Crochet and Connections to the Classroom

On the first day of class we were told that 30% of our mark would be made up by a learning project. We could pick anything we wanted to learn and we needed to document our progress. We could pick anything we wanted, anything! The possibilities are endless, except, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to learn. We are so very rarely asked this question in an educational context. Looking back at the last decade or so of my life, I don’t know if I’ve learned anything that wasn’t out of necessity for my job, school, being a homeowner, or becoming a parent. I know that when I’ve tried something similar in my classroom, students also have trouble choosing. I think that I would give them lots of advance notice for thinking time, provide examples, and do interest inventories to help them pick something.

When I picked learning to crochet I didn’t really make a plan for how I would do that or what I wanted to accomplish, or at least I didn’t write one down on paper. I wouldn’t let a student get away with that! I would make sure they had a plan and goals to be met so they could track their progress. I found it difficult to do this because I had no idea about anything crochet. How could I make a plan when I didn’t have the first clue. Well, that would be step 1 I guess – research. Once I had done some research I did come up plan and I had an end goal in mind. I was hesitant to write it down though. What if I changed the plan, or worse, what if I didn’t accomplish that end goal I had in mind. Would I feel like a failure, would others view me as a failure. This is a bit ridiculous as plans change and goals need to be re-evaluated as more information is gained. I can see students sharing these same feelings though. It would be important to make sure they understood that things may need to change and as long as they are learning, they are not failures. At the end of this class I wanted to make a scarf. Although I did not accomplish this goal, I do have the skills necessary to do it.

crochet meme

Photo Credit

As I was learning new stitches (I never knew there were so many!) I found it helpful to use those stitches to make a product. This way I practiced the new stitch and had something to show for it in the end. I would encourage students to do this as well, if it was possible. I found it motivating and had those feelings of accomplishment which made me want to learn more. It also made my learning seem more worthwhile. This is important as there were many times I was super frustrated and wanted to quit. Seeing my previously completed projects helped me work through my frustration and keep going. I was also able to see my progress and that I was improving.

Reading directions about something doesn’t always translate to performing those directions perfectly. I found patterns especially difficult to read and follow even when I understood what everything in the pattern meant. When I thought I’d mastered a stitch I would still make mistakes. I definitely haven’t got to the point where I can mindlessly crochet something. Even with paying close attention and talking myself through every step, I continued to make mistakes.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process! This translates to my teaching in two ways. In teaching math problems I need to remember that just because a student has done a problem once doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got it down pat. Sometimes I get frustrated when students say they don’t know what to do; I’m thinking, you just follow the same steps we just did. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s going to happen. When this happened to me I needed to go back to the part where I knew I’d done it right and start/try again. I often re-watched YouTubes and worked through it step by step.

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Photo Credit: WellDunn

Learning can be repetitive. Crocheting is a bit repetitive, as is math. It didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but it was a lot of the same over and over again. You need to learn the basic skills and then build on them.

I found watching videos extremely helpful for learning, but reading written directions and looking at pictures was beneficial at times. It just goes to show we all learn a little bit differently and you may not be able to rely solely on one method. Watching more than one video on the same concept can be a good thing, but it can also be confusing. Different people explain or do things slightly differently. This can a positive. It can fill in gaps and you may find that person that explains it in just the right way for you. I found that sometimes when I would watch another video I would start second guessing myself about the skill or stitch I thought I had, other times it was effective. I different camera angle or set of instructions would solidify my thinking.

A personal learning network is a must for learning new skills especially when you don’t have that ‘expert’ teacher in the room with you. Other people hold a vast amount of knowledge that you can tap into. Even if you do have a teacher, they don’t know everything (I can say this because I am one)! There is much to be learnt from others and many ways of finding that knowledge. The community where we live and online community holds an abundance of knowledge and offers diverse perspectives.

Although learning to crochet had its ups and downs, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. It gave me the opportunity to learn something I had always wanted to do, but thought I never had the time or resources to do. I will definitely try to work an open curriculum, learn anything you want component into my classes.

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Photo Credit: thelavenderchair.com
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The results are in…

The results are in from my poll on what I should crochet next…a toque for my baby was the winner! I was excited to make this because it will be something I will actually use. I won’t be using it for long as the weather is warming up, but that’s ok. I found a video from one of my favourite YouTubers – Expression Fiber Arts. A triple or treble crochet stitch was used to make the toque. I had never used this stitch before. It was easy to pick up as it is very similar to the double crochet stitch.

I had bought some new yarn for this project. It was of weight 3 which I had never used before. The label suggested a size G hook, luckily I had one of those. I did the first round or row of the hat, but found the yarn very difficult to use. I tried some different yarn (weight 4) which used an H hook and had much better luck. I decided I would go with the thicker yarn this time. Because you are crocheting all stitches into the slipknot, you want to leave the loop quite big. After finishing the first round you’re supposed to pull the tail end of the yarn to tighten up the hole in the middle of the hat that you put all your stitches into. I, apparently, made my slip stitch wrong because it wouldn’t tighten to close the hole. Now, normally it wouldn’t matter if the working end or the tail end tightened up your slip knot, but in this case it does.

 

Photo Credit: crochetguru.com

After looking at other ways to make a slip knot, I finally got one that worked the way I needed it to. So, after crocheting the first round three times, I could finally move onto the second! For the second round you need to work two triple crochets into every stitch from the previous round. I was a little apprehensive about this because it was new to me, but it wasn’t difficult at all.  

I had seen this on other patterns I had read and it sounded difficult and I wasn’t sure how it worked. Turns out, it isn’t difficult at all. Those patterns will no longer intimidate me! The rest of the hat went pretty quickly.

My finished product isn’t near as good as Chandi’s, but it is a start. I mean, my little girl does look adorable! I probably could have crocheted one my round. She’s just getting so big. Part way through I started trying to make my triple crochets quite tight in hopes that the spaces in between would be less, but it only made them bigger. Anyone have advice on how to make the toque a little more tight knit and therefore better at blocking out the wind? The next time I make a toque I think I’ll try a different stitch, maybe that will help.

Now, what will I make next…

Building My Crochet Personal Learning Network

When learning a new skill or just having a genuine interest in something work or pleasure related, having a personal learning network can be helpful. It allows you access to global learning communities and expertise, a place to discuss with others and ask questions, and many sources of information and knowledge.

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Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com

YouTube
In starting to build my crochet personal learning network I subscribed to a few YouTube Channels of the crocheters I watched most often. From here, I found there Facebook pages and blogs which I joined and followed. My favourite YouTubers so far are Crochet Guru, Expression Fiber Arts, and Made With Love By Glama. Glama even responded to a question I asked after one of her videos.

Twitter
To find crocheters on Twitter to follow, I initially used Feedly. This, however, was probably not the best way. Most of the crocheters I followed from here were just posting pictures of items they were selling on Etsy. I had to unfollow some of them because my entire feed was filled with the same pictures over and over again. After this fail, I used the Twitter hashtag #crochet to find other crocheters. This has worked out much better.

Facebook
I have joined a couple of Facebook crochet groups. I like these because people share things they have crocheted so you can pick up ideas. My favourite thing is that you can ask questions and many people could answer you. None of my questions got answered, but I will keep trying!

social network

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Blogs
Blogs/blogging is a great way to expand your PLN. Clearly, I am blogging about learning to crochet and I have asked questions and posted resources to connect with other crocheters. I also subscribe to other blogs. I can ask questions, see tutorials, get free patterns, etc. by reading other people’s blogs.

Feedly
Feedly is a great place to get all my crochet content in one place. Here I can add my favourite blogs and sites to see what’s new in the world of crochet.

Apps
I only have a couple crochet apps (check out this post to see which ones). Of those, the AllFreeCrochet.com app links you to a ton of different crochet articles. These are usually from people’s blogs, so it is another way to connect with fellow crocheters. Crochet For Beginners also allows you to connect through Facebook and to other people’s blogs.

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Photo credit: mashable.com

Pinterest
I love Pinterest and it has been my go to place to find crochet. I already have 63 pins on my crocheting board! You can also follow other people with your similar interests to see what they are pinning.

Face-to-Face
Just because you’re learning a skill online, doesn’t mean you can’t meet up with someone and have a face-to-face conversation. I happened to mention to my neighbour that I was learning to crochet and he told me his mom is a really good crocheter. Now when I get stuck on something, I can meet up with her for help.

Decide My Next Crochet Project

This week I decided to tackle the double crochet stitch. It is quite similar to the half double crochet so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to learn. While I was making notes on cue cards to help me remember how to do the single and half double crochet stitches, I did this one too. I used the Crochet Guru’s site to make my notes. Reading directions and looking at pictures to learn stitches is new for me as I usually just watch video to learn. After practicing the stitch, I did watch a video as well, just to make sure I was doing it correctly.

The video used the stitch to make a headband. I was quite excited to make this; it was a project I had been wanting to do, so it worked out perfectly.

Now, in the video, she starts the rows differently from the directions I had read. Usually to get to a new row, you chain a certain number of stitches to get the height needed to perform that stitch. For a single crochet you chain one, half double – chain two, and double – chain three. Instead of chaining three, she just turned her work and started to double crochet into her last stitch of the previous row. I decided I would stick to what I had already learned and explore her directions a little later.

Here is a video of the double crochet stitch.

This stitch seems to go pretty fast, and once I got the hang of it, it went well.That is not to say that I didn’t have to rip it apart and redo a couple times. I find that when I don’t do it for a couple days, or even a night, it is a bit of a relearning process and trying to remember exactly what I need to do. My cue cards help with this but reading directions about something doesn’t always translate perfectly to performing those directions. I made sure to count my stitches after every row to avoid losing or gaining stitches. In the video she made a thinner headband, about eight stitches across. I wanted to be able to wear mine when it was chilly outside, so I increased the number of stitches so it would cover my ears and then some. I guess it is more of an ear warmer headband than a hair accessory headband.

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This picture shows headband before joining the ends. I joined the ends and weaved in my yarn ends. Then I turned the headband inside out and voila!

I should have made one less row. It would fit perfectly if it was slightly tighter. After completing my headband I practiced the double crochet stitch without chaining to get to the next row as was described in the video. I like it, but I didn’t love the way it looked. I’m sure if I practiced I could get a more polished look. I will definitely consider doing it this way the next time I use this stitch.

For my next project, I want you to help me decide what to make.

 

Flower Photo Credit        iPhone Case Photo Credit  Boot Cuff Photo Credit     Infant Hat Photo Credit

 

 

There’s an App for That

When beginning to learn to crochet, I didn’t even consider searching for an app that would help me. I didn’t think there would be any. I was wrong. There is an app for everything. Very few apps had any ratings so I didn’t really know what I was going to get. I looked at four apps for crocheting. Two were free and two I paid for. Here’s my review…

Crochet 101 – New Beginner’s Guide – Cost: $2.39

Photo Credit
crochet 101This app is poorly organized and jumps all over the map. There is a menu section that includes titles such as Learning Basic Crochet Patterns (I didn’t find this section very helpful at all. I knew most of these stitches, but if I was just learning them it would be very inadequate) to How to Crochet a Cat Hat (not very high on my priority list). There were three sections to do with the Treble Stitch and none of them explained how to treble stitch into the foundation chain. There is also a video section, which is pretty sparse. To me, it isn’t in a logical order and goes from how to single and double crochet to making a beanie. That seems like a big jump to me in terms of the skill level. The videos are also all available on YouTube for free. The videos that were selected aren’t necessarily the best ones available either. For example, the angle and distance from the camera in the video on single and double crochet stitches would make it very difficult to learn from.

Again, this app is unorganized and poorly laid out. I would suggest you don’t waste your money and give it a thumbs down. You can get everything in this app for free on the internet  and the written tutorials I’ve see on the web are much better.

AllFreeCrochet.com – Cost: Free

         Photo Credit
allfreecrochetThis app brings you to a very large list of articles, most of which offer free patterns, link to crocheter’s blogs (these usually have many free patterns as well), or share information on different types of yarn.

You can browse if you are looking for something specific like an afghan or hat, or if you’re looking to                                                   crochet something for a baby or child.

I think for a free app you can’t go wrong with this one! I’ll keep it on my phone.

iCrochet – Cost: Free

Photo Credit
icrochetThis is actually an app to get the monthly magazine subscription on your device, but it does give 10 free magazines. I skimmed the first two issues and they weren’t half bad. They have articles on different types of stitches, crocheting different pieces such as a scarf, essential crochet tips, linguistics of crochet, crochet supplies, etc. It even includes links to videos                                                 the author thinks are very helpful.

Crochet for Beginners – Learn to Crochet – Cost: $1.39

Photo Credit
learn to crochetThis app has 5 sections:
Home – this sections list all the How to’s for stitches and projects.
Book – a book suggestion for learning to crochet
Facebook link to a group I will be joining!
Blog – blog posts from crafty bloggers and links to their sites
                                              More – currently just has the Wikipedia definition of                                              crochet

The ‘Home’ section has many tutorials for learning all the basics you need to know to crochet like making a slip knot and stitches such as single and double crochet. It also includes tutorials on more complicated stitches like spike and butterfly and how to’s for making projects like a sweater or blanket. All tutorials link to approximately 10 or more videos. This is great because if you don’t like one or the way they are explaining things isn’t getting through to you, there’s another one to watch. As I’ve said before, I prefer to learn from videos so this app is helpful to me. I do think this section isn’t as organized as well it could be. It isn’t in alphabetical order, or separated into stitches and projects. All in all, I would recommend this app and will personally use it to continue on my crochet journey!

Correcting Crochet Mistakes

When I began the half double crochet stitch, I was worried I would forget the single crochet stitch. I went back and practiced it a little to solidify it in my mind. I still have more stitches to learn and the chances of them getting all jumbled in my ‘baby brain’ is quite probable! The solution I came up with to rectify this possible kerfuffle is to make brief notes about each stitch on cue cards. That way I can quickly and easily refresh my memory when switching stitches.

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At this point I wanted to make sure that I was counting stitches properly and inserting my hook into the the correct stitch for the different stitches. Looking at this picture it appears that I added stitches right at the start.

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I went in search of a site that would give me still pictures. The site gave me both pictures and a video. The picture of the stitches and beginning of the video helped me with counting as I had been doing it somewhat wrong.counting stitches 2

Photo credit: www.anniescatalog.com

I had the right number in my foundation chain because I would count those as I crocheted them, but once I got to the next row I wasn’t counting the loop on the hook and the stitch next to it. This means I would have an extra stitch and not know it. To verify I was inserting my hook in the right stitch at the start of a new row, I watched several YouTubes over and over again. The angle and the color of the yarn made it difficult to tell. I looked at pictures from several sites as well. Just when I think I’m doing it correctly, I look at/watch something that makes me think I not! Below I have put a video of me starting the second row using a half double crochet stitch, please leave me a comment to let me know if I’m doing it right or how I can do it correctly. Thank you in advance.

Glama responded to my question about losing and gaining stitches that I had asked after her YouTube video and her advice was to use stitch markers to mark my first and last stitch.

I got some cotton yarn, which was quite difficult for me to find because I didn’t reWool yarnally know what I was looking for, and got started on another dishcloth. This one I’ll actually be able to use! The stitch markers were quite helpful because I found that it was more difficult to distinguish which was my first stitch with the cotton yarn. That made counting stitches challenging and I was never sure if the number I came up with was correct. Even with using the stitch markers, I managed to screw up at one part. Hopefully when I figure out how to edge properly it will hide this mistake somewhat.

cotton dishcloth

On the subject of edging, I asked on Glama’s Facebook page if anyone had any tips or knew of any good tutorials for edging. I have two Likes, but I’m still waiting for a response. Through Pinterest I found another article on edging, but it still didn’t make sense to me. Can anyone help me?

Wash This!

To date I’ve learned the chain stitch, single crochet stitch, and half double crochet stitch. I have made a coaster and a cup koozie. I quite enjoy crocheting once I figure out a stitch and get going. I actually get kind of addicted to it and find it hard to put down. I think I am improving and getting faster at it.

For my next project I thought I should try reading a pattern to make a dishcloth. Through Pinterest I found a pattern that claimed to be easy and for beginners. A pattern abbreviates the stitches:

CH – Chain
HDC – Half Double Crochet
SC – Single Crochet

This pattern used all these stitches. I had to use a different hook than I had been — a J hook. The J hook is quite a bit bigger than the H hook that I was used to. It took some adjustment, but once I became accustomed to it, I think I like it better. The pattern called for cotton yarn. I was at my in-laws farm and only had the acrylic yarn that I originally purchased.  I didn’t want to wait till we returned to the city to get started on this so I just went with the yarn I had. I promise I’ll get some new yarn soon so I’ll my projects won’t be hot pink! I’m not sure I could actually use this as a dishcloth and put it in water, but I thought the practice would do me good.

The pattern was laid out well. It first listed the materials I would need. Then it explained the abbreviations, and finally it got into the pattern instructions. The pattern explains what to do by rows. This pattern is pretty basic so the first part wasn’t difficult to understand or do. The chain stitch, the foundation of every project (or at least all the ones I’ve done so far), doesn’t count as row 1. It is included in the instructions so that you know how big to make your project. Rows 2 – 20 were all the same, the half double crochet stitch. I was good up until this point. Then came the edging instructions. Here’s where I got lost. The edging called for a single crochet stitch all around the outside of the dishcloth. This was easy to do on the first side, but after that I really had no idea. The sides of the cloth don’t look anything like the edge I was used to working on. I didn’t really know where to insert the hook and make my stitches. I decided just to go for it. Sometimes you need to learn by trial and error.

The site where I got the pattern from tried to explain the edging because she too, had no clue how to crochet into the sides of the half double crochet stitch. She had a way to mark it with yarn, but I didn’t understand. I will have to do a bit more research and reach out to my PLN for help. The edging also ended with a slip stitch, which I thought was the way I had ended my other projects, but it didn’t look right . I will need to learn that stitch too to finish this dishcloth properly.

wool dishcloth

All in all, it didn’t turn out too badly, but there is definitely room for improvement. Learn from your mistakes, try try again, practice makes perfect. I’ll just keep repeating these in my head to keep myself from getting discouraged! I wonder if students get sick of hearing these phrases when they are trying to learn a new skill or concept.

This was a pretty simple pattern so I didn’t have trouble following it. Other ones I have seen look like greek to me. I guess it was at my level and as I improve I’m hoping the other patterns won’t appear so daunting. I came across this site for understanding patterns. I think it will be quite helpful in the future. So far prefer to learn from YouTube videos, especially when learning a completely new stitch, although it does have its limitations.