Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Delights of Winter & Improvisational Design

We are nearing the solstice, and the dark days of winter are upon us. Our circadian rhythm changes. As soon as the light fades in late afternoon, some of us are ready for bed. Some say it's depressing. It can be. It's a mindless act to turn to t.v. or the internet for entertainment, but those can be unfulfilling. Add to it a month of holidays across several religions, and it's a pretty good reason to stay in bed.

If you live in the northern climate, and most of your day is spent indoors, inspiration may be hard to come by. Nature and light seem to be big sources of our happiness and energy, so how do we maintain our creativity through long, dark spells?

It's a question I've been asking myself for months. How do I push back, and make good use of this time that hasn't always been good for me? How do I not feel like I'm just getting by while waiting for spring?

I am a driven person when my life is full of novelty--novelty as in change. Most people don't like change, and fight it. I agree there are some day-to-day routines that are good. They are the structure in our lives that propel us without having to make lots of little decisions every minute. I also believe we can feel stuck if we never make any changes to that routine. It would be like walking into Archie Bunker's house today, knowing that his and Edith's chairs would still be side by side in front of the t.v. Even as a child I wondered why they never moved those chairs. My own mother moved the furniture all the time.

Newton's First Law: A body in motion will remain in motion unless an outside force acts upon it. An outside force my be referred to as an unbalanced force. 

Source: Memorized in 7th grade science class

I have devised a plan to become unbalanced. 
How hysterical is that?

I am changing my feelings by changing my thinking. But in order to change my thinking, I have to change the path it's taking. I need to DO something differently, and sway the balance. One way is to tap into my creative side, and poke that part of my brain. I can replace the feelings of 'Winter Sucks' with good stuff to think about! 

I can take some UFO's, and turn them into usable objects. 

This quilt was sitting on the shelf for some time. I had no real idea what I was going to quilt here, but I loaded the quilt and committed to it anyway. It will be beautiful, and it will be done. I pushed back.

I've never been a great lover of batiks, but lately have been drawn to them. I didn't have a lot of time to play yesterday, but I did some improv sewing with this little mug rug. I sewed some strips together from scraps that really didn't go well together, cross cut them randomly, and sewed the checker board. Improvisational sewing just seems to make me happy, and it actually looks better like this! I thought one daughter would like the composition.

The backing was a scrap from her great grandmother's stash.
I had to knock dust off my Janome to do some quick quilting, and was shocked--to say the least, at how rusty I was at FMQ on a sit down! There is a different set of muscle memory than on my Avante obviously. Oh, well. I still like it, and it's not a contest, but it did shake up my brain.

Do you have a plan for not letting winter get the best of you?

My old art supplies are out as you can see above. Along with sewing  and quilting, I'm pledging to journal through the month of December. Bloggers often talk about maintaining privacy, and how much of themselves they believe they should share with readers. I'm going to be as honest as possible with you because I think creativity is a touchy-feely subject that many of us think about. It's tied right in with our emotions, and this season has a big impact on how we feel. I'll be here every day, and would love to interact with you here if you have something to share. 

I have a stack of books, some old and others new, that I'm looking to for ideas and inspriation. Why graphic design? I think all these tie in tightly with quilt design and blogging.

By the time my little Clematis paniculata has shed these seeds, I'll have new ideas planted, too. I'm looking forward to a spring full of seedlings in myself as well as those germinating in my garden. How about you?

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Jasmine said...

I try to look at winter as an excuse to create inside. Making beautiful, useful things really helps. In the last couple years January has been a productive quilting month for me. I also make up for the darkness outside with brightness inside. LED light bulbs are bright and less costly to use.

Alla Blanca said...

Thank you for sharing your process! It's so helpful to feel like we're not alone *I'm* not alone in this season. The darkness really does get me down, and hearing your shake-em-up plans is a wonderful Aha! for me.
LOVE the spiral/swirly quilting in that striped border. AWESOME

Kimberly Smith said...

I love cooler weather, but the lower light level really affects me. One helpful item is a full-spectrum light my husband bought me to sit in front of when I sew. We'll see this winter if it helps me 'pep up.' Love the cheerful quilt on your frame ... maybe sewing with brights during is an uplifting idea!

Cath said...

Being at the start of Summer here, I am struggling to recall how I felt last winter (the coldest for 50 years in these parts) but I think it was the cold more than anything that slowed me down....I do like the cold but it is hard to get the fingers moving and when I do, I love to be snuggled up doing some hand sewing/stitching....by the fire....sometimes I do 'watch' tv but mostly it is there as background noise as I concentrate on stitches under my daylight. thanks for linking up with Bits 'n Bobs and here's to a reborn winter creativity!

PaulaB quilts said...

Hi, I found you on Sew Cute Tuesday and like your way of thinking out of the box. Your large cheerful quilt will make someone very happy. The little batik piece is a fun way to try something new. Will follow you by email.

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

What a great post and like you I have pulled out old art supplies and also bought new ones to do some journaling. I have been shocking myself as I'm ready to go to sleep around 9....which is way to early for me normally. I think I just need to adjust to the short days and....turn on more lights!

The Colorful Fabriholic said...

Thanks for the inspiring post! I love how both your large quilt on the frame and your batik mug rug palette seem to be inspired by your gorgeous sunset photo. I think your clematis seeds photo would inspire a beautiful palette too, more subtle with a serene vibe. Thanks for sharing.

Tish Stemple said...

I have to say, I have always enjoyed all four seasons. Even though most people in my area complain bitterly when the days darken early and the white stuff starts to fall, I welcome it. Seeing the blanket of white everywhere, feels like the canvas has been cleaned and there is nothing but possibilities on the horizon. A fresh time of rebirth. For me life slows down a bit. There is less running to be done for our family, so I'm allowed more time to be at home and thus be creative.

claudia said...

Thank you. You have given me some things to ponder. I recently (Jan. 2015) moved from sunny San Francisco Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest. When we first got here, I was all excited about my new property, new life, new beginnings, so the winter part didn't bother me. I'm fairly well settled in and already I have noticed myself going to bed earlier and earlier! I joined a local quilt club. (Such a great idea to meet new and wonderful friends) I have quilt on my mind always, which is a good thing and when you mentioned journaling, I thought that's a great idea! It will give me more reasons to get out and check out the land and plants and critters to give me something to journal about, not to mention more outside exercise!
Sorry didn't mean to go on...I'm just excited now! Again, Thank you!

Julie said...

We homeschooled here for 17 years. January was a month we slacked on academics, and we did projects--mainly art.I still view January as my most creative month. Funny you should say that too.

Our lower level is underground with no daylight so I painted it vibrant, warm colors with a butter color on the walls. Going from regular bulbs to low energy bulbs was a disaster as the cooler whites changed the wall color! I do use the LED's upstairs where there are no color clashes, though, and I agree it's good to have the extra bright lights. The efficiency is another bonus.

Julie said...

You most certainly are not! Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing for many people, but there is a lot we can do to counteract it. I'm only speaking as someone who has experienced it personally, but we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it and share our ideas.

Julie said...

I got an Ott Light for my dd several years ago, and she did use it. It's hard to say how much it helped, but it sure didn't hurt. It's not as powerful as a SAD light, but they are full spectrum. We used them for our parakeets, too, in the wintertime to help ward off calcium deficiencies. Now that the birds have a new home, I may take over that light myself! Thanks for the reminder.

Julie said...

It sounds like you have something particular to look forward to. Snow is cleansing, peaceful, and as a bonus, it reflects light. Sparkly landscapes, and lots of bright light for us. I'm glad you feel energized, and can channel it into your beautiful work!

Julie said...

Claudia, I hope you grab some fun supplies, and get to work. It doesn't matter WHAT you do as long as you DO something! I try to do my journaling early in the morning when my mind is fresh, and I find myself looking forward to it as soon as I wake up.

Kate said...

I beat the winter blahs by spending time in my sewing room. Since I typically sew with bright colors, the room usually perks me up. As long as I'm doing something, I don't notice the early darkness. Since I usually get the last two weeks of the year off work, the days after Christmas are usually my most productive in the sewing room and I look forward to them most of the month. It keeps the insanity of the holidays in check.

Julie said...

I think you've got it right. You have a plan, you have color, and you are on a mission. The holidays are a time most people go without a schedule, and that leaves too much of an open plan. There are those of us who do need time constraints to keep on track. I'm glad you took the time to share. Thank you.

Julie @PinkDoxies