Category Archives: Crochet Ruminations

The Balance Between Communicating Too Much And Not Enough


I like details.

I like specific questions. I like specific answers.  I like conversation.  And most especially (besides sheer writing for the joy of it), I like thorough two-way communication.

But sometimes, no matter how much you like to communicate, you find yourself on uneven ground, face to face with someone else who does not communicate the same way as you.

communication_blocked_signedI’ve been told that I’m too bold, and that I’m too timid.  That I’m too detailed and that I don’t communicate enough detail.  And so often times, it begins to feel like some kind of dance.  Which direction will this dance partner take me today?  And will I be able to follow suit?

And that’s without the “do I take them literally, figuratively or read between the lines” sub-rhythm that I also know all too well.

Since I like writing, and because I like being thorough, when it comes to letters and emails I can tend to get wordy if I’m not careful.  And I tend to write the same way I’d converse with someone.  Some people really like that.

But not everyone.

Some people will only communicate over email in cryptic short bursts.  And more often than not, these are the people who tell me that I don’t communicate enough.  When the reality is, I gave them so much information, they just didn’t really read it.

Often when I catch on to someone’s short communication pattern, I will try to pattern after them, and keep my responses short like theirs.  My husband is more like this.  I’ve figured out that I need to keep any emails I send him short, focused and sweet, or call him instead.  One or two lines, no more.  Otherwise, he won’t read my email.  He just won’t.  And then I’ll hear later how I never told him something.

However sometimes, especially in business, I can’t justify using short burst communication, because there are too many important details that need to be addressed.  And this is when I really need whomever I’m working with to get over their preferences and adapt to me so we can get things done.

And yet, the cryptic short burst communication type folks will still tend not to read what the information they are sent.

Sometimes I try to relegate communication to “phone only” with these individuals, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to refuse to use phone conversations anymore.  Which to me is quite weird, because typing is such a one-dimensional way to communicate, much less in a few sentences of 8 words or less.

I’ve seen more misunderstandings take place thanks to only communicating in text over the internet than anything else in all my life.  Ninety percent of the time, if someone would just pick up the phone, there wouldn’t end up being a misunderstanding at all.

There’s a little rule of thumb my husband taught me that he used in his sales job and that I view as a golden truth: If it takes more than two emails, it’s time to pick up the phone.

But you can’t force someone to call you.

These are the times that try my professional soul.  And sometimes my PTO motherhood soul.  And sometimes my wifely soul too.  Though hubby and I have the luxury of recapping with each other every day.

So when that important communication blunder takes place, what can you do?

One idea: Try to head it off before it takes place.  Establish a particular format or a thumb-nail sketch of rules that you use to govern your communication by.

For instance, I used to require a phone number before I would work with anyone over a custom order and insist on talking with them over the phone at some point.  It helped a lot.  It kept me from hours on the computer just trying to talk to people, and it kept me from misunderstanding something because all I got was a 10 word response.  Having phone access gave my clients and I both a much clearer understanding of one another.  Not to mention it kept people from forgetting about their orders too.

However, I’ve gotten away from that practice, thinking perhaps I didn’t really need it, especially for internet sales.  And it hasn’t worked out as well.  Some things work out just fine and others, not so much.  When I’ve asked for someone’s address four times, it gets a little annoying after a while.  So I’m probably going to reinstate that rule again.  Along with a general structure of required information that I want before I even consider their project.

When push comes to shove in business and communication, we need a structure and a plan.  Since the only person in the world we can truly control is ourselves, sometimes we just have to check ourselves, try to listen to the beat, roll with the music and dance anyway.  But other times, we need to build checks and balances into our system to take care of potential issues that arise.  Like my phone number requirement for custom work.  Or a basic who, what, why, where, when, how approach.

The truth is, people really mostly want to hear about themselves, what interests them most and be pampered.  And it’s our job as professionals to figure out what all that is. We listen, we ask, we take notes.  But somewhere in there the customer has to meet us in the middle.

I’m here to serve you.

I’m not however a mind reader.  I do not offer, nor do I provide that service.

So it’s your job to 1) help me understand how best to serve you and 2) help me understand what your expectations are.  Because I cannot deliver what I don’t understand and I cannot live up to something I have no idea exists, much less never offered.

Which means all I have left is to take you at your own words.

All ten of them.

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Follow Your Heart – It’s Not Really That Clichéd – Crochet Ruminations


You know the best advice I can give an artist seeking to sell for profit is to follow your heart when it comes to creativity and listen to your customers’ feedback.

Every time I’ve ever tried to do something my heart wasn’t really into, from that creative artistic point of view, it never would sell well.

In the beginning, I got a lot of shoulds on what to make from peers and others who had input to give me, but who weren’t ever buying from me.  “You should make dog clothes!”  I don’t own dogs and I don’t know the first thing about shaping for them, I don’t think so.  “You should make purses!” Well, I might make a couple, but if I’m not really a bag lady myself, how can I possibly find it interesting enough to create them for profit or be in tune with what people want in a crochet purse. “I just want to see you succeed,” another artist told me at a show after giving unsolicited advice.

And you know what else?  Not once has a customer treated me that way either.  Kind of interesting.  Maybe they like my ideas just the way they are.

And that’s just it.  I have always succeeded by being me.  And not by trying to imitate someone else.

I believe people buy handmade and art because they are expressions of someone, and they are drawn to that spirit.  When it’s authentic, they’re fans.  When it’s not, there’s nothing to distinguish you the individual from someone else.  And when we listen to fans and to the people who are actually putting money into our hands, we’re listening to people who have tapped into our creative spirit.  Which can be really helpful when we’re feeling a bit lost and need direction.

Anyway, so though it sounds clichéd, seriously – follow your heart in your craft.  Pour yourself into it.  And if you can’t?  If there’s a block? Then find an avenue that isn’t blocked.  Nowhere does it say that you have to be a yellow pencil.  Be inspired by someone?  Sure.  But genuinely do your own thing!

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It’s All About The Overcoming… Ruminations


Maybe not #Crochet Ruminations, but ruminations nonetheless….

Everything about success in this life is about “the overcoming” of a variety of things. Overcoming is what growth is.

There are folks who seem to think that if everyone agreed, then all pain would cease to exist and everyone would be happy and successful. That somehow disagreement and a positive atmosphere cannot coexist in the same space.

However, I do not find this to be true.

Disagreement is essentially a growth opportunity to overcome something. Whether that is overcoming our own ignorance by learning new things from a dissenting point of view or overcoming the limitations of a single viewpoint by combining several points of view together into a successful bundle.  Whether it’s overcoming by standing our ground in the face of opposition, or simply overcoming the discomfort of being in disagreement itself.

Just because someone disagrees with me or I with them does not mean that harmony does not exist between us.  If anything, every opportunity to be shown another viewpoint is exactly that – an opportunity to grow.

Everything is destroyed and rebuilt every day.

Our points of view, our shedding skin cells, the food we eat.  We must take life, consume it, digest it and purge it.  Or we do not exist.  There is always some level of risk, discomfort and disagreement.

Everything in nature bears this cycle.  Every choice we make is a reformulation based on what we know and experience up to this point.  With every shift of our paradigm, so do we shift… somehow.

And the lesson?  That this moment is always about movement and evaluation.  We do not stop moving, choosing, shifting and evolving. We do not stop.

Everything is about the overcoming.

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Talents and Weaknesses – Crochet Ruminations


Something to keep in mind is that talents and weaknesses often go hand in hand. Sometimes if you look hard at a weakness, a talent (part of the solution) will show its face.

Not everything is completely as it seems. There are hidden gems and opportunities everywhere. We have but to look.

What about you? 

Meditation for the day:  What weaknesses do you see in yourself or in the world that can be turned upside down to find a strength or talent? 

Share your experience below!


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I Never Set Out To Sell Crochet – Crochet Ruminations


It wasn’t in the plan.  Really.  I crochet because I can’t help but do it.  It’s very meditative for me.  Like playing piano, or writing, it’s something that helps me stay that nice person most folks like. 

We neeeeeds it, gollum! 

And even when the whole family has been gifted out of their minds, I still crochet. It’s just one of many ways that I express my inner geekery. 

I say we all have a madness in Life and crochet is just one of mine.  Which stands out just a little in a climate that’s rarely cold.

There’s always a new idea in my head somewhere and I never tire of thinking on a different angle for this or that when it’s crochet.  I have about 40 different unfinished projects going at a time, so there’s always something I can work on.  If I’m feeling less than benevolent to a particular project (and some projects do end up in the “dog house” for awhile), I put it aside and switch to something else so I can come back with a fresh attitude another time.

When it comes to conversations, even then I can’t shut up about crochet.  I find myself drawing analogies to the artistic process involved with crochet design, or industry quirks, marketing tools or a myriad of other crochet related micro-conversations that I find myself tying to more common life scenarios.  And there I’ll be, with folks staring at me going – did you really just relate that to crochet?

Uh, yep. Yep I just did.

It’s more perfect than you think.  Like “Zen And The Art Of Crochet” and “What Crochet Taught Me About Popularity” kind of material.  That’s the way it is for me.  And I’ll argue there’s nothing wrong with it either.  Substitute “cooking” in place of crochet and most folks would hardly blink an eye.  We all have our ways to explore the inner workings of self, business, relationships and world.  There’s nothing wrong with mine.  Whatever gets your attention.

But selling crochet?  That started out because I’d crochet while waiting on my kids.  People started noticing what I was making and wanted one too.  Before I knew it, “I want one! I want one!” and I was in business.  The fact that anyone wants to pay money for my expertise is just awesome.  It helps pay for my madness!

How about you?  How did you get into crochet related business?  And if you’re not yet, what do you think might get you to or why would you not want to?


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What You Like About Me Is Owed To Grandma Dot (Advice That Changed Me) – Crochet Ruminations


As far as advice that changed me?

The first thing that comes to mind for me are words from my Grandmother when I was a child, after I showed her a crochet sculpted hockey puck I made.

You see, a thought occurred to me as I was learning to crochet: that I could do more than what everyone around me was doing. That I didn’t have to just make doilies and afghans. That I could use a hook and yarn to sculpt, kind of like clay. So I set about to prove my theory.

As silly as it might sound, showing Grandma and hearing her words was a pivotal and freeing moment I have never forgotten.

“Well look at that clever thing! See there’s nothing you can’t do and bring into reality when you set your mind to it. If you want it, and work for it, you can do it.”

That was all I needed.  I’ve never been the same since.

As an adult, I realize those words may seem clichéd, but that tiny young moment contained so much power for me. Something huge shifted inside of me. I have since heard stories from others who were criticized for not doing things “correctly,” even having their hands smacked with rulers when they messed up, and other stories!  And no wonder as a result they never really picked up the art of crochet. None of my family ever did something like that to me.  And Grandma Dot always took time and marveled at my ideas.  She made me believe.

You never know what it is that will make a difference for someone.  How about you?  What piece of advice changed your life?  Who was it in crochet that made a difference for you?

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What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations


The inconsistency of the shaft and work space issue is exactly what gripes me about many hooks being sold on the market today, and it’s present in wood hooks as well a metal. When I give lectures/demos about hooks, I talk about this. That widening of the shaft causes a lack of consistency in the stitch loops, which besides causing strain on your hand, also causes changes to your stitch appearance.

I don’t know why this is happening in hook-making today, but I suspect it has to do with the time involved in making the hooks and in the case of metal hooks, strength. (And perhaps lack of knowledge?) So many of the older hooks I find are just better made. The quality of the metal is better. My favorites metal hooks have hand-machined and cut heads. The shafts are strong and they will flex, not snap or permanently bend like modern hooks will.

And you know what it reminds me of? How good knives and swords are made.  Good knives and swords are strong and will flex with pressure, but not break. And especially in miniature crochet, we put a lot of torque on those hooks.

Perhaps part of all this points to the possibility that metalsmithing and true metallurgical knowledge is not what really goes into our metal tools anymore?  

What about you?  I’m intrigued to know.  What quirks do you notice about crochet tools that get under your skin? And what can we do about it?


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Untapped Marketing – Crochet Ruminations


If you were to divide crocheters into experience classes, when you think about it, the beginner class is rather small and short-lived.  The girth of our community is somewhere in the middle to the advanced side.

So much of advanced crochet skill is not necessarily governed by stitches and patterns, but in learning consistency and control (which can’t be taught as much as practiced), refining our methods and then there are advanced concepts like shaping.

And yet the type of instruction generally offered to the crochet community remains below the skill levels of the majority.  Resulting in crocheters being ignored and even written off as cheap and unwilling to spend $$.

The way I see it, our market has so long been poorly understood.  And there exists a whole frontier of creative marketing that just hasn’t been adequately explored.

What about you?  Do you feel the level of training offered in crochet adequately responds to your expertise?  And how do you feel about the way our market is approached?  Let us know the area you’re from when responding. :)  Maybe we’ll hash out some good stuff!


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The New Frontier – Crochet Ruminations


Crochet Ruminations – The Start Of  A New Thing

There are times when I have a series of thoughts and mini-conversations running through my head.  And when those “attacks” come, I don’t always have time to explore them.  But I’ll go ahead and draft the musings up in preparation for a deeper blog post to savor later when better time and exploration can be dedicated to them.

And sometimes they do turn into much more and get published.  And sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they never evolve and really are just shorter capsules of ideas in the moment – tasty tidbits of ponderings and half-eaten conversations that honestly don’t have anything more to do, or become, right now.

In looking over my list of possible blog posts, I’ve realized that sometimes one of those posts is only supposed to be just a few “deep thoughts.” Just some occurrences of ideas to fling out there for consideration and/or discuss amongst peers, if anyone wants to engage.  And that’s just that.

So in that spirit, instead of saving a zillion drafts every time something crosses my brain (my list of drafts is getting too long to manage!), I’m launching a series on my blog simply tagged Crochet Ruminations.

With that intro, here’s the latest….

The New Frontier…

Technology has brought us to the beginning of a new frontier in the world and we’re the pioneers laying the groundwork for what is to come, for ourselves and for future generations. History is literally being made.

How this new frontier works for crochet is being driven by the people actively in it. People like us, anyone who is willing to move to uncharted territory and figure it out.

The same is happening in other fields too. The internet is the “new land” to settle.  There’s no reason why anyone who has the will can’t figure it out and benefit.

The thing I find extremely important to register in our heads though, as Laurie points out (a.k.a. Fearless Leader from the Crochet Liberation Front), it takes working with others, not shouldering the responsibilities of the world alone, or shoving everyone else out of the way. That is not to invalidate the need for personal hard work and responsibility.  However, it is said that successful business people know at heart what school doesn’t teach us. That life is not a closed book test, that we don’t succeed by cutting others off, that the only way to succeed is to do it with the help of others.  And that often a sign of a successful person is one who continues to train and learn and someone who recognizes and values the expertise of others. 

We walk a fine balance of working hard on our own, but also benefiting from the help and insight from others.  Whether we hire them, or we accept help from a friend.   Trying to go it completely alone, making sure everyone knows we did it by ourselves and without help, does not work outside the classroom.  It is not a place of balance, nor a sign of success (and neither is the opposite).  In reality, no one expects you to perform alone in adulthood – only on standardized tests.  And those who believe they do not need advice, training or learning, who only boast on “did it myself” laurels, surely exhibit signs of impending implosion.

Coaching, master minds, discussions, hiring experts, studying, training, practicing, learning new tools and technologies, comparing notes with peers, understanding that old ways don’t always work today and that some old things never lose their effectiveness and sometimes what works for someone else is not right for you – all these things are important.  Settling the West was not born on the shoulders of one person.  In fact, to try to do such, was almost certain death.  People had to come together with their varying talents and work ethics to form the foundation for something great.

In thinking about this, what things do you see as it affects the crochet world that we should be mindful of?


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