Working Through Creative Blocks

Working Through Creative Blocks

The day before yesterday I came up with this wild looking circle as one of the circles I’m doing, loosely following Sue Spargo’s Toned-Down Circle Sampler 90-day project that she is doing on Instagram. Often I’ve been using a stitch or two that she’s using for that day as a prompt and then seeing what I come up with. This one quickly announced itself as a diva.

The Diva that became my thirtieth circle inspired by the Drizzle Stitch.

Yesterday I posted a video about the creative process and a number of people messaged me privately, and a few publicly, about their process and how it was similar or differed. What struck me when reading other people’s experiences while creating or even just attempting to create is that unless you are one of those people who has felt the brutal horror of indecision, making the wrong choices, battling perfectionism and the inner mean voice, it’s very, very difficult to understand. Those who have experienced it know how awful it can be to constantly question what one is doing. Is it any good? Should I have done it differently? Maybe I’m just not creative, and do it anyway. As a result, I’m going to be doing a weekly youtube video – exploring the creative process; what stalls us, and how to work around those challenges.

The circle I created after the Diva was the backup band in comparison. It was all I could do not to tear it out. However I had no time to redo the whole thing, and part of my efforts to combat my own inner critic is to force myself to leave things that I want to completely redo, alone. This requires sitting with the discomfort and desire to “get it right”, “make it better” and any number of other things I tell myself I’m doing. The discomfort can be, and often is, quite painful. But once done a few times, the next time becomes a bit easier.

The Diva is above the backup singer who is directly below.

All of this is not to suggest that we settle for mediocracy. This has nothing to do with that. This is very specifically about how to move forward when creating.

What are you creating? Is it easy? Difficult? I’d love to hear.

Working Through Creative Blocks

I’ve Lost All Track of Time & Other Thoughts During This Pandemic

I know today’s Thursday because I post a new blog Tuesdays and Thursdays, and also because I have my glasses on and my iWatch conveniently tells me that it’s Thu April 23rd. I also now know that it’s cloudy outside, and at this moment 42℉. Of course, one is putting a great deal of faith in one’s iWatch if you trust all of this, because personally, I’ve gone outside, wearing the appropriate clothing for 42℉ weather, only to find I’m way under or over dressed, and that it doesn’t feel like 42℉ at all, but instead much more like 50℉ or, conversely, 30℉.

One morning I woke up and my iWatch helpfully told me the weather was “Unusually sensitive”, which I thought bizarre and had me in search of a magnifying glass just to make sure my eyesight hadn’t suddenly gotten much, much worse. I then wondered if my iWatch was commenting on my emotional well being. That idea was so creepy, I felt compelled to google: “my iWatch is telling me the weather is “unusually sensitive” what does that mean?” as one does, and I learned that this was referring to the air quality. I felt a bit foolish then as that actually made sense, sort of, but still it felt weirdly prophetic and throughout the day I was on high alert for anything or anyone that/who might cause me to feel “unusually sensitive”. Thankfully, I made it through that day and am still here to tell all of you.

All of this reinforced my feelings that my iWatch was not an entirely reliable narrator. However, I do trust it to tell me what day it is. So today is “Thu” and it is, in fact, the 23rd. Who knows what month it is, my iWatch neglects to give me that information. And anyway this confusion is all a result of the current pandemic we find ourselves bit players in. Each day melds seamlessly into the next; the months are beginning to bleed into each other as well. Oh come on, I am not the only one out there feeling this way!

They need to add a calendar to this sign so people know whether it’s Mon. Wed. or Fri. and while we’re at it – “knock if mask is needed” seems, on the surface, to be such a lovely and generous idea, but who knows where that mask has been?! Am I the only one concerned?

I tell you all of this because I have been doing YouTube videos on Sue Spargo’s #InstaStitchWithSue 90-day project and, as each day rings in a new circle, I do my best to keep track of which circle I’m recording on which day. In an attempt to speed up my taping process, I sometimes try to tape the intro to several days all on the same day, which I then edit and post on the correct day. If you’re confused right now, you can only imagine how confused I am. It doesn’t help that I’m not quite caught up, and every now and again I drift from Sue’s beautiful design and use her stitches as inspiration to do my own thing. So I decided to talk about that process yesterday I mean today in my video, which I am helpfully leaving below. You’re welcome.

In addition to all of this, I am also making my way through Sue Spargo’s Creative Stitching book and posting videos covering each of the stitches she features in that book, but stitched left handed, which you might not think makes much of a difference, but I can tell you, it kind of does! This was my original concept for my channel in the first place.

My attempt to keep what stitch I’m recording and posting on which day and the ensuing mess that all of this “organizing” is creating. My mind does not think in organized ways. This is something I’ve come to realize, appreciate and accept.

I have to go now, because I only have a limited time to tape while it’s still quiet and before everyone starts getting up, including the two construction sites that are both using jack hammers on either side of us. We live in New York City after all. There’s construction going on all the time, even during this pandemic.

Stay safe, stay home, wash your hands, wear a mask, not necessarily in that order.

Connecting & Community Through Art During the Pandemic

During this time of quarantine, particularly in New York City where most of us do not have a back yard we can wander or just sit in, to get a little fresh air, doing something that connects us, feels less like a luxury and more like a necessity. A connection to our planet, to one another, things once taken for granted are what call out during this time of forced isolation.

My mother sent me a video from an unknown source that uses works of art to underscore what we are currently going through and what many are feeling.

A man in Barcelona plays John Lennon’s Imagine from his balcony, courtesy of YouTube.

In Florence Maurizio Marchini serenades his city

Art – the ways in which we express the wonder and beauty of life through our emotions, creativity and talents is how we connect to each other, to ourselves, and to this world.

I haven’t stepped foot out of our house since Saturday, but I have had hundreds of interactions with people from all over the world, which is both amazing and delightful. Community. During a period when we cannot actually be with our friends and extended family, connecting over common interests is all the more desirable.

My latest YouTube Video & A Confession

Working Through Creative Blocks

1,000 YouTube Subscribers and Some Gratitude

Eight weeks ago today, I posted my first video to the YouTube Channel I created, On the Other Hand. Yesterday I hit 1,000 subscribers!

What began as an idea to benefit Left Handed people who love to sew and hand stitch, has grown into a much larger more all encompassing vision and where I demonstrate all kinds of things: tutorials for left handed embroidery stitchers, tutorials for left AND right handed stitchers, tutorials on how to do things such as make a perfect circle, emboss silk velvet, make a perfect stem, use Sue Spargo’s Spoke Easy, make a tuffet, applique tips, how to make a mask, suggestions, and encouragement to any and all who share my passion for creating, designing, stitching and fabric. And in the coming months I will be making more YouTube Videos devoted to design and the creative process.

These are two improvisational pieces that came out of my demonstrations of stitches used during my YouTube tutorials.

When I began making videos I watched a lot of YouTube videos on how to make Youtube videos. There is a certain humor in that. I also watched a great many videos giving suggestions for anyone beginning a channel on everything from how to create a banner, to how to insert links into your video, how to make thumbnails, how to edit on iMovie and lots of other topics involving the making of videos. YouTube is its own sprawling beast, with “influencers” and people who are making a LOT of money through their youtube channels. And some of the biggest influencers are people who make videos advising others on how to make videos. Does anyone else find that hilarious?

I began this channel planning to post a video once or maybe twice a week. I then decided I would post Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This plan was quickly revised to posting two videos a DAY, seven days a week! It has gotten totally out of control!!! On one day I posted THREE videos in a single day, but that was because Sue Spargo began telling me the stitches she will use on the following day’s circle for her #InstaStitchWithSue project, which I then created a playlist for, because it’s so popular and so many people are following her and it. For more about her project go ‘here‘. She is also telling me the stitches she is using for her popular Block of the Month. (I have almost finished all of the stitches she’s using in April’s block.)

My #instastitchwithsue Project

To say I’m grateful doesn’t cover it. During this time, when things are in such upheaval, when the future seems more fragile than ever before, this channel has grounded me, challenged me and kept me very, very busy! That so many people are now watching the videos I make, commenting and reaching out to me, means more to me that I can express. Yesterday morning I posted the video below to express my gratitude to Sue Spargo, her family and the people who have subscribed, watched, and followed my channel.

There is one other person who has shown me more support than anyone else, and that is my friend, Anna Bates. I’ve mentioned Anna before, but I cannot write about my channel and its growth without talking about her. Anna is the person I first mentioned my idea to, over a year ago when we were in Tucson at a Sue Spargo Workshop held at Tanque Verde Ranch by Madeline Island School of the Arts. Anna was the one who first encouraged me to go for it. Anna has continued to be my biggest cheerleader, giving me shout outs on social media, her blog,Woolie Mammoth, and on the weekly blog she writes for the Quilt Show. Without Anna I would not have more than 1.000 subscribers in just under 8 weeks. Making the adage – “Together we can do so much more than any of us can do alone” truer than ever.

Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

Thank you Anna. ❤️

Working Through Creative Blocks

Art Emerges From Pain

Every few days I venture outside to get a little fresh air and take a walk with my husband. The empty streets continue to astound.

Fifth Avenue Sunday Afternoon

On this day we decided to walk over to Union Square park, typically a hotbed of activity: sun seekers, dog walkers, protesters, activists, proselytizers, NYU students and those like ourselves who just want to enjoy the nice weather. However this was not the case last Sunday…

Union Square Sunday Afternoon
Cherry Blossoms almost in full bloom

Usually on Easter Sunday we have friends and family over for a little Welcome To Spring celebration. As this wasn’t possible, I made a nice dinner for just us, before my husband and I went for our stroll.

My mother’s cheesecake recipe

As I arranged the raspberries on the cheesecake I made, I thought of what stitches would best replicate them. I’ve been working on shooting a video for each of Sue Spargo’s Toned Down Circle Sampler, a 90-day project she is doing on Instagram – #InstaStitchWithSue, because all her workshops have been cancelled for the next few months. Each day Sue unveils a new 1″ circle, and each afternoon she tells me which stitches she will be using for the following day’s circle so I can make a video; a kind of sneak peek into that day’s circle for all her followers.

Circle #1

It’s been such a wonderful project so far. Today will be the 16th circle. What follows are a few of my stitched circles, sometimes following Sue’s circles closely, other days taking the stitches she is using to make my own interpretation. These circles and making the YouTube videos have made what has been an incredibly stressful and painful time much less so. I am reminded of the resilience of humanity and how often beauty emerges from great upheaval.

Circle #2 – My interpretation of Palestrina Knot & Fly Stitch
Circle #4
Circle #5
Circle #6
Circle #10 – my interpretation of the closed fly stitch
Circle #13 – my interpretation of couching
Circle #14 – My interpretation of the Open Buttonhole Filler Stitch
Merlin who is featured in my Circle #13 video