Building My Crochet Personal Learning Network

When learning a new skill or just having a genuine interest in something work or pleasure related, having a personal learning network can be helpful. It allows you access to global learning communities and expertise, a place to discuss with others and ask questions, and many sources of information and knowledge.

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Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com

YouTube
In starting to build my crochet personal learning network I subscribed to a few YouTube Channels of the crocheters I watched most often. From here, I found there Facebook pages and blogs which I joined and followed. My favourite YouTubers so far are Crochet Guru, Expression Fiber Arts, and Made With Love By Glama. Glama even responded to a question I asked after one of her videos.

Twitter
To find crocheters on Twitter to follow, I initially used Feedly. This, however, was probably not the best way. Most of the crocheters I followed from here were just posting pictures of items they were selling on Etsy. I had to unfollow some of them because my entire feed was filled with the same pictures over and over again. After this fail, I used the Twitter hashtag #crochet to find other crocheters. This has worked out much better.

Facebook
I have joined a couple of Facebook crochet groups. I like these because people share things they have crocheted so you can pick up ideas. My favourite thing is that you can ask questions and many people could answer you. None of my questions got answered, but I will keep trying!

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Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Blogs
Blogs/blogging is a great way to expand your PLN. Clearly, I am blogging about learning to crochet and I have asked questions and posted resources to connect with other crocheters. I also subscribe to other blogs. I can ask questions, see tutorials, get free patterns, etc. by reading other people’s blogs.

Feedly
Feedly is a great place to get all my crochet content in one place. Here I can add my favourite blogs and sites to see what’s new in the world of crochet.

Apps
I only have a couple crochet apps (check out this post to see which ones). Of those, the AllFreeCrochet.com app links you to a ton of different crochet articles. These are usually from people’s blogs, so it is another way to connect with fellow crocheters. Crochet For Beginners also allows you to connect through Facebook and to other people’s blogs.

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Photo credit: mashable.com

Pinterest
I love Pinterest and it has been my go to place to find crochet. I already have 63 pins on my crocheting board! You can also follow other people with your similar interests to see what they are pinning.

Face-to-Face
Just because you’re learning a skill online, doesn’t mean you can’t meet up with someone and have a face-to-face conversation. I happened to mention to my neighbour that I was learning to crochet and he told me his mom is a really good crocheter. Now when I get stuck on something, I can meet up with her for help.

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The Internet: A Haven for Harassment

Women make up half of the world’s population. Women are intelligent, successful, contributing members of society, and yet there are many who don’t see their worth or value their thoughts. If you are of this opinion, social media and the internet in general makes it very easy to share this. Part of the reason I don’t have much of an online presence is for fear of trolls and cyberbullies. My classmate, Sarah, felt the same way about starting a blog.  Apparently, our fears are justified as “harassment of women online is at risk of becoming ‘an established norm in our digital society’”. Research in Australia found that almost half of women have experienced some form of abuse or harassment online. Men, not surprisingly, face much less harassment.

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Jolande RM/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

The recent Gamergate controversy has seen victims like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian receiving multiple death and rape threats. Other recent female victims of online harassment include: Amanda Hess, a pundit who writes on a wide array of topics, Caroline Criado-Perez, a feminist activist and writer, and culture critic Sady Doyle. Doyle actually says she is lucky because she’s only received one death threat and not that many rape threats. How is that lucky?

It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone’s gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.

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kid-josh/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Online harassment includes but may not be limited to: unwanted contact, trolling, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, doxing, revenge porn, and threats of physical violence, rape, and death. Jamie Oliver’s piece on online harassment spoke a lot about revenge porn. Revenge porn is when naked photos of someone are posted online without their consent. One can see how this could quite quickly ruin someone’s life, and shockingly enough there is no law against it in 27 states and it is very difficult to get the photos taken down. When a case comes to light in the media, it is portrayed to be the woman’s fault, who let herself have naked pictures taken of her. Why is blame being placed on the woman? It’s as if the one posting the photos is exonerated of any blame.

It seems as though women aren’t allowed to vocalize any of their thoughts online without the potential of being harassed. Our own instructor, Katia Hildebrandt, was trolled for tweeting a study on white privilege. Gendered trollsbigotry against women is widely considered to be “in bounds” by Internet commenters.” Many comments come from anonymous or fake accounts. Although anonymity can be beneficial when it’s used to comfort and protect individuals who wish to express opinions in a psychologically “safe” environment,” it also protects the people who make unethical comments. Would these same people be making these comments if there name was attached to it so they could be held accountable? Probably not.

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Digital Divides of the 21st Century

This week’s articles for class center around privacy and net neutrality. Net neutrality, never heard of it. Was is it and why is it so important? Naysayers to Facebook’s Internet.org project say the project “violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation.” I thought the project sounded great. Giving those who wouldn’t normally have access to the internet a chance to use it for free. Albeit, limited access, but access all the same. I was on board with it, or am I? After reading “Backlash Against Facebook’s Free Internet Service Grows”, I’m not so sure anymore. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. According to this definition, the Internet.org project definitely violates net neutrality. Facebook argues that this project can “coexist” with net neutrality. They want more people to have access to the internet and isn’t some better than none at all. Protesters say that the goal of the project is to get people using the internet and then encourage them to pay for a data plan to access the full internet. However, many will not be able to afford a data plan so they’ll be stuck on the second tier, and this could create a digital divide. Is there not already a digital divide when some have internet and others don’t? On this topic I think I agree that some is better than none. I don’t agree with the second tier’s security and privacy being compromised as it is using Internet.org. I believe that Josh Levy’s solution to provide free access to the full Internet while implementing low data caps is an excellent solution to maintain net neutrality.

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Photo Credit: Apple

If Internet.org continues as is, it will be another case of the poor or not so well off having fewer digital privacy rights. This is the argument of Cortney-Harding in the article “The New Digital Divide.” The less well off probably can’t afford an Apple phone or desktop, which offer high security. Less expensive phones and desktops use less secure connections when accessing the Internet. Security can be further compromised using the wi-fi at public places. Many poor people also are subjected to invasive questions and are required to share much more information than middle class folk in order to collect their benefits from the government. The poor may lack resources to stand up to authority figures if their privacy has been compromised and fear police violence if they don’t reveal private information. The Internet held promise of a new digital world where everyone would be able to access the same information. However, this world is still laden with the problems of the old world, where the color of your skin and how much money you make decides what accessing that information will cost you. So, yet again, the poor are living in a very different digital world than the middle class.

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Photo Credit: myonlineestateagent via Compfight cc

A digital divide of a different kind could have devastating effects for education. The Federal Communications Commission’s new policies could see an end to net neutrality. It could have detrimental effects for any agency or person that’s already working with a limited budget, namely education. At present, there are rules preventing Internet service providers from showing any preferential treatment. That means that all sites on the web are accessible to anyone, no matter what you’re searching for. The new rules will allow service providers to charge content providers for better access for their users essentially creating a tiered internet. Most schools cannot afford to pay for better access. Schools, teachers, and students rely heavily on the internet to supplement instruction and make sure students are well versed in the technology of this information age. A loss of net neutrality would impact free and open source web tools, open source textbook adoption, wikis and collaboration sites, and school and university libraries’ access to hard-to-find information. These rules could create a digital divide among students. A faster web for some isn’t an equal web for all, and the rules that favor Internet service providers jeopardize the web’s ability to serve as a platform for free speech and innovation.” These new policies will most definitely negatively affect teachers, students and education as a whole.

Decide My Next Crochet Project

This week I decided to tackle the double crochet stitch. It is quite similar to the half double crochet so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to learn. While I was making notes on cue cards to help me remember how to do the single and half double crochet stitches, I did this one too. I used the Crochet Guru’s site to make my notes. Reading directions and looking at pictures to learn stitches is new for me as I usually just watch video to learn. After practicing the stitch, I did watch a video as well, just to make sure I was doing it correctly.

The video used the stitch to make a headband. I was quite excited to make this; it was a project I had been wanting to do, so it worked out perfectly.

Now, in the video, she starts the rows differently from the directions I had read. Usually to get to a new row, you chain a certain number of stitches to get the height needed to perform that stitch. For a single crochet you chain one, half double – chain two, and double – chain three. Instead of chaining three, she just turned her work and started to double crochet into her last stitch of the previous row. I decided I would stick to what I had already learned and explore her directions a little later.

Here is a video of the double crochet stitch.

This stitch seems to go pretty fast, and once I got the hang of it, it went well.That is not to say that I didn’t have to rip it apart and redo a couple times. I find that when I don’t do it for a couple days, or even a night, it is a bit of a relearning process and trying to remember exactly what I need to do. My cue cards help with this but reading directions about something doesn’t always translate perfectly to performing those directions. I made sure to count my stitches after every row to avoid losing or gaining stitches. In the video she made a thinner headband, about eight stitches across. I wanted to be able to wear mine when it was chilly outside, so I increased the number of stitches so it would cover my ears and then some. I guess it is more of an ear warmer headband than a hair accessory headband.

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This picture shows headband before joining the ends. I joined the ends and weaved in my yarn ends. Then I turned the headband inside out and voila!

I should have made one less row. It would fit perfectly if it was slightly tighter. After completing my headband I practiced the double crochet stitch without chaining to get to the next row as was described in the video. I like it, but I didn’t love the way it looked. I’m sure if I practiced I could get a more polished look. I will definitely consider doing it this way the next time I use this stitch.

For my next project, I want you to help me decide what to make.

 

Flower Photo Credit        iPhone Case Photo Credit  Boot Cuff Photo Credit     Infant Hat Photo Credit

 

 

There’s an App for That

When beginning to learn to crochet, I didn’t even consider searching for an app that would help me. I didn’t think there would be any. I was wrong. There is an app for everything. Very few apps had any ratings so I didn’t really know what I was going to get. I looked at four apps for crocheting. Two were free and two I paid for. Here’s my review…

Crochet 101 – New Beginner’s Guide – Cost: $2.39

Photo Credit
crochet 101This app is poorly organized and jumps all over the map. There is a menu section that includes titles such as Learning Basic Crochet Patterns (I didn’t find this section very helpful at all. I knew most of these stitches, but if I was just learning them it would be very inadequate) to How to Crochet a Cat Hat (not very high on my priority list). There were three sections to do with the Treble Stitch and none of them explained how to treble stitch into the foundation chain. There is also a video section, which is pretty sparse. To me, it isn’t in a logical order and goes from how to single and double crochet to making a beanie. That seems like a big jump to me in terms of the skill level. The videos are also all available on YouTube for free. The videos that were selected aren’t necessarily the best ones available either. For example, the angle and distance from the camera in the video on single and double crochet stitches would make it very difficult to learn from.

Again, this app is unorganized and poorly laid out. I would suggest you don’t waste your money and give it a thumbs down. You can get everything in this app for free on the internet  and the written tutorials I’ve see on the web are much better.

AllFreeCrochet.com – Cost: Free

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allfreecrochetThis app brings you to a very large list of articles, most of which offer free patterns, link to crocheter’s blogs (these usually have many free patterns as well), or share information on different types of yarn.

You can browse if you are looking for something specific like an afghan or hat, or if you’re looking to                                                   crochet something for a baby or child.

I think for a free app you can’t go wrong with this one! I’ll keep it on my phone.

iCrochet – Cost: Free

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icrochetThis is actually an app to get the monthly magazine subscription on your device, but it does give 10 free magazines. I skimmed the first two issues and they weren’t half bad. They have articles on different types of stitches, crocheting different pieces such as a scarf, essential crochet tips, linguistics of crochet, crochet supplies, etc. It even includes links to videos                                                 the author thinks are very helpful.

Crochet for Beginners – Learn to Crochet – Cost: $1.39

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learn to crochetThis app has 5 sections:
Home – this sections list all the How to’s for stitches and projects.
Book – a book suggestion for learning to crochet
Facebook link to a group I will be joining!
Blog – blog posts from crafty bloggers and links to their sites
                                              More – currently just has the Wikipedia definition of                                              crochet

The ‘Home’ section has many tutorials for learning all the basics you need to know to crochet like making a slip knot and stitches such as single and double crochet. It also includes tutorials on more complicated stitches like spike and butterfly and how to’s for making projects like a sweater or blanket. All tutorials link to approximately 10 or more videos. This is great because if you don’t like one or the way they are explaining things isn’t getting through to you, there’s another one to watch. As I’ve said before, I prefer to learn from videos so this app is helpful to me. I do think this section isn’t as organized as well it could be. It isn’t in alphabetical order, or separated into stitches and projects. All in all, I would recommend this app and will personally use it to continue on my crochet journey!

Social Media: How it Can Help or Hinder

Who would have thought you could Land Your Dream Job Using Google AdWords? I wasn’t even aware that just anybody could purchase adwords and have a sponsored link on google. I guess I just assumed that only businesses did that. To be honest, I tend just to skip over those because they are usually trying to sell something that I’m not interested in buying. From now on I might pay a little more attention to those.

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At the beginning of the article Lauren Indvik writes that landing a job through social media is nothing new, but it is to me. I got my teaching job long before Twitter was a thing so I never considered it. I haven’t had to search for a job in a very long time (and I’m very thankful for that). I can see how beneficial sites like Twitter would be for searching for a position and for advertising yourself. For curiosity’s sake, I checked out HOW TO: Find a Job on Twitter. It was very informative. If you’re in need of a job I would recommend this read.

I admire Brownstein’s (the man featured in the article) creativity and how he really went for it. In a competitive job market, that’s what you have to do, even though that can be difficult for many people, myself included. Brownstein gives the advice,

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in an interesting way,” he said. “The people who you want to work for can’t hire you any less than they already are. So shoot for the moon.”

I don’t google myself, like ever. I just did as I’m writing this post. Most of the items that come up are a result of what I’ve done for this class. Googling yourself is probably a good idea to do every once in awhile, especially if you’re looking for employment. Employers most likely are and you wouldn’t want them to be turned off by something that came up. It is better to have an online presence,” added Daniel Mobilio, 14. “If people search you on the Internet, you don’t want them to get a bad impression of you.” Pretty smart thinking for a 14 year old!

What if you did find something you’d rather not have show up? What could you do about it? Try to flood the web with new information about yourself that shows up higher on the Google search. This can be done by joining new social media sites with a profile you want others to see. Other than that, I’m not sure what else you can do. The internet has a memory like an elephant, it never forgets.

In Forget the resumé: Online profiles the tool of young job seekers,” Anthony Perotta advises his young students to not only be active on social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and personal blogs, but to also be mindful of what they are posting and what that might say about them. Perotta believes, that in this digital age, the resume is dead. He encourages students to “brand” themselves with professional looking social media accounts. Students get to show that they are active and engaged citizens through their tweets and blogs. Social media allows people the opportunity to show the world what you want them to know about you. It is powerful, in that you get to decide what others see. It also allows you to build a personal learning network and make meaningful connections.

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Perotta explains that it is important for students to be posting and uploading the work they complete in and out of school in order to build a positive digital footprint. That way, when asked what they have done, they can show it. It isn’t just listed on a resume. Doing this also allows students to get recognition online. This is exciting and motivating to youth. “They need to know their voice and their work — it’s beyond marks. Good marks are important, but they don’t mean you have good skills,” says Perotta.

I think it is important that youth are thinking about their online presence and digital footprints. However, the students in this article are only in grade 9. Do they need to start this early? Isn’t this a time where kids can still be kids and not be worried that making a questionable or silly post or tweet will leave them jobless? Children and teenagers should be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Katia Hildebrandt and Alec Couros bring up some excellent points in their post, “(Digital) Identity in a World that No Longer Forgets.” We wouldn’t want a depressed teenager to silence her mental health issues because she’s afraid of how that might look to an employer, present or future. “If we feel the need to perform a “perfect” identity, we risk silencing non-dominant ideas;” ideas that could help change our society for the better. If we are constantly worried that what we are posting online may be later scrutinized, the scope of what can be posted becomes extremely limited and more of the status quo. Hildebrandt and Couros suggest examining key points such as the context or audience, intent, and history before jumping to conclusions. Critical examination of one’s digital footprint should “be a foundational element of active, critical citizenship as we choose candidates, hire employees, and enter into relationships.”

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On the topic of social media and what it can do for you from a more positive standpoint, I came across this article on Twitter, “Why Innovative Teachers Use Instagram: 7 Ways to Become a Socially Connected Educator.” I don’t use Instagram (I know, big shocker!!), but I’ll probably start now. I thought Instagram was a place where people shared selfies and pictures of their kids. Apparently its uses can be much broader. Instagram can used for networking with other educators, following education groups, and gathering resources among other things. If you need help getting started on Instagram, check out this cheat sheet.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or about how you use social media.

Culture in Crisis

An education institution’s goal is to provide the best education possible for those that attend. They are to prepare its students for the future. These goals are difficult to achieve when there is no money available to obtain and share the necessary resources. Students aren’t well prepared for the future with resources from 1990’s. Worse yet, many students are unable to attend post-secondary education opportunities for financial reasons. Open education could help solve the budgetary confinements of schools and students. Open education is a global movement that has the goal of bringing quality and up-to-date education to all teachers and students all over the world. This is able to happen with the use of the internet. Top notch learning material is put on the web for all to access, share, and customize to fit their needs. Unlike textbooks, material can be easily updated, so there is no need to pay for the latest information. Schools and students are no longer limited by location or tight budgets, and students can achieve their dreams. 

This sounds amazing, but the potential of open education is hindered by restrictive copyright laws and incompatible technologies. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that is working to eliminate these barriers. There mission is to develop, support and steward legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. They have a vision that sees the full potential of the internet realized. This includes universal access to research and education. With everyone having the freedom to access resources, people are allowed to fully participate in their culture. This will change us from a read only back into a read-write culture, where a new era of development, growth, productivity is possible.

Danah Boyd’s mission is along the same path as open education. She believes that all academic journal articles should be available to the public. This way everyone can read and learn from academia. As it is right now, academic journals are, for the most part, subscribed to by university libraries. The cost is high so very few personally subscribe, and with budget cuts, even universities can’t keep all subscriptions. So why do scholars and 

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academics publish in these journals? Journals are valued by academic disciplines and in order to be successful and achieve tenure, academics have to publish in these high quality journals. Because of this, “academics are publishing to increasingly narrow audiences who will never read their material purely so that they can get the right credentials to keep their job.” Boyd proposes that academic articles should be published in open-access journals. I’d have to agree with Boyd. At the moment, because I am pursuing a master’s degree, I have access to many journals through the university’s library database. I am learning about important ideas like how our society is social constructed, racism, and white privilege. However, when my degree is completed, I will lose all access to the articles that helped to teach these ideas. Ideas like these should be shared will all educators and it is a shame that so few will see them for such a limited time.

Creative Commons does much more than lobby for educational resources to be in the public domain. It wants to see music, literature, education, research, film, etc. to be accessed by all and be free for the taking so that it can be added to, recreated, or remixed. In his TED Talk, Larry Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, states that digital technology can revive the read-write culture humanity has known in past centuries. People want to not just consume culture, but participate in it. Remixing is how our youth are thinking and speaking in this century. Copyright laws make this difficult and they are forcing kids live against the law. Creative Commons can provide artists, companies and institutions a way of keeping their copyright, while allowing certain uses of their work. Instead of an “all rights reserved” it is a “some rights reserved.”

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Currently our culture is owned (or at least the US’s is) by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America. They have the ability to halt the flow of new ideas, technologies, and better business models. They decide what we see and hear and how it can be used. This is an idea discussed in the documentary RIP: A Remix Manifesto. This documentary is all about how copyright laws limit us, and therefore limit our culture. One of the greatest men of mashup was Walt Disney. He took films from the early 1900’s and mashed and remixed them into our Disney favourites. He was allowed to do this because those films were in the public domain. He and the Disney corporation were also instrumental in making copyright laws as limiting as they currently are. Seems a bit backwards to me.

The film follows four main ideas:

  1. Culture always builds on the past
  2. The past always tries to control the future
  3. Our future is becoming less free
  4. To build free societies you need to limit the control of the past

Below are some fabulous quotes from the documentary that really capture how culture should evolve.

“It’s taking something that was and turning into something that wasn’t”

“No one creates in a vacuum”

“Everything comes from something else”

“Originality is when you mix two things that haven’t been mixed [before]”

“Build on the past, that’s the future”

This is not a world of passive consumers anymore, it is a world of collaborators. With the internet allowing us to share ideas globally and at lightning speed, the advancements in every aspect of culture, from music to medicine, could be much greater if ideas were of the public domain.