I was rearranging some things in the studio and happened to notice that I haven’t made any socks on the sock machine since February. The first sock of a pair is still dangling from the machine. It might be whispering that it would like its mate, but I haven’t been listening.
It made me think a bit about the shape of the work I do. If I were a maker of widgets then each day in the studio would be all about the widget making. Oh, there would probably be paperwork days and other chores like that, but mostly it would be about making those widgets.
But I don’t make the same thing over and over. Well, let me clarify. I don’t make the same one thing over and over. I weave scarves and rarely replicate. I weave dishtowels. They’re more likely to be same-ish because I put on enough warp for about 8 at a time and though I might change the weft color, I don’t always change the pattern mid-warp.
What drive the shape of my work is deadlines, both real and estimated. The real deadlines are most obvious when I take on commission work. I just finished knitting these Christmas stockings.
The original inquiry was back in November, to be done in time for last Christmas and I had to pass because there was no room in my schedule. The client decided to hire me to make them for this year and happily I was able to accommodate her. Receiving the project in January with a June deadline was no problem. In March I accepted a commission of 4 knitting projects with a deadline of November. And in April, a sweater to knit for a repeat client with a deadline somewhere in the fall. Two of the 4-project group are on the needles. Very different projects (hat in worsted weight yarn, lace scarf in fingering) with very different calls on my attention.
Estimated deadlines come into the mix as I’m thinking ahead a few months. In the midst of the knitting I’m weaving scarves for the galleries in Montpelier and Lyme and more scarves and dish towels for my farmers market booth. I’ve got a good stock of socks right now, which is why the machine has been idle, but I’ve got shows lined up for September and October for which I’ll need plenty of inventory in order to feel comfortable.
When I walk into the studio to work, there’s pretty much always more than one thing in progress or to do. Sometimes I choose my project wisely and choose the one with the nearing deadline. Sometimes mood drives my choice. I might have planned a weaving day, but feel more like curling up with knitting. Ideally moods and deadlines coincide. When they don’t, you can be sure a “what was I thinking?” blog post won’t be far behind.