I think about this a lot. It bugs me because I think that the idea of needing to have "good technique" is such a discouraging one, especially when you are learning. I've been talking about it a bit too - around the traps - and I always come up against the "aaaahhhh but if you don't have good technique then things look terrible" and I beg to strongly disagree *. Let me explain.
I was at a craft night recently where a lovely woman, lets call her "Trevor", said to me "I'm not very good at knitting" as she sat there knitting. She told me she was trying again and was super discouraged because she felt like she wouldn't ever get the hang of it. She was doing that classic learner knitting thing (that I did for about four or five years!) where she was holding the left needle with one hand and wrapping the wool around it by doing a huge arc with her right hand. She was watching me knit and feeling discouraged. I had a look at what she was knitting - a lovely little scarf for her small person - and pointed out to her that she was knitting a scarf and that that scarf had perfectly even tension and looked beautiful. Who cares that she was a bit slow and awkward. She was making. Something that would give her (and her small) joy every time she saw it worn.
The reason I feel so annoyed by "need to have good technique" is that I think that people often feel like they aren't getting the hang of it because of their technique. Beginners and not-so-beginnners feel like good technique is out of reach and give up making. The suggestion is often that people who have good technique are "so talented", when really it is just a matter of practice. A matter of hours on the road so to speak.
Noone (except the odd freak of nature) has good technique when they begin, and many times they don't have good technique after a few years. Most people are slow and awkward. Most people throw stuff in the bin in disgust. Most people have to unpick and unravel. But if you persist in the somewhat-average-slow-and-awkward technique for a while, then you will make something you like. Maybe not love but like. So who cares that you don't have "it". You are making and by making your technique will get better. Little by little.
It is not talent that gives you good technique but practice!
I don't have a knitting gene that means I have good technique. I have however, knitted for over ten years in a borderline obsessive manner. And I am still learning! The quilt I made in the last blog post was only my third hand quilting project and at the moment my technique is still kinda dodgy. I have seen youtube clips of people hand quilting and I don't yet resemble the masters by any stretch of the imagination. In fact at the moment I appear to have made up my own funky little way of doing it. It gets OK results, with little pain and isn't too slow. Win win win. Because I have been in this place with other crafts before this, I know that it won't be long before a rhythm will appear and I won't know how not to do it. Like riding a bike. And the most important thing is that I made something I love - with dodgy technique - that is beautiful!!
I thought I would make some suggestions for how to make things you love, while having less than good technique.
1. Do simple projects
I mean projects that only use simple techniques. Master one and then up the ante just a little for your next project. Simple techniques can achieve the most beautiful results. I doesn't have to be complicated to be gorgeous. Many times simple is best.
The Purl Bee are the absolute masters of this. Most of their projects are simple and straightforward and make use of super simple techniques. And they are stunning and mainly free. Go have a look if you are in search of inspiration. Their back catalog is amazing. The key to their gorgeous projects is point 2....
2. Use beautiful materials.
A simple project using simple techniques with beautiful materials normally equals a beautiful result. Don't get sucked in to thinking that because you are a beginner or not-very-good that you should buy cheap materials. Dodgy materials are the path to demoralisation and grief. Buy the best you can afford.
Beautiful materials mean that people are so focused on the materials they often overlook the dodgy making. Don't be tempted to tell them about all the mistakes either. When they say - "how gorgeous!", you say "thanks!". I have had to practice this bit.
3. Make something you really want
If you really want it you will keep going. Even if it is slow and you have to unpick over and over again. My first knitting project was ripped back to the start four times, because I had no idea how to fix mistakes. But I really wanted it to exist. And it did. Mistakes and all.
4. Try to change one thing about your technique each time you start a new project.
Don't work on everything that is wrong with your technique at once. Make a small change each time you start a new project - this means you can still make something and don't get demoralised. Use youtube. It is wonderful!
When I began hand quilting I did it in stages. Project 1 - I just wanted to finish. Project 2 - I tried to make my stitches more even on the back. Project 3 - I tried to work on my speed a little. Progress.
5. Take your time and rip out when you need to.
When you are making something more complicated, and your technique isn't great, take your time. And always rip out when you need to. Even if it is a whole heap of work down the drain. My rule is "Is this going to annoy the s*&t out of me every time I see it?" If the answer is yes the I take a deep breath and rip it out there and then. Don' t leave it till later or you may find it sits there for many months. Human beings are tricky things aren't they?
So tell your crazy brain to be quiet - good technique is unnecessary to fully experience the joy of craft. You can make beautiful things with dodgy-average-slow technique. Practice will get you there in the end, and your journey will be visible in the things you have made along the way. And that is a beautiful thing....
What do you think? Do you agree?
* Just to be a complete contradiction - I completely agree that good technique is normally essential when doing something complicated! But that would be stating the obvious which I am obviously not into.