January Wrap-Up

Is it just me or was January both the longest and the shortest month ever? I didn’t quite meet all of my goals for the month, but I did pretty good.

My theme for the month was “content.” As in, creating content. To help with this, I participated in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I ended up not completing the challenge, for a variety of reasons. However, I did get more posts up than I usually do in January. That’s a win itself.

Other things I did for January is

  • 5 Days to Increased Creativity challenge
  • 5 Days to Planner Peace challenge
  • Signed up for and started a Tunisian crochet class with Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts.
  • Finished two crocheted shawls.
  • Planned out the next JEN Enterprises Presents title (hybrid planning).

January was a challenging month, but it was ultimately a good one. I’ll have another wrap-up at the end of this month too.

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Begin at the Bell

The following is an excerpt from 80 Creativity Tips.

A friend of mine said this before writing exercise we did at the kick-off party flash meeting with a lot for the local National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) group.

“Begin at the bell” is actually pretty good advice. When it comes to working on our creative projects, we almost always say we don’t have time.

Make time! Otherwise, it will never get done.

Get a timer. Set it for no less than 15 minutes, preferably 30. If you can, have a bell ring to signal the beginning. If not, start the very second your hand comes off the timer.

Whatever it is you do, then do it. Right. Draw. Paint. Cook. Dance.

Create!

When the timer goes off, you can stop, but not before. Give yourself at least that 15 minutes. If you are going good when the time is up, turn the timer off–or reset it–and keep going.

At the end of your time, step back. Look at what you have done and pat yourself on the back.

This is important: Do not evaluate or critique what you have done. Now is the time for creating, not for editing or judging. There will be time for that later.

Here are some tips for you on your work with a timer:

  • Don’t look at the timer. Turn it away from you. If it’s on your phone, turn the display off or turn your phone over.
  • Don’t stop and wonder how much time you have left, no matter how much you want to know.
  • Time isn’t important except as a way to get started. Unless there is a hurricane or a fire, the amount of time that’s passed isn’t important.
  • If you’re writing or drawing, keep your hand moving. Pause as seldom as possible to work out a hand cramp if you need to. (As a side note, if you’re getting cramps like that, it means you’re holding your pen/pencil/paintbrush/knitting needles/crochet hook too tight and need to loosen your grip.)
  • Focus on what you’re doing. This music or TV on in the background? Tune it out. There are people who said they have to work in complete silence. Those people really get any work done. Distractions are a fact of life, even if it’s just your cat jumping up on the desk. Learn to deal with it.

Remember you’re creative in your life, not separate from it.

Selecting Yarn for a Pattern

I have a lot of patterns. I have a lot of yarn. I don’t necessarily buy yarn for every pattern I have that I want to make. That would be a bit much, even for me. So what do I do?

First, I go through the yarn I already have (and can access because some of it is in storage in the garage). Honestly, I usually find something to use in that. If I don’t, then I go yarn shopping.

It’s such a hardship.

I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

But seriously, what do you do if you have a pattern you want but you don’t have the yarn that goes with it? Read the pattern and find the recommended yarn. Then check the labels on the yarn you have. Is any of it comparable?

Check the fiber. If it’s a wool blend, do you have a similar yarn? What weight does the pattern call for? If it’s chunky and you only have worsted, can you hold two strands together and make it work?

I do this often enough that I honestly don’t really think about it. I’ve even substituted different weights of yarn. I have one pattern that calls for DK or sport yarn. I don’t have any. Instead, I’m using worsted weight yarn (probably what you think of when you think of yarn) and went up to a larger crochet hook to accommodate it.

The only advice I have for selecting yarn for a pattern or for substituting yarn is this: If you like it, use it. You might need to experiment to get the right hook or needle for the look you want, but it will (usually) work out.

Why usually?

It doesn’t work so well if you’re making garments. Then you do want to use as similar a yarn as possible to what the pattern calls for.

 

 

Other Creative Work

I talk about writing often enough here that you might wonder if I do any other creative work. I do.

I knit, crochet, make jewelry, do handlettering, and make greeting cards. I primarily crochet, though.

I love shawls and scarves. I’ve recently made an infinity scarf and a cowl for Christmas gifts. I’m working on one that’s called a “Dragon Belly Shawl.” It’s gorgeous! After it’s done, I’m going to make a pair of dragon-scale fingerless gloves/mitts.

I do offer things for sale, but most of what I make is gifted to different people for different reasons.

Recently, I’ve had to slow down. I’ve developed tendonitis and it’s taking forever to get well, even with a brace and exercises. (Yes, I even type with the brace on.)

Taking My Own Advice

jen1Back in October, I posted about Creative Self-Care. I have to admit that I haven’t really done that myself. I’ve been in get-it-done mode.

You know how it is.

You have your list. You’re checking it twice. You’re gonna find out who’s naughty… Wait. Wrong list. And I’m not Santa.

Anyway, you have your list and you double- and triple-check to make sure you’re dong everything you want to do. Then a hiccup comes along and makes you adjust your plan, but you’re still determined to get it done.

You don’t take time for you. You get run down. You don’t feel all that great. You’re trying to do everything right, but you’re… just… so… tired.

I’m there.

There are a lot of reasons for it, not just being busy and trying to get things done, but that is part of it.

I’ve decided to lighten up on myself. I’m not going to harp on what I have or haven’t done, because that’s not the point.

I am going to rest. I am going to do things for me. That includes reading and listening to podcasts just for the fun of it. If my wrist cooperates, that means making a “dragon belly” shawl and some dragon-scale fingerless gloves. Or starting them, anyway.

It means slowing down and taking my own advice.

 

It’s OK to Be Down

I typically aim for two posts a week. Last week, I had three. This week, unless I do one tomorrow, I will only have one. I could list a dozen excuses for it, but I won’t.

I’ll offer you this instead:

I resisted writing this post. I didn’t want to be one to say it’s okay to be down in the dumps. It’s okay to have days where you don’t feel creative and can’t force it no matter what you do. It’s okay to have days where you just want to hide from the world and ignore everyone.

I didn’t want to say it not because it’s not true. Every last word of that paragraph above is the truth.

I didn’t want to say it because you see it and hear it in so many other places. But, the last couple weeks, I’ve felt it. For the most part, I’ve pushed through, but some days I didn’t.

That’s also why I’ve resisted this post. I didn’t want to say all of the above is okay because I’ve been there. I am there. I’m trying to get past it.

One of our dogs died. He had cancer.
We’ve had some family stuff going on.
I’ve had some medical stuff going on.

I’ve let myself feel the feelings. I have felt sad, frustrated, aggravated, and mad. I’ve still written, edited, posted, and crocheted. On the days where I didn’t want to do anything, I still crocheted.

I walked around and looked at exhibits at the county fair, thinking that would give me some ideas and motivation back. I walked around Hobby Lobby for the same reasons.

Did it help?

Yes and no.

I’m getting back to it. I edited another chapter of RealmWalker: New Beginnings tonight. I did what I do when I really need to get to work. I turned on some music without lyrics, pet Gabby (another dog, she’s a shih-tzu), and got to work.

It feels good to be getting back in the swing of things. More importantly, it reminded me that even though I didn’t want to write this post, I really should. Just because we see messages like this in other places doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share our own.

The most important thing is to take care of yourself.

Do that.

Please.

Who Are You?

(c) 2017 Richard R. Barron
Used with permission

Whether we realize it or not, who we are is essential to our creativity. This is brought home to me quite often since I do have some limitations on what I can/can’t do because of my eyesight.

In my jewelry-making, I don’t use bead-weaving techniques or even very many seed beads (those tiny beads often sold in tubes) because it’s too difficult for me to see the holes in the beads. When I crochet, so far I haven’t used the tiny steel hooks for similar reasons.

In order to define myself as a creative, I have to consider, and often work around, these issues. Sometimes I indulge in a little what-if.

What if I didn’t have to think about those things? What if I could just do what I wanted to do without thinking about accommodations or the size and type of the materials I want to use?

Usually, I write that off as an exercise in futility. (Pun intended. Sometimes even what and how I choose to write is determined by these issues.) But…

What if there was a way that those issues could be rendered irrelevant?

What if there was something that would let me see better than I have ever seen in my life? (I was born legally blind.)

There is.

It’s called eSight Eyewear electronic glasses. (The link will open in a new tab/window.) Remember the guy in Star Trek that had funky glasses that allowed him to see? What was once only in the realm of science fiction is a reality, folks.

But, as of right now, it’s rather out of reach for me, unless I have help. And I’m working on that. There will be some new things coming soon that will help me raise money for it. And any sale of my books, jewelry, photos, or crocheted/knit items will go toward that.

eSight’s tagline/hashtag is #everyonedeservestosee. I believe it. Do you?