Sinking sunk costs: Don’t continue work you hate

You may not know this, but I’m a weaver. I’ve had an enormous loom for longer than I’ve had a daughter, and my number 1 criteria when house-hunting is making sure I have space for my loom and sewing machines.

Some years ago, I made a rag rug out of denim jeans and gave it to my Dad. He hung it on the wall instead of using it as a rug, but that was OK. It was a good rug and I liked it enough that I eventually decided to make one for myself.

I collected jeans for years – going to op-shops and church sales, picking up $3 jeans, and delighting when I found a cheap pair of fat-man jeans.

I tore them into strips for years. Standing on my back deck, breathing in cotton dust, tearing until my arms hurt.

Thousands of strips of jeans

Thousands of strips of jeans

I wrapped them into balls by colour. Starting small and gradually getting bigger. It took ages and for a couple of years there were piles of denim strips in my loungeroom that would sit untouched for months at a time.

Rolled into balls

Rolled into balls

I wound a long warp and patiently put it on the loom. I threaded around 500 warp threads through the heddles, through the reed and tied them onto the front beam. It took days of continuous effort.

A very long warp

A very long warp

I finally started to weave – about 8 years after I started the project. And I hated it. It was just not fun weaving. I couldn’t get any rhythm, every piece of denim had to be placed in by hand, the warp was too wide to do it comfortably. So naturally, I stopped and did other things. I think it sat still for well over a year, possibly two.

It just sits there and stares at me

It just sits there and stares at me

The rug sat on the loom until last night, when I had some free time and thought I’d give it another go to get it woven off so I could start something pretty. It took half an hour to weave 10cm and I still hated it.

With only 1.6m done (out of a potential 8m), I decided it was not worth continuing. I didn’t want it to sit there for another 2 years, not being done. I wove a header to finish it off, took the scissors to it and cut it off the loom.

Finished weaving

Finished weaving

Twisting the fringe - another 3 hours work

Twisting the fringe – another 3 hours work

Ah, what a good decision that was. Now, instead of a hated project that I felt like I should continue because of the time I’d already sunk into it, I have an empty loom and infinite possibilities.

The rug is lovely. I would like more of them. But I don’t want them enough to risk locking up my future into a project I hate.

The finished rug is gorgeous

The finished rug is gorgeous

Now for something pretty.

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