Have you recently started crocheting and feel like chucking your work in the bin because you just don’t think you can get the hang of it? Well don’t aim for the trash can just yet!
Now I don’t consider myself to “know it all” when it comes to crochet by any means, I am still learning every day and probably will be till the end of time. In fact I actually gave up trying to learn how to crochet, probably, 3 times before I finally had the motivation to stick with it. Since then I have been crocheting for about 5 or 6 years and I would like to think that I have come a long way and learned a lot since then!
I have had a lot of people say to me that they wish they could crochet but “don’t have the patience” and that they tried to learn once but it was just too hard and confusing. It always breaks my heart a little to see people quit before they have even really started, I always try to encourage them to give it another shot and that it really isn’t as difficult as it seems, but I don’t think people often take that advice seriously.
So if you are here because you have just started crocheting and want some pointers, then I am going to share a few things that I wish I knew when I was just starting out.
1) Know your tools
With any new hobby you are going to have to pick up a few supplies to get started, which is always one of the most exciting parts of course.
When I took my first trip to Michaels to pick up some crochet supplies I had no idea what I was doing. I went in alone, totally unprepared. Now i’m not saying you can’t do the same if that is your style, but if you want some pointers going into it, I have a few haha.
Start off with the basics. Which if you want a more in depth breakdown of what you should look out for while you are shopping I have also written up Top 5 Tips For Buying Beginner Crochet Supplies.
I suppose it really depends on who you ask, but generally the most “standard” supplies are a 5mm (H) hook and a worsted weight yarn.
Overall my top recommendations for whatever you choose to get, is to get a simple yarn and Ergonomic Hooks, they are a little bit pricier than the normal hooks you may see around, but as someone who ended up in a wrist brace 2 weeks into crocheting, trust me your hands will thank you.
2) Learn the “anatomy” of your stitches
When you are first starting out, one of your first projects is likely to be some rows of Single Crochet that you are aiming to resemble some kind of square or rectangle. To your surprise, these rows will likely not form a square or rectangle, but more of a blob where each row is either larger or shorter than the rest (don’t worry, it has happened to us all).
When creating your first blob, in order o turn it into a square, it is super important to count your stitches. If you hate the idea of this, don’t worry you are not alone. The good news is, that one day you won’t have to count all of the time (I rarely do anymore). As you count your stitches, you will start to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of your stitches, aka, what the beginning and last stitches look like and how to confidently identify them. Once you know where your rows starts and ends, your blob will start looking like the square you always knew it could be.
3) Develop your own method
One of the hardest things when you first begin crocheting, is understanding how to hold and move the hook. You can watch Youtube videos or have someone show you in person, but in my personal opinion, unless your method is actually injuring your hands or wrists, there is no “right” way to crochet.
I have seen my fair share of crocheters telling other crocheters that they are doing something “wrong” when they are working and honestly it is a bunch of bologna. Again, unless you are unknowingly injuring yourself through your method, what you are doing isn’t necessarily wrong just because it does mimic what someone else is doing.
For example, I “hold my stitches”, where I use my pointer finger to insure that the stitch doesn’t slip off the hook. I honestly never noticed I was doing it until someone pointed out that “it was weird”, but over time it has developed in my muscle memory. It doesn’t cause me pain and it doesn’t affect my ability to crochet, so i’m going to keep doing it the way that is most comfortable to me.
As you find out your method of crocheting and start to get more comfortable holding the hook, you will likely start to notice a lot of progress in your work.
4) Practice makes Tension
You read that right, because let’s be honest trying to be perfect is impossible and should have never been thrown at us as a realistic goal as children. As you probably guessed (and if you are anything like me, don’t want to hear), crocheting takes a little bit of practice.
A lot of people criticize their first few projects because they think they look wonky, and even if that is true, it is totally okay and completely normal. Like any form of art, don’t let your beginning pieces be a reflection of your capabilities.
Noticed how I mentioned muscle memory in the section above? You likely know what muscle memory is, but incase you don’t, it is exactly what it sounds like. After repeating certainly movements enough times, your muscles grow accustom to those movements allowing you to work more efficiently. It’s the reason we can type without looking at our keyboards, our brain wants a certain letter and out fingers remember where it is located without even having to look, how cool is that??.
Muscles memory takes time, don’t worry we aren’t talking forever, but the magic also isn’t going to happen over night. The more you practice crocheting, the faster you are building up your muscle memory and you muscle memory is directly connected to developing your tension.
Tension is simply how tightly or loosely you crochet, this is why you will often see people refer to themselves as a “tight crocheter” (that or they think they are super cool maybe). When you are first starting out, your hands are getting used to the hook and you are incredibly focused on what you are doing, therefore you are probably focusing more on things like where to insert your hook, that you aren’t noticing how tight or lose your stitches are. As you begin feeling more comfortable with the movements of crocheting, your muscle memory will start to kick in and your tension will start to develop. Now not only will your rows be even, but your stitches will start to look uniform!
One word of advice though, when you first start, you are likely to be gripping the hook as if your life depends on it. Try to ease yourself out of that habit as it will put a lot of strain on pretty much all parts of your hands and wrists causing pain, which trust me you will not want.
5) Take Care Of your Hands
I touched on this briefly before, in regards to ergonomic hooks, but I think the health of our hands is often over looked (or at least not really discussed?)
Im not going to claim that I am great at doing this either, but I do understand it’s importance and I think it is something we should all be very mindful of. Like a lot of things in life, it is easy to dismiss certain habits until there is an actual consequence and in this case not taking proper care of your hands will likely end in pain that may have long lasting effects.
I have been guilty of continuing to crochet even after my hands have begun to hurt. Not a good idea haha. However, it is also important to be proactive in this department and know when your hands need some love before the pain even starts.
Really this just means be mindful of taking breaks at least every hour if not more to relieve your hands of any tension and stress. This can easily be remedied by doing some simple hand stretches, like the ones below!
6) It will all come in time
I suppose this is just a summary of what I have said so far, and is a no brainer, but you aren’t going to learn everything all at once, and that is completely okay.
Like anything there is going to be a learning curve as time goes on. In the beginning just try to focus on getting comfortable with the hook, familiarize yourself with the basic stitches and develop your tension, and once you are confident in those abilities, over time you will start to learn more about other aspects of crochet.
When I first started, I was making whatever with anything I had available, it wasn’t till about a year in that I started understanding the complexities of yarn at all. Over time I started to learn what types of yarn I liked best and what kind of projects they were going to work best for. With that I started learning what size hooks to use with what yarn to get the looks that I desired, but this took me a few years to develop. Even now I am still learning every day!
Of course everyone learns at their own pace, perhaps you could pick up all of the subtleties of crochet in just a couple of month, but if you are getting frustrated and feel like you aren’t figuring it all out fast enough, don’t be hard on yourself! In my experience, people like to look like they have it all together and you would think they know it all, but the truth is that you could have been crocheting for 10 years and there will still be things you don’t understand yet.
7) Don’t limit your creativity
When deciding what patterns and designs you would like to make, don’t convince yourself that you can’t give it a try because it looks too advanced. Sure there are some concepts in crochet that can be pretty difficult to grasp, but when people say that something I made looks really complicated, I always fill them in that I made with TWO SIMPLE STITCHES.
Once your tension is developed and you know a couple basic stitches and concept, you can do SO much with just those few stitches. Pretty much every fancy stitch or design is comprised of Single Crochet and Double Crochet in different orientations. Almost all of my designs and patterns can be made if you know how to Single Crochet and Double Crochet and looks much more complicated than they actually are.
I see so many people question their ability to follow patterns just because they are a “beginner”. Personally, I went from making only Double Crochet Cowls with Chunky Yarn, to an actual lacy blouse in just a few weeks! The Proof is pictured below!
I guarantee you a large amount of the patterns you see that visually you think are going to be super difficult, are usually not as hard as you may think. So try to keep that in mind when you are choosing patterns to work on.
8) There isn’t always a “right way”
In the same realm of not stifling your creativity, I briefly mentioned this earlier, but try to keep in mind that there isn’t always a “right way” to do things when it comes to crochet.
When I was studying Cinematography, I had a professor that once said
“There is technically a correct way to film a movie, however, once you learn all of the rules, you are free to break them, so long as you know you are breaking them”
This applies to pretty much every craft, including crochet. There is of course a right way to do every stitch the way it was meant to be done. However, if you want to make changes and switch things up in the process, then go ahead!
As long as you understand the changes you are making, you don’t have to do everything the way you are instructed to. I don’t usually follow other makers patterns, but when I do, I often make slight changes along the way for one reason or another and that doesn’t mean that I did anything the wrong way, i just did it differently.
In any profession or hobby, there are always going to be people with a superiority complex. I have had plenty of people tell me that aspects of my patterns are “not traditional” and in their mind that meant I was making mistakes and doing things incorrectly. It bothered me for a long time until I realized that I didn’t have to get down on myself because they had a narrow minded way of thinking about things.
So if anyone ever calls you out on doing things “the wrong way” and you know you are just doing things your own way, don’t pay them any mind.
9) Remember That Crochet Is Supposed To Be Fun
While I started crocheting as a form of stress relief, like many people I made the choice to try to turn that hobby into a sort of business. Ever since I made that decision, crochet has often times been a source of stress.
If you ever intend to make the transition into a business, wether it be commissions or patterns or both, and you begin to find yourself becoming stressed out by it all, just try to remember why you started crocheting in the first place.
I only started this blog last year and by the 6th month in, I was already burnt out. What I was doing no longer felt fun to me and was causing me more stress than it was bringing me joy. I had to take a break and really consider if I wanted to continue and reflect on what I actually wanted from this business.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, don’t be afraid to take a step back and remind yourself why you started, and also don’t be afraid to refocus your efforts and energy.
10) Don’t be scared to get involved in the social media community
My “brand” has been active on Instagram for about 3 years, and only this past month did I actually start talking to other makers and begin building friendships. Now i’m not going to say that I am always a shy person, but this was one of the cases where I felt intimidated.
Joining a new community feels a lot like being the only new kid at a school. It can feel like everyone already has their own clique, so why would they both giving you a second look. That is pretty much what I thought for the past few years.
It wasn’t that anyone came off as rude or unfriendly, it just felt like everyone else already kind of knew each other or had a “group” and I didn’t feel comfortable trying to push my way in. So I just kind of kept to myself for a long time and hoped that people would like my work.
Over the past year I talked to some people in the community on and off, but I wouldn’t say that I was really acquainted with anyone on a real friendship level. To be completely honest, this recent change of actually having friend wasn’t because I decided to make any changes, it just kind of fell in my lap by chance.
Since making these connection with other makers in the community, I have never felt so motivated to try to get my brand going. I have been working all day and all night on new content and posting more on social media that I ever was and ever planned on simply because I now have a support system. If there is something you are passionate about and you have no one to share it with and discuss with, it can often hinder that passion.
I know entering a new community isn’t the easiest and it may take some time, but I highly recommend reaching out to other makers some times and trying to make friends in the community because it can really make a huge difference to your confidence and work ethic!