I am constantly in amazement of the talent in the online sewing community. Actually, I am in awe of the whole creative community. You follow along on blogs and Instagram and you see people pumping out projects like clockwork. Seamstresses have a new garment (or two, or three!) each week, knitters who complete socks in an afternoon, painters, photographers, weavers constantly making beautiful things come to life every day. You can’t NOT marvel at their impeccable skills, patience and creativity.
I envy them, I truly do, because that level of productivity and skill eludes me. No matter how much time available, how many stacks of fabric and patterns and ideas at the ready (trust me, there are loads), I will likely only get a garment or two done a month. Now here’s where, when I observe others, I am tempted to call myself lazy, chastise myself for watching too much Netflix, but when I really look at it, that isn’t the problem at all.
I just want to make ALL the things.
In the past year I’ve taken up knitting and weaving, while still dabbling in hand lettering, photography, scrapbooking, graphic design and any other crafty thing that happens to catch my eye. It brings to mind that old saying; Jack of all trades, master of none.
When you make things, and try new things, the easier it becomes to make and try NEW things. You learn to observe and reverse engineer, you build transferable skills that make it easier to understand what is happening. In short, it’s really easy to fall into that “Wow, [insert fancy craft here] is pretty easy and fun! It only took a few hours”.
But soon, as with all things in life, in order to level up from that excited beginner, you need to invest more time to get to level two. And here’s where I usually weigh my options. Spend 30 hours learning intermediate and advanced skills in craft A OR spend 3 hours messing around with the basics of craft B?
Time goes on and I hop hop hop around. I see an inspiring weaving online and decide to sketch it out, buy some neon yarn and enjoy a few peaceful hours with my warp and weft. I take a break from that to look at Instagram to see that Justine is hosting a watercolour lettering class, so sign me up! On my way to the class I’m texting a friend and we decide to marble some fabric, so I’ll stop and go pick up the paints. (Okay, so I am dramatizing the pace a bit here, but you catch my drift).
In many ways, I feel like this has enriched my creativity, allowing me to pull from many influences and gives me the ability to do so many different things. I can play and adapt, solve problems and copy things I see on Pinterest, in my own little way.
But sometimes I feel frustrated. Why have I not mastered invisible zippers? Why do I still mostly shoot my camera in Auto mode? Why have I not finished my design for Spoonflower? I feel stuck and plateau-ed in many of my favorite things, just leapfrogging between the plateaus, like stones on the water.
I grow a sense of longing as I observe others perfecting their test garments before moving onto their good fabric ( I don’t often sew voiles because I am worried my limited sewing quota will be spent by the time it’s done), or see someone make 3 t-shirts in one day. I feel left behind. Then I remember all that I HAVE accomplished, in all different ways.
I don’t really have any answers for which way is best, or if a way IS even best. Depending on what your goals are, focusing on one thing could be what you need, or it could be the opposite. Right now, personally, I don’t need to have really deep skills in any given craft. I can play shallow in anything that interests me because this is my free time, my creative space, and there are no rules or limits.
One day I could change my focus and this all will change too. Right now I will try to ward off those feelings of inadequacy and revel in the joy of dabbling. And if, one day I fall down the rabbit hole and want live in one craft only, that will be okay too, and I will fight off the feelings to go run to something new.
They say comparison is the thief of joy and I wonder if that is the moral of the story. For all those skilled craftsmen I feel inadequate against, perhaps some of them envy my freedom to try everything. We all have our own strengths, our own goals and our own time, so maybe it’s not worth it to try and play apples to apples at all.
Do you ever feel like you could level up your skills in one area or do you wish you could try more things? At any given time do you tend to focus on one craft, or many?