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Beginner’s Essentials

It can be quite daunting starting a new hobby and not know where to start.

I’ve often been asked what is needed to begin to crochet and for tips for starting out. As well as adding tutorials on popular and basic stitches for beginners, I thought it probably a good idea to write a blog post on the essentials for starting crochet.

Yarn

There’s so much yarn out there, how do you know which yarn to use?!

The yarn that’s most popular is double knit (DK) weight yarn. A thinner weight yarn, such as 4 ply, can sometimes be a little fiddlier to work with.

Some of my favourite DK yarns is Paintbox Simply DK and Stylecraft Special DK and both have featured heavily throughout my crochet journey. Both come in a wide range of colour and are super soft. They’re both acrylic yarns so are very reasonably priced compared to natural fibres and hand dyed yarns.

Once you’ve settled on a project, make sure you have enough yarn to complete it. Yarns are dyed in different batches and although they are usually the same, there can be slight discrepancies in the colour. Even worse, you run out and can’t remember the brand of yarn or even where you bought it!

Hooks

Finding the right hook goes hand in hand with finding the right yarn. There are many different hooks on the market, from metal or wooden/bamboo hooks to ergonomic hooks, as well as various size hooks.

I started off with a selection of aluminium Pony hooks. These are inexpensive and can be found easily at local craft and online retailers. I’ve also dabbled with bamboo hooks, though I’m not overly keen on the way the yarn feels on them.

Once you’ve chosen your yarn, the ball band will tell you the recommended hook size to use. Typically, I use a 4mm hook for DK weight yarn, 4.5mm for Aran weight and 3-3.5mm hook for 4 ply though it does depend on the project I’m working on.

Over the years, my hook collection has expanded greatly. My go to hooks at the moment are these beautiful hooks by Little Cosy Things.

Likewise, there is no correct way to hold a hook. Some hold it like a pencil, others like a knife. The main thing is, find what is comfortable for you!

Top Tip: When crocheting, make sure you use the same gook for the whole project. Some hooks do vary slightly so that last thing you want is your project going wonky half way through!

Swatch

I always recommend making a swatch whenever you start a new project or are planning on using a new stitch that you’re not familiar with.

It’s a great way to make sure that your tensions is correct, especially if you’re making a garment. The last thing you want is to finish your project and it be either too small or far too big (trust me, Aimee’s arms still haven’t fit into the cardigan I made her 6-7 years ago!).

If you do find that your swatch isn’t the correct tension, don’t be afraid to drop a hook size or two or go up a size.

Pattern Reading

It’s always a good idea to read through the whole pattern before you start. Make sure you understand the stitches used in the pattern and also if it’s written in UK or US terminology. Trust me! This is one mistake I made when I first started crocheting, hence why one amigurumi Hello Kitty did not look like she was meant to!!

It turns out the double crochet referred to in the pattern was UK dc and not US dc like I’d become used to! One saving grace is that Aimee loves her!!

If you’re ever unsure about a pattern, contact the designer who will always be happy to help.

It’s always good practice to count your stitches and rows as well. There’s nothing worse than having to rip back (frog) numerous rows of work to correct a mistake!

Frog Away

Saying that, don’t be worried or beat yourself up if you do make a mistake. Been there, frogged that! Though you may have counted and counted over and over, there does sometimes seem to be that one pesky stitch that you’ve missed, or your work starts to warp.

If this happens, don’t worry about having to rip out stitches or rows (frogging) until you’re at the mistake. Sometimes, it may only be several stitches, other times it could be an entire project.

They happen and are a learning curve! Everyone will have made mistakes at some point, even years after they began.

Those Ends!

There is nothing more soul destroying than completing a project, such as a blanket and having SO. MANY. ENDS!!

Try to weave your ends in as you go (she says, knowing full well she doesn’t!) then there’ll be less to do at the end. Failing that, crochet over part of your ends, meaning you only have to see in the last bit in the opposite direction to keep them tidy.

Take a Break

If you do find yourself struggling with a stitch or pattern, put it down for a while and come back to it later. There’s no point forcing it because you’ll end up not enjoying it.

You may even find certain techniques or stitches just don’t work for you. I’ll openly admit I cannot fathom a magic circle for love nor money! I’ve tried countless times, only to throw my hook and yarn on the floor in a protest before eventually chaining 4 and slip stitching!

Make Notes

One thing that I hate the most is when I’ve abandoned a project for a while and come back to it but I can’t figure out what hook size I used!

It’s a good idea to have a note book for your crochet projects so you can make a note of the hook you used, yarn brand, colour and dye lot so if you do need more yarn or you come back to it after a while, you can pick up where you left off!

It also helps if you’re following a pattern and have tweaked it to your preference. I’ve tweaked my Jean Pullover by Knothing Usual so it was longer. So I know I need to add extra rows next time I make it, I’ve written notes on the pattern and changed the row numbers so I don’t get in a muddle.

Tools

It’s always best to be prepared with all the tools you’ll need to complete your project. Apart from your hooks, these also include scissors (I have a little bit of an obsession with pretty yarn scissors – no one is allowed to use them for anything other than yarn!), yarn needle to weave in your ends, stitch markers and measuring tape.

Stitch markers come in extremely handy when you need to mark the first stitch of a row so you know you’ve crocheted the right number of stitches, especially with amigurumi.

Get Social!

If you’re not sure where to start or are looking for inspiration, Instagram is jam packed with lots of talented crocheters from around the world, each one super supportive and full of beautiful crochet content.

If you’re unsure where to start, simply search #crochet or #crochetersofinstagram and you will find well over 27 million posts of crochet goodness. If you make something, tag the maker in your posts, believe me, I love seeing other’s makers creations from my patterns!

And most of all… Have Fun!!

Remember, crochet is supposed to be fun and has some amazing health benefits. I love how therapeutic it is to pick up my hook and yarn and create something, it definitely keeps my hands and mind busy when I’m starting to get stressed out.

If you’re looking for a great beginners project, I would definitely recommend starting with a simple granny square. It’s still one of my favourite projects to make, especially if I find myself in a crochet slump.

Enjoy! xx

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