Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoughts on Perfection + My NEW Pom Pom Garland VIDEO Tutorial

I was talking with my friend Cheryl a while back. We are both about the same age and both had kids when we were a little older than most. We are both artists and authors and struggle with many of the same things. She mentioned something that really resonated with me and which I have thought about a whole bunch since then. And then the same subject came up in a different way the other day with another friend. I would love to hear your thoughts about it - whatever your age..... 

Cheryl was saying that people of our generation (we were both born at the end of the baby boomer generation) have trouble putting things out there on-line as compared to the younger 20's and 30's generation. She said that she worries too much about perfection and will not launch something until it is perfect. And she said she is trying to change that part of her personality. 

I fall somewhat into that same category frequently - although not always. Because I write books and make art and things for sale, I strive for perfection. I want my products to represent me in the best light. I think that people expect a certain standard from me. 

But perfection is such a hinderance. I cannot be good at everything. Do I want the striving for perfection to slow down my product range? My life? My art? My income? Sometimes you just have to let it go - especially when you work by yourself and are self-employed. Sometimes my patterns may have a typo. Although when I do find them, I shudder  and I fix them - do I really think a mis-typed word makes my work any less valuable. Seriosly. 

I think that having a child with special needs and living on a farm has helped me to face the fear of lack of perfection. I think that living with animals and all the life and death that goes on here has helped me realize that life is too short to worry so much about everything being perfect. 

I'm working on a range of new pottery to sell for the holidays on-line on my Etsy shop. Is it perfect? No, it isn't. But I will be putting it out there for sale. It is an expression of my art, my life, my growth as an artist working in clay and surface decoration. Whoever buys the pieces will have a bit of me in their home - my hands, my design sensibilities, my lines, my love of color, my slightly mis-shapen pots. 

So those are my thoughts for today for you. I would love to hear what you think about perfection, about the generational differences in "putting it out there" before it is really perfect. It's an interesting thing to think about. What do you do? Do you put it out there? Do you hide something that isn't perfect in your closet? And what generation are you? 

Now onto the rest of the story......

Sometimes I wonder where the weeks go. Don't you? I know where Thursday went. On Tuesday, I got an email from Yankee Magazine. I'm not sure if you remember but they were at our farm for an upcoming feature in their magazine last December 18th. (I run to the the mailbox every day hoping the magazine will be there! No luck yet.) Besides hundreds of photos that Joe Keller took, Amy, the editor, took a video of me making pom poms for their website. 

The Tuesday e-mail said something like "HELP" - the video file has disappeared. UGH. That meant that I had to re-create the tutorial on my own because it was referenced in the print article. I have made videos by myself in the past but not in several years. I much prefer having someone tape me and then let them do all the editing which takes hours and hours. I lugged out my camera, my tripod, my camera manual (remember those? I had to buy mine), my computer and carried it upstairs into the bathroom. It is the best place to tape audio because the room is small and well lit. 

Sometimes I really wish I had an assistant! It took me all morning. I am having trouble w/ my 70-105 camera lens - it seems to move by itself after focusing. It is fine for stills because they are quick. Every video I did was fuzzy. So I changed lens to my 50 mm, reset everything and re-taped everything. 

Then I wanted an intro because somewhere on some website or podcast I learned that viewers like the presenters to be seen in the videos. I set up the tripod and camera in the living room and then made believe I was on t.v. If anyone knew what goes on in here some days they would think I was nuts. I had to make Mark wait outside until I thought I had a decent take. Poor guy - all he wanted was to eat lunch. 

Then I had to crack open the new version of IMovie and try to put the video together. I hadn't used IMovie in at least 6 years and this version is much better and easier. I did find this tutorial on YouTube which was really helpful. Thank you YouTube. But it did take me at least 4 hours.

So here is my finished project. It is in high def on YouTube.

It is a little long - 11 minutes. I would love to re-edit it into a shorter version but I have so much to do that I'm not sure I can find the time. Remember - I am trying not to worry about perfection. I had to get it out there and move on. 

I hope you might making your own Pom Pom Garland project this upcoming holiday season. It is a fun project to do with kids and a great way to use up your scrap yarn - even moth damaged less than perfect yarn - as long as you have gotten rid of the bugs. 


ellen said...

I am not an artist, but I can understand the pursuit for perfection. I do understand it in relation to all of my years of sewing garments for me and my children (when money was a real issue and patterns were affordable, fabric was affordable and store bought clothing was out of the question) and when I did so much more embroidery. Yes, I wanted it all to be perfect, but of course it wasn't. I finally embraced the fact that I am a human being, not a machine and that my life is filled with imperfection..but isn't that what makes us so specially human and unique?
I would gladly buy something that you made with your own two hands, a piece of pottery, a painting..anything, because as you said, it would hold what your two hands, your heart, your very uniqueness, your sense of color have created. What you do now holds a sort of map of where you have been before and where you are now...a record of your journey...and that would create, for me, a connection to you. In this short life of ours, what is more important that making connections with others, connections that carry respect, admiration and that lovely human feeling of belonging to this community?

Auntie Shan said...

An interesting observation...
When it comes to sewing, my 80-year-old Mother has always been fixated more on "precision" than anything else. Plaids lined up *perfectly*, hems exactly *even*! - I used to always tell her, NO ONE is going to "notice" if it's "off" by a quarter-inch! And if THEY want to go down on the floor with a ruler to "check", well, good for THEM!
As for me, I'm a late-50s BOOMER... I appreciate the efforts made in achieving "perfection", but don't necessarily dwell on it when it comes to "artistic" concerns. Although, if it's something that has the potential of getting someone injured, killed, or generally inconvenienced [physically or financially], then yeah, "IT" had better be BANG ON!!
But, "ART"... I think it's those IMperfections that MAKE it *ART*!

As for them YOUNGSTERS... If it's not on SOCIAL MEDIA, it doesn't "exist"! And "perfection" is measured by "likes"... Whether or not "whatever" really is perfect or NOT! -- Then again, THAT Generation is a whole OTHER "discussion"!

BTW, will you be calling your new Film Production Company, "FLUSH FEATURES"..?

Carol Perecman said...

Great video, Kristin--you are amazing, and all your efforts are truly appreciated...I am in awe at what you have accomplished. Only G-d is perfect, we are but human, I will take your "imperfect" work any day! Keep on trucking, kiddo. BTW, I just celebrated what I refer to as my Beatles birthday--I'm 64.

All the best,

Laura T said...

I really liked the video and watched it all the way through. I haven't made pom poms that way but will be trying it soon Great job. I also am a bit of a perfectionist but have had to give that up as well!
Take care,

Susan B. Anderson said...

Kristin ~ it's perfect! I will refer my students to this video now along with your other tutorials. You should do more!
love, susan

henrietta (aka ani aka zani) said...

Kristin thank you for sharing this delightful video. Really enjoyed it and can see how much fun this could be to do and useful way to finish the ends of yarn up. And agree: would enjoy more videos because you are great to watch and learn from. Thanks again.

Patricia said...

I gave up on perfection long ago.For me it isn't realistic. When someone points to a photo I happily point out that it was cleaned, photoshopped, professional lighting, and tons of staff.

Martha Stewart has help, I don't.

LannieK said...

Hey Kristin! Love your pom-pom video ~ perfect timing as I need to make some! Does... artist, knitter, former auditor who used to make her own clothes spell way too much perfectionism? Yes!
It's something I've been trying to break for a long time, especially with my painting. So wasn't too loosen up! I try to draw a happy medium, but still double check things. IMO, doing things to the best of one's ability and striving for better are Good Things... Not everything "must" be perfect, (I know all my hems weren't) but it makes you learn and grow.
What an interesting subject... I honestly don't know if it is a generational or an artist thing.
:-) So love your art world! And your colors!

mn_bird said...

Perfectionism is a hindrance and one that I know all too well. I expect it in myself, but not so much in others. I liked the person who talked about precision. That is a better yardstick. Sometimes you need precision. Sometimes you don't.

FoFo said...

Very thought provoking subject. I think it is bred into the older generations to strive for perfection. With the younger generations, in the era of "everyone is a winner", they are not taught to care as much. I am a perfectionist. When I am making something for someone, it has to be perfect, I don't like mistakes, when I make something for myself, I don't care. I'm a flawed individual and for me, the flaws in my work, reflect me. I do think that as women too with media saying you have to be perfect, it puts a lot of pressure on some of us. It is a delicate balance that we have to strive for. I'm a doer, I have the heart of a server and am very compassionate. My husband used to make me ask him before I could do a new task or project for someone outside our home because I wouldn't ever tell anyone no. LOL All of this to say, I understand what you mean. One thing I try to think of: the Lord made us the way we are, we should celebrate our imperfections because He made those in us. I'm off to look at your etsy shop, I would love to have one of your pieces.

HOA Mgr Lady said...

I also own a business like your family and also try for perfection. Emails are tough because although I know I should treat them as letters I get sometimes 100 emails a day 7 days a week and short bursts of replies are so much easier than a formal letter style. Replying quickly keeps me from having to answer their phone call. That's a win-win in my day.
We produce agendas for Board Meetings sometimes as many as 300 pages and the work product is so very important to me... the client typically doesn't care than I put a nice cover on it and bind it but I CARE! Makes me crazy sometimes the time we spend doing 10-15 agendas a month.
But yeah I GET it. Hi to Julia!! She's getting cuter every year!
Ruth in Oxnard CA.

Angie Denick said...

Just got my Yankee magazine today and suprise! There you were. Great story Kristin.


ellen kirkendall said...

I'm an older boomer, born in 1949. I was raised with high standards of perfection: blind hems, no knots on the back of my embroidery, ledgers balanced to the penny. But we also tried our hands at anything that appealed to us in cooking, needlework and decor. Some things were perfect and some close enough. Sometimes we learned the most from abject failures . If I am making a gift the thing is as perfect as I can make it. If it's for me maybe not so much. I have a (teeny tiny) online presence for my friends and family. I'm careful with grammar and spelling, my photos are as good as I can make them with no strange things in the background, but I don't beat myself up because it looks amateur.

I have always thought the charm of your work was in its naive and idiosyncratic qualities. The distinctive color palette and balance without perfect symmetry makes it unmistakably yours. I do know that achieving this "effortless" effect takes tons of work, but I also know that overworking and overthinking it can kill it. Don't worry, you are perfect to us!

NotThatKindOfFarmer said...

very nice article with video explanation.
Keep posting such blogs for us.
Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Another boomer here! I'm not going to apologize for striving for the best possible outcome or encouraging anyone else to do their best. No one makes anything perfect but I think teaching someone to begin a project with an anything goes attitude is ultimately discouraging to that person and to the project/hobby they are working on. I say do your best, glory in your improvement and laugh at the results on those days where your fingers have all the dexterity of your big toe.

BERMD said...

Hi Kristin,

The Yankee article is very nice. Best BER

Joanne said...

I think the perfection issue is linked to personality and not a generational thing. I am a Gen Xer and have made peace with the fact that my work is not going to be perfect...just the best I can do at that time. Editors, etc, do not wait around for perfect! That said, my DH (exactly my age) is a perfectionist in many ways. We have worked with lots of students as educators and I find 20 something perfectionists and 60 year olds who do not care one way or another. It seems to depend on the person and not the age!

I do find "putting myself out there" as a writer and designer is very hard and scary sometimes. I am always wondering what the response will be, If it will be positive, and whether anyone will care in any case! The worst is when I launch a pattern or an article is published and I hear nothing--no purchases, no comments. Then I wonder if it is worth it and if anyone is looking/knitting/reading at all. I am not sure this has much to do with age; at least, I do not seem to be outgrowing it! Thanks for the thoughtful post.

adaliza said...

I love making pom-poms - decorated a very simple little Christmas tree with white ones last year. Perfection - well, striving for it can be good but realising that it's usually unachievable and now is as good as it's going to get is fine - and better for our sanity!
Adaliza x

Marmie said...

Oh I do hope you read these as I am in a bit of a pom pom dilemma!

I'm making the Toran from your wonderful book, "Crafting a Colorful Home", and can't find a source for bells!

Can you share where/how you got yours? I'm not near a major city, so internet orders are what I count on for anything not farm-sourced!

Best -


Kristin Nicholas said...

Marm - I found similar bells on the web. Check out the links. And Good Luck! I know nothing about these businesses but they look similar to the ones I purchased at an Indian import store.

Marm said...

Thank you so much! Bells are ordered!