Uni Week 1 – keeping out the negative.

So, I started my course at Uni last week. Not being someone who learned my crafts through standard means (school or college) I wasn’t sure how I’d manage.

I’m the kind of person who likes to be prepared for every situation, so my bag was crammed with stuff from day one. I also started off with the intention of being there early enough to head to the library before classes start. It’s quieter and I feel like I have the run of the place. Plus getting a train just before rush hour means I always have a seat, and some mornings I’ve even had a table seat.

I made the mistake of buying coffee at Uni, which is extortionate. Then made the mistake of bringing a flask and forgetting to secure the lid, so there seems to be a whiff of caffeine around me.

There are so many books and journals here that I doubt I’ll ever want to leave the place, it also means I want to bring more stuff into Uni. I start reading a book on embroidery and think, “Oooo, I want to try that” then remember that my embroidery kit is at home. I’ve since replaced my bag with a small trolley.

I’ve already had a day trip, to the Yorkshire Sculpture park, which was fabulous. We were asked to go off and sketch in our books (A3 size) but also told to bring water colour paints. It’s like someone gave me permission to paint in public, so for the first time I sat in a field and painted. I’ve had paints for years and dabbled in the privacy of my home, but having permission or being told to paint in public was something I really needed. I’d show you what I painted, but I left my sketchbook at home (there’s a story behind that).

DSC00439[1]This sculpture by Masayuki Koorida captured my attention, could you imagine that as a cuddly toy?

Sadly one negative experience knocked my confidence. Isn’t it annoying that several things are needed to build you up, but one bad word can knock you down.

I was in a classroom and talking to two older students (yep, I’m not the oldest) They were asking why I carried a huge bag with me. They just didn’t get it. But their response was a bit too negative, and when they looked at each other as though I were stupid I let it get into my head.

Never let negative people rent space in your head.

That’s important so I’ll repeat it


Yesterday I packed my bag with what I would take to uni. it’s full of stuff, and I know a lot of it won’t get used. But I don’t want to suddenly think “If only I had my knitting needles then I could try that stitch out.”

I don’t know, but leaving the house this morning was hard. I eventually left, but sat on the doorstep. Should I repack? Should I just take a notepad? I took out my sketchpad and my pencils, struggled with whether I should take out my other things then walked to the bus stop. And yes, I sat on the bus and a tear came.

I just couldn’t get the conversation out of my head. The looks I might get today walking in with a trolley full of stuff.

I had a little chat on Facebook with my pottery teacher, Kevin, and got my spirit back.

Thankfully I didn’t go down the school and college study route, I learned from working artists, self directed study and a lot of YouTube videos. I wasn’t taught to make what the class was making, I was taught to be an artist, not to make art.

I’ll bring my knitting needles, crochet hooks, embroidery, paints, pencils, markers and whatever bloody else I want to bring. Because I’m not stuck by the timetable that says today I’m going to be sitting in a classroom so only need a notebook and pen. If I hadn’t have brought my camera with me today then I wouldn’t have been able to show you the photo I took last week.

I have my crochet hooks because I still have an hour and half before my first class and I want to work on my next doll pattern (just in case you’re desperate to know the next little crochet outfit. I’m working on a spaceman suit with working lights)

I have knitting needles because I want to make little samples of every stitch I can find in my workbook.

I have my water colours because now I’ve been given permission and freedom to paint in public I might see something worth painting (the uni is next to a canal and I love canals).

But because I let negative people in my head I’ve left my sketchbook at home.


Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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