Image

Picking Up A New Hobby: Embroidery

I think I’ve mentioned this many times before on my blog, but i’m not exactly good with my hands. There are people out there who have a natural affinity for this sort of thing (painting, pottery, fixing lightbulbs, cooking, etc.) — I, sadly, am not one of them.

As a kid, I always had my nose in a book, and while I could spout obscure trivia about ancient Egyptian religions, theories on evolution and how dinosaurs could have gone extinct, I couldn’t make or fix anything to save my life. I also sucked at sports. In short, I was (and still am), a big nerd. In an RPG, I’d probably be the wizard or some sort of priestess; all brains and no brawn. INT5, AGI, STR and DEX 0.

The hobbies I enjoy (and can stick to) tend to involve pursuits of the mind, like reading and blogging. Also, being an INTP with the attention span of a goldfish, I tend to flit from one hobby to another — usually whatever catches my fancy at the moment (I dabbled in drawing comics, making figurines, soap making, candle making). My interest usually fizzles out if:

a) I don’t get the hang of it within 2 sessions, or

b) I find that it’s actually pretty easy, and I get bored lol (I do sound like a fickle and hard-to-please person, don’t I?)

20210203_171959

So when I ordered an embroidery kit a couple of months ago, I surprised even myself. The idea of repeatedly poking a needle and thread through a piece of cloth didn’t exactly scream excitement, but I was bored of being stuck at home (thanks, COVID!) and wanted to do something different.

A couple of weeks prior, I had ordered some air-dried clay in a horribly misguided attempt at making polymer clay jewellery. After the first few pieces ended up looking like they came out of Satan’s butthole, I promptly gave up. My embroidery kit seemed set to end up in the same place; at the bottom of a box in a corner, together with the rest of my failed ‘projects’.

But then…

20210204_001940

I actually found stitching to be… oddly satisfying. And it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, even for my sausage fingers. Sure, I couldn’t pull off dainty, tiny stitches, but the ones I made seemed good enough for ‘everyday use’, so to speak. It was challenging enough to keep my interest, but not difficult to the point where I’d give up.

One of my biggest weaknesses is wanting fast and easy results — if I don’t pick up something immediately (or within a few tries), I tend to get discouraged and lose interest. To prevent this from happening, I chose a piece with an easy pattern: one that used basic, easy stitches even beginners could follow, but would still look nice enough for display.

20210208_142751

The first piece came together nicely, and although I messed up some parts, it still looked pretty good. Knowing how bad I am usually with handicrafts, and seeing that it was my first time, I felt a tiny surge of pride at the results.

Which prompted me to order another kit. And another.

At the time of this writing, I have completed three pieces, with three more to go. Not counting all the equipment and thread I bought separately.

20210216_181719

My second piece had a bit more colour, and I learned a few different stitching techniques.

20210216_181827

While I enjoy embroidery as an activity for relaxation – there are a couple of takeaways from this new hobby of mine, which I think are good to reflect on.

It’s okay not to be perfect

I am a perfectionist, and I often think that whatever I make doesn’t match up to the standards that I have in mind (A lifetime of being told you’re not good enough will do that to you). As a result, I often miss opportunities to showcase what I have, because of my pervasive fear of rejection and failure. That, and I refuse to present anything short of (what I think is) perfection. I miss out on a lot of things because my lack of self confidence holds me back; even if I have a great idea, I overthink things and end up not voicing them out at all. It’s true what they say, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

20210222_224500

That’s just it though – in the real world, perfection rarely exists. Even when I was posting my second embroidery piece, I kept criticising my own stitching, despite other people telling me that it looked okay. It’s a bad habit, but being more aware of it means that I can actively take steps to prevent myself from getting into that head space. So yeah, it’s okay for that stitch to not be completely straight; I shouldn’t beat myself up about it. If anything, it adds character to the piece and shows that it’s made by a human, not a machine.

Practice

20210314_102817

As mentioned earlier, I have a short attention span and little patience. Unlike people who feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach a milestone after months (or even years) of hard work, the same concept when applied to me would just make me feel stupid and incompetent. I like to be able to grasp something quickly – which is why many of my projects have a great head start but run out of steam eventually. The reality is, many things require practice – Rome wasn’t built in a day. I have to constantly remind myself that it took years for masters to reach the pinnacle of their art, if ever.

You do You

20210313_232807

I follow many artists on Instagram, and it can be daunting to see how amazingly talented some people are. It can also feel like no matter how hard I work, or what I do (channeling some Rock Lee from Naruto here), I’ll never catch up to their level of genius – so why bother? This kind of apathy can be dangerous and soul crushing for aspiring creatives. Again, I have to constantly remind myself that I, too, can make good art and contribute useful ideas. Art is subjective, really – and there’s beauty in just the act of creating. Even if you’re the only person who admires your own art, as long as you’re working to create something and improving on your skills, then there is no such thing as ‘wasted’ effort. And that applies for things besides art. Like life, in general.

Currently, I’m looking to work on more pieces and if I’m comfortable enough, open up for commissions. Embroidery is a pretty expensive hobby when you count in the cost of materials and time, so I’m hoping that by doing so I can offset some of the costs. And who knows? Maybe this’ll be one of those things that will keep my interest as long as blogging has.

What are some of the projects that you’re currently working on? Have you picked up a new hobby during the pandemic? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about them.

And if you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

DIY Batik For Just RM10! @ Batik Canting, Fahrenheit 88 Kuala Lumpur

Originally from Indonesia, batik is an ancient textile art that involves dyeing cloth with a wax-resist technique. It also refers to the textile itself, which often features beautiful patterns and motifs which differ from region to region.

20190829_131852

Malaysian batik is markedly different from its Indonesian counterpart; with larger, simpler patterns and a preference for floral motifs as opposed to the Javanese love for geometry. Malaysian batik is also brighter and more vibrant in colour than the deep, earthy hues of Javanese batik.

20190829_131907

N and I were wandering around Fahrenheit 88 when we stumbled across a shop called Batik Canting, which sells batik clothing, souvenirs, paintings and other paraphernalia. They also had DIY batik for just RM10 – where you can paint your own batik and bring it home. Thinking it would be much more fun than just window shopping, we signed up for the session. By session I mean it was just the two of us at a small table in the corner.

20190829_124727

Choices were limited (we weren’t expecting much since it was only RM10). N ended up picking a flower, while I went with my favourite – cats. The materials were provided: painting palette, brushes, and dyes in the three primary colours.

20190829_131954

For professionals and hobbyists, I think you can also buy (?) the dyes at the shop.

20190829_124848

Now, I think I’m a decent artist – I used to draw manga to sell in high school (and yes, people actually bought them, lol). But when it comes to colour, I am terrible. Many a time have I created a nice portrait/drawing and what not and completely ruined it after attempting to add colour. This was evident when I tried to mix the primary dyes to create certain shades – everything turned out blue or red, lmfao.

20190829_131923

N, however, exhibited a talent for shading and colouring. His flower boasted a vibrant violet and pink hue which was not by luck but careful mixing.

20190829_132936

Topping it off with a teal background. Notice the ‘shading’ in the petals?

20190829_134027

And voila. Mine looks like it was done by a 6-year-old. But hey, we had fun.

PS: I showed these to my mom asking her to guess who did which. She immediately knew the cat one was mine. Why? “You suck at colouring.” Mom knows best.

BATIK CANTING 

2nd floor, Fahrenheit 88, 179, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

 

Sewing World Gallery, One City USJ

I can’t sew to save my life. I mean, a loose button won’t be a problem, but anything beyond that will have me stumped. If this was 50, 60 years ago, I’d probably be ‘unmarriageable’, but thankfully (or not?) times have changed. Still, I think sewing is a great skill to have.

While catching a movie with S at One City USJ recently, we came across this newly opened place called Sewing World Gallery – a sewing/tailoring school cum shop/gallery which has loads of interesting items on display. Didn’t manage to see much of it the first time around coz we were rushed for time, so I came here on the weekend with my mum to check it out.

The place is massive – you can spend more than an hour exploring the place as an ‘art gallery’ on its own. At the entrance, we were greeted by colourful pouffes, knitted items and creative crafts, such as a bag made through the ‘anyaman‘ (weaving) method using Nescafe coffee sachets.

There also carry bespoke bags and designs that you won’t find elsewhere. The gallery offers classes every weekend, so you can make your own items. There’s a workspace upstairs equipped with all the essentials such as sewing kits and machines, as well as trainers who will guide you through the process.

The museum corner at the back of the gallery sports a collection of old items such as this charcoal-powered iron (my aunt has one – you put the charcoal pieces into the bottom slot) and sewing machines where you have to press the pedal to power it.

Some of the beautiful pieces on display.

There’s so much you can create from sewing/stitching/knitting. Tea cosies, small ‘cushions’ for your smartphones, pouches, coin holders, pillow cases.

These wonderful tapestries would make a welcome addition to any home.

Kids will love these giant stuffed toys. The colourful little dogs and chickens on the floor are door stoppers.

Chairs with coffee sacks as covers. Upcycling at its finest.

The gallery is also home to the largest bag in Malaysia, as certified by the Malaysia Book of Records. The quirky looking patchwork structure even has ‘handles’, although I can’t imagine any occasion where someone can take this out. 😀

Smaller bags on the inside of the giant bag.

Quilting samples.

Room decorated with quilt covers, carpets and bright funky-looking pillows.

Small souvenirs for sale.

These ‘aprons’ on the cooking oil bottles were cute and amusing.

costume made out of Nescafe sachets.

Arabic calligraphy.

All in all, there was lots to see at the Sewing World Gallery, even if you’re not a sewing enthusiast. Drop by for a visit – it might pique your interest in sewing.

SEWING WORLD GALLERY 

C-01-01 to 08, Block C, Level 1, Sky Park @ One City, Jalan USJ 25/1; 47650 Subang

Kajang Arts Festival and Crafts Bazaar

The Kajang Municipal Council and the Selangor state government recently organised a three-day festival to promote arts and culture at the Kajang stadium, so I paid a visit for work and to check out what they had in store. The Kajang Arts festival and Crafts Bazaar was the first of its kind and there were about 20 booths in the area, as well as activities lined up throughout the day.

SAM_5383-tile

When I got there it was a Friday afternoon, so the weather was really hot. A few buskers were giving a performance at the main stage while contestants took part in an anyaman tikar (mat weaving) competition behind them.

 

SAM_5384-tile

Graffiti on display

SAM_5387-tile

Some of the art booths with works for sale

SAM_5388-tile

Kids trying out an old stone grinder used to make rice flour at the Hulu Langat history booth. Back then blenders didn’t exist yet, so Malaysian families- be they Malay, Chinese or Indian – used these heavy stone grinders instead. The resulting mix would then be cooked into kuih (traditional cakes) and other yummy goodies

SAM_5389-tile

A collection of old photographs of the Kajang area. Kajang was one of the earliest tin mining and rubber settlements in Selangor, having been around since the 1700s. With the boom of development, many settlers came to the place, which can be seen from its rich colonial architecture and old buildings.

SAM_5396-tile

Chinese calligraphy by former Kajang assemblyman, ‘Cikgu’ Lee Kim Sin. He also heads theHulu Langat Community Heritage Centre.

SAM_5402-tile

Sketches by students from New Era College, Kajang – as part of the town’s cultural mapping project, which features beautiful artwork of old pre-war buildings in town.

SAM_5406-tile SAM_5407-tile SAM_5409-tile

Two Keris club members dressed in traditional Busana (Malay clothing) at another booth that promoted Malay heritage and art.

SAM_5410-tile

Selection of keris (Malay daggers), knives, parang (machete) and other decorative weapons.

SAM_5417-tile SAM_5418-tile

Children playing checkers. She looks like she’s concentrating intensely!:)

Overall the fair had some interesting things to see, even though I felt that they should have more booths because I was done walking around after half an hour. They should definitely organise these festivals regularly to promote arts and culture, which is slowly gaining an interest among the locals.