For the past couple of weeks I have been doing Tunisian crochet. This has been due to the fact I taught my first crochet class this week. It was the first of a series of six lessons based at The Home Crafters in Yate; introducing different techniques and the subject for the first class was Tunisian Crochet. During the course of week I also watched a video on habits and the different ways that people respond to rules. I discovered that I am a obliger – absolutely driven by external rules, not wanting to let people down and responding to deadlines. The negative is that I completely disregard any self imposed deadlines and usually fail to complete much that I start! Anyway, I had the deadline for the first class and for which I needed to prepare. The preparation has been undulating in nature, to put it politely!
I started with this scarf by Woolpedia (the bottom of the two) which starts from the middle and requires the use of an extended Tunisian crochet hook. Whilst a written pattern did exist I would have had to buy the materials – I didn’t want to do that, I just wanted the pattern. There was however, a video. I’m not the best at following the videos as I go backwards and forwards stopping and starting so many times that in the end I do tend to get lost. It also had a lot to do with the way that it was explained. Teaching to everybody clearly is really difficult and something I know too well from my past as a teacher. You might have explained it in a way that you thought was obvious – to anyone. And to most, it probably is, however, there will alway be at least one person who just doesn’t get it and so you have to find a different way to explain it. This is the problem with the You Tube videos – sometimes you want to tell them ‘I didn’t quite understand it’, ‘Can you explain it to me in a different way?’. Some you might get straight away – for me this is the Crochet Crowd – but others you could watch over and over again and never quite understand. The only contact you have with the presenter on the video is via comments, which aren’t always replied to, so as a method of learning it has its flaws. Anyway after several aborted attempts I did get to the bottom of the pattern – so incredibly simple and combined with the Sirdar Crofter DK yarn has created a really pretty effect and I can’t wait to get it finished.
The second project I started on was a Tunisian Entrelac Blanket. Again, I went to you tube, again, I didn’t understand the video and again I reverted to the Crochet Crowd. Fabulous. I was off. The video was clear and the best bit about it was about half way through when Mike the presenter admitted that initially he had been put off by this technique. However, after being shown what to do by a really good teacher he understood that it wasn’t that difficult at all. Even the best presenters sometimes have to be shown how to do something. I loved that, I loved that he could be that honest and that having had his lesson he was then keen to share the benefit of his learning to others. The only downside with the Crochet Crowd is sometimes the way the camera is angled you can’t actually see what the presenter is doing because the main body of the work is in the way – but at least the explanations are clear.
Finally I started this scarf. I shared my progress with the scarf on Instagram earlier this week in the photo shown above. You may notice that it now looks different. This is, in fact, the third time I have started this scarf. It originally appeared in Simply Crochet Issue 35. I don’t know what I did with the magazine, but as part of the house declutter it would seem I have recycled it. So step number 1 was to order a back copy. However, I did know that I had tried the scarf before and aborted the attempt – I used the Drops yarn and the hook size they recommended. The pattern was plain wrong – and from what I knew of Tunisian crochet the effect on the picture was not being achieved by what I was doing. So I knew that I needed to go up at least a hook size. With pattern back in hand I started again – using the stitches I thought were right to create the effect in the picture – similar, but still not quite what was in the magazine. Following yet another hunt I discovered there was an addendum – apparently the technique is achieved by doing an ‘extended’ Tunisian stitch. So now, attempt 3, the scarf is looking more like the pictures – but it’s still wrong. The fabric I am creating is still not that shown in the pictures in the magazine, but I can’t bring myself to start again for a 4th time and at least with this version the increases are correct.
Part of my reason for embarking on this journey is to be able to write my own patterns, produce my own books because I am so fed up of patterns being wrong, tutorials missing steps out and the general frustrations that come from learning new techniques. One of the ladies at my class knew the basic techniques of Tunisian crochet but couldn’t understand why her projects were turning out so badly. It turned out the initial video she had used to learn the technique was incorrect. She was thrilled to bits to have that part put right. Next week she is bringing along her blanket project so we can try to get to the bottom of is wrong with the pattern – because the assumption is the pattern is wrong – it’s one she downloaded from the internet. The internet is a fabulous thing, you tube is a fabulous thing and I use it as much as the next man. It has opened the doors to all sorts of learning about every topic under the sun, but the lack of attention to detail in some presentations is hugely frustrating. As you know I am completing the International Diploma in Crochet. Part of the reason for this is that I will understand how to write patterns properly. I could write them now. I could publish them now, but I would not be at all happy knowing that my work could be causing people to be so frustrated. I want to enthuse people, to inspire people, not turn people off because the pattern or tutorial they are following makes no sense. So in an attempt to put this right I am starting to put together my own tutorials on how to complete these techniques – which will be tested prior to being published!