It turns out that I have discovered the most dangerous words in the entire Universe, two innocent little words that when used in conjunction tend to have serious consequences.
A lot of people have picked up on the dreaded ‘what if’; ‘what if’ can be used looking forward or looking back but there is always a tinge of regret. In hindsight, we can wish that we had taken another course or path and with doubt, we can wonder if we’re taking the right one now or in the future. Another variation is ‘if only’, which features in lyrics where it is declared to be ‘the loneliest words that you’ll ever know’.
I don’t do the looking backwards ‘what if’. Things happen, life happens. We can’t undo the past and, normally, I can’t grasp the concept of future. Looking forwards, well, you know what I’m like for worrying. And I have the kind of vivid and fertile imagination that allows me to conjure up all the billion and one dreadful possibilities for any one insignificant moment.
But those are not the two dangerous words; as surprising as it seems, my negative attitude is what keeps me strong and moving forwards. I know that things rarely, if ever, are as bad as I think that they’re going to be. And when bad stuff happens, truthfully, I’m too busy dealing with it, I go into crisis mode, to fret myself dreaming up even worse things.
So what are those two dangerous words?
Together they are potent. And have serious consequences.
I’ve never used the phrase before; after all, I’m pretty good at knowing automatically all the billion and one reasons why I shouldn’t do something. But as you know there’s been a lot of psychological DIY going on this winter and I decided that this year would be the year that I would risk, that I would dare.
So I found myself asking ‘why not?’
When someone said that they’d really like it if they had a bag or carrier for a water bottle when they go away, I asked myself those two dangerous words and before I quite knew what I was doing, I had my hand up, yes I would make them one.
I even sketched a quick design on a napkin.
I can’t draw.
It’s a fact that everyone else in the entire world can.
(Someone further up the table couldn’t quite work out why I’d drawn a picture of a toilet pan (apparently) so I may not draw again in public for a loooong time again).
I offered to make something.
Something with a needle and thread, something with fabric, something that involves sewing.
I can’t sew.
And the two girls who I was making these for can sew.
Like properly sew.
With sewing machines.
And they make clothes.
‘Why not’ is indeed a dangerous phrase.
With consequences, serious consequences.
I was committed and I had to start sewing.
Husband helped me with the pattern (which we invented along the way) and did the cutting out (which terrifies me).
But I did most of the sewing.
In my pretty irregular way.
I then asked myself ‘why not’ again.
I don’t do embroidery.
Embroidery is for artistic people who sew.
I am neither artistic or a sewer.
(That word written can be read two very different ways, fortunately I am neither).
But I picked up Husband’s embroidery stitch guide book and thought ‘why not’.
Maybe other people just start at the beginning, maybe other people just start by following the instructions step by step, maybe other people don’t know it all automatically.
So I embroidered.
I took a needle and some floss (not dental) and I follow the instructions, carefully, idiosyncratically but still irregularly and I gave it my best shot.
Because that’s all other people do isn’t it? They just try to do their best. And that’s all anyone can do, including me. I can only try. And if I don’t try then I can’t do.
So here’s what we did (thank you Husband for all your help!):
I used some thick cotton fabric that we already had from another project years ago so I gave them a choice of three colours: orange, red and green. I also had a brand new fleece that had promotional slogans across it so I decided that the best use for it was in pieces. Lining the cotton bags with fleece makes the carrier a lot more insulating as well protecting the bottle better from knocks.
We modelled the dimensions on the largest (fattest too) bottled water bottle we could find locally but found the first one came out a little too cozy so we upped the size a little for the second one.
We also discovered that a circle at the bottom of a cylinder is neither the same diameter nor the same circumference as the cylinder. I was very baffled. We did eventually come up with a scale based on other measurements found on various online bottle carrier tutorials, a circle is a third of the diameter of the cylinder. Even more eventually, Husband discovered that it was something to do with pie. Well, I’m always glad to have pie in my life.
For the straps, we all agreed that a long strap was best, this is so it can be carried comfortably for long periods over a shoulder or across the body. Not taking any chances with guestimation, I got them to provide their ideal measurement (they went home and measured a bag strap that they use). This was just as well because the shorter of the two wanted the longer strap. Obviously. (I kept the text message with the measurement just in case! I wanted proof).
Just as in knitting, straps always take a very long time. Our friends were going away the next day and I didn’t get them finished until five that evening! That was stressful. Stress makes me tired. But I’m glad that I did it, I’m glad that I said ‘why not’. Even with the consequences, I rather like this new confidence. I’m enjoying being creative again, I’m enjoying daring and risking for the first time ever.
(Oh, and the toggles? I nicked them off the ‘up-cycled’ fleece along with that rather nifty cylindrical elastic).