Ok, for anyone who has been crocheting long enough to have a few projects laying around, you know what it’s like to pull out an old project and say to yourself, “umm, what was I doing!?!?!”
I just had one of these moments recently. It’s this green and orange hexi blanket. It’s from about 3+ years ago, a request from my brother, I know I’m terrible for not finishing it, but the colors just weren’t my style. I said it was time but it did end up back in the closet. I just don’t know where to start with it! So back to the question of “What was I doing?” That question is soooo open ended, what was I doing? First off, what hook was I using? What pattern was this from? Ugh, these stitches are soooo sloppy. Oh, and my ends? What ends? Yeah those short little things that leave me nothing to work with and help me if my last stitch unravels because there is no way I’m working it back in! Serious yarn chicken going on with this one!
So this prompted me to want to want write up a post on some tips that I think every crochet newbie (or not, you know who you are, don’t worry I’m talking to myself here also) should follow. If you’re a new hooker, yes really, that’s what we are, I hope you find these helpful. If you have been around a while, and fib about how big your stash really is to people who just don’t get it, I hope maybe I’ve got something in here for you, but at least a giggle.
*Leave long ends*
PLEASE, please, just leave a long end. Save yourself the heartbreak for when that beautiful blanket you made starts to unravel and you don’t have a long enough end to fix it and weave back in. It happens, I SWEAR, just ask the washing machine. I know, I know, you want to use every last bit of that beautiful yarn, you don’t want to waste it leaving all these tails that will drive you nuts. But seriously having that extra inch to work with can make ALL the difference. Truth be told, I kind of like weaving in ends now. It’s a satisfying end to a project!
Meh. I’m not one for gauging, and it’s definitely my biggest crochet flaw. I’m really paying more attention to it now as I write my patterns for people other than myself as well as test patterns. What I’ve learned so far is that everyone crochets with a different tension. Myself included. I picked up a project maybe 3 months after I started it and my squares were totally different sizes. Since I didn’t think to check my gauge I made a whole set of one color before I realized. Now mind you, this was my own tension changing on the same project, with the same yarn, with the same hook. Imagine someone else making it. That’s why gauge is SO important. I’ve also become obsessed with keeping my swatches, why? No idea.
So seriously, learn to gauge, it’s simple, really, I promise. All you need to do is just make some test swatches and measure. For whatever reason, that was something that either intimidated me or I just thought I didn’t need when I would follow a pattern. You know what? Now I have a bunch of items that the sizing is just all wonky. In a way that’s worse then “wasting” yarn on long ends, you won’t always use/wear something that’s sized wrong!
*Buy more than you need*
Seriously. Buy extra, period. Dye lots are a thing, and believe me, they do matter. Yarn does get discontinued and small dyers really can’t, even if they try, always match colors. I’ve been looking into it, I’m so drawn to naturally dyeing right now, but I’m learning how difficult color consistency is. So just make sure you have more than enough.
*Write it down*
So that green and orange hexie blanket? Yeah, I don’t know what hexi pattern I used, thank you Pinterest, or what hook size. So now, I have to look at something I crocheted years ago when I was really just starting to move away from just doing rows and figure out what I was doing. Was it two, or three chains in the corner? That extra chain can make all the difference, trust me. Then, once I figure out the stitches I have to gauge it not knowing what hook I used, was it a 4.50mm or a 5.00mm? Oh yeah, and my tension matters, so hopefully it doesn’t take me too many hexies to get the stitches, gauge and hook size right. So come on, just write it down.
Get a pin and stick it right to your project. Really, if you’re like me and you have a tendency to put a project down forever, get a piece of scrap fabric and write your notes on that. You won’t have to worry about it ripping off the pin when the project sits for 3+ years.
*Wash before you gift*
Of course wash according to the instructions on the label. That should probably be another tip…… But really, whether it’s a gift or not, always wash it. That’s the best way I have found to find any loose ends. Plus, you will also find if you have a bad join and be able to fix it before any scraps you have left over are long gone.
*Buy a pair of those cute little embroidery scissors*
I have seen so many pictures on Instagram with those cute little scissors that sometimes look more decorative than practical. You know what happened? I came across a pair and I WISH I would have bought a pair sooner. You know why? They cut so cleanly and so easily get right into where you have to cut and trim. Seriously, they have really helped me to produce better finished projects. My big bulky every day scissors are history! Plus they really do make a great photo prop as well! *Side note, I love this yarn, check out Thistle and Hart HERE.
Like these ones! How stinking cute are they! Click the photo to shop!
Ok, so back to the green and orange monstrosity. I didn’t block any of it. Now some yarns and some stitches just seem to really love each other and can do without the blocking, yes, I know, but not these. These green and orange hexies were curled up all over the place and uneven. Did I block any before I started to assemble this blanket? No. Can you tell? Kind of. I’m hoping when it’s done and washed that it will self correct. *hoping*
Blocking really is necessary because it helps give you nice clean edges so you can see all the stitches well when you join. That’s key for hexies. Some of mine are kind of wonky and crooked since some of the corners ended up a stitch or two down in the side of another. Had I blocked them I would have been able to tell where one side started and another ended. No use crying over spilled milk, I’ll just go with it.
*Don’t be afraid to try*
Do you know how many projects I DIDN’T try because they just looked like too much of a challenge and I was scared of it? Scared of how frustrated I’d be. Scared of how much of my precious yarn I would “waste” on something I may not be able to figure out. Scared because mine would look “stupid” compared to the picture I’m referencing.
Do you know how many of those things I didn’t try that when I DID try were really actually super SIMPLE!? Tons. Do you know how many of those intimidating patterns and stitches helped me to have a “A-HA” moment about something else I was trying to figure out? ALL. THE. TIME! So try the pattern. You can always frog it and start over. You can always frog it and try something else. But that one project you are scared of might just be your favorite completed piece!
I am sure there are more tips for a crochet beginner and I will surly be working up more! Tell me what you think a new crocheter should know in the comments section below!
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Interested in making any of my designs? You can find them on Etsy and Ravelry!