A Creative Life Is Mine

I was asked for career advice recently - and quite apart by being floored by being asked, it also made me think very hard about what it is I do and why.  This coincided with a friend sharing this blog post about creativity, process and blogging with me. Forgive my rambling, meandering post, but I have thoughts in my head..

One of the most common reasons people give preventing them from doing something creative is that it has already been done. (..) It is as if there should only be a certain number of people in any creative field, as if it were a party in a small house and could get too crowded.

I believe strongly that everybody is creative - this imaginative spark is what makes us human. When I run craft workshops, I always try to push people into embracing their creative sides: 'what happens if you do X & Y? Which colours do you like? Try to combine those.' It always comes as a shock to people but I don't have a textile degree - yet I work within the knitting industry as a craft teacher and a knitting designer among other things. I don't have an art degree, yet I have exhibited my work in galleries. Does this invalidate me as a Creative? No. It just means I am autodidact and I take some interesting detours during my work process.

We are taught that creativity is the expression of a higher ideal in a finished object of great beauty and skilled execution (..) We look with lust and desire at finished products and believe they are created by specialists using talents beyond our mortal capacity to understand.

Our brains try to trick us into thinking that unless we are Picasso, Mozart or Shakespeare, we have no right to express ourselves creatively. I once read Plato. He had a few things to say about ideal beauty and our human inability to attain this. Also, the only way to become better at doing something is by doing it.  I am not a great artist, but the more I draw, the better I become. One of these days I might even become capable of describe the world I see!

We are (..) separated from our own creative power which is what makes us depend on shopping to satisfy all our psycho-spiritual needs. 

And this is key. All marketing depends upon us wanting to be someone else than ourselves. Do you want to be exotic and gorgeous? Try this dress? Do you want to be quirky and creative? Here is the perfect scarf! But what if you could make a dress that feels like you - wouldn't you feel better about yourself because you made the dress yourself, it is exactly how you want it to be, and you get to express who you are?

Even those who appear to be such ‘natural’ creators, those that have identified themselves as ‘creatives’ early in life have had some crucial intervention, some teacher or parent who told them they had talent (..) .

I guess I try to be that crucial intervention whenever I run workshops because I think it's never, ever too late to embrace to inner desire to make stuff.

Now for the crucial quotes:

The value is in the process and the finished product is a continuation of that process, affecting the lives of others, that scarf you made for your dad lives on in the process of his life. Value itself is a living process not to be confined to a number or a thing.

Yes, it is cheaper to buy the scarf and no, your scarf won't look like it was machine-knitted in China - but you created that scarf. Without you, that ball of yarn would just be a long string balled up. This is what still gets me about creation to this very day - that whole thing about making (on a related note, in Scots English a poet is a makar which plays wonderfully into the whole language-as-creation idea I once adored so much).


Success, slick production values, money, attention, these are all byproducts of a process of self discovery that will last a lifetime. And they may never come. If the process is right for you it won’t even matter anymore. Any stage of that process is as essential as any other.

This. This.

I don't work with knitting because I made a career decision ages ago. Working within the knitting industry is hard work, I scrape by, and it is far less romantic than you may think. But knitting defines me. I do this because I cannot not do this. It is who I am. And I am more like you than you know.