Crochet

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PLAYPEN

Crochet

The Playpen is the ‘for fun’ area of The Mothership, where each month there is a focus on a different optional hobby / fun challenge for you to try out if you want to. We know that being busy mothers, it’s not always easy to research new hobbies or to find easy and quick ways to try them out without too much commitment, so each month we’ll put in the hours to research and curate some easily accessible free resources to get you off the starting blocks if you want to. 

For February’s Playpen, we’ve gone for crochet as we’ve had a lot of people saying they’d love to try this, and it’s a relatively simple hobby to get started with. I first started learning crochet a few years ago as I kept seeing Pinterest photos of beautiful blankets and was desperate to learn how to make them. I was so pleasantly surprised by how unexpectedly easy it is to produce patterns that look much more complicated than they are, and how quickly the items themselves can grow and how quickly you see results.

There are so many great things about crochet – it’s extremely relaxing and perfect if you’re wanting to get stuck into more mindful, calm activities – I find it incredibly therapeutic. It’s also really quick to learn with minimal equipment and it can cost as much or as little as you want it to, depending on what yarn you want to use – all you need to complete a small project is a minimum of a crochet hook, a tapestry needle and a ball of yarn, and you can buy all these things for less than a tenner, possibly even for less than a fiver. It’s great for making unique pieces for your own home, and also fantastic for gifts for others – whenever one of my friends or family has a baby I love making a blanket or some bootees or a mobile for them instead of buying something.

Below are some really simple resources to get you off the starting blocks with crochet – I’ve ensured that the instructions and project included here are as cheap and quick and easy as possible, so that you can try crochet out in a very basic, simple way without too much commitment to see if you like it. However, I’ve also linked to a variety of resources that you can delve into if you decide you’d like to learn more and pursue it further with some more ambitious projects.

We’d love you to share your own crochet projects and/or progress with this one – just head over to the #playpen channel in The Workspace to chat about it all. Can’t wait to see how everyone gets on!

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BASIC EQUIPMENT

The fantastic thing about crochet is you literally need only 4 things to get started:

1) Crochet hook

You can get a whole range of sizes of these, as you match the size of your hook to the thickness of your yarn and the desired size of the stitches (each pattern and ball of yarn will tell you which size you need, you don’t need to guess). Crochet hook sets are relatively inexpensive, so if you can afford to, you may as well buy a whole set such as this or this. However, if you only want to buy one hook to try it out, then a 4mm, 4.5mm or 5mm one is a good size as they are easy to handle and also work well with inexpensive Double Knit acrylic yarn. You can buy crochet hooks online on Amazon or at any online or physical haberdashery, including John Lewis.

2) Yarn

There are a million different kinds of yarn to use and for me browsing and choosing the yarn is one of the most fun parts of crochet – there are so many gorgeous colours and textures. However, for the purposes of keeping things simple to try it out, I’d advise starting off buying 100% acrylic Double Knit (DK) yarn. It’s incredibly cheap so doesn’t require a big investment and also doesn’t matter too much if you cock it up at first (which you probably will do, everyone does!) and you can try things out with it without worrying about wasting good yarn. It’s also a really good mid-weight yarn which is easy to work with and not too fiddly for your hands and fingers. The other big advantage of acrylic DK yarn is that it’s easily washable in the washing machine, so I have actually consciously chosen it anyway over nicer yarns in the past when it’s for things that I know I’m going to want to chuck in the washing machine and not have to hand wash. The nicest colours and shades tend to be in the nicer, more expensive yarns, but there is an incredibly wide selection of colours of acrylic double knit yarn so you’ll still have plenty of ace colours to choose from. You can choose a couple of balls of wool yourself in whatever colours you like, or Amazon do some starter kits with a few balls of acrylic DK yarn and a couple of crochet hooks like this one or this one

3) Scissors

Pretty self-explanatory!

4) Darning / tapestry needles

You just need one or two big blunt darning/tapestry needles like this to darn in the straggly ends once you’re finished.

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BASIC STITCHES

1) Rather confusingly, stitches are called different things in the UK/US – always have a conversion table like this handy for reference and always be sure whether the pattern you’re following is using UK/US terms.

2) The easiest way by far to learn the various crochet stitches is to watch them on video - it’s really hard to visualise stitches and hand movements from written instructions. YouTube has loads – Wool and the Gang is a fantastic resource – they have their own YouTube channel with loads of videos and also a great online store (see ‘Buying Supplies’ links below). They also do this ace little 2 minute video of A Beginner’s Guide To Crochet. I also used Mikey from The Crochet Crowd, I found his videos really clear.

3) Use Youtube videos to learn the following basic stitches – these should set you up for most basic projects.

a) Slip knot

b) Chain stitch {CH}

c) Slip stitch {SS/SLST}

d) Double (uk) / Single (us) {DC/SC]

e) Half treble (uk) / half double (us) {HTR/HDC}

f) Treble (uk) / double (us) {TR/DC}

SIMPLE BEGINNER PROJECT

Below are some links to easy free crochet patterns for beginners – your project for this month is to pick one and give it a go! You might not even need all of the stitches listed above – many of these patterns only use one or two stitches 🙂

CRAFTSY – 10 TERRIFIC BEGINNER CROCHET PATTERNS

THE SPRUCE – 10 EASY FREE CROCHET PATTERNS FOR BEGINNERS

DIY & CRAFTS – 100 FREE CROCHET PATTERNS PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS

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BUYING SUPPLIES

Below are a list of various online places that stock all crochet supplies – with the cheapest listed first and some ‘nicer’ stores later down the list where you’ll be able to buy some more beautiful yarns if you want to:

Amazon
The Works
McA Direct
Deramores
Wool Warehouse
Wool and the Gang
Love Knitting
John Lewis
Tangled Yarn
Great British Yarns

FURTHER INSPIRATION

If you’ve enjoyed this and want to learn more and get more inspiration, here are some wonderful resources for you to check out, full of patterns and ideas:

Pinterest
Craftsy
The Spruce
Cherry Heart
Attic24
Ravelry
Purl Soho
Emma Varnam
Lilla Björn
Greedy For Colour
Gleeful Things
Whistle & Ivy
Look What I Made
B.Hooked
Moogly
Love Crochet

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