Saturday, November 3, 2012

Commitment Day 3: Self-Taught, Self-Motivated

It's Day 3 of my 30 Days of Commitment series! See my other posts here.

When I talk about crocheting with my friends, they commonly ask me to teach them how to do it, or tell me it looks hard. My fellow crocheters, you know it's not all that hard, right?

I am a self-taught crocheter. I don't know how I stumbled upon it in the first place, but for years I have been in possession of a very old Crocheting for Beginners (not sure if that's quite the right title) book. I mean, this thing still had black and white printing. It was crazy.

My grandma taught me knitting when I was very young. I had a brief "knitting revival" in college (AKA a scarf that took me a year to finish), but it left me open to trying new things, and when that old book caught my eye, I decided to give crocheting a try.

It was hard at first. I had to squint at these old grayscale photos for long minutes, then squint and poke at my work, figuring out things as simple as how to count stitches and what on earth this whole turning chain business was.

The worst experience was probably learning to crochet in the round and in a spiral, which I first tackled making the Tiny Striped Turtle. Remember these guys? I don't know about you guys, but it was an absolute nightmare figuring out how to count stitches in the round. But I did it, and check out my success!

That little yellow turtle was my first true crocheting success! Not long after, I went to study abroad in China, armed with a couple hooks. After finding some yarn, I tackled the Swirls Cap pattern, which turned into yet another battle with round-counting, in which I finally mastered the art of keeping count of my stitches!

This is a very old project (like I said, one of my first). Maybe one day I'll do a post recapping my pre-blog projects.

The point of this is not just to tell you guys a boring story about myself. The point is to encourage all of you who read this to jump in and try new things. I would never have gained the confidence I have now if I hadn't picked up that book on a whim and given a new skill a shot. I would not be at this point if I had not picked patterns beyond my skill level and slowly battled my way through them.

If instead I had sat at my desk, admiring the work of others and not trying to surpass myself, I probably wouldn't be crocheting now. If you want to learn, learn! There are hundreds of great books out there to learn from, and probably thousands of instructional videos accessible with a few quick YouTube searches!

Sadly, given the limited time I've had in past years to really "pursue the craft", my skill level hasn't increased by much. However, I do have a few goals set for myself to accomplish in the coming years.

1. Make more amigurumi besides cute little turtles
2. Learn to design amigurumi
3. Crochet clothing
4. Give knitting another try
5. Learn to knit cables
6. Sew my own clothing

What do I have to spur me on? I have this giant collection of patterns and inspirations for amigurumi:

This is just for don't want to see the massive collections of knitting and crocheting patterns and crafting  and sewing tutorials that I've amassed over the years.

I also have these books as motivation. On the left is a great collection of crochet stitches that I picked up at a used book store. In the middle is a present from a friend, a collection of gorgeous sweater patterns (all knitting patterns, all utilizing cables). On the right is an awesome book of sweater patterns. You can mix and match body, sleeve, neckline, and pocket styles. It's so freaking cool.

And, by browsing crafting sites and online stores like Modcloth and Anthropologie, I have accumulated hundreds of inspirations of clothes, accessories, and crafts I want to make.

It seems like a lot. What use do I have for all of these future ideas, with the finite time I have? How can I expect to master all these skills?

I mean, maybe I won't. I certainly won't recreate every single interesting dress or jacket that I saw on Modcloth. But the point is that I have collected all these things to motivate myself. When I look at my "hoard" of resources and inspiration, I see a goal I want to reach. I want to be that good. I want to be that skilled. I want to be able to devote that kind of time to hobbies I love.

So, inexperienced crafter that I am, this is the advice I offer:

- If you want to do it, do it, don't just sigh about how you aren't good enough.
- Challenge yourself. That's how you learn the fastest.
- Be brave enough to set unrealistic goals and acknowledge them as such.
- Collect your inspirations, and encourage yourself to keep moving forward

Now I want to hear from you! Share in the comments how you learned to sew/knit/crochet/whatever it is that you do! What is your advice to budding crafters?


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