The Quiet of Creating

Hello, it’s been a while. At the start of this year, I decided to take my own advice and practice my 20 minutes a day (minimum) of creating. I had a few projects in mind that had sadly languished in the previous year not to mention several books that have collected on my shelves but were calling to be used.

Anyway, setting myself that modest goal has gently flowed into many different streams, some of which are surprising to me. For one, the original goal centered more on sketching and refining drawings for a book my daughter and I have been talking about for ages. But I’ve also picked up knitting again, and to my delight, have knitted 2 1/2 pairs of socks. The 1/2 stands for the sock I cast on yesterday because I couldn’t bear to see the lovely hank of sock yarn on the shelf in my closet anymore.

I have knitted on and off for many years but the idea of knitting anything more than a square or rectangle (aka scarves and baby blankets, ha), gave me the shivers. Paying attention to a pattern? Counting stitches? Decreasing and increasing and all of those other scary things? No, thank you. Also I distinctly remember a knitter friend from years ago who warned against socks. She talked about the dangers of single sock syndrome and had single socks to prove it.

But somehow last year in the midst of the half-of-the-year winter here in Idaho, I came across a tutorial that made knitting a sock, or a pair of them, seem doable. And I, like the numerous of other people who have left a comment on her video, knit my very first pair of socks. While I knit, I began to think grandiose dreams of knitting a pair of socks for everyone in my family by Christmas. But the relief of finishing coupled with the demands of a garden eclipsed my dreams, and the circular needles were stashed away…until this winter.

One of the lovely discoveries I made with sock knitting—at least for me—is how meditative it is. There are sections where I am straight knitting and can read a book or chat with friends, but the heel flap and heel turn in particular (ooh, and the lovely kitchener stitch to finish) demand my attention. This narrowing down to one thing is so rare (for me) and I am trying to incorporate it more and more into my life.

Another surprise creative endeavor has been learning how to sew. I took a sewing class in high school and made a sundress that I didn’t really like. I can still see the blue and white flowered pattern that had looked beautiful in the fabric store and probably would have looked great as a tote bag…but as a dress? Wow, it was too much. I’ve sewn little things here and there through the years—a pouch, a bag, bean bags for my daughter. I attempted doll clothes but the minuscule dimensions made me go cross-eyed. Basically my sewing machine has been one of those crafty monuments that gave me a silent guilt trip every time I saw it. Do you have anything like that? A stash of yarn? Piles of felt? Something?

Anyway, this time around, I came across Sanae Ishida’s book, Sewing Love, when I searched for “sewing your own clothes” on my library’s website. It was exactly what I needed. Part encouragement and part instruction, she teaches you how to make clothes for your body. She starts with teaching you how to make a sloper, a kind of 2D map of your body, which you then sew a muslin “outfit” from (for lack of a better term.) From there, you adjust the sloper until it is just right. Then you use that as the basis for sewing up patterns for yourself. Honestly, just check out that book. It is lovely and so encouraging even if you choose to not sew. (Another one of her books, Sewing Happiness is delightful as well. I’ve made yoga pants and a heating pad from it—it’s so fun!)

Sewing feels monumental to me since I am used to a sketchbook and small containable projects. There are so many steps—do I have the correct needle? ugh, I need to wind thread for the bobbin, why is the fabric bunching?—that I am having to take it very slow. I am a getter-done creative type (probably shown in my 20 minutes a day habit), but sewing demands that I slow down and learn. There could possibly be a day in my distant future where I whip out projects, but right now I am incredibly slow.

And that’s okay.

Along with my slow creative projects I’ve been reading slow, meandering books such as the Miss Read Fairacre series. I don’t know how I’ve missed these tales of a schoolmistress in an English village before, but I’m enjoying them now. Not much of consequence happens in terms of a swiftly moving plot or deeply developed characters, but by the end of the series, I breathed a nice sigh of happiness. Miss Read lives a simple life, but it is a beautiful one with meaning and purpose. I love that.

I might pop in here on a monthly basis to update what projects I’ve been working on. We’ve been enjoying lovely overcast weather on and off for the last few weeks that reminds me of Oregon. That light! I almost feel as if I’ll see the tips of Douglas firs when I look out the window on a day like this.

I hope you are all enjoying the last bits of winter wherever you are. I’m looking forward to (slightly) warmer weather and the snow melting…




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