Designing is easy. When you play it safe, that is.
When you kick things up a notch and challenge yourself (or someone else challenges you) it becomes instantly harder.
I’m not going even try and lie, I’ve been playing it safe for quite some time now. My knit designs are simple; not too much shaping, totally in my comfort zone. Quick fun knits that don’t require tons of effort and perfect for the beginner knitter. When I first designed them many years ago, it was scary and new to me. But, then I got okay with myself being out there in the Ravelry world and just kept designing, hats and boot cuffs. Which isn’t a bad thing but, I wasn’t growing anymore. It was comfortable. To be honest, this was all I thought I was “allowed” to do. I know how to knit a lot of things, I study knitting for fun, it’s my passion. My love and my third child (or fourth if you count Mr.Smashlee). But, there’s also so much about knitting I don’t know and haven’t yet learned. So I told myself I wasn’t worthy of stepping outside that comfortable designing space.
I’m no Elizabeth Zimmerman or Yarn Harlot. I haven’t been knitting for 25 years. I look at all these amazing designs on Ravelry, twitter, and Instagram and just think. WOW, they are the “lucky” ones. They have talent. Me? well… I design hats. I’m not worthy to be called a “designer”. I’m not as talented.
I listen to enough personal develop books and podcasts to know that the paragraph I just wrote is just my inner critic talking. yes, those “expert” designers worked their butts off but, in the end, they aren’t any different than me. They are people too, who knit, ALOT. Just like me. Talent is developed and in most cases, you AREN’T just born with it. I don’t know of a single person who just knew how to knit. They learned. They were either self-taught or someone showed them.
One person may start off which the “natural” ability to cast on stitches properly and another person may struggle, drop the needles and take 3 weeks to learn the same cast on ( I’m the latter). But, in both scenarios they have the ability and the potential to become amazing knitters; as long as the practice and they don’t give up.
So If I apply this belief to myself vs. the “talented knitters.” Is there a difference? are they better than me? The answer is yes and no. No, they aren’t better than me. Yes, there is a difference. I let fear of judgment and criticism stop me from going out of my comfort zone. The “talented” designers probably have felt at some point, EXACTLY how I feel. They too were probably afraid of criticism and judgment. They felt the fear and did it anyway. Me? well, I’m working on it .
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to diminish anything I have accomplished. I am a self-published designer. My patterns are available to purchase and download. And people do purchase and download them. That’s something and trust me, I am very proud of the fact I’ve come as far as I have. I love designing hats, boot cuffs and tutus. I will never stop designing these things. But, I have these patterns in my head that I actively have chosen not to write because I didn’t feel worthy.
This is where my tech editor , Tian, and comes in. God Bless her. She always stops me in my tracks with this sort of thinking. She pushes me in that right direction and challenges me to do all the things I’m too scared to do. She calls me out on my negative self-talk. As an example, Today, I e-mailed her asking about a hat pattern I was designing. I used the phrase “it’s just a hat pattern.” And her e-mail back to me was ” Ashlee, it’s not just a hat. Don’t minimize what you create.” See what I mean? Everyone needs a Tian.
A few weeks back she challenged me to was to design something with a little more shaping. It took a little convincing but, I eventually thought you know what? WHY NOT? Remember those patterns I mentioned earlier that live in my head waiting to be written down? Well, I let one of them free. It’s a rainbow sweater dress for the mini-me. For now, I’m telling myself, all I gotta do is knit one for my daughter. I don’t have to publish it. It’s less scary that way but, truth is, I probably will publish it one day.
It’s still in the sketching/schematic stage. But,The mini-me is in love. And I am too. So, it’s a go. Next week I’ll be choosing my yarn and swatching. so, this is really happening people. Buh-bye comfort zone.