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New Year’s Reflections

New year's reflections from a fiber artist: in her latest blog post, Caroline Feyling writes about stepping out of her comfort zone, growing her skills, and about how failing means that you're learning. 

Posted on January 14, 2024
by Caroline Feyling

I have always been someone who is excited by the new year. It feels energizing to reflect on the past year and dream up new projects and goals for the year to come. I’ll admit that I am frequently over-ambitious with what I set out to do, but the way I see it is that if I only achieve half of my goals I still will have accomplished a lot.

Looking back at 2023, the moments where I learned the most were when I was completely out of my comfort zone. In January last year, I decided that my focus for the year would be on teaching and lecturing. I had never taught craft before, nor had I ever given an official talk. How was I going to break into this facet of craft? Simple, I signed myself up to do two local workshops and two lectures. If you tell people that you are capable of something they often believe you.

With events on the calendar, I had specific deadlines to work towards. The shift from the nebulous “I want to teach” to the concrete “I am teaching on X date” helped motivate me to develop the necessary material. When my workshops and talks came around I felt underprepared and certainly could have done better. But that is not the metric by which I choose to judge myself. Back in January, I said I wanted to share my craft knowledge with others and I did it! In 2023 I also wrote an article for The Norwegian American, participated in two gallery shows, and moved to Minnesota to start ADP. But the things that I am most proud of myself for are things that felt like borderline failures in the moment. In 2024 I look forward to all the ways I plan on pushing myself and the opportunities for less than perfection that come with them. 

I am declaring my focus for the new year to be on advancing my technical skills. I have a myriad of project ideas rolling around in my brain. Weaving my own cloth for use in clothing, learning new embroidery techniques, patterning and sewing more complex garments—the list goes on. However, the biggest challenge will not be any specific project, but reminding myself to have grace as I am embarking on learning new skills. After working on improving my craft for so many years, I often forget that I am continuously a beginner. There will always be something new I am learning and I will have to accept that not all skills transfer.

This line of thinking leads me to my big New Year’s Resolution: fail as often as possible, because that means I’m learning. What is your resolution?