Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Bit of Crochet

I learned to crochet years ago but I still remember feeling very awkward when I was learning. I felt I suddenly had 10 thumbs and could not hold the hook, the yarn, and the piece I was working on all at the same time. I really wanted to learn to crochet to do crocheted edgings on knitting or maybe to crochet knitted pieces together. Now after a gazillion baby blankets, baby buntings, toys, afghans and a crocheted sweater or two (note no crocheted edgings or seams) I don’t have to think about how to hold the hook or the yarn. Now I am teaching beginning crochet and many of my students have the same problem I did. Here are a few pictures and tips to help those starting out. If you are a comfortable crocheter and have any suggestions or tips to share please add a comment.
The left hand holds the yarn

Holding the yarn, the hook and the beginning chain
I strongly recommend that this is how you hold your yarn and your hook even if you are left handed. In crochet like knitting you will be working right to left. Patterns assume working right to left. If you try to crochet with the hook in the left hand, the natural way to work will be from left to right. That means you will either never be able to follow a pattern or you will have to figure out how to work the pattern backwards. It will also make it a lot harder for right handed teachers to help you. Crochet requires two hands. Once you teach the muscles in your hands how to crochet, muscle memory will make it easy. My best advice is to accept the awkwardness as part of the learning process and not that you are left handed and need to work in the other direction. So hold your hook in the right hand and the yarn in the left hand. The left hand has just as much work to do. In fact if you do not hold the yarn with tension and at the same time hold what you are crocheting you will not be able to work evenly. All the right hand does is direct the hook.  
Additional advice:
1.       Start with a relatively large hook – about an H (5mm) and light colored worsted weight (4) wool yarn.
2.       Get a book on crochet.  There are lots of beginning crochet books. The Teach Yourself Visually series are usually very good. The Crocheter’s Companion  by Nancy Brown has information for beginners and a ton of helpful information for any crocheter.
3.       Find a simple pattern. There are lots of simple patterns available in books or the internet as well as in the beginning crochet books.
4.       Find a friend who crochets or go to your local yarn shop for help. Most yarn shops have beginner crochet classes or someone willing to help you.

Is it worth it to learn? If you have any doubt check out all the beautiful books and magazines on crochet coming out monthly. Lily Chin’s book offers truly lovely garments to crochet. Then there are the adorable Amigurumi tiny critters to crochet like the Ami Ami Dogs and many others. Learning a new skill is good for your brain. Crochet is faster than knitting. It is a wonderful skill to have even if you never crochet an edging.

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