Over the last few months I have observed several common tendencies among the knitters I have had the pleasure to work with. One in particular makes me very curious. Fear. Fear of the unknown, (will I be able to do this pattern?) fear of failure, (I need to rip back how many rows?), fear of showing (my work is definitely not good enough to post!), and fear of creating (the pattern says to do this and that is the way I have to do it). Sometimes I am not sure how we get any projects done with all of the fear or reluctance that is attached to creating but on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis I see some beautiful projects being completed. So what is it that makes so many of us persevere to the end? I think it has to do with the magical mixture of heart, the overwhelming need to give, and the end feeing of accomplishment.
My thoughts on the topic of fear actually started with thinking of this wonderful woman who comes to knit with us at our community knit nights. Every once in awhile, as everyone is diligently working on their projects and friendly conversation is abuzz, a loud screech will fill the air and all eyes widen as we stop what we are doing. "Oh my god!! I dropped a stitch!! Don't move!" Our hearts will pound and we all wait until she either realizes that the stitch is fine or friends come to her assistance and help her get through it. The fear of failure, of making something that is perceived to be not perfect (and most of it is in our own minds), is deeply ingrained and attached to creating.
One thing I have learned is that no matter how you create or with what medium you choose, the ability to be flexible with your project is important. To be able to keep your vision of the end product kind of hazy so that as you are working, the project has a life of its own and not stuck to a perceived "have to". This is what I mean when I say fibre art needs heart. Did you ever realize that the idea of failure is all in your head? Often failure is thought to happen when the project is different than the pattern or expectations. To me, the best projects I have seen are the ones that are just a little bit different than the rest. This may be because a certain person and their personality was thought of while the project was being made or maybe it was because the creator let some of their authentic personality take over. This is the gold in art, the ultimate "wow" factor comes with this originality. Fear can be encouraging here because it can push us to do our best, to minimize mistakes but the caution is to not allow it to be debilitating. We shouldn't stop when we feel that fear, we need to strive past it.
Instead of carrying the stress of what needs to be, let your walls come down (for some people even allowing the little cracks in the wall will be all that is needed). I know, I know, easier said than done and I am one to talk in this realm but it is with the encouragement of others (teachers, family, and fellow creators) that I think this can be done. Gather your circles of "encouragers" and allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and go beyond your comfort level!
How many people actually keep the projects they make? I was thinking about this as I put on my raggedy $2 mittens this winter. I would love a pair of hand knitted mittens and I know the exact pattern I want too. My place in my queue is so long down the list that I am hoping to get to them in about 10 years and I don't even have grandchildren yet!! I have determined that my children cannot have kids until I finish making all the projects I want to make for them. I have also thought that Fly in the Fibre should start a Christmas club that will meet once a month throughout the year and we will only work on Christmas presents. That way, these poor knitters and crocheters that come into the store hardly able to open their fingers because they have been working 24/7 trying to get their gifts made can actually enjoy the season holding onto their wine glass rather than needles.
All kidding aside though, I have noticed many people completing projects that they probably never would have tried if it was for themselves but because it is for others, boundaries are broken. Colours are used that would never be worn personally but look fantastic on that friend or family member. The hmmmm's are then heard. Hmmmmm that actually looks pretty good, hmmmm the colours really do go together, or hmmmmm that pattern would look fantastic in a sweater. The mind stretches to add in the many possibilities that develop when we allow ourselves to imagine "what if?".
The most exciting part of creating is that little bubble (sometimes it is a big bubble!) of inspiration that bursts and the need to "make" overcomes all other thoughts. There is no room for fear here. Fear will only make the bubble smaller. The "but's" and the "I cant's" are not welcome at this stage. For those of us unfortunate enough to have the infliction of doubt, focus on the feeling that comes with completion and giving and that will hopefully chase those fear gremlins out of your mind!
Oh how to explain this feeling?!! The release of the back of the mind where the project sits that squeezes into every waking thought and the pressure is known in words as saying "I need to get it done, I need to get it done". The mid-project blues that sits in a cloud above our heads that we usually struggle to get through is gone in a burst of fireworks and lights. The overwhelming need to let our hands rest but automatically we think- wait! Now I can start the socks for Sammy, the toque for Tommy, what should I do next! The showing of the project to everyone we see, stopping people in the streets, "Look what I made! See this cable? This stitch is perfect! No mistakes in that spot!" (Kidding, who does this?). Besides the person receiving this beautiful handmade gift, the world usually remains in the dark that such a fabulous creation has been brought into the world.
The fear of thinking others will take a close look and critique every stitch holds us captive. Or it may be the inability to accept the compliment, afraid that we might feel good about what we just accomplished. Maybe we are afraid that we might think we are better than we really are? Don't those all sound silly? These fears are so true among us all though. We need places to scream from the rooftops that your hardwork, time, energy, tears, frustration, imagination, creation is complete and where better to let it be known than in those safe places like local fibre stores, Ravelry, Pinterest, Facebook fibre pages, and fibre groups that you attend all year and provide support and camaraderie to others. There are so many like-minded creators out there that no project should ever not be appreciated a hundred times or more when it is complete. Bask in the feeling of completion and accomplishment. This feeling is what carries us through all of the fears, doubts, and mid-project blues. The other wonderful thing about sharing is that it inspires others! Yes- your project WILL inspire others. Whether it is the style, colour, or your skill- it will inspire others and who doesn't want to do that?!
That is my message to all of you wonderful fibre lovers and creators of art. I think I could post many times on the topic of fear but who wants to dwell in that deep cavern? I would rather climb out of it and live in the world of possibilities. Fear can be inhibiting or encouraging but the world in where creations are developed and born, the place for fear is not here. Remember, the definition of fear is "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something is dangerous." The only danger in creating is not allowing yourself your full capacity to create with fibre so why would you allow something like fear to hold back that fabulous, spectacular you?