Tag Archives: failing

Why you should definitely fail at craft with your kids

During these storm-laden school holidays, we managed a crafternoon or two. My favourite was one that resulted in two really messy tangles of alleged weaving.

I don’t even know my weft from my warp. I think my weaver ancestors would shun my over-tensioned noob things and attempts to lead my children into the weavers world.

Only my 8 year old daughter persevered on her frame, my five year old son escaping to sewing cards. 



Even our cat tried to intervene and steer the situation on course.

But in these abominations of weaving, curled and mishapen, there was still a hugely relevant learning moment.


Questions about weaving led to me showing the kids a video of Harris Tweed being hand-woven on the Isle of Lewis and then looking again at my Harris Tweed hat under a microscope to see incredible rainbow spectrum of all of the coloured threads that create this amazing fabric.

This led to discussions about why hand-woven items cost more to buy, the genius of turning natural fibre into textile,  the skill and time in hand-crafting textiles, the value of learning and perfecting a skill and the preservation of traditional hand skills even though machines can help. We’ll definitely follow this up by looking for weavers and woven articles at the local artisan market. 

To me this is why, even if you are not good at a particular craft, there is value in the trial.  Often too, there is a temptation to revert to ‘teach’ with making, to become instructional and to pass on technique after a self-trial. Yet, it’s actually a more holistic example of maker philosophy and design thinking to visibly struggle together, get it wrong together and celebrate the imperfection of untangling and undoing. 


How many times must Harris Tweed have turned into a slushy mess of sopping damp tangled fleece in the amazing process of perfecting this wonderful textile? 

Failing is how we learn the value and art of making.

Why failing to grow is a yield too

Back in Autumn 2015, I tried growing burgundy Okra from seed and a late winter planting. Fail. Not just me either, I shared some seedlings and no one had any luck. 

I tried again in Spring, again sharing the few that had germinated through the local community produce share. I’m hopeful of finding out whether others had luck, because… one of mine made it!!!

As long as I can keep the chickens out of this bed, I think this little okra will be ok.

Growing is about failing, and failing is learning, because failing puts the details in your face, and asks you scrutinise the situation right there in front of you.  ‘Why didn’t this work?’ 

Moving on from failure, also requires you to stand back and look at the bigger picture, looking for a pattern, a clue to the myriad of complex interactions that take place just to make one tiny thing happen. ‘What am I missing?’

You learn something about the universe in these observations, something a bit hard to explain, but this recent article about The physics of life in Nature magazine by Gabriel Popkin stirs up what I feel.

So get out there, get your hands dirty and fail, because when one seed grows you will treasure and value it more than anything you own.