What is Crochet? A Cheat Sheet For What You Need To Know Before You Learn to Crochet

what is crochet

The crochet trend is all but going away–and I hope that you found my website because you want to learn how to crochet, too. However, you have questions. I get it. It’s hard to start something without knowing you’ll have someone that you can ask questions to. 

Consider me your mentor, and this blog your educational resource to learn all you need to know about this craft. When you have questions, please ask! I strive to educate others so that they can enjoy the many benefits that I’ve gained from starting crochet. 

Today I’ll go through a few bits of information you may be wondering about crochet. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is crochet? A brief history of crochet.
  • What is the difference between crochet and knitting? And some Crochet myth busters.
  • What you can make with crochet.
  • How to get started learning how to crochet.
  • Where to find supplies and crochet patterns.

With a little patience, and a lot of practice (that’s the fun part!) you’ll be crocheting in no time. Let’s get started!

About Crochet

What is Crochet?

According to Wikipedia, the word crochet itself is French and means “hook.” Crochet is the process of creating interlocking loops using a hook and fiber to form textiles, such as clothing and accessories, and home decor items like afghans and rugs. 

The earliest form of crochet appears to have surfaced in the early 1800s, and the hook, originally called a Shepard’s hook, was similar to the hooks we know and love today. The earliest publications about crochet come from Europe and mention the term double-crochet, which is what we know as single crochet in the US. For more information on the differences between US and British crochet technology, feel free to check out my article on the subject.

The history of crochet stitches is fascinating as it evolved over the years. It went from a single crochet to a more elaborate lace as fashion trends evolved during the 19th century. Crochet as we think about it today in modern times can be done using hundreds of stitches, with various sizes of hooks and yarn. 

It’s also a hobby that can be done by almost anyone with the will to learn and a little patience to practice. My students have ranged in age from 6 to 70 years of age. It’s a craft that unites people, and creates something beautiful that you can pass along to future generations. 

What is the difference between crochet and knitting?

We’ll start with the obvious difference between crochet and knitting, which is the number of tools you use to create the project. In crochet, you use a single crochet hook, a device with a head on it in the shape of a hook to grab the yarn and pull it through. In knitting, two needles are used as your main tool, with points on either end. These needles are used together to create the fabric. 

The second difference between the two lies in creating the stitches. In crochet, the stitch is almost always completed when your hook leaves it (with the exception of Tunisian crochet, which is done with a very long hook). With knitting, the stitches aren’t completed on the first pass, as you often transfer the yarn from one needle to the next to complete the stitch. Many have said that the use of one hook and the fact that you complete the stitches before moving to the next one make crochet faster than knitting. (I tend to be a perfectionist and slower at crochet to ensure I get it right, so I’m not sure I completely agree with this one.)

Crochet also cannot be done on a machine–only by hand. Now, similar to how we try to make a crochet project look like knit by doing a special stitch, many have done crochet-like stitches on knitting machines. But since crochet stitches are much more involved, it’s hard to find a machine that will do that. 

Also, due to the more intricate stitches, crochet is said to take more yarn than knit. I could see where that could be the case in producing some garments, but I wouldn’t say that it would be true in every apples to apples comparison between the two, simply because it would depend on the size of hook and the yarn used. 

Some Common Misconceptions (Myths) About Crochet

Crochet is for Grandmas.

Let me set something straight right off the bat. Crochet IS for Grandmas. It is also for children, moms, men, college students and every other single person who is willing and able to learn. 

While you see many people who are retired working on crochet, there is a reason for that. . .crochet takes time. Also, when I retire, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be crocheting the day away, because I can. Not only that, but using your hand-eye coordination like that keeps your brain sharp! But, back to the myth that crochet is only for Grandmas. I have taught people as young as six to crochet. My daughter occasionally will sit and crochet with me. But the key is. . .crochet takes patience, which I find that not everyone has. Not everyone can sit in a chair for hours and work on the project. But, I know people of ALL ages who crochet, and they are all so very talented.

Crochet is Tacky

Oh, back to the granny square days. . .People often hear crochet and they think of the granny square afghans that hung on Grandma’s couch created with browns, burnt oranges, deep reds, forest greens, and mustard yellows. Well, news flash, yarn trends come and go just like any other fabric trend. Granny square afghans, or clothing, were made with scraps of yarn that people needed to use up. So, they’d form large, multi-color, blankets made from whatever they had left over in their stash. 

Saying crochet is tacky based upon one item made is like saying that all jeans are tacky because stone-wash may be a bit outdated. The thing is. . .crochet projects live well beyond the time they were created. This is intentional so that people can pass them down to family. So before you think a piece is tacky, just remember how long someone sat and spent creating it. 

Crochet is Hard

Meh. Choosing a sandwich at Subway is hard. . .crochet is a skill learned over time that takes patience and persistence. If you commit to it, it’s not hard at all, and before long you’ll be completing projects left and right! 

Anything new that you don’t know how to do might seem hard. You just have to jump in and try it. Crochet is fun! And something you can do while enjoying many seasons of a show on Netflix.

Knitting is better for garments because crochet doesn’t drape well and has to be formed. 

Super untrue. Crochet may have once been known to be thicker due to the stitches stacking on top of one another, however it has evolved. The way your project turns out solely depends on what type of yarn you use, the size of hook, and the type of stitch. I am in at least 3 or 4 crochet groups where people make bathing suits, shorts, short-sleeved tops, crop tops, pants, dresses, and so much more! It is possible to make many types of garments with crochet! And they are all beautifully done. 

What Can You Make With Crochet?

This topic might see its own blog post some day. I always say, where there’s a will, there’s a way! I’ll make it with crochet! 

I’m normally also not that cute and crafty at rhymes. 🙂

But my point is this. . .you can make virtually anything using crochet. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Blankets
  • Scarves
  • Beanies
  • Pillows
  • Sweaters
  • Beaded Bracelets
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Coasters
  • Dishcloths
  • Scrubbers using tulle and scrubby yarn.
  • Headbands
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Wall Hangings
  • Rugs
  • Table Runners
  • Water Balloons
  • Can Koozies
  • And much more!

I literally can’t list everything I know of that I could make with crochet. There are people who do freeform crochet, or crocheting without a pattern to make something, around town to cover things and make them beautiful (called yarn-bombing). Crochet is popular in jewelry, and you can even make crochet braids in your hair. It’s a very versatile craft!

How to Get Started Learning How to Crochet

Luckily if you want to learn how to crochet, you’ve come to the right place. I can teach you. . .online, of course. I have several articles ranging from how to hold your hook, to how to do your starting chains. As time goes on, you’ll be able to find stitches, patterns, and more right here on this very website! Also, feel free to join my Facebook group! 

The first steps in learning how to crochet are to learn more about the tools you’ll be using. 

Tools and Materials

Crochet is done with a hook, but hooks come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you know which to use? Well, luckily, your yarn will tell you. Depending on the type of yarn you purchase, if you read the label it will give a suggested hook size. Pretty simple, right? To learn more about the anatomy of a crochet hook, and for more information about hook sizes, you can view the respective links on the blog. I also have reviews of many hooks I’ve used and loved. Ultimately, you and I aren’t the same though, and what you prefer (the look and feel) compared to what I prefer, may be different. It’s important to use what is comfortable to you. In the long run, that is what will make you stick with the craft.

The next thing you need to crochet is yarn. Oh, yarn. It’s very addictive to buy and that should probably be considered its own hobby. Yarn can be made from many different types of fibers, which you can read more about here. For your first project, I recommend getting an acrylic yarn, or a cotton blend that feels nice to you. These can be fairly inexpensive if you pick them up at one of the big box stores, or a bit pricier if you buy hand-dyed from an artisan. Pick a yarn that you love, but don’t select something that is considered a fashion yarn for your first project, and also don’t select black yarn for your first project–those are both very hard to learn on.

Next, you’ll need something to cut the yarn. Any scissors will do. . .they don’t have to be fancy. Just make sure you don’t cut open your freezer pops with them before you cut your yarn. Then you’d end up in an. . .um. . .sticky situation. I like to use embroidery scissors, as they are small and compact to carry around, and sharp to cut the yarn completely on the first try. They also make yarn cutters that they sell in the craft aisle. I have one that I occasionally keep with me when I have kids around. That way there aren’t sharp scissors laying around anywhere. I’ve written about the one I like, here.

Lastly, you’ll need a yarn or tapestry needle with a large eye. This can be either steel or plastic, blunt or pointed, but just make sure that it has a big enough eye on the end that your yarn can fit through. I also found some that I really like that are angled on the end. I feel like these are great for leading your yarn back through the project in multiple directions. 

There are several other tools you can purchase to help you in your journey, but these are the only four that you need to get started!

Learning Crochet – The Basics

If you want to learn how to crochet, set aside several hours to do so. I recommend blocking off at least an hour each day to begin, and then 30 minutes to an hour on the days after so that you can practice a little bit each day. Practice is what will make you a better crocheter. When you first start out, it takes a little while to figure out how to hold your hook and your yarn, so it’s important to give yourself some time to figure out what methods you feel the most comfortable with. 

Starting crochet is pretty simple. Most projects start with a slip knot to get your yarn on your hook. Then from there, you form a foundation chain, and you crochet stitches into that, building row by row, until you have a finished product. You can crochet a flat project, or join each row and create something round, such as a hat. The project can be the same color, or multiple colors, and can even include different textures of yarn. Ultimately, you have complete freedom when it comes to making a crochet piece your own.

Finishing a crochet project is as simple as tying the yarn off and weaving in the ends. The larger the project, or the more color changes you’ve had to do during the project, the more ends you’ll probably have to weave in. There are many ways to do this though to make it secure so your project doesn’t come apart. By cutting a longer tail (at least 6 inches in length) and weaving the yarn in three directions, you will have a piece secured and not likely to rip out. You might occasionally find an end or two after you wash it, but those can be trimmed, or tucked back in. After all, remember that this is handmade and NOT supposed to be perfect. It’s the imperfections that often make it beautiful.

Washing Crochet

Yes, you CAN wash your crochet creations! I’ve written an entire blog post giving you tips and tricks to do so. When you start crocheting with some yarn, it may feel a bit stiff, but you can wash it and dry it and it will get softer each time! There’s also some fibers that you can’t wash in a machine, and have to hand wash, so pay close attention to the care instructions listed on your yarn label

Gauge

So what is this thing called gauge? Well, it’s a unit of measurement for us crocheters to make sure our project is going to turn out the same size as the pattern we are following. Not everyone crochets the same–my tension may be looser than yours, or vice versa. But the more you crochet the more even your tension gets. Gauge is to help you measure if you are crocheting too loose for what a project calls for, and then you can adjust your hook size so the pattern comes out more true to size.

Where to Find Supplies and Crochet Patterns

This is one of the funnest parts of crochet–shopping for yarn! I strongly urge that you always have a project in mind before going to the store to buy yarn. This will help you avoid buying one skein of something because it looks pretty, and then never being able to use it. 

Finding Tools

Crochet hooks, needles, scissors, and more can be found at any craft store, or a store like Walmart. Depending on where you go, these stores carry different brands, and their own brand, of supplies. JoAnn, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby are fantastic places to find crochet supplies. 

But, what if you live far away from one of those. No worries! You can buy what you need directly from Amazon and have it shipped to your house in just a few days. How’s that for convenience? There are so many online retailers now that sell crochet supplies, and I’ve listed a few below:

  • Amazon
  • Lion Brand
  • Yarnspirations
  • Etsy
  • Ebay

Buying yarn can also be done online, however I know that personally I love to give my yarn the neck test before I buy it. What is the neck test you ask? It’s nuzzling the yarn in the crook of your neck a bit to test the softness and see if it’s something you’d like to have against your skin. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this in public. 🙂

Patterns

Patterns can be found in books (both purchased at book stores, craft stores, or even on your tablet), free online via blogs and sites like Ravelry, or you can also buy patterns on designer websites or places like Etsy. I suggest you start with a few free beginner crochet patterns first, and then expand and buy some from small crochet businesses. 

Summary

I hope that this article has helped you to learn a little more about crochet, and also enticed you a bit to learn how to do this wonderful craft with me! My crochet journey goes back about 25 years to my college days, where I was often bored between classes and wanted to learn something new. Like many of you, I found something pretty I wanted to make, and I regretted never allowing my grandma to teach me how to do this as a child. So, I launched into learning myself! 

I crochet to relieve my anxiety. I work full time in digital marketing, which can often be stressful and fast-paced. Crochet allows me to slow down time, just a little bit, and gets my mind off of client work and deadlines. When I crochet, nothing else matters. It’s truly a hobby where I can immerse myself in a project and relax, which is exactly why I spend so much time doing it. 

I joke and say that crochet is therapy. . .but for me, there’s a lot of truth to that. I hope that others find this amazing hobby and fall in love with it as much as I have.

What do the Symbols on my Yarn Mean? How to Read a Yarn Label

How to Read a Yarn Label

How to Read a Yarn Label

If you’ve ever shopped for yarn, you know how important it is to know how to read a yarn label. It can affect the time you spend searching for yarn (both in the store and online), the amount of money you spend on buying the yarn for your project, and what hook size you’ll need to complete your project. It’s truly the first step to completing a project successfully!

Thankfully, the Craft Yarn Council, a governing body overseeing the standardization of the industry, has developed general guidelines for yarn manufacturers to follow while labeling their yarn for retail sale. Although the design may vary between labels, ultimately the information is similar enough to give us, the consumer, the information we need at our fingertips.

Patterns on Yarn Labels

Before I get into the nitty gritty of how to read a yarn label, I want to note that many yarn manufacturers that sell in big box retail stores will include free patterns on the yarn label. These free patterns are often free crochet or free knit patterns that are on the backside of the yarn label, meaning you won’t be able to view them unless you remove the label from the yarn. 

If you want to keep the label and the free pattern included, make sure to take the ultimate care to remove the yarn label from the yarn at the seam, thus keeping the pattern on the underside intact. Depending on the size of the yarn, this may be tricky and require scissors. 

Many times these patterns will include how much yarn you need to complete the free pattern project included on the outside of the label. 

How to Read a Yarn Label

There are many elements of a yarn label that I will talk about today. Many of them are standard, and some of them are simply observations about what I’ve seen in my many years of being a yarn consumer. As always, please let me know if you yourself find any discrepancies or have another point that would be valuable to this post by sending me a comment below.

  1. Yarn Manufacturer – Often one of the most prevalent pieces of the yarn label will be the name of the Yarn Manufacturer, or Brand, featured in the center with their logo. This is important information should you need to search for another similar skein of yarn.
  2. Product Name – For example: Simply Soft, Sugar ‘n Cream, Soft Essentials. The product name gives you reassurance that all yarn within one product line will be of similar texture, no matter the color. Product Names are created to create uniformity.
  3. Color – One of the most important things we look for as consumers is color, and when you’re buying a lot of yarn, you want to make sure that it all matches perfectly. The color will always be listed on the very end of the label. Many times the color name will also be listed in additional languages, depending on the location.
  4. Product Color ID – Alongside the color, you’ll often find an ID number that can be referenced also if you need to search for additional yarn. 
  5. Lot Number – some yarn is dyed in batches, thus creating the possibility of color variations amongst the yarn. If you’re working on a large project where color detail is important, such as a sweater, you want to make sure that when you run out of one skein and begin working on the other, that the color stays the exact same. When shopping for your yarn, try to get all of your yarn from the same lot if possible. Some yarn contains a message that reads, “no dye lot.” What this means is that the yarn is dyed pre-spinning into the skeins, thus not having significant color variations. 
  6. Yarn Manufacturer Contact Information – The address of the yarn manufacturer will be listed on the yarn, along with any contact information for where you may contact them if you need to. Many also include their website, and a website for their free patterns, as well as what social channels they are on so that you may follow them if you like. 
  7. Yarn Weight Category – This will come with a number from 0-6 to indicate how thick your yarn strands are. 0 is a fingering weight yarn, 4 is medium, or worsted weight, and 6 is bulky. The yarn weight is a standard set by the Craft Yarn Council, and yarn manufacturer’s try to follow this standard for labeling yarn weight.
  8. Gauge – All yarn labels come with a square for both knitting and crochet gauge. This information tells users how many rows and stitches it should take them to achieve the gauge and with what size hook or needles. This is incredibly helpful for makers who also create their own patterns, and can also tell you how much yarn you’ll need for your project. 
  9. Care Instructions – When it comes time to launder your yarn, you definitely need to ensure to practice caution when washing certain types of fiber. Depending on the country you are located in, these might look a bit different, so always check to see if the symbols shown are US or EU. 
  10. Yardage or Quantity – On each label, you’ll find out how much yarn is contained in the skein. This can be in yds (yards), m (meters), or both. 
  11. Total Yarn Weight – Often displayed by the quantity will be the entire weight of the skein displayed in oz (ounces) or g (grams), or both. 
  12. Fiber Type – The type of yarn fiber will be visible on the label along with the percentage of that fiber (useful when trying to figure out how to launder the item you create with the yarn). Look for fiber types such as 100% Cotton, Acrylic, Polyester, and more! 
  13. Country yarn was created – Look for Made in China, or Made in the USA to find out where your yarn was manufactured. 
  14. Hook Size – Usually in the area with the gauge, you will also see the recommended hook size for the yarn. The hook sizes often list both the number standard to hooks purchased in the US, as well as the mm of the hook (as different brands have different letters per mm). 

Reading a Yarn Label

If you’ve been crocheting for any amount of time, I’ll bet that you’ve purchased yarn without even looking at the label. Even if you haven’t, sometimes yarn just draws you in and you think you’ll someday use it for a project. In my experience, this is normally the type of yarn that I end up asking my friends what I should make with it. Having a pattern in mind before you buy the yarn, and then matching it by reading the yarn labels, will ultimately lead to the most successful projects. 

Ways To Make Money with Crochet

Do you ever wish you could turn your hobby into a business and actually make money with crochet? It’s not as hard as it may seem. You already have the talent (and if you’re anything like the rest of us, more than enough yarn), so now all you need are some solid business ideas for where you can make some money from your talent.

how to make money with crochet

Crocheting starts as a hobby for most of us, and like many hobbies then takes over our lives. We spend so much time with our hooks and yarn and wonder if it’s possible if we could retreat to our own home office space and literally crochet the day away. I’m here to tell you that it IS possible.

Make Money with Crochet

There are so many ways you could make money off of your handmade crafts. I’ve listed a few, but if you can think of any more, please email or comment and let me know and I’ll add them to the post!

Pattern Testing

Do you know that there are pattern makers who will often hire others to test patterns for them? This is an excellent way to earn a few extra dollars, get a new free pattern, and you could also sell the finished product created with the pattern on your own (depending on your contract with the pattern designer). How do you find pattern makers? A simple google search for “crochet pattern tester” will give you a ton of results for places to apply.

Sell Your Crochet Products

If you love to crochet, and can produce finished items with ease, you might consider selling your finished work to others. There are several places where you can sell finished crochet items both online and offline. I’ve listed some ideas below:

Online:

  1. Etsy
  2. Ebay
  3. Facebook (page, groups, or marketplace)
  4. Amazon Handmade
  5. Website (by using a platform such as WooCommerce or Shopify)

Offline

  1. Independent Markets (Local Farmer’s Markets)
  2. Brick and Mortar Stores
  3. Craft Fairs

Teach Crochet

Another fantastic way to make money with crochet is to teach it to others. You can earn your certification to teach crochet through the Craft Yarn Council and use it to teach classes at your local craft stores or even private yarn and hobby shops. If you don’t have any local craft stores, you could apply to teach it at your local community college, or even set up an area in your home or at your local church or community building where you could offer classes.

Online – Start an online course to teach crochet by making videos and other written materials. Raise your hands if you’ve ever watched a YouTube video showing you how to crochet. You don’t have to be physically present to teach others how to crochet. In fact, this blog is a great place to start for how to learn crochet. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and watch for some of my online courses that will be offered after the first of the year!

Write About Crochet

An extended avenue for teaching is writing about crochet. Here are some ways you could do this and ways you could also earn money from it.

  • Start a Blog

With a crochet blog you are able to reach a lot of people by building an online presence and allowing them to read about what you are making. You’d make money through advertising on the blog and on social media to promote your blog posts. Companies such as Google Adsense allow you to earn money by placing their ad networks on your blog. (I’ll be writing more on this topic at a later date also!)

  • Write a Book

If you are a strong writer, write a book that is a reference guide for crochet stitches, or a collection of patterns you’ve written and sell. With self-publishing through Amazon CreateSpace, you’re able to produce physical copies of your books, as well as offer Kindle editions. 

  • Start a Crochet Magazine

If you think magazines are out, think again! As a crafter I love getting crochet magazines in the mail filled with patterns and inspiration. You could even build one online through a service like Issuu and offer it to your newsletter subscribers on your blog.

Sell Patterns

If you’re really good at coming up with original patterns, create and sell patterns either online or offline to others. For those who love crochet, creating your own patterns is often a place you find yourself in because you sometimes have trouble finding the one you want. Lots of people buy crochet patterns. Check out places like Etsy for reference.

Start a Brick and Mortar Yarn Business

I think this is everyone’s dream, starting a crochet business where you play with yarn all day long. If you started a yarn business, you’d actually be able to get a lot of great yarn at wholesale prices and resell it for retail prices, making a profit. You could even combine this option with teaching people how to crochet and selling your own patterns and handmade items.

Start a Legal Business

No matter which option you choose above for making money with crochet, if you plan on collecting money you need to make sure that your business is legal. Once you’ve chosen a name for your businesses, head on over to the Small Business Association to read more about steps you need to take in your own state related to starting a business. This step might seem difficult, but I promise you it is not. And it is worth it to have a legal business before you begin selling your work to make sure to protect both yourself and your customer.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Please share these ideas with your friends and follow me on social media to keep up-to-date with what I’m offering here on the blog!

The Ultimate Resource for Where to Find Discontinued Yarn

Have you ever spent weeks crocheting a project, only to get to the very end and not have enough to finish out your last few rows? I know I have. Not only that, but I’ve gotten to that place and found out that the yarn I’d been using was discontinued.

So what do you do when you need to find discontinued yarn?

Where to Find Discontinued Yarn

I have some great ideas and resources that I’ve compiled for you so that hopefully you can get your project back on track and toward the finish line.

Discontinued Yarn Search

Manufacturer’s Website
First and foremost when you find out that the yarn you’ve been using no longer exists in the store, visit the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes they will have the yarn available to purchase from there while their supply lasts.

Retail Store Stock
Don’t be afraid to call the brick-and-mortar store where you purchased it to see if they have stock left at an additional location. Sometimes the larger retail chains will have a few items left until they sell out. They should be able to search their inventory list and let you know which store closest to you has some available.

eBay
eBay is a great place to search for yarn. Many people use this type of site to quickly destash what they don’t need, and you can often pick up some skeins for a great deal. It’s also a very large marketplace, so you’ll be able to search internationally.

Etsy
There are several different ways to search for discontinued yarn on Etsy. If you know the manufacturer name and yarn type, I’d start there. However, you can also browse the discontinued yarn section if you aren’t quite sure what exactly it is you’re looking for. I like Etsy because it’s personable. If you see a shop owner who might have something close, you can reach out and ask them questions, or to even send more photos if needed.

Ravelry
This might be one of my favorite places to go. On Ravelry, users can add yarn to their own stash, and you are able to search these. So, if I need 2 yards to finish out my project, and I see that Tina in Illinois has that yarn in her stash, I could contact her and see if she’d be willing to sell me what I need to complete my project. Sometimes it’s a long-shot, but well worth reaching out if you just need a small amount.

Yarn Paradise Garage Sale
There’s a timer on the website showing when the next sale starts. Another awesome resource to have around if you are searching for discontinued yarn.

Online Google Search
I’d say going straight to Google and typing in the type of yarn you need might be your best bet. Although you can often find yarn at local swap shops, thrift stores, and yard sales, odds are you are looking for a very specific brand that is going to be best matched by doing an online search.

Yarn Substitutions

Sometimes, all hope for finding a discontinued yarn is lost. The only thing left to do is search for a yarn similar enough to substitute. Following are some ideas for finding popular yarn substitutions.

Manufacturer Website
Again, many manufacturers will have a substitution list on their website when they discontinue a yarn. If it’s an older yarn, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them to see what the closest would be, or ask if they have any ideas for what you should do. They are going to be the most knowledgeable when it comes to finding you a substitution.

YarnSub
This website is amazing. You type in your yarn, and it generates a list of recommended substitutions for the yarn type. Another great resource to bookmark and have in your resource list.

Do you have any methods for searching discontinued yarn that I haven’t listed here? If so, please reach out and let me know and I will add it to the list for our readers. We’re all in this together, and if we can help one person find the type of yarn they are looking for, then it’s worth it.

How to Crochet Flowers: Easy Beginner Crochet Flower Tutorials

Simple flower patterns are one of the quickest and easy ways to learn how to crochet in the round. I enjoy hooking up these flowers because they are something I like to call instant gratification projects–I can finish one in a short amount of time and feel like I’ve really accomplished something for the day.

crochet flowers for beginners

I’ve made sure that this post links to free crochet patterns, as I know that when you are first learning and practicing stitches and techniques, that it’s important to be able to look at a wide variety of patterns from different authors in order to practice reading crochet patterns also.

I consider the easiest crochet flower patterns to contain the following beginner stitches: slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and triple (or treble) crochet. As you know, the slip stitch is often used for joining rows that are crocheted in the round (this simply means that you are making a round shape, and joining the ends of the project together). Occasionally, a project will call for continuous rounds, which means that you would not join at the end of each row, but would continue crocheting through the first stitch of the previous row, and then join at the end of your circle.

Flowers can be used for a variety of projects, so I always like to keep a few pre-made and on-hand. I personally use them as scrapbooking or card-making embellishments, as appliques to add an extra bit of color and style to crochet hats and headbands, and sometimes even as motifs to use as a base for granny squares or afghan blocks.

These flowers are also a great way to use up those leftover scraps of yarn from larger projects.

Beginning the Circle

There are two ways that any crochet flower pattern begins–the magic loop method, or by chaining a certain number and working multiple single crochets in one of the stitches to make a round. At the beginning of each of these patterns, they will indicate which method is used.

Single Crochet

In this pattern for sweet daisies, the most complicated stitch used is the single crochet stitch. I like this pattern because it also allows you to do a color change in your work. If you’d like to crochet the flower all in one color, to begin with, that is fine, but you can see how when you add a secondary color to your projects, it really makes them pop. The author of this post also shows you how to turn that simple daisy into a napkin ring! Perfect for your spring table setting.

Half Double Crochet

This 5-minute flower combines single crochet and half-double crochet. Half double crochet is often used to increase, or decrease, the height of a row in order to give it some shape. This is a great flower to start practicing these stitches with. The author even goes on to show how you may add another loop if you’d like to use it as a keychain.

Double Crochet

These cute 5-petal flowers use the following stitches: slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet. While all of that might sound scary to a beginner, rest assured that as long as you know these base crochet stitches, you can learn to crochet this easy crochet flower. The author of these flowers also has included a video making them. I think that both videos and step-by-step written instructions with photos can be helpful while learning these flowers. She also mentions that she often uses these for hats or headbands. Some great ideas here!

Triple (Treble) Crochet

This flower pattern is a perfect example of how you would make the petals take shape. You start with a smaller stitch on the edge of the petal, and then increase to a triple crochet in the center to make the petal taller in the center, and thus give it a rounder finished look. These cute flowers can be used to make a garland or really anything else your heart desires.

Now, go forth and practice your new flower-making skills! All of the flowers I’ve included in this post have been simple flat flowers, but as we get into more advanced flower making, you’ll learn how to add layers onto those flowers to make them more 3D.

Once you have these free patterns conquered, check out this post full of different crochet flower patterns that you can make!

The Ultimate Yarn Dye Lot Resource for Crochet

Understanding dye lot is crucial for any artist that works with fiber. When you crochet larger products, such as blankets, you often use multiple skeins of yarn. If your yarn is from a different dye lot, it could vary in color, creating a very noticeable eyesore in your project. So, how do you avoid it? I’m going to teach you about that today.

yarn dye lot

What is dye lot?

Before the yarn gets to the store shelves, it goes through a manufacturing process where it is spun, dyed, and wrapped up into skeins, which are the individual yarn packages that we know and love. When the yarn is dyed, it is often dyed in lots. This means that they dye a whole bunch of yarn all at the same time, then divide it into individual packaging. While manufacturers try to keep consistency amongst the dye lots, you see where errors could occur. And when you are working on a large project, even the slightest variation in color could completely change the look of your design.

Where do I find the dye lot of my yarn?

On yarn that uses dye lots, the lot number will be located on the label.

If you are shopping for yarn online, many websites will put the dye lot number in the product description.

What if there is no dye lot number on my yarn?

If you are purchasing yarn that someone has hand-dyed, and you plan to use more than one skein of it, I always email the seller and ask if they were dyed in the same batch or not. Many times they are not, so I use my discretion, and my information from the seller, to determine how much I’ll need.

Some brands will sell yarn that has “No Dye Lot” on the label. This is for colors that are typically the same color for each batch without much variation. Think of your white, and black yarn. Even though No Dye Lot is listed, I still like to try and purchase all of my yarn at the same time.

What if I can’t find another skein with the same dye lot number?

If you can’t find another skein with the same dye lot number, or if the yarn has No Dye Lot on the label, I recommend trying to go online to find the yarn. With the Internet today, we have the ability to search far and wide for products we might be looking for. Alternatively to this, you could change your pattern at the start to accommodate a possible shift in colors, if you have to purchase a color variation that isn’t the same brand as the one that you were using. Always try to stick with the same brand and product line that you were using before if you can.

How to crochet with different dye lots

If you absolutely have to crochet with two separate dye lots, and the color variations are noticeable, I recommend starting the new color on a new row rather than changing to the new yarn right in the middle of the row. This way if you do happen to notice a variation, you can separate it a bit more easily.

You could also find a creative way to alternate your pattern design a bit so that you can work it in where it would fit the best, if you absolutely had to.

How to avoid crocheting with two different dye lots

In order to avoid having to use different dye lots, know your pattern before you go shopping. Figure out your yarn yardage and check your labels to see how many yards you will need before you buy that amount. Always check your labels and try to buy all of your yarn at the same store, and at the same time.

Do you have any tips and tricks about yarn dye lots? I know some manufacturers have lines with No Dye Lots, and others don’t label their dye lot as such (but it’s still on there). If you have any information that we can share, please let me know in the comments below!

US Crochet Terms vs UK Crochet Terms – What’s the Difference?

I typically get a very wide range of viewers on my blog, and know that there is a bit of conversion that goes on between the American standard crochet terms and the British crochet terms, so I wanted to define it for my readers. Now, I am definitely NOT an expert on British crochet terms, which is typically why I write my patterns in American (US) terms. However, if you’d like to translate any of my patterns into UK terms, please feel free.

Crochet Terms

But before I show you those differences, I’d like to show you the similarities.

Similarities in US and UK crochet terms

ch = chain

ss = slip stitch

magic circle = the same, all the way around (see what I did there?)

Differences between US and UK crochet terms

Where it starts to get confusing will be with the actual stitches. I’ll admit, I’ve picked up a pattern written in UK terms before and my project has turned out much taller than I expected. This is what led me to researching the conversions to begin with. None of us want to crochet an entire project only to find out that we’ve done it incorrectly, right?

When thinking about the conversion from US to UK, it’s very simple: UK stitches are one step up from US stitches.

US single crochet (sc) = UK double crochet (dc)

US half-double crochet (hdc) = UK half-treble (htr)

US double crochet (dc) = UK treble (tr)

US treble crochet (tc) = UK double-treble (dtr)

I’m sure that you’ve noticed the biggest difference in the conversions–the British (UK) terms do not use single crochet. This is sometimes an easy way to tell what terms the pattern is written in.

Gauge vs Tension

What we call stitch gauge in the US, UK patterns call tension, which is another easy way to tell what terms the pattern is written in. While US patterns tend to measure our gauge in inches, I’ve seen many patterns using UK terms measure the tension in centimeters.

What about other countries?

Some countries share terms and abbreviations with the US or UK. For example, Canada tends to adopt the US terms (US/CAN), while Australia has adopted the UK terms (UK/AUS). I don’t have as much information about countries aside from these. If you can share any others with me in the comments below, I’ll definitely add them to my post, and thank you in advance!

For information on all crochet terms and abbreviations, visit the Crochet Yarn Council.

Want to Wash Your Crochet Project? Here are 6 Tips to Wash it Correctly

Gifting a crochet item is like giving a friend or family member a piece of yourself. You’ve put your time and energy into this piece (sometimes literal blood, sweat, and tears. . .those scissors can be pointy), and you want to make sure that the recipient of your masterpiece knows how to wash it.

washing crochet

But first, let’s explore whether or not you need to wash crochet gifts prior to delivering the items.

Do I need to wash the item before I gift it?

The short answer–it depends.

If I’m gifting an item that is wearable, or will touch the skin in any way, I always launder the item prior to gifting it. If it’s something that will be used in the process of washing (a dishcloth), or an item that will be used to display in the home (a coaster, basket, or wall art) I never wash before gifting.

On items like blankets and towels, I always like washing prior to giving away so that I can make sure that the yarn color doesn’t bleed and I can weave in any loose ends that I might not have secured tightly enough. It also helps if you are planning on selling the item and providing a yarn care label to the person purchasing the item.

Tips for Washing Crochet Gifts

Read your yarn labels

Always save the labels that are on the yarn you use to create the project. The yarn label itself will have yarn care instructions that should be followed when washing that particular type of yarn. Because yarn is made from different fibers, and dyed using different methods, yarn care instructions tend to vary. For example, you wouldn’t want to launder wool yarn on high heat or else you are going to end up with a felted gift. Yarn labels will display images showing how the item can be washed. For a list of images and what they mean, please visit this page on the Lion Brand website.

Additionally I recommend that you create a care label for your gift. This will help the recipient know exactly how they should launder it in the future.

Hand washing vs Washing Machine

The method in which you wash your gift will be very important based upon what fiber it’s made from. Acrylic and synthetic yarn can be washed in the regular laundry since it will not shrink. Whereas cotton and linen items can be washed in the laundry on a cold wash setting.

Delicate items such as doilies, or items created with a fiber that didn’t come with washing instructions should be hand-washed in cold water (preferably in the tub or sink) and then dried laying flat.

Use a pillow case, or mesh bag 

If you have a smaller item that you need to launder, put it inside a pillow case or a mesh bag to separate it from the rest of the laundry.

Avoid the spin cycle for small or delicate items

If you are washing something delicate in the washing machine, you can always stop it before the spin cycle. If you need to absorb the water out of it to dry, place it between towels and roll the towel up to absorb the excess water instead of sending it through the spin cycle.

Detergent

Like your regular laundry, you also need to be mindful of the detergent that you wash your crocheted items in. I typically will choose a gentle detergent that is free from dyes or perfumes. I like using the same one that I used when my daughter was a baby (especially on any items that you may be gifting to someone, because you often don’t know how sensitive their skin is).

Block your work

After washing, I always like to block my work so that it looks nice once it is delivered. Blocking is the process in which you pin your items (using rust-proof pins) to a blocking board. This will shape your project correctly and ensure that it looks nice upon delivery. I’ve done two types of blocking with my work–blocking while wet, where you simply pin the piece to the blocking board while it’s wet and allow it to dry before you remove, and starch blocking, where I spray the damp item with starch and then allow to dry. The starch is good for items that you’d like stiffened (such as doilies). I’ve also used one more method to block acrylic yarn–steam. In this method you want to be careful not to touch the iron to the yarn, however the steam shapes the item nicely when it’s pinned to a blocking board. One of these days I’ll write a full post on how to block your crochet work by yarn type. 🙂

Acrylic Yarn + Washing = Softy Goodness

One more thought before I close out this post on acrylic yarn. Acrylic yarn is often one of the most common yarns (and most readily available to some of us who live in more rural areas). It’s an amazing yarn, but can be scratchy at times. I’ve discovered that washing this type of yarn really softens it up.

If you choose to wash it prior to using it, remove the label and stick your hand in the center to loosen it up. Don’t pull it apart, but just make sure it’s nice and loose. Then, throw it in a pillow case (because you don’t want it unraveling all over your washing machine) and wash it with detergent and fabric softener. Then you can go ahead and put it in the dryer (still in the pillow case, yes) and use a dryer sheet.

Once it comes out, feel the softness. (Go hug your yarn, I’ll wait. . .)

Washing acrylic yarn is said to make it softer each time that you do it.

I’ve also read that you can use shampoo and conditioner on items that you hand-wash to soften up acrylic yarn. I have yet to try this method, however if I get the chance to I will come back and update this post with how that went!

If you have any tips on yarn washing, please comment below. I love reading about what works for others and I’m sure that my readers would too!

Crochet Yarn Weight Explained

Understanding yarn weight can be a powerful arsenal in your crochet knowledge toolbox. It can help you determine the hook size you’ll need, and your stitch gauge.

yarn weight

When we talked about stitch gauge, we determined how important the weight of the yarn and the size of the hook is to determining how true-to-size your project will turn out. Due to the need for a set of standards for yarn manufacturers, the Craft Yarn Council developed a common system to be used across the industry.

Yarn Weight Standards

The standards created for yarn weight begin at 0 and go all the way up to 7. These are updated as necessary as trends change the yarn industry and we continue to see more thick and beautiful yarn available to us. Below I will discuss the weight ratings, what hook sizes are recommended for crocheting these weights, and what types of yarn this includes.

0 – Lace Weight
Hook Size Range: 1.5 – 2.5 mm (Steel 6, 7, 8 or B-1)
Types of Yarns: Fingering, 10-count crochet thread

1 – Super Fine
Hook Size Range: 2.25 – 3.5 mm (B to E)
Types of Yarns: Fingering, Sock, Baby

2 – Fine
Hook Size Range: 3.5 – 4.5 mm (E to 7)
Type of Yarns: Sport or Baby

3 – Light
Hook Size Range: 4.5 – 5.5 mm (7 to I)
Type of Yarns: DK or Light Worsted

4 – Medium
Hook Size Range: 5.5 – 6.5 mm (I to K)
Type of Yarns: Worsted, Afghan, Aran

5 – Bulky
Hook Size Range: 6.5 – 9 mm (K to M)
Type of Yarns: Chunky, Craft, Rug

6 – Super Bulky
Hook Size Range: 9 – 15 mm (M to Q)
Type of Yarns: Super Bulky or Roving

7 – Jumbo
Hook Size Range: 15 mm and larger (Q and larger)
Type of Yarns: Jumbo or Roving

Figuring Out Your Yarn Weight Without a Label

So, you’ve picked up a skein of yarn at your local farmer’s market and have no idea what size it is? No fear, I’ll teach you how to figure out which category it goes in using the pencil test.

(No, not the same one you used to try and determine the sex of your friend’s baby…)

Grab a standard #2 pencil, your yarn, and some measuring tape. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Back? Great! Let’s figure this out.

Wrap the yarn around the pencil a few times where it is touching, yet not overlapping. Do this until you can measure one-inch on your measuring tape. Count the number of loops on the pencil for one-inch of your yarn.

This method is called WPI, or Wraps per Inch. Crochet Spot has put together the handy-dandy table that I always reference for figuring this out. The one thing that I would note is that with the addition of the Jumbo category of yarn, I’d personally put 4 wraps or less in the Jumbo category.

Yarn Weight Substitutions

What if you’ve picked up an amazing pattern that calls for a certain type of yarn, but it’s been discontinued? (Story. Of. My. Life.) How do you find another yarn to substitute for the weight that was called for?

It’s a bit easier than you might think.

  1. Search the Internet for discontinued yarn, or destash yarn. I like to search eBay, Etsy, or even DBNY to find out-of-stock yarns.
  2. Look at the yarn weight category that the original yarn was in. Can’t find the original yarn? Reference the stitch gauge and the crochet hook size used in the pattern to figure that out.
  3. Examine the fiber used in the pattern and select something similar in the same weight category.
  4. Ensure that the yarn you will select as the substitution has the same amount of yardage needed for your project. (If not, calculate the yarn yardage needed).
  5. When in doubt, ask an expert. Don’t be afraid to visit your local yarn shops, or simply ask someone who has some experience with yarn. They’ll be able to at least give you a few tips you haven’t thought of.

I hope that you’ve learned some useful information today, and that you’ll come back to visit us for more crochet tips and tricks!

Figuring Out Crochet Stitch Gauge

We’ve all seen the portion of the crochet pattern where it says stitch gauge, right? Well, how many of you have ignored it? How many of you have also ended up with a project that is either way too small, or large? Today we’ll be talking about why stitch gauge is important, and why you shouldn’t ignore this piece of the pattern.

Stitch Gauge

As a new crocheter, I often spent time crocheting swatches to perfect my tension. This is definitely an area where lots of practice is required to really begin to feel comfortable with moving on to making wearable items, or even items that I felt comfortable displaying in my home. When you crochet afghan blocks, you want them all to be relatively the same size so that you can join them together easily. This is why following gauge is important.

Stitch Gauge

The term stitch gauge in crochet refers to the number of stitches and rows within a specified block of measurement (normally 4″x4″), crocheted with a specified hook size and yarn weight.

Let’s break it down.

Crochet hook size F/5 – 4.00mm, yarn weight = 4 Medium, 13 sts = 4 inches, 10 rows = 4 inches in hdc.

This means if you examine a square that is 4 inches in width and 4 inches in height with this crochet hook (size F), then you should end up with a stitch count of 13 stitches across, and 10 rows tall.

What happens if you have more stitches per 4 inches, or more rows?

If you have more than the specified amount should be, then that means that your tension is a bit too tight. Try making the swatch again with a larger crochet hook. The goal is to get the correct gauge so that your pattern will be the same in size as written. If you have more stitches per row, or more rows when you are testing your gauge, then your project is going to be smaller than the intended size.

Same goes for it you have more stitches or rows per gauge. Try downsizing in hook size.

How to crochet a swatch for stitch gauge

If you will be crocheting a swatch to measure gauge, crochet your swatch to be 5-6 inches in height and width. This will allow you to measure the interior and the start and changing rows won’t interfere with your stitch count.

Also ensure to use the same yarn that you will be using for your project. This will help you to adjust your hook size to the yarn you’ve already purchased. Not all yarn is created equal. On the yarn label there is weight listed. 4 is medium weight, and is the type recommended in the pattern example above.

How to measure stitch gauge

Stitch gauge can be measured in one of two ways: using a tape measure to measure out a 4″x4″ swatch, or by using a stitch gauge tool. The Knit Chek tool by Susan Bates allows you to place the tool over your project and count the stitches and rows displayed through the pre-defined cut outs in the tool. The Boye Count 10 Plus has a slider where you can easily measure stitches per inch.

I hope you were able to learn a little more about why stitch gauge is important today, and I hope that this helps you to accurately gauge your projects so that they come out the intended size.

Happy Hooking!