I was excited to reconnect with Francine Clouden this year on Instagram. Back in the days where blog comments were our social media, we were both active followers of one another. Francine’s work with The Organised Crafterbrain offers a lot of parallels with what we do here at Simple Scrapper, so I’m confident you will love this conversation. In the episode we chat all about bullet journals and planners as tools to help crafters follow through on their interests, projects, and dreams.
- What is the Bullet Journal Method?
- Suze Orman books (*)
- 8 Things to Add to Your Craft Bujo
- 365 Days of Making
- Craft Supplies and Project Planner
- Make Do & Mend: A DIY Journal for Modern Makers
- Dot Grid Notebooks
- Francine on Instagram: @organisedcrafterbrain
- Francine’s YouTube channel: Francine Clouden
- Francine’s website: The Organised Crafterbrain
- Francine’s Substack: The Callaloo Collective
*Affiliate links help to support the work we do, at no additional cost to you.
[00:01:16] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 244. In this episode I’m chatting with Francine Clouden about staying organized with our crafting plans. Our conversation features a variety of tools and techniques she uses to keep track of projects and ideas.
[00:01:47] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Francine, welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.
[00:01:50] Francine Clouden: Hi Jennifer. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.
[00:01:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, likewise. Can you kick things off a bit and share some things about yourself to help our audience get to know you?
[00:02:02] Francine Clouden: Sure. So I'm someone who's originally from a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea called Grenada, but I currently live in France. I've been a crafty person for gosh, I don't know maybe 20 or 25 years. I don't think I realized I was creative. In fact, I never thought I was creative when I was younger because at that time, being creative meant that you were good at drawing and I was really terrible at it, so I didn't think I was creative until I found the wonderful world of crafts and scrapbooking.
[00:02:37] Francine Clouden: So I really, you know, that's something that I really love. Um, I moved to France just over 20 years ago. From that tiny island in the Caribbean. And I'm married and that's why I moved to France because I met my husband who's French and we have a 14 year old son.
[00:02:57] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, fantastic.
[00:02:59] Francine Clouden: And what else? Well, apart from loving crafts, I I absolutely love reading.
[00:03:04] Francine Clouden: Reading has, is a big part of my life and has been basically from since I can remember. So I like to refer to myself as a crafty nerd because I love, I love crafting and I love knowing things. So that's a big part of my life as well.
[00:03:20] Jennifer Wilson: I think a lot of our listeners will identify with that love of reading, being a crafty nerd, a lover of information, and learning new things.
[00:03:32] Francine Clouden: I'm in the right place. Yeah, that's good to know.
[00:03:36] Jennifer Wilson: So what's exciting you right now? We love to ask our guests about both what's going on inside of their crafty lives as well as what's going on in their everyday lives.
[00:03:45] Francine Clouden: Um, so let's see, in my crafty life, gosh there's so much. But I think one thing that I'm really happy about right now is that I started back going to my in person art class. Which is a weekly art class. And it's something that I did for four years. Well, about three and a half years before the pandemic.
[00:04:08] Francine Clouden: And then of course it was canceled in 2020 when the pandemic hit. And then I never went back until this year. And the way things work in France is that activities like that run concurrent with the school year. So basically it starts in September and ends in June. Um, so I actually ran into my art teacher earlier this year and he was like, how are you doing?
[00:04:32] Francine Clouden: And I was like, oh i'm good. I know I haven't been to art class, but I promise i'll be back in September. So I signed back up. Started a few weeks ago. And i'm so happy because it's something that was really missing. Because it's really truly an hour and a half every week, that's just for me. It's not related to home or my, or, or my business or any, or work.
[00:04:56] Francine Clouden: It's just an hour and a half doing art with other people who are passionate about art. And it's something that I'm just really happy about right now. I think the other thing I'm really looking forward to is chestnut season. We live in, yeah, we live in the biggest chestnut producing area of France. They like to call themselves the chestnut capital of the world, although they're in competition with Corsica, who also grows chestnuts.
[00:05:26] Francine Clouden: But yeah. So chestnuts are a pretty big deal around here, and it's coming up on chestnut season. And not only do I love eating pretty much all things chestnut, roasted chestnuts, of course. But usually our town, every year, our town has a chestnut festival. In the last, the third or the last weekend of October, which is really great. And there's a big party on the Saturday night, and there's a huge chestnut roaster in the middle of the square, and you, everyone gets free chestnuts. So I'm really happy and excited about getting to do that in a couple weeks.
[00:06:05] Jennifer Wilson: I love that. That sounds so delightful. Around here we have the sweet corn festival and the cheese festival, the pumpkin festival. Um, yeah, that's super fun.
[00:06:18] Francine Clouden: Yeah.
[00:06:18] Jennifer Wilson: Thing that stuck out to me with your painting class, particularly since you are a fellow business owner, sometimes it's so, just so delightful to have someone else tell you what to create. And how to do it and to direct you. Because we're often, um, in that leadership role and trying to help guide others.
[00:06:38] Francine Clouden: And I also feel that one thing it helps me with is like having a different kind of approach to creativity. Like I'm doing something that's kind of different from all the stuff that I usually do. And that kind of helps my creativity to grow. And my teacher, he's fantastic. He's like, uh, he's a professional artist.
[00:07:00] Francine Clouden: Although he, he used to be an elementary school teacher, but art was his passion. So since he retired from teaching, the art is his thing. So he's gosh, he's, he must be 75 and he always has these most amazing ideas. And it's, it's what they call in French, a plastic, plastic art. So it's not just. straight on painting.
[00:07:21] Francine Clouden: It's like a lot of mixed media and he always has these just crazy ideas and every week we have a different theme. And what I love about it is that even though we're all working with on the same theme and the same materials, everyone leaves with something different. That's like really an expression of their art. Because his thing is trying to help people to find their style and, and do their art their way so it's not a cookie cutter class. And I absolutely love that about it because I can see how much it has helped me grow creatively speaking.
[00:07:54] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that sounds so amazing.
[00:07:56] Francine Clouden: Yeah, it really is.
[00:07:58] Jennifer Wilson: So Francine, I went back through my records and we first connected in 2011 and now it's late 2023.
[00:08:06] Francine Clouden: Yeah,
[00:08:06] Jennifer Wilson: So long ago and you know, back, it was back on, uh, through our blogs and the, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
[00:08:14] Francine Clouden: Right.
[00:08:15] Jennifer Wilson: Um, and I was excited to recently reconnect with you on Instagram because I felt like we've always had so many things in common.
[00:08:22] Jennifer Wilson: Um, can you. Yeah, can you share a little bit about how both your personal and business creative pursuits have evolved in this past decade plus?
[00:08:33] Francine Clouden: Sure. First I want to say I love that you have records to go back through because that is like some such something that I would do as well. Like I keep on, hang on to everything so I can double check and research things that happened back in the past. So that's pretty cool. Um, gosh, how have things changed?
[00:08:52] Francine Clouden: I think back then that's, so that's 2011. That was when like scrapbooking was like my life, like my,
[00:09:01] Jennifer Wilson: Mm
[00:09:01] Francine Clouden: My soul passion. It's, I think it was pretty much the only thing that I did. I had, my son was two years old. He was born in 2009. So even though I was actually a scrapbooker before I had a kid and I did a lot of, lots of scrapbooking before. Of course, with a kid, you're scrapbooking the kid.
[00:09:19] Francine Clouden: So I was like, really, you know, the whole scrapbooking thing, taking a hundred photographs a day. Um, you know, getting those scrapbook pages done to document the life of this new little human being. Um, but over the years, that has really changed. Like, scrapbooking is definitely not the number one thing. In fact, I would say that paper crafts have kind of taken a backseat.
[00:09:49] Francine Clouden: And I got really more interested in, art and general D I D y I d I y, , I should say. And I do, while I do still do lots, a fair amount of paper crafting. In fact, I make, you know, I make my Christmas cards, I make birthday cards, I do, um, calligraphy and that sort of stuff. Mostly I'm really into art right now. And my really, my big passion, personally speaking, is knitting, well, yarn craft.
[00:10:25] Jennifer Wilson: Oh.
[00:10:25] Francine Clouden: Knitting and crochet, yeah. Um, which were something that I learned as a child. And kind of didn't do for a really long time. And then slowly started getting back into it. I think actually, my son partly contributed to it as well. Because I started making him like stuffed toys using crochet. And because of that I kind of got back into using you know using yarn crocheting and knitting As far as business wise is concerned.
[00:11:00] Francine Clouden: I know that back then I was all about you know being on scrapbook product design teams and having scrapbook pages published in the scrapbooking magazines. Of course, most of the scrapbooking magazines are now defunct. I don't even think there any exist. So I definitely had to kind of roll, I guess, you know, evolve. With how the industry was changing.
[00:11:27] Francine Clouden: I was no longer interested in being on design teams. It just, it didn't make sense to me because it seemed like a lot of time spent making things that were not necessarily things I wanted to make in order to showcase products. And at the end of the day, only having more product to show for it. So I really, I kind of moved away from, from all of that. And realized that because of my very simple style of, of paper crafting at the time, I got interested in using printables, which I thought were really, really great.
[00:12:06] Francine Clouden: A really simpler way of scrapbooking. I wasn't interested in having like all the fancy tools. I just wanted things to be simple. I mean, I had a young kid, so I was really focused on simplifying like my creative process. And so I moved into, first I started off with just making simple printables for myself.
[00:12:27] Francine Clouden: And I moved into starting to share that with the creative community. And then that has now evolved into, um, producing notebooks, and journals and planners and paper, not just printable ones, but also that are available in paperback. And so that's been kind of my evolution over the years.
[00:12:55] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, I'm excited to dig a little bit more into that. But first, I want to hear a little bit more about your fiber arts journey. What are you still making stuffed animals? What are you making, clothing? I never graduated from making things in squares and rectangles.
[00:13:14] Francine Clouden: Right.
[00:13:15] Jennifer Wilson: With knitting and crochet. I to hear what people are making.
[00:13:18] Francine Clouden: Right. So, yeah, I mean, that's where I started too. Uh, with crochet because for me, I found crochet a lot easier to understand. So it was easy for me to go from making rectangles, like you said, make for making granny squares or simple scarves to making like the stuffed toys, which I did for quite a while.
[00:13:37] Francine Clouden: Then, of course, my son grew up. He's not interested in stuffed toys anymore. Um, and then, so then I, I decided I wanted to start making. Well, scarves obviously. And then, you know, I do live in a place where it's, we do have winter. We don't have terrible winters, but I think I mentioned I'm from the Caribbean.
[00:14:00] Francine Clouden: So what people don't consider very cold for me is cold. So I started making scarves and hats and gloves. And then it turns out that my sister, who's also a big crafter, she got really back into knitting. And she kind of just took that and ran with it. And I was just amazed at what she was making. And she basically encouraged me to pick knitting back up and, you know, do more with it.
[00:14:31] Francine Clouden: And I started off just making scarves, you know, just your basic garter knit scarf on really big needles. And I did that for a long while until I felt more comfortable. Because the thing about knitting is you have to understand, like, how the fabric is working up. So if you can't read the stitches as they say. Then that's when you kind of get lost.
[00:14:53] Francine Clouden: So I did a lot of really basic things. Scarves using really big needles so that I can actually see like what the stitches looked like. Because when it's really small, you can't really distinguish them. But when you use the big needles and you have big stitches. So once I got more comfortable and I really understood that that's when with the encouragement of my sister.
[00:15:16] Francine Clouden: I started going into making more complicated scarves and then hats and mittens. And now I, I'm actually making garments. I've made sweaters and t shirts and tank tops and yeah, and it's a, it's, it's an evolution. It's, it's, I think it's one of the things that I tell people, not just about knitting, it's that, you know, If you wanna be really good at something, you're gonna start off being really crappy at it. And you have to know that in the beginning you're gonna suck. You're gonna suck at it. But that, I mean, none of us, no one starts something and is immediately an expert. So if you really wanna work on something, you've gotta go in knowing that in the beginning you'll probably be frustrated. It's not gonna look that good, but you just gotta, keep practicing. You know that 10, 000 hours thing that they talk about a lot with creativity. But if you practice for 10, 000 hours, that's when you get to mastery of it. So.
[00:16:22] Jennifer Wilson: Oh For sure. Well, I think being able to, and this I guess this goes for so many different forms of crafting.
[00:16:29] Francine Clouden: It really does.
[00:16:30] Jennifer Wilson: Able to correct your mistakes. Like that was always a thing for me with knitting and crochet. Is that sure I could keep going. But if I made a mistake, I could never figure out how to fix it.
[00:16:40] Francine Clouden: Right. I understand. Yeah, and that.
[00:16:42] Jennifer Wilson: And that's such a skill.
[00:16:43] Francine Clouden: It is a skill. And I mean it and it's not something you can necessarily do by yourself either. I mean you have to have someone teaching you. And but there's so many YouTube tutorials available now. Free tutorials and free classes. That it is indeed possible to learn how to correct, you know, correct your mistakes and get better. And be adventurous. Because In order to grow, you have to literally try a pattern that you think is too hard for you to do.
[00:17:16] Francine Clouden: I've done that a lot of times. It's like I, you know, and my sister would encourage me and be like, Oh, I want to make this. And she's like, no, you can do it. And you know, as you, as you do it, if you don't stretch, then you will never improve. So, that's basically my approach for not just knitting, pretty much everything. It's the same with art. I mean, I started off painting and it was terrible. I'm certainly not a master right now. But I actually reflected recently after I started back art class and I can tell how much I've grown. Because before the idea of having to draw stuff really freaked me out and now I'm way more confident with it. So yeah, it's just about, sticking to it, basically.
[00:18:00] Jennifer Wilson: Mm hmm. I have one more curiosity here related to your memory keeping journey. Um, I hear so often, like, even those who maybe they find other ways to satisfy their creative needs. I think in general, humans have this need to do, to keep their memory. So I'm curious. You know, if you're still taking photos and how you might be documenting your life and your son's life, your family's life in ways that aren't scrapbooking.
[00:18:30] Francine Clouden: Right. I'm definitely still taking photos. I'm taking photos all the time. That hasn't stopped. What has stopped is what I use to take photos. I had, I went through two very nice digital SLR cameras, which never, I never seem to pick up anymore because they're just so big. And now that smartphone cameras are so good.
[00:18:51] Francine Clouden: There's almost no need for me to pick up my big camera. And I said when I, you know, I want to do something really like artistic, I guess. So, yeah, I'm taking photos every day. I honestly... True confession, I don't remember the last time I did a scrapbook page. But I do, I do document in, in different ways, not so much on my blog anymore, um, but gosh, Instagram and Facebook, I guess. I definitely share a lot of.
[00:19:19] Jennifer Wilson: Mm hmm.
[00:19:19] Francine Clouden: Stuff there. You know, and privately with family and friends, you know, I'm still sharing photos and telling stories about what's happening.
[00:19:28] Francine Clouden: Um, yeah, but I have to say, I, you know, I want to get back to a more consistent way of memory keeping on, like, on paper, I guess. Because I do remember that my son really loved looking through the albums and the mini books. And sometimes he will still come across one and he enjoys that. So I know it, I do know it's important to things, kind of, in a physical format, even though as a teenager he's really more about his food now than anything else.
[00:20:01] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:20:01] Francine Clouden: Still, yes, but still I know that he would love to look through, and I would love to look through like actual physical photos.
[00:20:12] Francine Clouden: So I have to say that usually every January, I'm like, right, this year, I'm getting back to memory keeping. Maybe it will happen in 2024.
[00:20:23] Jennifer Wilson: Have you seen what people are doing kind of with memory planning, kind of combining the planner with format with memories and photos?
[00:20:30] Francine Clouden: I have seen that and I have tried it and I feel, I don't know, there's something about my brain that I need to, it's like I need to keep the memory keeping and the planning separate. I can't seem to do it. Yeah.
[00:20:44] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, no, that totally makes sense. It's the most important thing is understanding how your brain works.
[00:20:49] Francine Clouden: Right, exactly, exactly.
[00:20:51] Jennifer Wilson: This is not for me, then.
[00:20:52] Francine Clouden: Yeah. So yeah, I have.
[00:20:54] Jennifer Wilson: Of knowledge.
[00:20:55] Francine Clouden: Attempts of, of, of memory planning, but no, I just, it just doesn't, didn't work for me.
[00:21:02] Jennifer Wilson: That's fair. Totally fair. So, you know, you mentioned multiple social media platforms, like in the past 10 plus years, one thing that has massively changed is the availability, availability of different platforms for connecting and sharing. And I think that's only going to continue. There's something coming around the corner that we don't even know the name of yet, I'm sure.
[00:21:25] Jennifer Wilson: Um, you're still creating a lot, and how do you differentiate between what you create for your blog, for Substack, for your Patreon? How does that kind of mentally get compartmentalized for you?
[00:21:39] Francine Clouden: So my blog, yeah, it's sometimes, I mean, they're blurred lines, but I do have like specific things that I only put in specific places. My blog has become a place where it's almost strictly just, I'm sharing, I wouldn't say how tos, not really how tos. But like tips and tricks and techniques. Like, you know, I recently shared, um, eight, eight things you can keep in your, in your crafty notebook, for example.
[00:22:11] Francine Clouden: So my blog is really about those kind of informational type things, like just straight to the point information. Um, my Substack is where I really... For the last about 18 months, I've been kind of developing my community. I send out a weekly, uh, five things newsletter where I include links to five interesting things that I've kind of stumbled across on the internet, as you do.
[00:22:41] Francine Clouden: I try to include something about books, something about crafts, a recipe, something about creativity, and then you know, whatever else that I thought was interesting that week. Might be like, you know, just a funny article that I saw. I always write a little note letting, you know, my, letting my readers know what I've been up to in the week, asking them what I've been up to.
[00:23:06] Francine Clouden: I share different things I'm doing. I have what I call the, my English, where I talk about things I've been reading, making, um, listening to, eating, loving, that kind of stuff. I always share a quote from a book, either a book of I'm currently reading or a quotation that I have, you know, that I love from, that I came across.
[00:23:28] Francine Clouden: So I'm really using that as a way to kind of, you know, stay in touch with my readers and, you know, build community. And Substack is great, of course, because you have now, you have the chat function, so you can chat with the people who are actually receiving these, these emails. Um, and then Instagram is all about just, I don't know, broadening community, reaching out, having fun, letting people get to know me, you know. I do post obviously when I, when I put like a, a tip tip or technique on the blog, then I will on Instagram, I will say, Hey, I just posted this on the blog.
[00:24:06] Francine Clouden: You can go check it out. Um, but it's mostly about what I'm doing, not on a daily basis. I don't post every day. But, what I'm doing in my creative life, and then, you know, informational bits about the business if I release a new product or something. So, they're blurred lines, but that's pretty much how I tend to break it down.
[00:24:28] Francine Clouden: And I do also dip into TikTok, but not that often. That one is mostly just pure fun. Like, I just put, you know, just pure funny videos. So I think that's about it. Yeah.
[00:24:44] Jennifer Wilson: Do you feel like that there's this resurgence of connection with Substack with all these different options for communicating more intimately with, if you will, with our readers, followers, customers? Um, because, you know, back in the day, like, blog comments were it, like, that's where we could connect with people, you know, Twitter to a certain extent, but it was so much in the blogs. And I feel like some of that is coming back as people are finding social media, Instagram, Facebook, to just be so noisy, kind of getting lost in the shuffle. Um I'm wondering how you feel about that.
[00:25:28] Francine Clouden: How about Substack in particular?
[00:25:31] Jennifer Wilson: Well, just about the, uh, connections with others be like people making comments, uh, engagement. Um, do you feel like it's changing for the better? That's kind of my opinion. And I'm curious if you're seeing the same thing.
[00:25:46] Francine Clouden: I'm not sure. I think I know that I am commenting a lot more. Things now that yeah, I do feel like I'm I am more connected. I'm being more connected on Instagram and Substack particularly. That I am, I'm commenting more, I'm connecting more with people, yeah, I am seeing more feedback. And I think one of the things on Instagram that I'm enjoying right now is doing lives. I've started doing weekly lives. And I feel like those are a way that people are, that people are really connecting.
[00:26:27] Francine Clouden: I find myself much more inclined to connect on someone's live video where they're just being their kind of normal natural self and it's not like a pre recorded, you know, perfectly filmed video. You're kind of just hanging out. I feel things like that, are what are driving more engagement and more commenting. And that's probably why TikTok works so well because it's really just about kind of hanging out and having fun.
[00:26:59] Francine Clouden: I know that there's on Substack there's a lot of conversation, there are a lot of conversations going on on Substack. And I enjoy that. And yeah, I think people might be coming back to it. I think blog comments are like, in the past. I don't want comments on blogs anymore. It's funny because you will post a link to your blog on, say, Facebook.
[00:27:24] Francine Clouden: And people will go read the article and then come back and comment on the Facebook post and not on the blog itself. And I think, yeah, we've gotten into this thing where I think we feel, I guess we feel more comfortable commenting on social media because it's more relaxed and a blog might feel, I guess, a bit more formal.
[00:27:46] Francine Clouden: Which is funny because in the beginning, blogs were like, the hangout spot, right? I mean, that's where were, were, were making connections. So yeah, it's interesting to see how things have changed over the last, gosh, and I guess 10 years or so. Yeah.
[00:28:03] Jennifer Wilson: Well and just, I think they're going to continue to change, but it's just, it's so interesting to just kind of watch how people's behavior shift and how my own behavior shifts. And how we get this could continue to, I don't know, facilitate those relationships. Because we all, that's what we just want to like talk about the things we like to make, why we like to make them, what they mean to us, you know, how are you doing it? Like, let's figure this out. Um, yeah any way we can do that..
[00:28:33] Francine Clouden: Yeah, absolutely, and that's, um, I think the knitting community is really good at that, or maybe it's just because I'm kind of obsessed with knitting that I notice it, I notice the knitting community more. But definitely, like, I will go on to Instagram and, you know, it's like all these great posts from knitting designers or other people in the knitting community and I just want to stay on there chatting all the time. And adding things to my list of projects to make.
[00:29:03] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. And I think, I mean, I really feel like the knitters were at the forefront of, of pod craft podcasting too. Cause I remember when I was listening to back like 2009. Those were, I was listening to knitting podcasts cause I, I don't know, there was anything else at the time. So.
[00:29:21] Francine Clouden: Right. Yeah. And yeah, I think the, yeah, the fiber arts community, they, they have really been, I guess, in the forefront for stuff like that. I mean, look at the site, you know, Ravelry, which is the big knitting, uh, knitting and crocheting site. And wow, it's, it's pretty amazing.
[00:29:38] Jennifer Wilson: So one thing that we definitely also have in common is this, uh, passion for planning and helping others feel more satisfied, by being thoughtful with their planning. So I'm curious about kind of your personal experiences, including from way back in your younger years that informed this direction that, that you love to hang out in.
[00:30:00] Francine Clouden: Gosh, well, Um, I'm a naturally really untidy and disorganized people, which you might think is funny considering that my brand name is the Organized Crafter Brain. But I, I mean, don't remember being particularly interested in being neat or tidy or planning when I was younger. I got lots of flack from, of that, about that from my mother, who is a naturally organized person.
[00:30:31] Francine Clouden: So there are lots of head butting. But I think once I graduated from university and started working, that's when I kind of saw the need to, you know, kind of get my act together, so to speak. Um, actually, I do remember, no, I think it's before that. When I studied for my, my degree, which was in civil engineering in our final year, we had to do a group project.
[00:30:57] Francine Clouden: And at that time, there were not many, and this is in the Caribbean, so there were not many, women in engineering. So in my group, I was the only girl, it was me and four guys. And gosh, I had to expend so much effort, keeping these guys in line and keeping them on track and making sure that things were done on time.
[00:31:19] Francine Clouden: And I, yeah, I think that may be the first time when I realized that I actually had like, you know, contrary to what I previously believed, I was actually good at organizing and planning stuff. And I carried that in to, you know, my first jobs. I think the first time I was It was really something that I was like, yeah, I really need to be better was when I was doing my second degree.
[00:31:49] Francine Clouden: This was actually in the U. S. back in 2001. That's where I met my husband, incidentally, we were both in the same MBA program. And before that I had been working or I had been at school. But this was the first time where I was both working. I had two part time jobs at the university and I was at school and I was, you know, living my life. And I realized that I needed to be, you know, better at planning stuff.
[00:32:19] Francine Clouden: I remember reading. I bought, like I said, I love reading and I, of course, I believe I can learn anything by reading it in a book. So I bought a really popular organizing book at that time. I think her name is Suze Orman. I think she's still around. I don't remember the name of the book, but I remember I was like, I need to do something.
[00:32:38] Francine Clouden: I need to be more organized. Because, you know, um, a master's degree requires quite a lot of independent work. Plus I had two jobs and that's kind of where it started for me, I guess. And It's just continued from then on, and then when I had my kid, even more, I was like, okay, if I want to be able to actually find time to get crafting done, I need to be more organized. Not just my supplies, but, you know, myself and how my day is going to work. And so those are some of the things that kind of informed me moving in that direction of trying to, trying to find the time to do the things that I loved and not spend my entirety just, you know, looking after my son and my husband and our home. But also because I really, really, really loved making things and I wanted to continue making things. And so I started to be better at managing my time.
[00:33:45] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. I think that's definitely another thing that, that connects us. My background is in science. I'm married to a civil engineer. And so kind of when you start bridging those two worlds, um, you can find out where you can leverage your strengths to, to create well. And as you said, organize your time so that you can prioritize the things that matter to you.
[00:34:07] Francine Clouden: Yep, definitely. And the way I look at it is I'm kind of like, you know, there's the, the left brain, right brain thing. Where, you know, the left brain is, oh, am I getting this right? The left brain is the analytical thing.
[00:34:22] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:34:23] Francine Clouden: Then the right brain is the arty stuff. And that's where I got the idea of the crafter brain.
[00:34:29] Francine Clouden: It's like the, like my crafter brain kind of melds the two things like the, you know, the, the, the planning, the organizing, the analytical with being creative. And that's what the crafter brain is.
[00:34:43] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, yes. I love it. So Francine, what types of planning tools are you personally using right now?
[00:34:51] Francine Clouden: So, the main thing I use is my bullet journal. I started bullet journaling in 2015. Before that I had tried a number of things. Actually, you know, there was a big planner craze with the Filofaxes. That's where I started. Like, I bought myself a bunch of filofaxes. You know, those three ring ring binders.
[00:35:12] Jennifer Wilson: I remember that. I just got rid of them.
[00:35:15] Francine Clouden: Right. I had, I've got, I got rid of mine a few years ago. Um, and I, and because before that, actually I had tried a number of different digital, there were all these digital websites and apps that were supposed to help you. There was To Do Lists, To Do Lists. I think it was called. There were a bunch of different ones and I tried them all and none of them worked.
[00:35:36] Francine Clouden: And then I discovered the paper planning and I loved it because of course it's creative, right? Stickers and colored notes and different pens. And so I was like, Oh yeah, this is it. So I jumped into that and I actually, um, used that for probably a year or two. But then I discovered bullet journaling and that's where it all started to make sense for me because it was such a flexible system.
[00:36:06] Francine Clouden: It could be exactly what I wanted it to be. And so that is my primary way of planning and I tend to stick. To the pure, I guess, the bullet journal method as Ryder Carroll outlines it, you know, very simple. I don't do a lot of fancy spreads or a lot of decoration. It's really, it's my monthly calendar, my dailies with my tasks, you know.
[00:36:35] Francine Clouden: That's it, basically. Every day I sit down and I write down my list of to dos, and that's my main method of planning, and that's my main method of planning everything. Like, that's kind of like my hub. I do use other notebooks. Like, I have a notebook that's just for my business, where I write down ideas, where I brainstorm stuff, where if I attend a class, I write the notes in.
[00:37:00] Francine Clouden: You know, where I set out, like I've set out my calendars for the next three months as we head towards the end of the year so that I make sure that I'm getting everything done. So that's where I kind of like, I brainstorm. But in terms of the actual, what am I doing today? That then goes into my bullet journal, which I pretty much carry with me everywhere. And of course I have my craft planner. Which is also separate.
[00:37:28] Jennifer Wilson: Mm hmm.
[00:37:28] Francine Clouden: Because what I found, I think we mentioned compartmentalization earlier and I found that I really need to have certain things separate. Especially the reason why I have the separate notebooks is that there's a lot of information that I want to refer to again. And if it's in my day to day bullet journal, and I know a bullet journal lasts for several months, I guess for me, my bullet journal is kind of ephemeral, right? It's not, um, it's not a permanent thing, right? It's just what I do on a day, monthly on a day to day basis, but there's a lot of information that I want to refer to over time, like my craft, um, notebook,
[00:38:15] Francine Clouden: I actually, I call it a crafty bullet journal. It's really not exactly a bullet journal, but since that, that term bullet journal is something that everyone understands now to mean, you know, a notebook where you keep information. So I call it my crafty bullet journal. And I've been using the same one for the last, I started the one I'm currently using in 2020, 2022, right? So I'm almost on two years of using it. Because there's information here that I want to refer to time and time again. You know, I keep in, I keep things like, you know, cheat sheets of information that I want to remember specifically related to, to knitting stuff like, you know, different yarn weights. So that's something I always have to check. And so, I make sure that I keep stuff like that in a notebook. I know exactly where it is. If I need that information, I just go grab that notebook. I don't have to be sifting through my bullet journal from two years ago, where I might have written that information down.
[00:39:21] Francine Clouden: Um, yeah, so that's. That's pretty much it, like, my bullet journal is the hub. And then I kind of have what I call the supporting notebooks. I have my business notebook, and I have, the two main ones would be my business notebook and my crafty bullet journal, where I keep everything to do with crafts.
[00:39:42] Jennifer Wilson: So I'm curious, um, on a couple of different things. One quickly, like what sizes are you using? Is there like, what's the smallest you'll go or the largest you'll go with your notebooks?
[00:39:52] Francine Clouden: Right, so my preferred size is A5. That's the one that I settled, I landed on that was the perfect size for me. Because I like, like I said, I carry it with me everywhere and that's, you know, if I've, that's, it's big enough to have space to, you know, be able to write and I'm not a neat writer. So like I need pages that I can spread out on, so to speak, because I don't write neatly. So I can't have a tiny little notebook because I can't write tiny little words. I need to be able to see what I'm writing. And it's portable. I can pop it in my purse, my handbag and go out with it. So yeah, A5 is the size that I have settled on.
[00:40:37] Francine Clouden: I find anything smaller. I do have a couple smaller ones. Sometimes I will carry If I don't want to carry my A5 notebook, I will pop like a small notebook in my bag so that I can, you know, write notes down on while I'm out and then transfer them back. But A5 is it for me.
[00:40:54] Jennifer Wilson: I think that seems to be one of the most popular sizes. I personally find it a little small. Um, but I also am not out and about a lot. I am very much at my desk. And so I use a B5 because I just, I like the extra space. Um, but the, your point about the, I guess the lifespan of a particular journal is I think really, really valuable. That we're going to fill up a bullet journal if we're using it for our everyday planning far sooner than we will ever, uh, stop needing the collections we're creating, particularly for, you know, crafts and business and things like that. So having those in separate notebooks, I think is a really smart idea.
[00:41:37] Francine Clouden: Yeah, and that is actually, that is exactly the issue that I, I ran into. Which is why I did that. Because when you start out, it's like you use the one bullet journal for everything you need to do in your collection. You turn the page, you write it down, which is fine for certain things that, I mean, I will write down, I will make collections of stuff that I, I know that I only going to refer to over for the next month, maybe in the next couple of weeks.
[00:42:01] Francine Clouden: But whenever it's anything that I know that I, I will definitely be looking back on later, then that's how I came up with my system of separate notebooks.
[00:42:12] Jennifer Wilson: I love that. Yeah, we'll definitely include, um. A link in the show notes to, uh, I know you have at least one blog post on how you use your crafty bullet journal, so.
[00:42:22] Francine Clouden: Yeah.
[00:42:23] Jennifer Wilson: Can't wait to share that. So one of your taglines is to turn that scatter brain into a crafter brain. Um, can you kind of, as we're wrapping up here, share some specific ways that better organization and planning can help crafters?
[00:42:39] Jennifer Wilson: 'Cause I know there's some of our listeners out there that, maybe just feel like really, um, held tightly to the way they are, they already do things. And maybe we want to nudge them over into, uh, some of the things that we do.
[00:42:52] Francine Clouden: Definitely want to nudge them over. Because this is something that I feel that I come across a lot with creative people that not thinking that, well, things need to be planned or organized because it's creative. So you just kind of, you know, you go with the flow and everything is wonderful.
[00:43:12] Francine Clouden: But like I mentioned the whole crafty brain concept being kind of like tying the two sides of the brain together. I don't know if it's just me, but I I almost sometimes I feel like I'm both like I'm equally divided between left and right brain, I don't know. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but that's how I feel.
[00:43:31] Jennifer Wilson: No, that's how I've always felt.
[00:43:32] Francine Clouden: Okay, so good. So there's two of us. Right, yeah
[00:43:35] Jennifer Wilson: Um, Yeah. And another totally different domain, uh, the stuff I do for the university about, we were talking about candidates that we're interviewing and one of them said that same thing. And I'm like, I, we must interview her because I like brains that work like that. I think they're really innovative and, uh, great assets to any organization.
[00:43:57] Francine Clouden: Yeah. And so for me, I mean, I said, you know, my degree was in engineering, so I had that really like technical analytical thing, but I also loved creating. And so I, you know, I've melded the two. And I know that lots of creatives don't necessarily, like you said, feel that they need to look at things that way.
[00:44:19] Francine Clouden: But It's definitely helped me to be more, um, what's the word? Organized to be, to, to plan stuff out. And some of the things that, um, I've found this has helped me is, well, in, I actually started this journey when I would get really frustrated when I would go to my craft space because I wanted to make something and then one, my space would be in a mess. Two, I couldn't find what I wanted to do for the project that I was excited about. And then, you know, 45 minutes later, nap time was over and I hadn't gotten anything done because I couldn't find my supplies or I wasn't sure what I wanted to start on. So, that's one of the things that my way of approaching it helps me to know like what supplies I have and where they are. Which will help me better manage my time. Um, I like keeping lists of the projects that I want to do so that when I do find time to craft, I'm not wondering, well, what should I do today? I actually have an idea of the things I would like to create. Um, I use my calendars to keep on top of things like dates of Um, events or occasions or like birthdays or whatever.
[00:45:46] Francine Clouden: If I want to make gifts, then I, I know that, okay, I have this coming up. I want to make a gift for this person. And therefore I need to get it done now. Um, it can also help, it also, I also like to see what I have going on. Like in my craft notebook, I have, um, I draw up project pages for all the projects that I'm working on so that I know exactly what, what are the things that I'm working on.
[00:46:18] Francine Clouden: And so I can quickly follow up with what I want to do. Because I have all my notes written down. Uh, it helps me also to kind of decide whether this is something that I want to continue or not. One of the things I like to do is what I call my get clear and get crafting process, where I pretty much list out all of the projects that I'm, that are in progress, that I want to do. That I have, that I started, you know, months or years ago and that I haven't touched again and kind of try to prioritize them and decide, am I, am I actually going to continue doing these or should I just, you know, cut my losses and move on to something else? Um, another thing that's really useful for me is that I can look and I can see what projects I have currently going to decide whether I have the time or the space to do something new.
[00:47:22] Francine Clouden: Yes.
[00:47:23] Francine Clouden: And, or to decide if I, if it's something that I really want to do, then it means then I need to let go of something else. And one of the things I do is I do, uh, do a tool inventory. I like to keep an inventory of my tools and supplies, the major ones, so that I know what I have and that I don't go
[00:47:50] Francine Clouden: buying stuff that I already have, therefore I'm saving money because I'm not repurchasing something that I already own. As far as specifically knitting is concerned, as you know with knitting, obviously you have different sizes needles, different sizes of needles. So if I've decided that there's a project I want to do and I check to see if I have the needle size that I need that is actually free for me to do this project. So I know, you know, whenever I start a project, I write down what needle size I'm using and I can check to see which needles are in use to know whether or not I can actually start a new project using that needle size or if it's something that needs to be put off. So those are some of the things I feel that can help crafters, find, make more time. Not find more time because we all have the same amount of time as everybody.
[00:48:51] Jennifer Wilson: The same. Yeah.
[00:48:52] Francine Clouden: But, but basically make more time to, do the thing that we love to do. And not be frustrated when we want to make something and then just we can't because we can't find what we need or we're overwhelmed because there's too many things we want to make and we don't know where to start. I've been in that situation so many times.
[00:49:16] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, yes, yes. And you mentioned creative flow earlier that maybe somebody who doesn't trend towards planning or organizing their ideas says, I just want to, you know, get into it. Well, I think we all face so many of these examples, and the best way to find that flow is to reduce the barrier to entry so that you can get started easily and jump in, know what you're doing, and then you're, you find yourself in that, the happy place of crafting.
[00:49:45] Francine Clouden: Absolutely. Yeah, that that's that's exactly it. I like to encourage people also to kind of organize stuff so that when they have time there are certain things that they know that they can do. So that if you only have five minutes for example. Maybe you can print out a pattern, right? Or if you're a scrapbooker and you have 20 minutes, maybe you can collect together your photos and the things you want to use for the next page that you want to make. You know, or maybe if you know you want to be making a mini book, you know, break it down into steps. You know that you gonna need X amount of photos.
[00:50:27] Francine Clouden: So when you have, I don't know, 45 minutes, you're on your computer, you're editing, you're choosing your photos, you're editing your photos, and you're getting those printed, whether you print them yourself or send them out. And then you know that you have those. So then the next step, your photos are ready and you can start working on the project. So, little things like that where you decide, you know, what can I do in five minutes? Like, in five minutes, I can wind a ball of yarn, for example, for my next project. In five minutes, I can draw up the project page for the project I'm about to start, so that when I start, and I should mention, when I draw up a project page, I write down all the supplies needed.
[00:51:13] Francine Clouden: So even if I'm not about, even if I'm not going to start the project right away, when I'm ready to start, I don't have to go hunting for wherever my tutorial or my pattern is. I pick up my notebook, I look at the project page, I see, oh yes, I, I need X, Y, Z. I get those out. If I'm not ready to start the project right away, I can get them ready and put them aside.
[00:51:36] Francine Clouden: And then they're ready to go when I have, you know, 45 minutes. So that's basically my approach.
[00:51:44] Jennifer Wilson: I would love to hear more about the tools that you've created for others to use in support of these goals.
[00:51:50] Francine Clouden: Right. So I've started producing printables. I have printable, um, project planners. Uh, the main one that I have now is, it's actually called 365 Days of Making, and it's set out monthly. So it starts with January and goes through December. Of course, you can pick it up at any point in the year and just start at the, the month.
[00:52:19] Francine Clouden: It basically takes you through the process of setting yourself up for success by taking you through the get clear and get crafting process. So that you ideally at the beginning of the year, you prioritize the projects that you want, you know, you want to work on in the months to come. Um, so there's a, a section for each month.
[00:52:42] Francine Clouden: There's a calendar where you can write down, you know, upcoming dates that are important. You can write down your list of the priority projects for that particular month. And then there are four project spreads each month that you can then use to keep track of all the projects that you're working on. So that's called 365 Days of Making.
[00:53:03] Francine Clouden: Um, I have a, another one. I have two others which are smaller, and this one is letter size actually. Usually, like I said, I like A5, but I know that some people like to have larger sizes. And the good thing with printables, of course, is that you can print them out smaller if you wanted to. I do have also a number of paperbacks.
[00:53:26] Francine Clouden: The same 365 Days of Making is also available in paperback. I have two smaller paperbacks. This one is called the Craft Project and Supplies Planner, which is very similar to, to the 365, except it's not set up in terms of months. It's just basically set up with project planning sheets that you can use however you like.
[00:53:49] Francine Clouden: And then another one that's, um, called Make Do and Mend. That's even more, that's even more simplified. Um, with just one page project sheets. And that one is the one that I actually use myself sometimes when I'm taking projects out with me that I don't have to take my full bullet journal. It's a slim paperback.
[00:54:10] Francine Clouden: So those are some of the things that I, I, I make to help crafters. I also make just plain dot grid notebooks. That you can, with it, that come with an index and that have numbered pages and that you can use for crafts or for whatever. Because I know that some people prefer to have the structure of the planner with the layouts already there for you.
[00:54:35] Francine Clouden: But other people, and I happen to be one of them, prefer to kind of just have a blank notebook and use it in the way that, that works for us. So I kind of offer both of those options.
[00:54:47] Jennifer Wilson: Nice. We will definitely link to your shop so everyone can check out all of your options. I, um, for so many years, uh, struggled to find the perfect planner and recently settled on bullet journal because the most perfect one I can create is the one I draw myself, right?
[00:55:04] Francine Clouden: That was, that was exactly what, what happened with me as well. That, that, that's the perfect one. It can be whatever I want it to be on any particular day. So, yeah.
[00:55:14] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. I can't wait to, for all of our listeners to really take this all to heart and use it as they are planning their 2024. Francine, this has been so fun. Can you share where we can find you online? Anything you might have new or coming up in 2024?
[00:55:32] Francine Clouden: My blog is theorganisedcraftybrain.com, and I need to say very clearly that I spell organized with an S because I had a British type education, So that's important. If you wanna find me, you have to remember there's an Ss, not a Z, not a Z. See I say Z, I don't even say Z. Um, so theorganisedcrafterbrain.com is my blog.
[00:55:56] Francine Clouden: I'm on Instagram as @OrganisedCrafterBrain, And you can find my weekly newsletter at kalaloocollective. substack. com. But I think we should definitely put those, that one in the show notes because that one is a bit complicated. Callaloo is the name of a dish from the Caribbean and it has.
[00:56:21] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:56:21] Francine Clouden: A special spelling. So I think we're going to have to say, find the link in the show notes for that one. for sure.
[00:56:27] Jennifer Wilson: No problem at all. All right. This has been so fun. Again, thank you for spending time with me.
[00:56:32] Francine Clouden: Yeah, this has been great. Of course, you know, talking about planning and crafts, we both love that. So it's been a wonderful time. Thank you so much, Jennifer, for having me.
[00:56:43] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to scrapbook and craft your way.
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