The importance of preparation


"Measure twice, cut once." 

It feels like a drag sometimes, but there are jobs for which you have to put the time in to prepare properly. I don't follow rules, for rules' sake, but if I understand why, then I enjoy putting care and attention into the finer details.

There is definitely time and space for process-based, intuitive work. It's important to just let your hands, the muse and your medium of choice frolic together. It's important to try and fail, to make a lot of art on the road to making the art of your dreams. 

For other work, you need to take the time and do the prep. When binding books, "measure twice, cut once" definitely applies. If you take the time, you end up with a book so neat and beautiful that you can hardly believe you made it. I know I feel like that sometimes. In woodworking, every teacher or maker I've ever spoken to, insists on the same. In dress-making, pre-washing, measuring for fit, tweaking the pattern, even making a toile (or muslin, for some of you) sometimes, and cutting with care results in a garment that looks handmade in all the best ways.

Knitting can go either way. For shawls and blankets, you can often dive straight in with yarn that makes your heart sing, knitting until it feels done. Some people can work awe-inspiring free-form knitting and crochet garments. 

I'm starting my first sweater ever. We all know horror stories of jumpers, knit by relatives, that fit noone and no body. Tight necks, short bodies and long arms; I have no desire to put my yarn money and knitting time into a disaster like that. 

The little piece you see above is a sample piece for my jumper. Knit, just like my sweater will be, in the round, on the same sized needles, with the yarn I want to use. It's even been washed the way I'll wash it when it's done. It allowed me to see if I like the fabric that will make up the finished piece and how it will wash. It also lets me see how many stitches I'm getting to the inch. Turns out, I'm getting an extra quarter stitch per inch compared to the designer. Pshaw! That's nothing, right? Around the hips though, that would give me a jumper two inches tighter than planned, a whole dress size! Plus, just like with shopping for clothes, very few of us are exactly the dimensions of one size and planning ahead allows for a custom fit. Wish me luck!

This piece is a test palette for a little illustrated book I'm working on. It's already bound and stitched, so I wanted to make my colour experiments ahead of time rather than on the page. Which reminds me, I must note down the names of the pencil colours before I forget. 

What about you? Do you like to leap right in or work it out as you go along? Does it depend on the project? Or your mood?