/blogs/podcast/episode-143-making-a-life-with-melanie-falick

Episode 143: Making a Life with Melanie Falick

by LaChaun Moore

In this week's episode, LaChaun speaks with author and maker Melanie Falick. Melanie traveled across continents to meet quilters and potters, weavers and painters, metalsmiths, printmakers, woodworkers, and more, all to uncover truths that have been speaking to us for millennia yet feel urgently relevant today. In revealing stories and gorgeous original photographs,Making a Life captures all the joy of making and the power it has to give our lives authenticity and meaning.

 Melanie Falick's Website 

Melanie Falick's Instagram

The Maker's Way Survey

Making A Life Book 

 

Photo credit:  Christine Ashburn.
Excerpted from Making a Life by Melanie Falick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Rinne Allen.” 
Excerpted from Making a Life by Melanie Falick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Rinne Allen.” 
“Excerpted from Making a Life by Melanie Falick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Rinne Allen.” 
Excerpted from Making a Life by Melanie Falick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Rinne Allen.” 
Excerpted from Making a Life by Melanie Falick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Rinne Allen.” 
Excerpted from Making a Life by Melanie Falick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Rinne Allen.” 

Transcript

Sarah Resnick: I’m Sarah Resnick.

LaChaun Moore: And I’m LaChaun Moore.

Sarah Resnick: And we are the hosts of the Weave Podcast, a project of the weaving yarn shop, Gist Yarn & Fiber.

LaChaun Moore: Why do we make things by hand and why do we make them beautiful? Led by these questions, as well as curiosity about why working with our hands remains vital and valuable in the modern world, author and maker Melanie Falick went on a transformative, inspiring journey. Traveling across continents, she met quilters and potters, weavers and painters, metalsmiths, printmakers, woodworkers, and more, and uncovered the truths that have been speaking to us for millennia yet feel urgently relevant today. We make in order to slow down, to connect with others, to express ideas and emotions, feel competent, create something tangible and long lasting, and to feed the soul.

In revealing stories and generous original photographs, Making a Life captures all the joy of making and the power it has to give our lives authenticity and meaning. Hello, everyone. Hello, Melanie. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining us today.

Melanie Falick: Thank you so much. I’m honored to be here. I love listening to your podcast.

LaChaun Moore: Well, we’re honored to have you. Can you start out by telling us about your background and where you’re from?

Melanie Falick: Well, I grew up in New Jersey, and grew up in a family with a mom, and a dad, and brother. My dad was, when I was growing up, mostly taught architecture and engineering, and my mom first was a history and a psychology teacher in a high school, and then transitioned into being a psychotherapist, and as a kid I think the thing I was most passionate about was gymnastics, and I went to college in Washington, D.C., where I majored in French and linguistics. I had an idea that I was gonna travel the world and teach English as a way of supporting that. I did travel quite a bit when I was in college, both in study abroad programs and in travel related to that, and I think that was maybe the most impactful thing that I did in college. I didn’t love the college I went to, but I came up with a bunch of opportunities because of that, so it worked out really well.

Instead of traveling the world and teaching English as a second language, I actually stayed in Washington, D.C., for a little while after I graduated and I worked for an international foundation, and then I moved to New York to work in publishing, and in my early days in New York I started to knit and I became really interested in hand work as a way to be creative and to learn about women’s lives, past and present. And then ultimately I combined that passion and interest into my career in publishing.

LaChaun Moore: That’s so beautiful. You talked about how you began working in publishing through having a passion for learning about women and how they work with fiber arts, or how they work with becoming creative. Can you go a bit more into depth with how you exactly got into that field and what led you to creating your book, Making a Life?

Melanie Falick: Yeah. Absolutely. So, when I moved to New York, I wanted to work in publishing. I had always gotten a lot of attention in school for being a good writer and I was interested in editing, and so I ended up getting a job at a food magazine, actually, and then I started to knit and got the idea that I could combine the career in publishing with my interest in hand work, much of which is done by women.

And so, I started trying to do freelance writing and I actually got some really wonderful opportunities. I was able to travel to the Shetland Islands to meet and interview knitters there, and write an article about knitting, and I got to go to Russia, to the Orenburg region, to spend time with lace knitters there, and I went to a sheep farm in Virginia and spent time learning how to spin, and that all led me to an idea for a book, which I was able to write, which is called Knitting in America, and it was in some ways similar to my most recent book, Making a Life. I spent time traveling around the country meeting, and interviewing, and eating meals with, and hanging out with knitters, and people who raised animals for fiber, and people who spun, and did dyeing with both natural and with chemical dyes, and I wrote a book that really explored their lives, their relationship to knitting, and why it was important to them.

And then that led me to write another book called Kids Knitting, which is what it sounds like. It was a book that was aimed at children, or children at heart, to learn how to knit, and that led me to getting a job with Interweave Knits Magazine as their editor, which then led me to a job with Abrams, which is a New York City book publisher, and there I ended up having my own imprint that was called STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, and for that imprint, which I led for about 12 years, I worked with all sorts of authors, and makers, and photographers, and graphic designers, and stylists, et cetera, on creating books about craft and creativity.

What I realized over the years is that my skill was in both sort of editorial and creative direction, so I was by virtue of lack of funds in the beginning, let’s say when I was at Interweave Knits, I was planning photo shoots, and finding models, and styling, and working with designers to come up with compelling ideas for projects to include in the magazine. And prior to that, with Knitting in America and Kids Knitting, in addition to traveling and working on those books I had to work with a photographer, and do all the styling, and so I was really combining this interest in the visual aspect with the interest in the storytelling, with my interest in technique and how to do things.

And I stayed at Abrams for I think it was 12 years. I think I left in 2015 and that was after I left Abrams that I decided or got the idea to write Making a Life, and the job at Abrams was for so long... I mean, I think all my jobs were dream jobs until I changed, and they were no longer what I wanted, and the job at Abrams was so special. I literally got to work with, I don’t know, 75 or 100, we created over the course of those years about 100 different books, and it was knitting, and sewing, quilting, and pottery, and then some books that were more about creativity more generally rather than just specific media, but I got to the point where I was so busy at my computer, I was so in my head, I wasn’t using my hands. Even though I was publishing books about hand work and creativity, I was making a good living, but I wasn’t making a good life.

And I realized that I was sort of planning… I was thinking I couldn’t leave my job because I had health insurance and my employer matched a certain percentage of my 401(k) for retirement, but then my husband got a job that had health insurance, so that wasn’t a problem anymore, and then I realized that saving for retirement is important, however, it’s also important that you are leading a good life in the present. And so, I really needed to take a step back from so many years of feeling like I was racing through my life and sort of finding time for pleasure like in the smallest of nooks and crannies, and I needed to realign myself and really think about what success meant to me or means to me, what brings me happiness, how I can contribute in the most positive way possible.

I think sometimes when you’re unhappy at a job, you can become a little bit toxic because you become… You sort of exude negativity or discontent.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely.

Melanie Falick: And I didn’t want to be toxic. I wanted to be a force for positivity. So, after I left Abrams, I was still doing some editorial work for them and others. Certainly, I needed to work, I just couldn’t handle working quite so hard. I really needed some time and space to think, to wander, to make stuff. That was what I was drawn to. I found that when I didn’t have all of these kind of pressing items on my to-do list and I had time to just wander, that I just naturally wandered toward hand work, and just began kind of dabbling in things.

I mean, I was always in my adult life pretty serious about knitting, and then I got involved in hand sewing, so I continued those things, but then I just started playing around and doing some leather work, and doing some natural dyeing, and doing some paper folding, and I realized that really the question of why working with our hands is vital and valuable in the modern world was really what had been driving me for my entire career, and when I was working with the book publisher and others, there’s such a strong commercial bent to it, you’re always saying, “Well, what will sell? What will sell?” And that is important because you don’t get to do what you do if it’s not making money in terms of your job when you’re working for someone else, but at the core of it, my real aim was to shine a light on the value of making by hand in the modern world.

And so, working on the book was my way of really taking all these years of experience and figuring out how to articulate the ideas that were floating around inside of me for so long.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah. That’s such an interesting journey that I feel a lot of people in general and also on this podcast have taken, where they were working in an environment or in a field that they didn’t feel was really true to their inner self, and they took a leap of faith and switched things around, I guess, and then they found themselves in this really aspirational position to create, and to make things, and the things that they ended up creating were impactful to people outside of their experience or their particular career path, and it’s really beautiful to hear you talk about how you found yourself in the space to creating a book that encapsulates so many different makers and why they make, and how they make, and I’m sure you’ve had a lot of valuable interactions with each of your collaborators, but I’m wondering if you can talk about a couple of the makers that you met throughout your journey and what you learned from them.

Melanie Falick: Yeah. I’ve learned so much from everyone. It’s so hard to narrow it down, but I’ll talk about Judith MacKenzie first, because she is a weaver, as well as a natural dyer, and a spinner, and I’m not sure how old she is, but maybe in her seventies, so she’s been doing this for a long time, and she really lives true to her passions and beliefs, and she probably against all odds has been able to make a beautiful life and a living based on her skills, and her ingenuity, and her abilities as a teacher. And she said something to me that I thought was interesting. I mean, we were talking about making by hand, and both of us believe it's a natural human instinct, but she said, “Humans are drawn to transformation.” And she pointed out examples of pottery with clay, or weavers with thread, or a musician with sound, and it is part of the human experience to take raw materials and create new forms, and she said, “This is as natural to us as a tulip bulb making a tulip.”

Which is so compelling to me, because I really… When I hear those words, when she said them to me, and when I repeat them now, it’s like coming home. I feel like I’ve existed in this culture in which sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. You know, I remember in high school and college, and thinking like, “I don’t want to spend my time in a crowded bar,” and at that time it was a crowded smokey bar with super loud music as a regular kind of form of distraction or entertainment. But that seemed to be the thing that I was supposed to want to do. Or when I got into the work world and saw the conformity that was expected of people in many office jobs, of kind of sitting still and sort of being a good follower, following the rules, following the systems that had been set up, some of which were really effective and some of which were very ineffective.

But the idea of transformation and that satisfaction that we get when we transform a piece of fabric into a garment, or thread into a weaving is so amazing. In recent months, I joined a pottery studio, or a few months ago I joined, and it’s been so interesting to me to just… I’ve been making bowls. I think I’ve made about 60 bowls so far. Not because I need 60 bowls. Fortunately, with pottery, the clay can be reclaimed, so you can just practice and practice and then decide which pieces you want to keep, and the ones you don’t can become clay again.

LaChaun Moore: Yes.

Melanie Falick: But just to take a lump of clay, and I’ve been throwing pottery on a wheel. I’m really interested in doing some hand building as well, but it’s so… Every time I do it, it feels kind of magical, but magic that I’m creating with my own hands, and the dance that I’m doing with my hands, and the clay, and the wheel. And I just wrote down here a quote from Judith that I’ll share. While spinning, she said, “I can take something that is formless and not able to be used in any true way and make it into a sail that you could sail across the Atlantic with. To be able to harness the power of the wind to move you across water, that’s pretty amazing.”

And you know, we often talk in modern times about technology as being this thing to sort of admire, or seek advancement in, and we forget about the skills and the knowledge that people relied on for thousands upon thousands of years. And we’re not going to… I’m not rejecting technology, but I feel like when we embrace, and study, and explore let’s say weaving, and think about it, about the amazing ingenuity people sort of figuring out not only how to make cloth, but how to use that cloth to sail across the ocean. So, anyway, so you said a couple of people, so Judith definitely has made a big impact on my life, and I feel so fortunate to know her.

Then I wanted to mention the weavers and potters of Oaxaca. I didn’t write a profile of them because I didn’t feel like I was in a position to sort of tell their story. I couldn’t speak their language. I didn’t know enough about their history and culture. But I did go to Oaxaca, and I felt like I learned so much about myself from the just experience of being with them. And Oaxaca is a state in Mexico that’s home to 16 different Indigenous groups, and I spent time with some Zapotec women, and they were both potters and weavers, and they learned how to work with natural dyes and local wool and clay from their parents and grandparents, who learned from their parents and grandparents before them, and it made me think so much about the strength of roots.

And I talked to a man who spent a lot of time in Oaxaca as well, and he referred to his American experience as sort of tumbleweed, that feeling like tumbleweed, that many of us came from someplace else and then I’ll talk about my experience. My family came to this country in the early 20th century. They were escaping what was becoming a dangerous situation for them in Europe. And I was really brought up to sort of say like, “You can go do anything. You can achieve anything. See the world. Travel.” It was very much looking at the opportunities that I had that were in a way outside of my roots. Not looking back to the traditions… I mean, I don’t even… I was thinking about this the other night. My family came from Eastern Europe, and I’ve never gone far back and tried to do a family tree. I know that my grandmothers all knew how to knit, and so maybe that’s where it comes from in me, but my family… My grandparents lived in New York City. They became city people.

And we never really talked about where their parents came from or what that culture was like. And being in Oaxaca really made me curious and also made me think how good it must feel to have strong roots as opposed to feeling like a tumbleweed.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah. That’s beautiful. And so many makers and fiber enthusiasts are in love with Oaxacan culture and all of the amazing things that they bring physically, but also there’s a spirituality to the work that they do that is unmatched. And I think that that’s why they’ve had such a huge influence on what I would consider currently is a resurgence of textile making using natural fibers and natural processes.

Melanie Falick: Yeah. And I think that it’s the roots that kind of inform that spirituality. It’s the wisdom of those generation after generation of living on the same land and learning how to live symbiotically within that environment. And you know, I wonder, because there’s so much discussion, important discussion about cultural appropriation now, and you know, I’m just really curious about this American idea of like everything’s sort of at our fingertips, and we have access to it all, and we can sort of pick and choose what we want, and I think that’s a very, very complicated issue in this global world. I don’t quite know where the answers are to what’s right and not right, what’s fair and not fair, in terms of what we share or don’t share.

But I do think that there is a lot to be discovered within ourselves and within our own stories that we might take a closer look at.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely. What also really moved me about how you structured Making a Life is how you named the chapters. Remembering, Slowing Down, Joining Hands, Making a Home, and Finding a Voice. Each section really set the tone for the stories that followed and I’m wondering if you can talk about your intention behind naming the chapters.

Melanie Falick: Right. So, each chapter is an answer to the question of what we stand to gain when we make by hand, so begin with Remembering, which refers to remembering our ancestors, the makers who came before us, and the skills that have served humans for thousands of years, and also remembering the joy of making that is so encouraged in childhood in our culture and then kind of abandoned because we have this idea that you need to become serious, and make a living, and hand work isn’t sort of the most obvious way to do that, or the most secure way to do it. But I really feel like if we can separate out what… this idea of making a living as always this sort of top, top priority, and give equal priority to making a good life, and that sometimes the making by hand we do is extremely valuable to us, or I find for me it always is, but it might not be the way that I make a living, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important.

The second chapter is Slowing Down, and that’s about the value of living at a natural human pace rather than on fast forward, always striving for something just out of reach. I think that technology has gotten to the point where we literally can’t keep up. It moves too fast for our brains to process, and therefore I feel like it makes us unable to, or it makes it difficult to even figure out what will make us happy. Stop and assess what’s happening. It’s so… You know, we get a moment’s pause, and we pick up our phone and we start looking at the news, or scrolling through Instagram, and I think when we slow down, and quiet down, and sort of separate ourselves from technology, we can listen to our inner voice and figure out what will bring us true contentment.

I actually… Last weekend, I went to Vermont, to this… It was glamping, so it was a campsite, but it was a tent that made life very comfortable, but there was no electricity, there was no Wi-Fi, there was basically no cell service, and it was just so incredibly glorious to wake up and think, “Oh, maybe I’ll knit now, or maybe I’ll read now,” and then when it got kind of warm, I went for a swim in a swimming hole. And then later, when it got dark, and we had these kind of solar powered lanterns, but they didn’t create a ton of light, just kind of enough light to talk to each other, if you want to talk to each other, and to read by, but I ended up going to bed early and getting up early, because I just was getting into this natural rhythm.

And I kept on thinking how there were moments in the day when I was sort of transitioning, like let’s say I was working on knitting a sweater and I wanted to put it down and give my hands a break, and I could feel in the beginning of the weekend this compulsion to pick up my phone. If my phone had worked, I would have been like, “Oh, did I get any emails? How many likes do I have on Instagram?” And it was such a pleasure to sort of feel that habit slip away, at least just for the weekend.

Anyway, the third chapter is called Joining Hands, and that’s about the power of community, and the next one is Making a Home, which is about how we can use our hands to both make a nest for ourself, but also to feel comfortable or at home in our own skin. And then the final chapter is called Finding a Voice, and that’s about self-expression, and oftentimes when we think about finding a voice, we think of expressing our ideas with words. But for this chapter, it’s really about finding a voice with or without words. I think there’s so many ways to communicate beyond words that we tend to not pay close enough attention to and it could be… It’s what you might communicate in a weaving, or in a dance, or in a painting, and we’re so focused on kind of words, and that kind of communication, that I think people sort of stop understanding or being sensitive to the expression that is nonverbal.

Yeah, so that’s the chapters. I will say that when I started working on the book, I did not know how I was going to organize it, and it was scary, because I didn’t really know exactly what I was doing. I was just following my instincts and the idea of just like, “Okay, right foot, left foot, just follow along and see where this takes you, and trust your instincts, trust your experience, and trust the universe to kind of reveal what it needs to reveal to make this work.” And now, I just feel so… I love the table of contents of my book and I, when I see, I’m glad you asked a question about the chapter titles, because to me they’re poetic, and beautiful, and really reflect what I was trying to achieve and wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve when I started.

LaChaun Moore: I absolutely agree. They do convey reflection and I would imagine you had very introspective moments when you were thinking about how you wanted to structure the text and you came up with these titles. Another really wonderful part of your book is the photography. Even though the book is full of a lot of insightful written content, the images really complement the text very well. Can you talk about the photography and the visuals?

Melanie Falick: Yes. So, the photographer that did most of the work is Rinne Allen. She’s based in Georgia, and she is such a sensitive artist, and she has a true passion for making by hand, so I was lucky that she was interested in working on this project, and she and I worked together. I would tell her in advance of our photography sessions about who we were photographing, and what I thought the themes of the story were, and I wanted her photos to visually tell the story of our journey, and the process of hand work, and communicate the sensibilities of each maker.

I will say we were together for a lot of photoshoots. Some of the photoshoots happened before I had done the full interview with the maker, so it was definitely a dance, and I really wanted… I had to rely on my instincts in terms of what kind of information I shared with her in advance, but I also always wanted her to rely on her own instincts to capture the essence of what we were seeing, and I think those photographs that she sort of went off and did on her own are so important to the book and probably mostly among my favorites.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah. Absolutely. And I’m really curious how you found a lot of the people that you worked with and interviewed, and also how you were able to manage such a vast group of people.

Melanie Falick: Yeah. That was another part of the process that was a lot of relying on instincts and experience. As I mentioned earlier, my first book, Knitting in America, was somewhat similar in format, so I had had the experience of traveling to meet with makers. In that case, it was just in the United States, but you know, just in terms of the logistics of that, and yeah, so I had experience doing that. I’m a very organized person, so yes, to me, when I look at the book and it’s done, it feels intimidating to imagine organizing it, but again, it was just step by step. So, some of the people who are in the book are people who I knew prior to starting my work on the book. Others are people that I came to know via someone else in my life, via Instagram, via a book. There are so many extraordinary makers in this world, far more than I could ever, ever interview, and so I wasn’t at all looking for the “best” makers. I really was just trying to open myself up to different people and learning a little bit about their story and figuring out and identifying the ones who had stories that resonated with me.

If we go back to the table of contents, I think somewhere inside of me I knew that I had to create… Well, I knew I had to create some sort of balance, and diversity, and I was really just creeping along trying to make that happen, and then as pieces came together, then I could see what might be missing. There were things that were missing that I was never able to fill in. I think I could write this book for the rest of my life and would never run out of makers.

I think everybody has a story to tell. I really… I appreciate the work of all the people who I did profile, but I wasn’t always looking… In some ways, it didn’t matter to me the specifics of what they made. It was more the ways in which they had taken agency over their lives and chosen or been able to live in keeping with their passions and their values that most appealed to me.

LaChaun Moore: I can imagine it’s a lot to bring people together in that way, but I think you’ve done such a phenomenal job.

Melanie Falick: Oh, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that.

LaChaun Moore: And I’m also really curious, as a maker, I know it’s really difficult to sustain, whether it be financially, or environmentally, and also within the realm of social navigation, social awareness. I’m curious how you’re able to travel and if you’ve had any difficulty sustaining your practice. I know traveling is very expensive and it’s often not easy to do so financially, and also given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, and you know, so much going on. I’m just curious if you’ve had any difficulty and if you have, how you’ve been able to navigate.

Melanie Falick: Well, I think for me, writing and editing have been the tools I’ve used to make a living, and writing has been kind of my entryway into people’s lives in that I’ve really been able to call or email a potter and say, “I’m really interested in your story. I’m really interested in your work. Can we talk? Can I visit you?” And because I had a writing project, people are often curious to find out what I’m up to, so the writing is kind of a tool that’s allowed me to explore the world and people. And publishing isn’t the best paying profession, but I think I always did fine. In order to work on this book, I had a contract with the publisher, and I had an advance, and it did cover my travel. I tried to organize all of the travel in such a way that it was economical, and I think the book took me… I signed the contract in March 2016, and it didn’t come out until October 2019, so that was quite a long time.

I actually handed in the magic manuscript in August 2018, which was about two and a half years after I signed the contract. So, I was able to do some other work to make more money while I was working on the book, and to sort of cover costs. I really had less of an income than I have had when I worked at Abrams, but I was… I had enough and I was so much happier. And I have found in recent years that what I need money for, I don’t need as much money because I don’t need as much sort of outside stuff. I don’t need to consume to sort of put a Band-Aid on some discontent. I also don’t feel like I need to go out to eat because I’m so exhausted and I just want the pleasure of someone serving me. I don’t need as many massages or pedicures. I don’t.

When I travel, I’m more happy than at home, so… I mean, certainly things have changed since the pandemic, and I’m not traveling the way that I used to, but I need less money than I needed before, because I’m just more content with just being in my own skin, in my own life, in my own home. So, yeah, and then you did say something about sustaining the practice and you mentioned something about kind of the social aspects of it, and you know, I said if I could write this book for the rest of my life, continuing to explore makers, and expanding upon what I had done, and I think in terms of the social aspect and in particular the diversity of people in the book, I really wish that there was more diversity in the book. I think it’s been… In the last couple of years, in terms of everything that’s been changing in our culture here in the States, and the Black Lives Matter movement, I feel like I became aware of the bubble that I lived in in a way that I hadn’t been aware previously, and that has really helped me to kind of expand or try to push the bubble and make it bigger, or I guess you can’t not live in some sort of bubble, so I feel like that was a challenge when I was working on the book.

I found that, to be honest, I was finding I was like, “Oh, I want to find somebody who does this kind of work.” At one point, I was looking for someone who makes soap, and I never found that person, but I kept on finding like white women who made soap, and I was like, “I have so many white women.” And it’s not that I don’t… It just became really complicated, but I realized now that I was… I didn’t even understand the bubble that I was in, so even though I was searching for more diversity, I was in this bubble that was sort of reflecting back to me what I already knew.

So, I don’t know, I think you were somehow sort of asking a question that was related to that, and I’m not sure if you were though now.

LaChaun Moore: No. I mean, I appreciate your honesty and I understand that that’s a challenge. If I’m being totally transparent, it’s something that I’ve had to deal with on the podcast, as well. You know, in finding guests and people to talk to. It’s learning and it’s honesty and vulnerability, you know?

Melanie Falick: Right.

LaChaun Moore: You’re never gonna get it right, but you have to try, and it’s good to listen, and to be present, and so I appreciate you going there and talking about it.

Melanie Falick: Yeah. I mean, it’s really important to… It’s important to me to just be listening and to be growing and recognizing the bubble and pushing it to make it bigger has really introduced me to a lot more people and work that really excites me.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely. You’ve written many books and you’ve worked on various creative projects. I’m wondering if you have any new projects that you’re working on?

Melanie Falick: I am in the planning stages of a new book, but I haven’t signed the contract yet. I haven’t gotten the contract yet. It’s a follow up to Making a Life, but it’s just kind of different, but I can’t talk about it specifically yet because I don’t want to jinx it. But as part of that work, I intend to try to send out a questionnaire to makers far and wide and get feedback on some questions I have and areas I’m interested in, so I do hope people will follow me on Instagram, or Facebook, or look at my website, and so that when that time comes that I can hopefully reach a very diverse and broad spectrum of people.

In the meantime, I am currently the editor and creative director of Modern Daily Knitting Field Guides and I also, I’m working with some individuals and small companies, helping them to self-publish their books to a really high standard, so that keeps me busy. But honestly, I have really changed the pace of my work and I make a lot more time for wandering, or doing my own hand work, or mending things, and just for kind of challenging myself, challenging the narratives I have about what I am and am not capable of, and it feels so good to really be… to have let go of my fear of not having enough money in the future, and my sort of concern about who am I if I don’t have a particular professional title. And so, I absolutely need to work, and I do work, but I try to be careful and make sure that I also have time to go out in my garden and pull the weeds, and go in my yard and mow, and spend time at the pottery studio.

And I find that when I spend my days thinking about trying to do what I want to do when I want to do it, I do get my work done, but sometimes that means at odd hours. I’m trying to get out of the habit of always getting up in the morning, and looking at my phone, and then going to my desk and sitting at my computer, and I find when I start to procrastinate, if I just say to myself, “Melanie, what do you want to be doing right now?” And then I listen to what that inner voice tells me, and I do that, I’m able to sort of come back to whatever it was that I was procrastinating about. That might be work at my computer. That tends to be the thing I procrastinate about.

But I’ll come back to it and do it when I’m in a better state of mind for being productive. And so, it really makes my daily life so much better to just trust myself and not feel like I need to chain myself to my desk.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely. And where can people go on social media and the internet to follow your work and to purchase your book?

Melanie Falick: Well, to follow me on the internet is super easy, because I’m Melanie Falick on Instagram, and on Facebook, and my website is MelanieFalick.com, and you can purchase my book wherever books are sold. There are some independent yarn shops that carry it. It’s always great to support them. Bookshop.org is an online source where you can order a book and then the order will be fulfilled through the local bookstore that you choose, or you can buy it on Amazon, or on the Barnes and Noble websites. Whatever feels right. And you can also get it at a lot of libraries, so I hope people will find it and be inspired by it and share it with others if they are inspired by it.

LaChaun Moore: Wonderful. So, before you go, we have one question that we ask everyone that joins the podcast, and that is do you have any advice or words of wisdom to share with weavers and textile enthusiasts?

Melanie Falick: Yeah. I would say do not underestimate the value of hand work. Remember that it is a pathway to wellness. I equate it to eating healthy food, to exercising, to getting fresh air every day. It is essential to so many of us. And then I would say write down what makes you feel the most vibrant and content, also define what success means to you, and look at what you’ve written regularly so that you can consciously live according to these values and beliefs.

LaChaun Moore: Amazing. This has been such a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for joining us.

Melanie Falick: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you for having me.

LaChaun Moore: That’s a wrap. If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Making a Life or supporting more of Melanie’s projects, you can find links in the show notes at www.gistyarn.com/episode-143. Thank you for tuning into this week’s episode. Until next time, happy weaving!


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