Looking back at 2017: consolidation

Before I set some goals for the new year I wanted to take stock and look back at 2017, see what I accomplished and what I could have done better. Overall I think the word that defines this year is "consolidation:"

 Isn't this mug really cute? Too bad this is a stock photo, I have no idea where to find it!

Isn't this mug really cute? Too bad this is a stock photo, I have no idea where to find it!

-PATTERN RELEASES: I've released 10 patterns in 2017, still going slow and steady and trying to be very intentional about each design that I release. Half of the patterns I published in 2017 were based on my best-selling pattern Entrechat: two extra versions of the designs, written for DK and for fingering weights, and three matching accessories: the Entrechat bonnet, available for three different yarn weights: worsted, dk and fingering. The rest of the releases were: Em Dash (the grown-up version of my Hyphen cardigan), two gender-neutral cardigans (Merci and Miel) and two dresses (Honey Pie and Aubade).

While I felt a bit frustrated that consolidating my porfolio (the different weight versions for Entrechat and the matching bonnets) meant less time spent exploring new designs, I think spending time giving my customers what they asked for was the right thing to do :)

-STYLE: 2017 is the year that I have consciously looked within to find and express into words the source of my inspiration. I feel that I have solidified my own style and my designs reflect the sweet spot where my creativity and my customers' expectations intersect.  

-SOCIAL: in 2017 I ran the first-ever Entrechat Knitalong and while I spent a lot of time planning it and gathering sponsors and prizes, it was a real thrill to see so many people participate and have fun with the design. Earlier in the year I also ran an Easter/Spring dress KAL, which was also great. I think I still have to do better and fight my introvert tendencies in order to connect with my lovely community even more. Overall, though, I feel like I'm on the right path in consolidating these ties. I've been posting regularly on Instagram and although my Newsletter is currently mostly about pattern releases and discounts, the number of subscribers is growing rapidly and I am planning on sprucing up the content this year.

-IN-PERSON EVENTS: This is an area that definitely could use some improvements: I had intended to attend both Berlin Knits and Rhinebeck in 2017, but a trip to Japan (which was so much fun and so inspiring! I'll post about it soon) conflicted with those dates, so I ended up missing out on both events. I really want to meet more knitters in person, and it's a bit frustrating to live far away from big cities and always feel like I'm in a bubble. 

-WORK/LIFE BALANCE: This year was one of steady business growth. My revenue grew 25% in 2017, which I'm very happy with. I've spent more effort where it matters and hired help here and there so I wouldn't get bogged down by easily-outsourced tasks.  I also tried to aim for a good work/life balance: I tried to be focused and disciplined during work hours and avoided working when my family was home and on weekends. I also prioritized sleep -- the kids now sleep beautifully and so do I! I also took advantage of our kids growing more independent to take longer trips with my husband (thanks to the help of dedicated grandparents!). I even basically took December off, knitting other designers' patterns, which was so enjoyable:

 Christmas Stockings by Ukeeknits:  link to Ravelry pattern

Christmas Stockings by Ukeeknits: link to Ravelry pattern

 Berlin Soft Cardigan by Meiju Knits:  link to Ravelry pattern

Berlin Soft Cardigan by Meiju Knits: link to Ravelry pattern

-PERSONAL: A big chunk of my year was taken up by the need to pass my driver's license again. I live in Germany, and my New Jersey (expired!) license isn't valid here. So I had to go through the very lengthy and expensive process of taking hours and hours or theory and driving lessons -- all in German! (Not to mention a first-aid certification, eye test etc... prior to even getting started.) Long story short, I passed the test in September and can now finally USE OUR CAR!! That's been a relief because as much as I enjoy riding my bike, the kids are starting to be in that tricky phase where they're too young to ride their own bikes to school and almost too old to be in the bike seat and trailer. Plus when it rains or snows it's nice to have a more comfortable option ;)

The focus on this has taken away from spending time trying to improve my German and I fear that my skills have taken a nose-dive. Same with running/exercising. I did ok early in the year but then the driving lessons in the early morning interfered with my efforts. One good thing I did thanks to the break I took in December was to finally set up my sewing machine and start sewing again as a hobby! For now it's baby steps, just sewing some dolly clothes, but it's a good start to getting my sewing skills to an acceptable level ;)

 Tiny doll clothes for my girl!

Tiny doll clothes for my girl!

-FAMILY: The kids made tremendous strides in 2017: I now consider them fully trilingual: their French skills have really blossomed because of time spent with my side of the family and they are now starting to express themselves relatively well. It's great to finally be able to have conversations with them in French.

They have become very chatty and social and say the funniest thing. They are joined at the hip, love being read to and they draw a lot. A. also learned to swim this year! When I think about how nervous he used to be in the pool, it's a real wonder. They also both have started attending a music class and they love it. Finally, A. has just recently passed the German Schuluntersuchung, the test all school-aged kids have to take before they can start school. I have to say, this was a lot more involved than what I was expecting: one hour of medical and cognitive testing... So that means he'll start "real school" this summer! Hard to believe...

StellaAndZ

We also added two member to our family in 2017: two kitties, Jacko and Stella! They are a bit naughty, making messes wherever they go, but they are incredibly snuggly. Sharing our flat with them is still an adjustment sometimes, but the kids are so happy about these two furry friends!

StellaJacko

What about you? How did 2017 treat you? I wish all of you a fantastic 2018!