Chain reaction: or, how I learned crochet for my Queen’s Guide Award

No Guide meeting this week as it’s the Easter holidays, so today’s post is about the “personal skill development” part of my Queen’s Guide Award.

“Over a minimum period of 60 hours over 12 months, take an existing skill to a new personal level or start a new skill and develop it.”

This was the first section I started, as I knew what I wanted to do it was easy to get going straight away.  My new skill was (drum roll) crochet.  Like many crochet beginners, I already knew how to knit and was curious about the other thing that people do with wool.

Armed with wool, hooks donated by my boyfriend’s family, library books and YouTube video tutorials, I learned how to make a chain and do double and treble stitches.

Crochet 1

My first attempt.

Learning treble crochet.

Learning treble crochet.

At first I felt clumsy, but gradually muscle memory got established.  For the first couple of moths I was commuting on the train for an hour twice a week, and I found those journeys a good opportunity to practise: using my time and abilities wisely!  I immediately realised that crochet is more public transport-friendly than knitting, as you’re less likely to poke your neighbour with elbows and needles, and you can shove a piece of crochet in and out of your handbag without worrying about losing stitches or making holes in the bag.

Some early attempts at round crochet.

Some early attempts at round crochet.

Round crochet

As soon as I felt comfortable with double crochet, I was keen to make something useful right away.  I made myself some handwarmers by crocheting rectangle and joining them up one edge, leaving space for my thumbs.  They were really simple (and a bit wonky), but I wear them all the time when it’s cold, and they’re still intact a year later.

My first handwarmers before joining the seams...

My first handwarmers before joining the seams…

...and after.

…and after.

Since then I’ve made several more pairs of handwarmers for friends and relations.

For my friend Beth: Aran thinkness wool, a big chunky hook, and alternating lines of double and treble crochet.

For (and on) my friend Beth: Aran thinkness wool, a big chunky hook, and alternating lines of double and treble crochet.

For my friend Jojo: crocheted in the round rather than as a rectangle, alternating black double crochet and coloured treble crochet.

For my friend Jojo: crocheted in the round rather than as a rectangle, alternating black double crochet and coloured treble crochet.

Making sure they work!

Making sure they work!

For (and on) my mum: alternating lines of double and treble crochet (every other treble with a 3-chain gap between stitches).

For (and on) my mum: alternating lines of double and treble crochet (every other treble with a 3-chain gap between stitches).

My Queen’s Guide Buddy gave me a book of crochet patterns for my birthday, and my big project of the year was making her a cardigan out of the book.  It was originally going to be for her birthday in April, but I took too long and it ended up being her Christmas present!

I started it in plain green wool, but after finishing the sleeves I decided it was too dense and stiff and was using up wool too quickly. I’m still waiting for inspiration for what to do with all that wool.

The first cardigan attempt.

Part of the first cardigan attempt.

I restarted in a thinner wool in a nicer colour, teal/purple self-striping stuff from Hobbycraft.  The finished product was alternating lines of double and treble, and every other treble had a three-chain gap between stitches.  It also had lacy edges:

Cardigan

And a chain to tie it together:

Cardigan

Cardigan

The finished cardi!

Queen's Guide Buddy is happy to receive it.  I'm happy that it fits!

Queen’s Guide Buddy is happy to receive it. I’m happy that it fits!

After Christmas, I had a few weeks left before the year on this skill was over, so – inspired by this post by Amy – I learned to make granny squares, from the same book as the cardigan pattern.  I completed six before my 12 months were up.

Granny squares

Of course, I didn’t have to stop crochet just because it no longer counted towards my Queen’s Guide, and since then I’ve been a bit mad on granny squares.  I’m currently joining up my first blanket (7×8 = 56 squares, in the four colours above) and have started squares for another.  They’re so easy and portable!

In one year, I went from zero crochet skill to knowing the basic stitches and a few techniques, using a range of thicknesses of wool and hooks, being able to follow a pattern and work some things out my own way, and having made four garments and the start of a blanket.  I think this counts as development.

Have I done 60 hours?  I logged my time at first, but lost count.  I’d estimate I took 3 hours for each set of handwarmers (12), 1 hour for each granny square (6), and spent 12 hours just practising and unpicking early on (12).  That’s 30 hours so far.  I’m sure I spent over 30 hours making the cardigan, including (and even excluding!) the two sleeves which didn’t make it into the final garment.  I got through quite a few TV series while working on it, anyway.  So I’d safely say that I’ve completed this section of my Queen’s Guide Award to satisfaction.  I’m very pleased that doing the award gave me the push I needed to start crochet, as I’m now…(puts on sunglasses)…hooked.

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One thought on “Chain reaction: or, how I learned crochet for my Queen’s Guide Award

  1. Pingback: Oh hi, 2015! | Guiding with a Smile

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