“Dropped needles in couches and whipstitching ears on plush kittens. Tugging and tying the ends of tiny mittens, trying to find a hook the right size, these are a few of my (least) favorite things”
Okay, so “The Sound of Music” this isn’t, but I do have a (semi) legitimate concern. [Not really…].
As I’ve gotten more into amigurumi and making my Luvvies I have learned some very important things about myself: When given time and free reign, I can crochet pieces quite quickly, especially if they are done with a larger hook, and the pieces are looking rather good. The same cannot be said about construction.
Curse of the Perfectionist
I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I hate to make mistakes (not that anyone likes to make them, but I get particularly twitchy about my own). This hatred of mistakes has led me on more than a few occasions not to try new things because if I couldn’t be perfect at it immediately, I was afraid to try. I really think that was a lot of my problems in my early days as a crocheter: The patterns didn’t always work out for me and I ended up with uneven ends, and instead of ripping it out and starting again to practice, I gave up because it wasn’t perfect. Those tendencies linger today.
There is probably no one more critical of me, than me. I can’t say the number of times I’ve ripped out whole projects, or thrown away semi-completed projects because I didn’t like the quality. I’m trying to get better with this and learn that only from my mistakes can I get better in my craft. It is not an easy lesson for this old dog to learn.
But what is the problem? I’ve already said that my crochet work has improved dramatically since I resumed in July, why isn’t it time for mai tais and margaritas? Because I’m currently learning another new skill.
Embroidery – or as I like to call it Satan’s handiwork
Okay, so maybe that’s a touch dramatic (but have you met me? Dramatic is practically my middle name). However, embroidery and stitching is something that I really find myself struggling with as I continue to study and learn about what makes an awesome Luvvie.
While I’m crocheting, I am in a rhythm; yes, I count my stitches to make sure I have the correct number for my round(s), but I’m not quite as uptight about that as I once was because I am learning to trust myself and to trust some of the techniques that I’ve learned. I just have a mental block when it comes to attaching the individual pieces.
I remember when I was in seventh and eighth grades, my middle school had electives everyone had to take. In seventh grade you had to take sewing and cooking, no choice. In eight grade you had a choice…I chose sewing, even though I preferred cooking, because I liked the teacher better. Oh the deformed creations I made. Sewing stitches and I just do not get along. I bought a new sewing machine before Christmas and I still haven’t turned it on because I can’t figure out how to set it up. Needless to say, I was not happy to learn so much of amigurumi relies on a different type of needlework.
It has been quite the learning curve to hear about whipstitches, running stitches, chain stitches (not the crochet type, the needle craft type), backstitches, and other types of embroidery skills. I crochet, I don’t sew…until I do.
And when I do sew, it is a painfully slow process that usually involves a good bit of swearing and almost swallowing pins
Adjusting the Learning Curve
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had beautifully crocheted pieces that I am so proud of, only to end up with a Luvvie that I really am upset with. Sometimes the error isn’t even so much in the stitching, but the stuffing (apparently I am really bad at skills that begin with “s”).
Poor, poor Dean Squirrel. Even though I followed the pattern precisely and have well crafted crocheted pieces, the overall Luvvie is let down by not only the stitching (that tail could have been attached far better), but also the stuffing job. The little face became seriously misshapen because of how the stuffing was distributed and inserted.
The same can be said for Delta Seal: Her component parts were stitched on okay (could be better, could be worse), but the stuffing wasn’t as evenly distributed as it should have been. Some of that reason was because I was using a cheaper brand of stuffing that clumped easily, which I’ve since corrected, some is because I wasn’t sure how much to stuff the Luvvie and underfilled the animal at the end of the day. Again, this is a learning curve. Does my daughter (pictured above playing with Delta) care that her Luvvie is a little misshapen? Not at all. In fact, if I would mention it to her, she probably still wouldn’t know…but, I can see it and that is something my little perfectionist brain has a hard time with.
Mistakes like this are some of the reasons why I decided to have the blog as well as try to open the Luvvie shop. I know there are people who have so much more skill than I do that have their blogs and You Tube channels to show the right way to do things, but I also want to share the journey. The mistakes along the way and the progress going from misshapen snail to recognizable snail.
For every piece that I am proud of, there probably was one or two that came before that were abject failures.
Fight or Flight
For me this usually is a situation of fight or flight. Will I persevere and continue to learn the craft that gives me – and others – joy, or will I run away?
I’m still here.
That’s not to say I haven’t been tempted to throw in the towel. There have been many text messages to friends and talks with my husband about whether I should give up on the stuffies and stick to hats or something more forgiving, but at the end of the day, I’ve always been a stuffed animal girl and those are what give me the greatest joy.
I love my day job, I’m a Payroll Accountant and the simplicity of the numbers and finding the patterns is soothing to my OCD brain; however, there is nothing more that I enjoy than sitting down at the end of the night and working with my yarn. To feel the strands flow through my fingers and see them wrap rhythmically around my hook; to see shapes begin to appear from where there had only been a single strand; and to see a finished plushie ready for cuddles at the end and know that I did that. So yeah, this has been a difficult skill to learn, I’m not perfect at it, I still make mistakes, but I’m learning.
Some of the mistakes that bother me so much, I know rationally that others will not see – it is just my more critical eye, and the eye of the creator who is able to pick up on these variances. And I know with each mistake I make, it is the opportunity for improvement and growth…I just have to remember that in the heart of the moment and learn to make my least favorite things, some of my favorites.