When I was a much younger parent than I am now, I worked very hard to form my children.
I served them vegetables; I tried to limit their candy; I enrolled them in a Montessori preschool.
What I did not fully appreciate was that my children were not malleable little lumps of clay, but rather they were as much actors in their worlds as I was in mine, and to the degree that I had a hand in forming each of them, each of them has had a hand in forming me.
So when sons acknowledge my interest in crochet by calling me to tell me about something they saw or sending me links to articles, I pay attention. I truly appreciate that they take any interest at all.
Many months ago, my son Simon sent me a link to this crochet bearded beanie:
This morning, he sent me another link.
This time there were no pictures, just text that featured this letter that a young crocheter had written to Stephen J. Dunbar of Freakanomics fame regarding the pattern difficulty rating feature at ravelry.
She had found that the difficulty rating feature was not a reliable guide for her when choosing a project, and she had looked at the data made available regarding this feature and attempted to analyze it.
One thing not taken into account in the analysis of the data that is available at ravelry is that there are people (such as myself) who seldom to never remember to even rate the difficulty of a project.
Despite having crocheted for just over 13 years now, If a project is not mind-numbingly simple, or exasperatingly aggravating, I have no idea how to rate the difficulty.
Another reason I don’t rate the difficulty of a pattern is that I often do not follow the directions as given. I am not in a position to rate the difficulty even if I complete my project, because what I did is not the same as what the pattern directed.
The other thing that makes difficulty ratings so problematic is this: if a crafter is very motivated to make a particular item, he or she will often perform the craft equivalent of walking over hot coals to get it done.
Further complicating difficulty ratings for patterns is the fact that despite the well-intentioned efforts of many, there is no standard format for writing a pattern, so a poorly written pattern of a simple project can be infinitely more difficult than a well written pattern for a complicated project.
Having said all this, I think that adding a list of stitches used or skills needed to complete a pattern might help the young crafter in question (and many other crafters) determine whether they had the skills needed to make the project.
I would also invite her to private message (“pm” as it is known in ravelry-land) anyone who had completed a project that she finds to be of interest. Almost all of us are more than happy to share what we have learned.
Just ask Simon.