What happens in my classes? 9 key points!

I really enjoy teaching craft: knitting, crochet, hand embroidery and tatting (which is lace made with a shuttle, nothing to do with tattoos!).

In my classes, you will learn a new skill and have fun — you are there to enjoy yourself!

So, what happens in my classes? This blog post will give you an idea of what to expect…

Forget me not class
Tunisian crochet class

1. At the beginning…

Before a class begins, I always ask if there is anything in particular that individuals want to learn, or if there is a particular project they have in mind.

Of course, there is a plan for each class that I run, but I like to cover any specific areas of interest — which may be different each time — to ensure that any questions are answered, and that what I include is relevant to the people attending. There might be a question about crochet flowers or how to turn the heel of a sock, for example. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that their particular question hadn’t been addressed.

This applies whether the classes are online or in person.

2.​ Notes

It’s always useful to take notes to keep as a reminder of what was discussed during the class. I provide handouts that give useful information, such as the symbols and abbreviations used in knitting and crochet patterns so that you can follow patterns that you would like to make whether they are online or from magazines or books.

Crochet notes

You know those “back of envelope” calculations…? Here’s a quick note on a paper serviette I made when meeting someone for lunch and the topic of crochet stitches was raised!

UK US crochet terms

Did you know that US and UK patterns use different terms? A double crochet stitch means something different depending which side of the Atlantic your pattern originated! Never fear, in my classes you’ll get a “phrase book” so you’ll be able to follow the instructions whichever format is used.

Example stitches

3. Examples 

When you are learning, you need an idea of what the finished item should look like, so I provide samples so you can see how different stitches appear.

Don’t worry if your work doesn’t seem even at your first attempts; practice improves tension and technique!  There’s also the advantage of learning what stitches look like as you progress — that way, you’ll be able to identify and correct any problems as you progress! During my classes you’ll be making samples of your own to demonstrate your new skills.

 

 

4. Demonstrations 

I’ll give a demonstration of whichever stitch we are focussing on, and I’m happy to demonstrate several times until people feel they have “got it”.

Next, I like for us to work the stitches together, so that it’s possible to see what it looks like and feels like when you are creating the stitches yourself. Again, we can do this several times, or go back to the demonstration if that’s requested.

The third phase is trying it for yourself! It’s a step-by-step process I use in my classes.

knitting example
working crochet
Hand knitting
fluffy variegated yarn
Very thick yarn

5. Knitting

In a knitting class with me, we’ll start with the basic equipment and materials — knitting needles and yarn. I recommend starting with a light coloured yarn as it is easier to see the stitches.  This is a bonus when counting rows and stitches.

It’s also a good idea to begin with a plain yarn in DK (double knitting weight). A fancy yarn, such as mohair or other fluffy yarn, might look attractive, but it can be troublesome to undo stitches, so that can be disheartening if you need to correct an error.

Finer weight yarn can be demotivating to use as it takes longer to see results as the work grows slowly. Chunky yarn can be awkward when learning the stitches, unless you want to try arm knitting!

6. Crochet

In a crochet class, as with knitting, I recommend a pale coloured smooth DK yarn to start. Once you can pull yarn through a loop, you can crochet! Different stitches are a variation of winding the yarn round the hook, and pulling the yarn through one or more loops on the hook to create a fabric that can either be firm and dense or light and lacy!

I start by ensuring that the basis of crochet — making a chain — is mastered before moving on to the most frequently used stitches: double crochet and trebles, and then looking at other variations (half-trebles, double trebles…). Just to confuse things, the UK double crochet is known as single crochet in the USA, and the UK trebles the same as the USA double crochet! Luckily, we can use diagrams to show what the pattern looks like when it has been made, as well as clarifying which stitch is being used. Here are the standard international crochet symbols as shown on the DMC website.

Crochet
DMC Crochet Symbols
Tatted motif

7. Tatting

Tatting is a form of lace made with a shuttle, rather than bobbins. The main stitch is double stitch (made in two parts, hence the name).

Although tatting looks delicate, it is hardwearing and can be used to make lacy collars and edgings, or table runners and place mats.

8. Embroidery 

Embroidery allows fabrics (whether knitted, crocheted or woven) to be decorated and embellished.  It’s even possible to embroider on paper! You can try different techniques in my classes to discover a new hobby!

Embroidery on a knitted or crocheted item could be used to suggest flowers – how about French knots for the little lavender flowers along the stem?

Lazy daisy stitch could be used for daisy flowers – the traditional white daisies, or mauve for Michaelmas daisies.

French knots also make ideal fillings for the centre of flowers, and stem stitch is idea for stems — as the name suggests!

There are so many different types of embroidery: cutwork, drawn thread work, counted cross stitch, freestyle embroidery, Hardanger, Blackwork, chicken scratch (embroidery on gingham fabric) …

The image on the right shows a sunflower that I designed and made in Hardanger. Although this technique usually uses white thread on white fabric, dramatic results can be achieved by introducing additional colours. Even traditional Blackwork was also worked in red thread!

 

French knots for lavender
Flower embroidery
Hardanger sunflower
Poppy pattern image
Crochet Poppies

9. The finished article 

When you have completed your class, not only will you have a new skill, you will have something to show for it!

Now you can hone your skills and improve your techniques by practicing and making new items as gifts or something for yourself!

Many people make items for charity; I have a policy that my charity patterns are always free (such as the Remembrance Day poppy). Read more about the significance of Remembrance Day poppies in my blog post here.

 

10. Summary

There are so many stitches and techniques to learn to give you pleasure in making something new, whether it’s a “plain” jumper, a brightly coloured “Dr Who” scarf (made famous by Tom Baker as the fourth Dr Who), textured knits, whimsical tea cosies, lacy tops, shawls, lace collars, Hardanger embroidery, blackwork embroidery… I’m sure you’ll find something to tempt you that you can enjoy making and wearing or giving as a gift! Whichever technique you’re interested in, I’ll be happy to help you hone your skills in my classes.

[Image of Tom Baker as Dr Who from the BBC website.]

Dr Who Tom Baker
Celebration bunting
Simple Leaf - 2078

11. Browse Patterns

If you are looking for some patterns to get you started, why not browse the Crafty Cavy pattern shop?

To start on your crochet journey, have a look at some easy patterns first, such as the celebration bunting design.

Another pattern that is easy but effective is the simple leaf; an ideal complement to the Remembrance poppy, but also a great design to make in autumn colours to decorate hats and scarves!

You might also be interested in joining the Crafty Cavy community, or pop along to my Crafty Cavy page, both on Facebook!

Comments, please!

What do you look for in knitting and crochet classes? Is there something in particular that  makes a lesson worthwhile for you? Please share your ideas and feedback in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

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