I want to talk about something that happens to me quite often. Friends, young relatives and coworkers will, upon becoming aware of my love of sewing, knitting and embroidery, lament that they “wish they could do that!”. Any offers of advice or help to learn are met with steadfast certainty that “Oh it’s too late for me to learn, now.” or “I tried to learn when I was a kid but never got the hang of it”. According to some people, there’s a cut-off point for learning things, after which any attempt is doomed to failure.
I have a confession to make. I am 28 years old. At the age of 23, I couldn’t even sew a button. And had never embroidered a thing in my life. I didn’t even own a set of sewing needles.
Oh, that’s not to say I never had the opportunity to learn. My mum went to great pains to try and teach me knitting and crochet, carefully demonstrating the craft and leading me through it. The skills never took. I grew frustrated and gave up on a project when my mum would inevitably take the needles from my hands and rip back a dozen rows to correct errors I’d made. I lost heart when hours of effort failed to produce a passable knit scarf, or even a cohesive single chain of crochet. I also wasn’t the most feminine child, rejecting most things I perceived as “girly”.
It wasn’t until I was approaching my mid-twenties, living away from home, that I started to feel a renewed interest in making things. I was also – as I am now – on a very low income, and didn’t really have the spare cash to invest in books, classes and piles of equipment for skills I might never master.
So how is it that now, five years later, I can sew something like this
Craft intricate, beaded and embroidered pieces like these
Cross-stitch intricate designs like this bag
Knit my own clothing, like this
And spin yarn like this
The truth is, there is no time limit on learning new skills. And it isn’t necessary to make a large investment in materials, classes or books in order to do so. Almost every craft skill I’ve gained over the last five years I learned by watching youtube videos and reading free, online tutorials. Every piece of equipment I own for my crafts came either from cheap Ebay sales, Christmas and birthday gifts or freecycle.
I’m going to start a regular category called Budget Learners. Each week I will choose a craft and provide youtube links, blog tutorials, cheap materials and my own recommendations regarding ways to learn. We start tomorrow, with Budget Learning – Knitting Edition.