2018 Making Goals
I’ve been taking the goal setting slowly this year. It seems only appropriate, given the intention of these goals. I know I need slower. I know I need more considered steps. More unhurried, if you will. So, of course, dashing off a list of resolutions simply because it’s January 1st didn’t sit well with me.
Still, I can’t help but feel the pull of Janus: of looking forward and backward, of portals and passageways. In short, I am always drawn to vision setting, wayfinding and course corrections at this time of year. And, so, I find myself ready to share some making-related goals for the year.
How I Set My Goals this Year
Sometimes goal setting can feel a bit like a battle. It can be a minefield of inadequacy and comparison. I’ve taken an intentionally different approach this year. I have replaced a sense of striving with one of inspection. I have held my life up to the window and let the light shine through. Without judgment or shame, I’ve simply looked. Like a committed archivist, I’ve inspected to see where the seams are fraying, as well as the gaping holes.
Because there are holes, and places where the seams are straining. I suppose that there always will be. As long as I continue to grow, and continue to use up this life I’ve been given, there will always be places where it will begin to wear thin. I’ve taken note of all of it. There are holes in my wardrobe, yes. But also holes in my schedule, holes in my relationships and holes in my soul. I see all of this.
The question, then, becomes, what do I do about it? I fundamentally believe that life is not about more, more, more. It is about mending and about caretaking. I have this one life, one body, one family, one mind, and I’m not in the market for a new set. I want to discover the ways that I can care for them more fully. I’m looking to see what patches I need to create. I’m examining where I need to mend the seams, and which parts need to be taken out entirely.
That’s the mindset I’m taking into my goal setting. Of course, not every frayed spot needs to be mended with making. I don’t mean to imply that this is a universal list of all that I am doing to improve my life (surly you already know that, yes?). I share these here in an effort both to connect and to create some sense of accountability for myself.
Create an Unhurried Wardrobe
This year, I will design and sew an intentional wardrobe just for me. It will be a wardrobe that fits me well, of course. But, also, that suits me. Maybe even that supports me. I envision it as something that is long lasting, because both the materials and the styles are intended to weather decades, not a fashion season. It’s important to me that it be a wardrobe that I can feel good about how it was produced, in terms of environmental and human impact. I believe it is possible to have a wardrobe that makes me feel more, not less. I’ll begin that process this year.
Does this one sound a little obvious? Maybe it is. But, the thing I’ve learned over the past year, is making is how I speak my love. And the biggest, most realest way I know to do it is with a quilt. Maybe that’s a bit odd, but it’s built deep into my very DNA. I’m not only recognizing this about myself, but also embracing it. I am intentionally making quilts this year with that understanding in mind.
I have so many quilts in mind to make, but I’ll for now I’ll mention just the two that I know I must make this year. The first is a quilt for our bed. I’ve dipped my toe into the very beginning of this project already. I anticipate will take me all year, because I intend to hand quilt it. I relish the idea of spending several seasons slow stitching the same quilt.
The second quilt I know I’ll make this year is one for my second son. He graduates high school in May and I want to commemorate that with a quilt. There is something deep in my mother heart that needs to give my babies something they can wrap around themselves as they walk out into the world on their own. What that one will look like is not yet clear to me, but I trust that it will come in time.
Grow my Knitting Skills
About ten years ago, I decided I wanted to learn to knit. My mom gave me a crash course in the most rudimentary basics. With that start and the help of YouTube and tutorials, I cobbled together a basic set of knitting skills. I made a handful of hats, a scarf or two and a healthy stack of dishcloths. Then, we moved to the desert, followed by the tropics. Knitting suddenly felt less relevant to my life.
Since arriving in Warsaw, I find myself picking up my needles again. Maybe it’s novelty of living with four seasons. Or, it may be simply a longing for more portable handwork projects, I’ve come back around to my knitting. Whatever the impetus, in the past year, I’ve tossed off a couple of hats, cowls and a scarf. But, I want to be more strategic in my knitting. I want the things I’m creating to fit into my Unhurried Wardrobe plans. That means, I need to get specific in my skills acquisition. In terms of techniques, I want to tackle cables and learn to knit with the Magic Loop method. And, in terms of projects, I want to make a pair of socks and one sweater. As I get farther in my wardrobe planning, I’ll decide on patterns. But, it helps me to understand that I’m looking for something that will both work with my wardrobe plans and help me expand my knitting skills.
Post Monthly Progress Reports
Several years ago I began keeping a list of the books I read throughout the year. Then, one year, I decided not to bother. You know what happened? At the end of the year, I thought back and wrote down the list as best as I could remember. Granted, I may have forgotten one or two since I wasn’t writing them down as I went. But, even taken that into account, I had read less than half as many books as I typically read. Not even close to half. I am utterly convinced that it was because I wasn’t writing them down. I just didn’t notice when a month went by without me picking up a book.
That little unintentional experiment has inspired my intention of monthly progress reports. I know that I stay on track when I record what I’m accomplishing. But, even more than that, I am happier when I can see my progress. So many of these projects are slow in nature. Stepping back once a month to see that I am indeed making progress on them is critical. Momentum must be celebrated, especially when it is glacial in speed.
The Goals Behind the Goals
Undergirding all of this is a desire to create responsibly. Making with my own two hands is life giving. It is essential. But, I am ever more aware of the impact it has not only on me but also on those who create the materials I use. I see the endgame for each piece. I need to know that it has some meaning beyond my own need to create.
This means making for the long term. It means taking a considered course. It means taking care of the things I create, as well as those I purchase. It means acquiring supplies thoughtfully. It is mending and it is going slow. It also means creating things that enable us to live with less waste. All of that feels right on track to me.
Work on both my art and my craft
Here’s a thing that I’ve noticed. I love a wonky look. Improvisational quilts make my heart sing. I love the excitement of feeling my way through a project, not knowing the end from the beginning. I don’t want to change any of that. But, I have discovered that there are times when I revert to “wonky” as a default. I can use it as an excuse for imprecision. There are times when it is called for, but other times when I allow it to mask what I actually wanted to create. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not interested in perfectionism. I don’t intend to abandon improv or wonkyness. Not in the slightest. But, I do want to make sure that I am making conscious design decisions and not merely choosing something out of fear.
That requires work. There are things I want to create that I’ve never created before. They employ techniques I’ve never tried. That’s the place of growth for me. I want to expand my skills such that I feel confident creating what I envision, and never settling for something else simply because it’s easier.
Connect with Other Makers
This is the point of saying all of this out loud. I’ve learned that making is not meant to be lonely. But, it can feel that way if I’m not careful. So, I’m creating this place to connect with other makers online. And, I am creating opportunities right here around me to connect with other makers in person. This connection is going to be critical for me.
These aren’t the type of goals that productivity gurus say I should have. They aren’t measurable. They don’t have specific deadlines. One could even argue that they aren’t all that specific. I’m ok with all of that. I see this list as important, not as a meter stick for my year, but rather, as a compass. It is list of guidance; a direction for the year ahead. Some of these goals will take more than a year to complete. Many of them aren’t even the type of thing you can really call finished. I certainly don’t anticipate this to be an all encompassing list of the things I will make. All of that is fine. The point is to begin, with some sort of course in mind.
I don’t need to know exactly where this will all take me. I don’t need to. I just need to orient myself in the right direction, and simply begin.