I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, please read my introduction post here! I will readily admit this is NOT the most original choice for “A.” It will get better from here, I promise; I merely wanted to do an introduction post! :}
If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re an already established needlecrafter. Most of my readers are fellow crafters, crocheters in particular. However, I’ve heard from readers who want to learn to crochet but just don’t know how to get started. Or I’ll get questions about things like what a basic stitch means, or how to weave in those stubborn ends, or what in the world this crochet pattern is trying to say – things that become second nature after crocheting for several years, but definitely not when you’re a beginner. What I really wanted was a master list of both basics and tips I’ve learned in my time crocheting.
So, whether you’re a seasoned crocheter or have never picked up a crochet hook before, I hope you’ll find this series of posts useful.
Crochet is much easier than you might expect. Learning a new skill is always a little intimidating, but look at this this way: how badly can you really mess up with just a crochet hook and a ball of yarn? I think crochet is less scary to beginners than knitting because there’s just one hook (and you’re much less likely to accidentally stab your own eye out than with knitting needles). I’ve also found that some people gravitate toward knitting and some gravitate toward crochet. That isn’t to say that you can only be good at one craft – there are some incredibly talented bi-crafters out there – but I’m not one of them.
“Crochet is easy?!” you exclaim. “I don’t think that word means what you think it means!” Okay, maybe easy isn’t the right word, but I think with the right method it can be painless.
The story of my journey to crocheting is that I actually started as a knitter. I taught myself to knit when I was thirteen or fourteen with a library book some plastic needles I stole from my mom. Then my mom decided to learn to crochet. She ordered Crochet by Anne Akers Johnson and began making these beautiful afghans, bags, and stuffed animals. When I found out you could crochet dolls, I was pretty intrigued, as a fourteen-year-old girl who was very into dolls and doll clothes. I pilfered some yarn and hooks from my mom and started teaching myself from the same book and YouTube tutorials.
My first efforts were comical. I made little purple rectangles that came out more like trapezoids. Then I tried making stuffed animals, producing a floppy dragon with a bunch of holes through which you could see the stuffing. My first creations definitely didn’t scream “quality,” but with each mangled animal I made, I learned what did and didn’t work. I was doing intensive ballet at the time, and I started making flowers and bunholders for my hair, which gave me a fleeting taste of popularity with my classmates. I started crocheting things as gifts for people instead of buying presents. Eventually I started getting commissions from family members when they learned I could make things.
Now I have a small business teaching crochet to elementary-school girls. I’ve been teaching a few of them for over two years, I think, and I’m continually amazed at how talented they are. All of my students picked up the craft super quickly, and they make it their own. I’ve taught probably a few dozen people to crochet by now, and I’ve made note of the trickiest things for beginners, and what teaching methods work the best.
All of this is to illustrate that I got off to an interesting start with crochet, but now I’m a fairly experienced crocheter. (I’m certainly not done – there’s always more to learn, and there are so many things I have yet to explore!) Which means if I can learn to crochet, pretty much anyone can. Trust me. You think you’re too uncoordinated to learn? I’m the person who trips over her own shadow and flings her pen across the room in excitement.
Why should you learn to crochet, anyway? Well, you already know the reason I learned to crochet was so I could make cute stuffed animals and dresses for my dolls. The main motivation for my crochet students is to make stuffed animals – if you put a face on anything, it’s cute, is the general philosophy. But if stuffed animals aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other projects out there that might interest you. Sometimes that’s the best motivation to learn a new craft, is to find a project you really want to make and let that spur you on. If you’re looking for inspiration, search for ‘crochet’ on Pinterest. There are some truly amazing designers out there.
Another reason I love crochet so much is that it’s a great way to connect with people. I’ve met so many wonderful people through the online crochet world – starting my blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There are some super fun crafty communities out there in the real world too, if you like to interact with people face-to-face rather than through the Internet which has overtaken the world. Ravelry.com is a great resource for meeting other crafters, and you can lose all track of time in their groups and forums. (I spent a lot of time in the Hunger Games Crochet forum when I was a rabid fan a couple years ago. There’s a forum for everything, it seems.)
It’s also worth mentioning that crochet, and other needlecrafts such as knitting, have been proven to be good for mental health. Kathryn Vercillo’s book Crochet Saved My Life is a wonderful read on the subject. From my own experience, something about the meditative quality of the stitches combined with the satisfaction of finishing a project that always elevates my mood. So although it will never be a substitute for a doctor or therapist, I think crochet can be a fantastic coping mechanism for some mental health problems. It’s certainly helped with my own anxiety.
Are you ready to begin your crochet journey? One of my favorite things is introducing people to this wonderful craft, and seeing how happy they are when they finish their first project. I’d love to be able to do that for you, too. Tomorrow I’ll show you how to get started!