When we heard about Anna's quest to teach herself a new craft each month throughout the year, we had to get in touch to find out why she took up the challenge and how it was progressing.
Why did you set up your blog?
"At the end of 2012 I looked back on the year and realised I hadn’t completed any meaningful creative projects. In a way you could say Crafting Fingers was my New Year’s Resolution for 2013. I wanted to start a project that would support my love for handmade, that would keep me accountable, and would push my boundaries. Learning one new craft every month means I don’t just have enough time to learn the basics of the craft, I also have enough time to make meaningful connections to that part of the crafting community.
When I started getting feedback I realised I could use the project to do some good, too. I want to make craft skills more approachable to newcomers. I want to show that you can make something beautiful in a month, even though crafting takes time to master."
Do you take classes or are you self-taught?
"So far I’ve been learning on my own. It’s a bit misleading to say so, though. Crafts like crochet and embroidery are easy to learn online, with Youtube video tutorials and a Twitter community ready to answer any questions. Online, your social network is like your own little mentoring group. In May I’m learning the basics of fused glass one-on-one with a teacher. She already has the equipment and tools and has experience running workshops. I’m really excited, because crafting thrives with community. I want to get as many workshops in as possible for the rest of the year. It’s just tricky trying to plan them with the craft I’m learning!
Each craft is different, but the process for me each month is to first study the craft. I read books and blogs, watch tutorials, find professionals whose work I love, and try to get a feel for the craft. What is it, who does it, what is its history and where is it going? Then I try a few techniques. When I find something I like the look of and enjoy making, I design a simple project to make before the end of the month. So it’s not as easy as following a tutorial or two. I want to build a love for the craft and have the foundation to make meaningful pieces in the future, too."
How has learning a craft a month gone for you so far?
"People have told me it’s amazing how my pursuit of new crafts seems to be unfailing. It’s true, every month I have been successful. At the end of each month I have completed a small project using the techniques I’ve learnt, and I try to make a tutorial for my readers, too. The secret is to plan for failure and mistakes. That way I have the time and patience to look back and think, where did I go wrong? Making mistakes is the fastest way to learn, and it's important for creativity. It’s easier to bounce back if the failure is there on the schedule. It doesn’t feel like a set back.
The most amazing part has been the feedback I’ve gotten about this project. It’s been an eye-opening experience to see how generous the crafting community is in helping out. On a personal level, my respect for each craft has gone up so much. My love for handmade has just grown, and I want to express that appreciation on my blog."
Which is your favourite craft you’ve learned?
"It’s so hard to pick, I love all of them! I think the funnest one has been crochet, though. It was the first craft I learnt for my project, and it’s such a versatile craft. I’ve been knitting since I was eight years old, and learning to crochet was something I had avoided for years. I thought it looked scary and complicated! The thrill of getting over that fear and making something beautiful was amazing. It really spurred me on."
And what thing you’ve created this year are you most proud of?
"In February I learned embroidery. At the end of the month I made a lavender cushion that was very simple in design, but it felt like such a huge achievement. Embroidery was the most frustrating craft so far. I kept tangling threads and pricking my fingers! A couple weeks into it I was ready to give up. I ditched the expensive embroidery thread and decided to embroider with yarn, instead. I loved the result and it kept me going. Now that I have more finesse I’m confident to use the embroidery threads again!"
Do you have the rest of the year planned out in crafts yet?
"Each craft so far has been chosen only in the month before. Since I’m working with a mentor to learn fused glass in May, I’ve had that planned since March. In July I’m learning to sew, and my mother will be teaching me. This autumn I want to work on a food-based craft for harvest season. Otherwise I have no idea! It makes this project really exciting because even I don’t know what I’ll be working on next. I keep a lookout for workshops and courses, but I stay flexible for as long as possible."
Is there any skill you’d love to learn, but are nervous to tackle in a month?
"I chose one month per craft because I felt it was long enough to learn the basics of most crafts, but some crafts are just very time-consuming. Bobbin lace-making is so delicate I feel like it’d be difficult to try out several techniques and have the time to make my own design. For crafts like cabinet-making or pottery I need to take a workshop or reach out to a friend, because of the equipment involved. But if I get a good teacher I think I could squeeze those two into a month each. It’d be fun to see myself try!"
You can keep up to date with Anna's Crafting Fingers challenge on her blog.
We'll be following her until the end of her challenge!