What do I need first?
So you’ve decided to teach yourself how to crochet. Welcome! You’ve come to a good place, because I will break everything down for you using pictures, videos, and step-by-step instructions. First, there are a few things you will need. Sometimes you can find great craft items at Wal-Mart or similar stores, but if you’re looking for a wide selection, you may have to find a craft store. I prefer Jo-Ann Fabrics, but Hobby Lobby or local yarn shops are good too. First, decide what project you want to start with. Scarves make really good first projects…you get a basic stitch down, and keep going in a straight line. My advice here is, don’t plan on giving your first project or two away as gifts–you’ll put unnecessary pressure on yourself to achieve perfection. Make something for yourself, and if your first attempt isn’t as good as you’d hoped, it’s no big deal. Just try again.
What yarn should I buy?
So let’s assume you chose a scarf for your first project. Excellent choice! Now take a look at all the yarns you have available to you. My favorite yarn is Caron Simply Soft.
This is a good yarn for all occasions–hats, scarves, baby items, blankets, anything. It comes in a wide range of colors from very bright to subdued to variegated (different colors on the same strand), and it’s very inexpensive. Red Heart is also a good yarn to start with, as is Lion Brand. Don’t choose a yarn with too much bulk for your first project–it will make it harder for you to see your stitches. The same goes for dark colors vs. light colors. A light colored yarn is much easier to use when you are just learning to crochet.
How much yarn will I need?
Once you’ve picked out your yarn, you have to decide how much you will need for your project. Some patterns call for a certain number of ounces, others are less specific. Sometimes you just have to guess. From my experience, one hat uses a little more than half of one 6-ounce skein. A scarf, depending on width and length, takes about one or 1 1/2 skeins. A small baby blanket takes at least 3 skeins. You want to make sure you buy enough yarn for your project all at the same time. If you run out and buy another of the same brand and same color, there is no guarantee that the dye lots will match, which could result in a section of your project that looks discolored.
What type of crochet hook should I buy?
Now you need a crochet hook. The size crochet hook you choose should depend on the weight of the yarn you choose. If you look on the back of your yarn’s packaging, you will find several symbols. The first is usually the weight of the yarn. If you choose something labeled “medium” with a number close to 4, that’s a good yard to use for learning the basic stitches. Next, you’ll find two symbols with knitting needles or a crochet hook. This tells you what size tool is recommended for that yarn. If your yarn is a number 4 medium weight, you probably want to choose a size H/8 hook. The rest of the symbols are standard washing and laundering symbols.
Most sizes of crochet hooks are available individually, but I recommend buying a small package of a few sizes. You can usually find a package of 3, which is a good starting point, but if you are really serious about crocheting you can also buy larger packages. Most hooks are aluminum, but wood and plastic are also popular. I think aluminum slides through the yarn better, but I also have some plastic hooks and they work well. Aluminum crochet hooks and knitting needles are allowed through airport security. Here’s a link to their official rules on needlecrafts.
You will also need a yarn needle. These are typically sold with the rest of the yarn crafts, not with the sewing needles.
How should I store everything for my project?
It’s important to make sure you store your projects in such a way that they won’t get damaged or lost. I have a special wallet for crochet hooks, but small pencil cases also work nicely. There are many yarn totes available, and depending on the size of your project and the amount of traveling you do, any of those might be a good choice. My projects are usually pretty small, so I just keep mine in a large zip-top freezer bag.
Check back for my next post, where I’ll go over all the basic crochet stitches you’ll need to get started on your first project!