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…crafting together vs crafting alongside…

There’s a stage in children’s social development that I learnt of when my big boys were tiny. Before co-operative play, there is parallel play – two (or more) toddlers sharing a space but doing their own thing. As an adult, that together-but-different thing keeps cropping up. Quilt camp is a perfect example – we happily all chill in the same space, doing our own projects. Though, now I think of camp, maybe we are all just overgrown toddlers? Parallel play. Naps. Bottles. Tantrums. An empty bobbin or a mis-stitched block will do that to you…

When it comes to projects, we can be a bit like toddlers too. Sometimes we want the pretty shiny thing that everyone else has. My finished projects list, especially from 2020, is littered with one thing or another a few of us have dived into. The Alice cross-stitch and the rainbow wave blanket are two that I finished last year, that I worked on alongside other members of the group. I love those types of projects, having something we are all working towards. Often, if I get stuck, having someone else doing it at the same time can be the kick I need to get going again. I am nothing if not competitive, so having someone to race against can be helpful when the mojo disappears. More recently, the ice cream waffle blanket is a project I kinda sorta fell into. It was Alley’s idea, and what was supposed to be a quick 15 minute video call to help her pick yarn, ended up being a 2 hour chat with both Car and I also jumping in. Along the way, they’ve both fallen off, while I am almost at the end, so I don’t have the competition to spur me along like with Alice. There is though, the joy of sharing progress on a project with a shared history, and they have been fabulous cheerleaders encouraging me along.

Other times, we are doing the same but different. Easter bingo is great example of this – we work from the same prompts at the same time, but come up with our own projects in our own order. The 21 Things challenge is similar. We have the same 21 challenges, but there’s so much flexibility within the prompts, and the order we address them, that they are two completely individual projects. The ripple blankets pretty much our entire group did in 2011 would probably fall into this category two.

And then there are other projects, that the connection between them is so firmly in the parallel play that you might only notice we are even sharing the same space if you happened to know the back story. A zine I started at random last week is very much this third type of project. Car has been showing me some of her drawings for a class she’s doing, called the Wizarding Art Society. One from last week was a sketch inspired by The Room of Requirement. It was so cool, that if I wasn’t firmly convinced this class isn’t a good choice for me right now, it would have tipped me into joining. It did, however, get the creative cogs turning. You know what would be cool, says I, a room of requirement zine full of little interactive elements. I had been pinning some zine ideas for a different project anyway, so the idea wasn’t as quite as out of left field as it may have seemed.

The base of the zine is an A4 Kraft paper page folded down to A6. I’ve completely one double page spread, and done the first layer of the second double page spread. The interactive elements of this second layout are quite involved so I haven’t managed to get any further yet, beyond collecting some collage elements to see if I can bring my vision to life. That will then leave me with the last double page spread and the front and back covers. I do have a bit of a plan for those, and I’m hoping to start making a bit of progress on those pages this week. I had intended to work on it last week while the children were away, but instead got caught up doing other projects like my mini album, and more on my crochet, and some sewing. It’s awesome having a lot of hobbies until you run out of time to do all of them in a two day span…

Its interesting to me, what hits the inspiration button when we are chatting and sharing ideas. It’s often the randomest things, like this. I couldn’t even tell you why this particular thing grabbed me and insisted it be made immediately. Some projects are like that. The more we prep and record and share parts of our creative process on our podcast, the more I am looking at the way various projects unfold – or don’t. It’s fun, unpacking the way my brain works when it’s down a creative rabbit. Quite possibly though, I am overthinking the entire thing, and it is nothing more than “You’re making a cool thing and I want to make a cool thing but I can’t make your cool thing so I’m going just make a different cool thing alongside you”.

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