If you’re just interested in my upcoming live/virtual workshop calendar, click here to skip all the drama between here and there.
Friends, this is a hard post to write, which is perhaps why it’s taken me so long to write it.
Long story short: Fallingblox Designs is taking another hiatus, albeit not as all-encompassing as the last two times I’ve had to do this. Rather than a house fire or a car accident, the reason behind this is more systemic. Read on for what’s changing and why.
Starting Oct 22, I’m cancelling all of my live virtual workshops. The final one this year will be Double-knitting Entrelac, a 6-hour event on Saturday, Oct 21, which is rarely scheduled but a delight to teach (and learn, from what I hear). I’m happy that I will be getting it up on my recordings page for future adventurous knitters to benefit from. Anyone who has already enrolled in those last 3 workshops will be receiving a refund.
There will likely be no live virtual workshops in my BuildingBlox series for the entirety of 2024. I will probably fill in some small gaps in my Workshop Recordings page, but any workshops I haven’t taught before may need to wait.
My social media presence will also diminish, as my social media manager’s contract is up in mid-October and I simply don’t have the money to employ another one right now, nor the time to do the posts myself.
I will most likely not be releasing any new patterns for the next year or so, nor will I make any progress on any books I’ve alluded to in the past year’s posts.
What’s not changing
I will still be fulfilling orders for existing printed books and patterns, and of course any digital products including workshop recordings will remain available.
Anyone who has purchased a recording or enrolled in a live virtual workshop in the past year will still have access to their recordings.
I will still be teaching live and virtual workshops for venues that explicitly book me to teach (see below for the current calendar).
TLDR: I started a major project under better circumstances; circumstances changed for the worse and that project is no longer viable.
A lot of “professional knitters” are supported by a partner’s second income, or otherwise have a safety net that allows them to take risks. With a few notable exceptions at the top of our game, this is not a particularly profitable profession. It also fluctuates as global interest in knitting waxes and wanes, so it’s hard to plan for income from month to month, let alone from year to year. This is doubly true for someone whose contributions to the knitting world are in a niche within a niche. Even in the best situation, my audience is much smaller than that of most knitting designers.
When I revamped my workshop offerings about a year ago, going from 10-12 workshops to over 30, this was where I was: my wife had a high-paying tech job, and I was making good money in my part-time day job as well as in my knitting work. I was starting to think about how to let my day job go and increase my knitting income. The workshops took much more time to rework than I expected they would, but I was making steady progress. Then everything changed — my wife lost her job suddenly in February, after almost a decade of employment. She got a hefty severance package, but since we are still in a period of housing instability, we decided to hold onto that until we know what our condo rebuild is really going to cost. She’s on unemployment now while she tries to find another job in this tough market, and I have had to re-initiate my health insurance at work, which predictably also cuts my take-home pay. Aside from the purely monetary issues, she’s also needed a lot more emotional support from me.
But I was on a path with my new workshops and I planned to stay the course and make things work. After all, I had raised my virtual workshops’ prices to closer to market value after a couple of years of undervaluing myself, and I was still getting regular teaching gigs from two of the big three fiber convention companies (Interweave had already burned their bridge with me by that time). Then in May, Stitches (by far my largest regular income source over the past decade) went under without warning. This wasn’t a direct hit, because I didn’t have any gigs with them under contract at that point, but it significantly reduced my future prospects. Meanwhile, my virtual workshops’ enrollment continued to decline rather than increase, probably due to a combination of zoom fatigue, waning interest in knitting in general and my niche market in particular, sticker shock from previous customers who had gotten used to being undercharged, and poor social media performance.
I stayed the course, though. I struggled to put together new workshops but I did get some done and recorded under the new workshop portal interface I built. At the same time, our living situation at the Quaker meeting changed. The previous Facility Manager stepped down, and I offered to step up to do some of the handyman/maintenance tasks that needed doing while they searched for a replacement. This further reduced my rent, which was welcome, but didn’t actually increase my pay. When the Meeting finally settled on a new plan, they offered me an actual job continuing to do more maintenance work but adding some other facility-related work as well — not a full Facility Manager job, just the non-administrative tasks. In exchange, we’d get an even further reduction in rent. I felt somewhat trapped — I was already short on time with 3 jobs, and this would mean an increase in work. But if I didn’t take it, the Meeting would still need to hire someone, and I’d suddenly have to pay the full rent on the apartment, which in effect would mean I’d be paying the salary of my replacement, or we’d need to move somewhere less expensive.
We hoped not to move twice — we want to stay here until our condo is rebuilt, at which point we can make a decision to either move in or sell and move elsewhere, but I will no longer have to do the maintenance work to afford a place to live. By that time, I expect my wife will have her private massage practice up and running and her income will have increased significantly.
So where that leaves me for the next year is that I have 3 jobs — one that gives us health insurance, one that gives us an affordable place to live, and one that is rapidly losing income. I don’t have time to do all three and still retain my sanity and/or time to spend with family, friends, or simply have downtime to recharge. Until my life simplifies, I have to let something go. It pains me to let my knitting work go, but it’s the only logical choice.
And as I said, I’m not letting it go completely. I have a lot of “evergreen” content which I will continue to sell and (hopefully figure out how to) promote. I will continue to teach in virtual and live venues as I’m booked for them. And when I return to some semblance of housing stability, I’ll hopefully return to where I left off, get the remaining workshops ready to teach and teach them, etc.
It’s a choice I didn’t want to have to make, but I really don’t see another path. I’m sorry.
What can you do to help?
I don’t want to keep fundraising off of crises rather than making a sustainable business out of this passion for double-knitting I have, but I need to know that it can be sustainable. Until that happens, here are some things you can do to help:
- Stay connected to me. I may post less to my mailing lists and social media, but it will ramp up again in the future.
- Tell your friends about me. Social media is not going to work long-term (as the algorithms forget about me), but mailing lists are still the best way for me to reach interested people. When I do start posting again, I want to know I’ve got a bigger audience.
- Do you have a LYS, guild, or fiber event you think would enjoy my workshops? Let them know about me and tell them to get in touch!
- Buy my books and patterns for Christmas, birthdays, Hannukah, whatever. If you don’t know what to get, consider a gift card.
- Join my Patreon — while the perks may be reduced, the reason most people join is because they believe in me and my work and want to help me become more independent.
- If all else fails, toss something in my Tip Jar or get a gift card for yourself (they don’t expire).
What else is going on?
While I’ve cancelled most of my remaining workshops this year, I do have a few virtual ones this month and some live ones coming in early 2024. I’ve also got some coming in April but those are a secret for now. Without further ado (all times in EST):
- Sat, Oct 8, 10am-12pm – Melissa & Friends Virtual Knitting Weekend: Advanced Beginner Double-knitting
- Sat, Oct 21, 9am-5pm – BuildingBlox Virtual Workshops: Double-knitting Entrelac (Two 3-hour sessions)
- Sat, Oct 28, 2-4pm – Virtual Knitting Live: Introduction to Double-knitting
- Sun, Oct 29, 10am-12pm – Virtual Knitting Live: Multi-color Double-knitting
Live (all at Vogue Knitting Live, NYC)
- Fri, Jan 26, 2024, 9am-12pm: Slip-stitch Double-knitting
- Fri, Jan 26, 2024, 6-9pm: Introduction to Double-knitting
- Sat, Jan 27, 2024, 9am-12pm: Double-knitting in the Round
- Sat, Jan 27, 2024, 2-5pm: Designing Two-pattern Double-knitting
- Sun, Jan 28, 2024, 9am-12pm: Advanced Beginner Double-knitting
- Sun, Jan 28, 2024: 2-5pm: Multi-color Double-knitting
Thanks for sticking with me. Please stay tuned; I’ll keep updating this blog when I have any news for you.
Alasdair Post-Quinn, “Softwear Engineer”, Fallingblox Designs