The Handmade Life: 9 Truths Every Crocheter Should Know

They should be obvious, but maybe they’re not. I mean, in living the handmade life, I am definitely guilty of not obeying all 9 truths every crochet should know. I need this list as much as the next crocheter. See if you agree with me and if you struggle with some of these as I do.


handmade sweater

1. Stitch with the Right Fiber and Yarn Size for the Project

A beautiful lace scarf stitched in a DK-weight wool/silk blend may look stiff and unappealing crocheted in 100% bulky acrylic, and yet I see it happen all the time.

Use the right fiber for the job. This can be tricky, especially for new crocheters, because you may not know what fiber works best for what project. You have two options: one, find projects you like and read the patterns to see what yarn is used and start building your knowledge that way, and two, stitch a swatch in different types of yarn to experience for yourself how the different fibers and weights feel and act.

If your stash is calling your name and you want to use what you have on hand, good—but make sure you pair it with the appropriate pattern. I have a friend who spent hours crocheting a sweater for her daughter, who rejected it on sight because she didn’t like the fiber content. And to be fair, it was the wrong yarn for the piece.

2. Produce Good Quality Work

Good stitching is important. If you want your project to look neat and tidy, your stitching should likewise be neat and tidy. Your stitches should be uniform and your work should be error free, meaning no snagged or incorrect stitches. And your project should have the exact number of stitches the pattern dictates—no more, no less.

The nature of crochet makes it easy to fudge a bit. Will someone really notice a missed stitch? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to strive for perfection in those handmade projects, while at the same time accepting that to err is human.

handmade toys

3. Check Your Gauge

Nobody wants to hear it, but gauge is important for almost every project. Do you want your project to turn out similar to the sample? Then check your gauge.
We often say it doesn’t matter for projects like toys or scarves, but it really does. For instance, my mom is an extremely loose crocheter—her stitches are nearly twice the size of my sister’s. They each crocheted the same toy once, and while my sister’s was similar in size to the sample, my mother’s was twice as big. Besides having an oversized toy, my mom ended up with a yarn quantity issue: she needed twice the amount of yarn to complete her project.

4. Use Free Patterns at Your Own Risk

“Free isn’t always better” is a common enough phrase these days, and it can certainly be true with crochet. Free patterns may allow us to spend our money on hooks and yarn, but they may also come with more headaches. Some patterns may be overly abbreviated so only experienced crocheters know how to interpret them, whereas others may be full of error. Some designers are forthright about this; others, not so much. Designers are also less likely to want to offer support on a pattern that’s free. Find an error? They probably won’t care or will be super slow to respond.

Free can also be a great deal! You may get the same quality as if you paid for the pattern. In these cases, celebrate your good fortune and then do the designer a favor and share their website with others. And while you’re at it, see if they have other patterns you like. They are trying to earn a living by designing beautiful patterns, so show them a little love and buy a pattern or two.

handmade

5. Know a Good Deal When You See It

No, I don’t mean a sale, though that is always a plus: I’m talking about understanding value. When you find a “must-have” pattern, it doesn’t matter how much it costs—it’s a good deal. If you pay full price, it’s worth it because you love it. Don’t be afraid to spend money on yourself or others when you or they fall in love with a design.

Value can also be calculated by cost per unit. How many patterns do you get for a specific price? Love of Crochet magazine, for instance, costs $6.99 per issue and there are roughly 20 patterns inside. That means each pattern only costs approximately $0.35! That’s a tremendous value. And that doesn’t include all the other bonus content you’ll find in the magazine!

Magazines are a great deal. Subscribe to Love of Crochet and Interweave Crochet today.

6. U.S. and U.K. Terms Are Not the Same

Websites like Ravelry and Pinterest make it easy to find fun and interesting patterns from all over the world, but there’s just one teeny-tiny problem: American and British stitch terminologies are not all the same. To further complicate matters, we all use the same words, but they mean different things.

I once had a sales representative from a yarn company tell me that a coworker of hers didn’t realize that a double crochet in U.K. patterns is the same as single crochet in U.S. patterns, so the toy her coworker made ended up twice as large as it was designed to be.

Find the U.S./U.K. translation at the bottom of the post “Say What? Crochet Speak Is Like a Secret Code.”

7. Support the Community

Encourage the art and craft of crochet by being supportive of those who are also living the handmade life. Rudeness and meanness have no place either online or in person. You don’t have to like everything that’s crocheted, but you should support the crafter.

I love to encourage crochet in all its forms. If I think something is particularly awful, I may only be able to comment on the yarn fiber or color. Sometimes I hate the colors but love the stitch work, so I’ll comment on that. My point here is that you should find something positive to say about the crochet. At the very least, you can say “Way to go!” to the crocheter.

handmade

8. Color Will Make or Break a Project

My mother has said “brown is not a color” so many times that it’s now a family joke. So, okay, she hates brown, but it has its place in crochet. Teddy bears are a great example, but how about bags, skirts, and shawls? There are so many projects that look great in brown or with brown accents! But I digress.

Color is often the first thing that draws us to a project and, dare I say, the most important element of every project. Put two clashing colors together and it’s distracting or unsettling. Put two harmonious colors together and the project looks beautiful and soothing.

Be picky when choosing colors. Follow basic color theories like those taught in our Color Magic video and then make sure the colors you select for your project have a similar value (lightness or darkness). This can be tricky because yarn companies don’t always create colors that work well together. You need to be the judge of what works best for your project.

9. Block Your Work to Make It Shine

Lace projects are the best examples of why blocking is important. A shell pattern, for instance, will look better when the project has been stretched a bit; open spaces give the shell pattern definition and make it pop off the garment. But almost every project will benefit from blocking, including blankets, bags, and shawls. At the very least, blocking will get out wrinkles if your project has been folded or shoved in a bag. Blocking can also straighten out uneven edges.
For a crisper, cleaner-looking project, block it. If the project gets a lot of wear or it’s washed, you will most likely need to re-block.

Not sure how to block your crochet? Check out our blog “How to Block Crochet Lace 3 Ways.”

Are There More than 9 Truths? What do you think? Are these the 9 truths every crocheter should know? Did I miss something, or do you disagree with any of them?

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.

—Dana


Hook On and Keep Making!

 

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