When I first started crocheting, I did so because I’ve always loved the idea of it but could never actually commit. Fast-forward six months, I’ve completely fallen in love with crocheting! It is quite addicting, actually. When I first started, I went to my Mother. She has been crocheting for a long time; I distinctly remember her making blankets for me and my siblings growing up. My mom was so happy to teach me the trade, but there was a bit of a problem… I’m left-handed and she, like everyone else in my family, is right-handed. So we weren’t sure how this was going to go but I was more than willing to try and learn if she was up to the task of teaching me. Of course, my mother, being the saint she is, had no qualms with guiding me on this fantastic trade!
It took me quite some time, and even now I’m still learning, but at first I couldn’t figure out how to do the simplest of stitches, let alone the hard ones. I couldn’t use stitch markers, and I had no clue what a darning needle was.
Long story short, whether you’re just beginning or you’re an expert at crocheting, be patient and use your resources. Whether it be a family member or YouTube; I’ve religiously gone to both when I can’t figure something out.
- Use your resources
There are SO MANY gorgeous patterns to crochet, but if you don’t know how to do the most basic stitch, it doesn’t do you much good. Having a teacher, even just using YouTube, makes a huge difference.
After a long time, and a lot of difficult, frustrating moments, I caved and googled the best way to do a single crochet (for a lefty, mind you). A simple insert hook from front to back, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and draw through both loops. I realized after hours of watching videos that I was doing my yarn over incorrectly, so I fixed it and surprise, surprise things went over a lot more smoothly the next time I picked up my yarn and hook!
I’m not one to tell people what to do, but when I say
“use your resources”, please do it. I promise it will save you a lot of grief.
Once I got past the confusion of a single crochet, I wanted to try my hand at learning other stitches. I quickly learned half-double crochet and double crochet. Once I got those mastered, I moved on to some more complicated stitches.
2. Make swatches
When you crochet, you will usually make a swatch. It is recommended so that you know everything is correct for your project and that the size will turn out correctly. Making a swatch is something that I never thought about before I started this journey, but now I’m so glad I do so. When I first start learning a stitch, I make a swatch of it over and over. It typically takes me 10 to 15 times of re-making swatches to get comfortable with the stitch I am trying to learn.
Let me tell you a little secret: when it comes to crocheting, size matters. I’m referring to the hook size. If a pattern calls for a 4.5mm hook, but you decide to use a 6mm hook, your project is going to turn out larger than anticipated. Which, yes, does matter. If you’re making a hat for a premature baby, but you use a larger hook, that hat isn’t going to fit.
Another thing to consider is when you’re making an amigurumi piece. Usually, you’ll use a hook much smaller than what is recommended for the yarn because you need your stitches to stay tight and the stuffing not to show. Now, imagine you used the size of hook the yarn called for, say 5mm, but the pattern says to use a 3mm or 3.5mm, your amigurumi isn’t going to turn out right and the stuffing will likely show through your stitches.
If you’re making your own pattern or design, I would suggest following the size specified on the yarn label. Unless, of course, you know otherwise exactly how you want your project to turn out.
4. Yarn weight
Yarn weight is the thickness, or heaviness, of the yarn. This matters, in the same way, that size matters; it will determine the size of your project. Yarn is generally sized from 0 to 6.
When you crochet, you will usually make a swatch. It helps to ensure you have the right weight of yarn and the right size of hook. The unfortunate thing is that not all patterns have a swatch to guide you along. Especially with amigurumi.
When I was making my second ever project, first blanket, I didn’t use the hook that the yarn called for. Big mistake! As I was going along, about halfway through the project, I realized that the hook I was using was making the project to be WAY too small. So of course, I frogged the entire thing, ended up getting a knot in the yarn that wouldn’t come out, and lost quite a bit of unsalvageable yarn.
Basically, if you want something to work out the first time, make sure you use the right weight of yarn.
5. Count your stitches
I’m going to tell you a story about Jane. Jane learned how to crochet recently, but never bothered to count her stitches. She knew she needed to, but never felt like it. Well, Jane just took on a large blanket. In each row, she had to make sure she had the exact amount of stitches on each row. Several rows in, she realized that one side of her blanket was slanting inward because there weren’t enough stitches, but she didn’t know where she messed up. Because she hadn’t bothered to count her stitches, Jane had to rip apart the entire project that she had spent hours on to fix the missed stitches.
It was me. I’m Jane.
I tried to do a simple Double Crochet baby blanket as one of my first projects, but I didn’t want to take the time to count my stitches. And because I was just starting, I didn’t realize how bad my mistake was until almost halfway and several skeins of yarn in. Do you want to know what the difference between Jane and me is? Jane took the time to tear her stitches out and redo her mess, I didn’t. I snipped my yarn, put the screwed up blanket in the trash and walked away.
Yes, I wasted a lot of yarn doing that. Yes, I could have salvaged it if I wanted to. But I didn’t because I was so frustrated with myself for not counting my stitches in the first place.
So, don’t be like me. Count your stitches.
6. IT’S SO ADDICTING!
If crocheting doesn’t click for you, that’s understandable. If you’ve tried and tried but just don’t get caught up in it, cut your losses and move on. However, if you do get hooked, pun totally intended, you won’t stop. When I say I’ve crocheted almost every day since I learned how is not an exaggeration. I LOVE it. Whenever I sit down to watch a movie or relax for a couple of minutes, I immediately grab my WIP (work in progress) and start hooking away. Seriously.
Now, it’s time to take a minute and let the consequences of all of this sink in. There are some things you’ll have to part with. This list can include but is not limited to:
- Broom and dustpan
- Toilet bowl scrubber
- Glass Cleaner
- Your social life
- Possible family time
But all jokes aside, crocheting can quickly become something you know and love. It can be your go-to when you’re bored, your safe place when you’re scared or anxious, your calming technique when you’re angry and frustrated. If you let it, it can be so much more than a hobby. Having a healthy, stress-relieving outlet, like crocheting, is something to be valued in our society nowadays.