The lifeline that is creativity

When you’re a creative type, you feel truly alive when you’re creating on a regular basis. Whether your outlet is writing, making music, painting, baking, woodworking, cake decorating, sculpting, designing and knitting (or sewing) garments, cooking, brewing beer – whatever it is, you just gotta create. And when you go for long stretches of time without creating, you start to feel your life force dwindling.

I have several creative passions. My first love is painting, but I currently live in a tiny place and have no room for an easel and the accompanying mess of tubes of paint, solvent, paintbrushes, trays, palettes, drop sheets, canvases, etc. It’s been several years since I painted. If I didn’t have other passions, who knows if I’d even be here to write about it?

A close second is my love for writing. I have loved writing stories for almost as long as I can remember. I’ve written a number of novels – none of them published because I’ve never really had the guts to get my work out there. And it’s probably a good thing, because my first few attempts at novel writing were terrible. Awful. I’m not even kidding. Pure schlock. Anyway, I have learned a lot about the art of writing since those days. I’ve written an awful lot. I’ve read even more. And I got myself an associate’s degree in creative writing. (An associate’s degree is sort of a baby bachelor’s. It takes two years of university instead of four). So, now when I read some of my more recent stories, I actually think they are at least as good as some published books I’ve read. I’m no Michael Ondaatje or anything. But then, who is? It’s Michael Ondaatje. The guy is a word wizard.

And a very close third place love (it’s so close, it’s almost a three-way tie), is knitting. I just love to knit. Most of all I love to knit my own designs. One day I will get around to writing down some of my designs into patterns people can actually follow. But in the meantime, I will continue to have various successes and failures. There is a lot of trial and error involved, I can tell you. Some things work out. Some don’t.

Sometimes I will base my design on an existing pattern, but put my own spin on it, like this sweater I made for my husband based on a free Drops Design pattern called Firenze.
I used Sweet Georgia yarn and it’s pure heaven to work with. It makes a soft, warm garment with just the right amount of drape and floppiness. Lovely stuff! It’s a splurge, no doubt about that, but when you’re knitting something for someone you love, you kind of want to use the best, don’t you? This guy is so worth it!

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He loves this sweater, and wears it a lot. Success! 🙂

When I knit for myself, I rarely follow a pattern. Sometimes I’ll borrow an element or an idea from a pattern, so I actually spend a lot of time perusing knitting magazines and pattern books. Besides, they’re fun to look at! Anyway, the sweater below is my own design and it turned out just the way I like it. It’s made from Louet Euroflax linen, which feels hard and downright crunchy when it’s new in the skein, but it softens up as you knit, and each time you wash and dry (you can machine wash and dry this stuff), it gets softer and drapier. It’s wonderful stuff to wear, particularly in the summertime.

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I’m not very good at taking selfies, but this one shows the linen sweater. Also pictured is a linen skirt of my own design, which I sewed.

But sometimes things don’t work out. I was hoping to recreate the shape and dimensions of the successful linen top, but I failed. It turned out much too big, the yarn was too heavy for a summer top (Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted, the chunky version of which is currently on sale at Art of Yarn in Kelowna – you can order online from all over the world!), and I ended up frogging it. (Non-knitters: frogging is when you unravel a knitting – you “rip it”. See?)

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Summer tank top fail (again with a stellar selfie)

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Rip-it. Rip-it. And now I get to start over with this fabulous yarn. I already have a new plan for it. Stay tuned…

Knitting a sweater, even a sleeveless tank, takes many, many hours. So it’s kind of a heartbreaker when it doesn’t work out in the end. I’ve been a knitter for a long time, and I’d say that less than half of what I knit actually ends up being something I love to wear. So, when people see me knitting and they say things like, “Oh, you knit! Can you make me a sweater? I’ll pay you 50 bucks,” it almost makes me lose my cool.

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I have several WIPs (works in progress) going on at any given time. For example, right now I’m working up a second summer linen tank in a wonderful royal blue. I’ll post pictures when it’s done (whether it’s a keeper or not). I have high hopes for it. I’ve got the black cotton blend sweater I posted about a while back, and I’m still working on those dang sleeves, but I keep getting side-tracked with other projects. And I’m about to start a cowl with some beautiful Koigu yarn I got recently.

It sometimes gets a little messy around here with all my projects, and my husband is a bit of a neat freak. But he’s incredibly tolerant of my knittings all over the place. And there’s rarely a mishap…

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It’s a bummer that I can’t paint right now. I crave painting. I miss the smell of linseed oil. But I have my other creative outlets to channel my energy into, and they are like a lifeline. That might sound odd, but it’s true. I’ve had times throughout my life during which I couldn’t create for one reason or another, and in those times I felt like I was not wholly me, like I was wandering aimlessly with my head in a thick fog. I have to be creative, and if I can’t focus on my current novel-in-progress (writer’s block sucks), I’ll jot down a quick blog post, and if I can’t focus on that, I’ll pick up a knitting just to keep my hands busy.

How about you? Do you need to create in order to feel truly alive? What’s your favourite creative outlet?

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