Teaching Inspired

It is a bit amazing all the accomplishments my crochet students have made. This last week at the El Dorado County fair in Placerville, CA they were awarded Best of Show, several Blue ribbons, and even swept entire categories. I am proud of each and every one of them, even those that did not enter.


Thinking back over the several years of teaching, I can remember my first student, and the lessons I learned from her. I live in a smallish community, and am multiple generations within it. I don’t look too hard for additional family as I probably have more relations or connections then one person really needs in life. So when my kindergarten age son began taking art lessons after school, it was not much of stretch when I found out the teacher was a cousin. Technically she was married to my second cousin, but why get to technical.


www.lindadeancrochet.comMy son took lessons all year and over the summer she invited him to her home to continue. During conversations over these lesson she learned that I had successfully completed the Crochet Guild of America’s Masters of Advanced Stitches and Techniques program.  As a result she requested that I teach her to crochet in trade for payment for the art lessons. I know that part of the reason she wanted me to teach her was to have more discussions, and help her gain insight into the childhood of her husband as he is a quiet man that doesn’t speak much on this topic.


She took lessons from me for about a year, encouraging me to attend the CGOA annual conference, which ended up launching my crochet career. She encouraged me to begin teaching at a local coffee shop, which I did for 4 years…one night a week with drop in lessons, until the shop moved twenty minutes away, now I teach regularly at my local yarn store as well as at national conferences and events. She was a support, she helped add a new spark to my life.


She passed away a few years later, only months after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis, but I remember well the lessons I learned from our crochet time, the class is about more than just the stitches. It is about the relationships, it is about the community, it is about the stories, and it is about sharing the confidence of your own ability and fostering confidence to grow in others. My current students may not realize how my teaching style was built, but they continue to help me remember the important lessons every time we meet. Thank you for the early education Judy, it will forever be with me.

Encouraging Crochet with a little Courage

ScannedImageIt is that time of year again, when local communities have a celebration of our agricultural roots. I am referring to county, state and various topical festivals and fairs. Often these gatherings highlight livestock, baked goods, blue ribbons and carnivals.Ferris Wheel Glowing at Twilight But few people actually participate in the entry of these events. I really don’t need any ribbons (and there are many talent artisans in my community, so I may not see any), I enjoy the crochet I do; but I enter some pieces in a hope to inspire others with the art of crochet.

Granted this can be difficult, there is a lot of insecurity in the fiber arts. We artists are never confident in our work, believing that anyone can do what we do, and it is really not that special. We constantly down play are skills; I don’t know if it is that we are being polite and wanting to put our work above someone else’s, or if it is the idea that because I learned this skill from….(insert blank, mom, grandmother, grandfather, neighbor lady, friend, ect.) that we don’t know if we are actually proficient in the skill. Well to this I am a strong believer that there is no right or wrong in crochet (or any art/hobby medium for that matter). You may not do it the same way as another person, but that is what makes it yours. No brush stroke on a master piece is identical to another, but that is what makes it a master piece.

Dean Ranch

A Charolais calf at Dean Ranch in California

It is one thing to duplicate a written pattern exactly, and execute each stitch with such precision that the no error can be found; but in honesty, this is a human, free-formish kind of art, and mistakes give character. Now fairs and festivals may judge against others work, and look for precision, but that should never discourage you from entering your work for review. There are some positives to this; some allow the public to be present during the judging- with these you receive immediate feedback about your work, you learn to look at your work more objectively and find ways that you can improve your skills. Another positive is that you encourage others to learn this (or other) hobbies, you help others gain appreciation for the skill, and help yourself to learn the ability to take a compliment.

Find Creativity! Play!

ScannedImageIt is funny, how you don’t necessarily get inspiration from your own work. You may get ideas that you build into something else, but things that make you see the world differently, at least for me, comes from the work of others.


A dress I created for my daughter. I won all the yarn in a raffle drawing.

The other day I was with a friend, and they told me that they never have been creative; they only followed the pattern before them. This got me thinking, because I believe everyone has creativity, they may not express it the same but it is in each of us. I think creativity is born from permission to play. I express some of my creativity through fibers, colors, and texture. I only come to envision new possibilities when I challenge myself to see what a particular yarn might do. I enjoy the challenge, which is where my creativity is born.

Sometimes I win yarn in a raffle from my local guild, and I make it a personal challenge to see what I can create with it (especially since I don’t need to add to my stash). I often find that these projects take me out of my comfort zone; the yarn is something I’ve never worked with before, the color leaves something to be desired, or the texture feels like an old rug. But they do offer a challenge, and sometime I have managed to create something fun, something practical, or something that will never see the light of day (I never said all my challenges were a success). But this is my play in process, I enjoy it.

Another factor for successful creativity is self confidence. I don’t mean the confidence level that causes you to take over that world or anything, I mean the level of confidence to know that you understand that concepts of the skill you are using, enough to “break” the rules. Like cooking, you started with a recipe and followed it, but then as you were cooking more, you made alterations, gave it you own flair. This is a confidence in knowing that whatever might happen, everything is going to be okay. You know basic food safety, you don’t break that rule, but you experiment with different spices, and flavor combinations, to come up with something unique. The same is true in other outlets of life, for me it is in crochet. Funny what a little bit of confidence and permission to play can create.