I definitely don’t want to scare anyone but there are a few things you need to know before you learn how to crochet. Honestly, learning to crochet isn’t that difficult you just need patience and concentration to get started and after a while you’ll be able to crochet while you watch TV or chat on the phone. It’s also important to read or watch all the instructions very carefully when you first start out. When I first started to learn to crochet I was yarning over in the wrong direction because I was far too gung ho about jumping straight in, I didn’t follow the instructions properly. Whoops!
Reading instructions isn’t fun but unfortunately, you need be pretty hard on yourself, in the beginning, to make sure you’re developing the correct skills. Here are a few things you need to know before you even pick up a hook… None of it is very sexy or fun but it will stop you from realising 6 months into your crochet journey that you’ve actually been knitting this entire time.
1. Pay attention to dye lots
Buying yarn is actually really hard when you first start learning how to crochet (or knit!). All the words like DK, aran, wool blend and lace weight are really confusing. Most yarn store owners are lovely (it just comes with the territory) but they’re also (usually) extremely experienced and sometimes not great at explaining the absolute basics of yarn buying to beginners. The dye lot of your yarn is a little number that shows which batch the yarn was dyed in. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you get four balls of yarn from dye lot 334 and one from 345 you won’t be able to see the difference when they’re in ball form but once you crochet it up, there will be a noticeable shadow where you’ve used the rogue dye lot. It seems like a finicky thing but when you’re new, it takes a long time to crochet and having to undo your work for something so avoidable is heartbreaking. When buying yarn, always check the dye lots and make sure all your yarn balls match. If you need some help with buying yarn, you can download my free yarn buying guide right here.
2. You will have to undo your work… forever
I get this from my beautiful students all the time. They’ll painstakingly crochet a few rows, it will take them hours (as it does for most beginners), they’ll notice a mistake and want to cry at the thought of undoing their work. Undoing (frogging) your work when you first start learning how to crochet is HEARTBREAKING! I know. Undoing work is never fun but you will never stop having to do it. When you’re a bonafide crocheter you’ll still make mistakes, change your mind or want to try something different all of which require frogging your work. I’m a very experienced crocheter and I frog my work every day, especially if I’m designing. Get used to it! It’s all part of the game.
3. Your way to hold your hook and yarn is the best way
However you manage to hold your hook and tension your yarn is the best way to do it. The internet is fabulous because for the first time we can actually see how other people crochet. I know I sound weird but I love it when people share videos of themselves crocheting in Facebook crochet communities. Watching other people crochet is fascinating to me. If you happen to see someone crochet in a totally different way to you, don’t stress at all. Stick to the way that works for you even if it looks a little strange. However, if you’re struggling to get your groove, have a look at what other crocheters are doing and experiment with your own style.
4. Start with a light coloured, cotton, DK yarn first
Darker yarn is harder to work with because you can’t see the stitch definition. Very fine yarn is also difficult to work with so start with a light coloured cotton yarn in a medium weight like DK or 8 ply. Cotton yarn is perfect for actually seeing what your stitches are supposed to look like. I started crocheting with mohair which was beautiful but it’s so squishy I couldn’t see my stitches at all. Cotton maintains its structural integrity when you crochet so it’s much easier to see what your stitches are supposed to look like when you’re first starting out.
5. Start with chains
I always thought it was a good idea to start with granny squares but I really think the best place to start with learning how to crochet is to just sit down and chain for a full 20 minutes. That way you get used to the feel of yarning over and what good tension feels like before you start worrying about stitches and counting.
6. It’s going to feel awkward for a while
It’s exactly like learning to ride a bike or drive a car. It feels so awkward but after you’ve done it for a few weeks it becomes second nature. It’s all about practice and patience. I don’t know of anyone who has picked up a crochet hook and suddenly been a ninja at it. Tip: You won’t get good at crocheting if you give up after 5 minutes every time you pick up a hook. Give yourself 20 minutes, and chain away until you get it.
7. If you’re really struggling, try a different hook
One of my favourite pro-crocheters Edie Eckman told me she was teaching a class once and these two women were just not getting it. Their yarn was getting snagged and they the couldn’t insert the hook properly. One was using a Bates hook and one was using a Boye hook. She made them swap and immediately it was as if they were different crocheters. If you’re Australian, most hooks available here are Boye style hooks but you can get Bates style hooks online. I’m a Boye gal but only because that’s what I picked up first, I find Bates are a bit sharp and I need to really wrangle them to get them to work. What’s the difference between Bates and Boye hooks? Click here.
8. Learn the four basic stitches first and learn them well
Single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet and treble crochet. Most other stitches are made up of a combination of those stitches so once you have those mastered there’s almost nothing you won’t be able to do.
9. US and UK terminology are different
I’m a total traitor to my heritage but I prefer US terms. They just make so much more sense to me. Traditionally in Australia (where I’m from) we use UK terms but as I said, I think US terms just make more sense. It actually doesn’t matter as long as you know what you’re reading. All good patterns will tell you if they’re using US or UK terms but if you can’t find this information here’s my hot tip. If there’s a single crochet instruction, they’re using US terms because is there is no single crochet in UK terms.
Single crochet Double crochet
Half double crochet Half treble crochet
Double crochet Treble crochet
Treble Crochet Double treble crochet
Bonus tip: Just do it! Jump right on in and give it a go. The best place to start is to sign up to Crochet Coach. There are over 20 different patterns, video instructions for each pattern and a whole beginners section to get you started. There’s also a members only group where you can come in and ask questions. When I first started crocheting I found it really difficult to find people to help me when I got stuck. With Crochet Coach, you get a ready made group of crocheters all working on the same projects as you. There’s always some amazing tips to be had in the group and beautiful encouragement from the wonderful people in there.
So tell me…