An imperfect crafter.
This is the third time i've tried to write this post, hopefully it's lucky number three!
At Handmade this year I spoke at the two Pecha Kucha sessions. I really hope they are part of the programme again next year as it was loads of fun and so interesting to hear a range of different craft stories. Pecha Kucha is a quick fire set of talks. Each speaker gets 20 slides which are up on screen for 20 seconds each.
I agreed last minute to do it, and the first thing that came to mind was the following (abbreviated here) talk. It's so interesting meeting all of you wonderful knitters, be you new to the craft or an old hand.
These aren't my confessions - oh no, they're yours! A series of troubles that I hear over and over again from you - the crafter. And i'm going to ask something of you. it'll be a bit scary, and little hard to take, but I know you can do it. You really can.
It took a long time to come to terms with - but I am. I don't do things perfectly by any stretch of the imagination. It used to really, seriously stress me out. I would get all twisted up with anxiety because almost everything I made had something wrong with it. A wonky seam, the wrong colour thread, slightly asymmetrical hem. Or fudged knit stitches because my stitch count was out, or a cable crossed the wrong way.
One day, in a fit of anxiety, I decided it wasn't worth it. Why was I so caught up in making something perfect? So what if things didn't quite turn out like the image in my head? I made something. As my grandma says - only God is perfect. In some cultures they make mistakes on purpose for just this reason. I've made peace with my imperfections - and it's made me a happier, more satisfied crafter. Religious or not, it's important to remember that we are only human.
I watch people furrow their brows as they learn a new technique, and frown when they don't get it right the first time. Something we forget as adult learners is that the learning is in the mistakes - we figure out what went wrong and what not to do. Mistakes are GOOD. You are learning something completely new, so give yourself a break and accept that you won't get it absolutely right first go.
I messed up this 'simple' lace scarf pattern so many times it was infuriating. But in making those mistakes I learned something: don't knit this project when talking to people, when tired, or basically any time that may present with distractions.
I say the word practice like it's going out of fashion. If you're learning something new, we've already covered that you're going to screw it up. You won't get it right. No-one expects you to. Oh, wait! YOU EXPECT TO! Ahhh, yes, Guess what? You won't. You'll get it wrong and the only way you're going to improve is by doing it over and over and over and over again. You know what? I've done things over and over and over again and ended up with this:
This blanket is epic. I can't really crochet. I can do two stitches - and they are right here. And now i've done them so many effing times I can't possibly forget how. And look what I have at the end of it! Practice is wonderful!
so you're allowed to make mistakes, you're allowed to not be amazing at it. Once you know that - relax. Enjoy the process of learning something new.
I cannot emphasize enough just how important your tools are. If you have crap tools, you will spend your entire time fighting against them. And if you're going to invest your precious time making something, that time shouldn't be filled with the frustration of struggling to get an inferior product to bend to your will.
Yes, you should make things for yourself, yes you should get yourself something nice, yes the most beautiful fabric or yarn or paper should be used for you. Be selfish with your making. Don't agree to make your manager at work a hat, unless they are the most amazing manager you have ever had. Your hobby is for you.
Time is precious. Don't pretend to people that what you made isn't a big deal - it really is. After the emotional stress of accepting your imperfections, after all that practice, you make something beautiful and valuable. Don't play it down. Celebrate your handmade items - you have a skill, it is worth something.
If you're near an independent craft supplier - use them. You'll get better service, more passion and real knowledge. They'll bend over backwards for you and without you - they'll be gone. Show off what you've made - because by golly they'll get excited about it.
People will think you are weird. They will judge you. It doesn't matter. This is your time - do with it what you will. Knit in public. Wear your handmade items with pride. Don't let anyone tell you that it's not cool. If you enjoy it - cool doesn't even factor.
This is my cat. Because he doesn't judge my knitting, or me, except when there's no room on my knee for him because there's too much yarn.
My grandad learned to snowboard when he was 70. Don't tell me you can't do anything. Don't put limitations on yourself. Go forth, make mistakes, challenge yourself, and craft.