Sometimes What You Don’t Do Is Just As Valuable As What You Do

Or – why it helps to go beyond the urge to ‘just say no’.

Have you ever had a day when you realized you spent a lot of time answering  questions with “No,  I don’t do that”?

Here’s some of what I remember saying at Farmer’s Market last Saturday :

  • I don’t use natural dyes
  • I don’t spin dog hair
  • I don’t do other craft shows or events
  • I don’t have handspun handwoven cashmere scarves in other colors
  • I don’t do custom weaving or spinning
  • I don’t have any more of that particular piece.

As I debriefed from the day, I realized several of the conversations I’d had were about what I don’t do.  I’d been saying no an awful lot and it had me wondering what was going on.

Was I having a bad day? Were people bothered by my answers? Did they walk out of my booth in disgust?

Honestly? No.

The family that had seen a demonstration of natural dyeing at a living history museum – was interested to learn about why I choose to use synthetic dyes.

The young woman who loves her dog so much she wants to have some of his fur spun into yarn – appreciated knowing how to harvest and store the fiber.

The ladies who offered me information about a really big craft show they liked to attend – were impressed that I was satisfied ‘only’ doing the Burlington Farmer’s Market.

The young man who asked about other colors of cashmere – understood that the brown, beige, white, tan and gray pieces on display are natural animal colors – that the fiber is so special it’s taking me awhile to feel to comfortable with the idea of dyeing it – and was very happy choosing the light gray/tan color as a present for his wife.

The vendor who was curious about whether I made most of my sales at market or from custom work – learned that I prefer to concentrate on a particular and peculiar path of my own.   If I can incorporate what I want to accomplish with a customer’s request then yes, I’ll consider it.   If not – no, I don’t do that.

And the person who wanted to know if I had any more like the narrow hand-dyed piece I’d made specifically to show her?   She’s already a collector of my work.   One of those special people I learned about from Alyson Stanfield .

Telling this patron of my craft no means she has the only one.  She knows I’ll continue making things with her in mind, –  taking into account the questions she asks and the ideas she shares about what she likes.

All of the no-ing I did at market last week?
It gave me a clearer picture of what I choose to say yes to – and why.

That means:

  • I’ll be dying some cashmere yarns and fiber pretty soon.
  • Weaving more pieces with hems instead of fringe.
  • And maybe writing a post or two about: “natural vs. synthetic”;  why the Burlington Farmer’s Market is so great; and what things to consider if you want your dog’s fiber spun into yarn.

What does your list of “don’ts” inspire you to do?
And yes, I plan to be at market tomorrow.
I hope you will be, too.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

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5 responses to “Sometimes What You Don’t Do Is Just As Valuable As What You Do

  1. Pingback: business buzz 8-20-11

  2. A great story about decisions and creativity. Thanks to Ayson’s Tweet I found it here.

  3. Joanne: Great story! I love that you set your boundaries.

    • Thanks Alyson: Your book, blog, classes and newsletter provide a wealth of information. I’m very grateful for the guidance, encouragement and helpful advice you continue to offer.

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