Taking it On The Road: Tips for Working Away from Home

“Taking It on the Road” is actually the title of Chapter 10 in Creative Time & Space: it’s something I think about rather a lot because I do a lot of hand stitching away from my house. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that because I work at home, I spend rather a lot of time here, and sometimes I just need to get Out of The House. Another is that, when I *do* get out of the house, I’m not good at just sitting and chatting; I need to have something to do. And another reason I spend time working away from home is: cats. We don’t have the kind of cats who are aloof and independent and spend their days curled up in some invisible corner, ignoring the humans. No. We have the kind of cats who believe we are their furniture, and if I’m sitting down, they have to be on me, lounging. They can be sound asleep in another room, and if I settle in with handwork, they hear me, even in their sleep, and jump down from wherever they are and come in and climb on me, turning around and around to get comfortable and settle in for a nap on their human couch. Needless to say, it’s tough to bead with 30 lbs of cat in your lap, esp. when those cats demand to be scratched and petted so they can fall back asleep. So we leave the house and go to Starbucks or The Wine Rack several times a week, and I take my stitching with me, and lately I’ve been thinking about how to make this blend seamlessly with the work I do at home. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about, tips that might be useful to you no matter what kind of work you want to take with you, from stitching to art journaling, knitting to sketching to whittling.

1. Prepare a kit that’s always ready to go. I really realized how important this is after the one I had was stolen in the burglary of our vehicle. I had scissors, a tiny Ott light, glasses (what my optometrist calls “cheaters,” those magnifying glasses with cute little frames), a metal tin I’d fitted with a magnetic sheet for holding pins, a felt needle holder, etc., etc. You know: pretty much everything. I hadn’t realized how important all this stuff was until it was gone and I was somewhere stitching and reached for the pins, and they weren’t there. You don’t want to carry everything you’ve got in your studio; you do want to have what you need. There’s nothing worse than settling in at a cafe for an afternoon of art journaling with friends and then discovering nobody brought along a glue stick. Or tape. You could always resort to using tiny bits of chewed gum, I suppose, but keeping a portable adhesive in your kit is sooo much nicer.

2. Start your project *before* you leave home with it. I’ve discovered this the hard way, of course. I’ll gather the supplies I think I need–thread, needle, beads–and settle in somewhere to begin something new only to discover that that’s not the color floss I need, or that needle doesn’t go through the fabric as smoothly as I’d like. These days I make sure I’ve started working on something before I head out of the studio with it, just to make sure I know where it’s going.

3. Don’t be shy. I’ve done everything from stitching to photography to sketching to writing in public, and what I’ve discovered is that the only people who really pay any attention are like-minded people who are interested in what you’re doing. If people aren’t interested, they won’t even notice you’re sitting over there working. One of the coolest things was showing a woman how to work the Cretan stitch and letting her try it out–we didn’t speak the same language, so we did it all by asking and explaining with our hands. It was wonderful and is one of my fondest memories of working in public.

4. Get in the habit of never leaving the house without your project kit. Sure, there are plenty of times you won’t use it and it will just sit in the car. But if you get in the habit of grabbing it and taking it with you, you’ll never find yourself stuck somewhere for hours thinking, “Gah, I could be getting a lot done if only I had my journal. . . .”


Creative Time and SpaceRicë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.





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One Response to Taking it On The Road: Tips for Working Away from Home

  1. Betsy says:

    I would like to nominate Linda Hardy for the getaway. She is a very creative,dilligent artist and gives to the community as well. Linda loves to brainstorm new ideas and has so many gifts to share with others. She started touching art when needed to help with daughter in college. She is amazing.