One of the hidden benefits of the pandemic has been what’s been available remotely. Granted, people have been pretty upset about how there have been a lot of accommodations that businesses/employers have said they couldn’t do in the before times, but now in pandemic, they are being done without issue (I’m looking at you work from home). On a less serious note in that same vein, I’ve been able to attend Stitches at Home. I’ve taken a class in each of the 2 sessions I’ve been aware of (February and March). This time (March), I took a fabulous sewing class. It’s classic quilt blocks done in a scrappy, wonky way. People who know me IRL know that I LOVE scraps.
I really, really do. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll talk about it some more. I love being able to take something unwanted and turn it into something beautiful and appreciated. My poor Poopie thinks this is a lot of scraps. Sorry, I forgot to warn you to put down your beverage of choice. If you snorted your drink, apologies. Really, this is nothing, it’s just part of ONE paper bag. And, wonder of all wonders, it’s not all me. I love when people give me their scraps. It’s fun to me to see what they’ve been working on. And it expands my palette. So, if you have unloved scraps, you can leave them on my doorstep, and I’ll love them 🙂
Back to my class…I hadn’t heard of Shibaguyz prior to this class (https://www.designz.shibaguyz.com/). I am poorer for this. They are an incredible duo, and so much fun. I really wish this class was in person. One of the things I’ve complained about before, and I’ll complain about again and again, is how in our crafting world, we end up with crafting police. Unless you are submitting your work for competition, crafting police are completely unnecessary. These people are the ones who tell you your seams aren’t pressed flat enough. They are the ones who tell you there is only ONE way to do a specific thing. These guyz are not crafting police, and they go out of their way to reaffirm YOUR work should be what pleases YOU, in the manner that pleases YOU. Photo credit to Shibaguyz.
Crafters know that we have “go to” colors. Some people make things in shades of purple, others find every fiber they are drawn to is blue. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. Some of us recognize we have these preferences, and go out of our way to explore other colors. We buy that orange that we don’t have any experience with, and find out that it turns out it’s the PERFECT color for a project. For me, never going outside my color comfort zone would make me sad because it’s just not as interesting to me. Sharing/swapping scraps is an easy, no fuss way of testing out different things you would normally be hesitant to try as well as getting rid of some of your stuff that you know you won’t ever finish/do. Or….you could do what I did last week while shopping for my sashing fabric, and grab some fat 1/8ths in an underrepresented color.
I still love taking classes, even though I could probably just craft away for the rest of my life with what I know. Some classes, I leave feeling like I could have learned it from a book. Other classes, I learn so much my head explodes. My favorite ones are the ones where I learn just one tiny tidbit that may or may not have anything to do with the subject matter. This, In my experience, largely depends on the instructor.
I have found with just about anything, there are certain levels of knowledge. Beginners know they don’t know anything and will ask all sorts of questions and absorb information like a sponge. Advanced beginners know how to do what they like, but have listened to too many gatekeepers (crafting police), so are unsure of themselves. Intermediates know enough to have started to believe and parrot the gatekeepers, many are nascent gatekeepers. Advanced are the gatekeepers–they have a rule for every question, they often think they are experts. Real experts, though…they are not gatekeepers. There may be legitimate safety rules, but other than that they are the epitome of the newest (to me) gen X meme: F*ck around and find out. With a beginner, they’ll say “I do it like this”…because a true beginner needs to have a direction, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only direction. With advanced beginners and intermediates, they’ll say “hmmm…I don’t know, why don’t you try that?”, or “ooh, that sounds interesting, let me know how that turns out”, and sometimes “when I’ve done that, I got this result, which didn’t work for me at that time”. A really good expert responds to advanced questions by….LOL. Trick question, gate keepers don’t actually ask questions. In classes, they are the people who’s question is a statement of their gatekeeping either with an upward inflection at the end to make you think they are asking a question, or “isn’t that right?”. If you find yourself doing this in ANY situation, apologize, lower your hand, and realize you are the equivalent of a teenage know it all. You’ll grow out of it, hopefully. Also applies if you start off any sentence with “Well, actually”. And yes, I know this is a bit of gatekeeping. I’m not claiming to be an expert blogger, or even an expert human.
If you find yourself with an advanced teacher, know that they DO know a lot. Don’t completely discount what they are saying, because those gatekeeping rules are there for a reason, they have the most consistent success rate for whatever the established success is. If that is what you are going for, great. I’ve been told it’s the Sagittarius in me that wants to know all the rules so I know when and how to break them. I listened to my fair share of gatekeeping. I’ve, unfortunately, done my share of gatekeeping (again, apologies D and C). I was well into my 30’s before I had the epiphany above about the different levels. It took some phenomenal classes and instructors in knitting and spinning for me to see the pattern, and then I realized it actually extrapolates to all of life (that I’ve experienced).
We actually talked about this in my last session of the class. Someone had said they were told an always or never (I don’t remember which). The Shibaguyz handled that perfectly. Firstly, as true experts, they highly encourage taking classes with multiple teachers. They explicitly said that other teachers have other ways that may work better for us, they also can explain things in a way that maybe wasn’t catching with us. Secondly, they encouraged us to respectfully ask why? Why is that the only way to do something? Why do we never do this other thing? There may be legitimate reasons, or maybe there are gatekeeping reasons.
Classes may not be something that is feasible for you (maybe for cost, time, or something else). If that’s the case, there are local guilds, and/or groups. Barring all else, there are online groups you can join. Even if the local group/guild isn’t really what you are wanting/expecting from your support group for your skill of choice, try them out. You may find that their orange really pops in your work. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll try out a little of your purple. If you are a bit unsure of joining a group by yourself, do what I do, and become an enabler. Rope the friends/family you can stand into your obsession of choice. D and I started a group over a decade ago. It’s had people come and go for various reasons. I can tell you that a diverse group fixes the gatekeeping problem. I can say there’s only one way to do something, but then L will stare me straight in the eye, as she’s doing it a different way. Or, I could say, “you should never do this thing”, but C will lift up the project where she did just that thing I said to never do.
I did my thesis on community, and a lot of research has been done (by people actually qualified to do research) on the effects the loss of community organizations (ie guilds) have had on our communities. Learning to deal with and work with people who are different from you is an important life skill. Hearing everyone’s voices makes a better song. I don’t think I need to expand on how this applies to all aspects of our lives. Instead, here’s a song for you to enjoy. Its about celebrating differences, in ourselves, and others. Also, look forward to seeing my wonky blocks, which are all named after musical artists.