Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Abby Glassenberg creates unique patterns for stuffed animals from her home studio, and since 2005 she has shared these creations and her ideas on design, technique and the online culture of craft through her blog. Abby has a master’s degree in education, she taught middle school before becoming a textile artist and the mother of three girls. Abby’s first book, The Artful Bird: Feathered Friends to Make and Sew, was an ALA Booklist top ten craft book of 2011. Her new book about soft toy design and will be published by Lark in May of 2013. You can find Abby’s stuffed animal patterns in her Craftsy pattern shop and her Etsy shop and keep up with her latest pattern releases on her Facebook page.

In 2003 I had a whole summer off. I was a sixth grade teacher, married, living in an apartment we owned in an interesting, upbeat area of Boston. In early June, just before school was out, I set some summer goals for myself: draw every day, dust off my old watercolors and paint, make a quilt with all that fabric I’d been hoarding.

The last day of school came and went, as did the first week of summer vacation, and I was just about ready to start in on those projects. Monday morning my husband left for work and I went to the bakery and then for a long walk and then I took a nap. And watched some TV. And talked on the phone with my sister. And suddenly the day was gone and I never did draw. In fact, week after long free week of that summer rolled on by and, yes, I did sew a few scraps together, but then laid them aside when I couldn’t figure out what to do next, and, yes, I painted a little still life of some lemons and gave it to my mother for her birthday, but then I put the paints back on the shelf. Even while I was living those weeks I could see that my lofty summer goals for productive creativity were not being realized.

But why? Why wasn’t I using all that free time as creative time? The desire was there, but something crucial was missing. Now I see that the missing element was a feeling of urgency. Urgency reframes time, places constraints on us, maybe forces us even, to use every single moment if we are to meet our goals.

By the end of that summer I was pregnant with our first child, a daughter born the next March. I left the classroom to be home with her and suddenly I was back in the apartment while my husband was at work, with long hours before me, a similar feeling to the one I’d had the previous summer. Visits to the bakery, long walks pushing the stroller, naps, some TV, talks with my sister – it was all the same. Except now it was completely different.

When the baby was up there was always something to do. Nursing and changing, comforting and cleaning, folding and cooking, and then cleaning and nursing again, and on and on. And when finally I could put her down for a nap and I could be me again. The old me. The me that wanted to draw and paint and sew. But now I only had an hour before the cycle of nursing and changing and comforting and cleaning started all over again. An hour and ten minutes if I was lucky. So out came the sketchbook and the pencil because if I was going to actually make anything I had to start right now!

And pretty soon I was making things, teaching myself to sew from old soft toy books I’d check out of the library after storytime on Tuesdays. And in May of 2005 I started a blog, to record all that naptime creative productivity. In the seven years that have passed we’ve had two more daughters (only girls so that “She” still rings true!) and I’m a stay-at-home mom with a creative business that I work on primarily while my kids are asleep or at school or camp.

When people peek into my studio, peruse my website, and see everything that I’m making, and then notice that I have three kids who are 8, 6, and 18 months, the first thing they ask me is, “How do you find the time?”

Having children has given me many gifts (and a fair number of headaches, too), but one of the greatest gifts of motherhood for me is the constraints it has placed on my time. Looking back at that summer of 2003 my first reaction is to feel jealous desire, dreaming of what I would do if only I had that time now. The reality of now, though, is that I never have time like that. And precisely because I don’t, I find the time to produce creative work every day.


Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Verity Heysen Kizek is an Australian artist and illustrator who recently moved back to Australia after living in Istanbul. For a peek at Verity’s new work, her life and adventures with her little boy Yashar and husband Senol, you can visit her online journal.

The birth of my son Yashar, and the changes in my life at the time were a huge inspiration and motivation for me creatively. For a long time I had a strong interest in art and making – but it was really following his birth and our move to Turkey that it turned from a unrealised dream to a big part of our lives. All of a sudden time became so precious. I didn’t want to waste any more time doing something I didn’t truly have my heart in.

When Yashar was first born all I wanted to create were the softest, calmest pieces I could. The colours in them were so pale! These early illustrations I did after he was born (and when I was first starting to do illustration!) were all about being gentle and dreamy.

As he grew I started to do pieces that were a little more colourful, but still very calm and peaceful. I created ‘Cool Forest’ in the middle of a hot and humid Istanbul Summer. I was dreaming about escaping to a beautiful green forest with Yashar, sitting by the cool stream.

While mostly the influence was quite natural and organic, other times, like when I designed this wallpaper for Studio Nommo , I would purposefully sit there and think… what would Yashar like? What would I want to put in his room? What would be fun for him? And I do a similar thing now for my work for Master & Miss – a very cute little organic clothing brand that I design some fabric prints and patterns for.

Being a mother also taught me to enjoy the process more! When we lived in Istanbul, one of my favourite times of the week was going to our art classes at LOLA. LOLA is a wonderful children’s art studio that runs, among other things, toddler’s art groups. We would join in with the children, swooshing the paint around with our hands, gluing and ripping and sticking and glittering. It was therapeutic! We were also lucky to have a wonderful teacher, Alara who actively encouraged this enjoyment of the process – encouraging the children to paint their feet and run around on huge sheets of paper, and pouring huge pools of paint on a table for the children to run their fingers through and smudge, smooth and swish all over the table.

Now, as Yashar is growing, I find him more inspiring than ever. From the crazy descriptions of monsters, to the idea of wanting to be so small he could swim in his ice cream, to his peaceful face when I see him fall asleep each evening.

Resources for creating with children:

The Crafty Crow  :: Made by Joel :: Soule Mama  :: The Long Thread 


Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Molly Balint and her husband live with their four girls in a fixer-upper farmhouse in rural Maryland where you can always count on three things: fresh eggs, a muddy kitchen floor and a kid who needs a bath. She chronicles life on their little farm on her personal blog, MommyCoddle. She is also the co-creator of the photography + words project, habit.

In my creaky old farmhouse in rural Maryland there are four kids to cook for, keep clean, clean up after, teach, nurse, and referee for. And then there are the 13 chickens, the 4 cats, the dog, the baby zebra finches and the pony. And when all that’s said and done there’s freelance writing deadlines to meet, emails to answer, and virtual inspiration boards to compile.

Just reading that list is exhausting.

Because having children changes everything.

Not only does it change things like the grocery bill, the laundry pile and the fact that there’s a pony in my backyard, it also completely changes a mother’s creative life.

I’m a firm believer that motherhood is in and of itself a creative endeavor. For lack of a less cheesy cliche–each day a blank canvas, each child a lump of clay. It’s whispered, far-flung stories in little ears, it’s hair braids and barrettes, it’s turning sofa cushions and quilts into clubhouses. It’s mouse-shaped pancakes and milk jug drums.

Moments of inspired and spontaneous creativity are the foundation of motherhood.

But still. Still I find that there is importance in finding moments of quiet for myself–whether it’s knitting needles in hand, sewing patches on torn jeans, or scribbling thoughts into a journal. And there is importance in setting aside intentional, deliberate creative time with my children.

Creativity changes the pace of our lives. It pulls us away from computer screens and television shows. It forces us to put down the laundry basket and pick up the pen or the paint or the scissors. It brings everyone around the table. It makes us available, accessible and present.

Creativity reconnects us with each other. While hands are busy, words become easy. Anger is tempered. Hurt feelings are eased. Everyone is included.

Creativity teaches how to make and make do. When toys are disposable and oversized stores carry everything from chewing gum to designer jeans, creative skills teach us to sew on a button, cover up a hole, or knit up our own dishcloths. Things are made, saved and preserved by the work of our hands.

Creativity leaves a handmade legacy. I often think about how I want to be remembered. Chained to my desk? Standing sour-faced over a sink of sudsy water? Or making and creating–rainbow crayons from broken ends and bright yellow sweaters with small wooden buttons?

Our creative life and the passion with which we pursue it will leave a long-lasting imprint on the lives of our children.

This past weekend, my children came up with a plan to begin selling our abundance of eggs at their own roadside stand. I watched as paints were dragged out, boards pulled from the box of scraps, hammers and nails pinched from their father’s toolbox. There was planning and painting (and repainting) and building. I saw my own words across the lips of the oldest as she reminded her sisters to put on a “junky shirt” so they could use the “staining paints”. I watched some of the same techniques we’d used the week before to make vegetable stakes for our garden go into the making of the egg signs. I watched hurt feelings dissolve between two sisters  shoulder to shoulder over a project–who just minutes before had been bickering over dolls.

Creativity is the soul of motherhood. And motherhood is the messiest, best, hardest, most-frustrating, rewarding, most heart-stopping creative project I have ever pursued.


Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Becca is a music teacher who knits, spins, sews and tries to keep up with her three young sons in Minneapolis, MN. You can follow her creative pursuits as well the boys latest antics at Knittymama. She is also found at Flickr and Ravelry.

Thank you Kathreen for inviting me to be a guest blogger in your series on creativity! I’m so happy to be able to share a bit about my creative endeavors while raising my three boys.

I believe creativity is a word in every mother’s dictionary. A mother needs to be creative in order to deal with the dozens of curveballs that our children throw at us every day. But for some of us, creativity is not just figuring out how to deal with a screaming three year old hiding under the shopping cart. It’s what defines us as a person.

My husband and I were blessed with three sons in the past nine years, and they have completely redefined who I am. Before I had children music was my choice. I had dabbled all my life in little bits of crochet, beading, writing, drawing… but music was what grabbed me. And for many years all I needed in my life was a classroom of children to teach, my bassoon to play and people to play with.

But becoming a mother pushed my creative needs in a different direction. I no longer wanted to be tied to schedules. Long rehearsals were out; I wanted to be home with my family. Practicing at home by myself just wasn’t fun when there was no performance to prepare for, plus it was hard work; by 9pm I was exhausted. I needed something quiet, something calming to help me relax, create and recharge after a long day. And so I learned to knit, and then to spin and sew. I spent countless hours after my boys were asleep, letting my mind go and my body wind down after a long day.

As our family grew, I found our children inspired me more than anything had ever inspired me before. Sure, I would see a beautiful pattern I’d like to knit, or a quilt I wanted to make, but original ideas? The things that came out of nowhere? Those ideas came from my boys. A rainbow hat of odd colors that somehow looked great together. A giant reading pillow sewn together with my oldest son. The old t-shirt sleeves quickly cut and re-sewn into “motorcycle-guy” mitts.  My boys taught me that I don’t need a pattern, I can come up with an idea of my own and just go with it. This is the gift they give to me.

But I also miss those long hours of getting lost in the creative process. I miss getting so deep into something that I forget the time. And it’s frustrating when I think I’m going to get a few minutes to myself, and suddenly I hear, “Mama? Can we make our toy owls now? You’ve been promising for a YEAR!!“  (It’s really been just a week, but…)

Even harder is when my boys decide to make something on their own, except that it happens to be that they chose to cover three yards of a favorite new fabric with splotches of bright yellow paint. Or that they’ve tangled up my spinning wheel again. Used my fabric scissors to cut wire. Taken a favorite ball of expensive yarn and used it to make a room sized spider web. My boys are true masters of creative destruction, and many a time I have had to take a very deep breath and remind myself of the bigger picture.

And so we make things together. We find the opportunities to meet their needs and meet my own. We paint, we nail, we glue. We go through a lot of cardboard, yarn and tape. But we also weave and knit and sew. We design pillows and pants. We knit “rainbow” hats in color combinations I never would have thought of. I have learned to sew with one boy on my lap and another sitting behind me, hanging over my shoulders. I’ve learned to never leave knitting sitting out and always unplug my sewing machine. Somehow we make it all work.

While I watch them grow, I see myself grow too. As much as I love to follow a beautiful pattern, I also now can start from square one, and that’s an amazing feeling. I’m not sure if I ever would have taken that leap without my boys prodding me to make something that I didn’t have instructions for. Now that we are coming out of the baby years, I find myself drawn back to music too. I can head out for a few hours to go sub in a rehearsal or take the occasional third bassoon part in the community orchestra. I feel like my options are endless.

Lastly, I keep looking for inspiration of all types. I appreciate Shivaya Naturals for reminding me to look for the grace and beauty in everything that we make and do. I love Steady Mom for helping me keep things in enough balance so that we still all have time to do what we love. I love the Yarn Harlot because she keeps it real;  I don’t feel like I’m the only one with a messy house or kids that fight. And I love the mothers that relish goofy boyishness: All For The Boys for a never ending slew of ideas, as well as the Celebrate The Boy series over at Made by Rae.

What have your children taught you? Have you learned a new skill since you became a parent? Did your creative pursuits take a different direction after your children were born? Where do you find creative inspiration as a parent? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Maggie Brereton is the momma behind the blog, Smashed Peas and Carrots, where she shares sewing and craft DIY tutorials, plus family friendly recipes and birthday parties too. Based out of Chicago, IL she also sells her handmade children’s clothing and momma’s accessories at her shop, Smashed Peas and Carrots, on Etsy.

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be here at Whip Up today to talk about how parenting has changed why I create.

I was lucky to grow up with a mom who loved to bake, cook, and sew clothing and dolls for my sisters and I and a dad who loved home improvement, landscaping, leather and woodwork. I feel like I have been a DIYer my whole life. I grew up loving to make things for myself and others. It’s just what I did…and we did in my family. In the past creating was always a way to put my personal spin on something instead of buying it in a store or off the rack. Being a DIYer is a great way to save money and pinch pennies too, especially during my college years! But then 5 years ago I had my first child, my son Noah. Less than 2 years later came my daughter Penelope and less than 2 years again came Eloise. Now I am awaiting the birth of our fourth child due at the end of June…life has been crazy fun these last 5 years to say the least! Once I had my own children, I felt an urge to make special things for them to wear and own, and so, the focus of my creativity became what I could do and make for them.

When I had Noah, my momma would (and still does to this day!) send packages of neatly boxed clothing from my childhood. The ones that especially touched me were the packages she had sent that were filled with the stuffed dolls she made for me when I was young and the hand knit sweaters, blankets, and dresses that my grandmother had made and sent to me when I was their age! There is something about the thought of my children handing down heirlooms I have created for them to their children, it is just so inspiring to me that I decided to ask for a sewing machine for my birthday 3 years ago and teach myself how to sew!

Parenting has changed how I create because it has given me a 3 (soon to be 4) sweet and adorable muses that inspire me daily. One thing I have really come to love is making clothing for my kids which I had never ever attempted before having children. I made their Halloween costumes this past year which was so fun because I had the chance to coordinate them based off of Noah’s love for Super Mario. I am lucky enough to have all three of my children asking and at times pleading with me to make them costumes, bags, baby diapers, and pretty dresses to twirl in. The excitement they show at seeing the finished product makes me want to continue making more and more beautiful things for them.

One of the most amazing things about how parenting has changed my creative vision is that I now have my own small business, called Smashed Peas and Carrots, where I sell my handmade children’s clothing. I never saw myself owning my own clothing company or even making children’s clothing but that is the funny thing about how kids can change you. I have found that I just love creating pretty dresses that little girls can play and dance in especially since my two girls love running around and causing mayhem with their big brother. Even starting my DIY craft blog, Smashed Peas and Carrots, wouldn’t have happened had it not been for my children and my desire to have a sort of online diary for them to read and learn a little bit more about their momma when they are older as well as share my what is important to our family there. I think parenting changes all of us in so many ways and I am lucky to have had parenting enhance my creative mind and open up a door to the small business world where I can share my talents with others.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website