I think I can finally crochet!
It has been a long time coming and, if you’ll excuse my language, I have been a pain in ass while getting here! Honestly, I don’t think anyone has talked so much and done so little to learn anything.
I had a few false starts! My first lesson in 2015 (ish) wasn’t very successful, I was quite grumpy about how bad I was at it. In June 2016 I went to the Toft Studio to make Quinn the Alpaca (who was finally finished in January of this year) and in January 2017 there is a very pitiful looking chain on my insta feed, due to my ‘Crochet for at least two hours a week’ in my new year’s resolutions.
I don't think this got much further than this chain!
I think I finally got over myself (except for whinging on but hopefully in a vaguely amusing way) in September 2017, inspired by Sarah of Yarn and Blarney, Louisa’s gorgeous Toft Makes and some tips from an old school friend. Where the hook went was finally beginning to make sense.
What changed then was finding things I really wanted to make that wouldn't be as nice if they were knit. A combination of The Skipping Pebbles pattern by Sarah and Toft creatures is what really spurred me on. I started and finished a Toft creature, Sneachta (otherwise known as Mae the Snow Leopard) in May 2018 (one of my favourite makes of all time) and I made 10% of Skipping Pebbles, the pattern was enjoyable and easy to follow.
Sneachta & Briste ... can't wait to make them some more friends!
The next thing was making my granny square blanket. I started it in May 2018 and finally finished it earlier this month. 1800g of DK yarn. Making that, even though it was the same stitch over and over, meant I finally worked out the structure of stitches, got a huge amount of practise and really enjoyed the movement of it.
Sorry the picture isn't better ... it was taken in a rush before the cats could arrive!
I have come a long way … very slowly! I have great admiration for people who throw themselves into something and perfect it in a couple of weeks. It’s just not me and I’m sharing this because there are a lot of folk out there who feel like failed knitters and crocheters and I just want to say, if I can, you can and never mind the high achievers!
My 10 tips for knitters learning to crochet!
1. It’s ok not to be knitting
This is for those of us who are trying to pull ourselves away from our knitting. I always had one eye on my knitting at the start and this definitely slowed me down. Very gently, to those of us ‘well, it’s not knitting’ knitters, I say get over yourself (very kindly and in the nicest way). Knitting will be there when you get back and will always be the best of the two (kidding, kidding before I get banned from the crochet club).
2. You don’t need to know all the stitches
As an experienced knitter, I was used to picking up patterns and knowing what to do. When I started to crochet, I would pick up a pattern and my brain would freeze. I forgot what it was like to be a new knitter. Breathe and take it one strange new abbreviation at a time and remember that there is nothing wrong with having to go to YouTube, even over and over (and over and over), to check you are doing it right.
3. Try a lot of different hooks until you find The One
A bit like knitting needles, there are lots of hook options. I started with the basic metal hook and that was fine but when I discovered Tulip hooks I was away. In between I tried Britney crochet hooks which look amazing but were not the right hook for me. Try a few and find one you love.
Definitely the Tulip for me
4. Do it your way
Something I only noticed recently is that there are quite a few different ways of holding your hook and yarn. I have now seen a couple of people ‘throwing’ their yarn rather than moving their hook. Have a look at different YouTube videos and find a way that suits you.
5. Crochet what you really love
I give this advice to knitters as well, make only what makes you happy. This was definitely what got me there in the end, wanting to make things where knitting didn’t cut it. The Big Cat set from Toft finally got me hooked (haha)!
6. Don’t worry too much about where to put the hook
There are lots of places you can insert a hook into crochet, more I think than in knitting. Don’t let that overwhelm you at the start. Yes, you might be putting the hook into the wrong place but better that than not doing it at all.
A tip I got from a friend – when you are worried about where to turn when coming back on a row, insert a removeable marker into the top of the chain in the previous row and then put the hook in there. It helped stop me having wavy edges. Thanks Triona!
7. Use a suitable yarn
In the same way that you wouldn’t start most beginner knitters off with a lace weight or 4 ply yarn, don’t do that to yourself. DK at the finest. Then in the same way, use a yarn with suitable content. A good solid, plied yarn that won’t mind you poking around in it, is definitely a good start.
8. Tension takes time
Remember back to when you started knitting and your tension was tight/loose/tight depending on lots of factors? Crochet is like that too to don’t be at yourself.
Yep, I know. It’s so boring to say that practice makes perfect but, like knitting, it just does. Finding something repeatable where you can practise the movement and stitches over and over. Granny squares are perfect for this and also very contained. Make a mess? Start again
10. Find folk who love crochet
Last but definitely not least, finding your Crochet Crew is very important. Being around people who are passionate about crochet, really understand it and are very generous with their knowledge is the best way to learn! There are lots of Facebook groups out there with Crochetvangelists, do find them and get hooking! Crochet features a lot more in the TLYC Knit and Knatter Facebook group than I thought it would and it’s great – two hobbies that use your stash is definitely better than one.
And not quite a tip but a revelation - ripping out only requires you having to pick up one loop!!
Now I’m off to hook on a new project … Sarah’s Muse pattern in CamaRose Yaku … my first crochet shop sample and first 4ply. Wish me Hook Luck!
Can't wait to make this beauty!
Happy knitting (&, at last, crocheting!)
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