Are you relatively new to crochet? Maybe you haven’t picked up a hook in years and want to get going again. Perhaps you have been crocheting for a while now but spend a lot of time frogging rather than stitching. We all make mistakes, even expert crocheters! While it is absolutely fine to make mistakes, it is how we learn after all, it can be frustrating and very time consuming. There are some key crochet habits to start right now!
1.READ THE PATTERN.
This is so important! I am always so excited when I start a new project.I don’t want to waste time reading. I can’t stress enough how important this crochet habit is.
Every designer constructs their patterns in a different way. The notes at the beginning often contain the important information that is not listed in the row instructions. For example it may be that you crochet in the back loop only for every round unless stated otherwise. Some patterns will not state this at the start of every row or next to the stitch. It will be in the notes at the beginning. It is up to you to remember this as you go along. It would be easy to forget or miss this entirely.
In some patterns the 1st chain 3 on a row is counted as a treble, on the other hand you may be instructed to ignore it as a stitch completely . Sometimes important information is noted after the row instructions, I have completed rows before I realised that I had missed an important point and had to frog it back.
Many a mistake is made by not reading the pattern! No doubt I will do it again at some point, I am such an over eager beaver! It is however an essential habit to try to get into.
2.USE STITCH MARKERS.
Stitch markers come in all shapes and forms. Plastic pins , fancy charms, lobster clips or a simple safety pin or even a strand of wool. It doesn’t matter what you use to mark your stitches as long as you do!
They are especially useful in amigurumi when you are working in the round. Its so easy to lose count without them. The cat jumps on your lap , the doorbell rings or you get distracted by the kids fighting and your train of thought is completely derailed.
You can use them to mark your rows, even with a stitch counter its easy to forget to click it at the end of every row. No one wants to have to count back a hundred rows every time they get distracted. Mark your work at milestone points such as 10 or 50 rows. It will save a lot of recounting later!
They are also great for saving your work. Hook it in the loop when you take your hook out. I’ve unintentionally frogged rows of work as I’ve stood up to make a coffee and somehow managed to tangle myself in the thread oblivious to the fact that with every step I was pulling out my stitches! I sound like a walking disaster but my excuse is that we live in a very small space!
I make my own stitch markers and have a few listed on Etsy here
3.COUNT YOUR STITCHES.
You don’t necessarily have to count every stitch on every row. I usually count every 3rd row or so depending on the project. Some patterns will be completely impossible to continue if the stitch count is out so save yourself a lot of frogging and check!
I tend to bodge on some patterns with a cheeky decrease or increase but this is naughty. Don’t do it! It is a bad habit! It would mess up a lot of patterns so do check the stitch count.
If it’s not right look at your work, are the groups and stitches all there? If you can’t see where the mistake is pull it back to the start of the row, check your last row count before you continue. Often the problem is with the previous row.
4.SHELVE THAT PROJECT.
When I first learnt to crochet just over a year ago I tried to run before I could walk. I ordered blanket kits like Janie Crow’s, Frida’s Flowers convinced that I would be making intricate designs after 3 weeks of being able to crochet. I had visions of the amazing creations I was going to make fuelled by a frenzy of Pinterest pinning. Oh I do love making a new Pinterest board! While I did complete some of the squares it was too advanced for me. I enjoy a challenge and see patterns as a puzzle to be solved but the timing was not right. This is ok ! Shelve that project and come back to it when you are ready.
After literally a week of my life wasted hooking and frogging I finally decided that the virus shawl pattern was not for me. It is Ok to admit defeat occasionally, I just wasn’t ready for that pattern. It is always good to stretch your abilities as you will more often than not surprise yourself. However, if you are coming out in hives, swearing like a sailor and giving yourself a headache then put that project aside and go back to it in a month or two. Sometimes it takes crocheting a few other things for a process to click in your brain. Crochet should be enjoyable not painful!
5.USE A PROJECT DIARY.
I use my Little Box of Crochet project planner religiously for everything I make. Note down the yarn and shade. Your crochet hook size, where you found the pattern and any notes that you need to make. It is so easy to forget all of these details and if you put your work away for a week or 2 trust me you won’t have a clue what size hook you used. I have so many WIPs on the go that it would be chaos without my little book. It also has a lovely little granny square cover that I made using my monthly subscription box from Little Box of Crochet so its beautiful and practical.
6.GAUGE AND SWATCHING.
Yuk! I know none of us want to do a swatch piece. I am a serial bodger, I don’t like measurements or numbers. I gauge things by eye. While this is often ok , for example if I were making a scrubbie, scrap blanket or scarf, it would not be ok for a pair of socks. You could end up with socks that resemble sleeping bags or running out of yarn. You will soon learn whether you crochet tight or loose. I am usually a hook size down from the recommended as I crochet loose. There is no right or wrong, you don’t need to adjust stitch counts or anything complicated like that, just swap your hook size. It doesn’t take long and it is a good habit to get in to.
If you are about to make a repeat of blocks such as granny squares and plan to do it in rounds ( 100 squares of round 1 then moving to round 2 etc) for pity’ s sake do 1 square completely first. You can use it as a reference as you go along and if you make a mistake in the pattern you wont have repeated it a hundred times before you realise!
I once crocheted a round on 100 granny squares only to realise that I had omitted a treble on each group and could not go on to do rounds 3, 4 ,5 and 6 with the pattern I wanted to follow. I was absolutely mortified! I couldn’t face ripping it all out so I made up my own rounds after that but it was a steep learning curve!I always do a test square now. Please do learn from my pain!
These are all good crochet habits which are important to have in order to minimise making mistakes. However, mistakes teach us a lot of lessons, both in life and crochet. They are nothing to be ashamed of so don’t be too hard on yourself , what is important is that you are trying. Crochet is not a race or a competition, it is there to be enjoyed. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Just give it a go and enjoy your creations whatever they may be.