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firecat's amazing dysspatialrotatia

My dad has a mild case of dyslexia. I don't, but I do share with him a "talent" whereby if I try to put something together, and there is anything the slightest bit unclear about any instructions I'm using, I put it together every single wrong way before I get to the right way.

I really mean that - it doesn't just seem like that because I stop once I get to a right way. I bet I would make a great user-testing subject for Ikea instructions.

I've never seen a name put to this talent, so I made up my own.

This talent also applies to my attempts at crafts. I crocheted wrong for months before I figured out how to do it right. It wasn't wrong enough to fail to produce a fabric, but it wasn't an ordinary single-crochet fabric. It was a "single-crochet into the back loop" stitch, as I later found out.

So a couple of days ago I was waiting in an ice-cream shop for my sweetie kyubi and I was reading a book that kightp recommended, Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan Book. I was reading the basics about how to start knitting because I've never been happy with how I hold the yarn.

And I discovered, and subsequently confirmed by looking at how-to-knit instructions in my other knitting books, that through all the hundreds of yards of fabric I've knit so far, I've been knitting backwards.

Explanation for those who are geeky enough to care: All the books say that once you have loops of yarn on your left needle, you begin to knit by putting the right needle through the yarn from the front left to the back right of the loop. But I was putting the needle through from the back right to the back left.

They also say that you loop the yarn around the needle from left to right. I was looping from right to left.

The fabric produced by this is almost identical to correct knitting; there is a small difference in how the loops lie against each other. And this is, I've learned, an actual stitch. I think it's called "knitting through the back of the stitch." It's just not the standard knit stitch.

The benefit from figuring all this out is that doing it the correct way makes it a bit easier to handle the yarn so the knitting goes slightly faster. I'm now knitting almost as fast as I crochet.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
james_nicoll
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:01 pm (UTC)
Do you ever get "I did both things the same way but one works and the other does not?"

I got a vcr this year (I did embarassingly well with gifts) and the very same hookup that lets me run the dvd player through the little black box to the old tape-eating vcr to the mid-1970s Electrohome [1] TV produces exactly nothing on the TV screen. I am thinking cable splitter. Or foul cursing, I haven't decided.

1: It was made for the school board, who never turned it on. I traded for it in 1996. It's got a steel case that weighs about 100 pounds, which may well be bullet proof. It tends to to be modern electronics compatable.
firecat
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:17 pm (UTC)
TV: Wow! Sometime remind me to tell you about the adventures of my 1960s b&w tv.

Yeah, I get that, but I tend to think it's the fault of the electronics and not something about my genetic code...
james_nicoll
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC)
Of course I meant my tv is -incompatable- with modern electronics.

I think the problem may be that the vcr is not designed to allow a dvd to be hooked up. Nowhere in the owner's manual does it say you can and they discuss pretty much every other set up. Might be an anti-copying thing.
firecat
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we ran into trouble trying to hook a rental DVD through our VCR. It did actually show something, but the color kept fading in and out. It was one of those Lord of the Dance things and it was already filmed in an artsy way so we didn't realize anything was wrong until 3/4 of the way through. We hooked it directly into the TV after that and it worked OK.
therealjae
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:12 pm (UTC)
You know, what impresses me most about hearing this is the fact that you actually manage to *do* crafts. My own learning disability keeps me from easily understanding the way things are put together, but I get frustrated with myself long before I can even attempt success. I gave up on even trying to do things like knitting and jewelrymaking long before I'd reached adulthood. I'm very impressed with your persistence. The very thought of trying to put things together every which way before finally succeeding makes me want to burst out in frustrated tears.

-J
firecat
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks...I deliberately took up crafts partly because I needed something to challenge my mind. I only did stuff that came easily to me for a long time and it began to feel empty. I don't mind struggling with this stuff because when I do get it right I feel really good.

Also I tend to find this bit of the way my mind works amusing rather than frustrating. I'm not sure why. The only frustrating thing is trying to put stuff together under time pressure, or in front of someone who desperately wants to take it away from me and do it for me.

Is there a name for your learning disability?
therealjae
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:29 pm (UTC)
The only frustrating thing is trying to put stuff together under time pressure, or in front of someone who desperately wants to take it away from me and do it for me.

Oh, my god. Either of those things would have me immediately in tears. You're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

I guess I'd still rather work very hard at the things I have at least a modicum of talent for, so that I can get *even better* at them, rather than working equally hard at the things I completely suck at and never doing very well anyway. But I can see your point of view, too. Maybe I'll feel differently someday.

Is there a name for your learning disability?

Dyscalculia.

-J

P.S. Your writhing kitty icon is really, really disturbing!
firecat
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:52 pm (UTC)
I guess I'd still rather work very hard at the things I have at least a modicum of talent for, so that I can get *even better* at them, rather than working equally hard at the things I completely suck at and never doing very well anyway.

Working at things I have natural talent for (editing and explaining stuff) is how I make my living and also something I do in my spare time.

I'm only partially talented in everything else that appeals to me as an activity. I'm musical, but somewhat clumsy so playing an instrument well doesn't come easy. I can write nonfiction well, but I'm not confident about my fiction because it's hard for me to imagine how people who are different from me think. I am good at finding colors and shapes that look good together, but clumsy about putting them together in any of the standard ways (collage, quilting, sewing, etc.) So if I want to do any of these things I end up encountering a lack of talent at some point.

Knitting and crochet probably give me fewer problems in the clumsiness/spatial rotation areas because they are flat fabrics and once I've learned a stitch I can remember it.

I used to have trouble with math insofar as I need it to be taught in a certain way or I don't get it, but I did manage eventually to learn arithmetic. So I don't know if dyscalculia is what I have.

PS: To me he looks exuberant. He was awfully glad to get out of his cage that day, at any rate.
therealjae
Dec. 26th, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC)
I'm only partially talented in everything else that appeals to me as an activity.

Well, I don't have a "full" talent in anything but language-learning -- I too encounter some aspect of difficulty in everything else I try to do. That's why I said "modicum" of talent above. As long as I have that modicum of talent, I feel comfortable working hard to overcome the aspects of the thing that don't come naturally to me. But working hard at things I have *no* talent for, and in fact am just plain lousy at (in most cases, this is usually something related to the dyscalculia), is just frustrating to me. Unlike with you, it doesn't feel good to do them because I can only focus on how long it took and how mediocre the results were after that much work.

There are degrees of dyscalculia. Lots of people with it eventually learn arithmetic -- I even probably could if I worked with the right tutors. Have you ever undergone learning disability testing?

-J

P.S. He looks exuberant for about the first three flips, but because he never stops, it ends up looking like he's having some kind of seizure. I always want to rush him to the vet immediately!
firecat
Dec. 26th, 2004 08:08 pm (UTC)
As long as I have that modicum of talent, I feel comfortable working hard to overcome the aspects of the thing that don't come naturally to me. But working hard at things I have *no* talent for, and in fact am just plain lousy at (in most cases, this is usually something related to the dyscalculia), is just frustrating to me.

Put that way, it's true for me too. I think I have some talents that relate to knitting/crochet. But you'd never catch me trying to learn acting, because I am terrible at it. Although I appreciate good acting.

I haven't had learning disability testing.

Yeah, in real life, he only flipped once. I had to go turn it into a looping icon...
gregbo
Dec. 26th, 2004 07:57 pm (UTC)
"I used to have trouble with math insofar as I need it to be taught in a certain way or I don't get it ..."

I'd like you to write more about this, if you don't mind.
ex_serenejo
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC)
Yay!! I love it when geeking about stuff creates a new understanding and/or new efficiency.

I crochet wrong. I would love to learn to do it right. I also hold my pen wrong. My teacher couldn't break me of it in kindergarten.
firecat
Dec. 26th, 2004 05:54 pm (UTC)
I hold my pen with three fingers and most people seem to hold them with two.

My crochet technique isn't as efficient as some people's.
wordweaverlynn
Dec. 26th, 2004 09:32 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you have what I have, known variously as dyspraxia, minimal brain dysfunction, clumsy child syndrome. It's a name for a whole group of symptoms that may have different causes.I was diagnoses when I was in my 20s and in therapy for something else entirely. I dunno if the name is a comfort or not.
slfisher
Dec. 27th, 2004 01:46 pm (UTC)
My sister!

I think sometimes my issue with this kind of thing can be traced back to tying my shoes. I'm right handed, my dad's left handed, and he taught me, so I tie my shoes weird. I mean, it's normal to me, but I gather it's different from everyone else. I once took a writing class where for extra credit we could write down the process for tying shoes, and the teacher would try it to see whether it worked. And it did work; it's just backwards in some way. I told my daughter's dad that it would be his job to teach Maggie to tie her shoes so she wouldn't be subjected to this. I mentioned it to her teacher and the teacher tried to teach me to tie shoes the normal way and I interrupted and said, no, I'm not going to try to change at this point.

And like you, I screw up on instructions a lot (including directions; sometimes I go every possible wrong direction before the right one). In eighth grade I took sewing class and there was a written test and a practical test where we followed some directions. In the written test I got an A. In the practical test I got a D. I had done it literally backwards and upside down -- and scorched it with the iron as well.

My mom sewed and knit beautifully. My sister is starting to take up knitting. I'm interested but afraid. :-) Basically I feel like I would need to be shown how to do it rather than learning from a book.
firecat
Dec. 27th, 2004 03:57 pm (UTC)
I recall shoe-tying issues in kindergarten. My grandmother had a non-standard way of tying them and I learned it. But it wasn't backward. It had an extra loop in it. It's better because they are less likely to come untied.

I had a terrible time with 8th grade sewing class but I blame the cruddy old machine I used. I used to sew, turn the fabric, and see a hideous giant snarl monster on the back. And by the time I had finally finished the pants I was making, I had grown and they didn't fit!

I have a sewing machine now with an easier threading mechanism and sewing a seam, which is all I've done with it so far, works all right. But I suspect once I get into making garments I'm going to go through a stage of putting them together all the wrong ways before I put them together the right way.

There are knitting videos, if you can't find anyone to teach you (if you have a local yarn store, they are very likely to have classes). I looked at videos (on the Internet) and books. (I still got it backward though...)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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