SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME

It’s been ages since I last wrote anything on this blog and am feeling slightly guilty. All those good intentions, went out of the window, oops. I am not going to make any promises, but I will try to write more. One of the problems I have with writing is the content. One would assume that because my website focuses on my knitting and crochet work, the blog content would reflect that. Great theory, but primarily I am a ‘storyteller’. That’s just a nice way of saying I talk a lot and I am one of those annoying people who interrupt conversations with “oh something similar happened to me. Like the time ‘Aunty Mary took the flannel into the toilet”. I can’t help myself, I have an uncontrollable urge to share funny tales, and I often embellish them. So I have decided not to fight my urge to share and incorporate it with the knitty, crochet stuff.

My topic this time is Procrastination .. Subtitle Please write that pattern Fran

The perfect way to design and make a garment or some such, is to write the pattern first. It’s a foolproof method. You make a swatch. Measure the tension. Work out the maths for all the sizes and write the pattern. Then and only then you start to make the garment. That way you discover if there are any instructions you need to change or any tweeks you want to make. I have a problem with the word ‘perfect’, subconsciously or maybe consciously I fight against ‘perfect’. I know my faults and embrace them. I know I should overcome them, but that would make me ‘perfect’, oops.

I am the same as most creative people I know, we have an idea and can’t wait to make it. It’s a common trait amongst knitters. When eager customers pick up their wool from the shop, I know they are going to go home, and start knitting. I can see the sorrow on their faces when I tell them to read the pattern first, do a tension square etc. It’s like taking away a ball of wool from a kitten. I also know they are going to ignore me completely and start knitting. Okay there are some among you who will say, ‘I always read the pattern etc’, these are the ‘perfect’ people.

I have a confession to make, I don’t always practise what I preach. My design approach is simple, do a swatch, work out the measurement and make the garment. Nine out of ten times it works, I have been doing this a long time and have all sorts of numbers in my head, so I know my armhole depths, shoulder widths and such like. I always make the garment in the smallest size, that seems to be an industry standards for most magazines, although I have yet to meet an army of size 8/10 knitters. It’s supposed to look better if the model wearing the garment is waif like, but I think it doesn’t help someone of normal size (is there any such thing as normal, but you know what I mean), to see what the garment would look like on them.

When I have finished the garment, all I can think of is making the next thing. It’s so hard to force myself to write the pattern. I put it off and put it off. Pattern writing encroaches on my making time, but it’s the most important part of what I do. How would people be able to make my designs without the pattern. I KNOW THIS. Shouting at myself really. It’s so stupid, because once I sit down to write the pattern it takes me no time at all. I am not alone in this, I know several designers who have experience the same problem and have offered me all sorts of tips. ‘Write the pattern first thing in the morning, freeing up your day to knit or crochet. ‘Create a positive association with pattern writing, and reward yourself afterwards with a treat’. Great advice, but the treat would have to be Aquaman aka Jason Momoa, coming to my house and cuddling me all day. Just a cuddle I hear you cry. I am a lady and wouldn’t write about such things on here. But for some unknown reason my brain ignores all the advice. Even when I try it like now for example, I decide to write a blog post about it.

I know I have a tremendous amount of will power when I choose to. I gave up smoking, cold turkey, after 40 years of smoking. I gave up alcohol at the same time, in order to help the non smoking. Double whammy, but I made up my mind and just did it. I know it’s only me who can do it. I am just sharing this with you, because I know that there are so many makers who share a similar problem when it comes to sewing up a garment.

i run classes in finishing techniques and encourage people to take a positive approach to sewing up. To set aside a time and look forward to it. Taking comfort in the fact that if they take the time and effort then they will value that garment more. Approach it with love. if you ‘hate’ sewing up and tell yourself that, then you have already set yourself against it. The CBT approach is ‘What we think is what we feel. I am a great believer in positive thinking and it works.

Okay I know you are curious about “the time Aunty Mary took the flannel into the toilet”. When I was a child we lived in a flat in Clerkenwell. The toilet had no washbasin in it, just the loo. We had to wash our hands in the kitchen sink. My nan had a brother Tom and his wife was called Mary. We didn’t see Uncle Tom and Aunty Mary often and a visit to our flat was a rare occasion. Uncle Tom was a tall, broad man with white hair, he was in his seventies at the time. A man of few words. Aunty Mary was much shorter than Uncle Tom and very round, almost bent over, had a very broad Scottish accent, and for us cockney urchins it was impossible to make out what she was saying, so there was a lot of smiling and nodding going on. She also had a very large bag, which she seemed to keep all sorts in. She kept opening the bag and getting things out, which we found very amusing. I lived with my three sisters, Maureen, Kathleen and Anne Marie and my brother John. I think I must have been about 12 at the time of the visit. It was such an unusual event that we were all told to be on our best behaviour. Unlike now when people are so open in their relationships and their homes, welcoming all and sundry inside, in those days, everything seemed to stop at our front door. My friends never crossed that freshold, everything was conducted on the doorstep. It must have been an overwhelming experience for my Mum. Also for my Aunty and Uncle, being in the company of five giggling, kids. Just before they left Aunty Mary asked to use the toilet, she took her large bag in with her, then came out again and asked mum for a flannel. Mum found one and gave it to her, and you could tell by the unspoken signal to us, that she was puzzled. When Aunty Mary had finished she came out and handed mum the flannel, then they said their goodbyes and left. After Mum had shut the door on them, she immediately threw the flannel away, and there followed a great debate about what the flannel was used for and how. After all there was no washbasin in the toilet, so did she flush and then dip the flannel in the water to wash her hands. Or did she use it for other purposes, whatever the reason it disgusted Mum. That mystery was talked about for weeks, with Mum’s friends and Neighbours.

In the following months we played a game called ‘Aunty Mary’, we would pretend to come to visit and bring a big bag. One of my sisters would ask for something like ‘a cup of tea’ and I would bring out a teapot, cup and saucer, or someone else would ask for ‘a hammer’, you get the idea. I was always Aunty Mary and tried to fill my bag with anything I thought would make us laugh. Of course I dressed up in Mum’s coat and hat and spoke with an undecipherable accent which would add to the laughter. We were such cruel kids then. It didn’t last long though, my Dad caught us at it one day and asked what we were doing and of course we had to tell him the truth, he was not impressed and told us off, so playing ‘Aunty Mary’ was stopped.


So, In essence I have just spent thirty minutes avoiding writing patterns by writing this blog post. Just so you don’t feel alone in putting things off. In fact, back to the title of this post ‘So much to do, so little time’, I have to go out now so will just have to write the pattern later. Oh well, by the way if anyone knows how to get Jason Momoa to cuddle me let me know.

STOP THAT WOMAN

I was walking down the street the other day, when I heard a woman screaming. I looked around and realised she was pointing at me. Everyone nearby started staring at me and I felt really scared. What was it she was saying, I wondered. I plucked up my courage and asked a passerby, "what did that woman say". The stranger looked at me and then with downcast eyes she whispered "she said you had made a mistake in the jumper you are wearing and one of the cables is the wrong way around".  I was shocked and stumbled away, my worst nightmare had come true. 

Of course, the last paragraph is a work of fiction. It never happened and it never will. Then why do we worry so much about little mistakes in our work, it's pointless to get stressed out over a missed stitch, or a slight deviation from the pattern.  Everyone make mistakes, that's how we learn. After all every handcrafted  item is individual, it's part of you. Mistakes make it more individual. If you want perfection then buy a machine made jumper. guaranteed to be perfect and soulless.  I know some of you are gripping the edges of your seat with horror, and thinking 'I don't allow mistakes to happen' or 'I have to correct every mistake I make'.  That's fine, if that makes you feel comfortable and you need to be in control. Personally I like to live a stress free and relaxed life. If I make the odd mistake or two, I don't beat myself up or lose sleep over it. Didn't someone say 'life is too short to stuff a mushroom', not sure if that analogy is correct in this situation but I love that phrase.  If someone feels they have to point out a mistake to me (which I can say in all honesty has never happened), I would humour them and count myself lucky I had more to do in life than to criticise.  So the next time you feel like ripping back rows and rows of work for one mistake, or abandon a project completely, ask yourself does it really matter. Carry on and take comfort in knowing the finished item will be unique and loved. 

NOTES ABOUT TENSION FROM A VERY LOOSE WOMAN

Hi All, hope you are enjoying the fabulous sunshine.  In this weather not many people knit or crochet, so it's an ideal time to brush up on your techniques.  As you can see I have mentioned the dreaded word Tension in the title, so for the few of you wonderful peeps that are still reading this, here goes. As  you may know I work part-time in a wool shop and I can't count the number of times I have spoken to customers about their tension.  I have come to realise this is a very sensitive issue and it illicits so many different responses.  

I DON'T LOOK GOOD IN A HAT

I DON'T LOOK GOOD IN A HAT

Hi, this is my first blog post on my new website. I am just going to waffle a bit and introduce myself.  My name is Fran, shortened from Frances, which I only get called now if I am either really naughty or up in court. I have been knitting, sewing and crocheting from my pre teens to adulthood.  Some may say I am an expert. I would say no to that, I do know a lot, but am always learning.