Hello my Chunky Junkies it’s been awhile since my last blog post. I’ve been mulling and reflecting over things and quite honestly have been so busy, finding time to blog seems lower on my to-do’s. I’m definitely enjoying the quieter months and am spending time steadily working on new orders that come through as well as prepping new projects to launch over the coming weeks. Autumn/Winter 2019 isn’t far from my mind either as I start to put into motion organisational plans for the busy Holiday season. It seems in the craft world, you are always working six months ahead. I’ve been mulling over this article though as my recent workshops have sort of drawn something to my attention.
The craft and workshop world has recently taken Britain by storm. Nearly every community art centre, coffee shop, gallery, cafe you name it, seems to be running their own craft making workshop series. This is great news for small businesses like my own where a major percentage of earnings are derived from such workshops. Monetary benefits aside (let’s be real, they aren’t hugely lucrative) are that I can meet and interact with my followers and supporters in person as I share the joys of chunky knitting. I’ve written in the past how I’m a classroom teacher by trade, so getting back in front of students is hugely rewarding for me personally. I’m always humbled by each person that takes the time (and £) to come to one of my classes. Merino wool based workshops do not come cheaply, and The Chunky Needle is proud to offer Merino as an option in our classes. Very few chunky knit instructors offer both a combination of merino and acrylic wool, so I feel particularly proud that I’ve been able to keep merino arm knit costs below £100. I’m determined to keep costs as low as possible.
I take my workshops quite seriously and despite having some of the best laughs of my life with each of you, they can be exhausting as I’m personally determined each of you go home with something perfectly… well, PERFECT. That idea of ‘perfection’ is what’s leading tonight’s post. I am getting to the point, albeit slowly.
When a person registers onto a workshop one must remember (including myself) that he/she is a student learning a skill for the first time. If everything I custom made for each client was as easy as “getting it” on the first attempt, well, I’d be out of business. Everyone would be chunky knitting ‘pros’ and there would be no benefit to learning the craft. The art of chunky knitting can not simply be handed over in a two hour workshop. The skill behind getting either a blanket, cushion, footstool, etc. “right” takes several weeks, attempts, and moments of shear frustration before you can at last get to a point of personal and professional satisfaction. It’s vitally important to keep one’s expectations realistic when signing onto a workshop. Equally, it’s important the instructor tries to manage the burden of expectation. I have a personal tendency to want so badly for a student to go home with something as close to ‘perfect’ as possible, that it can be blinding.
The goal of a successful workshop is to pass on knowledge in a fun, socially engaging environment and for the student to go home with a finished product made with their own two hands. It’s important however, that everyone realises that it’s practice that makes perfect and that your first attempt at learning a new and sometimes complicated craft may not result in the quality of finished product you were hoping for. That is the nature of workshops - they are opportunities to work and learn. Perfection comes much later. The valuable money spent on attending a class is not simply the finished product; the instruction, materials, venue, snacks you may enjoy, wider experience is all priced carefully in the fee. As written earlier, The Chunky Needle works very hard to keep prices reasonable and fair.
I guess in a long winded, round-a-about way, I’m just trying to say, “try, try again.” You aren’t going to nail it on your first go. Come to the class prepared to go home with something custom made by your own hands. Unless you have loads of chunky knitting experience prior to the workshop, you quite possibly are not going to go home with a finished article that is catalogue ready. It’s a complete bonus if the finished work is perfection in your eyes. It takes time, experience and patience getting a newly learnt craft ‘just right’ so be kind to yourself and enjoy the process.
I have to be kinder to myself as well. It can be challenging trying to ensure 10 or more of you go home with something I’d consider Chunky Needle worthy in two hours or less. I can place too high expectations on myself as the teacher to ensure you go home thrilled with your new make. I’m a people pleaser by nature and work so hard to make sure my students leave with a smile. I need to sit back now and again and remember there’s just one of me and that all I can do is my best at any given moment. Anything beyond that is a level of perfection that even the “PROS” can’t achieve.
Onward and upward my Chunkies. I think I need a long hot bath and some R&R.