During a Midwest winter, it’s good to find a few hobbies to pass the time. Sure we could just binge-watch old shows or shop online, but we all know getting off our screens is good for us. So where does one get started? Well, if you’ve ever found yourself running your hands over skeins of soft yarn at the craft store (or cooing softly to them while hugging them to your chest), why not get started learning to crochet?
Why I like crochet
Crocheting is fascinating to me. The thought of creating something from interlocking loops is very ingenious! Not to mention, very satisfying. There’s something comforting and cozy about yarn.
I love knitting as well. Not gonna lie, even though I’m not as experienced with knitting it also has a rhythm that is soothing. If you prefer to start with knitting, by all means, start there. But my thought is that crochet is a little more forgiving for the beginner because a dropped knit stitch can really bumble your progress.
I first learned to crochet when I was about seven I guess. I don’t think I really made anything – just practiced stitches over and over. Not a bad place to start – crocheting with no agenda. I’ve come back to it several times, and forgive the old cliche, learning to crochet is really like learning to ride a bike. You’ll pick it right back up where you left off, granted you practice enough to achieve some muscle memory.
For the absolute beginner
What do you need in order to get started? A crochet hook and yarn. If you’re making something in particular, also a pattern.
Let’s start with yarn. You love all those yarns in the store, but if you’re just getting started, which yarn do you choose? If you have a pattern, always follow the pattern suggestions, but if you just want to learn basic stitches and noodle around, here are my recommendations. To start with, pick a yarn that you like the feel of. Some of the cheap yarns are tempting, but if they’re too coarse, you may get tired of scratchy yarn running constantly through your fingers. And when you’re first learning to crochet, you’ll probably want to avoid anything super bulky, or, heaven forbid, super fuzzy. Those are really cute for some projects, but they may be harder for the beginner to handle and will definitely make it more difficult to actually see if you are forming your stitches correctly. Medium-weight yarn will be your best bet.
And then you can select your crochet hook. Just as it sounds, a crochet hook has a hook rather than the straight shaft of a knitting needle. They come in various sizes, sometimes indicated as a letter and sometimes indicated as a number. And the number may be simply a number or the hook’s metric size. All of these – letter, number and size – can be attributed to one hook. If you are just noodling around with a yarn and hook, grab an H/8 (5mm) hook or an I/9 (5.5mm) hook. Check out a chart with crochet hook sizes here.
And then you have your pattern. If you’re just learning to crochet I’d spend some time just playing around with the yarn, watching some videos on how to hold it (there are a few different options), and perfecting chain stitches and single crochet stitches until you can make them smooth and even.
Once you’ve got those basics down pat, then you can move on to a pattern. There’s no end of patterns available for free or to purchase online. You may even find a pattern on the paper wrap of your yarn. Your pattern will indicate what weight of yarn and size crochet hook you should use.
I’ve included some beginner crochet patterns that I recommend at the end of the post. I have more I haven’t tried yet on my Pinterest board as well.
Reading crochet patterns
Let me demystify this for you. Before you look at a crochet pattern and throw up your hands, let me just warn you that it will look like gibberish at first. That’s because pattern creators use codes for the different crochet stitches. Rather than write out “single crochet” or “double crochet” over and over, they abbreviate the stitches to “sc” and “dc”. Sometimes the designers will explain the stitches they use before they jump into the meat of the pattern, but even if they don’t, YouTube will decode every stitch your pattern can throw at you. If you type “crochet stitch _________” (insert mystery crochet stitch code) into the search bar on YouTube, you will get your explanation as well as several tutorials.
Easy crochet projects that I’ve completed
Last Christmas I made some fingerless gloves for my Grandma. These can be a beginner project if you follow a pattern that crochets a simple rectangle that you fold in half and stitch closed above and below the thumb. You can find this pattern for Lemon Peel Fingerless Gloves here. As a beginner, I would avoid patterns that have you sew individual thumb or fingers.
I’ve also used this lovely crocheted bracelet pattern from Daily Crochet for presents. But I made one for myself because they’re so pretty! Even though you are using a finer thread and a tiny crochet hook, the pattern is so quick and easy that I can recommend it.
Of course, I also have my own Mug Cozy pattern that is quick and simple for anyone learning to crochet. I have a video tutorial and free pattern on my blog post. The free pattern pdf is available by subscribing to my newsletter (see below).
Baby blankets that are comprised of simple stitches and designs are great starter projects. But for something a little more fun check out this adorable baby cocoon by the Knitless Knitter! This crochet project was very easy and this baby loved to snuggle up in his cozy cocoon. Patterns always state that these are strictly for photo props, but I can’t figure how these could possibly be a sleep hazard. This little guy liked sleeping in his.
Hobbies are great!
With a little help from online videos and some practice, you too can join the centuries of women artists who crochet. Just remember that not everything that can be crocheted SHOULD be crocheted! Does anyone remember the dolls with crocheted dresses that sat on the back of toiled tanks and covered a roll of tp? Or Google “crocheted shorts for men”, for another example. Please use discretion when crocheting!
But as long as you stick with reasonable crochet projects, no one will resent your learning to crochet. Be sure to reach out to a crocheter you know or local crochet groups if you’d like in-person training and help. Women love to share their crafting knowledge and hobbies they love!
Remember hobbies are healthy! They are a way for us to use our creativity and reduce stress. Hobbies can be good for our brains as we learn techniques, problem solve, and interpret patterns. Hobbies can also connect us with others as we develop friendships over common interests!