Saturday, February 7, 2009

On "Valuing Our Work"

Annie Modesitt, designer, knitter, wise woman, has posted this in her blog. Knitters and designers, read it and take strength from it. Publishers and editors, read it and sit up and take notice.

The overt message is for us, as designers, to value our work enough to demand that publishers compensate us fairly, especially in this world of paid downloadable patterns vs free downloadable patterns.

But for me, there is also a covert message for us to value our work enough that the outside, non-knitting world recognizes that what we do has merit and weight. Over the past four years, I've moved out of the craft-show circuit where I had something to show for my day's work (bins of sweaters and hats, a show schedule, signs, a receipt book, etc.).

Now, I'm dealing with intangibles: an on-line business selling kits and patterns that don't exist until someone makes a purchase; designing for yarn stores and on-line publications; ideas in sketch books. Often, there's nothing to point to at the end of the day and say, Look, this is what I did today. Or it's hard to convey the rush I get when 100 people on Ravelry favorited a new design.

Tangible/intangible. Real world/the tubes of the internet.

Being invisible makes it difficult to be heard. Not being heard makes it difficult to be taken seriously (by non-knitters; knitters get it).

Years ago, my daughter made reference to "Mom's hobby job". Being young, that was how she was able to express how my hobby had become my job, but put in those specific words and in the context of adult jobs, that phrase summed up how much of society looked at what I did.

Even today, when I have my own workroom and take what I do seriously, I still get the phone call in the middle of the day, asking if I can pick up pants at the cleaners, run an errand, help someone out. I know I wouldn't get these phone calls if I left the house every morning and had a "real" job.

I am assertive about what I do, even if people glaze over when I respond to their question of what do I do. No, it's not high-powered or easily pigeon-holed; it's a legitimate career; it's what I do.

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