Six Crochet Tips you’ll Wish you Knew when you Started
Self-taught crocheter Ashleigh Kiser has made a mire of mistakes and come out of the process with skill and a smile on her face. Here she passes on some must-read crochet tips so you can bypass the winding backroads of crochet knowledge and speed right along the highway to success.
I haven’t talked about this much, but I’m a self-taught crocheter.
My granny, bless her heart, was the crochet Obi-Wan of my family. Sadly, I never got to meet her, but I do have one of her granny square afghans. I’ve heard many stories about how she would sit and crochet all day long and was hardly seen without a skein of yarn.
Oh, what I would give just to watch her crochet. How did she hold her hook? How did she hold her yarn? I may never know because those in my family who remember her know diddly squat about crochet and have no idea what I’m talking about when I say knife-grip!
ANYWHO … A few years ago, I picked up a hook and a skein of yarn at the local craft store because I wanted to see what this business was all about. If you told me then that, in a few short years, I’d have a crochet blog and YouTube channel, design patterns and teach people to crochet, I’d say you’re off your rocker.
Yet it’s true, here I am!
There are many things I’ve learned along the way, though, that I wish I could tell myself when I was just starting out, and just beginning to navigate these at-first confusing waters. So, if you’re brand new and considering learning to crochet, don’t worry. I’ll give you a few pointers here and hopefully help you find some confidence by some of what I learned on my own.
If you’re a seasoned crocheter, I bet you can relate to a lot of these points. Especially if you are self taught by YouTube videos like me.
So, let’s get into my crochet tips!
1. Yarn labels tell you a lot
When I picked up my first skein of yarn, I thought to myself, “This is pretty, I like the colours and it feels soft. Done and done!” That was actually a super-chunky yarn that was really meant for something like a blanket. I tried to make a beanie with it, and this was my first turn down a rough road.
It also took me way longer than it should have to realise that on the yarn label the manufacturer recommends what hook size to use with that particular yarn – duh! With that first yarn purchase, I picked up a crochet hook that looked promising – a bamboo handled, hot-pink Susan Bates number. I think it was a size H5mm. Not at all what I should have used with the yarn I chose but, again, I thought “Hey! Pretty!” … and I was overwhelmed by all the options. If only I’d known to look on the label for that little box with a picture of a hook.
Most yarns now also come with a free pattern on the inside of the label. (We’re talking about big box store yarns here, not the hand-dyed merino wool on Etsy, though those are lovely.) When you buy a skein of Bernat Blanket Yarn, for example, there is usually a photo on the outside of the label with someone wearing or snuggling something soft and cosy – a blanket, a scarf, an interesting and awkward looking hat, or anything else. More often than not, you can find the pattern to that very item on the inside of the label.
Unfortunately, my favourite yarn to keep in my stash, Vanna’s Choice, does not come with a free pattern. A good perk to the label on this yarn, however, is the ruler in centimetres and inches that runs along the inside and outside of the label. The label also directs you to the Lion Brand website, where they claim to have over 6,000 free patterns. So that doesn’t hurt either.
The label will also give you useful info on how to care for items made with this yarn – most box store yarns now are machine washable and dryable, but it doesn’t hurt to check the label.
2. Not all ‘Beginner’ projects are really for beginners
I tried for a very long time to tackle a handful of ‘beginner’ projects on YouTube, before I learned to read patterns. Many people throw that tagline on projects that are really not beginner friendly. I think that often labelling a hat or blanket as ‘beginner friendly’ or ‘easy’ gets more attention because so many looking for crochet patterns online are beginners. So many designers throw those taglines onto projects that really take some experience and skill.
I try my best to give an accurate impression of how much experience you need to have in order to complete a project. For example, my Bake Shop Blanket Series is not for exclusively advanced crocheters, I encourage newbies to take a crack at it, but with the understanding that many of the techniques are a bit more advanced. One needs to speak the language, as it were. It would be pretty difficult to still be doubting your hook grip and make the Cherry Pie Granny Square.
Use these crochet tips to make a lovely Crochet-joined Fabric Blanket
3. Hold your tools in a way that is comfortable for you
I’ve had many people tell me that I “hold the yarn wrong” or “hold the hook wrong.” First of all, that’s simply not true, because there is no right or wrong way to crochet – whatever gets the job done is the right way.
When I first heard these comments, though, I felt discouraged. I was no longer proud of the accomplishments I’d made or the projects I’d completed. I felt as if I needed to restart, go back to the beginning and do it all over.
Despite these feelings, I kept plugging along, doubting my abilities as a crocheter for some time. I continued the only way I knew how, holding my yarn and hook differently to most of the world. And you know what happened? I got my confidence back with each handmade project completed. I still hold my yarn differently to most, but that’s okay.
4. Be a proud grandma!
Once I understood how to buy yarn and what I liked/was looking for, I collected quickly. I had a stash of brightly coloured yarns in no time and more yardage than I could work through in months. There were yarns of all different textures and weights. I had every hook size imaginable, and I loved looking at my baskets of candy-coloured yarn.
Then a friend came over for the day. Mind you, I was 20 at the time and had stacks of yarn everywhere. This hobby was new and I had only mentioned it to my friend, so she didn’t expect the entire yarn aisle in my living room. However, there it was, and I was glowing with pride.
She laughed a bit and tried to understand. She poked and prodded my stash, unable to grasp why I would spend all of my free money at the craft store instead of saving for Spring Break. I didn’t expect this response. Yet it happened over and over again, and I’ve earned the affectionate nickname ‘Grandma’ among friends and family.
I’ve embraced the idea that my hobbies are uncommon for a young adult, but that took some getting used to. The response from my peers when I talked about turning in early to work on a quilt or skipping a night out because I haven’t had time to crochet in a few weeks baffles those around me, and this made me doubt my hobby at first. Quickly, I decided, though, that I loved this art and that’s all there was to it. My yarn and I have been happy ever since!
Create a Rainbow Circles Crochet Blanket with Ashleigh’s crochet tips
5. Explore yarn online
This one I just figured out recently. Not only are there some amazing hand-dyed, beautiful yarns for sale all over the internet (definitely start on Etsy and support local business) but even the big yarn companies (Lion Brand, Bernat and Red Heart) make kinds of yarn or colourways that I’ve never seen before in person – but are sold online. For the longest time, I thought whatever was at my local retailer was all that those brands made. This is not so – not even close.
Just after a quick search on Amazon, I found so many new and interesting yarns by brands I’d had success with. I still haven’t even scratched the surface of trying all that I’d like to, though. The variety! The colours! The excitement!
6. Get a good tote bag and take your crochet everywhere
This one took me way too long to figure out. And it’s one of those things that I really should have figured out sooner. It took me months to realise that the reason it took me ages to finish a scarf was not because I didn’t have the time, but because I was only working on it when I had free time at home.
Put these crochet tips to good use with the Summer Crush Crochet Blanket
Find out more about Ashleigh Kiser and her Crochet Tips
Ashleigh is a crochet designer, teacher and addict who can’t get enough chocolate-chip cookies and I Love Lucy. She loves sharing her love and tips for creating, so has loved sharing these crochet tips!
- I’ve been crocheting about four years. I picked it up shortly after my great grandmother passed. She and her mother were avid crafters, and I learned in their memory. Now I can’t stop!
- I started my blog in December 2015 and posted all the projects I made as holiday gifts for my family. I really just wanted an outlet to share all of my hard work and give my family some insight into how I made their gifts.
- The main objective behind Sewrella is to share creative, crafty ideas in a fun, easy-to-follow environment. I aim to create a community of crafters and crocheters who all love to live a creative life.
- I do like to focus on beginner-based projects. None of my designs or patterns are terribly intricate or complex, and I try to offer the resources that a beginner would need to tackle any project that takes a bit more skill. I always write my patterns with the beginner in mind.
- At the moment my blog consists solely of crochet tips, projects and patterns. I do however really enjoy sewing, embroidery, and other crafty arts so those avenues may be explored on my blog in the future!
Keep in Touch with Ashleigh