Friday, 10 May 2013

Make your own rules...

My good news this week is that my “test run” of a beginner’s crochet workshop went so well that the duo that runs the craft business have hired me to do three workshops this autumn, to start with, adding more if demand is there. Two beginner workshops and one intermediate. I’m over the moon! I had so much fun teaching the group; I really enjoy meeting new crafty folks and sharing creative skills.  

My mind is racing with ideas. I’ve been updating my plans, little tweaks here and there to cater to a group, and it got me thinking about how I learned to crochet a few years ago. I was fortunate enough to have my mother and grandma teach me, sharing their vast experience and tips. But I supplemented my learning through various crochet books.
I have a number of books, and every one has a section on crochet techniques and basic stitches, some more comprehensive than others. But none of them really shows a range of methods to do the same technique, or inspires a reader to try their own style.

For example, most books give elaborate instructions on how to hold the yarn, with little pinky fingers being wrangled in and middle fingers acting as a bridge...but here is how I hold my yarn

Yes, I have child-sized hands

Just wrapped around my index finger. And this is what I showed at the workshop, along with the other standard techniques. I stressed that you should try different methods and really find something that feels right. Same goes for making a slip stitch. I’ve seen photos, diagrams, but I’ve never seen a photo of a knee in a book

This is how I make my slip stitches. I’m like a little child, certain things I need to have set out in a terribly basic way to make sense! After numerous attempts to do a slick slip knot with my fingers holding the join, I gave up and just laid out the yarn on my knee.

See? It makes it oh-so-clear and simple. Again, I showed this at the workshop as an alternative to what you read in books. I wanted the group to understand that even those with experience can choose simple options for basic steps. It’s ok!
Make your own rules. As long as the outcome is the same, how you get there is your business. Craft is meant to be enjoyable and stimulating for our creative minds, not frustrating like when you can’t even get the yarn in the right direction for a slip knot!

Colour changes are another area with different interpretations. Books I’ve seen list one method, and some books don’t offer a method at all. But there are multiple ways, some far simpler than others, and knowing this would help newbies to crochet. I’ll show you the two I use, depending on my mood.
Method 1: The Pick-Up

With this method, you insert your hook to make the final stitch in the row, but instead of yarn over the current colour, you drop it, and pick up the new colour, pulling that through the stitch.
Yarn over in new colour

Here is the new colour on hook, ready to yarn over and pull through both loops to finish the stitch

And here is what the little sample looks like, with the yarn tails not weaved in so you can see where the change took place.

Method 2: The Slip Knot
This method is easier for beginners, I think, because the new colour is more secured to the hook with a slip knot. It’s good when you’re still learning how to control the yarn tension. I like it if I’m working with a yarn that tends to split.

First, fasten off the old colour at the end of a row. Then make a slip knot with the new colour of yarn. Remove your hook and leave the knot at the ready. Insert the hook through the first stitch of the new row, then hook the slip knot.

Pull the slip knot through the stitch. Chain one to secure the new colour, then work into the stitch as normal.

Slip knot pulled through, yarn over ready to make the ch1

New colour with ch1, ready to stitch

And here is the finished sample
See that little tail of green yarn coming through the front of that first stitch? I left it there so I could remember the difference from the first method. Just pull it through and weave in the ends.

All I’m trying to prove here is that we should not be too stressed out about absolutely perfectly copying a technique. Learn the basics, really understand how and why they work, but if you have an easier, or more comfortable, way of doing something, go for it!

Happy crafting!

Chrissie x



  1. Glad you enjoyed your test workshop, it's good to be with like minded people and a great way to make new friends. Not like work at all. I'm sure they will be a success and that they take off.

    I agree. I don't hold the hook like it says in the books. As long as the end result is what you want it doesn't matter.

    Have a great weekend.

    J xx

  2. You are going to make such a great crochet teacher! I have my own way of holding the yarn too, and coincidentally I have child sized hands too!
    M x

  3. So so pleased the workshop was such a success! Onwards and upwards! Xxx