Path to creativity: Don't follow instructions.

I love buying patterns.

I purchase patterns for sewing, embroidery, knitting, and other crafts, typically because I want to learn a new technique (or the design is so cute that it’s irresistible). However...

I have a confession to make about my pattern purchases.

I rarely stick to the instructions.

I almost always adjust the pattern to put my own spin on it. In fact, unless it’s a craft that I’ve never touched before, I don’t think I’ve ever followed a pattern’s instructions 100 percent from beginning to end.

What about you? Do you follow instructions exactly or do you veer?

Following instructions is wonderful when you want to try a new craft or technique. Pattern writers work hard to share their techniques and there’s a lot to learn from good instructions. Even if a pattern uses a technique you already know how to do, the pattern writer may do the technique differently, so there’s always something new to learn.

But what about the instructions after that? What about color or stitch choices? Do you follow those too?

When I stray from instructions, sometimes little fear bubbles float the surface. What if I mess up? What if I do it wrong? What if I don’t follow the rules?

These are all questions that hinder creativity.

It can be difficult to actively step away from instructions to do your own thing, however taking that step allows for creativity to happen. It’s the magic of taking a “spark” from your brain and making it real. That’s my definition of “art”.

Ask yourself these questions:

What would happen if you had a project and didn’t have any instructions?

What would happen if you were free from doing something in the right or wrong way?

What would happen if you had permission to just make art?

I decided to run a “no instructions” experiment.

We recruited some awesome embroiders for the experiment. We gave each of them only the line art template for our two new Here Kitty Kitty embroidery patterns, Knitty Kitty and Crafty Cat. We gave the embroiderers no instructions, no reference on what embroidery stitches to use, no color suggestions, no transfer instructions, and no photo of the finished embroidery. We asked each embroiderer to pick one of the designs then stitch it however they wanted. They had a blank slate. No limitations. No pressure. No right or wrong. Just play.

Below is an image of the covers for the two embroideries. Our embroiderers did not see this image before they started stitching.

Today, our embroiderers are ready to share their results!

We put together a blog tour for this week and next week where the embroiderers will share their finished embroideries and process. I’m so excited to see what they came up with and what decisions they made along the way. I know I’m going to be blown away by all the creativity!

Below is the list of embroiderers and the dates they’ll be sharing with links.

Wednesday, April 30 

Abby from While She Naps

Thursday, May 1
Nicole from Follow the White Bunny

Monday, May 5
Mollie from Wild Olive

Tuesday, May 6
Olisa and Leigh from Mr. X Stitch

Wednesday, May 7
Floresita from Feeling Stitchy

Thursday, May 8
Wendi from Shiny Happy World

Please check them out. It’s going to be awesome!

We’ll have our Wrap Up here on the Penguin & Fish blog on Friday, May 9th.

Would you like to participate too?

Click here for the “Knitty Kitty” embroidery pattern.

And click here for the “Crafty Cat” embroidery pattern.

I’d love to see how you experiment and veer away from the instructions! Email your pics to me (alyssa) at info (at) penguinandfish (dot) com, and tell us what you did. We’ll share your pics on our facebook page.


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