Getting unstuck can be hard to do.
Quilters, and others, are having trouble getting going these days. It’s tricky because we’re all feeling a little discombobulated. Don’t you just love that word! For those of you who are not familiar with that word, it means disconcerted and confused which to me describes the feeling perfectly!
We’re feeling stuck. We’re feeling like we don’t want to do much of anything. We don’t feel well. Things aren’t normal. I know they call it the “new normal”, but it just makes it so difficult sometimes to get up the enthusiasm to get going and actually work on some projects and/or be creative in any way.
Here are eight ways to get unstuck
The Canadian Quilters’ Association did a survey of their members to see how quilters were dealing with the current circumstances. Making masks was a biggie.
These are ones made by the Rayside Balfour Quilt Guild
A lot of people have been making masks. And that is a really good thing to do because it gives one a sense of control. You feel like you’re doing something about the issues that we’re dealing with right at the moment and helping others out.
There is that good feeling of accomplishment. One which, hopefully at some point, leads to looking at what projects you have lying around that you would also like to work on.
A lot of people are pulling out all their UFO’s and actually completing them. Again achieving a sense of control. Believe me, I think that’s a wonderful idea. I’ve got a few I should be working on!
Another idea was cleaning your quilting area. Get into the quilting area or studio and start tidying, putting stuff away, and sorting stuff out. This, again, can give you a real sense of control over your environment and a feeling of satisfaction with a job well done. And it feels so good to have everything nice and tidy again and often leads to finding something that sparks your interest.
When I’m working on a project, stuff gets everywhere. I end up with piles of fabric all over the place. Although, I do have to be kind of careful about that. I have a cat who, if I leave any fabric out whatsoever, likes to lie on it and therefore it gets very furry, very fast. So I tend to have a big basket where I put things away at the end of each day.
But I’m getting a bit sidetracked here!
A Sense of Play
Another idea that people had was playing with scraps, taking out all your scraps and trying to find things you could do with them. Perhaps sewing a bunch of little scraps together or making fabric out of all your little scraps. Fabric beads are really cool to do too. Check Google or YouTube for tutorials online.
“Fabric Leftovers – Simple Adaptable Ways to Use up Scraps” by D’Arcy-Jean Milne is one book that is all about using little scraps of fabric. Another book is “Quilters Playtime” – Games with Fabrics” by Dianne S. Hire, where the author takes you through a variety of games with bits of fabric that create interesting blocks or segments and shows you how you can combine those pieces into art quilts.
By doing that, you’re getting back to a sense of play which gives you joy. And I think it’s joy that we need so much now and that feeling of hope that we’re moving forward, that we’re actually doing something. We’re not just sitting and stagnating. It is a really good feeling to have at this point in time.
We’re quilters and we love fondling fabric! So decide to go through your fabrics and see which ones are being used the most? Maybe they should be front and centre. Are there ones that are used for other times when you just need to make a block for a quilt for a friend or a quilting group and can be stored elsewhere.
Do you like to sort your fabrics by colour or design? Have they gotten mixed up and could use some sorting? Or just look at all your fabrics and take them out and dream about a future project!
Connecting with Friends (or Family)
One big thing that has been helpful for me during this time is getting online on Zoom, with my regular quilt group. We meet once a month online for about five hours and we can still have our lunch together and we can still see what everybody is doing.
People can hold things up and show us exactly what they’re working on, ask for advice and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to reconnect with people, at least in some way. Definitely not the same as person to person. Well, in person, so to speak. But it’s kind of cool because you can see what people are working on and sometimes you get a little mini-tour of their quilting area if you’re lucky.
On a Zoom call recently with my class (fabric portraits), one woman said she’d never been in Zoom meeting before. She had had a number of opportunities to meet up with other quilters on Zoom but hadn’t because she thought it would be too difficult and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that it was really, really easy. Her plans are now to take advantage of more of those opportunities and she is very excited about the prospect.
So, this is something to keep in mind if you’re feeling like you’re missing your friends and/or family. Give yourself a break and just try it. You might find out like she did, that it’s really quite a simple process.
Here are some simple instructions for using Zoom:
Once a meeting is set up and someone sends you the link, all you do is click the Zoom link. If it says to download, you download Zoom and boom you’re in and you can see people face to face and you can share whatever it is that you are working on. And if you’re on a big computer especially, you’ve got a really big field of view.
Browsing through Books
Sometimes you have the feeling that you just don’t want to do anything. That feeling of being very heavy and like the energy has departed and gone elsewhere. Try pulling out some of those quilting or art quilting books and flip through them. Who knows what treasures you may find!
And if you’re like me, you buy all those books and you browse through them when you first get them, but you don’t necessarily spend a lot of time reading and trying things out. Now you discover that there are all kinds of cool ideas in there and you get inspired to try something new!
What about those Quilting Arts magazines that you bought and never looked at again? Pull them out and look through them. Look for things that you can try with the supplies you have on hand so that you won’t have to go out and find them. Trying new things can really get your energy levels up and you unstuck.
It can be simple things that really help to generate that feeling of excitement, feeling up, and wanting to play again.
A News Diet
Have you become just a touch obsessive about checking the news all the time. You know, how many cases were there lately? What are the restrictions now? What is the latest thing to worry about?
Try cutting back to once a day.
My plan is five to 10 minutes to check out what’s happening in the world, and that’s it. And I have found now that some days I don’t even look anymore. So it’s gotten to be every couple of days.
I recognize that we’re very, very lucky here in Manitoba as there are very, very few cases of Covid 19. So we’ve been very blessed that way. We’re kind of trying to keep it that way. But still, I’m trying to avoid too much exposure to too much negativity. So I’m really reducing my exposure to the news.
Have you found any fun TV shows? Maybe you have a favourite show that you like and you can just kind of bliss out, not thinking about anything too much. Just follow the show and see what happens there and that can be a really comforting kind of thing too.
I love mysteries, particularly British mystery shows on TV. I know that I am currently addicted to Acorn TV! And that’s my evening perk – to pick one of those shows and take the time to watch it.
Finding Your Sense of Play
The trick is to find any little thing that feels more like play rather than a “have to”. That will provide a really good opportunity to move forward with your creativity and get unstuck!
You know, digging in your drawer of goodies, maybe it’s not a drawer or maybe it’s shelves. Digging through all those wonderful art supplies that you bought once upon a time and thought that you were going to do a lot with.
What art supplies do you have hidden away?
I just pulled some out. I think they are called gel pastels or something like that. And they were really fun to play with. And I hadn’t really done very much with them. That playtime gave me some ideas for how I might use them in future projects.
Maybe you have a set of Inktense pencils. Have you done much with them?
I had a couple from a little mini-workshop that I had attended. I really wasn’t sure how to use them so therefore I wasn’t doing much with them. But I wanted to learn so I bought a set as a treat for myself and the first thing I did, which was really fun, useful too, was a chart of all the different colours. That wasn’t anything particularly earthshaking, but it didn’t have to be.
It’s just finding an activity that is going to lead you back into a sense of calm, a sense of wanting to create again. And for some people that may not be quilting, but instead knitting or crocheting, or maybe playing with paper.
Which brings me to my friend, Geesje Baron, look her up on YouTube. She does some really interesting different multimedia kinds of things. One I played with the other day was using a napkin, a piece of sheer and some tea leaves and created a textured paper-like piece.
And that was really, really fun. How much I’ll use it, I don’t know. The pieces have been tucked away for now, but I’ve been thinking about them. For a small art piece, the “paper” would be a very interesting kind of textural background. The fun was in the doing – just trying something new. Check YouTube out as Geesje’s been doing a number of other things such as creating books and doing stamping. So if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration, YouTube can be a source of inspiration.
What will you try?
It’s all about figuring out what is going to help you move forward because we can get really, really stuck. Then we are afraid of trying things or of doing anything creative at all. It’s really important to try to keep that flow of creativity going so that you don’t get totally stuck.
So, again, dig into that pile of art supplies that you’ve got. See what might be interesting there. Play with your fabrics. Pull them out. Sort them. It can reacquaint you with all the beautiful colours and patterns you have in your fabrics. Clean your quilting area or play with scraps. All these kinds of things can really help you move forward.
One of the big things is getting together with friends (online) because that really gives you a sense of connection. Other than my quilting group, I also meet once a week with a couple of friends who do hand embroidery. And we chat about anything and everything and how things are going at our end, that kind of thing. How the gardens are growing and our families. It feels afterwards like you have had a little mini vacation.
Hopefully, the weather is wonderful where you are and you can get outside and maybe enjoy the great outdoors and maybe take some photographs, which you might decide later to turn into something new and wonderful or not. Maybe just do a little gardening.
Whatever “it” is give it a try!
It is my hope that these suggestions will help you to get unstuck!
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