Let's Talk the Very Real Limitations of Time
I like to plan things. I like making lists and figuring out priorities and organizing all of the pieces into viable tasks. I also tend to overstack my plate with optimism that finishing them all is totally realistic, when it may not be at all.
My current top priorities of my to do list have been posted in the newsletter, but for convenience I'll summarize here:
Set 10 (Hannah Alexander)
Set 11 (Hannah Alexander)
38 more Frenone patterns (two card decks worth total)
Consideration of cardback art
4 Queens (Euclid's Triangle)
Holiday Dragons (Sandara)
Various artwork of my Original Character Aerie (5 more listed in newsletter, but now likely 4 after consideration)
Sailor Moon bead dress pendants (14 color palettes)
Agitha bead dress project
Outside of shop matters I have:
Two remaining physical xstitch commissions due this year
Three dog collars
A small stack of vintage clothing mending
And a list that's too long to bullet point here for personal projects without time limits.
Last Friday my arm got put out of use so I couldn't do much of anything that required both hands, which sewing does. I used the forced day off to make an Excel sheet with Hannah Alexander's designs, keeping careful note of which are public and which are exclusive to her Patreon, and came up with a pretty big number: around 230.
I started working with Hannah Alexander for patterns in 2015. I've finished converting 28 of those into patterns. Admittedly, a full year was spent almost entirely offline while I was running that alterations shop. I've also finished many other patterns in this timeframe (2015-today), such as the 9 eeveelutions with Bunei (and the 9 shiny palettes), the 6 Alphonse Mucha pieces, all of those flowers and fruits with Luddeagle (around 100 collectively), and a handful of others. My point being: I've been pretty productive, I just haven't been 100% focused on Hannah Alexander only. And most projects aren't as large as Hannah patterns, either.
I know that it takes 20-30 hours of consistent work to finish one Hannah or Mucha sized pattern. In perfect theory then, this means I should be able to finish one pattern per week. For Hannah Alexander patterns only then, this is a minimum of one pattern every week for four years just to catch up with her current portfolio, with absolutely no time spent for any other project. Hannah is currently creating on average 1-2 new pieces each month via Patreon and... my math isn't strong enough to figure out where that extends it to.
My first Frenone pattern took 19 hours, but that time will go down with each piece. For example: the banner only had to be made once, so all time I spent doing that is now shaved off from all the future pieces in the series. I also don't have to figure out every color palette every time as I go forward, such as the purple skin or green hair. Still - with 40 of them to do, and again at a week per pattern minimum work load, it's a full year of releases.
I also work ~15 weeks out of the year for H&R Block. This is important for me both personally and financially. During this time it's much easier to work on physical projects as I can answer the phone, greet clients, and otherwise work with the interruptions. Pick up and stitch during the downtime, set it down and work when needed. Working on patterns at my desk is way more difficult because the focus has to be so much tighter.
So... 37 weeks remaining of potential pattern time. Assuming tax day ends when it's supposed to - on April 15th. Seven years just between two artists if I make a pattern every single week. Assuming I give up every other project along the way and don't burn out hard immediately.
Okay, but also consider yourselves. A pattern release every week becomes impossible to keep up with. It's just too much content, isn't it? It becomes unmanageable. The cost of the patterns, materials, your own time. The cost of framing and your wall space. The cost of your sanity? The cost of all other designers you still want to stitch and follow?
My favorite designers are Mirabilia and Brooke's Books. In all my time stitching, I have purchased well over two dozen of each's designs (which is a small amount compared to many, I know). I have finished only one Mirabilia and three Brooke's Books. From my favorites. And not to be, like, too intense about myself here, but I LOVE my patterns and I haven't been able to manage the time to finish the Ariel piece to gift to Hannah. Winter Belle is my literal favorite thing and I have no idea if I'll ever stitch her? (Even though I definitely bought the supplies...)
Alright, alright, okay. But I know that by averaging out my stitching speed and comparing to similar size projects in the past, it should take me ~200 hours to finish one. 200 hours is just about a solid month of stitching one project and doing nothing else. In this whole scenario, pausing to stitch one Hannah pattern for myself is four Hannah patterns that don't get released.
These numbers are really generous. Of course in the real world burn out is definitely something I and most people face. And there's a ton of real world ups and downs, like last year I ended up taking a few weeks to help my grandma, and at the end of the year she ended up living with me and my mom for a few months. I also spend a lot of time with a pattern not even working with the art directly. It takes almost an entire day just to create and upload the final PDFs. Part of that upload time is just because my internet is still a rural joke, part of it is just because as I've gone on the files are getting larger.
The point of all this is to frame it realistically. I'm not going to work for seven years nonstop on a pattern a week. I'm just not. I just can't. Some designs are just going to end up never, or at least a very long time from now, getting done.
I know what my direction will be, solidly, for the next two years. At that point a select group of people is going to help me curate options for Hannah's portfolio. From there, those options will move to the Facebook group. And then I get to ask Hannah's permission and get the proper files!
The rest of this year will be spent with other artists to give them breathing room, to help me catch up. I want to expand my material references to actually have a sample of all Mill Hills beads. I want to set up an actual office space in my house so that I can work separately from where I sleep. I want a DMC color card with all the real thread samples!
Thanks for reading my organized, disorganized thoughts. I hope this can set expectations realistically, if not for you then at least for me.
I'm just one person, after all. :)