Robin Stroot Crafts take time

I believe that it’s the idea of perseverance and expectations that makes crafting become a lifelong pursuit instead of a few minutes of frustration interspersed by aggravation. Not that an experienced crafter can’t be frustrated or aggravated at their craft. I’m talking about getting started in any craft.

I remember when I learned to crochet. My older sister taught me the initial steps of making a chain and the double- crochet stitch. It was up to me to continue working on improving my crochet technique. My first foundation chain was so tight that I don’t think a yarn needle would have fit through the chain stitches. The more practice, the better I got at crochet.

Knitting (and other crafts) was the same for me. I practiced and persevered until my stitches became smoother and the yarn tension was even. I have been making knit and making crochet items for over 45 years.

I have found that teaching someone — no matter what age — often depends on their interest and on how much they want to practice. Practice and interest aside, I think the most important aspect in learning a craft is the person’s expectation of what they will accomplish within the first five minutes of the learning session. Maybe it’s because so much of today’s life gives us instant results that I have found new crafters will often give up before the first project is ever started or they want you to keep doing the craft for them. If the crafting doesn’t give them instant results then they give up. How many of you — myself included — have waited for something to come out of a microwave oven, only to be annoyed that it takes sooooo long (an entire minute) to get done? It’s all about attitude and expectations.

A crafter-to-be will ask me to teach them after they have seen me doing a particular craft, or wearing/using a particular hand-crafted item. Fortyfive years of crafting culminates in the items you see me using and wearing today.

One of the first projects many new crochet or knit crafters make is a simple patterned dishcloth or scarf. Often, the beginner wants to make an intricate item (e.g. an Aran sweater) they saw in a magazine. Manufacturers often put experience levels on a craft pattern indicating whether a particular pattern is good for a beginning or needs the techniques of an experienced crafter. I’m not saying you can’t make that particular craft pattern but to expect that to be your first project may not go any further than a knotted mess of frustration sitting in a drawer. The “experience” level rating on a pattern indicates the stitch pattern or special techniques (e.g., making steeks in knitting) require a strong foundation of the basics of that particular crafting genre. Even experienced crafters may have to make a few practice swatches to get the particular crafting or pattern technique mastered before proceeding with the larger project.

How does one make handquilted items if you don’t first spend some practice time threading a needle, making a knot and making a few stitches on a piece of scrap fabric?

Take a beginning craft class and you will learn basics then spend hands-on time actually putting the learned techniques into practice along with guidance from the instructor. It’s up to you to hone your techniques to become a skilled crafter.

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