From now on, we tell the world its not easy

Its not that easy

So I’ve had a change of heart. I’m switching my official position. From now on I’m in the other camp.

No I’m talking about politics. I’ve made a specific point of not allowing any politics in this little corner of the internet. There are three reasons behind that. First, I think too much of modern life is politicized which makes certain personalities go off like roman candles. Second, we need a freaking break from all that pointless bickering. Third, I kind of, sort of, really don’t care what anyone else’s political opinions are and I figure no one cares about mine.

So this ain’t about changing a political opinion (thank God). Its about an issue far more important! I’ve officially decided that knitting and crochet is not easy. Its difficult. And while I’m knitting my way through a very easy pattern to make a shawl that will fit no mater what size it comes out to and use up whatever amount of yarn I have, I hope you’ll join me in conveying to the world that what we do requires both skill and talent.

Let me go off on a seemingly unrelated topic for a bit. In my previous life, when I was married, I once made my future-ex-husband homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch for his birthday. It was the first time I had ever made cinnamon rolls and I followed a recipe I found in an issue of Sunset magazine. The making of these rolls took me about 6 hours from start to finish. I had made 13, so I ate one, packed up the other twelve, and delivered them to him at his office.

He was amazed. The one person whom he let eat one of his birthday cinnamon rolls was also amazed. They could not believe I had pulled this off. They looked at me like I was The Earth Mother.

Why? Because I lied my butt off. I told them

“Yes, they were pretty hard to make.”

“I had two failed batches before this one came out”.

“Its an old recipe I got from my mom”.

“You like the frosting? Yeah, I use a secret ingredient to make it so yummy.” (I doubled up on the vanilla extract.)

Those two guys really appreciated those cinnamon rolls. They begged me for more. I don’t think they would have fawned all over me If I had said “Oh it was easy. You could make them yourself if you wanted to.”

There was a lesson in there and I’m just now getting around to learning it. Lying can pay off. Those two guys probably could not make cinnamon rolls on their first try from a magazine recipe. They lack all the skills a person would need to pull that off; skills that I have. I’ve done lots of baking. I’ve followed lots of recipes. Experience has taught me that if one teaspoon of vanilla is good, two teaspoons will be better.

So getting back to knitting and crochet, its not easy even if we make it look that way. Yes, 90% of most humans over the age of 10 could figure out how to make chain stitches if they sat and concentrated for a few minutes. But most people can’t concentrate like that, not even for just a few minutes. Most people quit after one or two tries.

However you learned to make knit and/or crochet stitches, you had to not only concentrate but you had to take information that was presented one way and apply it kinesthetically. That’s fancy teacher-speak for the student got the information and then applied it in a physical demonstration. Whether you read the instructions for making purl stitches in a book, or watched someone make a cluster stitch on youtube, you had to translate that into what to do with your hands. Trust me when I say applying information kinesthetially is not something everyone can do. If you’re knitting and crocheting then you can.

If you are making anything more complicated than a square washcloth, you are mentally keeping track of a dozen variables as you stitch. Are your edges lining up? If not, why not? Is this going to be the right size? How is your tension? Too tight? Too lose? All over the place? This is called meta-cognition (again with the teacher-speak) and in this case I use it to mean you are constantly self-monitoring. Using meta-cognition, keeping track of your own progress, your own understanding, is a sign of an evolved mind. Students, of any subject, who monitor their own understanding and self-adjust have a much higher rate of success. And all knitters and crocheters do this.

Then there is following patterns. Oh boy. If you can follow a pattern then you are reading a modified, abbreviated, or possibly graphical version of language and translating that in your head into English (or Russian or Cantonese, or Swahili). It takes literacy skills. Its very much like (don’t run off on me now) reading mathematical formulas. Patterns have their own symbols and abbreviations and their own set of logic rules, like math does. If you can read, understand, and follow patterns, then you have robust literacy skills… and are probably better at math then you give yourself credit for. 

Finally, to be a successful knitter or crocheter you have to be determined. We all rip back. We all start over. We all don’t give up. Maybe its stubbornness and maybe its foolhardiness and maybe its not a skill (per se). But stick-with-it-ness is not a common trait. If you’ve ever finished a project that needed two or more skeins of yarn then you have done something most people could not do even if they were offered money.

If you’re reading this blog then you can knit and/or crochet. Chances are that you will find learning a new stitch or a new cast-on to be pretty easy. But only becasue you are a knitter/crocheter! To the non-knitter/crochter Judy’s Magic Cast On looks like freaking magic.

And I’m saying we let them think that. We should actively encourage those non-crafty types to think that what we do is hard. Between ourselves we can say “Oh this bind-off is easy. Here let me show you”. But to the rest of the world, its all hard. It takes skill and practice and we had throw two failed sweaters away before we managed to make you this nice one.

You know what? I think if we lied our butts off embellished a little, the recipients of our handmade gifts would appreciate them more. If we can convince the giftee that we are, in fact, The Earth Mother/Father, then the matching hat and scarf set they just got for their birthday is down right special. Amazing. Maybe even a bit magical.

Trust me… they are happier when they think that. Really, we should all start playing up the mystery and exclusive nature of our talents not becasue we are stuck-up braggarts but simply to make the people in our lives feel special. We do this for their benefit, not ours.







Did you buy any of that? Cool. I think we could pull this scam off if we all stick together.

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"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

72 Comments on "From now on, we tell the world its not easy"

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HA HA!! Yo are SO right Jenn !!! I hope you are feeling better too, as you think up these great posts. I think all of us talented people with needlework are overly generous, as well as modest, so it is very true that most people do not realize how much effort it takes to perform that little bit of magic, and then freely give ‘it’ to them . We absolutely are a wonderful bunch, and often are not fully appreciated. I’m all for turning the tide, and letting people know what hard workers we are, and how they should… Read more »

I so agree with you Jenn!!! And you are so right! It takes a special talent, patience and all you said to do what we do!! It is not just playing with yarn as some people like to say and it is not a grandma hobby/craft as many think! We have a special talent and need to stand up and unite!!! Thanks for the smile today, needed it!!! 🙂

Mary S.

Another thing we have to work on: when someone compliments our work, learn to say “Thank you!” instead of pointing out the mistake on row 47!!

Definitely with you all the way, Jenn! And if you add in spinning the yarn in the first place, wow, not just Earth ‘Mother’ but Earth ‘Goddess’ magic. Also I think we need to factor in the time it takes us to produce our goodies. So if someone asks ‘hey, if I pay for the yarn will you knit me one of those?’, the answer is, ‘sure. That’ll be 12 (or however many you think you can get away with claiming) hours of skilled labour at plumber/car mechanic/(insert some other such ‘manly’ skill here), rates. Can’t afford it? Ok, tell… Read more »

I have often thanked my lucky stars that I learned to cast on when I was little. Because I’ve recently looked at a lot of diagrams and watched some YT vids for different methods of casting on and I swear if I was just starting today I would never get past trying to learn how to cast on a row of stitches.