Come Blog-A-Long: Crochet Master Class

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Today is Day One of the Come Blog-A-Long year of projects.  My goals is to work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss.

Instead of creating all of the patterns in the book, I’d like to make my own project using each of the techniques in the book.  Let me go back to the beginning to explain why I picked this book and this project.

My crochet background

I learned to crochet from my maternal grandmother when I was about 9 years old.  Over the years, I would crochet holiday gifts (primarily scarves).   I knew several  stitches but I didn’t know the names of any stitches.

In the early 2000s, my close friend was pregnant and I really wanted to make a baby blanket for her.  I found the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Needlecrafts in the Barnes and Noble on Astor Place in Manhattan. This book was (and is) great because it has photographs of the steps for forming each basic crochet stitch.  From looking at the pictures, I was able to identify the name of each stitch.  I downloaded a list of standard pattern abbreviations from the internet and would carry a copy of the pictures and the list of abbreviations with me to compare with patterns.  This helped remind me which stitch was which (a double crochet versus a single crochet, etc.) and what abbreviation corresponded to each stitch until eventually it all “stuck.”

This book opened up an entire new world in crochet for me because I was able to read patterns for the first time.  After making that first baby blanket (which came out terribly, by the way, but had lots of love in it!), I quickly moved on to other projects.  For the next few years, I made primarily baby blankets and throws.

Then in 2006, Afya Ibomu‘s Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats & Cool Caps came out.  This was another giant leap forward in my crochet evolution.  I started out by making the patterns in this book and then eventually began to design my own hats.  This was followed in 2007 by Lily Chin‘s Couture Crochet Workshop, another book that rocked my crochet world.

Both of these books inspired me to want to design my own projects, rather than rely exclusively on printed patterns.  They also pushed my crochet skills, which had been relatively stagnant for many years, to another level.

In 2007, my grandmother’s health was starting to fail.  We would chat a few nights a week and would usually talk about our current crochet projects.  I heard about the  CYC Certified Instructors Program for Crochet at the Fashion Institute of Technology and decided to sign up at the last minute.  Arnetta Kenney, the amazing instructor of this course, taught us about many techniques in crochet I had never even heard of such as broomstick lace.  This program really injected some excitement into my crocheting.  Several months later, my grandmother passed and I began crocheting more and more, as a way of keeping the memories of our times crocheting together fresh.

After completing my teaching hours in 2007, I became a certified crochet instructor and teacher in 2008.  Since then, I’ve taught over 100 beginners to crochet.  (Check out my series of posts on on getting started as a local needlecrafts teacher or my interviews with needlecrafts teachers Vanessa from Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts, Angela Davis, and Becka Rahn for tips on getting started as a teacher.)

Why this book?

Crochet Master Class is one of the few crochet books I have seen recently that has really excited me.  The structure of the book includes a bio of each famous crocheter with her or his “crochet biography” as well as a description of the specific connection to a particular technique or skill.

For me, the book works on many levels.  First, it introduces you to many skills (which I promise to outline below).  Second, it introduces (or reminds you of) many masters.  Third, it presents some great photos and a sample project for each skill/technique.

But at this point in my own crochet life, I’m not as psyched by following patterns.  I’m a bit more intrigued by design.  So what I plan to do is work through each chapter with a project (large or small).  I will be updating each Monday with my progress.

Here is a list of chapters and the relevant skills and masters:

I don’t think I will follow Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters “in order.”  For some techniques, I may just work up a swatch, and for others I have a large project planned.  I’m looking forward to working through this book.

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