Okay, so, I’m going to be honest. I had every intention of this just being a single post with my experience of trying a new creative project (a cross stitch kit), from start to finish. I was going to take you on the journey with me, from the blank material to the completed picture, in the hope it inspired you to try something different. Little did I know, learning cross stitch again, after nearly twenty years since last attempting it, would actually remind me what creating for joy is all about… and take me somewhat longer than expected! So, instead, I’m splitting the post into two and want to share a little insight into what I’ve learnt so far (spoiler – not just how to cross stitch!).
Why cross stitch?
I decided earlier this year I wanted to broaden the variety of creative projects I do just for fun. Before becoming self-employed, I used to create all sorts of things and always had some kind of creative project on the go. Now, being creative outside of work is something I have to consciously make time for. I love what I do so much, it’s very easy to work any chance I get – but it’s good to have boundaries and enjoy creating just for the joy of it.
A kit seemed like a good place to start. Everything I’d need in one package, to try something new. I have an interest in many different creative areas so picking which kit to give a go was a little tricky, but I settled on the idea of learning cross stitch. Well, I say learn… this isn’t the first time I’ve ever cross stitched. I remember doing it at junior school and I think I may have created something at home, but certainly nothing much in the last decade or two.
I know of quite a few talented, creative, and inspiring small businesses through the online marketplace And So To Shop (I sell my art prints and greeting cards there too). One such lovely business is The Spinneyfield Stitchery – selling a selection of cross stitch kits and accessories. It seemed like the perfect choice. I could enjoy something different, support the And So To Shop marketplace, and buy from another independent business. Win win!
I chose the ‘Bee Happy’ kit because it looked so spring-like and delicate.
I’d just like to make it clear at this point, this isn’t an advert or sponsored post. I paid for the kit because I genuinely wanted to give it a try. I did get permission from The Spinneyfield Stitchery to share my experience and images of the kit on my blog, but I was not asked to write this post and I’m not trying to sell you anything.
The experience so far
I’ll tell you more about my experience of using the kit and learning cross stitch in part two (hopefully within the next few weeks). Mainly because I haven’t finished it yet so it wouldn’t be the complete picture… quite literally! Instead, I want to tell you the bigger lesson the experience has taught me so far.
In my head I thought the kit might take me a couple of hours. I thought I’d just set aside an evening or two, enjoy creating, and end up with a pretty piece to display on my wall. Wrong. I completely underestimated how much time it would take to get the hang of a skill I’d forgotten, and how much I would love learning cross stitch again – to the point I didn’t want to rush it!
This is where the real lesson came in. It dawned on me, I’ve got so used to creating client projects to deadlines and setting myself targets in my business, I’ve forgotten how to create something without expecting quality results to schedule.
I don’t like creating under pressure. I like taking my time, daydreaming about ideas, carefully considering things, and letting things flow. Yet, all too often, I put unnecessary expectations (or, at least, big expectations) on myself to create wonderful things at the click of my fingers. Learning cross stitch has reminded me what creating is all about – the joy of it – and why it can’t be rushed.
Of course, clients have timelines in mind, and I have goals I want to meet, so it’s important I can create things on time for work; but I mustn’t take getting to create things every day for granted, and I need to let myself do creative projects in my personal life at a slower pace now and then so I can really appreciate how lucky I am to do what I love. I need to enjoy the process of creating rather than just focusing on the results.
I want to encourage you to let go of expectations and create something just for fun. Just to experience the joy of trying something new, or doing something you love, rather than worrying how it will turn out or how quickly you’ll finish. If it takes you a few hours, great, if it takes you a few days, even better… all the more time to just enjoy being creative.