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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Small crochet projects to sell: a zippered key cover tutorial

9:53:00 PM 0 Comments
Have you ever think that you have too much excess yarn like I do?
My experience taught me that left over yarn is valuable when it followed by a matching crochet pattern.

Previously, I was happy utilising the left over to make mini appliqués, but then I lost my mojo to crochet flowers or other appliques, what do we do then?
I have tons of left over yarn after making a bag, rugs, and blankets. They have different texture, colours and sizes. I felt that I was barely make money with it.

Until one day, during my lazy time surfing on Pinterest, a key cover free pattern caught my attention. I copy the pattern and made some of it. Well, my first batch was not a great success, and decided to gave them to my friends but then ask for a review. Hearing my friends honest comments really help me to make some improvements. And they started to sell! I am happy to share tutorials that will include both, key cover which made following original pattern and updated key cover with some upgrades.

1. Key Cover Original Pattern 

There are hundreds of key cover pattern available on Pinterest. But since this is the first time I am into it, I decided to pick the easiest. The pattern I adopted is not written in english, but it is easy to understand. Unfortunately, the pattern does not comes up with yarn and crochet hook suggestion. So, I was totally blind, how big it is going to be. I decided to go with small ply soft cotton yarn, using 2.5mm crochet hook.
This pattern saved from this link, easiest key cover pattern that I can make. I do not understand the words, but the pattern is just readable to me.
On First trial making key cover, it turns out to have 7cm of width and 9cm of height (2.5mm crochet hook with small ply cotton yarn), not too big. It fits only for 2-3 keys inside. But they looks sooo cute. I used local made cotton yarn from Crochet Republic. Bought them when the store had sale and I love it. It is quite soft (but not too soft also), and not too stiff nor itchy. The colour not even fade after my friend used the key cover for 2 weeks, but need to find out later whether it is going to fade after washing.

First time making these key cover. We absolutely can play with colours , beads, buttons and anything.
I have to admit, even though the key cover looks extremely cute, since this thing is not quite popular yet in Indonesia, it was hard to sell them. I decided to gave some to my friend as a gift with an exchange receiving an honest review of the product. My beloved friend's reviews are true gold. They reviewed the size, the length of the tail that hold the ring to attach keys, the yarn, and put some other things that might make the key cover make more sales, which I never think about it before.

2. Functional Improvements of Key Cover's Original Pattern

**First thing that I need to work on is the length of the tail. Apparently, I made it too short, so whenever the user need to use the keys, they should pull the cover a little bit hard, not really nice though :(. But later on, I make sure that I added extra 1-2 cm from its height.

Blue circles point to the extra 2 cm long I added on the A key cover compared to the B key cover.

As seen on the picture above, the 'B' key cover is the first batch I made. The key ring hardly seen to be pulled out. Took the lesson, and then I added extra 2 cm for the second batch. Both A and B were made exactly using the same pattern, but since my beloved friend said it only able to takes up 2-3 keys inside, I made it with a bigger-acrylic yarn. Well, it is rather stiff, but on this size ( 14 cm tall and 11 cm width), it can manage 6-7 keys inside.

Another option is using bigger ply of cotton yarn. I have tried it by using worsted cotton from local yarn shop too (Poyenghobby), using 4.5 mm crochet hook, then it meets almost all the requirements. It has comfy size (9cm of width and 10 cm tall), the tail a lot easier to pull out. The last, worsted cotton make it smoother compared to acrylic, so then it would not scratch any other thing inside your bag or pocket.

All those three key cover were made with the same pattern too. The pink is made out of super soft baby cotton, using 3mm crochet hook, the blue was made with worsted cotton using 4.5mm crochet hook and the grey-sleeping baby owl key cover using 100% acrylic yarn with 4.5mm crochet hook. The difference clearly seen on their size. The lesson is, if customer requested for larger or smaller size of the key cover, instead changing the counting on pattern, just use smaller or bigger ply of yarn. Because changing pattern will have consequences on its shape, there is possibility we will end up having -not so proportional size and shape- unless you are really a professional in re-making a crochet pattern.

** Second thing that I worked on is to put zipper on it.
 There is request to keep keys stay inside the cover, so it would not scratch other thing. Well, this is a point that I never think before, yes of course, don't we hate it right? I often found new scratch on my cell phone caused by the keys, they are the absolute culprits because all coins safely grounded in my purse, lol.

At first, I had a thought to add a button. But well then, I think button can not keep the keys entirely inside, there is still chance keys will leave out the cover. So, zipper would be the best. Well, then attaching zipper onto the key cover is another real problem. I have tried sewing it using sewing machine, but the size of the key cover does not fit into my sewing machine, it is away too small.
Then I sew it by hand, here is how I managed it:


Cut the zipper but with addition 2 cm for every corner.

Put a mark (dot) for every 0.5cm. Then start making a net around it using using exactly the same yarn and tapestry needle. When it finished, should be like picture below.
2. Next step is preparing stopper for the zipper.
We can use fabric, but here I used ribbon for the quick result. Picture colase below is the step I was adding stopper to the zipper.
3. Final step is sewing zipper onto the key cover. We need single strand yarn and tapestry needle. But any needle as long as it has big hole to carry the cotton yarn is fine.
Carefully sew the zipper to the key cover, this is why I was suggesting to use same yarn, to make the stitches look perfect and seamless. I think any type of stitches would do too. Besides using tapestry needle, we can attach the zipper using crochet hook too, both results are look fine and neat.
Picture below is the final look of the zipper.

Once zipper done, it is time to apply appliques you have, or maybe buttons, pearls. Basically we can decorate it with everything we love.
After all, those zippered key cover is kind of similar with mini crochet coin purse but with slightly different purpose.
I really enjoy making it.
Hope you have a good time making some of them too..
Happy crocheting my crochet fellas 😘😘😘

Monday, May 13, 2019

How to teach crochet to beginners

3:22:00 PM 0 Comments
Teaching crochet to a person or a group of people that totally new about crochet could be challenging yet fun!
Soon after few minutes teaching a crochet class for beginner, we will notice that there is someone who easily engaged to crochet, while others struggle even to hold both yarn and hook at once. I remember my first class teaching crochet, pretty awesome to me. Gives me insight what to prepare for next classes.

Later on, when we talk about crochet classes in a closed group, everyone shares their experiences teaching a crocheter beginner, and here are some points to put into consideration for those who will have their first crochet class. 

1. Preparation speech

I always think that giving a front speech about crocheting to beginner is nice, to give them idea that we are at the very beginning point of becoming a crochet crafter. I always do this for the class, not very long, it is usually around 5-10 minutes include introducing myself. I usually explain that later on, we might face the feeling called a crochet block, but then there are also days when all we want to is just crocheting, nothing else! We have to understand that all these things are normal, everyone been there! But to maintain our crochet mojo is a must to make a fortune, even if we must also consider taking a break during the way. Don't forget to tell them that the beginning is always the hardest, then should get easier by the time.  

2. What to make?

For the first meeting on crochet class, almost all audiences will love something finished to take home.
Chose the small project carefully. It should not be too complicated, because we might have to introduce many stitches at once along with learning to understand the pattern.

So here are some lists of small projects that might help for teaching a beginner.

* Making a super simple wash cloth, granny squares, coaster.
Remember that they will have something to make since day 1 and show progress. Start from the easiest. A lot of crochet crafters recommend granny square is good to learn stitches and tips at once.

* When we teach teens, it might a little bit more challenging. Because sometimes they automatically think that crocheting identical to grandma stuff and definitely not cool at all, lol.
Well, one of my crafter friend experienced this too, haha. But then she stole those little girls heart by teaching them making pompoms, because the idea is to make them feel comfortable with the yarn first. Other suggest making stitches using bare hands (hand crochet), but this option might be more challenging when we have a left handed person.
Next class there will be some people refuse to attend, but don't worry, crocheting is always only picking the right person, :P. Next crochet class for teens we can try to make book markers, which they can use when they back to school. 

3. What to learn?

-Definitely, how to hold the hook, yarn and start chaining, make a constant chain is the very first thing  they should master at.  Some people who are teaching crochet many times suggest to use hook J or H,  they are perfect for beginner, not too small neither too big. So the purpose of having finished project to take home could be easier.

-Soon after the class member feel more comfortable handling the hook and yarn, it is a sign to learn the basic stitches. As I mentioned before, use medium-large hook (H or J size) and thick yarn. it would be more advantageous to use solid and light colour, so the class members can see the difference between stitches.  Using too small or too large hook and yarn tend to make the beginner frustrated. Too small hook and yarn will take longer time to finish, and the tension also a little harder to maintain, on the other hand, using too large hook and yarn can be challenging in making the stitches.

-Next step is teaching them about how to change row without losing stitches, here we remain them the importance of counting. Sometimes I feel sorry when one of the learner made mistake in changing rows, yet feel grateful at a time because they will know exactly what will happened if they miss even only one stitch, and of course it is a good lesson for the whole class too. What I usually do is we then teach them how to count properly and match it with the pattern, so they clearly have ideas where the mistake was, and not to repeat it in the future.

my crochet note of the first year learning crochet. Reminds me that things  are not always easy, but  passion is worth to follow.

-Reading a pattern is one of crucial thing of crochet crafter should be skilled. I have met some people, they can crochet neatly (which is amazing). They learned it from other people by watching them to see how it works and able to repeat it. However, they cannot read pattern, this put me into a shock. Months later, I did not see any improvements or any creative products making they could have, just because they can't read patterns which are available and accessible freely from internet or books. So, this is our duty to get the learners understand the importance of reading pattern and how to do it correctly. Please introduce them with both diagrams and written patterns.

4. What else to prepare?

I put these lists just in case we might forget something prior the class. I usually prepare the bags of crochet stuffs for class at least 1 day before.
- make a copy of lesson ( written instructions and charts) to take home so they can make a practice at home.
-videos or youtube might help too! prepare suggested lists to watch at home.
- bring at least one of our finished product that they are going to make at the class. Believe me it helps a lot, it is helpful to show them mistakes (if they made it) and a great way to compare between pattern and the end product.
- get someone as a helper to reach all people to make sure they are doing right thing. If it is impossible to have a helper, having the beginner itself who is already engage with the lesson might help too, she/he can teach others next to them to make sure they are fine.
- carry a box of paper clip to mark stitches and rows, it help them counting.
- if the class is for teens, make something fun and funky because they don't want to be seen like grandmas. We can try bracelets, hair clips, etc
- bring our stock of excess yarn, make something quick with the scraps in multi colours is what most girls love. It is also good to give them a skill on changing yarn during the project.

At the end, all I just can say is to be patient. We are all know that crochet might not for everybody. The first and second class are usually the hardest. Notice that even holding a hook and yarn altogether are also a big progress, remains them and our self that there will be a lot easier later.
Have fun teaching!