When you first start crocheting, there are so many new terms and techniques to learn that it is so hard to keep track of them all. From things like how to read crochet patterns, keeping your project straight, gauge, and so many more, you might feel like you’re drowning in everything you need to know. When I was a beginner crocheter, I had such a hard time learning everything that I had to know to feel like I had a hand on what I was doing. I kept making mistakes, and didn’t know how to fix them. That’s what I’m here to do today. If you a beginner (or even an experienced) crocheter, this blog post is here to help you with 10 of the most common crochet mistakes that beginners make and how to avoid them.
This crochet guide is filled with lots of crochet tips like: how to keep crochet edges straight, how to weave in ends, crochet gauge, crochet tension, crochet hook sizes and yarn weights, how to crochet in the round, and lots more.
Since I’m a visual learner, I created a comprehensive crochet Youtube video that covers everything in this post. It shows you all of the crochet tips in action so that your crocheting can keep improving! You can watch this video on my Youtube channel below:
When first learning how to crochet, one of the first stitches you learn how to do chain stitches, which are the foundational stitches of every crochet project. In a crochet pattern your first row or round will often say to start crocheting in the second chain from the hook, followed by crocheting in the rest of the chains in the row. However, all of the loops start to look the same, and how do you tell which chain is which?
After doing the amount of chains asked for in the pattern, you’ll have a strand of chain stitches. The loop that is currently on your hook is the first chain, and the second chain is the loop after it. Sometimes it will look like the part at the bottom of the loop on your hook could be the second chain, but you want to do go to the second loop that is the second chain on the hook. Then as you work down the strand of chain stitches, you’ll work a stitch into each of the chain stitch loops till you get to the end.
One trick I have for when it’s hard to tell what stitches are which, is laying my piece down on a table, and straightening everything so that it is lined up. Then you can see what the chain you just worked in is clearer, and be able to tell what the next stitch is.
Often times, keeping your project straight when you’re working a flat piece is one of the hardest parts of crocheting when you’re first starting out. I had a friend who when I first taught her turned a square dishcloth into a horseshoe shape somehow. Now, your project might not be this drastically misaligned, but sometimes your piece that is supposed to have straight edges, will begin looking curved. This problem has a really simple solution!
If your project starts curving in all the wrong directions, this is most likely caused by you accidentally adding stitches where they don’t need to be. This could be by accidentally adding two stitches in one of the stitches in the row when you don’t need an increase, which will change the shape of the row. Or, most often, it is because the last stitch of the row is worked in the wrong stitch. When you come to the end of the row, you want to make sure that you crochet your last stitch in the top of the first stitch from the previous row. You do not want to put a stitch in the chains that started that round. If you put the last stitch there, it adds one more stitch than you need, which then causes your flat piece to begin curving.
If it’s hard to tell what the top of the last stitch in the row is, pay attention to the two loops on top of the stitch look like. Keep track of these. The chains will have a strand and one loop forming them, instead of the normal post that a crochet stitch has, and the two loops at the top that you put your hook through. As long as you keep track of where the stitches are at, your project will stay straight the whole time!
Gauge, the part of crocheting that often gets put on the back burner, because it isn’t understood or people just don’t want to deal with it. For years of crocheting, I completely ignored keeping track of my gauge, and my projects wouldn’t fit it. So what is gauge and why do you need it? Gauge refers to the amount of stitches and rows you can fit in a 4” x 4” square known as a gauge swatch. These stitch numbers are crucial for sizing garments. Without doing a gauge swatch, designers wouldn’t be able to size garments, and garments would come out in all sorts of sizes. You might wonder why you would have to do a gauge swatch even if you’re not a designer. Well, gauge swatches matter just as much for the crocheter as it does for the designer. When you are making a garment or other project, if your gauge doesn’t match what the pattern calls for then your project will come out a completely different size. That means that if you are making a size medium garment, and your swatch has more stitches than the swatch calls for, then your project will be smaller than the medium you thought you were making. If you have less stitches than what the gauge calls for, then your project will be bigger than a medium.
How do you make sure that your gauge matches? You’ll want to make a 4”x 4” square with the amount of stitches and rows that the gauge calls for. If it matches than you’re good to go. If you have more stitches than it calls for, then your tension is a little tighter so you’ll want to go up a hook size to make your stitches bigger. If you have too few stitches, then your stitches are too big, so you’ll want to go down a hook size to be able to fit in the correct amount. Once you get the right gauge, then you’re good to go on starting your crochet project! Make sure you take the time to do this step, because I ignored it for way too long, and my crocheting suffered because of it. Yes, it might take a little longer to start, but trust me, you won’t regret it!
After your project is done, you’ll different strands of yarn sticking out of your project that you don’t want to have showing up. These can be fixed by weaving them in. Oh weaving in ends; this is one of the worst parts of crochet. Not that it’s hard to do, it’s just not fun! However, there can be issues with weaving in ends if they aren’t done properly. You want to make sure that you don’t just snip them off, otherwise it’s too easy for your project to unravel. Instead, when you’re cutting leave a long enough end to weave in. Thread a yarn needle with the strand of yarn, and then you’ll begin weaving. As you weave in the end, you’ll be threading it through different stitches, but don’t thread it through in just a straight line. Instead, start weaving in one direction, and then move it in the other direction. This will curve the weaved in, which makes it harder to come out. You can also use a whip stitch to weave in the ends, and help make sure they don’t pop out. Once you’ve weaved it in sufficiently, then you’ll cut off the rest of the end as close as you can get to your project, but make sure that the project isn’t cut in the process!
When you make projects in the round, there will often be a phrase in there that says join the round. For beginners, this can seem really confusing because it isn’t the normal way you move onto the next row when you work a flat pattern. I didn’t understand how to join in the round at all when I first started crocheting. I always joined the round together on the wrong stitch, and ended my round in the wrong stitch too. This made my stitch count off, which would throw off the rest of the pattern. It’s something that can be easily fixed though!
Let’s first go over how to first join a strand of chain stitches to join your project in the round in the beginning. After you’ve done your strand of chain stitches, at the end of the row it will tell you to join with a slip stitch to the first chain to make your project in the round. Sometimes it’s easy for the strand of chains to get tangled when you join it, which will make the bottom of your project look different than what you want. To help prevent this, you can lay your chain stitches out in a circle like you’ll be joining, and then see if it is twisted. If the strand is twisted, then untwist it, and once it looks ok, join the strand together to create a circle.
When you crochet in the round, if it isn’t worked in continuous rounds, then you’ll be joining it. The round (or row) will start out with chaining one or 2 (depending on what stitch you’re using) at the first stitch, which creates the part that you’ll join at the beginning of the round. Essentially it’s your stitch marker. Once you do that, you’ll crochet in each stitch to the end of the round. Now, when you get to the end of the round, you want to make sure that you don’t work a stitch into where the chain 2 stitches are. This makes the round have too many stitches. Stop at the stitch before it, and then join the round by slip stitching into the second of the two chains that you made. This joins the round together and making it be a complete row. It might take some time to get the hang of this, but you’ll get it in no time!
When you first start crocheting, crochet patterns seem like a completely different language. You see all of the abbreviations you need to know, and it all seems like gibberish. Don’t worry though, once you start reading more patterns you’ll be able to read it like you were born reading them. Crochet patterns are all broken down into the same specific parts: supplies, abbreviations used, pattern notes, gauge, and the pattern itself. The supplies list will list the yarn, hook size, and other supplies you need to make the pattern. If you want your project to turn out the same size as the pattern says, then you’ll want to use the same weight of yarn and hook size that the pattern calls for. The list of abbreviations will show you the stitches used in the patterns, and what abbreviations are used to describe the stitches in the pattern. All crochet stitches are broken down into abbreviations to make it faster to read the pattern, and to help shorten the pattern length. The abbreviations are almost always the same to help make it easy to pick up on what they say. The pattern notes section will tell you extra things that you need to know before you start crocheting the pattern. The gauge section will tell you how many stitches and rows you should get in a 4” x 4” square. See the above gauge section for more info on this. Finally, after all of that, you’ll get to the pattern itself, where all of the instructions for making it will be. You’ll want to make sure that you read it all the way through before beginning on your project, which I’ll explain further in the next section.
Too many times beginner crocheters will jump into a project that looks really cool, not read the pattern, and will find out they have no idea how to do it. I’ve definitely been guilty of doing this myself! Before you start a crochet pattern, you’ll want to make sure that you always read through a pattern all the way through. As you read the pattern, you’ll be able to tell if there are any techniques or stitches that you’ll need to learn in order to make it. Often times, patterns will have tutorials in the parts that will be beyond what a beginner would know how to do. I usually include tutorials on how to assemble garments or pieces to a crochet piece, and will also link pattern or stitch tutorials in the pattern for new stitches that not everyone will know. By reading the pattern, you’ll be able to see all of these, and make sure that when you start crocheting, you won’t have to stop halfway through to learn a new technique. Even if you wait to learn it till you get to it in the pattern, reading the pattern will give you a heads up that there is something new to learn. It can also help you decide if you want to make the pattern, or just wait till a later time to do it.
Oh stitch markers, I did not fully appreciate you till later in my crochet career. When I first started crocheting I did not understand the concept of that you want to keep track of the beginning of your rounds. My first project that was in the round was an amigurumi dog. As I worked the head, I did not keep track of what was the first stitch in the round, so I quickly lost my place and count of how many stitches I had done. Because I didn’t keep track of where the round began, the dog’s nose turned out a lot longer than it should have been. It looked pretty awful. My lesson was learned: always use stitch markers to keep track of your rounds!
Stitch markers also come in handy if you have a pattern that uses a complicated stitch pattern that repeats. You can mark where each of the repeats begin, so that you can make sure you don’t miss one as you are crocheting. This is especially helpful when working lace patterns. Your stitch markers don’t even have to be official stitch markers. If I don’t have any lying around, I’ve used yarn strands or even a piece of paper (when I didn’t have scissors to cut my yarn, haha). No matter what you use, stitch markers will always be a good thing to keep on hand!
As you do more and more patterns, you’ll start seeing the word tension being thrown around. What does it mean in reference to crochet though? Tension refers to how tight your stitches are. If you have a tight tension then your fabric you are creating with your yarn is going to be tight with barely any openness in the stitches. If you have a loose tension, then your stitches are going to be open and loose. The goal is to have equal tension throughout your project, so that your stitch tightness never varies as you create your project. While you crochet, your stitches might be tighter because you are pulling on the yarn more as you finish a stitch, which makes them tight. Or you might not be pulling the yarn tighter at all, and you’ll end up with bigger stitches. To avoid going one way or the other, you’ll want to make sure that while you are crocheting your stitches that you pull on the stitch enough to make sure it is loose, but not all the way to make it super tight. I show how to do this in the video for this post.
When you first start crocheting, and you’ve never done any fiber arts at all, yarn and hook sizes seem the same. It’s just yarn and a hook right? Then you start looking at patterns and start seeing different names like worsted weight and 6mm hook thrown around. You might start to wonder, what is so important about these and why do they matter? Well the yarn and hook size that you use in your project determines how big your project is going to be, as well as how your stitches are going to turn out. If you project calls for a thin yarn like a weight 3 yarn, but then you use a weight 5 yarn, your project will turn out way bigger than you wanted. So if you’re making a garment or even a stuffed animal, you project will be huge in comparison to what the pattern says the dimensions will be. The same applies to the hook size. The bigger the hook size the bigger the stitches will be. Usually different hook sizes are used for specific weights of yarn in most patterns. However, if you want your stitches to be very tight and small then you’ll pick a small hook size, and vice versa for if you want larger stitches. So, if a project asks for a certain hook size and yarn weight then you will want to make sure that you use that if you want the project to turn out the exact size that it says. I’ve created a great free resource for knowing yarn weights and hook sizes. The blog post explains all about the different sizes and weights, and even includes a yarn weights cheat sheet for keeping track of all of the sizes.
I hope you enjoyed these crochet tips and guide, and that it helps you keep getting better with your crocheting! For more tips and tricks, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!
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