Well, here we are at the end of another year. In fact, at the end of another whole decade…how did that happen? So, for me, that means a time to reflect and a time to plan. In other words, time to take a look back through beading in 2019… And maybe a little peek at what’s to come in 2020…?
Do you remember where my beading in 2019 started?
How many of you remember back to the start of the year and this blog post in which I set myself a crazy challenge? Well, for those of you who don’t remember that, I started the year with a challenge to myself to create and bead a new beaded bead every week of the year.
Pretty crazy, huh?
Well, here’s the thing. It’s fair to say that a lot of my beadwork is pretty crazy. You may love it or your may hate it. It’s also true of me that I love a challenge. And, up until now, I’ve had the willpower to force myself through and meet any challenges, even if I hate them.
But that all changed this year.
I kept up the challenge for the first quarter of the year, then gave up. Here are some of the beaded beads that proved most popular. (You can view the entire collection here).
And, if you’re curious as to why I’m very proud of the fact that I gave up, keep reading…
Why am I proud of failing this challenge?
To make a beaded bead per week for 52 weeks isn’t that hard. But to come up with 52 new designs, which is what I had challenged myself, is pretty insane, if I’m honest.
The problem is, the quality of the design becomes compromised. So, does the beading world want – or need – 52 rubbish designs? Do I want to spend time making something mediocre or worse? Should I invest my beads and thread in something that doesn’t make me proud?
Personally, I think the answer to that is ‘no’.
By March, I had a lot of new ideas I could be trying. But I’d run out of inspiration and joy. So, I found myself forcing beading time and forcing ideas that frankly didn’t work that well. They weren’t bringing me joy and they clearly weren’t bringing any joy to any of the beading community (aka, they didn’t sell). So, what would be the point in continuing?
Was it improving my beading skills? No. Was it earning money to pay my bills? No. I’ve just acknowledged that it wasn’t bringing me happiness.
Now, the point of a worthwhile challenge is that it makes you grow in some way. And this clearly wasn’t making me grow. So, I did something I almost never do. I quit. And, in doing that, I actually made more progress than if I was sitting here right now showing you 52 new beaded bead patterns.
I learned – and acknowledged – that it’s good to say ‘no’ to something that isn’t serving me or serving others. And that’s a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn.
But it has also had a huge impact on the rest of my beading in 2019.
Opening the floodgates
Somehow, that small act of rebellion, set me thinking. What else about beading was I not enjoying?
Well, I was finding it increasingly soul-destroying to be spending days and weeks creating designs that didn’t sell. (Just a few examples above!)
Then, I haven’t been enjoying seeing the increasing abuse of copyright in the beading world. Neither have I been enjoying the increasing number of unpleasant customers who feel it is their right to send me rude or abusive emails, often detailing frustration that isn’t even my fault, or within my gift to control.
Most of all, I was deeply hurt to have other designers and beaders who don’t even know me, pile in to condemn me for speaking out about copyright infringement.
All of those things, that are largely outside of my control, have been impacting on my enjoyment of beading.
The only thing I can control is how I react to them. So, that has led me to think very seriously about how much I want to continue to be a part of the beading community. Not about how much I want to bead: my personal enjoyment of sitting quietly working with a pile of beads, remains as great as ever.
The question I’ve been asking myself all year – am still asking myself right now – is, how much of that do I still want to share? And how much contact with the wider beading community will continue to be enjoyable?
So, we’ll see how that shapes up in 2020…
My favourite beading in 2019
Funnily enough, all of that angst and soul searching that began in the Spring, led me to make one of my favourite beading projects so far.
How many of you remember ‘Katie’s Kube’?
I almost didn’t write up the pattern for this. (Sticking by that, would have been a sound business decision – sales have been tiny and not even come close to covering the cost of producing this tutorial). But I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed making this.
With 26 little boxes in a dimensional casing, it came in at over 200 hours of CRAW. And it’s a tall order to complete that quantity of beading without getting bored. But somehow the repetition seemed to be just what I needed. Perhaps in some way, I was solving my own puzzle.
My other favourite from this year has been my Festive beadalong. I was really pleased with how the design worked out and I’ve enjoyed making a set of six different gifts to share with my own family this Christmas.
But this also continued another new aspect of my beading in 2019… Online courses and classes.
Again, this has been a bit of a learning curve. I’m still working out what works best. But I can see some patterns are emerging. So, I do plan to create at least one more online class for 2020…maybe more!
The other big highlight of my beading in 2019 has to be my newest ebook. I actually created all the designs and wrote the text in 2018. But, for various reasons, it took a year to bring this one to publication.
Part of the pleasure here was in working with Vivienne and Trevor, who own Vivebooks and produced the actual ebook. I can’t tell you how lovely they are! So, if anyone reading this has aspirations of their own in that direction, I would encourage you to consider Vivebooks as your publisher.
The most popular beading projects of 2019
So, finally, we come to the most popular beading projects from my collection this year. Now, some of you may have seen the little poll on Facebook, or cast your vote in my newsletter. So, did you manage to pick the winner?
Of the top six, five were new designs for 2019. One, the parcel beaded box, is still going strong two years on from being released! So, who made it to the top…?
Coming in at number six, we have… The parcel beaded box.
Not far behind, at number five, comes the Rivoli beaded box that I designed back at the start of 2019.
Then, at number four, it’s my old favourite, the Christmas present beaded box.
Now, that brings us neatly to…
The top three
So, in at number three is…. The rose beaded box!
Then, coming in second, we have the International Beading Week beaded box that I created for IBW 2019.
You can still take this beading class and make your own version of this cute beaded box. Just click here to get started.
So, that means the winner is…. Drumroll please….
The superduo beaded box!
This comes as a complete surprise to me. It just goes to show that I can never tell what will be popular and what will flop. I had no idea I would be onto a winner when this idea popped into my head…
Oh, and just before we go, I promised to reveal the project that just missed out on a top-six spot…
Well, it’s my sewing machine beaded box!
What will 2020 bring?
Now it’s time to move on from reflecting on beading in 2019 and start planning for 2020.
I can reveal that I will be continuing to support the lovely beaders who have kept supporting me through a difficult year.
Everything I’ve learned and contemplated this year will be feeding into my beading in 2020. So, I will be making some (big) changes. But if you want to find out what they’re going to be, you’ll have to look out for your first newsletter from me in January. And if you’re not already on my mailing list, you can click here to join it.
All that remains is for me to wish you a very Happy New Year! I hope 2020 will bring you good health, peace and happiness.