It’s been a quiet couple of years in terms of output from yours truly. Between losing my Studio space and a range of small setbacks, I found myself succumbing to burnout more and more easily. As a former public librarian, burnout is a feeling I became acquainted with in the months leading up to my leaving the profession years ago. That familiar feeling has had me reconsidering my creative career for the past few years. Especially after finishing my book in 2020, I struggled to find interest in crafting like I used to. (A couple of world events may or may not have added a little *spice* to the mix too. 😉)
Thinking positively, this creative ambivalence led to me finding the time, strength, & juice to explore why I needed such a massive coping mechanism in my life. I wanted to explore why I had so much anxiety that I’d craft until I had a repetitive stress injury (carpal tunnel & tendinitis, usually). Or why I always had to travel with at least a couple WIPs in tow. It may be something the yarn community loves to joke about on TikTok or Instagram Reels, but compulsively staying up for hours past my bedtime, lost in a project, on a regular basis, for me, was not a sign of great mental health.
Short of sharing the nitty gritty of my personal journey with therapy, let’s just say something I’ve always said about Hands Occupied: it didn’t get its name out of nowhere. I’ve always been anxious. Knitting, followed by other yarn crafts and sewing, was my first healthy coping mechanism for that stress. Over the years, it became clear that just crafting wasn’t going to address my anxiety, but I’m so grateful it helped me be able to carry it better. Therapy has helped me process the lessons I’m learning and sections of life I’m reflecting on. I’ll always be a crafter, but for the last few years, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to craft professionally.
The funny thing about burnout and therapy is that on the other side of the disjointed processing process, I found the desire to keep crafting, just with a lot more intention. Being a creative person online can sometimes feel like you’re stuck on a carousel, strapped in your seat, going around and around in the same circle, without a way to get off.
To continue this comparison, there’s not much I can do about the carousel feeling that creative work evokes, but this time, I’m not getting on that carnival ride blindly. I know that I need to pick a horse to ride that’s sustainable to avoid feeling so burned out again. Maybe one of the comfier seats will be available?
Thank you for indulging this extended metaphor.
In the coming weeks, you can expect new video tutorials from Hands Occupied! It’s kind of where I left off after launching my book, and YouTube is a space that can always use quality needlecraft content. A great place to start the new year is casting on, don’t you think? Some of my most popular YouTube videos feature cast on tutorials, and there are several techniques I have yet to cover. I’ve hosted a lot of videos for other companies in the past, but I’ve never been in control of the editing, distribution, or ownership if it wasn’t done for my own Hands Occupied channel. It just feels like the right next step… the right carnival horse, if you will. 😉
More to come soon,
I’m just here saying hi and being glad that you exist!
Thanks, Haley! You made my morning.:)
I was just rereading your book this week and love it just as much as always. It brings me such joy! I hope you can find something healthy that sparks more joy for you too. :)
Thanks so much, Katie! :)
Hi Heidi, what a thoughtful post and one that resonates. Last night we were watching a video and I though, “I need to be doing something with my hands,” and of course I had no ongoing project so that would mean stopping the stream, digging out something that may or may not be something I want to do right now and starting. So, I didn’t — and felt edgy about it all through the show!
I was pleased to see your blog turn up in my feed again. Congratulations on your book. And good luck with your videos and picking the right horse to ride. (Do you remember me from your time at WKAR? I used to work across the hall from you and Bill.) — jeanie from Marmelade Gypsy
It’s great to hear from you, and I remember you from WKAR! Thank you for the kind words about the book. Hoping you’re well!
Looking forward to learning from you. I need to learn how to fix knitting mistakes like picking up dropped stitches etc. Is there anything you have on your site about this?
I am going to do some new videos in the next month or so about fixing mistakes, “laddering down”, etc., which I think is what you’re looking for. It’s been on my to-tutorial list forever!
For now, I have a video tutorial & blog post on fixing brioche knitting (why I did brioche before everyday dropped stitches? no clue 😆): https://www.handsoccupied.com/fixing-brioche/ Stay tuned for the new videos – I’m aiming for February for those.
Marcia, this one’s for you: https://www.handsoccupied.com/common-knitting-mistakes/
There’s a post & video covering fixing mistakes, I hope it’s helpful!