On 9/16/10, I bought handsoccupied.com and signed up for a few social media accounts under the name handsoccupied. Over the next week or so, I learned how to install WordPress on my new internet domain, installed some templates, learned to customize them, tried my hand at basic graphics, and then I used my handy iPhone 3 (lol), to shoot a nice picture of my homemade wedding bouquet. On September 22, the first Hands Occupied blog post went live, and, well, here we are! Ten years on, in the midst of a pandemic and on the cusp of the release of my first book, I am a full time professional craft designer and content creator with my own studio in Chicago. (For new folks, welcome! I’m Heidi, and I specialize in yarn crafts, like knitting, crochet, latch hook and macrame.)
I fell into this whole career butt first during the last recession, but at this point, that feels beyond irrelevant. I’m here, I like creating things from a place of joy, and I like making content sharing my love of crafts. Some people will never understand why you’d want to latch hook a two foot popsicle or knit a ten skein intarsia afghan in nine bold colors. Those are not my people, and it’s all good.
anxiety + confidence
It took a lot of work on myself over the last decade to develop the confidence to say that last sentence. These days, I know who I am as a creative, I know what steps I want to take next, I know what my style is, and it is absolutely valid, even if someone else doesn’t think so.
At first I was terrified people would be angry my work was evolving too much. In the last 18 months or so, I have (finally, thankfully) found my stride and come into my own as a latch hook designer. But after several years of being known most for knitting & crochet, it was hard to be confident in focusing on the perhaps-anachronistic craft of latch hook in 2020 and beyond. (Plus I still wanted to do knit design, but after my arthritis issues, I can’t do that exclusively. It’s just not in the cards.)
Consistency is something I’ve always struggled with in my work on Hands Occupied. Whether to focus on happy blogger style work or to “get serious” and “become a serious sort of fiber designer.” In the end, though, we all define what the words serious and success mean for ourselves, particularly in self-driven creative spaces. As long as I work to stay in touch with understanding where I want to go with my career, and not be distracted by the wrong opportunity or energy-sucking projects, I know I will keep stitching along. I love what I do, and I’m excited to tackle another decade of creative work.
15 lessons learned in 10 years of blogging:
- You have more resources than you think
- Your work is better then you think
- People do actually like you
- Anxiety/insecurity can make people act like jerks (*raises hand* 😉)
- All creation is valid. Seriousness doesn’t necessarily equal great work.
- Be careful with your energy
- People want to tap into your knowledge but no one likes a know-it-all.
- It’s important to go slow sometimes.
- Chatting on social media, really connecting in the comments, is a challenge for me that I need do work on. I think it’s tied to introversion, but I’m figuring it out.
- I find knitting with good technique really satisfying, and it’s fine that that is somewhat unusual. 😊
- I love knitting intarsia, and it’s fine that that is very unusual. 🤣
- If I could only design 2 things for the rest of my career, it would be seamed intarsia sweaters and latch hook projects. ❤️ 💛 💙
- Care, but make your deadlines & don’t be too precious.
- Don’t take too much on.
- When you (finally) understand who you are & what makes you tick, it’s much easier to understand what success means for you personally. And that matters!
Thank you all who have been following along with Hands Occupied for a short time, and deep thanks to those who have been around here for the long haul. You are so appreciated, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without your support. 🙏🏼 ❤️
About My Latch Hook Book
Oh right! It’s fall this week, and I’ve been saying since March that my first book, Latch Hook: 12 Projects for the Modern Maker, comes out this fall. Originally my book was supposed to come out this summer, BUT the pandemic had other plans. (Whaddayagonnado.) Then in July, edits were finalized and the book was sent to its U.S.-based printer. To the best of my knowledge as of this writing, my book should still be out this fall. In fact, it could be any day now. There’s a bit of a backlog in the publishing industry right now, so there are many things out of my control. (Whaddayagonnado.)
Whaddya mean, whaddayagonnado?
All we can do is wait, so as soon as the book can be ordered, I will let you all know! When I have my hands on a copy, I’ll take pictures. (Actually I’m sure I’ll cry first as I marvel at its very existence in such a bizarre year.) And then I have a promotion plan in place, so when it’s ready, it’s ready. For now, all I can do is focus on what’s within my control. Speaking of which….
Hands Occupied has a new look & a revamped Shop is coming later this week!
New look 👀
Quietly this summer, I’ve been working on updating the logo to be a little more friendly and joyful and less knitting-specific, with a little nod to the vintage aesthetics I so love. In addition, things have been super slowly getting updated on the back end of the site, like old posts getting updated, cleaning up the editing side of the site for my own sanity, etc. It’s kind of like doing a spring cleaning, but just like spring cleaning, I’m glad I don’t have to do it very often! 😆
Revamped shop with surprises to come!
To celebrate ten years of Hands Occupied and the new look, there will soon be some shiny new additions to the online shop. In the past, the Hands Occupied Shop was pretty much about having a place to sell pattern PDFs without the middle man. Since I now have that infrastructure in place, I want to give physical products a try, starting with a drop of the first exclusive Hands Occupied enamel pins later this week. (Don’t worry, they are NOT the new logo.) Stay tuned here and on Instagram this week for all the details!
With that, here’s to a decade of Hands Occupied! I truly wouldn’t be here without you, and this strange career has certainly changed my life for the happier. I’m so grateful. Thank you.
Yours in yarn,