I came across a thought provoking article this weekend and it made me think about the people who tell me that they are ‘not creative’ and why I don’t believe them. I think we are born with a certain amount of creativity and how this is nurtured determines how confident we become as natural creatives. However, I am convinced that it can be learned. Depending on our individual strengths, we might be better picking up paintbrush rather than a pair of knitting needles, but I firmly believe there is an artistic pursuit for all of us and how wonderful it can be for our well-being if we can find our groove. As the article explores, it can be this fear of the finished piece of work not being perfect that inhibits their willingness to try.
And although it is wonderful to have made something that you are really proud of, aiming for perfection can really take the shine off the work you have put in. It reminds me of the awful ‘pass and fail’ culture that seems to exist in education, that demotivates our young people because they feel if they can’t reach the bar that is set then it’s really not worth the effort – spirit crushing stuff. Of course it is important to see what you produce has some value, but it is also just as important to get something out of the process itself. If you aren’t then you are probably doing the wrong craft, or it’s just the wrong day! It’s worth trying a few different creative pursuits and finding one that fits, they are not in short supply.
Stitch meditations are the invention of artist and author Liz Kettle. The thought behind these mindfully stitched pieces is to lose yourself in the process rather than worry about what you are trying to produce. A reminder that the creative process can be just as important as the finished article, which usually turned out pretty good anyway from what I can remember when we indulged ourselves in some stitch meditation sessions last autumn.
‘idly stitching away time and incidentally creating something beautiful’
I remembered the stitch kits we put together last year to take to Maria’s festive Nottingham Makers and Vintage Bazaar last October proved really popular. We sold these on our stall already packaged up but also Helen kindly demonstrated the ideas behind stitch meditation. Rummaging through the sewing box that I had retrieved from Middle Street in the summer, I could see that there were plenty of resources to make up some smaller versions of these kits, so set to work this weekend creating half a dozen. Each kit contains a backing square, coloured and patterned fabric pieces, a selection of complimentary embroidery threads, some beads and buttons and an embroidery needle.
A quick search on my laptop led me to the original guidance sheet I had provided with the kits, so I printed some of these off to include too. There are plenty of examples on the internet of stitch meditations, from simple to the extremely detailed. Some are completely abstract, whilst others are much more developed and have clear images stitched into them. Embellishments are also a personal preference, a well-placed button can enhance a piece, but equally fantastic effects can be arrived at by the addition of patterns of stitches. If you came to the first session using Polly Dextrous stitch kits then you will remember the variety of stitches we learned and the different effects they made on fabric and card.
As a bonus the bundle also includes a small cross stitch picture to complete. Festive themed and donated to the group a while back by Elaine, they are a great way to practise a bit of stitching with the security of instructions and a clear image of what your finished piece will look like. However you would like to approach this month’s STITCH theme, a stitch meditation can be a brilliant way to begin. With no expectations or constraints, you have the freedom to explore your own creativity and see where it leads. In the words of Liz Kettle you can ‘try to fight that perpetual need to be perfect’ and just enjoy the process.