I owe all of my fans in the knitting world an explanation. Some of you are wondering if I have dropped off the face of the earth, and I appreciate your concern. A strange thing has happened in my life. Knitting and I aren't seeing much of each other anymore. We still get together in the evenings sometimes for a cup of tea, but the relationship has changed, and I'm finding it hard to write love poems (or blog posts) about something I don't love as much as I used to.
Being self-employed takes a lot of energy. If you're self-employed in a field you're passionate about, often that passion wil carry you through the difficult times and mask a lot of the negatives. Unfortunately, passion isn't usually a bottomless well, and when it runs out (as eventually it must), what once brought you joy instead starts to feel like it's sucking all the joy out of your soul.
There are many things I could say about being a professional knitting designer. Some of them I will say, and some of them I will keep to myself. One of the biggest pluses of being a knitting designer was that I got work from home and be home with my kids. That's huge for me, because having to "go to work" in an office causes me an inordinate amount of personal stress. It makes me nuts, basically, and then I make everyone around me nuts, and that is not good.
Another huge plus was getting to travel and meet people. I do enjoy traveling and teaching, and being able to combine that with knitting was wonderful. I only wish that it weren't such an expensive logistical nightmare to fly in and out of Montana, or I might have traveled more.
So why did I decide to do something else? I can't point to one single reason. It's actually like a whole bunch of reasons converged at the same time. There was the global economic collapse that tsunamied through our lives (the husband is self-employed, too), the fact that my kids are getting older (one of them went to college) and they need different things from me now than they did when they were little, and—here's probably the biggest one for me—the knitting world was beginning to look like a very big version of high school. I didn't enjoy high school. It was a constant game of "who's in, who's out, who's popular, who's not," and the fact that the knitting world was beginning to operate in that fashion made me feel exactly the same way I did when I was 18. I wanted to run in the opposite direction and find a place where I was valued for what I was able to do and not valued for my looks or my ability to schmooze. One e-mail in particular really set me on my heels. It was from someone who had edited a book on finishing techniques, with articles contributed by other designers (I was not asked to contribute). I am not sure why this person felt it was necessary to e-mail me and let me know about this book, but it almost felt like a slap in the face. like this person remembered after the fact that back in 1996, someone self-published a finishing book because no one else would take the chance. Oh yeah, that woman in Montana—what's her name again?
The choice to do medical transcription was made after a long hard look at the realities of our life here in Montana. Jobs are hard to come by. We live 17 miles from town, so a "town job" would come with a lot of commuting in bad weather and the associated fuel expenses. Training for something else had to be affordable and something that could be completed in a reasonable amount of time. I have a degree in biology and a "life experiences degree" as a cancer survivor, and while I am highly critical of the way the medical profession operates in this country, the workings of the human body fascinate me. The bottom line was that medical transcription was interesting to me, something I could train for quickly (and get money coming in again), and something which would allow me to work from home. If I had to do something besides knitting design, I reasoned, medical transcription was a good second choice.
You know what? It's really kind of amazing to me how well it has all worked out. I have a job with a great company. They pay well (compared to what I hear a lot of other MTs are making), my account supervisor is a wonderful human being, and I am on an oncology account. That last part blows my mind every morning when I log on to start working. I could have ended up in any one of a hundred different specialties, and I landed a job in the one specialty I wanted more than any other. When people ask me how I like my new job, the first words out of my mouth—without thinking—are, "I love my job." It's mentally challenging—the other morning I spent 20 minutes looking up and familiarizing myself with the cytogenetics tests for leukemia so I could spell them properly (is it FLT-3 or flt-3 or FLT3 or flt3?). It calls on all the skills of writing and proofing that I honed writing knitting patterns. No two days at work are ever the same. I don't have to dress up and drive to work. I only fill up my car once every three weeks or so. The fact that everything fell into place so beautifully has reinforced for me that THIS is where am supposed to be right now, and THIS is what I am supposed to be doing.
I may come back to knitting at some point. Nothing is set in stone. Five years ago if you had asked me what I would be doing today, medical transcription probably would not have been on the list. But I need the break from knitting, so I am going to take it. There may be some associated changes with the website, too, but I am still working through that.
And now it's time for me to go to work.