Home > Contemplations > Another Lesson I Learned Which Had Nothing To Do With Sewing From @TheSewingStudio At #TSSparty In Toronto Sunday

Another Lesson I Learned Which Had Nothing To Do With Sewing From @TheSewingStudio At #TSSparty In Toronto Sunday


This past Sunday I was at a tweetup where we learned a little bit about how to sew and even made a pair of boxers at a really cool spot called The Sewing Studio in Toronto. Although the teacher there, Denise, was fantastic if you asked me if I could sew another pair of boxers for you there’s about a 20% chance I would be able to remember all the steps we did in making them and I definitely wouldn’t know how to set the machines up. However, I learned something much more important from Denise and my experience at The Sewing Studio than simple sewing and that is what this post is going to be about. If you want to read about our exploits sewing boxers see that post here: “How To Learn Sewing & Have Fun Doing It: #TSSParty by @TheSewingStudio & @ClickFlickCA.”

“What did Dan learn?”, you’re probably asking yourself at this point. Oh, and if you were asking yourself “Why is there a picture of a laptop, a cell phone, and a sewing machine?”, don’t worry – we’ll get to that.  To answer the first question, I learned a lot from Denise about patience. To quote myself directly from the post linked above:

“I…actually somewhat lost faith in the whole process midway through. Were it not for Denise’s bubbly positivity and personality and encouragement I very well might have given up and walked out the door.”

Denise at The Sewing Studio obviously chose her profession as a teacher (of sewing) for a reason. Partly, I am going to guess, because she loves to sew and the other part, again I am guessing, because she loves to teach people and impart wisdom. I have always joked how I would never, ever be a teacher because I was decidedly not a model student in my youth and the karma would catch up to me but I have since realized that we are continually teaching others things throughout our lives and learning things too. For me, because I have loved computers and cell phones and tech gadget in general since I was a teenager, I find I am often in the role of teaching people how to use their devices better or fix their mistakes when they make them on their devices.

When my mother buys a new piece of technology she usually makes a call to me before, during and after the buying. Before – to advise her what to buy. During – to make sure she’s buying the right thing. After – to teach her how to use this new piece of technology. Oftentimes in the last stage she will ask what seem to me to be the most ridiculously silly questions when I am trying to teach her how to use a device. Or, she won’t get something that I see as a simple concept.

Like when she finally decided to get a BlackBerry I had to sit there and wait for her to find a letter or the Enter key on the BlackBerry’s QWERTY keypad when I told her to type something. My mom protested she wasn’t familiar with the layout – my mother has been typing on QWERTY keyboards since they taught her in elementary school – and I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand what the difference was between the BlackBerry keyboard and any typewriter or computer keyboard my mother had ever used.

After being at The Sewing Studio I better understand the need for patience in such things. I have never considered myself to be the most manually oriented person. Sure, I love to take apart and put back together electronics with my full set of screwdrivers and guitar pick which can take apart pretty much every piece of electronics ever – no, I don’t play guitar, I bought a few single guitar picks for the sole purpose of taking apart cell phones. But I don’t know a lot about the more manual labors like sewing. I have a whole mental block telling me that this is just one of those things I am not good at. Therefore, when I approach something like sewing although I logically and rationally really want to give it a try there is an emotional ingrained block in my head telling me this is not something I do and am not going to be good at it so why bother trying to learn. That part of my brain says to me that I would much rather just have someone like Denise, an expert at sewing, make me some ‘handmade clothing’ or else just go buy a much better made garment at a store where they come churned out in perfection from a factory.

Now that I have had this experience at The Sewing Studio I am going to endeavor to be more patient with people when they ask me for help with their gadgets. I have been to ‘the other side’ and I can now better understand where those people are coming from. It often isn’t about the simplicity or difficulty of a task that makes us not able to do it. It is, instead, our own preconceived notions about the task or the activity or the subject which stops us from even trying our best or giving it our all.

I hope that the top picture makes sense to you now but just in case it doesn’t I was comparing my own mental block on sewing (the sewing machine) to some people’s mental blocks on electronics and gadgets (the laptop and the BlackBerry). I think this is a lesson we all can learn about being patient with other people when they aren’t understanding something we are trying to communicate to them that we view as simple or second nature.

What do you think? Does this ever happen to you? If yes, which side are you on – the frustrated or the uncomprehending? Have you also been on both like me? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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  1. Danah Ashcroft
    February 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I often have to teach people things. My dad how to use his computer and why not everything is on good, i.e. why have a word processor over just having email, what is the value of a spreadsheet. My sister how to do math and science, which was the bulk of my high school course selection and my entire university program, I find it surprisingly hard to teach. I teach my friends, family and coworkers how to knit and crochet and other needle craft. I taught all my neighbours kids growing up how to read. I spent plenty of time with my relatively recently past grandmother teaching her how to use the VCR, DVD player, microwave etc. etc. Sometimes it is easy to teach because they want to learn and they go in open minded other times like with my father, they have their opinions and their blocks and it takes a lot of time to get him on board.

    I guess I am an information/skill sharing person.

    Learning new stuff though can be hard. I have a bit of a block with driving. I know how to drive. I know i do. But test me on it and i fail every time I have 3 yellow pieces of paper for it. I never had someone to teach me and be patient with me. It has given me a mental block about it. I am working on this block but I really think if someone gave me the time to show them that I am not terrible and got into a car with me with an open mind. I would pass that test. Hell I drive a motorcycle. Why do cars freak me out? Good thing I am determined though.

    Picking up a musical instrument is also something i have a bit of a block with. I own 5 (banjo, ukulele, harmonica, keyboard and maracas). I take banjo lessons. But i find it so hard. I am plugging on but it is a slow process. I guess i want to see results faster than i am seeing them when it comes to music. I need to stop being hard on myself but it is hard to do. My banjo teacher is patient which is good. The uke i have taken a break from. Though it is easier than the banjo, I do not like attending uke night (Wednesday at 8 at Dominion on Queen E) alone. I guess I will have to start sucking it and just going again and embracing that I am a beginner and not as good as the people that have been going every week for over two years.

    Anyway, I have been on both sides and I think I like it that way!

  2. Danah Ashcroft
    February 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

    google not good. opps spell check error

    • February 24, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks for the comments! Good to know I’m not alone on this one. 🙂

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