My fave parenting wormhole of the moment? Growth mindset. Instead of viewing knowledge as a binary categorization (yes = I know this, no = I don’t know this), not knowing is an indication of potential to grow. If learning is trial and error, then each time I fail, I am discovering an opportunity to learn, grow, improve and get smarter. This is part of what I LOVE about coming up with new crochet designs. I am taking the unknown (how do I make ‘x’?) and making it known through strategizing, trying, failing, re-strategizing and trying again.
As much as I embrace this way of thinking, I still often find myself thinking, “Did it work?” and using the y/n answer as the final answer for a particular task. But this week I was challenged to revisit something that I classed as a “no” - I tried to finish a shawl, but I was running out of yarn. I played my usual game of yarn chicken and I came up at least 3 feet short :(
This was the last yarn I had bought for the shawl and the yarn was discontinued. I really, really wanted that last row, but it seemed impossible. So I set it down for a bit to focus on other things. I had honestly resigned myself to rip out that last bit, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. If anything in crocheting should fall into a binary categorization, it would be, “Do I have enough yarn?” Yes or no? 0 or 1? It turns out, I was wrong.
Crocheting, like all creative arts, is influenced by myriad variables. Weight, fiber, hook size - even humidity - all play a major role in your finished product, without changing any stitches. I had forgotten the one thing I could change in the final row of a project without changing anything else. This could magically multiply my available yarn. Any guesses? (Mom - I know you’ve got this already and you’re not even a crocheter. 😉) Tension. Of course! I know that others know this, but I had never done it before. You rip your last couple of rows and then re-work them with a tighter tension.
Well. I’ll. Be.
I had enough! I made it to the end and was able to work the last row I was so keen on keeping. *small victory dance of joy here*
Crochet hack #1: Yarn too short? Rip a couple of rows and try again with a tighter tension.
What did I learn? Well, other than the importance of considering tension, I was reminded that even things seeming like a final answer might not be. It is worth pausing, percolating and investigating further. In my yarn 🧶 chicken 🐓 moment, I exhausted everything I could think of, but I hadn’t actually exhausted everything - I just didn’t know it yet.
Another thing I was reminded of is the concept of “truthiness” - when something feels true regardless of facts. (Bonus points if you know who coined this term.) Not having enough yarn felt very true in the moment, but the yarn itself wasn’t the only factor. I could change, I could adjust and this made all the difference. I wish I could say that I’m like this in all my relationships, but I do have a tendency to double-down on my “correctness” when I’m convinced I’m right. My hubby and I joke a bit about the times we’re both 100% certain we’re correct - more times than not, he’s right. I think he’s better at knowing “just the facts” and I’m prone to jump to conclusions. It’s a helpful/annoying reminder that just because it feels true, doesn’t mean it is (but sometimes I can know this and I still don’t care.)
And here we have the reason I’m so into the growth mindset concept in parenting. Yes, I care about it in parenting my kids, but I am also parenting myself. Even though trial and error crocheting helps me stretch and grow, there is still a battle waging against what I think is right or wrong, possible or impossible. I want to get quicker at recognizing this tension and, when I feel like I’m jumping to an assumed, final conclusion, to pause and re-calibrate. It may or may not affect the final outcome, but it will help change my mindset and grow me through the process.
My October WIPs
I’m not intrinsically motivated across the board, I am intrinsically motivated when it is goal-directed.
I was on a bit of a YouTube clips binge and I heard a phrase that caught my attention: goal-directed activity. It was describing someone in a manic stage of bi-polar and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’m grateful that depression is one struggle I haven’t had to deal with, but I could definitely relate to the concept of extreme motivation from goal-directed activity.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I like to do things. I fancy myself a bit like Leslie Knope, if Leslie Knope has rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and crocheted instead of quilting. I will happily produce the most amazing binder you’ve ever seen to demonstrate the game plan for the next big adventure. (Yesterday I got to coordinate an event for about 400 people at Parliament House - that’s my kind of fun!) Do you know the episode of Parks and Rec where they had the emergency simulation? I’ve done that! Also, I was in model UN for several years. I don’t mean to big note myself, but I do want to paint a picture. When I heard “goal-directed activity” I thought, “Well that could explain so much...”
My husband and I joke about how he finds nothing better than being able to stay home and relax, but I find relaxing boring and it stresses me out. As a kid, my mom stayed home full time to look after the four of us, but she would often say, “Mari, I don’t think you could stay home full time.” She knows me well. I have always known that I’m intrinsically motivated, but I do struggle with the day to day grind. That’s why the concept of goal-directed activity stuck out to me. I’m not intrinsically motivated across the board, I am intrinsically motivated when it is goal-directed.
I need something to stretch for and aim for. I need to focus on something and it unlocks so much drive and energy that I can’t seem to access in any other way. You know how you can accomplish so much cleaning when you have guests coming over, but it is so darn hard to maintain? Or how having a deadline can finally make things get done? I’m only just realizing how deeply this applies to my psyche. Now that I know it, I want to know how I can make the most out of it.
Even as a kid, I grew out of the idea of “playing” much earlier than I wish I had. But, what I did love were projects and missions. I would play Maren & Maren & Maren Inc. (aka 3M) for my corporate side. Or I would decide to throw a stuffed animal tea party with my sisters. Or I would choreograph a talent show to perform on the ledge of the fireplace. This is one way that I see a lot of myself in my daughter. Give her free time and she is miserable, but give her an agenda or a task and she thrives. (This also helps explain her deep love of school, which she also gets from me.) Once I noticed this in her, I started responding to it. When she’s asks what to do, I help her work out how to set an agenda for herself. And there’s nothing she likes more than doing some kind of activity that will be special for others.
This need for goals to drive motivation and unlock my potential energy helps explain why my Gray Day Crochet adventure has been so wonderful. It gives me projects and activities to focus on in a way that taps into my creative and social inclinations. I am so much happier having a project to work on or a problem to solve than to just Netflix and chill. Don’t get the wrong idea - I do love streaming shows, but the chill part isn’t fun unless I have something to do. Crocheting gives me that. It gets my brain into that sweet zone where I am focused enough on something that I can actually unwind. Thanks to all the amazing supporters who’ve been joining with me on this fun adventure. Thanks for reading the blog, buying the patterns, liking the insta posts and looking for me in your crochet magazines. I never thought I would accomplish so much with it this past year, but I’m thrilled with all of the new places it has taken me to. I’ve hit all of my initial goals, so I think it’s time to set some new ones. Any suggestions?