Local Yarn from Happy Sheep | Grown, Spun & Dyed in Central Germany

Journal

on taking a creative break

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As you may have seen, several weeks ago I took a little “Creative Break” from some of the day to day runnings of R&S (shipping, email and IG mostly) in an attempt to make some time to tackle a few big creative projects that have been on the back burners around here for ages. The results were quite honestly, mixed. I did not accomplish anywhere near what I was hoping to, and the week after I came back I was mostly bogged down playing catch up. All that to say, it’s been a bit quiet around here the past month as I’ve attempted to find some sort of equilibrium in my life and work.

When I started R&S yarn I was working part time from home as a freelancer for a Knitwear Publishing company (I actually started that job in the same month that we launched our yarn back in 2017, which needless to say was absolutely bonkers). For a little over a year I balanced both of those roles along with being a SAHM to my then 2 year old son and all the other responsibilities that come with daily life. A little disclaimer here: for that year my husband did 50% of the childcare and probably something like 90% of our household chores, just to be clear. I learned SO MUCH during my time with that company- about knitting of course but also about time management, working remotely and about work/life priorities (read: why you shouldn’t prioritize your work over your life. I think the moment where I realized I had some boundary issues was when I organized and ran a test knit for a collection of 12 garment & accessory designs while on a 2 week road trip camping in Northern BC.) But anyways, I transitioned out of that role in early 2019 and now work part time retail here in Marburg. My son is in childcare from Mon-Fri, and I squeeze R&S into literally all the cracks of my day to day life. The more I’ve juggled and balanced and (for lack of a better word) hustled these past few months, the heavier my life has felt. Recently I just can’t stop thinking about my life as a boat that’s very quickly taking on water- I need to throw a few things overboard. This creative break was a bit of an eleventh-hour-attempt to do just that and to hopefully bring some joy back into my work here at R&S. Did it work? Honestly, I’m not sure.

What I do know is that during that week I had so many thoughts about my own creative process and how that does (or doesn’t) fit in to the work that’s required to keep this little business running. I wear a lot of hats around here (not all the hats, but many of them) and to be honest, there’s not a lot of time left over for many creative pursuits. In fact, a lot of those creative ideas are the ones that don’t make the most business sense- designing patterns that who knows if anyone will buy, dyeing up mini skeins which quite honestly can’t be sold for very much money, or writing long winded (and non-SEO friendly) blog posts like this one. And yet, it’s projects like this that make me most excited about my work here with R&S.

Now I don’t think for one minute that building and running a business has to be separate from creativity. There are many cases where the best thing for my business is a fun & fulfilling creative project. This is true of every collaboration I’ve ever done with designers, photographers and fellow makers. It’s true of my monthly email newsletter, which I look forward to writing and putting together each month, considering how I can add something of value to your email inboxes. It’s true of the hours I spend knitting projects and samples in Homestead & Origin, both to share about with the community but also for us to wear and love.

But all that being said, there are times when I get bogged down by all the business advice, SEO best practices, Instagram algorithms, post office runs and emails waiting for me in my inbox. There are times when I feel like the expectations others place on me (or that I think they place on me) and the expectations I place on myself are literally fighting with each other for my attention, time, energy and love. And there are times where I, quite honestly, say yes to the wrong things.

The truth is this: one week’s creative break was never going to be enough to turn this sinking ship around. I need to take a proper look at my life and figure out what’s not working, what I need to start saying no to and what I can throw overboard.

So what exactly does all this mean? For starters, September will continue to be a bit quieter before the explosion of Fall. I’m combining the end of Summer & Fall mini kit updates that I had planned into one update coming in October. I’m going to stop beating myself for not sending out the August newsletter on the scheduled date (which I’m quite sure no one noticed anyways!) I’m going to implement “office hours” for IG and work to make my presence there more intentional and less just default scrolling. I’m letting go of one or two of the creative projects that I was hoping to get to during that creative break- they are just not going to happen right now and that’s okay. Also, on a more personal note: I am going to work on casting off all the many projects on my needles and knit monogamously for awhile. (Same goes for books I’m reading and all my other to do lists and goals and projects. Actually in general I am going to try and stop the non-stop multi-tasking, I’m honestly quite bad at it anyways!)

At this point there are ton of things in the works for Fall/Winter: collaborations & kits, patterns, new yarn, new bases and colorways… I will be moving forward with ALL of this. But I am definitely taking the pressure off and easing up on my self-imposed deadlines and launch dates. This will all happen when it happens- when we can make it happen in a way that’s sustainable and life giving and FUN for all those involved. Because that’s what all this was supposed to be about in the first place.

And finally- I am going to be scheduling in more week long creative breaks into my calendar. Hopefully I’ll get better at it with practice.


related resources:

This Ted Talk is so good I watched it three times (and counting!). But in all seriousness, I feel like this sums up so much of what I’ve learned over the past year and a half- about Instagram yes, but also about creativity, collaboration and the sort of projects I want to be a part of.

I’ve found Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Framework incredibly helpful in understanding how I operate as a business owner (I’m an Upholder if you’re curious, which I think is why it’s so damn hard for me to balance this business with my day job and life. If you’ve taken the test I’d love to hear what your tendency is!)

One of my favourite books about the creative process is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Also during my creative break I read the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest and found it to be a literary breath of fresh air.

And if you’re a business owner coming back from a bit of a hiatus (or a brand new business owner!) then the newest episode of the Simple & Season podcast might be of interest to you!