Whether you believe or not, spring break is finally within reach! Ten days of free time, here we come! With all that free time, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby that will give you a break from all that mind-numbing reading and help keep you awake in lectures once we’re forced to come back. What is this you ask? Crochet! I know it sounds daunting, difficult, and maybe even dangerous, but crochet really is something that you can learn to do and enjoy. Don’t worry, I’ll point you in the right direction and be there to help you every step of the way.
First for some basics. Crochet is a method of making fabric by tying together some sort of fiber, usually yarn, together using a set of loops and a hook. It’s a method used by people all around the world, from Russia, Chile, Japan, Syria, Ireland and everywhere in between. Much like knitting, it can be used to make a variety of clothing, accessories, home goods, toys, and pretty much anything else you put your mind to. Unlike knitting, crochet is not possible to make using a machine and also uses about a third more yarn.
It doesn’t take many materials to get started, and they’re all relatively easy to find, if you know where to look. The easiest place to get what you need is to go to a store, such as Michael’s or Joann’s. The employees will be able to help you if you have any questions and they have a great variety for getting started. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, there are lots of online stores too. Some of my favorites include KnitPicks, LoveCrochet, Wool and the Gang, and Herrschners. You can also find a small amount of supplies on Amazon, which are sufficient for getting started. However, I would not recommend relying on getting your yarn there for most pieces as their selection is small and generally of poor quality.
There are a few supplies that you will need to get started. The most obvious one is yarn. The best kind for beginners is one that you can easily undo if you make mistakes on your first piece (and believe me, you will, and that’s OK). These are yarns that are twisted tightly, easy to get more of, and not hairy. Red Heart brand yarn —specifically their “Super Saver” line— is a great first yarn as it comes in a huge variety of standard colors and is easy to undo. However, it is acrylic, meaning it’s made of a man-made, petroleum-based fiber. If you want a natural fiber, Cascade brand yarn is made with different kinds of wool from sheep and alpaca; I would recommend their 220 line to start. Lots of patterns for beginners will tell you exactly the brand to get too, which you can also do if you want to use a pattern.
You’ll also need hooks. You can use either plastic or aluminum hooks to begin with since both are smooth and durable; I would not recommend wood hooks because they can snag the yarn, making them harder for beginners to use. The other thing you’ll need are stitch markers, which you use to keep track of counting when you do circular or big pieces.Everything else you need might already be in your desk drawer: this includes a ruler and scissors. However, don’t buy anything until you see what your instructions call for.
Finding beginner instructions is extremely easy. Searching “how to crochet for beginners” on Youtube will bring up a variety of different step-by-step tutorials and starting projects. If you don’t want to weed through all of these results, finding a single blog with tutorials helps too. My personal favorite is Mooglyblog.com. In addition, Amazon Prime offers a video class included in your membership. There are also websites that specialize in video crafting classes. My favorite is Craftsy, where you can buy a single video series and watch it as many times as you want. They also have helpful forums you can use to get help. Another option is CreativeBug, which requires a subscription, but once you have one you have access to all kinds of classes.
You can also go old-school (*gasp!*) and learn through books and human interaction. Most books of patterns have tutorials at the beginning of them, but they aren’t always comprehensive enough to learn from scratch unless the whole book is labeled “for beginners.” Generally, you want something with lots of illustrations. A great beginner’s book is “Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet,” which has a variety of different patterns and plenty of pictures. Don’t be afraid to check out your local library or Barnes & Noble either, as they will have more than you think. To find someone to teach you in person, you can either ask around to find someone to help or go to store and sign up for a class.
Okay, so you have supplies and you have instructions on doing stitches. Now for your first project! Most classes have set projects you can make, but if you are using Youtube videos that don’t give a specific pattern, the easiest thing to make is a scarf. This way you don’t have to focus on reading a pattern, but can work on using that hook and making the stitches. Using your yarn and a 4.0mm hook, make a chain the width you want the scarf; your instructions will show you how to do this. Then work on doing single crochets, the smallest stitch in crochet. After you get about a third of the length of your scarf, you can switch to half-double crochet, the medium sized stitch, and then move on to double crochet, the tallest crochet stitch.
If this scarf doesn’t catch your fancy, other easy things you can make and find patterns for include hats, fingerless gloves, blankets, bags, and mug cozies. Googling what you want followed by “for complete beginners” should give you what you need.
There is also an amazing site called Ravelry that is home to an international fiber art community. On it you can find forums for help, patterns, make a catalogue of the yarn you own, and keep track of the projects you make. It is as nerdy as it sounds, but it is super helpful and easy to use. You can find me on it as bessbg23, so feel free to reach out using the messaging if you need help!
Before I send you forth into the world to start your crochet journey, I want to leave you with a few words of encouragement. Learning it may be a challenge, but don’t give up! If one method of learning doesn’t work, try something else or a combination of resources. I know you can do it. At the same time, remember to take a break if you need it. There will be times where you’ll be frustrated and want to throw the whole thing in the garbage, but set it aside for a while and come back when you’ve calmed down. You will need to undo what you’ve done sometimes because of mistakes and that’s okay. Really, it is, and you will finish that piece eventually. As a word of caution, you will get tangled up at some point, but this is part of initiation into the world of yarn. Don’t squirm too much, ask for help getting untangled, and if all else fails cut yourself out and start over. Finally, if you’re called a grandma, own it! There’s nothing wrong with knowing how to make things, and there are plenty of us young’uns who make.
Now, go forth and make