I spend a lot of time thinking: I like to let ideas roll around my mind, to ruminate on a matter before acting on my thoughts. Then I write things down, in pencil only, and draw skittish little pictures in basic shapes that only make sense to me. Often the product of all this contemplation is that things get ruled out, the brakes are put on before anything tangible happens – I suppose this is my way of preserving resources, not cutting into that precious fabric, not committing to that project that will take time away from something else.
However much planning I do, if you look at the course of my work over the last few years – although it has been totally enjoyable and oftentimes beyond what I could imagine myself doing – none of it has been calculated. It has been the result of chance meetings, moments of boldness where I’ve asked “can I have a go at that?” and marvellous good fortune.
That’s not to say that once opportunity knocked I didn’t have the skills and the drive to back things up – indeed, my brain, pad and pencil have worked in overdrive and I’ve been so happy with the outcome. It’s more that I’m just not doing what I thought I would be doing.
Being pregnant has made me consider a lot of things. Aside from all the baby stuff, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time, I have been thinking about me: what is it that I want to be doing? What am I going to be able to do? The bottom line is that I am going to be a mum, a parent, and I am really looking forward to it. When I joyfully discovered I was expecting, I realised: I am now never really alone, I am Jo plus one; and that means change.
I have spent the last few months in a festival of sewing, every day making a little something – optimistic that I am going to finish all the projects for our home before the little one makes an appearance. Then already making memories by sewing for the baby, creating a hope chest of handmade items, mentally skipping ahead to the day it will all be outgrown and packed away.
The machinations of my mind also lead me to consider what I’ll be doing when our baby is one, when I believe I’ll creak back into production; and here I go back to what I thought I’d be doing, before all the workshops I created and delivered, before I dedicated my days to building up the emporium that is Fringe, before the book. When I find myself here I am back to tentatively hand sewing and selling on Etsy, but that’s not what I think I will be doing a year or so hence. The truth of the matter is, I don’t really know – but naturally the cogs are whirring.
It is impossible not to look at what others are doing, to compare yourself, to wonder if that’s what you want too. From my experience, the designer-makers I know, the outwardly fearless entrepreneurs seem to perpetually create their wares with enviable skill and confidence – but I do wonder, are they doing what they thought they would be doing?
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Time passes, our necessities and wants change. The centre of it all is that we feel a level of contentment in our work, that we operate on a realistic plain and that we celebrate our creative neighbours, because we are all doing something, even if it’s not the something we set out to do.