Teddy Sweater Sneak Peek

Yesterday I was talking to my partner in crime, Julie (The number of projects we are involved in together is too large for even us to keep track of them all; we’ve decided it may be better if we always work together as a rule), and I said, “I started and finished a teddy sweater on Saturday due in no small part to the fact that I had a quiet house and Dragonfly in Amber on the i pod.”

“Maybe you should thank Diana Gabaldon in the acknowledgments of your book,” Julie quipped. She got me thinking about my creative process and how what’s going on around me affects it.

When I’m in the design stage of a project, normally, I work in my studio without any music or radio (I love to listen to NPR when I’m doing e-mail or other computer work, but I need quiet for math and thinking about the art and pattern of design.) But once a project is underway, I enjoy having something happening while I work–this could be conversation with a friend or a knitting group, it could be watching Selma at Judo practice or her piano lesson.

Most of the time, when I’m working, I’m on my own, and my backdrop is likely music or a movie or an audio book. As much as I love watching television and movies, I’m not so good at working unless what’s on TV does not have a storyline. If there’s any drama, I most likely end up unconsciously putting my needles or hook down to pay attention. I did watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel while I’ve been working on the crochet for  bears book, and while I enjoyed them immensely, I think that the next time I watch them, I’ll get more crocheting done, since I’ll already know the plot.

When I have an engrossing audio book, things seem to fly off my needles or hook. I get lost in the book and loose sense of time as well. In a series as all-consuming as Buffy or Outlander, a reader or viewer gets lost in another world, and I at least tend to think about the story even when I’m not watching or reading or listening to it. It’s my favorite kind of story, one that you can’t stop thinking about. But does someone elses’ creative genius effect my creativity? I certainly haven’t noticed anything obvious. I don’t have the urge to design Scottish things, or create vampire-esque projects. But I can’t help but think this collision of creativity, the soaking up of one creative work while making another must not happen without some effect. What I notice most, is that I feel more creative when I’m exposed to good writing, it makes me want to create more, write more and be better at it.

I’d love to know what you all listen to or watch while you’re crocheting and knitting and how you think it affects your creative process. Let’s start a conversation in the comments.

Oh, and speaking of bears, to encourage conversation, I’ll award a free copy of Knits for Bears to Wear to a randomly selected commentor on this post. I’ll close the contest one week from today.

A Creator’s Backdrop and a Free Book

46 thoughts on “A Creator’s Backdrop and a Free Book

  • February 25, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Great post and love the bear.

    I definitely cannot get any important work done with the t.v. on. I work best at night when there are no distractions. If someone left the t.v. on when they went to bed, I might look up to find a paid commercial with Jack LaLane hawking his wares (say Amy, you might be interested in that!).
    I do work extra quick with music, but usually just play whatever is in my laptop at the time so it can get boring. Podcasts are fun as long as I don't mind missing some of the bits when I'm super focused on work. Lately, though, I'm getting all caught up on the fascinating archives of This American Life.

  • February 26, 2009 at 12:04 am

    I'm totally the same with music. Projects always progress at a very rapid rate when I have my favourite tracks and I get to an almost medative state which I find sooooo relaxing:-)
    Take care,

  • February 26, 2009 at 3:02 am

    When there is a new episode of one of my favorite crafty podcasts available, I'll knit or crochet to that. CraftLit is at the top of my list, though sometimes I need to listen more than once if I'm paying too much attention to my work instead of the podcast.

    Otherwise, lately I've been catching up on missed tv episodes on hulu or listening to Jonathan Coulton. (check out http://www.jonathancoulton.com/songdetails/My%2… for particular inspiration for your current project!)

    I can't watch tv or listen to anything I need to pay attention to while I'm working (which for me is writing or coding) – I tend to type out lyrics instead of what I'm supposed to be doing without even realizing it. I don't think I could do it while designing either. But good background noise is essential for getting through boring stretches of projects.

  • February 26, 2009 at 4:28 am

    When I work I need quiet – I need to concentrate on the project at hand – also I just seem to love peace and quiet!

  • February 26, 2009 at 5:39 am

    When I get to a challenging part of my work, I like to have grand, beautiful music such as Sarah Brightman or Alessandro Safina. When the work is more repetitive and mindless, I can listen to audiobooks or TV news, documentaries, etc. And for the design portion of my creative output, I soak in the silence.

  • February 26, 2009 at 6:20 am

    I have, most of the time, the luxury of a house to myself for four hours a day. The design process for me is a little like crockpot cooking, throw everything in, walk away, see what you get in a few hours. Sometimes I have a design in mind and it all makes sense before I ever touch the yarn, I can just write it all down and work up the model from there but usually I have to make what I'm thinking of and then reverse engineer the pattern. I'm horrible about writing-as-I-go. So, music, movies, TV on Netflix or Hulu while I've got yarn in the hands but the sound of my grandfather clock ticking and the tapping of the keys are the only things I hear when a pattern is being “written”. And I know how everyone loves them, but I just can't do audiobooks, I have tried, it never comes close to what I hear in my head when I read them.

  • February 26, 2009 at 6:25 am

    When I am writing, I need near silence. No distractions at all. Even at work now, I need serious quiet in order to do first drafts of anything. The same basically applies when I am just starting a new pattern in knitting or crochet. I can sometimes handle music without words, but definitely nothing with words or anything that has plot (tv or audio book).

    But if I'm editing my own or other people's documents, or anytime I am crafting from a pre-established pattern- I love distractions! I knit the fastest of all when I am listening to music or podcasts. Listening to oldies stations on the radio, or Cast On, or watching Buffy (a pleasure of mine as well)… they make me super productive. I still can't quite handle watching anime while knitting, since I prefer watching subtitles than dubbed, but other than that I almost always have something going on while I am editing and crafting- and I almost never watch tv without knitting at the same time. It inspires me to work faster in most cases, and it helps me rationalize watching reality shows that I would never be able to just sit and watch.

  • February 26, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I love watching old movies on TCM when I'm knitting and/or crocheting. Classic old movies are comforting (especially MGM musicals). They are a perfect background for creativity!

  • February 26, 2009 at 8:19 am

    What handwork I do is not original, but my kind of creativity is interpreting someone elses orignal and making it work in my world. I think that is what I do with books movies, music too. I keep looking, listening, fitting them and finding the bits all stories tell us about ourselves. Books and music add flavour and colour, depth and perspective to everything else I do, but when I work, be it in the planning stage of something or the doing stage of something, they are a sort of white noise. They keep out other distractions.

    I love the quiet of where I live, and the deep quiet of the mountain back country campground we like to spend time at. There is such serentiy in its silence. I confess, I am more distracted by listening to the world in a forest than I ever am by man made sound. I get lost in the sounds of the wind whispering through the high tree tops and find my hands idle in my lap more often than not.

    Manmade things inpsire me and inform me and backcountry silence consumes me. Without both in my world, I am not quite whole or sane.

    Even in the backcountry, I like my creature comforts and the safety of knowing I have an option if I need to get some work done. The camper van has a dvd player should I ever need to block out the not noise!

  • February 26, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Alas! Most of my crafting is done out and about with my wee guy as per portable crafting so I listen/watch whatever is around us at the time (hopefully not too many little person emergencies or interventions).
    During my one childcare day a week I work in my studio, usually listening to whatever's on my neighbourhood on last.fm. I can only watch TV if I'm doing something non-challenging

  • February 26, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I love to listen to episodes of This American Life while I am really in focus mode, I am currently listening to Wuthering Heights on tape, which is proving to be a little distracting, so Ive been veto-ing it in favor of my favorite pandora stations (love The Knife).

    But remember our good ol nights of watching Veronica Mars while knitting? I find that I tend to make more mistakes when watching while working, Im better with just listening!

  • February 26, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I watch TV while I'm knitting. If I'm knitting lace from a chart, it has to be a TV show that I can follow by just listening, because I have to keep my eyes on the chart and my stitches. I love to knit while listening to audiobooks, but they're so expensive to purchase and my library has a year-long wait for any bestseller. My favorite TV show: Ghost Hunters on scifi.

  • February 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

    What a beautiful book!

  • February 26, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I love listening to books on tape while I'm working. I don't watch much TV (I prefer my entertainment when I want it) and if I do watch TV I can only do craft work that isn't really demanding.

    I just finished listening to the Sookie Stakhouse seires while I'm spinning. I love listening to Diana Gabaldon or JD Robb. Net Library is my friend because they have so many books on tape!

    Sometimes I listen to language CD's.

  • February 26, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I like my crime dramas like Law & Order, Wire in the Blood, The Wire, Dexter, etc. I'm most inspired by Top Chef though. I'm a foodie!
    munkiknits at yahoo.com

  • February 26, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Believe it or not- last summer before I went to Vietnam to collect my son, I spent the day spinning and dyeing while listing to Pete Seeger's song “Bring them Home” for literally 9 hours straight
    “If you love your Uncle Sam,
    Bring them home, bring them home.
    Support our boys in Vietnam,
    Bring them home, bring them home.”
    —added bonus was it helped me remember how to pronounce Vietnam correctly- or Sam incorrectly I guess?!

  • February 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Oh, I love Jonathan Coulton–thanks for the link, I hadn't heard that song.
    I agree about podcasts–I go in spurts with podcasts since there are only a
    few I listen to, but I do love to knit to them–most favorites are Cast On
    and YKnit.

  • February 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    What a great idea–I love old movies too, and I think you're right it would
    be the perfect low-level distractions. Of course, I'm predisposed to singing
    along to musicals, so that might be whole new kind of distraction.

  • February 26, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    What I remember about watching Veronica Mars is that you got a lot of
    knitting done, and I mostly just watched TV–it sure was fun, tho!!!

  • February 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    When I was in labor with Selma, I had James' Taylor's “Sweet Baby James”
    playing on infinite loop–so I totally understand where you're coming from.



  • February 26, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I like to get up early when everybody else has gone to work, pour a cup of coffee and turn on the History Channel or another channel where there is lots of information. I can follow someone's else's pattern or design my own very easily at this time. I get about 1 1/2 hours of crochet done!
    If there's nothing interesting on, (and I don't waste time on subjects I'm not interested in) I turn on Sirius tv to the classical music channel.

  • February 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    OMG – I've just been introduced to Claire & Jamie. I'm now nearly done with “Drums of Autumn” and can't wait to see what happens next! Unfortunately I have them in paper form so I've done no knitting at all for two weeks. They were a loan from a patient. Usually I listen to Cast-On, or Y-Knit, or audiobooks from PaperbackSwap (mostly history). And I watch movies… tons of movies! I find silly classics to be the best for knitting. I adore Hitchcock!

  • February 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    You have to try the audiobooks–they're really well done, and means you can
    knit (or wash clothes or make dinner), which can't happen while you're
    reading the traditional books! 😉

  • February 26, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I'm big into podcasts when I'm crafting, it's inspiring to hear about other people's projects and creative processes when I'm making stuff.

  • February 26, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I really enjoyed the Outlander series. I never thought about audio books for crafting, though. What a great idea.

    I think there is some sort of creative action/reaction going on with your surroundings while you work. I used to be friends with a costume designer and she talked about a show she once did set in ancient Greece. The only music she could work to was Aretha Franklin.

  • February 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Love your stuff. Feeling silly today, thought to myself love dragonflies, love amber, own quite a bit of it and my name is Diana I just have to comment. I'm new to the IPOD world and think I'll get this book. So far I've only downloaded work things and have to do some fun stuff. Thanks for giving me the idea!

  • February 26, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Hi Diana–you should start with Outlander the first book in the series–it's
    seriously fun.

  • February 26, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I'm not a TV watcher but when I'm crocheting, knitting or reading I've got the radio going for company. If the house gets too quiet my imagination goes into OT. When I was younger, I would crochet while reading, watching TV and keeping an eye on my kids. Can't do that anymore. The brain has gone into hibernation since I reached retirement age.

  • February 26, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    hey, new to your site! i personally knit well at home with the tv going in the background. i tend to record a bunch of judge shows that you do not have to watch and can half listen to while knitting, cooking, making soap, etc and not miss a beat! plus i can fast forward the commercials and not have to listen to those. Or i'll pop in a dvd that i know byheart! Love the idea of a bear book!

  • February 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    For me i work in Chaos… utter chaos. Music, kids shrieking (seems they shriek when they have fun… and I always think they are hurt…) movies going, dinner cooking, and hubby wanitn to hold a conversation… all at the same time…

  • February 27, 2009 at 4:53 am

    After a 30 year hiatus, one of the reasons I started crocheting again about 9 years ago was because when my children spoke to me in their stream of consciousness way, or questioned me (where is this? what should I eat? etc.), I could look up, respond, and then pick up my stitching easily enough. My previous extra-curricular activity was reading, and “child chatter” was much more disruptive!

  • February 27, 2009 at 6:39 am

    i have the tv on when i knit, as a rule… i'm not sure i even listen to it, i just like the background noise. i can't listen to audio books or podcasts, or i end up having not heard anything that was on.

  • February 27, 2009 at 7:42 am

    My daughter's bears are mostly bare; I can barely hold knitting needles, but a friend will bear the brunt of knitting the clothes if I win the book.

  • February 27, 2009 at 7:57 am

    I tend to do “low-concentration” knitting, so I like to watch TV while I knit. For the easier stuff I'll watch CSI or shows where paying attention is necessary. But if I'm knitting something more challenging I'll watch HGTV or something where the Before and After are really all I need to catch. 🙂

  • February 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Haha, I knit when I watch bad reality TV… I'm not sure it helps the creative process, I'm just a sucker for some reality TV shows. Most of the creative process takes place before I knit, which, unfortunately, occurs when I'm daydreaming at work…

  • February 28, 2009 at 2:30 am

    It's a great topic, and something I think about too. I'm usually listening when I crochet. BBC7 online has great radio plays every day, then there's the Old Time Radio network with hundreds of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade adventures, or Audible books when I'm in the money. But like you said, that's for slogging through rows or rounds of stitches, not for those moments when the little grey cells are working to the limit on math and art. For that, I often listen to music. Classical or Early Music are my faves. However, the music I listen to has to be works that I'm already familiar with: if it's too interesting and new, I go into musician mode and my mind becomes engaged in analysis! But if it's music that I know and love, then oddly enough there is some influence upon the resulting design. Beauty calls to beauty I guess. Amy, what a great blog post!

  • February 28, 2009 at 8:49 am

    For me it depends on what I am working on. TV can slow me down if the pattern is too complex. I always have my mp3 player with pod casts for when I am waiting at my kids activities. I'm a picky audiobook listener. I will turn them off if the reading is horrible. But, if it's great, I can spend a whole day listening and playing with yarn. I will pause and come back generally ignoring everything else, including my kids.

  • March 1, 2009 at 7:07 am

    I need quiet to do the big thinking too… but for the automatic knitting I need music or food network!

  • March 1, 2009 at 7:53 am

    The bear is so cute!! lol… you finished it really quickly!!! 😀 i dont think i'd ever be able to finish something in a single day like that lol… I'm a slow knitter/crocheter… I just taught myself how to do both in december…

    I usually dont really listen to music while i knit or crochet… a lot of times i set myself up in front of the tv or computer to watch my favorite shows… the office, bones, house, fringe… I also like snacking on something when i'm knitting or crocheting… something like nuts, apples with peanut butter, crackers, fruit, veggies lol… i like to eat! 😀

  • March 1, 2009 at 8:55 am

    for me, classical music is very inspiring. i definately knit with its melodies playing, but, oddly, i even clean the house while it streams through each room!!! my husband thinks me odd in that respect but it always makes me feel energetic, creative, warm and very happy!


  • March 2, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I love to have sound around me when I knit. Usually I'll listen to a sound book or listen to a podcast – in particular I like crafting podcasts while crafting. When I find something I really like to listen to, a pair of socks can fly of the needles in no time.
    But I also like to watch tv – I might not get as much done but it is nice to be around my family while knitting.

    More or less I just like not to have complete silence around me when I craft. If I am into something really complicated I might not listen much to whatever is on, so I'll choose music I like. And I bring my knitting everywhere, so often what I'm listening to is peoples conversations in busses or trains, friends talking in cafés or my professors lecturing at university. I never craft in sinlence – I'm simply slower when I do.

  • March 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Fun, upbeat music seems to keep me going when working on a project… Don't know why but it works..lol

  • March 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Let's see, while I'm knitting, the TV is on, usually with whatever the DH wants to watch. My favs are Lost, and Antiques Roadshow. The latter is real good to knit to, since it doesn't require a lot of concentraion. Thanks for the contest. Debbie

  • March 2, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Fun, upbeat music seems to keep me going when working on a project… Don't know why but it works..lol

  • March 3, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Let's see, while I'm knitting, the TV is on, usually with whatever the DH wants to watch. My favs are Lost, and Antiques Roadshow. The latter is real good to knit to, since it doesn't require a lot of concentraion. Thanks for the contest. Debbie

  • January 22, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Okay, I know I may be a minute or two late for a copy of the book, but I had to post. I totally agree  that being around creativity spurs your own. Maybe it follows the same rule as ‘things in motion tend to stay in motion’ . I haven’t tried any audio books yet, but I have had to put the hook down a couple of times with a good movie, and have flown through some sitcoms. I made 3 hats and started a 4th during the World Series this year (Go Giants!!) and one of my favorite things to do is watch Sons of Anarchy on Netflix while crocheting something easy like a hat or scarf. (I’m usually more of a Disney or Hallmark Channel person, but I think it’s the irony that makes it so enjoyable.) I’m sure this is why creative people are bloggers, inspiring others to create and blog : ) Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *