The long and winding road to “hitting publish” and building the School of SweetGeorgia
Hi guys. It’s time. I’m about to jump feet first into something new, fresh, and scary… again. Like maybe when I started the podcast back in 2015. Or when I wrote the rent cheque for my first studio space in 2008. Or when I launched SweetGeorgia on Etsy in 2005. Honestly, it’s been a long road of scary things.
Several weeks ago, I talked about going on a podcast break over the summer to work on some deep, deep crafty content. I know, I was super vague about it. My plan was to work on it all summer-long and then launch it in the fall as a fully-finished thing. But then, I realized it would be much more fun if I built it together with a community that could help guide me and to whom I could be accountable. I’m excited to share a sneak peak of what I’m building and would love to hear what you think!
So here’s what it actually is. I’m building an online school where I’m making video-based craft workshops on fibre arts topics like dyeing protein yarns and fibres (like wool, cashmere, camel, alpaca, and silk blends), dyeing cellulose yarns (like linen, cotton, and bamboo blends), natural dyeing, hand-painting warps for weaving, spinning intentional yarns for socks or shawls, and working with colour in knitting, and so much more. All the things we love and do at SweetGeorgia, I want to share with you.
I’m calling it School of SweetGeorgia, or I’m lovingly referring to it as SOS.
The Back Story
Truth be told, I’ve been working away on this big, scary project in the background for years now. Literally years. I’ve invested in acquiring the equipment and tools and people to make this happen… only to get 97% of be way there and then pull the plug. See the video I recorded two years ago on building this project (thanks to my friends at Wakefield Productions)…
How far does this dream go back? Well. Perhaps it was during my last few years at university when I took on a directed studies project with a professor in my department of Pharmaceutical Sciences who was focused on the development of online learning. When my classmates were working on projects such as improving delivery of outpatient meds for HIV patients in the West End, I chose to work on the delivery of video-based education for teaching laboratory skills and techniques. It makes me sound super old now, but I was working on building educational websites and implementing code that would automatically select what resolution of video to display, depending on the user’s internet connection. We take that for granted now, since it all happens in the background these days, but in the olden days, we used to have to manually select to view a low-res or high-res version of a video.
I used to think this self-directed research project was an odd blip in my already diverse educational background of pharmacy, web development, and graphic design. But now, I see that no experience is wasted. There is a reason for everything.
In 2012, I had the incredible opportunity and experience of filming and teaching my own video-based online course with Craftsy.com. On that trip, Liz Gipson was my course producer and you can find her now, starting an online school for rigid heddle weavers. On that same trip, I met up with Tabetha as we had just started collaborating on knitwear designs at that time.
Going through that entire process of writing and developing content, filming, and engaging with students was an intense experience but so incredibly exciting. Standing and delivering as a teacher is one of those moments in my life where I feel like I am at my best and highest use. So the dream was to get back to that place where I can serve and provide education to the fibre arts community to the best of my abilities.
The Busy Season
Still on my teaching high in January 2013, I connected with our friends at The Apartment Creative who filmed our Inside SweetGeorgia video and wanted to get started on filming new courses and I wanted to do it in the three months of my second trimester of being pregnant with Russell. I didn’t realize how being pregnant could zap the energy right out of you. And so, we waited.
Then again, in August 2015, I thought I should crank out a bunch of sock yarn spinning videos during my second trimester of being pregnant with Nina. Apparently, I have high expectations of what’s possible while you’re pregnant.
We turned my house upside down to begin shooting with Wakefield. I was barely three months pregnant and hadn’t announced… so on this shoot where we filmed the video, I was hiding my exhaustion and voraciously devouring the grapes from our little “craft server” counter we had set up. Plus, looking back, I realize I was also working on the podcast and writing the book at the same time… because apparently I find it hard to set work boundaries. So again, we paused.
During this time, I’ve been approached a few times by different organizations to develop video-based courses, but it was just never the right mix of timing and availability. It’s been a challenge to not be able to move forward while also so deeply wanting to see this come to life.
Progress, Not Perfection
At the start of this year, I talked about how I had lost my voice and how I was going to try to find a way back. A way to learn and discover again. A way to explore colour in many different ways and learn new techniques. And a way to teach the things I know while still being able to stay home and focus on caring for my family. To document my learning and explorations in colour and share them with you… just as I did when I started this blog in 2004.
Working at home with little kids is fun but also messy and sometimes chaotic. Often, my desire to sit quietly and hone something over and over to perfection is thwarted. That inability to get it “perfect” is a problem when really, I just need to get it done. It’s an excuse for not creating.
So, I made a commitment to myself that I was finally going to “hit publish” on this project, come hell or high water, before the end of 2017.
Where Patreon comes in
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a Patreon page so that I can build a community around this online craft school idea. With Patreon, supporters can pay a small amount of money each month in support of the ongoing work of creating this content and in exchange for access to our Slack community channel for SweetGeorgia as well as behind-the-scenes updates.
My goal here with Patreon is not the crowdfunding aspect of it because ultimately, I’m investing in the production of this project myself. I’m using Patreon as the platform for building the community of fibre arts friends who are as passionate about colour, dyeing, spinning, knitting, and weaving as I am. My hope is that this community will keep me accountable and productive. That with the encouragement and support of this community, I will keep hitting “publish” rather than trying to make it “perfect”.
My goal here is to create and grow something new from scratch. And launching a fully-finished “school” in the fall isn’t nearly as much fun as sharing with you the creative process behind building it while I build it. In fact, if I have to wait until it’s “done”, I might never launch.
First up, online dyeing workshops
The first video-based course that I’m working on is hand-dyeing yarns and spinning fibres with acid dyes. Everything from dye safety and setting up a dye workspace to immersion dyeing and handpainting yarns. A second video-based course is about mastering colour theory and might be offered together or separately with the dyeing course.
Figuring out which colour to paint the garage for my new mini home dye studio
Over the next several months, I’ll post regular updates and behind-the-scenes videos and photos on Patreon about the process of creating this online school and the courses. In fact, one of the things I’m working on right now is building a dye studio in my garage and I’d love to show you the progress on that, as I do it.
Your support of this project is my encouragement and fuel to make it happen! I’m making this online craft school. It’s happening. Won’t you join me for the ride?
If you aren’t interested in the Patreon but would still like to hear about video-based dyeing course when we launch, enter your details here and I’ll be sure to let you know when the School of SweetGeorgia is ready!
Thank you so much for your support and encouragement!
Originally published at sweetgeorgiayarns.com on May 8, 2017.