Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Learning to Crochet

Learning to CrochetI taught myself how to knit by checking out some library books on the subject then struggling like crazy while I held the yarn all wrong. I eventually got it but it wasn't until recently that I wanted to try my hand at crochet thanks to some cute patterns circulating the net.

I have to say crocheting is much harder than knitting--in knitting there are only two stitches to learn but with crocheting there are tons. Just knowing where to put your hook is a lot more complicated than with knitting and then increasing or decreasing can get you turned around as well.

Though I haven't exactly mastered the art yet I can give you a few tips--enough to get you started too.

Start with a big hook. One that you can really get your hand around and not have to strain to see.

Start with fat yarn. None of the chenille or fuzzy stuff, just straight fat dark worsted four-ply or even better, cut old fabric into 1/2-inch strips with a rotary cutter. The purse below was made from a pink and green camo print that turned out just adorable with a big rose accenting it. If you do this though don't worry about the print itself, just look at the colors because that will be the only thing you'll be able to see once it's done.

Learning to Crochet Start with a simple pattern. One that doesn't require increasing or decreasing--this purse pattern I'm going to give you is perfect because not only does it have the same single crochet stitch over and over but it's forgiving if you make a mistake and when you're done you actually have something you can use.

Here's a video to show you how to start and finish a little coin purse. These are the same steps for making the larger fabric-strip purse pictured on the left but the fatter materials (i.e. fabric strips) make a larger finished product so you can choose a large or small project depending on how big your materials are.


Once you've got this down it's just a matter of going around and around until your purse is tall enough and you decide how tall you want it to be. Thread the last stitch back through itself and knot it then weave the ends in so they don't drag.

Torn fabric is ragged enough to cover any mistakes you might make so don't worry about accidentally skipping a stitch or inserting one where it doesn't belong. For handles you can buy a set of plastic pink ones you see above and attach them with ribbons or . . .

Learning to CrochetTo make another fun purse from the same idea make it smaller using a smaller hook and some basic, inexpensive cotton yarn. Same pattern, same technique but for a handle you can use a purchased single handle or make your own. I took a piece of copper wire and bent it into a handle like you see here then worked it into the crochet stitches as I went around for the last round.

Not a fancy pattern but a good way to get your feet wet with a useful, inexpensive purse and the crocheted look makes an excellent way to show case some of my great grandmother's vintage pins she gave me.

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And if you're already a pro here are some of the crocheted projects I've been saving up that I'd love to be able to make someday:

Red Lace Crocheted Collar by The Ongoing Project
Little Acorn Bucket with Lid by Roman Sock
Large Crocheted Basket by Chickpea Sewing Studio
Aquatic Mammals by Planet June
Passionflower Handbag by Fable Handmade Goods
Goldfish by Kendra
Floral Bobblehate by Fable Handmade Goods

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Congratulations to Julie of Keizer, Oregon for winning last week's Peek Giveaway and to Lydia of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania for winning this week's JaC Jewelry Giveaway. I'm really quite jealous of her new bracelet. Don't forget there's more coming on Saturday and then after Thanksgiving I've got a whole week of giveaways with over 12 sponsors . . . that's a lot of stuff!

Sponsored by Rick Rack Attack--Vintage aprons that aren't just vintage reproductions they're vintage pieces.

Technorati tags: crafts, crochet, tutorials

37 comments:

chelle said...

I so want to learn to crochet! There are so many cute patterns out there!

calicobebop said...

How funny! I just learned how to knit and am having the same trouble - holding the stupid yarn! My mother promises that it will become easier with practice, but I'm falling back on the old "I'm Left Handed" whine to get me through the process. :) Maybe when I'm proficient enough in the knitting department I'll try crochet. That tutorial looks awesome!

Candid Carrie said...

Does this mean I can get rid of all the macrame purses I created in the early seventies?

Sixth and Elm said...

Really? I find knitting so much harder! Too many things to hold and too easy for the stitches to fall off and I am always poking something with the ends of the stick thingies. I guess it depends on what you learn first and I have little motivation to learn to properly knit since it is so much easier to me to crochet a pattern I see.

Flea said...

The purse is darling, but I'm going to pass on crocheting, thank you. Smocking is about all I can handle. I'm impressed, though, that you taught yourself. :)

Chris said...

Knitting is harder for me. I just don't have the patience for it. But crochet is very versatile. You can make just about anything. I'm making hat and scarf sets for my best friend's girls for Christmas. Once I get the pattern written down, I think I'm going to put them up in my Etsy shop.

Tammy said...

I learned to crochet first, and I'd say knitting was harder to learn. :-)

I love to crochet, though I haven't crocheted much since I learned to knit well. Most of the crocheting I did was with crochet thread though - doilies and such.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I love both. But crochet seems to be harder on my wrist and hand.

paganhomemaking said...

I've heard from many people ~ crochet is harder than knitting IF you learned to knit first. I taught myself to crochet back in feb of this year and I'm having a blast!

Jen @ JenuineJen said...

My mom taught me to crochet when I was a child. So, those stitches seem second nature to me. I have taught myself to knit and I think knitting is more difficult or at least slower for me to do. I guess it is all a matter of what you learn to do first.

I do think knitting is easier whether you are left or right handed. I could teach a left handed person to knit easily. I have tried to teach 2 different left handed people to crochet. One was able to crochet with her right hand. The other friend and I decided that she would need a left handed teacher.

lifemoreabundant said...

Well I'm with the majority of the commenters: I knit and crochet, and I will choose crochet over knitting EVERY TIME! In fact, I can't remember the last time I knitted anything.

I love the look of some of these patterns. I'm printing away happily.

Vega's said...

When I was learning crochet, I used the Happy Hooker book, from the Stitch and Bitch line of books. The directions are phenomal!!!It is my go to refernce book for all my projects when I have a question.

Lei said...

Sewing, crocheting, knitting, tatting... all those things require such patience! I'm a fast craft kind of girl, so I admire those that can get through the more tedious projects!

Shannon said...

I learned knitting from a tutorial on You Tube this past year. I know the basic stitch and have made several scarves as gifts, but I'd love to learn how to follow/read a pattern and do more complicated projects ( :

thordora said...

You're insane-knitting is a LOT harder.

I taught myself both-aside from the knit cast on. Crochet is a lot easier-a lot more zen...

I think I learned off About.com

Melanie J said...

At last I have something to say! Which is, I think knitting is way harder because two needles are much harder to control than one. I've been crocheting since I was twelve and I think once you know how to do a double crochet (easy), after just a little practice, it's easy to teach yourself the other stuff. Anyway, I usually do crochet baby blankets for my friends' baby showers, because it's always nice to have something made by hand and it's a more productive way to pass time watching tv!

Janet said...

I was taught to knit by my mother and grandmother, and to crochet by my best friend's grandmother when I was 6. I can knit adequately, but I have trouble with the two needles. My left hand just isn't coordinated enough. With just the one needle I do fine. I've never tried to use the cloth strips though - that looks fun. One year I made scarves for everyone for Christmas (21 in all) out of that godawful fuzzy yarn. Couldn't see a thing.
The fact that you taught yourself is quite impressive. It's a lot like teaching yourself to play the piano. It's doable, but much harder.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

I taught myself to crochet the same way you taught yourself how to knit. I can't learn to knit worth a darn! I think it is much harder than crocheting....maybe it's the coordination of both hands and two needles. I think that's funny we had opposite experiences....or it could be we are used to the thing we learned first.

Kim said...

My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was very young. I would crochet miles of chain. Finally, she taught me the double-stitch and how to turn, and baby I was off! I crocheted scarf after scarf after scarf. After scarf.

Over the years, I taught myself more complicated stitches and made some really nice afghans and bedspreads. Now, though, I'm really interested in the smaller projects (for Christmas presents) so PERFECT TIMING with this post!

WeeDragonflies said...

I know how to crochet and the purses are adorable...do you have a link to the written instructions or do I need to watch the tutorial and write them down? great additional pattern links too, thanks!

Summer said...

My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was twelve. I still love it!

Baby B said...

I learned to crochet first, and so I think it's a no-brainer. Knitting? Knitting looks very, very HARD!! My university has a craft center where they offer classes on knitting, sewing, crochet, blacksmithing, woodworking, glass making, etc. I think the knitting class is in the near future for me.

These crochet patterns are great! More stuff to try...

Ann said...

Tell me it is harder to do when you are left handed. Please.
Most people have given up on me... the last book I read said if you are left handed learn to do it with your right. sigh.

I'll keep trying.

Tiff said...

I took a class on knitting and crocheting when I was 16. I enjoyed it. I haven't picked up needles since though. I have wanted to. But now I'm into sewing and with three kids There's not much time to do that either. The patterns seam easy enough that i can teach my daughter to do it! I think she will enjoy it!

cndymkr / jean said...

I can crochet but it's the knitting that I find difficult. And try learning either one of them from a left handed mom! Talk about hard.

Duke, Kathryn, & Seamus said...

I've been crocheting since I was little and I have been too afraid to try knitting (although I really like the look of the patterns.) Good job teaching yourself!! My Mom taught me and it still took me a while to get it down! I like the looks of the fabric purse. I learned how to crochet leis last year so I've been making those like crazy.

Marie N. said...

You're so brave! I finally checked out a crochet video from the library (Melissa Leapman) in order to finish a knitted cardigan at the hem, wrists and neckline. It was the allure of the finished garment that got me through the crochet parts.

Amy said...

This is the next thing I want to learn, but that means I would have to take a break from knitting and I CAN'T DO IT :) I am obsessed with knitting. Those purses are just adorable- you always have the best crafts.

PS- We need to collaborate on some stuff- we always think of the same things :)

illahee said...

oh, i just taught myself to knit back in august. i was afraid to try because i always failed at crochet, but with internet videos, i got it! i have tried several times over the years to teach myself to crochet but it was so hard! finally, FINALLY, this month i think i got it. at the mo i'm working on a blanket. it should be done soon....

and if you're on ravelry, i am fukuokagirl. feel free to add me as a friend! :D

Munchkins and Music said...

Those are great! I have tried learning to crochet, but it is really hard and I didn't have the patience. I have respect for those who do it!

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

I so prefer to crochet (It's so easy by comparison) and am struggling so much with knitting! LOL

all over the map said...

Isn't the library the best? Or maybe it's the books that are? They sure make a nice couple.
I learned to crochet from a lady I worked with. She was a master at it. Always making this and that for her grandchildren. I picked up The Complete Idiot's Guide To Knitting & Crocheting after she showed me how.
It's been so long since I picked up the crochet hook I'm so glad I have that book. I highly recommend it. It's just so informative. Of course the net helps too with all the great tutorials via video now.
I was so tickled about finally learning to knit. I taught myself using that book. I don't know how to quite read the patterns and such. It's still like a foreign language and I sill have more to learn.
I'm with you. There are so many great patterns and ideas floating around. I want to make soo many things. I keep telling myself. Walk first then run. :)
Do I leave the longest comments ever or what?

Christi said...

My great grandmother taught me how to do a chain stitch 3 or 4 times and never got around to teaching me any more than that. When I was preg and on bedrest, I tried to learn to crochet, but I always had to choose the hard patterns with the odd stitches. Well I also never was sure if it was the front stitch or back stitch to go through, thank you for so clearly explaining that normally its both.

I did teach myself to knit whild on bedrest and knit everyone socks for Christmas that year, and made 2 pair of baby booties.

Then when I had surgury done about a year later, I taught myself how to tat and made christmas gifts with tatting.

Anyway, thanks for the very clear instructions.

Michelle said...

Thanks again ;-) For posting these easy instructions I promise that by next year I will have this mastered!

Erin said...

I learned how to do basic crochet stuff on my fingers when I was little and then graduated to the H hook when I was eight or nine and then lost interest in it for twenty years :) I just started crocheting again last winter to give my hands something to do while I was watching television and now I want to run out and buy a bunch of fabric so that I can try your purses! Those are so cute!

Big Pumpkin said...

Oh wow, you are so talented! My Mom, she knits, crochets and does tatting and I have always wanted to follow her footsteps but the Hubs says no way. There is just no way I am patient enough for it. I tried knitting 20 yrs ago and needless to say, I didn't finish anything. I still do hope though that I'd be able to do this one day, carry on my Mom's legacy....and reading about you doing it inspires me :-)

Mimi said...

I find crocheting to be easier than knitting. With knitting there's all that counting and paying attention. I totally zone out when I crochet. It's a very comforting hobby -- an activity to do while I'm feeling lethargic. I'm crocheting a scarf and hat set for a friend this winter.