So Many Ideas…

I am blessed to know a lot of very creative people. It comes with the territory considering that I run a yarn/sewing shop. One of the realities of being a creative person is that there are always a lot of ideas, inspirations and goals to strive to manifest. There are new skills to acquire and develop too! And on top of all those luscious projects, you still have to make your way through the mundane day to day responsibilities too. At the risk of sounding cliche, there are only so many hours in a day.

As a creative person, with a broad spectrum of interests, I do sometimes find myself feeling frustrated that I can’t pack more amazing things into each day and still manage to eat, work, sleep and keep up with a basic level of housekeeping. I already pack my days pretty full. As winter settles in and November firmly plants itself I find that I have to be careful not to let myself get overwhelmed when I start thinking about all the things I would really like to do before the holiday season arrives.

Winter is a very busy time in the store, between the sewing repairs, the yarn sales, making sure my stock levels are where they need to be, providing a high level of service and making sure that my paperwork gets done, it is a lot to do. I love it, don’t get me wrong; it’s fantastic. It makes for a full and rewarding life! In the evenings, I like to be able to knit as I curl up in front of the TV with my DH. Some nights, I have to be honest, I am simply too tired to knit.

Every day, I am surrounded by all the beautiful yarns that I sell in my store. I am the one that orders all the patterns and pattern books. There are so many stunning possibilities, so many potential projects. I imagine mittens, socks, hats, cowls, sweaters, cardigans and more. It can be a challenge to rein all that in. And like most knitters, I have a number of projects on my needles, patiently waiting to be completed.

In January, I started my 2018 Ravelry Challenge and set a goal to finish 20 projects this year.

You know, I have already completed 27. And I wasn’t rushing them. Well, maybe the Tour-de-sock socks were a little rushed… but the other items were definitely not rushed. I completed them mostly in the evenings in front of the television in the company of my husband and cat. Some of them progressed on Saturdays in the company of other local knitters who came to my shop to knit. Some of them on lazy Sundays when I just wanted to ignore the rest of the world and indulge in the zen of my knitting in my cozy chair.

Every one of those projects was a visceral and sensual outlet for my creativity. Fibre arts is amazing that way.

It’s such a tactile “pastime”. (Or should I say obsession?) The colours and patterns are a feast for the eye. The textures of the materials are sheer bliss to me. My friend would grin, with sparkling eyes and insist, “Orgasmic!” Yeah, some of them really are. And to take a ball of spun fibres a couple of pointy sticks and a bunch of hieroglyphics on a page and turn that into something wearable… yeah, now that is a pretty amazing experience. To do it again and again… what a privilege.

As much as the typical stresses of life can get to me, I am so grateful to live this life. I’m grateful that I am able to run a little shop. I love that I can provide the sewing services that I do; that our little town has the demand for those services! I love that I can surround myself with glorious colours and textures of yarns. Most of all I love that I get to interact with other amazing and creative individuals who share my passion for fibre arts.

I am learning that it’s okay to take each day as it comes.

Some days fly by and fill themselves up, with complete disregard to the things I thought I was going to do. I have my lists of what must be accomplished and the deadlines that apply to those tasks. And I do my best to navigate, filling a lull with a quick job off the rack, or perhaps a single round of knitting… or even a quiet moment to savour a well earned cup of coffee. I am learning that it’s a waste of energy to beat myself up if a day doesn’t go the way I thought it should; to let go of expectations that really don’t mean anything to anyone but me. Some days I’m more successful in that than other days. And when I give myself permission to allow the days to flow, somehow everything manages to get done in time. Not only that, but I enjoy those days so much more, even if they are very full.

As the moments of pre-holiday season panic shiver through me, I am determined to take a long deep breath and let those feelings simply dissolve. I am making a list of the items that would be nice to get done for those closest to me. But I am determined to keep my knitting blissful. I am absolutely determined to keep my knitting time sacred. It’s important to me that I don’t make it start to feel pressured or like “work”. My goal is to infuse my love of fibres and knitting into each project for each of the people I make something for. And I’m confident that when they wear those items I made for them, they will feel the love I poured into them. I refuse to allow my own expectations rob me of the joy that knitting brings me. I invite you to join me!

Happy Knitting!

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Creative Outlets: Hallowe’en!

The leaves are falling, a nip is in the air, frost greets us in the mornings and the countdown to Hallowe’en has begun.

Whatever anyone’s personal view of Hallowe’en might be, it has become an excellent opportunity to express creativity. Whether through costumes, decorations or parties I love to see people’s creativity shine at this time of year.

When my kids were small, I liked to make them costumes for Hallowe’en. Of course in our region, it’s very cold on Hallowe’en. So their costumes needed to be inherently warm or fit over a winter coat. As a performer and costume designer, I love any excuse to dress up in a costume. In a world that can be heavy and demanding, I firmly believe that we should take every appropriate opportunity we can to have some silly and lighthearted fun.

You don’t have to be able to sew to come up with a costume. Sure, if you want something elaborate, it helps. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money. It does help to give yourself a bit of time to come up with something. What you really need is a sense of humour and some creativity.

The thrift shop is a fantastic place to start.

  1. It’s best to make a few trips. The cool thing about thrift shops is that the stuff there is constantly changing.
  2. Watch for anything unusual. Perhaps a hat, a coat in an out of the ordinary colour, something that you could use as a prop to imply a character…
  3. Don’t let it pass you by! Because thrift shops have a quick turnover, if you see something unusual or cool, buy it! Go with cash and be prepared to grab the items that make you stop in your tracks. You might not use them this year, but if you leave them and think they’ll be there when you go back, you will be disappointed. If you think it’s cool for a potential costume, someone else likely will too.
  4. Let the unusual get your creative juices flowing. You need to give yourself permission to get out of your normal head space in regard to the clothes you see at the thrift shop.
  5. Think outside the box. A giant coat that would fit more than one of you might be worn over a backpack to create the impression of a hunchback. A bright red child’s coat might need some small black pompoms hot glued on it. Pair it with black pants or leggings and a black toque (beanie for non-Canadians) and you have a Ladybug costume.
  6. Don’t be afraid to cut things up. Don’t be afraid to reimagine what you see. A coat with a wild looking lining? Turn it inside out and be a Wild Thing!

Sometimes it’s worth it to purchase an inspiration piece.

  1. An inspiration piece in this context is something that evokes a character or an era.
  2. Don’t underestimate the power of a hat. A hat can transform normal clothes into a costume. Put on a suit you already own and add a fedora, a pencil thin mustache and a cane… Presto, you are suddenly from a whole other era. A distressed bowler hat? Get some grubby old work clothes in shades of brown and suddenly you might be a railway labourer from the 1880’s. A cowboy hat, a hard hat, a helmet, a bee keeper’s veil, a welder’s cap, a newsboy cap… you get the idea.
  3. Props can also give the impression of a character. They can inspire a complete outfit. Of course if you have to carry that prop around in your hands it will make it difficult to do other things. Oh, and I don’t recommend using a real Katana as a prop. Most venues frown on patrons carrying edged weapons in their establishments. And children with weapons…. hmmm… not a good idea. Costume shops often carry plastic swords and other interesting items that can act as your inspiration for a costume.
  4. A wig can transform you. Enough said.
  5. If you have any consignment shops in your area, these are another great place to look for inspiration pieces. You may have to pay up a little for an inspiration piece. However, it may mean that you can pull the rest of the costume together with items you already own.

Recycle, Repurpose and all that Jazz…

  1. It’s amazing what you can do with some cardboard, tape and spray paint.
  2. Throughout the year, keep an eye out for unusual items that could be used to make a costume. Old bleach jugs with the ends cut out could become the arms of a space suit. They can even fit over the sleeves of a winter coat you picked up at the thrift shop. Spray paint the whole thing silver? Tadah!
  3. Check out You-Tube videos of Cosplayers for inspiration in this regard. Cosplayers are genius when it comes to transforming what most people consider garbage/recycling into brilliant costumes. Use the words  “hacks” in your search. That will generally bring up cool work-arounds and creative (and inexpensive) suggestions. If you are not familiar with Cosplay, be prepared to see pictures of people dressed up as cartoon or video game characters. Many of the female costumes are based on Anime and can be rather revealing. So, your search will bring up these images. If you are looking for ideas for little kids, maybe do that search after they go to bed.

Make it up…

A little makeup goes a long way to imply your character. There are lots of costume make-up tutorials on You Tube.

Put it all together and you’ll be on your way in a great costume. And bottom line, it’s about giving yourself permission to be playful in a world that generally expects us to be anything but. Have fun!

Happy Making!