August 5th marks one year of living in Ubuyama, a village in the mountains of Southern Japan. While the total amount of time of living in Japan is actually one year and 11 months (I lived in two other cities before this one), this one year is significant to me.
During this year I had been figuring out the direction I wanted to take my brand, Aroha Knits. For the first few months I was living in Ubuyama, I opened an Etsy store to take commissions on my patterns, while designing on the side. However I quickly found that taking commissions was too time-consuming and extremely stressful and most importantly, I didn't enjoy it. I preferred creating new things, trying new techniques, experimenting with construction and different stitch types. Working on commissions diverted my attention from that (and it wasn't very profitable).
What I wanted to do was design garments and accessories and incorporate the Māori culture into them in one way or another. Since making that shift in December, I've been much happier with the growth and direction Aroha Knits has taken. During August - December, the months I was designing and taking commissions, I released 5 patterns (and one was designed while I was in the US). In January until now, since dropping commissions, I've released 11 patterns with 3 scheduled for this month (stay tuned for that!).
I have also created new relationships with knitters, yarn store owners, and yarn makers from around the world, many of whom I owe my growth and exposure to. They have provided me so many wonderful opportunities to expose my designs and work, and the support from the knitting community is incredible. You make my work as a designer worth it.
But this year has also been significant on a personal level. This is my first time living in a small village surrounded by green, green and brown. I grew up in Austin, Texas which was hipster central (not that I'm complaining, it is still my favourite city and I love the environment and feel of the place) and Ubuyama is... the complete opposite. Quiet (as in people and traffic quiet, the bugs make up for that), secluded, no busy night life, no little hang outs but plenty of unwanted little visitors with multiple legs... I experienced depression during the winter months from just being cut off from people and having very little to do (outside of knitting). However the spring and summer months have been absolutely lovely and we've been taking more drives to get to know the surrounding area better and I'm getting more used to living a new kind of lifestyle. And very important, I have learned that my husband and I make excellent roommates! Our cat, however, still needs some lessons in manners.
I'm looking forward seeing where this next year takes me, what I'll be doing and where I'll be. I hope to continue nurturing my brand and I hope to have you all along beside me!
To celebrate this occasion, I'm running a promo in my Ravelry store. Buy two patterns and get one for free when you use the code ONEYEAR.