Think about it for a minute. The world seems to work in a series of opposites. Dark/Light, Good/Evil, Right Brain/Left Brain. Even nature works in cycles through opposites…growth/decay, night/day, high tide/low tide, winter/summer, ebb/flow. I think the Chinese theories of yin and yang is a perfect explanation of how these cycles create such a perfect balance.

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light).

~ Georges Ohsawa (1931) The Unique Principle

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But what does this have to do with knitting, fiber art, or even creativity all together?

Yin Yang of Creative Work

There are really two parts to making art, the idea forming, and the physical work to bring those ideas into form. And to really get to the core of your true creative self and it’s expression through your work, you really need to spend time in both the yin and yang of your work. You are probably already doing this to some degree. But if you feel a little stuck, it might be because you are a little out of balance in the Yin or Yang of your creative work.

Creative Yin Work

Creative Yin work is where all the subconscious ideas bubble up. It is the act of going within and listening to that inner calling to bring forth your creative voice. For me yin work is art journaling, self care, going to galleries, being in nature. Living life and getting clear on what makes your heart sing. It is all about nurturing, dream time, and often feels like you are not doing the creative work at all. For knitters it is surfing Ravelry, stash acquisitions with no project in mind, it is the initial itch to cast on something new. It is the critical look at projects gone awry.

Creative yin out of balance often looks like frustration with what you are currently working on. Forging ahead, though you are not loving your project. If this sounds like you, step away from your work. Pick up a new medium, like journaling or gardening, or cooking. Something that is self care related. Hang out with people who seem to know you best and can remind you of who you are at your core. Though it seems like you are not doing art, you are really just getting back in touch with your inner voice.

Creative Yang Work

Creative yang work is the physical act of making art. It is growing you body of work, it is about getting shit done, busting through your stash. It is knocking out the WIPs. It is accomplishments. It feels awesome to crank stuff out. It is forward progress. We all tend to want to be in the yang work, and often find ourselves here.

Creative yang our of balance most often looks like the lack of drive to pick up your knitting altogether. Procrastination. Will I ever knit again? Am I any good? It is fear of messing up. It is overthinking a pattern. If this sounds like you, give yourself permission to make something totally wrong. With yarn we are fortunate that mistakes can be frogged back to try again. If you are procrastinating but not out of fear, but just a general not wanting to knit, just pick a yarn you love love love from your most precious stash and make a swatch…just to see how it will knit up. If I had to pick a mantra for Yang imbalance it would be …Just do it. Even if it is in 15 minute increments.

I think we all fall somewhere between Yin and Yang creative at any given time.

I know for me in the last year, I have been on the Yin side of my work most often, and almost to the state of a yang imbalance (ie…not busting through the WIPs for sure).

Where do you think you are right now in the cycles between Yin and Yang?

Share in the comments below. May your creative cycles always be ebbing and flowing.

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