Spreading Woolly Love

So, it's the end of my first week of being radically creative. 

I thought that this week I would be a knitting demon wearing at least half a sock, or be an ever-so-slightly improved cook, or a less confused user of my sewing machine.  But I'm not.  I find myself, at the end of my first week of being creative, absorbed into the world of blogging magic...

I know what HTML is.  I can add widgets to websites.  I have built a blog.   I have created something new.  I have discovered Tiny Chat.  A mini chatting world where you can connect with other like-minded, creative (or ever-so-slightly bonkers) people.  And chatted with friends, and some strangers.

We talked about tapestry and poetry.  We chatted about knitting.  We spread woolly love.  

I have discovered that there is a world of creative, crafting men out there who are making dresses for their wives, knitting socks for their sisters, and crocheting hats for their children.  Empowered women who are making sweet music with drums.

I've been surprised by how frightened I have been after committing myself so publicly to the challenge, and how uncomfortable it can feel when you really put yourself, and your ideas, out there.

Then a friend has left a comment, or sent me an email telling me how much they have enjoyed what they have read so far.  And I've felt supported.

Next week?  I don't know yet.  But I'm getting the urge to answer the age old question:

"If I make rice crispie cakes, does that mean I've baked?"

Secret Creative Behaviour

Yesterday, my very creative friend, Ange, sent me these images.

And they got me thinking. Initially, where in the name of all that is good and great did he get his needles and wool?  And then, how many men out there are knitting but not telling?  How many women are drum kit goddesses?  Is it still a little bit taboo to cross over creative boundaries?
If so, are people involved in Secret Creative Behaviour?
Are there bike mechanics who like nothing more than to come home, kick back with a beer and crack out the cross stitch?  Or ballerinas who want nothing more than to relax practising their hi-hat skills? 
 Yes, there are.  Brilliant. 

My Creativity Starter Kit

I'm currently putting together my Creativity Starter Kit.  So far I have a slightly huge, cartoonesque pair of wooden knitting needles, a ball of super, super chunky wool, the Stitch and Bitch Handbook by Debbie Stoller (a no-messing guide to the fabulousness of knitting), and a wee treasure I rescued from a nearby house clearance business when I was on an impromptu visit with my friend, Ange, to see what treasures had been unearthed in the local vicinity.

The Creda Housecraft Manual (1958).

It was lying at the bottom of a dusty box and is a piece of social history that I have sat and read with complete pleasure.  Did you know it was possible to make an ice-cream snowman complete with little tin foil hat, to decorate your dining table during dinner?  I did not.

I also have a copy of The Sunlight Year Book, A Treasury of Useful Information of Value to all Members of the Household, 1898, which I bought in a charity shop when I was a student because the cover was so beautiful.  This week I dug it out, blew off the cobwebs, and sat down and read it. 

Each year, apparently, Lever Brothers Limited (those people who make our shampoo and clothes detergent) would issue this book as a kind of Victorian Year Book/Almanac.  It contains postal information, details of eclipses to enjoy in 1898, instructions on how to read the gas meter, as well as household recipes, details of fashionable people of the time and a story by Conan Doyle (who was becoming famous at the time for his Sherlock Holmes stories.).  It is completely fascinating.  I will share more later.

In the meantime, I wanted to send out some ripples and a little bit of love by sharing a website with you, in case you find something there that you enjoy.  I'm embracing my creativity, and a big part of that for me is how I express myself with clothes (most days, not very well, but I'm going to be putting my back into it now...).  I recently became aware of this site http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/

The man who developed this blog spends his days walking around different cities photographing the people who cross his path and catch his eye, ordinary folk going about their business, who have been creative with their clothes.  His pictures are beautiful.  Equal opportunity loveliness...

Day One and Two: I Suppose I Need to Define What Creativity Means For Me. Just So We're Clear.

So, in retrospect, deciding to set myself a year long challenge in the wee hours of the morning when I'm teetering on the edge of narcolepsy, and then deciding to share this rash idea there and then with the world without really thinking it through, may not be the most rational thing I've ever done.

In the harsh, somewhat grey and fuggy light of day, I may have read over my first blog entry and had a momentary wobble or three. I may even have castigated myself with the thought, "Who decides to devote themselves to a year of radical creativity and starts by setting rules?". 

In the spirit of all things creative, I'm letting the fears go, (through ever so slightly gritted teeth) and have decided that it might be a good idea to get down on blog-paper what exactly I mean when I say "Embracing Creativity".  Just so I have some idea of what I've actually committed myself to...

Will I spend my days getting jiggy with a big ole canvas and some oil paints?   (Ooh, fun!)
Will I live, breathe and devote every waking moment to all things crafty?   (Hmmmm.)
Will I pass happy times cutting, sticking, glueing, at the expense of eating, drinking, washing?  (Erm.  There's a distinct possibility.)

I've spent the past day or two wondering about what creativity means for me (while also having a stern talk with myself about the folly I may or may not have committed by setting myself this challenge) .  And this is what I've decided.   Creativity is about following your heart, putting something new into the world that wasn't there before, in a way that enhances your life and the lives of others.  Doing what you do, with love, so that it creates ripples.  Putting who you are, and the gifts you were given, out into the world.

So, it's my intention to spend the next year exploring different ways of enhancing my life and the lives of those around me through learning traditionally creative skills that involve art and design (making jewellery, knitting, writing. etc.) and also through the random, not so obvious ways of choosing to be creative which I think might include being open to new possibilities, trusting in life, letting go, spreading a little love, living in the moment, and putting my creativity out into the world.  Gulp. 

I intend to do this by learning to really flex my creative muscles in actions and spirit.  I'm not clear yet about how I'm going to do this but have some starting points: 

I've never been much of a knitter and fancy learning how to knit something I can wear that isn't a scarf.  Oh, and that has the same number of stitches when I finish, as when I started.  (How fab would it be to pull up a trouser leg, point to the holey creation poking out from my shoe and bellow from the heart, "I knitted that!"?) 

I've never really liked cooking.  For years I used my oven for storage.  Recently for the first time in 30 years I baked some scones and cup cakes.  I want to know more.  How amazing would it be to waft around the kitchen with an air of actually knowing and understanding the alchemy that was involved, and stepping forth with a creation worthy of Juliette Binoche in Chocolat?

My recent attempt at baking scones.  They were lovely. 

I enjoy making jewellery with silver wire, but it would be fantastic to be able to set a honking great gemstone in a ring Liberace would be proud of, or pull down my goggles, come over all Flashdance, and solder bits of metal together. 

I love clothes, but can't use a sewing machine without adopting the look of someone who has been asked to appraise Einstein's Theory of Relativity for an audience of scientists.  To get out the sewing machine without hyperventilating, and inadvertently finger knitting while trying to thread the spools, would be marvelous.

I love people, but have always preferred people watching, than team sports.  How fantastic would it be to be part of a book club, a knitting group, or community group?  Learning new skills from people who want to share, and then passing them on to others.

In all, I've dabbled in being crafty, but I've never really committed to exploring my creativity.  Perhaps, over the next year, this combination of being creative in actions and spirit will be so utterly blooming powerful my life will be transformed beyond all recognition. Or perhaps I will just have had a lot of fun trying new things.

A win win situation.

Introducing Mimi And Tilly

Mimi and Tilly were my childhood cats. Before you frantically click away from this blog fearful that you have unwittingly tapped into the pitiful musings of a middle-aged cat woman with wrinkly stockings surrounded by the vague whiff of damp fur, let me reassure you. This blog isn't about my cats. Although I do have two, Eric (a slinky black moggy) and Ernie (a big floppy tabby). This blog is all about being creative.

Mimi and Tilly found life eternally fantastic! They snored in the sun, padded round the garden, batted at flowers, head-bonked people, wrapped themselves around the legs of surprised passers-by, and generally enjoyed finding and creating things that made them happy.

They did not write to-do lists. (1. Must leave fur-ball in middle of carpet. 2. Trip up anyone coming down the stairs. 3. Make a very big mess around food bowl and slide in said mess each time we pass bowl. )

They didn't organize and account for each minute of their day, plan ahead, feel guilty because they hadn't spent enough time with me, or, in fact, partake in any activity that didn't seem to leave them feeling relaxed, excited, happy or ever so slightly nauseous because they'd eaten just a bit too much hot chicken (the hiccups, slight dry-heaving, and bulging tummies were the give-away here).

After many years of working hard, building a career, spending my days organising, rationalising, and following the rules, I have decided to take a leaf out of Mimi and Tilly's book, and re-ignite my passion for life by embracing my creativity. I plan to spend the next year changing my life by following my creative instincts. Instead of dismissing my need to get creative, I'm going to listen to what my heart has been telling me for a long time, and crack on and do it. As old habits die hard though, I have implemented a few rules to help get me started on this project:

Rule One

I must only do what I feel excited about doing. (Obviously I will still need to do the dishes, wash my clothes and drag a comb through my hair, so I don't need to get excited about those things unless I want to...)

Rule Two

I must refrain from writing any more To Do lists.

Rule Three

I must share my creative exploits here for the amusement (or not) of others no matter how successful or unsuccessful they are.

Rule Four

I must do what my creative instincts are telling me to do no matter how scary it might feel.

Rule Five

I must say "Yes" to my creativity.

Wish me luck.
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