten live video sessions?!). We’ll have a private Facebook group for sharing wins and losses and struggles and triumphs (eventually, I will find something other than Facebook that loads of people will love to use, but for now, it’s Facebook).
A Year of Making can start any damn day of the year. You missed January 1st. Who cares?! And don’t be alarmed by the idea of committing to 365 days of making. Twist your brain around so you can think of this as one tiny baby step each day, and that’s it. Check out what people are already making, declare your intention in the Facebook group and join a supportive community that’ll nudge you on in all the best of ways, and let yourself off the hook when it comes to perfection, rigidity, rules and judgment.
PS This was originally written for my Friday newsletter. Get it here!
I started off the last new year intending to again document my daily making by posting a photo every day. I… didn’t really follow through with that.
2018 was my fifth Year of Making, and though I didn’t post very regularly about what I made, not a day passed when I wasn’t grateful for the habit I formed back in 2014.
Since I completed that first YoM, I’ve not ever felt like I wasn’t or couldn’t be creative. I’ve always known that even if I miss a day, it didn’t take away from my ability to create nor from the satisfaction I derive from making sure that creating is a priority in my life.
So throughout the last very eventful year – during which I recovered and recuperated from an unexpected health mess, worked a day job, filmed a new class, taught at two conferences, and generally lived my life – I rolled with the punches and never once lost sight of how important making things is to me.
Now that I’m healthy (knock wood) and back to freelancing while I work on my own writing and teaching, I’m committed to again keeping physical creativity at the fore of my 2019.
I’m thinking – not promising, because that would be dumb – that I’ll finally commit the time to learn how to hand-letter. And maybe do some more cooking even though I hate it.
Anyway. Are you with me?
Here’s what a Year of Making entails:
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!) (And if you miss a day? Who cares? Just pick up where you left off.)
That’s it .
Use the hashtag #yearofmaking2019 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 myFacebook 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.
FLASH SALE! Get 20% off till Jan. 2nd (no code needed)
Happy New Year! ‘Tis the time to get real about your creative habit – without stress or judgment. Right? Of course right.
Have you been desperately wanting to prioritize your creativity but feel like no matter what you try you just can’t manage to follow through? Maybe you’ve tried a 100 Days challenge, or tried making a certain kind of thing every week, but then you miss a day and then another and, well…
Or maybe you used to have a rock-solid creative practice, but over time it’s eroded and you’d really like to commit the time and effort to getting it back into shape?
The Daily Making Jumpstart LIVE is a two-week online workshop with daily prompts and exercises to get your creative habit up to speed – no stress involved.
The next session begins on January 8th, 2019, and includes 10 live video hang-outs (that will be recorded, because we’re all busy and who can attend ten live video sessions anyway?).
Approaching a new year is a giant blazing invitation to get our priorities straight, whether we love or loathe setting New Year’s resolutions. This list includes all kinds of things I truly love and that will help any sort of creative adventurer prioritize their creativity and making stuff in 2019. (Some of these are affiliate links.)
Gifts to Spark Imagination & Making
For More Books, Kits, Tools & Materials for Your Favourite Creative Adventurer ↡
Summer is for road trips – crafty road trips – and one of the things I love most when a trip is looming is planning the project(s) I’ll bring with me.
(Ok, sometimes by “favourite” I mean “most stressful.”)
It’s a deserted-island kind of situation, planning a crafty project for a trip. It doesn’t even matter if I’m traveling to attend a craft-related conference – during the packing stage it always feels as if I’ll never be near a craft store again in my life, and so I must pack everything I might possibly need. And not only for the obvious project I’m already working on, but also for the three or four other projects I must bring in case I get stranded at an airport for seven months and finish my in-progress project on the first day.
At the beginning of summer, with camping trips looming, I feel a special kind of packing excitement/anxiety. Because in addition to the traveling part, there are the very specific considerations of lots of time spent in a cramped moving vehicle and lots of time spent outdoors.
Obviously, crochet and knitting projects are my general jam, and they’re great for lots of time in the car. (Also obviously, I never travel with blanket projects. Way too big, way too much stuff, guaranteed to get dirty and/or ruined.)
And so I always travel with my knitting-needle kit and a variety of crochet hook sizes. You never know when you’ll need a replacement, or when you’ll pop into a yarn shop in a far-off town and simply have to start a project with the locally made yarn you discovered.
If I’m going away for more than a few days, I always get it into my head that I’ll want to keep a travel journal, or at least add stuff into my bullet journal. (Do I? Rarely. But I always plan to do this anyway.) So I keep a small pouch with double-sided tape in it, and I always bring a few of my favourite pens and also a variety of markers or gel pens.
This summer, I have it in mind to make some proper friendship bracelets. I was a fiend for friendship bracelets when I was a kid, especially when I was away at overnight camp. They’re so much fun to make, so easily portable, and so satisfying to give away.
And since I’m going to bring embroidery floss for bracelets, I’ll also prep an embroidery project. Or, now that I think of it, I’ll pack up the sampler I started last summer.
I occasionally write a business column for the Canadian edition of the Costco Connection magazine. Looks like the Back to School issue is already out!
Everything I know about managing a big writing project I learned in 7th grade. Read about it right here.
I didn’t have much space in there to explain what it was in 7th grade that made such an impact, though.
That was the year, as I say in the article, that I was assigned my first proper science report (it was about starfish). The kicker was that the report was marked both by my science teacher and by my English teacher. Each student received two grades – one on the science content and one on the writing.
I’m not sure if my teachers’ goal was to make a life-changing impact, but their decision to team up sure conveyed the importance of good writing, no matter the topic. At the age of twelve, I learned very well that writing is not only an English-class thing. Writing is everything.
When I wrote Make It Mighty Ugly, I used colour-coded index cards just like I had for my starfish report when I was a tween. Several times as I was writing the book, I spread the cards out all over the floor and moved them around to get the flow of information just right. And just like when I was in grade 7, I’d then pile them up in order, take one from the top, and write and write and write.
If this is your first time here, hello and welcome! I write about creativity and making things, and it’s my firm belief that using our hands and imagination together is a key to a happy life, whether we make masterpieces or total messes (or both). Subscribe to my newsletter to fuel your creative life no matter what you make (or want to make).
I was thrilled to debut my new Email for Personal Connection class at Camp Thundercraft! This is the first in a new series of classes I’m preparing that focus in one way or another on writing.
There are loads of courses and tutorials for how to set up an email list, how to build your list and how to get into the nitty-gritty of using any of the wide variety of email platforms, but there aren’t many resources out there about what to actually say in your emails.
Email for Personal Connection walks small business owners through the steps of identifying their most salient and important stories – the big ones that define their business and the small ones that provide peeks behind the scenes – and then establishing an editorial calendar and clear workflow to make the work of prepping and sending emails low-stress and high-impact.
Look for an online version of the class in coming weeks!
Now, for the event itself. Camp Thundercraft is a retreat for indie craft business owners, held at an actual summer camp on Vashon Island, near Seattle. Campers sleep in cabins and otherwise enjoy the camp setting, bordering on both the woods and water. Even in the pouring rain, it was such a welcome getaway to be out in nature this early in the spring. (And the food was amazing.)
For a relatively small retreat, there’s a huge variety of classes and programming running the gamut of business topics and including lots of hands-on crafting. I took both Blair Stocker’s class on sashiko embroidery and Yuko Miki‘s class on block printing on fabric. I’ve long wanted to try sashiko (man, are my stitches uneven!), and even though I’ve done lots of stamp carving over the years, I learned a ton about printing on fabric, specifically, in Yuko’s amazing class.
I so enjoyed this retreat, and I’m already looking forward to going back next year.
I am not a fan of the word guru. Guru is what we call people who know a lot about something but don’t have a job title related to it, or who work in or around that topic in a variety of ways but aren’t defined by any one. I’m often described as a “crochet guru.” (If I’m asked for input on the matter, I usually request they just go with author or instructor.)
So I especially love that when she wrote about me in the Holiday 2017 issue of Vogue Knitting, Lee Ann Dalton called me “crochet genius.”
I mean, I’m not a genius, but I’m not a guru either. I’ll take genius any day.
Which is all to say: You guys, Lee Ann Dalton wrote about me, and specifically about craftivism, in the Holiday 2017 issue of Vogue Knitting. She also called me an “intrepid Canadian craftivist.” I’ll take that one happily.
I meant to mention this when the issue was still on newsstands. Um, four months ago. But better late than never, right? Maybe back issues are still available?
I have never been excited about a new class like I’m excited about this one! Zigzag Crochet: A Beginner’s Guide to Ripples & Waves is all about my absolute favourite kind of project to crochet. (Uh, obviously, zigzags, ripples, waves, chevrons – whatever you call them.) Come learn how to bend stripes into cool shapes, from spiky chevrons to gentle waves. With texture or lace, and always with colour!
I designed the class around a baby-blanket pattern made in machine-washable yarn (as every baby blanket should be), and I walk you through the project from beginning to end.
There’s loads more in class, too! Learn how to use a zigzag pattern to make a project of any size, from a scarf to a king-size blanket. Explore how yarn weight and gauge affect the size of your projects, play with loads of colour, and learn how to handle all the pesky ends you have to deal with when you work in stripes. Discover how to make a wide variety of patterns, including the feather and fan pattern I’m using to make this epic scarf, and learn how to introduce variations into patterns so you can alter the way they look.