My Fiber Studio: Spring Cleaning Before & After

Photography is fascinating, isn’t it?  Because while it’s true that the camera doesn’t lie, it’s also true that, depending where I point my lens, I can include (or exclude) key elements of my visual field to tell a certain story. Careful composition is fundamental to good photography.

So, too, by choosing certain photographs (and not others) to share, a person can present themselves in such a way as to tell a carefully curated story of who they are. Not necessarily to be deceptive, but in the human way that each of us wants to put our best foot forward.

Recently, I found myself doing just that. I’d been very productive shrinking and shaping a greater number of hats than usual and wanted to share the most recent crop with friends, fans & followers.

Here’s the image I shot and shared:

Recently felted & hand-shaped, felt hats in every color dry in the home studio of NH fiber artist, Carrie Cahill Mulligan.

A VERY carefully framed photo of my studio showcases my hats… And nothing else!

Cheerful, fun & tidy, right? I agree. I love this view. I feel energized and inspired to start embroidering just gazing at the neat, colorful rows of woolly goodness!

Inevitably though, I would turn around and feel some of that joy dulled by the sight of my poor, neglected desk:

My office desk BEFORE the cleaning bug bit me.

Uhh, yeah. That’s for real, people. Oof. I’m not proud.

Behold the stacks of years’ worth of random files, receipts, inventory lists, and who knows what else! I certainly didn’t, despite hauling the piles to & from my closet multiple times to hide the mess when visitors came. Live with clutter like this long enough and eventually your brain tunes it out.

But, ignoring clutter comes at a cost. It drains energy and zaps creativity. It alters my studio from the fiber playground I love into a place I start to avoid…. And that’s no good!

And so, struck by a powerful bout of Spring Fever and inspired by the ideas of Gretchen Rubin, Alyson B. Stanfield, & Marie Kondo, I scheduled a single 30 minute block a few weekends ago to just begin. Just get started.

I set a timer and set my mind to do as much decluttering as possible in a half hour. Make it a game. Keep expectations low. Without internal pressure to complete the whole task perfectly, I set to work. When the chimes sounded, I was just getting going, so I worked another 30 minutes, feeling energized.

The next day, I was surprised to find I could hardly wait to get back in my studio and finish the process! And, though there’s more yet to do, I’m so pleased with the end result:

After a flurry of Spring Fever cleaning, the beautiful slate top of my office desk returns to view!

Ahhh…. After!

Isn’t it gorgeous? Not only do I love to see the textured slate surface of my desktop, but now I’ve got that physical space back to actually work on projects.

Most importantly, though, I’ve freed up precious mental space to dream up new designs, and have increased energy to execute them! So much winning!

Roughly 80 felt hats line the walls and all flat surfaces in the home fiber studio of Carrie Cahill Mulligan of Canaan, New Hampshire.

Behold! My (currently) clutter-free fiber studio in Canaan, NH.


Do you struggle with reducing clutter? Or maybe you have tips on how you keep your clutter at bay? Either way, I’d love to hear all about it, so please leave a comment below or connect on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Inspiration For Embroidery via Snowflake Bentley

Yesterday, northern New England was awash in a snowfall of such fluffy, powdery flakes that I felt a certain kinship with Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, of Jericho, Vermont, who, in 1885, became the 1st person to photograph a single snow crystal:

Digital macro photo of a snowflake on knitting by Carrie Cahill Mulligan of Canaan, New Hampshire.

Digital macro photo of a snowflake on knitting, taken with my point & shoot camera.

“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others.”

Digital macro photo of a snowflake on knitting by Carrie Cahill Mulligan of Canaan, New Hampshire.

“Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated.”

Digital macro photo of a snowflake on knitting by Carrie Cahill Mulligan of Canaan, New Hampshire.

“When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.” ~Wilson A. Bentley

Leaving no record except as the inspiration for my own snowflake embroidery.

And so, for the beauty of little things, I give thanks.