Thursday, 24 November 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday we Brits (or French) celebrate, it is fast becoming my favourite celebration... I'm a huge convert to the power of an attitude of gratitude and am very much still in the habit of keeping a Gratitude Journal

Here are a few things I am giving thanks for right now
  1.  For the new friendships I've formed over this last year via my work and passion for textiles
  2. For all the wonderful friends I've been able to reconnect with thanks to the internet
  3. For my improved mental & physical health
  4. For being able to spend rare quality time with family members this last weekend
  5. For everyone who has bought a Get Smitten product and attended any of my workshops
  6. For the clarity I now have on where Get Smitten is heading
  7. For the interesting work opportunities that are beginning to show up
  8. For laughter and kindness
  9. For unconditional love both near and far
  10. For being called 'my best friend' by my 3 year old niece
  11. For booking a trip back to England to see family and friends for Christmas
  12. For my early Birthday prezzie from the girls (seriously gorgeous shoes!)
  13. For the swift recovery of my dislocated knee-cap (gross)
  14. For the incredible resources at my fingertips
  15. For learning how to cut negativity out of my mindset and choosing to be positive
  16. For being able to do what I love and love what I do
What are you giving thanks for today? Do you keep a gratitude journal? Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy inside when you express gratitude? It does me

Oh and by the way... thanks for being here, I really appreciate it!

Lisa xx

{huge thanks to Amanda Cowell of Violet for her Gratitude Embroidery Hoop framed wall art, I totally love it!}

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Embracing Imperfection

We are led to believe that perfection is something to strive for, that things - including ourselves often - are not good enough unless they are perfect. I happen to disagree. I've learnt in the last few years that perfection - and the immense pressure it puts us under - is a surefire way to make us feel as though we are underachieving and will, in many cases, prevent us from either enjoying or even completing a task or project.

The high expectations of perfection loom over us in our subconscious mind, whispering doubts of whether our work is good enough to show to someone, exhibit or sell. It holds us back, diminishes our confidence and sabotages our progress. It makes us scared to take the leap of faith required to put ourselves out there in front of the people we want to be seen by. It also removes the fun, the freedom of expression and the joy of the creative process

I recently completed a blanket I had been working on in my spare time whilst watching mindless dvd box-sets - the plan was to use up oddments of yarn left over from various design projects and have something to snuggle under in the long winter months. I took great pleasure in selecting the colours and textures and enjoyed the process of making each and every square. Now, being me, I have a tendency to use haphazard yarn, many were of differing thicknesses and required switching crochet hook sizes in order to obtain the required square dimension. When I came to join the squares up, inevitably some of them needed a little convincing (in a tweaking or stretching kind of way) and in one section I needed to add an entire row of tiny squares to fill a gap. I also noticed that some of the squares had a 3 treble first round while others had a four, which also made it a little tricky to join up 'perfectly'.

At this point I did consider re-doing some of the squares so that they were all with the same amount of stitches and that's when it hit me;  
why would I need to do that? 

Why would I need to make a chore out of this project? Who is going to even notice that some squares have 3 and others have 4 stitches? The Perfection Police are not going to break down my door and arrest me for having made a slightly wonky blanket. I loved the process of making that blanket and I adore the finished result with all its quirks and imperfections. It is unique and it has character. And it is just as gorgeous and toasty warm as it would have been had I concentrated more on it than on watching multiple series' of House! But most of all, I have the sense of achievement that comes hand in hand with completing a project and now I am eager and fired up to begin a new one

Striving for absolute perfection and beating ourselves up when we don't achieve it can seriously put the breaks on our creativity. We loose momentum, motivation and the act of completion. We shelve ideas because we haven't quite got everything we need yet, we hide products from our clients because they are not quite right yet, we push projects to the back of the cupboard never to be finished because we did a few bits wrong and need to un-do or re-do them.

I'm all for doing my best in any given situation on a project and yes, there are times when I will re-do something as it requires greater concentration or accuracy, but gone are the days when I berate myself for not being perfect. I wonder if perfection even really exists?

"imperfect action is better than no action"
Christine Kane

Instead, I celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of imperfection - just like the ancient Japanese wabi sabi masters. I do my genuine best and it is good enough. I enjoy the process of creating and don't mind the odd wonky or uneven stitch... I see it as a charming trait of something handmade by a real person and not a homogeneous, mass produced factory item. I run with the ideas I have and shine my light in the world, rather than waiting until it is 'perfect' before taking action; if a pattern I publish needs tweaking, so be it; if a workshop I organise is not perfect, I make relevant changes to improve it for next time - after all it is much easier to change direction a little once you are in motion, don't you agree?

I intend to investigate the whole wabi sabi concept further - it makes total sense that this theory can influence and release the self sabotage we subject ourselves to in our personal lives too. Imagine the grace and peace that could be achieved when we embrace acceptance and gratitude. I look forward to embarking on that path!

So go ahead, create, express, shine and continue to be imperfectly perfect

Lisa x

{Wonderful Life print by Hairbrained Schemes, blanket photos by Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten} 

p.s - to explore the potential of your creative business & overcome those imperfection hang-ups that hold you back, sign up for Tara Gentile's Making Motion e-book it's only $8 and worth a whole lot more! (..yes, I am part of her affiliate program but also a huge fan & regular customer!)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

*Tutorial* - Upcycled Knitting Needle Case From Old Jeans and Shrunk Jumper!

I am a magnet for stray knitting needles and jumpers that get shrunk in the wash... and don't get me wrong, I love that people know they can give these unwanted items to me and that I will put them to good use. I currently have enough random sets of needles to open a shop and so decided to give a full set away to a friend for her birthday... This seemed simple enough until I came to wrap them as a gift, and so was born the upcycled knitting needle case!

For this project you will need:
  • offcuts of denim from when you cut your jeans into shorts - preferably with a turn-up hem
  • the arm from an old jumper (sweater) - preferably slightly shrunk from the wash
  • thread, scissors, measuring tape, ruler
  • set of knitting needles (I used 9 pairs for my set)
Let's get started!

1. First of all take your jeans leg and cut it apart so that you have a front and a back - you only need to use one of these pieces to make the needle case. Then make sure the top, where you chopped them off to make the shorts, is nice and straight as this will be the top of your needle case too. Next place it, with right sides facing, against the arm of your old jumper (as above). Pin together & trim the jumper so that both pieces are the same size - check that the height is tall enough to take the tallest needle in your set!

Note: if your jeans leg does not have a turn-up hem, make one yourself by turning the bottom hem up approx 12cm (4 3/4") before pinning to the jumper - this is the part that holds the needles in the case so it's pretty important!

2. Sew around three sides of the case, leaving the top edge open. Secure the ends and turn right side out. Press and slip stitch the open edge closed. My jumper arm had a frilly cuff and so I used this as a decorative feature for the top of my needle case

3. Lie the case flat and measure how wide it is. Divide this number by the amount of knitting needles you want to store in your case. I had 9 pairs of needles and the width was almost 20cm (8") so I marked along the width at 2cm (3/4") intervals (as above)

4. Using a tailor's chalk I marked the lines up the length of the fabric to use as sewing guides (as above). Sewing beyond the section that holds the needles in place gives the needle case a quilted effect as well as more stability in general

5. Next make the tie for your knitting needle case when it is rolled up, use either a left-over strip from the jumper arm, or if there is not enough fabric left, a length of ribbon. To prevent fraying on the jumper arm strip, I folded it in half lengthwise and used a zig-zag stitch on my machine. Pin the tie at the edge, halfway down the needle case at its own central point (as above). You will sew it in place when you sew the relevant dividing line

6. Sew along your guides - I used thread to match the jumper so that it added a decorative effect on the denim (see above). Be careful to sew the tie in place only once! - move it out of the way as you sew along the other guides!  

Note: if any of your sewing guidelines are very close to a thick hem on the jean leg, use the zipper foot on your sewing machine to get closer to it

7.  Place the pairs of knitting needles into the case in size order and simply roll the case up using the tie to secure it. And there you have it! One fab, upcycled, hand-made knitting needle case to keep you company on your knitting adventures during the coming chilly winter evenings!

I'd love to see how your own version of this project turns out... feel free to upload pics into my Get Smitten Flickr group. And what do you plan on knitting this winter? Have you started already?


Lisa x

{photos by Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten, vintage fabric used as backdrop available to buy in the Get Smitten boutique here}

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