I think it is probably true that, on some level, we all wish to be something we are not. For me, I would really, really love to be a tidy, organised person. Those of you who have met me will know that I come across as a very organised and together person but, scratch the surface, and it becomes painfully clear that I am quite the opposite! I try to strike the right balance between accepting who I am and, at the same time, attempting to improve myself. I guess that is what life is all about really.
Something I have noticed about Italians is their attention to tidiness and hygiene. In the UK we talk about how, in days gone by, housewives would scrub their front doorstep. This quite literally what happens in Italy. Many people live in apartments and taking personal responsibility for keeping the communal areas gleamingly, shiningly, see your face in the reflection clean is almost universal. Even the most modest of shops or bars are immaculate, with staff even taking the time to wash down the stonework outside the premises. As for the “farmacie” (pharmacies) these are like mini palazzos – all glowing, polished wood and sparkling glass jars – with staff in bright, white coats ready to serve you.
This has all got me thinking. Some make a distinction between creativity and tidiness. The assumption seems to be that you are either a tidy person or a creative one. It is as though having one set of qualities will kill off any tendancy to be the other. The flip side of this school of thought is that if you have a clean, uncluttered environment then creativity will be able to flourish unimpeded. I don’t suppose there is a right or wrong here. Different things will work for different people. However, I know that I have definitely explored creativity springing from a lack of organisation so I felt it was time to at least try to step over to the “other side” to see how it might work for me. I have been surprised to find that trying to be a bit tidier has made me feel more relaxed and freer to create.
In addition to trying to maintain Italian standards of housekeeping, I have tried to organise my stitching work. I have mentioned before that I was given a huge amount of very old embroidery supplies including a vast quantity of floss. This has been marvellous for just trying out a lot of my freehand embroidery ideas. However, I have been working on drafting some patterns that other people might like to make that this requires reference codes so that the required colours can be purchased easily. So now, I have found my craft corner quite awash with all types of embroidery floss. I decided that it was time for some action!
I have wound nearly all of my skeins of floss onto bobbin cards. I know this is not everyone’s favourite way of storing floss but I find that it stops it from knotting or getting tangled. I have also sorted them all into DMC, Anchor and too ancient to ever be able to replace! I will, continue to use the very old floss for my own freehand work and the DMC and Anchor for patterns.
All this tidying and sorting was so therapeutic and surprisingly fun! I also stumbled on some colour combinations (like the one above) that I wanted to use right away. The above colour combination has given me a flash of inspiration for a new project which I hope to start this week.
The whole process has made me think, whilst I will never be a candidate for housewife of the year, maybe this push to be a bit more organised will spur me on to better creative things…but before that I must go and clean the kitchen!