When my mom was in town last weekend, one of the things she helped me do was massively purge my collection of fabric scraps. (I have a "scrap quilt" on my "someday list" and so we were cutting down pieces into manageable sizes.)
Some of the fabric in the collection is easily recognizable as something from one of the 800 quilts in this house or the cushions in our old townhouse. Other pieces, not so much. More than twice my mom held up a pattern (or sometimes various patterns haphazardly sewn together) and asked, "what project was this for?"
More than twice I shrugged and answered "oh, that didn't pan out."
Part of my job is executing on ideas and trying different things so I can share projects on this blog. Sometimes this results in something awesome. Other times it results in a mess. The key is being able seperate the awesome from the awful and ideally recognizing the messes early(ish) in the process. I hate taking something all the way from start to finish (with step-by-step photos even!) and then realizing I don't like the project. It's often a blurry line and it can be so frustrating to stop something in the middle and let it go.
But at the same time, it's so incredibly freeing. Taking something that I'm not loving or enjoying off my layer three (more on this here) to-do list is like letting go of a heavy weight. I always feel good when I give up projects that are not coming together like I hoped. True, it's hard to know that I have already spent time (and money!) but I'd rather have wasted time and money than wasted time and money AND have something in my house (or on the blog) that I don't love.
In December, I gave up on my quilted tree skirt idea. I bought (expensive!) fabric, cut it before I had a perfect plan and hated how it was coming together. So I tried to re-cut the pieces and started sewing the scraps together. Then I hated the second plan even more. The pile of fabric mocked me from my sewing table and to-do list every day until I finally tossed it in the scrap box (and then bought a tree skirt on clearance at Target on December 26).
Another recent example was my black and white striped knitting project that I thought was going to become a rug. After way (way) too many stitches I realized it was a bit narrow. Bullheadedly, I kept going, figuring there would be a way to make it work once it was done. And then after many (many) more stitches I realized it was oddly misshapen (bowing in in the center - which I think is a result of making my stitching too tight OR the fact that I didn't keep my strips of fabric consistent).
I had to be honest with myself and awknowledge that this wasn't something I'd actually use. I'm all about imperfection but this not good. So off the knitting needles it went and I found the next project (weaving!) to keep my hands busy while we're watching TV in the evenings. It wasn't a total loss either since now I know that fabric knitting looks rad and I have it on the back of my mind for future (perhaps smaller scale?) projects.
The lesson (if you're the sort of person that likes a lesson with your morning blog posts) is that the more crafts that I try and the more projects I experiment with, the more ideas I have. I've found that it's totally worth the exploration and possible failures to get to the good stuff.
And it's also totally worth it to stop or let go when something isn't working.