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Challenging Oneself

I crave challenge. And while I do meditate, I don't typically enjoy meditative craft projects for very long with the exception of spinning. Rather, the joy of learning new information, trying new techniques, pushing myself to look at something I thought was difficult or new and coming out the other side... THAT is what I need to be happy with my fiber and fabric projects. Maybe that's why I was compelled to earn my PhD and then eventually tenure and promotion at the university level. I need something that will engage my mind, ensnare my focus, and grant me a newer or deeper understanding of what I'm doing. And when I don't feel challenged, I'm much more likely to become bored and cranky. Also much more likely to decide I don't want to finish a project and will frog the entire thing to repurpose the yarn. I thrive on challenges.

I think that's part of why the explosion of fascinating new patterns, many from not-so-well-known designers, are really demanding their place in the stitching queue lately. The gorgeous cabled details of Fox&Fig's latest Nouverie cowl... the beautiful colorwork of PNW Knit's Sitka Spruce Cowl... the dramatic features of Jenn Steinglass's Hinterland sweater... The possibilities of Camille Descoteaux's Alaska hat and pullover... the imaginative play of Bunnymuff's Charm of the Woodlands Hats... The delicate lace of Winterberry Studio's Nutcracker shawl... Even the tiny parts of Imagined Landscapes ADVENTure Gnomes... It's the challenge, the push, the spark of creativity that these projects offer and the chance to figure something out on my own: that's what really lets my soul fly.

And there are so many other beautiful designs and patterns out there. A quick scroll through Instagram or Ravelry's Top 20 is a great way to have a little LookSee. And, for the heck of it, when you log onto Ravelry, type in a random word into the search bar and see what patterns pop up. You might be surprised.

One of the great aspects of life in the 21st century is that we can learn anything we want from books, from ebooks, and YouTube. So, if a pattern calls for a Latvian braid, you can YouTube a tutorial on how to do one if you are having trouble envisioning the written instructions. Have a question? An answer is typically just one Instagram or Facebook post or direct message away.

I think that's one of my favorite parts about winter. The snow echoes a blank canvas or sheet of paper. As Anne Shirley would say, there's so much scope for the imagination, and when you're presented with the season of rest and rejuvenation there are so very many options available to you. You get to decide what paint to put on your canvas, what technique you're going to try, what choices you are going to make. It's an awesome chance to let your mind play.

So, as we look out at that winter white landscape that sparkles in the sunlight or offers a blank white board of possibilities, how will you summon your imagination? What challenges will you take on?

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