Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

Going with the flow


As many of you will know, I’ve hit a few rocks in the river of life lately.  I thought it’s about time to write a little from the heart about what is going on chez Kiwiyarns, and give you a few more insights into what will be happening over the next 12 months or so.

I often think that life is like a river, and we are in a canoe going down it.  There are smooth bits and rough bits and bits where you turn the corner and go ‘whoa!!’ (in either a horrified scream or delightedly excited shout).  It helps to be observant of the landscape as you travel this river, and take clues from it about what you’re going to encounter next so you can try to paddle the right way.  It also helps to try to plan ahead to have the right gear in order to survive.

When I was made redundant late last year, I thought through all the possible scenarios that could occur down the next branch of this river, and made plans to avoid the very worst one:  ending up on state “benefits” after my small redundancy pay ran out.  This was not the place I ever wanted to be ever again after the unfortunate experiences of trying to find a job during the global financial crisis.  The prospect had me lying awake at night in terror at the thought of being in that awful situation.

To avoid this scenario and because I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a while, I enrolled in a full-time programme through distance learning.  The idea was that if a job came along before studies commenced, I could opt to learn part-time, or even park the idea for a while.  Doing this enabled me to be mentally prepared to go with the flow, whichever way events took me (and seal off the branch to that dead end called “Solo Parent Support”.)  If I ended up a student, with the prospect of a better future after graduation, that would be a much more productive and positive place to be.  I knew that all my self-confidence, resilience, life joy and my child’s health and quality of life would be drained away through the sanctions imposed while trying to stay alive under the enforced poverty that is state assistance.  I would also have to suffer all the associated negative impressions people have of others who are on the ‘benefit’ as it is called here.

As it is, I’ve hit a few rocks that were anticipated:  a job has failed to materialise.  I don’t have public sector work experience, and about 90% of the advertised work I have seen in my field lately is in this area.  I’m also concerned about the negative connotations of redundancy.

Potential employers often suspect that a redundancy is a soft firing.  In my case it was because of the financial situation that my former employer found itself in after it was slapped with a requirement to pay back millions of dollars in over funding.  I was one of quite a few let go at the time.  I do feel quite bitter, particularly as I had only been there for just over six months.  I feel that I am being unfairly punished for the mistakes of others that had nothing at all to do with me.

Although living in a semi-rural area has helped immensely with living costs, it has possibly also negatively influenced potential employer reactions (“she’ll always be late because the train is not reliable… will she be able to stand the long commutes every day? etc.”)  There are always so many factors involved in not being selected for an interview.

This week, the river of life delivered me to education’s shores.  I am now a full-time student, undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management.  It dovetails nicely with my current qualification in business management and my career skills (marketing/communications) and that should hopefully mean that by the time I graduate in a year’s time, I will have many more job options, and a new career path.  I am looking forward to being in formal education again!

Living on a student allowance is going to extremely hard.  What I get covers rent and food.  And that’s it.  I’ll need to find a part-time job to cover all life’s other essentials. Hopefully that kind of job will be easier to find.

Another positive in all of this is that I will have time to continue to design.  Part of me is chagrined that despite cultivating a profile, designing is still very much a hobby.  In analysing it though, I am aware that I haven’t exactly had much energy to devote to it in the past few years in between working practically full-time and attending to the needs of my children.  It also hasn’t helped that I have no release from childcare responsibilities (my family all live a long way from here, and my son’s father lives in the UK) to be able to attend things like knitting events or even knit nights, where I could meet people and in doing so also raise my profile as a designer.  So there is a bit of ‘why bother, you’ll never succeed in this area until those things change’ think happening.

The thing is, I like designing.  I can’t help myself but create things that I like and want to wear.  And then I think that I should share those designs with you because others might like it too.   I have decided that I am going to keep on doing it, as designing gives me intellectual stimulation and challenge and a sense of achievement and joy to see the finished product.  Seeing my designs being enjoyed by others it a wonderful thrill.  This kind of happiness cannot be bought and is rare to find in the world of working.  It helps to keep me emotionally balanced.

My definition of success therefore needs to be seen from a different perspective.  It cannot be defined in terms of financial return.  Until I am able to travel and meet people, and until I have dedicated time to devote to designing every day, I know I will never make a living from designing.  And that is okay, because I understand the reason why, and it’s not the purpose of my work. Perhaps I don’t want it to be my job in any event.  To design properly for a living and keep a constant source of patterns coming to keep up follower interest, you cannot knit for leisure.  I am not ready to give up my fun knitting and turn it all into work just yet.  Knitting for a living also requires you to supplement your income from designing with things like teaching.  I don’t have the time for that either at the moment.

Some of you have already pointed out that I don’t charge very much for my designs and this could improve my income.  This is a point of frustration for me.  I know that my designs are worth more.  I could charge “market rate” for them, because I know that they are quality work.  I’ve always been on the side of keeping things affordable though, which is why I initially made everything free.  Not everyone can afford to pay NZ$25 – $30 for a single skein of yarn, or over $100 for the materials for a garment, or NZ$10 for a pattern (at current exchange rates, I’ve even seen some patterns well into the NZ$15 mark!)

Knitting is not an exclusive activity for the well-off. It should never be turned into that.

There is a range of prices for yarn:  you can buy very cheap and not very good yarn; you can buy good quality yarns at reasonable prices, or go all the way to paying high prices for luxury yarns. I’m not sure what is happening on the pattern front though.  It seems that patterns are universally getting more and more expensive, which is unfortunate because it does contribute a lot to the cost of knitting.  On the other hand, I am also painfully aware of how much time and energy it takes to get a pattern to release stage, and that effort does need to be compensated and recognised. As the market for patterns is heavily saturated, most designers usually only get one go at making a return from their pattern: at release.  I suspect this is one of the reasons for the higher prices.

I may end up having to raise my prices, as I notice how ridiculously under market rates I am.  That is not a good thing either:  potential purchasers can be known to think, “oh it’s too cheap, there must be something wrong with it.”  I also need to ask for more just so that I can afford to keep knitting (proceeds from designing will be the sole source of funds for yarn, tools and pattern purchases from now on until my financial situation improves and I can again make ‘capital contributions’!) From that perspective, I am glad and feel lucky that I am a recognised designer. If I didn’t have the small source of funds that I get from designing and if I didn’t have my well-cultivated stash, I would have to give up knitting.

So that’s it.  Life for the next 12 months is very likely to be study, designing and part-time/contract work (the final piece of gear I need for this particular river branch).  I’m crossing my fingers it all works out.  It’s going to be full-on!  I’m also very glad to be part of organising Yarnville – for once, I’m going to be able to attend a knitting event!  Hoorah!  And as an additional plus from my son’s perspective, he gets to come home straight after school instead of going to after school care.

I am very grateful to the very kind knitters from all over the world who took some yarn off my hands this week. It paid for the rent, and gave me the small bridge I needed between now and when my student allowance starts.  Thank you all again!  The global community of knitters is one that I am constantly thankful for in so many ways.  You are awesome.

This week brought in the Chinese New Year.  I wish you all Good Luck, Good Health and Happiness in this Year of the Monkey!  May all your endeavours and efforts be justly rewarded!

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Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

51 thoughts on “Going with the flow

  1. OH, what a thoughtful yet up lifting post. Yes it is uplifting because you are clear in your goals and you will do well. Thank you for your honesty. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. I wish you well and you certainly deserve to do really well with your positive approach to the river of life. During the two redundancies in this house we were advised to keep notes in a cheap exercise book of every lead, every job application, every phone call, any little thing really – it seemed to solidify efforts and keep the monkey mind much calmer as well as telling whoever runs the river of life that we were acting and wanting a result.
    Is it worth joining this Facebook group: It might just net a contract or part time job to help while you are studying. Networking and talking to any and everyone was the other advice we were given.

    This lovely woman and total creative is based in Greytown(where I was born!) She and her husband run a great cafe in Greytown……she may be someone to get to know and network with, if you haven’t already.

    All the very best! Cheers Lynley 🙂

    • Those are all good leads. Thank you so much Lynley. 🙂 I have seen heartfelt’s blog and instagram feed. Perhaps one day I’ll pluck up the courage to physically say hello.

      • We had a meal in her restaurant and I said I was a follower of her blog. I think Heartfelt might be a little shy and retiring too! Word of mouth re jobs/contracts is often the best way to get work. All the very best!

  3. I can see how it’s hard for you to attend knit nights, but maybe you could host one at your home instead? No-one will mind if your house isn’t immaculate, and the catering could be shared, so that all of the work isn’t on your shoulders. Just an idea that might help you to meet like-minded knitters.

  4. What an excellent metaphor for life, especially for those moments when you feel things have gotten away from you or the situation you’re in isn’t in your control. Your situation plain sucks, and I very much hope your year as a student offers some relief from the stresses of trying to find work in a crappy market. I think a year’s program is a great solution, and I’m so pleased you’re going to continue designing and knitting! Now more than ever, perhaps, is a reminder that EZ got it right: Knit on, through all crises!

    • Knitting is such a wonderful activity. My life would be so much the poorer without all the things that it has brought to me – friendship, community, creative satisfaction. All the best for your year too!

  5. You are amazing and a strong woman to singly raise your boy and go back to school. I will think about you.

  6. I’m glad you managed to share your yarn stash and that it paid the rent. I am sure you’ll do well at your studies and I hope that it gets you a terrific job once you have your Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management. Keep on paddling!

  7. Whow… these are open words!
    I’m very impressed and close to tears. It reminds me to feel even more thankfull about my personal situation than I already do. And gives me something to think deeper about. I do think too, that there is a special vibe in the knitting community, at least the one which useses the internet, social media…
    I whish I could attend Yarnville…
    Greetings with warm thoughts from cold, windy and rainy Germany

  8. Congratulations for taking the plunge to become a student again! We have a supermarket here in the UK whose slogan is ‘every little helps’ so I thought I would include you on our Facebook page with a link to your patterns and our newsletter. We have a lot of sock knitters in our Guild and you never know!
    Bimbi x

  9. I wish you all the very best. Your determination will ensure that you succeed. Studying won’t be easy but it will be rewarding and hopefully lead to a new career. If designing is your soul food you must keep doing it and continue to enjoy the pleasure of seeing others work your designs. I am looking forward to Yarnville, I’m so pleased it is a yarn event close to home! Take care and enjoy your beautiful location.

  10. You’ll be a fantastic student. I’m a firm believer in fate. And how nice for your it to come straight home. If I was nearer I’d boy sit so you could go to knit night xxx chin up xx

  11. It sounds like you have a clear path forwards for a while at least. I’ve just checked what I paid for your Sprig pattern. Yes, you could at least charge more for new patterns when you bring them out. Perhaps keep one or two free so people can sample your style. Wishing you the best of luck with your studies and finding a part-time job….and looking forward to more of your designs!

    • Free patterns will always be there. It is a good way for people to try out my work before buying pay for patterns and also helpful for those on strict budgets. Thanks for your well wishes!

  12. Wow – coming through the rapids, it sounds like you have a plan to come out on the other side, even if it means bailing for a few months. As for designing – I am a firm believer in pricing hand made/designed things at what they are really worth, so do raise your pattern prices to market level. You can always offer coupons, specials, etc to make them affordable, but you will benefit so much if you make more money per sale. And as others have said, keep a couple free for those on budgets. And keep on designing, keep on building that aspect of life. It doesn’t; need to support you (yea!) but it gives you pleasure AND extra money.

    • Well laid plans of mice and men can sometimes come to ruin, but I really am hoping it’s going to work out. Thank you for your encouragement to keep on designing. I will definitely be looking to do that.

  13. Goals and consequences. You have certainly been thorough in your planning and I think your choices are good. Becoming a student may widen your horizons beyond your expectations! I certainly hope so. Don’t spread yourself out too thin and try to do too much. It is easy to do. Sometimes we have to give up what we enjoy most to accomplish our goals (and then pick them back up later after we have settled). There never seems to be enough time to do it all!! You are young and very intelligent and seem to be using good common sense in what you do. I wish you well in your journey – and let us all know how you are doing . . .

  14. Keep up the good work! As they say when one door closes another opens. It has been my experience that the new door opens to something better. Love your designs and hope you keep on designing. Anything that brings joy is well worth doing.

  15. Wishing you the very best of luck in the coming year. It sounds like you’ve given everything very careful thought and are in an excellent headspace about all aspects of your life right now, even the difficult bits, and that’s half the battle.

  16. I am glad that you have made some decisions on how to move forward. I think not knowing what to do when encountering hardship is perhaps the worst part of all. Everything seems like a good and simultaneously bad idea. I’m sure that studying will open many more doors for you. And as you said, it will be a boost in self confidence!

  17. I would love to give you a big hug, pat you on the back and say ‘there, there’. That’s what my Mum used to do when I was a kid and it always made me feel a little better. If only I lived near you, I could give you some moral support. Enrolling in your course is such a positive move and you will have some excellent skills for any employer, as you do now. I will keep my fingers crossed for you in the hope everything moves in the direction you wish it to. As a single Mum of a boy, I know what you’re experience somewhat. Although my boy is now 28 and moved out of home, I did raise him alone since I was 6 months pregnant and know the pressures this involves to provide a stable, happy home, food on the table, clothes on his back and lots of love and support. Your son (and other children) are lucky to have such a devoted and sensible Mum who is taking control of her future. You rock!!!

  18. When you make a decision and have a good solid plan, the universe opens up all sorts of opportunities. You have a lot of support! And you write beautifully. What about putting your pattern designs in a book along with your stories? Just an idea for down the road. You could include some of your blog posts.

    • A book is something I have been mulling for quite a bit of time. Perhaps this year may give me the opportunity to pursue it. I appreciate the time you took to think of something to suggest and put it to me. 🙂

  19. I don’t think you need to worry about stigma attached to redundancy, especially if it has happened to many at your workplace. In any case, it can be quite obvious if an employer is trying to use this just to get rid of unwanted employees because they’ll be trying to find replacements soon after – and that’s totally illegal.
    I do wish you the best of luck with your career this year ( I also have personal experience of being in financially dire straits but at least for you the benefit is there if you need it).

  20. I’ve just some back to re-read your lovely post (lovely because it is so honest and endearing) after reading it on-the-hop in the midst of a flurry of goings on. I do admire your determination and planning. Do keep designing, yes yes yes, your patterns are very good and you will at least maintain a presence for when the universe opens with that moment of serendipity. I agree with Soknitsome that you could (safely) tweak your prices. Good luck and good vibes coming your way.

  21. I wish you all the best. You are very talented and I hope you do well. Also congratulations on getting in the top 100 knitting blogs.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I saw that notification re the knitting blog from the source but thought it was junk/spam. Will have to go and pay attention now!

  22. Hi Wei, Thank you for sharing your honest and thoughtful look on life and what so many of us know others have to go through. You are in my prayers and thoughts. I think you are amazing and it shows in all that you do and say. I hope big things happen for you but only what you want to happen. Have a wonderful weekend, xoRobin

  23. Sending lots of love your way. You are a strong woman and I know that you will sort things, one way or the other! Stay open minded and things will come to you!
    Yarnville sounds exciting! Maybe I should apply for a spot?

    • Thank you Helene. Absolutely re Yarnville! We’re sending out invitations very, very soon and your name is on the list. It would be delightful to have you there!

  24. Best wishes for your year. It is a lot of ‘balls’ to juggle all at once, but you have a clear view and that is half the battle. I think keeping at the design part is the piece that you do for ‘you’. And that is necessary too. You will succeed.

  25. I think this is really, really brave of you. I will keep my fingers crossed that you will find a partt-ime job that you like (and maybe, just to throw in an extra piece of optimism, this part-time job might turn into more?)!

    I really admire your strength and your ability to look on the bright side – although it’s not easy, and I can imagine that!
    Lots, and lots of love!! You will do it!

  26. I love your metaphor of the river. We are all on this same river – just in different boats and at different places in the river. I love to canoe and you can always control the canoe better if you keep moving forward. It sounds like you have your canoe under control. Keep moving forward and beautiful things will happen for you. I’m glad you will keep designing. Now, where did I put that half-finished, Steampunk Mitten? (the pattern for which was too darn cheap, by the way!)

    • I really like your addition to the metaphor – it really does make sense to keep moving forward! And also, I do love your reference to the job being made redundant, not me. I like that – it sounds a LOT better! Thanks!!

  27. Oh – one more thing – you are NOT redundant. Thank goodness they don’t use that term here in the USA. They just “eliminate your job”. Somehow that sounds better. It’s your job that’s redundant, not you!