Thursday, 11 December 2008

Digging my way out of a creative hole

I think that I may have fallen into a bit of a creative hole.

In London, I would knit every day during my work commute = 2 x 35 minute knitting sessions, 5 days a week with some bonus knitting thrown in when I met up with other knitters. On Sunday nights, I would panic if I had nothing ready to go in my handbag.

I appreciate that this is less knitting than other people tend to do on a weekly basis but it suited my lifestyle. My approach to my knitting created a natural impetus for me to spend time researching what to do next (avoidance of Sunday night panic). Actually, I used to feel that that I never had enough time to really explore certain ideas and techniques. For this reason, I was really looking forwards to my six months of study in Canada - I thought that it would give me lots of time to step up my crafting activities and output.

It does not seem to have worked out that way. Instead, I have been in Canada for two months (no commute) and all of my waking time has been consumed by home reno (DIY), domestic chores (as I am the one at home) and oh, my course.

Mind you, when you combine paint fumes with all the energy zapping visits I have made to lumber (timber) yards, Home Depot, Ikea and the grimy hotel that hosts my course – well - forget being creative, it is pretty amazing that I have any marbles left at all!


Wouldn't a week or so of this type of activity numb your brain?!

Also, in terms of having a space set up to work on and store my creative stuff, I have come to realise that my whole home in London was given over quietly to my hobbies. Art and crafts stuff accented just about every room.

It was tucked away in cupboards, stacked on/under/inside furniture (coffee table, desk, chest of drawers), it was blocked out on the spare bed plus it peeped out of baskets, vases and project bags. My dining table was more marked with ink, paint, glue and cutting marks than it was with wine glass stains. In fact, my arts and craft stuff was pretty much everywhere you did or did not look. I took its accessibility - totally and utterly for granted.

In stark contrast, there has not been anywhere here for me to unpack the craft stuff that I bought with me to Canada. For the past two months, the bulk of it has sat in airtight plastic containers in the basement and the rest is stacked in bags around the shoes in my closet.

To start with, the DIY put paid to any unpacking. I hoped that when we were more organised, an obvious place for me to craft would emerge from the dust, polythene and masking tape.

It has not. I have hunted high and low. We are still working on getting upstairs organised and downstairs? Well, the most accessible part of the basement (due to be sorted in January) currently looks like this:


It is not anyone's fault. It is not a lack of willingness on the Fella's part to accommodate my things – even his creative work space is at the bottom of his garden. It is just that the house (size, layout and the fact that it is now home to two adults plus a visiting teenager) does not lend itself to the activities that I enjoy doing.

So my craft belongings are languishing and I cannot explain in words, just how frustrating it is being stuck at home without proper employment and without proper access to the things that would help to keep me occupied instead.

In addition, I should admit that I am struggling terribly with the isolation of being at home without interaction with other people (I am used to working full time in a busy office). In truth, there have been days here (the rainy weather has not helped) when I have felt very down indeed.

No matter how much your job might get on your nerves at times, the very next time that you wish that you did not have to go into your place of work? I suggest that you think very carefully about how you would cope with being trapped at home, on your own and with no reason to go out anywhere except on domestic/DIY errands - you may not realise it but you probably spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your own family. I miss my work colleagues very much (both from my last job as well as my job before that*). Particularly at about 3pm. I have started to eye up the wall as a conversation partner.

The impact of the above on my crafting productivity is evident - I have not done any sewing (apart from attaching heading tape to a pair of ready-made curtains). The sum total of my knitting related output in Canada is 1.5 skeins of blobby unusable cream handspun, two bobbins of hand spun singles (almost) and three quarters of a one 'Dream in Colour' Classy, Dashing fingerless mitt.


[Just as an aside, rather sadly, these mitts are intended as a Christmas present for someone who, without realising that I was sat there working on their Christmas present at the weekend, revealed that they have no plans to wear any of the things that I have previously made for them unless it gets REALLY cold. I suspect that they meant, 'really cold' as in, 'when hell freezes over'. Oh well.]

In fact, the only occasions when I have managed to dedicate time to knitting recently has been when I have left the house for a coffee and a knit with a local knitting group. Each time I go, I find it really uplifting. For instance, last Saturday, we had an impromptu coffee at a local Starbucks where I lapped up every last bit of energy and conversation.


As a result, I achieved more knitting in two hours than I have in the past two months [for my prospective, complete ingrate of a gift recipient]! Actually, I did not want to return to my DIY chores at home - I could have stayed out all day. It was another pathetic prod in the ribs to let me know just how much I am missing day-to-day interaction with others.

So I have had enough - I have decided to make a proactive, positive change.

I need to unpack. I need easy access to my things. I need a place to work. In my personal view, this place needs to be away from the house. It needs to be somewhere that I stand a half a chance of bumping into another human being - even if it is only to say hello casually - during the course of a working day.

So with the above in mind, I put a down payment on the rental of this space last Sunday and moved my boxes of craft things into it yesterday:



Yup, 400 square feet of crafting space to call my own.

Yes, this is a bit of an extravagance as I am not working. However, I am hoping that this space has arrived just in time to rescue my sanity from an abject case of cabin fever.

So – exciting? Yes.

Scary? Definitely!

* * *

Notes: *My ex-ex-colleagues Skyped me from a hotel this morning, to say hello from a retirement party that I am missing because I am so far away. It was lovely to see them and get a chance to say goodbye to a very decent chap who was extremely good fun to work with.


Dotty said...

Wow! I didn't know there are swifts in Starbucks :)

Your studio space looks awesome! Can I come visit some time?

If you're craving company, give me a shout. You never know, I might be free.

Anonymous said...

I am SO JEALOUS of all that space! I dream of having the ability to do that one day. Definitely good for you - I'm excited to see what you accomplish there :)

missmalice said...

Wow that is awesome. 400 square feet??? ooh the possibilities!

It's a great move and I know what you mean. I was going a little bonkers being at home on my own all the time - moving ever closer to being known as the crazy pug lady. Moving to my own space out of the home, with others (humans) to talk to makes a huge difference. You go girl

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Oh wow. That's such a smart move. Well done Gabrielle! I look forward to seeing photos of the space once you've settled in... how fabulous to have a studio. (And as for the thought of being stuck at home without access to craft supplies... shudder. I can just about imagine the frustration. Being stuck alone at home suits me ok, but only as long as I have heaps of knitting at my fingertips. Without that? Yowch.)

Btw I love that little pic of the Ikea screw thingy and bits. (That's technical language.) I can just see that as a greeting card intended for home movers.

ScroobiousScrivener said..., that was (this is) me, Robynn, btw. Scroobious. Also me. *sigh* these multiple web identities... so confusing.

Roobeedoo said...

That's a big empty space you've got there! Are you planning to invite people to it to craft along beside you? Otherwise... isn't it just another lonely place to knit in and talk to the walls?!

yogicknitter said...

Wow that is some space. I think I may have to pop over on a plane and join you in there.

Kelli said...

Oh. Hugs.

veronica said...

wow! a studio... how fantastic! if you need company i will throw my name into that hat. well done being so proactive you. wonderful!
- veronica