Welcome back to another installment of the SGY Roundtable blog post series! In this bi-weekly column, we want to share with you the current discussions and thoughts of some of the fibre artists around the studio.
In our last discussion, we talked about what we’ve been working on this spring. Whether they have been knitting up studio samples, scouring dirty fleece, or quilting up a storm, my friends at SweetGeorgia have been busy-busy-busy! Now, I know all my co-workers have been working very hard here at the studio, and we all have other hobbies and pastimes unrelated to to fibre arts (gasp!)… so how do they managed to get so much done?
So this week, the topic we brought to the table was…
How do you make time for crafting? Do you have any tips for squeezing more knitting into your day?
“Time is on my side, yes it is…”
Ah, if only it were true. How appropriate that this roundtable comes up the week that most of the studio staff will be gone to TNNA, after having prepared all manner of new goodies and samples and patterns to exhibit at the show. A lot of time spent on fibre craft related material – very little time to spend actually crafting!
I’m not going to TNNA this cycle but that hasn’t helped me get home before 10:30 pm every night for the last week. I’ve had family and friends visiting and while they are amenable to me knitting at dinner and pub tables (I finished a whole mitten last night in the four hours I spent out on Commercial Drive!), I’m not exactly able to spin with my wheel or weave on anything bigger than a Zoom Loom while out and about.
But the portability of small projects and small tools is my personal key to being able to find time for crafting. Most days I drive to work at the studio since we’re in an industrial area and I don’t have to pay for parking, but when I work shifts at my second job I transit. Since my shifts are at odd hours, I am rarely on the Skytrain during rush hour which means I can get a seat and have at least half an hour of solid knitting time. This week I am really looking forward to being able to relax and let the train do all the work while I get to work on my projects.
Though I’ve spun on a drop spindle for five years now, I only began spinning on buses and trains this last summer. I’d always heard of other spinners drop spindling on their commute (Grace during Spinzilla, for example!) but I was oddly shy about doing it myself. Part of it was that I was using heavier spindles that needed to be rolled off my thigh to get the twist going, which took up space one doesn’t always have on a crowded transit bus. Once I switched to a lighter spindle that I could flick with my fingers to build twist I found I was able to spin without banging into my seatmates. I also find it easier to spin while standing, so a more crowded train is actually a boon and I’m able to spin longer threads at a time.
While finding time to craft means that my loved ones are used to me knitting away regardless of whether I’m watching a show or sitting in the passenger seat in a car, the times I’m unable to craft at all are useful! Taking breaks from working with your hands is essential regardless of whether you only have time to knit in twenty minute spurts or have a dedicated evening or weekend to finish a project. A recent bout of tendonitis kept me from knitting or spinning for a week, and I’m grateful it only took seven days for my wrists to recover. Stopping to stretch every twenty minutes or so is enormously important! Both my hobbies and my paid work are rough on my wrists and being unable to work because of an injury would be catastrophic for most of us.
As much as I try to squeeze in crafting time every available minute, the hours and days without allow me to rest and recover so I will be able to spend decades, rather than just a few more years, annoying fellow commuters with my drop spindle.
The way I make time for crafting is fairly simple, and it involves a Method.
I call it the Cuckoo Massacre Method.
In the before-time, in the long long ago, my body decided that it needs crafting more than it needs any other form of spare-time spending. More than yoga, or gardening, or socializing, or anything, it needs that satisfaction of creating something – regardless of whether or not it makes any kind of financial sense, or if it has any discernible purpose.
And so, like that single cuckoo brat in someone else’s nest that grows up to take out all the other chicks one by one, mafia style, while mom there hasn’t got the slightest clue what’s going on because the outrageously oversized murderer has enticed her with his ethereal voice – so too has the leisure-portion of my existence been taken over by a single hobby, sneakily enough so that I’m still under the impression that it’s all good. The yoga and the gardening and the socializing are gone, but it’s okay, because I make pretty things.The Method is therefore very effective, and ensures that I don’t need to knit on the bus, or do needlepoint during red lights, or spin while multitasking with 17 other things. When I come home, I craft, and it makes me happy – and most importantly, my attention is undivided.
That said, the Method also negates the existence of kids, or pets, or other grown-up responsibilities – but being firmly entrenched in the developmental level where walking around without pants and watching fifteen episodes of Spongebob in a row is what I usually choose to do over cooking or cleaning or doing taxes, I’m okay with it.
The death-match between the various types of crafting, however, is a completely different story.
I try to incorporate crafting into my life every day. Most often that special time takes place in the evening. I started knitting to fill a void left by video games (I needed to quit playing Eve Online on my computer every single day after work). Knitting naturally filled up that time slot. Now after dinner, instead of watching television, my husband and I relax by listening to audiobooks and crafting. He paints fantastic little metal men and I work on new pattern designs or play on my spinning wheel. It always feels like time well spent with my favorite human.
I used to spin every morning before I went to work as well – this was back in the days when I worked on a computer all day long and I craved a tactile way to express myself. I would wake up at 6 am every weekday morning to ensure I could spend one hour knitting and one hour spinning before the rat race began. I can happily announce that I do not feel that compulsion anymore – I find my job here at SGY leaves me fulfilled and satisfied with my fibrous endeavours. Now I try to spend my morning hours exercising instead… probably a healthier use of time!
Speaking of exercising… when I can’t run outdoors, I have to hit the gym… which bores me. I hate it. It makes me whiny. It feels like a waste of time. However, I have learned how to un-waste that time – by putting some knitting needles in my hands. Nothing too big, nothing too complicated… but it’s amazing what you can knit on a stationary bike, or walking up an incline on a treadmill!
I don’t own a car, so I take public transit or walk everywhere. Even though I have drop-spindled while walking before – slowly and carefully! – I mostly get around on the bus or Skytrain, always with knitting in tow. It’s amazing how a few minutes every day can add up to a finished project. I can manage to keep my patience waiting for a late bus when I have some wool to occupy my attention. I feel wonderful claiming otherwise lost time and turning it into a hat or pair of socks.
Make your fibre your traveling companion. Spin in the ferry. Knit on the airplane (yes, you are allowed to bring your needles onboard). If you don’t get carsick, try it on the road – from the passenger seat please! I have knit an entire shawl over the course of a long weekend – in fact, I finished a Buchanan shawl, cast on to bind off, in one quick trip to Victoria over the Easter holiday. Haul it out during tea with friends. Learn to chat and knit at the same time; if your project is just garter stitch, this can be very easy to do. I can now watch a movie and knit at the same time; however, reading still alludes me. I need to look at my work too much.
In summary: my biggest “make time for knitting” tip is to simply take it with you. Bring it out every chance you get. It’s soothing, relaxing, and you feel great when you have completed a project so fast. I never leave the house without knitting. Even when I hiked the Inca Trail with my husband, I kept a work-in-progress Daybreak shawl in my backpack the entire way and worked on it every evening. Now I have a shawl filled with memories from every step of my journey. **happy sigh**.
I heard all the horror stories. New moms don’t have time to shower or wash their hair. New moms don’t have time to eat. New moms will be nursing up to an hour at a time, twelve times a day, so there’s little time for anything else except diaper changes and maybe a bit of sleep…
Before baby Russell arrived, our friends who had already had children gave us some advice: figure out what it is that you absolutely need in your life to feel relaxed, calm, grounded, whatever, and make sure you find a way to include that in your schedule after the baby comes. Maybe it’s running or yoga or an hour to zone out in front of the TV… whatever it is, make sure you get it. For me, making things has kept me more balanced and less likely to freak out at little challenges. When Russell was going through his Purple-crying phase (inconsolable crying every night for two to four hours at a time), rocking him in the Ergo while cutting fabric and pressing half-square triangles kept me from melting down myself.
From the moment the baby’s eyes blink open and he starts giving us big toothless smiles (6:40 am this morning), it’s go-time. From about 7 am to 7 pm, he’s rolling over, scooting himself backwards, and chewing on anything he can get his hands on. Russell takes a few cat naps during the day and I spend his precious nap times working on emails while watching at the video baby monitor and the sleep timer on my iPhone, waiting for the “baby alarm” to go off. One designer I used to work with used to get up at 4 am to work on her own stuff before her baby woke for the day. Personally, sleep is too important to me to cut short like that. The only real dedicated time I can find is after Russell is down for the night and I get a couple of hours to myself.
On the rare occasion of a longer nap (anything longer than 30 minutes), I might be able to squeeze in a quick bit of knitting. And anytime we are all in the car together and my husband is driving, I’ll always have a knitting project with me. All those stitches — a few here, a few there — can add up and pretty soon you get a finished shawl.
Given one or maybe two hours a day where my hands are free, I have to really be kind to myself and allow myself to use that time to knit or spin or sew. Because honestly, I could use those limited hours for so many things, including catching up on work, cleaning the house, or taking a shower. I think the key is to just carve out that time, make it sacred, use it to craft, and consider it part of your “self-care”. It’s just as important as eating healthy and getting rest!
That’s it for this round! It’s so interesting to see how everyone makes use of the small amounts of spare time they have and how we order our priorities to make sure we squeeze in time for our hobbies. How do you make time for crafting? Please share with us on here on the blog, or on Twitter and Instagram! Stay tuned for for our next topic, to be delivered to you two weeks from today!