Someone asked me the other day how long I'd been crocheting and it took me about 20 seconds to count back to work it out! Nearly 10 years! In the whole scheme of things, I see that as a short period of time especially considering my Mum has been knitting on and off for **cough** 40 odd years.
But I figured there are a lot of things I have learnt in all this time waving a hook in circles that might help others on their crochet journey.
There is no 'right' way to hold your hook
Just like people hold their pens differently, every crocheter holds their hook differently. It only matters that it's comfortable for you. You could be holding that hook for hours at a time so you better be comfortable!
The right yarn for the right project
There is a right yarn for every project. You don't want to make a floor rug out of that gorgeous alpaca yarn. Do your research and make sure you are choosing the right yarn for what you are making. If you are making a scarf that will be up against your skin, make sure you are choosing a yarn that isn't rough or scratchy and will drive you crazy!
Invest in good hooks
Yes I understand that when you are starting out that you don't want to spend too much money before you are confident that you will stick to this hobby. But once you know that you will be crocheting for longer than a week, please invest in good hooks that are comfortable in your hands. A tradie is only as good as his tools right? I recently made something with a very cheap straight hook and for my hands it just didn’t work well. I had an aching wrist very quickly and that has never happened with my awesome Clover hooks. These are my favourites and I have nearly every size and I love them!
Moisturize your hands!
As a mum my hands and nails regularly get neglected, so this reminder is good for me day to day. Yarn can really suck the moisture from your skin, and there is something so annoying about crocheting and continually having a dry piece of skin catching on your work. So moisturize before you sit down for a session and your hands will thank you for it.
YouTube is your friend
I learnt how to crochet mostly from YouTube and library books. There are so many amazing tutorials out there online and all you have to do is copy what they do! Even now when I still double check some stitches on YouTube tutorials. Follow along, pause, rewind, and before you know it you will be a pro!
Sew in ends as you go
Getting to the end of a project and having 87 ends to sew in can really stop you from finishing projects and starting another. I have found that doing 10 at a time really helps you see the neat look of the finished project even when you are half way through. It might seem tedious, when like me you have toddlers running around and you have to keep your needles hidden, but when you get to the end of your project and you don’t have a million ends to sew in night after night, you will thank yourself.
Keep your scraps of yarn at the end of the skein
They will add up to make an amazing project one day! I have a long term blanket project that receives all the small yarn scraps leftover from other projects. It started out as my 'ugly' blanket but to be honest I actually love it! (So does hubby!)
Stop waiting for the perfect pattern
Just use that nice yarn. I have had skeins of yarn in my pile for over 12 months and it makes me sad to see such pretty yarn just sit there and not be realised as a project! Plus… (and let’s hide this tip from our parters)… when you use that nice yarn and gift it or enjoy the project yourself… then you get to go and buy more nice yarn!!! WINNING!
If you get bored of your project and are lacking motivation, start a new one
Make something for yourself or something to give away. There is no such thing as too many WIPS (Work in Progress), and after all, variety is the spice of life! The break and change of scenery will help you find that motivation or inspiration again so you can steam through and finish that project.
Trust your instincts
You are the only one who can really see in your minds eye what that project idea looked like. So steam ahead and make it no matter if you think ‘someone won’t like that’ or ‘no-one will buy that’ or that looks silly. Confidence is a fickle beast and I find my confidence constantly running away and hiding from me. But when I do manage to take that leap and have confidence in what I am creating, I am always pleasantly surprised with the results.
While I was making my Rainbow Endz Blanket (below), that little voice in my head kept telling me it wasn't good enough, my husband loved it though which helped me finish it. And thank-god I did because it has turned out to be my best-selling blanket!
Invest in a yarn winder (and maybe even a swift)
They are cheap and portable and save so much time for when you do buy yarn in a hank and have to wind it into a ball to actually use it. Also when you have to frog (rip back) a project, you can just wind it straight up into the winder and you will be so grateful you got it.
This is the winder and swift that I have, they are only cheap Ebay versions and I hope to have pretty timber ones 'one day', but for now these do the job!
If all else fails, give up and FROG IT!
Sometimes all you need is a break from a project to give you the motivation to steam ahead and finish it, but sometimes if you haven’t touched that half made blanket in over 12 months and you aren’t sure about it, FROG IT! Rescue the yarn and put it to good use elsewhere!
I hope some of my ramblings here help you in some way on your crochet journey. My number one tip is just keep trying. Crochet takes time and patience, and even after 10 years I still finish projects that have a few missing stitches, or that used the wrong hook size. And I think that is part of the beauty of crochet, everything you make will be slightly unique and one of a kind and that is why I make. To make unique, beautiful, one of a kind works of art.