Keeping joy in the effort

This week it's Bess writing to you, and if you're a long time listener of the One Wild Broadcast, you've heard me talk about my robot assistant.

My robot assistant is a scheduling app that keeps me on track while I run my business, freelance, and help other people with their businesses, knit a whole bunch of garments, teach people yoga, and take care of my family.

You may not run a creative business, but if you are here I bet you're a pretty dedicated knitter. A knitting project is a long term commitment, and, like many creative pursuits, there are many hours between the excitement of beginning and the contentment of finishing.

So today, I'm sharing with you about my relationship to joy in my creative practices. And, I'd love to hear from you about your own ways of staying joyful.
A beautiful Rose Gold tank knit with Silk and Linen lays next to blush and peach colored flowers.

A light pink and orange swatch of fabric, featuring a seed stitch alongside a ribbed edging, lays on a tabletop in the sun. Two large orange flowers sit next to it.

This tank continues to patiently wait for i-cord edging. I've got the time, loads of it, so I can do it when it feels right. (AKA This week, before I send it to Tech Edit, but after the kids go to grandma's.)

It's not you, it's knitting

This is not a great hobby for impatient people. You may have thought you were impatient because of your excitement to just FINISH the thing, however, I'd implore you to tell a non-knitting friend how long you spent on your last project. About half the time I have this conversation the response I receive is, "I'm not patient enough for all that."

Turns out, if you're finishing garments you are likely pretty patient.

Sometimes it's as easy as reminding myself that I am, in fact, quite patient and I find a renewed sense of satisfaction while working on a long term project.

It also helps when I remind myself that I can do something else. While I do spend a lot of time knitting, I'm also pretty invested in a certain Sims 4 family, and I quite enjoy Alice Hoffman books. (Taking recommendations.)

It also quite helps that I work far ahead of my deadlines. I don't like knitting under pressure, so I plan ahead and give myself the same amount of time I'd give UX Knitters when I'm making samples, at least usually!

For those of you who love UX Knitting, I'd still encourage you to make sure you don't overbook yourself! There's very little that robs me of my joy the way that pressure does, she likes a leisurely life y'all!

Three skeins of yarn - one pink, one brown, one blue - lay on a pink couch cushion. A bundle of wildflowers have been placed next to them.

Knitting is not eating your vegetables

No one is making you finish. Even if you are a One Wild UX Knitter, Jen and I would rather hear from you that it's not the right project than realize you felt forced to finish something you didn't enjoy making. Really.

This past week, as I've been doing the stepmom at Christmas thing and bringing joy to the little faces in my life, I've also been kind of stuck myself. I know what my next cast on is meant to be, I actually already know what my next four cast ons will be. Yet, I found that I wasn't excited to get going on this next project.

This particular project was meant to be a long sleeve tee for Late Summer in stockinette stitch, knit at a lovely breathable gauge. So, I could have forced myself to get going on it; I just didn't really want to start.

Instead, I decided to swatch and pretend like I didn't know this was supposed to be a stockinette tee - I asked myself, "what looks like stockinette, but isn't?"

I found my answer, friends. Bedjacket stitch is stockinette, however, you change between large and small needles each row - creating a beautiful fabric that drapes and breathes. I'm so excited about it.

There is still some experimenting to do, and it may be that this pattern ends up being knit in stockinette. Wherever the process lands me, taking the time to detour has brought back the fun of it for me. It doesn't feel like a waste of time, it actually feels like the exact right thing to do.

What am I sharing with you? You can experiment infinitely. You can abandon one idea and head off in another direction. Your robot assistant can't tell you what to do... or at least, you don't have to listen.

As a highly functioning person with a lot of executive dysfunction, I can surely say that deadlines and systems (and actually sticking to them!) are an extremely important part of my creative process. Seriously, the more organized I've become through my life the more I've found myself with the time and space (it's literally scheduled) for play and experimentation.


Follow your heart and your passions when they arise. Frog that half-finished sweater, or put it in the naughty bin for a few years and finish it when you feel like it. Being too rigid is just as bad for your creative process as being too chaotic. There's a middle ground, that's where the joy lives.

How do you keep the joy in your making process? I'd love to know! Please leave a comment and tell me!

Keeping joy in the effort
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