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This past February I lost someone important to me. We knew each other as kids and reconnected years later—much of our time spent together was reminiscing on how intertwined our lives always were, and getting to know each other years later after our twenties. 

When I heard the news of his unexpected passing, I was just sitting down to paint. It’s my favorite thing in the world.

I started oil painting about a year and a half ago after journeying to Connecticut for an art retreat that awoke my insides—A Big Spark! A challenge! This must be how you felt when you first learned to knit, or perhaps, when you begin a brand new project with a fresh skein of yarn. It’s the spark that counts.

Grief—and the journey that encompasses it—can be quite isolating, even in all of its inevitability. For me, it dimmed the things that always brought me joy, especially painting. 

I tried every way I knew to bring The Big Spark back: I purchased a hefty order of canvas, new paint brushes, new paints. I painted, added wine, angry music, sad music, sad music and a MARTINI, noise canceling headphones, painting outside, painting outside with a gin spritzer. If you’re picturing the many moods of Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give—Yes. So I asked myself, WWDD? (What Would Diane Do?). 

And, I pivoted.

It has been a little more than 8 months since my friend died. During this time, I’ve found little sparks in a lot of places, all in an attempt to get back to The Big Spark …

Cloud Time. Hiking at my favorite park. Collecting feathers, shells, and heart-shaped rocks (If you saw me on the trail picking up nature relics while simultaneously sweating and ugly crying—no you didn’t.) (Did I mention Diane?)


I made The Officially Unofficial Jones Bird Sanctuary right outside of my painting window and I now know the specific calls of a Tufted Titmouse. The hummingbird feeders are a new addition, albeit an accidental purchase of ten feeders as opposed to the assumed single feeder I anticipated—“Oops”.
The nature relics I’ve collected over time now have a home on an old bookshelf.

I’ve been practicing the hard stuff, too. Healing. Breathing. Knowing. Accepting. Feeling. And yes, painting.

It took me quite some time to sit back down at my easel with confidence. Maybe I was afraid to feel the joy—The Big Spark!—for fear of it leaving, too. But I have shown up—slowly and in small doses—over time.

I finished a Moody Onion—somehow it turned out brighter and better than I expected, even when my spark was the most dim.
I painted a few abstract pieces I like to call “Feelies” and one painting to start a Moody Fruits collection. My dream is to be in one gallery, then a few, then maybe one day—my own.
And on my easel now is the near-end of a large Moody Fruits painting I started a long time ago for a very patient friend.
I placed a few of my favorite photos next to my easel. Clay loved to garden and travel, and would send me photos of his journeys. This year I’ve seen more rainbows, hearts, and sunflowers that have somehow grown in the hanging planters on my top floor perch—a welcome gift from hungry birds, I assume 😉

A year ago today I couldn’t have told you that I would become a nature collector, a (very novice) birder, or someone who actually enjoyed sweaty hikes in 90 degree Nashville weather. I would have put all of my energy into The Big Spark that ignited a year and a half ago—and probably would have had a lot more finished canvases to show for it.

When I was asked to do a show-and-tell for today’s Atlas Insider, part of me wanted to gloss over the journey it took to get here and all the complicated life-y stuff in between. But the finished products of what we do aren’t often the parts we are the most proud of—It’s all in the details. Today, I’m remembering my good friend Clay and the journey of sparks—big and small—that are helping me get back to the light.

A Giveaway

The publishers of Knitting for Olive: Twenty Modern Knitting Patterns from the Iconic Danish Brand have three copies set aside to send out to lucky Atlas Insider commenters!

From Penguin Random House:

This book includes twenty gorgeous, accessible knitting patterns, and includes both brand new designs and a selection of tried and tested fan-favorites. There is a project here for everyone; the designs vary in difficulty, and cover a range of sweaters, tops, cardigans, hats, and scarves. Each project includes a full pattern, explanation, and four-color photographs. There is a techniques section at the back of the book to provide the knitter with any extra information they need to tackle every piece in the book.

How to enter?

Two steps:

Step 1: Sign up for MDK emails, right here. External Link. Opens in new window.. External Link. Opens in new window.. External Link. Opens in new window.. External Link. Opens in new window.. If you’re already signed up, you’re all set. We have a new option for texting, so when you sign up for those, you’ll get a coupon code good for 10% off your next MDK order.

Step 2: What sparks you to get motivated, to reset, or to feel inspired? Leave a comment.

Deadline for entries: Sunday, October 29, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw three random winners from the entries. Winners will be notified by email.

About The Author

Hannah joined the MDK team in December 2019. She is the resident MDK Doodler, Snippets curator, and will put an MDK logo on just about anything around here. And here’s Goldie too (yes, we named a Dishcloth Kit for her!). See what Hannah’s up to at


  • Reading this gives me hope as my spark seems buried these days.. and your paintings are beautiful.

    • Wow… I am quite speechless and incredibly moved by these comments. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for showing up here and sharing all of your stories and sparks. I am reading in doses … with tissue in hand. Love, Hannah

    • Timing. Spark buried.
      Yesterday cried deep and awfully.
      Like wrenching my heart into my gut.
      so much anguish. processing 10 month loss of mom… acknowledging dozen years poured into her care…my writing creative dimmed.
      Thank you for hope expressed here.
      Beautiful …nature saves us.

    • I find God in the sky and in Nature.

      • I struggle with this myself quite a bit. Sometimes the right music can help. Sometimes seeing other work that I like and would like to be able to make is inspiring.

    • Such a beautiful reminder of the bumpy pathway of creativity. I too find nature to be my best healer and source of inspiration during the fallow times, waiting for the spark to reignite. Travel is also good, or a day looking at art.

      • Some days it’s harder than others. What tempts my creativity is a beautifully designed knitted project.

      • Beautiful. As one therapist said to me, “grief makes love feel easy” meaning it’s such a deep complex layer of emotions- and complicated. Going thru it and honoring it while searching for a spark is indeed a healing way. Thank you.

        • Seeking creativity through a smaller spark opens the door to a bigger spark? How impowering!

      • Just seeing other people’s work inspires me to make something!

        • “Nature is the ultimate optimist”, I said, as I continue to pad my yarn stash….and my fabric stash…..and Nature is my inspiration, always.

  • Knowing others who set good examples keeps me motivated in a work environment with very low morale.

  • walking on our many greenways & in the woods, touching fibers at my LYS, and rhythmic knitting calms by mind and heart

    • Knitting with friends and talking about my ideas and plans.
      Reading knitting books, especially Elizabeth Zimmerman.
      Seeing others’ finished objects.
      Browsing through Ravelry.

  • Nature is my spark! Usually in the park near my home, but it contacts me outside of those boundaries as well.

  • You know..I have a friend who has been dealing with a similar event and then got frustrated with knitting and lost her spark. She recently accepted me giving her some of my stash…a blessing for me…I hope the color and easy pattern will help her on her pathway. Lovely reflections and sharings.

    • Yarn and necessity nudge me into action. Color is action’s fuel.

  • Color and nature. After years and years of living in a black and gray world – I realized that I love color. My brain zips and zings and sings when it sees gorgeous, saturated colors. I realized I no longer care what others’ think of my color choices or my knitting. I am inspired by color. Bright – saturated – lovely colors! Now I just go for it with wild abandon.

    • I, too, love color! No grey or beige or greige for me. Give me bright colors, jewel tones, deep dark saturated colors. My house, with purples and oranges and pinks and greens is quite colorful, and so is my language!

  • I tend to clean my house. When I am down, usually due to financial difficulties, I tend to clean my house. I think it connects me to what I do have and the need to take care of it. Once I was broke and my water heater went down. I pulled up carpeting on some stairs, found some paint in the basement and then stenciled the treads. Today it’s cleaning the basement. I will see many bins of yarn, books, material and realize how much I have and I’ll be grateful.

    • Spark igniters for me would be getting outside, enjoying the birds as they nibble at my bird feeder, and petting my curly-haired Devon Rex (who loves to watch the birds)! Also, sometimes reading or just changing gears with what I am working on, and switching to something different helps.

  • I love this article you wrote. I am autistic and very often exhausted just by daily life, and then losing my spark, sometimes just for days, sometimes for many months. Nature is good, but often I am even to exhausted for that.
    I recently moved close to the sea, and tried bathing despite cold temperature. I found this to have phantastic effects to body and soul. The pricking of cold water throws me into immediate sensing the whole thing of “being alive”, and afterwards every cell is deeply relaxed and in the same time bursting with happy energy.
    People here in Scandinavia use bath tubs in their garden, if they live to far from the sea. Who ever tried it out seem to never stop repeating it again.

    • Urgs, used wrong mailaddress, this is the right one (=connected to the newsletter subscription)

  • I’ve found that disconnecting from the day to day and getting outside in nature, taking time to be quiet, to be still and just soak in the beauty around me is what reignites the spark.

  • My knitting spark has been dim for some time as sadness seems to be everywhere. Then, yesterday, a close friend from college days (over 50 years ago) died. It was like a punch to an already fragile gut. But my healing, like that for many others, comes from being surrounded by nature, especially in the woods. Thank you, Hannah and all the commenters for reminding me of that fact, and that I need to get out *today* into the woods – even though it’s raining! Thank you, all.

  • My spark gets amplified every time I go out by the water. The many moods of the lake give me new directions in creativity.

    • Sometime, especially in grief, the spark is there but hidden deeper. That’s when i have to remind myself ‘This to shall pass’ and I have to accept where I’m at for right now. With time I will find my spark again, whether that’s from music, reading, or just wading through my yarn stash. I have several skeins that their only purpose is bring joy. I have no plans to use the yarn in any projects, I just enjoy the color and texture of the beautiful yarn.

      • Exercise works for me to feel inspired or get motivated.

  • A good round of golf – we walk 18 holes early in the morning – some days we see the brilliant red sun of the morning coming up over the horizon, some mornings we are shrouded in fog (watch your ball very closely as it disappears into the mist) and other times just the cool morning beginning to warm to the days awakening. The fresh air, the exercise and the closeness to nature. The good round is just the icing on the cake!

  • How well I remember losing my spark when my husband died. I, too, turned to walking to clear my mind and find some joy. Now I investigate parks all over the city and nearby counties!

  • Hannah, I am so sorry for your loss.
    My big spark is also gone. I have been trying to work through it by knitting small gifts for people I love. But I do a fair bit of staring at the wall too…

    • Also, your paintings are stunning. I’m sure you will get exhibitions everywhere ❤️

  • Long walks with my dog, enjoying the early morning quiet and amazed at the wild life we see almost every day

  • Taking a hike. I often have to force myself out, but once I do the woods work their magic.

  • Motivated- a need to help or someone’s visiting and the floors need sweeping
    Inspired/lifted- going outside to the woods or pasture with the critters, leaves, trees, the first snow, guild get together
    Reset- reflection, art gallery visit, letter writing

  • Life is so unfair. I am so sorry for your loss. We always wonder what there is once we pass. Grief is so individual. When I’m out walking, and suddenly something reminds me of someone who has past, it’s as though that person is right there in the moment, letting me know it’s all right. Mostly I don’t feel sad, just a better understanding that their afterlife is easier for them than their life. We always know someone, but do we know someone truly? My spark is that live with as much joy as we can with whatever brings it too you. Sure that joy takes a break, goes into hiding, making us search to find it again. I think your nature collection brought your painting back. Just like they say- stop and smell the roses. We stop looking for inspiration yet it is always around us.

  • For me, I start my morning with a spot of knitting while enjoying my first coffees of the day. I feel I have the whole day ahead of me and I plan what that will include. That makes me feel inspired and motivated!

    • Gale, reading the description of your morning’s start has helped me realize how passive mine seems next to yours. Getting in “a spot of knitting” with a cup of coffee you obviously take note of and savor, and then thinking about the possibilities the day is offering you, can’t help but be stimulating and engaging. I’m going to forego checking all the emails first thing in the morning (until somehow the morning’s nearly gone) and try to move to a more active greeting of the day – with knitting as the inspiration. Sometimes people don’t realize how a few simple sentences can touch someone, so I wanted to let you know. Thank you.

  • The Spark… How does life restart after losing your only child, divorce, business, home, dear friends who didn’t understand, and my God. You develop healthy or unhealthy distractions and sometimes both. I became officially disabled soon after and since I’m not getting younger more doctor visits. A couple years ago I decided that I wanted to learn all about knitting. I bought all the accoutrements but still realize my body isn’t ready yet. I have a lot of emails from yarn/knitting sites,after, etc. This coming Halloween will be 50 years since our first date. Yes, he returned and is taking excellent care of me. Next June will be our 50th anniversary. The Spark started years ago but the flame never died. Just like Hannah’s healthy distraction of art, mine is knitting. I’m hoping my Christmas gifts of knitting will be full of knitted items. If not, I still plan on starting soon. God willing.

  • Hannah, thank you for sharing. So beautiful. Reading stories like yours, and learning how you’ve helped to heal your spark, helps me with my spark. Mine has been quite dim for a while now. Watching birds, in the woods, by our house and at the beach brings joy, and peace.

  • I’m in a bit of a slump as well. My mom died just about 11 months ago and settling the “easy” estate has dragged on to a ridiculous length. It really feels like we are getting nowhere and it feels hard to grieve in the business of death.

    I’ve had a bit of inspiration though taking on a new task. I’m learning Spanish and just now sitting in the Madrid airport lounge waiting for my (delayed) flight back home. I’ve just had four weeks of language classes and done it alone. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived alone and while I’m happy to get home, it’s been really enriching. While I’ve been in Spain I knit two pairs of socks, a crescent shawl and have two more projects on the needles for the flight home. Im hoping my interest will continue when im back in my routine.

    • Your artwork is delightful!

      Finding delight in the small things with a large dose of solitude sparks my path.

      • Such a good question!
        Slowing down
        Making some space in the day to walk outdoors by the river, in a garden, with children.
        Just saying yes
        And reaching out

  • Spending time with a child and seeing things the way they see things, that awe, that wonder at the world…that sparks me.

  • My condolences for your loss. Like others, I find being outside is a wonderful way to reset.

  • Like so many others, taking a long walk on a beautiful, bracingly cool day; or anything to do with Audrey Hepburn (movie, book, interview, etc.). She just lifts me up; or certain movies (Gorillas in the Mist, for one), or being with old friends (all the reminiscing that sparks enthusiasm for the present). As for grief, I think it just takes time.

  • I loved seeing the inspiration photos along with works in progress.

  • Sometimes when I feel too uninspired I will put aside what I’m doing and instead try to learn something new. It could be any new skill and I don’t ask it to be permanent or practical.

  • Yes, it’s the little things. Standing in the moss. Looking up at the moon. Finding the heart shaped rocks. The little sparks ignite the inner fire.

  • Getting up early in the morning to knit until the sun starts to come up, then take a long walk before my day officially begins.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. My sister died in December 2021. She adored hummingbirds, and everyone in the family has seen so many every spring since. We like to think they are messages from her.

    I find myself losing my interest in knitting in times of great loss and stress. For me, spinning is my way back into crafting. Somehow just making yarn, with no plan for what it will become, is mindless enough that it helps even when I feel everything else is lost. Other than that, long walks in nature sooths my soul. Always.

  • Going!! Walking in nature or the City. I find the things man has created and our sounds (not all of them) to also be inspiring. Car rides. As I type this I realized the place I heal the most is the ocean. Of it is tourist time I get up early. I love it when it is in the mood I am in.

  • 15 minutes of focused stretching exercises in the morning; walking down a path and watching my canine interact with the world; Laughing on Thanksgiving day with friends or family…

  • Talking to strangers.

  • This came at a time I really need it. My dear husband of 37 years is facing bypass surgery tomorrow and I am so terrified of losing him. I had this same feeling when my dad had a heart attack (he didn’t make it) and when my grandma fell and broke her hip (she never left the hospital). I can’t share my fear with my kids, I’m sure that they are feeling their own. My husband is still young and active and they tell me he has an excellent prognosis…but that fear doesn’t want to go away. I am trying to find a spark of hope by knitting him bed socks for his recovery. Please send prayers and healing thoughts into the universe!

    • Dear Sarah
      10 years ago we were facing what you are now.
      Quintuple by pass was scheduled for my husband. He has spent a good part of his time thereafter playing golf the game he loves. And we travel and enjoy life.
      I will send only positive energy your way.
      Many hugs

  • I find that I am inspired to make things that people say they need. My neighbor spends his winter snowblowing everyone’s driveway and his balaclava has gone kaput. I am currently trying to knit a balaclava without a pattern. It’s actually coming along….

    • Found a free book – Khaki knitting book – old from early 1900’s that lists many items for WWI & II – a seaman’s helmet – baclava as well ( pg 24) – appears to be in support of Red Cross activities as well. Still available online from Library of Congress Internet Archive.

  • The deeper the love the longer the time. Wading through grief one memory at a time. Sometimes raw and painful other times almost comforting. I like knitting outside while listening and watching nature all around me. When I have a really rough time I do or make something for someone else. My Mom was always cooking or crafting for someone else, telling me there are lots of people going thru tougher times than us. Being actively involved always helped keep my mind and hands busy and concentrate on helping others. Meanwhile I still grieve her loss many years ago. Charitable project here I come.

  • Reading the poetry of Ada Limon in the morning. She sparks my heart and mind.

    Also, touching good fiber.

  • Your collections and paintings are amazing.
    In difficult times the rhythm of knitting and weaving has helped me.

  • I am renewed in my passion for knitting when I hear about the people to whom my group donates our finished projects. Knowing something I made will keep them warm and provide some comfort with so much discomfort around them keeps me going.

  • Wandering around the aisles of a yarn shop always does it for me.

  • Looking At myself honestly and assessing my strengths and supplying them to whatever it is i need to do or learn.

  • Every morning I get motivated again. It’s a new day, new opportunities, new plans. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Getting enough sleep and remembering to eat breakfast usually does it for me. Oh – and finishing a languishing project.

  • Dear, dear Hannah. Oh my…what a loss! I’m so sorry Clay is gone. Yet, he has been leading you to new spaces and places, no? Your moody onion grabbed my heart instantly. And I love you bookcase of nature finds. When it comes to Hummingbirds, you can never have to many around!! If you are absolutely still, they will take naps and walk over your shoe….! Good friends to have around. My heart is with you.

  • Walking, and reaching out to others, works every time.

  • A good night’s sleep, if I can find it. A visit with an old friend. Doing anything more slowly.

    • I have found that knitting slowly and mindfully is very restful. Its like a prayerful meditation. Often I found myself rushing thru a project to get to the next and the next new shiny cool thing. Very stressful. Since I have thumb isuues, I have had to slow down. What a difference. I can realize a goal of a few rows a day and really enjoy the rhythm of the needles and the play of color. Knitting has been incredibly good for me in so many spheres.

  • Just playing with paper and paint. No expectations, and nothing is “precious.” I find if I keep showing up the spark finds me.

  • I love yarn but nothing gets me motivated like the color pink, all beautiful shades of A color that brings me joy! Music and A martini can’t hurt either!

  • My grandbabies give me a spark and provide inspiration for my knitting. It is delightful to watch them grow and learn. They never fail to put a smile on my face and love in my heart.

  • Art in any form–paintings, architecture, textiles, literature–anything that takes me off the daily brain track of the mundane.

  • Sitting outside ( or inside by the window looking outside on rainy days), hugging my dog and watching the birds and little pollinators. It helps me to slow down, refocus, refresh.

  • Creating music is my joy, and I find inspiration from listening and watching other people perform. Recently I have become inspired to pick up my guitar after attending a fabulous concert, though I still find my big spark on the piano.

  • Nature and a change of scenery, or getting away from immediate surroundings and routines, gives my soul a zing and a desire to create even a very small “something “.

  • Wow! These comments are a treasure trove! Thank you Hannah and everyone.

  • Your paintings are beautiful- love the orange with butterfly – lovely. And I love you’re heart shaped rocks.
    I do not know what to say about grief. Sometimes it is just a search for joy and to embrace the hell out of it when we find it.

    • Yes.

  • Your work is lovely. And that dark abstract—my favorite—looks very knit-able!

  • Such a beautiful post. Thank you Hannah!

  • Spending time with young children. Their view of the world is inspiring.

  • My daughter died on June 17, 2022 at the age of 28 due to long COVID, She was and still is my everything, just in a different way. My yarn stash is filled with skeins of yarn we bought together with the intent of it being a special something for her. I did keep knitting but that joy wasn’t there. I’m slowly learning to live with grief. Grief shows up when it wants to and let’s you know it will never end. She was my spark.

    My spark come from doing the things she loved. I have also knitted various items and sent them to her friends.

    Thank you for sharing your journey

  • Trying a new technique or medium always gets my creativity flowing.

  • So sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Grief is really tricky to navigate. The Japanese have a lovely word for forest bathing, shinrin-yoku. They have recognized the importance of nature in our lives and its restorative / healing powers. I love a good walk … especially in the woods or on the beach. Food for the soul. May you continue to find solace and inspiration in your journey of big and little sparks.

  • My sparks are the letters from my pen pal of 50+ years! We cheer each other on in our craft pursuits, comfort each other in times of stress or loss, encourage each other and in general – are the teens we were when we first met in high school. Our paths have diverged (worldwide, in fact) but our hearts remain close.

  • A beach walk with my dog is one of my favorite balms—-the beauty, his energy, sea, sky, birds.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. With grief it is often difficult to get through the day, Finding joy in something or someone each day helps ease that grief

  • What sparks me?
    Darn good question.
    A sunny morning? The wind on my face? The dogs chasing the chickens?
    Maybe the scent of the plum trees in blossom and I wonder if this is what heaven must smell like.
    I don’t know really. I’m sparked when I’m sparked.

    Sorry for your loss. What a sad year you’ve had.

  • Long walks in the woods with my Golden Retriever. Only after the first good freeze. No snakes!

  • I’m working on a stranded colorwork yoke sweater. Seeing the pattern develop gives me a spark. For years I knit every day. With extra responsibility of taking care of my aging parents, I was too tired or busy to do that. Now I knit every week at least. It’s the best I can do.

  • Getting out in nature is restorative. And I’ve learned to give myself grace to grieve, and to recognize that eventually the grief will ease and the warm memories will remain.

  • Seeing other people’s work, hearing (or reading) about their journeys — the good, the bad, and the ugly — are all inspiring to me. Most inspiring at the moment is the documentary series, Craft in America.

  • First, Hannah, thank you for sharing your journey. I’m so sorry for your loss. It is a moody story, but the journey is important. Second, if you haven’t already, download the Merlin app. It is Shazam for birds and changed the way I walk in nature.

    For me being near water brings my spark back. If I’m nowhere near water I find that walking in nature helps. It certainly helped me in the dark days of the pandemic.

  • Our back porch faces west, where I love to sit and drink my tea on summer mornings, when I don’t have an early start to my workday. I love listening to the birds and seeing the sun shining on the landscape around me.

  • I am so sorry for your loss… I set aside my love of cross stitch for too many years because of the passing of two friends – one who owned my favorite needlework store and the other who owned a frame shop I’ve recently picked up this craft again because I befriended a young woman who I am teaching how to cross stitch. Now I wish there were more hours in the day to stitch & knit!

  • A good night’s sleep

  • I am motivated by seeing the things my coworkers and acquaintances create!

  • An early morning walk with my little dog in the neighborhood each season brings change to the senses!

  • Walking is my spark !!

  • Sometimes letting my brain focus on something else. With knitting I can search Ravelry for hours but I often feel more inspired after pivoting to another task (work, laundry) and coming back to my idea later.

  • Sitting by myself near water that is showing off its energy and power … but I haven’t had a chance to do that very much lately, so my tiny little ember needs feeding. The harp sits quietly in the corner waiting. The bins of yarn don’t produce quite the right color or weight or amount. New projects are quickly abandoned. BUT. It is there. I can feel it deep down.

  • If I knew what brings the spark back, I’d be able to do it reliably each time. When it comes to grief there’s no rushing it, and that’s natural and normal.

  • Nature is definitely a motivator, but also (as someone without the gift of vision when it comes to design) seeing something I want to knit and finding just the right yarn!

  • A beautiful post, Hannah. The healing balm of nature works its magic quietly and subtlety.
    May we always be open to this free gift.
    Very sorry for your loss.

  • Reading helps – and sometimes, just making a bad start. This isn’t usually true for knitting, but for other projects, especially writing and art, it helps.

    • PS: Your paintings are stunning. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Music, walking, knitting and watching the birds gives me inspiration. Most of all, a new knitting book with luscious patterns.

  • I always feel reenergized after I go somewhere new. It could be a week in a foreign country or an afternoon downtown. I spend a little time away from home, away from my environment. (Work does not count!) When I get home everything feels fresh.

  • What sparks me? I am a process knitter. I get excited when ever I see a new stitch, a new yarn, a project that is different, requires thought and concentration. I knit sparks because I love it! I have a large collection of WIPs!

  • Sitting outside in nature and listening to the birds . A few moments in the sun rejuvenates me. Other times walking into a well stocked yarn or fabric department seeing all the colors inspires me.

  • When my mom passed, I missed talking with her. She was go-to sounding board. One thing I did that helped me feel and process my grief, was writing letters to her in a journal. It was my safe space to feel. Life for me at that time was dim. I sought joy wherever I could.
    For my sparks of creativity, they find me. I might be looking on Ravelry, read an e-newsletter, see a beautiful yarn that I think I cannot live without, or see a garment a person is wearing while out and about, and ideas then flow.
    Your paintings are gorgeous—I love how you use color.

  • I am so sorry for your loss, Hannah.
    Your paintings are amazing.

  • Looking through my stash of yarn, fabric and patterns (both knitting and sewing) and figuring out which pattern suits which fabric or yarn. That usually excites me enough to get going.

  • Finding a new yarn, a very appealing, never before seen shade, or a new amazing designer, pattern, technique, book.

    Running into a puzzle: right now, why is my swatch for this lace pattern growing on the left side? I have to solve this!

    Also, wonder and amazement at the endless creativity of knitters and their work.

  • New yarn and a new pattern. Or just a new pattern. I get excited to stash dive and I always feel good when I use something I have already rather than buying new. No matter how many WIPs I have, a new project idea is always exciting.

  • Watching the ever changing light and shadows shifting on the mountains.

  • I wash a window — inside and outside. Clear the window sill. Bring out the ladders, spray, cotton polishing cloths. Wash, iron, and rehang the curtain. All that exercise is good, and the result — a sparkling vision of the world outside — is priceless.

  • The paintings are so evocative! Sparks come to me from friendly interactions, especially from the two fiber retreats I attend yearly. Spring and fall renewal of that creative something happens.

  • Walks on the beach. Or reading about something I want to try — a pattern, a recipe or new place to travel

  • Nature inspires me, particularly when the seasons change…colorful autumn leaves, the first gentle snowfall, pale shades of green appearing in early spring, and a burst of color in summer gardens. I feel energize, but also peaceful, and ready to create.

  • The many faces of nature help me reconnect. This was a beautifully done piece, Hannah. Thank you

  • A block of unstructured time and a good night’s sleep always does the trick.

  • My informal knitting group keeps me motivated — and we meet at my house so I can’t skip a session when I’m down:)

  • I’m a painter, as well as a knitter. Walks in nature are a real reset for me, plus finding the right, inspiring subject matter for that painting moment. Sometimes nothing seems right, and it’s a struggle to find that right subject. Then, I just paint something. Other times, it just clicks, and you get that flow going. It’s the same with knitting for me.

  • New life gets me going in the hopes it will follow that child around into adulthood and when looked at will bring a smile to that child’s face.

  • I’m a big believer, when ennui hits, in letting my mind wander. At some point, as I putter around, an idea or revelation will strike and off I go. Sometimes it takes a while, but that’s ok too. Surprising things happen if I keep my mind open!

  • The changing seasons, requests from my kids or grandkids.

  • I find that when I feel overwhelmed, knitting seems to keep me calm and helps me to refocus on the important things.

  • Moments when the sun comes out really help me. Walking in my neighborhood and noticing colors all around me. Picking up an abandoned project and knitting a row or two sometimes primes the pump. Hanna, thank you for not glossing over the bumpy paths you have experienced—this post really moved me!

    • Hannah not Hanna!

  • I think of a very special person who came into my life via my daughter. A pianist who made the piano sing like nothing I have heard before. He left this earth and joined his mother. Thinking of him brings tears along with very special moments we had together. He motivates me to keep on moving despite the grief of a lost life that could have been.

  • I loved your article. I lost my knitting mojo after my mom passed away and then I lost another close friend. They were both a large part of my knitting life. I am slowly getting a bit of the spark back but it’s been a slow road. It’s helpful to hear of others going through the same thing. Thank you!

  • I slow down and reconnect with nature and myself within.
    Thank you for sharing your little sparks and stunning paintings

  • I’m sorry for your loss, Hannah, and appreciative of your honesty on what you are going through. Fall weather is one thing that motivates me. I love fall, and I get the energy to do all sorts of garden projects. I also am completely inspired by seeing a creative person’s process. Seeing how something is created gives me ideas of what is possible.

  • I LOVE Knitting For Olive patterns and this looks like a beautiful book!! Would love to own one!!

  • Each time a friend does, I head to the beach of Lake Superior a few blocks away. I gather small rocks and prices of wood in remembrance of that friend. I bring it home and place it in a place I will see it each day and remember the beautiful soul of each friend.

    • Meant “dies” not “does” and “peices” not “prices”.

  • Nature and time outside, being with people I love, especially creative people, regardless of what they create. Of course a great pattern or wonderful yarn will do it every time.

  • Gardening makes my heart sing. It relaxes me and inspires me to create.

  • I have a goal to knit every day which has helped push me. I’ve got a log cabin blanket going in my mom’s favorite colors as well as a lace project for me. When my grief gets the better of me, I knit hats for charity.

  • My Grandchildren always manage to lift my mood. I had a life changing loss and 2 yrs later I still struggle. But bit by bit, my mind is focusing again. I’m so sorry for your loss Hannah. Take the time to grieve. It’s totally fine.

  • Hannah, Thank you for such a beautiful post. My heart goes out to you in your loss. When I gather with like-minded friend who encourage me by their words and actions, I get my spark back!

  • I love your “ moody fruits” concept! Thank you for this story of difficult times and creativity.

  • To me, Sparks can be contagious – as long as I’m ready to be Sparked. When I’m ready, all I have to do is see what others are creating.

  • When it comes to knitting inspiration, purchasing luscious new skeins of yarn does the trick for me all the time!

  • 2 things ignite my spark. One is a (very rare) combination of a chunk of free time (I repeat, EXCEEDINGLY rare), usually found in a retreat to the cottage, and a new project waiting to go. It can be a new adventure to learn or a new project in an old & familiar enterprise but the novel combo of time and newness get me going. 2ndly, I’ve got to admit, sheepishly, that as a lifelong procrastinator par excellence there’s nothing that sparks me out of stagnating lethargy or overwhelmed paralysis like a deadline!

  • Condolences on your loss. It’s clear you loved your friend deeply.

    A painter I know refers to the fallow times as “composting.” It’s the artistic version of the time during which all that organic kitchen and garden waste turns into the black gold that nourishes future gardens.

  • A walk usually does it for me, taking the time to wander and look.

    • After a quick and drastic downsizing and a cross-country move five years ago, my current stash consists mostly of odds and ends of yarn that other knitters have given me. I get a spark from picking something out of this stash and figuring out what could be made from that weight and amount of yarn.

  • When I lost my Mom just before Mother’s Day a number of years ago, I really felt untethered. It was a major blow to my sense of self (I now was an orphan, albeit an older one). Walks with my dog that spring and summer, looking at yards bursting with blooms, gave me solace and helped me regain a part of my spark but not all. I find joy and comfort in my memories of her and each time a tiny spark ignites.

  • The beginning of the change of seasons inspires me, especially fall into winter and winter into spring. It sparks an energy to get busy!

  • Well I may be the “doodlers” mom but it has been a trek through this year ~ Han has always had this special spark and even though it may have dimmed for a bit..she found her way back and it makes my heart so happy. I do think she cut out a lot of the snail shells and feathers (yes there are many LOL) but is has always been the little things that catch her eye that has always amazed me…I mean who as a little kid takes a piece of clay and starts with a bird that morphs into a plane! I knew then that this spark that she owns would help her through anything. Beautiful article my little bird -keep flaming that spark-we can get a bigger house for all of your “artifacts”

  • Family, travel, walking on an empty beach

  • being in nature, watching the sky, laughing, my cat, and when i’m lucky, being beside the ocean.

  • I haven’t been able to put my finger on just what my spark is, but there are times when I just have to create something. It’s an urgent inner drive. The thing that gets in my way most often is my disorderly sewing/crafting room. If I have to stop and clean or organize before I can start a project all the spark can disappear!

  • Observing children is a no-fail spark. I remember my son being so fascinated by a caterpillar on the sidewalk when he was a kindergartner. At his Montessori school they had kids write and draw a mini story every day, and he talked about the “catepaw” that day.

    I have all his stories saved, a reminder to see the world each day with childlike eyes.

  • A walk in the mountains.

  • Walking the beach near the ocean, any weather – sunshine, grey, rain.

  • Riding my bike. My progress is often slowed by a view, a tree, the colors of something. I take pictures hoping they will spark something.

  • This is a beautiful piece.
    When grief turns to nature and “making” the bitter can become sweet in moments and treasures.
    To all who have journeys to make along the road of grief and healing take care.

  • For me I think I have to get to that low place, touch bottom and then just start making the climb back out of the well.
    I empathize with you so much having lost a younger brother in March. Right now I am drifting, but I am noticing little sparks. Life goes on…

  • I lost my brother in April. Still navigating this grief journey. Pick up my knitting. Put down my knitting. But, I have felt a little spark looking at others people’s projects and seeing their joy. It’s just a small ripple, and that’s enough for now.

  • I have found that when an activity or hobby or craft loses its spark, I simply move to a new one. For me, it’s the learning of something new that creates the spark.

  • I work with women who are pregnant and don’t have a lot. I love to make the babies booties and hats. These women inspire me to knit and be more.

  • A walk and a dip in the ocean!

  • Music, books, and looking out my window at nature.

  • Thank you for sharing your story-it helps to know that others have a similar reaction to loss.

  • Going for a long walk/run in the woods next to my home brings me back. And I do get inspiration from seeing what others are doing creatively.

  • Finding bird feathers, in unusual places, sparks me to feel inspired. I find the feathers in my car, at my doorstep and generally right in my path. I like to believe they are a heavenly sign from someone watching over me and that there are more connections between each other and the universe than we know.

  • Walking outdoors is the most helpful for me. And remembering to be patient with myself.

  • If there’s an inside joke or reference involved, I’m all in.

  • I am sorry for your loss.
    Right now having time is my biggest motivator. I just retired and am so looking forward to restarting a few of those things I have put aside for too long.

  • Travel, random conversations with strangers, visiting museums near and far. It can take a bit to reset after a loss, and we each come to our place of acceptance, or less raw grief. But go on we must. Wishing you peace.

  • It sounds odd, but this time of year and the fact that there is no time to do anything just for me. It makes me search and plan for when I will have time just for me.

  • Looking at patterns and colors always light the creative spark in me.

  • I have a suet feeder outside a prominent window. The antics of the seasonal waves of birds and of my two cats watching from inside my window can usually elevate my mood.

  • wonderful – exactly what i needed to hear today. And I love the “feelie” paintings.

  • I tend to clean up my stash when I’m stuck. After a few weeks of sorting and rediscovering what I already have I usually dive into something that I hadn’t realized I even had anymore, a different pattern with a yarn I obviously loved at one time enough to buy a sweaters worth of. I usually end up with a whole new batch of books and skeins by my favorite chair.

  • A walk. Could be a walk anywhere. Something is sure to grab my attention and inspire!

  • Like others, being outside. Walking, spending time with my horses, watching the cats play outside, gardening, general putsing about always helps. If I can’t get outside, upbeat music helps a lot too!

  • Like Hannah, I’ve been finding lots of little sparks on a journey to try and reclaim my joy in my vocation as a physician trying to survive and thrive in the Medical Industrial Complex. I get frustrated when I consider my lack of progress during the extended leave I am taking but she reminds me that the small is not only beautiful but crucial. Thank you, Hannah.

  • I take a walk, even if I only have time to go down my driveway. We have an un-improved lot along the driveway and the wild brush, trees, mud, wrens, and sparrows lift my heart. Right now the hawthorne trees have berries and it thrills me to see the cedar waxwings on the berries.

  • Coming off of covid and now a possible long covid diagnosis, I didn’t/couldn’t knit for quite a while. Now I’ve found the easiest possible baby blanket pattern to send to Teeny Tears.

  • I find inspiration in many places. Sometimes just watching a video or reading about other artists and their process can be enlightening. Even if their art form is something you don’t find appealing. I recently read the book by Rick Rubins “The Creative Act: a way of being”. It was very insightful.

  • I, too, knit slowly, mindfully, and meditatively. I find that inspiration comes most often after a good night of sleep!

  • A lovely reminder about life’s highs and lows. Thank you. Some times when my spark fades I remind myself of my gratitude for the life fate, luck and work have helped me build.

  • Thank you for a lovely piece. What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. I imagine your nature relics as creating a continuing bond between the two of you even as they serve as a source of healing. I wish you blessings of peace.

  • A walk in nature and a good meditation practice help me reconnect to inspiration

  • Random thoughts that inspire me in life, art and knitting. Unfortunately, I don’t know when and where they will strike – so I am at the whim of my “muse.”

  • I’m also having trouble finding my spark after 4 eye surgeries. Successful but I still don’t see as well as I did before. It interferes with my knitting and other
    “Hand” or close work some.

  • Hannah, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it can be to find the spark again. I’m in search too. Like you, I’m paying closer attention to the world around me. My growing collections are white feathers and hearts in various forms. Take care of yourself. ❤

  • Please be aware of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits collecting/keeping of feathers of migratory birds, in almost all cases. An artist friend had quite the legal (mis)adventure because she was unaware of this.
    Now, to answer the question: usually doing something for someone else. Charity knitting, especially hats for the “homeless” kits a friend’s church puts together, makes me focus but allows my mind to wander across the many blessings that I do enjoy and then to how I might make this particular hat unique for the person who will someday wear it. Same yarn, maybe four hats…all unique: it’s a manageable challenge.

  • We all do what we need to do, and can say we are lucky if we are indeed able.
    Hold onto the happy memories.

  • For me, it is all about changing my scenery, pushing out of the routine. When things start to feel dull and unexceptional, I take a moment–or a few days, when possible!–to go a different path. A different sidewalk, workout, way to get home, type of book, time of day. It usually provides the spark needed to recharge my brain.

  • Hiking does it for me…woods or beaches. And spotting birds that I actually recognize along the way is a bonus.

  • Chatting with my sister or my daughters and spending time with creative people always sparks desire to create in me.

  • Starting a new project to learn something new, whether it’s knitting (lace currently), crocheting, or learning embroidery and visible mending (fern stitch, yay!), always sparks joy and a want to do more. And sometimes I even finish some old projects. I have a terrible habit of startitis.

  • So many things are sparking me just now that it’s hard to pick just one. But I will say that I found huge, mega-inspiration from a recent yarn crawl to 11 stores in 3 days where I met loads of wonderful people, squooshed a lot of wonderful yarn, and came home with enough yarn for a year of knitting. Yarn Bliss!

  • I wish you continued strength and courage for this difficult time.

    For getting some spark restored, I look at craft books, patterns in my Ravelry library, go to art museums and/or craft exhibits. People are so clever; I find it inspiring.

  • Sometimes the spark is hearing a loved one comment, “Oh, you could totally make that!” and the smile my heart smiles upon hearing the confidence and pride in that affirmation. The making of a meal, the knitting of a sweater, the mending of a sock or the drawing of a picture….it’s what hands can make that spark the joy in the sharing of these gifts.

  • I lose interest in knitting during times of loss and stress. I don’t worry about it now because I recognize the pattern. Eventually I start to think about knitting again — sort of, and I go to my bin of beautiful cotton fingering yarn and start a dishcloth. It takes a little while to finish but it’s usually enough to get me going again. Sometimes it takes two dishcloths.

  • Thank you for sharing.

  • I feel a spark outside watching the bird feeder and feeling the sun

  • What beautiful paintings…the colors, nuances, shapes, and the layers.

    Every day has a gift.
    I usually find mine in Nature.


  • Thank you for sharing your story. You give me hope.
    My beloved husband died 5 years ago and my spark went out.
    I’m still trying to finish a sweater for a grandson.
    I carry it with me to the craft group I’m part of. And don’t knit a stitch.
    Some day.

  • Surprisingly my pet feral cat whom I rescued from the street has been my salvation in many a sad and difficult time. Without my bidding
    She’ll seek me out and come to my side staying with me until my mood lifts. She’s extraordinary.

  • thank you, thank you, thank you. your story could be my story in that i’m trying desperately to re-ignite my spark. i’m so happy you were able to do that for yourself and it gives me hope that i can do it too, in spite of the state of the world today. so again i say, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • p.s. and i love your paintings

  • This is going to sound SO brown-nosy, but your blog sparks me much more than almost anything else knitting. There always seems to be a perspective, in idea, a rant or a hoot that makes me want to pick up the next knitting thing.

  • I was thinking about this recently and realized it is cleaning and tidying my workspace. At least it hasn’t failed me yet…

  • Many hours spent on Ravelry! But lately, enjoying more inspiration from nature, easy to do know as the seasons shift and the colors change here in Michigan.
    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Being close to finishing a project, sewing or knitting. Knowing the recipient will get to wear the item I made for them, and I’ll get to enjoy watching them move through their world with my love for them showing as a tangible object.

  • A changing of seasons, appreciating all the differences.

  • I am also struggling to relocate my “spark”. I am trying a few different things and to do so with freedom from any perceived failures. This has happened before and likely will again, as frustrating as it is to be in the middle of this particular void. Hope springs eternal!

  • The seasons. I love the colors of fall and can see in my mind’s eye all the wonderful colors of hand dyed yarn – I’m not a dyer. The beginning of winter – I love to watch snow fall — big fat fluffy flakes. Spring – new beginnings — roaming nurseries looking for the perfect bedding plants (even if tho planting pots and beds with annuals that require attention isn’t currently an option — it will be again one day). Summer – the shade, the breezes and the smell of summer roses.

  • Working in my garden. Getting my hands in the dirt always makes things clearer for me.

  • Good question. I sustained a pathological hip fracture in May/June of 2021. It gradually was getting better, but then turned into a bone on bone situation, keeping me homebound and out of work. Knitting has generally kept me going. I am inspired by knitters and crafters who I see on social media.

  • I always start a new knitting project on the New Year (and sometimes on the first day of school, even though I am a long time past being an enrolled student).

  • Hannah,

    My sympathies for your loss. I lost my brother unexpectedly 10 years ago. How did I get the big spark back? I cried, a lot, and I raised my children, and I think of him often. I miss him, but I journaled my feelings, I continued to do the things I’d done with him and missed him, and I continued to move forward with my life. Now, ten years on, I still miss him, but the spark of creativity is back. Is it the same? No, it’s been changed by loss and sorrow, but also by joy and life. Time is the best healer, and the process can’t be rushed.
    Best of luck to you on your journey through life.

  • Hannah – thank you for sharing your journey. I found my heart and head wandering to grief that I have left uncharted. I know better – I am a hospice professional but I am a human too. So I have an unfinished knitted bear – my dad passed away while I was taking the class for it. I say he is in timeout in my stash bin. I have joyously started and completed many knitting projects while he sits there. I will take your honestly shared experience and know that the time will come when he comes out and gets his legs. Thank you!

  • I unexpectedly lost a close friend a few months before the pandemic. We had euthanized our elderly dog a few weeks before so two beloved presences went dark almost simultaneously. Life was dim and sparkless. To help, we decided to get a dog and ended up with an insanely reactive, under-socialized rescue dog – sweet natured but completely out of control and with no aptitude for self-control. Keeping him safe and trying to set him up for success in life took me out of myself for many many months, and that got me through both the worst year of the pandemic and the paralyzing part of my grief. By the time I realized Flint & I were going to make it my spark was back.

  • A chance comment from a friend or family member, a change in the weather, a new group of enthusiastic 4th graders in the school knitting group I mentor, finding a skein of yarn or some fabric in my stash that I’d forgotten about and realizing how perfectly it would go with that new yarn or pattern I just got, drinking tea at the kitchen table with a mindless project and watching the antics of the bird feeder bunch on my deck (a huge variety of birds, squirrels, raccoons, the occasional deer, bees, the neighbor’s cat- luckily he wears a bell to warn the birds).

  • What a lovely story to share. I like to reset with a warm beverage and a good fantasy book.

  • Getting outside by myself and moving, breathing fresh air. Also, sitting in the sauna. Silence.

  • I, too, am in a grieving period. My man friend is simply moving away. I will miss our meals and evenings together. This is no tragic loss such as Hannah is experiencing. But little losses need to be addressed.
    I am a watercolor painter. I’m struggling to get on with my favorite pastime. My studio is ready with a drawing of my next painting. I just haven’t the energy to start.
    This will pass and I’ll be okay. Soon. Thank you for sharing, Hannah.

  • Getting outside of my routine and doing something unexpected. Visiting new museum, taking a walk down a new street with the dog. A change of scenery does wonders!

  • Creativity is sparked in me by love – of friends, of color, of texture, etc. It is a joy to match up things I can make with quality ingredients with people I love.

  • Sadness is hard. Getting out and walking in gardens, parks, planting in the garden, traveling , walking along the shore, spending time with people whom are very dear. These are my sparks to getting through rough times

  • I am inspired by travel.

  • A new season always sparks me to begin again. Each season has its own set of special things to look forward to.

  • Thanx, I needed that

  • Hannah, keep painting! your work is beautiful. Nature brings so much peace and healing to the soul. You go girl!

  • I have to just start DOING it (ie knitting) instead of THINKING about it. That’s what works for me. 🙂

  • Walking my dog always refreshes and sparks!

  • I like finding new patterns that spark my imagination and interest. Sources can be Ravelry, knitting publications, designer/yarn company emails/blog posts, or Instagram. My yarn stash can motivate a pattern or project choice too. Every member of my family has a handknit that I’ve imagined matches their personality or style. A great pattern or beautiful skeins of yarn keeps my needles busy. Olive Knits is a favorite. I would love to win this publication!

  • To reset – a long walk in the mountains near my house during the day, or moving my body to the flow of music after dark.

  • Being in nature helps me. And I want to recommend the Tennessee Ornithological Society to you; you’ll be in the Nashville chapter, which hosts bird walks at Radnor, four Wednesday mornings in the spring and four in the fall, during migration (as well as the other important work they do).

  • A walk in the woods almost always sparks my creativity. There is something new every season. All you have to do is pay attention.

  • These days I am having a little trouble finding my spark- like many others no doubt. What helps- connecting with a friend, being outside, swimming and hot tub at my local pool, spinning, knitting, counting my blessings.

  • When I finish a big project, that opens the door for the next one, which I had probably been thinking about while on the current project. Not enough time in the day!

  • What sparks me is just starting. Any tiny bit of work on a project instantly leads to more interest.

  • I find that being in community with other makers is really inspiring. Knit night, a festival or show, it doesn’t have to be big.

  • To get motivated / knitting: the perfect yarn! I see the yarn, then I go home and scour Ravelry for potential projects, or maybe I have a project / pattern I’ve seen and hunt and hunt until perfection in the form of yarn appears. Sometimes, though, you just need some serious down time with a book and cup of tea! A tired dog sleeping at your feet or beside you helps, or cat, or both (when they are on speaking terms).

  • Joining a zoom group of fellow knitters. We encourage and lift each other up through all the parts of life. It keeps the spark of creativity going.

  • Sometimes, when I leave home, for a weekend or perhaps a longer trip, it helps me to refresh my mind, and then I can think about what I want to have, make , or do in my own space.

  • I can agree with Casieg, that reading books by Elizabeth Zimmerman never fail to inspire me.
    Love the paintings by Hannah, especially the onion.

  • Exposure to artists and other lovers of art. It could be fiber art, architecture, visual art (your paintings being a beautiful example)—anything can spark inspiration. The final step for me is decluttering. It is impossible to channel creativity when surrounded by visual noise.

  • I am motivated by many things. I am motivated by walking outside and looking around at all the is beautiful – especially in the fall and spring. I am motivated by my young adult children who encourage me to pursue my dreams too. I am motivated by reading the successes of others and joining various communities online and in person in order to pursue my creative dreams. I am motivated by myself to try new things and try to find the joy in it all.

  • Seeing so many knitters’ beautiful sweaters at Rhinebeck and appreciating their varied color choices has inspired me to move beyond my beloved neutrals and use more color this year.

  • Travel is an instant reset for me. Destination, travel companion, and length of trip aren’t important. It’s new faces and new air that works.

  • A spark that inspires me is the smell of autumn in the Western NC mountains.

  • Very sorry about the shocking and untimely loss of your friend. Recently I attended a performance by a traditional Swiss group, and the printed program gave an English translation of one of the songs. I think it’s appropriate. It was written by Raban Pfammatter, and the title in English is Mountain Love. Here it is:

    As the sun laughed and the mountain world awoke, we looked each other in the eye.
    We felt the strength and that strength stays with us throughout our friendship for all of our lives.
    I want to thank you for the beautiful life, not for just one day.
    Look up at the mountains, at the sun and stars, they remain our biggest gifts.
    Whatever happens in life, it all continues on; nothing can take our friendship away.
    We had beautiful hours and sang a lot of songs that we will never forget.
    I want to thank you for the beautiful life, not just for one day.
    Look up at the mountains, the sun and stars are our biggest gifts.

  • This is a very loving and positive example of dealing through grief, while establishing a reachable goal for oneself that eventually will bring enjoyment of the memories of a lost friend. Hannah even managed to bring humor to her work and writing

  • I get inspired by watching fun YouTube videos. Everyone is so creative!

  • When housework really needs doing and seems overwhelming, I put on an apron and my inside shoes.
    When I need a lift in life & mood, I go outside and smell the sea or plants. I pick up small white smooth stones from the beach or dig my toe in the dirt.
    When the weather is too crappy or I’m sick or too busy, I smell a lemon. Like, scratch and sniff.

  • A lot of little things can re-set me – but as an extrovert, a big reset for me can be the chance to enjoy something with a friend. A knitting gathering, a book club meeting, a chat over coffee, etc.

  • I always feel most inspired when I am making a gift for someone else – thinking about their favorite color and how nice it would look in a scarf, or how they always have cold hands and need some new mittens. My spark comes from seeing someone else enjoying something I’ve made just for them.

  • Working with my hands inspires me. It doesn’t really matter what it is, what type of material or process. I love to see what others create and that also inspires me.

  • It is sooooo hot and sticky here-I picked up and moved to a tropical island after my hubs and two dogs died within eight months. No way can I knit wool in 90 degree weather! Look for cotton and linen!
    Treat yourself!

  • Thank you for this. I note how just showing up at the easel with or without a spark has been part of your healing. That’s what artists do.

  • Rusty tin cans, fall leaves, redish rime along the banks of Coal Creek, young aspen leaves. . . . .

  • Morning yoga

  • I don’t really have any big sparks. It’s colors or puzzles or found items. I might see a beautiful color and want something in that color, or a hat or sweater I want but want to figure out how it was made to make a version for myself, or like right now, I’m trying to see how many different things I can design out of yarn and soda can tabs. (Three, maybe four if this little idea I had at work earlier noodles out.) (A couple of decades ago, it was plastic bags. I had no money, don’t judge me.)

  • Love this. I also suggest following Emma Mitchell (silverpebble) as she is a great believer in little sparks.

  • To come right down to it: a good night’s sleep!
    With that I’m ready for anything.

  • It’s my swim in the morning. It kick-starts my day. And my morning exercise routine. I am a couch potato who discovered the benefits of movement later in life!

  • Accepting that Sparks come in rhythm. Daily walks on the beach or path. Practicing a gratitude point of view with calm moments of reflection.

  • Walking, and looking at plants (trees, flowers, weeds growing through the tarmac… All of it). I set myself a challenge during early lockdown to see if I could spot 100 different wild flowers that year. I did, and it forced me to take a different perspective (literally- sometimes the only difference between a beautiful flower and an unwanted weed is a matter of scale, and you have to get close to see the beauty of it).

  • Being outside, the varying landscape…varying with the season. The smells and sounds. They’re a good reset button.

  • The sound of the ocean, passing dolphins and the sun on my face.

  • Restarts seem to be about others and my lack of focus.It usually is around gathering items or a new project. First the project, then the yarn, especially the yarn; any other accoutrements, the needles, hooks, spacers/counters. Each piece is the part of the journey. The yarn softness, smoothness, tension. Knitting/crocheting help me focus. The rhythm of the work in progress, the feel of the yarn helps the other parts of my brain to process what other issues are in the way that have stymied progress. Whether life encounters, sadness, work or just simply boredom are the issue. Once the rhythm of the knitting is established and I’m focused, the other part of my consciousness are able to process the inner sorrow, lose, hurts, real or perceived, other conundrums. Some peace ensues; some “brain work” takes over, inner peace returns and I have a lovely item to show or give to someone who might need the gift to know they are cherished. It helps me to refresh and make someone else smile and feel loved.

  • A good night’s sleep, waking up before everyone else in my home and freshly brewed coffee.

  • Foggy mornings and low tide on the rocky beach down the block. Muted colors and quiet waves and the sense of the ocean’s mystery. Bonus if I come home with a handful of misty sea glass.

  • There’s magic in REST. Real rest, where you take the time (a day? a week? a year?) to not place demands on your creative energy. Something WILL bubble up to the surface and it will be what you need to do.

  • Thank you for sharing your inspirations and how it has helped you move forward.

  • Though not always possible, an early morning swim helps.

  • I like going to my lys on Tuesday’s to get some inspiration each week!

  • My spark, especially for new knitting projects, is watching my family, & imagining colors & silhouettes that I could surround them with.

  • Reviewing Vogue Runway and Ravelry too patterns provide me with inspiration to get going

  • Taking pictures inspires me.

  • Looking at my yarn stash, it’s huge.

  • For me it might be a photograph, a painting, a piece of music or a sound. Sometimes I just hop on Ravelry and wander around.

  • I get motivated when I tell myself that I am indeed worth my own effort and believe it for enough minutes to get myself off the couch

  • My Spark gets its warmth when I see other people. I have become a loner, but find my sparkle ✨ when I meet up – for yoga for coffee for wine – and talk and feel.

  • Inspiration is all around. About a year ago, I found a local knitting group that meets once a month. It is a wonderful, talented group and I always leave feeling very inspired and motivated.

  • The knitting community of generous, talented creators from around the world provides my spark and inspires me to “try my hand”. My stash and the endless possibilities of yarn I haven’t (yet) bought act as “the match”. Thanks to you all for being.

  • Such a good question!
    Slowing down
    Making some space in the day to walk outdoors by the river, in a garden, with children.
    Just saying yes
    And reaching out

  • I look at projects on Ravelry or websites such as MDK.

  • Being silent in an outside space while acknowledging those held only in my heart has helped me to slowly recover from grief. This after a lot of “thrashing around”!

  • Reading Snippets every Saturday morning helps me keep my spark alive.

  • For me it’s the first walk of the morning with my dog. I am so blessed to see the day start with a magnificent sunrise. We return home and I am ready to start the day!

  • Life is so hard and fast and overwhelming at times. So I started slowing down and trying to capture glimmers of hope and joy. Sometimes it is a mundane object or a passing moment of sunshine that hits the trees just right on a walk but the glimmer of joy in that moment is what I like to capture in a photo. Then you can look back during those really hard moments and see joy. Possibly feel it again and know you will get through it.

  • Quiet times and travel.

  • MDK has always inspired me; since its earliest days of the blog. Ravelry inspires, going on retreats and taking classes; seeing the infinite possibilities when interpreting a pattern; learning a new craft (quilting) to add to knitting brings new friends and new sparks.

  • This was a lovely piece. And deeply reassuring to know that it’s not just me. This happens to us all at different times and seasons in our lives. Thank you for sharing that with all of us. I feel like my soul just sighed in relief to know there’s nothing permanently wrong, it will come back, I’ll keep breathing in and out and taking walks and trying, and be patient. It will come back.

  • Sunshine. It’s been rare here in the Midwest lately.

  • Walking the river path and realizing the beauty of autumn. It got me started back to knitting.

  • Like you, I find solace and inspiration while taking long hikes. I cherish each step that leads me to my knitting practice.

  • Thank you for sharing your recent journey through difficult times. All of your experiences will make you ams your art richer, deeper, and more meaningful.

  • reading the honest, heart-felt, vulnerable journey which Hannah shares provides the Spark….daily, in small doses.
    thank you Hannah

  • I am sorry for the loss of your friend. That’s a hard one. To regain motivation, I cake up yarn, get out in the woods, meditate, or move my body. These seem to help.

  • Thank you for sharing your journey. My father passed away almost 6 months ago and I’ve been trying to find a way out of my darkness, looking for sparks, although I did not know how to explain it until now. Thank you again.

  • It sounds completely weird to say, but I harbor an alter ego in my head. This version of me has the name “Mickey Shazam” and I see her as strong and capable. When I need the spark or faith in myself, I call on my inner “Mickey ” because she can do anything.

  • Walking, walking, walking………..through the neighborhood, along the river down the road, the mountains when we can get away……….simply walking….

  • Hannah, your paintings gave me a spark! Usually I go to the local fabric store for my color charge. I am fortunate enough to live near Sue Spargo’s shop and, oh my, what a thrill. On a challenging day, I will say to myself “Go walk through Sue’s”. Going to the greenhouse or plant nursery works too. Right now, Ohio is in full-blown autumn. Sitting outside this morning with my coffee started my day with color and peace.

    Your Clay left us far too soon. I am so sorry for your loss. Sending you strength and solace.

  • Immersing oneself in nature is such a beautiful way to heal!

  • My grandma used to tell me, “when you feel down, clean your house!” It does work!
    My thoughts are with you, Hannah. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability.

  • Trying something new and out of my comfort zone can get me started. Being forgiving about how well it is going first time out keeps me going.

  • Walking on a nature trail

  • Oh Hannah…I’m sorry for your loss.
    Your paintings as expressions of love, loss and Hope are inspiring as is your nature collection.
    I too have grieved the loss of two dear ones a week apart last year. This week is the anniversary of those losses and sparks are hard to find….still…
    That being said, yesterday I heard the call of blue jays in the pine tree . It’s time for me to clean the front porch railing and line up their peanuts for the winter morning feeds. Last year I ignored their calls. Not this year…Could they be my spark?

  • Thank you for not glossing over the grief. I lost my Mom in March this year after a long road with dementia. Yesterday was my first birthday without her. Her birthday is next Tuesday. I am trying to lean into loving big and deep to temper the grief.

  • I fight with depression and that can snuff out any sparks. This last year was the worst with so many things out of my control including a broken leg, illness, a family member with dementia… I finally quit my toxic job and discovered—it wasn’t me, it was them! A change of scenery can help. It doesn’t have to be a job change, it can be getting outside and watching the chickens or knitting in the park.

  • Thank you. I lost someone I spent 40 years with 9 months ago. I couldn’t knit for a long time. I am finding healing in nature, too. Hiking, walking, my hammock. I love what someone’s therapist said about grief making love easier.
    Again thank you for sharing. It makes grieving easier when we share the story

  • Casting on a new project with one of my favorite skeins of yarn.

  • Hikes with my sisters with chocolates in our pockets and crazy bike rides in the rain help when my heart is heavy, and has done so for oh so many years. Sometimes curling up on my couch with a cup of tea to watch Tony Soprano work through his complicated life is all I can do. I hope and wish everyone peace within their hearts.

  • Sometimes just stepping back for a week or two helps to recharge. I’ll often read or do a different hobby

  • something colorful–always! and maybe some coffee.

  • Season changes mark my spark most of the time. But I lost my knitting spark several years ago. I had the privilege of a beautiful stash and comprehensive needle collection. But I was exhausted and burnt out. The things that I’ve always loved about knitting were the way knowledge and experience blend with learning and growth (I couldn’t have told you that then). But marriage, two additional children, and a full time career just made the challenge part seem impossible and the more rote and memorizable parts meaningless. I couldn’t get excited about anything except the occasional ball band dish cloth.

    I sold off stash and dove into gardening, something I could do while little ones played outside.

    But as they grew and a little more margin crept in (at least occasionally), I started to crave the challenges again.

  • Your collection reminds me of the book, “Where the Crawdads Sing.” I look to nature and music. Taking a walk in nature listening to Mozart. It is uplifting.

  • I empathize your loss. I lost my mother about 8 months ago. I went home at the other side of the world to bury her. Days after her funeral, me and my sisters started the task of sorting through mom’s belongings. Her room was practically a museum.. war-time coins, a prayer book from my grandmother purchased just after WWII, among others. The three things that we found that started all these knitting and crocheting obsessions of mine were 2 tubs full of crocheted table cloths which my grandmother made, an unfinished crochet table cloth which my grandmother started, and 6 sheets of paper written by grandmother of a crochet pattern.

    Our custom is to wear mourning clothes. We have the option to wear for 6 months or for a year. I opted to wear blacks for a year. But I only have a few of those. On my first week back to the US, I went to attend Sunday services. It was so cold inside the church that I decided I must crochet a black wrap.
    Well, it didn’t happen. All the patterns that I found were either too complex for me to do or they did not appeal to me. I found a shawl pattern with very beautiful colors of the Taj Mahal. The problem was, it is a knitting pattern…and I don’t know how to knit. And so commenced the trips to Barnes and Noble for knitting books, to the craft stores for knitting needles and yarn, endless search through the internet for more knitting books, more yarn, knitting needles. I ended up with 3 tubs of yarns, 2 sets of circular needles, all sorts of notions, online knitting classes that I can barely keep up with. I acquired knitting books with lovely patterns of shawls. And have not started knitting mine yet. There is still the need to learn to knit lace, and I am barely out learning from the basics.
    By the time my mother’s first death anniversary rolls around, that shawl that I wanted to knit will still not be done unless I have a month off from work just to knit. But then that Taj Mahal pattern awaits…

  • I finally got my spark back while knitting a sweater for my husband. Now I’m making mitts with a friend, a baby sweater for my grand niece born in September, and a pair of socks for my hubby.

  • Thank you for sharing, Hannah, and to all who’ve commented. Reading posts like this and all the comments is spark inducing. When I need a spark, I enjoy a long walk hunting for beach glass on the shores of Lake Michigan. The various moods of the lake, sunshine or clouds, the focus of the hunt, all take me to a different plane and spark joy.

  • I thought I was so alone grieving my loss. Your words helped me to see I’m making progress moving through!

  • Other people inspire me and light that spark!

  • Other knitters motivate me, yarn motivates me, and some undefinable switch that gets turned on and says “knitknitknitknit!” Most recently, the pending arrival of my newest grandchild got me back on the needles — same thing happened with my mom 36 years ago when I was expecting the father of this little one. She even made me a voluminous maternity sweater!

  • My reset button is a deep, hot, bubble bath, accompanied by a magazine and a beer (or even two if life has been particularly difficult). Something about emerging pink and covered in suds, and then letting it all drain away….

  • A little time in nature, taking a walk, going to a festival, sitting on the deck all really help my mood and get me inspired.

  • Feeding the Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice from my hand in a park near my house helped me through a depressive period this past year.

  • The spark returns when I start doing. If I’m unmotivated I pick up a project. Just do it. Nothing hard like lace (at least that’s not a good place for me to start). It’s a reason to have multiple things going. And settle into the rhythm of the work. Become present to the work. The beautiful yarn. The click of needles. Usually my projects are for others so I think of them as I work. And usually just starting something, even if I’m a mess when I pick it up, settles me, then the joy of creating seeps in.

  • My spark is fed by people who are genuinely kind. Those who ignore our differences and focus on our sameness (which often resolves many of the differences).

  • Being outside in nature when the weather is nice gives me that spark.

  • when i’m stuck in a rut with something that needs doing at home, i put on this quirky italian radio station out of florence (firenze) that plays a mix of italian (natch) and international english-leaning disco/pop hits from 70s-90s. it’s very peppy and motivating. there are a lot of commercials but somehow in italian, they aren’t as annoying as they’d be on american radio. it’s called radio nostalgia. see if it works for you, too.

  • My inspiration comes from my love of giving! I enjoy knitting for my friends and family.

  • Knitting with friends can inspire me. Sharing our stories and knitting adventures may make me want to try a new yarn or new pattern or explore a new yarn shop.

  • Sometimes it’s nothing more than going into a quiet room and calming my mind

  • Beautiful paintings and deeply touching story-truely inspiring.

  • I turn to reading. Books can push me into creative thinking, which pushes me toward the desire to create.

  • What sparks me? Everything. Nothing. The sparks strike when they will. I just try to be open to them and feed them when they light. Even little sparks. even sparks in things I never fancied. Suddenly I am inspired to bake a new cookie recipe. If I quash that spark, I am less likely to have tinder for the knitting spark that may follow. Demanding sparks in a certain field at a certain time is like demanding that your rose bush flower on schedule, or demanding that your child flourish in a certain way. If she doesn’t like to read but would rather build with Leggos, you may as well nurture her building designs.

  • Texture and color spark me to be creative.

  • Simply going for a walk outside. No real destination, no music buds, just walking, wandering and wonder-ing. Life resets itself.

  • There is nothing like a good stomp in the woods to restore my dimming spark.

  • Exercise – no matter how much I don’t want to, if I push through and do a spin class in the morning, my mood and subsequent day are infinitely better.

    I love the concept of “moody fruits.” They’re beautiful and very cool to see the journey from outline to finished canvas for the peach, strawberries, and lime.

  • Alone time! I need a quiet space to be creative and recharge. Not always easy to find, though!

  • For me it is some down time without a goal

  • Lots of things inspire me to knit something: the yarn, a pattern, or a picture. I see something that invokes an idea to make a sweater or a blanket. My granddaughter was singing a song A Million stars, so I knitted a sweater with lots of little stars all over it.

  • My spark these days is getting outside and drawing/painting what I see in my sketchbook. I love how it captures what I feel in that moment.

  • Sometimes, just starting helps to ignite the spark. It may be as simple as just being in my studio and doing something / anything. Often, sorting fabrics or yarn or painting color swatches will move me since color is a big love of mine. Thank you for this beautiful reminder that we do not suffer alone.

  • I feel the sparks when I go to knitting or weaving classes. It is not just what I learn from the teacher but it is the creativity of all of the other students. Being with others who are on a creative journey really charges my batteries. And it is even better if it is at a location away where I can take walks in nature.

  • The ocean. I live near the Atlantic and will just drive to a set of beach steps and look out at an entity big enough to cover and drown any problem with its rhythmic ebb and flow. Rivers work well, too, even if small. Let nature wash cares away. And if no water is available, cry salty tears and pet a cat. Then be still and gently let your problem see a different light of day.

  • Worship and a walk outside.

  • Looking through my Yarn stash, putting together skeins for imaginary projects. Even just handling the yarn, or the fiber in my Spinning stash gets me excited to get my needles moving.

  • Hiking in nature …beach hikes are my favorite!

  • I love that you shared the “real life “ journey that all of us will make at one point or another. It’s hard to put that into words. Thanks.

  • Being in nature sparks me and also reading a really good book can spark and inspire me. Thanks for your lovely tribute to your friend and vulnerability with your grieving process.

  • This was so beautiful, Hannah. I too have struggled with finding my spark, too. There have been devastating illnesses in my family and I’ve had to put my life on hold, to be a full-time caretaker. I’ve been so exhausted the prospect of just picking up my knitting needles was so daunting.
    It was strange that something that used to give me such comfort, just wasn’t there for me this time.
    Read posts like yours and inspiring articles from MDK, keep me connected to the knitting world, even if I’m not back to knitting just yet.
    I am slowly being wooed back, so thank you. I even started looking at yarn and thinking I need some Atlas in my life.
    Thank for this. I truly needed it.

  • Definitely running or walking with my dog outside, enjoying nature.

  • Although I am definitely a city girl, I have heeded the advice to go to nature. It takes me a while to actually GO but once I am on the path in a nearby nature center I am so glad to be there. Two days ago I swerved into their parking lot even though I “didn’t have time” and took a beautiful walk in the Oak Savanna area collecting acorn tops of all sizes.

  • Heading about other people’s projects that they are working on is always an inspiration for me. Even if I don’t choose the same project, just feeling their excitement is enough to drive me to work on my own projects.

  • Taking time to learn at workshops and retreats helps me to get inspired.

  • My mother would ask “how did I get so old?” I would answer with a smile “one day at a time.” That’s how I’ve approached grieving after her death. When I could look at a photo and smile, or say hi when catching a glimpse of her in my reflection, that’s when the spark began to come back. Now I knit with the old joy instead of by rote to finish a project. Grief is individual as is regaining the creative spark.

  • Love love love your fruits! Moody and tasty!

  • Getting out on the water—just in a kayak—or near it brings back the spark for me.
    I’ve never felt better than when I lived in Madison, WI, on an isthmus

  • Like so many others, nature is my spark…or at least walking in our beautiful forest lands and seeing how it changes and continues day by day.

  • What sparks me? The change of seasons and the beauty of nature. Like a million others out there I walk our sweet dog every morning and the stillness at that time of day brings such peace. The peace leaves me with motivation to accomplish not only tasks but creative endeavors.

  • Honestly there are so many amazing designers now, I love paging through Instagram and ravelry, saving things I like, and then choosing one from that saved list.

  • Such a heartfelt share of your journey with grief…thank you.

    • Thank you for sharing your journey. When my spark goes out I find someone who needs it more than I do. Then I do what I can to help them. As their spark grows, mine returns.

  • A few years ago, I started working with glass. I fuse glass, which of course needs a ķiln. And since I started in 2018, with a small kiln, by 2020, I graduated to a 15″ kiln. We have a glass studio in our basement, where my husband does flame work, making marbles. I now divide time between glass making, (which, of course makes great gifts, and I have even sold a few glass buttons at the local yarn shop), knitting, weaving, and even spinning (although my spinning skills are not good, yet). I retired in 2010, and I have no idea how I had time to make all the knitted projects I did back when I was teaching! When I work on all these projects, my focus is entirely on my work, and I put all the sadness and anxiety out of my mind and concentrate on the wonders of making art.

  • I go through a stitch dictionary, pick a stitch pattern I’ve never tried before, and start swatching. Now I’m knitting, which always feels good, trying something new, which stimulates brain cells, and creating a small piece of fabric that could turn into something marvellous.

  • I’ve finally begun a meditation practice, and I find that those minutes of mindfulness really help me to be present and distance myself from my anxious thoughts and stresses.

  • My spark most often just comes from a relaxed day out in nature, viewing the wonders of our creation.

  • My biggest sparks are reading, really immersing myself in stories. And also walking my dog someplace new in nature.

  • Usually I move on to something else that DOES spark me, and don’t push it, wish for it, fret about it or any other self-undermining behavior. I go for the flow in my whole life.

  • I get inspired by walking. Looking at all of the sights and sounds around me. Nature does it’s magic every time!

  • Sometimes nothing at all and I don’t fight it. It is a robe day. Fresh herbs, especially rosemary, often lifts my spirits but snow falling is my guarantee

  • I will probably read/reread your article over and over again. I, too, lost my BFF last year. Once in awhile, the spark flickers on, a little more often that it did.

  • Oh, Hannah, I am so sorry for your loss and so inspired by your determination to regain your creative spirit. I have long admired your use of color and design(love that wall in the shed and the washi tape). But the paintings….wow, I have no adequate words. Thank you for sharing all this.

  • My creativity is sparked by exploring Instagram. I save all kinds of posts that have caught my eye—artwork, architecture, nature, fibre arts…it all feeds my soul and sparks me to design and create.

  • Thank you for describing how you worked through grief, Hannah.

    I search Field Guides, Ravelry Favourites, new work of designers I enjoy, and pattern books for ideas. I consider the yarn in my stash…

  • My friends are my spark. When the trivia of living seems to smother my spark, I talk and visit with friends over a cup of tea and begin to think of new projects. Now, I am thinking of a winter coat for my friend’s small dog, Mohave. I have the yarn, but it has been hot and sunny, but now they clouds and rain have finally come back and the first cold front rolls thru on Monday. I hope there is enough yarn for matching fingerless mitts for my friend…… or at least an edging or row or two of pattern.

  • Meditation can reset my frozen brain. Soon the light becomes visible at the end of the tunnel. A ritual of warm tea and cozy lap sweater get me relaxed and ready to jump in.

  • The end result fuels motivation for me. To reset and feel inspired I walk, usually with my dog. Sometimes it’s to think, other times to immerse myself in nature, or whatever environment surrounds me. Lastly, to just sit, with my thoughts, longings, feelings, whatever.

  • As I read this, I am sitting in my sister’s apartment so that I can be with her as she grieves the loss of her husband following just too many years of dementia. My sister seems to be in an unemotional phase of grief where she talks about almost anything but the grief she is suffering. I am only here for the next two days before I leave for home and I’m just leaning in to her with love and support as best I can.

    Your piece is an inspiration and I hope that she can find her way to embracing the things that she previously loved to do (reading books, knitting etc) before Michael began to decline.

  • Two months after being diagnosed with cancer my husband passed away in February of 2022. We lived in VA because of his job. He was so proud of my knitting. I continued to knit for a while but after moving home to CT a year later I lost my spark. Thankfully I had signed up for a knitting retreat in September (6 months earlier). I wasn’t knitting as September approached and started doubting that I should go but I was going to be roommates with a friend from another state and didn’t want to disappoint her. Being in a space with over 100 knitters, taking classes with excellent instructors, seeing so many wonderful hand knits inspired me and my knitting mojo returned.

  • Hannah, thanks for sharing such a personal and thoughtful perspective. As for what sparks me, I find that if something’s on my mind, I feel better if I can follow up on it, so I try to put it on my list and get to it when I can. I agree that being in nature is usually soothing.

  • Most mornings my puppy Pippa and I walk the trail in the wildlife park three minutes from our house. Over the summer, we saw beautiful wildflowers some new to me and now the changing colors of leaves. The water by our side and the ducks, geese, and heron have been there every day. Our morning walks inspire and heal and move me forward toward knitting again.

  • To get motivated to do something depends on the task, but music has a lot to do with it. Could be bright, happy dance music or more somber instrumental but it seems to switch something inside my brain that gets me moving. So sorry for your loss, beautiful piece and lovely painting. Good luck with everything.

  • Year ago, when going through a difficult time, I was told to smile to myself every time I looked in a mirror. I have very few mirrors around (just 4, I counted) but whenever I pass by one I make a point to smile.

    It never fails to lift my spirits.

  • A long long walk helps!,

  • Nature helps me to reset-Listening to the birds and leaves in trees, seeing green and color all around help to quiet myself and feel ready to start again.

  • Occasionally when I need inspiration, I look through all my old knitting magazines (Rowan, Vogue, Interweave Knits, etc) that I’ve collected for years and re-imagine how I can tweak a detail or a color to make a pattern pop again. Sometimes old is new and it challenges my brain.

  • Oh Hannah. My heart aches for you and me, having lost two good friends last year and struggling with the spark. Thanks for sharing your journey and your wonderfully creative self. Nature is a balm to our wounded hearts.

  • Thank you for your beautiful post. It resonates with me. I’ve been without my spark for over a year now and am just seeing a glimmer of it now. Thank for the encouragement.

    • First, acknowledge it is OK, even normal, to occasionally lose that spark. That is usually a sign that something else needs attention. Exhausted? Stressed? Grieving? Overwhelmed? Family needing attention? Etc, etc. While taking care of the need/spark distraction I will repeat small favorite patterns. Usually for charity, and without deadline. While not truly using my “creative juices”, eventually the spark comes back

  • Your essay was lovely. My work life recently turned upside down. I am trying to find my creative spark by spending time outdoors and with family, which reminds me to appreciate all of the blessings in my life. Also inspires me to knit for my loved ones.

  • I have been struggling to find my spark recently. I traveled to stay with a friend and just feeling her creativity seemed to give me the will to create again. A few stops at quilt stores didn’t hurt either 😉

  • I let myself wallow till there are no tears left. Then I move zombie-like till I can take a deep breath and open my eyes to the space around me.

  • What sparks me to get motivated, reset, or feel inspired? Hot saunas, knitting, tending my garden, walking through the arboretum, and yes-being thrilled by all the life and beauty in my backyard yard.-especially the winged inhabitants.

  • I get inspired best at yarn festivals where I can see lovely projects knit up and view sumptuous wools.

  • A long walk through the woods by some water , listening to music and coffee with a good friend.

  • Whenever feeling down you can lose yourself in yarn projects. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • cable patterns and hand dyed yarn inspire me

  • Walking in the early morning with my pup. Brisk air and quiet companionship and surroundings.

  • Motivation needs a walk. And if a walk outside doesn’t suffice, then a time of emptying shelves, reordering, bins, and sorting into imagined projects and creative nudges.

  • Thank you for this beautiful essay. I’m sparked by observing the changing light and colors of the sky, interesting connections between words in various languages, and my materials (yarn, inks, fabric, all of it!).

  • What gets me motivated?
    It is the beauty of the world surrounding my home.I am soooo lucky to have found this perfect spot.

  • Getting in the pool;
    Coloring, ahhh, those uncomplicated days of youth;
    Reading a page, a chapter, a book from an author I find inspiring;
    Feel the feelings.

  • Lately, the announcement of another great grand baby has been my motivation! Contractions have started this morning, I’ve got to get the needles flying.

  • I am motivated when I see or hear of a particular need I can fill. It may send me on a quest for the perfect color, yarn or pattern, and generally, with a recipient in mind – thoughts/memories of the person gives me pleasure and urgency to keep going forward.

  • For finding the spark, there’s nothing like casting on a new project for me!

  • A beautiful essay. It reminds us to take in all we can everyday. To help me get my groove back, craft-wise speaking, I like to lay out my favourite yarns and threads and allow the beautiful fabrics and colours inspire me.

  • Very moving and made me think of my own journeys through grief. Both times I sat by my parents’ bedsides weeks on end, I found the need to make something simple yet meaningful as a marker of that period of time. As I made these things I used the process to reflect on them and all the values they stood for and also as a prayerful practice for their release from pain and illness. I didn’t really think this through deeply it just happened and I went with it. During my father’s illness I made a simple Kaffe Fasscet vest with lots of colorful dots. My dad was a menswear designer and master tailor and making this vest was a perfect reflection of his sense of style and color. During my mom’s last days I crocheted dozens of sachet bags and filled them with lavender from my garden. She would have loved them. Many were given to the people who cared for her. I keep the remaining ones tucked in amongst my wool garments. Each time I see these sachets and the vest they spark memories of that time but those thoughts lead me to remembrances of better times and for that I’m grateful.

  • A walk and some music can inspire

  • Oh wow. This is beautiful. When everything seems dim and distorted, I walk on the beach or in a forest, and like you, I collect evidence of the beauty in the world. I love your moody fruits and would be delighted to encounter them in a gallery.

  • Experiencing a work that is truly beautiful and then getting to hear from the maker always gives me a shot of inspiration. Finding those thumbnails of wonder from nature feeds the soul. Looking at my day through eyes of gratitude helps me reset for the next journey.

  • Getting out to the forest – regardless of the weather – is a number one for me!

  • I broke my wrist, so my current motivation is recovery. Everything, including knitting, moves at a snail’s pace but using my wrist is helping with the recovery process.

  • I love watching people and nature for inspiration, especially shapes and colors

  • Looks like an interesting knitting book!

  • After the ugly cry, just sitting and watching. Not doing, not thinking, not pushing, just being. Preferably outside where nature is the only entertainment.


  • A timely essay, as I’ve just picked up my watercolor brushes after a fifteen-month hiatus. I first began with watercolors about eight years ago, focusing on nature, landscape, and birds, and reached a reasonable degree of competency. But I became increasingly bored by the subject matter.

    What finally inspired me to try something different was watching the ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ series (a UK production streamed through Amazon Prime). The work of the artists intrigued me, and hearing about their approaches made me suddenly want to try again. Their ability to produce such high quality work in four hours seems almost magical.

    Watercolor portraits aren’t the easiest, but just getting reacquainted with the medium and learning the basic concepts of portraiture is getting me back into the habit.

    Part of the battle is just doing it. Go through the motions and relearn the habits. It becomes easier every day.

  • Your art is amazing.

    I often find my spark return when I allow myself to get well and truly bored. That is, I somehow find time to sleep more, walk more, expose myself to nature, art, reading and time to just be. Then I have the creative energy back.

  • Music does it for me, specifically singing with my Sweet Adelines chorus or church choir. Listening to a good recording of the flower duet, The Lark Ascending, kd lang’s performance of Cryin’ at Grammy award ceremony, and any number of popular songs in many genres also help.

  • In the past few years, I typically find abrupt changes in the weather, or when the change in seasons has become palpable, as ‘sparking’ for a reset or as inspirational.

  • My sister-in-law re-sparked my interest in knitting again. She learned to knit about six months ago and started asking me questions and trouble shooting with her. That led to joining her at knit nights.

  • To help reset myself after personal tragedy, I get out in nature as much as possible with long walks shared with my dog Hanna. To see her joy helps restore my own. Another thing I like to do is knit a small project: a hat, fingerless gloves, a scarf or cowl, nothing too demanding but the pattern must be interesting. The small sense of achievement is truly uplifting. I try to be philosophical, realizing that death is part of life and we all share that experience. Again, nature is instructive and consoling in this matter. Remember and enjoy the memories!

  • I watch videos of crafters to help me light the fire.

  • My inspiration for knitting comes from the colors and textures of yarns. What keeps me motivated on a project is seeing the design come to life. What helps me daily to knit is sitting down with a glass of wine or cup of tea while my sweet husband reads to me a book that we both can share together.

  • Hannah – your article reminds us all that we need to give ourselves grace when we are grieving a loss. Time can heal wounds even if it leaves behind a scar. And scars are reminders of our shared humanity. I find that peace and quiet soothe the mind and soul. Sometimes all I need to get my creativity back is a bit of rest. Other times I need music that I can boldly sing along with.

  • When I need some inspiration I peruse the Instagram posts of knitters that I admire. That usually gets me motivated.

  • Look up at the night sky. Better yet, climb up on your roof for a closer look. Watch for shooting stars.

  • A pile of old cards, a paper cutter, and my Singer Featherweight.

  • Being in nature is always healing, but when I need a spark, I head to a gallery, art museum, or another space of knowledge. That helps me to to see and learn something different and invariably puts me on a better path.

  • I find so much inspiration from going to my knitting group. My Point of View might in the doldrums but turns to delightful creativity when I see the patterns and yarns that other knitters are using! I’m back on track!!

  • I have a non curable disease, but beating the odds (13 years now). Most of my time revolves around doctors appointments. The world is so frightening now with recent events, ( no need to name all the horror and disfunction). My spark is dim, but I say to myself, “one small thing”, and try to do it. A smile for a stranger, a walk, turning off the TV, reading a favorite book, knitting as a contemplative spiritual mindset…. All can help the spark. Learning something new can really turn me around.

  • In addition to my family, I would say nature – getting outside every day and noticing the small day-to-day changes as well as the grander seasonal changes. Just last week I noticed that some lovely green leaves turned into sort of a tie-dye of green, yellow, and orange over just a few days time. I pictured creating a shawl with the colors slowly blending into one another.

  • When I’m making something for friends/relatives.

  • Gardening, birding, writing to friends & fam (there’s something satisfying as chocolate for me in writing a few words & sending a pretty card to a loved one for no particular reason except hello & I love you). Qigong class in the park or solo in my backyard! I’m over 60 now so I get to do this, is how I feel.

  • Grief and how we move through or with it is so individual. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    This time of year, I am inspired by the fall foliage. The color combinations of the leaves around my neighborhood have me dreaming of new projects. This morning’s inspiration was the combination of a deep wine red and Kelly green on a nearby tree.

  • A walk outside, and looking through my knitting books and patterns to select a new project gets me going again. Finishing a project is motivating too!

  • I am so sorry for your loss. Nature, even just getting out and about in my neighborhood, can help me find a new perspective. I also will listen to a comedy or culture podcast, particularly interviews with creative or just something silly. Best wishes on healing and may your friend’s memory be a blessing.

  • Long walks always perk me up.

  • I don’t know how to answer this question…I’ve always been able to rekindle the spark, feel some joy & move on. I started as a child with all of the crafting I could get; crocheting silly granny squares that weren’t quite square, but round. Moving onto needle crafts & cross stitching & needlepoint through marriage to a crazy man & then the divorce of starting all over. Knitting through my breast cancer diagnosis & staying with knitting all of those years after. And now…I don’t know. I found out Wed. that my second husband of 25 years has many “holes” in his brain. Sitting with Google all night, I finally realized this means he has dementia. It explains the forgotten words, the rage, the lost memories. I haven’t told him yet…haven’t told his children. I have knitting students waiting for me at the shop of my part-time job & I feel so numb I can’t think of what to say. I hope I can find my passion again & knit through this pain. If you’re reading this & thinking I’m spilling too much, I apologize. I guess I needed to get this out.

  • A walk in the woods always gives me the spark .

  • I love going to Pinterest for “sparks!”

  • What motivates me? A friendly suggestion to do a craft to donate to someone in need.

  • When I finish a project, I am inspired to look through all the other projects that I have in my stash and get started on a new one.

  • A beach walk or a good cross country ski ona crisp, cold day.

  • At one point I spray painted a labyrinth in my backyard. Walking it fixed things.

  • A visit with a close friend often gets me going again. They frequently show me their projects and joy and it encourages me to start looking for things for myself.

  • What sparks me – when I see a person in need. I knit – to fill they need.
    I live in Northern Ontario it is cold miserable cold here. Without a hat or scarf or mittens or warm socks it’s even more miserable. I like to think my effort makes it less miserable for those I knit for. I often don’t know where the items go as I hear of the need from others
    In between these gifts I knit for my pleasure.
    Thank you

  • What sparks me? Patterns that don’t totally intimidate me; wearable items that I will love and wear forever; smaller patterns that I will finish in this lifetime; and that once in a while miracle pattern that uses my stash (never happens:); patterns that improve my knitting!

  • Changes in seasons seem to help me reset and get motivated to get some stuff done. I’m grateful that I live in a place that actually has 4 seasons (although i think the “shoulder seasons” — Spring and Fall — are my favorites for making changes.)

  • Changes in seasons seem to help me reset and get motivated to get some stuff done. I’m grateful that I live in a place that actually has 4 seasons (although i think the “shoulder seasons” — Spring and Fall — are my favorites for making changes.)

  • Thinking of something to create as a gift for family and friends

  • Spending time in a beloved place or with a beloved book or — best of all — spending time in beloved place with a beloved book. If you can invite along a beloved person who is good at being quietly alone together, that is even better.

  • Who can ever know how to reckon losses or offer comfort to others…

  • I struggle with this myself quite a bit. Sometimes the right music can help. Sometimes seeing other work that I like and would like to be able to make is inspiring.

  • Time by myself often gets my creativity going.

  • Nature is the ‘big reset’ for me. I’m going through breast cancer right now and it seems a simple walk in the park while listening to the sway of the leaves, the birds chirping and flitting around, and a butterfly meandering around the flowers really can provide me a mental reset. I mean, think about it: Nature has stood the test of time. It has been here from close to the beginning. That’s a big thought if you let it be.

  • My morning meditation sparks my day. As an introvert, this quiet time draws the energy from my inner self for whatever comes up. And knitting is one of the great activities that is both energizing and consoling.

  • What inspires me creatively? Taking pictures of flowers in my local park and of my own houseplants. Walking is helpful, but there are so many different shades of green in my living room.

    Please give me this book. I am Danish myself, and I want some more of that tidy, dour, and moody Danish angst.

  • Sometimes life is just draining and I realize that it’s time to regroup and reset. What helps me is to set aside time for “nothing”: a time to “just be,” and to let go of tasks for awhile. I leave the phone and social media, and if possible I go outside to experience the light, air, and beauty of nature. If I can’t go outside then the cat and I share the recliner and I knit or sketch. Taking time to relax and think works every time.

  • My spark comes when I find the perfect yarn to knit something for someone I love.

  • I appreciate Hannah’s tiny steps back to inspiration and motivation. Sometimes the motivation takes a long timeout or a permanent one. We wonder why, but there is no shame in it. Too bad that we probably spent a wad on supplies, though. Hopefully we will be able to rehome our paintbrushes, fabrics, card stock and doodads, or yarn and needles. I feel fortunate that I still love to knit and to plan for the next project. My quilting mojo has not returned after many years. I might try Hannah’s process of tiny steps.

  • I don’t know what happened to my spark. I need to read the comments and try some different things to see if I can reignite it.

  • MORTALITY. The fact that I’ve reached stash yarn levels beyond my life expectancy, and my time (I’m only 51 but STILL) is limited. The time of petting pretty yarn and dreaming over patterns doesn’t knit that shawl, the sleeve and button band need attention so someone can wear that sweater, that baby isn’t going to stay wee and needs a new hat soonish. Looking ahead so much I’m standing still. It’s time to move.

  • Hannah, your comments touched me deeply and I am grateful for your words and your energy for healing.

  • Clouds, big stormy clouds, that’s my spark

  • Get out in nature; call a friend or family member; & pray!

  • Inspiration comes to me from the colors of the palette and from the artistic work of others. I always have to have a knitting project on my needles.

  • This is beautiful and inspiring. We all lose our spark sometimes–I coach writers so I know this all too well. I’m currently taking a creativity course in which the teacher encourages us to find our “brilliance.” And our brilliance is exactly what you talk about her–those little moments that add up to so much.

  • To remember how much I miss my knitting.

  • Painting and listening to music, mostly jazz and classical, sitting at my table playing with colour, drawing without a goal in mind.

  • I find cleaning is almost meditative and once I have a tidy space I can sit and think about what I want to create

  • Inspiration varies, most often it is strongest as I’m dreaming/planning/starting and begins to wane as I near the “finishing” details:)

  • Allowing myself space away from the pressure to create. I give myself a set amount of time to step away and if necessary come undone. Then I bring the re-entry process. It might start by looking at what others are working on or going through books and then I go to my supplies and start to sort, organize and plan. Most importantly I give myself time and grace and trust that the spark will return once I am done taking care of other matters.

  • Hearing other people’s success stories always gets me motivated & inspired.

  • Thank you for sharing your journey. It takes time and being out in nature is so helpful. Finding that spark is tough. I guess I’ve found mine being amongst others and seeing their work.

  • Every down time requires a different spark. Some little, some big.

  • Taking a pause in the day-to-day helps me open and expand. Reminds me… “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

  • I have enjoyed this site and have learned some handy things to know(help with Intarsia). Look forward to every week’s latest news!

  • Losing a close family member or friend is hard. As my mom laid in the ICU at death’s door, I had my knitting with me but didn’t have the mind space to knit. Four days after she died, my first grandchild was born BUT my daughter suffered trauma and my son-in-law got seriously ill. So I went from caring for my mother to caring for three people who all needed my attention. It took so much effort to finish a test knit I had committed to when life wasn’t so complicated. It’s now nine months later and I’m beginning to make things again. I haven’t designed anything yet — not ready for the focus needed to accomplish such a task. I totally agree with what you wrote and wish you well on your road towards finding the Big Spark again. ❤️

  • Knitting Spark for me sometimes comes in the form of a challenge (trying something new or difficult), sometimes in the form of color (I’m drawn to certain colors at certain times–right now it’s the color of burned gold), sometimes in the form of something familiar (my standard, memorized plain vanilla sock for example where I don’t have to think, I just get lost in the zen of it all).

  • Looking out my back picture window, sipping a cup of tea, and watching the birds and squirrels, always gets me motivated for my day.

  • The fall, resets me, the beauty of things falling and being able to collect them and bring them inside to keep me close to the earth, to nature.

  • Hannah, I’m sorry for your loss. And for all the losses shared in the comments. May you all find comfort and support in your grieving.

    Both walking in nature and other people’s art get me going creatively. Since I was a child, long walks helped me process my thoughts and feelings and generate new ideas, especially in the woods or along the shore. And seeing all kinds of art and noticing what draws my eye leads me to my own vision and creativity. This includes performance as well as objects.

  • Nature, art and human connection — in varying doses, depending on the day.

    But in general, all in abundance, and at least a little bit of each every single day.

    These three elements are like oxygen to the spark that flickers in me.

  • While nature calms and grounds me, it is often people who inspire and motivate me. Like my friend Sandy, who at 84 does not shy away from involved recipes, new painting techniques or challenging knitting patterns. She has a refreshing “I can do that” attitude.

  • To find inspiration and spark, I sometimes have to stop looking for it and go do something else. Then I will discover my curiosity for all things textile emerge in an unplanned moment when something I encounter—a blog, an object, a story on the radio—catches the pilot light that is always burning, however dimly. Under the right conditions, a larger flame can emerge and cast warmth. But between those warm times are some very quiet ones.

  • Creativity. Whether it’s soneone’s knitting, beautiful landscapes, home design, architecture, etc. Any kind of creativity is amazing and inspiring.

  • I am grateful for your essay. Your experience with grief and your journey back to your Spark has given me hope that we can find our voice again when it’s been muffled by life. Can’t really put into words how this has soothed my heart. Thank you. And your work is beautiful!

  • A walk on the beach or another beautiful spot in nature usually does the trick.

  • Looking on Instagram and Ravelry at all the beautiful projects other people have made. Staring out over the landscape while driving in the countryside – sky, trees, fields, clouds, seeing how the colors change as the light changes and the seasons turn. Noticing how colors in nature complement each other. When I’m stuck, finding an exceptional skein of yarn can help me find motivation to get a new project going. Changing the scenery, getting out of the house, learning new skills, KALs.

  • I am very moved by your comments. As I have aged, I realize I am frequently without a Spark. You are wise to learn early on that we must work hard to get it back..It doesn’t just come looking for you!

    By the way I love your paintings. Where might I buy one? Thanks and keep sparkling!

  • I get inspired. mostly by browsing through my favorite crochet or knit designers’ patterns on Ravelry. The problem with all that browsing is that I can lose track of time and then I find no time to actually do the project. Note to Self: Must find some other way to get inspired.

  • Creative sparks come sometimes when I am talking or working with other crafters, or visiting fiber festivals, and sometimes when I walk the dog, seeing her smelling the smells like it’s all new for her.

  • It used to be a long run- preferably in chilly, rainy weather. But, now I’m older with too many body parts that will no longer cooperate for that, so I struggle to find acceptance. Working toward that acceptance of living in the day, enjoying the wonder of nature, acknowledging that nothing is forever ….those help me reset.

    Your paintings are special. Thank you for sharing those and your journey.

  • I find that knit-alongs both inspire and motivate me!

  • What stuck with me most in this was the phrase “I showed up” — such an important reminder to do the thing even if you can’t do it well or the way you want. Just show up. Keep showing up. Also your paintings are beautiful and that photo in the park is gorgeous! May I ask where it is? My daughter moved to Nashville last year and she loves it there and I think we need to go hiking there the next time I visit.

  • Being in, and appreciating the beauty in nature, especially with a hike or walk in the woods. Wishing you well Hannah, thank you for sharing your story. Lots of wonderful comments here as well.

  • Seeing other people’s creativity and passion.

  • The moody and at times heavy landscape of the Pacific Northwest inspires me every day. I never thought I would become a cloud connoisseur, but here I am!

  • What sparks inspiration for me is most often spending time in Nature, knitting or not, in an intentional spiritual connection.

  • Well-a couple of ways. For daily “get going” I take a shower & end it with cold-very cold water. That really gets me going! Lol

    But true inspiration-gratitude. Looking around at what I have.
    Understanding how blessed we are.

    Then heading to my yarn stash & pretty soon I want to start 10 projects.

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