One of the hottest textile design trends lately: chic, simple chevron patterns. Chevrons have been popping up everywhere. I’ve seen them adorning home décor items like blankets, sofa cushions, ottomans and rugs; I’ve also noticed them as the focal point on bunches of fashion-forward wardrobe pieces such as scarves, blouses and bags.
Crochet enthusiasts have been at the forefront of this trend with a variety of amazing patterns for crocheting ripple blankets, scarves, gloves and other projects. Ripple, chevron and zigzag patterns have been some of the most popular crochet patterns for as long as I can remember — long before the chevron became a mainstream design trend in the recent past.
Do you understand how to construct a zigzag, chevron pattern or ripple out of crochet stitches? If this technique interests you but it seems beyond your current skill level, there’s a fantastic ripple crochet class you really need to know about. It’s called Learn to Crochet Ripples, and it’s produced by Annie’s Crafts. The class instructor is Sharon Silverman.
You can attend the class without ever leaving home, so it’s about as convenient as you can get. Not so long ago, it used to be a challenge to access a class of this quality; if you were lucky enough to have a really good local yarn store in your area, or lucky enough to attend a convention, you’d have been able to. Happily, now there’s no need to invest in airfare, expensive hotel rooms and convention admission if those things are not in your current budget; Annie’s Crafts has made it super easy and affordable to access worthwhile crochet classes from home. While I do recommend attending conventions and in-person workshops and classes if you have the resources to do so, those are no longer your only options for taking really great crochet classes.
There are two different ways you can access this crochet ripples class: on DVD, or through Annie’s online portal. Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to ask the instructor, Sharon, 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 you get stuck when you’re working any of the projects, the video includes instructions for how to contact Sharon and ask for her help.
The 5 Exclusive Ripple Projects You’ll Learn How to Crochet in This Class
- Happy waves crochet blanket — This is a satisfying crochet project to work on, and it’s a useful one as well. If you have a baby, toddler or young child in your household, your little one will enjoy the warmth and appeal of this fun new blanket. If you don’t happen to have a young child at home, you’re still likely to find this blanket useful, as it is definitely gift-worthy; it would make a lovely baby shower gift, birthday gift or Christmas gift.
- Peekaboo lace crochet cowl — Openwork stitches keep the crochet ripples light and airy in this pretty crochet project.
- Lavender and lilac chevron crochet scarf — This stylish scarf features an asymmetrical crochet zigzag design that’s interesting to work. When you’re finished crocheting, it will add a lovely conversation piece to your wardrobe, and it’s gift-worthy if you’d prefer to give it to a friend.
- Go-To ripple crochet tote bag — This is a seamless, no-sew tote bag featuring gentle crochet zigzag stripes in several different colors. The tote bag is crocheted in the round. In this colorful project, you’ll learn how to crochet through the back loops to give your crochet ripple stitches extra dimension and appealing texture.
- Blue waves ripple crochet washcloth — This practical project works up quickly and gives you a chance to make something really useful while you perfect your crochet ripple skills.
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: the chain, slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet and treble crochet. This class does not make any attempt to teach you how to crochet starting at the beginning; in this class, Sharon focuses specifically on teaching crochet ripple techniques. The team at Annie’s encourages you to have a working knowledge of your crochet stitches before you take this class.
However, Sharon does briefly review how to do the double crochet stitch and double crochet decrease, and she also demonstrates each project and the stitches used to crochet it. While she does crochet quickly at times, watching her is exceptionally helpful to someone who is not an experienced crocheter.
So 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 good opportunity to watch an experienced crocheter with the aid of exceptionally helpful camera angles.
In some ways, I think it 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 Sharon’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 equally 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 12 or 55 times, with this class, you can watch each segment as many times as you want to — 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 crochet ripples, chevrons, waves and zigzags. One of the keys to this technique is learning how to stack pairs of increases and decreases to create different ripple patterns; Sharon focuses on teaching you this concept in several of the exclusive class projects.
Another approach is to use varying stitch heights to create ripples without increases or decreases.
There are many additional crochet skills and techniques you’ll learn from this video:
- One of the highlights of this class: Sharon gives the clearest demonstration of the mattress stitch I have ever seen. This stitch is really helpful for any crocheter or knitter to understand, as it can be used 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 use it for seaming one side of the peekaboo cowl to the other, but you’ll likely find zillions of uses for the mattress stitch long after you’ve finished with this class.
- Sharon briefly explains how to read the international symbol crochet charts she has used for communicating the class projects to you. She shows you how she has noted where one repeat of each stitch pattern is, and she mentions how you could use the stitch repeat information (for example) for transforming the washcloth into a larger project like a blanket.
- Sharon teaches you a trick for making your crochet ripples lie flat.
- You’ll learn how to turn corners when you work borders around your crochet ripple projects.
- You’ll learn how to weave in your ends securely, which is an important skill for any crochet project, not just ripple crochet projects. Sharon also explains why she uses a tapestry needle instead of a crochet hook for weaving in ends.
- You’ll learn one of the easiest methods ever for decreasing in single crochet stitch.
- Sharon demonstrates how to change colors in crochet. You’ll see this demonstrated multiple times in different projects since several of these projects are multicolored. Again, this is an important basic skill to know for success with many different types of crochet projects, not just crochet ripples.
- You’ll learn another exceptionally helpful skill for use on some multicolored crochet projects: how to float yarn colors up the side of the project. If you don’t know how to do this, you’ll have to cut each color and weave in the ends with every color change. Once you understand how to do this, there are a lot of projects where you’ll be able to really save time and speed up the finishing because you’ll only have to weave in ends at the beginning, end and a few other times (like maybe if you have to cut a flaw out of your yarn or join a new ball).
- You’ll learn how to crochet in the round when you work on the Go-To Ripples tote bag. You’ll also learn the secret for crocheting an oval shape, which is the shape used for the bottom of the tote bag.
Fixing Mistakes: Things That Can Go Wrong With Crochet Ripple and Chevron Projects
Sharon is really proactive about helping you recognize and fix mistakes that can happen in your crochet chevron and ripple projects. Here are some of the fixes you’ll learn about if you watch this DVD:
- Learn what to do to fix crochet chevrons that get mis-aligned
- Learn what to do if you accidentally crochet too many chain stitches in your starting chain. This is a useful skill to know for any crochet project, not just crochet ripples.
- Sharon shows you what it looks like if you put too many stitches or too few stitches in the border you’re working around a ripple crochet project. Again, this is useful knowledge for other types of crochet projects, not just crochet ripples.
The Best Things About This Class
The videography is exceptional. I had to watch parts of the class again because instead of paying attention to the subject matter, I spent a good 5 minutes puzzling about how they managed to get the shots so perfectly aimed above the instructor’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 Sharon’s hands just about as clearly as you can see your own hands when you crochet.
The crochet ripple projects presented in this video are all attractive, appealing and worth the time investment, yet easy enough for people who have never crocheted ripples before.
The instructor, Sharon, 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.
Sharon uses clear, precise language throughout the entire three-hour class video presentation. I didn’t catch any factual errors or unclear instructions in my initial screening of this video.
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 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 professionally designed projects and expert instructions — exactly the type of resource you want to invest your time in.
About Sharon Hernes Silverman, the Class Instructor
Sharon is thoroughly qualified to teach you about crochet. She is an expert on the topic; she learned to crochet as a child of five and since then has authored numerous crochet books including Crochet Cowls, Tunisian Crochet for Baby, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets and many others.
Sharon has also taught in-person crochet classes and workshops, which means that she has experience understanding the types of things that usually trip people up when they are learning. In this video, she demonstrates multiple instances of common mistakes that people make when crocheting ripples, and she shows you how to recognize and fix those types of mistakes.
Cautions to Be Aware of
Overall, this video is excellent, but there’s one minor point that I can’t in good conscience put my seal of approval on: It’s the encouragement to steam block projects made with acrylic yarn.
In this video, Sharon explains what steam blocking is, and she encourages you to steam block your projects to give them a nice finish. In general, this is excellent advice in cases where your crochet project is made from a fiber that can safely be heated. Natural fibers such as wool and alpaca are ideal for steam blocking.
My concern is that not all fibers can safely be heated. In particular, the suggested yarns for some of the projects in this class are acrylic yarns. Acrylic yarns and the chemicals they are finished with have the potential to outgas or emit toxic vapors when subjected to heat or humidity. I have detailed these issues in a separate article: Is it safe to steam block acrylic crochet or knitting projects? I encourage you to read this article if steam blocking your acrylic projects is something you do, or have considered doing.
That is my one and only concern about the contents of this video. That aside, I give a big “thumbs up” to this class and the projects featured in it.
I highly recommend Sharon Silverman’s “Learn to Crochet Ripples” class from Annie’s Crafts. If you have a desire to learn how to crochet ripples plus money to spend on improving your crochet skills, this video is a wise use of resources.