Creative Challenge - My Focus

Did you join my #creativefocuschallenge over the last couple of weeks? I really enjoyed it and want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated and shared their progress with me either on social media or by email.

I sent out daily emails with different suggestions to try - some fun ways to inspire creativity and get some motivation back for your creative projects or work. We had lots of different kinds of creativity represented, and people choosing to focus on a whole range of projects including creative journaling, painting by numbers, creating a family recipe book, planning their community newsletter, and getting a head-start on making Christmas decorations!

Well, obviously I had to join in the challenge too, but having asked everyone to choose just one creative thing to focus on, I really struggled to pick one myself! I could have gone with some kitchen adventures, worked on my wardrobe, lifted the lid of my long-neglected piano, looked into setting up a bullet journal style organisation system for all my lists, or tacked any number of crafty projects. In the end, I decided to have a go at weaving.

Hand loom weaving, or modern tapestry, seems to be popping up everywhere recently, with stunning wall hangings used in interior styling, and how-to tutorials a popular search on Pinterest. I'd got a couple of mini kits that had been free gifts with Mollie Makes magazine, so I thought I's use them as a starting point.

I find little kits like this really useful for having a go at something new - you get all the basic things you need to begin, and really clear and simple instructions with lots of pictures. Setting up the loom was pretty straightforward, and then I was soon off and weaving. I love the pink, cream and grey colour scheme of this kit too - very now!

Having got over the first hurdle of actually getting started, my next tasks for my fellow challengers were to seek out inspiration for their project from other sources, and then to tackle some tricky techniques.

I do love a good online image trawl to get me inspired, and like a few of the other participants, found it incredibly easy to get lost down the Pinterest rabbit hole for a while, as well as searching Instagram hashtags for ideas. But I also love to do things the old-fashioned way sometimes, so my stash of magazines got dragged out for a session of page flipping and cutting out pictures that caught my eye.

When it comes to learning new techniques, I very much like to learn by seeing things done first, so YouTube is generally my first port of call these days - honestly, you can probably find a video for how to do just about anything! I found a great sequence of tutorials for beginners to weaving by CreativeBug, and I'll keep searching as I continue my weaving journey as I hunt for new things to add to my repertoire.

The challenge for the weekend was to get out into the real world and connect with fellow creatives, and as if by coincidence (ahem...), I just happened to be heading to the Handmade Fair! What a fantastic day that was! I'll share more about it in an upcoming post, but I had an absolutely brilliant time, met and chatted to some incredible designers and makers, and came home with my head stuffed full of inspiration (and my bank account somewhat depleted...).

Week two began with the scrap attack - my challenge, should people wish to accept it, to gather all the bits and bobs and odds and ends and 'just in case' things and have a thorough and honest sort out. I think most creatives have a tendency towards hoarding - because you just never know when you might need that thing, or you've a really good idea of what to make from those... I think I'm generally fairly disciplined about not keeping things that are genuinely not useful or usable, but I do have a fair amount of leftover yarn from various knitting projects. However, as weaving is much more forgiving when it comes to the freedom to mix different weights, colours and textures, I'm sure I'll be able to make use of most of what I've got at some point. And if not, my Mum knits squares to make into blankets, so she always welcomes the leftovers.

Having explored meeting people in real life, I thought it was only fair to bring things back to the slightly safer feeling territory of the online creative community, and I put the call out on Instagram to share friends and connections made through similar interests, or those you find inspiring. This was great fun, and gave me the opportunity to find out about all sorts of amazing creatives that I might never have come across otherwise.

As a little bit of a reward for focusing on one thing for a week and a half, and just to set us all free for a bit of fun, the last suggestion of the challenge was to try something completely different! Not as a way to procrastinate or distract ourselves from doing our creative work, but as a way of keeping the channels of creativity open for ideas and inspiration to flow freely. Just like you always end up remembering the answer to something in the shower, when we stop actively thinking about something, often that's when we're relaxed and open enough to get that spark that reignites our interest or sets us off on the next stage of the journey.

I have plenty of other creative outlets I can switch between, which sometimes isn't the blessing it seems and can lead to frustration and overwhelm, but when I remember to let myself enjoy them and go with the flow, I'm often happier with the results too. I've started working on new products to stock in my Etsy shop and to take to upcoming Christmas craft fairs, and have the yarn and pattern ready to go for my next knitting project. Last week also marked the start of a new term of choir rehearsals, and it was wonderful to realise how much I'd missed singing over the long summer break. 

At the end of the challenge all the participants received an ebook that I'd created with all the content, ideas and suggestions, so that they can dip into them again with future creative projects when they're in need of a shot of inspiration or motivation. I'm looking forward to doing the same, and I'm sure I'll be continuing to share my creative adventures here and on Instagram.

If you joined in the challenge - how did you get on? Which was your favourite idea to try? Did you fall back in love with your project? I'd love to hear about and even see what you worked on and the progress you made, so please leave a comment here, or send me an email to hello@jennifercockcroft.com to share what worked for you. Or what didn't - I'm always open to feedback and being able to improve what I offer you.

If you didn't join in this time, but are interested in working with your creativity more and feel unsure of where to start, watch this space as I have lots of ideas in the pipeline and ways that I hope I'll be able to support you on your creative journey.