How do you measure a year? I remember the first time that question was posed to me. It was in the form of a song, Seasons of Love from RENT. The light above my middle school head flicked to life. How do I measure a year? At the time, I would have answered in grades or successes. My formative years were spent competing in academia. The competitive nature in me had served me well thus far. Once I became involved in the fiber world, however, I grew to realize that mindset wasn't what I should be basing my yearly trip around the sun on.
Two years ago I had just barely found my way to the crochet and knit community through Instagram. Up to that point, I had been sat in my room for years, crocheting granny squares and single crochet beanies just for the love of crafting. I had never even interacted with another person online who crafted, let alone in person. Finding this community was a serendipitous moment that I will never forget. I tend to have little moments that are gifts from the universe to let me know my current path is true. This was one of those and I am ever thankful. It seems that my craft grew overnight. Gone were the days of only granny stitch and single crochet rectangles. I began reading patterns, working on increasingly complex projects, and designing as well. The only real explanation I have for this is that I was so eager to share what I was working on with the community who had opened up their arms to me.
I recently looked back at my "goals" post for 2018 on Instagram. In reading my post, I had to laugh. At the time, my goals were intentionally vague. My biggest goal was to collaborate more, and even that seemed like a grandiose vision to me. I believe wholeheartedly in one thing. Some call it the universe, some call it positive thinking or the Law of Attraction, but the principle remains the same; your thoughts become your reality. I thought of a year full of new beginnings and friendships and was given them back tenfold. I would be remiss if I didn't take the time now to reflect on these mile markers of my time in 2018. For all intents, this is a love letter. To myself, to my friends, to the universe, and to my latest year on this earth.
There is so much of the year to unpack, and I know I will not have the time to go over it all in detail. If I fail to mention something or someone (which I am sure will happen), know that my heart is still full of love and gratitude for the positive impact they have had in my life.
The beginning of the year saw two big things happen simultaneously. Firstly, my good friend Ali decided to run a feature article on me and my craft in our school paper. It was a beautifully written piece that I will fondly look back on for years as the first publication that fully tied me to the fiber arts. Funnily enough, the day I was interviewed and photographed for the story, I received an email from Red Heart. Sometime before that, I had submitted a crochet pattern to see if they would be interested in having me freelance for them. Truth be told, I didn't expect to hear back. I had two patterns to my name and was green as the day is long. They saw potential, however, and that email was an acceptance. With that, I began designing alongside America's Favorite Yarn. I’ve since worked on quite a few projects with them, and can honestly say that they live up to their namesake.
I found time between my hired design work and school to begin my La Vie Boheme Shawl. What started as a small kerchief grew to an oversized wrap shawl who’s conception in and of itself could be an entirely separate blog post. In summation, the design to me was more than an accessory pattern. It was a symbol of my flourishing friendships within this community, particularly with three dear crafters; Anna of Moontower Dyeworks, Alex of Alexcreates, and Claudia of Crochetluna. All had sent separate skeins of yarn that I had incorporated into the first shawl. This is not the time or place to get into my background, but it was certainly rocky at times. I will one day talk about those times, and how crochet helped me find my way out of them. The throughline that can be drawn, however, is that I have always been looking for my tribe. The ambiverts, the polymaths, the bohemians who march to the beat of their own drum. Through the shawl, I understood that I had found some of those people, and I felt my light get brighter.
My newfound freelancing, feature article, and friendships gave me the confidence that I needed to take the next leap in my career. I knew that the next logical step for me was publication, whether in craft magazines or my own book. I also knew that in order to reach that goal, I would need insight into the designer world. I spent the time to find people within the fiber community who’s path I could look to as a blueprint, and titans of the field to model myself after. I quickly realized that the perfect representation of that to me was Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby of The Shibaguyz. I sent an email in March to their contact page asking for any pertinent advice. Like Red Heart, I wasn’t holding my breath for an answer. Within the week, though, I was on the phone talking with them. Any of my most fanciful ideas of their response to my email was blown out of the water. Through our first phone call, they mentioned the idea of mentorship and I was shocked, to say the least. I was unsure if I was ready, or even talented enough for something of that caliber. That is when the universe gave me another nudge to help me along my path. It was a few words from Shannon that sealed it for me, “We think you could be a part of our tribe.”
For the summer months, I stayed hard at work fine-tuning my craft, working through quite a few freelance commisions and personal patterns. One day I got a message from The Guys that an opportunity to go to Stitches Midwest had presented itself. Needlepoints West, a yarn shop out of LA was interested in having me work in their booth and showing my La Vie Boheme Shawl on the Stitches runway. I was a healthy mix of honored and nervous. The entire experience was truly amazing and went by in a blur of yarn and kombucha. That isn’t an exaggeration either, I always had my hand on a skein of yarn, and drank my weight in kombucha. Make of that what you will. The highlight of my trip was not only meeting Shannon and Jason in person but also meeting Joanne, the owner of Needlepoints West, who had opened her arms to me and given me an amazing opportunity. It was at this Stitches convention that I also discovered my love of instructing by means of demonstrations on the Playground floor.
I began fall classes at college shortly thereafter and again was called into the Needlepoints West family for Stitches SoCal. SoCal brought along many other amazing experiences. It was there that I met another person from the Shibatribe, Arica of Skeinsnsticks Designs. I was fortunate enough to room with her and to say that we hit it off would be an understatement. By the end of our time at that convention, I felt that I had gained a sister.
The final segment of 2018 that needs mention happened the weekend after I arrived home from LA. The East Texas Fiber Festival was nothing short of magic. I spent the weekend at the Moontower Dyeworks booth and had an absolutely amazing time with Anna and her niece Whitney. I also got to spend time with a handful of familiar faces from Instagram like Anna of Pasely Ducky, Logan, and Jose of Leon Alexander Yarns, and Joanna of Potion Yarns. I also had the pleasure of meeting new people like my new friends at Savvy Skeins or Shipwrecked Sheep. The weekend was topped off by my first ever class where I helped Debra of Diary of a Physicist Farmgirl navigate crochet cables as a leftie. The festival was much smaller than either Stitches Convention but had the same amount of heart. I left with my suitcase full of fiber, and a bright, fresh outlook on what I and others were building.
There is so much that this year has given me in way of food for thought, and amazing experiences. This long post honestly only scratches the surface. So where does that leave me? The biggest lesson that the universe has brought me this year is being open to the unconditional love of others, and giving my love freely in return. To not be so guarded, and embrace the fact that people still give out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s something that has been made abundantly clear over the course of this insane year, and something I know I will still be working through in the future. 2018 marks the first year I measured in love, and it feels so damn great.
Quayln is the creator behind everything QUOE.