Carol Alexander is Annie's Executive Editor for crochet and the editor of Crochet World magazine. She also edits the special newsstand issues of Crochet! and Crochet World magazines, and manages the various Annie's e-newsletters.
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October 24, 2014
Once a child has mastered the basics of simple crochet chains, he or she is ready to move on to the next step — single crochet. This stitch is very easy to master, and your students will be surprised by the variety of useful projects they can make with this one basic stitch.
The best place to start is with a single crochet square. You may not think you can do much with plain squares, but they can become many different finished items. Sew or single crochet two blocks together around three sides and add a simple chain strap to create a little purse. Crochet two blocks together all the way around to make a useful pot holder (cotton yarn is best for items that will be exposed to heat).
By stuffing a pot holder with fiberfill before joining the last sides together, you get a cute little mini pillow that can be decorated with crochet-chain embellishments, buttons, ribbon, lace, flowers — almost anything! A group of these little pillows would be cute on a child’s bed. You can also crochet squares together into larger pieces, creating a regular-sized pillow, a doll blanket or even a full-size afghan.
To get students started on making a basic single crochet square, use a smooth worsted-weight yarn and a size J/10/6mm hook. Have them make a chain as long as the desired width of their finished square. For example, a chain 10 inches long will result in a square approximately 10 inches wide, but gauge is not crucial for these pieces. Show your students how to work single crochet stitches back and forth in rows until the piece is as long as it is wide, making a square.
Encourage kids to experiment with color variations. Have them make squares in different colors and then single crochet them together with a unifying color for a patchwork mat or blanket. Show them how to alternate yarn colors on rows to create stripes. Color variations help keep single crochet from getting boring!
Now that your students have mastered the single crochet stitch, encourage them to use their new skill to make blocks they can join into simple projects for charity, such as pet mats for animal shelters, lap robes for patients in nursing homes and veterans’ hospitals, or blankets for homeless shelters. It will be a wonderful lesson for them to learn to use their crochet talents for the benefit of others.
Having accomplished the technique of single crochet, kids should easily be able to continue progressing to other basic stitches, such as half double crochet and double crochet, with only a little guidance and, as always, lots of encouragement.
October 22, 2014
Crocheters often ask me how they can successfully teach their children, grandchildren, students or youth groups at church how to crochet. The good news is kids are naturally curious and love to learn new things. One important key to successfully teaching children something new is to make it meaningful to them and have the results be something fun and creative.
When teaching kids to crochet, it’s generally best to use a smooth acrylic or wool yarn in a medium or bulky weight and light or bright color, along with a larger-size crochet hook, such as size I, J or K. The lighter color and smooth texture of the yarn make the stitches easier to see, and the larger hook is easier for small hands to grip.
Naturally, learning to crochet starts with the simple chain. As kids get the hang of chaining, it’s wonderful seeing them get “hooked” as they beam with pride at their accomplishments. Once kids feel comfortable with their chaining skills using the smooth yarn, you can then introduce them to a few novelty yarns with interesting textures.
What really makes learning to crochet “click” for kids is discovering what fun, cool things they can make — even with those simple lengths of chain. Thanks to the flexibility of the crocheted chain, it can be used just about anywhere you might use a piece of string or cord.
Kids can turn longer chains into necklaces, which can be embellished with beads, buttons, charms, medals or school awards. Shorter chains are perfect for bracelets, anklets or even rings. Chains can also be made into cute hair decorations or colorful ties for holiday packages. With some cardboard, short chains and a hole punch, kids can make hanging tags to match!
For a personal, one-of-a-kind style, kids can string their shoes with their own unique crocheted chains, made to the same length as the original shoelaces. Colorful chains can also be shaped into pretty flowers and scrapbook embellishments or used to create simple bookmarks. Two or three long chains braided together make a cool-looking belt. The creative possibilities with the simple crocheted chain are virtually endless!
Not only will children enjoy putting their new crochet chaining skills to good use, but they can also help you use up your yarn scraps in the process. What’s more, after seeing how much fun they’re having with chains, kids will be eager to learn the next step — single crochet.
We’ll cover ideas for teaching kids how to single crochet in the blog post later this week.
October 15, 2014
You know the saying, “It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!” That’s how I feel about my job as Executive Editor. The days are always full of multiple tasks and responsibilities; emails must be answered, yarn swatches approved, meetings attended, but one of my favorite tasks is looking over all the great design submissions for the pages of Crochet World, choosing the best projects for you, our loyal readers.
Another fun part of my job is attending the photo shoots for each publication. As the editor, I make sure every garment or accessory looks perfect on the model and is photographed to its best advantage so that the all the finely crocheted details and beauty of each project shines through.
Here is a sneak peak as we were shooting the February 2015 issue of Crochet World. It was a beautiful warm autumn day and the location was the perfect place to show off all the wonderful designs that will be featured.
It takes a number of talented people working behind the scenes to pull off a successful photo shoot. Of course, nothing would happen without our talented photographer, Matt Owen.
Assistants are needed to hold lamps and other equipment so each picture is perfect. Our Photo Stylists, Tammy Liechty and Tammy Steiner make sure all the props and fashion items worn by the models are ready to go. Makeup artist/hairstylist, Michelle Kister is on hand all day to do last minute touch ups.
Look for the February 2015 issue of Crochet World on the newsstands in January 2015. When you get your issue see if you can recognize some of the projects from the ‘sneak peak’ photos here!
In the meantime, look for the December 2014 issue due out on the newsstands early November. The issue is filled with holiday projects that are sure to inspire you to pick up your hook and crochet something for everyone on your gift list.
October 10, 2014
Annie’s employees celebrated I Love Yarn Day during their lunch hour with lots of knitting and crocheting!
Yarn was everywhere!
What a great way to spend your lunch hour!
Don’t forget about the I Love Yarn Day sale at Annie’s Craft Store.
October 8, 2014
As crocheters we all share a passion for our hobby …… and yarn! We seem magnetically drawn to the yarn aisle in our favorite craft store. When someone in our crochet group shares her latest yarn purchase, we begin plotting our next trip to the yarn shop. When a friend shows off her latest project, our first reaction is to reach out and touch it! With a simple hook and yarn, we can crochet amazing things, from the finest gossamer shawls out of lace weight mohair to warm and cuddly afghans made from sturdy acrylic.
We all love collecting and stashing yarn for future projects, and on October 10, we can share our fiber passion as we celebrate I Love Yarn Day!
So don’t keep it a secret – make a plan now to share your love of yarn and crochet.
Here are some fun ideas-
- If you don’t belong to a crochet group or club, start one in your area. You can meet in each other’s home, at a public library, or a coffee shop. Or start a crochet group at lunch time where you work.
- Don’t know any one that crochets? Get a group of friends together and offer to teach them!
- Or teach your children and grandchildren. Remember to make it fun! We’ll offer some suggestions in a future post.
- Research charitable organizations in your area that would benefit from your gift of crochet. Many charities would love donations of lovingly made blankets, toys, or items for newborn babies.
- Give a gift of yarn to your favorite crochet friend with the promise to get together over a cup of coffee.
- Plan a yarn swap- have crochet friends gather yarn they no longer need, then meet and trade yarn! A yarn you no longer want may be just perfect for someone else!
For more ideas go to the I Love Yarn website and remember to share your love of crochet with everyone you meet on October 10 and every day of the year!
To celebrate I Love Yarn Day, Annie’s Craft Store is offering 15% off all yarn purchases October 10-11 (sale ends at midnight October 11)