2023 was a banner year for me in my production of art for my small business and personal projects. I had several contests I made entries for, and won 25 ribbons, including a few first place wins (two of which were at the KY State Fair). I also took part in the worldwide fiber arts event, the Tour de Fleece, and knit, crocheted, and spun my little heart out. After the State Fair, I took a rest before working on my Wool of the Week hand washed, hand spun, hand dyed, hand knit Breed Study sweater project, and my handmade Christmas. In all, I completed what I am declaring as 230 separate projects (the projects that were not separate were the “batch projects”). A lot of the batch projects were things I did for my farmers market booth. Now, as I went through my project list, I found one that was missing from the state fair that I did not list, so listed it, bringing 229 to 230–although…. At the end of the year I was quite physically ill which made me a little delirious… and yet still continued work work working… and there may have been one or two breeds of yarn that I spun that I did not record. So between 230-232 projects for 2023.
I did not push myself to complete a certain number of projects this year. In fact, lots of people asked me how I did that many projects. Well, first of all, it is one of my jobs, though I do fill in the cracks with other gig work to make it all work. So, like any professional, I take my job seriously. Not only did I make all of these projects, but I felt most of them required substantial effort and showcased much of what I would call my best professional works. I joked this year, with all the Barbie hoopla, I was Professional Knitter Barbie, but now I’m owning it. I am a professional fiber artist.
Sometimes I feel weird calling what I do “crafting”. There is a difference in our cultural understanding of modern day crafts and modern day arts. Most modern American people, I gather, would think of kids crafts when one mentions “crafts”. Crafts sounds cheesy and cheap, dinky, silly, and ultimately pointless. The term craft really describes “a type of artistic skill”, and related to what professional skill you were known for. But I am choosing to embrace the term “crafting” as part of my professional title.
My top crafting categories this year were natural and acid dye (42), knitting (41 projects), and spinning (51-54 skeins). (NOTE: I am counting FINISHED projects; unfinished projects, no matter how close to being finished, were NOT COUNTED.) This matters a lot when you put 6 full weeks of work into something that does not count in the “finished” list. *cough YO-YO Quilt *cough 😂
I started my year creating a line of naturally dyed fabrics, and did some sewing projects with them. I ended it during skein after skein of my hand spun yarn for the Wool of the Week breed study sweater project.
I entered 42 projects into the Kentucky State Fair, 5 into the KY Sheep and Fiber Festival contest, and 4 into the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair Fiber Arts Contest.
My ribbon I was most proud of was my first place in Hand Spun Yarn Garment in the KY State Fair. As for my favorite project…. I’ll never be able to pick!
I was thrilled to have completed my first sweater this year! I took a class to learn the theory and fit, did a few mini versions, did a few baby versions, and finally completed one in acrylic. Did I follow a pattern? Nope… did I end up with what I thought I would? Nope! Do I like it? Nope!!! I LOVE it!!! I learned a lot with it, and am overall very happy. Are there things I will do differently? Yes, I will not start off by saying: I have to just make the biggest size ever. Then, the collar is big… it makes for a very stylish sweater, however, not the most practical sweater. I still wear it every day 😂 it’s acrylic so whatever!
I knit five adult pairs of socks and have worked up the courage to just go ahead and wear them with shoes and darn the holes as needed. Also, learned about using a thicker yarn for the toe where it gets the holes duh.
One of my goals this year was to use what I make. Every time I leave the house now, I hear Dennis Feinstein in my head saying “woah woah woah, boys, let’s scent up” with the perfume from Parks and Rec—except for me I say “suit up” and I go choose what accessories I’m gonna wear. By the end of the year, I organized my outerwear dresser to have my top half-drawer being the manufactured goods accessories, then the entire second drawer being my hand knit accessories. (Reminder, I just knit my first sweater this year—garments are sweaters, shirts, pants, skirts etc; socks, gloves, scarves, hats, and shawls are accessories.) ((So it gives me ideas for what items I NEED to make for myself in the future)).
I also wanted to use the yarn I make. I made 53ish skeins of yarn this year (and more that were commercially milled yarn that I dyed), I can’t just have 53 finished yarns and just be like yup I make yarn. You have to do something with it. So, I wove with it. I wove with one of the yarns I was proudest of ever making, my Neon Shinjuku Beehive art yarn. I still have some work to do to make the projects I used that for be finished to a suitable state… because that was one of the projects I actually wasn’t super happy with.
I try not to settle for anything less than my best with my projects, because when I think about my projects, I think about, plan for, and strive to create a project that I and or others will love for its entire (hopefully long) life of use, and won’t just not feel bad about casually throwing it away one day. I want to create things it would be offensive and sad to get rid of. This doesn’t mean that everything I make has to be awarded the blue ribbon, but that everything I make, I feel like I did my best work of my own skill, and will be happy with as previously stated. I use good quality materials, and usually take as much time as I need. When I say that I didn’t stress myself to get this many projects done, that’s not exactly true. I did stress myself occasionally. I strive every day to put forth good quality, beautiful art. I plan out a blue zillion projects. Shoot for that moon, and land among those stars.
Last year I completed 96 projects. That’s a lot. Even though it was a lot, I felt bad I didn’t get to 100. Was I even trying to get to a specific number? No. But people are always hoping they could have done more. Even if they’re Uber proud of what they’ve done, there’s always that one thing they could have also done but just didn’t complete all the way yet, or decided it wasn’t actually necessary but it would have been cool tho. Like this year, I’m not chuffed about the amount of work I got done. There’s a lot of stuff though that I actually had hoped to get to but just didn’t have time for. Some big stuff. A lot of stuff. It was completely unrealistic the amount of dreams I had planned, and it did end in a dramatic physical illness that I neglected to take action on because I thought there were things and people more important. You have to take care of yourself in the end. After I admitted I wasn’t well, I gave myself the rest of the year to recover, and have extended that grace into the new year. After the successes of last year, I feel like I can allow myself to focus my talents more while knowing that I’m in my stride. I know that I create good work. If I work hard, I can do great things.
With that I feel ready to officially start my 2024 production year. Let the crafting begin!
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.