Thursday, December 9, 2010

just give it a try

"...many people are easily defeated when it comes to applying practical domestic skills. There really is no secret to running stitch or cake baking or bulb planting. We all have the ability to do these things, it's just that some people don't believe they can. They have lost the gentle art of self-reliance, and lack of practice erodes this further" (The Gentle Art of Domesticity, Jane Brocket, pg. 123).

Just try it.

Late last night I sat cozy under my first quilt, reading The Gentle Art of Domesticity till well past bedtime. This quote stirred up my thoughts as I reflected on our day.

The children and I had made felted wool soaps. This mama inspired me and this one showed me how. I had practiced on Tuesday, because I'd never felted before and was worried that things wouldn't "take". Practice may seem rather over-the-top, but I had invited a not-so-crunchy friend to make wool soaps with us. So, I had to impress her, of course!

The children saw me messing about in the sink on Tuesday. "I want to do it!" "Can I make one?" Enthusiasm aplenty. But, I couldn't shake this nervous "what if things go poorly" feeling. When my friend had to cancel cause she was sicky-poo, I was sad but slightly relieved. So yesterday morning we made wool soaps - just Aria, Liam and I. It took lots of rubbing, but the children made it through 2 a piece. To simplify the process for them, I covered their wool-wrapped soaps with a stocking during felting. That worked great!

Wool Felted Soaps

So, what does this have to do with Jane's book?

It seems to me that the pristine heart of a child has no qualms about trying. Unless we plant seeds of the fear of failure, they meet new projects, new challenges, new experiences with such positive expectations. In fact, their success doesn't even surprise them. It may surprise us!

I guess it's right and proper that we learn over time that sometimes we will try and not succeed. But, oh, that we would always have the courage to try!  In stitches, getting past those reservations against something new is truly half the work of progress.

"A misshapen cookie, an uneven row of stitching, a floppy hyacinth and an uneven pot of basil are still better than the bland, neat and regular store-bought versions that look and taste like everyone else's.

Just give it a try" (pg. 124).


  1. It's ironic—for some reason I felt compelled to send you this book so that it would become an inspiration to you. And then you go and turn around and inspire me. Thanks for your always-heartfelt words.

  2. I have goosebumps! That quote at the beginning is incredible and hit me hard.

    I must get this book!

    I have always been such a perfectionist that if I couldn't do something perfect then I wouldn't do it at all. That changed for me when I moved into my 30's and is still changing.

    I want the eagerness of a child to try new things. I pray that my own children do not lose that joy of discovery due to fear of failure.

    Great post Rachel!

  3. Oh,I love making felted soaps, it is a lot of work! That first quote hit me hard, too! It's very fitting at this moment, when I am trying really hard to relax and let go. We just found out our house (we rent) is selling and we must move...which we are the 1st of January!! If I wasn't overwhelmed with holiday orders and presents already...I am now! Great post Rachel...I'm very much trying to embrace the news as my children did, which was with nothing but pure excitement for our new journey! ; )

  4. Thank you for this gentle reminder, to simply let go and just do. I appreciate your comments so much.

  5. I love this post! Thanks so much for sharing. I worked on Christmas presents last night for two of my nieces. Neither of them turned out as I'd hoped. I looked at those uneven stitches and thought, Oh I hope she doesn't hate this gift because of this or that. But really, I shouldn't care about those things and instead remember that I wanted to make something that was totally "her" instead of buying her some generic toy at the store that will likely get forgotten.

  6. I think it's through the 'trying' and 'failing' that true inspiration comes to me. "Okay that didn't work....what if i did this?" and the next brilliant idea is sparked!

    Awesome post!

  7. What wonderful quotes! We could all do to remember those when crafting and doing other domestic activities :)

    You have been up to so many fantastic things lately! I've been keeping up but haven't had the time to comment! I LOVED your color peek-a-boo quilt, adorable!

  8. I love this! Well said, friend! :)

  9. This was really great Rachel, thanks for sharing those quotes. I've been eyeballing that book for awhile--it sounds like something I really need to add to my library. I don't have qualms about trying things myself, but I definitely have qualms about letting my kids try things and possibly make disastrous unattractive messes. Ha ha.

  10. I'm just curious - why does only a part of your post show up in my google reader? Is this a setting on your end? It's of course not a huge issue, I love clicking over to your blog, I just always wondered why it's this way.


  11. i was at anthropology last night and i saw felted soap there and thought they were so cute! thanks for letting me know i can make them myself. i even have lots of handmade soap on hand! :)

  12. i love this, rachel. thank you!

  13. This is a perfectly perfect post. So universally true. I love it. Love it.


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