Frustrations, faffing and failures…

Today’s the day when the girls return to school and life swings back into what I laughingly call our normal routine.

We’ve been enormously lucky to be able to have the whole family together at home over the Twelve Days of Christmas, which I really adore – a kind of hibernation with chocolates and jigsaws – but now it’s time to move forward into 2015.

Over the holidays, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the plans and ideas bloggers have for what they want to do this year. Lots of people seem to be using numbers as prompts – along the lines of ’15 things in 2015′. It sounds fun (well mostly), but long experience convinces me, I’m not a resolutions kind of girl. In fact, having read The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking – Oliver Burkeman over the holidays, I’m quite content to carry on as I am.

Which, to be honest, has been a bit of a mixed bag over the last few weeks.

Regular readers will know that I generally move straight from one stitchy piece to another, and indeed, I have been stitching all over the Christmas period. But for the first time in ages, I haven’t been able to settle into one piece. In fact, in what is a first for me, I’ve managed to start, stitch and then abandon four new pieces in the last six weeks. I’m not sure why, but nothing has quite come together in my mind and I just haven’t connected to the work.

And I can tell you, there’s nothing like failing at something slowly to give you the full benefit of the experience.

So, just in case it isn’t fifth time lucky, I’ve decided to take positive action.

I have stopped sticking the needle into the canvas and instead, I’ve thrown every ball, skein and odd straggly end of yarn I possess (yep, we’re talking a small skip load) into a huge heap, and then had a thoroughly good time sorting them all into colour families. I then tidied out the boxes and found new ways to store them. Oh yes, this girl knows how to live!

Not content with that, I’ve also had a major move around of all my arty stuff – surprising isn’t it, what you find that you’d forgotten you had – and managed to carve out a slightly bigger area to call my studio (ok, we’re not in Virginia Woolf territory here – I have to share the space with the laundry and the downstairs shower), but woe betide anyone who infringes on my self-defined arty area!

And so I move into 2015 in a more organised, decluttered and refreshed state of mind. But for the moment, I’m not going to stitch. Instead, I intend to spend a few weeks playing.

And with a bit of luck, playing will eventually lead onto something that does get the juices flowing.

So that’s where I am. Mildly frustrated, accepting a few failures and faffing my way into 2015.

11 thoughts on “Frustrations, faffing and failures…

  1. Happy New Year Anny. I too, had a similar experience. In my case, I had been so stuck in the past few months. I have many needlepoint, embroidery, and beading projects in the works at the same time and simply could not move to finish anything during the days I had off for the Holidays. My mind was also so full of new ideas and my older projects were starting to migrate all over the house. I was truly stuck. So I used the time to organize everything; threads projects, beads. I also cleaned up my little art space in our guest room. I listed all my in-process projects and then hid them out of sight so they wouldn’t distract me and plan to work on them one at a time. For my new ideas I put them in my sketch book to revisit when some of the older work was done.

    My old way of working was to have many things going on at one time… Perhaps it was a way to fool myself into thinking I was a prolific Stitcher. I realize now I was just fooling myself. All that was happening was my unfinished projects were holding me back from doing anything new. By reorganizing I feel refreshed. And instead of actual stitching time my holidays were spend working on changing my work process. The result is I have reconnected with my older projects and find joy and excitement in them again.

    1. Oh Brenda – you’re a kindred spirit! I’ve always thought that if things aren’t going well, a bit of tidying up will help bring some clarity – and it seems we’re right. I must admit though that I’m a serial stitcher – I just don’t have the physical space, let alone the mental space to cope with more than one project at a time. I hope your projects bring you much joy and happiness in the coming months.

      1. I wish the same to you Anny. I am now convinced that becoming serial stitcher is the way to go, For me, it’s been about learning to tame the urge to start something new —for the sake of my physical space and my wildly creative mind.

        I am a great fan of your stitching and blog. Cheers, from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  2. I loved reading this. (1) hilarious about the resoultions. I will have to seek out the Oliver Burkeman book. I am not a resolutions girl either, as much as I love the idea of it. (2) I am so interested in this discussion about serial stitching vs. having many things going. I used to be a serial stitcher, but now have way too many projects going and seem to have too many on the brink of completion, but not quite finished. Brenda might be right and its all holding me back. Maybe I need to try a good clean out and organization too 😉

    1. You’re right, it does make you wonder about working processes and whether or not there’s a limit to what you can successfully work on at a time. When I was a career-girl I seemed to be able to keep multiple plates spinning, but these days I’m much happier to streamline – not just in stitching, but across the board. I found the book on the Kindle in one of their deals. It was interesting, but after reading it I thought it really just confirmed quite a lot of things I’d already concluded for myself. 🙂

  3. Hi Anny, Happy New Year and well done for your great tidying up. I have a feeling I’d need a month of continuous work to achieve that – there are too many pockets of “I’ll deal with that when …” in my house! I hope spending time handling all your crafty treasures, sorting and sifting, will bring it’s own inspiration. Sometimes just looking at what we have brings ideas to the surface, or settles those treasures in our minds, so that when inspiration strikes we know where to find what we need (rather than sneaking out to the nearest thread store for more threads and beads – oh surely not!). We also came to the conclusion at Studio 11 on Friday that working on a “trial piece” often frees up the inner creative, and results in something unexpected. Perhaps we try too hard when we think “this is what I want to achieve”; when “playing” we just look at what the materials will do rather than what we want to do 🙂

    1. Hi Kathy, yes, I’m sure there’s a lot to be said for playing as a way to release some of the blocks that appear. I really do feel quite inspired by my stash of arty goodies – I knew they’d come in handy some time, and I’m already incorporating some into my play! Best wishes for the new year.

  4. I am a huge believer in playing although it is easier said that done if you are a task focussed type like me. One thing that works for me is doing something fairly mindless like knitting something simple. The mindlessness eventually gives way to a day when I wake up and want something new and complicated and fascinating to do!

    1. I know what you mean, but I had to have a little chuckle at the idea of being able to mindlessly knit something simple – even a scarf would tax my abilities! But yes, I agree, playing is really an important part of development and I think your word of 2015 – free – plays a part too – playing allows us to be free of mental blockages, perfectionism etc and let’s us – be free!

  5. Getting your stash and working space sorted and properly organised doesn’t sound like failure to me, Anny. Enjoy your playing and I look forward to the results when the muse strikes again. 🙂

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