Like many children, I started knitting in my youth but never got it to work. Blinded by the intricate crochet work of my other artistic family members, I tried to get into the arts but failed miserably. Whenever someone offered to help me try again, I was discouraged because everyone just ran or couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get it right right away. I started to hate the view of it, despite all the amazing projects and ideas I saw everywhere.
Many years later I found the world of tutorials with the help of the trustworthy internet and finally got enough courage to start over. Now I can say that I have completed a lot of crochet projects and I am absolutely in love with the craft.
Advantages of switching from knitting to crocheting
I can think of a lot of advantages for those who want to switch from knitting to crocheting. The first is you only need one hook instead of two knitting needles. Second, one of the most frustrating things about knitting is when you lose a loop. If this little rascal lets go, he can – and most likely will – destroy your piece if you don’t know how to save it.
Not about bad knitting or other crafts, but crocheting will get you to your projects a lot faster, so it’s great for those who have the time. Although I’m a patient person in the craft, it was a bit of a pain even for me. It took me weeks to knit a simple scarf for my husband years ago (working a few hours a day). When I wanted to try my hand at crocheting, I remember making another scarf and was surprised how fast it went. One thing that I’ve noticed is that depending on the project, crocheted projects are usually denser and make for a more stretchy “fabric”.
As with knitting, the thicker the thread, the bigger the needle and vice versa. Many large projects can be turned into adorable key chains or charms if you just shrink them.
One of the few drawbacks to crocheting compared to knitting is likely that it will take more yarn to complete a piece. And patterns can be pretty scarce when crocheting compared to the many, many different types available for knitting. But since you work more spatially and not “row by row”, you can let your creativity run free. In my opinion, this is a huge advantage, as you only have to master a few “techniques” with more complex pieces.
Where should I start?
Terms like double crochet, single crochet, slipknot, and many others may sound scary at first, but once you get the hang of it, they become second nature. But before you start, consider using a lighter color yarn so you can better see the actual stitches. As you study, you should see where the hook has to go. Also, keep it simple with some acrylic thread and stay away from the fuzzy or fancy stuff as it will only confuse you.
Yarn labels tell you what type of hook to use, and if it feels like gibberish, don’t be shy. Ask the saleswoman or other yarn buyers – the crochet or handicraft community is very welcome!
Which terms or techniques do I need to know?
I’m going to list techniques here so that you can at least get an idea of what they mean, but it’s always best to watch someone make it. There are thousands of videos explaining each of them with big yarn and big hooks for you to easily follow. I’ve been crocheting for years, but now and then I have to check to see if I remember correctly.
Every crochet project starts with one Slipknot. Make a loop with some loose yarn and pull the long part of the yarn through this loop. This is place one, your beginning. Many of you may have already finger crocheted by repeating this step to create a long chain of slip knots, which is basically what this is Foundation chain. Depending on your project, this could only be a handful of “chains” or even hundreds.
Once you have your foundation chain done, there are several different types of crochet that you need to think about. One term you will hear a lot is “Yarn over”, which basically means you put the yarn over the hook and pull depending on the chain.
The first is a Single crochet. Insert your crochet hook into the foundation chain, pass the thread through, and pull it through. You now have two loops on the needle so re-thread and pull it through the two loops. Congratulations, you crochet ladies and gentlemen! Now you can step into each loop and repeat this step until you reach the end. This first row is usually the trickiest, but believe me, it will get better if you start the second row. When you get to the end of the line you will wonder how you can get to the top. Easy! You chain one up, simply re-thread it without doing anything else, and pull it through. They have moved up a bit and can be used for single crochet. If you work your way back and forth like this, you can get pretty dense fabric in no time.
Double hook is the big brother of single crochet and therefore needs a little more air to breathe. Let’s say you’ve chained quite a bit and want to make a number of chopsticks. You need to insert the hook into the third chain from the end you are working from. You re-thread, insert the hook into this chain and re-thread. Pull this through, and you should now have three loops on your hook. You thread and pull through two loops on your crochet hook so that you now have two on the crochet hook. Thread again and pull through the two loops. Writing it down sounds more complicated than it is – believe me.
And to be completely honest, this is enough to step into the realm of crochet. Of course, there are dozens of different crochet techniques like the half double crochet, puff stitch, granny strip stitch, Elizabeth stitch, and more, but you can try these out in due course.
You can create so many different designs with even minimal knowledge. There is one point to note, however. From time to time you can put the needle in the wrong place and crochet multiple times in a chain or leave one out entirely. This is where it is important to keep track of your chain number. That’s why it’s smarter to work with lighter and thicker yarns if you want to get a feel for it.
Your first project
Keep it small and simple. As you learn these stitches, it’s a good idea to keep them small to encourage yourself to get bigger soon.
You could start with the infamous Grandma Square. I say this because if you’ve seen 70s fashion, you’ve seen it everywhere: on vests, shorts, hats, bags, and more! But essentially it’s a small square that you edit from the center and keep growing over time. You may not be inclined to make a fashion statement out of this, but it can have many other uses as well. The easiest way to reuse it is as a coaster. Or make lots of granny squares, sew them together and you have an afghan blanket. Even if you think you’ve seen it all, the different types and interpretations of Granny Squares will prove you wrong. You can also later transform your squares into hexagons and other shapes.
If you don’t want to try anything fancy and start small, just do one Tea towel or a Bath towel. Just work up your rows and complete the job by cutting the thread a little loosely and pulling it through the last loop. I made a lot of tea towels during my study phase and they were great for practicing.
If you want to try crocheting a piece of clothing, try a simple cap. Start like you’re crocheting a granny square – be sure to count so it doesn’t get uneven and wobbly. If you want to see a nice television series, you will likely end one of them in two or three episodes. Feel free to add decorations or change the colors as you go.
If you want to get bigger there are plenty of tutorials for beginner-friendly scarves. They are a great fashion statement and although they look quite cool with all the holes, they keep you surprisingly warm. I always have one on my sofa in case it gets a little chilly at night.
amigurumi sounds absurd and it is. This crochet art for making small stuffed animals or objects comes from Japan. You can use this technique to make a simple donut, cute teddy bear, or crocheted plant – this is especially great when you can’t keep the real thing alive. There are tons of books and websites full of ideas to inspire creative amigurumi cancer and beautiful dolls of all shapes and sizes.