Friday, February 27, 2009

Do You Want to Learn How to Crochet

Have you been thinking about learning to crochet? Many
people have told me that they would just love to be able
to crochet, but they feel it would be too hard for them
to learn. They know nothing about yarn, hooks or
even how to begin.

Actually, crochet is not difficult at all. It's only hard if
you think it is, so you have to change your thinking by
looking at the basics of crochet.

Have you ever seen children (or perhaps you have done
this yourself) playing with a piece of yarn or string? They
make a slip knot in the yarn or string using their fingers,
then make a loop and pass it through the first loop, then
another loop through that loop and so on. This is the same
as the basic starting chain in crochet, except you are using
a crochet hook instead of your fingers.

How do you choose your yarn? In selecting your yarn,
there are five basic types: baby/fingering, sportweight/baby,
worsted weight, chunky and bulky. Worsted weight is a
good type for a beginner.

Fingering and baby yarns are very fine, sportweight
is usually 3 ply (ply means the number of strands that
are twisted together to form the yarn). Worsted
weight is a 4 ply yarn. Chunky and bulky are
heavier yarns.

Yarns can be made of synthetic or natural fibers.
Acrylics are popular and easy to work with and
wash. Cotton yarns are very easy to work with
and make great crocheted dishcloths, an easy
project for beginners.

For a beginner, you will want to stay away from
using the fuzzy and fur yarns. They are soft and
very pretty, but more difficult to work with as it
is hard to see your stitches. You can try them later
as your crocheting skills improve.

To choose your yarn, just look at the labels. They
will tell you what you need to know. Some yarns
even have free patterns inside the label. You will
want to save those in your pattern collection, even
if you are not interested in making the item right
now. It's always great to build a pattern collection
for later use.

Next you will choose your crochet hook. Hooks
can be made of aluminum, plastic, wood or steel.
Steel hooks are very small and used in fine work
such as doilies and lace.

As a beginner, you will be learning with the worsted
weight yarn so you will want a H (5.00mm), I (5.5mm)
or J (6.00mm) hook. As you learn to crochet, you
will want to build a collection of the many different
hook sizes.

The problem I have found that most beginners have is
getting the hook and yarn working together. But as
with anything, practice makes perfect. It doesn't take
long before you will get the hang of it and be in the
flow.

Before you actually make an item you should do some
practice pieces. Start out making a chain of about 15
to 20 chains. You do that by making a slip knot by wrapping
the yarn around your finger and pulling loop through, then
put the slip knot onto your crochet hook. Pull on both
ends of the yarn to tighten and adjust the slip knot. Then
bring your yarn over your hook from back to front, grab
the yarn with your hook and pull through the loop on your
hook. Repeat until you have 15 to 20 chain stitches.

Now you will use the single crochet (sc) to make your
practice piece. In the second chain from your hook
(just count two chains away from the hook) and insert
your hook into that chain. Put your yarn over the hook
and draw that yarn through the chain stitch. There are
now 2 loops on hook.

Bring your yarn over the hook from back to front, and
draw it through both loops on hook. One loop remains
on the hook. You have completed your first single
crochet stitch.

Keep repeating the single crochet stitch until the end
of the chain row. If you started with 20 chains, you
will 19 single crochet stitches in this row as you skipped
the first chain and began in the second chain from your
hook.

To do your next row of single crochet, first you make
a chain stitch by wrapping the yarn over your hook and
pulling it through the loop on your hook. Now you turn
your work so that the last sc you made on the previous
row is now at the beginning. Make one single crochet
stitch in that stitch and in each remaining stitch of the
previous row. Repeat this for every new row.

You will notice that there are two loops on the tops of the
completed single crochet stitches. You put your hook
through both those loops. I have noticed that a mistake
that some beginners make is by only going through one
loop of the single crochet. That is a variation that works
well in some patterns, but you will learn that later as your
skills improve.

Keep working your sample piece for practice until you
get the feel for crocheting. This will help you to learn
how to hold your hook in a way that makes it easy to
grab the yarn and it will also help you to get your tension
on. You may find that you are crocheting too loosely or
too tightly at first. As you practice, you will learn how
to keep your tension uniform throughout the whole
project.

Once you have practiced and feel you are ready to try
an easy pattern, you can do a search online for a scarf
pattern, which is what most beginners start out with.
Or, as mentioned before, dishcloths are easy patterns
for beginners.

By searching online you will find everything you need
to know about crochet. There are free patterns, charts
with crochet abbreviations used in patterns, charts for
hook sizes, etc.

I am sure that you will enjoy your crochet experience.
I find it very relaxing, a great stress reliever. It is also fun
to work with the different yarn colors and textures. It is
great to be able to make items for yourself and as gifts
for family and friends.

You can do it while you are watching TV, or while sitting
in a doctor's waiting room, or traveling as a passenger in
a vehicle. Just get yourself a crochet tote bag (or crochet
one yourself) and you are ready to go.

I hope this information has been helpful to you in making
your decision to take up crochet as a hobby.

By Sue Norrad of http://www.crochetandknitting.com where she offers her own original crochet pattern designs for free. You will also find many craft resources such as a Craft and Pattern Search Discussion Forum, craft supplies, charts, and much more.

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