Hello lovelies. Do you ever spend time on a project and decide when it’s finished that it isn’t quite how you wanted it? The joy and the excitement you felt at finishing soon turns to disappointment and perhaps even shame? You start to berate yourself, with messages such as, “I’m not very good at this am I?” or, “I just haven’t got what it takes” or, “What a waste of time!” and even, “What will people think, I can’t show this to anyone”. Well, these are all familiar thoughts, feelings and messages that I have told myself over the years and being in the thick of them is not a good place to be.
A combination of a fear of failure, perfectionism, impatience and high self-expectations really is a heady, overwhelming cocktail of issues and working on anything, whether creative or not, is a risk when these are at play! I am of course talking from experience. I have a tendency to want to get things right first time around and a fear of what it means if I don’t. A keen sense of urgency and panic that time is running out has propelled me from one project to the next.
It would take me too long to unpick each of these, to tell you what I believe the roots of them are and to analyse my life in relation to them. Needless to say, they are tricky to deal with. However, over the last year or so, although I often still expect too much and I want things to be perfect right now thank you very much, I have noticed that I am placing so much less importance on the notions of success and failure. I am coping so much more with these issues when they rear their heads.
Take for example the self designed shawl I have been knitting since January. I had such high hopes for this beautiful yarn I bought with some Christmas money.
I based my design on a shop bought shawl given to me by my lovely Mum, which is made up of 2 equal rectangular halves, sewn together down the back so that it falls at the front and the back a bit like a poncho. I changed the design a little, making triangular fronts and rectangular backs, joined together down the back and I set to work.
I was hopeful all the way through and very much enjoyed the feel of the yarn as I was knitting. It was really clear after completing it and then blocking it (using water/steam to relax the fibres) however, that due to the type of yarn (very soft and light unlike the yarn in the original shawl) and amount of fabric created at the back compared to the front, it just didn’t sit right and what I had envisaged this whole time hadn’t worked. My initial response was rising panic and anxiety. I had spent a long time on my shawl and my dream of a pretty, floaty, Spring shawl wasn’t a reality.
After putting it down and letting it sit for a few days, I picked it up again and put it on. It was make or break – literally. I took a deep breath and stared at myself in the mirror. I started to fiddle with it, pulling it gently this way and that to see if I could do something with it. Hhmmm…pulling the bottom back of the shawl round to meet the bottom front seemed to work! After asking the opinion of my patient husband and kids, I wasted no more time and joined these parts of the shawl together to make a very passable cardigan of sorts!
Now I know I’m not going to win any knitting awards. My shawl is not how I envisaged it would be and it is by no means ‘perfect’, but I was and still am so very chuffed with myself for seeing through that panic and finding a way onwards.
Turning my shawl, that didn’t quite fall right and had too much fabric flapping at the back and not enough down the front, into a cardy has pleased me no end and made me proud of myself for first of all, looking for a solution and secondly, for actually finding one. The picture so easily could have been different. It could so easily have been me, unravelling the whole thing in a blur of tears, vowing never to experiment or knit again and convincing myself that I was rubbish!
I have been learning resilience all this time! Resilience can be defined as an ability to recover from difficulties, or being able to bounce back. Now I know resilience may be a bit of a buzz word at the moment but it really does accurately describe a skill or value I have learnt without realising it – by showing up, being present and trying, and by moving those flipping goal posts of success and failure.
Now, instead of setting out, looking ahead and racing towards the finish to a ‘successful’, ‘perfect’ outcome, I try to relish and enjoy the process. Now instead of feeling like I have failed and berating myself if something isn’t quite how I wanted it, I think about what I have learned and how I can use this learning next time. And instead of immediately dismissing the project as a ‘failure’ and a waste of time, I take a deep breath and wonder if there is anything I can do to adapt, to think of the outcome in a different way.
Have I failed? Or have I succeeded because my idea of success is not perfection any more? Yes, success to me is trying, it is showing up, it is learning, it is persevering and it is moving…ever onwards.
If you love my shawl/cardy enough that you’d like the pattern, I am happy to oblige. You can leave a comment here or connect with me on instagram.
And now my loves, I am moving onwards towards the weekend! Thank you for reading!
Take care of your lovely selves won’t you?
Love and warmth always,
What a pretty cardigan! I would never have guessed it wasn’t what you intended but thank you for being brave and sharing it’s story. I too believe everything we make teaches us something so it is never a failure. Much love as always, Jana xxxxx
Good for you for coming up with a “Plan B”. Even if it’s not what you initially envisioned, those of us on the outside would never know that and the end result is beautiful!