Pippa Middleton, Sarah Jessica Parker and supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, have all been spotted in it; Eva Longoria and Madonna are fans of it too. We're not talking the latest Michelin-starred London eatery, or even the latest, must-buy fashion label straight from the college catwalk shows. Instead, it's the humble crocheted garment that has been adorned and loved by all of these A-listers. In fact, crocheting is humble no more, so whether it's a vintage crochet shawl or beautiful sweaters and dresses from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, now is the perfect time to pick up your crochet hook and make magic on one of the crochet courses on offer around the country.
What is crocheting?
If you've perfected the art of knitting and want to try something new, or you would love to create one of those multicoloured, retro-style, crochet blankets that are pictured in all the latest glossy interior magazines, then it's time to get crocheting. Crochet (a French word for 'hook') is a needlework technique using a crochet hook (made from metal, wood or plastic) and yarn or crochet thread to create beautiful handmade bits and pieces such as blankets, baby clothes, shawls and cushions covers. The process is similar to knitting in that it consists of pulling loops through other loops to create fabric from a yarn, but you use only a single crochet hook instead of two knitting needles.
There are many crochet courses taking place all over the country, whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned crafter. The only slight worry is that you might get hooked (get it?) as crocheting can be a seriously addictive yet highly enjoyable past time – and the results are truly beautiful! Crochet is quick to work and once you have mastered how to grasp the hook and hold the yarn, learning the basic stitches is easy. A part-time course will equip you with all the basics of crocheting in a fun, relaxed environment and get you thinking about this beautiful craft in a whole new different light. Whether you are keen to make your own clothes or home accessories, or you want to use crochet as part of a wider textiles course, this brilliant introduction will teach you all of the basic stitches, textures, edgings and motifs.
Absolute beginners of all ages and abilities with no previous experience of crocheting might like to try a two-day workshop. On Day One you will learn all of the basic crochet stitches; once these are mastered you will move on to constructing a granny square or flower motif on Day Two. Some yarns will be available for practising and making samples but you might like to check before you enrol. If you are left-handed, do make sure courses cater for your needs.
There is even a Girls Night Out (or In!) crocheting course where a tutor will come and teach you and a group of friends the basics of crocheting in the comfort of your own home!
If you have the basics under your belt and wish to progress to more advanced crocheting techniques (or want to work in an experimental way), why not try an intermediate crochet course? Here you will discover techniques such as shaping for garment making, changing colours, finishing techniques, simple lace stitches, adding borders and edges, working in the round and much more. You might also cover some of the more unusual techniques such as the wonderfully-named broomstick and hairpin crochet, and Tunisian crochet using a long hook.
There are several combined knitting and crocheting courses to choose from too, as well as lace making classes (including bobbin lace) for mastering this beautiful and traditional crafting past time.
Basic crochet stitches
Chain Stitch is the most basic of all crochet stitches – a 'starting chain' is used to begin most crochet projects. This is the first chain to learn if you are a crochet novice.
Slip stitches are good for joining one crochet element to another.
Single crochet stitch is another basic stitch that you will learn from the outset. It is a short stitch that appears in many patterns.
Double crochet stitch is a tall, textured stitch and another basic stitch that you will need to know. Double crochet combines well with all of the other basic stitches.
What is yarn bombing?
Have you noticed something 'colourful and creative' happening in your local high street? Perhaps a few tree trunks or lamp posts have shed their dull grey-and-brown silhouettes to become beautiful works of art? It's all down to a recent craze called 'Yarn Bombing', a type of graffiti or street art which uses yarn installations – or yarn bombs - instead of spray paint or marker pens. These rainbow-bright displays of knitted or crocheted yarn are an attempt to warm up uninteresting, public places and, being non-permanent, can be easily removed if necessary.
By Lara Sargent