new design

New shawl design, fingering weight merino. Warning: ramblings follow this pretty photo.

I didn’t start out 2014 in a strong manner, with good intentions and focus and all that. Instead, I limped into it with illness, some yucky health issues (I have seen the doctor, working it out), no plan for the year, and NO COFFEE due to aforementioned health issues! The knitting continues as it always does, but thinking? My brain feels like mush topped with self-pity, with a big dollop of exhaustion stirred in.

It’s halfway through January and I already feel like I’m wasting my year. I feel left behind, obsolete. I tend to fall into the rather deep well of feeling not good enough. Not interesting enough. Not wacky enough. Not smart or innovative enough. Not creative or unique enough. Not fast or prolific enough. Not writing a book. Not making enough money. Not one of the cool kids. Left out of professional and social stuff because I’m not interesting or skilled enough. I hear it’s not reality, but it’s the way it feels.

So what do I do? I love my job – designing, writing patterns, making pretty things for other people (hopefully you!) to knit. I know all the business books will say I need to grow my business, think bigger, do more promo and marketing and all that. But what if I don’t want to? All that stuff feels false to me. I’ve never wanted to be the Most Famous Knitting Designer or even a little bit famous, as long as I could support myself and my wee family.

I guess if I don’t want to do all those Big Things and get my business moving, I should work for someone else who can handle those things, get a DayJob to make money and push design off to the side. It would be nice to have the regular money and stability. At the same time, I just don’t know who I am without being a knitting designer. I can’t see giving it up, at all.

Forgive my ramblings. I’m really not much of a writer, and I’m very introspective either! I hesitate to put so much of myself out there, on the internet, for all to read. I suppose all this has just built up for long enough that it finally bubbled over onto the page (screen).

I’m great at telling other people to take care of themselves, but I know it feels self-absorbed. Everyone has problems! Some people have WAY more problems and far less money than you! Stop feeling sorry for yourself! It doesn’t really work that way, does it?

33 Responses to “Introspection ahead.”

  1. Andrea

    i totally understand this inner monologue so well. i think you’re great, both online and in person! xo

    Reply
  2. connie

    Hey Laura! I could have written this post! I totally hear you. I’ve been out of the loop (much more so than you) these past 2 years and am feeling disconnected, disappointed in myself, and a bit lost. I’m trying to get myself back on that knitting and designing horse, but it’s hard – and I do feel very left behind. And it’s ok to wallow sometimes. It sounds like you’ve had a tough year. Here’s hoping for a better upcoming one!

    Reply
  3. Diane Fuller

    Let me see if I can be of help here. Yours is one of only three blogs that I read daily. That should tell you something right there. Like most people I also go through those “what am I really doing here?” periods. It too will pass. I also deal with health issues (chronic ones). Believe it or not they will make you stronger. Finally, you should know that you have become one of my creative role models. I love that you are into so many things at once and doing them well. Recognize that you are going through a difficult phase during which you should not trust yourself to make big decisions or changes. Wait until the aliens have returned your brain and then proceed. You are great. This is a time to trust other people’s opinions about you and not your own.

    Reply
  4. Dani

    I hear you Laura. You reached into my head and pulled out my thoughts (except change knitwear designer to sewist). I am trying hard to focus this year on what brings me pleasure. Does designing make you happy? Do you feel satisfied? It’s hard not to compare yourself, especially with the internets. The internet is such a fabulous filter – people only put the good stuff they want others to see out there, so you are constantly surrounded by what seems like the cream of the crop. Really though, those people have all the same problems, doubts, etc but just don’t show them.

    I hope that you can do what makes you happy going forward. If you ever want to chat feel free to email me.

    Reply
  5. Beth Smith

    I feel all of those things too. I’m working on it too. I think you would be surprised at how many of us in our own little businesses feel like that. I do have a plan but already am struggling with it. Mostly it includes doing a 3 thing list every day – like writing something, spinning something, cleaning something. Checking things off helps me to feel a little bit of success every day. not sure if it helps you.

    Reply
  6. Dr. Steph

    Remember this: it’s not about how much you do compared to others, but how much you accomplish for your own goals. If you’re happy, keep doing it. If not, (and it sounds like there’s a bit of that) think of some changes that will lead you to a better or at least different place. Maybe a part time job, volunteer gig or taking a course to help your business? If you want to talk, just let me know.
    And hugs.

    Reply
  7. Page

    Your designs are amazing and the photo with this post is spectacular (can’t wait to see more). Hang in there and, above all else, be kind and true to yourself. No one else has to live your life and, therefore, no one else should judge you for the choices you make (or the way you feel)!

    Reply
  8. Becca

    Hang in there Laura. I love your blog and your commitment to doing what you love and sharing it. And the shawl photo is beautiful.

    Reply
  9. Susan

    I love your writing, actually.
    Not that I think you should go out and try to write a book if that’s not your calling. I get these beginning of the year blues, too, feeling like I’m not pushing myself hard enough in some professional direction or other. That’s the pitfall of spending a lot of time online and seeing what everyone is supposedly accomplishing. If YOU are comfortable in your own skin and are happy with what you’re doing, that’s what should matter (easier said than done, I know!!)
    And by the way, it’s totally okay to complain. Complaining is honest, the way I see it.

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  10. Lara

    You have inspired me, Laura. Not as a Cool Kid per se but because your work and presentation have stood out. Best of luck wrestling illness, change and this dretted mid-Jan.

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  11. Vera

    Hey Laura! I’ve never commented here before but your blog is a firm favorite. You are also one of my favorite designers, because you design wearable garments for a large range of sizes and that is rare. You are one of the few designers that I absolutely trust to come up something in my size. So, in a way, your patterns make me feel safe and accepted. I’m sure that sounds melodramatic, but it’s true and you might not know how much your designs mean to people :) Take care and hang in there – January sucks, but lighter days are on their way!

    Reply
  12. Sierra

    I love your blog, and you are such an inspiration and role model for me. The Toronto January blahs are definitely setting in, and I too started 2014 with a sigh instead of kicking down the door. Regardless of the decisions you make going forward you have a huge, positive impact on so many people, and you have definitely made our lives a little brighter. Thanks!

    Reply
  13. TheBon

    Sometimes I think we set ourselves up for a let-down when we think this arbitrary day (January 1) is going to make everything fresh and new and amazing when really it’s just a day.

    I think that marketing is tough, especially if we’re taught not to brag or talk ourselves up (and I think a lot of women are taught that.) I think you have to work best your own balance, and if you’re happy, then great, but if you’re not, then see if you can figure out where to make some changes to be more happy.

    I absolutely love the texture you’ve got going in that new design, I can’t wait to see more!

    Reply
  14. Linda

    Just carry on just the way you have been doing. I think that a lot of us feel the way that you are feeling once in a while. But just be true to yourself and continue what you are doing. Remember, there’s also a price to pay for so called “fame”.

    Reply
  15. Cdotha

    Laura, I adore your blog and I am constantly amazed by your knitwear! You don’t have to be famous, or ‘grow your business’ if you don’t want to, business theory isn’t scientific, it’s designed for maximum profit, not maximum pleasure. All this ‘self-branding’ is superficial; a talented person with a great, genuine personality is what people really want.

    Reply
  16. Jean Snyder

    Oh, Laura….I love your beautiful designs, your wonderful blog, and seeing your gorgeous skin! You are an inspiration to me! You will come through this a stronger and more inspired woman. Keep doing what you are doing…the sky is the limit!

    Reply
  17. Keri

    Your struggles are not your alone. And in saying that I mean in no way to diminish what you are feeling. This is big, all-enveloping stuff, and when you’re in it it can be everything. The only thing I can say is keep moving. Little steps, if necessary, but keep going. Dr Steph (as always) has some great ideas. Me, I’ve started keeping a log of 3 good things each day, just so when I get really stuck I can look at it to remind myself it’s not all bleak. And yes, one day all I wrote down was that I flossed my teeth! Sometimes it really is just the little things!
    Hugs, and if I can help in any way let me know!

    Reply
  18. KateMet

    I’m super good at giving advice while in a personal slump, so I’m going to try not to do that. Instead, let me say that I’ve been in a blue patch lately too. I’m taking St. John’s Wort and using a daylight lamp to get through winter. I’m also trying to quit counting all the stuff I’m NOT doing, and deciding what I WANT to do. Then one small bite at a time until I make progress.

    But, about you. I’ve been a reader of yours for a very long time. Your work is lovely, and valuable. I’m regularly amazed at how quickly you finish projects. You’ll make the right decisions for you, I have faith.

    Reply
  19. Laura

    You spoke my words. And I needed to hear them now. My cashmere Ashworth scarf is my absolute favorite. And I have some of your destashed samples and yarn and love them. Yours is one of the few blogs I read each week. I think the hype surrounding New Year’s sets us up for disappointment– thinking it’s supposed to be full of excitement and somehow momentous when really, it’s just a day. It causes us to take stock, but not always in a good way… and we end up stressed that life is what it is.

    There’s a great quote from the movie, Hope Floats: “Beginnings are usually scary. Endings are usually sad. But it’s the middle that matters the most. And you need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning.”

    But it’s also the hardest place to be. I love your design work. You matter very much to me. Thank you so much for reminding me that we are not alone when we feel this way.

    Reply
  20. Brenda

    Laura, I often feel that way. Thanks for expressing it so well.
    Whatever you decide , it will work out. You’re very talented.

    Reply
  21. Blithe Spirit

    You are definitely smart and creative enough. I love reading your blog and your patterns. It’s easy to feel blue when you’re also not feeling completely healthy, so focus on that first and the rest will come (hopefully the coffee too!) I think it takes enormous guts to set out on your own design business and it definitely puts you with the cool kids. I’ve recently quit a good career to move across an ocean and while I now work at a rather unchallenging part-time job that doesn’t pay much (and thus have had a lot of the doubts and worries you mention in this post), I try and focus on all that this move has given me – mainly the time to be more creative and explore what is important to me. And as corny as it sounds, it is so often the little things. Be kind to yourself. Oh, and I am completely in awe of all your hand-quiliting! It’s completely inspired me to get out all the fat quarters in my stash.

    Reply
  22. Jane

    If it helps, Laura! I think you are pretty rad. It sounds like you’re going through a really hard patch right now, and I am not sure what the right answer is to make things better. If you want someone to talk things through with, I’m around.

    Reply
  23. Judy

    Thank you, Laura, for being so honest w/your thoughts! You have a lot of readers who love your work–me included–and want the best for you. Can’t help but think that once you get your health issues straightened out, you will have more energy to face the future. Whatever you decide, you have a whole lot of readers supporting you!

    Reply
  24. Betty

    Laura, Love reading your blog, seeing your designs and (sometimes) purchasing a pattern or two. Relish the good things and (try) to ignore the bad. Happy New Year.

    Reply
  25. Teresa

    I remember meeting you when you still worked at Lettuce Knit. You seemed so peaceful sitting at the table knitting and reading your ebook and just letting me browse the store. You seemed so much at home there that when it was time for me to go back to work after many years of mothering, I longed for a job like yours. Your designs are gorgeous. I have purchased several of them. Perhaps the solitude of designing at home is the problem. A part time job out of the house might provide inspiration and the extra social connection that we all crave. Just do what YOU want to do not what other’s think you should do and you’ll be fine. Btw, I did get my yarn store job and I love every minute of it. It gets me out of the house and into a world of creativity. Thanks for being my inspiration! :)

    Reply
  26. Laurie in Mpls.

    Laura, I just wanted to let you know that I feel every. single. word. you wrote in this post. I am at much the same place right now — different profession, but same kind of place. I’m pretty sure I don’t have any answers, but I wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone, you aren’t the only one who feels that non-stop self marketing is not right for them, that you are not the only one feeling a bit off at the start of 2014. There seems to be a lot of change in the air already this year. Sending you good vibes that everything will sort itself out. (And just saying out loud that taking a job to make the ends meet at this point in time is not a terrible thing, not an admission of defeat. You make and design beautiful things, but sometimes that work needs to be augmented with a day job to keep the bills paid. It’s OK. )

    Reply
  27. jackie c

    I hope you’ll feel better soon. This time of yr with the cold, no so many sunny days and not so pleasant stuff in the News can bring your spirits down. You are amazing, I read your blog for several yrs now. And it’d be a highlight celebrity sighting if I ever saw you at Rhinebeck! Hang in there. your beautiful work makes me wish I could have had the opportunity to learn knitting a half centry ago. LOL, I’m making up for lost time now. My first LC pattern purchase was Just enough Ruffles to name a few and I bought your learn to knit sock book! It was a must have for knitting library and one I will not loan out to anyone unless it was my mom;-)

    Reply
  28. Nancy

    Hi Laura, When I’m down, I remind myself this is just a point in time, not the rest of my life. We need these moments for reflection and perhaps gratitude. I met you briefly in a yarn shop in Toronto last summer. I had just told my son and friend, “Wouldn’t it be cool to meet Laura Chau!” We walked into a your shop and there you were. It was thrilling. My impression is that you are a warm and caring person. I certainly have enjoyed your designs over the years and always look forward to reading your blog and seeing what you have to share. Thanks for your dedication as a designer. It takes guts to live your passion.

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  29. millie

    Sounds like you have got a big case of the “shoulds”. Yes the internet can make us feel like we are just not fabulous enough because everyone, of course, only puts the good things on their blogs. But you are not alone with those feelings, Laura. I’m glad that you have not gone all commercial and done all those things that you “should” to “go big” with your business. I have grown disappointed with a couple of my favourites who have gone that route. Their blogs are now just one big commercial and so boring. Others who, like you, didn’t feel right going that route became discouraged and stopped blogging and I miss them so much. Your blog is one of my favourites because of your sweet personality, your gorgeous photos and designs and all the variety you include. I hope you will take care of your health, both physical and emotional, so that we all can continue to enjoy the wonderful things you create. Keep doing what feels right to you, please. You are wonderful just the way you are.

    Reply
  30. autumngeisha

    Your blog was one of the first ones I started to follow when I first came to knitting. And it still is one of my favorites. Sure, there is an overload of cool & trendy knitting designs and designers out there right now, but it is wonderful to have a designer such as yourself who is so consistently classic and modern, understated even. Stay true to yourself and be happy with your creativity…everything else will fall into place.

    Reply
  31. Tineke

    I have been reading your blog and following your designs for a few years now and, boy, I wish I could design like you. Since I cannot, I am very happy that you are out there producing such lovely designs. I think it must also be the time of year that has started you thinking and the fact that you are feeling poorly. Hang in there, you will get through. We care about you: just read all the comments above.

    Reply

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