crocheting 101 | yarn art

I’ve had lots of people asking me lately for crocheting tips so I thought it would be best to blog my links to have everything in one handy dandy spot. I am by no means a crochet-hook-wielding-master but I can probably get you started in the right direction. Ready?

FAIRLY BORING, NON-THRILLING BACKSTORY:

I started crocheting when I was about 8 or 9. My Mom taught me how to make chains, which is the most basic thing you’ll end up mastering if you’re just starting out. Don’t know what a chain is? You will 5 minutes after picking up a hook. I remember having so much fun chaining and chaining until one day, that became a little boring. LOL! Emily actually chains now and turns them into little bracelets, so kids can really learn this yarn art and have some fun with it. It’s ok if the concept of turning yarn into a blanket is too advanced for them at this point. Let them make friendship bracelets for their friends. :)

About a year and a half ago I decided I wanted to re-learn crochet. I think part of it was because my mother was always sitting down with her yarn or carrying it to my house when she came to babysit (she’s the Baby Blanket Making Queen around here. That’s just one of her unofficial titles.) and another part was because Fall was looming near and I always have an itch to create pretty, cozy things once the cooler weather is upon us.

My Mom is great at showing you stitches and where they go, but she doesn’t follow patterns. I needed to learn to follow patterns because I wanted to make hats. And flowers. And maybe some other stuff too (I ended up making some booties but realized they’re not really for me because once you take the time and patience to finish one, you have to repeat the same process all over again to make the second bootie. (I know, duh. What good would one bootie be?!) I’d rather start on something new! Not a repeat of the same bootie I just finished. Yes, I have bootie issues.) I Googled around a bit and ended up on YouTube. I found a great crochet teacher with tons and tons of FREE patterns and video help. She even has a Facebook now (links forthcoming) and is very accessible if you need private assistance. Then I traveled over to Etsy and started buying patterns. Yes, there are tons of free patterns out there but it’s always nice to support other artists and get your hands on something fresh & new. Plus something to keep in mind: not every free pattern you stumble across is a winner. So now I had hooks, patterns and what felt like way too much yarn and I was ready to go. I made some American Girl-sized hats. Then some headbands. Bigger hats for the kids’ heads. I started a blanket but didn’t finish it.  A pair of booties but I already touched on why I didn’t care for those. And scarves.

Crocheting can really be fun & trendy; it does not have to be old lady-like. (If I say this enough, it must be true. I kid.) So I invite you to gather your necessary tools, follow the links I have gathered here for you and… don’t ask me for one on one advice because I am a horrible, impatient teacher. LOL! Ok, if you need a little help you can e-mail and ask. I won’t throw your yarn back at you. Promise.

YOUR TOOLS:


yarn: There’s a huge assortment of yarn for you when it comes to choosing something for your project. It ranges for dirt cheap to quite expensive. I’ve used a variety. Yes there is a difference and you can tell but for some projects, it doesn’t matter. The cheaper acrylic yarns are fine for flowers and headbands. They are even fine for some hats but you should note stretching will occur. Would I make a sweater out of acrylic yarn? No. I like to use the Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarns if I am making a hat. They cost more but the end result will last a lot longer and retain it’s shape. I don’t crochet fancy sweaters or socks so I can’t really help you with choices there. Blankets, scarves, hats and accessories ~ those I can help with.

CLICK HERE for a really helpful FAQ sheet about yarn.

hooks: There are steel hooks, plastic hooks, bamboo hooks, aluminum hooks… it all boils down to personal preference. I like these crystalite hooks when I need a fat hook. My favorite hook to work with if I am making some like a headband or a flower and size doesn’t matter all that much is my size J aluminum hook with a bamboo handle. They also sell hook grips (think of pencil grips ~ you can actually make your own out of pencil grips) and you may find them more comfortable to work with.

Along with being offered in a variety of metals and plastics, hooks also come in an assortment of sizes. Patterns will either give you a mm or a letter size. Both are marked on your hooks. I love projects that call for a fatter hook because you’ll usually pair them with a chunky yarn and the projects go much quicker.

storage: You cannot stockpile yarn and keep it laying all over the place. What a cluttered disaster! In another house, perhaps in another life, I shall seriously consider the idea of wine rack yarn storage. Having no room for such a thing now, I simply store my yarn in various clear containers. It works. :) Mine have handles on the top and stack easily.

You also need something to keep your hooks in. I don’t keep them in the plastic sleeve they usually come in (if you buy a set that is) because it tends to rip over time. My Mom always kept her hooks in a big plastic case, all rattling around inside. I do the same thing. You can keep them in a zippered case, a pencil case or you could even crochet yourself a really cute hook book to keep them in. That’s a project I would like to eventually try.

USEFUL LINKS:

**MOST USEFUL LINKS** First and foremost, I would recommend joining Teresa’s (Art of Crochet) Facebook page HERE. Now you’re sitting there saying, “Now what?” Bookmark her YouTube playlist of basic stitches HERE. Grab your yarn and hooks and start practicing your chain. Then move on to single, half-double, double and triple crochets. Teresa crochets righty & lefty so you’ll be able to find video tutorials both ways. You need to master these stitches, which are quite simple once you get the hang of it. HERE is Teresa’s blog site as well.

CLICK HERE for a playlist of left-handed stitches and projects.

* Note #1: While the stitches linked-to above are most common, they are by no means the only stitches you’ll end up working with. There are tons! Puff Stitch, Cluster Shell Stitch, V-Stitch, etc etc etc… It’ll be fun trying them all. There’s no time to get bored here.

* Note #2: If I was just starting out again this is how I would proceed with all of the info linked here: I have yarn. I have hooks. I sit at my desk (or in front of a laptop) and try to crochet along with some YouTube videos. Do not attempt to follow a pattern yet. Just chain and learn the basics. Follow the video tutorials for sure. It’s a lot easier if you can see someone crocheting right in front of you.

Mikeyssmail: Lots of useful videos. I actually think his beanie hat videos (in real time!) are quite awesome & easy to follow.

Threadbanger: Lots of useful tutorials here. If the videos are too fast (and some are), don’t forget to pause and practice!

CrochetSpot.com: Lots of useful info & patterns here!

Ravelry: an online community dedicated to knitters & crocheters. You can find patterns there, ask questions and store ideas in your virtual notebook.

Lion Brand Yarn: I am pretty sure you will need to sign up for a free account before you can navigate through this site but it’s worth it. They have tons of free patterns here with feedback from crocheters.

Attic24’s Flower Tutorial: This is a great link to a free flower tutorial & some leaves. It’s a little more advanced in the sense that she makes her flowers with two colored yarns.. Once you’ve mastered a simple flower, definitely come back and try this one.

The PomPom: More patterns here (some free, some pay-for). I’ve made THIS HEADBAND in the past for Emily with a flower on it. It was so simple and turned out really pretty.

Sugar ‘n Cream: Some really nice free patterns here (make sure you note if it’s knit or crochet).

And I have some favorite Etsy shops too. They include:

yarnlovertn, mamachee, aforstbauer & hectanooga

RECENT PROJECTS:

Here are a handful of my latest crocheted creations.


Top-left: My favorite hat to make. I made the blue & red specifically for Gracie because she kept trying to steal Emily’s pink one (in the end, they really ended up sharing both hats).

Top-middle: Headband & two-toned flower I made for Emily.

Top-right: A swirly scarf I made for Emily’s friend’s 8th birthday. I also made her a coordinating headband that’s not pictured here.

Bottom-left: Thicker “ear-warmer” headband with a swirly red rosette. Emily wears this to school nearly EVERY day and she said it’s a big hit with her friends.

Bottom-right: Same swirly scarf as Emily is wearing (only this one is mine). :) This is a very simple pattern that works up quickly due to the fat hook and chunky yarn. HERE is the pattern if you’re interested (again, you may need to be registered to view it).

So, do you crochet? What are you working on? Have any handy links to share? I started a soft, cherry red puff stitch hat last night. Love this stitch! I am not sure which of my girls will get it. I’ll post some pictures though when I am done.

Happy crafting!

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