“Ugly” is the prompt in the Love Your Blog Challenge from A Playful Day this week. I’ve been trying to think about what to write about. Kate talked about how identifying with your blog, other bloggers, and yourself as the author of a blog, can sometimes be tough. She wrote a great post on how to deal with it, which deserves a read if you want to check it out.
I wanted to make all these posts about how the prompts related to my blogging. This is where I ran into trouble, went off at a bit of a tangent, and ended up with the thoughts you see below. Enjoy!
The Beautiful Ugly
For me, ugly is not a word I associate with blogging, really. Through my degree and the turmoil that is figuring out what to do with my life, blogging has been the activity I have kept to most loyally, has given me the most joy. Sure, there have been a few months where I haven’t felt able to keep up with a blog, but over the past decade I have become well acquainted with the idea that if I want to enjoy the blog I keep, I have to do things and therefore write about things that I enjoy doing, or enjoy thinking about.
It’s essentially a public diary; yes, I want it to be useful to other people, but I have to be motivated to do it because I enjoy it, and I do. I don’t often feel that my blogging isn’t good enough – I’m good at comparing it to my own wishes, and deciding it comes out OK. I’m even shocked with how my blog posts make me feel good, to be honest. I’m always a little surprised that coherent words can come out of my often messy brain in a way that other people understand and – gasp – seem to enjoy.
I wish I could say I feel the same confidence about how I see crafting, and even more than this, the world that I create around me. There have been so many occasions where I have crafted something with the perfect image of what I want it to look like, to be, to feel like, in my head. At this very moment I’ve got some Converse shoes drying in the sun, which I have spent the last week revamping (a tutorial will come shortly). They don’t look, feel or even come close to what I imagined, and in my mind this makes them ugly, makes me an awful crafter, and I judge myself against that impossible pedestal of imperfection.
I knitted a baby jumper last week which I hate the look of, and if I had time I would rip it out. I have knitted hats which I have hated because the colour has not come out as I have wanted it to. My drawings get consigned to cupboards for months at a time because I can’t stand the sight of them. I have dabbled in needle felting, wet felting, card making, sewing, soap making…and all of them have fallen short of my expectations.
Yet, it is important to remember that this is all about perception. The same baby jumper shown to a number of people – including family of the intended wearer – think it is absolutely stunning. The hats I have hated no longer live with me – because other people who think they are beautiful have been presented with them to take home. I always come back to drawing eventually because the people around me ask to see what I’ve done, think they’re great. I have never given up on a craft completely because of the ugliness I have seen in the results.
Meanwhile, I have items that I adore that other people would describe as ugly. I wear my favourite pair of dungarees, which are pretty much perfect aside from a massive hole in the thigh, all the time. Every time I wear them, I get told they are awful, that the hole makes them rubbish, that they need getting rid of, but I think they are beautiful.
The Zigzag Jumper which I knitted last year is done in garish green, pink and cream, and some people joke that they need sunglasses to see me in it. The zigzags don’t suit my body shape and the yarn is not a luxury brand; a lot of people have issues with it. It’s one of my favourite items of clothing.
My cat, which a judge at a cat show would call ugly, has got white hairs all over her body in places where she should ‘just’ be black, as a tuxedo cat (I mean, technically she’s a moggy so all bets are off, but still). If you’ve been following me for any length of time (i.e. about a day), you’ll know how big a part this smelly, loud, furry and badly behaved creature plays in my day-to-day life, and how much joy I get out of her.
We have a mask in our flat that John made, which I think looks less than beautiful – but the love and affection that I have for that object, which a ‘non-crafter’ crafted means that I cannot look on it as anything other than a precious object.
Does this mean that these are ugly things that I just happen to like? That someone is ‘wrong’ for liking a colour combination that I don’t? That the physical appearance of, for example, a child’s first drawing, makes it worthless?
What is ugly? Is it really a thing, or is it just about how expectations measure up to impossible standards? I’ll be thinking about that a bit more, and hopefully these thoughts will help me to feel more positive about my crafting and the world I live in. After all, who says ‘perfection’ isn’t ‘ugly’?
“If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it could be a really ugly swan.” – Timmothy Radman