Trial and revision

On the fourth of March (or around that time), I started experimenting with Flat Spiral stitch. This was to break me back into the use of instructions/techniques that originated with people other than myself, in a relatively unintimidating way. Through this, what I’ve gone through with the Bee earrings, and what I’ve gone through with the bracelet/closure pattern I’ve designed, I’ve found a number of patterns in my own expectations, as versus reality.

To be clear: the following isn’t really so much about Flat Spiral stitch, as it is about what I’ve observed in my working process — which I realized while working Flat Spiral. Flat Spiral will be set aside for a later post.

Based on my patterns of expectation, my responses are, well, somewhat predictable. But reality seems not to follow the patterns which my brain wants to categorize and organize reality into; and on top of that, my brain seems to want to prefer the safety of its own faulty thinking (and guesses at what will or should work) to thorough real-world testing. The result: I have a number of automatic, not-reality-tested responses which I follow through on, too quickly. That can get expensive, in this field. I seem not to be giving myself enough time to really know what I’m doing (and which materials I need to do it), before I launch into doing it wholeheartedly. That does show eagerness, which is a good thing; it also shows naivete, on my part.

Since beginning to openly experiment with my own patterns, and also with modifying techniques I’ve learned from other places — I’ve learned, for one thing, that the process of pattern development is not a one-shot deal. It’s not even a six-shot deal. It’s incremental. It takes time to learn what works and why, and what doesn’t work (and why). And it doesn’t happen without experimentation: doing things differently because it’s possible. And that possibility hasn’t yet been examined in the real world, for its virtues and drawbacks.

In the course of developing a sophisticated pattern, there are many versions which are what I would call, “the best I can do, for now.” And those best-at-the-time versions do exist, they do show where I was at, at a certain point in time…but they quickly become outpaced by later versions, as I learn and retain more knowledge about what I’m doing: specifically as a result of dissatisfaction with the earlier versions. As a result, my work becomes cleaner, more beautiful; and then I have these old versions which are good for showing me where I could do better, and where I came to do better, in later models.

What do I do with the design models, then? Good question. And what do I do where it comes to knowing when, exactly, I have a salable model? I guess it’s apparent that I do know when I have a model I’m willing to put out into the world, under my own name, because I can see that it’s clean. But also, with these macrame models especially…it has taken a while for me to get to that point. Both bracelet models I originated and have worked on, have spent years in development — not constant development, but at this time, they are not wholly new to me.

I know that this length of time likely relates to the fact that they were some of the first models I’ve designed from scratch. I didn’t really have a lot to work with where it came to knowing what tools to use, at first, or what techniques; but I learned…and was helped out by some people in my field. To be honest, a lot of this work couldn’t happen without overlapping communities and relationships, including primarily economic ones. Then there are others like Bead Societies, online forums, and many who, as Austin Kleon has encouraged everyone (including myself) to, “give away their secrets.”

With Flat Spiral Stitch, it’s obvious that this stitch seemed very easy, and also not all that awesome at first. This was due to the fact that I didn’t really know what I was doing (having never tried it before), and because I started out having altered the technique I had been shown online.

I didn’t know, for example, that there’s a substantial difference between using four size 8/0 seed beads as the core unit of Flat Spiral stitch, as versus using two 4mm round beads as the core unit. I tried this a couple of different ways…I’m not certain exactly why it works with druks, and not so much without them, except that druks force the embellishing loops out horizontally — this doesn’t happen with multiples of smaller beads.

Commitment prior to full knowledge…

Now that I look at these statements in re-reading my post (posting is another of those things I’ve found I can’t fully do justice to in a single session — so far I’ve worked on this post for three days), they also shed light on what I was doing where it came to my career and Master’s degree. I wanted to love it, and moved forward as though I knew the realities of the job(s) I was training for. As though I knew the full spectrum of the jobs I could train for.

I wanted to love it so much that I avoided moving up in rank until after I had completed my MLIS. Had I done so before, I would have known absolutely not to aim for working with the public; possibly not to invest in this field at all. In my home system, basic “Librarian” titles in Public Libraries are seriously about Public Service. While I have worked with a regional Historical Society, I had mostly expected to work in Public Libraries after graduation. That, in turn, was largely because I had been relatively sheltered from the realities of working as even a paraprofessional employee, in that milieux.

The system I was in basically assigned increasing responsibility and increasing public contact, up until one reached middle management. That means that mostly everyone I worked with had daily contact with the public. I never really liked that work. I could organize things, and do it well. I could work with the database. I could troubleshoot. What I didn’t want to do was work Circulation. I didn’t realize that the public-contact part of that job would just intensify if I became either a Clerk or a Library Assistant, and that I wouldn’t be able to avoid it as a basic Librarian.

But I wanted to retain the view that this was something I could do and be happy at doing, even in lack of self-knowledge (or perhaps more precisely, lack of knowledge of what surrounded me and how I was different; how the person I was, did not fit the position — and should not need to), so I avoided gaining experience which could prove I was a poor fit. I felt I had to. I didn’t know what I would do if I gained alternate knowledge. I would have had the need and then obligation to myself, to try a different approach. I would also have had to go back to my Vocational program and negotiate a different plan. It would have meant I made a mistake. And for a kid who had thrived on educator-enabled learning, making mistakes was something I was conditioned against.

Of course, in the real world: mistakes are what you learn from.

This is when I dreaded the possibility of hearing the words that I was ill-equipped for a position because of my race, or my sex, or my disability, or my gender, or my sexual orientation, or anything else about myself that I had no choice about and couldn’t change. (Although maybe I actually would have liked gaining skills to become an electrician: I just expected to fight an uphill battle for the rest of my life, in that field.)

Not bringing this up, was another expensive…”mistake”. Of course…I would likely not have made that mistake, without being with a counselor who also most likely did not know me — or have any grounded knowledge about what it meant to be a Librarian. Especially not, what it meant to work with the public in a Public Library as a Public Librarian.

It means that there is room for things to get better, because we refine ourselves by trying and failing. Repeatedly. It just took me a long time to realize that I didn’t want to do what I had to do to succeed in Public Services, with that employer.

So I suppose it wasn’t really a waste of time, money, and energy, but a learning experience. I don’t want to cut my ties to the field, but all of my job experience in working with the public has told me that I’m not a person suited for working with the public — not temperamentally, and not in regard to trauma. I know that people are not always humane. I am not particularly surprised by what I see going on around me in this country, at this point. I am just a bit disappointed to have my perspective confirmed.

Which is why I know now, and have known, since I have been able to decompress from my last job — that…I should not put myself into a position like that, again. Not if I can help it.

In turn, if I want to get back to full…functionality, where it comes to jobs, I’ll want to refresh my math skills. Especially if I want to have the ability to go into technology — or engineering — as a field in general. Math is something I was initially very skilled at, and which I initially thought was fun (I still find some of it very enlightening and fun, particularly where it comes to what I understand and can apply). I caught hell for that in high school, because I wasn’t supposed to be as smart as I was. Why? Because I was female? Because my skin was dark and hair curly? My best guess leads me to an investigation of intersectionality as it applied to myself in ninth grade, after which I decided not to continue within the Honors Math track.

But that’s depressing, you know. I have half a mind to study this, but I also know that Ethnic Studies professors, and those involved in Womens’ Studies and feminisms, have a tendency to die early from stress leading to cancer, heart disease, and/or suicide.

I just find myself also wanting to love beading, so much so that I can avoid giving myself the chance to prove (or disprove) the hypothesis. I work on my writing, or I work online, when what I need to be doing is working with my materials. Not trying to set myself up with more materials; but working with what I have, now — to the point that I know what I’m doing and what I may need — once I reach a stable level of development, and have worked out the imperfections. That’s the pattern I’ve seen appearing when it has come to attempting to do beadwork on a regular schedule, as a route of self-employment, and not so much as a method of play.

Anyhow…it’s a fairly profound experience to gain, from looking at one’s own self-management, what one’s sticking points are, and why. The better thing about it is that when you realize it is fear of either success or failure…you can see that the fear is essentially…irrelevant. If it’s going to be there no matter what I do, and it’s especially going to stay there if I do nothing, the best thing I can do is disregard it. The only chance to get beyond it may be to work through it.

And at this juncture, I begin thinking about faith as versus science; which is relevant in my life currently, but maybe doesn’t have to be, in the future. Of course, the stakes for that, where it comes to mental health, are a bit higher. But there’s just something about faith that can’t be empirically proven…maybe in the way I think about the world, in general, which I…just need to investigate, maybe. There are things like those, “heart truths,” that I know I probably shouldn’t touch, at least for now. I find there may be core knowledge that exists to help us survive. It’s useful to tune into this, sometimes.

The thing is, even with the spiritual work I’ve been doing, I’ve been getting messages not to commit without knowing what I’m getting into.

I would write more about Flat Spiral (and regular Spiral) stitch, and the results of my experimentation so far; but I know that material is not ready yet. I have found some…interesting results, from doing things in a way that was unintended…

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). Currently, they are trying to figure out whether to place their energies more into language and language arts, or producing handcrafted jewelry and face coverings, for the interim...

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