in which we talk about fraud and feelings

hugo, thoughtful

I have zero shame when I tell you that this picture of Hugo thoughtfully gazing off into the distance has absolutely nothing to do with anything I’ve written about in this post.

There’s a tenderloin going in the slow cooker, I have a marshmallow root salve bubbling on the double boiler, both dogs are gently snoring in various corners of the living room, and there is a good chunk of time between now and my next business call. FINALLY: a little time to myself.

I’d thought this would be a quieter week, and with the snow it’s not as busy as I’d wanted it to be, but I also managed to come up with a maybe- possibly- this- could- be- a- thing- idea for a shawl, too, so I’ve made more work for myself to fill any bonus time that might have been sitting around. AS I TEND TO DO, actually. I’ve hit my lettermo goals so far, though, and that’s a plus, even if I’m only a week in so far. (Email me your address and I will send you a card, a letter, or a tiny painting, who knows? Live in the adventure.)

A bottle of passion fruit seed oil arrived in the post yesterday, along with some black raspberry seed oil (a sample, but really nice stuff). I’ll be adding the passion fruit oil to my face oils tonight to see how I like it; I have a mix of hemp, castor, tea tree, rosemary and a few other things that I’ve been using for the last four months or so that I really love, but I wanted to give it a little more oomph. (I’ve also seen it sold as maracuja oil, mostly when Tarte is trying to get $50 a bottle for the stuff. Don’t pay that price, though. That’s silly- person buying. Pick it up for $13 on GoW like the rest of us hippies.) I’d forgotten how much I enjoy making all the things we use on our bodies. Working mostly at home, it’s dead simple to throw ingredients into a slow cooker, come back, pour things into molds or a mason jar. It’s been good, and it’s been making us smell good, too. Not all of my hobbies have such nice side benefits. (I’m looking at you, silk dyeing.)

Someone recently told me that I know how to make a lot of interesting things. It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me— being a person with useful skills, someone who is capable in multiple ways, that has been very important to me for most of my life. I’ve found that having a variety of abilities has served me well; there is so much work that needs to be done, and not everyone is looking in the same places.

I was talking my friend D last week, someone else who does freelance, hustling, grab- it- as- it- comes work. I have an opportunity to sell a couple of the things I make locally— malas, lotion bars, maybe salves, that sort of thing, and I could start teaching meditations any minute too (although I really should start that after I’ve finished with the Craftsy course, I want to take on one Big Thing at a time). I was hanging out at D’s house last week, carefully not watching a marathon of Groundhog Day, when we started talking about Impostor Syndrome, which we’d both been feeling a bit lately.

It’s tricky. Here’s how it works: People want a Thing. They want us to do or make a Thing: even better, they value said Thing so highly that they want to PAY us to make/ do the Thing. We are good at making and/ or doing said Thing, and that’s where stuff actually gets weird; we are so practiced, so trained, or just so at ease with making or doing that Thing that we feel a certain kind of way about taking money for doing or making that Thing. That certain kind of way can be different for everybody, but it isn’t good at all and it seems to revolve around a sense of falseness & fraud: you don’t have the right to be charging money (or as much money) for your Thing, mostly because you either:  A.) Enjoy the work, B.) It comes easily to you, or the usual answer— C.) All of the above.

When a maker starts telling me that they’re feeling this way, I remind them that they’ve worked so hard for this moment: people want their Things! They have so much experience! Their training has monetary value! The money is waiting for them and their work. Do that work and get paid! It’s a fair exchange and people want to engage in it. When I’m sitting in the middle of that moment myself, though, it’s almost impossible to pull my head out. There are days when it feels strange and almost like cheating the system (which system?) to ask for money for something I do out of pleasure, especially when large parts of our society devalue art, particularly anything considered domestic. Artisan work and handcrafts are perpetually undervalued and seen as unskilled, as they are perceived as the work of the lower classes or women; these are my areas of especial interest.

When I first started dyeing, I was nearly giving my yarn away, I underpriced so badly. Part of that was not knowing my market but really, I mostly just felt enormous guilt asking to be compensated for work that I enjoyed. It’s better now— I don’t feel that way all the time now, only in patches. Those patches, though; they’re a bag of bullshit.

Reminder to self (and all of you, too): it’s okay to get paid for stuff that comes easy. Nobody else is doing your Thing precisely how, when or where you are, or people wouldn’t be offering you money for it. If people see value in what you make and do and they want to exchange money for it, don’t fight them over that! IT IS TOTALLY OKAY TO LIKE MONEY, FRIEND. Money buys food, a roof, and more materials to make Things, which is totally how we want to be spending our time. Folks want to give us more money for the Things we make and do, so we can keep doing that if we eat and sleep and continue making and doing Things. Round & round we go.

If you’re interested in making your own salves, bath bombs, DIY house cleaning supplies, etc, I originally got started using the internet, but it all really took off once I got my hands on this awesome, slender little book from Raleigh Briggs titled Make Your Place. That link will take you straight to the publisher, where you can pick the book up at a sliding scale, because small indie presses are punk rock, that’s why. This book has a little bit of everything and is handwritten & drawn so it feels like an old- school zine; it’s made of awesome and worth every penny you’ll put toward it (however many pennies you may choose that to be).

If you are or have dealt with Impostor Syndrome, I’d love to hear about it. Seriously! We all go through this differently, but it’s such a universal experience for those of us who are making things in public. I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

 

*- If you’re handling the self- esteem and general ego junk that can accompany being an artist, artisan, or maker, and can tag along with Impostor Syndrome (“I have no right to call myself a maker, I like making/ doing these things so I couldn’t possibly charge for them and also everyone is so much better than me, I am THE WORST”) remember: that noise is largely composed of cruddy things people who aren’t interested in your success have said or would say to you. Destructive people tear other folks down, creative people lift others up: the toxic noise some jerk left in your head does not deserve your energy. While not a panacea, this can be helpful to redirect your attention to more worthwhile and purposeful actions.  

in which there is an address!

 

Stopped by our local Post Office this afternoon to chat and renew my P.O. box. Who wants a pen pal?

 

P.O. box!

I have a P.O. box like a grownup!

in which we have a month of letters

So I’ve been working on this post about a meditation technique I wanted to share with everyone, but that’s still in the hopper— it’ll have to hold. Instead, I wanted to tell you guys about this thing I’m doing. It’s actually all Marianne‘s idea, and it’s AWESOME, and you should DO IT WITH US.

Right. I’m excited. Who can tell, though, really?

It’s called A Month Of Letters. Who doesn’t miss real mail? Not fliers, not gas bills, but letters, post cards, honest- to- goodness mail. Once upon a time I was a prodigious letter- writter. Fancy stationary gave me the shivers and a pen with the perfect pen nib was a subject I could argue over for hours but I’d take a legal pad and a mechanical pencil in a pinch, too— I wasn’t a snob. As long as there as a LOT of paper to write on, I really didn’t give a damn. I still have most of the letters I’ve received over the years, bundled up by sender and year; I don’t keep many things, but those, they’re like gold to me.

Here’s how it works: every day that the post is running, you send out a piece of mail to someone- a card, a letter, an Easter egg stuffed with goodies that you’ve covered with some stamps and an address, it’s your call.

I love you, T.

T, I love you.

 

Sam and I are headed to STITCHES West in a few weeks, which means another cross- country road trip. Part of my Month Of Letters includes sending Marianne some of the WORST postcards I come across, which sounds like it’ll be easy, but trust, every time I set myself one of these challenges, they’re always harder than I thought they’d be. We’ll see.

Anyway, my point: it’s not too late to get in on this, or even take it on next month. Want me to send you a letter or a postcard? Send me your address and I’ll write you. I’ll be packing a metric ton of stamps to take along on this trip, and all my favorite pens, but I’ll be sure to grab some of those mechanical pencils, too. I can’t promise what sort of mail you’ll get- or how legible it’ll be, I might be writing it in a van as we’re winding our way through Utah, who knows?- but I promise you’ll get mail, and mail with heart.

Who’s in?

 

 

from the window of my office in the studio

a very friendly kraken

That’s all.

in which the raffle is performed, with many (mostly ridiculous) photographs

Garrett’s project, Beyond The Light, received 102% funding on Kickstarter! The project closed on his birthday- and I think this was one of the nicest presents he could have received.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who helped to make this happen- to everyone who donated, to everyone who tweeted, or passed the message along Facebook- thank you.

102% funded, everyone! That's amazing!

And so: as promised, Sam and I sat down with a camera and we had the raffle for the four skeins of Gaia Fingering in Little Round Top. We brought in a little help, too.

He was a very, very little help at times, actually

At first, Hugo was more interested in the cats than in helping us pick names from the funny hat. He came around, though.

inspecting the slips

First he inspected all the slips, to make sure they were all in order.

inspecting the hat

Then Hugo inspected the silly hat. (Remember, we specifically said the names had to be drawn from a silly hat! This was the silliest we had on hand.)

I feel like a steampunk version of Blossom.

Then I inspected the hat. It seemed to be mostly in order.

I think we're ready to do this thing.

Then we were ready to start drawing names!

I think Hugo's trying to read the card in this photo.

Our first lucky winner is Lilie W.- thank you so much, and congratulations!

Winner #2!

Our second winner was Tan S.! Thank you for the support, and congratulations!

Winner #3!

The third winner is Emily W.! Thank you, Emily, and congratulations!

Winner #4!

The fourth and final winner is Barbara H.- thank you so much!

After that, things got a little silly…

Originally, I tried to put the goggles on Hugo, but he was having none of that.

… but eventually, Hugo got the treat he’d earned.

He can stand like this forEVER. It's creepy, especially when he's wearing a sweater.

As it turns out, I have a mailing address for everyone except Emily- so Emily, I’ll be emailing you tonight to ask for a mailing address, and everyone else, I’ll be shipping out your skeins on Monday!

Thank you again, everyone!

beyond the light

{ETA: If you donate and you’d like to be added to the raffle, please send me an email at onmytiptoes@gmail.com!}

My talented brother- in- law- to- be, Garrett Sendlewski, works as an animator & is working on a short film called Beyond The Light. He’s asking for pledges for funding in exchange for production credits, film props, etc.

Gaia Fingering Yarn in Little Big Top

Rather than ask everyone here to run on over and pledge to Garrett’s film, I dove into my stash and came up with this: four skeins of long- discontinued Gaia Fingering in Little Round Top. (Little Round Top is the Starry Night Cracker equivalent.) I’ll be raffling off these skeins to help raise money for Garrett’s film. THIS YARN IS COMPLETELY DISCONTINUED, FOLKS. You can’t get it anywhere- it just plan doesn’t exist anymore!

And so: if you want to make a pledge to Garrett’s film, you can do so by clicking right here!

If you make a pledge for any amount at all: THANK YOU!

If you pledge $25 or more, forward a copy of your receipt to me at onmytiptoes@gmail.com, and every $25 you pledge gets you an entry in the raffle for one these skeins of Gaia Fingering. There are FOUR skeins here, so there are four chances to win, everyone!

I’ll be running the raffle until either Garrett hits full funding (as of right now, he’s at about 1/3 of the way there) or 11:00 pm EDT on November 15th. All entries will be drawn via the extremely scientific method of paper slips being drawn from a hat. It’s just like science, except nothing like science at all! How exciting! How thrilling! How absolutely worth $25 to watch!

I also promise that if Garrett gets full funding, I will photograph the entire paper- slips- in- a- hat- process, with me in the photographs, and post the photos. PICTURES OF ME ON THE INTERNET, people. We all know how much I hate that. This is how much I’d like to see Garrett’s movie made.

So, if you have a moment, take a look. I know times are tough, so don’t feel pressured, but if you have a few dollars to spare, help my friend and brother- in- law- to- be— that makes him the man who makes my baby sister happy, making him a Very Important Guy in my world— help him make his film. It would be nice, and it would make him happy, and maybe you might win some lovely, pretty rare yarn out of it, too.

Thanks, everyone.

on integrity

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” -John Locke

the 28th list of Very Good Things

Broken out in Flickr, as ever.

Rhinebeck was amazing. We received a last- minute invitation to vend and Gryphon, the elves and I threw everything we could find into the SG van and ran off to New York to have a mini- adventure.

It was completely unexpected and absolutely fantastic. I find Maryland autumns to be a little lackluster, and every few years I need a trip back north to get a real jolt of fall. This was exactly what I needed.

We had a fantastic time meeting old friends, new friends, and our wonderful helpers, who were there at set- up, tear- down, and for all the cocoa, coffee, and artichoke runs. I can’t wait to do this show again next year.

In other news, there are other things, but that’s for another post. I keep saying that, don’t I? I mean to prioritize this blog more- to make writing at all a priority- and yet I keep getting distracted. I’m trying, Internet. I’m trying.

happiness

” I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’ ” -Kurt Vonnegut


on leisure and comfort

I am suddenly possessed with the strongest need to quilt.

3445290293_100e77344c
small quilt for julia, originally posted by uzbeckistan

I’m interested in shapes, textures and negative space- and while I admire the traditional quilting, it’s just not where I am. I’ve been digging up images of “whole quilting”- not that I know anything about it, I just love the look of it.

Whole quilting

Whole quilt in natural light, originally posted by milele

I mean, isn’t that gorgeous? All texture and pattern makes me need a serger like whoa. My goal for this year is to have something for our bed by the end of the year. Gauging from some of the blogs I’ve been reading on quilting, it might actually take that long. It’ll be worth it. Take a look at some of the quilts on Shiner’s View blog, they’re just amazing. I want those on my everything.

4374303706_6b832d7b12
Neutral quilt, originally posted by Shiners view

Sam questions the whole thing- my need for another hobby. Lately, knitting seems all about business- knitting this for a design, knitting that to test possible new colorways, knitting samples out of potential future yarn bases from the mill, knitting myself a sweater out of a color we’re putting out in fall or winter. It’s all work, and while I love it, I need something I can make that isn’t about the business. I need something else, something very removed, something just for myself.

Spinning helps: I spin more lately, although I so rarely knit with my own handspun. I should start a handspun yarn swap; I love knitting with someone else’s spinning. Anyone want to trade handspun? I have a 4 oz skein of gorgeous worsted cormo that needs to be knit up by someone, soon. It’s been languishing in my utility room for far, far too long.

Quilting works for me because it joins together pieces of what appeals to me in all of my crafts- the space and composition of photography, the texture and tactility of knitting, the color sense of dyeing, all rolled up into something I can lay over the people I love when they are sick or sleeping. Quilting also relates to the concept of creating things of use and beauty that I love about knitting and spinning.

Now all I need quilting to do is to bake fresh, whole- grain breads for me and it’s 100% perfect.

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