Friday, 28 February 2014

Crochet: A Beginners Guide // The Kit

As mentioned previously on this blog, I am fairly new to crochet. I started the craft just over a year ago now and have been addicted ever since I first picked up my hook and yarn. When starting out it was a little daunting, with so many questions and things to think about it was hard to know where to start and who to ask.

I'm going to start a little series here of my own experiences as a newbie crocheter and talk you through what I found really helpful and how I got started.

To kick things off I'm going to start with the basics - your kit.

First of all you will need a hook. Crochet hooks come in sizes (I'm stating UK sizes) ranging from 1mm to 15mm (or bigger!). The size of the hook will depend on what you are going to make so the best thing to do is to find a pattern and seen what that advises. A good place to start when building your kit is a 4mm hook - to be honest I use 4mm for the majority of my projects.

When I started I bought a set of three hooks from a company called Pony which was very affordable and it came with a 4mm, 5mm and 6mm hooks. I have bought additional hooks of the same size but in different materials; hooks are generally made from plastic and these tend to be cheaper to buy but can come in aluminium or wood, some have gripper type handles on too. I've tried most types of hooks and I tend to stick with plastic, although I recently bought a bamboo wood hook which is lovely. I think a lot of it will depend on your hand mobility - if you have dexterity problems, something with a gripper may help with any pain or discomfort you may suffer from.

Yarn...oh how I love thee! I remember always walking past and looking into the window of my local yarn shop, captivated by the colours and textures but not having a clue what to do with them.

Yarn comes in many different colours, fibres and weights. There is a lot of information on the internet about this, weights in particular so I won't go into it too much. As with hook sizes, I found the easiest thing to do when choosing yarn is to first select your pattern as this will determine the yarn you will buy. It's easy to be drawn in my pretty colours but there's no point buying a yarn that you'll never use just because it looks pretty! I've always found this table very useful

USA UK Australia Suggested needle (mm)
Laceweight 1 ply 2 ply 1.5–2.25 mm
Fingering 2 ply 3 ply 2.25– 3 mm
Sock 3 ply 3 ply 2.25— 3.25 mm
Sport 4 ply 5 ply 3.25— 3.75 mm
DK/Light Worsted DK 8 ply 3.75— 4.5 mm
Worsted Aran 10 ply 4.5— 5.5 mm
Bulky Chunky 12 ply 5.5– 8 mm
Super Bulky Super Chunky 14 ply 8 mm and up

Once you know the type of yarn that is required from your pattern there are is a whole world of resources to buy your lovely yarn from. Most local towns have a craft or haberdashery shop or even a Hobbycraft (if you're in the UK). I went to my local yarn store and sought their advice, but then discovered online stores such as Deramores, and Wool Warehouse which offer a larger range at more affordable prices.

Other items that come in handy are a small pair of scissors, a darning needle which helps to sew in lose ends, a tape measure, some dress pins (not essential but I always find them handy to have generally), and stitch markers. Please buy stitch markers before doing anything that involves going around in a circle; I found out the hard way that these are essential unless you want to keep counting stitches for every round!

I find having a pen and notebook close by at all times very handy. I suddenly have waves of ideas that I have to jot down so I have one at work and one (or three) at home and a pen always in my kit. This way I can remember all my ideas as well as any yarn I may have seen when out and about or a website for a free pattern. Alternatively you could use your phone if your a modern tech-person!

Crochet guide book

This isn't something you'd want to be carrying around with you all the time but having one close by at home is really handy. I got this one as a Christmas present when I first started and it was brilliant in helping me with all the confusion I  had about certain stitches etc. Even now I still have to refer to it for certain things, I'm always learning! There are lots of different guide books out there for beginners but this is in a Q and A format which seems to cover all the main questions I had/have. Of course, there is the internet for searching queries but if you're like me, I find it easier sometimes to have something clearly stated - in black and white - on paper - in front of me.

I hope this first segment of my newbie guide has been helpful. If you have any questions please pop them in the comments below and I will endeavour to answer them! Check back soon for the next segment in this series.

Betty xXx

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