About six month’s a go, I had a lovely Guest Post by Clara showing us her crochet Teddy Amigurumi. I love the idea of Amigurumis – they are small and cute and I (assume), thanks to their smallness, do not take long to make. There is just on snag: I couldn’t crochet. At all. I am a knitter and have never really giving “crocheting” any thought.
So I set about teaching myself to crochet and I wanted to share with you how I did it. Red Ted Art has been an amazing crafty catalyst for myself – and I am learning and trying out new things all the time. Things I wouldn’t have bothered with before. I do hope that you get a little of this craft mojo too and that you give new things a go!
This How To, will not teach you, YOU WILL, but hopefully it will give you some handy pointers in starting you off.
What you need:
1) Patience. Lots of it. Time. I gave myself 6 months!
2) One crochet hook – I had 4.5mm or 5mm – which is a pretty standard size
3) Some left over wool, that you can “waste”. Lighter colours (e.g. cream) are easier to crochet with, as you can see the stitch better
4) The internet – for some youtube videos (see below)
5) A basic crochet book – you can sit on the sofa, in bed or in the car and practice
6) A first project – simple enough for a beginner, hard enough that you will be proud!
Note: The American and British terminology is different. A British treble is an American double stitch
Here we go.
I can highly recommend the (British) publication “Crochet Unravelled“. It is inexpensive, unpretentious and simple. I found it useful at the beginning, then switched to the internet and then back to the book. Unfortunately, it is only “inexpensive” via Amazon.co.uk not so via Amazon.com. But I am sure you can find a simple basic book from the library. Nothing too clever. Keep it simple.
The reason, why I suggest you get a book, is that you can sit in bed or on the sofa with it and not hurt your back sitting at the computer (all the time).
Step 1: Holding the Wool & a Chain Stitch
Get used to holding the wool in the “correct” manner and practice doing a “chain” (the equivalent to “casting on” in knitting. I probably did about 20 chains – re doing them and re doing them.
The best You Tube Lady I found (and trust me, I looked at many) was The Knit Witch:
Step 2: Practice a Double Stitch (British) / Single Stitch (US)
Now, everything I have read and heard, is that the “first row” is always the hardest – the chain stitches are sometimes tight and fiddly. So. Just becaus this “first row” is hard, do not give up!! Keep going! As the 2nd and 3rd rows are so much easier and you will feel that you are “getting somewhere”. Don’t worry if your first row looks messy your don’t quite have the number of stitches you are supposed to have. Remember, you are practicing!
Step 3: Treble (British) / Double Stitch (US)
Have a go at a treble.
Right. Got it? Now I would switch back to the/ a book again and have a go at a Granny Square. If you ever get stuck and don’t understand what the instructions mean, follow them “blindly” and before you know it you have crocheted!
Granny Squares make great little “toy blankets”, so this time your efforts can be “re used” in the kids’ doll house!
Step 4: Find an easy project
There is a wonderful blog written by Lucy called Attic 24. She has some wonderful patterns and writes the pattern in such a way that even a beginner can follow. Note: Lucy follows British terminology. I absolutely and totally recommend that you use one of her patterns as your first! I went for the neat Ripple Pattern and this is my first ever corcheted item:
Bits that helped me “get on”:
1) If you have a couple of weeks break between “practice sessions”, don’t worry if you have “forgotten it all” and you need to restart and refresh your memory. That is all part of learning and embedding what you have learnt. I still have go back and check “again” what the treble stitch is etc.
2) The loop on your hook doesn’t count as a stitch – this took me ages to work out and meant that I was always one short.
3) When picking up a stitch, you pick up BOTH parts of the loop, for some reason I didn’t realise this and it look rather funny – you end up with like a ribbed edge. Don’t do that. Though I do believe that when you are picking up that first row (i.e. you have done your chain and you are now crocheting into it) you can pick the one loop up – but it appears to be a matter of preference.
4) The American and British terminology is different. A British treble stitch is an American double stitch.
5) I still find the “beginnings of a row” most confusing, which stitch exactly is the first one. This comes with practice (I found..) and getting used to a pattern. So again, give yourself a chance to practice the body of the crochet and worry about the beginnings and ends later…
6) As a beginner, whenever you start a new project, give yourself the chance to practice the required stitches again – so if the pattern needs some treble stitches, go back to basics and practice them again. Ditto granny squares etc (see my point 1). Also, if it is suggested you do a test patch, do a test patch. I know it is boring, and I am not the most patient person in the world, but as a beginner, you need to give yourself the chance to practice. It is worth it.
7) Follow the worded instructions. Once you are ok with them, look at the “pattern instructions” and see if you can match the two up – this will get you used to reading and understanding patterns – they look like gobble di gook at first. But again, you do get the hang of them, if you give yourself time.
8 I(!) found that crocheting is more forgiving than knitting. I did make a couple of mistakes in the blanket above. But I was able to “cheat, by sneaking on a stitch here and taking one away there… But I guess this is only applicable for bigger things. An Amigurumi no doubt has to be “perfect” (I will attempt one next).
Good Luck. And Get Crocheting!