Getting Started

This page is still in progress.  Check back for updates.

Some questions I see in crochet forums all the time are, “What do I need to get started?” “Is there a particular kind of hook I should get?”  “What kind of yarn can I use?”

Well, for anyone wondering any or all of these things, here are some answers.

Materials

All you need to crochet is a crochet hook and some yarn.  That’s it.  Other handy supplies are listed below.

And some comments on starting out (with just a hook and some yarn):

If you’re just starting, you may want to just get a skein of some cheap yarn.  That’s right.  I, a crocheter and knitter, am telling you not to buy that really expensive yarn sitting on the shelf at your local yarn store.  I’m saying go to any store that sells craft items and grab a skein of the cheapest yarn you can find, preferably in a bright/light color and a texture you like.  You should also just get a cheap hook.  I recommend aluminium hooks, which are my personal preference.  They’re fairly cheap and can be found just about everywhere that sells crochet hooks.   Plastic is good for kids, since it’s a little lighter and easy to hold.  And still cheap!

What about other materials?

Here’s a list of materials that are helpful:

  • Scissors may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve yanked yarn apart to cut it before.  I don’t like doing this on yarn besides very cheap acrylic, because the yarn can shred and you lose more than you anticipated.  Carry a small pair in your craft bag if you carry your work.
  • Stitch markers are little baubles on wire or little plastic rings that are used to keep track of the location of stitches.  They help in counting stitches, keeping track of the beginning of a spiral round, and keeping count of rows.  Note that you will need markers that hook onto a stitch, rather than the little circles used in knitting.  The markers for knitting are hung onto the needles, which doesn’t work so well in crochet.
  • Measuring tape is handy any time you are making something to a certain size, regardless of how close your gauge was.  You’ll also need something to measure your gauge swatches with.
  • Embroidery or Tapestry needle(s) are for weaving in those ends when you finish.  (You weave in the ends of yarn instead of just cutting to help prevent unraveling.)  I use embroidery needles, but it’s common to see tapestry needles with the bent tips used instead.  You can also darn (repair) a project using these.
  • Craft bags aren’t necessary, but quite handy when taking your work with you.  You don’t have to get a specialized knitting/crocheting bag unless you really want to; any sturdy bag that’s big enough to hold a project is fine–just make sure it’s at least mostly dedicated to crafting.  Don’t put food in it!
  • Buttons, beads, etc. are often called for in patterns.  These are decorative items, and aren’t needed to crochet.  They just make your finished object niftier.

Jumping into the deep end:

Once you’ve practiced making little squares and silly shapes out of chains and such, and you’ve decided that you want to keep going, it’s time to look at other yarns and getting a few more hooks.  You may want to just get a pack of hooks.  There are lots of kinds of crochet hooks.  I’ve used plastic, steel, and aluminium, and really like my aluminium and steel hooks.  Some don’t like these as much, as they can be hard on the hands.  There are wooden hooks and hooks with special handles available.  There are hooks for special tasks.   Get whatever you think you will use; definitely get a hook around 5mm and a hook around 7mm.  I recommend getting a pack, but you don’t have to.  You may only use one hook for everything–I went for a while never using anything but a 9mm hook.

As for yarn… There is no limit to what kind of yarn/string you can use except for the hooks you have, your personal preference, and any allergies of you and/or those around you.  You can crochet bulky weight yarn with a 2mm hook.  You just probably shouldn’t.  If you don’t like the texture of a yarn, don’t use it!  It’s always a good idea to feel the yarn before you buy.  And if you are allergic to rabbits, don’t use angora yarn.  Simple, really.

Methods to the Madness

How do I hold this fiddly little stick?

(Lefties, sorry, but as a “northpaw”, I’m going to go ahead and write this for righties.  Switch ‘right’ to ‘left’ and ‘left’ to ‘right’, unless you want to crochet right-handed.)

For righties, the crochet hook is held in the right hand.  Yarn is held in the left hand.  There are two ways to work with the yarn.  You can either hold it fairly tight between finger and thumb or a few fingers and reach up with the hook to “grab” it, or you can wrap the yarn around the hook.  Usually I do some of both.  When starting, I “grab.”  For stitches that require a “yarn over,” I wrap.  Later on, I hold the yarn loosely enough that it bends some, making it easy to wrap by moving my left hand just a little bit closer to the hook, then pulling away as the loop is pulled through.

In Russian crochet (among others), the working yarn and hook are held in the same hand.  Some people find this easier to do, and I suggest experimenting with this method if you have difficulty with the method I describe.

Eep!  I pulled the yarn a bit and a stitch came out!

It’s okay, really! 🙂  All you have to do is put your hook back in the loop coming out of the last stitch you worked and redo the stitch(es).  Unlike knitting, if you frog (or rip) back, you don’t have to stick all those loops back onto anything, and you won’t risk unraveling all that work beneath it.  Isn’t crochet great?

Also, if you mess up a stitch, just pull the stitches  out until you get to where you were before that stitch, and start over. 

*Admire your work often, you’ll notice mistakes sooner.*

That’s really all I can think of to say!  If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to comment or email.

What now? Learn the basic stitches (coming soon), and read through the “how to read a pattern” section.  And don’t forget to have fun!

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