WIPs 'N Chains

Kim Guzman, Crochet and Knit Design

27K Sheets of Toilet Tissue


Alternate Title: Becoming a Full-Time Freelance Designer

Freelance designing is a tough business. The work never seems to stop. You can work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and never seem to be caught up. You can work that much and never seem to pay the bills. It’s just the way it is with crochet. Because that’s what I’m talking about: crochet. Whether you have an etsy shop and you’re selling finished items or whether you’re designing and writing up patterns for sale, there simply isn’t a lot of money in crochet, no matter how you look at it, unfortunately.

My biggest tip for emerging designers/pattern writers is “Don’t quit your day job.” And, I mean it! I’ve been in this business professionally for 15 years. In the beginning, it was loads of fun to get that extra paycheck from freelance designing so that I could buy those extra things that you never seem to be able to buy on the regular paycheck. I remember getting my first washer and dryer from a freelance check, after years of going to a laundromat.

About 9 years’ ago, I was sort of forced into transitioning to full-time designing. When I got pregnant with my third child, I was making the long-haul commute to a high dollar law firm in downtown Chicago. I had been working for lawyers for 20 years. The commute to downtown Chicago was grueling. First, walk to the train station, then take a one-hour train ride, then walk about 8 city blocks to the office. Yeah, winters were not any fun at all. And, one morning, I fell, while pregnant. That was the end of my working outside the home for the immediate future. I had to turn my crochet into a full-time job from that moment on.

And, I won’t lie to you. It’s been a tough transition! With freelance, you never know when you’re going to get paid. Or, sometimes IF you’re going to get paid. You learn to cut corners anywhere you can. Beans and rice may become the best you can do. It’s either feast or famine. Some days might be Hamburger Helper kind of days while other days are Tuna Helper days. Your 8-year-old may have to settle for the three-for-a-dollar macaroni and cheese instead of his favorite, made with Velveeta. There’s just a lot of give and take. Being a single mom is no picnic. Being a single mom working freelance is nearly impossible.

We are still cutting corners. And, I’ve been doing this for 15 years! We’re in a unique situation at the moment, though. I’m living in somewhat of a glorified living-with-your-mother situation in that she happened to have an empty building where she lived and I moved in! The building is my grandmother’s former diner/cafe/country store and it had been vacant for close to 30 years. And, I couldn’t be happier! Here are some photos of it back in the day.

So, what has that got to do with toilet tissue? Well, I’ll tell ya! I suddenly realized that you can chart the rise and fall of income coming into my household directly with the amount of toilet paper I buy at a time. So funny!

Sometimes, I can only buy one or two rolls of toilet paper at a time. Sometimes four at a time. But, this last trip to the grocery store, I bought a 27-count package, 1000 sheets per roll! I’m certainly not rolling in money (although I might be rolling in toilet paper), but I’m not scraping together every penny I can find in the couch right now either (or, going to my mother’s house to swipe some of her toilet paper.) And, I know that another famine will show up in this constant roller coaster ride of feast-to-famine so it’s a good idea to stock up on toilet paper now. Maybe I should buy some more. :-)

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Author: crochetkim

Artist: Crochet and Knit Pattern Designer

16 thoughts on “27K Sheets of Toilet Tissue

  1. This post hit very close to home! I too find myself sometimes having a hard time just buying one or two rolls, and that’s obviously when work is very scarce, which has been happening a lot lately. I’m not a freelance designer, but I am an independent contractor. After living on my own at 19 until I married at 21 and then again living alone when my marriage fell apart at 28, I now find myself having to share a home to cut on expenses. I was living comfortably from 28 to about 35 — had family at times living with me to give them a hand — and then the crash. No matter how hard I try, I keep tripping and can’t seem to get a firm grip on my independence. One can always hope, but it’s tiring when you’re constantly on a financial rollercoaster. Great post, Kim. Hugs.

    • Thanks for posting, Maria! And, I’m glad to be sharing this “boat” with someone even if the boat isn’t a yacht. Hang on tightly and keep the faith! :-)

  2. Thanks for the post Kim, I thought it was just me, it’s not an easy ride at all, but I love the craft and designing so much, so I will carry on for now!

    • Nope, you are definitely not alone. Love of the craft is our prime motivating factor. I would never have been able to hold on this long if it hadn’t been for the love of it.

  3. Thanks for sharing your struggles, Kim. It means a lot. I know how hard you work and that is a great example for many of us fledgling designers. Good to know we aren’t alone:) Kiss that Grandbaby for me!

  4. Thanks for sharing, Kim. We’re struggling right now, too. No jobs around for me, but at least hubby worked four days subbing in a local school, but it’s not permanent and def no health insurance. Anyway, reading your story and seeing the photos put a smile on my face.

    • We’re in the same boat, it’s a good thing we can still smile about it from time-to-time. :-)

      • Yes, I agree…. There have been unexpected benefits to me being out of work like having more time to fool around with the school system, making sure my son gets the services needed for him to be a success at school… but unfortunately money is a necessity, too.

  5. I enjoyed reading your blog, of to crochet.

  6. Thank you for being so transparent about your life being a Crocheter. I felt like I got a peak into your life and for a moment I was standing right there with you. Love your story. lt would be neat to see the house/diner now that you have made it home, and also it puts perspective on all the other stories you’ve written about too, like the stray dogs landing on your front porch all the time…and the trash truck coming by on the road…it’s kind of like a little puzzle. Glad today was a good day…I pray you have lots more.

  7. I’m glad you’re currently in a toilet paper feast rather than famine time. It’s not fun running out and having to use leaves. ;)

    About a week or so ago, I made tacos for dinner. I’m not sure if that is relevant to what happened, or if it’s the fact that I retweeted one of your tweets that night, but you and your family were in my dreams. I actually don’t know your family, so it was your “Gege Dream” family. Go with me here.

    Anyway, I visited you and then I had to drive your large, dark SUV somewhere so you told your younger son (I’m not sure if you have an older son, too, but you had one in my dream) to go with me to show me the way out of your basement. (??) So, your little boy was directing me as I tried to drive this monstrous vehicle out of your basement. Alas, I was a poor driver (only in my dream…..not in real life…..ahem) and knocked down the glass door that leads from your basement to the backyard. However, the good news is that the glass didn’t break. I managed to take out the entire door frame, so….yay?

    Anyway. I have no idea what this has to do with your blog post, but just know that people on the other side of the world are thinking about you. Both in a “I really want to make that pattern” and a “taco fueled, door busting,” sort of way. ;)

    I hope you have a great night. You have my permission to knock down my basement door in your dreams tonight. I don’t have a basement, but I deserve it.

  8. What an adventure to live in your Grandmother’s old diner. I’ll bet there’s a great kitchen in there.

    When I was little you could tell how good my Dad’s job was by the lunches. If money was tight, it was PB&J and an apple or banana and milk in the thermos. If it was good, we got tuna salad or bologna and cheese, fruit, Koolaid in the thermos and a small bag of chips! We never did well enough for me to have a hot cafeteria lunch. (Those where the days when every school had a full kitchen in their cafeteria and the ladies knew how to cook and did. In those days everyone had to buy their lunch and only the rich kids got hot lunch every day. Those of us less well off brought our lunches in lunch boxes (if we could afford them) or in brown bags.

    I’ve never bought 27 rolls of toilet paper but I have bought large packages of toilet paper or paper towels. There is something wonderful about only going out to the garage to get a roll, rather than having to go to the store. Or buying one roll at a time when money is tight. And recycling cans and bottles to get that.

    Congratulations on being “toilet paper rich”.

  9. What a great blog post this was Kim! I always wondered how lucrative the designing life is and you have answered that question in spades. But as you say, it’s all about doing something you love! As with many of your other readers, I remember my “scant toilet paper” days very well. I once had a date who brought toilet paper instead of flowers when he came to dinner! Here’s hoping that following your bliss will finally reap the rewards that you so heartily deserve.

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