Big Changes

To say that my 2018 was not great is a bit of an understatement. At the end of 2017, I got a sinus infections, which lasted three months and took several courses of increasingly strong antibiotics to clear up. And after it was gone, I was still left with constant sinus pressure and the usual problems I’ve had my whole adult life. With my typical 4-5 sinus infections I get every year on top of the one that lasted 3 months, I spent more than ⅓ of 2018 with a sinus infection. I even got a sinus infection while I was in Hawaii for a week thanks to getting sea water up my nose!

As a mostly-self-employed knitting pattern designer, I have to pay for my own health insurance, and it’s been getting more and more expensive. Between 2017 and 2018, not only did my several-hundred-dollars-a-month premiums go up, but my deductible went up from $2,500 to $7,500. Yeah. You read that correctly. A $5,000 increase. At that point, on paper I was a perfectly healthy young adult, and that’s what it cost me to be insured.

When it was decided that I’d need sinus surgery, I looked at my deductible and thought, “Nope!” I’m not what you’d call a starving artist, but I don’t have that much money sitting around to be spent on fixing the misshapen bones of my nose. What I did have was a part-time job where I got glowing reviews every year and hints that all I’d need to do is ask if I wanted to become a full-time employee. A job where the benefits are incredibly good and my health insurance premium and deductibles would be literally 1/10 of what they were in 2018.

So, starting on January 2nd, designing won’t be my primary job anymore. I’ll be working full-time administering pension benefits at the company where I’ve worked part-time for the last 4 years. I won’t pretend to be super delighted by this turn of events, but I’m also not going to pretend like I’m not lucky to have this as an option. I’ll be working in an office full of friends, where I know I’m appreciated and valued, so that makes the change much easier.

When it comes to designing, I’d like to keep things up as much as I can without burning out. Designing has been my primary job for the last five and a half years, and prior to that, when I worked full-time at the cake decorating magazine for a year, I only designed casually, so this will be a new experience! But running the now-defunct Stranded Magazine and then being ill for a lot of this year has made me much more efficient at designing and helped me see where the best places are to put in the most effort, so I’m optimistic about keeping up my design work on the side. I’ve already got three new sweater patterns in the works and some OAL plans started. There are many things I want to do that I still haven’t, like hitting 100 patterns, so I’m not giving up on designing just yet, even though I suspect that I won’t be going back to doing it full-time again. The beginning of 2019 will be very different for me, but who knows what the year will bring!






20 responses to “Big Changes”

  1. Liz

    Oh, that’s some change indeed! I must say that, given all the health problems I suffer from since I got pregnant of my first child, self-employment is no longer an option for me either, so I totally understand your choice… Good luck for this new life! Hoping you can carry on with your knitting projects, but health comes first!

    1. Thank you! I’m sorry it’s no longer an option for you, either.

    2. Karen machado

      Andi, you are a lovely young woman who is blessed with incredible talent. I have followed you for awhile and I know how hard you work. It pains me to know what you’ve been going through. I went through massive sinus infections with migraines, so I know the pain you are experiencing and I will pray you can get medical help. That insurance is “oof-duh.” Take care of you and if you need to take a break from the knitting, we would be sad, but we would understand. Best wishes for better health, in 2019.

  2. Gina

    I am so sorry this was a decision that was forced on you this way. But I am glad you have a good workplace to go full time in, and can hopefully continue your gorgeous patterns.

  3. Really sorry to hear that you were forced into such a big chance by healthcare costs, but hope it will remove a lot of worry & mean you can access all of the treatment you need & have better health in 2019.

  4. Ady

    What a difficult decision! So many of my career decisions have revolved around health insurance as well. Not to get political, but imagine what things people would do if everyone had health insurance! The inventions and designs and innovations that there could be in nearly every field if people had that freedom! I wish you well. Happy 2019!!

    1. It’s hard to not get political, because the timing of the massive price hike makes it very obvious that it was about politics.

      It feels so frustrating to have to make career choices because of healthcare access. It really does limit innovation.

  5. Leea

    I am sorry to hear this but I am glad that you will continue to design. I am very fortunate to be a Canadian and we are never faced with this type of decision. I have been self-employed for most of my life and have never paid a dime for health care.

    Last year, my daughter was hospitalized three times with bowel obstruction and the cost to us was zero. My husband was treated for cancer, including radiation and chemotherapy, and again, the cost was zero.

    Universal health care has gotten a bad rap in your country and it is totally without a grain of truth. The health care in Canada is excellent. I hope that in time, the United States will catch up with the rest of the world and offer what is a human right – access to free health care.

    1. Kellie

      I feel the need to chime in here. I too agree that we are fortunate for our health care system in Canada, however, it is not free. For instance, British Columbia’s mandetory enrolment in the Medical Sevices Plan has a monthly premium and other medical costs are funded by taxes collected.

      1. This is your response to this post? Semantics about Canadian taxes?

  6. Erin

    I am so sorry to hear about the health issues you have been having! I totally understand the health insurance struggle. I am self employed, and I haven’t been able to afford any sort of coverage for the last 5 years. I hope that this new path brings you some relief (from both pain and budget woes).

  7. Eileen

    here’s to a 2019 that’s as good for you as 2018 was stressful!

    1. Haha! That’s a good thing to aim for.

  8. ElaineChicago

    Wishing you the best, Dear Andi, and hoping for your complete recovery. We’ll all be waiting for new patterns whenever they do come out. I’m happy that you have a good “other” job to go to with loads of friends already.

    1. Thanks! I’m glad I’ll at least be spending my days in a pleasant place to work.

  9. Anna C Korteweg

    Remember that you’ll always will be a designer – the amount of time you spent on that doesn’t define the identity. That identity is defined by how you look at the world. And creativity can expres itself in so many ways – including in how you help administer pension benefits! That’s a lesson I’ve learned as a dancer, and now knitter, who uses her creativity everyday in her administrative job. Wishing you the best exploring these new intersections.

  10. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been pushed into making this decision, but I am glad to hear that you have a good workplace and coworkers. Being disabled, I haven’t been able to seriously consider scaling back from working full time on top of designing and writing, but I’ve found a good balance, and I’m sure you will too. Here’s to smooth transitions and a healthier 2019!

  11. You’ve got to do what’s best for your health! As a part-time designer with a full-time job, I’ve learned to stick to designs that I really love… not just whatever pops into my head!
    I love your designs and will continue to follow your work, no matter if it’s 1 or 20 patterns a year!

  12. Blech, this sucks. I am so sorry that health costs are what is pushing you into this decision, but grateful for what sounds like a great work environment that is welcoming you when you need it. As a similarly creative bitch typing this from her cubicle keyboard: I feel you. And I’m on gchat all day if you have down time. Xoxox.

  13. Helen

    Andi, how heartbreaking for you to have to make this choice. As a Canadian fortunate to be covered by universal healthcare, I can’t imagine. And America, for shame! To think about how many creative, intelligent, and irreplaceable minds are forced into working for the man because of this reason! I never really thought it about it from this point of view – like being an entrepreneur isn’t hard enough!

    Best wishes for your new direction, I hope you get your sinuses sorted out, and as always, I still can’t wait to see what you come up with for us knitters (no pressure of course) ! Thank you for sharing your talents with us, and blogging for us, for years! I love your blog.

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