When designing crochet clothes or accessories, I always start with a question. “Would I wear this?”
If the answer is yes, then I move on from there. I’m not going to pretend that everything turns out perfectly every time, but if at any point the answer to that question becomes “No” then I frog it and start over or move on to something else.
This simple rule is how I stay true to what I want to achieve with crochet design. To put patterns out there which people can make and then use – not leave sitting in a draw.
It was my latest pattern which really drove home the importance of this little rule, and why I named it the Keep it Simple Sweater. About 2 months ago I was getting dressed and putting on my favourite jersey top (white with black stripes) which is my staple… it comes out whenever I’m not sure what to wear! I suddenly wondered why I had never made a crochet version of it.
What an obvious choice for a design.
How the hell had it taken me so long to come up with that!
So I immediately set to it… and here we are!
Designs which spring from moments like that always come off the hook easiest and sell the best. I guess there is just something natural and organic about them. I can’t put my finger on it, but they just flow and I think that comes out in the finished product!
It also drives home the message that keeping it simple is kind of the ultimate life hack!
I’m not going to pretend to be the first person to champion simplicity. In the 60s, the US Navy had a famous design principle using the acronym KISS: “Keep it simple, stupid” The KISS principle states that systems that are kept simple tend to work better, so it follows that simplicity itself should be a design feature and pointless complexity should be avoided.
The world we live in is so complex and life can be really flipping hard, but we really don’t help ourselves with our habit of adding our own pointless complexity to our personal system. We fill our lives with unhelpful features like “I should” and “what if” and have this belief that we must be everything to all people. We make assumptions about what people might think about us if we wear this, or say that, or post the other.
This complexity we add is like a web of never ending contingencies surrounding and getting mixed up with what really matters. We built it to protect ourselves, but in reality it just layers on the stress. Its like letting Ivy grow on your house… it looks pretty for a while but it gets to the point where it starts to work it’s way into the walls and roof and damages the structure.
So I’m making an effort to recognise where I add unnecessary bells and whistles, tear them down and work on a simple re-design.
This is what I’ve learned from my efforts so far…
1. Know your limits and boundaries
Just like my “would I wear it” question, set your own limits for different parts of your life. Take decluttering your house. The two I ask are: “Does it serve me?” “Do I love it?” and at lest one has to be a yes or it’s gone. This is my distillation of the William Morris quote about everything you own being useful or beautiful. It’s a good one to stick by in my experience.
Whatever your approach, set the boundaries and stick to them. It takes all the stress out of decision making (caveat that you can also break the rules in exceptional circumstances!)
2. No more “I should” – own your actions
Next time you start a sentence with that phrase, stop. Either you want to or you don’t. Sometimes you don’t really want to do something, go to work, do the supermarket shop, but you know you will go hungry if you don’t do either. So re-evaluate your “shoulds”. Make your decision knowing the consequences and own that decision. “I should” removes the responsibility and allows resentment to build – “I should go visit my mother-in-law” = resentment to your spouse for “making you” – how about reframing that as “I’m going to see my mother-in-law because I want to support my partner”. Make it a positive choice!
3. Stop caring what people think
This is really easy to say and if you work out how to do it completely then do let me know how. But ultimately, if you think well of yourself, if you can look yourself in the eye in the mirror, knowing you are doing your best, then what other people think no longer matters. Giving up all that people pleasing takes one of the biggest sources of complexity out of your life in one fell swoop!
That said, be sure to listen to and take in constructive criticism from people you respect. Sometimes we can’t see the woods for the trees and need some guides along the way.
4. Get organised
Listy lists list list list… plus apps and calendars and more lists…
What ever works for you, try to get yourself organised. It saves you so much time and fuss later on.
There’s definitely another blog post (entire industry) on how to stay organised but wherever you’re least ‘on it’, how about spending 15 mins a day working to improve that. For me that’s definitely keeping my expenses up to date… it’s still a work in progress…!
5. Keep a check on your social media relationships
Take some time to have a look at your relationship with social media. Does it serve you or does it place a weight on your shoulder? If it’s the latter then think about how you can change that.
I very rarely follow fashion accounts for example because they make me feel like my life is lacking… that’s kind of what they are designed to do because they want to make me buy stuff. But they made me feel crappy so I gave them up and I don’t regret even in the slightest. Partly because I stopped buying clothes for a year but that’s an older post! I don’t know much about the celebrity world either because it just tends to make me feel inadequate.
I’m not having a go at the fashion world, for many people, these kinds of accounts are a great source of inspiration and motivation. But, if your socials are making you feel shit about your life then just switch them off. I promise you you’re not missing out on anything real!!
Go out into the real world and find something that makes you feel good!
Which stands for “Just Fucking do It”.
I’m all for evaluating the positives and negatives but sometimes just go with your gut. I’ve said this before when talking about decision making and I’m sure I will say it again, but when making a decision, sometimes a list doesn’t help (SHOCK FACE!).
Your intuition is a gift and a source of insight beyond what we consciously know, so trust it a little more!
7. We’re all going to die
This is the simple, universal truth.
We are all on the clock here, so stop spending time on things that ultimately don’t matter. Only you can work out what those things are, whether it’s worrying, stressing, what-if-ing, tidying, trying to find the perfect non-chip nail varnish… be aware of what is actually important to you and kick the rest to the curb (or do it but don’t sweat it!).
I’ll give you a starter question for this one – “am I going to care about this on my death bed?”. If the answer is no, then stop caring so much about it today, it’s probably not worth it.
And with that, I’m off to work on my next design over my tea… boiled eggs and soldiers… simple af…