Melting Pot

Maybe I’m A Bitch…

There is a forum I hang out on fairly regularly. I don’t do forums much. I used to visit quite a few regularly – you know, back when it was new and an exciting/interesting thing to do. It no longer has quite so much appeal for me anymore. But there is still one that I hang out on. It is about crochet.

I mostly visit the boards specifically for people who are looking for help with various things. I like to be helpful, so it makes sense those are the boards I frequent.

However, there are times it drives me crazy and I want to just jump through the computer and slap the shit out of people. Ok, maybe it is not quite that bad, but I do find myself having to really fight the urge to post my true thoughts because this forum is a bit… how do I properly say it?… fascist in its moderation. There are strictly enforced rules that must be followed; I’ve seen the enforcement of said rules run off new members (and even some long-time members) who wind up feeling vilified and  decide to seek help elsewhere. So why do I continue to visit the forum? Despite the flaws, it’s a good resource of information and patterns. Not the best, mind you. But a good one. So I stick around. I mostly lurk and save links/information for my personal use later on, and only post occasionally when I have something valuable to say.

Something that bothers me is when people come to the forum to ask for help with a pattern, and it’s learned they are new to the craft. No big deal – we all have to start as unknowing crafters. But the problem I find grating on my nerves is that so many of these folks just learning crochet do not seem to REALLY want to learn the craft. They will ask for help with incredibly basic things. Sometimes that’s understandable – when you’re new even the basics can be confusing. But I mean people will post asking for help and it is clear they do not even understand how to do the basic stitches. They do not understand how to read the patterns. I can’t tell you how many people post that they have been crocheting for a couple years but don’t know how to read patterns because they have been “learning by watching youtube videos”.

This makes me want to scream. Videos are a useful aid in learning a craft, especially for those who are visual learners. But you can NOT learn to crochet (or knit, or many other things for that matter) by watching videos alone! If you are serious about learning the craft, you need to get up off your lazy ass and go to the book store and buy a couple of beginner books. These books will teach you how to do the basic stitches and HOW TO READ PATTERNS. They address common mistakes that beginners tend to make, so that you can avoid them or learn to fix them when they happen. Watch videos in addition to these books – not in place of them. If you don’t want to spend the money then go to your local library and borrow them. I don’t care which way you go about it, but you  HAVE to learn the basics if you want to do this craft.

People also always want to dive right in to advanced and expert level patterns and projects. I understand that when you are new to the craft it is so exciting and you want to make the prettiest things you can find right away. But if you don’t know the basics, those more advanced patterns are only going to drive you crazy and frustrate you. You need to know how to read the pattern. You need to know what all the terms mean. You need to know how to do all the basic stitches. You can NOT just pick up a hook and some yarn and whip up a sweater in a week. You have to start with small, simple, beginner projects. You’re going to fuck up. You’re going to come up with stuff that looks kind of goofy while you learn. That’s fine. That’s part of the process. Do NOT make your first project an expert level sweater that involves complicated stitch patterns you don’t know how to do and shaping that you don’t understand. Make wash clothes, scarves, and simple afghans/throws. I know you don’t want to start making those things but you HAVE to start at the beginning and learn. You need to master your tension. You need to understand gauge, how to make yarn and/or hook substitutions, how to make changes to patterns if you want the resulting item to be a different size etc.

These same people who try to dive in to patterns beyond their skill level will also initially try to insist something is wrong with the pattern. They refuse to believe THEY are wrong. Yes, patterns do sometimes contain errors. That’s because patterns are created by people, and people make mistakes. Even when a pattern has been tested by other people for the designer, there are still times that something manages to slip by somehow, or there’s still a typo somewhere in the final pattern. This is part of why starting at the beginning and learning the basics is crucial – you learn to recognize when something is off about a pattern and what you need to do to fix it. Sometimes you can even spot the error just by reading the pattern but other times you might only notice it while you’re working – either way, if you’ve got the experience and knowledge, you can figure out the problem and a solution all by yourself. Some patterns have been poorly written – there’s no denying that. This does not, however, translate to if you have a problem it’s automatically because the pattern is wrong. More often than not, when a beginner has a problem with a pattern, it is an error they are making. You can’t blame the pattern/designer because you never bothered to learn to read patterns.

There are no shortcuts. If you want to be able to make the fancy, complex items that can be made with crochet (or knitting/other crafts) you have got to start with beginner level projects and work your way up as you learn. Other people cannot do the work for you. You might not always have the internet to turn to for help. You’ve got to take the time to read and practice with small, simple projects. That is the only way you are ever going to learn.

I refuse to post replies helping people who “have been learning from youtube” or who insist on selecting projects far beyond their skill level then swear that there’s something wrong with the pattern, when the pattern is fine. To me these actions say “I am not serious about learning to do this.” or “I am too lazy to learn, do this for me!” and I have no interest in helping someone who is not serious about learning or who is too lazy to take the time to learn.

I’ll HAPPILY help people who have made an honest effort and really want to learn. But if you aren’t really going to try, I’m not wasting my time. Maybe it makes me a bitch. Maybe it makes me seem totally stuck up. If so, then I’m happy to be labeled as such.

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