You might have noticed that crochet has made a definite comeback and that is most likely because interest in handmade items has picked up again.
Crochet is highly versatile and can be used for so many things. It is beautiful, delicate yet hardwearing; it cannot be produced by machine so everything you make will always be handmade.
It is a fantastic way to introduce a bit of the bohemian into your life, a bit of modern vintage so, if you’ve been eyeing up crochet times more and more, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and learn how to make your own.
Crochet is easy because you don’t need much to get started, just one single hook and one active loop of yarn at any one time. Crochet is far more forgiving than knitting; it is easier to put own an pick up without losing your place, you don’t need to worry about stitches that fall off the hook and you can easily make adjustments to fix mistakes without the need to unravel all your hard work. Also, it is much quicker to crochet a scarf or a hat than it is to knit one.
So, if you are ready, let’s learn crochet!
Start at the Very Beginning
The beginning is learning about the equipment that you need to start your new crochet hobby. In all fairness, for beginners, there is little that you need but I will talk in more detail about each item – just to make sure you do not get overwhelmed when you go to your nearest store to pick everything up.
When you first walk in to the store, you will be confronted with shelf after shelf, aisle after aisle of crochet gear – hooks, yarns, needles, patterns, you name it, and it’ll be there.
To make life easier for you, all you need to do when you go to the store, is take this list with you:
Essential Tools for Crochet
These tools really are just for beginners; as you cruise through these lessons and find that you want to move on to more complex patterns, you might need more equipment.
Stick to buying an aluminum hook to start with, rather than plastic or wooden. The yarn will slide easier on an aluminum hook, making it easier for you to handle and not get caught up.
The best size to start off with is an I-9 or an H-8; your store will carry both of these.
The reason for starting with these is that they are comfortable to use and the stitches are bigger, helping you to see what you are doing and more importantly, where you go wrong.
Having the right yarn is an absolute must for a beginner and, again, you will be overwhelmed with the choices available to you.
Choose a yarn that is a solid color, a light or bright one. Stay away from dark yarns and multicolored yarns because you will not be able to see your stitches very well.
Definitely steer clear of any of the fancy metallic yarns for now! Choose a yarn that is a worsted weight (there should be a number 4 on the label) and make sure it is made of wool or acrylic fibers.
It doesn’t matter which brand of wool or yarn you buy at this stage but do NOT go for bargain yarns. They are not made properly and are not even – you are likely to find it fraying or it will be thinner in some places than others.
Needle and Scissors
You will need a small pair of scissors that have a sharp point – you can get them from a craft store. You will also need a yarn needle or an embroidery needle for finishing off.
Again, you can get these from any craft store and it doesn’t matter which you purchase.
How to Hold a Crochet Hook
There are many different sizes of crochet hook, from fine and delicate steel ones that are used in lace work and intricate pieces, to the larger aluminum, wood and plastic hooks that are used to make household items, clothing and Afghans. Most of the time, you will use a hook that is around 6 inches long and sized from B to Q, with B being the smallest and Q the largest.
The crochet hook is the most important piece of equipment you will need when you are learning how to crochet and it must be right; you must also understand each different part of the hook.
When you look at it, it will look just like a straight piece that has a hook on the end but look a little closer and you will see that there are actually 5 parts to the hook. You need to know which each part is used for when you are crocheting.
The hook itself is used to hook up the yarn and draw it through the loops. The throat is the next section down and is a shaped part that helps you to slide the stitched onto the next part, which is called the working area.
The flattened part is the thumb rest, to help you to grip the hook comfortably and the last part is the handle, which should rest beneath your fourth and fifth fingers as an aid to balance.
Every stitch you make must be made on the working area – if you make them on the stitch, they will be too tight and if you make the on the finger hold the stitches will stretch.
Now let’s look at the ways in which you can hold the crochet hook. There are a few ways and you will need to experiment a little to find the best way for you.
If you do not hold the hook comfortably, your hand is likely to cramp up and you will find that your stitches do not run evenly. I am going to tell you the two most common ways to learn how to hold a crochet hook:
The Knife Grip
This is similar to the way you would hold a knife when you are eating, with your hand gripped over the hook.
Put your hand over the hook and make sure the handle is resting against your palm.
You should be gripping the thumb rest between your third finger and your thumb.
The Pencil Grip
This one is similar to the way you would hold a pencil so pick up the hook with your thumb and forefinger holding the thumb rest, just as you would hold a pencil. Your middle finger should be near to the tip of the hook.
Practice until you find a position that you are comfortable with.
The crochet hook should be facing slightly towards you, and should not be facing up or down.
Hold the hook firmly but not too tight – when you first start you will have a tendency to grip the hook hard but, as time goes by and you gain confidence, you will relax a little and your grip will loosen off.
Basic Crochet Stitches
We will look at patterns later on but first I want you to learn the basic stitches. You will be making a number of different swatches here so have plenty of yarn to hand!
To start with, we need to look at making a foundation chain, as this is the most important part of any crochet piece. If the foundation is wrong, the rest of the piece will be wrong.
The two parts that make up the foundation chain are the slipknot and the chain.
Making a Slip Knot
Holding the crochet hook comfortably, we are ready to start and the very first thing you have to do is make a slip knot:
- Pick up the yarn end and loop it around your index finger – always use your non-dominant hand for this.
- Now slip the yarn off your finger and hold on to the loop with your thumb and forefinger.
- Holding the crochet hook in your dominant hand, draw the loop up so it goes around the hook.
That is all there is to a slipknot.
The single crochet is the most basic crochet stitch. It is a short stitch that is used to produce a dense fabric.
Make sure that the front side of the chain is always facing you.
- Using your foundation chain, count to chain number two from the hook.
- Put the hook in from the front to the back, putting I underneath the top two loops on the chain.
- Yarn over, back to front, and pull the hook through the loops to make a new loop – you should now have two loops on your hook.
- Yarn over and pull the hook through the two loops on the hook, leaving one loop on the hook and the completion of your very first single crochet stitch.
Continue along the foundation chain until you have completed a whole row of single crochet stitches.
The half-double crochet is a little bit taller than the single crochet.
- Create a new foundation chai, not forgetting to start with your slip knot - make it as long as you want.
- To accommodate the larger stitch, you must start from the chain that is third from the hook, which is the first stitch that requires you to yarn over before inserting the hook.
- Making sure that the front of the foundation is facing you, yarn over and put the hook into, form the front to the back, under the first two loops of the third chain stitch from the hook.
- Yarn over, pull the yarn through to pull up a loop.
- There should be three loops on your hook; yarn over pull the hook and yarn through all of the loops.
The double crochet is another of the basic stitches and, like with the half double crochet, you must start with a yarn over before inserting the hook.
This is a taller stitch than the half-double crochet because it has an extra yarn over in it and it creates a fabric that is more open. Because of the extra height, we start from the fourth chain from the hook.
- Yarn over, put the hook in, from the front to the back, under the first two loops of the 4th chain away from the hook.
- Pull the hook and yarn though the loop, leaving you three loops on the hook.
- Yarn over and pull the hook and yarn through the first two loops on the hook, leaving two loops on the hook.
- Yarn over and pull the hook and yarn through the remaining two loops, leaving you just one loop on the hook.
The slipstitch will not add any height or any extra stitches to your crochet piece. It is used as a joining stitch, usually on seams or rings and it moves across the stitches that are already there, without adding to them.
And, because it creates a firm edge, it is also a nice stitch for using as a finishing touch.
The foundation is made of chain stitches and, because you already know how to do these, you already know how to do a slip stitch. The only difference is that the hook is put into a chain or a stitch, not the loop.
To make a slip stitch:
- Put your hook under the top two loops of a chain stitch or other stitch, from the front to the back.
- Yarn over.
- In one move pull it through the chain or the stitch and the loop that is on the hook, leaving one loop remaining on the hook.
If you wanted to use a slip stitch to join a ring together, you would put the hook under the top two loops of the very first foundation chain and then yarn over.
You would then bring the hook through both the chain and the loop on the hook, leaving one loop left on the hook. That completes one slipstitch and a joined ring.
Practice all of these stitches and techniques until you are happy with the way you do them and are comfortable. When you are content, we can move on to the next step and learn all about gauge.
All You Need to Know About Gauge
When a pattern talks about gauge, it is talking about the number of stitches and the number of rows needed to complete the width and length of fabric specified. Gauge will affect every single piece of crochet or knitting that you do.
It is good practice to get into the habit of measuring your gauge before you begin so that your piece comes out the size it is meant to. If you don’t do this, there is no way of knowing what your piece is going to come out like!
Luckily, this is a very easy part of learning to crochet so let’s take a look at gauge and everything you need to know about it.
How the Gauge is Measured
Gage is measured by the inch and it goes on a specified number of stitches and rows, for example, five stitches per inch and seven rows per inch. In a nutshell, gauge is simply a measurement of the size of your stitches, based on a number of different factors:
- The type of stitch.
- How loose or tight you crochet.
- The type of yarn.
- The size of the crochet hook.
There are two measurements that you have to consider when you measure gauge – the width, which is the stitch gauge, and the length, which is the row gauge.
How the Gauge Affects the Size
The more variation there is between the pattern gauge and the gauge you are actually working, the more it will affect the size of the piece when you have finished.
Let’s say that you are working a pattern that is 40 inches wide and has a stitch gauge of four stitches per inch. The pattern would tell you that should work 160 stitches.
However, if you crocheted at a gauge of 4.25 stiches per inch, your finished piece would only be 37.65 inches wide instead of the specified 40.
How a Crochet Pattern Specifies the Gauge
Virtually all crochet patterns will specify the gage, although you may see it called “tension” or “stitch measurement”. The information given is exactly the same, no matter what it is called.
Sometimes, a pattern will tell you the gauge over 4 inches, others may be over less.
For example, the patter might say this:
- Gauge – 20 stitches is equal to 4 inches (10 centimeters)
This means the pattern is specifying that, for every 20 stitches, your fabric should be 4 inches wide, so:
- 20 (number of stitches) divided by 4 (number of inches) is equal to a gauge of 5 stitches per inch
Do bear in mind that, even buying the exact hook, yarn and needle that the pattern specifies does not guarantee you the same result as the pattern. Although these would the tools and materials used by the pattern designer, we all crochet a little differently from one another. The best way to check your gauge is to stitch a sample before you begin.
How to Check Gauge
Stitch a swatch as a sample. If no stitch pattern is specified in the instructions, test the gauge by making a sample of single crochet stitches. Work to the least number of stitches per four inches in width and continue until the sample is at least 4 inches long.
Bind off and remove the yarn from the hook. Do not leave the swatch in the hook as it will distort the measurements. Allow your sample to rest for a bit so it bounces back into its normal and natural shape.
Next, measure the width, or stitch gauge. Do this by using a measuring tape and measure straight across the sample. Check the measurements across the top, the middle and the bottom. Don’t stretch the squish the sample to make it into something it isn’t.
Measure the row gauge or length. Not all patterns will specify a row gauge so don’t panic if you don’t see it in your pattern.
If required, adjust your gauge until it matches the pattern.
Once your gauge matches with the pattern, you are ready to start crocheting your piece. If your sample is too small, have another go using a larger hook and continue to move between sizes until the sample gauge matches that specified in the pattern.
Sometimes, you may get the stitch gauge right or the row gauge right but you can’t always get both to be right. If this is the case, most of the time it is more important to make sure that the stitch gauge, or row width is the right one. Scan through the rest of the pattern and see if the instructions tell you to crochet in rows or inches.
You might see something like, “continue until the piece measures 5 inches from the beginning”. In this case, you should work the number of rows that are necessary to get you to 5 inches – the actual number of rows would not be relevant in this case.
If you have the stitch gauge right then the row gauge will normally be somewhere near the pattern specifications and your piece should turn out just fine.
Using Different Yarns
Now you know how gauge works, you can try with a different yarn. Just make sure that the new yarn will work up to the gauge specified in the pattern and the result is not too loose or too stiff.
Now it’s time to start on your project. Keep your samples – when you are done, you can put them through the wash and see how they test for shrinking, if the color bleeds or just how well it holds up.
You can also use these to test our blocking methods when you have finished – but more about that later on. Next, it’s time to learn how to read a crochet pattern.
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
The very first time you pick up and look at a crochet pattern, it can be a little intimidating. It looks like a computer code or something equally alien but, once you get the hang of reading them, you will be amazed at how much easier your crocheting will become.
Crochet patterns are written in a language similar to shorthand, a kind of crafting shorthand, if you like. The reason for this is simple – if every single stitch was written in full, even a short pattern would be many pages in length and you would be struggling to find your place all the time!
The first thing you need to learn are the common abbreviations and notations and, once you’ve learned them, you will find that most crochet patterns simply fall into place.
Common Crochet Abbreviations
In a crochet pattern, we use abbreviations for each stitch and for, for the sections of the pattern that you need to repeat, we only write them once and mark them as needing to be repeated. The following are the common abbreviations:
- BL – back loops
- ch – chain
- dc – double crochet
- FL – front loops
- hdc – half double crochet
- invdec – invisible decrease
- rnd – round
- sc – single crochet
- sc2tog – single crochet decrease
- sl st – slip stitch
- st – stitch
- YO – yarn over
When you begin a crochet pattern, have a look for the key – there will be one on every pattern – and see if any non-standard abbreviations are used or if there are any that you have never used. You should get familiar with any that are unknown to you before you start the pattern.
Rounds and Rows
Crochet patterns are worked either in rounds or in rows. Scan the pattern before you begin – you will see that the directions for each round and each row are written on different lines, each one numbered, Rnd , Rnd 2, etc. or Row 1, Row 2, etc.
If your pattern requires you to work in rows, you will need to turn your work when you reach the end of a row and then work your way back across the previous row.
If you are working in rounds, the most common way is just to crochet a continuous spiral. This means never having to turn the work and the end of the round will not be distinguishable from the rest of the stiches in that round.
You should also see, on the pattern, at the end of the row or round, the number of stitches for each one. This will be inside a set of parentheses (…).
This is a good way for you to check, at the end of each row or round that you have done the right amount of stitches – if you haven’t you know you made a mistake somewhere.
Most rounds will include a set of instructions that need to be repeated. The repeat section will be indicated with symbols, symbols that will vary from pattern to pattern but always mean the same thing.
Sometimes, repeats will be indicated by a set of brackets […], a set of parentheses (…) or a pair of asterisks *…*. These will be around the stitches that need to be repeated and, after the closing symbol, there will be a number that tells you how many times the stitches are to be repeated.
In every case, you should follow all of the directions given between the symbols however many times are indicated, before you move on to the next set of instructions.
- (sc2tog, sc in next st) 3 times, 2 sc in next st.
- If you followed these instructions properly, you would crochet.
- Sc2tog sc
- Sc2tog sc
- Sc2tog sc
Putting it Together
Have a look at this example of a round:
- Rnd 5: (2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 st) 6 times (30 st).
This probably looks somewhat daunting at first glance but the easiest way to do it is to break it down into sections. Each separate part is actually quite easy to understand. Let’s do that now:
- Rnd 5 – this is the fifth round of the pattern.
- 2 sc in next st – in the next stitch, you should work two single crochets into one stitch.
- sc in next 3 st – work one single crochet stitch into each of the next three stitches.
- (…) 6 time – everything that is inside those parentheses must be repeated six times.
- (30 st) – there should be 30 stitches in this round.
When you put it all together, you can see that you have to crochet two single crochets in the first stitch and then a single crochet into each of the next three stitches. You then repeat that 6 more times. By the time you reach the end of the row, that first set of instructions should have been repeated 6 times for a total of 30 single crochet stitches.
Make sense? Now that you can understand the abbreviations and notations, you should be able to break each line of a crochet pattern down, and decode it into something that you understand.
Keep practicing and eventually you will be crocheting like a pro!
How to Decrease, Increase & Join Stitches
One of the most important parts about learning to crochet is learning how to increase and decrease stitches. Being able to do this opens up many more possibilities and will allow you to come up with your own garments.
When you begin, you should start with basics, like scarves and hats. This is so that you can practice the stitches, the chains and the turns but once you get the hang of these, you’ll be itching to move on to more complex patterns.
Let’s start with how to increase stitches.
How to Increase Stitches
When you increase a stitch, you work at least two stitches into one stitch. The patterns will tell you exactly how many stitches you need to increase by.
Let’s say that you are working on a sleeve and the pattern tells you to increase by one stitch at the side edges.
When you crochet your first stitch, you will work two stitches into it and then repeat that on the last stitch – that gives you an increase of one stitch on either side. Have a look at these instructions and have a go at increasing at least two stitches at the beginning of the row:
- Make a foundation chain of at least 4 stitches – three for the chain and one for the extra height.
- Starting on the second chains stitch from the hook, work a single crochet stitch into it and then repeat this for the following two chain stitches.
- Continue across the row for however many stitches you worked for the foundation.
Now we want to increase it by at least two stiches at the end of the row, using a single crochet stitch
- Put your hook underneath the vertical bar on the left hand side of the last single crochet.
- Yarn over and make your loop.
- Yarn over, draw the hook and yarn through the two loops on the hook to work a new single crochet.
- Insert the hook under the bar on the left of the last single crochet and yarn over.
- Make your loop, yarn over again and bring the hook through the loops on the hook.
- Repeat until you have completed the row.
How to Decrease Stitches
Decreasing is a technique that lets you reduce the stitches, usually by just a couple at a time, in order to narrow down your crochet piece. It is very useful to learn this for when you want to shape a garment.
Decreasing by One Stitch in the Row
This is used as a way of decreasing by one stitch over two stitches. The idea here is to work through all the stitches through all of the steps specified but stop short of completing the final step.
This leaves the last loop or loops on your hook, which you follow up with a yarn over, pulling the hook through the loops, thus decreasing two stitches into one.
Decreasing a Single Crochet
- Insert the hook into the stich and pull the hook though, creating a loop.
- Repeat this for the next stitch.
- Yarn over, bringing the hook through the three loops, resulting in a one stitch decrease.
Decreasing a Half-Double Crochet
- Yarn over.
- Bring the hook into the next stitch and draw up a loop.
- Yarn over.
- Bring the hook through the five loops that are on the hook.
Decreasing a Double Crochet
- Yarn over.
- Insert the hook into the next stitch and pull up a loop.
- Yarn over and draw the hook through the two loops that are on the hook.
- Yarn over and insert the hook into the next stitch.
- Draw up another loop, yarn over and pull the yarn through the loops on the hook.
- Yarn over and take it through the three loops.
Decreasing a Treble Crochet
- Yarn over.
- Insert the hook into the following stitch and draw up a loop.
- Yarn over, bring the yarn through the two loops that are on the hook.
- Yarn over, go through the two loops again.
- Repeat for the next stitch and yarn over.
- Take the yarn through all three loops.
Decreasing by Two or More Stitches
It matters not how many stitches you need to decrease by, the method is exactly the same. All you must do is work each of the stitches up to the last step and save the last loop on your hook. Yarn over, and bring the yarn through all the loops on the hook.
Decreasing at the Beginning of a Row
When you get to the end of the last row BEFORE you want to decrease do not chain, just turn the work.
- Make a slip stitch into each of the stitches that are to be decreased.
- Carry on by chain stitching for the height of the new stitch and carry on across the row as normal.
Decreasing at the End of a Row
His is for when you want to decrease by at least two stitches.
You should work across the row as normal but stop when you get to the point where you are within the number of stitches that you are decreasing by. At this point, turn you work without chaining.
How to Join Yarn
The next thing to look at is how to join a new ball of yarn or change color. It happens to the best of us; there you are working away, crocheting like a pro ad all of a sudden, your ball of yarn comes to an end.
There’s no need to panic because joining in a new ball is easy. Do try to work it so that you join at the end of a row if you can (unless you are changing color halfway through).
This is quite important if you are crocheting an open pattern or a lacy pattern because, on these tips of work, there won’t be anywhere for you to weave in the end of the yarn without it being seen.
If you can join at a side, you will have to cut off some of the yarn from the ball but keep it, it can be used somewhere else, perhaps for a fringe or some tassels, even for sewing.
If you do join in the middle of a row, you must make sure that the stitch tension is right – not too tight and not too loose.
- To join at a side edge, tie the start of the new ball to the end of the old ball. Do this loosely and leave a 6-inch tail. This can be untied later and weaved in.
- If you are joining in the middle of the row, finish off the last stitches and tie the end of the old ball loosely to the beginning of the new one, again leaving that tail of about 6 inches. This will be unknotted and weaved in later on.
Joining a New Color
When you work a multicolor garment, the easiest way is to use stripes. That said, changing color isn’t as easy as just changing to a new ball of yarn.
If you are chaining in stripes, you need to change the color at the last stitch on the row that precedes the new color. This way, when you chain and then turn, the side will be in the new color.
- If you are working in single crochet stitch, work across the row and stop before you get to the last stitch.
- Insert the hook into the final stitch and draw up loop.
- Take the new color through the loop, starting 6 inches from the end of the new color and drawing it through both loops on your hook to finish off the stitch.
- Chain one and turn.
- Cut the old color off, leaving that tail of 6 inches.
- Tie the two colored ends together in a loose knot, keeping it close to the edge so they can’t unravel.
- You can untie these later on and weave them in.
Work across the row as you would normally and stop before you get to the last stitch. Yarn over, inset the hook into the last stich and pull up a loop.
Start 6 inches from the end of the new yard and draw it through the loops on the hook to finish off the half double crochet stitch. Chain 2, turn, join the yarns together and carry on.
As per the above, work across and stop before the last stitch. Yarn over, insert the hook into the last stitch and raw up a loop. Yarn over; pull the yarn through the loops on the hook.
Start 6 inches from the end of the new color and pull it through the last two loops on the hook to finish off the double stitch. Chain 3 and then turn, join the yarn and continue.
Work across the row, stopping before you get to the last bit one stitch. Yarn over two times and insert the hook into the final stitch, drawing up a loop.
Yarn over and insert he hook through the two loops already on the hook. Yarn over; put the yarn through the two loops again.
Start 6 inches from the end of the new color and draw it up through the last two loops to finish the treble stitch. Chain 4, turn, join the yarns and carry on.
Weaving the Ends in
Never throw away any yarn snippets, no matter how small they are. When you have finished your project, you can put these out for the birds to use in their nests.
That aside, let’s look at how you weave the ends in. When you have finished a ball of yarn and you join a new one or you change color, there will be loose ends.
These should be weaved in to finish off your work and leave it looking neat. Here’s how to do that:
- Untie the knot you tied when you joined the yarns.
- Thread one end onto a yarn or embroidery needle.
- Insert the needle about 4 cm down through the side edge.
- Cut off any excess but be careful that you don’t cut through your work.
- Thread the second end onto a needle and do the same thing but in the opposite direction.
If the ends are a result of a change of color, try to weave the ends through the same color yarn in your work.
If you changed the yarn halfway through a row, you must ensure that the knot is at the back of the work. If it isn’t, try to push it through gently.
- Untie the knot and thread a needle with one end of the yarn.
- Weave it horizontally to the right for three stitches.
- Before you pull it through, turn over your work and make sure that the needle cannot be seen – if it can, you will need to reweave it.
- Pull the needle through without changing the shape or the size of the stitches.
- Secure the end with a little backstitch and then weave through three stitches again.
- Pull on the end so the backstitch goes into the fabric.
- Flatten out the fabric and cut off the excess.
- Repeat with the other loose end but weave to the left instead.
How to Block Your Finished Crochet
Blocking your finished crochet pieces adds the final touch that is needed to give your work a truly beautiful and professional finish. It isn’t the most favorite part of the work but, for many pieces, it is a vital part.
Blocking, done properly, can go an awful long way towards giving your piece the right shape, especially a clothing piece, and to making it fit better. Afghans and rugs definitely benefit from blocking, as it can give them back their asymmetrical balance.
Blocking helps to set your stitches and it can give the drape of the fabric a much better look. It is also much easier to seam and edge a blocked piece, while minor adjustments to sizing can be made during the blocking process.
There are a number of methods for blocking a crocheted piece of work and it is important that you know which is best for yours. This is why you should always keep samples or swatches – if you don’t then it is advisable to make a new one before you block.
These swatches are useful for testing the effect of blocking methods before you go ahead on the full piece. The method you use also depends on the type of item and the type of yarn that has been used.
Not all pieces are suitable; 3D pieces, for example or small items and certain fibers cannot be blocked either.
To begin, you will need a certain amount of equipment. You need a blocking board, pins that are rustproof, a spray bottle, a steam iron or steamer and the label that came off your yarn.
The blocking board has to be sufficiently large enough so that your pieces do not hang over the edge. If you can’t find one or your budget doesn’t extend to one, you can make a blocking board very easily.
Go to any home hardware store and purchase a piece of foam insulation board or an office supply store for a foam board. When you choose the size, keep in mind that, while you can block more pieces on a big board, it won’t be so easy to store so think about buying several smaller boards.
The boards need to be covered with thick clean towels and then with a cotton cloth. Make sure both have been washed so that the colors don’t bleed on to your crochet work. Try to stick with solid colors, although a checkered or striped pattern can work well as a guide for your pieces.
Your board or boards need to be somewhere where they can be left alone, undisturbed, while the blocking is ongoing. This can be a few minutes or it can be more than a day depending on the size and the type or piece being blocked.
The board has to be able to take pins, heat and moisture. To block a large piece, like an afghan or a blanket, use a dining room table that has been padded with towels and cloth, a guest bed or a piece of clean carpeted floor that has been covered with a sheet.
There are three different types of blocking method – wet, dry, and cold. The method that you choose will depend on the yarn, the final us of the piece and partly on your own preferences where there is a choice of methods to use.
The first thing to do is look at the label that came with the yarn. In many cases, there will be a combination of different fibers so you would take the most delicate of these fibers into account when determining your blocking method.
Most of the natural fibers, like wool, linen, cotton and mohair, can be wet blocked or dry blocked. Some of the synthetic fibers won’t gain any benefit at all from blocking and could actually be ruined. Metallic and novelty fiber might need some special care and may also not be suited to blocking.
As I said earlier, make a test sample of your piece, if you haven’t already. Not only do you use this to check for gauge, you can use it to test out blocking methods.
This will ensure that you are using the right method; after all, it is better to ruin your sample than it is to ruin the entire piece!
This method is suitable only for those fibers that will tolerate being submersed. Wash the piece before you begin or wet it thoroughly and then squeeze the excess out gently – do not twist or wring the fabric!
If it is a two-dimensional piece, lay it out flat and pat it gently, shaping it to the right measurements. Pin it in place securely, using either blocking wire or the rustproof pins.
If it is a three-dimensional piece, stuff it with rolled plastic bags or some other kind of waterproof filling, and, if the piece is round, insert a balloon inside it and blow it up to the desired size.
Leave the piece alone until it has thoroughly dried. If you want, you can use a fan to speed up the process.
This method is suitable for fibers that are able to tolerate heat and moisture, i.e. steam. Pin the piece to the desired shape and size on the board.
Keep the pins close together and spaced out evenly so you don’t get any puckering or the fabric is not distorted. Smooth the seams down, and sooth out any areas that may be rippled with your fingers.
Hold a steam iron of steamer above the piece an inch or so away – do not place the iron directly on the piece! Move the iron over the surface, never allowing it to touch.
Do not press the fabric. After steaming, leave the piece alone until is dry and cooled off.
Cold blocking is ideal for those fibers that tolerate moisture but not the heat. Pin the piece to the right shape on the board, in exactly the same way as you did for dry blocking.
Mist the piece with a spray bottle, using clean water only, until the piece is wet. If you have stubborn areas that won’t lie flat, use more pins or press with your hand (make sure they are clean!) for a few seconds.
The heat from your hand can act as a sort of iron. Leave the piece alone until it has dried properly.
Again, you can set up a fan to help with this process.
I have tried to keep thing basic and explain them in ways that you can easily understand and the projects I have provided are relatively simple to complete. Things like scarves are excellent pieces to use for practicing on – you don’t need to use a whole load of yarn and they are straightforward to do.
Learning to crochet isn’t difficult and it doesn’t require any real experience or skill to begin. However, what you do need is plenty of time and plenty of patience. You will make mistakes; it’s a given. The important thing is not to lose your temper and to learn from those mistakes.
Keep at it and very soon, you will be crocheting your own line of clothing and homewards while watching your favorite show on the television.