Post #1989: Making it about the process, not the product.

It’s Friday and I’m a little bit brain-dead (not because I’ve been working so hard, but because I am doing a mind-numbing piece of work this week that’s almost finished) so rather than brilliant post of brilliancy – I am posting a picture of the last crochet object I finished – which was way back in February. I love this sweater (and the yarn I chose – an Alpaca/Silk/Wool blend) but it’s a tad large on me – so I have plans to make another one in a lesser size and in black sometime in the next couple of months. I currently have three cut-out and partly sewn sewing projects (that are still current, I have others stashed away from years ago!) and two crochet projects on the go (a black stole and an afghan) – so while everything is getting some attention, I’m not working on anything particularly fast these days.

But it’s not just because I have multiple projects – I have also recently found myself with a surfeit of time owing to the fact that my social life has gotten busy and there are band rehearsals and shows to play and shows to see and on and on. I managed to get a couple of hours at the sewing machine last weekend, and I’m hoping for the same this weekend – I’ve got a dress all cut out and waiting for sewing, a spring coat, and a pair of slippers all in various states of done. Last weekend I did manage to finish a top (using the Schoolhouse Tunic pattern) but I failed to take a picture of it because it looked like a horrible maternity top on me – and so I gave it to a friend who is actually pregnant and it looks quite right on her. (Note about the Schoolhouse Tunic: the pattern designers made the usual mistake when upsizing to largest size and didn’t take any fabric out of the back – which means that if you are busty and make the largest size to account for it – you will end up wearing a tent. No joke – it’s not a pattern for larger women to look good in.) Anyhow – I was pleased with my finishing work on it, and the fact that I managed to get it done despite the fact I knew I wasn’t going to wear it about halfway through the process (I tried it on and there was no way I was going to wear it in public, but I thought maybe as a gardening smock? I’m much happier to have given it away).

I’m working right now on my thinking about process versus product – springing from a conversation I had with my partner about three weeks ago. I was bemoaning to him my lack of time to do x, y, z – not that I am missing deadlines or even missing out on doing things – but as I realized with his questions, my real source of discontent was/is the fact that I am not finishing things “fast enough”. Fast enough for what? You might ask – and after our little talk  – I have found myself asking the same thing. It would be one thing if I was trying to finish a dress in time for a party, or had a gift that had to go in the mail in time for someone’s wedding, but nothing I am working on in the sewing room has a date stamp on it at the moment. Additionally, when I put the pressure on myself to finish quickly, or simply “get things done” I don’t enjoy the process, and the product usually ends up with some issues because I’ve torn seams out the wrong way (ripping rather than picking) and put a hole in my fabric, or I’ve sewn without close attention to pattern instructions. This type of thing happens when I am more focused on the end result than the journey to get there – and I am always unhappy with myself when it does.

Since that chat I have dropped my need for instant project satisfaction and I feel much less guilty about the heap of fabrics and patterns sitting on the ironing board waiting for their turn on the sewing machine. I haven’t dropped my intent to finish anything, but I have dropped the artificial timelines that were running in my head, the voice telling me that I wasn’t doing enough, was wasting too much time on other things. I’m suddenly feeling much more assured of the fact that I will set myself to finishing these projects (and starting more besides) as time permits, rather than giving up and walking away because of the bad feelings I have been engendering in myself because of them. Making, after all, is a hobby for me – not a business and not a contest – so it should be relaxing rather than emotionally dominating… but it’s funny how often we bully ourselves into believing otherwise. I don’t know if this is the result of living in a Pinterest-perfect digital world or if it’s particular to certain emotional and privilege types (probably all of the above) – but I’m trying to cut back on creating bad feelings in myself for no reason.




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