We are really looking forward to our next Beginners Crochet class in May with Helen Jordan.
Helen visits Needlecase regularly to deliver fun and lively classes, usually with beginners but occasionally we offer ‘next steps’ sessions for those who would like to learn more.
I recently met up with Helen at the P-lush show and asked her some questions about her passion for the wonderful craft of crochet. Her answer were, typically of Helen, both amusing and knowledgeable
Who taught you to crochet and when?
My cousin Jan showed me how to work a granny square – I think it was in the summer holiday at the end of the Lower VIth (now Year12) school year.
In 1988, I started the (now) International Diploma in Crochet, founded and managed by Pauline Turner of Crochet Design, who was for many years running the only solely crochet business in the UK. That has really opened my eyes to the amazing breadth and depth of the incredible craft of crochet.
What was the first thing that you made?
I used up all of Mum’s spare yarn from knitting sweaters and slipovers for my Dad, to create a large granny square to form one side of the cover for a floor cushion. The subdued tweedy colours were ideal for the floor side. The other side was made up of sixteen squares from a pattern in one of the weekly women’s magazine. I think I taught myself to follow the pattern.
What is your favourite thing that you have crocheted?
I’m torn between the ‘seascape’ that was a runner up in the International Crochet Awards in 1999 – I think – (see photo) and an approximately life-sized parrot that I made for a dear old friend (sadly now deceased) who had to have a leg amputated – he absolutely roared with laughter when he received it!
What do you love most about the craft?
Where do I start? Its versatility; creativity; relaxing and paradoxically stimulating nature.
Where is your favourite crocheting spot?
Anywhere and everywhere! My favourite armchair is probably the place where I do most of my crafting. Although to be fair, our local Wetherspoon’s has seen a fair bit of ‘hooky action’ on Wednesday evenings over the past five years or so.
Do you have a crochet ambition which you haven’t yet fulfilled?
To complete Part III of the aforementioned Diploma course. I’ve opted to work on a foolishly large scale, so it’s a bigger commitment than it need be. I’m interpreting Edward Lear’s poem ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’. My Bong Tree (see photo) is based on a garden parasol.
- What do you think is the most important piece of advice for someone learning to crochet?
Remember that the learning process takes time and that little, tiny steps are necessary – you’ll be at pre-school or kindergarten to start with and you won’t be able to jump in at ‘post-graduate’ level. Get to a course or workshop if you can – it’s a lot easier than trying to learn from a book, blog, website or U-Tube – oh, and do remember to make sure if you’re looking at instructions in UK or USA terminology!
Who do you most admire in the world of crochet and why?
There are loads – just a few of the most inspiring are…
Pauline Turner who has written dozens of crochet books over several decades and has inspired students at workshops, seminars and through her distance learning course for over thirty years.
The late, great, Sylvia Cosh and her crochet partner James Walters – if you look at their website www.crochet.nu you’ll be able to download their fabulous worksheets, which were very innovative in their time and are still full of inspiration.
Prudence Mapstone is an amazingly talented exponent of the lively art of freeform crochet.
Jennifer Hansen aka Stitch Diva, because she has designed some beautiful garments in hairpin crochet (my favourite technique).
All the wonderful crocheters (and knitters) I’ve met over the years, especially the yarn shop owners who have allowed me to run workshops for their customers.
The incredibly helpful folks at the Knitting and Crochet Guild. Their knowledge and willingness to share information is breath-taking.
Who/what inspires you when you are designing?
‘All of the above’, it can be a stitch in a pattern, the wonderful qualities of yarns, shapes, you name it.
Have you ever had a big crochet disaster?
Far too many to count! Using scratchy Lurex-type yarn for the bikini in which I strutted my stuff on the sheepwalk at the 2014 Wonderwool Wales show was a big, uncomfortable mistake!
Do you have a favourite yarn or fibre to use in your work?
I have a real soft spot for mohair, especially blended with silk. Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze and its variants is lovely. Knitwitches’ Absolutely Gorgeous is another stunner!
Thank you Helen for answering my questions so brilliantly and for allowing me to use these marvellous pictures.
If you are interested in joining us at Needlecase to learn to crochet you can book a place right now through our website.