When I was 5 years old, my mom started teaching me to crochet. Unfortunately, I used the wrong stitch on the little potholder swatch I was making, so she pulled it all out. I believe I threw a tantrum and stomped off. Two years later she came home from work and I was just sitting there crocheting all by myself. By the time I was 10 years old, I was teaching classes to my neighbors and kids on the school bus. We didn’t have a lot of money, so throughout middle school I would make stuffed animals in “school colors” to sell for pep rallies, etc… I don’t really remember a time in my life when I haven’t had a crochet hook and some yarn nearby. I have found it brings me peace and has served as a sort of therapy over the years.
Although both knitted and crocheted items are made with yarn, the finished look is different which makes some items better suited for one than the other. I find that I really like the look and feel of knit for socks, sweaters and items were I really want a smooth finished look, or more stretch. I like how much easier it is to freehand projects with crochet, since I can easily tell how big they are getting and when I need to increase or decrease to make curves. For that reason, I think crochet is great for stuffed animals (or amigurumi). I also like the flexibility I have to add texture to blankets and other items. You can do lace in either medium, but I find crochet lace a lot more relaxing.
This is an example of what can be done with fine, crochet cotton thread. I made these for my youngest child. The first one took 6 years, but each of the others took about a week. Practice makes perfect (or at least proficiency).
These blankets were made using worsted weight yarn. The thicker yarn makes larger items a lot faster. I love the texture that crochet brings to blankets.
Crochet is a really simple craft. All you really need is a crochet hook and some yarn. The size of the yarn determines the size of the hook you need. The thinner the yarn, the more detail you can bring to the project.
- Yarn (see types below)
- Crochet Hooks
- yarn needle, or a pack of blunt-tipped tapestry needles.
- stitch markers
- small, sharp scissors
This is a nice little bundle that give you everything except scissors and yarn.
Types of Yarn
There are a wide variety of yarn options depending on your application. A great way to familiarize yourself is to visit your local yarn shop. They are usually very friendly and more than willing to corrupt, I mean, educate you on all the lovely yarns and their best uses. It is also a really good idea to touch and feel yarn and read the labels until you have a better idea of what you like, and how much you need for a given project.
The Spruce Crafts does a more descriptive explanation of different types of yarns if you prefer a deeper dive, but here is a simple description:
Crochet cotton thread is great for fine lacework (doilies, lace, or dresses) but it is not a very good beginner yarn. It take a bit of practice and experience to be able to keep a consistent tension. There are several thicknesses to choose from (the higher the number, then thinner the thread). I like to use a size 10 thread for lace dresses.
Sport weight or Baby yarn can be good for smaller items, or where you want less texture. It can be really soft, but not as defined as crochet thread.
Worsted weight yarn is best for learning since it gives you enough to hold onto. A lighter color is also good, so that you can see the stitches better while you are learning. Something like this sampler/starter pack is a good option as it gives you plenty of colors to play with and works great for smaller projects.
Bulky or fluffy yarns can be fun, and can make large items like blankets go a lot faster, however they can be a little cumbersome for beginners. Fluffy yarns tend to snag though if you need to unravel stitches, so not the best for learning with.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that crochet is limited to yarn and only delicate projects either. I was privileged to be part of an amazing project in 2014-2015 that designed a large scale, adult playground out of rope attached to painters scaffolding. It has been setup as a temporary art installation over the years, including one that seems to occur in an isolated dessert. It originally started as a project titled “Suspension of Disbelief” and evolved into Web of Dreams. I will forever feel it was one of my life’s great accomplishments.
Free patterns are easy to find, and a good place to start until you have a good idea of what you like.
Ravelry.com is an online crafting community where folks share their projects that they have made. You can find lots of fun stuff there as well. Here is a link to search for free crochet patterns on Ravelry, and a fun way to find inspiration too.
I love that you can make a wide variety of things and make them very unique, like this pink minecraft creeper in a tutu… that you would not likely find on any store shelf. Your imagination is the limit!
Amigurumi are small crochet stuffed animals. They are a great start project because they challenge you to learn how to shape an object with simple increases and decreases (making more or less stitches in a row evenly spaced). Here are some free amigurumi patterns from other sites.
I had an amazing time taking my basic Bee pattern and modifying it to make all types of Pride Bees to correspond with some of the different Pride Flags. The patterns are available to download in my free pattern library.
I could walk you through all the instructions of how to crochet, with detailed pictures and videos, but there are folks out there that do a much better job of it than me. If you are local to Seattle, feel free to join us for Crochet Guild if you would like some help.
- If you like listed instructions with pictures, sarahmaker.com is a great resource.
- Another good resource with simple video instructions, and free amigurumi patterns is cottonnutty.com.
- There are plenty of free youtube videos, but if you would like a more professional video class, I actually purchased this amigurumi course from udemy.com (even though I have been teaching my friends for years, I found some tips and tricks that I didn’t know about).
Feel free to join us on our Crochet Guild’s facebook group for inspiration, to share what you create, or just ask questions. Happy Crafting!