my recommendations for a beginner
As a convenient follow-up to my previous posts, How to Crochet and Tools of the Trade, I thought I would offer my recommendations for crochet essentials.
This is directed to those of you who are just beginning to crochet and need a good place to start. Or, perhaps you have a friend who wants to learn, so you’re wondering what to suggest. I hope my recommendations are helpful to you and your crocheting regardless!
The most important part of improving as a crocheter is to never stop trying new things–new techniques, new tools, new yarn, and so on. My best advice is to take my recommendations as a starting place. Try them out, see how it feels in YOUR hands, and adjust as necessary.
For example, if you have tried aluminium crochet hooks and don’t like how they slip through your yarn, try new hooks with the same yarn or try different yarn with the same aluminum hook. It’s an ever-evolving process that is part of the journey.
Finding the right crochet hook for you is a great first step. I started with plastic crochet hooks that came in this Cozy Crochet Kit by Melissa Leapman. I also tried Boye Crochet Hooks and Susan Bates crochet hooks, which are both made out of aluminum. Clover offers crochet hooks with a wide rubber handle, making them easier to grip. Crochet Lite Crochet Hooks are light-up hooks, which can really help you see your work!
As I’ve experimented more with crochet hooks, I have found my favorite to be wooden crochet hooks by the brand Knitter’s Pride. I find them at my local yarn stores and on Amazon. (This set would make a great gift for a crocheter in your life.) Another great wooden crochet hook option are Brittany crochet hooks. These look so beautiful and are wonderful to work with for your projects.
I encourage you to try out different styles and materials of crochet hooks to find the right fit for you. Most brands offer their hooks in common sizes, so worry about what feels best to you instead of what size you need.
For a beginner, my recommendation is a plastic or wooden crochet hook. These materials grip the yarn better than aluminum/metal hooks do, are inexpensive, and are easy to find. I would start with a size H/8 hook, and pair it with some worsted-weight yarn.
Picking the right yarn has a lot of components to it. The most important thing is to consider the weight of the yarn and the size of your hook. (The weight of a yarn is derived from the diameter of the yarn.) Most yarn labels list the weight of the yarn in a number system. A higher number means a bulkier yarn. If you use a bulky yarn and a small needle, it will be much more difficult to crochet, as opposed to using a medium sized yarn (“DK,” “worsted,” “aran,” “light,” “medium,” #3 and #4) and a medium sized crochet hook (F, G, H, I). I’ll go into detail about how to read a yarn label in another post. But for the time being, I suggest looking for the recommended crochet hook size on your desired yarn and using that size hook.
The other element of picking a yarn is the fiber content. Do you want to use wool, alpaca, cotton, bamboo, rayon, viscose, acrylic, silk? For a dishcloth and baby items, I recommend cotton. It’s machine washable (take caution with machine drying, though!) and soft against the skin. For a sweater, maybe wool or alpaca would work better, but it is completely up to you. You are the artist and you get to decide things like hook size to yarn weight ratio, yarn, and even the pattern. It just helps to start somewhere, which often means what is the most common.
An easy first contender for my yarn recommendations is Red Heart Super Saver. It is what I learned with, it is cheap and incredibly available, and it holds up over time through use and washings. Red Heart Super Saver comes in a ton of colors. You also get a great amount of yardage per skein with this yarn (in other words, you get a lot of “bang for your buck”). The recommended size hook is an I/9 hook. This is one of the best yarns for a beginner.
To make my Easy Peasy Dishcloth, I recommend Sugar ‘n Cream yarn or a similar 100% cotton yarn, which work best with an H/8 crochet hook.
If you’re in search of a wool yarn, I recommend Cascade 220 Superwash. It is a fantastic, machine washable, 100% wool yarn that looks great and comes in so many colorways. The best thing about wool is that it is “sticky” which means it will not slip off your hook as much as a cotton yarn might. Wool is warm and soft and has many benefits. This would be a great yarn for someone who has mastered the basics of crochet and wants to move up to bigger projects and new techniques. This is an all-around great yarn to choose, and should pair nicely with a G or H crochet hook.
My final yarn recommendation is to go to a local yarn store, JoAnns, or Michael’s, and find a yarn that interests YOU. If you don’t want to hold the yarn you have, you’re not going to want to learn to crochet. Find something that is soft and in your favorite color. Just be sure to read the yarn label to see what the recommended hook size is.
A note of caution with this method though: I would stay away from anything fuzzy, furry, or super chunky for your first attempts at crochet. Those yarns (including the one pictured above) can make it hard to see your previous work, and when learning to crochet, it is very important to be able to see what you are doing.
Many crocheters like to follow a pattern. A pattern is a “recipe” for an item. However, it is entirely possible to make something without following a pattern. My first projects were little swatches and squares of fabric that were fun to make. These were opportunities to experiment with changing up elements of my crocheting and observing the result.
There are so many free patterns on Ravelry.com for crochet (and knitting, too). It is a free website that has patterns, an expansive yarn database, and many more helpful resources for the needle arts community. You can save patterns to crochet later, purchase/download patterns, look up different yarns, and record your project status with an account. I highly recommend taking advantage of the awesome resource that is Ravelry (if you haven’t already). Find yourself a free pattern that fits whatever size hook you have, and get to work!
You might find it useful to have a tapestry needle for weaving in ends and scissors for cutting the yarn. Don’t worry about getting the fanciest scissors right now; whatever you have will do. A tapestry needle is helpful for weaving in the cut ends of a project in the finishing process. It is not necessary to do this, however if you’re making something to wear or gift, it is worth the time and effort. Very Pink Knits on YouTube has some helpful videos of how to weave in ends, if you’re interested.
And that’s it! A crochet hook, some yarn, and some scissors is all you really need to start crocheting.I’m curious to hear what your favorite crochet hook is. Let me know in the comments! Happy crocheting.
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