All Life is an Experiment

You know that little kid who drives you nuts asking “But why?” over and over?

Well that’s me.

Sorry.

I’m naturally curious but have fortunately learned when to shut-up.  My questions tend to have a little more thought to them these days, though I have been know to ask why wasps exist or who thought to eat marmite for the first time.

I try to look at life as one big game of trial and error.  It’s how children learn.  And just look at the learning curve of a child.  Its gargantuan!  Imagine if our brains kept on learning at that rate.  You’ve all seen Limitless with Bradley Cooper right? Well there you go… (If you’ve not seen it, why not?  Watch it immediately, go on, it’s on Netflix, add it to your list now!)

So why is it that as we age we get so scared about the ‘error’ part?

That’s a “But why?” question for another time, but we are all familiar with that towering fear looming tall over us, threatening disproportionate doom and paralysing us where we stand.   We allow our boisterous know-it-all Chimp brains to convince us not to try in case we look silly or find we are not good enough or we (dramatic pause) FAIL!  Egos have a LOT to answer for.

My Chimp brain comes up with fantastically elaborate reasons why I should stick to what I know (usually threatening dramatic consequences of apocalyptic proportions if I don’t take its advice).  I spent such a huge chunk of my adult life listening to it.  But finally, I’m slowly learning to acknowledge its view point and carry on regardless.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Either way the sun still rises!

My personal ego war aside, I love an experiment.  For one thing it’s how I learned to crochet.  I’m mostly self-taught (thank you The Internet!) and I made a huge number of detours along the way.  As I will shortly demonstrate (spoiler alert), I still make them every day.  I try to avoid the word mistake because I genuinely believe that the outcome of every decision we make is an opportunity to learn.  Though I need to remind myself of this frequently when things do not go to plan!

The famous inventor Thomas Edison once said of his attempts to invent the lightbulb:

“I’ve not failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work “

The exact wording of this quote is disputed but I have succeeded in finding at least 15 websites which are unable to source it.

I remember being so excited at the prospect of doing Chemistry experiments at secondary school.  In reality there were far less conical flasks of bubbling colourful liquid and explosions than I had been led to believe.  What did stick with me though was the scientific method – Observation, Hypothesis, Method, Results, Conclusion. Later on at university I also learned about Abstracts, which are basically spoilers for research papers.  They always seemed a bit like cheating to me.

So all that theory aside, I decided to experiment with something new on my hook this week.  Here are my findings.

The experiment

Abstract

I liked how t-shirt yarn looks in all those pretty pictures on Instagram

I’ve been meaning to try it for a while.

I tried t-shirt yarn.

T-shirt yarn made very cross (note cause and effect science fans).

T-shirt yarn made my cat happy, sort of.

Observation

Ohhhh… look at all those pretty things people can make with t-shirt yarn.  I wonder what I could do with that.

I’ve been meaning to re-cover my grotty ancient Ikea (bargain corner) sheep footstool for ages because it’s covered in paint from when I couldn’t be bothered to get the steps out.

The fabric I bought two years ago to make a new cover is still languishing in the bottom of my fabric draw because I am not an experienced sewer and I’ll probably mess it up.

I’m good at crochet though and I think the footstool would look really good with a chunky crochet cover.

Hypothesis

If I buy t-shirt yarn I will be able to re-cover up my footstool and make it look nice again. Happy days!

Method

Buy t-shirt yarn.

Take the cover off the footstool to obtain measurements.

Sketch  out pattern to cover footstool.

Grab Hook.

Wing the rest as I go.

Results

DRAMA of apocalyptic proportions.  Literally armageddon.

Okay maybe not, but things did not go the way I imagined.

I’d bought one skein of pink and one of white t-shirt yarn.  My initial issue was that although both skeins were the same brand they were a totally different texture.  The pink was fat and stretchy whereas the white was thinner and had almost no stretch, feeling more like linen.  Not just that but even within the same skein the weight of the yarn varied from something approximating 4 ply to something closer to super bulky.  I’m trying not to be a bad work person blaming their tools but how am I meant to get a nice consistent finish with that?

Now perhaps this is totally normal for this type of yarn.  It is made from recycled fabric after all.  I was expecting some degree of variation but nothing like this.

I am quite used to pivoting when trying something new in crochet so adapted the initial pattern I had sketched to separate the colours to different parts of the stool.

At this point I think a break from words would be useful, so here is a little picture montage of my footstool refurbishing efforts.

Well that’s going no-where fast is it?

Perhaps it’s a sign that I should dig out the fabric and stick with the original plan?

By this point I had found enough ways not to cover a footstool.

Another Pivot.

I know – I’ll make myself a bath mat.  It doesn’t quite match the pink on my bathroom wall but I can make it work.

Cue montage 2.  The sequel.

No no no no no no no.  NO.

I know.  I’ll make my cat a little cat cave.  I’ll have a look at some patterns on ravelry and wing it.  How hard can it be?  I just want to use this bloody stuff up.  Every stitch is an effort and my hands are starting to hurt.

Well every franchise has a trilogy these days.  Here’s my epic finale – it started okay then descended into farce.

Oh dear.

I will not be defeated.

One more try.   Double strand the white and go back to the 10mm hook and push through the pain.

Final Answer.

It’s as good as it’s going to get.

Conclusion 

It’s utter shit.  It looks like the crochet equivalent of something your 4 year old would bring home from nursery and make you pin to the fridge to support the development of their blossoming self confidence. (No offence meant to any 4 year olds)

I can’t bear it.  But the Cat seems to like it at least.  I mean she probably prefers her original bed, but I hid that to force her to try this.  I will probably tear it apart again in a few weeks and just make a simple circular bath mat (which i should have done on day 2).

For now I am keeping it in my presence to fully absorb the ‘learning opportunities’ I found:

1. My method was flawed

  • For a start I should have have measured the area to make sure I had enough yarn instead of making a rough guess when I was in the shop.  This is crochet 101 and evidence that if you get a bit overexcited it’s easy to forget the basics.  It  makes me empathise a bit more with all those plonkers on gameshows who can’t remember who the PrimeMinister is

2. I did not understand the nature of the yarn before starting the project

  • I could be generous and say I was unlucky in the disparity of skeins I purchased, but that would require further experimentation and buying more when frankly I don’t even want to see a hook over 6mm before the first snow
  • Next time I work with a new type of yarn I will do my homework
  • I did quite like the stretchiness of the pink and how quickly it worked up
  • I did not enjoy working with the white as it had no give

3. This was a good way to gain 2 inches in muscle on my bicep

4. I have an awesome set of Allen Keys which I totally forgot about

4. You can watch a whole season of Mad Men whilst trying to construct a cat cave

5. I have a lot to learn about structural engineering

6. I had fun reminding myself how to square a circle – it’s ages since I did that and now I want to make a blanket

7. I can overcome my ego to share ways I found not to work with t-shirt yarn

So there we have it.  It wasn’t a success or a failure.

It was just an experiment.

Big Love

Dx

*if you want to know why I keep talking about Chimp brains I HIGHLY recommend reading the Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters.  It’s totally readable, completely fascinating and quite possibly life-changin

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