by Susan Nease
For much of this year I have been on a job hunt. And really, more than that: a career change. After selling my retail shop and going on-line, the question has been “what now? What direction does my life take after going from the day-to-day running a business to something in the working world?” When I started my shop, “Google” was not yet a verb. Think about that. How much technology has changed the way we work and interact. So rather than take courses about how Excel or Word or Outlook is supposed to work, I jumped right back into working as a temp. Not always the most glamorous of job titles, but I learned how companies use Excel and Word and Outlook in ways that suit their goals and structure. And copy machines also scan and fax. And you can e-mail directly from a document you create. And . . . you get the picture.
Another thing that has kept me involved in the needle arts here in Atlanta has been this organization, SEFAA. The part that I play with them is ongoing and helps keep the needlearts wide-reaching in the Southeast. I had always seen my shop as being a center for outreach and many, many different forms of the needle arts, so joining SEFAA as a volunteer was a “natural fit.”
And then came decision-time last spring. I had sought part-time positions for about a year, thinking that a part-time posting would help me keep my on-line business plugging along, help me get my taxes done and in on time, and the like. Which it did, and I found a great assignment, and plugged away at both. My on-line site was suddenly growing and my position went to full-time, and I thought it was time to leave and seek another part-time position.
Except that the part-time positions I found were somehow just not right. Some little thing would make me stop and re-evaluate the position and my goals, and after a while I began to re-evaluate myself, my goals, and my decisions. And my days. Loading products onto a website, even if it is mine, can be tedious. It involves finding different ways to say “green.” Or “this is a great birth sampler.” Or “You'll like this product, I know you will.” And sitting at home, day after day, when I'd been used to interacting with others was becoming more and more difficult.
That was about the time when I made the connection between the work I was doing with SEFAA and my situation. I was at home during the day, there was an ongoing period of time at the SEFAA center that involved bringing one's project(s), and just basically stitching. In the middle of the day. With others. And there was this needlepoint project I had been working on that I really wanted to keep stitching, and why not explore the possibilities? I do knitting projects during AKG meetings, so why not get a jump start on a project I had picked up and then put down earlier in the year? Why not talk about where this project came from and what inspired me to pick it up again?
And suddenly I was hooked: I came to my first Lunchtime Fiber, then another one, then I met one of my former retail customers working on her unfinished Hardanger piece, then I saw fiber artists painting on fabric, and quilts in the making, and all kinds of glorious things that I would not have seen otherwise. And my spirits were lifted. Yes, I was in the middle of re-evaluating my job and career decision and all of the accompanying mid-career stress and self-doubt, but now there were other adults in my life with whom I could talk and share, and even not discuss job hunting at all, but just good old needlework.
Did I mention my spirits lifted and my self-doubts began to minimize? And that I took the time to decide that I was making a career choice and entering a new career, in part because I was thinking more clearly and interacting with other folks, with whom I felt a common bond?
Knitting in Public is a yearly event, and it is now common to see others knitting in coffee shops or bookstores. Sometimes it's nice to knit, and sometimes it's nice to be in a little more private space, with incredible lighting (I seldom have to wear my reading glasses to see my needlepoint thanks to the huge windows at SEFAA), and gnosh on a lunch, and talk fiber arts. Not just knitting, but tatting, and hardanger, and quilting. And where a project originates (this particular needlepoint was one my mother had bought from my shop and never got around to starting). And seeing the changes that have arrived at the SEFAA Center, something I have seen envisioned for many years: bookcases, and a wealth of fiber art, and dedicated volunteers who contribute a Saturday or an afternoon or a Lunchtime to make sure other fiber artists have a space and the inspiration to continue their very own projects or create more.
So all that said . . . I have a few more visits to SEFAA in mind after the start of the new year since I'm working some Tuesdays and not others, and I hope you can make it by sometime. Rumor has it that there will be a second daytime fiber-oriented get-together coming in 2013, but in the meantime there's the Tuesday Lunchtime Fiber from 10-2. I know one of my resolutions in the new year will be to stop eating Christmas cookies (in part cuz I'll already have eaten them!), and instead grab a healthy salad type lunch from one of the nearby restaurants and join the talented stitchers and dedicated volunteers in the new year at Lunchtime Fiber. I hope you can make it, too, and bring one of those pieces you've put down. Now you'll have an excuse to pick it back up again and see it come to life, right before your eyes!