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Cutting Fabric is Terrifying or How Knitting Taught Me to be Brave

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The other Pastille Dress iterations are coming, pending either another sad, medicine cabinet supported photo-shoot or helpful friends over Easter Break. I know which one I’m hoping for.

This leaves space for some exploration of the years of baffling sewing disinterest. At no point in my life have I not been around family members who were sewing. My mum is pretty amazing at it. It would make sense for me to have been sewing like crazy for ages.

At some indeterminate point in my elementary school years, my mother taught me the basics of sewing. I’m not exactly clear on what happened when, but I have very clear memories of a bias cut pink and brown plaid skirt. Naturally there were some attempts made at matching the stripes at the sides, centering the plaid, and such while also maintaining the bias layout. Arranging the pattern pieces on a slant instead of in line with the grain of the fabric as you normally would while also paying attention to matching the plaid just about made my head burst. The issue wasn’t the number of factors you needed to consider – no, the problem was the moment I realized that I only had one shot to get it right.

You see, once you take scissors to fabric, there is no taking it back. You can’t glue it all back together; there is no undo button on the toolbar; there is only the expanse of now useless fabric that you have managed to destroy. Oops. And cutting the fabric out is almost half the battle. If the fabric is cut properly, the garment will hang and fit properly. If not, the garment will fit weird, feel uncomfortable, and look awkward. Goofing up while cutting out the fabric means ruining your current project and almost certainly ruining the possibility of other things that fabric could have become.

That moment of horrified realization pretty much killed my fledgling sewing aspirations. I finished the skirt and backed away slowly from the scary, scary craft. Who needs that kind of pressure?

All of this drama was floating in the back of my head when I started knitting and discovered¬† that knitting was in fact magic. With knitting, you take string and make fabric. Crazy! Not only do you make fabric, but you do the shaping of the fabric as you go, without involving scissors. That undo button? It’s called frogging. You can rip out whatever you’ve knit and still have the raw materials unchanged. Sure, it takes awhile to knit whatever you’ve ripped out back up again, but nothing has been irretrievably destroyed. No pressure!

The recognition that making something out of yarn does not mean destroying that yarn’s potential to become something else encouraged me to be a bit reckless rather than paralyzed by the possibilities. Crazy pattern you have no idea how to do? Go for it! You can always start over! This reckless willingness to attempt has since transferred back into sewing, thank goodness, and to a surprising extent, the non-crafty areas of my life as well. Knitting helped me figure out how to be brave.


About autumnyarn

I am a graduate student who sews and knits to satisfy the creative urge, makes clothing to keep the creativity useful, and writes about it to de-stress.

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