Have you come across a blogger or artist who takes on a challenge to make a certain kind of project every day, or to make a certain number of things in a month or a year? Like, say, fiber artist Sonya Philip who sewed 100 dresses in a year? Or Noah Scalin, who made a skull-a-day for a year? From people taking a selfie every day to cooking every recipe in a cookbook, these sorts of challenges have always intrigued and amazed me.
I never actually followed through with my grand desires to take on such a challenge, though. Two weeks in, I’d miss a day and then two days, and then I’d just give up. Or I’d have three great ideas and then no more ideas and I’d feel defeated.
Last year I wrote a book. It was an all-consuming project, as you might imagine. The book is about making stuff, but, ironically, while I was writing it I had no energy at all to make stuff. I finished it in October, so as 2013 was drawing to a close, my creative brain was recovering from all the intensity and finally feeling ready to do some serious crafting.
I used to consider myself to be almost exclusively a yarn crafter – a crocheter and knitter. Most evenings after work, these were the kinds of projects I’d do, with the occasional marathon sewing weekend thrown in every few months. But in the aftermath of my book-induced crafting-dry-spell, I’ve been making all sorts of things I’d never even considered making before, and it was, as it happens, my avid following of my knitwear-designer friend Miriam Felton that led me to the adventure I embarked upon at the beginning of the year.
All through 2013, Miriam posted photos on Facebook and Instagram of stuff she’d worked on making that day, and she tagged them #yearofmaking. I don’t think she went out of her way to try new things; she just chronicled the stuff she was already making, and she made sure to make something every day – loads of knitting, lots of sewing, and some amazing-looking jam.
Thinking that maybe all I needed to succeed at a year-long challenge was a whole lot of zero rules, I decided to give a #yearofmaking a try, too. On New Year’s Day this year, I made cookies. The next day, I sketched a tree. Every day since, whether for a few hours at a stretch or for 15 minutes while my husband gives our son a bath, I’ve made something.
Somewhere along the line – I don’t know exactly when or why or how this happened – my year of making took a turn from the chronicling of stuff I’d ordinarily make to an excuse to try all sorts of arts and crafts I’d never given any serious thought to doing, before.
In the last six months, I’ve taken on a doodling habit (and I’ve always thought of myself as not being able to draw); I’ve dabbled in watercolor painting; I’ve experimented with paper cutting and collage; I’ve made cold-process soap and shampoo, lip balm and a body-butter bar; I’ve sewn my first dress; I’ve become addicted to filling old tea tins, mugs and peanut-butter jars with soy candles; and I’ve learned how to cook shrimp (I intended to spend many #yearofmaking days this year learning how to cook better, but instead I’ve just come to know that I really just don’t enjoy cooking, at all). I also knitted a toy for the first time (I’d always preferred crocheting toys), and I’ve been crocheting scrap granny squares, which is one of my favorite ways of relaxing, but I hadn’t done it in ages. When I was in Denver filming my new Craftsy beginner crochet class, I bought a skein of yarn that was locally dyed, and I cast on for a scarf the next night in my hotel room.
I’ve always been keen to try new things, and one of my favorite things to do is encourage people to try new things, themselves, but now I realize I’ve become fairly addicted to it. I’ve invited myself to sit next to friends who were making something intriguing, pestering them to show me how. I’ve read innumerable blog posts and bought a lot of new how-to books. In 2015, which will almost certainly be another year of making, I already have it in mind to limit my purchasing of new supplies, such is my house filling up with all manner of things I’d never considered wanting around before this year – pens, X-Acto knives, essential oils, paints, papers, notebooks, wicks, waxes and fabrics. Not to mention the yarn. Still so much yarn.
Having the opportunity this year to teach a beginner crochet class with Craftsy is like a very special part of my #yearofmaking, because rather than learning something new, myself, I get to teach something new to loads of other people. I hope my students aren’t shy about sharing the other kinds of stuff they make.
Feeling inspired to try something new?
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About Kim Werker
Kim Werker is a writer and freelance editor who tries to make something – anything – every day. Many of those things are awful; some are not. Learn more about her work, speaking and workshop schedule, and ragtag adventures at kimwerker.com. Her latest book, Make It Mighty Ugly, is coming out on August 26th. Follow her daily crafting adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr