Here are my 10 Tips for Crocheters and Knitters:
Crocheting and knitting are two of my favorite pastimes. I really enjoy spending my time in a comfy chair with my yarn and hook (or needles). So many people ask me to give them some tips for becoming great crocheters or knitters. Here is some advise/ tips that I would like to share with you. They might be different from what you’ve heard before but as many might know I feel that if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right. Fiber arts for me is about being able to express my creativity in a positive way. It’s about enjoying myself regardless of what others may think. I have been crocheting for over 40 years. When I was a young woman in my early 20’s people would always make the dumb commends such as, “Why do you crochet? Isn’t that for grandmas?” Well, I didn’t care I kept going. Now I can say that yes I am a grandma and I am still crocheting and knitting. Although I must confess that neither crochet or knitting are my strongest craft..can you guess what it is? Well.. It’ sewing and quilting. I can really rock a sewing machine. (Without meaning to sound vain of course). My mother taught me to sew when I was just 6 years old and those times sewing together with my mother are some of the happiest memories of my childhood. Thank you mother for taking time to allow me to enjoy my creativity.
Ok, onto the tips. They are not in order of important I just had to write them down.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #1 Have fun! Yup, I said it. Remember that this is about being able to enjoy yourself. Crocheting and knitting is so great because not only do you get to enjoy yourself and hopefully de-stress but you end up with a finished item. How many things can you say that about? I mean sure you can go skydiving but after you reach the ground it’s over. Nothing other than a fun or terrifying memory is left. I really feel that crafting is about having fun. It’s about being able to express your creativity. To make beautiful things. It’s a party! That’s why I always start my videos by saying “Let’s get the party started!” If you are dreading your crochet and knitting time something is out of whack. Re-frame your mindset. This is YOUR time. YOUR space. YOUR me time. YOUR party. Have Fun!
Crochet and Knitting Tip #2 – You don’t have to buy every tool you see. I think it’s important to remind everyone (especially beginners) that you don’t NEED every tool out there. The market is saturated with some many items now that it’s confusing to know which to buy. Prices for a crochet hooks and knitting needles range wildly. You can spend as little as $2 for a crochet hook up to astronomical amounts. I recently say a hand turned crochet hook for sale at a high-end store for $155.00. Sure it was exotic wood and beautiful. But let me assure you, you don’t need to spend you last penny to enjoy this craft. Everything from expensive stitch markers (in a pinch I use bobby pins or a scrap of yarn), expensive yarn bowls (ok, I used to use a margarine container for years), to fancy tote bags are out there trying to get us to spend our hard earned cash.
As time goes along you will discover which items you may actually need and prefer. There is nothing wrong with investing in better tools and supplies as you progress in your craft. It’s just like anything else the better you get and the money you have available you can add tools of better quality. There really is a difference in the quality of tools.
Did you know that I didn’t own a big crochet hook until recently? I did a video with chunky yarn for a hat and the folks at Lion Brand send me a N size hook. I had never used one before. I was taught to crochet with thread so I still feel more comfortable with smaller hooks. I must confess after using that large hook and seeing how fast that hat worked up I was hooked. (Pun intended)
Don’t let people make you feel bad because you don’t have the latest and greatest gadget. The same goes for yarn too. Buy the yarn you can afford. You won’t be able to enjoy yourself if you’re worried about how much money you spend on that skein of yarn. As your skills improve and you can afford it you can buy better yarn. I love bamboo and cashmere but I save those for special projects. Acrylic yarn is a perfectly good choice to begin with. It’s also easy to wash and care for as compared to some other fibers.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #3 – Do not compare yourself to others. In a world of social media it can be so easy to compare ourselves to others. We see all these beautiful photos that are posted on facebook groups, instagram, etc and we may feel inadequate. Everything from color choices, size of yarn stash (yes even the stash) to the quality of a finished product can become something we can feel insecure about and that takes away from our joy and happiness. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone starts at a different point. What you may not see behind that photo is a person who has been crocheting or knitting for many years (some even for decades). Then there is of course the “staging” of photos. It seems everywhere we look now all these photos seem to be coming from professional photographers. I am not a professional photographer. However there is this disclosure I should make. Once you get good enough that you start wanting to sell your finished items or patterns having a great photograph really helps.
I once attended an Etsy workshop and they said that the #1 secret to successful shops were the photographs. If you want to start a store you may want to invest in a good camera and photography course. If you can afford it a professional photographer may be a good investment. The better your stuff looks the more likely it is to sell. Please, please, please DO NOT use other peoples photographs to sell your finished items. That is really a no-no. Not only is it stealing (copyright photos) it is not fair to your customers. They want to see what YOU can make. Do the right thing and photograph the items that you make. Do not misrepresent your abilities to other. Do not take credit for others work and their photos.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #4 – Take classes. If you really want to get better you need help and instruction. You can take classes to help you improve your skill level. Whether you turn to YouTube which has so many great videos (can I suggest you watch mine..lol) or to private or group classes these can be invaluable to becoming more skilled. YouTube is great but it is limited to what we can teach in that course of time. Plus you don’t get actual one-on-one instruction. Being able to sit next to an instructor can give you that needed personal instruction. You can show your work to the instructor and the instructor can help answer questions or demonstrate techniques and correct any errors. There are many places you can take classes. Many yarn stores and craft stores such as Michaels, Joanns and Hobby Lobby offer classes. Usually they are limited to 10 people or less so you can get some personal instruction. Online paid courses are also another great alternative. These allow you the option of being able to watch and learn at your own pace and time. I have also been creating some online courses to be able to give better, detailed instruction. I will be offering them soon. Be sure to join this blog and become a member so you can be notified when they are available.
If you want to better you need a “coach.” Look around and you will find that people who take classes advance faster. Just look at athletes even the professionals. They all have coaches.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #5 – Practice, Practice, Practice. – There are no shortcuts. I have to give you the bad news but it’s true. Getting better just takes time and practice. People ask me how I get my yarn tension so even. My answer, “Lots of practice.” There is no such thing as an overnight crocheter or knitter. All those folks you admire and rave about their work didn’t get there in a week or two. It takes time. Be patient with yourself. The amount of time you have free to practice and how dedicated you are will all determine how quickly you advance. Then of course there are people who just seem to be more naturally able to learn faster. They may have better hand and eye coordination. Don’t worry your coordination will improve with time as well. People say they are afraid to try knitting because they can’t see how they will be able to coordination working with two needles (or more such in DPN’s) at the same time. All it takes is time and practice.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #6 – Ergonomics! – I can’t stress how important this is. Ergonomics is defined as: the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. It is vital that you have a comfortable work area. Please find a comfortable spot where you can sit in a natural position. Notice how your hands and armed are in relation to the rest of your body. Are they comfortable and relaxed or are they cramped an in an awkward unnatural position? Your hands and wrists should not be straining or unnaturally bend. How do you hold your hook or needles? Try to hold your hook or needles with a soft grip. What I mean is do not grip them so tight your fingers and hands will fatigue quickly. How does the hook or needle feel. I have a quick trick for making my metal hooks feel more comfy without need of expensive hooks. I just simply wrap a rubber band around the hook and then slip a gel pencil grip over it. Now the hook is more comfortable for me to hold. (See I do it here – No more sore hands). Now Boye has come out with an ergonomic set (pink) that is $20 for 6 hooks and they feel really comfy. I recommend them.
As far as how you hold the hook it will really depend on your own preference. Some hold the hook in the knife hold and some like a pencil grip. I do the majority of my crocheting with a pencil grip and switch to the knife when my hands are getting tired. Be sure to take time to rest and stretch as you work. Set a kitchen timer or the timer on your phones to go off every 20 minutes or so and stretch. I will attach videos that show some of the exercises I do. Sorry the audio is not great since these are some of my earlier videos done with my laptop camera. Click here for hand exercise video
Crochet and Knitting Tip # 7 – Don’t be afraid to rip out your work and start over again – It seems that whenever I have taught someone to either knit or crochet there is always someone who just refuses to rip out their bad work and start over. I know sometimes it can hurt when you’ve completed several rows and find and error to go back and re-do your work. It’s ok. Just take a deep breath and just rip it, rip it, rip it. (where the term frogging came from). Pull all that bad work out. If you don’t you will never get better. Besides do you really want to have a finished items with mistakes in them? Now only will you be unhappy with the end results it kinda hurts your confidence when people point out the errors. It all comes back to being patient and practicing to get better. Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes and plenty of them. I just rip them out and start again. If you’re a knitter and hate pulling out stitches there are ways or catching the last row so you don’t have to start again by casting on. You just have to pull out the stitches until you get to the error then start again. Here is an article by Crafts that shows some techniques (Ripping out knitting stitches ). Luckily crocheting doesn’t present the same challenges as knitting as far as pulling out stitches. Everytime you make a mistake and have to pull out your work just remember you are becoming a better stitcher because of it.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #8 – Work on projects that are appropriate for your skill level. – Please let me clarify I am not saying you can never attempt more difficult projects how else would you get better? What I am saying is that until you have the skill for a certain project you need to stick to projects you can make. Most patterns will let you know which skill level the project is. For example, novice, beginner, etc. ( Click here for definition of skill levels) I had someone write me a nasty email and give me a thumbs down on my of my YouTube videos because they said they couldn’t complete the garment. They wrote “This is my first crochet project and I was not able to make it. You suck as a teacher.” It didn’t make me feel bad because I realize she was making the same mistakes many people make. In the video I clearly stated at the beginner, “This is not a beginner project.” Then I went to list the stitches or techniques you should be able to do in order to complete the garment.
Starting a project you can’t complete is frustrating and a reason many people give up. There are tons of patterns out there for every skill level. Once you learn more stitches and techniques you can move out to more complex projects such as fitted garments. Until that time comes enjoy making things that you can complete. The good news is that with practice your skills can improve relatively quickly. Learn and practice the stitches that will take you to the next level for example learning how to work increases and decreases, how to work in the round as well as rows, etc. Learning how to read written patterns. Learning to read patterns will open up a whole new world of possibilities to you. You will never regret it.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #9 – Learn to say No to people requesting “free” items or paying very little for items – I know this is a tough one for many people but it is so necessary. I get so many requests from people to make them things. It usually starts with “Hey, if I buy the yarn…. ” I always say “No”. I can even visualize Grumpy Cat’s face when I say it. The truth is that I don’t have the time, money or resources to make everything that people ask for me to make. Most of the items I make for people are reserved for grandkids, siblings and sometimes close friends.
Crocheting and knitting takes so much time, money (depending on materials) and effort. Then there are people who want you to sell a finished item for less than WalMart. They will say things like “Wow, $40 for this? I just saw one like that at WalMart for $15. I just say “Really? You should buy it.” It took time for me to get to that point but I think people get it now. I’m not saying be rude but to be firm. They don’t ask for freebies. I have a friend who owns a restaurant and she said, “Hey, can you make me this sweater. I’ll buy the yarn.” I said, “Ok, if I can go to your restaurant and pay for parking and you feed me and my family for free.” She laughed but it’s the same concept. Learn to say NO! No need to add any reasons why just say “No, I’m sorry but I really can’t.” If you want to make the item for that person then go ahead and do it. This is why many of you are learning to crochet or knit after all to be able to share your items.
Just remember don’t make things for people who don’t appreciate them. Not everyone will appreciate or even want a handcrafted item from you. They just aren’t wired that way. It’s ok. That’s not a reflection on you. I find nothing sadder than putting in a lot of work, time and money into a gift only to find out someone didn’t like it or worst gave it away. Hey it happens. I find brand new afghans at the Good Will marked down to $5 all the time. It breaks my heart.
If you want to learn how to make money from your crafts let me know and I can share some helpful tips in another blog post.
Crochet and Knitting Tip #10 – Don’t quit! – Keep on keeping on. : ) Don’t give up. We all know the old saying; Quitters never win and winners never quit! It’s a cliche but it’s true. Don’t quit! Before you know it you will be great. Whipping out projects left and right. You will even be good enough to even sell your items. (DO NOT underprice yourself). Find a crochet or knit club. Join the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) or TKGA (The knitting guild of America). You can look them up and see if there is a guild in your area. If not you can start one. I will be starting a crochet guild in Chula Vista, CA. If you’re interested in joining let me know. There are also groups of like minded, yarn obsessed people in other places such as friends, churches, schools etc. You could even go to a site such as www.meetup.com and type in your interest and city. It will give you groups that meet in your area. For me I have to go further than 10 miles to find a group but it’s not too far. The people usually meet up in a coffee house and they are all super cool and helpful. It’s great to share what you are learning with others and you can feed off each others enthusiasm and creativity.
There your have some of my tips for Crocheters and Knitters. I bet you thought it was going to be all about techniques didn’t you? Just enjoy yourself. That is the most important tip of all. Please be kind and share this post with others. Also please be sure to follow me at my other social media sites such as;
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