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Raise your hand if you have seen a stunning project in a new-to-you craft and purchased all of the materials … only to decide after trying it for an hour or so that you aren’t good at that craft.

If you didn’t raise your hand I would like to hire you to be my life coach because you have reached a level of self-confidence that I am striving to achieve. I, for one, am looking at five to ten unfinished projects that are scattered around my home.

When I was a child and tackled something I had never done before, there was a level of acceptance that I would be “bad” at it until I would be okay and eventually, I might become good. But for some reason, I have trouble extending that same level of grace to myself now. 

On the occasions when I decide not to give up (and drown out negativity by watching a Keanu Reeves movie), I’m often able to finish and feel surprised by the results. Eight times out of ten the result is not terrible. Six times out of ten it’s pretty good. And ten times out of ten I’m extremely proud of my FO. 

This month I thought we could all use a reminder that everyone begins as a beginner even as an adult. The craft you love but “could never make” is doable for you. You just have to practice. 

To help illustrate this point, I reached out to a few of the most talented makers I know—each of whom I consider to be the best of the best at what they do—and asked them to share one of their first FOs along with one of their current FOs. Even the best began somewhere! 

Toni Lipsey

First up, Toni Lipsey! Since turning her crochet passion into a career nearly a decade ago, Toni has built a catalog of crafty knowledge that includes hundreds of beginner-friendly patterns and easy-to-follow tutorials. Her current obsessions are temperature blankets, Tunisian crochet, and anything granny squares. 

From Toni’s early crochet days
A Unique Granny Square Blanket
Find Toni’s patterns and new Tunisian crochet book at

“My best advice for beginners—don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on your own progress, keep practicing, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”  

Niki Dionne

Niki Dionne, the creative behind Actual Footage of Me, is an illustrator and fiber artist rooted in Dallas, TX. With a unique blend of illustration and needle felting techniques, Niki brings to life faceless representations of black women. Her art delves into the intricate interplay between self-perceived identity and how it influences the self-perception of black women. Having grappled with her own identity, each creation bears a part of Niki, extending an open invitation to viewers to discover echoes of themselves within these enigmatic figures.

Early work
Recent work: IJEOMA, Felted wool on Stretched canvas, Dimensions 36 x 24 inches

“Don’t be afraid of making things that look ugly. No matter how long you’ve been working on your craft, you’ll still make ugly things at some point. Keep making and enjoy it!”

Elena Kanagy-Loux 

Elena Kanagy-Loux descends from the Amish and grew up between the US and Japan, where she was immersed in both traditional Mennonite craft and the DIY fashion scene in Tokyo. After earning her BFA in textile design from FIT, she won a grant to study lacemaking across a dozen European countries for four months in 2015. Upon returning to NYC, she co-founded Brooklyn Lace Guild, began teaching bobbin lace classes, and completed her MA in costume studies at NYU in 2018. After spending five years as the Collections Specialist at the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she is embarking on a PhD focused on the history of lacemaking at Bard Graduate Center starting in the fall of 2023.

Her very first bobbin lace sampler, made in Idrija, Slovenia in 2012, using 6 pairs of bobbins

an in-progress sample from Elena’s most recent bobbin lace class in a technique called Polychrome de Courseulles, using about 50 pairs of bobbins

“For the uninitiated, watching an experienced lacemaker effortlessly maneuvering dozens of thread-wrapped bobbins so rapidly that their hands become a blur can be an intimidating experience, regardless of their prior textile skills. I certainly felt intimidated the first time I laid eyes on bobbin lace–but even more so, I was mesmerized, and determined to try it for myself. Although as a beginner I sometimes looked at my narrow, crooked samplers and worried that I would never be able to manage hundreds of bobbins on my own, with tiny baby steps and lots of patience, I am blown away by how far I have come, and grateful that I dedicated myself to this incredibly gratifying craft.”

Stephanie Lau

Stephanie, the crafter behind All About Ami (as in amigurumi) has been crocheting ever since she was a little girl. She loves designing everything from stuffed animals and blankets. 

One of the first amigurumi she made when she was a child! 
Stephanie’s Fleece Teddy and Bunny Pattern

“My advice would be to find a motivating project to work on! You will be so inspired to learn the stitches and to persevere through the project to finish it. Beginners have actually completed my “Fleece Teddy” and “Cozy Days Daisy Blanket” and are incredibly proud of their accomplishment. We all need to start somewhere, so don’t worry if your beginning projects aren’t “perfect” or don’t look how you expected them to. As you keep practicing and building up your skills, you will gain more confidence and can tackle a variety of different projects!”

Pushing past the feeling of being a beginner isn’t easy and transformations don’t happen overnight. (Ahem, that’s one of my first knitted FOs at the top along with my recently published crochet pattern for the Rhinebeck Tote!) But if you focus on the joy of making rather than judging the end result, you might just find your new favorite craft in an unexpected place!

What projects will you begin next?

Samantha Brunson at MDK

Calling All Swifties

Checkered Scarf

Coastal Grandmother

Images used with permission © Tony Lipsey, Niki Dionne, Elena Kanagy-Loux, Stephanie Lau, Samantha Brunson

About The Author

Samantha Brunson is the owner of, a knitting and crafting blog that chronicles the crafting community with stories from a diverse group of makers.

A self-proclaimed elderly millennial, Samantha is always looking for new ways to share her love of knitwear and crafting with the world.


  • my first (and possibly best) boss had a wonderful saying that fits very well with this post

    “you have to make your stumbling blocks your stepping stones”.

    • Love it! I had a boss who helped me along with “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making anything.” It helped me get over a HUGE mistake I found just as we were about to present a project to the EVP. 40 years later, I still remember and use that line.

  • I love this SO MUCH. I lead a “project of choice” class at my LYS and just this week a brand new knitter started a 4 week session. She was becoming discouraged with her efforts and I reminded her that we are not born knowing how to do EVERYTHING. As children we know this, like Samantha said. It’s good to keep reminding ourselves of that as we step off into a new adventure.

  • A timely reminder…especially the reminder that we all make ugly things sometimes…thank you!

  • This is a great post. I endeavor to remember how it felt as a child to be a beginner. Often I pressure myself too much since now I’m an adult. That’s no fun! This is a good reminder.

  • I am working on a knitting project which includes some lace elements. Usually I pass on lace and choose another stitch, but this time I am using copious stitch markers and going very slowly. I won’t finish this KAL with the rest of the group, but so what??? I am determined to prevail…and my sweet husband knows to not speak while I am counting!!

  • Would someone please define “FO”?

    • Finished Object?

  • Great article! A helpful reminder that we all have projects hiding in “ unexpected places” that need revisiting! I plan to do just that!
    Samanthas picture at the end with her bio is enough to get me going! Those colors!

  • I encourage people to search out teachers. The internet has great videos; my favorites are from Toni Lipsey and Pretty Pink. They are excellent video teachers.

  • Thank you so, so much for this post! I needed to read this today and remember the joy and fun in making- even when the results aren’t quite I was hoping for. I might just make a picture board with a few early and later pieces to remind myself that making- like life- is a process of learning and growing.

  • Samantha, just reread your introductory post to become re-acquainted with you. Please keep on writing here. You have a lot to say both with words and crafty creations.

  • Excellent post! Thank you for the reminders to play more and enjoy the process of leaning new skills.

  • My daughter took piano lessons from a wonderful woman who was sympathetic toward her students by taking up a new instrument so that she could recall and remember how difficult it is to learn something new – applies to instruments as well as knitting or any other new skill. Along side her piano was her motorcycle which made her less threatening as a teacher and more like a real person.

  • After 35 years of knitting I’m still wondering if this is for me???

  • I still have the first dress I sewed at age 13.
    (You did leave out us sewists….)
    Still sewing decades later.

  • Thanks, this was one of the sweetest, most inspiring posts x

  • I love the designers and their examples you picked to illustrate this wonderful letter. Will definitely look further into their designs. Thank you!

  • Yes! It’s easy to discount errors and disappointments in crafts where we’re experts and also way too easy to punish ourselves with mistakes early in the learning curve. Children often believe they’re no good at things that take repeated practice until they build experience in several.

  • Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your weblog.
    You have some really great articles and I feel I would
    be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load
    off, I’d love to write some articles for
    your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Many thanks!

  • More more! Great post introducing makers & who doesn’t like then and now stories!

  • Please give credit where it is due! The granny stitch sweater worn by Toni Lipsey is the Granny Pop V-Neck by MJ’s Off the Hook Designs. Thanks!

  • As I sip coffee I happened onto this blog and it is exactly what I needed! I’m trying to knit my first pair of socks, 1 down and I thought I was cruising through the second sock having just finished the gusset when I read the instructions only to discover that one little line of instructions I omitted…knit all around every other row! And I thought I was so clever. I’m still ripping out trying to catch tiny weeny stitches all the way back to the “pick up the ladder stitches “. The question of “will I be wearing my wool socks this winter “ remains unanswered.

    • This was the exact same mistake I made on my first-ever pair of socks! You will get past it though, and will most likely never make that mistake again.

      I always told my adult beginner knitting students, “hooray for giving yourselves permission to be a beginner! It is the best place to start!”

  • What a wonderful variety of interesting and beautiful designs! Very inspirational. I so enjoy watching my own courage and skill grow with every knitting project, and I remember to pat myself on the back at least as many times as I notice the flaws.

  • What a great article. Thank you for the encouragement.

  • My spinning teacher told me to save all the weird thick/thin yarn I made — I’d never be able to duplicate it after I mastered the spinning. I wish I still had my first knitting projects — or at least a photo. Back then I couldn’t afford yarn so I’d rip out the dress to make a sweater and so on…

  • Wonderful article! We ALL need to be reminded sometimes that we weren’t born knowing all the things, but we can learn them and enjoy the process.
    And that person, whose amazing work makes you feel like you could never ever do it? I’ll bet she started in the same place as you, while she was looking at someone else, wondering the same thing.

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