My time spent in Iceland last year holds a special place in my heart. So many good memories of such a beautiful country, warm people and happy sheep!
I keep meaning to write more blog posts about my trip…they ARE coming…but as I’ve said before, it’s so hard to capture the experience in pictures and words.
Recently though, I completed a shawl from a yarn kit I bought while I was in Reykjavik. It was a yarn kit created by Gudrun Bjarnadottir, the owner of Hespa. Gudrun takes Einband, a single ply Icelandic wool yarn, and dyes it naturally, mainly with native Icelandic plants.
Perhaps letting her speak for herself is a better idea:
“I teach Botany at the Agricultural University of Iceland at Hvanneyri. I spend all my spare time collecting plants and coloring yarn. I also make my own yarn from the Icelandic wool. Plants, knitting and nature are my favorite things and I am so lucky to be able to combine them all in my work and life.” (Etsy Owner Description)
The past few weeks have been an awesome and yet ridiculous and blurry mishmash of back-to-back work assignments, custom orders, teaching crochet and a last-minute trip to Florida.
Not necessarily in that order.
I’m not complaining at all! I like to keep busy and Florida…well, there was no snow…
And I had a ton of time to work on some knitting projects, so overall, pretty happy with how things are progressing.
The fall out to being so busy is that I don’t update my blog nearly as often as I should. So, for this post, I thought I would show a few of the items I have completed over the past couple of weeks.
They are all skull patterns. I know. You’re not surprised! 🙂
I’m especially proud of the acrylic version of the Solid Body Skull Scarf that I made as a custom order. (Pics and description at the bottom of this post!)
Believe it or not, I do have some other projects on the go as well…but they’re works-in-progress and there isn’t much to show…yet.
The weekend that I taught crochet in Cambridge (see my blog post about that here), I also completed a few skull shawls for Black Orchid Designs to sell in their shop. They had requested a few more shawls so the week leading up to the classes, anywhere I went, I was crocheting. On the subway, in a waiting room, getting my hair done, even while walking…hooking, hooking, hooking!
The extra awesome thing about selling with Black Orchid is that the owner, Kerri, is willing to ship the items if they sell online, so they are also listed in my Etsy shop.
In addition to shawls for Black Orchid Designs, I have also been working on a couple of custom orders.
The first one was so much fun to make…mainly because it is made from alpaca and I LOVE working with alpaca fibre. The black base is a worsted 80% alpaca/20% acrylic brushed fibre, twisted with a teal alpaca/silk lace weight yarn. The awesome part is that it weighs practically nothing!
Eventually I found some balls of lace weight acrylic that seemed to do the job. I had to use a smaller crochet hook than for the wool scarf above and it took me quite some time due to my schedule…but it is complete and on its way to Scotland!
And here is the completed acrylic version! The colour changes are somewhat sharper as the wool yarn (above) is variegated and the acrylic scarf was made with four separate skeins, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!
So yes, incredibly busy these days…but still creating and playing with yarn!
In other news, I have been teaching myself brioche stitch…now THAT is an adventure in patience and soon to be its own blog post!
Last week, I was given the opportunity to teach two crochet classes at Black Orchid Designs in Cambridge, Ontario. The first class was Crochet for Beginners and the second class for those who were already familiar with crochet, How to Crochet a Skull Shawl.
This entry is a reflection on the experience but I would love to hear from you about your crochet class experiences. Have you been taught by an awesome teacher? What made them awesome? Or from the other end, have you had a crappy crochet class experience? What would have made it better?
I hope to teach again in future so any suggestions or thoughts are welcome in the comments below!
I was so excited for these two classes that I spent a lot of time preparing. It was an interesting exercise as I am almost completely self-taught. A friend started me on crochet years ago by teaching me how to make a granny square and from there I kept learning more and more through the internet and books.
So in terms of an actual class, I have no experience and have never seen how others formally teach this craft, so I did some research online and put together some materials. I also spoke to Jennifer at the Purple Purl here in Toronto just before that weekend and she offered me some incredibly helpful advice .
“Don’t use black yarn of any kind.” Hadn’t considered that, but of course! A person has to be able to see their stitches!
“You will only get through a small fraction of what you hope to teach.” I have to admit I did overplan just a tad.
Well, okay, a LOT. I had so much I wanted to share!
My original thought was to teach a granny square, which I have mentioned is the first thing I learned to do. Made up a sample and everything.
What I neglected to think about was that I spent three or four days at a friends house for girls’ weekend working on my granny square, whereas my class was only offering 2 hours.
So, yeah, not realistic.
I am pretty lucky in that I had three awesome students for my very first class. They were patient with me as I worked my way through the introduction and I really had a great time teaching. We went though the construction of crochet and the variety of hooks and yarn available.
Then we practiced chain and single crochet stitches and the students were able to start a rectangular piece that they could take home and continue to work on.
I learned a lot from my very first teaching experience…
1) My brain goes faster than my hands and my spoken words. I really need to slow down!
2) It’s difficult to teach something that you are so used to automatically just doing, without much thought. The moment you start to analyze and be aware of your movements, you suddenly get confused and forget HOW to do it!
3) I need to learn a variety of ways to hold the yarn for tension so that I can offer more suggestions. I really only know my way. Luckily, during my class, there were a couple of other people in the shop who very kindly paused at our class and offered to show us how they each held their yarn.
4) A beginner crochet class benefits from being more than one session. The students took a started piece home with them (a rectangular piece that they could continue to work on and lengthen) but we all agreed that we wished we had another scheduled session to get together again and build on the work.
5) I neglected to mention how to end a project. That would have been helpful since those in attendance were taken a scarf-like project home to work on.
There’s so much more that I took away from that first class. I’m now itching to teach more but I’m curious about other perspectives. Have you attended a crochet class that you loved/hated? What was awesome about it or what would have made it better?