Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the time you spend crocheting.
Balls of Yarn Vs. Skeins
If you’re impatient to get your project started, you might be tempted to rip the label off your skein of yarn and get to work. Technically, you can crochet with skeins of yarn, but it many cases you can achieve better results if you take the time to wind the skein into a ball first. This is especially true for beginners.
Balls of yarn have a couple of advantages over skeins:
- Avoid Tangles. Center-pull skeins of yarn can tangle easily towards the end. Balls of yarn are less likely to tangle.
- Improve Tension. If you have a hard time achieving even tension, try working from a ball of yarn rather than a skein.
Ball winders are available to help you with this task, but you can also do it by hand.
- Long Hair: If your hair is long enough to get in your way, be sure to comb it and tie it back before you start crocheting. This helps to avoid getting hair tangled in your work.
- Jewelry: You may wish to remove your jewelry, especially rings and bracelets, prior to crocheting. Yarn can catch on jewelry and hamper your progress.
- Cats: If possible, keep cats out of the room when you are crocheting. A cat can't seem to resist a moving ball of yarn. A cat can also ruin a crochet project without much effort.
Position the ball of yarn so that it can unwind easily as you crochet.
- If you are crocheting at home in a comfortable chair, you can keep the ball of yarn in your lap or on the floor at your feet, whichever you prefer.
- If you are crocheting on an airplane or in a moving vehicle, tuck the ball of yarn inside a tote bag to keep it from rolling around and unwinding.
Switch Hooks When Necessary
Novice crocheters tend to work either too tightly or too loosely.
- If your work is too tight, choose a larger crochet hook.
- If your work is too loose, choose a smaller crochet hook.
- Keep in mind that the hook size indicated on your yarn label is no more than a suggested starting point.
- Do your experimenting with hooks prior to starting a project. The ideal time to do this is when you are making your gauge swatches.
Avoid Changing Hooks in the Middle of a Project
You want your stitches to be consistent throughout your entire project. If you switch hooks, you risk creating inconsistency. Even same-size changes from one manufacturer's hook to another's could be problematic.
- Hook size is not always consistent between manufacturers.
- Slight differences in hook shaping might change the way you hold the hook or form your stitches.
Try Some Ergonomic Crochet Hooks
Ergonomic crochet hooks are designed to be comfortable. If you can find an ergonomic hook you like, it could make the time you spend crocheting more enjoyable than it would otherwise be.
Take the Time to Make Gauge Swatches
You might be tempted to think that crocheting gauge swatches is a waste of time. It’s actually the most critical part of the project, particularly if your project is a garment. If you skip the gauge swatch, your project is likely to end up being the wrong size.
Don’t Be Afraid to Unravel
If you notice that you made a mistake a few rows back, rip out the stitches up to that point and try again.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
There are no “crochet police,” and nothing tragic will happen to you if an experiment fails. Practice and experimentation are two of the best ways to break out of beginner status. Consider some simple experiments.
- Substitute colors in a pattern.
- Choose different yarns.
- Add or subtract details. If a pattern calls for fringe you don't like, substitute an edging. Add a flower to a plain hat.
As you learn more, don't be afraid to try more complex experiments.
- Add stripes to a plain pattern.
- Vary the stitches you use.
- Improvise customizations. Make long sleeves instead of short sleeves on a sweater. Modify the neckline.
Some of these experiments might not work out, but each one will teach you something new.
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So, the crochet tips listed above are my favorites; they are the things that have worked for me over the years. By now, you've probably figured out that there are many possible approaches to crochet, and all of them are valid. Longtime crocheters all have unique experiences and expertise to share.
With that in mind, I've invited other crocheters to share their tips too. Many people have been generous with contributing helpful ideas and time-savers. If you're a beginner, I think they will really help you. Even if you've been crocheting for years, you might learn something new.
If you have crochet tips to contribute, please don't be shy about sharing them; you'll be helping countless others get the most out of this enjoyable hobby.