Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


Perfectionism and making do

how to get over perfectionism

I grew up in a house of doers. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say 'make do-ers'. Clothes were from jumble sales, altered and spliced; beautiful vases were displayed chips to the wall; recipes were followed very loosely, sweeping substitutions made for absent ingredients. My parents' garden was full of allotment-style cobbled together structures, the beans grew up old mattress springs, cassette tapes were disembowelled to scare pigeons from the cabbages, there was no worry about having the exact tool for a job, there was no feeling that you had to learn everything before you began.

I think that this was a very common type of 1970s childhood - I've since bonded with several people over memories of car exhausts being mended with baked bean cans - people just got on with things and there was no idea of 'perfect'.

It has been the very best upbringing possible for an entrepreneur. The precedent of working a way to do something with what you already have, rather than waiting for everything to be affordable and available is invaluable. The main point in my childhood was that you got something working even if it was a bit rough around the edges. It was a time of practical skills.

It has meant that I grew up without a perfectionist bone in my body. I am quite details oriented, I like things to look nice and to work well, I spend a lot of time walking and thinking, but, once I've decided to do something, it is all about the going for it, the process, the jumping off.

So when I find myself fussing over something inconsequential like a font size, I absolutely know it isn't 'perfectionism' it is fear. It is just a form of worry, a putting off the performance.

Many people, largely younger women, complain to me about their perfectionism and how it prevents them from completing things and putting them out in the world. I used to think that this was really just a bit of an excuse, a way of not doing the hard work by keeping busy with editing and re-editing and deleting. In the past I may have rolled my eyes and I routinely put all job applications mentioning perfectionism to the bottom of the pile.

But now I'm more sympathetic and just wonder if people simply missed out on this stage of life and now need to deliberately re-cultivate the make-do in their lives. I wonder if this perfectionism that seems to hobble so many people in their 30s and early 40s is partly because our society began to throw out and replace things rather than mend them from the 1980s onwards. Maybe their perfectionism was encouraged by so many things becoming disposable, short lived, with parts that couldn't be replaced. Lots of people's income went up, media got shinier, there was less making do.

"Making do" could feel like selling ourselves short - for we were 'worth it'.

Rather than working on altering mindset or reading books of how to recover from the paralysis of perfection, perhaps we just need to work with our hands and mend our clothes and improvise recipes and just give things a go and celebrate all the glorious shonky results.

Which - rather neatly - as well as freeing all the amazing blocked ideas out into the world, would also help us move from the consumerist cycle which is causing so many problems in the world with its mantra of more and more and more.

What could you 'make do' with today?

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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