Craft Table Chats – Looking Ahead to 2015 (and the Year of the Ram)

This was supposed to be a blog series to ring in the New Year. (Glances sheepishly at calendar.) So, we are about a month behind my imagined schedule, but I wanted to give proper attention to everyone’s responses and make sure it all flowed together. Thankfully, my Chinese heritage gives me a second (Lunar) New Year to celebrate and schedule this blog series around.

So let’s dive into the last Craft Table Chat, looking ahead to this Year of the Ram and the remaining 10.5 months of 2015.

I regularly make New Years resolutions on January 1. I also spend a few hours each year in December reading blog posts and psychological editorials about resolutions — are they effective? What alternatives are popular this year? Are they mentally healthy? (Especially for personalities that are prone to self-criticism and perfectionism?)

Do you regularly make resolutions?

Tasukigirl – I do! This year’s resolution is to “get shit done.”

Tyraenna – I made some last year for the blog. In my everyday life, I don’t seem to make as many.

Sarah – I don’t.

Brooke – No because I know my life as a freelancer often forces me to put my personal goals aside. Resolutions tend to make me focus on my shortcomings and that is seriously un-motivating.

Tally – Kind of? Not formally, but I often make plans, and general determinations about simplifying my life. Ask me again next year how that’s working out. >_<

Amy – I love dreaming big but then dialing back and setting broad but hopefully high-impact goals.

Tara – Yes! I don’t always wait until the new year. I make resolutions on my birthday, at the anniversary of my blog forming, and whenever I just need to refresh my thinking and goals

Meris – This year I did not make formal resolutions or “resewlutions” like I did last year – am usually halfway successful with them. I am, instead, listening to you all and considering your perspectives. I have already found myself thinking a lot about “intention” and my mental health in relation to sewing. I’ll have more to say on that in a few days after I get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper…er…I mean, keyboard and screen.

Is there a “big leap” that you recently took or that you plan to take soon?

Amy- Does having a baby count?!

Meris – Absolutely!

Sarah –  I’m currently 4 months pregnant and I’m anxious about how that will factor into my life.  I have been talking to other creative professionals with children to learn how they manage.  It’s hard to imagine how I’ll juggle everything and whether my crazy life up to now will help in this process or hinder.

Brooke – Nothing planned at the moment. But my schedule is a constant question mark because of freelancing – it can change in less than 24 hours.

Tara – I may be taking on a full-time job soon, which will reduce the amount of time I can spend on my blog. However, the job will be in the creative industry, specifically focused on video production. My priorities will shift, and I’m still figuring out exactly what that will mean. But it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to!

Tally – My husband and I are planning to move to a new city. He’s going to do an educational program there, and we feel that my job prospects there will be better. So as of this writing we’ve only just made that definitive decision and determined a timeline, and I am freaking out about packing (did I mention that we moved house twice already within the past 9 months? I’m so done with this) and job-hunting – all my least favourite things all at once. Woo.

Right after I got a beautiful, spacious, well-lit craft room that easily doubles as a guest bedroom, too. Please just kill me now. (Bury me with my good sewing shears at my side.)

It’s also presents an interesting question for myself: how much crafting should I actually plan to keep doing in that time? On the one hand, I should probably put all my projects and creative commitments on indefinite hold while we deal with this move. On the other hand, crafting is still my escape and a thing that makes me feel good about life, an escape from the stress of the work day, laundry, dirty dishes and all the other horribly dull things adulthood will drown you in, so I should probably plan to do some crafting in all this chaos in order to keep a shred of normalcy and peace while my day-to-day life is torn apart and rebuilt. Where’s the balanced line between the two? I am not sure, but I imagine I’ll find out as we go.

Meris – Tally, we just bought a house so I am having the same “pre-move” thoughts. Thankfully this move will happen AFTER Emerald City Comic Con so I won’t have to worry about transporting a half-finished costume and working on it out of moving boxes. I do have all of my costume supplies for Korra, Mulan, and Elspeth (she’s for PAX Prime) stored in self-contained rubbermaids so that I can pack up the rest of my sewing room in the meantime. This HUGE purchase has me watching my costume and sewing expenses much more carefully. I still want to revamp my everyday wardrobe (a la Wardrobe Architect), but I will be making fewer and lower-cost updates this year.

What creativity or blogging goals do you have for 2015?

Meris – I really want to improve the search-ability functions on my blog and make it easier for people to find the costume tips or inspiration they are coming here for (based on my WordPress stats and search terms). I really like the costume galleries or post collections that Marian and Last Oryx have on their sites.

Tasukigirl – I actually have some past write-ups that I’ve been meaning to get to. I have a few props that I want to write up and they are overdue.

Sarah – Participate more in blogging for our company.

Brooke – My blogging goals are pretty much the same every year: do it only when it is not a chore. I do have a couple of museum exhibit posts I need to finish – lots of pictures to sort and edit has kept me from getting them up as quickly as I had hoped. Those are definitely at the top of the list for 2015.

Marian – Being more active on the blogging front, at least semi-professionally. It may not be cosplay oriented, but I tend to want to take on really ambitious projects, only make it part of the way, and then let them drift off. So activity and adherence to it.

Amy- I’d like to try to get back to my original intentions for my blog and again use it as a place for my reflections as I try to learn how to sew well.  I’d like to be more conscious of sewing with fabrics and patterns that flatter and fit my lifestyle.  And, I’d like to continue to get better connected with the Seattle sewing community.

Tyraenna – I’m not sure yet, but this survey exercise has reminded me I need to think about this 🙂  I do have some costume goals ready for 2015, but the concepts are still half baked and not completely ready for sharing yet.

Tara – Focus on quality over quantity. Continue to improve the skills I blog about (specifically cooking and entertaining). Take better pictures. Spend more time marketing my site.

Tally – I’m… unsure at this point. I’ve got some life stuff currently throwing all other activities into chaos, so once that’s dealt with I’ll figure out creative goals. If you’d asked me this just a few weeks ago, I’d have told you that I plan to work on my first book project this spring, something I’ve been contemplating and doing some early planning for over the course of the past year. It will be a self-published thing that I intend to Kickstart the printing of. That project is being delayed now, but I do still hope I can start on it either this summer or next spring (the fall is always a creative write-off as all my excess time and energy goes to Desert Bus, then Christmas).

What goals do you have for 2015 in the other aspects of your life?

Tally – To sort my shit out. Since I’ve decided that I can’t do my creative work as a full-time gig, I need to find some sort of job path that has a future and growth opportunity, and that’s my big life project for this year. If I happen to score some kind of creatively-minded day job, I’ll be sure to buy some lottery tickets as well while I’m on that streak.

Brooke – I am in the middle of a home office remodel at the moment. Hopefully, getting one room redone and organized will help create a chain reaction of order in the rest of my house.

Meris – The opposite type of chain reaction happens in my house. When the sewing room “explodes” I often move to other spaces to work, leaving a trail of thread, foam shavings (from props), and fabric scraps in my wake. It can frustrate my organized and uncluttered husband – I think I’ll keep focusing on that relationship. Making sure I don’t take it for granted or overlook him in favor of a big cosplay project.

Tyraenna – Probably take better stock of my spending habits.

Tasukigirl – My goal is to be better about calling home and talking to my family.  I lost my grandmother last fall and it was a sober reminder that I shouldn’t take my friends and family for granted.

Amy – I want to continue to focus on my family while also making steps to figure out what kind of career path is the right next step for me.  And, most importantly, I want to get back into running.

Tara- Focus more on myself and my relationships. Take care of my body and mind. Be proactive in reaching out to family and friends!

Meris – I’ll drink to more family and friends.

What do you want to learn in 2015?

Sarah – How to effectively run the business part of our business.  Also to become more proficient in Illustrator.

Tasukigirl – This year I want to tackle armor! I also want to get back into props.  I made some friends who are talented in both and I plan to pick their brains.

Amy – Every year I say I want to learn to play the violin. My violin has been collecting dust…  Ironically, my parents traded an old treadle sewing machine for that violin years before sewing became such a big part of my life.

Tara – More about photography/video. Many aspects of wholesale, retail, merchandising, and e-commerce with my Geeky Sprinkles!

Tyraenna – I am interested to see how Worbla and thermoplastics can be connected to fabric.  I want to learn more about my serger.  I would love to learn more about airbrushing as well.

Brooke – I want to learn tambour beading. I have a friend and fellow costumer who used to work in a couture beading house and I’ve been begging her to teach me. Maybe this will be the year!

Tally – How to calm down. How to go on an actual just-for-vacation vacation. How to stop overcommitting. Also how to fold a fitted sheet. I still can’t do that properly. Is it even possible??

Meris – I want to learn better public speaking skills. Some of it is internal – learning to trust myself and my knowledge and not imagine everyone thinking I’m a fool. Some of it is practical – better projection, killing those verbal ticks, remembering to end on a strong conclusion, etc.

Any upcoming projects you want to share? Any skills you want to challenge yourself with?

Brooke – I have a tailoring project planned for myself. I feel that I know the least about tailoring from scratch on my own so it will definitely be a bit of a challenge for me. I can do the built-from-scratch-tailoring at work, but I’m able to get a little hand-holding from those above me in the costume shop.

Meris – I want to tackle alteration skills…or at least gain confidence in altering RTW clothes. I am comfortable refashioning something – completely taking it apart or drastically changing its appearance or even function. However, I am scared to alter something that I still like the look of, but doesn’t quite fit right. Right now I am in a staring contest with two skirts with side seam pockets – both waist are too big in the waist (just fine in the bum).  I fear that I will completely screw up the shape or the design of the garment. I don’t want to lose the pockets!

…Brooke, maybe we should create a Sewcialists community tailoring and alteration sew-along! But let’s not start that until at least May, after I’ve unpacked my new sewing room. 🙂

Tasukigirl – Right now I’m working on Sera from Dragon Age Inquisition. I also plan to make Dorian from Dragon Age and Fiona from Tales from the Borderlands for this year’s conventions.  There are some armor bits and props that I’m excited to tackle. Also, more work on weathering and cell shading, which I’m still kind of learning.

Marian – I’m finally finishing a project that I’ve let intimidate and loom over me for far too long. While the Sansa Stark dress I want to make is not nearly the most complicated in her wardrobe, I’ve agonized over the details so much that I’ve been psyching myself out of this costume for a year. So getting it done, and making sure it’s done the way I want is a pretty big challenge, even if the basic design is not all that challenging (it’s a psychological challenge instead).

I’m also currently working on Sera from Dragon Age, a costume I’d originally written off as simplistic and not to my tastes, and yet here we are. It’s a lot more detailed than I had originally planned, and requires a good amount of prop work (and props of any level are out of my comfort zone and quite the challenge, to be perfectly honest).

Tyraenna – I’m definitely attending MegaCon and DragonCon and there will be projects associated with that.  Skill wise, I’d love to challenge myself to improve upon my corset construction, especially grommet installation hah.

Tally – I keep thinking I might actually break down and learn how to knit or crochet this year. Also I made a promise to experiment with some leather crafting – I think I’d like to try some mask-making. And I’d really like to do some more experimenting with large paper mache and paper clay crafts – I have a few specific project ideas…

Amy – Once I trust my body is back to normal, I want to learn how to make a moulage.

Sarah – A friend of mine who is a milliner came to teach my students how to make the head dresses for the production of King Lear that will go up at the end of January.  It’s been fun to work on those and see how fast the students pick up new skills.

How do you plan to manage those goals or resolutions?

Tasukigirl – One day at a time?  Really I just have to be careful not to be lazy.

Amy- Baby steps?  Hahaha!

Tyraenna – I’ll probably do a post about resolutions.

Brooke – I will ask my friends & coworkers a lot of questions about the tailoring I am unsure of. As for the home organization projects, I have a great husband to help. (Basically, community support)

Tara – Check up with myself often: Break those goals down into smaller goals and keep track of my progress. My whiteboard is great for that! I can make daily goals and check in regularly.

Tally– I’m just gonna pour myself another glass of wine here…


DO you have a 5 year plan? 

Meris – A coworker recently started working on a 5 year “strategic” plan, it involved a lot of her career goals, but there were some personal planning in there too. It got me thinking about my own 5-year plan, which is something my husband and I talk about on occasion. Having just jumped into the home buying process, we are thinking through what our financial, recreational, and professional aspirations are. We know we intend to still be in Seattle in 5 years.

Tyraenna – This is my least favorite job / career interview question.  Which is ironic because my husband makes fun of me telling me that I plan ALL THE THINGS.  I guess job wise, my only plan is really to HAVE ONE hah.  I don’t really have one in life either when I think about it … more of a constant goal of being happy and making those around me happy.

Brooke – No specific plan. Freelancing doesn’t really allow for it.

Tasukigirl – I don’t have a 5 year plan. Cosplay is a hobby and I plan to keep it that way!

Sarah – I don’t have a very solid 5-year plan.  We would like to be profitable in our business by then but I haven’t really thought farther than that.

Amy – You know, I don’t have an explicit five-year plan.  I think I’m going to get to that right away!

Tara – I’ve created multiple, and “life always gets in the way.” My goals and dreams from early 2014 are very different from where I am now, because of new and exciting opportunities that have shifted my brand. I continue to try to plan for the future, but I love these detours and changes! It keeps life interesting!

Final thoughts on 2015? 

Sarah – 2014 was such an amazing year for me that It’s hard to feel like I can make a judgement on 2015 yet.

Tara – I’m looking forward to wrapping up my Geeky Sprinkle and Job Hunters Kickstarters. I want to get all of the rewards out to my amazing backers!

Tyraenna – Always looking forward to the conventions I attend and the vacations I take – next year there’s a Disney trip planned, two conventions, and orkfest.

Brooke – I look forward to meeting new friends online and meeting some old online friends in person. 2015? Bring it. =)

Amy – It’s a new year.  What’s not to look forward to?

Tally – Moving.  But I look forward to the hope of some kind of decent new living space (in central Vancouver, hahahahaha, this will never actually end well) and an opening-up of possibilities and options for the future. Also more visits to and with my wonderful creative friends in Seattle. ☺

This year is the year of the Ram (or Sheep or Goat) according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Beyond the 12 animals, there are also 5 elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) that correspond to different years in each cycle. Each of these elements imbues the year (and those born in it) with different attributes. (For those of you who follow your horoscopes, the different elements impart different personality traits. To use the western zodiac in an overly simplistic example, it would be as if an Aries born in 2015 was more prone to stubbornness and an Aries born in 2016 was more prone to flexibility and negotiation.)

This year, February 19, 2015 to February 7, 2016 is the year of the Wood Ram. The ram is kind, calm, creative, etc. Wood is associated with strength and flexibility (think about a stalk of bamboo that can bend but doesn’t break easily). It is also associated with warmth, generosity, and idealism. Wood seeks opportunities to grow and expand. It has some associations with anger and patience as well. (My knowledge of the Chinese Zodiac and the elements is casual and based on a picture book we had in our house and wikipedia.)

I anticipate this upcoming year, the year of the Wood Ram/Goat/Sheep, to be a year when we will expand our skills through new and challenging projects. There will be an increased emphasis on community, as many of you have said you want to reconnect with your families, friends, and deepen your connections with your creative communities. Many of us have experienced crazy-busy years (I’m looking at you Marian with your 10 costumes, Tyraenna with your 3 costumes for DragonCon, Brooke that summary of your freelance projects was exhausting to think about, and you Tally with…well…EVERYTHING you do). 🙂 Because of this, we should take a cue from the calm Ram and build in more time to rest, reflect, and hang out with each other again (via Skype or in person).

I want to end these Craft Table Chats with Brooke’s words of wisdom.

Remember that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. So don’t over plan – remember to enjoy life as it happens too! =)

Click here to read the full Craft Table Chats series. The Craft Table Chats include –

2 thoughts on “Craft Table Chats – Looking Ahead to 2015 (and the Year of the Ram)

  1. Thanks for taking the time to put all these chats together, Meris! I have enjoyed reading them very much!

    (I also find it kind of amazing that my responses are coherent – I answered all those questions around midnight when I got to the email knowing that if I didn’t fill out the form right then, I would have trouble finding time to respond, hehe.)

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