Teaching Others to Crochet - or Self-Taught

suse17January 16, 2006

I have been asked by some of my co-workers to teach them to crochet during our lunch hour. I am more than happy to do this, but I think I need a guide or reference material to work from. I found numerous sites on-line while searching under "Learn to Crochet" and a few under "Teaching Crochet."

Anyone have experience teaching crochet? Did you use any type of reference or handout? Anything you can particularly recommend using (or staying away from)?. Any helpful hints? I'll have a class of around 6, I think.

Or, maybe you learned on your own from a book or on-line site. What works?

Thanks for your input!


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I learned from a book by myself. I taught a 9-year-old boy to crochet a year or so ago. His main problem was just clumsiness which would fix itself with practice.

It's important to know what the stitch looks like, to see and understand the parts.

It might help if you picked up a book so then when you are helping one person, the others could look in the book instead of just sitting and waiting. That way they get two kinds of teaching...from the book, and hands-on.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 10:02AM
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I've taught hundreds to crochet as a Master Crocheter. If you check with your County Extension Office, they may have have sheets that show all the stitches, and that's nice to have everyone using the same information. You can probably get these free from the Extension Office. Get instruction sheets for both left and right hand crocheting if they have them.

- Never use black, dark brown, or navy yarn for learning with. It's just very difficult to see to count stitches on dark yarn. I'd also avoid variegated or hombre yarns where the colors change.

- Get a package of bobbypins and give several to each person you are teaching. They are a great tool to slip into a long chain of stitches as a temporary marker to make counting a little easier. Counting correctly is one of the more difficult things for beginners. Have them make a short chain and a long chain to practice counting stitches.

- Use worsted-weight yarn and a G hook for beginners. It's easy to see.

- I did a lot of training about yarn/thread used for crocheting. It takes just as much time and effort to crochet something out of cheap crappy yarn (meant for crafts, not fine clothes) as it does out of a higher-priced, higher-quality yarn; and the item made with the quality yarn will become an heirloom.

- A lot of mistakes are made by not understanding yarn count, ply, twist, etc. People often mistakenly ask for 3-ply yarn when they really mean worsted weight. Any yarn can be 3-ply (sport, baby, bulky, etc.) - three plys of yarn twisted together to form one yarn.

- Learn how to read a yarn label. There's a lot of information there. Yarn is usually sold by weight. The darker the yarn, the less yarn there will be per skein because all the dye adds to the weight more than a light color. You may need an extra skein of yarn if you use dark yarns.

- For each project it helps to make a gauge swatch so you can gauge any changes that may be necessary because some people crochet loose and some tight. Teach how to make a gauge swatch and how to measure their stitches.

- Tools of the trade. I had examples of:
* single ended hooks (those most commonly used)
* Afghan hooks (which are used for cro-hooking and have a hook on both ends and generally 14" long)
* Sizing systems - usually a paper chart, or plastic templet for gauging sized of crochet hooks
* Stitch markers (various types)
* Yarn bobbins (used in multi-colored crocheting)
* Yarn needles (used to sew pieces together)
* ETC....

- Go over crochet abbreviations, symbols, and terms that are found in commercial patterns. You'll find some people will learn better off a chart than they do written instructions. Teach them how to use both types of instructions.

- Holding the Hook, there are two options for holding a hook, like a pencil or like in grip style (like you would hold a knitting needle - either are fine to use.

- Slip knot - you'll be surprised how many people have difficulty with this.

- Holding the Yarn

- Chain Stitch (foundation chain)

- Once you've started teaching the stitches, it's important to show them what is the front loop and the back loop on every stitch they make, and what the post is on the longer stitches.

I once had a person who was taught to crochet by making a baby afghan where they worked only in the back loop and that's how she thought everything should be crocheted. She brought me the back piece of her first sweater to try and figure out why it was WAAAAAAY longer than it should be and it was because she was only picking up the back loop, not both loops on the stitch.

- Go through the basic stitches, teach them how to turn a row, and how to finish off ends. How to connect yarn (never in the middle of a piece, and never using knots). Increasing and decreasing, working in rounds, seaming... I even taught different finishes for edges, including backwards crochet.

- If you teach the afghan stitch (yuck!!!!) they usually embroider X stitches on it. When done correctly, the stitches should NOT show on the back of the afghan. Can you tell I've judged at the fair?

- You may want to also teach them how to make a few simple motifs like a granny square, and others where they will use several different stitches. It's nice to know how to work in a circle.

I taught myself how to crochet left-handed so I could accurately show left-handers how to crochet and that was a huge eye-opener.

I hope that gives you a guide for some structure to your lessons. It's a great thing you're doing and there are fewer of us willing to show others. Most of all, have FUN!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 2:25PM
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Excellent advice here. I have taught daughter, teen moms and friends how to crochet. Do not give them too much information at first--they panic and quit. Be sure that they hold the yarn and hook correctly from the first --otherwise their stitching will take so much time that they will quit, or their tension will be very uneven. Assure them that the most difficulty we all had is with making the hands feel comfortable, as opposed to awkward, as we stitch.

I start teach the slip knot and have them make a long chain. Then we rip that out and make a sampler of the chain and sc stitch and learn to count while we are at it--chain 31, turn and sc in each stitch--30 sc. Ch 1 to turn, and do 30 more. That may be all you want to do the first day, givng them homework to make a square of sc's and always counting to be sure they have 30 in each row. Then when they have mastered the sc, give them all the printed material and teach the hdc, dc, trc, sl st, and have them do several rows of each. Then show how to increase and decrease. Now they are ready to start a pattern.

Find something simple that will make up fast using just a couple of the stitches--maybe a scarf using dc, sc, and ch. Or baby booties. Give them a pattern for the project and insist that they learn to read a pattern. After that they can do anything.

One of the hardest things for them to learn is to rip out if they make a mistake. They all seem to want to just keep going. They think that experienced crocheters never rip out, so you have to make them comfortable with it.

You can also teach them how to do the Russian join, and how to finish a piece. I prefer the steel yarn needles, which are so much easier to use than the plastic ones for sewing ends into the work. I also like to teach with worsted in a light color, but I like to use an H or I hook.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 4:14PM
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Socks, thanks for your answer. I think I download and print some of the illustrations I've found.

Grainlady - WOW! A plethora of info. You're message will be a wonderful reference for me.

Sheilajoyce - Excellent suggestions. I think limiting the lessons to one or two pieces of technique is a great idea. I also like using an H or I hook.

It looks as though I have to brush up on reading a chart. Haven't used one for a while!

Thanks, everyone. Anyone have any specific books or sites they really like? I heard that "Teach Yourself to Crochet in One Day" (or something like that) is supposed to be a good resource. Anyone familiar with that volume, or any other book or site?


    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 4:26PM
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Lots of pattern books have great basic instructions. stitchguide.com is a good resource. Lots of books at the local craft and yarn shops teach the basics and illustrate them well.

I remind my students that poor villagers today and in the past with no running water, electricity or education can crochet well, and so can they. It is not rocket science.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 7:10PM
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Wow, you have a lot of great advice here!

I'm sure there are lots of wonderful books to use in learning to crochet, but I did use "Learn to Crochet in Just One Day" by Jean Leinhauser (American School of Needlework). I think it is well done with little numbers by the stitches and arrows showing where the hook should go. You might check Amazon for that.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 7:46PM
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A real live teacher in person would have been wonderful, I would have avoided a simple mistake. I taught myself from a book that had very basic instructions. My ex was stationed in Texas and I could only talk to my MIL on the phone. I make an afghan with 3-D flowere out of wool worsted. Had a terrible time but MIL said it could be done so I kept working at it. Found out once we were back home what the problem was. I had used a steel hook instead of aluminum.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 8:50PM
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Glassquilt: What is wrong with a steel hook? What did it do to your project? Hope others are wondering also, or is it just me? :-) Robin

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 5:08PM
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A steel hook is a silvery colored very thin hook for use with crochet thread. They are sized by numbers. The larger crochet hooks are sized by letters and meant to be used with yarns. Worsted yarn is several times thicker than crochet thread. So she would not have been able to get a good grasp on the yarn with her thin hook to pull the yarn through loops of stitches. Kind of like trying to put thick yarn through a sewing needle's eye.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 3:10AM
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self taught

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 5:49PM
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I still have my green plastic hook that I learned with when a little girl. Mom taught me when I was about 8.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 7:26AM
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Well, I tought my first classes - and they went very well, thanks to all the fine advise I received here, and some suggestions I found on some teaching sites.

I had the student (two people each class) purchase one skein of basic worsted weignt yarn in a light to medium color, and a size I hook in a contrasting color so they could easily see what they were doing.

I went by the theory that crocheting into a foundation chain is lots tougher than crocheting into a swatch with a couple of inches of single crochet already made. So, I started a swatch for each with about 16 stitches, and did about 2 inches of single crochet. Then I showed them how to do a single crochet and they each did about 10 rows, counting and turning. Then we did double crochet for several rows, and I finished by showing them how to do half-double and how to turn it.

Their homework was to do at least 6" of work, any assortment they chose of single, half-double and double, doing at least two rows of each one after the other, and maintaining their stitch count as they worked. They did just fine, though I can see that their is one woman with real talent, and one who struggles, and the other two are right in the middle.

We'll hold our next classes once I am back in the office fulltime again - a broken leg and messed-up knee has me working from home for a bit. For my next class, we'll do triple crochet, and the dreaded chain and begin a scarf.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 11:52PM
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Don't forget the slip stitch, which makes a nice edge. You might want to show how to increase and decrease too. And use a pattern for their first project and teach them how to read it. So copy a simple pattern for the scarf and help them read and crochet according to the instructions.

Hope you mend quickly.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 3:19AM
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As a brand new crocheter, one word of advice I would have to your students...stay away from lion brand homespun. I found it very difficult to use as a beginner. I found boucle very easy to work with.

Good luck with your students! I have made quite a few scarves and I am now on to making a shawl...yippee for me :)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 7:40AM
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Sheilajoyce, the slipstitch should definitely be on the list, as will be increasing and decreasing. I actually crocheted a very peculiar-looking item - looked something like a necktie, where I made a scarf-like thing with first decreases and then increases so it became kind of hour-glass shaped. I used blocks of different stitches so it was easy to show the students what they should be getting as results of their own work, at least, eventually. I forgot the slip stitch, though!

mrjdolfan - That homespun was a pain in the neck for me, too. I recently finished a poncho in it, and don't think I will ever use it again, though the colors and feel are wonderful. But it is not fun!

Does anyone have a good pattern for a scarf that uses plain worsted - actually, two colors would be great - something else I want to show them how to do is change color properly. I'm looking for a patterns that uses a few different simple stitches. Then, welll learn shells and other combinations, circular crochet, and by then, they should be on their own.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 2:39PM
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