November DIY + Business Book Club


In the nearly 13 years that I’ve been teaching craft workshops I’ve noticed one common denominator among a surprising majority of my students. Fear of making.

They were able to take the leap and sign up for a class and even show up for it but once they sat down at a table piled high with supplies, fellow students and possibility… anxiety set in. BIG TIME!

Most seasoned sewers know the old adage, “Measure twice. Cut once.” This is super important when you’re sewing but when you’re making something that has a little wiggle room exact measurements and ratios don’t matter as much as your enjoyment and exploration while you’re creating. It reminds me of the difference between baking and cooking. When you’re baking, a little too much or too little time in the oven can ruin your soufflé but if you’re making pasta puttenasca an extra tomato won’t compromise the dish.

As makers we need be aware of the projects that we do that require us to be exact with our measurements and instructions as well as the ones that don’t. It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to make the end result absolutely perfect that we can’t let our creative juices fully flow.

The magical place in making, between doing what we think we should do and what we want to do, is only accessible if we’re able to let go of trying to make everything so perfect. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and a place for perfection. BUT every time and every place doesn’t have to be spot on. Often times, taking a leap and following a whim that pops into your head is how you end up making something truly unique and brilliant.

When I first started painting, I wanted to add some texture to a piece I was working on. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed jars of dried herbs. Just as I was about to sprinkle them onto my canvas, my inner critic chimed in, “Are you crazy? This is so first grade.” I pushed my inner critic to the curb, sprinkled the herbs onto my canvas and then painted over them, giving my piece the textured feel I wanted. That piece was the first one that sold at an art show where I had dozens of works displayed!

As makers, bridging the gap between following ‘crazy’ notions and staying on track is the only way we can create something genuine, heartfelt and amazing. We have to push ourselves to that beyond place where inspiration and intention meet. As Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” If we don’t feel alive and inspired while creating something, how can we expect the person looking at our work to feel inspired and alive? In other words, if we want someone to feel something when they see our work, we must feel something when we’re making it.

This notion of letting go of the worries we encounter while making is the essence of Kim Werker’s book, Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When it Ain’t Pretty. I was lucky enough to attend one of Kim’s workshops at Craftcation 2014 and was so impressed that I was ready to beg her to come back and offer our 2015 attendees some of her amazingness. Thankfully she had such a good time at Craftcation 2014 that I didn’t have to get on my hands and knees.

Kim’s book is brilliant and wholly inspiring. She writes, “My biggest struggles have been with needing things that are different from what “normal” people need and not being able to do what “normal” people do; with valuing creative satisfaction in my work more than the salary I earn; with getting bored very quickly; with not handling that boredom well; with being a crafty self-saboteur; with feeling electric when I start a big project and like I’m about to die when I’m nearly done with it; with feeling physically ill when my work doesn’t afford me independence and flexibility.” If this quote rings true for you or if you’ve ever struggled with trying to be too perfect in your creative work or how to quiet your inner critic, then click here and buy Kim’s book right this very second. We’re also giving this book away, along with some of our other November Book Club picks. If you’re as excited about Kim’s book as I am, order it now and if you win, you’ll have one to gift to a friend.

-Nicole S.

To enter the contest:

If you want to win ALL four of these books, just leave comment on this post telling us about a time you had an imperfect project turn out better than you had planned. Post your comment by November 26th at midnight to be entered to win. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you some lovely things to read.

1. How to Catch a Frog by Heather Ross

2. Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When it Ain’t Pretty by Kim Werker

3. Shooting with Soul by Alessandra Cave

4. Playful by Merrilee Liddiard

The contest is now closed. Congrats to Cameron!

december-diy-business-book-club-dear-handmade-life-heather-ross-how-to-catch-a-frog-kim-werker-make-it-mighty-ugly-playful-merrilee-liddiard-shooting-with-soul december-diy-business-book-club-dear-handmade-life-heather-ross-how-to-catch-a-frog-kim-werker-make-it-mighty-ugly-playful-merrilee-liddiard-shooting-with-soul december-diy-business-book-club-dear-handmade-life-heather-ross-how-to-catch-a-frog-kim-werker-make-it-mighty-ugly-playful-merrilee-liddiard-shooting-with-soul december-diy-business-book-club-dear-handmade-life-heather-ross-how-to-catch-a-frog-kim-werker-make-it-mighty-ugly-playful-merrilee-liddiard-shooting-with-soul


  1. Thank you for the great giveaway! I love the quote you chose from Kim’s book. Being a creative is an unique experience and finding kindred souls gives me the courage to keep on keeping on. 😉

  2. An imperfect project turning out better then I planned? Does my life count? I think that often imperfect projects turn out as expected, but then I go back and tweak a few things to turn it into something fantastic. The number of times I’ve done this with sweaters I’ve knit is quite high!

  3. Almost every time I try a new pattern or attempt a new design, I make a multitude of mistakes, which sometimes creates a lot of stress and feelings of failure. Recently, I decided to just accept that these mistakes were going to happen, and a whole new world, filled with much less self doubt, opened up. I now always consider my first (and sometimes second, too) attempt at something my “learning experience” where I’m going to waste some fabric and maybe some leather, and where I know it’s going to use up some of my limited time. This new approach has allowed me to better enjoy the work, and has opened my mind up to new creative ideas. Best of all, the end product is something that I’m much more proud of.

  4. I am totally of guilty of not starting/finishing projects because of my fear of them not turning out well. I tend to sit on projects for multiple years.

    So the one time a project totally turned out to be a surprise was a birthday present I made for a friend that was meant to be a joke. Since it was meant to be silly, I didn’t sweat all the details. And since it was a birthday present, I had a deadline I was working towards. The small stitches I made was such a hit at the party that night I was floored.

  5. It is so hard to just make and hope it turns out well! I have done a few improv projects now, but the first one i did i just blindly grabbed scraps and sewed them together for a quilt. Many times in the process i thought it was not going to be usable at all. But when i sewed them all together it made a great unified quilt.

  6. One year when I was a photography student teachers assistant in community college I wanted to put together a nice ‘ pocket sized ‘ portfolio for my photos to sell at the holiday print sale. I wanted it do it in such a way that it would grab someone’s attention. I essentially wanted to make a book. I had a hard time getting each photo exactly the right size, which frustrated me, because as I am not great with measuring, I always need it too be perfect. So it takes more time. In the end I decided to put each grouping of pictures in a glassiene envelope inside book board I had covered in scrapbook paper. They came out looking really great and exactly what I wanted. So even though I struggled alot with getting the photos exactly right the rest when smoothly and came out better than what I had hoped for.

  7. The first time was a few years ago at work and now i keep trying to remember this lesson. I needed to tackle a high profile project at work that I didn’t know enough about. When I realized I wasn’t going to get hit by a bus or horrifically ill I just started. And every day I did something towards that project, making it up as I went along. It resulted in a workshop I’ve now presented across the country. I was asked to make a video of the same material. I had no idea what I was doing. I collaborated with a videographer who had never made a video before and now that little video is being used across the country as well. My biggest achievement and I had tried every way possible to get out of it.

  8. Oh man, this is something I struggle with all of the time. Things rarely turn out as planned. But many years ago I took at jewelry making class during which we made a few different types of rings out of silver. The last ring I made had all sorts of issues, the sides were not even, the soldering was not quite right, and I didn’t really polish it correctly and so it looked kind of worn right from the beginning. But I ended up LOVING that ring. I ended up being so happy with it and wore it everyday for years. I hadn’t really thought about this until now, but most of the time I want things to look “perfect” and so I end up being disappointed because it is impossible to meet my expectations. But that ring is one of the only things I have made in my life that I have actually been happy with how it turned out in the end, yet I made at a one-off class and it was far from perfect. I think sort of rob myself of the joy I could feel about my finished projects if I just let myself accept the imperfections like I did with that ring. Something for me to think about 🙂

      1. Thank you! I am super excited to read these books. And thank you to everyone who shared their comments here as well. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded that we are not alone in our creative struggles.

  9. I’d love to read these!

    I’m a serious perfectionist, so it’s hard to think of a time when I was OK with a project being imperfect. That said, I knit some socks I thought were hideously ugly because of the color, and a friend loved them! I was really happy to give them to someone so enthusiastic.

  10. What a wonderful set of books that I would just love to get my hands on (of course!) I have to say most of my projects start out imperfect and end up imperfect as well, but occasionally I have had success. The example that comes to mind is a quilt I was making for my brand new, and very first, niece. I had chosen simple cotton fat quarters for the background and a lovely gold satin that I wanted to applique on top in the form of little leaves. However this proved a nightmare and at one point the quilt went flying across the room in anger as gold thread unravelled like my patience! But with a little perseverance and with the help of iron-on interfacing, it turned out perfect and beautiful. Phew!

  11. i recently bought an apron on Etsy made of Nani Iro linen. I really loved it but the pockets weren’t made very well. At first I was annoyed because it wasn’t cheap, but then I decided to take the pockets off and fix them. I did that this morning and I love my new apron!

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