given my exceptionally rigid schedule of blogging throughout kcw, i’m surprised it took me this long to write a wrap up post!  however, i had to sit for a few days and figure out what i really wanted the post to cover, because this was a big week in many ways.  obviously, we should address this:

kcw_spring13

that’s a lot of clothes!  i have to confess that before the week even began, i was already excited to see this very collage at the end of it (though i had no idea what it would look like!).  i knew i had a lot of work ahead of me, but much of the magic of sewing and crafting in general (especially in big sprees like this or the holidays), is to see how things develop and unfurl, often not at all how you planned, but in fun and interesting ways.  this photo is a great recap of the week, and it’s kind of amazing seeing the kids drawers and closets filling up with things i made that are functional, attractive, and enjoyed/worn by them.

i recall from my first kcw in the fall that it was a lot of fun, but also stressful and frustrating trying to crank out projects, photograph and blog them.  this time, i never felt rushed to finish a project, and while i intended my posts to be short to create more time for sewing, i found i didn’t need it.  so, here is what worked for me this time around, if you’re interested (knowing that kcw is totally what you make of it and everyone approaches it their own way!):

  1. advance preparation.  if you read regularly, you know that in the weeks leading up to kcw, i did a ton of fabric and pattern shopping, and brainstorming about ideas.  while this was largely coincidental and certainly not necessary (and many projects are still in my sketchbook) it got me very excited to start sewing, and motivation is more than half the battle!  once i narrowed it down, i actually did much of my tracing and cutting in advance.  that happens not to be a part of the process i enjoy much, so it was nice to get it out of the way, and know i could just grab a new project to start as soon as i finished one.
  2. leave time and space for creativity.  a lot of the magic of kcw is being inspired by the amazing work of others, as well as whatever else fuels your creative process in the everyday.  so, while i did have more than enough projects cut in advance, i deviated from them as often as inspiration struck, which made the week feel less like work, more like play (which it is!)
  3. follow a schedule.  i know this is *not* for everyone, and even people with personalities like mine who enjoy schedules might not have that luxury with little ones running about.  however, with a goal of maximum productivity, i wanted to use all the moments i had.  here is what an average kcw day looked like for me:
  • wake up, put the finishing touches on the blog post of the clothes i sewed the day prior, post the blog, post photos to flickr.  if the kids are still sleeping, do some sewing until they wake up.
  • after they wake up and are amenable, photoshoot of new garments.  play!
  • nap time (of which i was blessed with more than my share this week, another fluke!), all sewing.
  • post bed time, photo editing and blogging.  i found that i enjoyed this break from sewing!  some nights i still had time to sew a bit before i went to sleep.  i set a 10pm bedtime, which was often closer to 11, so imagine if i hadn’t aimed for 10!  i notice many people mentioning they come down with something during kcw, and i’m sure lack of sleep plays a big role.

so, that is was roughly the daily cycle for me!  all of my personal time was spent contributing to kcw in some way (again, this far exceeded the hour daily that the challenge suggests, but i knew it would going in), and this allowed me to more than accomplish my personal goals.  this degree of organization also made me more comfortable and relaxed in my sewing off hours, and i found the time i spent with the kids to be quality quality because i could be totally focussed on them.  so, while our house is not as clean, i don’t think our family suffered much interpersonally this time around (and btw, david has been totally preoccupied studying for his exam on days off, so he didn’t feel too neglected)!

kcwspring13

i love that part of kcw–the goals, the challenge, the results!  but there is another element i love just as much, which is the community.  so many people participate, or at least read along this week at the kcw blog, or in the flickr pool.  wordpress has a really neat stats page, and i can’t tell you how awesome i find images like this greeting me at the end of the day, telling me what parts of the world brought me visitors:

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 8.26.50 PM

how amazing is that?!  literally, people from all corners of the globe that i would never, ever otherwise have an opportunity to connect with.  i have been introduced to a wealth of new exceptionally talented seamstresses, whose work will continue to inspire and motivate me to create.

but there is one more thing, and i’m sorry because i know this post is already dragging on without many pictures to break up the text, but i feel it’s important to address.  while i took up sewing as a hobby this summer, it was unexpectedly thrust very much into the spotlight over the past several months as i continue to struggle finding regular employment.  you’ve probably noticed i have a rather industrious personality, and work has always been a big part of my life, not to mention i love nursing and it feeds many vital parts of my personality and identity.

so, in the absence of my career, this blog and the projects it records has accidentally begun to fill many of those voids–scheduling, planning, learning, efficiency, production, all aspects of my personality that can’t be ignored but don’t often get nurtured in the life of a stay at home parent to toddlers.  as i have truly grappled with balancing work and parenting, how the two fit together in my life, and what that suggests about me, i have kept sewing (and knitting).  for me, like so many others before, the focus, the repetition, the accomplishment and love of making things is so comforting.

i wish i could say that doing these things only because i love them (and i do) is enough, but brainwashed since childhood with a need for objective and external feedback, this process has also filled me with feelings of inadequacy and self doubt.  i read blogs.  i browse etsy.  i use pinterest.  i see what other people are making and doing.  i feel invisible in an ocean of such incredible talent.  i wonder every few weeks, what am i doing?  what is the point?  am i improving?  what do i know about fashion or art?  i dress like a complete slob and it’s really difficult for me to spend more than $10 on apparel for myself or my kids.  maybe i should focus my attention during my very limited free time elsewhere.  as a nurse, it’s impossible to ignore the ways in which you are appreciated and needed.  while i’ll never suggest that parenting is anything besides the most important and difficult job on the planet, that validation and relevance is often harder to detect.

but then this week happened.  and your comments, all of your lovely, warm, encouraging and flattering comments started to trickle in.  people from around the world are interested enough in something i made to stop by and say hello, or even just take a peek.  flickr was aflutter with virtual pats on the back, and let me tell you, they feel just as good as the real thing.  and then this happened.  and only a few days later, this happened.  and as i sat here writing this blog this morning, THIS happened.  and this week has brought no shortage of comments from incredibly talented bloggers.  really, i can’t possibly begin to describe how flattered i am.

my first kcw, six months ago, opened a world to me, inspired and motivated me.  i remember looking at the photos featured on the kcw blog and cowering at the artistry and craftsmanship, and just being stunned that home seamstresses could produce that caliber of product.  i never, ever thought i could be capable of anything approaching that.  i realize for most people, kcw is a fun little way to get sewing.  as we’ve discussed, i lack not for motivation to sew, so for me, this week became my chance to see in what ways my life over the past six months, which has in so many ways been frustrating and stagnant and circular, has actually moved forward.

let me tell you, this week has been restorative, healing, and exceptional.  it has erased my self doubt.  ERASED it.  i can’t tell you how freeing it feels to finally sit in my sewing room during *rare* periods of quiet and solitude and create because i love it, without the voices in my head questioning whether or not this is an appropriate use of such sparing free time (and i’m also gaining the skills to actually make what i’d like my kids to wear).  i have tried, really i have, over these months to tell myself i should just do this because i love it, or that i should listen to my mom when she tells me it’s great, or that the occasional thumbs up from a toddler should be all the encouragement i need.  maybe for some people, that’s enough.  i don’t know what it says about me, but as it turns out, i *do* need to sit before a jury of my peers and hear from total strangers, “hey, good job.”  and i heard that so many times this week.  so. many. times.  and i know you, they, meant it.  in only a few short days i have gone from asking myself, “why am i doing this?” to, “what else might i do?”  and i have all of you to thank for it.

so what i really wanted to say is just one gigantic THANK YOU, thank you to all of you for reading and continuing to support me, for taking the time to say “hey, good job!” because honestly, it means more to me than you know.  and for peet’s sake, if you’re still reading at this point, i owe you a beverage because this has really dragged on!  anyhow, i felt it was important to be honest about the personal challenges i have faced, and to highlight that just as we all approach kcw differently, different magic happens in this week for us all.  i hope to see you all again this summer (and many of you in the meantime).  as for me, it’s a wednesday, so you know i have a busy day of sewing ahead!  and one last time, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. happy sewing!

5 Comments on kcw wrap up: thank you!

  1. Ash, I was sorry the timing didn’t work so well for me and KCW this time around, and I was only barely able to keep an eye on what was happening in the blogosphere last week. But I did manage to catch a bit of what you were up to and the recognition you received for it. I’m so glad you are feeling affirmed and healed by peoples’ positive responses. Your work is amazing. Your work ethic is amazing. Truly, what you’ve accomplished is mind blowing. And we would all be missing out if you weren’t over there doing the work that you are doing. The recognition is certainly deserved. And I am truly happy that you are finally feeling – knowing – that your work is worthwhile. We love you.

    • i really missed your voice and your art this past week! thank you so much for this very loving and caring comment. you are a dear friend, and i hope things settle enough soon in your new home that we can resume long distance bonding over frenetic sewing and knitting for our wee ones. love you, miss you!

    • oh nicole, i am so glad this resonates with you. it’s a tough journey, and i feel like i go backward at least as often as i go forward. it can be really lonely–nice to know i have company :)

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