Needle Felting is meant to be a relaxing, enjoyable hobby and art form, but what happens when it frustrates you to pieces? What happens when you can’t even look at your current project?
You’re not alone – we all get discouraged from time to time! This is going to sound counter-intuitive, but getting frustrated is a good sign. No, really, it is! It means that you are pushing yourself in new ways, learning new skills.
When we first picked up needles and wool, we had no expectations, just curiosity and interest. We were open to trying something new and eager to learn. We forgave our foibles and forged ahead, accepting the flaws in our pieces because we were “just learning.”
Yet somewhere along the line, our expectations of ourselves changed. We got better, more skilled, more capable. So we gravitated to harder projects while expecting the same mastery. Enter frustration.
Each time we “level-up,” we are beginners once again. Think about it, there was a first time you needle felted a round body, a first time you layered color, a first time you added a scarf. The first time we try something new, we shouldn’t expect to be perfect, yet somehow we expect just that. Enter disappointment and frustration.
A Beginner’s Mind
Zen Buddhism gives us the word “Shoshin,” meaning “beginner’s mind.” According to Wikipedia, Shoshin refers to “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.”
Whenever we tackle new skills, we need to embrace our inner Shoshin, especially the part about dropping our preconceptions! If we are truly open, we need to lead with curiosity and enjoy the journey, and this includes making mistakes. It’s all part of improving!
Take a Break. Sometimes it’s good to push back from the table and give yourself a break. A clear head can do wonders for breaking through a stuck point or seeing a challenge in a new light. Don’t sit back down to your pillow until you are inspired to – it will still be there!
Don’t Compare. In the age of social media, comparison is all around us. Friends post their perfect projects to carefully curated feeds, so it’s easy to compare your struggle to their finished project. Everyone develops at their own pace, so remember, your journey is yours alone.
Switch Projects. When we hit a wall, it’s normal to lose a little confidence in ourselves; after all, we are pushing out of our comfort zones when we try new skills. For a little boost, switch to a different project, preferably one with less pressure and more joy!
Reach Out. Don’t suffer alone; share your experience with a fellow crafter or within a needle felting group like the Bear Creek Needle Felting Academy. Fellow artists know the pain of hitting a wall, and they can support you and make you feel less alone. You may even get some great tips that motivate you to pick up your project and try again!
Enjoy the Process. When we focus too much on the finished project and not enough on the process of creation, it’s easy to get discouraged. Slow down and enjoy the progress you are making, along with the simplicity of poking the beautiful wool with your needle. Relax and enjoy!
Remember Why. I know that when I get frustrated, it’s a sign that I’ve momentarily lost the reason I started working with fibers to begin with. It was never about the perfect finished project. Rather it was about the love of the sheep and the seemingly endless gifts they provide. When I reconnect to the reasons I first picked up a gorgeous roving, my desire to be perfect falls away.