Posted on Leave a comment

On The Buses – Free Garter Rib Beanie Pattern

Everyone seems to love a Boring Blokes Beanie, but as a knitter they can be very boring to make over and over again. And as the BBB is one of my biggest selling beanies I need some variety to keep me enthused to knit them.

This hat is worked from the brim up, in the round. No seams needed.


My gauge for the finished hat was 20st X 38 row over the garter rib pattern, washed and blocked


Medium: circumference 50cm (19.5”) unstretched. Fits head circumference 56cm (22”) Length 23cms, allows turn up of 3 to 4 cms

Size can be adjusted by adding or subtracting 5 sts from the cast on edge and adjusting the length knit prior to the reduction for the crown


Yarn: 100gms 8 ply Yarn – I used Country 8ply by Cleckheaton

Needles: 40cm 4mm circular needles, set of four 4 mm double point needles for reducing the crown


sts – sts

p – purl

k – knit

k2tog – knit two stitches together

instructions in brackets (….) are repeated

Rnd – Round


Cast on 100 sts, join in the round being careful not to twist. Place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of round.

Rnd 1 : knit

Rnd 2: (p4,k1) repeat to end

Repeat Rnds 1 and 2 until 18cm is worked, or longer for a deeper turn up.

Reduce crown (switch to double point needles when required)

Rnd 1 (k3, k2tog)

Rnd 2 (p3, k1) repeat to end

Rnd 3 knit

Rnd 4 (p3, k1)

Rnd 5 knit

Rnd 6 (p3, k1)

Rnd 7 (k2 k2tog)

Rnd 8 (p2, k1)

Rnd 9 k

Rnd 10 (p2. K1)

Rnd 11 k

Rnd 12 (p2,K1)

Rnd 13 (k1, k2tog)

Rnd14 (p1,k1)

Rnd 15 k

Rnd 16 (p1,k1)

Rnd 17 (k2tog)

Rnd 18 knit

Rnd 19 (k2tog)

Break yarn leaving a 30cm tail. Thread tail through live stitches, pull to close top of hat. Secure by threading through a couple more times.

Sew ends in securely.

Posted on 2 Comments

I want to teach crochet….

I was recently on a forum where someone wrote a post asking what they needed to know to teach a crochet class.

Rather than give a short answer on the forum, I thought I would write a post on what I feel is important to know about teaching a craft. This won’t contain all I have learned from my many years of teaching in schools, to groups or in my shop. This is a little guideline for the things I feel are most important to know.

Understand we are all different.

You don’t have to be a qualified teacher, it certainly helps, but it’s not a necessity. What is a necessity is for you to understand how people learn.  Not all of us learn in the same way. Some of us need just to be told, others need to be shown, others need to do. Each of us is unique and we all learn in unique ways. As a teacher there will be students who will not understand  what you are teaching, so you need to find other ways to help them. Enlisting others in your group to peer teach is often very effective. Someone, who has just learned a skill, will sometimes have more insight into why another may be struggling to understand.

People first.

Don’t focus on what you teach, focus on who you teach. Your students deserve your patience, respect and kindness. If the lesson isn’t going the way you want it to, that’s ok, change direction. If it takes 20 minutes to do 10 chains, then it takes that long. Don’t teach unless you love it!

Be Kind

Don’t be a teacher if you can’t drop your ego, if you can’t let others help you teach. Don’t teach if you believe there is only one way to do something. There have been a number of students who have come to me with stories of how they failed, because they didn’t hold the hook or yarn in the way their previous teacher had instructed. I’ve had stories of hands being smacked! Children in many ways are a lot more resilient to failure than adults and as a teacher you need to be gentle, encouraging and flexible.

Be patient.

There a huge amount of frustration being a learner and a teacher. You need to manage your own frustration and try not to communicate it to your students. Be assured the peak of frustration happens just before the “AhHa” moment for most. When 10 minutes into your hat class and 3 of your 5 studenst tell you, they are never going to ‘get it’. Take a deep breath, be reassuring and try another approach. Don’t throw up your hands or express your own frustration. Whether they are adults or children they need the assurance that their teacher is calm and knows what they are doing and has faith that they will learn. As a teacher you are guiding them on their path, not leading them on a chain.

Start at the beginning.

If you’ve been crocheting for years, you may no longer realise what you do to crochet, it has become a muscle memory and you will need to break down the steps for a beginner. Research is your best friend. Get on YouTube and watch others teach crochet. Yes, you know it all already, but you might be surprised with what you pick up.

Study how you yourself crochet. Do you turn the hook down? How do you hold the hook? How do you hold the yarn? Do others hold it differently? What are the advantages to how you do it? Are there disadvantages? I hold my hook from underneath, many of my students are more comfortable holding above the hook. Neither is wrong. Tensioning yarn is incredibly hard to do as a beginner and explaining how you do it won’t help many. Insisting people do as you do, may slow a learners progress down. I never focus on tension when I start new crocheters. I focus on making the stitches. Tension is something that is unique to the individual and something that is developed with time and practice.

Be prepared to demonstrate diferent ways of working. Learn to crochet with your left hand. It’s amazing how it makes you focus on the basics and will mean you are able to work with left hand students successfully.

When demonstrating change your position often, move around the students. Demonstrate from behind the student, in front of the student, beside the student, from as many different angles as possible. Be consistent in the language you use. Be repetitive. Say each step as you do it. Have diagrams of the stitches available, some learn better from iconic representations than seeing the stitch worked.

if you need to pull out a students work, ask first. Be encouraging and quickly work them back to where they were. Try to avoid adding to the frustration by making them repeat more than they need to.

Skills over Projects.

Focus on teaching skills. ‘What will I make?’ is the first question that gets asked in many of my beginner classes and we all like to have something to show our achievements. Try to stay focused on the skills. A simple chain can be a nice hair tie or used to decorate a gift. A cute little hair band can be a simple project of double crochet around a hair elastic with chain loops added. Dishcloths make great first projects, even if stitches are a little wonky they are still usable.

A class should be sequential in skills, one skill built upon another.

I teach a crochet hat workshop which I have taught to people who have never crocheted before!  The skills to make the hat are chains, slip stitches, lots of trebles and working in the round, It can be a challenging class to teach but the product at the end is well worth the frustration level.

BE ORGANISED. – yes I am shouting this one!

I was once the project officer for Territory Craft and after working with many artists this would be the most important thing I can stress to you

Write a lesson plan, practice it. Find a guinea pig to practice on before you go and teach a class. Ensure your lesson plans are flexible and allow ample time to complete each step.  If you are accepting payment to teach, you are a professional and you need to be professional.

  • Be on time
  • Have all materials to hand.
  • Supply notes.
  • Look professional
  • When working for a third party ensure you tell them what you require, do not leave it to the last minute to tell them you need rulers for each student. ( Can you tell this happened to me as an organiser?)
  • Be approachable, allow students to contact you.
  • Follow up on anything asked or needed.
  • if you say you will do it, do it.

Student management

  • Be mindful of working with each student, don’t leave someone out.
  • When you demonstrate ensure students are looking at you and have nothing in their hands, that will distract them.
  • Try not to let one student dominant.
  • Have more able students reinforce they’re skills by helping those who struggle.
  • Praise, reassure.
  • Revise
  • Check the quiet students, adults can be shy to ask for help
  • Keep an eye on the over confident, they tend to speed ahead, its sad when you have to pull out half their work.
  • Keep positive and calm.


Hopefully this has been helpful for you.



Posted on Leave a comment

’Swatch’ it all about?

Swatching and sampling are often seen as a chore, skipped by many. When I am asked, how much yarn and what needles or hooks are needed, I explain that not all yarns are the same. Each maker works at a slightly different tension, so a swatch/ sample/ tension square is needed. There is often some eye rolling received at this explanation. And replies of, “I just want to start knitting…”

What is a Swatch?

A swatch is more than a tension square, it is an opportunity to learn about the yarn and how it works.

  • Is it pleasant to knit with?
  • Is it sticky?
  • Squeaky?
  • Is it easy to pull out?
  • To use grippy or slippy needles?
  • Do the colours work well together?
  • Will the pattern stitch work in the round and flat?
  • Does the fabric drape?
  • Is the fabric stretchy or firm?
  • Is the yarn colourfast?
  • How much yarn for the complete project?

I like to swatch to see how colours work together, swapping colours around, experimenting with combinations. Swatching can be a lot of fun. Often I will make significant changes to a project based on my swatches.

Tension Square

A swatch is also a tension square, a square of knitting or crochet worked to gauge (measure) the tension required to accurately replicate a pattern. A pattern will state a recommended tension, the number of stitches and rows for a 10 cm square of knitting or crochet, using a specified stitch. Working a tension square of at least 15 cm square, ensures a large enough sample for an accurate measurement.

Washing prior to measuring is important as the fabric may change with washing. It would be devastating to spend hours making a garment only to wash it the first time and not have it fit anymore or have the colours bleed into each other.

The weight of a tension square gives how much yarn is required in a project. If a tension square 20 cm by 20 cm weights 30 gms,  then a piece 100cm by 100cm needs  750gms of yarn.

Why check guage?

If the tension is just a couple of stitches out over the 10 cms this will result in a garment being too small or too big.

A piece knitted at a gauge of 22 stitches and 30 rows per 10 cms, the tension specified for 8ply yarn on 4mm needles over stocking stitch.  Working  220 st over 300 rows would result in a piece 100 cms by 100cm. If the piece is worked at 20 stitches and 28 rows for 10 cm and 220 stitches were cast on the garment would end up being 110 cms, 10cms wider than required and 7cms longer.  To adjust the tension  a smaller needle, probably 3.75mm would be needed. Knitting another tension swatch would check this adjustment was correct.

If there are too few stitches in a swatch, this is loose tension; too many, the tension is tight.

  • Adjust for loose tension – use a smaller needle or hook.,
  • Adjust for  tight tension  – use a larger hook or needle.

Knitting in the round.

When knitting in the round a swatch needs to be knit in the round. Many knitters tensions are different when working in the round and flat. When stocking stitch is knit in the round only the knit stitch is worked. When stocking stitch is worked in the flat, a row or purl is alternated with a row of knit. This difference alters many knitters tension.

Do you swatch? If not why not?



Posted on 1 Comment

Process Vs Product

Many of us who make, make in a variety of crafts. My obsession is mostly with fibres and yarns these days, in previous times it was in fabrics and thread.

No matter what crafts I am doing, it’s not the end product that gives me the most joy. The product for me is like icing on the cake, it finishes the whole process off. I’m not a maker for the the end product. I make for the joy that the making process itself brings.

Challenging myself to learn new techniques, playing with colour and textures, constructing and making in new ways. This is the reason I make. It keeps my brain engaged and learning. Ensuring that my brain continues to be healthy and growing making new pathways and connections. I recently read ( via Audible) Habits of A Happy Brain by Loretta Grazziano Breuning. A great listen that made me reflect on my own mental health and how imporant Knit Spin Weave is to me, connecting me with other creative people and inspiring me to continue to make.

I love the challenge of trying new techniques. This week I started my very first Graphgan. I’m a very visual learner and get most of my instructions from a Google image search. I’m not one to sit through videos,  I prefer to see the big picture in one image rather than wade through a video. We all learn in different ways, something I really see in many of my workshops and classes. Some of us, just need to be shown, others need the step by step spoken directions, others need to have me guide their hands. One of the joys of being a teacher is seeing how others learn and knowing that we are all so unique in how we do things.

I found this site very useful in understanding how to work a Corner to Corner (C2C) crochet blanket:

Make and Do Crew

And this is where I got the graph from for the sailboat:

Ship C2C Block


Posted on Leave a comment

Last minute knitted gifts

For some strange reason I am always leaving my knitted gifts to the last minute. Peter’s jumper is proof af that, he never did get it in time for his birthday. It’s done now, just in time for summer! Maybe I can give it to him next birthday?

I am sure I’m not the only knitter who’s ideas are bigger than her or his time frame. Today’s last minute gift is finished ahead of time. This little worm I last knitted about 10 years ago, before Michael was born. He was a firm favourite with both Michael and Heather as babies.

The pattern is here on Ravelry. Little Joe the worm, designed by Miriam L. Felton  is a cute last minute gift for a special little person. Perfect for little hands to hold and little mouths to explore. I very much appreciate the time and generosity of designers who do all the work putting together such great little patterns and then offer them for free.

I used magic loop to knit this little fellow seamlessly. I will run a magic loop class in 2018.

Make sure you knit all those little scraps of yarn in your stash so you can pop in and buy more.

Merry Christmas all.