5 Golden Rules of Crochet


Uncategorized / Friday, October 14th, 2016

Over years of pleasure, frustration, challenges and lots of trial and error as both a hobby and professional crochet designer, I have come to develop a set of what I call The Five Golden Rules of Crochet.  While I certainly don’t claim to know everything—to this day and forever after I will always be learning new techniques and skills to expand my toolbox—I have found these core rules-of-thumb work best for me whenever I’m tackling a new project.

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post.

1 – Buy the best yarn you can afford

I’m no yarn snob. I don’t crochet with hand dyed Vicuna and Cashmere; in fact, I crochet mostly with acrylic. But even acrylic yarns vary tremendously in quality, and it pays to get the best you can find that will suit your budget. I also work with wool and other natural fibers and blends (natural and acrylic or nylon blended together) and again if you make a little effort you can often find very affordable choices at a quality level that will make a world of difference in your final work.

Here is how I decide on what type of yarn I’m going to use:

img_8694

  • Small projects: Natural fibers. You only need a little bit, so maybe I can afford nicer yarns for projects like these. That is why I used the gorgeous 100% wool rainbow yarn for my Crocodile Stitch Baby Booties. With only $11 of yarn you can make two pairs of booties.
  • Blankets and Afghans: Acrylic all the way! These items need to be washed often and are large. I’m not hand washing a blanket, no way, Jose! Plus, more expensive natural fiber yarns can get very expensive in these cases.

 

 

crocodile-stitch-shawl

  • Shawls: Natural fibers or blends, depending on the situation. Shawls tend to be airy and look better when using finer yarns. The thinner the yarn, the more yardage in a ball. It ends up being a better deal crocheting with lighter weight yarns. My Crocodile Stitch Shawl is an example. Even though the shawl needs a lot of yardage (about 1200 yards) but it uses a fingering weight angora blend with lots of yardage per ball and you only need 3 balls for the shawl.

2- Buy the best tools you can afford

This one I learned from my hubby. He loves Snap-On, Mac, and Craftsman tools and Weber grills, and is adamant that quality tools make an enormous difference. In crochet, hooks are our tools and my life literally changed when I started trying hooks beyon the regular basic plain plastic hooks.

Money may be tight, but like quality tools we don’t have to buy hooks every day, and also we don’t have  to buy all your hooks all at once.  You can start developing you crochet toolbox slowly, by with just one or two of your favorite hook sizes. For me, those are sizes G (4.00 mm) and H (5.00 mm) hooks. If I love the hook brand, then I can build out the set over time.

3- Choose the best yarn considering the stitch pattern.

Have you notice how some stitches looks great with a certain yarn, and just a hot mess with another? My rule of thumb is:

  • Textured or intricate stitch patterns = solid color yarns or variegated with long transitions.

The Crocodile Stitch is a great example. It is a highly textured stitch and what you want is to showcase its texture not a novelty yarn. Variegated yarns are great and I love them, but you must make sure that it has long transitions of colors. The ones with short transitions do not look good in showing any textured yar.

 electricrainbow01_compact01-1_compact01_a60f1c1a-783f-4249-9636-bf4571afba26_compact

  • Simple, plain stitch patterns = any type of yarn: solid, any variegated and novelty yarns.

Any yarn goes here. Have fun. It’s especially great for mindless, repetitive projects. Novelty and highly variegated yarns bring a surprise element while you crocheting and can make a simple project look very unique.

4 – These critical five letters: G,A,U,G,E. Pay attention to gauge, know your own when and how to use it.  

Yep, I’m a crochet designer and all my patterns include the phrase: “CHECK YOUR GAUGE! Use any size hook to obtain gauge.” Do I like to check gauge? Nope. Never did, never will.  When I get a new pattern that I love, I just want to jump in and start crocheting the whole thing, and checking gauge first is tedious and boring and doesn’t immediately make progress on your project in any obvious way.

But, what it does to is make it MUCH more likely that your finished project will be the right size and shape, especially for any kind of clothing! After many gigantic hats and skin-tight sweaters with sleeves two inches too short, I finally learned my lesson. For certain projects, there are just no short cuts.

Basically are my gauge rules of thumb:

Any projects with specific sizing: slippers, hats, clothing, gloves MUST check gauge.

Projects like shawls, blankets, afghans and scarves, gauge is not critical. SKIP it. These types of projects tend to be repetitive and easy to increase or decrease if needed.

If you need to learn more about gauge, here is a great tutorial from New Stitch a Day. A great tool to have in your project bag is a Knit and Crochet Gauge checker 

Craftsy

5- Blocking makes it all look better.

Blocking seems to be underrated in crochet. It is much discussed and pondered in knitting, but I hear little about the importance of blocking among crocheters. It’s yet another extra step (again, not my favorite) but actually it can do wonders for your finished project. Not only will it clean the piece, but it sets the stitches, evens out edges, and sometimes it’s even required to open up stitches and show the real beauty of lace crochet.

Learn more about blocking here.

What about you? Any golden rules to share?

 

 

 

 

 

Share : Share on PinterestShare on GooglePlusShare on Linkedin

14 Replies to “5 Golden Rules of Crochet”

    1. Roy, that’s a hook organizer for the Candy collection hooks. I have one. It is much cooler in person. The mother of pearl paint finishing makes it look like a car. The design itself makes me think of a carousel.

      1. Are we talking about the same thing? The thing next to the yellow look does not look like a car or as if t can contain any hooks. It looks like a combination between an egg timer and a small torch. I don’t mean that pink carousel thing that looks like a hook organizer.

        1. Ahhhhhhhhhh! You were talking about the very top picture. That is my “sonic screwdriver” it’s a multifunctional fictional tool in the British science fiction television show Doctor Who. I was looking at the other picture with Furls hook. It’s just a joke :-).

  1. Hi Lianka, great article ! It could describe my own experience over the years.
    As in addition to your rules, I’d like to give a few :

    Make notes of your projects. Doesn’t matter if you make them in a diary on paper, or in a document on the pc, or in a blogpost.
    As long as you know where to find them again if needed 😉 I tend to write on the printed pattern with a pencil, so I can erase mistakes. Write down the hooksize you are using. Write down how many and which yarn you used. Write down the gauge of the finished project. And last, but not least : tag your project with the number of the current hooksize you are using. (I use a plastic closing clip on the bags with bread) You know why ? Sometimes a different project catches my eye and I put away the one I was working on … and after many weeks I wanted to get back to that first project …oops, didn’t write down the hooksize, so I had to frog it all. Happened to me a few times.

    Be damn proud of your work ! You’ve created something beautiful. Something unique.
    So when you want to sell it, price your work accordingly. And never ever sell it just for the materials it cost you. I tend to use the rule : 3 x the price of your yarn, plus some extra. And then be patient. Most customers want to buy things cheap, but there are also customers that really appreciate handmade items and that are happily willing to pay your price.

    Do only projects you really love to make ! Don’t fall for that question to make something you actually don’t like. You will regret it. All the time you are working on it. So, dare to say NO !

    I hope you will find my remarks useful Lianka.
    Lots of <3 from José Crochet (the Netherlands)

    1. Making notes is such an important! Not only for hook size but also for the pattern 🙂 Anytime I start any project I fill all possible information to my ravelry account. It is better than a paper that can be lost easily.
      Happy crocheting!
      Bezinka

    2. José, a big YAY for everything you said! I confess that I’m bad in taking notes. I get so excited when I have an idea that I just want to start crocheting it, then I get distracted with something else and all of the sudden I have three WIP in my bag that I have no clue which hook I used or what important things I should have noted.

      I blame it on all the pens and notebooks that magically disappear in my house (and I collect both pens, pencils and stationary. Big office supplies lover here). I’m a bit better using my phone notes lately.

      Your tip on keeping each project in a bag with its notes is great. I’m big on using Ziploc gallon size bags for my small projects and good old store bags for larger projects.

      Great note about pricing your work right. In these days of overseas knitted and crocheted items for pennies, handmade work became extremely undervalued. You have no idea how many people have bought my patterns thinking they were buying the finished products. Yes, right. I long hooded cape, handmade for $6 riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhttttttttt! Oh, and they also wanted to customize the color and I few more things!

      I am 100% with you on only doing projects you love. As a designer I’m sometimes under the pressure to make a pattern with the latest fad because it will sell like hot cakes.

      Worst, in the beginning of my career I heard from a very respected professional designer that more than half of the patterns she makes she thinks are horrible and she would never wear or have them in her house. I agree her patterns are really outdated and seem like a mere copy of something from the 60’s and 70’s. She just makes them because “business is business”. If it sells, she’ll make it. That day I was so disappointed because I admired the crochet empire she created as a woman. I vowed I would never design anything I don’t love or would would wear myself. I’m probably not a smart business woman.

      Thank you for adding to the golden rules!

  2. Excellent article by Lianka, and excellent suggestions by Jose Crochet. I would add photographing your projects when completed. I have found this especially helpful with blankets since the design for each one is unique and I would like a visual record of what I have done. Liz

    1. EXCELLENT addition, Liz. These days everyone have a camera on their phone, but back in 2005 when the first amigurumi were popping up on Etsy and there were just a handful of patterns, I was soooooo into it. I made at least a dozen of unique designs and guess what? I gave them all to friends and I don’t have on photograph or record of them. Grrrrr!

  3. Whenever possible, hide your tails as you go, then when you are finished, you are really done. Include a label when giving an article so the recipient has the washing directions. For baby items that will get a lot of washing, use a yarn that is machine washable, no new mother has time to hand wash anything!

  4. My British Grandmother came to USA during the worst of the German bombing in England. She tried her very best to teach me things any young girl (10 to 12 years of age) should be proficient in. She decided I should know how to crochet. I think she was horrified to find out I neither knit nor crocheted. So… simple round mat for hot pans. Learning the actual basics of chain and single crochet was easy enough. However, no matter how many times I “frogged” and recrocheted, I kept ending up with a curved skull-cap kind of thing. My Grandmother heaved a very disappointed sigh and , in a dolorous tone, said “Audrey. You will *never* be a *Lady*! At first I was crushed but, on introspection, decided that was great as I was such a tom-boy!
    In 1970, when my son Grey was in hospital for a long time after a bad accident, I needed something to do with my hands. I talked my sister-in-law into getting yarn, hook, and instructions for the then popular crocheted vests, even though I was warned it would be a waste of money and time as “everyone” *knew* I “couldn’t” crochet or knit. So I started making vests, with lots of frogging and starting over. Eventually I learned how to read the directions and how to crochet. I ended up making vests for all 6 of my girls and numerous medical people before my son was discharged and we went home.
    When Grey needed more surgery a few months later, I decided to make something different. Since I had sewn since I was 8, all kinds of things but mostly garments, I decided to take my favorite Vogue Designer pattern and crochet it. I simply crocheted pieces that fit each individual pattern piece, then joined the pieces together and, voila, I had a lovely cheery yellow dress with green popcorn “yoke” and designs on the skirt.
    Eventually I realized what had happened with my Grandmother’s lesson: she forgot to tell me to increase stitches as I went around the circle! LESSON: Be sure you have complete directions for your project!
    In 1980 I finally got the loom I had wanted since I was 6 or 7 and taught myself to weave. I am so glad I was able to stick to my guns re no rugs. I have been focused on clothing from an early age, so I ended up doing what I wanted – Singular Handwovens (my business name) – one of a kind, handwoven, clothing I designed from cones of yarn to finished garments.
    LESSON: That doesn’t sell as quickly as rugs, but it was my introduction to self-worth. Sound odd? Everything else I had done I had always considered “nothing special, anyone could do that”. In talking with long-time weavers it became obvious I was doing things none of them had ever thought were possible. At 50+ I had something I could be really proud of doing.
    Sorry this has turned out such a long, rambley post I was reinforcing previous posts: find something you are passionate about and learn whatever you need to know to do this, keep records, a simple database form with all the important data makes this very easy. Doesn’t matter if you are doing this for money, family/friend gifts, just for your own pleasure. Just do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *