How to Block Crochet… Kinda

how to block crochet...kinda - hi, jenny brown

how to block crochet...kinda - hi, jenny brownYou know that feeling when you finally finish crocheting an impossible pattern, weave in a nearly insurmountable pile of ends, and wonder…how can I make this process longer and more frustrating?  Well, then blocking is for you!  There are plenty of reasons to block crochet pieces – to help them fit better, to show off a fancy stitch pattern, or to justify the $25 you spent on blocking wires.  Below are some super helpful tips on how to block crochet.

1. Be honest: do you really need to block it?

Blocking crochet will take the wrinkly piece you’ve been slaving over for months and help it reach its full potential – but news flash, it’s not that fun.  So before you even get started, decide if you really, really, really need to block your piece.  Maybe you can just lay it upside down on a table and push it a little with your hand and hope that some healing shiatsu magic will flatten it out (my personal favorite).  Maybe you can just put it in the dryer, and if it doesn’t turn out, pretend that it ended up in there accidentally.  Or maybe you can put it in a pile with other pieces and hope that they’ll all encourage each other to magically smooth out (I lied, this is my real favorite). Try wasting some time coming up with your own technique.

how to block crochet...kinda - hi, jenny brown

2. Buy unnecessary items

A quick googlation will find you tons of blocking pins and boards and stiffeners.  I strongly suggest buying them all and storing them deep in your already overflowing craft room…but you don’t need to.  Most pins are rust proof (the only thing you really need to worry about), and you can make your own blocking board with a piece of classy cardboard covered with an old towel (if you’re blocking with water) or waxed paper (if you’re using starch). Or just pin to your ironing board…it’s about time you use it for something.

Below is a dry blocking technique colloquially known as “I’m too lazy to find a piece of cardboard and dig through the towels, so I’ll just pin it to this corkboard dry and hope that does something.”

how to block crochet...kinda - hi, jenny brown3. Make it harder (or not)

Most of the time you’ll just use water to soften up your piece before holding it in place with no fewer than 759 pins, but sometimes you’ll want to stiffen the piece up a bit.  I like to use non-aerosol spray starch because it’s the only kind available at my local supermarket.  If you just want a little stiffness, you can wet the piece down with water first, then after pinning, spray a little starch on top.  Or, if you’re trying to create a doily that can stand up by itself (true story), you can wet it completely with starch 4 times, using 2 full bottles, then paint it with watered down glue.  I don’t suggest that.

how to block crochet...kinda - hi, jenny brown

4. Regret the results

This is the part where you realize that you didn’t really do your best.  Did you only get the piece kinda wet because you felt like that would probably still work?  Did you pin one side really tight and the other side kind of floppy?  Did you, in a moment of pure exasperation, iron it flat as a melted pancake? Worst of all, did you punk out and only use 500 pins? Well, no worries.  Remember that pile of unblocked pieces?  You can just put that puppy right back in there and try again another day.

how to block crochet...kinda - hi, jenny brown

I hope you got some really helpful tips, but if you want to block something properly, I suggest checking out this tutorial by Annie’s Craft Store.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Pom-Poms Pom Bomb

Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny Brown

Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny Brown Last October, I signed up for a class with Kim Werker, Betsy Greer, and Leanne Prain in Brooklyn (where I serendipitously met internet friend Kelly of Our Secret Treehouse). Afterward I tried to make non-awkward small talk with my craft heroes, and Leanne mentioned that a great way to get kids involved in yarnbombing is to let them make pom-poms.  I tucked that in the back of my mind for just the right project.

Ugly creature class photo! #mightyugly #makemendreflect

A photo posted by Kim Werker (@kpwerker) on

Fast forward to this spring: I was hanging with the folks of Metuchen Yarnbombing, coming up with ideas for a yarnbomb booth at the town’s upcoming art festival, when I blurted out “pom-poms!” When our first plan was denied due to the possibility of irreparable damage to foliage (???), Jen bought the perfect kid-sized fence to cover in yarny cuteness. On Friday night, our crew gathered at the appropriate street corner and looked over the sample pom-poms we each made.  It had been sticky and hot all day, there weren’t many folks walking around, and I figured we were in for an evening of sitting around winding yarn.   Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny Brown I remember asking a group of teenagers if they wanted to try making a pom-pom…  Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny Brown And then, the droves… Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny BrownFor the next 3 hours, I repeated the key phrases “Don’t wrap too tight or your fingers will fall off,” “Are you safe with scissors?” and “It’s OK if you cut me, but let’s be careful so we don’t hurt anyone else” again and again.  I’m not afraid to put scissors or needles or pins into the hands of newbie crafters, but there was such a crowd, and it was getting darker by the minute. Luckily, we made it through the entire night without a single injury. IMG_5193(There was also the added danger of pom-pom projectiles, as some genius told the kids that the only way to get a pom-pom to fluff up was the throw it in the air.  I even told the super shy kids that the higher they threw it, the fluffier it would be.  I can’t get enough of kids making that face that just says “Really?”) Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny Brown I wish I could show you a picture of the fence completely covered in poms, but truthfully, we let most of the kids walk away with their new little buddies.  How could I judge someone for falling in love with their first little yarn creation? Pom-Pom Pom bomb - Hi, Jenny BrownI was completely exhausted by the time we left, but as I told CH on the way home, “I wish I could do this every day.”  So if you need a crazy lady to come tell your kids “If you keep wrapping the yarn so tight, your fingers will fall off,” give me a call.  Otherwise, you can make your own pom-poms with kids with just their hands or even a fork at home.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Knitting Group Egos

Knitting Group Egos - Hi, Jenny Brown

There are few things better than a good knitting group (I know I’m a crocheter, but the truth is that most of the groups I’ve been in have been knitting groups with a small crochet contingent).  It’s great to look forward to sitting around with other stitchers and doing the thing you all love (especially with my last group, which met in the best bar ever).  Of course, that many intelligent, talented, and opinionated folks in one room, creating some of the most beautiful needlework the word has ever seen, means a few may be playing with a slightly inflated ego.  That’s why  I can’t get this McSweeney’s piece “There Are No Egos in Our Knitting Group” by Jeremy Blackman out of my head!  It reminds me of so many moments of judgment in knitting and crochet meet-ups, stitch ‘n’ bitch groups, yarn stores, and overpriced classes where I’ve encountered the infamous knitting group ego. Below are my flawed remembrances of these meanies.

And don’t forget – if you can’t figure out who in your knitting group has the biggest ego, it’s probably you.Knitting Group Egos - Hi, Jenny Brown

“I can’t show you how to do this because of the way you knit, so you’ll have to figure it out.” – The woman I was paying for group knitting lessons at a local yarn shop

Erin: [Holding up two balls of yarn] “What about these two colors together?”
Me: [Making puking face] “Why would you do that to me?”

Knitting Group Egos - Hi, Jenny Brown

“Oh, you do that kind of stuff? I prefer the really big yarnbombs, like cars and things like that.” – A lady at my old knitting group who probably didn’t think I would take this as a personal affront

“I can see your stitches here, here, and here.” – Me, pointing out someone’s visible joining like a total jerk.  Honest, it was a joke!

Knitting Group Egos - Hi, Jenny Brown

“So you’re looking for *cheap* yarn?”– Yarn shop worker, when I said I was allergic to wool

New Knitter: [Showing her first FO] “You can take a look at it to see if there are any mistakes.”
Me: “Oh no, it looks great.  It’s really good.  Oh, I mean, well, obviously you have a twisted stitch here and some issues here…” 

Knitting Group Egos - Hi, Jenny Brown

Me: [to a new group of knitters & hookers I was trying to impress] “I’m a pretty fast crocheter.”
Erin: “I always thought you were really slow.  It takes her forever…”

“You can leave it, but I would tear it out. Oh look over there! [start frogging]” -Me, to nearly everyone I’ve taught to crochet, most recently to a teenager.  I shared this with my mom, and she said these folks will thank me because their next project will be right — so now you know where I get it.

Egos come out in every knitting group. Mean comments I've heard (and said) at knitting groups - Hi, Jenny Brown

“Why would you make that?” – My mom, when presented with anything I’m working on

“Please don’t buy that stupid, ugly baby yarn that you like.” – Me to my mom when she asked my opinion on yarn for her next project

Knitting Group Egos - Hi, Jenny Brown

I hope no one is surprised that the majority of the meanness here is mine, but as someone said to me at last week’s meetup “You’re really not that mean.” High praise indeed.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

PS – want to share the mean things I (or other folks) have said to you?  Share in the comments or hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  I’d love to help you come up with some good comebacks!

Tips and Tricks for Double Strand Crochet

Double Strand Crochet Tips and Tricks - Hi, Jenny Brown

Double Strand Crochet Tips and Tricks - Hi, Jenny BrownI’ve been working hard on a secret yarn-bomb project that involves a lot of different yarns and techniques (that will hopefully all come together in a beautifully cohesive display, right?), and one of my favorite is double strand crochet.

Double Strand Crochet Techniques - Hi, Jenny BrownDouble strand crochet is the same as regular crochet, but you’ll be holding two strands straight in your non-dominant hand instead of just one.  As you work each stitch, be sure you have equal tension on both strands and are pulling both strands through each loop.  The technique is simple, but it may take some time to perfect the tension and check for mistakes.

Common mistakes people make with Double Strand Crochet

  • Tangling Yarn – Keeping one ball on each side of you, like this cutie, will reduce the opportunities for knots and tangles

Double Strand Crochet - Hi, Jenny Brown

  • Using a hook that’s too small – Working with a hook that isn’t big enough will crush your yarn and really put a stain on your hooking hand.  Try a couple different hook sizes to find the perfect look.
  • Dropping one strand – When you drop a strand for part of a stitch, you’ll be tempted to continue the stitch with both strands and pretend this little incident never happened.  Don’t do it!  You’ll totally see that wonky weak part every time you look at your piece.
  • Not keeping even tension – If you have one strand looser than the other, you’ll get bumpy loops all over the place.  Not cute.
  • Forgetting to Rest – The increased thickness of the yarn will make hands tired, so be nice and give yourself a break here and there.

Benefits of Double Strand Crochet

  • Create a stronger fabric – double strand crochet is perfect for items that need a little extra body, including baskets, potholders, or cozies (like the one I made for my Kitchen Aid mixer, because why not?)
  • Add extra color and dimension – When Erin and I got up close and personal with NaomiRAG’s work, we realized she used double strand crochet to give her pieces more color and depth. It’s the perfect alternative to tapestry crochet, and I’m sure you’ll agree the end result is totally amazing.
Crochet Double Strand - Hi, Jenny Brown
Photo by Erin Markan – Piece by NaomiRAG
  • Make novelty yarns easier to handle – Novelty yarns catch a lot of flack, but there are times when nothing else will do… like, say, when you need to make a giant muppet-esque orange circle. It is really difficult to see previous stitches in the funkiest novelty yarns, so adding a plain yarn (in a similar color if you don’t want it to show) will allow you to count your stitches easily and place those increases in the perfect place.

Double Stranding with Novelty Yarn - Hi, Jenny Brown

  •  Calm a crazy yarn – If you’ve got a loud, variegated yarn in your stash that you totally hate, try double-stranding with a coordinating or neutral yarn.  You’ll calm that ugly right down.

Why you should really, really, really make a swatch first

You might not know how two yarns will work with each other, so it’s best to do a quick swatch to see how they’ll interact and if you like the effect. Also, this is a great time to try different hook sizes to find out which will look best.  If you’re using a novelty yarn, you may also want to vary your stitches – taller stitches look much better with fun fur because it gives the yarn more room to puff out.

But the main reason you should really, really, really make a swatch first is that double strand crochet is a total pain to frog. With double strand crochet, the two yarns will pull out side-by-side, and you’ll have a heck of a time getting them neatly and knotlessly separated.  (If you have a Craft Husband handy, you can ask him to pull one strand while you pull the other and each roll the yarn back into a ball.)

How to double strand using crochet couching

Crochet Couching - Hi, Jenny Brown

Some yarns look great with regular double stranding, but if you’re using a novelty yarn with special bits and bobs (like this puff ball yarn), then you’ll want to try this technique.  (Please keep in mind – I think I made up this term.  If you know the real name, please let me know – but I thought it was similar to it’s embroidery cousin, and I’ve been watching a lot of British Sewing Bee lately.)

  1. Complete the chain and first row of your piece with the main yarn as you normally would
  2. Hold the novelty and main yarn in your non-dominant hand as you would for regular double strand crochet
  3. Begin next row by crocheting main yarn over novelty yarn (like when you’re doing tapestry crochet) until you get to a puff ball
  4. Push puff ball to right side of piece (this will happen naturally when you’re working on the right side)
  5. Chain 1, skip 1, and sc in the next sc to secure puff ball
  6. Pull novelty yarn slightly to ensure there are no loose loops
  7. Repeat to end
  8. In next row, continue in the same way, single crocheting in ch spaces when necessary

Double Strand Alternative – Surface Crochet

Surface Crochet - Hi, Jenny Brown

If you’re having trouble holding two strands at once but still want to have a multi-strand effect, try surface crochet.

  1. Keep yarn at back of piece. Push hook down through first space.
  2. Pull up loop and pull yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.
  3. Continue by inserting hook into next space, pulling up loop, and pulling yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.

You can crochet into the surface crochet stitches as you would any chain to add height.

Surface Crochet with tall stitches - Hi, Jenny Brown

If you have any questions about double strand crochet, leave them in the comments below or come talk to me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Why You Need A Craft Husband

Craft Husband Crocheting - HiJennyBrown

Last night I showed Stretch an instagram from a popular crocheter and speculated that she was now single.  “Do you think she needs a Craft Husband?” he asked.

Before I could retort, our friend (who claims to read this blog – hi, Liar!) said: “What’s a Craft Husband?”

Why every crafter need a Craft Husband - Hi, Jenny Brown

What what? A Craft Husband (Wife / Boyfriend / Girlfriend / Friendo ) is your crafty partner in crime who is required to love you even if you do leave pins on the floor and tiny yarn snips in every crevice.  So basically, the best person ever.

Craft Husband Crocheting - HiJennyBrown

A Craft Husband has just enough craft knowledge to be dangerous

Craft Husband can tell the difference between knitting and crochet, the instances when you should use Red Heart, and the identity of quite a few yarn blogs and bloggers (although after last night’s incident, I may ask him to spend a little less time getting to know bloggers). He’s also better at picking the right item from a craft store than a grocery store.

Craft Husband - Hi, Jenny Brown

A Craft Husband will go with your to craft events

And they’ll actually enjoy it!

Craft Husbands can reach the things you can only point at - Hi, Jenny Brown

A Craft Husband is a helpful planner

If you’re looking for your own Craft Husband, might I suggest finding a tall, architect type?  Stretch (hence the name) is the best at reaching all the high places I can only point to.  He knows how to make yarnbombs structurally sound(ish).  Oh, and he’s darn good at picking colors. I mean, it might not be the best color scheme, but he can actually decide on a yarn and take it to the register in under 30 minutes.  How does he do that?

Craft Husband - HiJennyBrown

A Craft Husband thinks outside the craft

While all that craft knowledge is great, it’s also good to have someone to think outside what you think is even possible with yarn.  He doesn’t know all the craft’s limitations, so he can think freely of new ideas and techniques. This occasionally backfires because he doesn’t know how much time making takes, so he’ll join me in the delusion that I can crochet anything in 24 hours.

Why you definitely need a craft husband - Hi, Jenny Brown

A Craft Husband proudly wears the things you make

Finding someone who will love your handmade gifts isn’t that difficult, true, but Craft Husband will tell folks immediately they’re handmade, who made them, and why they are special.  There’s nothing better than having someone you love explain cables to a stranger or discuss the never-ending nightmare that is seaming.

Why you need a Craft Husband - Hi, Jenny BrownA Craft Husband allows you to carry double the stuff

If you think that’s nothing, you’re not doing enough projects (or enough damage at the craft store)

Happy Birthday Banner - HiJennyBrown

That’s probably a little too much praise to heap on a Craft Husband, but it is his birthday today: the big 4-0! Thanks, Craft Husband, for all you do and for all you will do (Did I tell you Erin and I are working on a 7 foot yarn bomb?  We’re gonna need a tall guy).

Bye,
Jenny Brown

5 Common Crochet Mistakes: Fix it or Forget it?

fix uneven ends - hijennybrown.com

I make the most crochet mistakes when I’m a) in a hurry or b) sick, and lucky for me, both conditions are true this week!  It inspired me to share with you 5 common crochet mistakes and tips to help you locate and fix the problem or ignore it completely.

My chain is too tight - hijennybrown.com

1. I can’t get the hook in the starting chain

FIX IT: As a founding member of the Tight Crocheters Club, I know it’s hard to just relax and go with the flow on your starting chain, but seriously, you gotta chill.  Frog the original chain and try making even, looser chains.  If your chains are too tight or sloppy, chain with a hook one size larger than the one required for the pattern, then use the smaller (original) hook for your first row.

FORGET IT: If size doesn’t matter (say for a yarnbomb or applique project), use a hook one size smaller than the one you used for the chain to complete your first row.  Better yet, you can always summon your angriest thoughts and drill that hook into the starting chain whether it likes it or not.  Why does your sister only call when she wants something?  Why hasn’t your husband taken out the recycling already?  Why are your favorite yarns always being discontinued? Use that anger for good!

what to do when your hat is too small - hijennybrown.com

2. This hat is too big/small

FIX IT: I know you’re tempted to tell yourself that your mother-in-law won’t mind having her head continually squeezed during every wear, but she really will – plus, she’ll tell you about it every chance she gets.  If you haven’t yet woven in your ends, measure the final hat and try it on (if it’s for someone with a similar head size).  Mark any ill-fitting places with safety pins and take notes on the row and location.  Then remove all the pins, frog that bad boy, and make a perfect hat.

FORGET IT: If you’ve already woven in the ends, wash and block the hat to see if it can be pulled to a better size/shape.  If it still won’t work, send it to an organization that accepts new, handmade hats.  If it’s too big/small for any human, look around your downtown for statues with a shrunken or inflated cranium.

fix uneven ends - hijennybrown.com

3. My edges are a disgrace

FIX IT: There are plenty of reasons why the edge of your rows look like garbage, and I’m guilty of every one.  You may be missing the last stitch of each row, forgetting your turning chain, failing to skip the first stitch if you’re doing double crochet, and on and on.  The best way to figure it out is to count each row and see if you are adding or subtracting stitches.

FORGET IT: If it’s not too terrible, add an edging to cover everything up.  If it’s just ridiculous, consider your frenemy’s Christmas present finished ahead of schedule.

fixing crochet circles - hijennybrown.com

4. My circle is not…circular

FIX IT: If your circle wobbles or turns in on itself, you may have too many or too few stitches in each row.  Check your pattern to ensure you are increasing correctly, and try a smaller hook for ruffling circles and a larger hook for turning in circles. If you’re not following a pattern, try increasing or decreasing the number or stitches in your starting round or try a larger (dc instead of sc) or smaller (sc instead of dc) stitch for each round.

FORGET IT: You might be able to do a row of even decreases or increases around, or simply a row without increases, to get your circle back on track.  Or maybe you can just squish it down with your hand until it’s flat-ish.

Weaving in Ends - hijennybrown.com

5. I hate weaving in ends

FIX IT: Beautifully woven-in ends will make your finished project look polished and will ensure it lasts a long time.  Try weaving in your ends as you go (and remember to have a long enough tail so ends remain secure).  You may also want to splurge for some cute bent tip darning needles that make weaving in a lot easier.  Maybe you need pretty glass needles from Moving Mud (are you listening, Craft Husband?)

FORGET IT: Don’t bother and pretend it’s intermittent fringe.

Bye and Happy NyQuilling,
Jenny Brown

Some photos courtesy Erin of Folks Collected.  Thanks, Erin!

How to buy your first crochet hook

hook and heart - hijennybrown

No one every told me how to buy crochet hooks, so I took the same approach I’ve perfected in the ice cream aisle – buy everything that appeals to me. I’ve bought some real duds and made some lucky discoveries, but I would have saved a lot of money and indecision if I had known what to get before I got there. So don’t do what I did – just follow this infographic on how to buy your first crochet hook.

Click the image below to view or download a PDF that you can zoom in on and study before your trip to the craft store.  Of course, if you have any questions, just search for @hijennybrown on your favorite social media platform and drop me a line.

how to buy your first crochet hook - hijennybrown.com

 

While you’re at it, also check out the Hi, Jenny Brown guide to Buying Your First Ball of Yarn.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Buying Your First Ball of Yarn

Buying Your First Ball - hijennybrown.com

Last week I was roaming around my local chain craft store when I overheard two ladies begging a clerk to help them figure out what and how much yarn to buy for a pattern they had brought along.  Unfortunately he didn’t know, but fortunately, I will butt into ANY conversation.  A few minutes later we were doing some quick calculations to determine what needles to buy and how many skeins to throw in the cart. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and I think it’s only fair to take some time this year to share my yarn, hook, and pattern info with you.  This week we investigate the best yarn to buy for a variety of projects.  This graphic is perfect for beginners who are ready to buy their very first ball of yarn but are feeling so very overwhelmed.  Click the image below to view or download a PDF that you can zoom in on and study before your trip to the yarn store.  Of course, if you have any questions, just drop search for @hijennybrown on your favorite social media platform and drop me a line.

Buying Your First Ball of Yarn - Hi, Jenny Brown

Bye,
Jenny Brown

“You Know What You Should Make?”

You Know What You Should Make HiJB

You Know What You Should Make HiJB

Someday, scientists will discover the specific gene that forces the majority of the population to approach the maker nearest them and confidently inquire: “You Know What You Should Make?”

It does not matter if this is a thing even remotely related to what the maker creates.  It doesn’t matter if it’s even a good thing to make.  It doesn’t matter if the person receiving such information shows a modicum of interest.  Due to this genetic disorder, the teller is forced, beyond their biology, to tell you what you should make.

And every time a YKWYSM? happens, I become instantly defensive.

What I want to respond to “You Know What You Should Make?”:

  • A call to your therapist?
  • A stiffer drink?
  • Something you saw on Etsy, only cheaper and just for you?
  • Let me guess…it’s ugly, right?
  • If you say “hats.” “baby clothes,” or “baby hats,” I WILL FLIP OUT!
  • Yes.  In fact, I’m working on it right now.  I spend a large quantity of time working on new patterns, projects, and plans.  Would you like to hear about them, or do you just want to tell me your half-cocked idea?

I try to be really open to new ideas, but there’s something about that phrase that shuts me down.  Why do I feel like it’s an attack?  Why do I want to run screaming from every iteration?  I’m sure it comes from some lack of self-confidence, because it’s so difficult for makers and solopreneurs to assure the real or assumed doubters that we’re running real businesses.  You can’t imagine the average person running into an emergency room and yelling to the doctor: “You Know What You Should Do?” You assume the surgeon is a professional and has more knowledge than you.  It’s both a benefit and a hindrance that people feel so connected to indie businesses that they freely share their thoughts and ideas.

And the worst part?  Every once in a while, they have good ideas.

So, let’s view all the YKWYSM? folks as free research: they feel connected to us and possibly, our business.  They want to feel helpful, and good news, we can give them what they want.  And they are reacting to what they believe is the true nature of our business (something we might not be communicating as well as we think).  So wall off your heart, and the next time someone says, “You Know What You Should Make?”, suppress your smirk. Try your best to fight the Pavlovian response to this inquiry that amazingly combines eye-rolling and side-eye.

Give a tiny smile, connect to your curiosity, and imagine the tall drink you’re going to have after this…

“No, what?”

Phew, the easy part is over.  Unfortunately, now you have to listen to what will probably be a ramble of knitting, crochet, glue guns, glitter, and something they saw on Ellen.  Let your mind race – could you actually make that thing?  Would people want it?  What would be your spin on it?  Craft in your mind for one blissful moment.  Or, just look into their eyes as convincingly as you can until they take a breath. Now you can exclaim:

“Totally.  Can you email that to me?  I’m so bad about forgetting all the great ideas people tell me.”

That’s right, put the onus on them.  Just think of how important they’re going to feel! Or, if you’re feeling kind, just say thank you.  Then excuse yourself and grab that tall drink you were thinking about.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

10 Tips to Help Kids Love Crochet

Alexander at Knit the Bridge - hijennybrown

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve held something yummy in my hand and said “Just take one little bite.  Just lick it.  I KNOW you’ll like it!” only to be met with the most incredulous snarl imaginable.

Sometimes I forget: you simply can’t tell kids what to like, even if you’re really, really, really, really sure they would like something…say, the wonderfully awesome craft that is crochet?  Even if they don’t become prolific hookers themselves (although wouldn’t that be the freaking best?), there are a few ways to get them to appreciate crochet without being overbearing.10 tips to help kids love crochet

 

10 Tips to Help Kids Love Crochet

*Also, please be cool with the fact that some of these pics are dark and blurry, even for me.  If you’ve ever tried to catch a kid in the act of crafting, you feel my feels.  The pretty, focused, well-lit pictures are by Erin Markan of Folks Collected.  Thanks, Erin!*

1. Make them something to love

IMG_0344

You’ve probably already done this, so cheers!  If not, this is your chance to blow their socks off – make them a minecraft blanket to cuddle with while they play the game, crochet their favorite animal in their favorite color to make a mystical new creature, or hook them something with their name on it. I usually stick to tv or video game toys because those get the most “OOOOHHH!”s.

Saveliy Mushroom - hijennybrown

2. Make the ugly thing you don’t want to make

Alexander and the green and blue hat

I asked Alexander if I could knit him a hat, and he insisted on it being green and blue stripes.  Oh, the very idea was nauseating, but I bought some really soft yarn and went with it.  He really loves it and never misses an opportunity to tell someone I made it.

3. Let them read your crochet books

I know your crochet books are holy, but if you have one or two they can peruse (especially if you’re willing to make something they pick), leave them just within reach. Liam still loves this Amigurumi book, but he’s lost interest in my stitch dictionaries (who can blame him).

Liam with book - hijennybrown

If you’re not ready to share pattern books, you can pick up a kid’s book with a knit or crochet theme.  I have and love Extra Yarn.

4. Involve them in your projects any way you can

yarnbomb - hijennybrown

Alexander and I just donated a square to Yarnbomber for his new project.  I picked the type of yarn I wanted to use ahead of time and shoved it all in a bag before we rode in the back seat together on a trip to NYC. Although Alexander doesn’t crochet yet, I asked him if he would help me by picking the color order so I could do the crochet.  I think he felt important without being overwhelmed with involvement (with plenty of time between color picks to play Minecraft).

yarnbomb close-up - hijennybrown

When Yarnbomber received our donation and posted it online, Alexander’s mom was sure to show him the post and define the word “brochet” for him.  He thought it was “cool” that hundreds of people liked our work, and he is relishing his involvement in the “bombsquad.”

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I think I’ll have no trouble getting him to help with the next project.

5. Show them something huge and unusual

Annie and Eisa - hijennybrown
Eisa & Annie

I know that what you make is amazing (duh), but if you have the opportunity, seek out a chance to show them crochet in a way they never imagined.

Marcus and Paige at KTB - hijennybrown
Marcus & Paige

Our Knit the Bridge crew brought a ton of happy, crochet- and knit-loving kiddos.

heartbomb - hijennybrown

They were also on-hand for our heart-bombing (although they mostly ate the heart-shaped cookies Erin made).

alexander eating cookies

They also love looking through my instagram feed for “yarning” or checking out installations and projects by wonderful artist like Olek, Knits for Life, and Twinkie Chan.

6. Let them touch your yarn

kidonyarn

If you haven’t closed the browser window already, let me explain: letting them tear your yarn apart and string it across the house gives them permission to love yarn.  I use an old set of lockers to store my stash: I put the most-loved yarn high and the crappy acrylic down low.  I bet you can guess what they go for…

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Bonus if you let them play with your projects (these are coozies for the Warsaw Bar yarnbomb – they make great mittens).

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And these are the sample pieces for the Teacher Gift Cup Cuff.

7. Explain what you’re doing

The easiest thing in the world.  No prepared speech needed here, just tell them what you’re making, who it’s for, and why you think they’ll like it. Let them know it’s not a mindless task but a way for you to share your talent with someone who will love it. (M&Ms optional)

8-14-2014 Hi Jenny Brown, First and Last Day142

8. Ask them for their input

These are the cutest critics you’ll ever have.  I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve given me very sweet feedback or seen a problem I didn’t (which, I know, is hard to take).

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Prepare yourself for less-than-positive reactions.

9. Put a hook in their hand

Babes crocheting in hotel - hijennybrown

Let them pick the giant pink, bubbly Q hook and try to make a stitch.  Let them turn your golden Js into light sabers.  Let them spill all the hooks on the floor and put them, one by one, back in the container.

Liam Knitting - hijennybrown

I try to elevate my hooks one step above toy, one step below tool.  They’re free to play with them, but they’ve got to be picked up, put away, and kept out of that spaghetti, please.

10. Let them walk away

Alexander at Knit the Bridge - hijennybrown

Occasionally the boys will ask to help me, or to make their own design, or to learn how to crochet/do yarning.  I hold their hands, I go through the motions, and I patiently allow them to quit and walk away a few minutes later. They’re not ready to crochet yet, I know, and I try not to let my impatience show.  I know that some day they’ll be great crocheters…or should I say…brocheters.

Do you have any tips & tricks for getting kids to love crochet or other crafts?  Share them in the comments!

Bye,
Jenny Brown