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Find My Creative Rhythm During a Pandemic

My family is six and half weeks into as much self-isolation as we are able during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of the masked weekly grocery store runs and the occasional take-out, I’m either in our house or meandering around our neighborhood from a social-distancing-safe space. While I’d love to share the triumphs and the tribulations of working from home, losing business due the pandemic, and homeschooling a young child, that would require sooooo many more words. Instead, I’ll stick with my creative experiences so far into this journey.

I am clear that my experience comes from a place of privilege as my family has not been ill, we are not front line workers during this pandemic, and we have food and shelter. For us, in our country, our state and our town, the changes happened rather swiftly and we went from a “normal” routine to a hot mess in about 34.5 seconds. And my creativity hit bottom in the same timeframe. Here are a few things I remember/noticed about the first week and a half.
I made this lovely rainbow pattern - a free download on the Aurifil blog. The pattern was designed by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio.

1. My creative time was lost. The usual early morning hours I reserved for quiet making while everyone else sleeps abruptly ended as I found myself needing more sleep. The very small blip of making time I had during preschool was lost. With each lost minute, I couldn’t bring myself to make up those moments during the day. That time was simply lost.

2. My business had losses. I’m so fortunate to be able to say my entire business isn’t lost – as many have experienced during the pandemic – but I lost immediate business in the form of several lectures and classes. While I fully expected this to happen as the events of the pandemic unfolded, it still stunk. Lost time and lost business added fuel to the burning up of my creativity.
My Curated Quilts HST/Subtraction Challenge submission.

3. My sense of self was lost. This one would be hard to explain without spewing my life into this, but I imagine there are many people who understand this as well.

But even during that first week and a half, I made a handful of minutes to sew (and that’s a pretty accurate representation of the time-ha!). By week two, I was starting to spend 15-20 minutes a day or sometimes even an hour sewing. Here are some things that started to bring me back to life.

Joining in the #MiniSeriesSAL was exactly what I needed. This is the pineapple block I made. The SAL is hosted by Alison Glass and Giucy Giuce.

1. Sew Alongs. I worked on catching up with a couple BOM’s I’m participating in. I started the Mini Series SAL.

2. Challenges. I participated in the Curated Quilts HSTs/Subtraction challenge. I actually love HSTs so I figured why not try to be creative and see what happens. I pleasantly enjoyed the process and like my final piece.
This is one of my 100 Day Challenge four patches.

3. My multi-page “one day” list. There are soooo many patterns from other designers that I love and have been on my “one day” list for weeks, months or even years. I decided to start tackling a few and I’ve really enjoyed finally making a handful of these patterns! Also, along the way, new-to-me patterns were introduced and I threw those in too.

One thing I realized during those weeks is that I need handholding. I needed the directions spelled out for me. My brain couldn’t handle figuring out all the details myself, so having a pattern in front of me was helpful. My enjoyment and creativity came from picking the fabrics and thinking about bigger project plans for several of them.

These are blocks I made for the #StateFairSampler BOM I'm participating in, hosted by Leila Gardunia.

As the weeks progressed, I also found these things helpful to kickstarting my creativity.

1. The 100-Day Challenge. I couldn’t have chosen a more simple challenge! I am spending the first half of the challenge making four patches. It’s not difficult or even a challenge really to make the four patches themselves. First, the four patches are not the end goal. I’m taking those blocks and trying out different things with them. What happens when I treat those four patches as if they were a single piece of fabric block? What happens when I make an HST with them? What happens if….. The risk in this project is low, but the reward, so far, has been so very good! I haven’t revealed yet the ways I’m playing with the four patches (but will later in the 100-Day Challenge). Even if something looks bleh or doesn’t turn out how I hoped, it’s still been a great challenge for myself. This has truly sparked my creativity!

2. Starting to sketch. While my kiddo colors or paints, I sketch out some blocks and scribbles and ideas. Sketching quilt ideas is sometimes the best way for me to unwind. Just even having an idea to sketch is a nice step forward.
Making this #BeanSproutBlock was joyful! The block is available from Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter.

3. Giving myself permission to not work on certain projects. I have a room full of WIPs and one of the biggest, most important ones is the Georgia and Jessica #2 series quilt. The top has been done, the back pieced, the quilt sandwich basted since the start of the pandemic and I have not looked at it once. I cannot get into the right mental state to quilt that quilt at this time. That irritated me by week three. And then I let it go. The project will wait for me when I’m ready.

Every person’s journey through this pandemic is unique to them. Flexing my creative muscle in some way has helped calm me and keep me focused on handling the situation day by day.

Stay safe. Be well.

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