My stock standard start to the year usually involves taking the month of January pretty much off from design work whilst my kids are on school summer holidays, and devoting my time to ferrying them to and fro from the various adventures that school holidays bring with it. After what often feels like a chaotic end to the year, this traditionally has very much been a welcome distraction and great way to help recharge my batteries. I spend my summer knitting for pleasure, quite often restocking our stash of knitted dishcloths for the year to come for both our use and for gifts, or maybe even indulging in a pleasurable knit for me. Yay!
Typically there is some kind of camping involved. Time spent in the bush by the seaside in this fabulous beauty of a tent. Man, I love this baby! Time spent away from the distractions of social media. It is a blissful time. It is a relaxing time. It is just what I need to recharge my batteries.
I love beginning my year like this. It feels like a fresh start and a slow ease into the year. And every year before January is even over, I am busting to get back to it, overflowing with new ideas and swatches and sketches waiting to be transformed. This is just the break I need to re-ingnite my enthusiasm and passion.
This year has been a little different though.
I'm working on a series of patterns that I MUST have ready for a deadline early this year. This has meant that I've had to work over the school holidays; the summer period. A time when not only are my children home ready for adventures, but so also is my husband.
It's not easy to work when adventure calls. It's not easy to work when the sun is shining outside. It's not easy to work when you'd really much rather be at the beach. It's not easy to work when your family is planning a wee adventure without you. It's not easy to work when your workspace is filled with people. It's not easy to work when really you'd rather be doing something else. But I've had to.
So rather than having a time where I traditionally recharge my batteries I've had to soldier on with just a short break over the Christmas to New Year week. Because of this I've really had to think a lot about finding focus and how to keep myself buoyed and committed to my work. Luckily, the pieces that I'm designing are small ones, bite sized bits of designing which really has made the task so much easier and has meant that I've been able to break this big task into smaller far more achievable tasks.
The instant gratification of these smaller pieces has also kept me focussed and encouraged me to explore the next new idea. It's been exciting and fun to watch my sketches transform so quickly into finished products. I've tried lots of new and different approaches in this task, which has kept it fresh and interesting - challenging but the novelty factor has made it so much fun.
Admittedly, amongst this work deadline we have been away camping and I've had to take my work with me. I think the saving grace allowing me to do so is that the pieces I'm working on are so small. I'm not sure two weeks camping with two adventure-mad kids and one equally energetic husband would have gone so well if I was designing a sweater!
So this summer's experience got me thinking about the age old problem that many crafters face; the lost mojo. Often I'll read posts in forums which go something like this, "Help! I've lost my mojo! How do I get it back?"
I thought I might address the issue of this lost mojo and see how it is that crafters can get that mojo back. Or even work towards a state where you never lose it to begin with.
I like to start with asking the big question;
Why have you lost your mojo?
What's made you lose your mojo?
Rather than just looking for a quick fix to the problem, we as crafters need to recognise what it is that brought us to the lost mojo point. If we can recognise what it is that brought about this state of malaise to begin with, we can maybe avoid it happening again. Maybe.
Have you been working too hard? (either on your craft or in our everyday career)
Are you feeling burnt out?
Is there no love for what yo're working on?
Do you feel like you have to finish what you're working on now?
Would you rather be crafting something else?
These are good questions to ask yourself to see if you can identify why you've lost your mojo. Quite often it's the realities and pressure of everyday life. Sometimes it might be that you're putting too much pressure on yourself as a crafter; either to achieve a deadline or some level of skill perfection.
So what do I do when my mojo is waning? Here's my top 10 tips that work for me.
1. Embrace polygamy
Cast on all the things. Anything you feel like. It doesn't matter if you don't finish anything and rip them all in a month just embrace the joy of starting a new project.
2. Instant Gratification
Make something small and quickly created.
Nothing makes you feel better than a finished wip - no matter the size.
3. Take a break
Sometimes you just need to walk away from your craft for just a wee bit. There's nothing wrong with that. Just go with it. It's much better than trying to force the love. It's okay to take a break, sometimes that's all we need to recharge our batteries. Sometimes all the big stuff in our lives doesn't leave much time for the simple pleasures. Don't push it, it will get there.
4. Try something new
Whether it's a new technique or even a completely different craft, sometimes the spice of variety is enough to get the creative ideas flowing again. Sew something, pick up your crochet hook, stitch up a small embroidery or even indulge in some colouring, baking, spinning or dyeing.
5. Visit a craft store
You don't need to buy anything, just immerse yourself in all that potential. All that colour, all that yarn, all that fabric.
6. Fondle your stash, surround yourself with your materials
Pat, fondle, caress. Think about and embrace the colours and textures of your stash. Let it speak to you. It will!
7. Rip the WIPs
If there's a pile of WIPS that you don't really want to finish or know they're not working for you, sometimes the most cleansing thing to do is to rip them out. Turn all that yarn back into potential rather than a monkey on your back.
8. Schedule crafting time into your day or try crafting at a different time of the day
If you're feeling over-stretched you might find that by the time you sit down to craft, you're too tired to think. Break up your day a bit differently and schedule some crafting time in at a different time. Put it in your calendar. Maybe try crafting for twenty minutes after work before you start dinner. Or when you sit down for your morning cuppa instead of flicking through Instagram, pick up your knitting.
9. Join or start a Craft Group
Hanging out with other crafters and seeing the pretty stuff that they're creating is always inspiring. Sometimes just the conversation with like-minded people is enough. Some times the girls at my craft group don't always craft, they just chat away. There is something terrifically inspiring and rejuvenating about hanging out with the same crafty souls on a regular basis. I adore my knitting group ladies!
10. Jump on the web
It seems counter-intuitive but wasting a bit of time on Ravelry, Pinterest or even Instagram looking at crafty things and new patterns make just get you out of the rut you're in.
So what do you like to do when you've lost your mojo?
How do you get out of your crafting slump?
I'd love to hear your strategies.
What I'm knitting: My Favourite in Shilasdair Luxury DK, Winter Loch colourway (still!)
The yarn on my desk: Egret by Augustbird (A beautiful blend of 70% WGW merino and 30% silk in a sport weight)
What I'm working on: A series of knitting patterns for an art project
What I'm reading: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
What I'm dreaming about: peaches and sunshine
And so just like that, it seems, it's 2016. This post is not going to be a reflective look back on 2015, a recap of all that I achieved or didn't achieve in that year. A post to revel in glories and admit to regrets. Instead, I'm going to start this year with what will possibly be quite a disjointed ramble about lots of things that are floating in my head at the moment.
There's something about the new year, the fresh page on the calendar that seems to plant so many ideas and plans in my brain. I'm ready to write lists and sketch images and swatch and get into any thing new. Any thing really that doesn't involve finishing those lingering WIPs and jobs from the last year. It just has to be fresh and new. I'm busting to cast on all the things and starting writing and swatching new patterns. I want to drag out all my fabric and sew up something straight away.
I'm not alone there, am I?
One thing I am going to drag over from last year, even the last few years, is the plan to blog more. There's this thing about blogs at the moment that's got me thinking a bit more about them and trying to re-focus and find the time to keep this one going. One of those reasons was a series of blog posts that I was super keen to follow up on last year but it didn't quite happen. I've also been thinking about the concept of the blog a bit lately and where the format is headed. All these new social media platforms seem to have almost brought about the demise of the blog and I have to admit for awhile there I really wasn't reading blogs in the same way I once did. I certainly wasn't blogging on this one either in quite the same way, and I'm not sure that readers were engaging in quite the same way. I know that I'm not alone there and I've seen a number of big name bloggers either cease blogging or drastically decrease their blogging. Whether that's a consequence of the changing landscape of social media or other factors come into play it's hard to know, but blogging is definitely currently on the outer. Google "the demise of the blog" and you'll find countless blog posts (ha!) and articles written about this. The quick fix of social media platforms that allow you to engage with more people and give you approval with a simple click of a like button has had quite an effect on the comments sections of most blogs.
But, and this is a big but, I think the potential is there for a swing back, and this is why.
Facebook is definitely the platform that is killing off blogs. It's massive, incredibly so. With this growth however, more and more restrictions and unseen controls on content has eventuated. There has been a lot of chatter behind the scenes on Facebook lately about the declining reach of Facebook posts, particularly those that contain words like "discount", "sale" and links to outside pages. You can almost guarantee that a post around the same time from the same page with a link to another Facebook page will get at least double the reach of the first post, It seems that Facebook is filtering out of people's feed the very information that they want to learn from that page! To test this out earlier this week I posted two posts on Facebook within two hours of each other. The first post was a "marketing" post with the naughty words "20% discount" and "coupon code". The second post linked to a post on another Facebook page with a much much smaller audience than mine. The second post had four times the reach of the first. What that does highlight is that if you want your marketing posts to get out there, the ones that your customers often want to see, you have to pay the boosted post game that Facebook traps you into, because they're not going to show your readers your post otherwise.
As far as preferred social media platforms go, I much prefer Instagram. It's a procession of the pretty and lovely. It's a quick and easy engage and generally it doesn't have the negativity factor that seems to encompass Facebook at times. At the same time, however, Instagram does perpetuate more than any other social media platform the idea of the celebrity of perfection. If anything, the last year in Instagram land has taught us that there are Instagrammers who are actually PAID to promote goods and companies in their posts (did this shock you a little as it did me). We've also become ever-questioning of the portrayal of perfection that rings out from staged photos. The Socality Barbie account demonstrated that so very perfectly!
So where does this leave blogging?
I wonder if blogs are going to be a bit like book shops. The advent of the Kindle and e-books took a heavy toll on bookshops, particularly those small independent ones. Some "experts" even predicted that books would one day become a thing of the past. 2015 however, saw the opposite happen. People are going back to physical books. There are definitely e-book lovers out there but physical book sales actually increased in 2015 and it looks like a trend that will continue. Books are real and physical; tangible - and a new book smells so good in a way that a Kindle never can. They're also prettier in an IG photo (just kidding).
I do wonder if the return of the book is echoing an embrace of a simpler way of living. Ironically enough, I see so many photos on Instagram that speak to me of people looking for that simpler way or life, yearning for some of the simplicity that we perhaps romanticise about from our own childhood; or in the very least, attempting to portray an embrace of that lifestyle. Maybe because social media is so so busy, that in our "real life" we need to embrace the simple, the wholesome and the less. I don't know. Maybe physical books offer far more of an escape from the world of social media than an e-book can. Maybe we just yearn for the tactile feeling of actually turning the pages of a book.
So my thinking about all this lead me to consider and ponder whether we're going to see a similar revival of the blog, because while yes, there are a great deal of bloggers who have simply become yet another promotional tool for business, (one of my previous favourite blogs is now basically just full of sponsored posts) there are those genuine ones who open their heart and soul to their readers, or who offer terrific information, tutorials and discussions in a way that other platforms on social media simply can't. And realistically, blogging has been around for so long that some of those original blogs still in action almost can claim vintage status. A blog is like a home that a writer invites you into. It becomes a friendship where you can drop in any time unannounced. Where it doesn't matter if you haven't seen each other for quite some time, you still just pick up the friendship where it left off. There's a depth to a blog that you just can't get in a Facebook post, tweet or Instagram photo. And when you offer depth, it much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.
So I don't know, I think I'm going to persevere with my blog this year.
I'm going to post that series of blog posts I didn't end up posting last year because I thought blogs had lost their way. I'm going to continue to share my crafting and designing journey with you, talking about the good bits as well as the struggles. I'm going to continue to share the good bits that I know about crafting that I think will help other crafters out - because at the heart of it, that is the most important aspect of the crafting community - the sharing of knowledge.
What I'm knitting: My Favourite in Shilasdair Luxury DK, Winter Loch colourway
The yarn on my desk: Adagio Alpaca Mills 8ply (the yarn from my Kickstarter reward)
What I'm working on: A series of knitting patterns for an art project
What I'm reading: South of Darkness by John Marsden
What I'm dreaming about: cooler and slower days and camping in my much loved tent
Keep in touch
Who am I?
Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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