Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My View On Multiple Projects For Knitters & Crocheters

Multiple Projects

When I am in my pottery workshop it is impractical to make just one pot from start to finish.
If I throw a pot today, it will be wet for at least a week. It has to be covered in plastic and dried slowly so it doesn't crack. Then it has to be trimmed, then left to dry, then fired, then glazed, then fired again at least once. The whole process might take a month or more. So during the rest of the workshop I’m not just going to sit there twiddling my thumbs. I’m going to throw another pot.

In oil painting, a painting may be too wet to do anything else that day. It must be left to dry another week or so. In the meantime, I will start another painting. In a week or two I may have a dozen paintings in various stages of being finished. Sometimes I won’t know what to do next. Or I might have a commission to finish. Or a birthday deadline. Or maybe that painting just wasn't working out to begin with and needs to be painted over. Or I may not have the skill level to finish it at this time.
But for some reason when it comes to knitting and crocheting, the artist often feels they must finish one thing at a time from start to finish. They punish themselves by not allowing themselves to start anything new. Often their current project begins to bore them and grinds to a halt. Or they can’t go on because they broke or lost a needle or a hook.  Or the project has so many mistakes they can’t bear to pick it up again. Or maybe they realize they didn't charge enough and have lost their motivation. Or they don’t have the skills yet to finish.

No matter the reason it is always good to have another project on stand-by. I like to keep one mindless project I can grab if I am going to be stuck at an auto mechanic or a doctor’s office or a train ride. I switch off between knitting and crocheting because each uses different muscles and my hands don’t get so many repetitive injuries. I like to keep a hard project handy so I can improve my skills and not get stuck in a rut. And I like to keep something super fun handy, like crocheting teddy bears, so that when I just want to relax and have fun that’s my go-to project. And I have seasonal projects going, like hearts for Valentine’s Day or potholders for wedding presents. And now I’ve learned the hard way to always have a prayer shawl in the works long before its needed. Oh, and a charity project. I think I’d kill my creativity if I stuck to one thing from beginning to end. I’d go bonkers! I’m not saying you should start 100 projects and not finish anything.  I’m saying it is not unreasonable to have 5 or 6 going at any one time. 

I had to stop working on this because my cat always used to pounce me and then we lost the cat so it made me too sad to work on it. I just started working on it again this week.

My current favorite project is this Hitchhiker Scarf from Ravelry

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crocheted Magenta Hat

It is rare that I start and finish a project in the same day, much less the same evening.  But I just whipped up a magenta hat.  It started as a beanie, then wanted to be a slouch cap, but that didn't really happen so now it's a rather long beanie. I rather like the way it came out, or maybe I'm just tired and delusional!  It is now just past midnight so I think I'll wrap things up and go to bed.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Overcoming Creative Block

First, you immediately stop doing anything creative. If possible do something the complete opposite of whatever has you blocked. Since a lot of creativity is mental, it might be helpful to take up something physical. Perhaps a daily walk, or going bowling with friends or taking your tennis racket out of mothballs. 

If you have health issues that are causing you pain, that can also kill your creativity, so deal with those if possible. 

If you are grieving, making things can be an escape, but if you escape too much you aren't dealing with the thing causing you the grief. Allow yourself to experience that fully so you can perhaps gain some balance. Repressing things isn't healthy in the long run. 

Focus on any beauty you can find around you: The sunrise, the local zoo, photos on Pinterest or Flickr, your favorite happy movie. 

I find writing in a journal helpful. You can backtrack to when you first felt like you were losing your mojo. Was it when someone died? Was it when you felt like you weren't selling enough on Etsy? Was it when you gave up something you loved to focus on something that would sell? If you can figure out what went wrong, you can fix it. Sometimes it is just the doldrums, and this too shall pass. 

Also I find if I clean a table completely off, or clean my sewing area or clean my kitchen, I suddenly find myself ready to create something new in that space. Clutter can freeze up all your creative energy. Sweep out any corners with dead energy. I hope something I said helps.

Lastly, be kind to yourself. You are not a robot or a sweatshop. If you had a lot of deadlines before Christmas or a custom order, you probably have burn-out and should rest and do simple things that make you happy. Don't rush it. Sooner or later your creativity will come rushing back.
Hobby Lobby in Victorville, CA 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Crochet Projects on the Hook

Good morning. Since I don't want my new Mood Afghan 2015 project to take over my entire craft blog, I've made it it's very own page. Just click on the link.

I'm also working on the project I've come to think of as the Accidental Hat.  It was supposed to be a circular afghan.  But it was sitting next to my desk yelling at me "I want to be a hat." So guess what? Now I'm making it into a tam or a slouch cap or something. We'll see.

The Accidental Hat by Fayme Harper ©2015

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Projects For a New Year

Some of my New Year's rituals have ended. Without a TV and with limited bandwidth, I no longer watch 'the ball drop' nor can I watch the Rose Parade. Those were pretty passive things to do anyway. Instead I decided to get started on my new free form crocheted afghan. I'll be doing a different color each day for a year. Then I'm going to start my brand new line of resin distressed jewelry, talismans, prayer boxes, amulets and pocket shrines.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A New Day For A Fresh Start

Around midnight last night I was just about done with making an embossed box out of a soda can using a tutorial I found on Youtube. As I folded up the first side, it broke off in my hand. I threw all the parts away.  But now I'm thinking I might be able to salvage some of it and use it for journal embellishments or hang tags or something, so I guess I'll dig it out of the trash and try to add a patina. Last night after it broke, five minutes later my glasses fell apart. So I decided I was done for the night.

Today the weather is as beautiful as weather ever gets so I'm going to go out in the  yard and work on crafts.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Problem With Knitting and Crocheting

I just frogged an infinity scarf I was making. In spite of 5 tutorials explaining what an easy pattern this Feather and Fan is, I kept losing a stitch somewhere and having to fudge it by adding a random stitch somewhere, or I'd have the right side rows facing to the backside of the scarf! Ack. So I took the whole thing out. I think I've figured out how not to do it wrong, or maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment because I'm starting again. I'm casting on 88 stitches on size 10 needles. There is an 8 stitch border on each side and I'm starting with 8 knitted rows. I need to keep better track because the pattern is a 4 row repeat and I don't want to end up with the front facing the back again.

And speaking of knitting projects, I joined a knitting group on Facebook. Some of those knitters have already picked out their projects for the entire year of 2015!  Which brings me to another point. A few years ago I decided to cut back on knitting and crochet for 3 reasons. First, people still think of them as granny crafts and aren't willing to buy them for a price that reflects the time spent and the materials involved. And if you decide to sell the pattern instead, people often feel entitled to a free pattern, especially if they are just going to make it once. Second, they are hard on the hands and very time consuming. In the time it takes to knit one scarf out of yarn I could probably sew 10 out of fabric. Third; they create a huge amount of clutter, at least the way I do it. Skeins of yarn are like Tribbles; they end up in every room, drawer, closet and storage space.

The problem is knitting and crochet are both portable. I can take a project to a waiting room or a train ride or a bus station.  Try that with oil painting or mosaics or stained glass or pottery.  So when I just want to surf the Internet or sit in a park, knitting and crocheting are the easiest to keep up with. But because I get so sucked into the knitting and crocheting, I sit too much.  I think I've gotten lazier over the years and just lean towards projects where I can sit in one chair a long time and not get up.  I can't do that with sewing. I have to hop up and iron something every five minutes. I can't do that with clay. And yarn is a clean medium.  It's not messy like casting resin or gluing art journals together. And don't get me started on the cost. Now that I've joined a real knitting group in a real knitting shop, I've never spent so much on yarn in my life.  Even if I choose not to buy the $20. a skein yarn at the shop, I might go buy something similar for $10. a skein at Hobby Lobby or Michaels, when before I stuck to yarns that were under $5. a skein.  And if I spend $100 on yarn, that's $100 I can't spend on paints or chainmail supplies or candle wax. So don't knit, you say.  Knitting is so addicting and there is guilt involved. Every project I don't finish makes me feel guilty. It feeds my imagination and there is always more I want to try.  Socks? Sure. Cowls? Why not.  Slippers? My mom made us slippers when I was little. So there is an emotional connection there.

For some reason if you paint, throw pots, or draw in pen and ink, people call you an artist.  But if you knit, people just think, "Oh that is so cute, deary. My auntie used to make those too." I've given up on trying to change the world's view of knitting. It is what it is. I just can't seem to give it up. I must have yarn in my veins. And no other craft seems to go so well with sitting at a computer. I tried doing beading at my computer and I just kept dropping things on the floor.  I'm sure I'm not the only one with these issues.
An almost finished knitted bunny rabbit.
This will be a crocheted bear.