I am a textile designer with a major weakness for fabric. Don’t get me wrong, I love yarn, thread, ribbons, beads, buttons, rubber stamps, paper punches and hot glue guns too — but I’m really, really, really nuts for pretty fabrics.
Not only that, I have an overabundance of fabric in my craft supply stash. I don’t have nearly the same issues with yarn or thread or buttons; somehow, when it comes to non-fabrics, I’m pretty adept at keeping my stash manageable, and I use up most of what I acquire in a reasonable sort of time frame.
It’s different with fabric. I have a hard time parting with anything made of fabric, especially pretty printed fabric — no matter how forlorn, stained, torn or beat up it gets; and I have this aggravating habit of buying interesting textiles and fabrics when I find them at garage sales, thrift stores or even at craft stores (on sale, of course.) And that’s to say nothing of all the fabric samples I have left over from the time period when I spent most of my days designing and re-coloring pretty prints.
When it comes to my fabric stash management, I think I finally managed to identify the major source of the bottleneck: I love fabric, but I don’t sew enough to really make much of a dent in the stash. I spend far more of my crafting time crocheting,knitting and scrapbooking. I’m good for sewing linings into my knitted and crocheted pouches and bags, or an occasional hand-stitched embellishment or bauble. But the bottom line is, I’m not doing the amount of sewing or quilting it would really take to burn through all this fabric.
Light bulb moment: one day, it occurred to me that I should try crocheting with fabric. DUH! Of course that was the answer to my dilemma!
With all the fabric I have hanging around in my stash, I have no shortage of raw materials to draw from. So I’ve been steadily working on a list of interesting fabric crochet projects — and I’m posting them on the Internet so that you can try them too, if you would like to. I hope you’ll find these ideas useful. Whether you have some stained, abandoned sheets, or a sizeable fabric stash, I hope you’ll find plenty of projects (and free patterns!) that inspire you to dig in and use some of those materials up, too.
Those are all excellent projects, and they’re satisfying to make. But, if you’ve already made bunches of these sorts of items, why not challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone a little?
If you usually crochet with yarn, perhaps you could try shaking things up a little by attempting to crochet without yarn. This isn’t as preposterous as it sounds; by now, maybe you’ve even noticed that the bracelet pictured is a) crocheted, and b) made without even so much as an inch of yarn. It’s one of the projects featured on our list of wire crochet jewelry patterns.
If you’re a die-hard yarn addict and you have no plans of changing that, no worries, there are plenty of other ways to challenge yourself.
Another possibility: Try a new knitting stitch or crochet stitch. This vintage bullion stitch is an unusual one that combines the Tunisian crochet technique with the bullion stitch you might already be familiar with.
There are many great resources for testing out new stitches. Some of my favorites include the following:
These are just a few of my favorite resources to work with when I want to find a knitting stitch or crochet stitch I haven’t worked with yet. These are also fantastic references for finding some great classic stitches; Alterknit Stitch Dictionary has some really cool Greek keys, and Melissa Leapman’s stitch dictionary has all the basic crochet stitches you might want to look up.
Or perhaps you could branch out and get started working a different sort of projects than the ones you usually make. There are infinite possibilities if you want to fire up your imagination and dream up some project ideas that would get you started in a different-than-usual direction.
So what do you think you’ll try next? I invite your comments, especially if you’re feeling inspired to branch out.
I also find wire crochet endlessly fascinating. I’ve completed quite a few projects in this technique. While I don’t find it relaxing to work in this technique, I do usually love the results.
OK, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. Make that sometimes. Sometimes I love the results.
The thing is, wire crochet is not always the ideal technique for perfectionists. If you find it satisfying to crochet nice, neat, precise, evenly spaced stitches, you may find wire crochet a bit disappointing. While it’s technically possible to crochet evenly using wire, in practice it is pretty darned difficult to do.
This is one reason why I love the results sometimes, and sometimes not.
When working in yarn, I’ve practiced the afghan stitch to the point that I’m technically proficient at working it; I’m able to make a pretty tidy fabric using the stitch.
When I tried working the afghan stitch in wire, however, all of that went right out the window.
In the picture above, you can see my first attempt at working the afghan stitch using wire. I crocheted a small sample strip of the stitch using copper craft wire, which I then transformed into a beaded bracelet.
I think this design is pretty, and it has significant potential — although I’m not entirely happy with my first attempt. I’ve concluded that it would take more practice for me to produce a piece that’s up to my usual standards.
If you’d like to read more about my experiences with making this bracelet, and the techniques I’ve used to complete it, I invite you to take a look at the free bracelet pattern and instructions that I have shared.
If you’re new to the wire crochet technique, this is NOT a good starter project; I’d recommend trying this beaded wire crochet napkin ring first. That project is much easier than this one is.
There are bunches of compelling reasons you might want to learn how to crochet corner to corner. For starters, corner-to-corner crochet is one of the hottest craft trends right now. Perhaps you’ve already seen some of the amazing projects people are designing using this technique. Blankets, throws and afghans are some of the most popular corner-to-corner crochet projects, but you can make a wide variety of different projects using this technique. I’ve seen beautiful scarves, pillows, dishcloths and table runners made in corner-to-corner crochet.
What I find most appealing about this technique: It offers you an interesting new way to create colorful pictorial patterns in crochet. In this regard, it has some similarities to the other techniques you can use for crocheting graphic designs:
Cross stitch on crochet
BUT this technique is pretty different from all of those, and it offers some advantages over each of those techniques. For example, I LOVE tapestry crochet, but the fabric can get thick and cumbersome when you’re working with more than 3 colors in the same piece. This is not a worry with corner-to-corner crochet.
I LOVE pictorial filet crochet patterns, but most filet crochet patterns are only one color. It’s also easier to see the picture when you crochet with fine threads and small steel hooks — which can get fiddly. With corner-to-corner crochet you have the option to make your designs either colorful or monochromatic, and the yarns can be as thick or thin as you like without having it adversely affect the visibility of the picture you are crocheting. If you enjoy fiddly projects with fine threads and steel hooks, you can certainly use those materials to create spectacular corner-to-corner crochet projects.
Cross stitch on crochet gives you unlimited options for colors and color placement, but its disadvantage is that it is a really slooooooooow technique. I find corner-to-corner crochet to be much faster.
Pictorial patterns aren’t your only possible design options with corner-to-corner crochet. Even solid-colored projects are interesting to work in this technique. If you want to crochet a diagonal stripe, it’s much more intuitive to do so using corner-to-corner crochet than it is to use tapestry crochet.
So whether you prefer solid-colored projects or colorful ones, either way, this is a technique that is well worth learning. I was really excited to learn about it and am excited to incorporate the technique into my repertoire of crochet skills.
If this sounds like a technique you would like to learn how to do, Sarah Zimmerman is a crochet designer who should definitely be on your radar. Sarah has mastered the corner-to-corner crochet technique — and she can help you learn how to master it, too.
Sarah has teamed up with Annie’s Crafts to create a high-quality video class intended to teach you the basics of corner-to-corner crochet. The practice project for the class is an adorable baby blanket featuring cute animal motifs: a lion, a panda bear, an elephant and a monkey. The animal squares are alternated with solid-colored blocks. This is an ideal design for beginners to the technique. That’s because all those solid blocks give you the perfect opportunity to master the single-color version of the corner-to-corner crochet stitch before you move onto learning how to do the more complex blocks that require color changes.
This practical project also gives you a chance to make something really useful while you perfect your corner-to-corner crochet skills.
You can attend Sarah’s class without ever leaving your house, so it’s about as convenient as you can get. In times past, you had to go out of your way to attend a class of this quality; if you were lucky enough to have an innovative local yarn store in your area, or lucky enough to attend a convention, you’d have been able to. Luckily, now there’s no need to invest in expensive airfare, hotel rooms and convention admission if those things are not in your current budget; Annie’s Crafts has made it easy and affordable to access amazing craft classes from home. While I do recommend attending classes, conventions and workshops in person if you have the opportunity to do so, those are no longer your only options for taking truly outstanding crochet classes.
There are two different ways you can access this corner-to-corner crochet class: on DVD, or through Annie’s online portal. Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to ask the instructor, Sarah, questions. The video is really clear and helpful, so you’ll probably find that you won’t need to take advantage of this option — but it’s nice to know you do have the option if you need it. If there’s something that just doesn’t seem clear to you when you watch the video, or if you get stuck when you’re working any part of the baby blanket, the class materials include instructions for how to contact Sarah and ask for her help.
Crochet Skill Level Required for This Class: “Confident Beginner”
The team at Annie’s has given this DVD a skill level rating of “confident beginner”. What that means: Your chances for success with this class are best if you have already learned your basic crochet stitches. For this particular project, you’ll want to have a working knowledge of the chain,slip stitch,single crochet and double crochet stitches. This class does not make any attempt to teach you how to crochet starting at the beginning; in this class, Sarah focuses specifically on teaching the corner-to-corner crochet technique. She does, however, teach you several of the other mechanical skills you’ll need to construct and finish a blanket (like how to join your squares together, how to weave in your loose ends, etc).
One thing you have to beware of when you learn new crochet skills online: There are some crochet bloggers out there who are not really all that experienced with crochet. (No, I’m not going to name any names here). I’ve been crocheting for more than 35 years, and when I spend time looking at other crafters’ tutorials and videos, it is painfully obvious to me that there are some bloggers out there who have not put in the time it takes to master the techniques they are attempting to teach you.
This is not a worry with Sarah Zimmerman’s corner-to-corner crochet class. It is obvious to me that Sarah Zimmerman has invested the time it takes to become an expert at the technique she is teaching you. This is one reason you’ll want to consider learning this technique from her class.
I think you’ll find this class especially beneficial if you are not already an experienced crocheter. If you’re a beginner at crochet, I think you will find it helpful to watch Sarah’s way of working — the way she holds her yarn and her hook, and the way she manipulates them to work her crochet stitches, and the speed at which she is able to work because of the way she expertly uses her hands in harmony with each other. If you’re attempting to learn how to crochet by using books, and you’re struggling but not ready to give up yet, my opinion is that this class could really be helpful to you. It gives you a fantastic opportunity to watch an experienced crocheter with the aid of exceptionally helpful camera angles.
In some ways, I think this class is going to be more helpful than even taking an in-person crochet class would be. There are a couple of reasons for this:
There are cultural “personal space” barriers to worry about with a real live instructor. Unless it’s your mom, sister or grandma teaching you how to crochet, you can only comfortably get so close to your instructor. This video has removed those cultural “personal space barriers” and gets your attention focused right on Sarah’s hands in such a way that you don’t even think twice about it; it isn’t an uncomfortable experience at all. Whereas it could be an uncomfortable experience trying to get this close to a crochet instructor in a live class setting, particularly one where there are many students participating and you have to sort of fight for space to see what the instructor is doing.
You don’t have to worry about anyone thinking you are an idiot if you don’t get everything the first time the teacher explains it. Whereas in a live class setting, you might feel uncomfortable asking the instructor to demonstrate another 13 or 56 times, with this class, you can watch any part you need to as many times as you want. Just play it again. And again. And again. As many times as it takes for you to get it right.
Crochet Skills, Techniques, Tips and Tidbits You’ll Learn in This Class
The primary focus of this class, of course, is learning how to do the corner-to-corner crochet technique. There are additional crochet skills and techniques you’ll learn from this video:
How to weave in your loose ends of yarn securely so they will not come undone. This is important!
How to join your blanket squares almost invisibly using the mattress stitch. I personally found it difficult to learn this stitch from written tutorials, and I didn’t really get it until I saw it demonstrated on video. This stitch is really useful to know; if you haven’t already mastered it, I think you will be glad to see Sarah demonstrate it for you. She is an expert at this stitch; her expertise shines through in both her clear and simple explanation and the tidy, even stitches she makes in her demonstration. This stitch is really helpful for any crafter to understand, as you can use it for seaming just about any type of crochet or knitting project that requires one side or piece to be stitched to another. In this class, you’ll be using mattress stitch for joining your crocheted squares to create the finished baby blanket. Long after you’re finished with the class, you’ll be able to continue using it in other ways — perhaps for things like seaming one side of a cowl to the other, sewing up the sides of fingerless gloves or attaching trims to your projects.
How to prep your yarn and keep everything organized. It is obvious that Sarah has put a TON of thought into this, so the insights she shares on this topic are valuable.
How to read a corner-to-corner crochet graph — including a genius tip for how to avoid having to keep re-counting over and over again. If you’ve struggled with understanding C2C graphs before, I think Sarah’s simple and straightforward explanation will clear up the mysteries for you (but if it doesn’t, she is happy to answer your questions if you message her through the online class portal).
How to change colors in corner-to-corner crochet. Sarah demonstrates this for you multiple times throughout the class because it is a technique you’ll use frequently. This is an important skill to master, and you’ll have the benefit of seeing how she does it in several different places throughout the pattern.
How to carry a yarn color up to your working position. This is another exceptionally helpful skill for use on some multicolored corner-to-corner crochet projects. If you don’t already know how to do this, you’ll definitely want to learn this secret; there are many instances in which it will enable you to avoid having to cut your yarn and re-attach it, saving valuable yarn as well as working time and end-weaving time.
When it comes time to finish your project, you might be disappointed if there are areas in your colorwork that look a little messy. Sarah shares a secret for easily fixing the messy-looking areas — without you having to unravel or re-work anything. I think you’re going to love this! (For those of you who’ve worked some of my multicolored crochet patterns in the past, I’ll give you a hint: It IS NOT my usual, totally time consuming method of using surface crochet slip stitches around the messy areas.)
The Best Things About This Class
The video class makes this technique marvelously clear, whereas written tutorials do not generally manage to accomplish the same level of clarity. Before I watched this video, I looked at bunches of different corner-to-corner crochet tutorials — and had a hard time figuring out what exactly I was supposed to be doing. As it turns out, this is technique is easy and logical when you see a human being demonstrating it. However, there are some complexities that are hard to communicate using only written text and pictures.
The videography is exceptional. I had to watch parts of the class again because instead of paying attention to the subject matter, I was busy wondering about how they managed to get the shots so perfectly aimed above Sarah’s hands that it seems you’re looking right down at them. Amazing!
Many crochet videos are shot at awkward angles that don’t allow you to see the instructors hands as clearly as you might like to. That is absolutely not an issue here. You’ll be able to see Sarah’s hands just about as clearly as you can see your own hands when you crochet.
The crochet baby blanket presented in this video is attractive, appealing and worth the time investment, yet easy enough for people who have never crocheted corner-to-corner before.
Sarah is a wonderfully engaging teacher. Her presentation in the video was well-rehearsed enough to be nearly flawless, yet spontaneous enough to be interesting to watch.
Sarah uses clear, precise language throughout the entire one-hour and 21 minute class video presentation. I didn’t catch any factual errors or unclear instructions in my initial screening of this video. There is one bit of errata that the video team at Annie’s clearly corrected right in the online portal — there’s no need to go looking for it online.
I’ve watched hundreds of crochet videos on the Internet; fact checking independently produced craft videos for a media company was also part of a former job description of mine. Thanks to those experiences, I became aware that many of the crochet videos in existence contain unclear instructions, horrendous factual errors, logic errors, math errors, incorrect terminology, mediocre projects, inefficient methods and/or unworkable camera angles. My conclusion has been that a lot of unsuspecting people are wasting a lot of valuable time with crochet videos that are not worth watching. YIKES!
I bring all this up to help you understand how significant it is that this video does not have any such problems.
My opinion: Your time is the most valuable thing you have. If you want to learn new crochet techniques, you’re wise to seek out videos as a fast-track method for achieving the skills you want. It’s one of the quickest, smartest and most efficient methods available to you — but that’s only assuming you start with top-quality videos to watch. When you’re serious about improving your skills, you unfortunately have to be really picky about the videos you learn from. It is all too easy to waste time on second-rate videos that don’t teach you what you really need to know — or worse yet, teach you things that are downright incorrect. While there are some high quality free crochet videos available online, my experience has been that you are likely to waste a lot of time looking for the good ones. That’s time you could be spending on actually learning and improving your crochet skills.
This is a top quality video featuring a professionally designed project and expert instructions — exactly the type of resource you want to invest your time in.
About Sarah Zimmerman, the Class Instructor
Sarah is not only a talented crochet designer; she actually has been formally trained in the art of graphic design.
I highly recommend Sarah Zimmerman’s “Learn Corner-To-Corner Crochet” class from Annie’s Crafts. If you have a desire to learn how to crochet corner-to-corner plus money to spend on improving your crochet skills, this video is a wise use of resources.
Annie’s offers quite a few interesting video classes. I chose this class as the one I wanted to review because corner-to-corner crochet was a technique I found perplexing at first. I’m pretty adept at deciphering cryptic crochet instructions — so I figure that, if I had a hard time understanding this, bunches of you probably would, too. My experience was that it took a HUGE investment of brainpower and deductive reasoning to figure out the corner-to-corner crochet technique just from studying the free photo tutorials that are available online. But once you watch this video, I’m positive that you’ll be empowered with the ability to better understand all the amazing free corner-to-corner tutorials, patterns and resources that crochet designers have been posting — at least, that was the case for me.
Other Crafters’ Testimonials for Sarah Zimmerman’s Corner-to-Corner Crochet Class
I’m not the only crocheter who recommends this class. Here’s what a few other reviewers have posted about it:
“Extremely helpful, instructions are demonstrated beautifully! Would love more classes on a different pattern by Sarah.”
— This quote is from a customer tutorial posted by Kathleen M on August 14, 2017 at the Annie’s website.
“Very well done! Sarah is very easy to follow. I would take another class from her no question.”
— This quote is from a customer tutorial posted by Kathy S on August 11, 2017 at the Annie’s website.
” This is a great class. I love the animal baby blanket, too. Sarah, you do a wonderful job explaining the entire process. I especially liked the color changes.”
— This quote is from a customer tutorial posted by Suzanne M on June 3, 2017 at the Annie’s website.
Where to Buy the Learn to Crochet Corner-to-Corner Class
Both formats for this class are available for sale at the Annie’s website:
A DVD version— You have to wait for the DVD version of the class to be sent to you by snailmail — but once it arrives, you’ll have a tangible, gift-wrappable item you can hold in your hands. This is a great buy if you want to give the class as a gift to another crafter, or if you prefer to watch the class on your TV / DVD player instead of a laptop, computer or tablet. (Of course, you can also watch it on any computer or device that has a DVD player).
Here’s a fun limerick I wrote awhile back in celebration of joining crochet motifs as you go:
Piles of projects have ends that are loose.
Their numbers, I’d like to reduce.
So I’ve learned to join as I go.
Although it is slow,
There’s no longer any excuse.
Once you learn how to do join-as-you-go crochet motifs, you’ll love how you won’t have to weave in zillions of loose ends when you’ve finished your projects. It’s definitely a technique worth learning.
Check out Continuous Crochet and Seamless Crochet, two books by Kristin Omdahl that explore the join-as-you-go technique in depth. In my opinion, Seamless Crochet is the go-to reference on this topic. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how to turn any crochet motif pattern into a join-as-you-go pattern until I read this book. Continuous Crochet is a follow-up to that book featuring even more amazing, up-to-date clothing and accessory patterns that require minimal finishing.
Have you tried Tunisian crochet yet? Would you either like to give it a try (if you haven’t yet), or improve your skills (if you have)?
Tunisian crochet is one of Sharon Silverman’s specialties. Sharon has written multiple books covering various aspects of this fascinating and useful crochet technique. If Tunisian crochet is of interest to you, I’m thinking you’ll probably be interested in learning more about Sharon’s latest projects.
When I got the news about a few of Sharon’s most recent Tunisian crochet books, I approached her to see if she’d be interested in collaborating on an interview for this website. She agreed, so I’m delighted to be able to share the interview we put together — which includes some pictures of her latest projects, plus some helpful tips and recommendations that I think will be of particular interest to people who are just getting started with Tunisian crochet.
Of course, no matter what your experience level with Tunisian crochet is, I’m guessing you’ll want to take a peek at this interview — because you’ll see some gorgeous project photos, and you’ll also find out which Tunisian crochet hooks Sharon recommends. Hope you’ll enjoy it!