Friday, March 27, 2020

Life in the Time of Cornavirus, Week 2

When I decided to revive the blog a few weeks ago, I did not see this coming; no one did, really. I've been seeing a lot of posts like "10 ways to clean your house while quarantined" or "shows to binge watch", but the reality is that working full time at home with 2 kids means a severe lack of free time. Gone are the audiobook-enriched commutes or lunchtime knit group at work. The pictures above are truly random, all taken on my non-fancy phone camera and completely unedited.

I've been deep in the world of aspirational crafting lately, daydreaming about all the clothes I'm going to sew, cross-stitch patterns I'm going to complete, or home renovations to start. The reality is hardly any of this will actually get done. So for the time being, I am going to prioritize exercising 3-4 days a week, and doing a creative activity for at least 45 minutes a day. This time comes at the end of the day while Mary has her screen time. I won't lie, the pull of my screen is strong, but there is only so much news you can read before it starts having a negative effect.

Here are a few bright spots I've encountered this week:

Pip from Meet Me at Mike's posted "Can making stuff admit the mayhem really improve our mental health?" (The source of this post was the article "How Craft is Good for our Health".)

There are many free online classes popping up. I've been following Sketchbook Revival, hosted by Karen Abend and Laura Horn's course Abstract Collage Creations. Alisa Burke is posting how-to videos on her YouTube channel. I've also been enjoying Lisa Congdon's Coronavirus Diaries she is posting to Instagram.

I hope everyone is hanging in there!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Soon after I began knitting, I discovered the concept of a "process knitter" versus a "product knitter." For most of my knitting years, I was firmly in the camp of product; I knit because I wanted the hat or sweater or shawl. This year marks 20 years of knitting, and I have more than outfit myself and my family in knitted accessories of all sorts. My sock drawer is at capacity, and even though I have slowed down my production somewhat, I have no plans to stop knitting.  Similarly, I have a closet full of handmade quilts that exceeds the number of potential beds and people to cover by quite a lot.

Now, I knit because I want to knit, and quilt if I want to quilt. I suppose that I'm slowly moving into the process camp; the act of making is more important than the product. I now choose projects based on what I want to achieve through the making. Sometimes, it's a plain sock to keep my hands busy, or because it's small and I'm traveling. Other times, I want more of a mental workout, and pick something with a chart or a technique I haven't tried before.

Yet, I'm still not there. I still follow patterns and don't take many risks. I still care if the finished project looks good enough to enter into the county fair or publish on Instagram. I need an output to prove that my time was not wasted. This is particularly true now, when I have so little "free" time.

Last summer I took an art journaling class. I hadn't taken an art class since college, and art journaling is something I've been interested in but never really started. The class itself was disappointing, since the instructor taught us how to reproduce her own work instead of encouraging us to develop our own style. But, it did spark something (and a minor hoarding of art supplies) and I have kept up with it. If anything, it has highlighted my tendency towards a usable (in this case, photogenic) finished product.

I have reached a point where I don't need anything, and I want to start experimenting. Part of this is embracing failure, and another is accepting that time spent playing is not wasted. I haven't fully realized what this means in practice, but it's something that I am keeping in mind as it gets warmer and I am motivated to get out from under my couch blanket.

This post will have a time stamp of March 17, 2020, and it would be odd not to mention that the world is in an unprecedented situation with the coronavirus. I am at home like most of the world, hoping that this all ends sooner rather than later, and eager to look back and reflect on how we all got through it. Making is an outlet for a lot of us during times of stress and I'm happy to have this coping mechanism!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time Has Passed

Time has passed. You may have noticed the presence of an additional child in the picture above. I am far from the first to note this, but I miss blogs. Oh, I know blogs still exist, but the ones that peek into the lives of regular people, all over the world, are diminishing. I totally get it, hence the 3 year absence here. It's a lot of work, taking pictures, uploading them, writing, creating posts; and for many of us, that's on top of full-time jobs and bringing children endless amounts of snacks. I miss the creative community I can dip into while having spreadsheets open on my other screen. I certainly don't begrudge people who make a living from their blogs and websites, but there is a lack of authenticity and freedom there.

I recently finished Melanie Falick's Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You are Meant to Live. Misleading title aside - there is no mention of how to actually "discover the life you are mean to live" - I greatly enjoyed it. The book is profiles of many makers/artists, in mediums from pottery to leather to fabric. One of the featured artists is Tif Fussell of Dottie Angel. She explains how she created Dottie Angel as an alter ego, a part of her who could continue living her creative life while raising four small children. I love this idea, and hence, the revival of this blog.

Here is my alter ego, the part of me who wears handmade clothing out of adorably rumpled linen, who spends hours in the craft room without having to step out to clean up spills or find out why someone is screaming. The person who doesn't scroll on her phone at the end of the day, but picks up her artisan basket and dips outside to gather flowers from her organic garden.