What third place in a knitting contest taught me about judgement

You know how it goes.

Yes, even if you’ve never entered a competition in your life. Maybe you’ve watched one, like ‘The Great British Bake Off’ or ‘Project Runway’.

That end-product you entered that you thought was great? Something else was better. Someone else tells you so.

In my case it was a third place certificate in a village knitting contest. Yes, I entered one once. It was even for the village fair! How trad can you get?

I was beaten by (if I recall correctly), a baby jumper. I had made a lace shawl. A simple one (the Tuscany Shawl by Amy Singer, since you ask), but still, a lot of work.

Of course I was disappointed to come in third. But the important thing is, it was still a good finished piece. It was still pretty. The work was still the work. Sure, I could have started telling myself that this was proof I wasn’t as good as other people.

But I didn’t.

You have to be very careful about whose judgements you pay attention to. Whether it’s judgement of something you’ve made, or of your abilities, or, well, anything.

Even if a person knows the subject, even if they have more experience than you- it doesn’t mean they know YOU. And it doesn’t mean they’re using the same criteria you would.

So don’t beat yourself up.

Friday Five- Five tips for crafting while travelling

Inspired by regular trips up to Auckland and back, including one coming up in, oh, a few hours, I thought I’d share this. Reading books on a flight is all very well, and I still make sure I always have a book with me- owning a Kindle is very useful in that regard, it means I never have to suffer that awkward moment of getting delayed, finishing what you’re reading and not having anything else to read. But for the most part, I like to spend time on a plane and waiting to board crafting.

Of course, knitting on a plane isn’t always easy, as the Yarn Harlot can attest. But in New Zealand, at least, people seem to be all good with my on-plane crafting. Last time I flew, in fact, when I got out a mini-skein to wind it the woman sitting next to me got terribly excited about the colours, and we ended up talking about quilting for a good part of the flight. But here are a few things I recommend if you’re worried:

1: Pick your craft-and tools- carefully.

Crochet, cross stitch (with a lower-count Aida, say about 12-14 count and thus a less sharp needle), or embroidery are all good choices for on-plane crafting. If you, like me, have the overwhelming urge to knit, I recommend wooden or other non-metal needles if you can. They are much less likely to cause issues at security (though there are posts out there on how to get metal needles through).

2: Keep it simple

This is not the time for something complicated. You may be only half way through the row of stitches when suddenly it’s time to board, or to put things away because you’re landing. Think you’ll be able to remember where you were? Yeah.

3: Keep it small

It’s also not a good idea to make this the time you work on that giant blanket- UNLESS said blanket is made up of itty bitty squares (or in my case hexipuffs). Consider how much space you need to work on the project comfortably and then compare that with how much space you’ll actually have on the plane, especially if you’re on a full flight and have to keep your elbows tucked in. Small projects are best. They also don’t take up so much room in your bag, leaving more space for clothes or souvenirs or what-have-you.

If you’re in business or first class, of course, then this doesn’t apply. Work on a project any size you like! Though if I was in first class I’d be taking full advantage of those flat beds…

4: Photocopy your pattern if it’s in a book.

Do you really want the extra weight, or to have to deal with flipping around pages when you’re in mid-air? I thought not.

5: Be prepared to talk about your project.

Because people will ask you what you’re making. And tell you that they craft, or that someone in their family used to. At least 9 times out of 10. Mostly, these conversations will be pleasant and interested, especially if you’re working on something colourful (sock yarn, in particular, seems to draw in non-knitters just as much as it does knitters). But also be aware that it may not always be pleasant. A lot of non-crafters just don’t get why you would spend time on something like that. Well, let them think what they want, and don’t worry about what they think. Just be ready for the comments, and ready to ignore them. One of the great things about crafting is getting something tangible out of what might otherwise be time spent just zoning out in front of the TV (which does have benefits from time to time). And you’re not crafting for them, you’re crafting for you.

Happy flying! What are your tips for travel crafting? I’d love to see your project recommendations, or hear your stories about your experiences.