Last year I started a new tradition; I’d learn one new thing a year.

Many people pick up hobbies and skills and quit as soon as it gets difficult. With the “one new thing a year” theory, it forces me to push through the hard starting bit, and spend real effort getting better.

This year, I attempted to learn to crochet! I saw an image for a beautiful crochet blanket online and figured I could make that.

Some practice hexagons I made.

Learning something new each year teaches me it’s okay to suck at something. With deliberate practice and actual effort I can learn to become good. At the beginning my crochet was quite literally just a tangle of wool!

This is an important aspect that people often forget after they’ve mastered something, what it feels like to be a beginner. As someone who often teaches, this affords me the ability to empathize with students over their struggles.

Quite literally a tangle of wool!
Looks like I might be getting there, if you excuse the tangle in the bottom right!

One of the nice things about crochet is there are so many different stitches and pieces to learn. It’s feels like I can forever just be a beginner with this. Like below I tried to learn how to make a wavy pattern but I got the maths wrong and ended up with a bunch of extra stitches at the end!

Calculating how many stitches you need is hard!

This experience has served me well in other aspects of my life such as when I moved jobs. Where I’ve felt like I’m sucking and really not good enough to be there. I can reassure myself, that if I just keep working hard, I can make it through.

My finished blanket! This took over 9 months to make from start and contains 144 hexagons!

I also got to connect crochet back to one of my other hobbies, programming. Where I built myself two algorithm websites to aid my crochet.

The first of which was a blanket pattern generator. I suck at patterns and colours. I can give it a bunch of hex colours (more than 4 or there’s a bug and it’ll crash chrome, oops).

The second was a scarf pattern generator. You can procedurally add coloured lines which will build up a scarf.

A close up of a scarf I made using the wavy pattern (I got there eventually!)
A rainbow scarf.

I’ve really enjoyed learning to crochet this year. Hexagons have definitely been my favourite. They’re convenient to make almost anywhere, even whilst traveling! This is a hobby I’ll take forward, and I hope to always have a work in progress project (yes, I’m building another hexagon blanket).

This leads me to conclude with what I want to learn in 2018. With the feeling that crochet has become a life addition for me. I’d like to learn how to exercise better. I don’t have a specific end goal yet, like running a marathon. But I want to spend deliberate time and effort this year learning how to exercise and hopefully improving my life in that way for 2018.

Let me know what thing you’re going to learn for 2018. We can learn together!

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