Saturday, August 27, 2016

Crochet supplies for the new crocheter

Crochet Supplies for the New Crocheter
update ©2016 Sandra Petit, 

If you are a new crocheter, or you have a friend who is new to crochet, you might wonder what kinds of supplies you should have to make your crochet experience the best it can be. Since I recently needed this information, I thought I’d share what I gleaned by asking other crocheters which crochet supplies they thought important to have on hand. Of course, you can get these things gradually. You don’t have to run out and buy everything at once. The first items are those I consider most important. The others are lagniappe (extras that I believe will be helpful for your crocheting pleasure).

Yarn (light colored, smooth worsted weight), hook (J), scissors, and large eye needle. You might also want a needle threader if threading needles is difficult for you.
Hooks - There are two basic hook styles - inline (like Susan Bates hooks) and tapered Boye style. Which one you like best will be determined by you over time. If you are new to crochet, you may not know which works best for you so you might like to get an inexpensive hook in both types, or just choose one to see how you enjoy the craft (you will love it!).
You will also need to decide on a size to buy. Worsted weight yarns generally work well with an I or J hook, so that might be a good starting point as they are easily found in your local Walmart or craft store.
If you are financially able, you might like to try different types and sizes. Crochet hooks can be made with aluminum, plastic, wood, brass, steel, Corian and whatever custom designers can find that can be formed into a hook. You can find them with inline and tapered hook heads.

Yarn - You might like to start with a smooth, light or medium color, worsted weight yarn. I suggest not starting with a dark yarn or a multi-color (variegated, ombre, or tweed) yarn or a specialty yarn (like boucle) because it is more difficult to see your stitches. 

Most people learn to crochet using acrylic or wool yarn (as opposed to cotton or thread). Different yarns do work up differently, but in the beginning you don’t want to spend a fortune on specialty yarns for you to work up and rip out while you learn. I suggest getting a cheap, acrylic yarn to practice on. You might buy a skein of cotton worsted yarn, because it has such a different feel to it than acrylic or wool. You shouldn’t have a problem with the stitches using cotton but you want to use a hook where the cotton will glide over it easily. When you’re more comfortable in your crocheting skills, you might like to try other types of yarn. Remember to buy enough yarn in the same dye lot if you intend to do something with your practice projects. With the cotton, you can make bunches of dishcloths while you learn. They don’t have to be perfect. Who cares if a dishcloth is a little bit off?
Scissors - This is important. You need a good, sharp pair of small scissors. Actually, to be honest, you need a BUNCH of good, sharp scissors. LOL Mine keep disappearing.

Scissors - This is important. You need a good, sharp pair of small scissors. Actually, to be honest, you need a BUNCH of good, sharp scissors. LOL Mine keep disappearing.

Large Eye Needles for weaving – You need a needle through which your yarn or thread will go easily. I like #16 which I use with yarn from sport to bulky. They do make needles with even larger eyes for the super bulky yarns.

Stitch/row markers/holders - These are used to keep your work from unraveling if you have to walk away from it for a while. You don’t have to get official stitch markers, though they are handy little things and come in all sorts of types and designs. Make sure you get the crochet type, not the knitting type - they are different. You can make do with a paper clip or a safety pin. Recently, a visitor to the web site made a suggestion I liked so much I put it on the web site. Instead of using a stitch holder or safety pin, you just make what I call Lil’s Knot. It’s like a slip knot but you don’t use the hook. Your work won’t unravel and you don’t need to worry about having a pin handy. I use this myself more often than not.

Nail file or Emery board - There is nothing worse than working for hours on a project and have your nail snag and mess up a section way at the beginning of the work! It’s to your advantage to keep your nails clear of chips.

Ruler and/or nylon measuring tape - Don’t use the one from your husband’s tool box. Get a good flexible measuring tape. I like the retractable / spring ones and have several of them. That said, I also keep a wooden or plastic ruler handy as it is best for measuring squares most accurately.

Those are the basic supplies. There other things that you might like to have in addition to the basics.

You can find a lot of patterns and the answers to questions online now, but I like to also have books I can look throughI h.

Pattern leaflets/books - Everybody has their favorites. Leisure Arts is a long time publisher of crochet leaflets. There are many others as well.

Reference books – Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of crochet reference books! The reference books include Crocheting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti, Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet, The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Needlecraft (not just crochet), The Crocheter’s Companion by Nancy Brown, The Crochet Answer Book by Edie Eckman, and Lily Chin's Crochet Tips & Tricks. New books come out often so just browse the shelves at your local bookstore or craft store.

Chibi needle holder - You will use needles for sewing in ends and this wonderful little Chibi holder is great to keep your needles in one place. They come with curved or straight needles, but you can buy your own needles and stick them in there as well. 

Magnifying glass - This is really depends on your eyes and the quality of the patterns you get. Great for seeing those little charts when working filet crochet.

Plastic sleeve protectors - These are good to protect patterns from spills while you’re working. I also use them in my Crochet Journal, where I keep a picture and pertinent information on items I’ve made as gifts so that if I want to make them again, I am able to find that pattern. 

Hook organizer - I have a quilted roll up hook case which I love, but I also have hooks stored in plastic boxes, toothbrush holders and other odd places.

Supply case / totes  – This is where I keep my overflow hooks, needles and other supplies. It has to be long enough to hold afghan hooks which are long. I also use totes to carry yarn for various projects.

Magnetic board  or clip board - holds patterns as you work.

Needle threader - In case you think this is only for thread users, think again. I’ve used it for yarn as well. This is particularly handy if you’re getting on in years and the eyesight/hand-eye coordination is not all it could be.

Highlighters - When you’re working a complicated pattern, it’s a good idea to photocopy the pattern and use a highlighter to mark each row as you finish it. Of course, your pattern will have a repeat. You can either make several copies and mark each one in a different color :-) or you can put hearts or pencil marks next to each one, using a different mark each time you go through the repeat.

Pom-Pom maker - If you like to add pom poms to your hats or other things, it might be a good thing to have one of these. 

Fringe / Tassel maker (right) - I love this little tool and use it quite often. There are many different kinds, but if you don't want to purchase a tool, you can just use a book or ruler to make your fringe.

Yarn bobbins - These are neat little creatures. When you finish your project, sometimes you have just a little bit of yarn left. If you leave it alone, it will eventually become a big mess. If you use a yarn bobbin, it will keep those bits neat and you can later work them all into a scrap yarn afghan. Also, you can use yarn bobbins to hold a bit of yarn needed while making a project that calls for a number of color changes. The bobbins hang there and wait for you to come back on the return row and pick it up again.

Office supply tags to keep track of projects - I have Crochet Journal sheets which I use to keep track of completed projects, but what about those projects that are terminally "in progress".  By the time I get back to them, I’ve forgotten what hook I was using, what pattern, which one of these white skeins is for which project - you know the dye lots are different. LOL With one little note, I could have all that information at hand. Office supply tags have a string with which you can attach the tag so it's always with your project.

Small photo album - If you have "shortcut" patterns that fit on index cards, you can put them in this photo album and keep it near your crochet supplies. I guess this might be more for experienced crocheters, but one day you will all be experienced. What I mean here by "shortcut" patterns is this. You’re working a pattern and it’s pretty complicated but you can see where it’s going. It goes on and on but what you really need to remember is "first row sc" "second row dc" "third row long stitch". Since the previous rows are done, all you have to do is glance down to know what you meant. I remember one pattern particularly that I did. It was so complicated to follow each row. I decided to simplify it.

Instead of reading the entire long instruction, I wrote:
I hook, name of afghan
2/lsc row
6, ch 2, sk 2
6, 2sc in sp, dc
That was one sequence.

The next was
2sc in sp

Of course you have no idea what I’m talking about, but if you were working the pattern, it would make perfect sense because you’ve been going through the rows and understand the pattern by that point. This is the kind of thing you’d put in your little album.

Also you might put little notes on hook sizes or what hook to use with what yarn, as noted above.

If you're using the large office supply tags, you can even attach this information to your project and then put it in your album for future use.

I'm sure there are other crochet supplies you can use but this should give you a pretty good start.


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