09 February 2010

Year Gone By: Lessons and a List

This past week marks the 52nd week of The Weekly Make. That's right. A full year of intentional creativity. An entire 365 days when I have thought about putting my creative resources to good use and actually followed through to the completion of much creative goodness.

At the risk of sounding a little over-inflated (although this is my blog, so I guess I'm allowed a little pride now and then), let me just say that I am very impressed with myself. This is the first time in my life that I have ever set a self-imposed goal with no external drive, deadline, or authority, and have actually followed through. This is the very first time I have ever been truly self-disciplined and self-motivated with any sort of regularity. This is my first experience setting a long term goal for myself and then actually achieving it. Maybe that tells you a little something about what the rest of my life has looked like. Maybe not. It's not that I'm lazy. It's not that I haven't accomplished anything. I wouldn't say that The Weekly Make is the greatest achievement of my lifetime. But everything else that I've ever done for more than a week at a time has been the product of some external motivator. So to have completed a full year of weekly makes where I was only accountable to myself (and a handful of faithful readers)...it is no small thing. And I must say that I'm proud of myself. Way to go, Robin.

So I'm going to celebrate. And this celebration will have 3 parts:
1) What I Have Learned
2) What I Have Made, and
3) Another Giveaway (which I have put into a separate post because this one was too long for people to see it.)

What I Have Learned
This comes in three little parts of its own:
A) I do what I desire. Honestly, I think that's why I was able to get through this year without ever completely slacking off. Because I really want to make things and get better at making them. I have a deep, strong, ever-present desire to be creative.

B) When I don't have the energy to support my desire, I need a muse. I used to think that in my own power and personality, I had everything I needed to be a creative person. In small bursts, that's true. But over a long period of time, I need to go looking elsewhere for that spark. When I can't summon my imagination at will or conjure the necessary energy to create, I have a choice to make. I can either sink into myself in an endless downward spiral of despair, or I can look for help where it can be found. Inspiration is not something I have to conjure, and it is not something I have to wait for. I can go looking for it. And it really is all around me if I will just turn my eyes right side out and choose to be inspired by what is available to me.

C) Discipline is a necessary factor. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing anything. And on those days, I need to exercise discipline. It's a necessary fact. I've known this about writing--and I guess about all sorts of artistic expression--for a long time. But The Weekly Make is the first time I've really put it into practice. I made things when I didn't feel like making things because I knew that if I was disciplined, creativity would become a lifestyle rather than something I did now and then. Creativity is no longer just an abstract part of who I am. It has become a practical part of my life. And it's not governed solely by my whims or the chance of inspiration finding me. It's something that I make space for...something I expect from myself with regularity. I used to approach projects with big ideas, knowing that there was a good chance that even if I started, I probably wouldn't finish because I didn't have the skills to meet my vision. But now I have confidence that if I put the materials in my hands, I will be able to finish something that wasn't there before. Discipline is what gives me that power week after week.

So left-brained Robin has decided that my equation is as follows:
A Creativity Lifestyle = desire + inspiration + discipline

And with those things in place, I can do this. I can be the person I want to be. I can become more of who I am. And that is something to celebrate.

What I Have Made
Since the beginning of last year, I have kept a running list of the things I have made. Rather than making you scroll through my archives, it's all right here:

Week 1: Disney World Purse
Week 2: Greek/Twilight/Stump Picture, Little Red Riding Hood Picture
Week 3: A New York Cheesecake, Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes, Raspberry Vinaigrette

Week 4: Rooster apron
Week 5: Wool felted balls, Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake
Week 6: Triptych
Week 7: Munchkin Cards

Week 8: Gryffindor Scarf and Hogwarts Pitcher
Week 9: Roots and Wings Drawing
Week 10: Pigwidgeon
Week 11: Menorahs
Week 12: Jason's birthday cake

Week 13: Mothers' Day Aprons (gardening, kitchen), Recipe Book
Week 14: Skip
Week 15: Spinning
Week 16: Tree Wall-hanging

Week 17: Sonnet for my Tree
Week 18: Chicken/Angel Hair/Parmesan Dinner, ChocRasp Bundt Cake, Upcycle Skirt
Week 19: Strawberry Jam and Strawberry Lemon Marmalade
Week 20: Amadeus

Week 21: Banana bread
Week 22: Wand
Week 23: Wand bag and Gnargle necklace for HPatHBP
Week 24: Banana bread, spaghetti sauce, clean dresser, switch rooms, pear plate
Week 25: Blanket and bumper for Molly

Week 26: Dying Wool
Week 27: Bacon Pasta Meal
Week 28: Crazy Quilt Project
Week 29: [Fabric Collage]

Week 30: [Pin Cushions]
Week 31: Parmesan Striper
Week 32: Angora Goats Contest Essay
Week 33: Apple Butter and Mango Salsa
Week 34: 2 Aprons for my mom

Week 35: More aprons, spinning
Week 36: Apple Butter
Week 37: Felted Pumpkin and Flower (<-- I didn't blog about that) Week 38: Felted Acorns, Horacio

Week 39: Felted Pumpkins, Acorns, Bernie and Henry, Designed Display, Made Sign
Week 40: Learned to crochet and felted another pumpkin
Week 41: 2 granny squares
Week 42: [started Megan's gnome and Amy's bag]

Week 43: sheep ornaments
Week 44: cathedral window light wall-hanging for Kalos
Week 45: headband special order, felted teddy bears, acorn ornament, josiah's hat, molly's bird, mom's camel, my headband
Week 46: dad's wall-hanging, jason's ornament, amy and megan's headbands [mom's apron]
Week 47: 5 slippers (megan and amy's plus one), finished cabinet

Week 48: square crochet motif
Week 49: "hope" abstract/symbolic crayon drawing
Week 50: hexagon crochet motif
Week 51: Puff Oven Pancake

Week 52: [Granny Square Blanket]

Note: When things are in [ ]'s, it means that project was either done as a make-up for that week or is still not finished.

Wow. That took a long time to link. Looking back, I only had 2 weeks that I made up for during another week, 4 unfinished projects, and only one week that I skipped entirely. I'd say that's a pretty good record, don't you think?

It's kind of crazy to think that a year ago, I made my first solo-sewing project. I have so many more skills and resources now and so much more confidence. Looking at this list, I feel like I can do anything!!


  1. I was actually thinking the day you posted this (before you posted it, actually) that it was a year of weekly makes either this week or next. I remember that Jersey visit and I am so incredibly proud of you for doing this. It really has been wonderful to watch your journey over the year... you have grown SO much! I loved that you were so honest in sharing your process in everything, and seriously? Your first solo sewing project ever? Well, that purse rocked as did everything else that followed. I love that you truly made this a habit, and that you made the space for something you love to become a part of your everyday life. I haven't gotten to physically see you in the past year (which we REALLY need to address), but I can't help but assume that even after a work day now, your spirits are lifted and you are happier because you have this outlet in your life. I think that's fabulous and it makes me very happy, too. You're awesome, you always were, but this year of makes has just proven and added to that awesomeness ;) I love you and I can't wait to see what more comes to A Happy Little Sparrow's store over the next year.

    P.S. Yes, I think you should keep doing weekly makes. Probably forever.

  2. Also, I'm totally digging the new layout. It's like a happy birthday present to The Weekly Make! Hooray! And it could totally count as another weekly make in and of itself... yes please!

  3. Thanks, Hannah. This little project has been truly life-saving and very empowering. I plan on continuing it for many years to come. :o)

    I really like the new layout, too. Your 365 blog inspired me. I didn't even know there were options for blogger other than the standard ones they give you. I spent hours looking for the perfect template, and I think this is it. Except for the stupid text wrapping around the pictures. I don't know what to do about that. :o/

  4. Hmm... I don't know, either. Have you tried a test/new post where the picture is its own paragraph?

    I say when in doubt, google it! Seriously, you can figure out so much stuff. And most of it is pretty self-explanatory so that with a problem-solving, fun-puzzle sort of approach, you can figure it out without too much headache. I hope you can anyway, because I think the new layout is PERFECT.

  5. you rock Robin! i am so impressed, and go back and forth from being inspired to being completely depressed in my own lack of creativity, desire, inspiration, discipline, or whatever. but happy birthday to the weekly make!

  6. Robin I am so proud of you. You have done an amazing job. Sharing everything in this format has been a great inspiration to me.

  7. Thanks, Melissa. Please don't be depressed. You know what I find really helps when I'm depressed? Coloring. :o)

    Thanks, Mom! I definitely couldn't do it without you. You've given me good training and an amazing example of what creativity looks like in the flesh. I love you!!