I’m going to admit it, I’m frustrated. In 2013 I tried to teach crochet at every venue available to me. I started with a big box store, teaching at two locations, then a small independent yarn shop and finally at a community centre. At each location, no matter how enthusiastic I was and how devoted the staff was to spreading the art of crochet, enrolment was always low and classes were repeatedly cancelled. Tell me, everyone, why don’t you enrol in crochet classes?
I have a two theories regarding low crochet class turnout rates.
• Many crocheters are self, or nearly-self taught.
• Crochet is a highly flexible art form that is accepting to mistakes.
When you ask the average crocheter, “How’d you learn to crochet?” most will reply something along the lines of, “I saw my aunt doing it one day and took an interest. She taught me my first stitches and then I learned on my own afterwards.” That’s great! But, then again, it isn’t entirely great. I don’t want to sound like I’m a preacher of spending money and working with experts, but there are some things in crochet that you truly benefit from learning from an expert.
Crochet isn’t like some other needlearts, you can place stitches into practically any spot imaginable on a work-in-progress. This is both a blessing and a curse. Because of crochet’s inherit flexibility, many crocheters have not learned the actual correct locations to place stitches to ensure the best possible looking stitch/edge/result. Projects turn out okay, but not perfect. If you experiment on your own and you’ve got the tendency to be a anal-retentive, you may slowly discover these tricks on your own but in all likelihood you won’t. Let me give you an example. In over a year of teaching crochet I did not find one single student, beginner or advanced, who completed their first foundation row of crochet by working through the back bump of a stitch. Why is this important? If you want your very first and very last row to look identical it is necessary to do this so you will have the full v-stitch shape (both loops at the top of each stitch) on both edges. And, in my opinion, even and consistent work is important so I always stress these little tricks when teaching. It took me years to discover this trick; but, if you learn from an expert, you will quickly learn tips such as this without needing to wait that long. Plus, many of the problems crocheters complain about—”I find it hard to insert my hook in the correct spot”, “I struggle with tension”, “My hands cramp”, “The yarn slips off the hook”, etc.—can easily be solved with the recommendation of a new tool or by slight adjustment in crochet style and hand movements—two things that are easily explained in person. Point made: learn to crochet from someone who really knows what they are doing. Take a class.
I really wish enrolment would increase. That non-yarn crafters would give crochet a whirl and that non-crochet fibre artists (knitters, weavers, spinners, seamstresses, etc.) would pickup a hook and try joining the chain gang. Why it’s not happening in greater numbers simply makes me sad.
Online I hear of a resurgence in crochet on crafting websites and sites such as Etsy. Offline, I see the fashion industry trying to replicate crochet in our garments. But, where are those who want to learn? Are they all behind the glow of a monitor and web browser watching YouTube crochet tutorials? (If this is the case I hope they are on my YouTube Channel!) Are they too busy to learn a new skill? Are they flipping the pages of crochet books and deciphering stitch diagram? Or are they too afraid to ask a friend to teach them? Whatever the answer, if you ask me to teach you I will. While fibre artists do deserve to be paid to teach their craft to others and there should be a venue for them to do so, if an audience is not there and willing to pay to learn, crocheters must continue to teach. This is not a manifesto to save a dying craft—as I’ve described earlier, crochet is flourishing in unexpected and private places—it’s a declaration of intent. I will keep teaching because I love it and because others can and should be able to do so as well. No one should ever get the dreaded phone call saying a class is cancelled because they, or they and their friend, are the only people enrolled and the class is no longer cost-effective. It is much easier to learn from a person at your side than from a digital or printed resource. The art is within each of us and can be shared with a simple lesson. Keep teaching. Keep crochet.