One Tenth of the Way There…

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With one butterfly down, and 8 more to go, along with letters, leaves, and quilting, I think it’s safe to say I’m at least one tenth done with my ILP. But before I tell you about finishing my first butterfly, I want to talk about starting my first cross stitch piece.

I started off by knowing very little about stitching at all, with only a few minor attempts at embroidery prior to this project, so I had to first do my research on the craft. I started off by asking a friend, who loves cross stitching and is quite a pro at it now, what I needed to start off with, in terms of supplies and standard knowledge. She listed off a few basic things I would need to start, all of which I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase at the Walmart in town, and gave me a few beginners pointers.

After gathering all of my materials, my stamped pattern, my needles (tapestry and embroidery), floss, two hoops, some handy sewing scissors, and some extra supplies like flour sack towels and aida cloth (just in case), I took to watching videos and considering my friends advice. There were a few things that most everyone agreed on, such as separating your floss to save material, using a knotless loop start, stitching in one direction first and then coming back the other direction to finish the stitch, and marking your pattern to keep track of your stitches. If you’re a bit baffled by some of these terms, I’m going to let this lovely lady explain.

Watching this video (among many others), I learned that you can separate floss into different strands of two, three, or four strands as opposed to the six strands that come together in a standard floss. After separating the floss, you fold it in half, so you can use the loop at the end as a way to ‘knot’ your floss without having to bother with tying an actual knot. The floss is also much easier to work with, as a result.

Techniques like stitching in one direction help keep your stitches even and help anchor your stitches as well, without having to worry about undoing a stitch by mistake (which I’ve done a few times). Marking your pattern can be very helpful in working with a stamped or counted pattern, by keeping track of what you’ve done and what still needs to be done. To explain this, I’ll show you a brief picture of one of my patterns with the corresponding stitches.

Looking at the paper drenched in highlighter pink, you can see that I’ve slowly crossed off each part after I’ve finished the stitch. This helps me keep track of which colors and stitches I’ve done, and which I still need to do. Looking at the color key to the pattern, I can see by the symbol that is in each square, what color needs to go there and how many stitches of that color will be on this butterfly. While cross stitch in and of itself is very simple, this process takes the most time, and is very crucial to the process that we follow it. Otherwise, we ruin our pattern and our butterfly doesn’t look very good!

By following and using these basic skills and rules of cross stitch, the overall process isn’t at all as difficult as it seems at first glance! It’s simply a matter of following the pattern and keeping track of what you’re doing. As a final thought, I’ll leave you with a back view of the pattern, to get an idea of what you are doing when you’re stitching everything.

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10 Myths About the Human Brain and Why You Should Know About Them

In this TED talk, Ben Ambridge addresses 10 popular myths about the human brain that many of us still hear consistently or even still believe. We see them all the time, on clickbait articles, on buzzfeed quizzes, in films and television, in books, and sometimes even in classes. Continuing to perpetuate these myths and misconceptions of human psychology is not only irresponsible, but ultimately damaging to our societal perceptions of psychology and difficult topics like intelligence, gender, and mental illness.

So, first, what myths does Ambridge target? Ambridge talks about the myths of,

  1. Women are from Venus and men are from Mars (gender differences)
  2. Rorschach ink blot tests
  3. Auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learners
  4. Left brain vs right brain learners
  5. Listening to Mozart makes you smarter
  6. Attraction is a product of our cultures
  7. The ‘Hot Hand’ myth
  8.  The Milgam Study
  9.  Detecting lies from body language
  10. Psychology is nothing more than a collection of theories, all of which have something to offer towards the truth of psychology

So what does all of this even mean? Why are these myths? We’ve all heard most of them, even from well educated individuals. Let’s break them down.

Ambridge quickly summarizes the differences between men and women as, there are some minute differences, but overall, they just don’t really matter. Some women are better with linguistics and grammar than men, and some men are more physically strong and accurate than women, but the difference is so small. Overall, we’re not very different, just because of our gender.

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Credits to Esther Lobo

Rorschach ink blot tests, while fun, ultimately cannot and are not used to diagnose mental illnesses or personality disorders. Just because you see a duck but they see a rabbit, doesn’t really mean anything. Off topic for a moment, have you ever taken a Rorschach test? I recall being tested when I was very, very little, as criteria to be accepted into a special preschool program. I couldn’t tell you what I tested or why they were using a Rorschach test!

The third is one I feel we’ve all heard at one point or another, and have even likely been taught this by a teacher. In more than one class, I had teachers ask, or ‘test’ us, on what our best leaning style was. As it turns out, ultimately, it really doesn’t matter what your preferred learning style is. It depends more on the skill you are attempting to learn. As Ambridge notes, it would be very difficult to read or listen to a tape on how to drive, rather than learn it by actually driving. So, future teachers, take note!

While Ambridge does tell us that there is some evidence to support that left handed individuals are more creative, and the right brain does fire a bit more for them, it is not because the right brain is more creative and the left brain is more logical. We use our entire brain constantly, for every activity we do. Even when the corpus callosum (the bit of brain that connects the two hemispheres and allows them to communicate) is severed, we still use our entire brain to perform tasks. The actual reason that left brained individuals tend to be more creative may be that they are typically more ambidextrous than right handers, because they often have to function in a predominantly right handed world. As a result, the two hemispheres of their brain may be communicating more than someone who is not ambidextrous.

As it turns out, listening to Mozart, or any classical music, really doesn’t make you any smarter. It actually depends on what you enjoy. Ambridge comments on a research study in which one group listened to Mozart, and one group listened to Stephen King novels. It didn’t really matter which one was listened to if they did not enjoy it, as it did not benefit them in the long run, but if they had listened to Mozart and really enjoyed it, the test scores were higher. So, lesson learned, do what you like to do before a big test!

While some traits of sexual, romantic, and aesthetic attraction can be rooted in our own cultures (do you like blonds or brunets? Tall or short? Dark or fair?) preferences for age, and the value of physical attraction were a universal constant when studied.

In sports like basketball, there is the myth of the ‘hot hand’, or the idea that someone can be really on or off their game by how many shots they make or miss. It’s very similar to when we flip a coin and begin to believe that we are seeing more heads than tails, and that we will always see more heads than tails. It’s really more a product of randomness, and even though it seems as though a player may be making many more shots than they usually are, it isn’t actually true.

Ah, the Milgram study. As Ambridge comments, if you’re a psychology student (as I am) you’ve heard of this study. The standard telling and retelling of the Milgram Study is that the participants believe the shocks they were sending would be fatal, and they delivered the shocks because the person in the white lab coat told them to. However, the truth is that the participants were told many times that the shocks were not fatal and that they would have no permanent damaging affects, the lab coats were actually gray, and the participants delivered the shocks, not because the lab coats were telling them to, but because they believed they were helping the study and doing what they were supposed to be doing.

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Although you may believe that when someone blinks when they lie, or crosses their arms, or looks away, the truth is that many people do not have a tell and most cannot perceive any real change when they are lying, if there is one. Sorry, Sherlock.

And lastly, the most important, the reason why we cannot perpetuate or believe these myths any longer, and why we study psychology. We test, measure, and replicate data in order to get tangible results. Very little about psychology is truly a ‘theory’ in the sense that we cannot test it or replicate our results. What we know about psychology today is based on scientific research and data that can back up and support our conclusions.

By keeping the idea that psychology is comprised of out-dated pseudosciences, we also keep the idea within our society that mental health and mental illness are not to be taken seriously, as well as the idea that psychology isn’t important. This is why, even in the modern, 21st century when we have so much data to back up and show that mental illnesses like depression exist, people still say ‘suck it up’ or ‘you’re faking’.

By keeping these myths in motion, we cannot help ourselves learn and succeed, and we certainly cannot help others. When we learn about our own psychological processes and how to understand what’s really going on, is when we can actually teach and learn about ourselves.