If you are new to crochet and are really itching to jump in your car and head to your local craft store to pick up some supplies, I am right there with you, but if you have no prior knowledge of the craft, there may be a few things you want to know before you stomp on the accelerator. Luckily I have some crochet tips!
I was once in a similar position, I knew I wanted crochet supplies, but when I stepped into the yarn isle I realized how in over my head I was. Like anyone who has no idea what they are doing, I looked to someone I thought might know what they were doing: the lady right next to me also looking at yarn.
Now I don’t remember what she told me when I asked her what kind of yarn a beginner should get, but I do remember that whatever she said did not help me whatsoever (at least she tried though).
If you want to avoid being like little 20 year old me drowning in never ending option in the yarn isle of a Michaels, then I have a few pointers that may help you on your adventure. So let’s imagine we are going on a virtual shopping trip…
Let’s face it, you are probably heading straight for all of the pretty yarn first and saving the hook for later. You may notice that there is probably a pretty overwhelming number of options to choose from and you don’t know where to start.
First off, I know how enticing that fluffy multi colored yarn looks, but my first tip would be to head for the more plain looking solid colored yarn, these are going to be the easiest to learn with.
You may also notice that going to the plain solid colored yarn didn’t necessarily narrow down the options too much, this is where knowing how to read a yarn label is going to come in handy.
1) Reading a yarn label
On every yarn label there is going to be a fair amount of information to look out for that I am going to break down for you below, don’t worry, you aren’t going to have to use most of till you are a little more experienced.
This is an example of a yarn label, not all of them will look exactly like this obviously, but most of the information is straight forward and many of the symbols that you will see are universal. These are the main things you are going to want to keep an eye out for.
- Yardage: How many yards the skein of yarn is. This isn’t something I would worry about until you are working on a specific project.
- Blend: This will let you know what fiber materials the yarn is made out of. While this will become more important over time, there is generally no need to be picky when you are first learning.
- Recommended Hook Size: This one is pretty self explanatory, if you intend to use this yarn, this is the size hook they recommend you us with it. This is actually very important, and I will get more into it below.
- Yarn Weight: This is going to indicated what “weight” or size this yarn is considered. This is going to be the other most important thing when choosing a yarn which I will also go into detail on below.
- Gauge: Gauge is provided to show you how many stitches and rows you will have to work to get a certain size piece of finished work when using the recommended hook. If you are designing your own work, this will come in handy, however if you are working on someone else’s pattern, that pattern will often have it’s own gauge for you to reference.
- Dye Lot (Not Pictured) : This is a number on the label that usually says the word “LOT” that indicates what batch the skein was dyed in, skeins with the same de lot number will be the highest color match. This isn’t something you need to really think of until you are working on a specific project either.
2) Understanding the relationship between yarn weight and hook size
As I pointed out above, on every yarn label there are going to be two very important key factors to look out for, the yarn weight and the recommended hook size. These two bit of information are going to be the most helpful in helping you choose a yarn and hook to starts out with.
Although it may depend on who you ask, I think most people would agree that the “standard” supplies are going to be a weight 4 yarn and a 5mm hook. This is because they are generally in the middle of the spectrum and are the most often used.
With this being said, I would have to agree that they would be the best supplies to start out with.
While a weight 4 yarn (also often called worsted weight yarn) is most often paired with a 5mm hook, you may notice on labels that a 5mm is not always the recommended hook size.
Once you gain more practice, you will start to understand the characteristics of different yarn weights and hook sizes and can mix and match them as your heart desires, but for now I would probably stick with the standard.
3) Choosing a yarn
When it comes to what a good beginner yarn is, there isn’t necessarily a science to it. As mentioned before, my biggest advice would be to choose something simple in both color and texture that is a weight 4 yarn.
As far as blends go, I would maybe recommend getting something that is either mostly or 100% acrylic as it will be the easiest to work with as well as one of the cheaper options. I generally wouldn’t recommend getting anything too expensive when you are learning because you probably aren’t going to keep your practice swatches.
4) Choosing a hook
Though there won’t be as many options for hooks as there are yarns, there may still be a few options to choose from.
As was suggested earlier, If you are getting a weight 4 yarn, I would highly recommend getting a 5mm hook. Beyond the hook size, I also highly recommend that you get an Ergonomic hook. An ergonomic hook (which should be labeled on the box) will be much better for you hand and wrist health and help you prevent any pain or injury that could occur from the repetitive motions of crocheting.
You may notice that ergonomic hooks are a bit pricier than a normal hook (though not by too much I believe), it is very much worth it. I went very hard on my first few weeks of crocheting and ended up in a hand brace from the pain. However, once I switched to ergonomic hooks, I immediately noticed a difference and haven’t needed a hand brace since.
5) Don’t hate me for saying this but, Patience
I know this isn’t something you can pick up at the craft store (although can you imagine if it was??)but the biggest tool you are going to need when learning how to crochet is patience. Believe me I know how utterly annoying and generic this sounds, I know that I hate hearing it, but I truly mean it in this case. In fact whenever I am trying to convince people that they can crochet is they just try, I think of this…
Do you remember this scene from Ratatouille?
Well this character has a very powerful quote, that I think applies to pretty much every creative endeavor in life
You must be imaginative, strong hearted. You must try things that may not work. And you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true. Anyone can cook. But only the fearless can be great.– Gusteau from Ratatouille
You may call it cheesy (no pun intended since it is a movie about a rat), but I really do think about this quote a lot in life and it is very true when it comes to crochet. Anyone Can Crochet! but you need to have perseverance and not be afraid to fail sometimes.
It is likely that you will go through periods where you want to give up, but those periods will be history if you just stick through them and give yourself time to improve and then you too can look as happy as Remy did when he finally started to believe in himself
Now that you have all of your beginner tools you can check out My Top 10 Tips For New Crocheters! Learning any new skill can be a little frustrating at times, so I thought I would share my tips that I don’t hear other talk about often, to help you stay motivated during the learning process!