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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Out of my comfort zone…

In a moment of madness and over confidence, I signed up to teach a couple of workshops at the Knit & Stitch Show, at Alexandra Palace, later this year. Partly, I did this because I want to try new things, and get out of my usual comfort zone, which is sewing for myself, in private and away from prying eyes. That way, nobody witnesses my mistakes, has to put up with my indecision, or gets to see what incredibly shaky hands I have. And believe me, my hands shake something rotten, so it's all the more curious that I should sign up for demonstrating something where the focus is going to be entirely on my hands (perhaps I could wear a clown suit and make up to detract from them?).

The two workshops I've signed up for are how to make Dorset buttons, and how to make a penny mat brooch. Both subjects are well within my comfort zone, so there's no problem there, but teaching is an entirely different matter. What if I get stage fright? What, if when I'm asked how to do a particular stitch, my memory erases itself? Perhaps I'll look blankly at the questioner, wondering what on earth a 'stitch' is, and what is that small, sharp metal object, with an eye in it that they are holding? It's entirely possible!

So, to make life easier for myself, I've been putting in a little practice. I already have several penny mats, and heaps of Dorset buttons that I can take along to the show, but thought a sampler for each might be useful too. I've started with a penny mats sampler, which includes a lot of the stitches I like to use, as well as a few suggestions for how else you can embellish your pennies, eg, with trims, buttons, Suffolk puffs (yo-yos) etc. 

I haven't enjoyed sewing this much for ages–it's the type of sewing that I get totally lost in, where time flies and dinner gets burnt! Whimsical stitches in felt, combined with circles, and a 'let's see what happens' approach to design tick all the sewing boxes for me. Hopefully, I'll be able to pass on some of this enthusiasm to anyone who attends my workshops, and not let nerves get the better of me.

So, have you ever done something entirely out of your comfort zone (sewing or otherwise)? And afterwards, did it cure your nerves and make you feel like mistress of the universe, ready to take on all manner of new challenges? I'd like to know!


PS: If you do happen to be at the Knit & Stitch show, and would like to see what a nervous wreck looks like, come and say hello. I'll be the one dressed as Ronald Macdonald.


  1. The thing with stage fright is that once you are 'on stage' it goes away. The best thing to do beforehand is to decide on how to start the workshop off, then things begin to run smoothly. Good luck! I wish I were able to attend, alas I'll be back in Tokyo by that time.
    Who wouldn't want to learn how to make these fantastic buttons and penny mats. You sure have design and colour confidence!

  2. Your work is just beautiful! I totally agree with Queenie above. I wish I could take your class! I also like the "let's see what happens" approach - the process is what's thrilling, not just the result.


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