Creating when you have to sit still

Don’t think that I’m being a drama queen, but my back is still out and hurts like hell. I was also sitting here last night feeling quite grumbly and sad that I didn’t get any of the projects done I wanted to. I have a tendency to beat myself up when I don’t get things done, even if circumstances are out of my control. So I took a deep breath, and I am giving myself a pass.

But it did get me to thinking, and I still have ideas to share with you. And thanks to the magic of laptops, I can do just that. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had this fear of bedrest. It was totally unfounded (my pregnancy was almost unfairly easy) but I love thinking of all possible outcomes and planning for them. So I went to the Craftster.org forums and posted looking for ideas of what I could do while on bedrest. Luckily for me, it never came to that, and I never gave it another thought. Until now.

A lot of us really take being mobile for granted. Unless you or someone you know is confined in some way, it’s really easy not to think about it. Personally, if I’m not sleeping, I’m moving. Even at work, I flit around like a hummingbird on adrenaline. So the whopping seven hours I spent in the chair yesterday was not fun. But it got me thinking — I’m lucky! This will go away shortly…hopefully with some awesome pain pills. But what if you or someone you love is confined long term, either by bedrest, illness or permanent injury? So today, I am compiling a short list of things you can do while sitting still.

  • Embroidery. Don’t limit yourself to cross stitch samplers or kitchen towels. You can embellish pillowcases, clothing, or even get ahead on making holiday ornaments.
  • Knitting and crocheting. If there is a project you’ve been wanting to do, but you’re putting off because of time or difficulty, now is the time to try it. If you can’t move, you are forced to figure it out. If you need to find a pattern, try Ravelry. Sign up is free and you can bookmark favorite patterns. 
  • Artist Trading Cards or Inchies. Depending on what exactly your situation is, you can do these wet or dry. If you can’t use any wet materials like paint or glue, stick with crayons, pencils, pens and stamps. At the very least, you can get your base down and add paint or glued items later. If you get started, these are really fun to trade. You can swap them through many websites, including Craftster.
  • Clean up those files! If you are a photographer, shop owner or just have a ton of photos, take this time to get reorganized. Grab your laptop and get a few things put in the right place.
  • Organize your recipes. If you rip ideas for cooking out of magazines and toss them into a binder, now is the time to sort them. Remove any you don’t like any more and sort the keepers by category.
  • Small Handsewing. Small projects like doll clothes, mug rugs, art supply pouches and accessories can be completed with very little materials. Sew Mama Sew ran a handsewing month that is full of awesome ideas.
  • Sketch! Draw what you see in detail It’s great practice, and sometimes there is the perfect still life, just waiting to be drawn.
  • Craft list. If you don’t have one started, get it going. If you already do, now is the time to figure out what materials you will need for each of them.
  • Make dried fruit. Not something for bedrest. But if you have some mobility, sitting at the table to peel and slice fruit, then loading into the dehydrater may work.
  • Make paper beads. It take a bit of glue, but it is low on supplies and high on fun results. Need proof they can be used for a cool, grown-up project? Check out this Design Sponge tutorial.
  • Design fabric. There are a few companies out there that will print fabric you design. So if you need the perfect fabric for a project, why not design it yourself? If you need some help getting started, WhipUp created a great roundup for just that purpose.
  • Catch up on your reading.
  • Plan next year’s garden. What plants you want and how many you will need. Also, what materials will you need and how much will it all cost? Better Homes and Gardens offers a free garden planner. I haven’t used it, but they also have pre-designed layouts that are really nice.
  • Plan a swap party. This can have many themes from kids toys to grown-up clothes. But why not plan a home decor or craft supply swap? Think of some really good snacks, design invitations and figure out how swapping will work. Real Simple has an article on planning that is a great springboard for planning your own party. Even articles about clothing swaps have ideas that will apply to any type of party.
  • Friendship bracelets. Before you laugh, hear me out, because this isn’t just for 12-year-old girls. You don’t have to look far to find designer bracelets that cost an insane amount, but are essentially the same thing.
  • Teach your kids. If you have kids, view this as a chance to create together. Most older kids (I mean older than three or so) can sit still for quite a while given a good, age-appropriate project. And this is a great chance to share something you love with your kids. 

I had better take some of my own advice and do a few of these today. Now I want to know — what ideas do YOU have for crafting when you’re stuck in one spot?

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