I really love a challenge. I do. Sometimes I like to see if I can do something JUST to see if I can do it, whether I’m especially interested in the final product or not. But other times…man, I just get too intimidated.
I’ll be all super excited about making something I’ve never made before and become CONVINCED that I am able to climb any mountain, as the nuns sang. I’ll get all the supplies and all the patterns and all the equipment. And then I’ll freeze.
Deer in headlights. It’s awful. It looks like procrastination on the outside, but I’m learning to call it what it really is: intimidation. Most projects I jump into face-first, and if it works, it works. And if it doesn’t? No harm, no foul. There have been a few, however… No matter how much I gear myself up and gird my own loins, I have simply struggled to complete these projects, even when they have gotten to well-past-the-50%-mark.
Knitting a Cardigan
I am a committed and long-term dishcloth knitter. They’re quick and simple–you can even memorize the pattern and knit anywhere you go. They have the added benefit of making you feel super accomplished, which means you get to call yourself A Knitter without actually making anything large or complicated.
I wear cardigans almost every day, year round. Any time I leave the house, I have a sweater in my bag JUST IN CASE. I adore the cardigan sweater, and would treasure a hand-knit one, especially one that I made myself. How many times have I bought yarn to start knitting a sweater? At least three? And how many sweaters have I actually started? One. I swatched it, and then I chickened out. I don’t know what the hold-up is, really, whether it’s fear that I can’t do it, or that I’ll get bogged down in the middle, or that I’ll make a mistake. Something about the whole process is so DAUNTING. I feel overwhelmed at the scale of it all, the number of tiny stitches required to get to the finish line. I expect it’s what folks who have never sewn a garment must feel like, that sense of impossible mountains to climb to reach the goal. I look at a sewing pattern as limitless possibility, but man, I look at a knitting pattern as a war to be waged. And I haven’t been bold enough to get past my own borders yet.
Sewing a Men’s Sport Coat
Whoo, boy, THIS one. With this project, I know EXACTLY what’s holding me back: absolute intimidation at the scale of the project and the promises I made in association with it. I started this project ages ago, knowing it was kinda a big deal. And I promised my husband, and I blogged it as a series…but the expectations were really hard to swallow. My husband has a LOT of sport coats, so he knows exactly what he wants and what he’d like it to look like. And I have never made anything tailored to this degree, not for men, anyway. I would like to not let him down, and this is the first time I have really felt that way about my sewing.
I studied the pattern, and I made a muslin. And I made adjustments to the muslin and I tried it on him and tested them out. I’ve done everything I ought to do, and in theory, it will all turn out OK. But somehow…I just can’t pull the trigger on the finished project. And so it lingers, in WIP Land, waiting and waiting and waiting for me to pick it back up.
Making a Very Complicated Quilt
This one I have actively avoided for one very important reason: time. These fabrics were pulled over a year ago for a project I was calling my #bossquilt (because it was gonna be so BOSS), but I never even began cutting. Once I saw that it was going to take 978 pieces (yes, you read that right) to get it sewn, I choked a little bit on my coffee and had a hard time even thinking about it again. Sheesh! SO much cutting!!
I want this quilt–the Tobacco Leaf Quilt from Denyse Schmidt’s book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration. I want this quilt so badly I can taste it. But I know that once I start sewing, it’s a long, long, LONG road to the end, and that’s what slows me down. I hit a wall of thinking about how much effort is involved, and I can’t quite get the first cut made.
You know? The funny thing is, just writing this all out makes me see how silly my fears have been. Knitting a sweater? If I don’t finish, who cares? I think I worry that I’ll have wasted all that expensive yarn–but isn’t it getting wasted right now, NOT being knitted up? And the men’s sport coat. So what if it isn’t perfect? I can always harvest the fabric for something else, or get some on-the-job training about tailoring while I make adjustments, or use that project as a prototype for later ones. It doesn’t have to be perfect–and I always give myself permission to make things that aren’t perfect for myself, so maybe the best way to get better at sewing for my husband is to own that the first few projects I make for him might be flawed. And that’s OK. And the quilt! One of the great things about quilting is that you can stop and start and stop and start and stop and start…until the job is done. It WILL take a long time, but the pattern is so amazing and the fabrics are so lovely that this quilt will be the one thing my children and grandchildren go to the mat over when my will is read. Totally worth all that effort, right there.
Look at that. It’s like talk therapy, right here, y’all.
So what about you? What are your fears and intimidations when it comes to getting a project started or finished? And could they be the reason your WIP pile just keeps going? What would it take for those works-in-progress to get picked up again so you can have some finished pieces to enjoy?