Do You Cross-Train? Open Line Friday


Embroidery, Sampler


In the world of athletics, the benefits of cross training are well-known.  Cross training emphasizes different motor skills, increases motivation and allows rejuvenation  or “active rest” for muscle groups.  Is there such a thing as “Creative Cross Training?”  Does cross training improve our creative skills?

Embroidery, Sampler


I began sewing and needle work when I was quite young.   I enjoyed crochet, embroidery, crewel work and needlepoint.  I did a little counted-cross stitch–but found it frustrating.  For years, I concentrated on garment construction and home dec sewing.    My sister taught me to knit and while I enjoyed that very much, I made a decision to avoid knitting–and more importantly–yarn shops– at all costs.  (Emphasis on the words: all costs!)   Once I found quilting, I was hooked…I dropped everything else and focused on quilting.


For now,  my only cross training is photography and quilting-both are intellectually stimulating with endless areas of interest to explore.  Quilting and photography are a perfect pairing.  Quilting is very “process” oriented as a quilt can take years to complete.  On the other hand, photography is practically “instant gratification” compared to quilting.   I think photography improves my quilting skills by forcing me to be more aware of light, color and composition.  While quilting improves my photography by teaching me the value of slowing down and planning.

Counted Cross Stitch Embroidery

Sampler stitched by Olivia Kennedy


Today on Open Line Friday…let’s discuss the benefits of “Creative Cross-Training”…Do you enjoy other forms of creativity?  If so, what is #2 in your book?  And, how do the two activities reinforce each other?

I’d love to hear…


PS…All photos, information and tutorials are the property of Lori Kennedy of The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog and Pin with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other uses, please contact me at  Thanks!



32 thoughts on “Do You Cross-Train? Open Line Friday

  1. Lori, my story is identical to yours….the same crafts, etc. I can so relate to you. However, I did not get into photography, as you did. Once I decided I HAD to narrow down to one or two crafts and FOCUS on those, I was hooked on quilting and still love hand embroidery to sometimes incorporate into my quilts. And, now that I am retired, I have time (right before I go to sleep) to read! Enjoy your website….so glad I found it.

  2. sewing quilting piano gym, and some crafty things if I like.
    Embroidery is too fiddly for me, I love it, but I cannot fit the attention in, unless i could perhaps do some cross stitch while on the elliptical 😛
    Taking care of my parents every day for almost a year, (not all day, but yes, every day) I am learning to fit in as much as I can without getting exhausted. I need the gym, it keeps my mildly high blood pressure down.

    This is a great question, Lori. You are brilliant and inspiring <3

  3. I’ve done almost all of the things you mentioned at one time or another. I’ve never become an accomplished knitter and loathe crochet (I just tense up while doing it) but, in the end, I’ve given up all but the quilting. This is a matter of time – lack of it. When I first took up photography I dropped everything else and it was all consuming but it was also when I had film and a darkroom. I did give it up even before the digital age and look forward to going back to it when I retire. I agree that it does make you more aware of composition and values. In photographs and quilts, color can distract from the theme. I did primarily black and white landscapes and that is truly an adventure in values. Try it sometime. Use your photo editor to change your photographs to black and white. It is another ballgame. 😀

  4. Hi Lori,

    I too am a jack of all trades and yes I’ve spend many hours doing my cross training too! That’s not sport but embrodiery and cross stitching, knitting, crochet and tatting are just some of the other things I do. I often use my embrodiery’s skills to embellish my quilts/labels etc.

    I love sitting down on the lounge at night time when its cold doing such work and I soon get into a rhythm and it’s hard to stop and break what I’m doing until I get my project finished. Love seeing the your lovely work. I believe it does help your creative juices to flow forth!!!! Julie Beard

  5. Yep, at art schools they actually call it cross-discipline. 🙂 We’re a hugely crafty house here, and for me quilting is one of my old standbys. The alternate is straight up garment sewing, which is some ways has far more variations. It’s still sewing tho.

    Quilting helps my garment sewing because when I work on my piecing accuracy for quilting it spills over to garments.

    I also do photography and occasional sketching. The sketching helps with quilt designs too. Even paper crafting can help fill the need to play with pattern and color in far less time than sewing fabrics together in a quilt. Just cut and glue!

    While I have dabbled in cross stitch and embroidery, it’s not my thing. I’ve done it enough to know how long it takes though. Same with knitting and crochet.

  6. What a great question! A few years ago I started digitizing embroidery designs for embroidery machines. In order to make the design flow you need to consider the path the needle will take (pathing). This discipline has rolled over into my free motion quilting. I find I study every pattern to find the best way for the needle to travel to complete the design. Lori, your tutorials have been a huge help to me. I am so fortunate to have found your site. Thank you for all you share with us, the readers.

  7. I dyed fabrics for about a decade, mostly for art pieces. The amount of dyeing I could do was limited because I could not justify, with limited means and space, dyeing more fabric than I could use. Three years ago, I started quilting — a craft match made in heaven.

  8. I was a potter for 20 years and the lack of color, drew me to painting which in turn drew me to the abundance of color in quilting. I still help out at schools with clay programs but focus my free time between quilting and colored pencil, mostly portraits.

  9. I do stained glass and have done pottery; I also make jewelry out of glass, bead and anything I can get my hands on. I do love quilting, I also like to design my own quilts; I am not real good at it but good enough and time will help.

  10. I used to do counted threadwork (involves waaaaaay more than cross stitch) and enjoyed entering shows (took several ribbons at the Texas State Fair). Then I was diagnosed with MS and was afraid I would lose my fine motor skills and therefore my hobby. I’ll take up quilting! Surely I’ll still be able to push to two pieces of fabric through a machine.

    When I stitched, I didn’t always physically stitch every pattern I bought. Some I knew I would never stitch and only poured over the pattern, stitching it in my mind. I do the same with quilting and have sewn some creative quilts from modern to applique to portrait to improv to abstract … in my mind. Because I also like to draw that plays a huge role in my “mind quilts”. Some quilts that I have made in my mind, I go back and redo because I learned something in a real quilt or even another “mind quilt”.

  11. In the early years, as a stay at home mom, garment sewing and home décor played a big part in my life. I taught myself to knit and crochet. As the children grew so did my interests, ceramic classes were a lot of fun and some other types of crafts caught my interest. When I was 35 I started college and graduated with my RN. With working and family taking up much of my time I only continued to knit and crochet. When I retired I found quilting and I am hooked. I have been quilting know for 10 years and love doing it. I feel blessed to have found a wonderful group of women who share my passion. I continue to knit and crochet but only to keep my hands busy. I only make small projects like socks and scarves. Yarn is expensive and I would rather buy fabric. I am so happy I found your site, I enjoy seeing it everyday. You are inspirational.

  12. I have different interest also. Knit, crochet, wood carve, basket making from pine needles, photography, genealogy and have started to learn watercolor painting. This summer we are rebuilding a house we just bought. Except for the house most of what I do gets a back seat when I get into quilting. Sometimes you do need to get away from the sewing machine.

  13. Other creative crafts I’ve enjoyed are card making, counted cross-stitch, and crochet. I would love to learn to slow down and create beautiful photographs, too.

  14. I’ve been meaning to let you know how much I have enjoyed your site. I found it just a few weeks ago and I’m so glad I did! My two interests are also quilting and photography! Thanks for your wonderful site!

  15. I love knitting, crochet, and am wanting to learn to spin. I also have dabbled in cross stitch, do some embroidery, and have made many garments. But my first love is quilting. Thank you for your inspiration!

  16. What a great way to express it – “Creative Cross Training”!! My history is pretty much the same as yours except substitute macrame for the crewel work. While I never got heavy into photography, I always wanted to get better at it. I actually got into quilting because I missed garment sewing and realized most of the same skills (as well as some of the tools) transferred perfectly from one to the other.

    Quilting is now definitely my #1 passion but I really want to also return to garment sewing and knitting (I’d love to learn to make socks). I’ve already got quilt projects that I have or plan to add crochet, embroidery or beading to — my versio of “mixed-media” projects! Doing anything creative engages the same drives and challenges so I do believe that whatever you do will strengthen your “creative bones” and pay off in increased inspiration and productivity across all of your interests.

  17. Same story here…seems what life and family needed was more a priority on what I sewed more than just the enjoyment as it is now. I still enjoyed and got a lot of satisfaction out of it and used to save a little money by making things…not so much with the quilting now though…haha. Giving handmade gifts has always been priceless in our family though and I’m glad my girls enjoy the making and giving too. I would have tried it all if time and money allowed.
    My second is a toss up between painting (watercolor and tole) and my woodshop. Working in wood is so much the same as fabric…cut it all up and put it back together to make something different. haha! the glue and the nails replace the stitching but I get to pick colors afterwards!!
    I always wanted to be a better photographer but lack the attention span to really learn it…too bad to cuz I’m always grumbling about my missed or bad shots. oh wells. 🙂 every once in a while I capture a goodie.

  18. I love the term, ‘creative cross training’! I’ll have to add that to my list of exercises that I do when the Dr asks! I do a variety of cross training, sewing for myself (currently making a Vogue dress for my son’s wedding), sewing for grandchildren, making modern quilts, starting to learn hand embroidery for a vintage crazy quilt which is a wedding gift, exploring art quilting, knit and crochet. Of course this means my house cleaning and yard work never gets done or only when it absolutely has to be done LOL. I love exploring the different methods of quilting, whether it’s sewing, painting, distressing, embellishing. And like Vivian said, it’s a great way to strengthen your creative bones and keep your mind in tip top shape as well.

  19. Well, I don’t participate in as much cross-discipline as the rest of you, but I do love to cook. I do a little crafting and have done knitting (hated it), crochet (hurts my wrists now), counted cross-stitch and cruel (yes, I did spell that correctly!). I just love quilting.

    One thing I have wanted to ask for a while, at the top of your page it says you love shooting. I take it now that you mean with a camera? My husband is a gun enthusiast and avid hunter, so I was wondering…

    Thanks so much for all the lovely instruction and inspiration!

  20. I cross-train with Decorative Painting. I started with painting and then picked up quilting when I retired 15 years ago. I think the painting has helped with choosing colors and patterns to make my quilts more interesting. I now focus on quilting more than painting. I am hooked !

  21. I am a tree hugger at heart. During the warmer months I can be found outside with shovel. Quilting satisfies some part of my creative self in the winter months. During the cold, restful weeks of the year I also enjoy needlepoint, crewel and cross stitch. I take after both of the grandmothers that way, so I suppose I will have to wait for grandchildren to pass along these pastimes.

  22. I did a lot of cross stitching and garment sewing before I started to quilt. So I am not afraid to sew curves and so on. Lately I did some decorative stiches in a quilt with a thick yarn and I liked it a lot. So I am starting to use this with the quilting. What I also like is the art of Guenther Uecker who did some wonderful pictures with embossing nails in hand made paper. I like the effect so much that I took a class in hand paper making and my big goal is to reach the same effect with simple quilting in a solid fabric. That would be cross training, right? But I have hope that I can do it at some point in the near future. That for sure will be a wall hanging for my living room.

  23. Well, I learned to embroider, knit, crochet and sewing as a kid, little little. It was at home with my mother and grandmother. Both were great!! And they knew great tips and hints…
    Quilting came in 2001. I always have something going on, and a few ufos as well… 🙂
    I love them all, including photography, which I still wanna learn properly.
    And some day I’ll learn to spin yarn and use the loom.
    I can dream a bit of having time for them all, isn’t? 🙂

  24. Gardening! How many of you forgot about gardening after this looooonnng winter? I love tulip bulbs and lots of splashy color outside. Remember Peonies, lilacs, hyacinths, petunias, roses, geraniums, impatiens, lilies, ferns?
    I like mixing different textures and experimenting. It is also a good physical activity that makes up for sitting and sewing.

  25. I enjoy doing most of the above! I find photography very useful for quilting and have enlarged, cut up, and printed some of my photos on fabric for use in “window” quilts. Just learned that printable fabric comes in larger sizes than the 8.5 X 11″ sheets they have in the stores. My friend who has a huge printer actually found it. Can’t wait to get some and try more quilts with my own photos! I would love to have an embroidery/quilting machine, but have to save up for a long time for that, so do my own hand embroidery. I learned that as a very small child from my great aunt. She also taught me doll & teddy bear making. Drawing and painting are among my interests. I only wish there were more hours in the day to do so many enjoyable activities. I am experimenting with painting on fabric and have several books on natural dyes which I have yet to try. I did batik in college and would also like to do more of that for quilting. I always knew I would never be bored after retirement!

    • I agree, retirement has been wonderful. Time to do what I enjoy and loving it. I am taking a class in fabric dyeing and fabric painting in the near future.

  26. So interesting to see what a common background, current ground so many of us “fabric artists” share. I sewed since I was a preteen, had 4 girls so sewed up a storm, a million (it seemed like it), prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, drapes, curtains, pillows, etc. Also, cake decorating, embroidery, cross -stitch, gardening and somewhere along the line – working on a grand baby quilt got infatuated with quilting. I still work full time as a nurse practitioner and in that role diabetes is a passion, but I would say quilting is my passion and gardening is my soul. When the sun is out and warm – I live in the south so that happens a lot- I am outside. If in the house I am piecing, quilting or reading the blogs, quilt magazines or planning the next one. I hope I live to be a hundred to complete all my plans for diabetes education, gardening and QUILTS!!

  27. I sometimes think my hobby used to be “collecting hobbies” because I seemed to have tried all the creative arts. I’ve dabbled in cross stitch, knitting, stained glass, punched rugs and hand embroidery but never really found a passion in those endeavors. I’ve been sewing since I was a small child. I stood at my grandma’s elbow watching and learning from her! She was very patient and answered my volley of questions. She is the one I give credit to for lighting the flame that grew into my passion today with quilting. I used to sew clothing and home decor but for the past 10 years or so I have almost exclusively dedicated my sewing time to quilting…and my husband would say…collecting fabric!! 🙂 My #2 and 3 hobbies are baking and gardening. I can get a lot of sewing done when things are baking in the oven 🙂

  28. I do “crosstrain” (or is it that I can’t help doing something with my hands?). When on holidays, I usually take with me my watercolours, and I choose a peaceful landscape to paint. I always carry with me a mini set of pencils and mini note pad. And if I have a little time I may sketch some detail of an everyday place or thing. I also cook (I like baking), garden, sew things for the house (all curtains, mats, cushions and pillows at home are made by me). So I think I’m fit.

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