~Except for skydiving and other physical activities of that genre, I’ve never kept myself from trying something because I was afraid to fail. In elementary school, I can vividly remember a story about Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb. When a boy asked him if he felt as if he were a failure because he had tried so many times to invent a lightbulb that worked Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” That story has stuck with me my entire life. I was also raised in a family where we were encouraged to try “things”. My sisters and I were never told we couldn’t do something because we were girls.
As a result, unless it’s dangerous, I’ve never let the fear of failure stand in my way of learning or trying a new skill, pattern, etc. As with Thomas Edison, I have found techniques that don’t work, so I try something else. With my optimistic mindset, I bought the Effie and Ollie elephant pattern by Heather Bailey. Daughter Em loves elephants and this pattern would make perfect “baby blocks” for the new grandson, who will be born in September. I have to admit it, I may have found my Waterloo. My mind may be young and eager, but the hands not-so-much. Arthritis in the right hand and nerve damage to two fingers of the left hand have made sewing tiny objects rather difficult. Oh, to go back in time to when this would have been a moot point and sewing this little elephant a cinch. Tiny tail frustrations, after the third try I did my own thing ala Thomas Edison I learned what wouldn’t work. Then there is the super, tiny trunk. No way could I get that trimmed and turned right-side-out and have it look right. Poor little trunk twists off to the left. Lastly, clipping the seams all around and getting it ready to stuff. What’s that I see? A hole in the legs where stitching should have been? Did these old eyes not see the seam and clip through it? I can hear our mom now, “Be careful when clipping the seams, don’t get too close or you’ll clip right through the stitching.” Well mom, I can hear your warning, but either bad light or bad hands, I clipped through. Little elephant projectile across the room. I’m amazed at how something so light could actually make it across the room. Stomping down the stairs from my studio ensued. I don’t get frustrated very often, but when I do it really upsets the Hubs, he’s not used to it and doesn’t quite know what to do. It’s been two days, I’ve had time to cool down.
This is NOT a failure, it’s just lessons learned:
- Trying to pull an 1/4 inch width tail right-side will not work for me, even using the cord-sewn-in-the-seam method to try and pull it. (Another tip from my mom. She’s is/was a fabulous seamstress.) A wider width worked, as well as a folded tail. I like the folded tail best.
- Next time I need to clip seams, bring the elephant outside. The light is bright enough out there for me to see the seams properly. Besides, it’s always nice to get outside.
- Most of the elephant was easy to do, remember this and when frustrated don’t spend an hour getting really worked up. Put the item down and go do something else.
So thank you Thomas Edison, again your words ring in my ears and I’ll be back to try Effie and Ollie. “Success is almost in my grasp.”