I am usually the one who has a plan. I may not see all of the details, but I’ve lived most of my life with a strong sense of direction. No matter that that direction has sometimes changed drastically from one year to the next; I’ve always had a pretty good idea where I’m going (or at least where I’m going next).

But right now, that’s just not the case. There are quite a few big life things that are just out of my control and beyond the reaches of my imagination at the moment. And then there is the much smaller issue of pattern publishing that has become, as such small things often do, a rippled reflection of the whole.

I’ve been thinking about direction a lot lately. Over the past few weeks, I have suddenly been inspired anew to pull out the charting software and start publishing things. And then a little voice in the back of my head starts wondering where will that lead? Where are we going with this?

The short answer is that I really have no idea.

I’ve been hanging around with internet entrepreneur types for a few years now, and I’m not really interested in “growing my business” online. In fact, that very idea is probably why pattern publishing sputtered to a halt just before it got started at this time last year. I’m not interested in an online empire. I rather like this quiet little backwater of the internet where we all hang out and pet fiber, and I’d like to keep it this way.

But I also want to share what I create with people beyond this little circle. And that means opening up to the rest of the world.

I don’t want this to become a “sales” blog. I’m not going to suddenly start pushing “products” or even designing things specifically to be sold as patterns. Some things that I make may become patterns. I will not make things simply to publish another design. I have no intention of beginning “secret projects”, or at least very, very few of them. I want this blog to be about process, about creation, and about exploring. Out loud. Openly. In public. No design behind closed doors; I’d rather throw open the doors of the studio and invite everyone in to party.

How will that work? I have no idea.

What exactly does that mean for the day-to-day here on the blog? I hope it doesn’t really mean much of anything. As an inveterate lurker, I’ve often found myself holding back from commenting on things that people put up for sale. It feels false somehow to say how much I admire something and then not buy the pattern, or the yarn, or the beautiful little stitch marker that I really don’t need. Sometimes it seems that there is an unspoken assumption that if you really liked it, you would buy. I don’t want that here.

In my perfect knitting world, people would have no need of patterns because they would be too busy creating art of their own design. We would look to one another for inspiration, not direction. If we bought instructions, we would buy to learn something, to study a technique or to explore an idea. That spirit is easier to maintain when there are no products for sale.

For a long time, I’ve considered just not publishing anything. I’ve focused on illuminating the process rather than publishing the end design. I intend to continue along that path. But that alone feels increasingly incomplete. There are times where you must see an example written out before you can take those first tentative steps toward creative engagement. It is true that you are limited only by your imagination – and the tools that you have available to hand. If you have not yet developed those tools (or have not learned how to use them), your imagination can be a very boring place to hang out. I know, because that’s where I sit when someone asks me to paint or draw a picture. Stick figures, anyone?

Sometimes you need to start with lines to follow.

So that’s where I see patterns fitting into place. They lie somewhere between learning and creating, a stepping stone to independence. If you’re independent already (as I know many of you are), then hang out for the fun of it. Check in and see what’s happening, and never, ever feel obligated to buy. If you’re still more comfortable on training wheels, or just want someone else to take the wheel for a while, I hope you enjoy.

Sometimes the only thing to do in the face of uncertainty is to act. When there is no “right action,” you just do something, see where it takes you, and adjust from there. That’s where I am right now. My imagination is not yet big enough to reach around the questions lurking at the edges, but sometimes it doesn’t need to be. Like complicated lace where you can’t really tell what you’re doing until after you finish the first repeat, sometimes life is lived one stitch at a time. Let’s knit on, shall we?