Tuesday 3 December 2013

Bad maths

I'm working on the Kaleidoscope Club Blanket at the moment.
The crochet bit is easy, but I'm having to do lots of maths, working out how much of each colour is needed for each motif variation and so how much wool is needed to complete each month, then adding it all up to work out how much of each colour is needed for each quarter, so we can send members the right amount of wool.

My maths is appalling, I'm frustrated and confused, there are so many variables that even with a calculator I'm coming up with different totals each time.
Luckily I have Phil and Valerie to check my maths and correct my mistakes, but I have a sense of panic and dread every time I start thinking about maths.

I have really bad number dyslexia (there is a proper name for it, but I can't remember what it is and probably couldn't spell it even if I did remember.
My inability to do maths (and spell and punctuate) has made me feel frustrated and stupid all my life.

remember times when my parents spent long journeys in the car making me recite my times tables, my mother shouted at me at the time, she was good with numbers and she couldn't understand why I couldn't get them right. It wasn't her fault, being number dyslexic wasn't recognised at the time.
Nor was normal dyslexia (which I also suffer from)
I hated maths at school, always got an "e" or failed, reports always said "could do better" and "she doesn't concentrate in class"
Had to take my o'level 2 or 3 times till I passed it and my lovely teacher said she was convinced the exam board had marked my paper incorrectly and with anyone else she would of sent it back to be checked.
English and spelling of any sort was also a struggle, but I loved reading and books, so I took English literature A'level, I hated the essays, but loved the books, so manage to struggle through.

Numbers don't stay in my head, I have no idea what my mobile number is and I've had the same number for about 10 years, after 18 months living here I can almost remember my phone numbers, but sometimes get them wrong too. 
My postcode is a bit of a struggle too, if someone asks me for my phone number I panic and stutter and do my best to remember.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I realised I'm not stupid, its just I have a number problem, but I'm good at other things like colour, design and art.
I've kind of got normal dyslexia under control with spell check, but always spell some words wrong however many times I write them. 
I'm still rubbish at punctuation and normally have to read everything I've written and re-order the words so they make more sense.
Hopefully my writing isn't too bad.
Very occasionally I get e-mails from people pointing out my spelling mistakes and even more very occasionally the e-mails are quite indignant and rude about my lack of professionalism.
I'm sure these people have no problems with spelling or numbers and don't understand that other people do.
In the past I have read forum posts laughing at people who can't spell or punctuate, they just don't understand and assume anyone who makes mistakes is obviously stupid or badly educated.
I find the lack of understanding very sad, everyone is good at something, but the somethings are all different.

I design crochet patterns that need lots of maths, my motifs have got simpler, but my colour layouts have become far more complex.
I've made life difficult for myself, but I love what I do and keep doing it so, have to fight maths on a regular basis.
But having said all this I love geometry and how shapes fit together, I even have a  Pinterest  Geometry board
I guess geometry is visual and as long as I don't have to work out the angles, its brilliant.

I've written this blog post as I know I'm not the only one who struggles with numbers and spelling and punctuation, in fact I gave birth to and work with one - Daisy, who's a writer, which means she's made her life difficult too :-)
I just want to say to them "your'e not alone, don't feel stupid, as your'e not, its just numbers and when you write them down they make pretty patterns" :-)

P.S I didn't let anyone proof this post, so its bound to read all wrong and have the wrong punctuation, I thought it would be a good illustration of my issues.


  1. It is a recognized disability called dyscalculia, my daughter has it also. It makes life hard because while you can be very intelligent messing up simple numbers makes you look dumb and people don't understand what the problem is. My daughter has no problem with words which helped growing up but she does have spatial problems so solving picture puzzles was a big problem.

    Recognizing where our weaknesses are and learning how to manage them makes us better people and strong in ways that will help us get through life. Good luck! Beth

  2. It's a funny world isn't it? I "see" numbers easily and love working out mathematical puzzles - working out cutting lists for quilts and yarn quantities is just my thing, but I bow down to your talent in designing and putting colours together.
    You need a technical editor to take care of the boring stuff and let you do what you're best at ;-)
    (Got to love spell check too though!)

  3. Even I, as a high school/secondary school maths teacher, am astounded by the complicatedness of maths in relation to crochet (and crafting in general). I'm good with numbers and letters on paper but not so much in the real world!

    We all have our strengths, and we should care less about our shortcomings and just help each other out :)

  4. The dyscalculia is in my family too. I've got a mild case. I'll see 42 and say 24. Kind of embarrassing as a math teacher. lol Love your patterns. Geometry is more right brain work (unless you are doing the numbers with angles etc) and Algebra/writing are more left brain. Nice when both sides will work equally well. :) Helen

  5. I was finally diagnosed with a huge disparity between verbal and math skills at the age of 50+. My parents were determined I would learn the times tables. I missed many a meal because I could not write them out perfectly. I find them much easier in French for some odd reason.

  6. It is very good to see someone who is successful in life talk about this. Thank you for writing this. My 10 yr old son is also right brained, and dyslexic. Funnily enough, like you, he loves to read, and gobbles books, now that words finally make sense to him. We have a huge issue with school understanding his learning needs, even though I have managed to convince them to let him have privately paid tuition (by me) in school time twice a week. I will have to show him your post so he can see that it can be done! You'll also be amused to know that he's recently taken to dyeing yarn - he experiments by picking various plants from the garden, macerating them for a couple of days to get the colour out, and then heating yarn in them. We've had some very interesting results!