When it comes to starting a new sewing or knitting project, I usually just dive in. I don’t want to take the time to check my knitting gauge or practice my quilting design, although I often do. A quick test can save me time and materials. But I avoid extended practice because I don’t feel like I have any time to waste. Knitting, sewing, and beading are my downtime activities, things I do when I’m trying to recharge. Even though they are “just hobbies”, I want something to show for my effort. So I am always working on a project, instead of taking time to practice.
Recently, I let myself practice beading. I was still getting over being sick and needed something to do with my hands, so I decided to make the beading sampler from Liz Kettle’s book First-Time Beading on Fabric. I felt a little silly working through the exercises because at least half of them were stitches I already knew. But beading projects usually require a bunch of planning. Here was a way to spend my time beading without having to think or plan, and that was ideal.
To my surprise, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve done so far. Not only has it been a great excuse to play with my many beads, but I’ve learned a lot. I’ve found out that there are things that look easy but require practice. For example, making “train tracks” with the bugle beads was much harder than I would have expected. I made mistakes on my sampler, but rather than fixing them, I just moved over and tried again. Seeing the mistakes will help me to remember just how careful I need to be if I ever want to use this technique on a project.
I also discovered new favorites that I might never have tried. Picot edging is fun and I love how it looks. Because the choice of bead color can greatly affect how the ruffled picot edging looks, I’m looking forward to experimenting with it. I also have a poor track record with peyote stitch, but I felt like hero when I conquered the cabochons.
I’m glad I took the time to do this practice work. I might have seen the bugle bead train tracks idea somewhere and tried it on a project without realizing how hard it would be. That would have been frustrating. I certainly would have by-passed any chance to use a cabochon because I didn’t think I could make the peyote stitch work. Now that I know more about these techniques, I’ll have more options the next time I design a beaded project.
I still have to put the bead book together, but you can be sure I’ll follow through on this one. I’m looking forward to practicing more of my beading techniques on the cover. I wonder what else I’ll learn?
Do you take time to practice techniques you use for your hobbies? What have you learned from taking time to practice? From not bothering to?