Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Stink At - Tutorials!

My DH is a Project Manager and Business Analyst. Part of his work as a B.A. (Business Analyst in case you didn't catch that) is describing business functions as processes. He's good at it too. He even has a quote that he uses often:

"If you can't describe what you're doing as a process then you don't know what you're doing."

Unfortunately, if that's true, then it means that I never have any idea what I'm doing.

I used to be somewhat irritated by that quote. "Well that can't be right," (I'd say) "because I do all kinds of stuff and I can't describe any of it as a process... Whoever said that was obviously an idiot." However, upon further reflection, I realized that the quote may not be entirely wrong. In fact it may be true that I really don't know what I'm doing most of the time.

The great example of this was about ten years ago when I took up knitting. I decided to try it and, as it turned out, I actually liked it. So Hun, (not afraid to take up a domestic art) asked me to teach him how. There was one "lesson" and it went something like this:

"OK, so you take the yarn and wrap it twice around your fingers like this. Then you... oh, wait... no, that's not it, hold on............................... OK, OK you take the yarn and wrap it around your finger once, like this and..... No, no, that's not it, hold on a sec................................. ALRIGHT! I've got it! You take the yarn and wrap it twice around two fingers like this and then you put the needle through and, huh..... nope, that's not it either........ AH HA! Now I've got it! You take the yarn and then you wrap it once around two fingers and then you........ darn it, that's wrong too.... OK, give me a sec...... Hey, where are you going?"

That was me trying to explain how to make a slip knot, we hadn't even gotten to the casting on part yet. Hun put down the needles, calmly walked away, and made a solemn vow right there and then to never touch knitting again as long as he lived. Not only did I fail to teach him but I managed to instill a loathing of knitting which remains to this very day. Go me!

It's very strange. I'm a pretty crafty person (as in "does crafts" as opposed to sneaky). I seem to be able to make all kinds of things. Things that I like, things that I use, all around nice things. However, the minute I try to tell someone HOW I did it I'm toast. I've been trying to figure out why I can make things but I can't explain how I do it.

After some reflection I came to the conclusion that the reason may lie in my method. "What method is that?" you may ask, "Why, the Wing It method." I reply. Yes, the good ole "Wing It" method, where I get something in my head or see a project and make it without really learning how. Looking back over some of my projects, especially the projects where I made multiples of the same item, it occurs to me that I may not have made any of them the same way twice.

Now, as you might imagine, this poses a problem when the time comes to explain what I did. "How did you make that?" someone asks "Ummmmmmm, hmmmmmmm" I respond ever so intelligently. Yessir, it turns out that "if you can't explain what you're doing as a process then you don't know what you're doing" is spot on. It doesn't necessarily prevent you from doing things but it does prevent you from claiming you know what you're doing.

To further complicate the issue, I'm really terrible at following steps and I'm even worse at creating them. I never know what to do first, (which is probably why my attempts to do so many things look pretty ridiculous funny to anyone watching). Logic is not my strong point. What's more, I'm fairly certain that if I gave you directions, if you were a crafty person, you would find a better way. You might even ask me why I did it the way I did when your way was so much easier? I would be forced to tell you that I didn't even think of that and you would be forced to conclude that I wasn't qualified to be writing tutorials, and you would be right. Do you want that to happen? I certainly don't!

The practical outworking of all of this is simple: I will not be offering tutorials on Home Again Jog. I'm actually afraid that if I tried you'd end up so frustrated and furious that you'd leave and never come back (I already have tutorial abandonment issues). I will gladly share pictures of my projects, I will be delighted to give you the sources for the materials, but we will all be much happier if I refrain from giving you directions. The truth is I have no idea how I did it so I cannot possibly tell you.

See, not doing tutorials is actually my gift to you! You're welcome.


  1. : ) thanks heather, you always brighten my day. i like you the way you are. x

  2. You are so funny :-)As in fun, not strange!

  3. hello heather, i am not crafty at all. i learned to knit from a child - "in the front door, once around the back, peek through the window, off comes jack!" if you repeat that while you make the motions, you can knit. please tell your husband to give it another try.

    also, you actually DO things - make things, etc. so you know HOW. it's the explaining that gets you. i'm with leah - i like you how you are. joy to you!

  4. Heather - what a fun post! I chuckled the whole way through. I am SO the same way! I hate written instructions (just show me, please), and I too have much more difficulty than I would imagine teaching things to others.

    I have tried my hand a tutorial, and I think the saving grace was doing photos along the way. That kind of got me to slow down and think about the steps involved. At the same time, it seemed *really* tedious, and I thought that I probably wouldn't make them a regular part of my repertoire.

    Btw, I'm glad to be introduced to your blog. I like the optimism with which you're approaching your small life. So much cooler than whining about needing more, bigger, best! :)

  5. Leah, Maria & Noreen thank you! Maria, I am a little strange ;-p

    Heidi, I'm so glad to meet you! I agree with the tedious tutorial assessment. I think you either have the tut gene or you don't, I don't. In any event, I hope you'll stay a while!

  6. This blog brings me so much joy and hilarity, everytime! Best think to come out of 2011it that I can see and read from here!

  7. Thanks Eric for your kind words! That made my day! I'm so glad you like it :-)


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