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.

20190408_114635669557630.jpg
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%

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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.

DcIrLiBXcAMRbbb
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.

crochet hook
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%

 

Crochet Diploma: Module 3

Module 3 is called Basics II and covers turning chains, crocheting a flat piece, crocheting in the round, the Magic Loop, increasing and decreasing, and the shell stitch.

The UK terminology is still doing my head in. Luckily this module is mostly treble crochets (US = double crochet) and gathering stitches.

The first lesson covered how many turning chains to do for each stitch (e.g. 3 chains for a treble crochet) then moved on to the first practical exercises in the course.

Module 3 excercises
Exercise pieces – one flat piece worked in rows, one circle worked in the round.

The first exercise piece was to practice finding and crocheting into your chain. The next was to practice the Magic Loop and to crochet a basic 6-12-24 expansion in doubles.

Now they used the term ‘crocheting in the round’ to describe this method of joining your round with a slip stitch and chaining 1 to count as the first stitch of the next round. In my experience with amigurumi (small crocheted animals, dolls etc) ‘crocheting in the round’ means to continue on without joining and marking your starting point of each round with a stitch marker. Not a big difference, just something I noticed.

I like that they teach the Magic Loop method. A lot of new crocheters struggle with this but once you get it, you never go back to the 4 chain circle. When using a magic loop, remember to weave in the end in the most secure way you can. I prefer to thread it through the centre circle again, then sew back the way I came weaving in and out of the stitches. I didn’t do this on a baby blanket once and every granny square came loose. I was devastated.

The next lesson touched on increasing and decreasing and introduced the DC2tog stitch. There was also a lesson on how to crochet the shell stitch as this makes a pretty and easy border.

The assessment was the same 10 question format. I again encountered two True or False questions where the wording could mean either answer was correct. In particular I think I may get one wrong where the wording was very unclear about what “finishing a stitch” meant in the context of the question. I’ll update when I have the results back.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT: I passed this module with a mark of 90%

Crochet Diploma: Module 2

The next module is called Basics I and covers how to hold hooks and yarn as well as the basic stitches. Now here was where I knew I would run into trouble. This UK course was entirely in UK Crochet terminology (duh) – I have always crocheted in US terminology and translate UK patterns to US terms before starting. I can figure out what a UK stitch is but I am by no means fluent with them.

why u no
Why you called double crochet when you only have one stitch?

The first part discussed how to hold the hook and yarn and suggested some ways to get your tension right while feeling comfortable. They also discussed left hand vs right hand and that you can crochet with either hand.

The presenter is a lovely woman about my age (late 20s) who very clearly explains and demonstrates each stitch. What I like about these videos is that they remind me of the youtube videos I used when first learning new stitches in that she repeats what she is doing all the way down the row instead of explaining it twice then speeding ahead.

There is also a step by step photo series for each stitch.

The assessment was the same 10 question format with true or false, and short answer questions. I struggled with one question that spoke about stitch width. I know what I think about it and that the stitches are mostly the same width sitting side by side, but the course specifically referred to stitches as “shorter or taller”. …So which width is which? Horizontal or vertical?

My brain decided to take a break on the last question about number of yarn overs when making a Double Treble and I answered as though it was US terms. *facepalm* I should still get a pass mark but that won’t be perfect by any measure.

I will update when the marks come back from the actual human marker in a few weeks.

Happy hooking,

Liz x

EDIT: I received a mark of 91.67% for this module

Beginning the Crochet Diploma

So I was scrolling through Facebook one day, as you do, when I came across someone mention a “Crochet Diploma” on one of the groups I follow.

wtf? A crochet diploma?

Off I went googling my heart out and I landed on two such courses.

The course the poster was talking about seems to be the International Diploma of Crochet run by the legendary Pauline Turner. You can find all the information on her course here on the Crochet Design website.

The other was a “Diploma” on the Centre of Excellence UK website that hosts quick, fun, online courses in lots of different areas.

Diploma header

I came back to wordpress looking for any other crocheters who have done this course and blogged about what they learned or gained from it. I found a few posts on Coastal Crochet‘s blog but not much more, so I thought I would give it a go and blog the journey.

As I was looking for just a bit of fun I opted for the Centre of Excellence’s course. It is listed at £127 however there are two very useful discount codes if this is out of your price range.

Leading up to Mothering Sunday in the UK, use MUMGIFT to get any Centre of Excellence course for £29.

Or, use LEARNUK for a 60% discount.

Obviously, these things aren’t accredited however, the Centre of Excellence can provide a statement of learning outcomes from an accredited educational body if you would like.

I am now all enrolled and ready to get hooking. I have been crocheting for most of my life and crocheting seriously for 7 years but there is always more to learn and I am particularly looking forward to the tunisian crochet and writing your own patterns for publication sections.

There are 17 modules in the course and I hope to complete it by the time I return to my full time job in June 2019.

Come along for the journey and hit the follow button on the right -> to be updated when I publish a new blog post.

Happy hooking,

Liz

 

 

 

Home Made crochet Steiner/Waldorf Gnomes and Nins

Since overhauling our toy disaster collection a year ago, I’ve opted for quality, open ended toys that stimulate imaginative play. Our play room is full of wooden food, musical instruments, baby dolls and clothes and a gorgeous doll house full of little wire dolls and hand me down furniture from at least three generations. The little girl who plays in there is much calmer and occupied for much longer in her imaginary worlds.

The next addition I have been hunting for were some sweet felt or wooden Steiner/Waldorf gnomes and small world toys. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near a brick and mortar store that stocks anything Montessori, Steiner, felted, etc. I have a whole list of bookmarked online toy retailers but being in Australia, the shipping would cost more than my cart! The closest store with a beautiful range of fairy houses, felted faires and food, and wooden nins (I love these little nins by Grapat) and gnomes is the beautiful Goldfish Toys in Berry, NSW …a three hour drive away. I didn’t want to wait until our next countryside escape to pick up some $8 gnomes I had my eye on so I took to Pinterest and Youtube in a quest to make my own.

These little guys are the results and I couldn’t be happier. It took about 30 – 45 minutes to make each one and I already had the yarn and 3mm crochet hook. They are super cute, are very similar to Grapat Nins and definitely cost less to make than petrol for 6 hours driving then $8 each if I was to buy them in Berry.

I followed HappyBerry Crochet’s “Wizard Gnome” tutorial only I used a 3mm hook, 8ply arcrylic yarn and I chose to stuff my little gnomes with poly fill while Laura keeps hers open like a finger puppet.

To seal the bottom, finish the final round as the video instructs and instead of tying off, CH 1 and in back loops only, SC in next stitch, SC2TOG in the next. Repeat SC, SC2TOG until end. Your stitch count will reduce to 12. Stuff your gnome at this point then SC2TOG x 6. Tie off and sew the hole closed. I poke the needle back through the hole and pull to flatten out the bottom before hiding the tail end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this idea helps another mama looking to make her own set of little gnome friends. I have this vision of an entire toy box of toys I’ve made my children. What are some other handmade toy ideas? Amish puzzle balls, stacking bowls, rattles and loveys spring to mind. Now to actually make them!

Happy Sunday,

Liz xx

Questacon, ACT – science museum with kids

Questacon is a must visit destination for any family visiting Canberra. Questacon is the national science and technology centre and is packed full of wild, interactive, hands on exhibits divided into galleries that focus on a different area of science such as physics, colour and light, and the planet Earth.

It is a massive hit with kids and many Australians will remember visiting Questacon during school camps to the nation’s capital. We couldn’t wait to bring our own volcano obsessed little girl to Questacon and have visited a few times over the past 5 years. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when planning a Questacon day with your family.

Our Favourite Galleries

Q Lab has a huge periodic table, a mesmerizing video display showing natural phenomenons (rain falling into a puddle, a bee taking off etc) in ultra fine detail played forward and in reverse. I sat in front of this thing for a good 10 minutes while Lottie and hubby explored the main attraction of this gallery – the microscopes and light boards. There were tons of slides and specimens for kids to handle and get a closer look at.

Most kids spend ages in The Shed playing around with hands on activities. This metal grill is a strong fan blowing upwards. The aim of the game is to tear one of the hundreds of empty coffee cups laying around into a shape that will fly up to the roof and gracefully spin like a helicopter back to the ground. Lottie’s coffee cup got stuck in the rafters!

I think this awesome weighted pendulum is in the Fundamental gallery but we were having so much fun bounding through the galleries by this point I lost track!

The 236kg plate has bits of paper sitting on top of it. Inky pens hang from the roof and create the most amazing spirographic patterns when the volunteer gives the heavy plate a slight push. Volunteers hand the completed art works out to the crowd and excited little ones get their own unique souvenir.

The bug race game from the Colour gallery was Lottie’s favourite. Two players run on the spot to race their ants up the tree. Of all the amazing light and colour based experiments in this galley, the ant game was by far the most popular.

Honourable Mention

Mini Q is a dedicated space for 0 – 6 year olds where little ones can explore each station safely without getting bowled over by hyperactive 12 year olds on Year 6 camp like in the other galleries. Babies get their own space while 2 – 6 year olds roam around the sensory stations where they can climb, touch, dress up and explore.

We didn’t visit Mini Q this time round as the next available time slot wasn’t until 4pm (entry is staggered during school holidays, book your slot at the ticket desk) and our 5 year old was fine exploring amongst the big kids. However, Mini Q was a God send 2 years ago when Lottie was 3 and too tiny and timid to take part in the bigger galleries.

Mini Q features the COOLEST water play station I have ever seen so take a change of clothes so the little ones can splash til their hearts content. There is also a Quiet Space for calming down little ones.

Parking

If you are visiting Canberra as a family, it’s highly likely that you are driving or have hired a car. Canberra is a beautiful and sprawling city. Public transport is good however no where near as frequent or easy to navigate for visitors as other cities (until the new light rail opens that is).

Questacon is located on King Edward Terrace, on the banks of Lake Burley-Griffin alongside the National Library and several other galleries and museums. Questacon and the National Library of Australia share large parking lots. You can expect to pay for parking everywhere in Canberra (even the shopping centres do not offer free parking). The parking around NLA and Questacon will be $2.50 per hour or $12 for the day (9am – 5pm). You’ll need a good 3 hours for little ones to explore the Questacon galleries and even longer if your littles intend on playing in the Mini Q zone – a dedicated play and learning space for under 6s.

Hours & Tickets

Questacon is open 9am – 5pm everyday except Christmas Day

Adult $23
Concession & Children $17.50
Children under 4 years Free
Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) $70

They offer excellent membership packages if you are a local or a frequent visitor to Canberra. A family membership (2 ad + 3ch) is $160 with discounted continuing membership and variations for single parent families available. Learn more about Q Club Membership and reciprocal arrangements across Australia here.

Facilities

Pram friendly galleries and pram parking is available at the front desk. Plenty of baby changing areas and bathrooms are scattered throughout the building.

As you can expect from a major attraction, the prices at the Mega Bites cafe are on the pricey side however the menu has plenty of healthy options and there is tons of outdoor seating in the courtyard. The gift shop has so many cool science books, experiment kits and board games. We picked up a junior coding game on our last visit. The best bit about Q Shop though is it is tucked into the corner of the ground floor and can easily be by passed on the way out without tired little ones noticing.

We love Questacon and will make sure to visit every time we are passing through Canberra.

Pokéball Crochet Pattern

My family is majorly in to Pokemon Go right now. My husband actually walks home from work to catch more, our 3 year old is utterly delighted that she caught a Pidgey all by herself, I’m impressed by the game and all three of us have spent so much time together rediscovering something my hubby and I loved as kids and introducing it to our own child.

The original Pokemon series is on Netflix here in Australia, and Little Lottie is working her way through the episodes. A Pokeball is an obvious thing to crochet for a child who is now calling herself Pikachu instead of her actual name but it only occured to me to sit down and make it when I caught her throwing her hard, plastic pencil sharpener shaped like the Death Star at the TV.
I only found one pattern on Pinterest and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. It was too small and didn’t look quite right. So I set out to write my own and after some trial and error – documented here and here – the pattern is finally done!

Crochet Pokeball Pattern

 What you’ll need

  • 8 ply acrylic yarn in red, white and black
  • 4mm crochet hook
  • Darning or upholsterer’s needle
  • Scissors
  • Toy stuffing

Terminology;
Sc = single crochet,
(SC2) = Sc2 in the same stitch to increase stitch count
(SC2tog) = SC two stitches together to decrease.
SlSt = Slip Stitch
(no.) = Indicates the stitch count for the row

Pattern

  1. Start with white yarn. SC6 into a magic circle, SlSt together. (6)
  2.  Sc2 in each stitch around. (12)
  3. SC1 (SC2) x 6 (18)
  4. SC1, (SC2), SC2, (SC2), SC3, (SC2), SC2, (SC2), SC3, (SC2), SC2 (23)
  5. (Sc2), Sc4, (Sc2), Sc3, (Sc2), Sc4, (SC2), Sc3, (Sc2), Sc4 (28)
  6. Sc3, (Sc2), Sc6, (Sc2), Sc6, (Sc2), Sc6, (Sc2), Sc3 (32)
  7. Sc 1, (Sc2), Sc7, (Sc2), Sc7, (Sc2), Sc7, (Sc2), Sc6 (36)
  8. Sc 6, (Sc2), Sc11, (Sc2), Sc11, (Sc2), Sc5 (39)
  9. Sc8, (Sc2), Sc12, (Sc2), Sc12, (Sc2), Sc4 (42)

Switch to Black yarn
10. Sc15, (Sc2), Sc26 (43)
11. (Sc2), Sc42 (44)
12. Sc44 (44)

Switch to Red yarn
13. Sc42, (Sc2tog) (43)
14. Sc26, (SC2tog), Sc15 (42)
15. Sc4, (SC2tog), Sc12, (SC2tog), Sc12, (SC2tog), Sc8 (39)
16. Sc5, (SC2tog), Sc11, (SC2tog), Sc11, (SC2tog), Sc6 (36)
17. Sc6, (SC2tog), Sc7, (SC2tog), Sc7, (SC2tog), Sc7, (SC2tog), Sc1 (32)
18. Sc3, (SC2tog), Sc6, (SC2tog), Sc6, (SC2tog), Sc6, (SC2tog), Sc3 (28)
Stuff your Pokeball until it firmly holds it’s shape.
19. Sc4, (SC2tog), Sc3, (SC2tog), Sc4, (SC2tog), Sc3, (SC2tog), Sc4, (SC2tog) (23)
20. Sc2, (SC2tog), Sc3, (SC2tog), Sc2, (SC2tog), Sc3, (SC2tog), Sc2, (SC2tog), Sc1 (18)
21. (SC2tog), Sc1 x repeat around (12)
22. 4 x SC decreases. Fasten off and weave hole shut.

Button

  1. SC 6 in a magic circle (6)
  2. 2SC in each stitich (12)
  3. Change to black, SC in ea stitch (12)


Fasten off and cut leaving plenty of yarn for sewing the button on. You can increase the stitch count to 18 if you prefer but I’ve found that 12 gives a much tighter and straighter edge when the button is sewn onto the Pokeball. Sew button on over any visible colour change stitches.

And there you have a Pokéball!


This takes me about 45mins to make at the moment but I’m getting faster. I’ve already got lots of requests from friends and family for Pokéballs and I can’t wait to make them. Gotta catch ’em all!

Liz x