Creativity

The thing with sewing is…

The thing with sewing is… Drawing Luke Hockley.

The thing with sewing is… Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Here’s the thing with sewing…it’s never particularly straight forward.

Maybe I should be more specific…

The thing with drafting the pattern for and hand stitching a shirt from scratch is that…it’s never particularly straight forward.

This is where we are…

I have one shirt pattern that fits beautifully, but doesn’t include a yoke, which makes the shirt stronger. A yoke would be great on this shirt because it is reasonably fitted…and also the collar fits beautifully…but I’m not that happy with the shape. Seems simple…just put a yoke in the shirt and put a nicer collar on it.

I think it is that simple…but these things can cascade like a house of cards. And even if they don’t it’s the pattern drafting, cutting and making to test that takes all the time.

Also, I have just finished making a trial of a different shirt. I pulled apart one of my favourite shirts (that had started to fall apart) and built a pattern from it. The good news is that it is almost a perfect replica of the original! The bad news is that the original, now I look at it closely, didn’t quite fit me perfectly around the neck. I need to add another centimetre or so…I have enough experience to know this one is a house of cards…adding a centimetre to the neck either is totally absorb-able in the existing pattern…or requires me to change the neck-line which means I may need to fiddle with the front pieces which could…well I don’t quite know.

Thing is, all of that is actually quite interesting to me.

Why do I look at it like it’s a problem?

It’s a desire to complete something. An old habit of seeing the finished shirt as the goal. Rather than the process of creating it. What happens then is that I avoid tackling these tasks and the finished shirt gets further and further away.

Curiosity.

The reason I’m doing this is that I am curious about how all the parts of a shirt fit together.

I’d better go and find out!

Love

Luke

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Day 1,380

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An intangible gift.

An intangible gift. Drawing Luke Hockley.

An intangible gift. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

My fear is that I sit just outside of really talented at anything.

That I’m ok.

Adequate.

While others are gifted and inspiring.

I am afraid that I am destined for a life of mediocre.

I’d really like to be able to see through this. To see this for what it is…

But what is it?

It is a desire to have a natural, technical gift and to have honed that gift to a point of excellence.

What would having this kind of gift mean? What do I think it would give me?

I want to say ‘recognition’, I want to put this desire down to a need to be liked, a need to be celebrated by others…validated, but that’s not it. That’s not what I feel when I think of having this kind of gift.

I feel ‘freedom’. I am searching for the ability to use this ‘gift’ to make things.

At the moment I have music in my head. The ability to create music. To sit at the piano and play and sing, to create something from nothing.

I think I do have a gift. It’s just not so tangible. Which confuses me, I think.

Insight.

I think I have an ability to look at something and see the fabric of beliefs and ideas and history and story that is making that thing be the way that it is.

Then, I respond to that fabric.

I draw on my creative skills, as they are, to question, to challenge, to reflect…to imagine something new in the hope that we can see the fabric and choose how we want it to look in the future.

It seems like such an intangible gift.

I don’t think that makes it less valuable.

There’s something else.

I’m a dedicated craftsperson. I love learning. I have an ability to hone my skills. Then, when I respond creatively to some insight I’ve had, I have the tools at the ready to create.

The other day, at the gym, a friend said to me they wished they had lean muscle, rather than the bulky kind. I laughed…because they have the kind of body that most people at the gym are desperately looking to have.

I laughed because humans tend to do this. Or, at least, I certainly do this.

I look at the world and find the opposite of what I have and decide that that, that thing that I am not, is the most desirable thing to be in the world.

That if I only had that, then I would be happier and more creative and more special and unique and…everything, you know?

This is crap, though.

Really, it is crap.

The people I admire become distinct and interesting and beautiful because they take exactly what they have and amplify that.

Spending energy on a desire to be something else is a way of avoiding doing the work it takes to amplify what I’ve got.

It may also be a way of avoiding taking the risk of being seen, really seen, for what I am.

This is where it comes back to external validation.

My experience is that people living in their ‘gift’, whatever that may be, are not liked by everyone. Being liked by everyone is impossible and unlikely. The pursuit of this dubious goals is also likely to induce a kind of ‘mediocre’ that stifles things.

The unconscious goal of being liked by everyone is incredibly unhelpful to me.

Accepting…no, embracing, that the stuff I make will appeal to the people it is meant to appeal to, that’s where the gold is.

It frees me up.

To use my gifts.

To do something.

Right.

Thanks.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,379

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The last buttonhole

The last buttonhole. Drawing Luke Hockley.

The last buttonhole. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

A year after I started making this shirt, I am finally about to sew the last buttonhole.

It will take me about an hour, and then…this shirt is complete.

It takes a long time to hand sew a shirt…but it doesn’t take a year. I think for the last 6 months I’ve spent the time avoiding sewing these buttonholes. In case I stuff them up. This shirt has been awkward at times. I’ve taken the collar off and totally remade it – which took ages. The stitching is a strong contrast to the main fabric. Which I did, on purpose, so that the imperfect handmade nature of the shirt was obvious…but I couldn’t come to terms with how messy the stitching on the collar was. The collar is different to all the other parts of the shirt. Being circular there are no obvious ‘inside’ and ‘outside’…or the inside and outside change halfway through a line of stitching. You see, I can make one side reasonably neat…the other, well it’s pretty scrappy.

Anyway.

It’s taken a long time, most of that time has been taken up with my battle with myself to be perfect.

But also, some of that time has been dedicated to the fact that shirt making is all process. Like painting a room every new exploration is a lot of preparation before I actually get to sew, which I don’t find takes that long.

In this case the buttonholes took so long because I got curious about how handmade buttonholes are actually meant to be made. I had just made up my own technique…but I knew that there was going to be a ‘proper’ way to do it.

As I explored different techniques my buttonholes got a lot worse before they finally shaped up into something passable.

If that was the only delay, learning a new technique, then I may have slowed a little, but that wouldn’t have worried me. I like that shirt making is a process of discovery. It’s all the angst in between that I could do without.

It’s important for me to remember that the process is the point. To slow down and enjoy each piece of the puzzle.

That same old lesson coming back to visit me once again.

There is only now.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,377

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Something so delightful.

Something so delightful. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Something so delightful. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Something so delightful

In my life

People around the Campfire.

Breakfast with friends

Alby asking for cuddles

Cup of tea and life plans with family

Sewing buttonholes on the train

Dinner with family

Phone call with loved ones.

Something so delightful.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,370

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Frightened of failure.

Frightened of failure. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Frightened of failure. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I don’t feel like I am frightened of failure, but I am.

I seem to be able to hide it from myself.

Disguise this uncertainty.

It comes out as an inability to finish things.

Avoiding putting the final touches on things…in case.

In case I stuff it up.

In case it doesn’t look right.

In case it’s not perfect.

I’m so frustrated with this.

It’s ridiculous.

Just get on with it, damn it.

Stop wasting time.

Enjoy the process and let go of the outcome.

It will be easier that way.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,365

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Our Hugh Jackman

Our Hugh Jackman. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Our Hugh Jackman. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

As the result of a random gift from someone we had never met (via a very generous Aunty Rosemary) we just had the pleasure of spending an evening being entertained by Hugh Jackman.

It was all kinds of fabulous.

But my absolute favourite part of the evening was the memory of my Aunty Loris proudly displaying a newspaper cut out of ‘our Hugh’ on her fridge…telling me incredulously of her niece (my cousin) who could have married Hugh.

She liked Hugh for the same reason we like Hugh. He’s so damn nice, talented, hard working, entertaining and generous.

I loved the show. And I loved having Aunty with me again for an evening.

Thanks Hugh.

Love

Luke.

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Day 1,349

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Visiting myself daily.

Visiting myself daily. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Visiting myself daily. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Visiting myself daily.

A cup of tea.

A privilege.

Warm kindness.

Harsh reality.

Looking through a window, taking a breath.

Owning my bag of stuff.

Self-respect, discovery, uncertainty.

Messy.

A ritual made from…

A cup of tea

Visiting myself daily.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,347

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Holding time

Holding time. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Holding time. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Every day I hold time.

My fingers tips pressed together holding a gentle, warm ball of time in the space between. Long and slow time.

A fire along my arms and neck and eyes and rapidly typing finger tips. Impatient and rapidly evaporating time.

A single hand, kind, tea cup circle of time.

Twenty minutes of anti-gravity time slowly falling from the ceiling down into my back. A broad surface of spreading time.

Leg pumping, moving through space, aerobic time.

Feet, hands, back, arms, belly, legs, head, full body. Time making sound.

Stitching time, patiently.

All of me dancing time.

My fingers tips pressed together holding a gentle, warm ball of time in the space between. Long and slow time.

Every day I hold time.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,333

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Stealing something we can’t replace.

Stealing something we can’t replace. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Stealing something we can’t replace. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’ve been mending a pair of knitted gloves.

They had really become a couple of large holes with some thread holding them together…well not quite, but close.

It’s been an adventure that I have really enjoyed.

I told them that it was going to be messy, so I had permission for a bit of trial and error.

They are a earthy red colour and I have mended them with a golden mustard wool. This makes the mend incredibly obvious, which has had an unexpected consequence.

As I have mended them, I have also brought to life all of the stress points in the gloves. The areas that get the most wear and tear were obviously the ones that had the biggest holes and now have the largest mends.

I feel like I have had a chance to get to know these gloves and the person who wears them. I’ve come to understand something about them. I’ve been holding the space where their hands rest and now I know them a little better.

And the fact that this object, that was deeply loved but not far off the rubbish bin, now has another life, perhaps even years more of life, is a kind of satisfying that I can’t really explain.

I feel like humans are meant to give our clothing a decent life. That when we don’t, we are stealing something from ourselves that we can’t replace.

It’s really quite moving to use my humble mending skills in this way.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,314

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.

Alive in my hands.

Alive in my hands. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Alive in my hands. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I love when I fall in love with a new song.

When something about a song grabs me to the point where I want to learn to play and sing it on the piano…and then I find myself drawn to practicing it all the time…I love that.

It’s like having a sewing project that I am working on that I can’t put down.

A creative curiosity that is alive in my hands brings me joy.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,291

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.