I’ve spent the last three weekends doing new and unfamiliar crafts. This has been a lot of fun but has also taught me a lesson about how I’m approaching things.
The first two Saturdays were spent at crochet workshops – while I had taught myself basic crochet around 20 years ago it was something I could barely remember and so I felt that attending a beginners course was probably wise. Over the six hours of workshops we learnt all of the basics – holding the hooking, making a chain and making the various stitches we would need to be able to navigate most patterns. A lot of what I’d done so many years ago came flooding back quickly, learning from a person rather than a magazine meant I had the chance to learn how to do things the correct way rather than the way I’d interpreted the instructions.
After the first lesson we had learned how to do the double crochet stitch (single crochet in some countries – there are two distinct sets of crochet terms) and our homework was to practice this. After I completed my first small piece I wondered what I could do to make it different – I only had one size of crochet hook so I started experimenting with different yarn types and thicknesses. Some of these experiments were really successful so I decided to push myself a bit more – I have a ball of very fine cotton from some long forgotten project and I thought this would be a really good thing to try. It was, of course, a disaster. I persevered for a row or two more than I should have before gazing down at the mess I had created and unraveling the lot. I remembered that it was important to master walking before running and chalked it up to far too much enthusiasm.
Going back to the second workshop I loved learning more stitches, particularly the treble crochet (double crochet elsewhere) which lead to us making a granny square. I just need to find some suitable, simple, patterns to start using these new skills now!
This weekend I got ready to put together my first month’s Project Life spreads. My first mistake is one of being insufficiently prepared. I convinced myself that between having a folder of photos for each week and a couple of scribbled notes it would be straightforward to put all of the spreads together at the end of the month. This was a definite over-estimation of my skill – sitting down to start I felt entirely overwhelmed and like I’d started off by creating an insurmountable challenge for myself. Oh dear.
On top of this I spent most of Saturday pulling together all of the resources I’d been buying and had received since deciding to do Project Life, and tried me best to find a desk layout with everything around me. By Saturday afternoon it looked like this
Sitting back down to it today, along with the overwhelmed feeling I had about how much I had to do, I got more panicky at the idea I needed to try and work out how to be incorporating all of these different things. I took a photo and put it on Instagram, as I was doing so I realised that I’d made exactly the same mistake with Project Life as I’d made with crochet. I’m a beginner and I need to take the time to be a beginner. I can’t do everything right from the beginning, and I need time to explore and practice and learn.
I stepped away from my table, made a cup of tea and decided I needed a new plan of action. I’ve put away all of the embellishment goodies for now, along with some of the extra papers that were adding to the feeling of being overwhelmed. I’m starting small – I have a box of cards sorted by size, orientation and whether they have a space I can fill or are complete as they are. I’ve got my pens, I’ve got my date stamp and ink pad. I’m going to focus for now on capturing the month that’s passed, and at the same time make a much better record of this coming week. I’m starting with words and photos, they’re the heart of my story. Adding embellishments will come, just as soon as I’m ready.
Stitch by stitch has long been a mantra of mine – something I try to apply to everything I tackle. I’m going to learn from the mistakes I’ve made in my crafting this month, remember this mantra and keep carrying on.