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  • June 19, 2023 2 min read 4 Comments

    In third grade I crafted a Christmas tree ornament of green felt with more than my share of glitter and sequins glued to both sides.  My mom loved it in the way that moms love ugly things their kids make, and she hung it front and center.  I was so proud seeing my creation on the tree.  

    The next year though, and for several years after, I didn’t want to hang that ornament. A year older and wise enough to be embarrassed by the ridiculous product of my childish effort, I tried unsuccessfully to stop my mother from putting it on the tree. 

    It’s cringey but healthy, and rather satisfying, to look back on our early work and our early selves. Without knowing it, that crazy ornament taught me some valuable lessons that have shaped my philosophy as a knitter and a knitting instructor. 

    Cherish your early work.

    Our first efforts will not be our best, but we must not be ashamed of them.  They are exactly what they should be. They are learning experiences.  They are someplace to start. They represent tangible proof our our growing skills  

    Give yourself permission to embrace the experience of the mistakes because learning only happens in the mistakes.  

    You cannot make a better one until you make the first not-so-good one.  

    The first effort is actually the most important because without the first effort, you can’t make a better second one.  Or an even better third one.  

    Great novelists have all written bad first novels.  We hear about an award winning “debut novel” but you can be sure that their “first novel” is not the first novel they actually ever wrote.  It’s just the first one that made it to publication.  

    Famous painters, from Rembrandt to Rousseau, all made art that was not up to their later standards. That’s okay.  Each piece was a stepping stone to the masterpieces for which they’re now famous.

    Why should it be any different with knitters?  

    Surround yourself with mentors and a supportive community

    If my mother had treated my silly ornament with derision, I might never have made another craft. In an alternate universe, my crafting spirit was squashed at the tender age of 8 and I would never have taken the path that ultimately led me to knitting. 

    We have to surround ourselves with people who validate and celebrate our efforts–with people who help us develop our skills and share our passion.  This is the kind of environment where not only art, but self confidence, flourishes.

    This kind of environment and this philosophy is at the heart of Crazy for Ewe. When we step a little bit outside our comfort zone and do our best, our best gets a little bit better every time.  

    4 Responses

    Carol Shiplet
    Carol Shiplet

    June 21, 2023

    This could not have come at a better time as I am working on my first sweater. Thank you ,Ellen, for putting it all in prospective

    Amy Henderson
    Amy Henderson

    June 20, 2023

    “You cannot make a better second one until you have made the first not-so-good one.” I need to make a plaque with that saying on it to hang on my wall!!


    June 20, 2023

    I can so relate! I’m teaching myself to spin on a drop spindle and I hung my first baby hank on a peg all by itself to keep forever. It’s very thick and thin and areas of too much twist and too little twist, areas of really bad joins because I kept dropping the spindle a lot…..but it was yarn and I was so proud…lol. Even a month in, I can notice a big difference but I made my mind up I was keeping “baby Hank” forever just to see how far I get.

    Kelly McGowan
    Kelly McGowan

    June 20, 2023

    i’m currently Going Thru It like this with a woodworking project, i’m in that awkward spot of knowing enough to know what i want without knowing enough about how to make it happen correctly that every mistake sends me to the pit of despair for a while… fortunately my datemate is a stalwart cheerleader who helps drag me back out again <3

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