If you don’t know one end of a crochet hook from the other or worsted weight from DK yarn, but you want to make All Of The Pretty Crocheted things you see on Pinterest, then you’ve come to the right place!
I am a completely self-taught crocheter, and I spent many hours trawling online for how-to-crochet tutorials that dumbed things down enough for even my clumsy fingers. I found a great mix of photo tutorials and videos, and am delighted to share a few of these with you to help you get started.
I’ll admit there were moments of frustration (lots of them) and on occasion I had to pause and rewatch certain parts of a video up to 20 times before I could wrap my brain and fingers around the technique. That said, it’s been so, so worth it! Crochet is, for me, as good as meditation, and you end up with pretty things to keep, gift or sell, too!
This is going to be a three post series on Absolute Beginner Crochet, and I reckon the sensible place to start is to run through the equipment and supplies you’ll need. Just think of the lovely, lovely yarn stash you can start assembling!
Introduction To Crochet Supplies
AKA – Stashing for Beginners
As the name suggest, a hook is “that stick thing” you use to pull the yarn loops through each other to form the various stitches. They are available in a huge range of styles, materials, colours and sizes. You can get aluminium hooks, plastic, bamboo, wooden and more. The size varies according to the thickness of the yarn you will be using, and the bulkiness of the final stitch you’re after. There are teeny tiny hooks for working with delicate thread, up to giant ones for making hugely bulky and cuddly blankets (or slaying vampires, of course).
Now, of course it’s not just that simple! Different parts of the world use different measurement systems for sizing hooks, so here’s a handy comparison chart
Everyone is going to have their personal favourite style of hook, and I absolutely have mine. I’ve tried hundreds of hooks, and am yet to find one that’s better than the Clover Armour soft handled hooks. I don’t know what it is about them, but they fit so comfortably in your hand, and the brushed aluminium (or steel, no idea, it’s metal of some sort) is just so silky smooth to wrap your yarn around. I’m such a fan. You can get them in sets like those below, or individually. They’re definitely not the cheapest option out there, but they’re worth every penny.
As far as pretty hooks, I’ve seen some hand carved and coloured ones that are literally works of art. In fact I’m going to be cranking up a new Pinterest board soon JUST so that I can drool over the pretty hooks any time I want to.
Most crochet hooks work for any style of crochet, but there is one specialist type for doing what’s known as Tunisian crochet. It’s a bit longer, because in Tunisian crochet you keep the stitches on your hook sort of like you do with knitting. It’s also very cool and heaps of fun, and one day I *will* finish my daughter’s rainbow blanket crocheted in Tunisian stitch, I swear.
There are even more types of yarn than there are hooks, of course, and yarn, aka wool, is glorious, glorious stuff!
For the beginner crocheter you’ll probably find that you’ll work with either cotton, wool or acrylic yarn. There are others – bamboo, alpaca, yak (yup, yak), banana fibre, silk, hemp, and more. If it can be spun it’s been spun. Yes, that includes cat and dog hair, but I’m not sure about human hair. OK, I found out about human hair. It is a thing, it’s on YouTube here. O.M.G.
For now, though I’ll stick to the basics, starting with cotton. Cotton is a natural fibre, as you probably know, and is lovely to crochet with. It usually gives really good stitch definition and is pretty good at not splitting as you work with it. It has a lot less stretch to it than wool or acrylic, so is great for household items like dish cloths, baskets and spa goodies. It’s also pretty freaking tough when it comes to care, as most items can be machine washed and sometimes dried (check the label!).
Cotton is great for crocheted summer blankets, baby clothes, cardigans – pretty much anything. You can get it as fine as sewing thread right up to a rope-like thickness for baskets and mats. Here are a few I love using, you can click through on the images to see the full ranges available 🙂
Another fibre I love working with is pure wool. This can come from sheep, alpacas and many other beasties, but sheep wool is the most common. There are even lots of different varieties of sheep wool, all coming from different breeds of sheep. Here in Australia Merino is the most common breed, and it’s utterly gorgeous to crochet with. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaa.
Wool is renowned for being warm and cosy. Just as it keeps the little sheepies all toasty on the icy hillsides, so it will keep you and your loved ones warm. It has all sort of natural insulation properties that I don’t really understand, I just know them to be effective.
I just had to include the photo above in here, because I’m quite impressed with it. My 12 year old daughter was playing around with my camera phone and some of my stash yesterday and took this one. She also made me some other little “flat lay” type shots to use around the blog, so you’ll see more of those soon.
OK- back to wool. Wool has some natural stretch to it, and can sometimes be a bit coarser than other fibres, but there are also plenty of “supersoft” wool yarns available, too. It does tend to be a bit more expensive than other options, but trust me, it’s well worth the investment to make an heirloom blanket or sweater for yourself or your family. It also needs some special loving when it comes to washing – like, do NOT put it in the dryer, ever (unless the label says you can) and keep it on gentle cycles and that sort of thing. Or ask your mother to wash it.
I particularly like using wool to make my little amigurumi creations, as I find the slight coarseness of the fibre is great for making a tight stitch with no slipping, thereby avoiding seeing any stuffing between stitches.
Again, you can buy wool and wool blends at any store selling yarn, as well as hundreds of online stores like THIS one. See? I’m so helpful, aren’t I? And just a reminder, if you do end up purchasing anything at any of the places I’ve linked to I may get a teeny weeny commission, which costs you absolutely nothing, and helps me cover the cost of keeping this site up and running.
Acrylic is the most cost-effective and easy-care yarn out there, and also comes in the widest range of colours. It’s usually fairly lightweight, but can be very warm. There’s some stretch in it, which is great for clothing and other things you want to mould to a shape. Basically, it’s the cheap and cheerful option, and I love the stuff. Acrylic is usually pretty soft, too, and did I already mention the incredible range of colours you can get?
It’s a totally man-made fibre, and as Woolcrafting.com tells us:
“Acrylic is known as a filament yarn. They make it by mixing chemicals, heating them to melting point and then forcing the liquid mix through tiny holes (like in a showerhead). When it drops through the holes it falls into air chambers where it cools and goes solid again.
After the filaments have cooled, they are either processed some more, or twisted into yarns and wound onto spools. The strength of the yarn is determined by the amount of twist put into the yarn, as with other fibers.”
Pretty cool, hey?
I could go into a heck of a lot more detail on types of yarn, but that about covers the very basics.
One thing I should also let you know is that yarn comes in what is called different “weight”. This basically refers to how thick it us, and different weights suit different crochet projects. Again, these “weights” rather inconveniently have different names around the world, so here’s another handy-dandy conversion chart to help unmuddle you.
That’s it for now, and next time I’ll be talking about my favourite photo and video Absolute Beginner Crochet tutorials. If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to be sure to cover, just pop a comment in the box below and I’ll make it happen.
UPDATE – PART TWO NOW UP
Also, if you haven’t subscribed to Stashing Yarn yet, make sure you do that so you will get your own personal notification when the next post in this series is up and running.