wor·sted[woos-tid, wur-stid] noun 1. firmly twisted yarn or thread spun from combed, stapled wool fibers of the same length, for weaving, knitting, etc. Compare woolen. 2. wool cloth woven from such yarns, having a hard, smooth surface and no nap.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So You Want to Learn to Crochet: Starting Out

This last week, during our ultimate giveaway events, we posed the question:  What would you like to see more of on this blog.  The answers were numerous but had several common themes.  One thing, you as readers would like to see more of are posts for beginning crochet.  I was really excited to see the enthusiasm for crocheting and the expressions for the desire to learn one of my most favorite things!

Today, I wanted to talk about what you need to get the best start on your crocheting journey.  There are easier ways if you know some of the tricks of the trade.  I didn't have anyone to teach me, I am a self-taught crocheter, so I learned by trial and error and more trial and error.  So to save you some of the pains I went through, let me give you my best tips for starting out!  Beginning with yarn selection.


When it comes to starting out, believe it or not, there are "good" yarns and "bad" yarns to use to begin your journey.  I taught a some crochet classes this last year, and no matter how many warnings, how many emails or texts I sent out, half of my students STILL showed up to class the first day with yarn I told them NOT to buy.

All yarns are NOT created equal.

Now, mind you, my favorite yarns are not necessarily the yarns that are best to start out with.  But some of my favorite stuff is little harder to work with and not beginner friendly.

The best yarn to start out with, is the Red Heart brand.

Now, before you start whining and complaining that it's the cheap stuff, and it isn't as soft and yadda yadda, let me remind you that you are LEARNING.  There is nothing better to learn all your new skills than cheap, user friendly yarn.  Trust me.  Make sure this is something you really want to learn, something you are willing to invest in later -- and to get the best idea of how well you are able to do this, you need yarn that is easy to work with.  This is the stuff.

Once you have made a couple things to practice your skills, you can move onto some other brands that are little more pricey, but softer.  I really like Vanna's Choice (you can find this one just about anywhere):

Micheal's carries a brand I like called Loops & Threads: Impeccable, that is pretty good:

I LOVE a brand that Jo-Ann's carries called Deborah Norville: Everyday:

Hobby Lobby has one called I Love This Yarn, that is pretty easy to work with as well:

Other Types I love, but don't buy until you are fulling investing in crocheting, because they can be pretty pricey.

Cotton:  I love working with cotton, but it can be a bit tricky and isn't the greatest for ALL types of crocheting.  My favorite brand is carried at Hobby Lobby called "I Love this Cotton"

Wool:  Wool is fun, but super pricey right now.  I only use it on my sock monkey hats.  I would skip this for a while until you are more practiced.


Simply Soft:  Even as an advanced crocheter, I hate this stuff.  I tell ALL my students not to show up to class with this brand EVER, and guess what?  Half of them ALWAYS DO!  I even put threats in my supply lists I send out, that I will drop kick them out the door if they show up with it.  I guess they don't take me seriously.  As a beginner, this is NOT the yarn for you.  I don't care how soft it feels compared to the Red Heart.  Don't fall for it.  Once you learn how to crochet and can actually ALTER a pattern, that's right, you read that right, ALTER a pattern.  Don't even LOOK at Simply Soft.  Here's why:

It claims to be Worsted Med yarn.  This is a total lie.  You will never meet gauge using this yarn as the pattern tells you.  It is thin, slick, and unless you are using a little hook, the stitches are loose, and the product stretches out SUPER easy.  Not worth it.  Don't buy it until you are advanced -- then help yourself.

Crazy Types of Yarn:  Now, I know that the sparkly yarn looks cool, or that ultra super fuzzy stuff... but these are yarns for more advanced crocheters, not beginners.

Now onto the other important item:


I love my hooks.  It's sad really, but I do.  I actually wrote a post about my favorite types:  You can read it here!
I am a total fan of the Susan Bates hooks (above).  I WILL NOT use anything else.  I started out on the Boye hooks and really struggled until I discovered my Susan's.  I tell all my students this as well, and you do think they listen?  Heaven's no!  They all show up Boye's start cursing and whining when they can't hold them right, the stitches aren't flowing, and they keep catching unwanted yarn onto the hook, etc, etc.  At this point, I break out my Susan's and let them try them out.  They fall in love.  And sometimes they even try to sneak off with one!  They aren't really much more expensive, so that's not much of an excuse, and you don't ever have to pay full price if you print out a coupon or something.  Hobby Lobby has a whole set of Susan's for around $10, and if you get on their email list you will have a 40% off coupon to take in with you... see where I am going with this? (Note: I have never seen Susan Bates hooks at Wal-Mart, just a heads up!)

For just starting out, I would suggest you have two hooks for sure: H and I.  G and J can also be useful, but the H and I are the most commonly used ones for the stuff I do anyway.

Yarn Needles:

Get a package!  They are super cheap and you NEED at least one.  I really like the sharp ones, but lots of people like the dull ones... I don't.  Sharper the better for me!

Time to Learn!!

Now, you have your yarn and your hooks and it's time to get going!!  In summary, here are my best tips plus some for the newbie:

1. Start out with cheap yarn! (Red Heart or something similar)

2. Don't skimp on hooks because it's what's there.  If you don't learn with something you like, you may get discouraged and quit.  Buy one of each brands if you want and give them a go, they really aren't so pricey that you couldn't do it.

3. Invest in yourself.  Don't get discouraged.  There are 3 types of students in my classes: the crochet challenged, the average joes, and the natural talents.  Some may pick it up faster than others, that's natural with anything, BUT I promise you, that by the end of my classes (3 month/ once a week semesters), ALL my students that stuck to it are producing hats and their stitches are nice and even.  One of my most "challenged" students last summer ended coming up with better stuff than the crochet gifted one!  Mainly because she practiced more and really went for it!

4. Practice, practice, PRACTICE!!  You aren't going to get any good if you don't make the effort.  Anything great in life is worked for.  So work for it.  When I first started out, I literally filled a whole garbage bag full of practice projects.  Not good enough to give away, but they taught me how do the stuff I do today.

So pop on over and get your yarn and hooks, then get back here later or tomorrow (depending on when I have another minute) to read my next post on How to Read a Pattern!

Happy Shopping!

-Cat Pin It


  1. Thank You! You make me feel even I could learn. I am actually thinking of trying it.

    1. You can do it! It took me several tries (over several years) before I felt comfortable crocheting. I am still practicing and working learning new stitches. Just pick something nice and easy so you don't get discouraged. You can do it!

  2. Holy cow YES! The Caron Simply soft is very soft but stitched up so much smaller. I used it for various projects, never really know if my creations were used or discarded. I also used it for a stuffed Care Bear. That one didn't matter if it was the right size or not. Oh well, lesson learned. I am kind of self taught on crochet as well, but I definitely could use some pointers. I am sure I make huge mistakes from not knowing how to do things properly. I know I mess up on slip stitches when joining rounds because my stitch count always gets off. Confusion!


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