Learning to Crochet
Hi there! You’re here because you’re learning how to crochet. I am so excited for you! In this post we will go over both the process of learning how to crochet and the three steps you’ll need to follow in order to complete your first project.
The overall process of mastering crochet looks something like what I’ve got listed below. But first, I want to point out that you don’t need to be a master at something to be able to enjoy it. In fact, you should only learn up to your enjoyment level. If you are content in working up granny squares for all of time, do it! If you find yourself constantly seeking out new techniques, then you can master crochet much more easily than some other hobbies. Once you learn a handful of key concepts, your only limit is your imagination.
Do what brings you happiness and comfort. At each stage you’ll be learning new skills:
- Basic crochet stitches (slip knot, chain, slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet)
- Getting comfortable holding the yarn and hook
- Weaving in your tail ends (each project will have at least two tails: a starting and finishing tail)
- Assembling pieces via stitching
- Different foundation chains (chaining, foundation stitches, magic circle)
- Can work patterns up to skill level “Easy”
- Can work patterns up to skill level “Complex”
- Ability to make 2D shapes (via stitch counts, and increasing & decreasing) without using a pattern
- Better understanding of yarn weights and when it’s okay to substitute different yarn into a pattern
- Mastery of achieving gauge
- Ability to make 3D shapes without a pattern
- Designing – Ability to make a desired finished object using a stitch pattern alone
- Capable of creating stitch patterns
The road begins with novice and ends with designer. Once you start crocheting, go ahead and start calling yourself a fiber artist. You’re making things with fiber so don’t let imposter syndrome get the better of you.
Some of you will garner enough joy from working up patterns, some will want to do their own thing, and I’m sure others will end up dyeing yarn. This is an addictive hobby that allows you more creativity and freedom as venture further down the path.
My path has lead me to designing and a desire to teach others how to crochet.
Let’s look at how to begin!
1) Pick a “beginner” level pattern
Most of you are going to be eager to get started on a project that will produce a finished object, or “FO”. I recommend making swatches first (see below). Swatches are small squares that are worked up in a single stitch, or a stitch pattern. Swatches are used to practice and check your gauge. Please read my separate post about gauge and why it’s important to swatch. The concept of “gauge” will save you a TON of grief somewhere down the line.
Anyway guys, I truly understand why most of you will not begin with swatches. Seriously, no judgement. A huge part of the satisfaction of crocheting is the sense of accomplishment you get from a FO. Swatches simply don’t provide that. But they’re a fantastic way to practice. So, if you do find yourself struggling with your pattern, try swatching first.
Okay, down to the nitty gritty.
All patterns include a difficulty level. You’ll want to start by picking a pattern with a difficulty of “Beginner”. These will be easy to follow and have just a couple different stitches.
How do you find a beginner’s pattern? Pinterest or YouTube. Just search “free beginner crochet pattern”. You could also create a Ravelry account and do an advanced search to find a free crochet pattern for beginners. But I’d try the other two first. I would stick to a scarf or a hat for your first project. Pick something that looks easy! Your early days crocheting should have a focus on fun and learning.
If you’re using a written pattern, read it as best you can. Go over the sections up until where the pattern begins. This information will include: the abbreviations used, the supplies needed, the gauge, the difficulty and any notes you need to be made aware of.
Alt. 1) Make swatches
This is the path that I recommend you start with! So why then is it the alternate start? Because it’s really difficult to convince people of the importance of swatching.
When I was getting my instructors certification with the Craft Yarn Council, they really drove home the importance of determining your gauge via swatching. Why? Because we are making fabric when we crochet. Everyone has different tension levels when holding their yarn and woking their stitches. That means it’s possible that you and the designer do not crochet with the same level of tightness in the stitches. I’ve seen people who crochet really loosely, and some people do it very tight. If you’re mad and stressed out, you will crochet more tightly. If you’ve had two glasses of wine, loosey goosey.
That means that your FO could come out to be a completely different size than what the designer intended. Friends, this has happened to me and it sucks. You don’t get a FO out of it, you get a mistake (and a lesson truly learned)!
Hopefully I’ve convinced some of you that practicing by making small squares will help you build a stronger knowledge of this craft!
I have a full set of video and written tutorials to help you learn all of the basic stitches. We make swatches of ten stitches. This is perfect for beginners because the swatches are short and sweet. Begin at the chain tutorial and work your way through the rest. After doing those swatches you’ll be ready to tackle almost any “Beginner” or “Easy” level project.
2) Get your supplies
Choosing a yarn that is complimentary to your pattern and personal style is the creative aspect of working with a designer’s pattern. In the beginning stages, you need to be getting the exact yarn listed in the pattern you chose. The fun part will be picking a color.
You’ll also need:
- Hook (size specified in your pattern)
- Yarn needle
Alt. 2) If you’re making swatches:
All you need to do is buy a Bulky (5) or Super Bulky (6) weight yarn, and the hook that is listed on the yarn label. You’ll also need scissors and a blunt yarn needle. Picking a lightly colored yarn will make things easier. This is because it’s easier to see the stitch definition.
Once you complete a few swatches, you’ll feel confident enough to get started on any “Beginner” level pattern that you encounter!
3) Work up the pattern
You’ve gathered your supplies and now it’s time start crocheting. Yay!
You’re going to tackle learning the stitches as you encounter them. You’ll likely start by chaining. Then you’ll move on to any of the following: single crochet, half double crochet, or double crochet.
For each new skill called on by your pattern, turn to YouTube. If you find yourself struggling, try a different tutorial. Breaking it down incrementally is the key here. Initially, the patterns are going to look like gibberish. But if you take it one step at a time, you will master the stitches in no time. Just keep practicing until you get it down!
Again, if you’re really struggling with your swatches, try my video tutorials on making swatches.
Dabbling in any of the fiber arts is a fantastic way to spend your free time. I’ve tried the majority of them and crocheting is what speaks to me. Maybe it’ll be the same for you!