There are a ton of post available about the things every new crocheter should know, I’ve read many of them. They are all full of good advice but I’ve been surprised by the things they don’t tend to cover. So here’s my list of things I learned as a beginner crocheter that might be helpful. I hope you find something new!
Use Stitch Markers
Stitch markers are your friend. Maybe even your best friend. I spent weeks frustrated with lopsided and wobbly edges on everything I did. Eventually I discovered it was because I was not consistently finding the correct stitch for my last stitch in the row. I either missed it entirely or picked up the wrong loops. I was desperate for a solution until I figured out that using a stitch marker AROUND the chain-up stitch made all the difference. If you place a stitch marker around your chain-up stitch, when you come down the next row you know that your last stitch goes in the stitch that is marked. Straight edges every time! I still use this method today… I like the added security it provides.
See my tutorial on using stitch markers for straight edges here!
YouTube, YouTube, YouTube
YouTube is your second best friend. You can learn almost anything you want to learn about crochet on YouTube… and the best part is, there’s almost always more than one video on how to do a specific thing. This means that if you did not understand how the first video was done or did not like the technique used, you can try another one until you find one that works for you!
Size Matters (in more ways than one!)
Most yarn has a label with a suggested crochet hook size. This is a great tool! This does not mean that you must use the size they suggest… but you do need to understand what happens when you don’t. Using a hook smaller than the suggested hook size creates a much tighter stitch. This can be nice if you like a tighter stitch but it can also make it much harder to work the stitches and creates a tight and stiff finished product. If the hook is much smaller than the suggested hook size, it can make it difficult to grab the yarn without splitting it. Using a hook that is larger than the suggested hook size creates a much looser stitch with a larger gap and a floppy feel to the finished product. This can be a great look as well but if you go too far with it, you lose the shape of the stitch and it just looks like an undefined blob.
Size also matters when selecting your yarn. Using a bulky yarn for a delicate pattern does not usually work out well. The bulky yarn is too big to show off the details of the pattern and you spend a lot of time on something that will not show off the effort you put into it. Using a much finer yarn for a pattern that calls for a bulky yarn can also be disappointing… the pattern may translate fine as far as detail goes but you will have to make a lot of adjustments to compensate for the smaller size of the yarn. For example, if it tells you to chain 30 to begin, you may need to double or tripple that to get the same size product you would get with the 30 stitches in the bulky yarn.
What Type of Yarn to Use
The type of yarn you choose can be very important. Many factors go in to making a specific yarn the right one for the project you want to make. Some things to consider:
- Using a very busy yarn (variegated or striped) can be distracting when you are working with a very detailed pattern.
- The softness of the yarn is important. If you are making a baby item or something that will be worn close to the skin, you want to make sure it is something that wont irritate the skin.
- Care instructions are easily overlooked but essential… you don’t want to use a hand wash only yarn (or a yarn that is dry clean only/ can’t be washed at all) for a baby item or someone who you know would not take the time to wash it properly.
Another important consideration for yarn is what it is made of. If you are making something that will be washed a lot, cotton or acrylic yarns tend to hold up well. If you are making something that needs to absorb water well (a coaster or a washcloth) you will want to use cotton yarn. I can tell you from experience that a washcloth made of acrylic yarn can be beautiful but it’s only good for scrubbing the dishes… acrylic yarn is very scratchy when it gets wet. Also, not all cotton yarns are made equal. If you are making something like a baby washcloth, shop around for a soft cotton yarn. The cotton yarns commonly found in the big stores are far too rough for use on a baby. There are many, many other types of yarn (wools, silks, exotics, etc.) and they are all lovely. Just make sure you do a little homework before committing a lot of time to a project when you don’t know if the yarn is suited to it.
Changing colors can be intimidating. The first time I tried to do it, I had no idea what I was doing so I just tied a knot to make the color change. I quickly figured out that you could feel and see the knots and that was not ideal. Since then I’ve used several different techniques for changing colors but the one I use now I’ve stuck with for a long time because it is easy to do and looks clean.
- Continue to the end of the row where you would like to change colors
- Begin the last stitch but instead of yarning over to pull the last stitch through, pull the new color through
- Chain up to the next row and continue (you will want to hang on to the tail of the color you just ended and the color you are starting to keep them taught for the first few stitches)
*you can do this in the middle of a row if you need to tie in a new ball of yarn when one runs out – just use the same technique for the last stitch when you have a just enough of a tail left to weave in your ends*
See my tutorial on changing colors and balls of yarn here!
Carrying Two Strands of Yarn
One of the first scarves I made after learning the crochet basics was a double crochet scarf in which I pulled double strands of yarn. Pulling two strands of yarn at the same time is a great way to make a project extra thick and luxurious. Make sure to use a larger hook than the yarn calls for or you will have a lot of issues with being able to carry both strands at the same time. The process can be a little trying until you get the hang of catching both strands, but once you do, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll love the end result!
Keeping Tension on the Yarn
Keeping tension on the yarn is something that takes a few tries to feel right. Try several different techniques and play with it until you find something that is comfortable for you. There’s no set way to do it. The important part is to keep some tension on the yarn so it doesn’t just flop around without having it too tight. You want it to flow easily as you work with the yarn.
It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
This one is a repeat of what I’ve seen in other posts about beginner crocheting… but it’s a really important one. I struggled with this when I first started crocheting (and still do from time to time). Often, the mistakes you make are not noticeable to anyone but you. So before you get upset and rip out the last two hours of work… consider whether or not anyone else would notice the mistake. If not, it’s ok to let it be. We all do it!