Wednesday, November 18, 2015
5 REASONS YOU SHOULD LEARN HOW TO CROCHET (AND HOW TO START)
Last Christmas I decided it was time that I tried out a new craft and settled on crocheting because they are absolutely mad about it in Germany. Dutifully, my husband provided me with a 'crochet a beanie' kit for beginners and sometime around January I started my hat. Then stopped. Then started again. Swore. Started again. Got annoyed. Enlisted the help of someone who knew how to crochet already. (Thanks Emi, you have the patience of an extra saintly Saint)
The instructions and video provided from the manufacturers were rubbish, especially for a beginner. In the end, with the help of lots of lovely YouTube tutorials, I ended up with quite a splendid winter beanie, and some idea of how to use a crochet hook. Naturally, due to my success in this area, the next plan of attack was a full on baby blanket. The wonkiest creation known to man was crocheted, unpicked and then wonkily recrocheted a number of times before I had nightmares about giving birth before it was finished. The lop-sided result is perfectly functional, if not evidence of 'running before you can walk'! (Who, me?)
With four weeks to go before my due date, and leftover wool, I started looking for headband tutorials and that is when I found my crocheting feet. Now, I am completely addicted, and this is why you should be too.
1. YOU CAN CROCHET ALMOST ANYTHING!
I was in hospital recently*, and wanted to crochet some toys for Minibot, so I bought my first crochet book (in German - get me). It is called 'Spiel mit in meiner Haekelkueche' or 'Play with me in my crocheted kitchen'. Lucia Foerthmann is an absolute legend. She has worked out how to crochet an ENTIRE kitchen, from electric whisks, to cupcakes, to cake pops, to ice cream sundaes, to vegetables to even a LOBSTER. Most of the patterns are at beginner level, and the instructions on how to do each stitch is really clear and easy to follow. Plus she takes the mystery out of when you need to turn or add stitches, which I think now is why my lovely blanket turned into more a drape of randomly shaped wool. I wouldn't recommend starting with a book necessarily; online videos allow for a bit more detail, but once you have a few stitches 'down', then the world is your crocheted Oyster.
2. YOU CAN LEARN FOR FREE!.
There are lots of really good instructional videos on YouTube that cost absolutely nothing to watch. You can pause and rewatch the more complicated stitches as many times as you need to Just be aware that the stitches in the US and UK have different names (and in other countries). Saving this handy conversion PDF will sort that problem out for you, in case your pattern came from one country, but the instructional videos are from the other. I learnt lots of stitches from Crafting with Claudie (Thanks Claudie), and now really enjoy watching her channel, seeing what she has made and geeking out on her 'Craft Haul Videos'.
3. HAPPYBERRY CROCHET
This site, and wonder-woman Laura behind it, deserve a ginormous pat on the back for being absolutely, blinking awesome. She also has a whole series teaching beginners how to get started, but better than that, she has lots of free and very easy tutorials to follow, which allow you to practice a range of techniques without the need to do a big project. Her scrap tutorials are the best, because they allow you to use up scraps, or make lots of little beginner things, and you don't have to give up weeks of your time doing it either. As it's nearly Christmas, and too cold really to leave the house, start with her festive crochet projects which are handily organised into a playlist here.
4. FREE THERAPY
That sounds really dramatic, but there is something about having to count and concentrate on the rhythm of the crochet hook, that allows you to switch off. It might just be me here, but when I crochet, if I even try to mull over something else than I lose count of where I am. Crochet also helps me keep my hands busy in the evening, which is very important to me. I have quite serious psoriasis, and my skin itches, so to avoid scratching or feeling itchy, crochet helps. Whether or not you also have a debilitating auto-immune disease, crochet is great for zoning out (and much healthier than attaching yourself to a laptop for the evening.....said the blogger....)
5. CROCHET-A-LONGS OR CALS
This is one craft where you can genuinely be part of a community, online or in real life (there are groups, like knitting circles). Through a 'crochet-a-long' you follow the instructions to complete a bigger project, sometimes over one video like this fantastic little pig one by Sharon Ojala, or over a number of weeks like this one for a play mat from Laura at HappyBerry crochet (can you tell I am a complete fan girl?) Maybe if I had known about Little Woolie and her gorgeous mixed stich blanket CAL, then I wouldn't have become so despondent with my own baby one. P.S I love her use of colour in her designs. In the words of my dad: superb.
You may well have heard of Ravelry, been onto the site (sign-up required) and been overwhelmed by the scale and variety of projects. I really do recommend starting small and then building up to the patterns on there. You never know, one day I might know enough about this wonderfully woolly craft to write my own. Check back to see my Christmas crocheting soon, with links to the tutorials that I used (.....who am I kidding, I will be using Laura's!). Let me know if there are other gems of sites out there, and I will be sure to check them out. I will post my progress on Instagram as well as snippets from my life (read cute little minibot), if you want to see what I am up to. Leave a comment, and I will make sure to check our your feed too.