9/365 Challenge: Do you know that virtual assistance and crochet have a lot of similarities?

I’m taking a break from my financial management series and talking about my other passion.

In May last year, I learned how to crochet.  My firstborn actually introduced me to it.  And I’ve been addicted since.

I’ve been so committed to it that I have even set up a website and a Facebook page just so I can feature all my finished projects in one place.  And I’m happy to share that this hobby I have taken up has actually been paying for itself.  Yes, I’ve been able to sell some items, and orders are coming in, thank goodness!

I think I may have been sharing too much about my crochet activities that people are starting to wonder if I’m switching careers.  I’ve actually been asked about a dozen times if I’m leaving virtual assistance to focus on crochet as a business.

The answer has been, and will always be… no.

Much as I love crafting, I don’t think I’ll ever make a decent living out of it.  And virtual assistance is so much my personality that I can’t imagine ever giving it up.  Oh, maybe I’ll slow down in five year’s time.  But for as long as clients are engaging my services, I’ll always be a virtual assistant.


Make that… I’ll always be a virtual assistant who crochets.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that virtual assistance and crochet are alike in many ways.  And that may be the reason why I’m doing well in this hobby. Here are a few examples:

The foundation row is always difficult.

We always begin a project with a foundation row.  The challenge for me is in the math.  Most of my past projects were done in freehand, meaning I didn’t use any pattern.  You are not going to believe how I have to draw sticks and circles on paper so I can figure out how many chains to start with.  Do I make multiples of 5 plus 2, or do I make multiples of 5 plus 3?  Do I make my first DC on the 3rd chain from the hook?  Or should it be on the 4th?

Another challenge for me is how to make all chains even.  I need to keep my strokes uniform, so I am not to be disturbed when chaining, or be on the path of my wrath.  I also find myself counting and re-counting my chains.  Although I’m using stitch markers for, say, every 50 chains, I’d still repeat counting, because if I don’t get the count right, I cannot move on to the next row.  Well, basically I can move to the next row, but the whole project, the whole design, will be bust.

Very similar to the challenges I had to face when I was starting out as a VA.  I had to wing everything.  I had to repeatedly work on my numbers, being careful not to shortchange myself or the client.  I stayed focused on my goals, on why I’m doing what I’m doing.  I stayed motivated.  And here I am.

There are different ways you can make your foundation row.

The most common is to make the chains, then single or double crochet.  But there are also chainless foundation rows, using either the foundation single crochet (FSC), foundation double crochet (FDC) or foundation half double crochet (FHDC).  Chaining is faster and easier.  But the chainless foundation is cleaner and firmer.  I just find myself always missing a stitch or two when doing the FDC, so I just use the FSC when I can, and stick to chaining for most of my projects.  To make my edge cleaner to look at, I just do the SC or DC on the bump at the back of the chain, instead of inserting the hook between the V of the chain.

In the same manner that you are free to choose the way to launch a career in virtual assistance.  Just go ahead and wing it, being mindful of the bumps along the way, or be totally prepped for it by learning strategies and techniques first before forging ahead.  However you want to start it, just stay true to have what you have set out to do.

Follow a pattern, or create your own.

Having a pattern is great.  That is, if you know how to follow one.  I can follow a written pattern, but not the diagrams.  It’s something I have yet to learn.  The symbols confuse me.  Maybe in time, I’ll learn how to read symbols, too.  Meantime, I’m happy creating my own designs  with the stitches I’m most familiar with, and simply mixing colors.

In the same manner that I started my virtual assistance career without any guidance.  Back in 2006, there were no workshops (that I know of), no other VA  that I know of, so I had to learn on my own.  I focused on my skills and offered them as a service, while learning new skills that are already being sought by clients overseas.

Different yarn types or hooks for different projects.

This part, I’m still learning as far as crochet is concerned. The yarn I learned my stitches on were acrylic.  And I assumed that all yarns were created equal.  Not so.  There’s cotton, acrylic, soft acrylic, wool, cashmere, and so on.  Cotton yarns are heavy.  Acrylics are light, and they can catch fire easily.  So don’t make potholders with acrylic yarn.  Use cotton.  But if you’re working on a big wearable project like a shawl, use lightweight materials like cottonberry.  The drape is better, too.

As for the hooks, there is a tunisian hook used for… you guessed it!  Tunisian stitch. And they come in different sizes and lengths.  For the size, say you are using a light material that requires a 3mm hook, try to use a 3.5mm or 4mm hook to achieve a lacy feel.  And take care of your hands!  Use ergonomic hooks.

In virtual assistance, it’s not one size fits all, too.  Say your tasks are simple email management and calendar management, then you can survive with a 1.5Mbps connection.  But if your tasks will involve video editing, lots of uploads and downloads to and from the net, you should at least have 3Mbps.

Frogging is not fun, but sometimes necessary.

It’s okay to make  mistakes.  But once you realized that you have committed one, be prompt in correcting it.  Imagine having reached the 50th row, only to realize that you missed a stitch on the 25th row.  So your project looks askew because you made a decrease when there shouldn’t be.  Don’t be lazy and say, it will do.  Go ahead and frog, and do the rows again.

Working with clients as a VA for almost a decade now, and in corporate for 12 years before becoming one, I’ve had my share of grave mistakes.  But I’ve always managed to make necessary corrections and apologize to whoever got the brunt of the error.  And I remember the lessons.

So next time you are working on a project that requires to be really even, take time to count your stitches every other row, so you can catch the missing stitch early.  🙂

These are just a few examples I have time to write today, but you get the idea.  And these are the reasons why I’m thriving in both.

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