You can teach yourself to crochet, and it is not as difficult as it sounds! I’ll share my experience of teaching myself, the simple pattern I used to learn, and a couple of tips and resources I found useful.
Teach Yourself to Crochet – My Own Journey
Loyal to knitting, and avoided crochet
I’ll share more about my journey with knitting another day, but I have been knitting since I was in university. Generally, I’ve always preferred the look of fabric that has been knitted rather than crocheted. And, as someone who doesn’t find it complicated to work with two knitting needles, or even four double-pointed needles, I was unsure about using only a single tool in crochet. (I mean, what would I even do with my other hand??)
Even when a crochet hook was recommended in knitting, such as for fixing dropped stitches, I found a crochet hook awkward and I used a large darning needle instead. I didn’t really see myself as someone who would also learn to crochet when knitting served me just fine.
If you’re a knitter, you might also like Knitting Beyond Scarves: What I Like to Knit Most.
It’s all about the right project – and being a bit bored
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But then last winter (just before the pandemic), I stumbled across an image of crocheted baskets on Pinterest. They looked structured and not floppy, and they had a wonderful wooly, nubbly texture to them. These intrigued me. We had just put in a row of half-height Billy Bookcases in our bedroom, and I needed some large items to fill space that were visually calming. I searched through a variety of similar patterns and narrowed it down to one that I liked best – a pattern by Darling Be Brave sold on Etsy.
Around the same time, I was having to picket for work in the freezing cold for hours at a time. I wanted an activity where I could put my sore feet up, pile on the quilts to get warm, and also not spend hours on my laptop. It would be the perfect time to learn to crochet under a pile of blankets and cuddled with Oliver.
Sticking with it past the frustration
I bought the pattern, bought a crochet hook and yarn at Michaels, and dove in. And almost immediately I got frustrated. At first I found the movements strange with only one tool. The pattern also uses two bulky strands of yarn at the same time and I felt that made it more difficult to identify the stitches.
In addition, I had very tight tension on the magic circle that’s used to begin the base. I had to use my fingers to get the loops to slip over the hook, and my shoulders would end up quite tense. It took me several attempts to make my magic circle properly. In the end, I practiced with one strand of yarn first until I could do it properly and recognize what it was supposed to look like. Then I started again with the two strands required for this pattern.
As I made multiple versions of the baskets (with size and colour variations), I improved. By my third basket, I was feeling more confident, making less mistakes, and relying less on the pattern. The old adage, “practice makes perfect” is true. And I find that doing a project over again gives you a chance to improve your skills. (Though I’ll admit I don’t often like to make the same project twice.)
Teach yourself to crochet – learning the stitches
The Darling Be Brave basket pattern is a great beginner pattern. Although it doesn’t teach you how to make the stitches, there are lots of helpful tips and photographs. I learned to make the stitches by googling video tutorials and practicing along with them until I got the hang of it.
Luckily, there are only a handful of different crochet stitches to learn, and most of them involve the same few movements, just in a different order. Once you get the hang of them, completing the basket is a snap!
Here are some video tutorials of stitches that I found helpful:
I really like those videos because they are bright, slow and easy to understand. It’s helpful that the yarn is chunky (like the yarn used for the basket pattern), so it looks similar. She also does an excellent job of showing how to identify and count the stitches – a very important skill.
Why I love this pattern to teach yourself to crochet
I love this Darling Be Brave basket pattern for learning to crochet for several reasons. There are only a couple of stitches to master, making it simple for a beginner who will improve through repetition. (But even if you’re not a beginner, it’s still great!)
This is also a great pattern because it offers flexibility. You can create different sized baskets from the same pattern, making it more versatile for all your basket needs. It’s easy to change the size of the base and the height of the basket, making it feel like you’re creating a different project while still improving your skills on each consecutive basket.
I also like this pattern because it is easy to personalize to your own tastes and decor. It uses two strands of wool at a time, and the Wool-Ease Thick and Quick wool that is recommended comes in a lot of different shades and variegations. I recall having a tough time choosing! But what’s really fun is combining two different coloured skeins, working one strand of each at the same time. This will yield some really interesting, unique designs and colour combinations. You can also do stripes.
Finally, I love this pattern for beginners because (once you get the hang of it) the baskets are quick to complete. The chunky yarn just bulks up so fast, and before you know it, there’s a basket taking shape on your lap! I think instant gratification is important when learning a new skill so that you get a quick confidence boost and a sense of accomplishment. If your first project is too long or difficult, the odds are greater that you’ll put it down and never finish it. But I don’t think this will happen with the Darling Be Brave basket pattern.
Just a helpful warning:
This pattern is addictive. I totally thought I would make three baskets and then stop. No more. But it was so much fun once I got going, that I dreamed up more uses for baskets and in different colour combinations. And I had to make them right away. This might also happen to you if you try this pattern. You might suddenly want baskets in ALL the colours and sizes. In fact, just typing this makes me think maybe I should get some more yarn and make just one more . . .
Teach yourself to crochet – My top tips:
- Whether you’re learning to knit or crochet, it takes time to get your tension right and to begin to relax into the rhythm of making the stitches. Eventually, your fingers will just remember what to do.
- It also takes time to be able to identify a stitch, so be patient with yourself.
- Even if your first try at something isn’t great, your next attempt will be better. Keep at it!
- Choose a fast and easy project to learn so you can complete it and build confidence quickly.
Knitting vs crochet
I think it’s safe to say that I will never fully abandon knitting for crochet. But now that I understand how to crochet, I can see the differences and how crochet might be a better choice for certain projects. And I’m happy to have learned another skill. I’ve only crocheted one other small project since making these baskets, but I look forward to taking on other challenges and expanding my crochet skills in the future.
To see some of my favourite holiday crochet patterns, check out my Holiday Crochet Roundup.
Do you teach yourself new skills?
I want to hear from you. Do you teach yourself new skills? Things like knitting, crochet or other crafts? Or do you prefer to take a class, or have someone teach you? If you do teach yourself new things, or you did teach yourself to crochet, do you have any tips to share that have helped you learn? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,