Crochet For Absolute Beginners: The Basic Tools To Begin Crocheting

Where do you begin when you want to try your hand at some crochet? What tools do you need? Are there different types of crochet hooks? How many yarns are there?Read on to find out.

The Yarn

The type of project will determine how thick the yarn should be. Are you making a chunky blanket or a delicate little plushie? Yarn comes in different levels of chunkiness depending on the ply. Delicate lace, small toys or miniature amigurumi are made with 1 – 3 ply yarns. Big chunky pieces are made with 10 – 14 ply yarn. Most jumpers and beanies are made using your average 8 ply yarn. There are some specific terms for different sizes of yarn like “sock weight”, “DK” and “Aran” which are used to signify the ply. Yarn labels will usually say these terms along with the recommended crochet hook and knitting needle sizes for the yarn. Use all this information to help you select the right hook size for your project, more on crochet hooks below.

The desired outcome of your project will also determine the yarn type. Are you making a soft and fluffy pillow? Or do you need yarn that is stiff and abrasive for making cleaning cloths and pot scrubbers? Are you creating a light and breezy top? Or a warm coat? I use hemp yarn to make scrubbies for cleaning because of its rough texture. Alpaca yarn is very soft, light, drapes well and it’s excellent at keeping you warm. But it’s an animal product. I really love alpacas. I think it’s more ethical than wool farming, which is just horror after horror. Segue into my next point.

Finally, this one is a soapbox moment. I implore you to take into consideration the ethical impact your yarn has on the environment. Vegan yarns are my preference although I also acknowledge the impact of cotton yarn on the environment. I compare cotton’s impact with the impact of animal farming and cruelty involved with harvesting animal products. Then I make a decision on where I want my money to go.

I choose natural fibres to avoid creating plastic waste. Synthetic fibres are much cheaper to purchase but they’re costly for the planet. Synthetic yarns may be free of animal products but I am boycotting plastic everywhere I can, especially when it comes to microplastics. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to discover microplastics have been found in the most remote parts of Antarctica and in the stomachs of all ocean wildlife. Every time we wash synthetic clothes we allow thousands of microplastics to pollute the waterways. My empathy levels are too high! I want to help make this Earth a more pleasant place to live. I am such a hippy.

The hook

The size of the hook will depend on a few things: the yarn size, type of project and your tension.

A chunky yarn will require a larger size of crochet hook. It’s really difficult to use a small crochet hook, about 2mm, with a chunky 12 ply yarn.

The type of project will also determine the hook size. A crochet toy, also known as amigurumi, requires very small stitches to ensure the stuffing doesn’t pop out. You can choose a hook size a couple of sizes smaller than you normally would with your chosen yarn, that will create smaller sized stitches. To make larger, more open stitches you can use a larger crochet hook to make looser stitches.

Thirdly, your tension (or gauge as they say in the US) will affect your work. Tension is how tightly you crochet your stitches. If you are following a crochet pattern and you are a make tight crochet stitches you’ll end up with a piece that is too short for the pattern. For example, you want to make a cardigan but you don’t have enough stitches in the rows your piece won’t fit you, even though you followed the pattern exactly right. The opposite is true, if your stitches are too loose then your piece will be too big. In that case, your choices are to either go down one or two hook sizes or adjust how many stitches you use in the pattern.

Handy hint: You can make a tension square to test how many stitches you make per cm with a particular yarn and hook. This measurement will help you make the perfect sized pieces. Take your hook and yarn that you want to use in your project and make a square approximately 15 cm by 15 cm. Count how many stitches fit in the square and use this when calculating how big your project will be. A smaller hook will make smaller stitches and vice versa. If you crochet too tightly you can go up a hook size or 2 to get the tension you need to complete your pattern.

A range of crochet hooks. From left to right: A metal 4 mm hook, 4 mm hook with ergonomic handle, 10 mm bamboo hook for chunky yarn.

While hunting for a crochet hook you might get mixed up with Tunisian crochet. That’s a different technique that I haven’t learned yet. It’s kind of like between crochet and knitting because it uses one long crochet hook that you use like a hooked knitting needle. There’s no handle section on the Tunisian crochet hook so that your stitches remain in open loops along the length of the hook while you work each row.

Tunisian crochet hook

The extras

Stitch markers are a must for crocheting in the round. Place a stitch marker in the first stitch of each round so that you won’t need to keep count of every stitch of the circle. Stitch markers are also immensely useful when you’re just starting out with crocheting in rows and you find it difficult to distinguish which stitch is the final one in the row. Sometimes beginners, like when I was starting out, will work into the turning chain by mistake or will miss the final stitch of the row. Place a marker in the last stitch so you can easily find it, then with practice you’ll be able to identify the final stitch of the row.

You can make your own stitch marker from a piece of yarn that is a different colour to your work. See the picture below.

Assorted stitch markers.

Row counters are less important unless you’ve got to keep track of a lot of rows or you are following a complicated pattern.

Two row counters
A couple of row counters

A pattern or imagination

You can find multitudes of free crochet patterns online. Use any search engine or Pinterest to find patterns for specific items or to get ideas for what to make with certain types of yarn.

If you have some of your own designs that you want to create with crochet, give it a go! Have a play with the yarn, hook sizes, different stitches and techniques to see how they all work together to create a unique piece.

Thank you for reading!

Check out my YouTube channel for crochet tutorials for absolute beginners and subscribe for more Full Cup Wellness.

Browse my store on Storenvy for fun crochet items.

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