Crochet Lessons: Learning Curves

So, my dear CLFers, you and I have been on this fabulous journey together for over 2 1/2 years! Isn’t it amazing? And I have a confession to make, I haven’t been following my own advice.

That’s right, Fearless Leader, has not been taking the medicine she has been so liberally prescribing! (Though I never really claim to be Fearless, since I’m anxiety prone, that would by lying…) I have to say in the two and a half years we’ve been around, the one person who hasn’t taken me seriously is me. To be honest, it kind of freaks me out when I find out people do take me seriously, or listen to what I have to say, or even simply agree with my uppity notions.

So, this week I really took stock of myself, my dreams, aspirations, what I want out of life, looked at where I am going, want to go, wish to do, and since I was sick, I was pretty uninterrupted. I couldn’t use the phone much cause I could barely speak, I didn’t feel like being on-line (a real testament to having a bad cold since I never go this long without checking email or Facebook). I cared that I could get up to make soup, I couldn’t even crochet. I could think. I thought a lot, you don’t need to know what those thoughts were perse, but rest assured there were realizations. By Thursday last week, I was able to get up to make my own soup, and knew I could teach my Friday morning Beginning Crochet Class. It wore me out, but I knew it was important to teach this student whom I’d never met…Don’t ask me how I knew, let’s just call it intuition.

During this class, my student apologized for her lack of skills no less than 100 times. She was taking the BEGINNING CROCHET CLASS. She was neither visual or audial as a primary learning style, but rather kinesthetic, she apologized for not getting the information.  I found ways to impart the information, and she apologized.

She refused to acknowledge when I really complemented her genuinely on her work. She has a natural talent for crochet, very even tension, and a very nice hand. So she couldn’t remember the stitch names, so she was having trouble remembering yo, insert hook into stitch, three loops on hook, yo draw yarn through 3 loops on hook (a half double crochet)…So, I made a noise pattern that didn’t require thinking about words…and I had her write down the individual steps…she appologized.

Eventually, I got her to stop apologizing by saying in a very tired and worn out voice after she compared herself to me, ” {Insert Name Here}, I have been crocheting longer than I can remember. I have crocheted everyday for the past 17 years, and I do this for hire. I am my own sweatshop. You are learning and beginning, you are perfectly attuned to your skill set now. Make what I do your goal, but not your measuring stick.”

The minute I said that, she got the stitch she was having trouble learning and we moved on to the next one. We went a 1/2 hr over the class time (which I didn’t mind since she had struggled through the first bit), and she insisted on paying me for the time, which felt weird ;). Most people do not offer to pay me extra, in fact some don’t want to pay for a beginning lesson at all…which good lord, let me tell you beginning crochet is the hardest thing to teach!. I was so moved by her willingness to compensate me for my time, and that she wants more classes, and that when she was leaving she said, “I feel really ready to tackle that project now!” (The washcloth that is the class project)

That statement I made stayed with me, not because I had felt rude, or mean because I hadn’t been either of those things when I said the words.  What shocked me most was the fact that really until that moment I had never really believed those things of me, that I am an expert, that I am a knowledge base waiting to be tapped, that I am a highly skilled person; until then, I really hadn’t thought of myself that way.  I knew each piece of information to be a fact, but BELIEF is different than FACT.  Belief is like inspiration or imagination it’s where the best of what is human germinates and fosters creativity. Facts just are.  But to BELIEVE in FACTS now that’s taking our left and right hands, clasping them together and creating a dual hemispheric connection in our BRAIN…and that’s TRANSFORMATIVE!

Sure I’ve written convincing arguments that people need to feel that way, and see what they do as valuable. But, I swear I’ve been writing it to convince myself. So I ask you, do any of us really see ourselves as valuable, talented people? Do any of us? Do any of us really feel like that expert? If you do, AWESOME! But, how many of us, apologize when are tension is even? How many people apologize for not “getting it” “fast enough?”  How many people expect instant perfection in something that is never perfect-able?  In an ever evolving world, perfection= limitations.

So, join with me people in this fabulous year of 2010, let us dedicate ourselves to stop the”I’m sorry”, and not be sorry. Let’s be content with where we are, and goal orientated to where we want to go…In our crochet, and in the rest of our lives.

BELIEVE in the FACTS of YOU…not the fantasies (both positive and negative), not what people say about you or have said about you…But what you KNOW to be TRUE about you…You are the expert, how so?

I love that I come to epiphanies through crochet. It may be, because crochet is so non-threatening that some of my greatest self discoveries come through my contact with people, or patterns, or stitches. How about you?


15 responses to “Crochet Lessons: Learning Curves

  1. I loved your post on Crochet Lessons! I have fond although vague memories of my sweet little
    Swedish grandma teaching me to crochet when I was about 5 years old. She had endless patience with me, although I was not very good at it. She had crocheted miles of lace, doilies, tablecloths, all her life. She gave me a little kit to crochet a white poodle. I don’t think I ever finished it, but her efforts were not lost on me. I continued to crochet all my life and it is my favorite activity now. I have a colorful yarn stash that would amaze my grandma, who rarely used anything other than white thread to crochet. I want to applaud you for teaching those beginners. Your patience with them will reward them eventually with a skill they can enjoy for a lifetime.

  2. Lois [poohknits]

    OMG!!!! The light just went on and is flashing so brightly it hurts mt eyes!!!! It’s an amazing thing!!! Thanks for helping me see what was right in front of me!!!
    You ROCK!!!

    • Thank you 😉 I’m glad the light bulb came on for you too, I just love it when that happens 😉 Today I just felt so full of energy and to be honest I have not been so full of enthusiasm and energy for about six months…so, let’s ride this positive wave together!

  3. I can emphathize. I find myself a bit embarrassed, sometimes, when I offer advice and a half dozen others offer BETTER advice. Makes me wonder how much I really DO know.

    I offered to teach my neighbor’s daughter (she’s in her 40’s) how to crochet. I have shown her how to chain, sc and dc so far. But I watch her stitching and she just isnt doing it right. I try to show her the right way and in the middle of my explanation she says, “Oh, ok….I get it now.”, takes her work and hurries back to her chair and goes back to doing it the way she was. I keep thinking someone is going to see her crocheting and tell her that her teacher doesnt know WTF she is talking about because its all wrong. :S

    There are other times that I think I shouldnt be doing the Crochet Corner on Ravelry. There are a LOT of other women that know a lot more than I do. But there are a lot of questions I see posted that I let others answer because I cant. And, again, it makes me feel a bit embarrassed. How can I possibly do a column on crocheting when I dont have a lot of the answers? Some of it I can research, but other things I cant. They are experiences that I havent dealt with in my 44 years of hooking. You’d think I’d seen it all…but not even close.

    I have anxiety issues as well. And that only adds to my lack of confidence in a lot of things….crochet included. All I can do is go on what other people tell me….that I am helping them (when I can) and doing a good job. Still they say if you want to learn something, you have to work with people that know MORE than you do….not the same or less. So I wonder just how much I can offer to others?

    • Sandy,

      I think first of all, what you do in the crochet corner in Ravelry is excellent. One of the very humbling experiences being on that large a website is the wonderful access to people with VAST amounts of knowledge. But, I know for certain that you often answer questions a) intelligently b) thoughtfully c) comprehensively. That is a skill.

      No one person is going to have all the answers. I would never have thought to hold the hooks in my hands like my students hold theirs. More than half of my students are a decade or older than I, and most of them pencil grip. I knife grip, with weird adaptations depending on hook size and fiber 😉 So, in order to understand various issues with yarning over and pulling through loops I make myself hold the hook like them. Now, I would love to claim that as my own piece of knowledge, but it isn’t. It’s from the conversations I’ve had on line with Dee Stanziano (CrochetwithDee on Ravelry), her knowledge base about hook handling and stitch creation is superb!

      I don’t think we have to be good at it all in order to be good teachers, or faciliitators of information. Sometimes our greatest gift can be saying, “Hey, I just don’t know, who does know? Hey, you if you know pipe up!” and offering a place for information to flow freely. You spark dialog, you spark discussion, you instruct and you help in a multitude of ways.

      You know more than you think you do, and what you don’t? Well, yeah someone else will. No shame in that.

      Notice I often link the people I know are experts in a particular field of crochet, especially if I am not familiar enough with a technique to speak lucidly about it. Does it make me a failure? I don’t think so. What you think about you is up to you…but I see you as a competent, talented and delightful purveyor of information and that takes skill.

      Remember in perfection there are only limitations, because if you reach perfection there is nowhere else to go, no room for new knowledge, no innovation.

      Did I mention you have a great talent for encouraging others? That often goes unlooked at or applauded, and frankly there just aren’t enough encouragers in this world 😉

      Keep at it Sandy, because I know I’m not the only one who appreciates your fine work on Ravelry!

      Oh…as for your student…If she’s happy with it? Is it really wrong?

      • Laurie, if you were able to successfully change your hook hold from knife to pencil, you have my utmost admiration. I have tried to do that and all I do is get frustrated. I suppose if I had to time to just sit around and practice a LOT, I might be able to pick it up. But I would rather crochet. 😀

        I do have my TSRC (Top Secret Rav Consultant), who I have no qualms about contacting when I am a bit stumped. But there have been times when she, too, was stumped. And I had to apologize to the person for not being able to help. I do try to include other resources….websites, designers…so I dont feel so badly. I have also gotten PM’s from some who have read questions that I have not been sure of the answer and was helped out….that has been much appreciated.

        As for my student, she does dc by starting out with an sc, pulls through one loop, THEN she YO’s and finishes the stitch. I wouldnt care except when she wants to branch out, she might have problems. 🙂 I guess I will deal with that when the time comes. I have to admit she is having a lot of fun with her crochet, so I wont burst her bubble. 😀

        Someone just asked me about hairpin lace….which I havent done in EONS. So I have to refamiliarize myself with the proceedure. Guess its good practice. 🙂

        Thanks for the kind comments and support. I guess we are ALL a work in progress for as long as we crochet, no matter HOW experienced or unexperienced we are. I just have to stop beating myself up over it when I dont have an answer. 😉

      • Did I say I could use the pencil grip successfully…my god it feels awkward! LOL I just do it to see how they feel 😉 LOL…I am now going to try to learn left handed, I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂 LOL

        And yeah, I think the key is just not beating ourselves up…and hair pin I have never done..well ok, I fiddled but never made anything. I think with Jennifer Hansen’s wonderful patterns and now Doris Chan’s new book though, I am gonna have to 😉

  4. Thanks for this particular post! I too have trouble recognizing my own expertise in many areas and I’m working on apologizing for myself less. I am working on believing that I don’t have to apologize for my existence–just for the genuine mistakes I make 😉 Your post helps to do that for me. Thanks and have fun apologizing less!

    • Thank you so much for posting! I think so many people, especially in the USA and parts of Western Europe can really identify with the constant apologies! LOL Exactly, fessing up for our mistakes is one thing, apologizing for who we are as people? That’s just not on!

  5. I like crocheting very much. During my spare time I could create good designs. Crocheting make me feel happy everyday.

  6. I like crocheting very much. During my sparetime I could create good designs. Crocheting make me feel happy everyday.

  7. My least favorite part of teaching is trying to deal with the “I’m sorry”s and the other self-deprecation from students. Hearing them say over and over that they’re stupid and slow is so aggravating. I try to bring up some other thing that they had to learn and point out that they didn’t catch on right away at their first effort. I have to point out that I’ve been crocheting every day for the 4 years I’ve been crocheting when they ask why I can see something they can’t. I try to counter some “I’m sorry”s by reminding them that I’m the teacher, and they signed up for the class so they could learn and I could teach.

    • Exactly… I think it harkens to the lack of appreciation for traditional domestic arts, it’s like there is a belief that if you have a uterus that some how you are deficient if you can’t just get it right away 😉 LOL…I remind people, this is a skill like any other. I do not compare my wood working efforts to my husbands, not because he is male, but because he has been building things for 40 years, and I’ve puttered in the shop on and off for two years. He has experience, I do not.

  8. Wow, how timely is this? I have a friend who has Cerebral Palsy, who I taught to crochet a couple of years ago. She was having a difficult time remembering how to do a stitch and often phoned me to get clarification. I am sure people would have wondered if I was an alien if they overheard my comments…lol. She kept apologizing and saying that was an expert.

    I took a deep breath and said that I have been crocheting for 15 yrs and I am mostly self-taught. I friend showed me chaining, single crochet and joining in the round. You should’ve seen the first time I did a row of double crochet! i had know idea that you only chained 3 at the beginning of the row, not through out unless it said so in the pattern. This is same lady who tackled a Drew Emborksy as her second project. She crocheted the Weekend Turtleneck Sweater from Drew’s book on men’s items. Here are the pics: She did an awesome job! She got all flustered and I felt better after realizing that I had been there once.


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