… I said to myself. For years! “Crocheting uses more yarn than knitting,” I would contend. “The garments are less stretchy and ‘wearable!'” I would argue. “It’s just not for me,” I would scoff… as my sister churned out all kinds of cool crocheted zoo animals. Perhaps you can imagine my surprise (or join me in surprise!) when I whipped out some crocheting supplies a few weeks ago, and decided to re-learn the basics.

I didn’t know that crochet is always done by hand!

What motivated my change of heart? Well, my instagram got the best of me as I spent hours watching videos of bobbin lace virtuosos. Perhaps I’ve completely lost my marbles, but I am transfixed by this and would love to learn how to do it one day. (Here’s a short video; for those of you on the ‘gram, I recommend following @brooklynlaceguild). While I was fantasizing about my lace dreams, I decided to give crocheting another try… after all, lace doilies are kind of like bobbin lace, and maybe I would learn more about working with thread if I tried this medium. I bought some supplies and quickly realized that I was in over my head.

This isn’t my work, but it’s similar to what I’m making for my first project!

When I first got started, I felt pretty stuck and discouraged. Soon, I noticed some of the same excuses that I made in my own head echoed back at me from my peers who were learning spreadsheet skills.

If I had a crochet hook for every time I heard an activist in my life say “I’m just not a technology person!” or “I don’t have the time, interest, or ability to learn” then, well, I’d have a lot of crochet hooks! (Come to think of it, I bought the multi-pack! I DO have a lot of crochet hooks!). Despite these misgivings, I see people take huge leaps to learn spreadsheets and database systems pretty much every day. It’s been fun to use myself as a little “case study” to learn how to overcome my own attitudes and push myself outside of my “I hate crocheting” comfort zone. Here’s what has helped me, and I’m curious to know what has helped YOU!

  1. Vision! I don’t know if I’ll ever become a bobbin lace superstar, but since I find lace so beautiful and mysterious, I felt excited to be on the path moving in the direction of that expertise. Vision isn’t the same as a goal or a commitment. It’s more like having a positive outcome far out in the future that provides inspiration to move in that general direction.
  2. Confidence! One of the mindsets that I use with database clients is “You’ve done hard things before… so you can do hard things now!” This is a situation where I’ve not only learned hard stuff, but I’ve learned hard stuff that is SIMILAR to what I’m trying to do now. Knitting and crocheting are closely related, and I’ve been knitting for 15 years. This gives me confidence when I have trouble interpreting abbreviations, holding the hook properly in my hand, or finding the right loop to stitch into.
  3. Multimedia resources! I was having trouble making heads-or-tails of my lace crocheting book, so I decided to go farther afield and tried youtube videos. While watching videos, I had to change course and attempt a different pattern than my first selection. That’s ok! The videos I’ve been watching have a helpful camera angle, and go one step at a time, connected to a pattern that I ALSO have in print. This approach has really helped me learn the… errr… threads!
  4. Third time’s a charm! But… I didn’t get it right the first time. Or the second time. And now I’m on the third try and I there are still mistakes! My friend Emily teaches me that starting over is not failure, it’s just part of the learning process. Plus, you often go more than twice as fast the second/third time around. Here’s to you, Emily!
  5. Patience! This is a leisure activity with no deadlines or deliverables (shocking, I know!) so I’ve been trying to let go of any sense of urgency. This has helped me shrug it off when I need to undo some work, or take a few days off if my schedule is too busy to allow for crafting time. Learning new skills is not best done under pressure. If you’re trying to brush up on your spreadsheet skills, can you think about a way to do it with less at stake? I think you’ll actually move through the material faster and retain more of it when you are less stressed out.

Okay, okay… I can’t blog without including some tech tips, and I don’t want you to feel out of the … loop (hehe), so here’s a couple tips that MAJORLY came in handy this week!

  1. Use SHIFT+Z in Google Drive to save the same file in more than one folder. Trust me, it’s revolutionary!
  2. Leave yourself hints by naming cells in your formulas! For example, turn “A3*A4” into “NumHours * “HourlyRate.” Learn more here (google sheets / excel)
  3. Read documentation! Tech support is getting better and better (in my opinion). This week, I was trying to brush up on some features in NationBuilder and I learned soooo much about what is possible just by reading their docs. You don’t have to bang your head against a wall until you … ahem… unravel! Many of these companies WANT you to succeed and are beginning to write resources that us non-coders can understand.
  4. Use a Password manager! Ok, now I’m just being… dye-dactic (don’t deny you had a little chuckle!) but I can’t even estimate how many times using a password manager has saved my butt. If you don’t have one, what are you waiting for!!!

Ok, it’s time for me to … lace… up my sneakers and dash off to synagogue. I hope you enjoy these tips and I’ll be back soon with more punbelievable blog posts!

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