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Dyslexics Untie

ThreadKoe | Posted in General Discussion on

Several posts have wandered off onto this subject.  It seems from these discussions that many of us creative types have difficulty with either math or some form of reading/spelling.  Most of us seem to be able to see our projects in 3D, something that is actually quite rare. 

My question is, Do you think that our resources as quilters, sewers, crafters, artisans, take this into account when the instructions and illustrations are designed?    Cathy


  1. stitchagain | | #1

    Your post attracted my attention, but I don't know if I understand your question

    "My question is, Do you think that our resources as quilters, sewers, crafters, artisans, take this into account when the instructions and illustrations are designed?"

    Did you mean does one think that designer's take into account the perceptions of the creative folk (quilters, sewers, crafters, & artisans) they are designing for?


    Did you mean are the resources of quilters, sewers, crafters, & artisans taken into account when instructions and illustrations are produced?

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #6

      In some of the other discussions with others, we have discussed the problems we have had learning. Many of us learn from books, magazines, CDs, etc., as a primary resource beyond classroom learning. What I am wondering, and want an opinion on, is if these resources are helpful. It appeared to me that many of us talented seamstress/textile/designer types have the unusual ability to translate drawings and sketches into 3D in our heads. Yet many seem to also have difficulties that fall into the dyslexic range. Are our resources written and illustrated clearly enough? simply enough? What would make them better? What works? Cathy

      1. damascusannie | | #7

        There is definitely a place for well-written ( thorough without unnecessary verbiage) instruction books with good illustrations. I have a local quilt shop owner that I run my patterns by and I take her comments very seriously. By and large, the consensus seems to be, lots of pictures and just enough writing to explain them, if necessary. Quilters in particular are notorious for just using the pictures to make a project, so I really focus a lot of effort on my drawings. It's a balancing act as too much writing can actually cloud the issue. The same can hold true for garment patterns--poorly executed pictures or text can make an otherwise straight-forward technique seem more difficult than it is. Knitting and crochet are a different kettle of fish and I think that most people need to be mentored through the basic skills and then many will be able to teach themselves more complex techniques. I was taught to knit, purl, increase, decrease and cast off, and the rest I've learned from books. I'm a proficient knitter and usually design my own patterns now. I find crochet much more challenging, but can easily follow the instructions in most crochet patterns just fine. I haven't really done enough of it to design the sorts of things I would make most--doilies and other lacework--but have made my own bags and afghans. I personally learned to quilt by watching quilting shows back in the 80s and then getting my hands on books and magazines. I have no trouble learning by reading and looking at pictures and have taught myself many things this way. However, I also teach and sometimes there's nothing that can beat seeing a technique and then trying it for yourself under the tutelage of a good, PATIENT teacher.

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          ThreadKoe | | #11

          I have to agree the best way to learn is "under the tutelage of a good, PATIENT teacher."

          " By and large, the consensus seems to be, lots of pictures and just enough writing to explain them, if necessary. Quilters in particular are notorious for just using the pictures to make a project, so I really focus a lot of effort on my drawings. "

          I know that I as a sewer, I also rely a lot on drawings and pictures.  Very often, what the words say, don't makes sense to me. Yet the pictures say everything.  If the picture is not quite clear, then the words will then sometimes clarify the picture.  Therefore I rely on fairly precise or clear pictures or illustrations in my patterns.

          I learned to knit using fair isle patterns because they came in graph form.  I prefer to follow the newer patterns that come in both graphed and traditional form.  I will often re-write a pattern in a form I can follow, sometimes in a row by row pattern.  Same with crochet.   Once I break down the pattern into repeatable units, I'm fine.

          So for me, clear pictures or illustrations are best.  Otherwise, step by step instructions that are simple and clear are my 2nd choice.   

          I think your patterns would fit my bill of sale Annie.  Cathy

          1. damascusannie | | #12

            I like to break knitting a crochet patterns down into sections, too, so I often take them and sort of re-group sections of the pattern in a way that makes sense to me. When it comes to pattern writing, my experiences teaching really come in handy. In the back of my mind I always have one student in mind. She really struggles with instructions, so I'm always thinking, "How can I write this so Jeri would get it? Do I need another picture?" It really works and I've gotten really good feedback from my users.

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #14

            I guess I would be another Jeri. I read and reread instructions until they are perfectly clear before I start. It takes me a long time to "get" things, but once I do I fly. Sometimes I will buy similar patterns and make the pattern that makes sense to me, or the one that I can follow without the instruction sheet. Too complicated instructions or unnecessary steps to overcome poor design frustrate me. I hate "bugging" a teacher. I only ask for help when I am at wits end. Cathy

    2. User avater
      VKStitcher | | #9

      I think one answer to your question is "It depends."  Sometimes a person can create a great product but may have trouble explaining the process of creating it.  Sometimes the instructions are well written, but not in a manner that is easily understood by the person reading them.  Sometimes seeing how something is done is better than reading about how to do it.  There are different styles of learning, of writing, of teaching.  I think we need to find our own best way, and try to find resources that are a good fit.  Often this is easier said than done.<!----><!----><!---->

      Creative people do have the ability to imagine and envision things, to see in their “mind’s eye”, while others have to actually see with their own “real eyes”.  This was quite apparent when my husband and I were building our house.  I could look at the floor plan and “see” the cabinets in the kitchen, the slope of the ceiling, the stones at the fireplace—my husband saw white paper with black lines.  I could imagine drapes hanging at the window before I had purchased the fabric—he saw only glass and wood, but agreed that there should be drapes.  It’s often frustrating because he just doesn’t “see” the same things that I do!  (and I'm sure he is frustrated as well when I don't comprehend the banking/business/corporate things he talks about!)

      Edited 6/27/2008 10:29 am ET by VKStitcher

      1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #10

        This is a concern to me as I can visualize drapes, or a conice or whatever I am proposing to a client and they seem to nod and agree, only to not like the finished item because they really could not see what I am seeing. Even with consults and samples and drawings at times they have no clue. Still trying to figure a better way . Sometimes I'll even tape a template to the wall so they can be more sure of what I'm making for them.We take this gift for granted, many people do not have this ability, I wish they did.It would make my job much more pleasant.

  2. starzoe | | #2

    I am supposing you mean "unite"? Am not sure of your question either, and wonder what you mean by seeing things in 3D. Surely seeing in 3D is the norm, although some eyesight challenged people may see in two dimensions, as looking at a photo, not an actual object.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #5

      Yes, It is a small joke amongst those of us who are dyslexic. ;) Cathy

      1. jjgg | | #13

        There was a T-shirt I wanted to get that said "Bad Spellers of the World Untie" I really wanted to get it. The funny thing about it was that when I read the topic, I read "unite".

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #15

          I saw a bumper sticker that said Dyslexics Untie and just about drove off the road laughing. Never forgot it. Made me and daughter feel so much better. When I am tired, even my spoken words come out all backwards and wrong. When that happens, I laugh and say, you know what I meant.

      2. jjgg | | #16

        It's a very interesting question, I know when I teach classes - sewing or CPR, I teach them in a way that I wanted to be taught. I make sure people understand WHY they are doing what I want them to do. I remember freaking out over these long lists of things to have to remember (this pertains to nursing school - long list of symptoms etc) and trying to rote memorize them and it made no sense to me. When the logic of why the symptoms occurred,was explained, it made all the sense in the world. The same with sewing, When I tell people you have to sew 1/4 inch away, I sit and show them why and what will happen if not done.I took a class recently on pants fitting, it is this whole unique system this woman has developed (Joyce Murphy - JSM Patterns) Anyway, I found out she is both left handed and dyslexic - no wonder she figured this system out!

        1. damascusannie | | #17

          I think that being left-handed in a right-handed world has made me more sensitive to the need for really clear instructions and the need to explain WHY things are done a certain way when I teach. If I know the why, it makes it easier for me to translate right-handed instructions to fit my left-handed brain.

          1. jjgg | | #18

            Annie,I grew up in a family of left handed people, I was one of only 2 right handed! They were(are) all much more artistic than I am, I have the technical know how for sewing and other things, but they all have the real creative artistic genes. I struggle to be creative. Ah, but at least I inherited my mothers good skin and look A LOT younger than all of them! My sisters and I (4 of us) are all 13 months apart, then there was the prodigal son 18 months later - he is right handed, and he and I have the blue eyes in the family!

          2. damascusannie | | #20

            They say that lefties are more creative because we use the more creative side of our brain and that may be true to some extent, but I know SO many logical, righties that are also VERY artistic, and one of the mathematically smartest people I know is left-handed (she's a corporate accountant) and not particularly creative, so I've learned not to make assumptions! I do think that left-handers are more ambidextrous, simply out of necessity. We live in a right-handed world so we've learned to adapt without really thinking about it. For instance, I watched so much golf as a kid (my dad liked it) so when I took it up in my 40s I just naturally golfed right-handed.

          3. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #22

            I spent my Corporate America years in the employ of the then largest business forms manufacturer in the world. A problem our customers often had was that the forms would tear when they tried to snap them apart. For years I would tell our sales reps, and even had a little blurb preprinted, to take the stub in his right hand, roll his wrist to his right so as to slightly fan the form, grasp the opposite end of the form with his left hand, slightly bring his hands together and then snap the forms apart. And then I added, if you are left handed, do it just the opposite. One day, I was watching someone separate some forms, and I had an epiphany. I had been giving wrong instructions all those years. I am right handed, but I do many things left handed -- like separate forms..... I tie shoes left handed. Couldn't understand why I could not teach my son to tie his shoes. I even got behind him so I'd be showing him "right". Turns out I was showing him left handed. My brother-in-law taught him in about 5 minutes. I deal cards and embroider left handed and the list goes on. And I wonder why I have a dyslexic son.Sorry, I do go on....

          4. damascusannie | | #23

            Oh, that's too funny! It's interesting how we take what we do for granted and tend to assume that everyone else does it the same way!

        2. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #19

          Why, that wonderful question. Drove my parents and teachers crazy with it. Now I expect my kids to ask it. When I am teaching, I always explain why, not just how. I always look a student in the face and ask if they really understand me. Then I wait and say " don't say yes to please me, if you don't understand, then I am not doing my job." Then if they don't understand, they will easily admit it and I usually get a lot more questions.
          I am ambidextrous, was encouraged to be right handed, but use both, depending on what I am doing. Still have problems telling L from R, Clockwise, N from S, etc. but I never get lost, just go on little adventures, tee hee!

          1. jjgg | | #21

            It's called "taking the scenic route!!"

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #24

            When the girls were 11, 9, & 8, I piled them in the van and drove them across Canada to visit my parents in BC.  Whoever was sitting in the front seat had charge of following the map.  We used a marker to trace our path.  We still took a few "side trips" especially in the bigger cities.  Even now, the girls get a little freaked if they think I have taken a wrong turn someplace.  Nothing bad happened!  They sure learned how to get around themselves tho!  Cathy

      3. User avater
        ceeshell | | #29

        for all the other dyslexics out there, and organization has recently been formed, it is called DAM Mothers against Dyslexia. I joined after my left handed dyslexic son came home from school so frustrated. the teacher told them to make a fist then extend the thumb and index finger to for the letter L. suposedly this was how they could tell the difference between their left and right hands because the left accuratly formed the letter L. She really didn't understand that for us dyslexics telling the difference was not possible. oh well Tish happens.ceeshell

        1. User avater
          JunkQueen | | #30


        2. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #31

          I'm glad you found some support. If it helps any, my daughter just graduated as an Ontario Scholar, so with effort and support, your child can do anything he sets his heart on. Sometimes, it requires us to teach the teacher in what our children require to succeed. They do not like that. But as my child's advocate, it was up to me to make sure the schools fulfilled it's mandate that every child had a right to learn.
          Enough said...I could go on for hours.Mind you, if someone had pointed out the left hand L to me before I was in my 30's, life would have been a lot easier. It is kinda funny tho...in a warped sense of humor way. Cathy

        3. Teaf5 | | #32

          Delightful!  Dyslexia doesn't have to limit achievement and often doesn't, as it usually comes packaged with very high intelligence.  And, as your post indicates, a good sense of humor!

          I like to think of my condition as a "unique learning style" rather than a disability; after all, it's often very helpful to be able to read things that are upside down or backwards.  (I can read my boss'es notes before he turns them around, for example.) 

          A lot of our alphabetic letters are the reverse of their original forms, and other languages don't depend heavily on character orientation, so perhaps we're just more flexible than those who always see letters the same way.


          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #33

            Isn't it great to be able to read upside down? I have learned so much that way! (Much maybe i shouldn't have maybe, tee hee). Cathy

          2. starzoe | | #34

            Reading upside down? Is that unusual? It occurs to me that I have always done it and never even gave it a thought until now. Apparently there are exceptional people who can ascribe colours to taste, music to colours, etc. Not me though.

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #35

            Apparently it is not a common skill. Once I learned to read, I guess I really learned to read. I just wish math would come as easily. And I still cannot tell time. Go Figure.
            The brain is a very complex organ, and everyone experiences life differently. I cannot ascribe colours to music or taste, but I would say that smell and texture do evoke very emotional, colourful responses for me. Colour also has a huge impact on my emotions. More so than most I think. Cathy

          4. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #36

            There was a very interesting documentary on TV recently about the phenomenon of some people seeing a color with certain tastes, music, etc. as you described. The human brain is indeed fascinating. In fact just yesterday my family physician, an Internist, told me that if I did not get the cataract removed from my right eye, my brain was going to "forget" how to see certain things, particularly at night. I've been quite a chicken about having cataract surgery because my DH had some problems with his. The doctor's admonitions have prompted me to make an appointment with my Ophthalmologist for next Monday. I thought everyone could read upside down, also. There were a lot of office "secrets" that were spread because of that rampant talent. LOLWhen I count, I see numbers in a particular pattern. I can't describe it on paper,but it is a winding semi-stairstep pattern.

          5. jjgg | | #39

            I read a fascinating book "Crashing Through" about this guy in California that lost his sight when he was 3 y.o. Got it back at 43y.o and the trouble he had in 'seeing'. his brain just can't adapt normally to visionhttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10382528http://www.amazon.com/Crashing-Through-Story-Adventure-Dared/dp/1400063353then there is also a book about the guy who does see numbers as colors
            "Born on a Blue day" The book gives a really good look into the life of a high functioning autistic person.http://www.amazon.com/Born-Blue-Day-Extraordinary-Autistic/dp/1416535071

          6. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #40

            Thank you, jigg. My DH in an inveterate fan of scientific-type TV programs. I pick up a lot of it by sheer osmosis, but I am always drawn to those about the human brain! Anyhow, I recall having seen a program about that man regaining his sight as well as about the man portrayed in "Born on a Blue Day". I really did not realize there were books written about them. Those are must-haves for me, now that I know about them.

          7. Teaf5 | | #37

            The current term for such folks is "synesthetics," but much of the "research" seems to be anecdotal or internet mythology. 

            However, serious research into olfactory, taste, and color perception is finding interesting patterns, though, including "super tasters," people who can identify ingredients in foods, even in small amounts.

            A fun experiment is to make up batches of different KoolAid or Jello flavors and do blind tastings; most people will identify nearly every flavor as "cherry" or "red."  And at a recent bridal shower, we played a game of identifying spices by smell alone; out of 16 spices, the best was 10 correct--perhaps because they were in powdered form (I usually use fresh) and all just smelled old and dusty.

          8. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #38

            While I am sure there may be some misinformation out there, as well as the ever-present internet myths, the documentary my DH and I watched included scientific research and showed brain scans and experiments showing "normal" brains and these brains as they reacted to different numbers. Quite interesting and enlightening.

          9. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #41

            Part of my Home Ec training involved blind taste testing of foods. One involved milk. Not one of the subjects could identify it by taste alone. By sight it appears thicker than it actually feels in the mouth. Each subject was shocked to discover they could not identify such a familiar beverage. Cathy

          10. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #42

            Really? That astounds me. I would have thought milk would have been readily identifiable. Thank you for sharing that.

          11. jjgg | | #43

            I'm going to have to try this one! I have always been able to pass the "pepsi challenge" but I will have to try this with milk and some other beverages

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #44

            It has been a long time, but if I remember correctly, we had to taste 3 different room temperature beverages, cleansing the palate between by eating a bite of a soda cracker. One was sweetened water, one was milk and the other I don't remember. It may have been apple juice. We were to try and Identify what the beverage was. We had no Idea what it was beforehand what we were tasting. It was an interesting experiment. Cathy

  3. damascusannie | | #3

    I understand what you mean and I think I can clarify for the others. It's the idea that some people can look at a two-dimensional picture and see the three-dimensional object that it represents or read a description and "see" what is described. For instance, I have drafted house-plans and I can "see" what the room will look like in three-dimensions even though all I'm drawing is the floor plan. The same sort of thing does apply to pattern writing to some extent. I write and illustrate quilt patterns and I'm constantly taking into consideration the different ways that my users assimilate information. Therefore, I use a combination of detailed drawings and detailed written instructions to accommodate both those who learn visually and those who do better with the written word. However, there is another class of students who learn tactically and they really need to take hands-on classes in order to learn a new concept or skill. Until they've actually, physically performed the action, they really can't grasp the concept. These people are often dyslexic so written and visual images are difficult for them to process, but they learn very quickly in a hands-on setting.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #4

      Thank you Annie for stating clearly what I meant by 3D- the ability to translate a 2 dimensional drawing into 3 dimensions in ones mind.

  4. jane4878 | | #8

    I also can "see" concepts in 3D. It is fairly uncommon. My DH used to do general contracting and very few people can look at blueprints and visualize the finished home. Something that can be very exasperating for builders when dealing with clients. The math thing is interesting--I and a good chunk of my family have dyskalkia (not sure I spelt that correctly--dyslexia with numbers) and dyslexia. Calculus just about killed me, but I could blow just about anyone out of the water in geometry.I would say the authors of sewing instructions put things out fairly clearly. Read instructions of computers or using software if you want to be completely lost! I sometimes have trouble "getting" written instructions until I can figure out how to visualize them and then I'm fine. The writers of these resources also probably have similar thinking patterns to their users as well.Interesting question...

  5. Teaf5 | | #25

    As a university learning specialist and enthusiastic sewer, I have lots of ideas on this topic but will try to keep this short. 

    For teachers, writers, or professionals to communicate with others, it's best to remember that "your way is not the only way" and that the goal is for the other person to understand in the way that suits him/her best. 

    Just as there are always at least six ways to do the same task on a computer, there are lots of ways to understand any given concept or solve any problem.  A computer techie may know a lot of really complicated methods to do a single task (and the technology and science supporting it), but a user needs to know only one method that will work for him/her.

    Thus, I always start by asking, "What do you need/want to accomplish? How far have you gotten by this point?"  The answer will reveal the person's goal and his/her manner of approaching the task.   One person might start telling me a list of steps, another might show me a written description, another might sketch out some shapes, and another take me to the area or hold up the item and point out the problem.  The first person is an aural learner and proceeds very sequentially, the second is very verbal and analytical, the third is spatial/visual, and the fourth is tactile.

    Of course, I need to use my own method to understand the problem and solution, but to communicate that effectively, I need to combine it with the other person's style.  I will give the first person a list of steps and will have the second person write down my explanation.  I'll make a sketch or work on the third person's sketch, and I'll point out or handle the item for the fourth person.  Generally, I'm doing at least three of these things at once, just to make sure.

    Instead of being frustrated by the infinite variety of learning styles, I'm fascinated by them.  There is no way I'll ever be able to remember a spoken grocery list, but I am grateful that my husband can.  Meanwhile, he's amazed that I can remember an exact sentence (and its location on a particular page) while he cannot remember whether he wrote something down.  We work together very well, probably because of these differences.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #26

      I could probably talk to you for hours about learning. Two of my girls had serious head injuries, the third a learning disability. I know and understand the different forms of learning. My 3 have forced me to be able to present information in at least 3 ways as they all are different learners. The brain and how it functions absolutely fascinates me.
      The amount of resources produced for us as crafters, sewers, textile artists, is phenomenal. Certain books and resources are passed on as extremely helpful, others not so. Is it the form in which the information was presented? As a group, are we "geared" towards a particular form of presentation? Architects and engineers also rely on technical drawings, but they are somewhat different in presentation to what we get. I can read a blueprint, but a technical manual is beyond me. We certainly are not stupid, what makes these particular resources work for us? That is what I am trying to figure out.
      My husband is a whiz at math and can remember where he planted what in which field year after year, and what the yields were. Yet I have to organize his tools as he cannot remember where to find them in the tool shed. Cathy

      1. Teaf5 | | #27

        Do crafters share a common learning approach?  I doubt it.  Anyone who wants to can take up crafts, so we're an even more diverse bunch than those in certain professions like engineering, accounting, or medicine, which are very strictly certified.  But there is such a range of specialities within any profession that the learning styles of those individuals are probably far more diverse than they might appear, too.

        It's great that different craft resources offer different approaches; we just need to figure out which one works for us.  Sometimes I'll look at five different explanations of the same thing and find little bits from each that will help me and I'll usually find one that makes everything perfectly clear on the first reading, such as the "For Dummies" series (not affiliated).

        While it would save time to have just the one perfect explanation, I often find other interesting tips along the less efficient path, and sometimes I don't find what I need and have to just experiment, experiment, experiment!

        1. Ralphetta | | #28

          It always surprises me that there are so many educated people who think there is only one way to learn things and that all brains function like theirs do. I have to memorize vast amounts of material and noticed an article a few years ago that said that although people memorized words and movement in separate paths of the brain...they had discovered that sometimes people learned them simultaneously in a third path. D'oh, I'd tried for years to explain to people that that was how my mind worked, but they just brushed it off. They thought I was just lazy when I said it was a waste of time for me to learn the words before I knew what body movement I was to learn, because I would have to start all over at that time. Whether it's crafts or anything, it's really important to be reminded to keep an open mind and not assume the other person is lazy or not trying. When it comes to learning crafts, I prefer diagrams. I don't have a problem with the other avenues, but that seems to be the clearest for me.

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