Less is More

4th June 2021

In All Stitched Up! issue #283 we talked about wasting less. However, this week we’re going to unpack the idea of wasting more, well kind of anyway!

In a recent email from DO Lectures they pointed us in the direction of an article by Diana Kwon that looked at how we often limit our creativity by adding to a design rather than removing existing elements. The article explored the idea that when faced with improving something, many of us tend to add something to it, rather than exploring the benefit of removing something from it.

Think learning to ride a bicycle where the traditional method typically involved adding training wheels. Whereas today, many parents have opted to use balance bikes, which are pedal-less two wheelers that allow children to develop the coordination required for riding a bicycle. A skill, it turns out, that’s not easily acquired with an extra set of wheels.

But why does it take so long for our brains to find solutions that involve subtraction rather than addition?

After numerous studies, it came down to the simple fact that, ‘additive solutions tend to come to mind quickly and easily’ where as ‘subtractive solutions take more effort to find.’

After reading the article it rang especially true in our time with needle and thread. When faced with considering whether a design or stitched piece is complete, we often find ourselves working out what we can add to it – whether it be another colour, element or stitch – rarely do we find ourselves editing what is and seeing if there’s anything we can subtract.

Obviously, subtraction is far easier at the design stage, rather than by removing the stitches we’ve carefully worked, but the concept remains none the less!

Next time we’re faced with ‘improving’ the needlework before us, perhaps the ideas explored in Diana’s article will encourage us to subtract rather than add and we’ll find that by wasting more through the art of subtraction, we’ll actually add to what we’ve created.

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