Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Which Kristin Examines the Warp and Weft of her Own Creative Impulse...*

You may feel it's been quiet on the crafting front and, to some extent that's true. Since mid summer I've been trying to inject a bit of balance into my creative undertakings. I know, crazy.

I've been largely successful - if successful means unproductive. In short, I spend practically as much energy wondering what it means to be "not crafting enough" as I would have on actual crafting. The difference is that I can do that around my family.

Don't misunderstand. I have made 2 sweaters in the last 6 weeks, and a dress (which is very close to languishing on the lawn unless the advice to simply cut off the facing - which has been under- and top stitched to the dress neck - produces a wearable result. Note: I'm not optimistic and it's too bad cuz my workmanship on that thing kicks ass.) I've learned numerous knitting techniques, started working semi-regularly with a teacher and taken a course on Craftsy, which I intend to put into action soon. I know what projects I next want to undertake: a silk version of the Pendrell blouse, a wool version of my wide-leg pants sloper and another knitted sweater (which I'm in the process of using Ravelry's amazing platform to help me to choose).

And yet I feel like an under-performer.

Why is that? (This is another one of the things I've spent a lot of time considering while not crafting.) At first I blamed it on you. :-) I mean, you have expectations of me. You've come to expect certain things. You're probably sewing up a storm (or doing some other fab, creative activity) occasionally reminded that I really haven't produced much lately.

Then it hit me that I really can be egomanical - as my husband loves to tell me. And projection truly is alive and well.

See, for better or for worse - put this on my pragmatism (which is legendary) or my people-pleasing nature - I am what I do. I'm only as good as that last technique, as that project in which I achieve and exceed expectations. The one in which I learn something I can apply going forward. Throw in a clinical dose of OCD and it's a veritable bomb.

Lord, that's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I'm always motivated to do more - which inclines one to do more, don't you think? Note: I love finishing garments, and enjoying them (when they work out). It's not like I don't enjoy the crap out of the process or the outcome. On the other, I shouldn't be enslaved to these things (or more importantly, to my impression of what it means to do them in a more measured way).

Sorry to say, there's no point to this diatribe. I suspect I haven't resolved anything by reconsidering the topic or by writing about it. Of course, I love lively debate and commiseration (not that I wish this style on anyone), so we might be able to extract some meaning in that respect. Sometimes you have to put it down on paper to pick it up in real life. Here's hoping...

*Sounds deep, huh?


  1. I think we all go through times of being super productive, times where it's more about planning and processing, and times that it seems like we're doing less than we are. And that is okay. I don't sew much in the summer because my sewing room is way too hot even if I sew next to naked. I spend too much time being indecisive about what to sew next.

    I would say my expectations are for entertainment. I like reading what you write, and if sometimes there is less sewing going on, that's okay. Sometimes there is less sewing going on with me too.

  2. I think we go through ebbs and flow. I am normally at an ebb when I am working outside the house at a high intensity period; and I'm most at a flow when I'm taking time off . . . I've learned to go with it. And the fact that most of my projects take more time than I plan for!

  3. I can be obsessive as well, and also tend to define myself by what I do, and haven't been as productive lately as I'd like to be, so ought to be beating myself up over it as I would normally do, but that's not what's going on. I'm only posting once every few weeks now, but plan to say something about this the next time I do.

    What's happening for me is twofold. On the one hand, perfectionism is getting in the way. I hate making mistakes even though I know they're absolutely inevitable and necessary to regain/develop one's sewing chops. I hate mistakes so much that I'm probably overdoing it taking precautionary steps like basting every single thing before sewing, but maddeningly, a few mistakes happen anyway! They bother me so much, the little devils. On the other hand, and this is the really big other hand, I find in sewing that thoughts stray to memories of sewing, and there I am again, in the room with my mother, sewing in silence, without joy in the process, just dutifully sewing to make some joyless clothes because clothes are necessary. It's ruining my room of happiness! It's interfering with playing with style! I literally find myself talking aloud to myself about how this is 2011, not 1970, that I am a grown up, that I can have fun sewing :-).

    Weird, huh?

  4. As we'd say here- give yourself a break, or alternatively, just do it.

    Sometimes thinking about stuff takes up more time than the doing. Though you've not been inactive.

    I've got a whole pile of drapes that I have to make, hanging over the back of a chair, I know it's only going to take me a couple of hours, but still it hangs there... I can even do it while watching tv, yet it hangs there taunting me. Sometimes I just can't be bothered until I have an actual deadline to make me do it.

  5. "I am what I do" -- I feel the same way. Recently, I tried to just "be" for a week and I got soooo depressed. I thought it would be relaxing but it was just dreary.

  6. I'd say give yourself a break, except that what you are writing here sounds so much like it could be spewing forth from my own psyche. Oh well. I'm not getting a lot done, although I seem to be doing a lot, so there seems to be some modification of "I am what I do" to "I am what I finish" which at the moment seems woefully lacking.

    Sometimes our brains are too big for our own good I fear.

  7. Sera: Very balanced perspective! Thank you.

    Pammie: Don't they?! Simple pants, before they've turned into a TNT pattern, can take 50 hours.

    Susan: Fascinating comment. I hope for you that you only bring happy sewing memories into your room from now on - the ones you are creating in this second wave of crafting.

    Imogen: So right! Do it, or don't do it - but don't worry. It will all aright itself eventually.

    Wendy: I understand that feeling!

    Mardel: It's true. This is a modern, smart girl dilemma :-)