1. What am I working on?
So many things. And to be perfectly honest, I don't always feel good about it. Let me explain: I'm the kind of person who likes to concentrate on one thing at a time. I've never been a "magpie" (though I do like shiny things; or maybe that makes me a raccoon?). I actually want to be one of those people who can have several projects on the go, flitting back and forth between them as the mood strikes. But I'm not, at heart, that kind of person. I'm more the type who reads a book she hates all the way through to the end on principal. In school, I used the same pen until it ran out of ink. Sometimes it took several months but I wouldn't give up.
Crafting, for me, is often the same way: I need to finish something fully before moving on to the next project, or I feel at loose ends, too scattered to really savor the work. But in recent months, I've decided to let go a little bit and work on more than one project at a time. This has been good and bad for me. Good, in that I can put something down when I'm tired of it and let the inspiration build again. Bad, in that I'm not finishing much of anything lately and I'm even forgetting how to do the work sometimes. I recently found myself referring to a book to make a simple granny square! Sounds inspiring, doesn't it? I don't finish anything and I lose basic skills. On the other hand, I'm able to pick up different projects depending on my mood and I also get to have projects for different settings and circumstances: small, portable ones and great, big lap-covering ones. In the end, it feels okay. I think it's a sign of maturity that I can do this at all, actually; a few years ago, the idea would have made me tearful and panicky.
On the crochet front, I'm currently working on a flowers-in-the-snow blanket for my daughter, as well as a ripple throw for my in-laws. I have plans for a crocheted shawl as well as a cowl for myself, to hopefully be worn this winter. I'm also sewing a bit, making a Maggie Rabbit (from a kit) for my daughter too, and working on a patchwork table runner (which just needs binding at this point). Occasionally, I pick up one of my practice knitting swatches, having just mastered the garter stitch this winter (but nothing else yet). I also have several embroidery and machine-sewing projects swirling around in my head at any given time, very few of which have been realized yet. I'd like to work on them before the end of the summer, if possible, but I'm going easy on myself. I've only barely begun to get used to this crafty-promiscuity thing and there's no rush (well, except for the Maggie Rabbit, which has a deadline, as it is a birthday present).
This is a difficult question. I'm trying to make my work stand out more. I will say that I've been learning a lot about color and pattern in the past year, and have been finding my own style in that regard. I did lots of sewing, and some crochet, before discovering the world of crafty blogs a few years ago, but I've found it hard to break away from others' ideas of what looks good since immersing myself in blogs. I think I am easily influenced by others' tastes and always have been. I got a "Rachel" haircut in college because everyone else had one, but I never actually liked it. With crochet, I've had to stop and think about my tastes. When I think about what I really love to create, I think of soft colors, simple, clean lines, nothing frilly or overly feminine. I like floral fabrics in small amounts and a few brighter colors mixed in with subtle, muted ones. I don't especially like ditsy prints all over a room, chintz or ruffles.
With this in mind, my crochet work especially has evolved as I've embraced my own style. I tend to shy away from using lots of bright colors now, though a couple of years ago, I was all about a bold, rainbow palette. I realized I like grays, browns and blacks, and soft dusty shades of blue, rose and green. I love mustard now! I didn't know I liked it, but mustard and mellow-gold tones really speak to me. I like pink too, I've realized. I hadn't given it a fair chance before. It has taken me a long time to really feel good about my own work. I've never had much self-confidence and I can be very critical of myself, feeling that I'm not good at much. But it's getting better. I think the key has been to stop worrying about what others would think (especially on my blog), and to start making things that suit my tastes and preferences. I appreciated my own creativity more and began finding my own style too.
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I write what I do because life at home with my family is the most important thing in the world to me. I write from my heart. I have very simple desires, I think. I really care about having a peaceful, productive, intentional life. For me, life at home is about comfort, warmth, doing the things we enjoy and being kind to one another. I also like to write about my hobbies, my environment and places I visit. I find that taking the time to photograph and write about the world around me helps me to enjoy it more. In general, I don't really crave excitement. I love staying home, being comfortable and cozy, cooking our own meals and working on hobbies. I try to bring this to life in my writing, to share (and hopefully make interesting) my own little perspective.
I create what I do for all the same reasons. I want this place to be the safest, happiest one my children know. I want them to grow up surrounded by things I made with love and with their needs and tastes in mind. I don't like a fussy home environment. I like a lived-in one, with a few nicer touches here and there, but all of it must be useable and functional. I'm pretty frugal and I love to make things myself, so I try to do that as much as possible. I enjoy seeing the people I love using things I made. I love to look around the house and see my creations and think, "I made that." Mostly, I just love to make things. I'm always working on something and it makes me happy. If there's one thing I hope my children learn from me, it's to find happiness in their own creativity.
My writing process starts in my head. I write every minute that I am awake. I've always been this way. As a child, I filled notebook after notebook with observations and ideas, scrawling over the pages with whichever writing utensil was to hand. Now, I'm neater about it, using a pretty notebook which I keep on my desk and pens stored in a crochet-jacketed bean can. I like to make a few notes for blog posts, but generally, I just sit down and start writing. Blogging helps me channel the writing, which sometimes can feel a bit compulsive. Now I have a place to put it all down, with accompanying photos. I've always enjoyed expository writing most of all, and it's a great pleasure for me to write descriptively and in detail about the world around me. I wrote for my school newspapers and was a writing tutor in college, before becoming an English teacher. I particularly loved teaching writing. Blogging has been a formative experience for me as a writer. I enjoy writing on my own and with prompts from others; I am honored to be a member of the Color Collaborative, a group of bloggers who explore a new topic each month through the lens of color, which has been a challenging, thought-provoking and enriching experience.
My creative process is similar. I love to pore over photos of projects and think about ways to personalize them or make them my own. I have a list of things I would like to make, and I make them as it suits me (unless it's a gift with a deadline). I shop for yarn and fabric in a fairly organized way; I'm not one to splurge on supplies unless I have a specific project in mind. I plan colors the old-fashioned way, dumping a pile of yarn on the floor, or stacking bolts on the counter in the fabric store, and playing with them until I like what I see. I have a relatively tight crafting budget, as well as limited storage space, so I tend to buy small amounts of supplies and use them up before buying more, but I do have a little stash of fabrics and yarns. Occasionally, I'll start a project on a whim, which feels good. I would like to do this more often. It feels more organic. I am a natural-born planner, but creativity shouldn't always start with a blueprint.
It's my great privilege to pass this Blog Hop exercise on to two bloggers whose work I enjoy and admire. I hope you will visit their blogs and read about their creative and/or writing process. I am sure you will love what you see there. If you don't already read their blogs, you'll want to return again and again to see what these talented ladies are up to. They will be posting their blog hop contributions next week, on July 7.
Teresa, of the eponymous Teresa Kasner blog, is an artist and yarn-crafter. She lives on a farm in Oregon. She is funny and warm and she shares interesting tidbits of her life on her blog. Teresa is a retiree who is extremely active in her community, holding numerous offices in civic organizations and volunteering often. She is a mother of grown children and a grandmother - a very loving one at that. Her artwork and crafts are beautiful and unique. She is a truly talented and interesting lady and I'm proud to know her.
Nicole, of My Garden Diaries, is a mom of three small children who is passionate about gardening and home design. Nicole lives in Illinois. I am always very impressed at how beautifully she puts together her home and garden, in addition to being a very devoted mother. Nicole and I are about the same age and I feel that she really "gets" me, especially when I mention things I liked as a kid or teenager. Nicole's blog is truly inspiring; I get new ideas from her all the time. And she's always sweet and supportive. She is the best kind of blogging friend.