Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by Carly Jacobs from Melbourne, Australia. She runs Crochet Coach (crochetcoach.com), an online crochet school and community. Thank you, Carly!
Disclaimer: This post includes an affiliate link.
I’ve been crocheting seriously for about six years now. I’d tried to knit many times. I come from a family of very accomplished knitters so I obviously thought that’s what I have to do. It wasn’t for lack of trying, it just never really stuck. I couldn’t seem to get my yarn on my needles without making an enormous circle motion involving my full arm and shoulder. It just wasn’t working for me. A lovely lady from my local yarn store watched me half heartedly sign up for a beginners knitting course (for the third time!) and she gently suggested I try crochet instead. I never looked back. I had found my craft.
It must be difficult for crocheters with decades of experience to remember what it was like to learn to crochet. Especially as so many people learned to crochet as children and just sort of picked up the important stuff as they went along.
Technically speaking, I learned as an adult which is a whole different kettle of fish. I had dabbled as a kid and then again when I worked in a bead store as a teenager when we did wire bead crochet but my skills never got further than that. When I delved into the land of ‘proper’ crochet there were so many mistakes I made that I look back on now and I can’t believe no one told me. I now teach crochet and every time a student posts a photo of their too tight chain or oddly ribbed scarf, I add it to my growing list of things to tell my posse before they even pick up a hook.
1. Where to put the first stitch in the row for sc vs dc
The first thing I ever made was a granny square. Then I made heaps and heaps of them to get my rhythm down and when I switched to making squares in back and forth rows, everything fell apart. You see, I didn’t know I was supposed to skip the first stitch when crocheting in any basic stitch but single crochet. So there I am trying to jam an extra stitch into the stitch I just chained out of and trying to figure out why the hell every thing I made was twice as wide by the time I finished with it.
2. To count my stitches every few rows
A made a whole glove that slowly shrank as I hooked away. I didn’t realize I was dropping a stitch every row because once I learned the skip-a-stitch rule, I didn’t get filled on the work-your-final-stitch-in-to-the-turning-chain-from-the-previous-row rule. That’s a fun one to get wrong. I don’t count religiously like I used to (my trained crochet eye can usually tell if things are getting iffy) but I always tell my newbies to count after every row when they first get started to make sure they don’t end up with a sloping scarf or a shrinking shawl.
3. Ergonomic hooks make life so much easier
I started crocheting on an inexpensive wooden hook (as most people do) and it was fine. I used it for a really long time until I read more about crochet hooks and someone recommended that I buy an ergonomic hook. I cannot even begin to tell you how much it changed my crocheting. I still use a wooden hook from time to time, if my favourite Clovers are stuck into other projects or I’ve run out of 4mm hooks AGAIN (I have a pretty big collection of 4mms and they’re almost always all occupied at any given time). I also use wooden crochet hooks as hair chopsticks so I’ll often just grab the one sticking out of my hair and use that quickly if I need it, but I really notice when I use a cheap bamboo wooden hook. It doesn’t flow like it does with an ergo
hook. If you’re feeling like crochet is about to become your thing, invest in ergo hooks.
4. Work through both bars of the stitch, not just the front one
When I first started crocheting, I tried to learn from a vintage book. This was a very quaint, cute thing for me to try to do but I should have sought out a video for it. I worked into the front loop of the stitch for AGES before I realized I was getting a ridge on my work. This is one thing I always drum into my newbies – work your stitch under BOTH bars of the previous stitch, not the front or back one unless the pattern tells you to do it!
5. That there’s such a thing as a tight and loose crocheter
I just assumed everyone crocheted the same way until I made a scarf that ended up half the size of the one the designer made. I got very grumpy about and thought ‘Why don’t they have a system where you can check if you’re making it right?’ There is a system. It’s called a gauge swatch. I was one of those very naughty crocheters who ignored gauge. You only need to make one teeny tiny scarf before you start caring a lot about gauge swatches.
What things do you wish you were told when you first started crocheting?
Carly Jacobs is crochet fiend from Melbourne, Australia. She runs Crochet Coach, an online crochet school and community – click the image above for more info! Aside from crochet, Carly loves sneezing, Benedict Cumberbatch, and goats.