Crochet 101 is a free online crochet class that anyone can take.Â New classes will be added periodically. I am so excited to share this awesome hobby with you.Â Crocheting is fun and a great stress reliever (except when it causes stress because you mess up, lol, but it is still more relieving than causing).Â You will soon be making items for friends, family, and yourself.Â I am offering these lessons on Gather.com for free with one stipulation: you agree to make one preemie blanket to donate to a local hospital or family with a premature or terminally ill baby. These lessons will teach you how to create a simple preemie blanket, and will give you the skills to read other patterns to make more items as well.Â You will start off with simple items, but with practice, one day you can make more complicated items such as pictured here. The item you will make will be to donate to your local hospital or Ronald McDonald House or it can be mailed to me to donate to my local Ronald McDonald House through Hugs & Kisses Crafters.
To get ready for your Crochet 101 classes you will need to go shopping.Â I will spend this lesson describing what you need to buy and why.Â First things first - your most important tool in crocheting is the hook.Â I recommend Susan Bates aluminum hooks.Â To see why I recommend this type of hook, lets take a look at the parts of a hook:
The Susan Bates hooks (pictured above) are what they call inline style.Â They are referred to as inline because of the shape of the throat.Â Inline hooks maintain the same width throughout the throat, while tapered hooks (Boye brand, see picture in article album) get smaller as the throat approaches the hook.Â Many new crocheters have difficulty with the tapered throats because it throws off their gauge, which is very important in crocheting.Â Also, with Boye hooks the yarn tends to snag more, in my experience.
I recommend aluminum hooks because they provide a very smooth surface for the yarn to move across the hook.Â Recently my mother-in-law and I both had to use plastic hooks and it drove us nuts.Â They cause the yarn to vibrate the hook as you crochet and it slows you down.Â We quickly found ways to get away from the plastic hooks.Â The plastic hooks may come in pretty colors, but you will not be pleased with how they work.Â They are also far more fragile.Â They may be cheaper up front, but in the long run you cannot beat an aluminum hook.
For this project you will need to purchase a US K 10.5/6.50 mm hook.Â If you are certain you will love crocheting and want to go ahead and invest in nice hooks, consider buying a set, or buy Susan Bates Bamboo Handle/Aluminum Head Crochet Hooks. The bamboo handles make holding the hook easier and the weight is nice, not too heavy or too light.Â They are a bit more expensive, but they are a good investment for any serious crocheter.Â I have bought mine one at a time from Hobby Lobby, using a 40% off coupon.
I tend to prefer the larger size hooks.Â The smallest I ever use for crocheting is a G hook.Â I use a D hook (very small) for tucking any loose ends that are still showing when the project is finished.Â I highly recommend you buy a D hook as well for this very reason.Â I will be teaching you how to tuck your tails as you go, but inevitably you will need to do some tucking after the project is finished, or if you cannot get the hang of tucking as you go, you will want the small hook to tuck them all in at the end.Â I like the larger hooks because it makes a bigger stitch which makes your project get bigger faster.Â It does make the holes appear bigger, but I think it also makes any yarn feel softer than a smaller hook, and I think the bigger holes make it look more delicate and pretty. You may prefer a smaller hook, and by playing around with a variety of hooks you will figure out what you like most. Just remember, if a pattern calls for a certain size hook, the pattern may not work out correctly if you change the hook size. I tend to enjoy living dangerously and change the hook size, but I always know it may not work out.
Now that you have your hooks, you will need to purchase a few other things before getting started.Â You will want a small pair of scissors and something to hold your hooks, scissors, and other accessories.Â When I first wrote this lesson last year I was using a small zippered case I found at Michael's:
Believe it or not, I probably have 15 hooks (including several bamboo handled ones) in there, a pair of scissors and a pack of yarn needles (for when you sew granny squares together).Â When at a second hand shop a few months ago, I found a really cute diabetes supply bag (I suppose for an injection pen or something) that I use now (I'll try to get a picture of it added). It is great because it has several zippered compartments, and two elastic straps which I use to hold one hook for my current project and my scissors. It is designed to hold a cold pack, but instead I store all of my hooks in that section. It was a steal at $2 and I would not trade it for the world. In the past I have also used a tennis ball container (plastic with snap on lid) and my mother-in-law uses a small tin box that looks like a small lunchbox that she also found at Michael's.Â I also love to save the zippered sheets packaging to use to carry a project in - all too often I have accidentally spilled a drink on my yarn or project and regretted it. You can even save the comforter bags for bigger projects.
Remember, most hobby stores, like Michael's and Hobby Lobby, offer printable coupons on a weekly or biweekly basis that range from 30-50% off (40% most commonly).Â I copy/paste the coupon into word, shrink it and copy/paste it multiple times and then print it (though Michael's has gotten smart and made it not copyable).Â I go with my husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law and we each use one coupon for one item, and I get 4 items per visit at 40% off.Â I am willing to go more than once a week if needed to get the items I need.Â I rarely buy much without a coupon - including yarn.
The last thing you will need is yarn.Â For this project (preemie afghan) you will need to pick two skeins of sport weight or worsted yarn.Â This type of yarn is good for beginners because it does not split easily (where the threads that make the yarn untwine and your hook goes in between the threads).Â There are tons of pretty yarns out there, and when you are more advanced I encourage you to explore the various options, but as a beginner you are best off with sport weight or worsted weight. Save the soft fuzzy stuff or fancy stuff for later.
You can find what type of yarn you are looking at by reading the label.Â Generally, sport weight yarn is size 4.Â The size is usually indicated in a box on the label.Â Pick two colors, or one solid color and one variegated (multi colored, sometimes called ombre).Â Variegated yarns tend to be slightly thinner than solid sport weight yarns, and to me, just slightly softer, but it can be used well along with a solid color.Â The frustrating part often is finding a solid color that actually matches the variegated yarn.Â You would think they would make it match perfectly, but they do not.Â I have often been surprised though at how well colors look with the variegated yarn even when it does not perfectly match, and I really like using a variegated yarn in my projects.Â My favorite brand of sport weight yarn is I Love This Yarn, available at Hobby Lobby.Â This yarn is super soft, considering it is sport weight, and it is inexpensive.Â If you cannot find I Love This Yarn, then Caron's Simply Soft is also a good option.
Now that you have all of your tools and yarn, you are ready to begin learning to crochet!Â The next lesson will teach you about chaining, single crochet and double crochet - the most common crochet stitches.Â We will also review basic abbreviations for pattern reading.
Crochet 101 Shopping List
- US K 10.5/6.50 mm hook aluminum Susan Bates hook
- US D 3/3.25 mm aluminum Susan Bates hook
- small pair of scissors
- small case to hold all tools
- 2 skeins of sport weight yarn in different colors or 1 variegated and 1 solid color yarn
- STORE COUPONS!Â Save money!
Crochet 101-02 now available.
Feel free to post any questions you may have below, and take a moment to tell the rest of the class about yourself and why you want to crochet.Â Â Join Hugs & Kisses Crafters as a sign of your dedication to donate 1 preemie blanket to a hospital NICU or PICU for a premature or terminally ill baby.
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