Friday, March 7, 2008

ARNie's Beginning Crochet Classes Syllabus

Supplies Needed:
Size H or I Crochet hook
Red Heart Yarn pastel or medium dark colors. Very pale and very dark colors are difficult to see and makes the learning process troublesome. Variegated yarns are also recommended to better see where to stitch.
I strongly suggest you purchase only the Red Heart for this class. The more expensive, textured yarns and threads are much more difficult to work with. You can get very discouraged trying to learn with these yarns.

Lesson #1- Getting Started
We will cover the very basics of Regular Crochet including
Techniques: How to get started, & how to end off.
Stitches: Slip Knot, Chain Stitch, Slip Stitch, Single Crochet Stitch
Projects: We’ll complete at least one Lace Coaster, using the stitches covered in the class.

Spider Web Coaster Instructions
Ch 6, connect to form ring.
Round 1: (Ch 4, Sc into ring) 8 Times. Sl st into 2 chs of 1st Ch4Loop.
Round 2: (Ch 4, Sc into next Ch4Loop) 7 times. Ch 4, and sl st into base of 1st Ch4 Loop. Sl st into 2 chs of the 1st Ch4 Loop.
Round 3: (Ch 5, Sc into next Ch4Loop) 7 times. Ch 5, and sl st into base of 1st Ch5 Loop. Sl st into 3 chs of the 1st Ch5 Loop.
Round 4: (Ch 6, Sc into next Ch5Loop) 7 times. Ch 6, and sl st into base of 1st Ch6 Loop. Sl st into 3 chs of the 1st Ch6 Loop.
Round 5: Ch 1. 3 Sc into this loop. 6-7 Sc in next Ch6Loop, and every other Ch6 Loop. 3 Sc into 1st Ch6Loop. Connect to beg ch, end off and weave threads.

Lesson #2- Working with Rounds
Some basic rules when working with round objects, how to attach new colors, and how to weave loose threads, Crochet abbreviations for reading patterns.
Stitches: Double Crochet Stitch
Projects: 2 coasters- Spring/Fall/Winter Flower Motifs,
The following is a tutorial I have that offers some of the finer points on working in rounds. I present a printed version of this for my students.
Flower Project Links
Celtic Ring Granny Squares

Lesson #3- Plain Ol’ Crochet
Techniques: Crocheting into a chain, Crocheting into a stitch, crocheting around a block, practice reading patterns.
Stitches: Half Double Crochet Stitch
Projects: Ice/Roller Skates, and 1 block with a decorative edging that can be used as a coaster or wash cloth.
HOMEWORK: Crochet 2 blocks like the washcloth for the next class.
Online Pattern links scroll down for ice/roller skates

Lesson #4- Connecting Blocks, Stars & SNOWFLAKES!
Techniques: How to connect Patchwork pieces together, more practice reading patterns
Stitches: Treble Crochet, Picot Stitch
Projects: Hot pad made from homework blocks, Stars for your Christmas tree or for your Patriotic projects, and Snowflakes (winter or summer- these are so much fun for the students and a great sense of accomplishment.)
Links to online patterns: Stars Snowflakes page 1

Lessons #5 & 6- Diagonal Stitch
Diagonal or Corner to Corner Stitch: A nifty way to create afghans that builds from one corner and decreases into the far corner; creating a perfectly square piece with nice, even edges.

©Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit

For a complete description of my Copyright Permissions click the link below, then click the Back Button on your broswer to return here.

ARNie’s Theory of Teaching Crochet for a Modern Stitcher

So many factors affect a modern person’s ability to learn to crochet, and most of them are not conducive for learning this or any other needlework.

  • Time Shortage- they simply don’t have a lot of time to sit and practice at home.
  • No one to help- if they are paying to take a class, that means they have no one to help them at home.
  • Rewired Eye/Hand Coordination- it has been my experience that working with computers: typing, video games, spread sheets, graphics programs... all of this is a completely different type of Eye-Hand Coordination. Spending a lot of time in front of the computer will ‘rewire’ the brain’s Eye-Hand Coordination, so that these folks will truly struggle with manipulating tools.
  • Instant Gratification- with today’s fast paced lives, they are trained to expect results quickly, and if they don’t get those results quickly, they believe they have failed or this is too difficult for them to continue wasting time on.

Consequentially, I don’t teach crochet classes in a traditional progression of skills. I want my students to feel a sense of accomplishment after every class session; which encourages and empowers them to practice more at home.

I explain the Eye-Hand coordination theory to them, and continuously tell them to be patient with themselves: they are training their brain to do something completely alien. Give it time to learn.

To accomplish these goals, I have designed a curriculum that allows the students to focus on only one thing during a session.

Traditionally, we were taught to crochet into a chain the very first thing. This forces the student to learn the mechanics of the stitching, as well as, stitch placement all at the same time.

Or, we were taught a granny square, which seemed to be one of the most simplest things to learn... unless you have never seen one before, and then it becomes a maze of where to put the hook-when do I chain-which stitches do I skip-where is that stupid corner....

I believe this is too much to learn all at once, especially since folks who take classes usually don’t have anyone at home to help them with finer details, such as recognizing the various parts of the stitch to identify where the hook must go.

Consequentially, my first lessons are all worked in rounds and I don’t focus too much on ‘connecting to the beginning stitch of each round.’ The first stitches they learn are Chains and Single Crochets, and slip stitches.

The mechanics of these are fairly intuitive: the hook grabs the yarn and pulls it through the loop on the hook. The hook goes into a stitch, grab the yarn, pull it through the loop on the hook. Then the next natural progression: the hook goes into a stitch, grab the yarn, pull it through, then grab the yarn again & pull in through to connect it all.

By allowing the student to work with Chains and Single Crochets in rounds, it allows them to focus more on their mechanics and they don’t stress out over finding where the hook goes next.

It's been my experience that this breaks down the various elements of crochet into separate lessons:

  • First, conquer the Physical aspect of how to manipulate hook and yarn, plus how to get both hands working together in concert
  • Then, learning the Visual aspect- how to identify the various parts of a stitch and where to place the hook within those parts- is much easier

Separating these skills, and allowing the student to learn one first, allows the Modern Stitcher more success early on. At the end of a two hour session, they can take home a lacy coaster (that won’t look half bad) to show their families. And I can’t tell you how many of these students bring back numerous ‘lacy coasters’ that they worked on over the week.

The next lesson I teach the Double Crochet stitch, since that is the one stitch used most often. I continue to work in rounds, but not working into stitches. I designed a few flower motifs that still work into chain spaces, that will allow students to focus on the mechanics of forming the Double Crochet stitch.

In this lesson, I also teach how to attach new colors, so that they will have colorful Flower coasters to take home. Again, that sense of accomplishment- really caters to a goal oriented person, and if they are paying for a class, they are goal oriented. They won’t have to hide their first crochet projects in a drawer because they look so awful; they can proudly display them to say look what I accomplished in only my second lesson!

This sense of pride and accomplishment does more towards the success of students than anything a teacher can do. No amount of patience, persistence, or tenacity on the teacher's part can compare to the encouragement of the student’s own success; so I give them that success from day one, and every day they leave my class.

After they have learned the Double Crochet stitch, the students are familiar enough with the mechanics that they can focus on the visual aspect of crochet: recognizing the various parts of a stitch to learn where to put the hook in forming new stitches.

The next two classes they learn: Half Double and Treble Crochet stitches, plus picots, how to crochet into a chain- individual stitches, how to crochet two blocks together & how to crochet around a block.

Each lesson has a specific project to further the sense of accomplishment and success. I use Star motifs to teach Trebles, and Plain Ol' Crochet row by row to make a simple washcloth to teach them the Half Double crochet. In these lessons, I also give them some of the snowflake patterns at my site. These are super quick and give my students an enourmous sense of pride in such a short time.

Finally, I spend the last two lessons working on the Diagonal Stitch or Corner to Corner stitch. Yes, this seems like a very complicated technique to teach beginners, however, I had such horrible results with granny squares and mile a minute strips that I will NEVER teach them to a beginner’s class ever again.

The Diagonal Stitch offer students a method of building blankets that will always have a nice straight edge, lots of texture, endless potential for color variation, and allows them to work into a Chain Space, instead of individual stitches.

Even with folks who have been crocheting only 1 month, they learn this method in 2 classes or 4 hours. I encourage them with the words: once you learn this method, you will never want to make blankets row by row. Be patient with yourselves, this is a little complicated, but I would not teach it, if I didn’t believe you could learn it. And for beginners, it offers the best method for creating perfect blankets every time.

All of my tips and tricks for teaching & learning the Diagonal Stitch are in my booklet
Diagonal Magic Primer.

Finally, if I have a student who continues to struggle after the second week, I put a long hook in their hands and teach them Tunisian Crochet. In my years of teaching, Tunisian Crochet (aka Afghan Stitch) is much easier to teach and to learn. I tell these students that my goal is to teach them a stitching hobby that they can love and have fun with. That does not necessarily mean classic crochet- for them. After they have mastered Tunisian Crochet and trained the mind and hands to work together, then come back to Classic Crochet... if they want to.

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What your needlework Publisher isn’t telling you....

All the time, folks ask: how to get into the Crochet Designing business, or how do I get my designs published, or what did I- ARNie- go through to publish my book?

Most folks would think that Needlework Publishing is just like Prose Publishing with all the built in protection of various Intellectual Rights: copy rights, foreign copy rights, multiple printing revenue, revenue if the copyrights are sold to another company, media rights {tv, film, internet}, where do the copyrights go after the publisher takes the book out of print.

In mainstream publishing there is a generalized pay scale based on experience and talent. Each periodic publication states up front what they will pay for a piece, and what steps to follow in submitting a work for publication.

Magazines state up front that they will not pay the author for a piece until the piece is actually published, but the time limit on keeping that piece without paying for it is only a couple of years.

Book publishers negotiate with agents on what the author gets paid or what level of rights the author keeps in exchange for a smaller payment, including royalties or a per centage of future revenues.

Book publishers offer advances or ‘good faith’ payments to authors that they purchase a finished product, but can’t actually pay the full price until the book is actually printed.

Most folks believe that Needlework Publishing is just like Prose Publishing... right? They are both Publishing industries....

Most folks believe this, and I was one of them. The simple fact is that None of this is true for needlework publishers.

Designers get paid one time for their project: no foreign publishing revenues, no revenues when the copyrights are sold to another company, no revenues if the project is used in numerous publications. Only in the last few years have needlework publishers offered royalties for multiple printings of a leaflet/booklet... but it is solely the discretion of the publisher when and if they do a second printing.

Designers loose all Intellectual Rights to the piece: no ‘creative rights’ over changes in the design or instructions, no rights if the editor or publishers would rather market this Man’s sweater as a Plus Sized Woman’s sweater, no rights or revenues if the project is posted on a website or used for other marketing purposes.

There is no standard pay scale for experience and talent; designers must negotiate with each publisher for each design submitted. And no, you can't let a literary agent negotiate for you, because literary agents don’t represent needlework authors or designers. Needlework Designers and Authors don't get paid enough money for literary agents to work with them.

As in mainstream publishing, needlework publishers can ‘accept a design and put it under contract,' but won’t pay for the design until it is actually published in a book or magazine. However, needlework publishers can and do keep those designs under contract for years... 5 years is a general time limit when the publisher will return the copyrights to the designer along with a small compensatory fee, but the publisher is under no obligation to do so, unless stated in the contract.

If a publisher offers revenues or royalties for multiple printings, and then just doesn’t print anymore until the contract runs out with the designer... there are no agents or lawyers involved to hold the publisher accountable.

There are no agents involved to make sure publishers actually use and pay for designs in a timely manner.

There are no business managers to keep track of numerous contracts and the individual details of each contract of all the projects under contract, that haven’t been paid for.

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Conclusion: Selling Finished Crochet Pieces

In Home Parties
I've had folks in Florida tell me that they host in-home parties (like Tupperware) to sell their finished crochet pieces and they do just fine. However, I did not hear them say they were making a living at this; just pleased with their results.

This sounds like a fabulous way to sell crochet... if you live in a community or apartment complex where you know your neighbors... or if you work in a large office building where folks know each other... This would work, but only if you have a large list of potential clientele that you don’t mind bringing into your home.

You would need a quiet isolated room in your home, where the rest of the family would not be tempted to intrude. Your party room, kitchen, and bathroom would need to be very clean. You would need to have refreshments, and games for ‘ice breakers’... basically, you would need to organize and host parties in your home- quite often to make your crochet pay for itself AND the expenses of hosting frequent parties.

I work out of my home; my husband is a territory sales rep, so neither of us know lots of people that we would want to invite to our home. Also, I have an open floor plan where my ‘entertaining room’ is my tv room and connected to my dining area. And I have a cat who would make the party miserable if he were locked out of that room, and make a nuisance of himself while he was in the room.

Nope, in-home parties would not work for me.

Portfolios & Contract Crochet
I had one lady tell me she created an 'artist’s' portfolio of her finished pieces and took them to local interior decorators. Her services were stitching pieces in the colors/yarns/patterns that the decorator and client chose.

Other ladies have told me they use the portfolio concept to sell their services for stitching samples for several Local Yarn Shops.

At least with this concept, you can create a finished piece ahead of time for the portfolio, and not include those projects/yarns that you absolutely hate to work with. You can also gently guide a customer into what will or will not work with the yarn they’ve chosen.

This could be a viable option, if you live in an area that has the need for a lot of interior decorators/designers. Not so in my little town in the Middle of Nowhere, Texas.

This would be great, if you live in a town with numerous independent yarn stores.... but our Local Yarn Shops have all closed, and they were primarily needle point and cross stitch shops that tried to branch out into knitting and crochet.

I love this idea of a Portfolio, but to be a successful stitcher, you would need to invest in that portfolio as much as artists, actors, & models invest in their portfolios... in other words... you really should let a professional put it together.

You would need to pay a professional photographer for the photos of your designs... and preferably one with experience in photographing things like this. Your ‘professional portrait photographer’ at Sears or WalMart is not a good option.

A top quality portfolio could make you look like a true professional worthy of top pay, but portfolios like that are expensive... and like a high priced craft show... still offers no guarantees at selling your stitching services.

Don’t misunderstand my cynicism here, I think this is a fabulous idea to crochet for pay; but as with any business; you must do your research in order to be successful. And you must be a top notch sales person with this marketing plan; because if you can’t sell the concept to Interior Designers or Yarn Store owners, you won’t have any business.

Contract Crocheting for Publishers...
I have heard that some folks do quite nicely as contract crocheters for publishers. However, I've heard complaints that an editor can dump 3 huge projects in your lap (lace table cloths, queen sized bedspreads with detailed graph work done in sc), and then they get angry when the crocheter couldn't finish all three huge projects in a week or two.

This is where you must be able to meet strict deadlines or have the time to work 8 hours a day crocheting. And your stitching must be perfect and fast, so that you can make a bedspread in a week.

Pattern Tester for Designers & Publishers....
As a pattern tester, you need to be an intuitive crocheter, so you can correct mistakes or ascertain that this is a mistake and how to correct it.

There is ok money in this from major publishers/designers, IF you can convince them to use you.

The biggest problem with contract crocheting and pattern testing is getting your name into the hands of those folks who need those types of crocheters. And honestly, I have no information on how to do that.

Before you approach an interior decorator, or a publisher for contract crocheting, chart available time that you can dedicate to crochet. Interior designers & publishers will have strict deadlines that you must meet, or they can cut your pay, or not pay at all for pieces that are excessively late.

As you can see, there are many many options of getting paid to crochet, but each avenue has it’s pitfalls and risks. Only you can determine what is the best avenue for you, and knowledge is the first step. Research, Research, Research. Armed with enough research and proper planning, you can be successful.

One final option is Designing and Publishing your own projects, and I will cover that in the days/weeks to come.

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Diagonal Stitch in a Circle

I love the Diagonal Stitch.

I love working from the center out with projects, because that allows you to use what you have on hand... when you run out of one color, you tie on another.

These are patterns I created using the principle mechanics of Diagonal Stitch, but work them in a circle. Pattern and Booklet Details ordering instructions

More Diagonal Around the Block

More examples of working the
Diagonal Stitch Around the
Block... these all start in the
center of the piece and stitch

Diagonal Stitch Around the Block

I love the scalloped edge that Diagonal Stitch creates, so I created a technique that leaves that scalloped edge intact, for instant edgings!

This is also a great technique for using up scraps, or onesies and twosies skeins of yarn. Pattern and Booklet Details ordering instructions

Diagonal Stitch-Mazes

I’m posting some photos of projects I’ve done in Corner to Corner or Diagonal Stitch.

These projects are in Diagonal Magic: Connect as You Stitch

General instructions are located here:
More Fun with Corner to Corner

You can find more information here: Pattern and Booklet Details ordering instructions

ARNie's Diagonal Stitch Projects & Techniques

Well, I’m taking a break today and posting some photos of projects I’ve done in Corner to Corner or Diagonal Stitch.

All of these techniques have instructions at my site, or can be purchased in booklets at my site.
This is from Diagonal Magic Primer but you can find
general instructions here: