Creative Journey with Louise

Today I have a special guest, Louise Lyndon sharing her incredibly creative journey, from nail decorating, to writing, to making journals (which are stunning!), and how that has nurtured her. She’s one very talented lady. Thank you for sharing your journey Louise.

I’ve always been creative. In fact, in my family, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been known as the ‘creative one’. And I wore that title proudly. After all, I love using my imagination. I love to create – be it characters in a story I’m writing, nails I’m painting, or journals I’m making. I didn’t think much of that title because being a creative is who I am. It’s in my blood. Louise's notebook.jpg

However, I never realised, until recently (perhaps in the last five or so years) that being creative, at least for me, is so much more than producing an end product. It’s been a lifeline. It has saved me on so many different levels. You see, I have bipolar type 2 disorder. My illness is characterised mainly by depressive moods. While I am on medication (which helps) I also must help myself. I need to find ways to ‘get out of my head’ and break the cycle of negative self-talk that often fills my head. I’ve tried everything – yoga, meditation, keeping a positive list. The only thing that seems to work is sitting down and occupying my hands (and mind) by creating something. It allows me some breathing space, some downtime. And not only does it quiet the talk in my head while I’m doing a project it remains quiet often for days, sometimes months.

Handmade journal.jpgA little while ago I asked my mum could she remember when she started to see the ‘creative’ in me (aside from the usual finger painting toddlers do!). She nodded and said, ‘Just after your father died.’ I was four. So perhaps, without ever realising it, I’ve always used creativity to get me through some of my darkest moments.

Louise grew up in country Victoria, Australia, before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia and now lives in Melbourne. In 2013, Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest – Historical category for her story, The Promise, which is now called, Of Love and Vengeance. When not writing, she can be found either covered in mud, crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls, or up to her elbows in vintage paper, glue, and ribbon handcrafting journals. Check out her books and handmade journals.

A Project Finished~almost!

Doing up this old kitchen cabinet has been a creative project of persistence.

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It’s taken three years to get to the point where the cabinet doors are now attached to the old-style kitchen cabinet which I had sanded and painted.

This has been a creative project of persistence. I bought the cabinet over four years ago, ended up moving, then I decided to get started. I bought an electric sander. Paint. Brushes. Wall paper. Sourced hinges, latches, and handles. It took over four weeks to sand it back, and remove the old paint over my summer break. Then painted it, not in enamel paint deliberately. This paint will flake off over time and that’s the look I want.

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I planned. I took my time. I sourced hinges, and handles. I did this during summer, so some days it was just too hot to work in my garage. My dogs were by my side, laying on the floor (looking rather bored!) while I worked. It was a long-term project. But it wasn’t meant to have gone on for this long.

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For one reason or another, the step of attaching the doors and handles was being more of a hurdle than I had expected. I had a few false starts, where I tried to organise people to help. Life got in the way. It looked like I wasn’t doing anything about it, but I wanted to, and had tried, but there were other things were needed my attention, and were a priority. I was almost thinking that I might never get this step done. And this would be one of the many craft projects that I haven’t quiet finished.

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Finally, I cornered someone to help who delivered. I’m super excited that the doors are attached, and the handles are too. This kitchen cabinet is one step closer to being refurbished in my own unique design. This is the first time I’ve done a project so big – and the last. It’s been fun, but my attention needs to go elsewhere. There’s a limit to how many different crafts I can have on the go!

doors attached and handles

 

First, this projects still needs to be technically finished. The last step is to attach some chicken wire to the side – it’s cut out, and has been for the last three years, I just have to work out how best to attach it! Now, I can focus on this more easily now that the doors are on and so are the handles! Once the wire is secured then it will be finally finished. At least I can still use it in the meantime. And now when I walk past, I feel that little bit more content that it’s closer to being finished. And it’s been worth it.

 

Share a time below when you have taken a long time to finish a project ~ or almost finished a project, and while it might not look like it, you are planning on it, it’s just taking longer than expected.

Halt!

After getting over my trepidation of attempting a more difficult crochet project, and then discovering I could actually read a crochet pattern I thought it would be full steam ahead.

Not quite.

Like all projects, whether creative or not, there are the unexpected halts. The impasses. Which can be frustrating as they take away the momentum making it even more difficult to overcome ‘the block.’

The problem with my current project wasn’t big. I simply needed some fibre filler before I could keep going. This meant going to the shop to buy some which of course I couldn’t because it was well past closing time.

I had to stop because I didn’t have all the materials to keep going. I knew I didn’t when I started. But I had such a strong motivation to want to start, now, and to see if I could read the crochet pattern. After all, I may not have reached the point of needing the fibre filler. I could well have ended up in a crying mess on the couch.

Somehow the instructions made sense and I knotted the yarn until I couldn’t go any further. This was frustrating because I so wanted to keep going but couldn’t. I sourced some fibre filler from my sister – oddly it was what I’d given to her a number of years ago but because I wasn’t using it I had decided to find a new home for it. I just had to wait a few days before I got it. Not long. But long enough to lose my momentum.

The upside to this, because I’ve got two other crochet projects on the go, I could return to them. It meant stopping on the sheep project wasn’t as much of an issue. I could still create. Still make progress on other projects.

I’ve not yet picked up the sheep project, but I will. I know I will. I just need a few hours where I can sit and work on it, because it’s harder and I need to be in the right frame of mind to concentrate more compared with the other two projects I have on the go.

Sometimes halts can be beneficial, or at least not as much of a hindrance as first expected. And by going with the flow, and being patient, I could source the fibre filler for free and progress two other projects. A productive outcome for an impasse!

When has having to stop or pause a project actually been a benefit for you? Please share below in the comments.

New Skill Level

I’ve always found it difficult to read crochet patterns. It’s as if they’re written in some old secret language. I’ve only been able to start new projects with the help of YouTube.

By starting a new project where I can only finish by reading the crochet pattern, I found I’ve actually got a feel for what the pattern means, and I’m actually able to progress and reach a new skill level. It surprised me really. I’ve tried to read crochet patterns for many years and it was a skill I’d given up on ever understanding. It’s harder than trying to learn a new language!

What it reflects to me is that I’m getting a feel of what’s required when crocheting. I’m slipping into that creative flow, to a deeper understanding to where I can begin to make confident decisions on the stitching and knotting to produce what I want to (and if not then I can see where I’ve gone wrong, frog it, and start again).

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It’s a new skill, a new level, and it’s exciting because this opens up so many more possibilities for me to try and explore in the crocheting world. I’m looking forward to it.

When have you unexpectedly found your skill levels improve? Please share below in the comments.

 

Stuck

I’ve been stuck on these two rows for about a week! I found a mistake, so frogged it, re-did the rows, made another mistake, frogged it again. Caught up. Another mistake! Frogged it.

Now I’m taking a break.

It’s a basic stitch, so something else must be going on here. I’m rather busy right now, so tired when I sit to crochet. While I want to crochet I don’t have the headspace for it. Frustrating on one hand, but so is re-doing the same two rows.

Sometimes you just got to step away from the creative project, breathe, have a break, then get back into it.

I look forward to getting back to crocheting this blanket…next week sometime.

Inspiring Myself

Today, I’ve given myself a time out of life. I’m doing the minimal today. As part of relaxing, I sat down and watched the DVD of The Greatest Showman. I’d seen it on the big screen a few months ago, and loved it. This time around I enjoyed it just as much, and it was a good chance to continue with a crocheting project. The music, the costumes, the acting, the singing, the story, were fantastic. Then to continue the day of chilling I watch the ‘extras’.

I found myself inspired.The Greatest Showman.jpg

I found myself reaching for my phone so I could type down the thoughts that were flowing from the ideas that had suddenly come loose and floated to my consciousness, catching them in black words on my phone.

It was great. While I haven’t been in a drought, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed the simple flow of inspiration through me.

Often as a teacher, and mentor, even writer, I’m inspiring others. I love it. But I also need to be inspired myself. Sure, I have the things I do to stir up the creativity, and ideas, and get myself inspired – like walking along the beach, reading, painting, crafts, blogging, and going out with people. But this was the first time I was conscious that by watching a movie (while crocheting), and then watching the ‘extras’ and seeing other artists enthusiastic with what they were doing, my own creative well filled. I was overflowing with inspiration for the different creative projects I am planning.lettie and barmum.jpg

And I’ve been reminded that there are hidden benefits for me in watching a movie. Maybe it had a lot to do with the movie being The Greatest Showman, which was an amazing product of so many different artists coming together, and an inspiring story. I’m sure it was the determination in Lettie, in particular, which got my creative juices flowing.

I’ll be watching this movie again.

Are there any movies which have inspired you? What are the go to movies for you when you want to be inspired? Please share below.

Not Always About Words

My journaling isn’t always about words.

Sometimes it’s about playing with colour and ink.

It is always about creative fun though.

Here I’ve had fun with ink using different techniques. I’ve not been in control of the end product and I’ve taken a chance on letting the ink form naturally, or organically on the page.

It enhances my creativity, I’m having fun and therefore I’m relaxing. It also makes my journal beautiful. And if I wanted to, I could be inspired to write about them images formed out of a type of flow. By closing the journal, one image became two. Opposites, mirrors, reflections.

The quotes on the pages do mean that the pages aren’t entirely naked of words! It’s nice to have inspirational quotes on the  page, and be reminded of the creative journey others have been on.

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One Too Many?

Despite trying to limit myself to only having one crochet project on the go at once, and only starting a new project after I’ve finished a project.

I’ve broken this rule.

Shamelessly.

Not only have I begun a new crochet project without finished the first project, I have actually got three crochet projects on the go at once!

Three!!!

What can I say? I couldn’t help starting a new project, with a new stitch and pattern to learn. And to get to use new yarn.

The excitement of starting a new project called to me and I gave in. It’s a little addiction. It also keeps my mind active by learning new skills and trying a new pattern. I feel inspired which crosses over into other parts of my life.

I have a choice when I sit down to crochet on what project I work on, meaning I’m more in the creative flow rather than doing what I think I should do.

This is more relaxing and fun. A healthier way to approach my creative projects. The downside is that I can feel a little overwhelmed and a bit frustrated that I’m not finishing any projects. But, the positive side outweighs all of this. And that can only be a good thing.

Also, when completing creative projects it really is about the journey. The journey is personal. For me, my journey is about having more than one project on the go at once, this is my joy and when I’m thriving. So, I embrace it.

What is your approach like to your creative projects? Please share below in the comments.

Lilliana

Importance of Tools

Often, I approach my creative projects with too much excitement and enthusiasm and simply jump in because I can’t wait to get started. Recently, while at the yarn shop I fell in love with some yellow yarn. I bought it home with a project in mind.

I didn’t get far into the project before I realised the yarn wasn’t right for the stitching I wanted to do. I’d not thought about that. I just figured all yarn would go with any type of stitch.

With enough projects on the go I returned the yarn, and bought some that would be better suited. I could’ve kept the yellow yarn, but really I have enough yarn in my house!

A small incident, but it reminded me of the importance of having the right tools for the project at hand. Sure I had yarn, the right sized hook, but not the right yarn for the stitch I wanted to learn. Not dissimilar to when I’m writing. I’m very particular about the pen I use, the notebook I have and where I sit and write. The tools used are important and while I know this, I hadn’t translated this across to my crocheting projects. I even know this when drawing and painting. I thought it would be simple.

Yarn + hook + stitch = pretty blanket.

But there was more to consider.

So now this is something I will think about when starting a new project. It was a good little lesson to learn or perhaps a good reminder to think of the importance of tools, and how they work together to produce a finished project.

Have you had a similar experience? Please share below in the comments below.

yellow yarn as a background

Progress!

Feeling like I’m on track with this project now after I had to frog it, split the wool top, then begin again.

Going free style with no pattern or video to watch! It’s fun to experiment and try new approaches (and yarn, never thought of using unspun wool before!)

Can’t wait to see the final product!