Tomorrow will be the last day at my job. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to phrase that, actually. How to distinguish my work at an Asian food distributor, and my work as a knitwear designer. It is my ‘day’ job (which makes it sound like my knitwear design job is a ‘night’ job?), my job working for someone other than myself? My past self would call it my ‘proper’ job, even though my job as a knitwear designer is just as worthy of being called a proper job, even more so: it is a career. Some of my friends and colleagues call my knitwear designer career a ‘hobby’ *cringe*. I’m going to reference a video from Elizabeth Gilbert (Author of “Big Magic”, which I heartily recommend to any creative!) In this video, she explains the differences between 4 words: hobby, job, career, and vocation.
A hobby is something that gives you pleasure. The stakes are zero; you don’t need to make money from your hobby, you don’t need to get famous from your hobby, nobody needs to even know about your hobby.
A job is a means to pay your bills. Not much else. You don’t have to love your job, your job doesn’t need to have meaning, it just needs to pay.
A career is a job that you are passionate about, and that you love. You’re willing to put in extra hours, you’re willing to do almost everything for it! You should love your career – or not have one.
A vocation. The highest most glorious pursuit of all. A calling, a purpose. Nobody can give it to you, and nobody can take it from you. Someone can fire you from your job, but nobody can take your vocation.
Creating knitting and crochet patterns, recording tutorial videos so I can teach others how to knit or crochet and spread this wonderful feeling of making something with your hands, sticks and string, that is my vocation. Making others enthusiastic about creating handmade items, in this world where everything is made by machines. Teaching post-apocalyptic skills, if you like to look at it from that point of view. Going back to basics. That is my vocation.
Working at an Asian food distributor was my job, a way to finance my dream.
Being a knitwear and crochet designer, a podcaster, a teacher, an indie dyer, a blogger; this is my career in the fiber industry. Not my ‘hobby’, not my ‘jobby’, not my ‘side hustle’. It is my career.
Knitting is still my hobby, as is crocheting. I still knit patterns by other designers. I don’t see this as work. Creating patterns, making notes, calculating sizes, editing patterns and vlogs and videos, that is my work, those actions contribute to my career.
So, going back to the beginning of this blogpost; tomorrow will be the last day at my current job. I’ve had this job for almost 5 years. I’ve worked 40 hours a week for the first 3 years, and 32 hours a week for the past 2 years, so I could spend one day a week at home and work on my career. The past few months have been tough as I continued to navigate the balance between my job and my career, and my social life. I was always pressed for time. I was always working. Time off from my job would be spent on my career, and vice versa. I needed more time. So, I talked to my managers to see if a 24H job would be possible. Long story short, it wasn’t.
I started looking for jobs elsewhere, with around 20 hours a week. There were loads in my area alone and got feedback almost straight away. But something didn’t feel right. Even though a job with fewer hours would give me more time to work on my career, a new job will require more time at first. It will take up more brain space getting used to the new routine. It would be months before I would get used to my new job and finally have some more breathing space to work more intensively on my career, otherwise I would surely get burnt out.
That’s when suddenly I thought, what if I don’t get a new job immediately? What if I wait a couple months? What if I try it out what it is like to work fulltime on my career? I started feeling a bit nervous, but a ‘good’ nervous, if you will. A tingle of excitement. What if this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for? Then, a pang of fear. What if it won’t work? I’ve always said to myself things would take off when I would quit my job, when I would finally have “the time”. What if it doesn’t? Then I was reminded of a short poem by Erin Hanson.
There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?
What if it all goes right? I’m not sure if I even dare to dream that big. But here’s to trying!
So, a month ago, I gave my notice at my job. September 20th would be my last day. And it’s tomorrow! I’m having all kinds of emotions right now. I’m 100% certain I made the right choice, but it still feels weird to leave a job I’ve been working at for almost 5 years, to leave a place of certainty and routine, to leave my coworkers. My colleagues are sad but also excited, same for myself actually. I’ve been getting better at explaining what exactly it is that I do. Beware, this will be a little bit ranty! A lot of my friends and coworkers think that I knit made-to-order things. That I sell actual handmade items. I try to explain that instead of the chef working in a restaurant, I’m the chef selling a recipe book. I don’t make physical handmade items to sell, I sell the patterns. I suspect many of my coworkers don’t know that I design what I make, that I actually come up with the stitch patterns etcetera. That magazines publish my work, and that it’s not just ‘a pair of socks that I knit’ that’s on the cover, it’s my design. I’m not a chef making ‘my own version’ of a pasta Bolognese, I design new things. Sure, us designers use the same ‘ingredients’: the same stitches, the same yarn perhaps, the same colours, but the outcome is different.
While we’re on the subject, let’s debunk a few more myths. So many of my friends think that I will be ‘knitting fulltime’ now. Actually, I am knitting less and less as I’m focusing on the pattern writing, translating, editing, photography etc, and finding others to knit my patterns for me. While people wished me ‘happy knitting’ on my Thursday off every week, I was actually knitting much less that day than on other days. I do look forward to making more time for ‘recreational’ knitting on the evenings and weekends!
I had some misconceptions myself as well. Same as for many of my friends, I thought that quitting my day job would be the very last step towards becoming a designer fulltime. Some people think I’ve already ‘made it’, now that I can quit my job. Sure, my business is going really well, but I won’t be able to support myself from my business alone, not just yet. Quitting my job is just another step along the way. It sure is a big step though, I’ll give you that!
Working fulltime for myself, I’ll have to get even more disciplined, I’ll have to plan things (I’m a terrible planner), I’ll have to set goals, big goals and small ‘shuffle’ goals as my coach calls them. I’ll be more alone than ever, but also closer to the community I long to keep building. And as an INFP with a cancer zodiac sign (yes I’m into that shit), I’m good with being by myself and working independently towards my own goals.
I could not be more excited for what’s coming next.
If you’d like to continue following me on my journey and receive awesome bonuses along the way, be sure to check out my Patreon page where I will be focusing most of my attention on the next couple of months! And as always, find me as @newleafdesigns.nl on Instagram for almost daily updates.
Until next time,