Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Teaching Crochet ~ Flower Class
I'm a little later than I said I'd be with this post. Sorry about that! Anyway, today I'm starting a series of posts about teaching crochet. Right now I'm partnered with another teacher and we are teaching a crochet class with the ultimate goal of designing products that the students will be able to sell for additional income. Our class has a unique dynamic in that the faces can change from week to week and the skill levels range from absolute beginner to some experience. We like to present a project that our students can make from start to finish in our two hour class time. With each new project, we hope to expand the skills of our students while having good, creative fun.
For this particular class, we decided to make a flower pin. This was my idea, so I began by exploring my personal library for basic flower patterns. I have a zinnia pattern that I make a lot, but I wasn't sure that it would be a good, first flower project.
There are so many great flowers out there, but our students, for the most part, are comfortable with chaining and single crochet. I wanted a flower that might introduce one new stitch, but not two or three. At least for our initial flower project, I wanted to avoid anything too complicated.
That's when I remembered a simple, deco style rosette that I made with a previous class. I searched my computer hard drive and was able to find my old pattern. In addition to that, I still had a scarf, embellished with these flowers in my studio. It's always nice to have a sample piece.
The moment I thought of these little spiral flowers, I knew they would be a good beginning project.
The next thing I did was grab a hook, skein of yarn and a yarn meter to work through the project. It's nice to have a yarn meter when you teach because you can determine exactly how much yardage a project requires. That way, you can cut off pieces of yarn in advance and make project kits, or if more than one person likes the same skein of yarn, you can cut off the right amount for each student and share.
Here's a little picture of my yarn meter. You just slip the yarn through and then there is a small lever you depress to keep the yarn is place. The yarn passes easily through the meter as you crochet. At the end of a project, you can see just how many feet of yarn you've gone through. It's very easy to then round up to the nearest yard. My little spiral flower used 35 feet of yarn so I know that 12 yards of yarn is plenty for making one flower. I bought this particular meter at The Woolery and it's been very dependable.
Now that I had zeroed in on a flower, I needed to be ready to teach the students how to make it. It's always best if you can find the time to work through your project. Even though this spiral flower is something I designed myself, it had been a long time since I'd made one. Also, my old design notes had instructions for making the flower in three different sizes, so I needed to settle in on a size.
In and ideal world, I would have written down a nice, succinct pattern for the class. As life would have it, I ran out of time and decided to just talk the class through the pattern. Only a couple of our students are comfortable following patterns, so I figured that this would be okay. Of course, I would like to get to the point where everyone can read a pattern, so next week, I'll be ready with a written version.
So in case you kind of like this little flower, here's how it's made:
Chain 21 leaving a 12 inch tail
Row 1: work 2 single crochets into the second chain from the hook and in each st across = 40 sc
(the piece will begin to curl into a corkscrew shape)
Row 2: Chain 3 turn, double crochet in first stitch then work two double crochets in each stitch across = 80 dc (beginning chain 3 counts as first dc)
Finish off leaving a 12 inch tail.
Now, starting from one end, wrap the curly piece around until you form a rosette. you can control how tight or loose you would like your rosette to be. Then using a large eyed needle, thread the yarn in the center of the rosette and pass it through to the back of the flower, tacking the center in place. Next, weave or whip stitch the tail in and out of the end rows in the center of the back of the flower to hold the shape of the rosette. Finish with this tail piece being just off to one side of the center of your flower.
Now thread the other tail end. Tack this end of your flower in place with a couple of stitches to the back of the flower. Then you can weave this tail through the end rows just as you did before to make sure the shape of the flower is secure. Finish with this tail piece being to the opposite side of the first one. The two tail pieces should be about an inch apart. Then you can thread them through a pin back and use a good square knot to tie the pin back in place.
These little flowers also look great felted and can be used to accent hats, scarves, you name it! To make the rosette bigger or smaller, jut make your beginning chain longer or shorter. A cluster of 3 or 5 flowers in different sizes can look really cute.
These flowers look pretty made out of multicolored or textured yarn. You can embellish your flower with a bead in the middle. Just let your imagination run wild!
...Yesterday was our crochet class and the flower pattern turned out to be a lot of fun. Our students were able to successfully complete the project and left with pretty rosette brooches pined to their shirts. As a matter of fact, the flowers were such a hit that we are going to continue with this theme and work on a few different kinds of flowers and maybe some leaves too.
If you are learning to crochet or teaching a class of your own, give this pattern a try. It's fun to be able to wear your finished project and be able to say, "I made it!"