So two months later. Here we are and here are the certificates I received from Centre of Excellence for completing the Crochet Diploma. They took about 4 weeks and 6 weeks to arrive in Sydney from the United Kingdom.
Overall, I really really enjoyed the course. Learned a few new things and picked up some neat basic patterns for my collection. For £29 this particular course was definitely worth it. The certificates look nicer and more professional than my actual Diploma certificates in my resume portfolio folder.
I am a little suspicious of some of the other things offered by the Centre of Excellence, and the Complimentary Medical Association “accreditation” that is pretty much offered to anyone who did any of the CoE courses in anything. Reiki, angel healing, and knitting are listed right next to psychology and counselling and earn the same “CMA” designation as each other. Make your own call in regards to what you’d like to learn, how you’d like to use those skills and how local laws and regulations apply in your country.
If you’d like to have a look at the Centre of Excellence and their crochet course, click here. Keep an eye out for coupon codes on their Facebook page in the lead up to holidays such as Mother’s Day and Christmas.
Thank you to everyone who came along on this journey with me. Happy Hooking!
We’ve done it! We’ve reached the end of the course. Modules 16 and 17 are much like 14 and 15 as they focus on business skills.
Module 16: Finances & Budgeting
This module was a neat little guide on how to figure out your incoming and outgoing funds. First, there was a lesson on budgeting for your business. It takes you through business terminology and how to calculate a realistic projection. Then once you have that, how to balance your numbers at the end of the month. Next came a subject that has come up for every crocheter who has ever sold their work – pricing. It’s all well and good to pin a pricing format to our Pinterest boards but when you factor in what crochet materials actually cost and the time you spend making an item, many formulas put your prices far above the spending threshold of the customer. It usually looks a bit like this:
Cost + time = wholesale. Wholesale x 2 = retail. Retail = I’m not paying that!!!
This lesson dove deeper into that issue and discussed ways to set a fair price in a fibre arts business. Your work is worth it.
There is a good little lesson with ideas on how to find funding opportunities that are relevant to crochet and how to present a business idea to an investor. The module closed with some details about sole trader tax responsibilities in the UK. Even if you are foreign like me, you will need to pay attention to the VAT and tax explanations to pass the assessment. It is useful to know this information as well as it helps you understand other markets and what tax obligations you should be aware of in your own country.
Module 17: Business Plans
I have business qualifications and have had experience with business plans and management before and I can say this module was a great little refresher on how to write up a business plan and really drill down to your goals and strategy. I had not reviewed Liz and Lottie in a long time and writing the executive summary for the business as it stands in 2019/20 was a real eye-opener not just an assessment task.
The second part of this module was about charity projects and was really enjoyable as I have spent a long time on lots of different charity crochet projects. Charity can’t always be my entire focus but it gave me some great ideas for choosing and dedicating time to the projects that mean something to me alongside my business.
The assessment for this section is also 10 questions and you will need to spend some time on this one.
That’s all folks! We have reached the end of the course. My next post will be a short review of the course as a whole and (hopefully) showing you any certificates that were issued. I live a long way from the UK so let’s hope they arrive soon.
We have reached the home stretch of the Centre of Excellence’s Crochet Diploma. The remaining four units focus on business knowledge and strategies relevant to crochet designers and fibre artists. They are also not as long (or as fun) as the crochet based units so I thought I’d roll 14 and 15 into one post.
Module 14: First Steps
This module covers essentially the back of the envelope part of planning your new business. The lessons help you identify what you are good at and how to utilise it. For instance, do you want to teach crochet or maintain an inventory of handmade goods to sell? Who is your target market? And how do you identify and locate them? It also goes into further detail about copyright and the associated laws surrounding copyright in the UK.
In many countries, including Australia where I am from, your own original work is copyright protected from the moment it is created. It does not cost anything and you do not need to do anything. Patents, trademarks, creative commons and other licensing, however, are regulated and may cost money.
Module 15: Venues and Advertising
I liked this module. It concisely boiled down choosing your venue/s and advertising strategy to a quick and easy to digest list. For instance, many people would not realize that a website is a venue. You do not necessarily have to find a craft fair, farmer’s market or yarn store that takes consignments to get started. For others, this is obvious and Etsy is your jam but you may be missing out on vital networking from in-person venues that could grow your business.
Social media presence is important and should absolutely be factored into your business strategy. Don’t try to be the jack of all trades, master of none when it comes to your social channels though. Pick a few of the ones most relevant to your target market and stick with them. I got some good tips on advertising channels I have not thought of before while completing this module too.
The assessments are still very much based on the content however the questions for the last four modules ask for more extensive responses. I used many examples from my own small, crochet business Liz and Lottie to answer questions. The assessments were not overly difficult and answering the questions with my own business in mind helped me clarify my goals for 2019 and realize I need to reconsider a few things.
In this module, we tackle jumpers (sweaters for our US friends). For many, it is our first complicated large project. The lesson goes over a few different types of jumpers and their general shape and includes a good reference guide for how many metres of yarn you will need for each yarn weight and jumper size combination.
An important part of designing jumpers is sizing, including ease and tension. This course covered ease before and those notes are invaluable to designing your own jumper whether it is a granny square jumper or made all in one piece then sewn together.
My first jumper was made by copying the measurements from a baby jumper I had bought from a store and it worked – mostly. The sleeves were a little wide but it was cute and soft.
The final part of this assessment includes an easy pattern recipe for a drop shoulder jumper and it is assumed you have made it in order to answer the 8 assessment questions.
Almost there! The next four modules are all about business practices.
Bags! One of my first freeform projects was making a simple bag in the Doc McStuffins colours for my then toddler who loved carrying around her own doctor bag. This module also included an easy bag pattern which happened to be the same basic design as the Doc McStuffins one I made all those years ago.
Following on from the last module, this unit on designing bags focused on choosing the correct materials for the intended use of your bag. For example, using thick washable cotton for market bags or reserving dainty, embellished bags for display only or very gently occasional use. I had never considered lining a bag with fabric although now I think about it it is kind of a no brainer, especially for little purses.
Return of the math.
Don’t worry, this math actually made sense. Tension is really important when it comes to ensuring your base and handles are strong enough and don’t get pulled out of shape. But what tension also does is give us a stitch count per 10cm. We use this to calculate our number of stitches across and number of rows required.
I also never considered blocking bags. I will definitely try this next time I make a market bag. I somewhat rage quit my market bags after I kept screwing up the handle placement which lead to a lovely, stretchy, wide bag that was unfortunately cinched together at the top instead of loose and open. One day I shall have a grocery bag I can actually fit groceries in thanks to some of the tips in this module. The assessment was only 9 questions and was not too difficult.
Module 12 done and dusted. 5 to go. The end is in sight my friends!
My favourite crochet subject – toys and amigurumi!
I learned most of my amigurumi skills from Youtube by following tutorials on making play food and small toys for my daughter. I used these techniques to write my very first original pattern for crochet macarons.
This module covered the basic principles of making toys such as safety, creating faces and choosing the correct stitch type to allow for stuffing and embroidery.
It also touched on a very important subject in the textile artist world – plagiarism. Every toy maker has to use the same basic stitches and shapes to create their design however there is a very clear line that must be respected when it comes to including inspiration or techniques from other people’s designs. I spent a month reading every other crochet macron pattern out there before hitting publish on my own pattern. I created the pattern because I had already read most of them and none actually had the right cookie look I was after but I just wanted to make sure. It’s been several years now and my pattern has been referenced, shared and used by many people including one really clever designer who used it to make little animals. I loved that. Some little pattern on a tiny blog in a niche hobby won’t attract much attention but when you level up to submitting designs to magazines or being published on the big websites, sadly things get very wild west.
I have sung the praises of Laura Eccleston of Happy Berry Crochet multiple times on this blog. Her videos taught me advanced crochet and made me the crocheter I am today. Every so often her maple leaf pattern is published under a thief’s name in a reputable magazine or she finds yet another place selling copies of her free pattern under another name. This is an ongoing issue that she has had to battle and I know she isn’t the only crocheter out there this happens to.
Getting back to the lesson, this module highlighted the importance of safety when creating toys for children and pets. Selecting materials is very important here and you need to consider how the item will be washed and how roughly it will be loved. I have always opted for embroidered faces as I have never been able to find safety eyes I actually trust. This part struck a chord with me as I crocheted a premmie Octopal for my own little miracle baby who’s happy, healthy and four months old now. Her original octopal from the special care nursery did not make it home with us but I made her a new one to the exact specifications of Octopus for a Preemie (we call our bubs premmies in Australia). You can find more information here. Please make sure your octopals are donated through a proper group so they can undergo QA before being put in tiny little hands. I will be writing more about this soon.
This module included a cute pattern for a little postbox which I have saved in my stash for Christmas when it will be added to my eldest girl’s fairy village she sets up every December so her little critters can write to Santa.
The assessment was easy and I really enjoyed this module.
EDIT – I received a score of 100% for this module.
This module moved on to Afghans. I have never had much patience for large projects and have only completed a few. My favourite of which is the 5 point star blanket from The Crochet Crowd.
After a rather (I feel) unnecessary paragraph explaining that an afghan and the tunisian crochet stitch, also referred to as an afghan stitch, are different things this lesson went over considering how an afghan will be stored, used or displayed before you pick your yarn. Pretty good advice.
The terminology lesson comparing afghans, graphgans, lapghans, and scrapghans was entertaining. Considering how much an afghan could cost in just materials alone was an eye opener. As an afghan can use over 3 kilometres of yarn, that adds up whether it is bought in the form of 50g merinos from overseas or your 200g value ball at the local $2 shop.
I really liked the suggested pattern in this module. It was called Sounds of Summer and it was very pretty. I will try and make it after my current WIPs are finished and off to their new homes.
As for the assessment, the weird wording has returned to the true or false questions but overall it was not too bad. Take note that there is a completely subjective question in here that has 3 marks. As I learned in school, say three relevant things that connect and you should be good to go.
EDIT: I received a mark of 93.75% for this module.
On we march to Module 9: Shawls & Scarves. A lot of the remaining modules follow the same format – introduce item, yarns, yarn amounts and tension, then a pattern for that item.
In this module I learned the difference between a summer scarf and a winter scarf and took note of some more useful estimates of how many metres of yarn needed to make a scarf or shawl. This module also introduces a 5 step “How to design “thing”” formula which doesn’t really change lesson to lesson but is a useful scaffold for creating your very first independent designs.
After the headache that was Module 8, this was a nice simple module that included two patterns for pretty and simple scarfs. One made of basic trebles and tassels and another made from motifs.
The assessment went well enough. At least I understood it all!
Intro to Design. This module guys, oh my goodness. So much math.
This module introduced the idea of creating your own patterns and provided equations for working out where to place increases and decreases.
The first parts were about finding inspiration and working with drape. All good so far. We created some swatches of different yarns – wool, cotton, acrylic, free choice treble crochet, and compared them. Next came the sizing lesson. This was amazingly useful! I always added a bit of space to baby jumpers but learning the exact measurements for “wearing ease” and “design ease” was like a light bulb going on in my head. I’ll be keeping those notes for future reference.
It was lesson 3 where my trouble began. Lesson 3 – Shaping, broken into two sections Increasing with a formula and decreasing with a formula. Maybe I am just a bit thick but I was very good at algebra in school and have never had a problem adding increases to my own project but this module did my head in!
I had my pen and paper ready and scrolled down the increasing formula section. And scrolled. And scrolled. And scrolled. WTF? My year 10 math exams weren’t this long. Anyway, I managed to get through the first part of what I thought was a 3 part equation. So I subbed in the measurements to t (c) – n = x and got an answer. Ok good. Then it went wonky. The next equation seemed to be working out a number which was actually a constant (tension) and was already given? After that the height added equation was arranged in such a way that I was getting answers like 270 metres?
Now I resigned myself to the fact I might just be thick, had a go at the assessment and only answered half the one question that uses this equation. Later that night I put my notes in front of my data analyst husband. He had me pull up the original lesson, rearranged the equations and after hitting the same issues I did working manually with pen and paper, said he’d just build me an excel calculator for me to use in my own design work.
Now this might just be my experience of it not clicking in my head but please let me know if you do this course and you have trouble with this section too. I have my own calculations for working out where to place increases so I think I will stick with those.
Let’s level up! This module is called Advanced Techniques and moves into stitch patterns, using open stitches for aesthetic, adding borders and working with motifs.
I have not yet made a waffle or basket weave blanket so the run down of how basket weave works was really informative and I can’t wait to give it a go. You know, once I finished my bazillion other WIPs *sigh*
One of the borders mentioned was Crab Stitch aka Reverse Double Crochet (UK). My first encounter with Crab Stitch was a massive battle as I struggled to “go backwards” to finish off the pretty coasters I had made. I swore and stitched and bitched my way through that first coaster edge. Every move was so unnatural. Once I got it though, it was so pretty and polished and I of course got better slowly. I have used it a few times to finish the edge of jumpers.
I have made a few classic blankets by stitching granny squares together as most crocheters have. This unit discussed designing pieces around motifs and various other design techniques such as colourwork, cables and freestyling.
The assessment was only 8 questions and was fairly straightforward.