Crocheting is the absolute balls. I love it, because it’s such a cheap hobby, you can do it anywhere, and it makes me feel immensely proud of myself.
When I first learnt how to crochet I was in Switzerland with my friend Alice and it was absolutely pouring down with rain. In a chalet, in the tiny mountain village of St Stefan, we sat for a few hours eating chocolate and drinking coffee and wine while Alice patiently taught me the basics. If I hadn’t had her help I probably would have taken one look at a crochet pattern and found the whole thing too intimidating to even begin.
If you don’t have an Alice to teach you, don’t despair – it’s really easy to get going on your own using the many free tutorials and videos on the internet! Here are my tips on how to get started.
Get the tools
All you need to learn how to crochet is a hook and some wool. Start with a cheap acrylic, so you feel like you can practice and make mistakes without wasting a lovely expensive wool. The type of hook you need depends on the thickness of wool you are planning to use. A thicker wool will need a bigger hook.
You can get both wool and hooks on the high street from Tiger, from a local wool shop or you can order them online from a website like the Wool Warehouse. Local wool shops are preferable because they are often staffed with people who know what they are talking about and can help you if you have any questions.
Don’t walk before you can run
On Pinterest there are thousands of beautiful pictures of crocheted masterpieces. Spectacular multicoloured blankets, tiny crocheted unicorns, shawls made from the softest cashmere. You’ll get there, and it won’t take long before you’re able to whip up a handmade snood. But don’t start with this. Start by learning and then practising the basic stitch and once you have the hang of this, the rest will follow. If you dive straight in and try to follow a complicated pattern, the whole thing will seem way too difficult and it will probably put you off.
Watch a video
YouTube is filled with helpful video tutorials made by people who are brilliant at explaining and demonstrating how to crochet. I still find following a pattern slightly tricky to get my head around so I often crochet along with a YouTube tutorial to get me started.
Chain chain chaaaaaainnn
To get going, you need to firstly fix the wool onto the hook using a slip knot. Then you’ll need to do what’s known as a foundation chain. The foundation chain is a series of loops and is the way you start most crochet patterns and projects. It’s a bit like building the foundations of a house upon which you can build the rest – hence the name.
Take a look at this tutorial on how to make a slip knot and how to do a foundation chain. Crocheting a chain is a great way to practice how to hold the wool and the hook which can be a bit tricky at first. As always, there are plenty of videos online on wool and hook holding techniques.
Master the single crochet
A single crochet is the easiest and most basic stitch. You’ll need to know how to do this for most patterns, and from this you can start learning other more complex stitches. Watch a video like this to learn how to single crochet, then crochet a square or rectangle to practice the stitch.
Once you have mastered this basic, start working your way up to double crochet and then treble. Confusingly a double and treble crochet stitch is different in the UK and the US – Mollie Makes have created a guide to converting the different stitches and abbreviations.
Find somewhere quiet to practice
Practice the stitches in a quiet room where you can concentrate. Learning to crochet is a bit like learning to drive. When you first get in the car, managing the clutch and the gears at the same time seems impossible but once you get the hang of it it all becomes automatic. The same happens for crochet, once you get the hang of the stitch it becomes automatic, and you barely have to think about it. Good luck!
My favourite wool shops
Pack Lane Wool Shop, Basingstoke
Loop, Camden Passage, London