Finishing the Crochet Diploma: Certificates & Thoughts

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.

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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!

Liz x

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Crochet Diploma: Module 14 & 15

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.

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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.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

 

Crochet Diploma: Module 13

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.

baby jumper
My Size 1 (Aus) baby jumper in DK/8ply and treble crochet (UK)

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.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

Crochet Diploma: Module 12

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.

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Block all the swatches!

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!

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

Crochet Diploma: Module 11

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.

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Crocheted doll for my eldest daughter. Pattern by Happy Berry Crochet.

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.

one piece bears
One piece bears. Pattern by Raphaela Blumenbunt https://www.blumenbunt.de/de

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.

My baby's octopal
My baby’s octopal. See Octopus for a Preemie for regional specifications.

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.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT – I received a score of 100% for this module.

Crochet Diploma: Module 10

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.

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A 5 point star afghan for my daughter. Pattern by 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.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT: I received a mark of 93.75% for this module.

 

Crochet Diploma: Module 7

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.

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Today’s exercise was to create a simple granny square. Here is a shot of one of my first granny square blankets.

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.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT: I passed this module with a mark of 100%

Crochet Diploma: Module 6

This module is about Care & Finishing and covers blocking, seaming, weaving in ends and laundering your work safely.

They delved into much deeper detail about blocking in this section and covered a few methods such as soaking a piece or steaming more delicate pieces. I have never had much luck blocking acrylic yarn which is apparently a universal experience as animal fibres take to blocking much better than man made ones do.

I usually sew a whip seam when joining granny squares because I am impatient like that but the break down of an invisible seam (I have seen this referred to as a ladder stitch in sewing) was very useful as was advice on how to make the crocheted seam ridge part of your design aesthetic.

Weaving in ends. OMG. Nightmare. There’s no way around the grunt work (unless you weave as you go but let’s be serious) and this lesson advised to weave in three directions to secure your end.

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Preach! Source: Jimmy Beans Wool on Twitter

The True or False questions in this assessment were a lot clearer. We are getting through this course! Next up, Advanced Techniques.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT: I passed this module with a mark of 100%

 

 

 

Crochet Diploma: Module 5

Here we go! Module 5 – Working with Patterns. So the gist of this module is tension = important. Swatch your yarn. The block your yarn. Then measure your yarn.

I have only blocked a few things I’ve made and almost all were granny squares. This module recommended using cold water for blocking animal fibres. It only touched lightly on blocking though so I feel that it will come up again.

Granny squares
A Traditional granny square and a circular square pattern I worked from symbol pattern images

I have written and published crochet patterns before and had read enough to know the basic elements I had to include such as materials, abbreviations and the instructions by row. This module however listed out the entire anatomy of a crochet pattern and every detail to include for a professional level pattern. I picked up some useful tips such as including schematics – something I honestly just noticed on a baby vest pattern I started making a few days ago.

I also appreciated the break down of symbols in the directions like asterisks and brackets.

The highlight of this module however was the thorough and useful explanation of a crochet symbols chart. I have only just started writing patterns in symbol form and seeking symbol patterns out on Pinterest about a year ago. I do like these now that I can read them as US and UK use the same symbols e.g. X = a US single/ UK Double.

I really enjoyed this module’s assessment as I was asked to matched UK terms with their US counterparts *cracks knuckles* I got this.

Happy Hooking!

Liz

EDIT: I passed this module with a mark of 100%

Crochet Diploma: Module 4

Module 4 – Beyond the Basics. This was a really useful module that covers various methods of joining yarns, some common gathering stitches and advice on fixing mistakes.

It begins with an exercise, advising you to crochet a few rows of 10 treble crochets to practice the later stitches on.

I used my practice swatch to test out each yarn joining method. Personally I do a hybrid of the “Add at the end of the stitch” method where you complete half a stitch, yarn over with your new colour and complete the stitch with that. I like to tie a small knot to secure this then weave in my ends.

The method I see most often and have never really tried is the Crochet over new yarn method. About ten centimetres from where you need your new colour, start crocheting over the new colour and covering it with your stitches. Once you get far enough, drop the working yarn and pick up the new colour then crochet over the old yarn before cutting. I’ve seen it done. Decided it was witchcraft. Never used it. Now that I’ve tried it, I’ll give it a go on my next project which should be a little vest for my baby.

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Exhibit A – Magic Wand

Now we learn gathering stitches. I love the bobble stitch and used this in my contribution to the Little Hearts for Grace project. They covered clusters, puffs, bobbles and popcorn. Terminology comes into play here as well as what they call a popcorn, I learned as a bobble and vice versa.

Module 4 excecise
Module 4 exercise swatch

Lastly, there was some advice for fixing mistakes and keeping track of your count in a project by using a stitch marker so you have somewhere to frog back to if you make a mistake.

FUN FACT! We crocheters know that to frog something is to pull out your stitches and undo your work. We get this term ‘frog’ because when pulling out your stitches you “rip it rip it rip it out!” Source

These assessment questions were much clearer and well written. I think I did well.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT: I passed this module with a mark of 100%