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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 8

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.

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My treble crochet, acrylic swatch

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?

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I know this is geometry but I don’t understand it either.

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.

Overall, a bit of a frustrating module.

Happy Hooking!

Liz x

EDIT: I passed this module with a score of 87%

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.

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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

Preschool Reading Lessons with an Alphabet Puzzle

A combination of ABC Reading eggs, bedtime stories and Lottie’s wonderful preschool have been bringing her literacy skills along great.

But things went turbo charged on the letter recognition and pre-reading skills when I picked up this thing for $8 at Kmart a few weeks ago.

It’s just a simple wooden puzzle board with the letters of the alphabet but the effect on Lottie’s literacy has been instant and massive.

She’ll sit at the table and pick up each letter listing the words she knows that start with that letter – the friends names she learned at preschool and basic words from our books at home, arrange them to match small words like “Pig the Pug” and hand out the letters to visitors who’s names start with them. Auntie Kate gets a K, Daddy gets a D or an O for Oli.

We’ve come up with a few little literacy games, perfect for the evening while dinner is cooking or weekend afternoons.

Lesson #1 – Match the Letters

This is my favourite. All you need is one of your child’s favourite books. Boards books with few words and large print work best. We’ve been using a Peppa Pig one.

Just choose a page, ask your child what is happening in the story and then to pick a word on the page. They then choose the letters from their puzzle and lay them beside the word, sounding out the letters as they go.

Lesson #2 – Amazing Letter Race

This works best with two children but another adult can play along too. Pop all the letters from the puzzle in a bag, give each player a basket and then pull a letter from from the bag. Put 1 minute on the timer and race to find as many objects that start with that letter as possible. A calmer option would be to walk together around the house with the chosen letter pointing out all the things that start with that letter.

Lesson #3 -Alphabet Bingo

Always a solid choice, another game for 2 children or you and your child. Keeping the puzzle pieces in the bag, have a piece of paper with the alphabet written on it or the child’s name and some markers to place on the letters as they are drawn.

Liz x

 

ABC Reading Eggs – Learn to Read program 3-7yrs

We just did our first ABC Reading Eggs lesson and Little Lottie is happily writing ‘m’ all over her notebook at the kitchen counter.

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She’s turning 3 in a few weeks but loves singing the alphabet, pointing out letters and loved Jolly Phonics at daycare so I thought I’d give her a go at the preschool Reading Eggs lessons. The whole online lesson in a single letter was only 20mins and was set up in a series of interactive activities that made it seem like a game. A game with singing ants and lots of bright colours. By the end she was confidently pointing out the letter Mm, identifying pictures with M words as their names and making mmmmm sounds.

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ABC Reading Eggs is a full learn to read program for ages 3 – 13 and it links to a math program called Mathseeds, and an online store of early reader material. I’m using the 14 day free trail available to parents and teachers worldwide and was honestly surprised at how popular the program is outside Australia. 12 month subscriptions are around $80 and the book packs are $80 for one level or $119 for both levels. I see them in ABC stores and book shops. We left it at one lesson today (they’re designed to do a few letters a day) but it was a success and I’m looking forward to trying out the next one tomorrow. We will definitely be purchasing a book pack very soon.

Liz x