How I taught myself to crochet

Crochet illustration

Learning to crochet was a bit of a ‘start-stop-and-start again with gusto’ journey for me. There comes a point on most journeys where you just want to throw in the towel – and I did at one point, not literally throwing my hooks into the corner – but I managed to keep at it and am quite proud of what I’ve achieved, the skills I’ve learnt and the things I can now make! I love the promise in my stash of printed and pinned crochet patterns, the colours and textures of a wool display, the meditative and relaxing qualities of hooking yarn, and the surprise in my loved ones’ eyes when they see what I’ve made for them. Here’s a run through of my crochet journey.

My very first crochet project
My very first crochet project

I suppose I first became aware of crochet through my mum. As an only child with parents who worked all day, there wasn’t much entertainment to be had for her, so she took to crafting as a way of whiling away the hours. She has always been a dab hand at embroidery, crochet and knitting and would always be working on a project, like making a jumper for her favourite teacher or embroidering our names for the nursery wall. Nowadays she’s a champion sock and scarf knitter and doesn’t make much else – I’m inundated with handmade woolly gifts, but that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to learn to crochet.

One of my favourite crochet projects ever - a big basket
This basket is one of my favourite crochet projects ever – I made one for my mum last Christmas

With three brothers, I was never bored as a child. But as a twenty-something, I wanted to be able to make something and be more creative again (after being a very creative teenager, those activities got rather side-lined in University). Crochet doesn’t take up that much room and it’s practical. It’s also a great mother and daughter activity and we can learn from one another. I decided I wanted to make a granny square blanket and asked my mum to teach me a basic square when she was visiting.

Crochet Afghan
This crochet afghan was my first large scale project

I spent time buying wool and gradually growing my stash of squares according my mum’s verbal instructions. Somehow they never looked right. Now I know that the wool I was buying wasn’t always the right thickness, no one told me about gauge, and I was making up stitches as I went along. Unsurprisingly, most of my squares turned out wonky and lopsided. Nevertheless I soldiered on making stacks of not-quite-square granny squares.

Crochet fingerless gloves
The first crochet pattern I ever wrote was for these fingerless mittens

The next time my mum came to visit she was excited to take a look at my progress. Dismayed by all the imperfect but colourful squares she stepped in and whisked them away with her, undoing them all and crocheting the whole blanket from scratch herself. I now had a crochet blanket, but I hadn’t made it myself which was quite disheartening. Learning how to crochet was the whole point of the exercise. I felt I hadn’t learnt much and had exhausted my ideas of things to make, so my crochet hooks went into a drawer and my yarn stash wandered to the back of the cupboard for a while.

A couple of years later I started thinking about crochet again and how I’d given up so easily the first time. This time, I didn’t want to get my mum involved but teach myself instead, as I knew she couldn’t help herself and take over my project again. So I went to the library (old fashioned maybe, but so helpful) and took out a few books on crochet. I dug out some spare wool and a hook from my doomed first project and started practising by making chains, swatches of single crochet, double crochet, and changing yarn.

Trying my hand at amigurumi - a crochet Cthulhu for my brother
Trying my hand at amigurumi – a crochet Cthulhu for my brother

One book in particular stood out. It’s called Beginner Basics (“Vogue Knitting” on the Go! Series) edited by Trisha Malcolm. It has a few patterns in the back, but – best of all – the basic stitches and skills are explained really well. I couldn’t keep the library book forever, so for my 26th birthday I bought it. I started simply by making an infinity scarf with some grey and pink wool from a charity shop. There was no pattern in the book, I just made it up as I went along in single crochet stitches, the colours inspiring me as I went along. I felt so excited after finishing that scarf and wearing it for the first time; I believe that is the moment I really caught the crochet bug.

Crochet baby booties
My current crochet project – a pair of baby boots for a pregnant friend

It’s not just the soothing and relaxing action of crocheting, and it’s not only challenging yourself to try a new pattern or different stitches, it’s the sense of achievement when everything comes together and you’ve created something unique, beautiful and practical with your own hands. Since that first scarf, I haven’t looked back and keep surprising myself. My Pinterest board is brimming with ideas and patterns, I occasionally buy crochet magazines, and sometimes I make up my own patterns. There’s so much inspiration out there. Why don’t you give crochet a go?

I’d love to hear about your crochet journeys! Who taught you or did you teach yourself? Do you practise any other crafts? What project are you currently working on?

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7 thoughts on “How I taught myself to crochet

  1. I am also self taught and while I really like to watch someone else do it first, I don’t think I would have liked that person to be my mum. she has a tendency to lack patience and just want to do it herself – sounds like you might know what I mean?! I am impressed by anyone that can learn from a book though.
    the tartan afghan you posted is AMAZING and totally better than anything I have ever done!

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment!
      There’s some mistakes hiding in the afghan – it’s not quite even because I must have skipped some stitches as I went along – but seeing as it’s only for me I don’t mind. Handmade doesn’t always turn out perfect, but that’s part of the charm, isn’t it? I found the pattern online and have saved it on my crochet Pinterest board if you want to make it (the pattern was free). It’s not too difficult but a little bit time consuming to make, especially the weaving at the end. Perfect project for winter ;).
      Your mum sounds exactly like mine! She’s such as perfectionist when it comes to anything she’s making. She’d undo a whole project if she noticed she’d made a mistake right at the beginning! I still occasionally ask her to show me some stitches, just to make sure I’m doing it right, but I mostly try and figure things out from the patterns.

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      1. Yeah my mum is a total perfectionist which I can relate to…to a point! I would definitely not be unpicking a whole thing for a tiny mistake. Sometimes in my work I even skip a stitch if I have one too many or do a random decrease…life’s too short to frog everything! Haha.
        I’ll check out that pattern on Pinterest, I really like it.

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    1. Thank you :)!
      There are so many beautiful things to make out there, but I like them to be useful too.
      Have you tried teaching yourself via Youtube tutorials? Lots of people prefer to learn with a visual tutorial rather than through books.

      Liked by 1 person

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