After my recent introduction class at The Make Lounge, I had been struggling a bit trying to get to grips with crochet on my own. I looked around for some classes which were a bit more in-depth, and while shopping for crochet supplies, I found a 3-class Beginners Crochet course at Loop in Islington. I was lucky to nap the last spot in a class starting on the 19th February. Loop is a lovely little knitting & crochet shop in Camden Passage - the sort of place that is lethal for your wallet. The staff there are really sweet and helpful, and though they don't have the largest stock of wool in the world, they have a beautifully curated selection. The classes at Loop are held in the basement where they have a nice room which comfortably seated the six students and our teacher Jemima. For our first class we learned the basics - making a slip stitch, holding the yarn, creating a foundation chain, and how to do double crochet and treble crochet stitches. We also did turning chains, and spent most of the class just trying to do neat, even rows of stitches. Not that simple when your left hand doesn't want to comply, and you're not used to counting stitches.
The great thing about crochet is that it's pretty easy to pull out the stitches if you make a mistake! And luckily there was plenty of tea and biscuits available for sustenance.
At the end of the first class Jemima told us to practice, practice, practice. She promised that it would get easier. I took it pretty seriously and I practiced for at least half an hour every day, just randomly stitches rows of different types of stitches. And suddenly, my left hand seemed to know what I wanted it to do, and holding the hook started to feel more natural. Yippee!
A week later at our second class, we learned about increasing and decreasing stitches, doing slip stitches, and we started making a simple granny square. This was also our introduction to following crochet patterns, which at first seem to be a boggle of obscure abbreviations. Making a granny is really satisfying as you end up with something which looks complete in a relatively short period of time - it's easy to see why they are an enduring crochet favourite.
By the end of the second class, I was feeling bold and decided to try a simple project of my own at home. I picked a simple narrow spiral scarf design that I found in a magazine, and managed to complete it in a couple of nights in front of the telly. Progress at last!
For our final class Jemima had encouraged us to bring in patterns that we were interested in doing, or questions we had about how to read patterns that we'd seen. I brought in my scarf and she showed me the proper way to finish up. I also brought a
granny square that I'd started at home to finish. We also learned how to work in a circle, talked a bit about tension, hook sizes, making swatches and how to read a crochet chart. Charts are awesome - one of the books I bought has them and they are genius for demystifying written pattern instructions. Apparently the use of charts for crochet is fairly new, and you need some heavy-duty software (like Illustrator) to create them. Hopefully some bright spark will devise a free/cheap app to create them soon, because I do find them dead useful.
All five of the other ladies in the class seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, and we encouraged Jemima to run an "Improver's Crochet" class where we could build our skills.
I have already started a simple project from a book by Erika Knight called Crochet Workshop, as well as working on more granny squares, and planning my next six projects.
I've also joined Ravelry, which is a great social networking site for knitters and crocheters - you can keep notebooks for your stash, patterns, projects etc, and check out lots of patterns (including loads of free ones), and see what other people are making.
I can see that buying wool could easily become as addictive as buying embroidery threads! And I'm really loving doing the crochet, so how I'm going to fit all my embroidery, crochet, sewing, cross-stitch, quilting etc into my precious spare time is going to be a bit of a problem........ ! Plus finding the time to write blog posts about it? I'm going to have to give up the day job, it's clear.