Six Ways to Fight Stitcher’s Block

Like many of life’s activities, I think that cross stitch and other creative endeavors can have seasons.  I’m not talking about calendar seasons, but seasons in life.  There are high and low periods in life when it comes to creativity.  There are also life seasons when commitments and responsibilities can simply overwhelm us and prevent us from setting aside time for hobbies.  For me, though, I know that when I don’t have a creative outlet, I miss it.  I have found that when I am tired or overwhelmed, I am not motivated to work on a project, but then because I neglect my creative needs, I end up feeling even more overwhelmed.  Because I lack energy, I miss out on the opportunity to feed my creative side, which means I end up with even less energy and motivation, and the cycle continues.

 

So while there will always be times when I’m simply too busy to work on creative projects like cross stitch, there are other times when if I could just pick up a project and get started, the benefits of increased energy and satisfaction would outweigh cost of the time invested.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – why is it that even if I have moments all day when I wish I could pick up a hoop and needle… when the evening comes and I have the time, some days I simply can’t summon the energy to get started?  I’ve decided to label this phenomenon in my life as “stitcher’s block” and have given some thought to what might help work through it.
Here are some ideas I’ve tried over the past few months (which have been a stressful period for me).  While certainly what works for each person will be different, maybe if you ever have “stitcher’s block”, some of these might work for you!

 

 1. Get inspired

 

I love (LOVE, LOVE) looking at photos of beautifully done cross stitch. So for me, this one is huge. Cross stitch eye candy is a great way to get motivated.  I spend a few minutes reading some favorite cross stitch blogs, clicking away on Pinterest or browsing any of my favorite cross stitch supply sites, and I am motivated to get to work! One word of caution: if you’re easily sucked into internet browsing, you may want to be careful that you don’t get so engrossed in your inspiration that you never actually pick up a needle. 😉  And this brings us to item 2…

 

2. Set aside 15 minutes

 

Sometimes at the end of a long day, the idea of working on a project (especially a big project) is overwhelming.  I’m exhausted and cross stitching can feel like one more thing to do.  I’ve found that just sitting down and stitching for 15 minutes gives me a sense of accomplishment that can break through a period of low energy.  Sometimes I’ll actually stop after 15 minutes – a few threads are enough.  Other times I get drawn in and will stitch for longer.  But either way, committing to just a few minutes can help break the block.

 

3. Make it easy

 

If you know you have to dig through your stash (or even hunt all over the house!) to find what you need in order to get stitching, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.  Keep all of the items you need to do a project (and I mean everything!) in one place, preferably near your favorite chair!  I keep a small project bag for each cross stitch or embroidery I am working on.  My project bag has the work in progress, the appropriate hoop or frame, a binder with the floss and pattern, and a small kit with scissors, needles, a needle minder and a pen or highlighter.  I also use a small light that hooks onto my hoop or frame and I keep this and a pretty glass jar for my orts (leftover floss) within easy reach of my chair.  I keep all of My project bags in the living room, near my favorite chair and am currently on the lookout for a nice basket for them…

 

4. Clean out your stash 

 

Mess and clutter can be overwhelming.  For me, I have noticed that being surrounded by clutter is a major energy drain.  If look at my cross stitch stash / supply storage and feel overwhelmed by the clutter, this can drain my creative energy.  Why not use a case of stitcher’s block as a chance to clean out? As you go through your stash, perhaps you’ll find a work in progress that you’ll be inspired to finish!  Or maybe you can use this as a time to set up your project bags.

 

5. Use a binder, journal or online organizer

 

Besides cleaning out your cross stitch stash, another way to battle a feeling of being overwhelmed is to use a cross stitch journal, binder, or online organizer.  Personally, I use Evernote to organize many things in my life and it could definitely be used as a project journal.  For my stitching projects, however, I prefer a paper binder.  I have  pages for projects, wish lists, inventories and ideas/sketches for projects I’d like to design.  If you are the type of person who loves to organize or record things, this might work for you.  Whether you prefer digital or paper, try a cross stitch journal and see what you think!

 

6. Make a wish list

 

Whether this is a paper wishlist in your cross stitch journal (see #5 above) or an online wishlist at your favorite stitching supply website, try a little window shopping and see if this gets the creative juices flowing! I love to check out my wishlist periodically, update the patterns and fabrics I’d like to have someday, remove patterns that no longer appeal to me, etc.  Inevitably when I’m through browsing I want to pull out a project and stitch away!

 

These are some ideas that have worked for me.  What about you?  What do you do to help during periods of low energy?
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New project and a scissor tip tip

Last week I posted about my finish of Faith Hope Love by Joyful Expressions.  This left an open spot in my rotation.  Joy of joys!!  Just think of the possibilities!!  After seeing so many lovely WIPs on stitching blogs I follow, I decided I wanted to tackle a slightly bigger or more complex project.  The others I have going right now are fairly simple and with just a few colors.  For quite some time I’ve had my eye on “Heart of Christmas” by Stoney Creek.  I know we’re coming into spring and I have no idea why I am so drawn to a Christmas pattern except it has so many beautiful bright colors!  You know how I love to stitch bright colors.

Sadly, I don’t have a local needlwork shop within an hour of me, so I do a lot of ordering online.  In this case, once I got on the Stoney Creek website, I had to order a few specialty threads and buttons to go with the pattern… and I just couldn’t resist the winter edition of their magazine… and a subscription.  Sigh.  So here’s the deliciously lovely pile of stuff that arrived a few days later.  I adore the ‘clear sky’ dyed fabric as a backdrop for the pattern, don’t you?

My package from Stoney Creek!

My package from Stoney Creek!

On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to share a tip to keep your scissor tips sharp and undamaged, as well as to keep them from poking other items in your project bag.  I’ve been using knitting needle covers, which can be purchased inexpensively from most any craft store, on my scissor tips!  Here’s a photo of a few of the tool kits in my various project bags.  (I buy the plastic containers, which are meant for scrapbooking, when they go on clearance at the big box craft store):

image

What’s your favorite project bag or cross-stitch-stash tip?  As you can see, I love organizing almost as much as stitching 😉

Happy Stitching!

Organizing Embroidery Floss and Project Binders

Over the years I’ve tried a few systems of floss organization.  For years, I used the little cards that you wind the floss around, and keep in small plastic boxes.  This system had the advantage of being neat and portable.  But there’s a fair bit of work in winding the floss.  The reason I abandoned this system in the end was the way it creases the floss – particularly as you get near the end of a skein.

Over the past few years, I’ve used the StitchBow system from DMC and I’m really loving the way it works.  I use 3″ binders to store my floss collection.

embroidery floss in a 3" binder

embroidery floss in a 3″ binder

my embroidery floss binder

my embroidery floss binder

The plastic stitchbows themselves are inexpensive and quite easy to use – you transfer the floss directly onto them without having to wind it, and the labels with the color ID number are easily inserted.

Once on the stitchbow, the floss slides easily in and out of the plastic binder sleeves.  I leave extra sleeves in my binder and space out my existing floss so it’s easy to add new as I purchase.

Another advantage to this system is that the floss is transferred easily into a project binder.  Like many, I prefer to work on several projects at once.  I keep each project in a “go bag” (more on that in a later post) so when I sit down to stitch, I can easily grab the project I want and everything I need for that project is at my fingertips.  Having small children, this system keeps projects accessible to me, but out of reach of little fingers…

As I was saying, each project bag has the needed floss.  Depending on how many colors and the size of the pattern, I often keep these in a smaller binder in my go bag.  Here’s an example.

a project binder with pattern and floss inserts

a project binder with pattern and floss inserts

the front cover: usually an image of the project or instructions

the front cover: usually an image of the project or instructions

Of course small projects don’t necessarily need a binder.  More on individual project organization and floss binders in a later post.

So that’s my system.  I’d love to hear what works for you!