Worth a Routine Change

Settling back into a routine can be a bit of a challenge, but teaching at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink conference is really worth the change of schedule.

This is my second year teaching at CGOA, and this year went by faster than I thought possible. I blinked and it was over.

I spent the last week of July just outside of Chicago sharing my love of crochet with other like-minded individuals. I taught 4 classes, and as there are so many great crochet instructors I vary my topics to help set me apart. This event I taught Needle Felting Applique, Converting Knitting to Crochet, Variations of Broomstick Lace and Things that the Pattern Assumes you Know. I feel like every class I teach is a test; Can I share everything in a manner that everyone will understand? Am I giving the students what they need/want/deserve/expect?

In a respect I think I gain just as much as my students from a good class, which I think each of these were. I get inspired by the work they do and the questions they ask. It helps me explore things in a different way, and I hope that helps me grow as a teacher.

This was the first conference since 2004 that the CGOA did a conference alone. In the recent past CGOA partnered with The Knitting Guild Association for the Knit & Crochet Show, this year the knitting association decided to try something different and CGOA decided to proceed on its own. As a result the show was a bit smaller but this allowed it to have everything much more inclusive, with all the class rooms in the hotel. So no trekking to a large convention center. I could leave my class room and join groups of crocheters working on their latest projects in the lobby. It was really nice.

I also had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make a couple of new ones. It is like a battery being recharged, but recharged while it is being completely run to empty. I enjoy this show and look forward to next year in Portland, OR.

 

Teaching Crochet In Chicago!

If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be a crochet designer, published in several well-known magazines worldwide, I would have thought you were crazy. Then if you added to that, that I would be teaching on the National Stage at conferences, I would have asked for you to check what was in your water. I never would have seen this is the future journey that I would have been on. After all I was working in a support position for social works in cafe of the elderly. I found my job rewarding, knowing that I was making a daily difference in the lives of people in my community.

Well, changes in the structure of my job, as well as the needs of my young kids helped me envision a new path. I still have to pinch myself at times to realize that I really have accomplished these things, and that I am teaching again this year at the Crochet Guild of America’s annual Chainlink Conference, this year July 26-29, 2017 in Chicago.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

Needle Felt crochet motifs on fabric

I am teaching some classes you may not have expected. I am teaching how to Needle Felt your motifs directly onto fabric, allowing you to take your crochet into an entirely new direction with no sewing required! Barbed needles are great tools that can be used to create some fabulous projects, but using it with crochet is a direction that you may not have explored, until now.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

Convert It! Learn how to crochet your favorite knitting pattern

I am also teaching Convert It! This is a class that will overload you with information about how to take your favorite knit design and recreate it in crochet. Learn what drives you to choose your pattern, and then understand how to dismantle it and put it together for the exact look you want, while learning and understanding the basic differences between knitting and crochet and how to use the strength and weakness of each to complement each other.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

What the Pattern Does Not Say

What the Pattern Does Not Tell You covers all the things that designers, writers, and publishers assume you already know. There are many simple things that can get overlooked in the writing, but can really make a complete difference in the outcome of your success. Don’t let the lack of this information hold your crochet back.

While teaching Re-Invented Broomstick Lace, I have learned so much myself. People have an idea of the basics of Broomstick lace, but there are so many possibilities. This class offers inspiration in how to use this stitch to create stunning fabrics that will leave everyone asking how you did that. It can be your secret, and hopefully you will get inspired to invent even more new approaches to this lace technique.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

Re-Invented Broomstick Lace

It will be a fun couple of days in Chicago, and if you can join me it would be great to see you. I don’t know what crazy adventure I will be on in the next couple of years, but I have learned, NEVER, rule out anything!

The More I Teach, the More I Learn

Teaching crochet might sound like an interesting way to make a little extra money, but there is more to it than what you might think.

I have been teaching crochet for almost a decade, in a variety of venues with a variety of approaches. I began teaching consistently at a coffee shop, I set up a regular hour a week and had people drop in for lessons at their leisure. I also hosted my own workshops at a local winery, I taught workshops at local guild gatherings. I worked this approach for quite some time.

 The drop in lessons at the coffee shop always kept me on my toes. I never knew student may arrive or what they may want to learn. It kept me flexible, and always expanding my own education to keep up with the requests and needs of those seeking my service. This approach did have its down side however, as I never had any idea if anyone would even show up during these set hours. I had many a day that I would just sip my tea and people watch instead of having any students.

Hosting my own workshops way an interesting experience. I was responsible for everything, the location set up, the advertising, the accounts receivable/payable, as well as all the regular workshop expectations for handouts and material, I even made the refreshments. This helped me to recognize my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as a better appreciation for all the work and undertaking that goes into larger teaching/learning venues.

Teaching at the guild workshops had their own challenges, as I personally knew most of the students. I seemed surreal to me that people I knew actually wanted to pay to take a class from me. It was a safe place, but I had to ensure not to “let my guard down” in a sense. I want to keep things professional and this can be difficult when the room is filled with people that you share a different kind of relationship with. Thus, this experience helped me to understand some of my short comings as an instructor.

From these 3 teaching venues I grew into teaching at my local yarn store, as well as at national conferences. The local yarn store helped me to expand my student following, and introduce me to new people. It allowed me to focus on actual education without having to worry about the advertising, the enrollment, the location. I feel like I have a more formal footing on my class structure and can focus on various ways to explain various crochet approaches. I can better understand different learning styles and different personalities. This has helped me to better structure my classes for national conferences.

The difference from workshops at the local yarn store and those at conferences, is really the students. The local yarn store has a wide base of students, with varying needs and learning desires, those at conferences often are very focused on the topic at hand, and as a result the classes need to be geared to a more advanced student.

That might be the most challenging thing to putting a workshop together, ensuring that you have enough material to keep everyone engaged. It can be a delicate balance, and until you have the students in the room you never really know what the event will look like. You need to have enough material so that the advanced students are kept busy, while not have so much that you overwhelm students that may need more guidance.

The one underlying affect that teaching has, is seeing the joy and excitement your students have when it all clicks into place and they “get it”. I have heard this said by teachers of all sorts, it is a very unique experience that can become addicting. It is really the students that keep me coming back to teaching, they keep challenging me…something that I have always enjoyed.

I guess I can safely say that teaching has given me more than I would have imagined, every time I teach I learn something new. It might be from a question a student asks that causes me to look at the subject matter from a completely different vantage point, or it could be learning a better way to share my ideas and concepts with someone else. If teaching crochet is something you have considered, be prepared to grow.

A Review….A Little Early

ScannedImageI find myself a little ahead of myself. Usually during New Year’s I end up reflecting upon the last year, I am amazed at the 12 months that have past and all the things that have happened and been accomplished. I am not sure if it was caused from my cleaning up stacks of paper, that long ago should have been filed away, or my kids turning pages of their photo albums (yes, I still print photos off and place them in albums), that caused me to begin my reflection this week.

It is a little surreal to look back as it sometimes feels like a lifetime ago, or just last week. So over the last 12 months I have self-published 10 designs, bringing my own design line of Linda Dean Crochet to a total of 35. In addition I completed 16 designs for Freelance contracts, work that is in magazines or websites for yarn companies. This is slightly less than the year previous, but I have undertaken and expanded another portion of my business, teaching.

In 2016 I taught weekly at my local yarn store, with a total of 77 students taught over the year…that is 530.5 student hours. I have to admit, it is a highlight for my week. Everyone is so eager to learn and so friendly with everyone in the room. It has often been expressed to me by the store owners that my students seem to have so much fun, as the laughing and smiles spill over onto to store floor.

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My tour of Charleston, SC

In addition I taught on the national level for the first time, at the Crochet Guild of America’s (CGOA) annual conference this last year in Charleston, SC (I just learned that I will be teaching again at this conference in 2017, this time in Chicago). Here I taught an additional 63 students, with 189 student hours, in my four classes.

I served on the CGOA Board of Directors, served as a co-chairperson for the Masters Committee and Social Media Committee, as well as working as a Master Program Reviewer (the Master’s Program is a program that offers some instruction and tests your crochet knowledge and skill). I also undertook the challenge of creating a new, more educational based Master Program that I hope will be available later in 2017.

Locally I served on the Board of my Hangtown Fibers Guild, I worked at ensuring that there was a program at every monthly meeting, as well as arranging workshops from nationally recognized instructors.

I also traveled quite a bit in 2016…January found me in San Diego (the National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show), February I was in Santa Clara, CA for Stitches West; May in Pasadena, CA for Vogue Knitting Live; June to Washington DC for the TNNA Winter Show; and July in Charleston, SC to teach at the CGOA conference. This was much quieter than the year before, but this is only the travel and commitments for my work in crochet.

My kids are always busy, and without the support of my husband I don’t think that I could have accomplished anything. The kids kept busy with TaeKwonDo, 4H, and band. I do not think that there has been a single weekend where we were able to sit back and relax at home.

Looking back really does help me keep things in a perspective. On any given day, I don’t feel like I accomplish much…maybe because in prior jobs I could see the stack of paper, emails and phone calls that I completed daily; crochet has a different flow, it is more artistic, and I do not have the same instant gratification of work completed. Taking stock of the work I have done, does help me to understand that I have been productive, I am contributing.

2017 is already shaping up on becoming a bit busier. This is an interesting journey.

Masters Day Teaching….Learning Too!

ScannedImageI have been meaning to write a post about my experience at the Crochet Guild of America’s annual conference last month in Charleston, SC, but I keep putting it off. I finally have realized that it is because it was too overwhelming, so I have decided to break it down into more “bite size” posts.

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Masters Day, Charleston, SC 2016

There really is really just so much going on at this conference that I could not participate in everything, and feel like I hardly saw anyone, as I was running from event to event. And another confession, I was horrible at getting photos of, well anything…

So I left a month ago for Charleston, SC, and have new found respect for air conditioning. Living in California I live through days of hot temperature, but the humidity is something that I do not experience. Deplaning at 1:30am and finding that it was 85° F and 55% humidity outside, was a completely new experience for me. California nights cool off while we drink water, not breath it. Even though the hotel and conference center were only a couple of blocks from dining options, I did not venture out, physically I never really adjusted to the climate.

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Masters Day, Charleston, SC 2016

However I arrived a day early to ensure that I would be up for my new adventure of teaching at this national venue. I was officially teaching 4 classes; Re-Invented Broomstick Lace, What the Pattern Doesn’t Tell You, Yarn Overload, and Beads Three Ways, yet in addition I also help teach all day at the Master’s Day. These all over the course of 4 days are a bit of mental gymnastics, I become completely submerged in all things crochet, even more then the everyday.

The Master’s Day was the first event. I helped facilitate this all day event with other reviewers of the Master’s Program offered by CGOA. The Program consists of 48 swatches and 13 questions that is completed via correspondence, I successfully completed the Masters of Advanced Stitches and Techniques in the summer of 2010. Essentially it was this program that began my career in crochet design, and teaching, but that is another story. Since completing the program I have been a reviewer critiquing the work of others, as well as help organize and teach the Masters Day at the annual conference, with the one in Charleston being our third such event. In addition, I am currently combining the work of many talented teachers and writing a new Master’s program, so in a sense I am completely immersed in all things Masters.

I believe the event was successful, and I even came away learning things myself. The students began applying the various techniques that were taught; linked stitches, foundation stitches, gauge, finishing work, reviewing your work and such, while they were coming up with new ways to approach all of these techniques I had an eye opening moment of how Tunisian Crochet is really just linked stitches combined with Foundation stitches. It is amazing how much of crochet is built upon other skills that are really just other versions of the same other basic techniques.

The other highlight of this day was getting to catch up with some of the other reviewers that I only get correspond with via email. They really are a great group of women that have a great passion for crochet, and I always find time spend with them to be rewarding.