Attention beginner crocheters! Before you even pick up a hook, this is some stuff you need to know about crocheting.
To be honest, teaching people to crochet is such a joy but it can also be very stressful. As an experienced crocheter there are a lot of things I take for granted that I forgot I didn’t know when I first started crocheting.
I think the biggest thing for me was not weaving my ends in properly. I made my best friend some beautiful arm warmers with this gorgeous Morris & Sons alpaca yarn and when I sewed them up I didn’t weave my ends in enough and they fell apart. Thankfully since then, I’ve managed to fill all these knowledge gaps on my own through trial and error but I thought it might be a good idea to pop together an article for beginner crocheters so all the possible mistakes are in the same place. Some of these things might not make sense to you if you’ve never picked up a hook but read them anyway. That way when you’re stuck in the future you’ll think back and remember what I was talking about.
Here are 17 beginner crochet mistakes you need to avoid…
1. Sticking your hook in the wrong chain when you start a project
You don’t count the first chain on your hook so the first chain from your hook is actually the last fully formed chain you made. See the picture below. Don’t count the loop on your hook, the first fully formed chain is the first chain from the hook, the one next to that is the second loop from the hook and so on.
2. Using UK stitches when your pattern is in US crochet terms
I’m a bit of a traitor to my heritage. I’m Australian and we traditionally use UK terminology but the US terminology just makes more sense to me. I don’t have too much of an issue with this but if you have trouble remembering just use this little rhyme I made up to help myself remember. Always remember that single = states. If there’s a single crochet in your pattern it’s from the United States.
If a single crochet instruction awaits,
Your pattern is from the United States.
So every time you see a single crochet instruction, you’ll know it’s a US pattern using US terminology.
3. Thinking that blocking doesn’t matter
Blocking usually means you hand wash the project and pin it into place on a blocking mat. Some yarn companies advise against using washing machines but I’ve used my hand wash setting on my washing machine almost every time I’ve blocked a project and I haven’t had an issue. Just do what you’re comfortable with and use a modern washing machine. I wouldn’t trust an ancient beast with my precious crochet projects! As you can see from the photo, blocking a project will flatten and straighten your work. It will often also make your project grow a little so if you’re going to wash/block a project make sure you’re using the blocked gauge when you make it. You don’t want to make a garment according to unblocked gauge measurement, then wash it have it grow a size.
4. Making starting loops with linked chains instead of using a magic loop
There are two main ways to start crocheting in the round. One is to make 4 or 5 chains and join them in a circle with a slip stitch. This is the way most beginners are taught to start granny squares. A neater and more adjustable way is to start with a magic circle. You can see from the photo that the magic circle centre is tighter than the chain link circle. This is a personal preference situation most of the time but I generally always use a magic circle when crocheting in the round. The important thing is to be consistent. If you’re making a motif based project, choose the chain link OR the magic circle and stick with it throughout your project.
5. Using the same size hook for your chain as you use for the rest of your project
Have you ever started making a project and then realised something it’s a bit wrong? More often than not (knot!) the issue is that your starting chain is too tight. This is particularly common in beginner crocheters. As you can see from the image below, it’s important to get your chain tension correct otherwise it will ruin your project. The best solution is to use a slighter larger hook than the pattern recommends to get the correct tension for your chain. You can definitely use the same size hook if you have no issues with chain tension but if you’re finding your chain is a bit tight and it’s causing your foundation row to buckle, go up a hook size.
6. Shrinking or growing crochet
If you can see your project slowly growing or slowly shrinking it means something’s not right. You’re probably putting your first stitch in the wrong spot.
For single crochet, your first stitch goes into the first stitch of the previous row.
For the other basic stitches, the turning chain counts as the first stitch so your actual first stitch goes into the second stitch of the previous row.
7. Trusting the manufacturer’s knots
It’s a sad fact of buying yarn but it’s highly likely you’ll end up with at least one knot in each ball of yarn. Do not trust this knot. The best thing to do is to cut the knot out and rejoin it yourself using a Russian join. There’s a video of this available in the Crochet Coach hub.
8. Not learning to ‘see’ your stitches
Most beginner crocheters are too busy trying to yarn over their hook that they’re not really concentrating on what the stitch looks like when they make it. This is totally understandable. Learning to crochet is like learning to drive a car. There are lots of different moving parts and it takes a while to catch your rhythm. When you first start crocheting, take a moment to count your stitches and learn what they look like.
9. Not learning new techniques because they look too hard
My crochet mentor Edie Eckman says that crocheting is simply pulling yarn through loops in different combinations and she’s dead right. If you can single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, chain and slip stitch, you can complete most patterns. For real. Even the most complicated patterns are made up of combinations of the basic stitches. If you see a project you want to make, just give it a go! If you take your time, follow the pattern and read very carefully there’s no reason why you won’t have success.
10. Not learning about quality yarn
Full confession: I’m a bit of a yarn snob. I love natural fibres and about 80% of the time, I work in 100% cotton because I love the stitch definition. I’m not against inexpensive yarn but I find that poor quality acrylics don’t drape well or worse, they squeak and feel rough in my hands as I’m crocheting. When you first start buying yarn, ask for recommendations and read online reviews of said yarns. You can also download my yarn buying guide. It makes trips to the yarn store a lot less scary for beginners.
11. Not realising that your turning chain equals the height of the first stitch of the row
I don’t want to admit to anyone how long this took me to realise this, but your starting chain at the beginning of a row brings the height up to whatever stitch you’re going to do in that row. So sc is one ch, hdc is two ch and so on. Doesn’t that just make perfect sense in your head now?
12. Not learning to read patterns
We are pretty lucky these days with crochet – there are countless YouTube videos online that can teach you to do almost anything in crochet which is great! Learning to crochet from a book is much harder… I honestly don’t know how our grandmothers ended up learning how to do it without the internet. What a pack of legends. However, this means that many people are learning to crochet without ever learning to read a pattern. If you’ve never given pattern reading a go, here’s a beginners guide. You can also join the Crochet Coach crew – every pattern has a video and written instructions so you learn to read patterns as you go.
13. Not learning c2c
It’s such a fun and quick way to whip up a blanket. It seems like it’s difficult but once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy. This is a very satisfying project for beginners. The c2c Baby Blanket pattern is a fabulous introduction to corner to corner crochet and there are full instructions for rectangle and square blankets in the hub.
14. Not learning to crochet in the round
Learning to crochet in the round seems scary at first but if you understand the mechanics of how it works, you’ll be making things in the round like a total boss. If you’ve never made anything in the round before a good place to start is with t-shirt yarn baskets. The stitches are big and well defined so you can really see what you’re doing.
15. Not learning how to weave in ends properly
This is the biggest rookie error. When I first started crocheting, I thought you just knotted them like you would if you were sewing. It’s incredibly important to weave your ends in very thoroughly when you finish a project. I know a lot of crocheters hate ends but it’s all a part of the process.
16. Dwelling on small mistakes
When you’re first starting out, whatever you’re making isn’t going to look that amazing. And that’s totally fine. Buy some inexpensive yarn and hook away. Experiment, make mistakes. I’m a very skilled crocheter now but back when I first started? I sucked. If you skip a stitch, don’t stress just undo it, or keep going if it’s not bothering you. That’s the beauty of handmade stuff. It’s full of personality and beautiful faults.
17. Giving up too soon
As a crochet teacher, nothing breaks my heart more than seeing someone give up before they’ve given it a proper go. Too many people expect to pick up a hook and start banging out amazing projects but this is a skill that takes time and patience. I promise, it will feel like you’re made of fingers and thumbs for the first few but slowly it will all fall into place and you’ll start crocheting without even thinking about it. It’s worth it to get to the stage where you can crochet and watch TV or chat to friends. Then you can be crocheting all the time.
If you’re looking some beginner crochet projects don’t forget to join us here on Crochet Coach. It’s full of step-by-step videos, patterns and lessons to get you started on the right foot.