All my conscious life I considered crochet as a hobby for our grannies or mommies on a maternity leave (it lasts for 3 years in Russia). Until I got to a baby shower several years ago. That event changed my life. I got my hooks, yarn, watched some basic YouTube videos, bought a sweater tutorial and started my journey. Oh, I wish I knew some things before I started. And today I want to share them with you, in order not to make the same mistakes.
Organize everything even before you started. Very soon you are going to have more yarn than space. Clear some space in a closet, get new boxes or even keep your delivery boxes. I still have plastic bags with a zipper, you know, the ones some blankets or bed sheets are sold in, they work. They are clear and are closed tight.
Try to keep your yarn, hooks, ruler, little accessories all in one place. I just purchased another set of tapestry needles because I forgot I had them. Two days later I dove deeper into my wardrobe and guess what… I found about 30 of those. I put them there 3 years ago and forgot…
So yeah, organization is important!
I’m guilty, I am still not organized. Well, I now know where my ALL yarn and accessories are, but my projects are all over the place. Going back to the tapestry needles, do you know why I needed a new set? Yep, that’s the reason, I have no idea where my other ones are…
If you really get into crochet, organize yourself a space and keep all your supplies there, it will help you save tons of time and lot’s of $$$.
2) Shop from reliable sources.
If you purchased your hook set from one of the Chinese websites, it is fine, I’ve done that as well. These sets usually come with plastic markers, tapestry needles and a measuring tape. Very convenient, right? I still have one of those sets and still use those markers sometimes.
The hooks are good, BUT! Yes, there is one BUT. DO NOT, under any circumstances, use that tape, which usually comes in blue color. I wasted so much $$$ because of that. I didn’t hear anybody talking about it, I didn’t even think something could be wrong with it… I do not know, either everybody knew the issue or it was just my tape…
Anyhow, when I was ready to make clothing, I was fine using adjustable patterns, where you take your own measurements, do your math and make a sweater. It worked great.
But when I started working with patterns where you choose your size, I came across one issue. I had to make a dozen swatches with different hook sizes to come close to a gauge from a pattern and it still wasn’t right. So, I either gave up on a pattern I liked or I tried to adjust as much as I could.
I once bought very expansive yarn, tried to adjust to a pattern and my cardigan came out very short but super wide. I spent about $200 on that yarn and I hated the cardi so much that I still do not have a desire to even touch it and frog it to use the yarn for other projects. But I might soon though, hmm… I even stopped making clothes and got into amigurumi.
I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, where was my mistake. Until a year ago, I decided to give a chance to another sweater aaaand… Guess what?! Right! It came out short and wide… I gave up.
I do not remember how I figured out the issue, but I did. It was my measuring tape. I bought a new one and I loved it. It’s accurate and another sweater I recently made came out just perfect.
To cut the story short, if you are really into this hobby, surround yourself with reliable tools to save you time, nerves and money.
3) Holding your crochet hook and yarn.
There are some advanced amigurumi techniques where you need to adjust the away you hold a hook and yarn (they are usually specified in the pattern). They lead to differences in appearance of your toys . Other than that, there is no right or wrong way to hold them when you make either toys or clothes.
At the very beginning, when I watched YouTube videos, I liked the way it looked when an index finger with yarn was very close to a crocheted piece. I tried hard to learn this way, I spent months making myself do it but failed over and over again. I still do not like how my finger bulges, but oh well, I have to deal with it. It’s much more comfortable to crochet this way for me.
You may hold your hook like a needle or a pen. It is all up to you and makes no difference as long as your gauge matches the one from a pattern.
Use the same measuring tools throughout the pattern.
This topic is very similar to point 2, however, I decided to point it out separately.
If you are a beginner and think a gauge is a waste of time and money, like I used to think. I must tell you, you are wrong.
Making a gauge will save you time and money in the long run, see point 2 from this article.
Once again, it is important to match a gauge from a pattern.
When I watched videos, I noticed many YouTubers, who provided adjustable patterns, where you need to take your own measurements, were measuring a gauge with a ruler while taking body part measures with a tape. I did the same a couple of times and I thought it was OK.
No, it wasn’t OK. The difference between your tape and a ruler might not be noticeable, there might be no difference at all. However, if there is, it might be just a half of a stitch and you may not even pay attention to it. But if your project is looong, you may be off by not just a half of a stitch but by several stitches…So yes, use the same measuring tool throughout your entire pattern.
5) Fray Check.
OMG! This thing is my best friend right now. I wish I knew about its existence several years ago. It is a liquid seam sealer. It works like a super glue but washable.
Once you fastened off and hidden the ends, apply a tiny drop on hidden ends of the yarn. It holds the ends so they do not come out. I also apply a drop on the place where I fastened off for extra security.
I have a very embarrassing story about those protruded ends. I made a cardi for a friend with Drops Eskimo (now Snow), you know 100% wool which is great for felting. I used a bunch of skeins, so I had a million of tails. I didn’t know how to properly felt them and they kept on coming out. So I gave her the cardigan along with a tapestry needle to take care of the tails if they come undone… So embarrassing…
Go get one right now if you do not have it yet. If you sell your creations, trust me, your sleep will improve =)I hope you found this helpful. Take care of yourself and your creations!