A Beginner’s Guide to Crochet

I started to learn to crochet about 2 years ago.  Was never as good at it as I was knitting so found it a real struggle.  Recently something just seemed to click and in the last few weeks I have really been ‘hooked’.  I have been flying with my crochet skills and making all sorts of things from my own patterns and designs – a point I never thought I would get to.

This week I have written down and released for sale my first crochet pattern and it is ideal for beginners.  So if you have always wanted to learn to crochet but didn’t know where to start I have the ideal project for you!

I designed this crochet scarf for my Etsy shop.  I started with a very dark green, then changed to a mid-green and a light green.  Finally I finished off with white as a contrast.  The thickness of the stripe changes to give it more interest than your average stripy scarf.

My crochet scarf available in my Etsy shop

Click to visit the scarf listing in my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I absolutely loved making it and the finished item and so immediately started making one in pink.

Variegated scarf in pink

Variegated scarf in pink can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am currently working on a brown version and have ordered yarn to make it in blue and black/grey.  But I enjoyed it so much I decided to write down the pattern and offer it for sale in my Etsy shop.

I started by writing the pattern itself which was little more difficult than I had anticipated.  I had it all in my head but getting it down in words that real humans will understand was another matter entirely.  Eventually I was happy and decided that because the pattern is ideal for beginners I would add a guide on how to crochet with it.  When you purchase the pattern via download in my Etsy shop you will also receive the crochet guide with it.

The variegated scarf pattern is for sale here.

The variegated scarf pattern is for sale here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I set about taking some photos first.  This was a little tricky being in the house on my own, needing two hands to crochet and another to hold the camera.  Some of the photos turned out interesting to say the least, but eventually I had what I needed.

I started with how to hold the hook, making a slip knot and a foundation chain.

The Pencil Method of holding a crochet hook.

The Pencil Method of holding a crochet hook

A foundation chain.

A foundation chain.

 

How to make a slip knot.

How to make a slip knot.

 

I then moved on to the two stitches which are used in the scarf pattern, double crochet and treble crochet.

Working a double crochet (dc).

Working a double crochet (dc).

A finished sample of dc.

A finished sample of dc.

 

Working a treble crochet (tr)

Working a treble crochet (tr)

A finished sample of tr.

A finished sample of tr.

 

 

Hopefully it will be of use to someone who has never tried to crochet before and a good supplement to my pattern.  Of course there are some people who prefer to learn by watching and You Tube has lots of fantastic videos which are ideal for the beginner.   This video is good, taking you right from the beginning holding the yarn and hook.

If you would like a free copy of my beginners guide to crochet then you can download it here for free! Beginner Crochet Guide

 

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Quilting Fever

Earlier in the year for my birthday present my husband paid for a quilting course for me.  It was for two and half hours per week for six weeks at Leven Crafts.  There were 6 of us starting the course on that Monday morning in March and we couldn’t wait to get going!

Charlotte, Tessa and me on our first morning.  We were going to be making the quilt on the right.

Charlotte, Tessa and me on our first morning. We were going to be making the quilt on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started out being shown how to accurately measure and cut the pieces of material we would need.  I am a knitter and crocheter at heart and am used to being able to start again if I make a mistake without having ruined my materials.  Cutting was a whole new ball game and I developed a bit of a phobia about it.  I was incredibly slow and nervous every time I had to pick up the rotary cutter.

Essential kit is a good quality rotary cutter and the biggest ruler and cutting board you can afford.

Essential kit is a good quality rotary cutter and the biggest ruler and cutting board you can afford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are going to be taking up quilting there are three bits of essential kit you will need to invest in.  A self-healing mat, a ruler and a rotary cutter.  The mat and cutter should be the biggest that you can afford.  The first ruler I bought was far too small so I had to keep folding my material making it harder and less accurate to cut.  In the end I bought a bigger one but they are very expensive and it is best to get this right first time.  The same with the mat, as you don’t want to keep having to move your material up – it may lead to mistakes.  The rotary cutter I have requires you to press in a button on the handle to bring the blade out.  This is a brilliant safety tool as it means when you place it back down the blade will go back away.  They are so sharp you really don’t want to be having any accidents with them.

Two 9 patch with 2 plain squares make a block.

Two 9 patch with 2 plain squares make a block.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first block we constructed was a called a 9 patch as it consisted of 9 small squares.  Two of these placed together with two large plain squares and we had our first block!  The quilt used four of these blocks with the 9 patch pattern all pointing towards the centre of the quilt.  The middle two blocks were windmill style and look really effective.

One of the middle blocks.

One of the middle blocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we had all the blocks it was time to put them together to construct the front of the quilt.  The best tip I picked up on the course was ‘snuggling’.  When pinning ready to sew blocks together it is important to make sure the joins are lined up correctly or it will not look good when you open it back out.  Looking at the block above the top two square were sewn together and the bottom two were.  When putting them together in a complete block you had to ensure that the corners of the pink squares lined up exactly.  You achieve this by pushing the joins together as if they were snuggling up.  The edges lining up is not important as you can trim the size of the complete block at the end.  The joins MUST be accurate.

All of the blocks were joined together by placing sashing in-between them.  I chose a bright pink for mine.  It was going to be given to my daughter and the colour would match her bedroom perfectly.

Adding the sashing between blocks.

Adding the sashing between blocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we had the wadding and backing materials cut to the correct size it was time to put them together.  There are various ways of holding the layers together whilst you quilt.  You can pin or baste.  Both methods are a little time consuming and will require removal at the end.  We used an adhesive spray instead.  It was called 505 and you spray it onto the wadding because although it is safe to use with your material it may stain if sprayed on directly.

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All three layers together ready for binding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found the quilting very hard work on my arms.  There was just so much material to try and manoeuvre through the sewing machine.

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The back of the quilt shows the quilting pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once it was all quilted together the final stage and the final week had finally arrived.  I seemed to be much slower than the other people on the course and after every session I always left with homework to complete so I could start the next session at the same point as everyone else.  We all arrived with our almost finished quilts and it was fabulous to see how far we had all come.  And of course despite the fact that we were all following the same basic pattern our quilts were amazingly different.

Ruth showed us how to make a long strip of material the same colour as our sashing and then machine sew it onto the front of the quilts.  I must say this was the part of making my quilt that I liked the least.  I don’t know why because I had to be just as accurate when I was quilting the layers together.  I found mitring the corners a little tricky but I was able to get the binding sewn all the way round on the front just a little late for the end of the final session.

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The finished quilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again I was sent home with some homework, but so did everyone else.  We were to sew an invisible hem by hand all the way around the quilt to attach the binding to the back.  It took me a whole afternoon and evening in front of the TV to complete this task but it was worth it in the end.

The quilt looked beautiful.

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The binding looked good and was worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as it was going to be for my daughter I decided to add a tag documenting when it was made and who by.  Now it can be an heirloom piece!

The tag I added.

The tag I added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The quilt matches perfectly and was an instant hit!

The quilt matches perfectly and was an instant hit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next quilt is going to be for my son.  He picked out the material himself and it is red with skull themed!

Leven Crafts is based in Guisborough and offer a range of quilting courses.  The one I did was the 6 week beginners course.  They also offer day workshops and sessions where you can bring your own projects and they are on hand to help you if you need them.